Category Archives: product review

mushroom ravioli & recipe fails

Just when I start to think that someday I’ll be a good enough cook to be a personal chef in LA, I have a huge recipe failure and I’m swiftly brought back to my Minneapolis (and winter) reality.

(source)

Take the sun-dried tomato & mushroom alfredo I made recently. It wasn’t horrible, but it made me want to add mushroom ravioli to the menu the next week just so I could redeem myself. I thought I was being creative and heath conscious as well as finally getting around to using the Hoosier Mushrooms from Lori and the Buitoni Ravioli I received as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. It was all going perfect in my mind – a nutritionist-ed alfredo sauce made with ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms over mushroom ravioli…

But when I tasted the sauce it needed something. So we added some 1/2 & 1/2, a few more spices and it tasted ok. I should have just given up then. Nixing the whole sauce idea all together would have been a good decision. But it was a decision I didn’t make and so mushroom ravioli with sun-dried tomato & mushroom alfredo it was.

When I tried the ravioli plain, I realized that it didn’t need ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes or more mushrooms. It would have been perfect with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh parmesan cheese.

So I picked up some more Wild Mushroom Agnolotti, this time knowing it needed nothing but a sprinkling of cheese. And it was delicious with just that.

Sigh. I guess part of being a good cook is knowing when to leave good things alone – something I’ll be working on.

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Filed under cheese, eating experiment, mastering the art of, pasta, product review, Recipes, Uncategorized

in my cupboard: jalfreezi sauce

As much as I love spending time in the kitchen, sometimes it just isn’t feasible. We all have the nights when spending an hour to make dinner is just not an option. One of my favorite “after soccer, before next activity meals”  growing up was tortellini with pesto. My Mom always makes batches of pesto when the basil is blooming and then freezes it to use throughout the year. I have very fond memories of those rushed, but always finding time to eat as a family, meals.

Unfortunately I don’t have any home-made pesto to toss with tortellini, but I have something that comes pretty close, with an ethnic twist. Jalfreezi Simmer Sauce makes dinner taste like it’s been simmering away for hours, instead of minutes. When served with some naan, brown rice and tofu, you can almost pretend that you are at your favorite Indian joint.

The sauce is delicious and the ingredient list is real. Does it get any better than that? I’ve had pre-made sauces in the past and was never thrilled, but this I can say will be making it to my pantry again.

The Makings of a fast, delicious Indian meal at home:

What is your go-to quick meal?

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Filed under coconut, food reviews, great meals, in my cupboard, product review, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetables, whole foods, whole grains

earth day 2010

I like to be thoughtful of our earth year round, but I must say that the warm, spring days we’ve been having as of late make me appreciate mother nature so much more than blistery, below-zero days.  Springtime in Minnesota is really a sight to see, I swear the population increases by about 75%, but possibly it is just everyone returning to the outdoors after many months of  hibernation. 😉

My parents were “green” before it even turned into an everyday term and maybe, just maybe, I’ve picked up some of my “green-ness” from them. Because it was basically instilled in me, I had no other choice! I have very fond memories of my little brother taking the compostable garbage out to the compost pile – which he considered the WORST possible job on the planet. (It took all of 2 minutes to complete) But they did (and still do) everything they can to keep as much out of the landfills as they can.

I do the everyday “earth friendly” things like recycling, bringing my own bags to the store with me, buying organic (and local when possible), walking instead of driving as much as it allows and just being aware of what resources I’m using in general. Unfortunately, my 10th floor downtown apartment doesn’t quite allow for a compost pile, but all in good time, I do what I can right now.

I am a strong believer that little changes add up – just as I believe little changes in the foods we eat and movement we get can change our bodies and ourselves for the better – no matter how small the changes are, they are worth it!  Because of this, I’m willing to spend more money on food and household items that go the extra mile in either using or producing products that help protect the planet.  A few years ago I started replacing my cleaning supplies with more natural versions without the harsh chemicals – I love reading the 7th Generation packages that share things like this:

Doesn’t that just make you want to make the switch right now? Another small change that I recently implemented was bringing a water bottle with me to our trip to Colorado. I rarely buy drinks in plastic bottles at home, but never think twice about it while traveling. (I need water, right?) This little change saved at least 10 plastic water bottles from ending up in a landfill and if that doesn’t count for something, I’m not sure what does.

What small changes can you make?

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Filed under ask the nutritionist, eating local, grocery shopping, in my cupboard, in season, in the news, product review

kitchen gadget: tofu press

My kitchen is brimming with all sorts of kitchen gadgets: large and small, useful and pointless but I’m starting to think that I may have a problem when I can’t even find room for a tofu press that I got at the Natural Products Expo West show last month. This gadget falls under the useful category so it can’t be stuffed on the top shelf of the cabinet, I need it accessible! It might be time to ditch the George Foreman…

As I was taking a quiz about tofu I was telling some of the people at the Nasoya booth that I love tofu, but hate the process of draining and pressing. Much to my surprise, my correct answers scored me a tofu press! I didn’t even know such things existed! (And only at Expo do you win a tofu press as a prize)

The tofu press has a spring that presses the tofu and the water rises to the top and you simply pour the water out. It couldn’t be easier to use! I recently made some Sweet & Spicy Mustard tofu – pressed, marinated and baked!

Sweet & Spicy Mustard Tofu

  • 1 block organic tofu
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Mustard Girl Sweet & Fancy Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp agave
  • pepper and red pepper flakes

Cut pressed tofu into triangle pieces. Mix mustards, agave, peppers and marinate tofu for at least a half-hour. Bake at 375° F for about 45 minutes, turning once half-way through, until tofu is browned and crispy!

Any new kitchen gadgets that you are loving?

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Filed under kitchen gadgets, product review, Recipes, vegan

Vegan PB Blondies

I was lucky enough to receive a sampling of stevia products from NuNaturals. I have been a fan of stevia for quite some time, but I have never baked with it before. (Considering that I just started baking last month, could be part of the reason) While I was paging through all of the recipes that they sent along, one recipe in particular stood out. Vegan Peanut Butter Blondies. I’ve seen Mama Pea’s baking skills time and time again, and although I don’t have two cute helpers, I knew I was going to have to try this recipe, even if I was all on my own.

I love the idea of a whole-grain, low-sugar treat that I can feel good about eating. And I love that you can replace some of the sugar with stevia. NuNaturals baking blend is such a genius idea! I would try adding a little less stevia next time, because there was a hint of that stevia flavor that I don’t particularly care for – definitely not enough for me to not eat the remaining bars however! I can’t wait to try some more recipes with stevia and I’m also looking for some samplers, my freezer can’t handle anymore frozen cookies, bars and desserts!

Have you baked with stevia before? What have you made?

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Filed under adventures in baking, chocolate, dessert, product review, Recipes, vegan, whole foods, whole grains

california dreaming…

Hello Everyone!

I’m back from California and despite the perfect weather and sunshine, I have to admit that I was ready to be home, looking forward to my daily routine, reading all of your blogs and of course seeing the taster!

Expo West 2010 went very well. As with any big event, the glitches are quickly fixed and we served up more bread, tortillas and pizzas than I can even wrap my head around. After the show, I was fortunate enought to spend some time in LA with family and meet Lynn from The Actor’s Diet! (I had confused the dates and due to a last minute change Christy was unable to attend – next time Christy!) It was so fun to chat with her and meet the famous Julius. She is as beautiful as you can imagine!

I promised you some of the newest and most interesting products out there so here they are. Because we were so busy and the show is so huge I certainly didn’t see everything but here are some of my favorites.

Interesting & New Products:

  • Lara Bars: There are some new bar flavors like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (there is a bit more added sugar with the chocolate) but unfortunately by the time I got to their booth they were all out of samples! I heard nothing but good things so am anxious to see them in the stores!
  • Coconut Water Sorbet: This coconut sorbet was delicious, sweetened with agave and will be so refreshing in the midst of summer – the lemonade flavor was perfectly tart, but I’m even more excited to try the Hibiscus variety.
  • Amazing Grass: I’ve been using the grass for some time but was explaining that I just can’t down it plain with water and would like to – enter in the newest variety that has a nice lime flavor and also contains matcha and mate in addition to the green goodness – trust me when I say you can drink it straight. They also have a new bar out, Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar that was delicious and I will be buying again.
  • Daiya Cheese: this new vegan cheese is out of this world. I obviously am VERY picky with vegan/dairy-free cheeses because I love cheese and refuse to eat mediocre cheese. With that said, it will be in my shopping cart this weekend.
  • Zhena’s Gypsy Tea: Coconut Chai with some almond milk and agave/stevia = perfection in a cup.
  • Hansen’s Natural Fruit & Tea Sticks: The natural version of Crystal Light – finally! These low-cal drink mixes are sweetened with truvia and are deliciously sweet – I know the kids at camp will love them!
  • YumNuts Naturals: Roasted, jumbo cashews with no added oils – perfect for afternoon snacking (Toasted Coconut was my favorite).
  • Hummus Chips & Dressing: I’ve had the hummus chips at other shows and always loved them but have yet to see them in the stores – this year they also had a new hummus dressing which is similar to a thinned-out hummus – perfect for any salad!

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Filed under antioxidants, ask the nutritionist, blog friends, cheese, chocolate, coconut, dessert, fats, gluten-free, in my cupboard, product review, protein, vegan, website, whole foods, whole grains

organic batter blaster

Sometimes you just have to buy new food products because they are fun. It may seem juvenile to some, but it’s the little things in life, right? (This also may explain my ridiculous attempts at keeping a food budget.) This is one of those foods. I’ve looked at this longingly in the stores for years now and it finally made it home with me! Part of the reason I held off for so long is that I’m not really a pancake person. We’ve literally had the same Whole Wheat Pancake Mix in the cupboard for over a year now. But the Batter Blaster got the best of me and I may just start eating pancakes more often.

Pancakes out of a can? They were surprisingly good and turned out just as fluffy as pancakes should. In fact, the taster has already requested them for breakfast again. Pancakes on a week-day seems like a bit much but not with this. Simply shake, press and flip and in a matter of about 4 minutes, you’ve got a golden, perfect pancake. You can also add blueberries or bananas, although they don’t turn out quite as well.

Does anyone else have a food or product they buy because it is fun?

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Filed under in my cupboard, product review