It’s my blogiversary! Yep, it’s hard to believe I’ve been at this for one full year! This week I am recharging my battery! From my tail-wagging pals to some of my favorite local destinations, today’s photos will give you a glimpse of what’s been inspiring me! Ahhhh, it feels good to stop and reflect on the year. To date I have published 56 posts. I have added some posts on fitness, had some guest bloggers (hope to add more), increased my number of photos and recipes and became a member of the Recipe Redux blogging community. But by far my biggest accomplishment is connecting with you, my loyal readers!!! Many of you have left comments, sent me email and DMs, mentioned me on twitter, and even called me! It is ultimately, my influence, that measures my success. THANK YOU!!!!!
So who are you, my readers, anyway? Statistics show you are a fairly young crowd, both male and female. Some of you are colleagues and fellow bloggers! From what I can surmise, some of you are serious and some just like messing with me (you know who you are)!!! Whatever category you fit into, YOU are all equally important to me and I especially enjoy connecting!
Yes, connecting! When you connect with me you inspire me. So, I’m giving you a glimpse of what inspires me, but what about YOU?! Please continue to let me know with your comments (here or on facebook, twitter, e-mail, phone and even in person) what your favorite posts are, what you like, what you want to read more about, what you want to share, or anything else that’s on your mind! And if there is any one out there I haven’t heard from (gasp) please join the conversation!
We are all in this journey together! Let’s inspire each other to improve eating habits, find some delicious yet healthy recipes, try new fitness ideas and above all, have a little FUN! So how about another year? I say bring it on!!!
I panicked when I read the first two words of this month’s Recipe Redux challenge: fermented foods. I had visions of having to turn my kitchen into a microbiology lab! My daughter calls me weird because I prepare brown rice instead of white. I cringe at what she’d call me if see discovered every dark corner of my kitchen filled with bottles of food meant to be refrigerated, left out for weeks, covered only with cheesecloth in hopes that I would grow millions of microorganisms. No, I am not going there. Fortunately, I don’t have to. The recipe redux theme is to use your favorite live cultured food, not nurture one!
Fermentation is one of the oldest ways of preserving food and it is the secret behind some of the world’s best tasting foods. It is the process in which food is exposed to bacteria and/or yeast by way of inoculation or naturally through the air. Fermentation occurs when the microorganisms convert carbohydrate (either sugar or starch) to alcohol and carbon dioxide or acids. The taste of fermented foods is tangy and sour and sometimes downright funky! But beyond preservation and taste, fermentation also has some health benefits.
There is mounting scientific evidence of benefits including calming digestive problems and boosting the immune system, from consuming foods containing bacteria or yeast that are believed to be healthy, i.e. probiotics. Scientists believe that when the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines becomes interrupted, digestive problems can result. In an article from WebMD Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Center states,
“Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines.”
He also says this about probiotics and maintaining a strong immune system, “In societies with very good hygiene, we’ve seen a sharp increase in autoimmune and allergic diseases. That may be because the immune system isn’t being properly challenged by pathogenic organisms. Introducing friendly bacteria in the form of probiotics is believed to challenge the immune system in healthy ways.”
Yogurt is perhaps the most familiar probiotic, but there are many more including: kefir and milk with acidophilus, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi (to name a few).
That said, my favorite fermented food, sourdough bread, is one you eat for taste, not probiotics. The Lactobacilli (present in the sourdough starter and responsible for the breads tangy flavor and for leavening) are likely rendered inactive once the bread is baked. If you are seeking the health benefits from fermented foods, look for the words live cultures. Nevertheless, my recipe (below) for vegetable panini on sourdough is a winner on taste alone! There is one thing I am certain of : if you make it, they will come!!!!
Please see the links following my recipe and consider trying some of the many fermented foods from this month’s Recipe Redux!
Place sliced zucchini, onions and baby portobello mushrooms in a bowl and toss with canola oil. Roast in 400 degree F oven until tender and brown, approximately 20 minutes.
For the vinaigrette
While vegetables are roasting, prepare vinaigrette by mixing ingredients canola oil through fresh basil.
When vegetables are finished roasting, place in bowl and toss with vinaigrette dressing.
For the sandwich
Preheat a sandwich grill. For each sandwich, place two bread slices, cut sides down, on a work surface and brush 1 side of each bread with EVOO.Turn over one slice of bread and add fresh spinach, 2 ounces of sliced mozzarella cheese and roasted veggies. Top with second slice of sourdough bread, oiled side up.
Place the sandwich in the panini grill, close the top plate and cook until the bread is golden and toasted and the cheese is melted. Serve right away.
Here it is, my new favorite thing, breakfast made in a crock pot! Yep, last week I prepared some steel cut oats in a slow cooker, and now it’s become an every night affair! Just this morning my foodie daughter ask, “Where’s that oatmeal you made?” Seriously. I am not pulling your leg!
What could be better than having a kid ask for something nutritious and be able to make it while you sleep! Life is good!
Everyone is familiar with oatmeal (aka rolled oats) and if your nutrition vigilant you’ve probably also heard of steel cut oats (aka Irish oatmeal). But make no mistake, both are nutritious! In this post I will explain the similarities and differences and share my recipe for slow cooked steel cut oats topped with apples, cinnamon and sugar.
Both steel cut oats and rolled oats start out as harvested raw oats that are cleaned and separated from the hulls and stalks. After that they are referred to as groats (another name for grain kernel). Steel cut oats originate when the groat is cut into two or three pieces with a sharp metal blade. Rolled oats (aka old fashioned oats) originate by steaming the groats and then rolling them into flakes. The larger surface area is what helps rolled oats cook faster than steel cut oats.
Old fashioned oats and steel cut oats both offer these nutritional benefits:
• High in soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Insoluble fibers aid in regularity.
• Sodium and sugar free.
• Low in saturated fat.
• Natural source of beta glucan, an immune system booster.
• Aid in weight control by increasing satiety; fills you up so you are less likely to crave unhealthy snacks.
The advantage of steel cut oats is they will not raise your blood sugar as rapidly as rolled oats (important for individuals with diabetes) and they have a heartier, satisfying texture.
The disadvantage of steel cut oats is they take some time to cook. However, you can circumvent this problem by making them ahead of time in a crock pot. Below is my recipe for slow cooked Irish oatmeal topped with apples, cinnamon, and sugar. This is one comfort food you can be guilt free about digging into!
What is your favorite oatmeal topping?
Slow Cooked Irish Oatmeal Topped with Cinnamon, Apples and Sugar
by Diane Boyd
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
1 cup skim milk
4 Granny Smith apples
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Spray the bottom of a crock pot with cooking spray. Add liquid ingredients and one cup of oats. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours.
Once the oats have finished cooking, mix cinnamon and sugar together and set aside. Chop apples and place into a large bowl; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture and toss to coat evenly. Top each bowl of cooked oats with fruit mixture.