Friday, July 27, 2012

Losing Weight

Hello everyone, and happy Friday.

Today I’d like to talk about something that I have wanted to talk about for a while. That is how to lose weight. People think that you need fancy pills or a gym membership to lose weight. I simply do not think that. There are, however, a few things that I think the public should know about when it comes to weight loss and eating lifestyle choices in general.

Eating things that are low in calorie are good. BUT! Does that mean you should drink a diet soda along with your super large cheeseburger and extra fries? No. Diet soda has a chemical called aspartame in it. Aspartame is a chemical that is used as a non-calorie sweetener for things like gum and diet soda. It breaks down to residual chemicals in the body. These chemicals are: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. It can then be further broken down into formaldehyde (you know, that stuff they put dead bodies in so they won’t break down). The carbonation in the soda also causes dehydration and bloating. So you want to drink more, which make you even more bloated and dehydrated. Funny how that works, huh?

Not to mention, you are still eating over a thousand calories of food in one sitting!

A similar thought process would be using all “light” or “low/no fat” items. The issues with these are that they are full of chemicals. They have things that the average person has no idea what it is (for example, “calcium disodium EDTA” in my roommate’s light Caesar dressing. By the way, calcium disodium EDTA is a chemical that removes heavy metals in the body and is toxic in high doses.) My personal rule of thumb is to never eat anything that advertises that it is lower in fat than it used to be or the same brand in regular fat. This really just means loaded with chemicals and doesn’t taste as good. Just buy the regular kind and use less, or eliminate it all together.

Another diet some people adhere to be a vegetarian or a vegan to lose weight. I have much love for vegetarians and vegans, but I have my issues with it. First, just because it does not have meat does not mean it is low in calories. You can eat a pound of pasta with a stick of butter and still have it be vegetarian. But that will not help you lose weight. Humans require protein. There are ways to combine the various incomplete proteins to make a whole protein (an example being rice and beans). There are also non-animal examples of perfect proteins like quinoa and soy. I would not recommend this as a way to lose weight. I would, however, suggest this if you are a person who does not like the taste of meat or the knowledge of eating flesh. Just make sure you are getting enough protein and getting good quality food in you.

There’s another diet that I am very interested in. It’s called the Paleo diet. It’s a diet that is designed to be like the diet of human ancestors of the Paleolithic era. The diet is very meat heavy. It eliminates the consumption of corn, potato, grains and diary. So pretty much the diet is eating a steak and fresh, organic veggies. I love the diet, I think it’s delicious and does wonders for people’s bodies when done correctly. But, there are a few issues that come along with it. It’s expensive. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to find food. With out the proper exercise plan, you can gain weight. This diet was originally designed to accompany a strict, and brutal, work out routine. But honestly, if you don’t exercise with any diet, you can gain weight.

Whatever you eat, eat well and remember that calories in needs to equal calories out in order to maintain weight. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. There are easy ways to do this that do not involve a gym. Walk around the neighborhood, tend to your garden, take the stairs more often, park at the back of the parking lot, get an at-home work out video, or play with your kids or dog. Easy, fun and have many benefits.

Being active is the key to losing weight. You can do it even while doing things you would already do. When you’re relaxing and watching TV after a long day at work, do some crunches or jumping jacks during the commercial break. They do not last for more than 4 minutes (and let’s be real, no one likes to watch commercials anyways). It’s the little things that count! Every calorie counts! There are 3500 calories per pound of fat in the body. That’s a lot of jumping jacks! But we can do it!

Have a lovely night and I’ll have another post tomorrow!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

FDA Regulations

For today's assignment I'm giving you, read this and leave a comment about how it makes you feel.

What can we do about it?

More about it later. Right now I want to go do a "heeby jeeby" dance and maybe shower with bleach.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Non-food Food

At the food bank we're always in need of donations, food and non-food items. You've all heard/read me talk about all of the food items, so today I'd like to talk a bit about the non-food items.

We at the food bank LOVE to see things that aren't food. By that, I don't mean Cheetos. I mean soap, aluminum foil, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.

People usually think of the food bank as a place to get the food humans need to survive. But what about the rest of the time? People require toilet paper, too.

That is the basic statement that will drive this blog. People need toilet paper, too.

I understand that people don't have a toilet paper tree in their backyard they can pick and have extra to give out. I understand that TP is expensive. But in my opinion, even more of a reason to help out.

I got a call a few days ago from a single mother that could not afford toilet paper for the next few days until she got her pay check. She did not want to steal it. She did not want to over draw her account for it. She just wanted a few rolls of toilet paper to get her and her children through the week.

Same thing with stuff like dog and cat food. Animals have to eat too. We do not give out huge sacks of it. Only enough to get through  a few days. But I personally could not fathom dealing with the pain of not feeding an animal because I needed something (like my electricity paid) first.

Other non-food donations could include:
- wax paper
- shampoo /  conditioner
- unopened allergy medication
- Britta filters
- paper towels/napkins
- cash (we use this in any way you designate or as we see fit)
- boxes, plastic bags and egg carton (used in food distribution to give out food)
- TIME! Sign up to volunteer!
- diapers (baby and adult)
- feminine products
- food storage containers

And of course:
- Toilet paper.

Thank you all and remember to take time to think about the community as a whole.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Having Fun With Your Food

Today I'd like to talk about fun with food. I don't mean playing with it on your plate, I mean with flavor.

Here's a few of my tips:

- Add herbs! Fresh or dried, adding herbs to a dish adds humungous amounts of flavor with out adding too many (if any measurable amount) of calories.

- Eat seasonally. This means knowing what is in season in your area of the world at that time. These things are usually cheaper and haven't been in the store for too long. Right now in Washington, Walla Walla sweet onions are in season and I can't get enough.

- Eat a kind of cuisine you've never had before. Never had Thai food (like green curry)? Try some! Never had French cuisine (like a lovely boeuf bourguignon) ? Go for it! Never had Greek food (my favorite is spanakopita)? You're really missing out! TRY IT! Who knows, you might just find a new favorite food. I'll post the links to the recipes of the dishes I mentioned at the bottom.

- Don't be afraid of sauce. Learn how to make the 5 mother sauces and use them! If you don't know what those are, I'll post a link for ya.

- Try a kind of meat you've never tried. I tried venison for the first time a few years ago and I haven't been able to eat enough since. Or try a vegetarian dish if you'd like. Try falafel! (again, I'll post a recipe..)

The moral of the story is, have fun! Food is an adventure! If you never step out of your comfort zone, you'll never know what you're missing out on!

Thai Green Curry:

Beouf Bourguingnon:  :


5 Mother Sauces:


Enjoy and play with your food!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Produce Recipes!

I promised you recipes! Thank you for being patient. 

To start off, here's a list of produce in my food bank that you may or may not know how to cook:
- Fennel
- Artichoke
- Kale
- Eggplant
- Beets
- Parsnips
- Collard Greens

Let's go in order....

Baked Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Fennel:

  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage links
  • 1 (16 ounce) package rigatoni pasta
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar marinara sauce or 24oz of my recipe (in earlier post)
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped (you can do this in your oven! You don't have to buy a jar!)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until almost tender (called al dente), about 10 minutes depending on pasta. Fry the sausages in a large skillet over medium heat, turning frequently until cooked through, should take about 15 minutes. Remove from the skillet, cool slightly and slice into rounds. Add the garlic, fennel and onion to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the roasted red peppers, basil, sliced sausage and pasta sauce. Heat through over low heat until warmed. Combine the pasta with the sauce and vegetables in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread the mozzarella, Parmesan and Asiago cheeses over the top. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil. Set the oven to broil, and cook for another 5 minutes or until cheese is browned. Serves 8. 

2 Whole Artichokes
2 Tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic

Fill the pan with just enough water to cover bottom. Bring to a full boil over high heat. While water is heating, trim and discard the stems and tough outer leaves of artichokes. Tuck slivers of butter and slices of garlic into artichoke leaves. 
When water is boiling, place steamer insert in pot and set artichokes in steamer, stem-side down. Cover pot with lid and allow artichokes to steam for approximately 20 minutes, until tender.

Olive Garden's Sausage and Kale Soup:
1 pound Italian Sausage (I like to mix spicy and mild)
2 large Russet Potatoes cut into 1/4in bits
1 large Onion, diced
2 cloves of Garlic (or more, if you really like garlic)
2 cup Kale (Washed really well)
16oz Chicken Broth
1 Quart Water
1 cup Heavy Cream (or half and half, but cream just makes it rich and velvety)

Brown up the sausage in a large pot until browned. Add onions and garlic and saute, add broth and water. When at boil, add potatoes, kale and cream. Serve when potatoes are cooked through. Serves 4-6

Eggplant Au Grain

  • 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

  • Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8 minutes. Turn and bake 7-8 minutes longer or until lightly browned and tender. Cool on a wire rack. Place one eggplant slice in each of two 10-oz. ramekins coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top each with 2 tablespoons spaghetti sauce and 2 tablespoons mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Serves 4. 

2L water
1 lb beet root, peeled, and coarsely grated
about 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, to taste
about 3 tsp. salt, to taste
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup cucumber julienned (or in matchstick like cuts)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup finely chopped dill
sour cream, for garnish

Bring water to a boil and add grated beets. Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool slightly. Add lemon juice and salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Let the soup cool on the stove top then chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Combine eggs, cucumbers, scallions, and dill in a bowl and store in the fridge until ready to serve. When ready to serve: Divide egg mixture between 6 bowls. Ladle soup over mixture, and garnish with sour cream. Makes 6 servings.

Potato and Parsnip Mash:

2 Russet Potatoes, pealed and in 1in pieces
2 Parsnips, pealed and cut into 1/2in pieces
2 med. Carrots, pealed and cut into 1/2in slices
2 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the potato, parsnip and carrot in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Drain. In a small bowl, mash the vegetables with milk, butter, brown sugar and salt. Serves 4.

Zesty Collard Greens:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound fresh collard greens, cut into 2-inch pieces
I've heard of a lot of people liking turkey necks or other pig product in theirs.... So you can add those too.

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and return to the pan. Add onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until just fragrant. Add collard greens, and fry until they start to wilt. Pour in chicken broth, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until greens are tender. Serves 6. 

Now you know how to use the produce at the food bank that you may not know how to use! 

I don't know about you, but I love trying new things. If you have any recipes you really like, send them to me! I'd love to try them out! Who knows, maybe I'll post them up on here! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Energy Drinks

Before I start, I PROMISE I'll have the veggie recipes up this afternoon. We're gunna get a new shipment in of produce today but for now, I can safely tell you I'll have a collard green recipe, a beet recipe and a an onion recipe that will all blow your socks off.

Now on to my morning rant about my personal pet peeves about the food bank.

My biggest pet peeve in the food bank: When I see clients with energy drinks. Not only are they terrible for you, but they're a waste of money! I've seen people come into the food bank drinking one, pull another one out of their purse, then drink that one!

Let's do the math.

The drinks are ~$2 a piece. If you drink 2 in front of me, I can only assume you have one more during the day sometime. So. ~$6 a day. Every day. That's ~$42 a week, ~$168 a month, ~$2,016 a YEAR.

List of ingredients for Monster Energy Drink (regular, not the sugar free kind):
Carbonated water, Sucralose (sugar), Glucose (sugar), Citric acid, Natural flavors (Natural monster flavor???), Taurine (natural in animals and humans, but synthetically made), Sodium citrate (the salt that's in citric acid), Color added (whatever that means), Panax ginseng (an Asian aphrodisiac and stimulant), Root extract (which root, we'll never know), L-carnitine (used to treat heart, kidney diseases and male infertility), Caffeine (CNS stimulant), Sorbic acid (food preservative), Benzoic acid (a salty food preservative), Niacinamide (part of the Vit B group), Sodium chloride (table salt), Glucuronolactone (connective tissue found in plant gums), Inositol (sugar with half the sugary taste of sucrose, which is table sugar), Guarana seed extract (stimulant), Pyridoxine (Vit B6),  Hydrochloride (hydrochloric acid, like the stuff you use in chem class), Sucralose (more sugar!?), Riboflavin (essential vitamin) , Maltodextrin (corn), Cyanocobalamin (Vit B12). 

So you're paying for a company to fill you up with sugar, chemicals, and some stuff that actually is good for you. But here's the thing, the amount of "healthy" things in there is next to nothing. 

If you want to have some vitamins, eat something natural. Eat a salad. Eat some meat. Drink a homemade smoothie. Eat an apple or some cherries! 

Just do something other than drink these nasty things. And whatever you do, don't bring them into the food bank or I will lecture you until you throw it out. If you want something to drink, I'll get you some water or orange juice. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fresh Produce (with recipes!)

For today's entry, I'd like to talk about my second favorite thing in the world. 


I never seen to get enough of it! I know it may seem a little freaky ( I mean come on, fennel looks intimidating). But it's surprisingly easy to use and eat. 

For beginners, I suggest starting off easy. One of my favorite ways to get vegetables into my meal is to just keep adding them in. I make my own marinara sauce (I'll put my recipe at the end for ya). So that's already full of delicious, easy to eat veggies, and then when I make my pasta I try and use pasta that is either whole grain or made with vegetables inside it. Then, when I'm heating up my sauce, I'll toss in some spinach to wilt. Delicious, cheap, and a great source of vitamins and fiber. 

For those seeking a little more fun with your vegetables, try stuffing something! I LOVE stuffed zucchini pizzas! Again, all these recipes will be on the bottom. Zucchini pizza gives you the taste of all the cheese and sauce, with less than 100 calories per serving. You seriously cannot go wrong with these. If you don't like zucchini for whatever crazy reason, there's always red bell peppers! They work well for being vessels for quinoa or brown rice baked inside. Yummy! I'll put a recipe for that in here too. 

For those who are REALLY adventurous and want to try something completely off the wall,  I suggest ratatouille. It's a French dish with eggplant, zucchini and bell pepper in a tomato sauce. I'll put a recipe for it at the bottom. :) It takes a little effort with all of the slicing, but with a mandolin, it's a breeze!

I'll post another blog today with more information about what the heck to do with some of the veggies that are currently in my food bank. So come in, take some, and I'll teach you what to do with it!

Emily's Marinara:
1 can of stewed tomatoes (with juice)
1 small can of tomato paste
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 medium onion, diced finely
3 cloves of garlic, minced.
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried basil (or fresh if you have it)
2 tsp dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
1 bay leaf
1 C red wine (or red wine vinegar, but I really like to use a red wine like a Syrah or even a Malbec)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add in wine to deglaze the pan. Stir in tomato paste, add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least an hour. The longer it simmers, the better it is. Remember to take out the bay leaf before serving!

Stuffed Zucchini Pizzas:

2 pounds of medium sized zucchini 
1 8 oz can pizza sauce or 1C of marinara 1/4 cup bread crumbs 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 1 tsp salt1 tsp pepper1-2 tsp dried oregano, crushed to release the flavorcouple of cloves of garlic, finely minced (Or a teaspoon or so of garlic powder.)dash of crushed red pepper flakes (If you like it hot!)

Clean and slice each zucchini in half. Scoop out the insides with a spoon and set the zucchini shells on a lined pan.
Preheat your oven to 425º. Clean and slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside part with a spoon (safe the insides!) and put them on a lined baking pan. Chop up the inside part that you took out and add sauce, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and the seasonings. Spoon the mix into the hollowed out zucchini. Top with the mozzarella cheese. Put them in the oven and bake for 20-25 min. 
Stuffed Red Bell Peppers:
4 medium red bell peppers
4 1/2 cups fresh spinach

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently cut the tops off of the bell peppers with a knife and scoop out the insides with a small spoon. Flip the peppers upside down on a paper towel to drain some of the water and juice off. After a few minutes of draining, gently rub olive oil on both the inside and outside of the bell peppers. Place the tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
While the bell peppers are baking, cook spinach and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until the spinach becomes wilted. Add quinoa and season with salt and Italian seasoning. Once the bell peppers are done baking, take them out of the oven and stuff them with the spinach and quinoa mixture with a spoon. Place the stuffed bell peppers back in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle tops of peppers with salt and serve.

1 small eggplant
1 zucchini (Italian squash)
1 summer squash
1 red bell pepper
1 clove of garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 tsp basil
1/8 tsp oregano
1/4C olive oil
1 8oz can tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice eggplant, zucchini, squash and bell pepper into 1/8″ rounds. Add to a large bowl with minced garlic. Sprinkle with spices and seasonings. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Toss and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
Preheat a large sautée pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. When pan is warm, add 1/3 of your vegetables. Tossing and flipping until slightly browned. Repeat with remaining olive oil and vegetables.
In individual dishes (or one large oven safe dish), spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Arrange vegetable slices as desired. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until tender and sauce is bubbly.
Serve warm with bread or as a side dish to a larger meal.

These are only some recipes I could think of off the top of my head that are easy and delicious. I'll post another blog sometime today or tomorrow going through all of the produce I have here telling you what to do with it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making Your Own Food

Today I'd like to jump on one of my favorite subjects.

Making your own food.

We are now full swing into the microwave generation. We want our food to be done I Dream of Genie style with just a magic nod of the head. I hate to break it to you, but food takes time to prepare. I suggest we stop getting mad at the microwave for not having our food perfectly cooked in 5 seconds and instead prioritize food.

I, being a college student, understand time crunches. I realize that we don't always have time to make a 5 course meal with a perfect table setting. I get it. But, what you do have, is a secret weapon.

That weapon is...



A Crock Pot!

For the crock pot, all you do is throw a cut of meat (like a pot roast) in it with some cut up veggies (like carrot, celery, onion, parsnips, and anything else you have on hand) with some seasonings (like pepper, salt, a bay leaf and thyme) and some stock (or a good beer) in to the pot. Leave it on low all day or high for 4 hours or so depending on your meat and BAM! Dinner. Beef stew. Make some mashed potatoes to go with it and YUM! Plus, any left overs will easily save for left overs.

If you don't have a crock pot, they are a huge time and energy saver. Not only can you have a delicious meal with low effort, but you can have that with out heating up your entire house with an oven on.

By making your own food, you safe money, have better food, and can have community with your family. Somehow America has lost the idea of families eating together. I saw we need to put down the cell phones, turn off the TV and have an actual conversation for once. Heck, even once a week to ease into it. Our families have become more and more distant from each other. This can only lead to trouble, in my opinion. Kids do not have the same responsibility or respect they used to. In my opinion, I think that comes from lack of a solid parental influence. If you disagree, please feel free to argue.

Also, for clarification, when I say "make your own food", I DO NOT mean Kraft Mac and Cheese. I mean a real dinner. Meat, veggies, fruit, some grains. Nothing that comes from a box with a cartoon character on it. I realize that mac and cheese is easy and good (heck, it's one of my comfort foods) but try making it from scratch. I'll post a recipe later for a healthier mac and cheese that will blow wind up your skirt, I promise.

With the idea of making your own food, if you have kids, have them help you! Have them stir things or if they're old enough, prep some vegetables. Make cooking a regular part of the day. It is rewarding to all involved. Parents don't have to cook the entire meal by themselves and kids feel accomplished by helping.

So please. Pretty, pretty, PRETTY please. Try making your own dinner at least once every week. My personal goal would be that people would eat at home the majority of the time and make things like fast food a rarity if ever.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Recipes!

I realized how many carbs were in today's recipes. So here's a list of some stuff that would also work and is protein based.
Surprisingly enough, there is a good portion of these ingredients in the food bank!

Thai style Chicken Sate (kabob style food) with peanut sauce. YUM.

I really want this sauce on a pulled pork sandwich right now...

Hawaiian Burger? YES PLEASE!

I know it's hot outside, but this sounds like a tasty French Beef Stew!

There's nothing better in summer than Grilled Chicken with Citrus BBQ Sauce!

This sounds refreshing and delicious! Sweet, Spicy and Crunchy Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Lemon Chicken.

This Chicken Parmesan looks stupid tasty.

I apologize for the blog-to-blog travel. But these look delicious.

... And now I'm hungry....

If you ever need food inspiration or just wanna look at some really good lookin' food, I suggest Delicious.

Bon Appetite!

Food Bank Food week 2

A day with only food bank food part 2! These are recipes for a full day's food using only food that is currently in my food bank. Yum! Enjoy and as always, feel free to leave comments!

Breakfast: Pumpkin Pancakes
            1 1/2 cups milk
            1 cup pumpkin puree
            1 egg
            2 tablespoons vegetable oil
            2 cups all-purpose flour
            3 tablespoons brown sugar
            2 teaspoons baking powder
            1 teaspoon baking soda
            1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
            1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
                        1/2 teaspoon salt
Maple syrup. I prefer the real stuff, but you can use “pancake syrup” if that’s all you have.

                  In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil (wet ingredients). Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl (dry ingredients). Stir into the pumpkin puree until combined, but not over beat.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Tip! For extra special pancakes, use brown butter instead of oil in the pan. To make browned butter, take a good heap of butter, melt it, and keep it on the heat until it is nutty smelling and slightly golden. Be careful not to burn the butter, though!

Serves 4

Lunch: Ham and Spaghetti Salad

            2 (12 ounce) packages spaghetti (or another kind of pasta of your choice. Just make sure to adjust cooking time).
            1 small red onion, finely chopped
            1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
            1 cucumber, chopped
            1 tomato, chopped
            6 Mushrooms sliced
            2 C cubed ham
            1 (16 ounce) bottle fat-free Italian salad dressing
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian salad dressing mix (optional, but it really makes it so much better!)
                        1 teaspoon salt
                        Optional: Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.
Place spaghetti into a large salad bowl and toss with red onion, red bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, ham, Italian salad dressing, salad dressing mix, salt and cheese. Chill before serving; salad is better the longer it chills.

Serves 4

Dinner: Chili Cheese Corn Bread Casserole
1 lb. hamburger, browned, (drained)
½ cup chopped onion
1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
2 (15 oz) cans chili beans (or other kind if bean)
½ - tsp. onion powder
3 - tsp. chili powder
1 – tsp cumin
sprinkle of cayenne if you like it hot
½ - tsp. garlic salt
salt & pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup additonal cheddar cheese for batter (optional, but in my mind, totally necessary)
(2) - packages Jiffy Corn Muffin
1 can of green chilies
Optional: Sour cream, Salsa, more cheese.

Mix Brown hamburger with onion and drain. Add Tomatoes, chili beans and seasonings. Simmer for 15 minutes. Put into greased 9x13 pan and sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Mix corn bread mix according to box directions. Add in green chilies and cheese. Pour corn muffin mix on top of the chili and cheese cover completely. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Dessert: Zucchini Bread

            2 eggs, beaten
            1 1/3 cup sugar
            2 teaspoons vanilla
            3 cups grated fresh zucchini
            2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
            2 teaspoons baking soda
            Pinch salt
            3 cups all-purpose flour
            1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
            2 teaspoons cinnamon
            1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional, and delicious)
                        1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional, and delicious)
                        1 cup chocolate chips (optional, but THE BEST THING EVER)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, a third at a time. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix. Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using. Divide the batter equally between 2 buttered 5 by 9 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Makes 2 loaves