Did You Eat Your Vegetables Today?

I am a self proclaimed veggie hater, always have been.  Imagine me now in my nutrition class, the research staring back at me saying how important those pesky vegetables really are.  So important, that my plate right now should hold about 75% vegetables and 25% lean protein.  That’s a tall order for me.  My breakfast plate should also be about 50% vegetables and my lunch plate 75%.  I can almost see my mother laughing at me and saying, “Really, did you think I made this stuff up?”2bm_sgg_dinner-plate-1.png

When I was a young girl, I blatantly refused to eat any vegetable other than corn, which isn’t even a vegetable.  Thankfully, I had a dog named Pierre who loved vegetables and would eat them fast when my mother turned her back.  When I was a teenager, my mother gave up fighting with me about eating vegetables.  It was I’ll admit, quite the fight and one I was not planning to lose.  When I moved out and was fully in charge of my eating, vegetables were never on my shopping list.  I was very thin and lived happily on my diet of Entemann’s cake, deli sandwiches and lunch from the Morgan Stanley cafeteria.   As a young mother, I made valiant attempts to get my children to eat vegetables.  My children all ate home cooked baby food.  I lovingly purchased fresh vegetables and fruits to cook and puree for each of them.  When they were young toddlers and began to fight with me about eating certain foods, I realized how hard it likely was for my mother.

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The dogs of 72nd St. Rusty, Rumple & Pierre

The past few months as I moved back into running training again, I’ve cleaned up my eating substantially.  I signed up for nutrition classes to learn how to better fuel my body and offset any genetic flaws.  What I did not do though is increase my vegetable intake to the level of 75% of my plate!  Clearly, I still have some work to do here!

Three years ago, when my mother was placed full time in a care center, I vowed to not go down the same path.  I knew first hand what this disease had done to my family and did not want my children to face a similar fate as my husband and I age.  Alzheimer’s robs you of your precious memories and the ability to care for yourself.  It is quite painful to watch helplessly as your loved one fades away.  I did not want this burden for my three children and hoped to find a way to prevent, or delay it.

I’ve spent three years reading any research I can get my hands on and changing my lifestyle.  It has not been an easy journey, as it is hard work.  My why has kept me pushing forward, even on days where motivation is low.  I’ve had my setbacks along the way with injuries, but the push forward has continued.  This winter, I decided to stop spending so much money on nutritionists and put that money to use in educating myself.  I’m in the middle of my second nutrition course and hope to attend IIN Nutrition in the fall.  I am more convinced than ever, that the answer to my quest to prevent Alzheimer’s does indeed rely heavily on the foods I am eating.  I know that my best hope to ensure brain health is to change the way we eat and continue to move my body.  It’s an exciting journey and one that I truly hope I will get to share with my grandchildren and great grandchildren someday.

Today, my husband brought home a beautiful piece of ham for Sunday dinner.  He shops early in the morning on the way home from the gym and was quite excited about his purchase.  I had a 5K race this morning at 10:00 AM, so was less than excited about his purchase.  When in the world did he think we’d be cooking and preparing this ham?  He had this all planned out and brought in the Crockpot from the garage.  He said that he heard we could set it up in the Crockpot and it would be ready later in the day. Since my options were limited, I went along with his plan.  I literally washed the ham and placed it in the pot with some water.  That’s it!  I set it to 8 hours on low and got ready to leave for the race.

When we returned from the race the house smelled heavenly.  I forgot how nice it was to come home to a meal in the Crockpot.  I was able to shower, relax and unwind from my morning without worrying about preparing dinner.  When we were ready, I took the meat out of the pot and sliced it up to eat.  It was soft, juicy and delicious.  I plated it with some shredded cabbage mixed with kale and baby spinach.  I prefer my vegetables raw, so a side salad of this was just perfect for me.  If you have a Crockpot collecting dust in your garage, I recommend you pull it out, wash it up and get it going again.  It was wonderful not to have to turn on the oven today.

I’d love to hear what your favorite Crockpot recipes are.  Please leave me a message below.

The book I just finished in my course was –

 

It was very helpful to read about how certain foods that I thought were healthy are not in fact healthy for me.  Interesting read, especially if like me, you have inflammation. If you read it, please leave me a comment.

 

Recipe Swap – Gluten Free Gnocchi

Sunday sauce and recipe testing just plain go together. Especially on a chilly, rainy Sunday with nothing to do. I am always looking for ways to make this staple meal healthier. I am not gluten intolerant, but do try to limit the amount of food I eat that contain gluten. Pasta is the first swap I made and I rarely eat pasta that contains gluten. This week’s recipe swap is a delicious, easy to make version of gluten free gnocchi.

Gnocchi are soft dumplings that can be made from semolina, potato or various other combinations of ingredients. The recipe I made today was gluten free and delicious. It was a big hit and the texture was for me perfect. Had I not made them myself I wouldn’t have known they were gluten free. I hope you give them a try.

Gluten Free Garlic Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, strained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 clove roasted garlic (optional)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 tbsp xantham gum

Directions:

  1. Strain ricotta cheese in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl for 30 minutes.  Drying out the cheese will ensure your gnocchi are not too dense. (*Mine really didn’t have liquid in it but I did this step in case.)
  2. Roast garlic in a ramekin with olive oil at 250 ̊F (Chop the tops off one clove of garlic but leave the remaining shell on.)  Allow it to cool and then squeeze the garlic clove from the bottom and work your fingers up, pushing out the roasted cloves. Set half of the cloves aside for sauce (or another recipe).
  3. Mix all ingredients together to form a dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. You want the dough to come together to form a ball but not be too dry or stiff, just easy enough to work with and roll without getting stuck to the table!
  4. Cut the dough into 4 sections and roll the first section on a lightly floured surface (using rice flour for gluten-free) into a long log about 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Use a small paring knife to cut the log into 1 inch sections.
  6. Roll the gnocchi with a fork or gnocchi board to create indentations or simply set the gnocchi pieces aside on a foil lined tray.
  7. Continue this process with the remaining dough.
  8. If you will be using the gnocchi later, wrap the tray and keep refrigerated until you are ready to use.
  9. In a large pot, bring water to boil then add half the gnocchi to the boiling water (cooking the gnocchi in batches will prevent it from sticking together). Boil the gnocchi for about 3 minutes or until they float on the surface of the water.
  10. Strain and eat immediately.

*Recipe base on one shared by Integrative Nutrition with substitution of one ingredient

Happily this made enough for my family of three with some leftover for today.  If you have a large family I’d suggest doubling the recipe.  Not sure how they will reheat yet, but I’m sure they will be just fine.  I didn’t bother rolling the gnocchi on my fork to make the dents, but I included those instructions should you want to do so.  For me the soft pillowy clouds were just fine as is.

Please let me know if you try them how you like!  If you have a recipe you’d like to share for an upcoming blog, please let me know in the comments and I’ll contact you directly.

Ingredients used:

Bob’s Red Mill Sweet White Rice Flour – 24 oz

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Xanthan Gum, 8-ounce