Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

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Listen, I don’t like sweet potatoes, I’ll be honest. This winter, we have literally gotten 3-4 of them every week in our CSA. I realize this is intense #firstworldproblems but next winter, I’m going to request that we don’t get any. But, what’s done is done. So I’ve been trying to get creative because wasting food is not cool. Hence, this recipe for gnocchi was born. Originally, I intended to just make the brown butter sage sauce, but we also received amazing shiitake mushrooms in our share this week. Divine serendipity! The mushrooms MAKE this dish. You don’t need many, so don’t hesitate at the pricey mushrooms.

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I used white flour in this (gasp) but I think you could substitute up to half whole wheat pastry flour.

You’ll need:

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and boiled/steamed soft

2 cups unbleached white flour (plus more depending on moisture of the potatoes)

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste

SAUCE

1/2 cup butter

2 cups shiitake mushrooms

2 tsp ground sage, or handful torn fresh

Instructions:

Mash the sweet potato well. Ensure you let it cool. In a large bowl, add the flour and egg and seasoning, and knead until a dough forms. It should be sticky but workable. I ended up using an extra cup of flour to get to the correct texture- my potatoes were rather large.

Flour surface, Roll dough into 1 inch wide ropes and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Start a large pot of salted water to boil.

When ready, cut dough into 1/2 inch pieces and press with a fork. Drop into boiling water- they are done when they are “jumping out of the pot” as Mario Batali says (I read this, I thought it was a good description).

In a skillet, brown the butter and cook the mushrooms and sage at the same time. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss pasta and sauce together. To serve, grate a small amount of Parmesan on top. Enjoy!

How I Meal Plan

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Lately I’ve been reading a ton of grocery shopping/meal planning posts and I’m loving it. I am obsessed with meal planning. I love reading flyers, picking recipes, and cooking.
I decided to share what works for us. We probably spend a little more than most people on food, but we’ve decided that food quality and contributing to local industry is really important to us. We cut in other areas to make this possible.
I operate on a kind of bi weekly schedule. Its a little haphazard because our organic CSA box comes every Tuesday, and you never know what exactly is going to be in there. I kind of like that about it, because it forces us to eat things we wouldn’t normally buy. (But if I see another sweet potato this winter I’m going to die).
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This week in our CSA we received:
-Swiss Chard
-Leaf Lettuce
-Broccoli
-3 apples, 3 Oranges
-Avocado, red bell pepper
-2 dozen small flock eggs
-living arugula
-handful of potatoes
-onion, cabbage

We are SO lucky to have a Co-op grocery now, that focuses on local products. There I purchased:
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-Loaf of bread
-Bagels
-Strawberries
-yogurt
-Sour Cream
-Shallots
-Kamut Spaghetti
-Navy Beans

I also shopped at the conventional grocery store because there were points on a bunch of stuff I needed, and I like saving money too!
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-Beans
-Fig bars
-bacon
-mushrooms
-celery
-green onion
-Caesar dressing

You probably noticed that meat is missing. We buy all our meat at a local farm who sells organic, hormone and antibiotic free meats on site. Once a month I go and buy what we need for 4-6 weeks and put it in the freezer. We don’t eat a ton of meat and view it as a nice to have, not need to have.
On the menu this week:
Bean Bourgignon, Lunch salads, Perogie Casserole, Asian Cabbage salad, Southwest Frittata, Spaghetti with home-canned sauce from our summer garden.

So there you have it, a little snapshot of our pantry. I’d LOVE to hear how others do it, please share!

Vegan Korma

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By special request: my ‘recipe’ for Vegan Korma.

You will need:
-Korma paste, such as this one-
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-Medium head cauliflower
-3 large carrots
-1 onion
-1 cup frozen peas
-1 can light coconut milk
-1 package extra firm organic tofu (don’t want any gmo’s in your dinner)
coconut oil

How to:
Cube the tofu, and toss in some coconut oil and salt. grease a cookie sheet with more oil. Bake the tofu at 375 for 30 minutes, turning once. It should be nicely browned on each side.
Chop the veggies into uniform small bite sized pieces. You want them to cook at the same rate so try to ensure uniformity.
In a wok, sauté the onion until soft. Add the cauliflower, carrot, coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of spice paste. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add peas and tofu and cook until just warmed through.
Serve over steamed grain- My favourite is millet!
Excuse the terrible picture. I just wanted to eat it, not be an artist.
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Full Fat Dairy

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We recently made the switch to full fat dairy around here. It started because our fridge is small and I didn’t want to have to buy two kinds of milk anymore (Anneliese drinks whole milk). I don’t drink milk, but my husband does. I use it on cereal, in cooking, and in my coffee. Anneliese also eats yogurt we make in our yogurt machine, but I’m not a big yogurt fan. I do also eat cheese (of course!) and sour cream.
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For most of my life, I’ve been eating low or no fat dairy- after all, haven’t we all been told how much healthier it is? Turns out, that’s actually not the case. And after you go whole, you won’t go back. What I’m saying is that fat-free sour cream is gross and if my great-great grandmother was serving perogies she wouldn’t want that crap on them.

In a perfect world, we’d all eat fresh dairy products straight from our local farmer in moderate quantities. Unfortunately this is not the case. However, here’s a few reasons why, if you eat dairy, you may want to consider switching to whole products.

In a 2010 analysis, scientists said:

“…There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of [coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease].”
What’s more, according to dLife:

“If only half of dairy fat is the saturated kind, what kind is the rest? Dairy fat contains lots of oleic acid (the stuff that makes olive oil so healthy), along with a type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that may help with weight loss. Recent studies strongly suggest that something — possibly the CLA — in dairy fat does indeed help with weight management.”

This is the same type of thinking that has villified eggs for the past 40-50 years. Study after study has shown definitively that saturated fat alone is not a sole contributer to heart disease.

Saturated fats provide the building blocks for your cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances that are essential to your health, and saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources (such as meat, dairy, certain oils, and tropical plants like coconut) provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet.

When you eat fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.

Saturated fats are also:
•The preferred fuel for your heart, and also used as a source of fuel during energy expenditure
•Useful antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
•Effective as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti-fungal agent (lauric acid)
•Useful to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
•Modulators of genetic regulation and prevent cancer (butyric acid)
(source: Dr. Mercola)

I know there are many proponents of raw dairy who are on with my thinking on whole milk products, however I can’t get on board with that. Pasturization has been one of the great inventions of the modern age and has saved many a life.

So maybe go ahead, and have some whole milk on your cereal… or some full fat yogurt with your breakfast…you may find yourself more satisfied, and surely enjoy the great taste!!

Real Food Protein Bars

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protein2So I’ve been eating protein bars for lunch as of late. Pretty much the cardinal sin of trying to eat real, fresh food. However, they are portable, non-perishable and I can eat one while driving.
Suffice to say that this lunch situation pretty much sums up my life currently.

In the interest of saving money, and my endocrine system (what is IN those protein bars, they taste like petrochemicals) I came up with a recipe to make my own. This is totally customizable, based on your ingredient preference and texture.

- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup coconut butter (not oil, butter)
- 1/3 cup oats
- 4 scoops beneprotein (or your protein powder of choice) I like beneprotein because it doesn’t have anything other than pure whey protein
- 1/4 cup crushed almonds
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- drizzle agave to taste
- couple handfuls of chocolate chips

mix it all up, and press into a square pan, lined with plastic wrap. If you don’t line it with plastic wrap, you will hate yourself. Put the pan in the freezer to set. When it’s set, cut into bars and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Store in the freezer.

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Restaurant Review- Radius

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We’re new parents. Nice dinners out have been few and far between for the past year. I really didn’t notice, or miss them for the first 8-or-so months…we were too busy!!
Now that I’m back at work, and we’ve got a totally awesome babysitter, we decided to start date night once a month. Having moved around quite a bit over the past 10 years, something we’ve loved to do is sample the local restaurant culture. Living in Hamilton for 6 months, we’re just getting started!

So, my last day of work before Christmas vacation we decided to treat ourselves- a dinner out was our gift to each other this year. We decided to try Radius (151 James St. S, Hamilton). Located at James South and Augusta in a newly restored (circa 1874) building, items made, where possible, with locally grown foods and all prepared on site by Chef Walter. The dining room was recently opened adding to the existing cafe serving freshly brewed coffee and tea and treats.

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Since I didn’t think to blog about this at the time, I didn’t take many photos…oops.
We started with wine and beer, and the selections were explained wonderfully by our friendly server. The atmosphere in the restaurant is really great- a mix of historical and modern. We chose crab cakes as our appetizer. I thought they were good, but I prefer my cakes a little more bready.
Moving on to main courses, I chose the Fettucine Carbonara, and Hubby chose the steak with wasabi mashed potatoes. Both entrees were AMAZING. The pasta was cooked perfectly ( I am a carb connaisseur) and his steak was exactly to his liking (he’s a meat connaisseur). I also tried some of his mashed and really enjoyed it.

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We were sitting next to a group of 4 (two couples) and chatted with them. This is a total tangent, but another reason why I love Hamilton- people are for-real friendly. I can’t say that about the other places we’ve recently lived.

We decided to order dessert after watching a few come out of the kitchen. We chose a belgian chocolate cake to share. It was gone in 3 seconds flat. This after finishing a generous portion of pasta- hey we were celebrating!

All in all, we had a great evening. Considering the dining area at Radius has been open a couple months, I think they are doing good things. We definitely have plans to return. I love the local concept of this restaurant and I’m excited to see where the menu goes.