Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cauliflower Fiesta!

Since I've returned home, cooking has been one of the only things on my mind.  Traveling can be fun, but after a while, restaurant food just isn't going to cut it.  Not to mention that its sometimes just not as fun looking as what you can create at home.

Many people think that making healthy food appetizing is a labor intensive ordeal, or even worse, making healthy or Gluten Free/Allergy Free eats means putting nothing in the food at all.  Plain meats, plain steamed veggies, plain depressing!

I disagree.  Making healthy, GF and allergy-free foods can taste AMAZING only with the use of:
  • Colors
  • Textures
  • Spices & Herbs
Take today's recipe star ingredient for example:  Cauliflower.  Now I know many people who dislike poor cauliflower because they think its boring and tasteless and colorless.  Well, of course if you don't dress up cauliflower you might get that impression, BUT what if you took it to a party.  What if you said to the cauliflower, it's time to get jazzed up and have a little fun!

That's what I did today with my veggies.  I added colors with sweet long red peppers, some purplish hued shallots, some green chives, and a little sprinkle or sweet paprika.  Now I made my fiesta a little hot, hot, hot, because I like a spicy party in my mouth, but feel free to scale back on any ingredients or to saute the shallots and garlic first to calm them down a bit.  

Although this requires some prep work, it is a super easy dish that packs a pow of flavors!

Cauliflower Fiesta

 (Before its oven-baked)

1 head of cauliflower, steamed until soft but not mushy, about 30-40 minutes, then chopped
2 sweet long red peppers, diced
1 handfull of chives, finely chopped
1 large shallot, diced or chopped (depending how much pow you want)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tbs Soy-Free Earth Balance, softened
sea salt to taste
sweet paprika to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix chopped, steamed cauliflower with all diced and chopped veggies, Earth Balance and seasoning.
Transfer mixture to a lightly olive-oil greased square pan.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes letting the ingredients get to know each other.
Serve it up! 

If there's not enough crunch for you, think of sprinkling some GF bread crumbs on top or adding some sunflower seeds.  This makes the perfect everyone friendly side dish and you can even add beans to make it a main affair.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Traveling is Nuts

Hi all,

It feels like I've been anywhere but home this entire summer as I jumped from location to location for many different reasons.  I've been to 6 states alone in the last couple of months, and now that I'm back in my own home and kitchen I am thankful.  Traveling may be hard on the tummy, but that's just one problem.

It's nuts.  It's those damn peanuts on planes.

I know, I know what you're thinking: Another whiner and complainer trying to take away my plane peanuts.  Doesn't she know that those peanuts are the only reason that I get on a plane?  If they switched to pretzels, I'd damn near drive everywhere!

It's not as if I truly care what anyone eats as long as I don't have to eat peanuts, but in such a small, confined space complete with re-circulated air, flying becomes a dangerous gamble.  Depending on the amount of nut-eaters around me, I may have a very small reaction.  Recently though, I've had several bad experiences on planes.

We'll start with a big problem I had flying Southwest- they gave every passenger about 3 or more packets of peanuts.  There was such an overwhelming amount of peanut dust and smell flying through the air because of Southwest's "generosity" I couldn't breathe.  When a passenger starts to turn green, has trouble clearing her airways, and feels like she's going to pass out, I think it's time to re-evaluate the worth of other passengers' beloved peanuts.

Now what would those peanut fanaticals say in response to my plight?  Don't fly lady, if you're allergic!  For some people who don't travel as much, that may be an option.  But it's not for me.  I wish those nut zealots would just consider that if they could just make peace with pretzels, I could breathe.  Another human being could breathe normally.

I've signed countless petitions for airlines to fly nut-free throughout the years.  Although some have definitely complied, others, like Southwest have not.  I had no control over what airline I flew when I had to get on that Southwest flight (because of the location), but they had control of what they could have chosen to serve on the flight.

It's not just the people eating the peanuts that causes a problem either.  I flew Delta as well during my months of travel, and when I boarded one of my flights there were peanuts all over the floor and riddled about everywhere.  Because of tight airline schedules, companies don't really clean anymore between flights.  So now, its not only the peanut air, it's the peanutty chairs, tables, and even windows.  Getting rashes from sitting on a flight isn't any better than not being able to breathe.

Listen, whenever I can I fly peanut-free airlines, but it's not always an option.  The economy has changed the competition and less airlines fly to less places.  Sometimes, you only have nut airlines to choose from.  It seems like an age-old complaint: stop serving peanuts on airplanes!

It's just too easy to not serve peanuts, and that's why I don't understand why they still do.