Thursday, December 29, 2011

Whole Grain Cereal cooked in Crockpot

Last night I decided to cook some whole grains for today's breakfast. Slow cooked whole grain cereal may have been the breakfast of champions before processed, boxed cereal came on the scene. That was many years ago though, and now, many people think that hot cereal consists of just oatmeal or cream of wheat.

There are a few ways of going about cooking hot cereal with whole grains.

I decided to cook my cereal in a crock pot. If your crock pot doesn't run hot, you can probably just put the pot on low, and your cereal will be cooked in the morning. Mine runs hot, even on low, so after 3-4 hours, my cereal was finished. I just put it into glass storage containers and into the fridge once it cooled. The picture below is after it had been refrigerated overnight and I had scooped a portion out. I ended up with about 8 cups of cooked cereal.

This morning, I added a little water to 2/3 cup cooked cereal and microwaved mine to heat it up for about 1 minute. Perfect!

Another method is to cook the cereal in a covered casserole in your oven overnight. It can bake at about 150* to 200* overnight. Don't sleep in though, or you may have overcooked (hard) cereal!

From the old LDS Cannery Cookbook, there is a recipe for using 1 cup of whole wheat (or other grain), and adding 2 cups of boiling water to it in a thermos (with a little salt), and storing it overnight. I am sure this would be a bit on the chewy side!

Here is the recipe I used last night:

1/2 c. quinoa (Bob's Red Mill-prewashed)
1/2 c. hard red winter wheat
1/2 c. oat groats
1/2 c. pearl barley

quinoa top left, wheat top right, oat groats bottom left, pearl barley bottom right

I combined all of the grains in the crock pot with 4 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp salt. I added another cup of water after about 3 1/2 hours of cooking on low.  I think that erring on the side of extra water won't hurt at all. I unplugged the crock pot after about 4 1/2 hours, and it was perfectly cooked. You can use any combination of whole or cracked grains with this recipe, and even cut it in half if you have a smaller crock pot. The ratio is 1/2 c. grain to 1- 1 1/2 c. water.
I served my cereal with Greek yogurt and blueberries for breakfast. Delish!

Here is a close-up of the cooked cereal:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Growing Microgreens

Microgreens are a quick way to grow delicious produce from your garden or kitchen.  They are grown from radish, cabbage, beet, and other greens. They usually take about 10 days to grow, and are cut off when they reach 2-3 inches just above the soil line.

(picture courtesy of
I wanted to share an excellent video with you on growing microgreens. I found it on YouTube, and it is  by a company who grows microgreens for sales to restaurants and farmer's markets in their area. I think that the principles of growing can be used for home production as well.

The one type of microgreens that I love to grow are sunflower greens. They are so tasty.

I buy my microgreens seed from sproutshop. I've used sunflower greens for many years. Here is a recipe that I posted back in 2008 for sprout burgers using sunflower greens.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter Container Garden 2011-2012

Another Winter, another container garden! I am really hoping to start tearing up my back yard in February and begin putting together my raised bed garden. I think I will get better yield from my plants with the raised bed garden.

However, what I have currently are a half dozen very large pots that contain Swiss Chard, Beets and Peas.  Here is one of the pots of beets. I will be using the beet greens in a stir fry this week. I like using the beets in smoothies.

I have Swiss Chard planted in several pots, by itself and along with other vegetables.

The lighting is a little strange because all of these pots are in a mini greenhouse of sorts that I created. This is last year's set up. This year I have a larger space.

Here in Southern Utah, our day time temps in the Winter are in the 50's and the evening temps are in the 20's to 30's. The plastic greenhouse allows me to grow all kinds of crops such as Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale, Bok Choy and Peas. I haven't tried lettuce in my green house, but I'm starting some from seed this week, and I'll pot some up here in a few weeks. I'm also starting more spinach.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Portobello Mushrooms with Chicken and Spinach

Portobello Mushrooms with Chicken and Spinach

Looking for a delicious dish that you can indulge yourself with that will not ruin your healthy eating habits? I created this recipe using ingredients that were in my refrigerator, and now it is one of my favorites! It is easy to prepare and so nutritious.

First, here are the ingredients that I used:

Grated carrots, diced cooked chicken, diced mini portobello mushrooms (Costco purchase), baby spinach......

and Tomato Basil  Dressing from Whole Foods. You can find it in the refrigerator section of the store. 

I used about 8 oz. of mushrooms and diced them. I put 1 tsp of olive oil in the pan to saute them and then added the grated carrot.

Next, add the chicken. Since this is one serving I'm making, I measured out 2 ounces of chicken...and yes, I used a kitchen scale!

Once the chicken has been in the pan and is heated up, I put in the spinach. I put my cast iron skillet on the pan as a cover, and let the spinach steam for a minute or so.

Sprinkle some grated cheese on top. It not only tastes great, but it looks yummy as well!

Close up!  I have tried other no oil dressings such as the Fig Balsamic Dressing, but I really like the Tomato Basil Dressing the best. You could use fresh basil and a little tomato paste from a tube and a few other herbs if you don't have the Tomato Basil Dressing. Enjoy!

Calorie Count:  375 calories and no regrets!

Portobello mushrooms, 8 oz           60 calories
1 Tsp. Olive Oil                              40 calories
1  carrot, grated                               25  calories
2  oz. chicken, cubed                      110 calories 
1/3 c. mozzarella cheese, grated      110 calories
1 c. baby spinach                             10 calories
Tomato Basil Dressing, 2 TB          20 calories

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Healthy Turkey Chili

I decided to try another one of Dr. Amen's recipes from the "The Daniel Plan."  You can find the main dish recipes here.  For the Healthy Turkey Chili recipe, scroll down the page a bit.

First of all, just know that browning lean ground turkey is nearly impossible without a bunch of oil.  I went ahead and did the best I could(with a spray of oil) before just adding the remaining ingredients. After all, it will cook while simmering in the tomatoes. This recipe calls for pureeing part of the vegetables, but I decided to just add everything diced.  The flavor was very good.

Here is a picture of the finished product:

This is a cross between a soup and a stew, or as Rachel Ray calls it, a stoop.  Very delicious!

I think that the next time around I will go ahead and puree part of the vegetables. I have a red pepper soup recipe I enjoy that purees the veges, and it tastes great.

By the way, I used canned tomatoes in the recipe. I had a can of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes and a can of Hunts diced tomatoes, and it turned out fine. I also used 1 can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed) and a can of black beans (drained and rinsed). It called for 2 c. of kidney beans and 1 c. of black beans, which is 3 cups total. I think that is about what you get from 2 cans of beans.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Using Food Storage

I've been trying to use up what we have in the refrigerator and freezer so that nothing goes to waste. Think about how much food you throw out. I heard a statistic this morning on the Today Show that Americans throw out 25% of the food they purchase each year. I did a little googling, and found a report here that talks about food losses throughout the food system. It is a huge problem, and definitely the consumer does their share of wasting food. Anyway, we've gotten to the point where it is time for me to do some pre-cooking for convenience. Sometimes I just don't want to go through the process of making an entire meal. However, if I cook some things in advance, it is so easy to defrost using the microwave or overnight in the refrigerator.

So, I took an hour and a half this morning to cook up some items for "fast food" to have on hand.  I had purchased 100 pounds of potatoes which are in my garage.  I took 5 of them and washed and pricked them, and got them into the oven to bake.

At the same time, I got some brown rice out of my chest freezer, and put it in the rice cooker to cook.

Next, I defrosted 2 small containers of vegetarian chili from my side by side freezer in the microwave.

While all of that was going on, I got out a #10 can of pinto beans from my food storage, and sorted through 6 cups of beans. After getting all of the rocks and junk out, I rinsed them in a colander, and put them into the crock pot to make refried beans, which I blogged about here. This will cook from 12-24 hours. I happened to have pre-cooked bacon in the refrigerator that I bought at Costco a couple of weeks ago. We don't each much bacon, but Christmas around the corner, I thought it might be nice to have some on hand.

As soon as the baked potatoes came out of the oven, I cut one in half for my lunch. I put about 2/3 c. vegetarian chili (from the freezer that I defrosted) on the potato and garnished it with a little shredded cheese. I served it with a salad I had in the refrigerator. It was delicious!

 The salad dressing I used is a yogurt based dressing, with only 45 calories for 2 TBSP. Yummy :)

After the rice finished cooking, I dumped it into a large bowl to fluff it up and cool. Then, I measured about a cup or so of it into some small freezer containers.

Here is a picture of everything before it goes into the refrigerator.

The refried beans will continue to cook until late tonight or tomorrow morning.

This has really helped me spend fewer hours in the kitchen, and prevents us from ordering fast food.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Frozen Garlic and Ginger Cubes

When I was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, I made my mandatory trip to Whole Foods. While perusing the frozen food aisle, I came across this fantastic product; frozen cubes of garlic and ginger that you just pop out of the tray! The brand is Dorot.  There are 20 cubes per package, and each cube is equal to 1 tsp of ginger or one clove of garlic.

I used both in the stir fry I made last week. The flavor is great! So convenient, too.  Sometimes you don't want to go through the hassle of mincing a clove of garlic, or you are out of fresh. This is great to have in the freezer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Life Enhancing Lentil Soup

I have a good supply of red lentils in my food storage, and like to find great recipes that call for them.  This Lentil Soup recipe from Dr. Amen is a delicious way to use red lentils, and very good for your brain and body as well.

I came across a PBS pledge drive program featuring Dr. Daniel Amen. Dr. Amen is a  physician specializing in Psychiatry, with an emphasis on brain imaging, and created a  diet and lifestyle plan which enhances a healthy brain.  He has several books out, including Change Your Brain, Change Your Body. I was very impressed with the PBS special, particularly since my mother has Alzheimer's disease. Based on Dr. Amen's experience working with ex-NFL players, he showed how the brain damage that occurred with injury, was in some part repaired with proper diet, exercise and supplements. I always knew, based on my graduate school studies and review of scientific research, that heart disease due to arteriosclerosis could be reversed, so I was intrigued about the possibility of improving brain function, and reversing damage to the brain.

I must say, that I am very impressed with his program. His nutrition advice is correct, which is hard to find with most physicians.

Today for dinner, I made his Life Enhancing Lentil Soup. I didn't have a red pepper, otherwise I followed the recipe as written.   It would have added some additional color and flavor to the soup.

Don't be concerned about all of the pepper and lemon pepper in the recipe. My husband and I loved the soup! My father came by and gave it a taste and enjoyed it as well.

For 212 calories per serving, this is a filling, delicious soup. It is easy to make, and takes all of 30 minutes on the stove. The recipe calls for more like 40 minutes, but you can turn up the heat a little and stir more frequently.

If you give this recipe a try, please let me know how you liked it by posting a comment.

Life Enhancing Lentil Soup

  • ¼ Cup vegetable broth for sautéing vegetables, or 1 Tbsp refined coconut oil
  • 4 Celery Stalks, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 Carrot, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 Cups Water
  • 6 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Cups red lentils
  • ¼ Cup brown rice
  • 1Tbsp fresh marjoram, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped (optional)
  • optional 1 tsp garlic salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


  1. In a large soup pot, heat vegetable broth (preferably) or refined coconut oil. Sauté celery, carrot, peppers, onion, and garlic for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add water and vegetable broth to pot. Stir in lentils and rice. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 25 minutes.
  3. Stir in herbs, garlic salt, curry, cumin, lemon pepper, and pepper. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until lentils fall apart and mixture thickens.
  4. Stir in lemon juice.
  5. Ladle into soup bowls.

8 servings

Nutritional Analysis

Per serving: 212 Calories, 37g Carbohydrates, 0g Saturated Fat, 562mg sodium, 14g protein, 1g Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 9g Fiber

Recipe from "Change Your Brain, Change Your Body" Cookbook, by Dr. Daniel Amen