Sunday, March 28, 2010

To Life and Food: My Pursuit of Happiness

I remember growing up thinking I didn't eat unhealthy, but kind of thinking that healthy food had to taste nasty to be good for you. Wow, was I wrong. Since I was never really a huge fan of cooking until I got married (almost 8 months ago), cooking is a fairly new hobby for me and I love it. But it amazes me how delicious good and fresh food can be for you. I am currently trying to cut as much sugar out of my diet as I can and using natural sweeteners like honey and agave when needed. So appropriately I thought my first post could be about some blackberry jam I made on Friday. We all know jam is packed with sugar, but there is nothing like delicious homemade jam and toast. I had been wanting to try agave as a substitute for awhile and Sunflower Market had blackberries on sale for 99 cents a box so I got 5. The jam doesn't taste like it's loaded with sugar, but it is sweet and you can actually taste the natural delicious flavor of the blackberries, so it is much more "fresh" tasting.

Agave Jam

30 oz. blackberries or any berry you want (I used five 6 oz. boxes) It should be just under 4 c. mashed
1 1/4 c. agave or more as desired (we use light agave)
1 package Pomona's Universal Pectin (or any pectin should do)
7 canning 8 oz. jars
juice from 1 lemon
3/4 c. water

Follow the recipe on the pectin for the freezer jam (or cooked if you would like). We just mashed the blackberries, added agave and lemon juice and added the pectin mixed with water after we boiled the water and blended it with the pectin in a blender. We didn't use the whole package of pectin because we made such a small batch. After adding the pectin, ours called for adding calcium water, which is needed to make it jelly. Just follow the pectin box on this one, most don't call for that, but if they do, there are instructions included (you just add the powder given in box to water). Continue to add the calcium water until desired thickness of jam (my husband says it's called its desired viscosity?) Since freezer jam is naturally more runny, we just boiled it for 1-2 minutes after all ingredients were added, poored it into the jars and it turned out great once it cooled. Also, with this method it actually lasts longer in the fridge.

Yay for healthier jam! No need to seal the lids since it's freezer jam, but the cooked and sealed jam doesn't take that much longer. This recipe is super adaptable to berry or sweetener preference. Honey works as well, I will try that next time. But give it a try and enjoy this low glycemic index deliciousness:)

-Leah Marie

Veggie Girl Makes an Appearance

As the token vegetarian contributor to your health through this blog, I think it to be very important that I lay my foundation out for you. I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian: just a fancy way of saying no meat, yes eggs and milk. I do not think it is important to make people squirm in their seats as they enjoy a good hamburger so I typically do not tell people about my obscure eating habits. I first became a vegetarian at age 12 due to the wonderful influence of my Grandma... We'll call her Grandma Melba (GM). As a child I remember spending quality time at her house gagging on carrot juice and shuddering at soy milk. When I was a bit older, however, I began talking to GM about cholesterol, steroids, and the strain meat can put on your digestive tract and wondered how it would be to feed with the animals instead of upon them. The long and short of it: I still hate carrot juice, don't completely understand steroids, but love the way I feel after a fresh meal! From then on (a hefty 11 years now) I have focused on learning how to keep myself nourished and cook for a wide audience without taste testing. I am not perfect but love to learn new ways to honor the bodies of those that I love with good food. Here's to your health!

Over and Out,
Veggie Girl

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Spinach Chicken Salad

This was a yummy dinner -

Mashed sweet potatoes (I added a couple small regular potatoes, but without should be totally delicious):

and spinach chicken salad (I added apples and kiwi as well):

Add toasted bread if you need a little more substance!