This week’s guest chef, Sagan, has been a member of the Bumbling Band from the very beginning.
She’s a role model for many of us with regards to the way she talks the talk and walks the walk.
Sagan doesnt merely write about living a healthy life—-she exits her domicile, leads one and *then* returns to the computer to tell the blogworld about it.
Please to enjoy—as I know I always do—Sagan.
Cooking and baking are two things that do not come naturally to me. When I first took Food Tech in junior high, I was so bad at following the recipes that my best friend would take pity on me and end up doing much of my work as well as her own. Because of this, somehow my end product would be a fantastic dish and hers would get neglected- yet somehow she never held a grudge! (or maybe that’s why it’s been a couple years since I heard from her…)
When I became interested in health, it followed that my interest extended to nutrition and transforming recipes into health-wonders. Most of my experimenting has been conducted with substituting natural, healthier ingredients for the sugars and fats added in recipes, and much of my experimenting has gone incredibly awry! Changing anything in a recipe requires a lot of time and patience, and the recognition that it’s likely going to take quite a few tries before you get the recipe right. I have learned to prepare for a failed product but still aim high with the hopes that it’ll turn out fantastic!
I have discovered that mucking around in the kitchen can be very dangerous. I have successfully set off the smoke alarm too many times to count (it happened so frequently when I cooked for my ex that when I cooked something without setting off the smoke alarm, we were rather concerned that perhaps the batteries had died), exploded just about everything in the microwave, splattered food from the blender and food processor all over the kitchen, managed to cover the cupboards/sink/fridge/counter completely in flour, caused soups to boil all over the stove, and more recently dropped a pumpkin on the floor and set my oven mitt on fire. Needless to say, my cleaning skills have been very finely tuned over the past year.
Most people will tell you that it’s best to follow the exact recipe the first time, and try making the healthy alterations later on. But that kind of logic just doesn’t match up with the fun of experimenting! It is, I must admit, nearly impossible for me to follow a recipe exactly. I will cut down the sugar by half or replace it with applesauce, bananas, dates, blueberries, or other fruits. Regular flour is neglected in my pantry as whole wheat flour is pretty much my go-to. I almost always completely replace the fats with applesauce. It results in a finished product that tastes a good deal different than the original, and often it looks a lot different too (the whole wheat flour leaves it far more dense). Sometimes the alterations just don’t cut it, but other times, I’m pleasantly surprised! This banana bread recipe is one of those foods that I have managed to perfect.
Another recipe which has received rave reviews from everyone who has tried it is my very easy, very healthy, and very deliciously creamy Split Pea Soup recipe. This was found in a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and it has never failed me! The only thing I’ve ever done to mess this soup up was to let it boil over when I got distracted and left it unattended (and if that’s the worst that has happened, you know you’ve got a winner).
Split Pea Soup
2 ¾ cups water
1 ½ cups dry split peas, rinsed and drained
1 14-oz can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 to 1 ½ lbs meaty smoked pork hocks or one 1 to 1 ½ lbs meaty ham bone*
¼ tsp dried marjoram, crushed**
Dash black pepper**
1 bay leaf
½ cup chopped carrot (1 medium)
½ cup chopped celery (1 stalk)
½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1. In a large saucepan combine water, split peas, chicken broth, pork hocks, marjoram, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. (Watch it while it’s boiling. This is the part where it boiled over and got under the stove element. It’s not fun to clean out). Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove pork hocks.
2. When cool enough to handle, cut meat off bones; coarsely chop meat. Discard bones. Return meat to saucepan. Stir in carrot, celery, and onion. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes more or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.
*If you can’t be bothered to deal with chopping the ham off the bone and all, you can either buy ham steaks (try to get one with less sodium!) and cut those into chunks, or just leave out the meat altogether. It tastes great even without the ham. When I don’t include ham, I like to add some extra carrots and celery.
**Be liberal with spices! They make everything taste great. If you don’t have the marjoram, just throw some extra pepper in there.
Nutrition Facts per 1 ½ cups:
4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat)
19 mg chol
713 mg sodium
49 g carb
20 g fiber
25 g protein