Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fried Rice With Veggies and Ham - Dairy-free, Gluten-free, and Soy-free (if you so desire)

Does anyone else out there have a TON of leftover Easter ham? I do. So naturally, I have been looking for creative (and healthy) ways to incorporate into our meals. And then I happened upon this treasure. Fried rice. Yum. I love me some good fried rice. In this recipe, I used brown rice as my base, and then just threw in any vegetables that I happened to have in the fridge. The result was quite delightful--and it only takes 30-45 minutes to make. Here's what I did.


1 cup brown rice (preferable Uncle Ben's brown rice)
2 eggs
1 cup chopped ham
1 small onion or 2 green onions
1-2 whole carrots, diced
1 cup baby spinach or cabbage, roughly chopped
1 zucchini or squash, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn and/or peas
soy sauce, to taste (optional)


1. First of all, cook up some rice (or use leftover rice if you have it). I like brown rice because it is whole grain, but some varieties are very dense and not my favorite to eat. However, this Uncle Ben's brown rice is SOOO good and somehow seems less dense as the other varieties I have tried. I love the texture and taste of this stuff. To cook it, put one cup of brown rice into a medium saucepan with two cups of water. Add a few sprinkles of salt. Cook on medium high for a couple of minutes until it boils, and then cover the saucepan and turn the stove down to low. Set the timer for 20 minutes and simmer on low. Voila. 20 minutes later you will have some delicious, whole grain rice.

2. Fry 2 eggs in a small frying pan and once they are cooked through, chop them up into smallish pieces with your spatula. Set aside.

3. Chop ham into small pieces and set aside.

4. Dice your veggies into small pieces. I used carrots (1 or 2 carrots (full-size) or several baby carrots) and spinach (about a cup of spinach, roughly chopped) because those are the veggies I had on hand. Frozen corn or peas would work well in this, as well as some zucchini and yellow squash. I kept wishing mine had some squash in it. Or chopped cabbage. Chopped cabbage would have been delicious.

5. Heat 1-2 tablespoons canola oil in a large pan. Add chopped vegetables and sautee in oil on medium heat until tender. (If you are using spinach, sautee the other vegetables first and then add the spinach until it begins to wilt. Add chopped ham and mix everything together.

6. Turn the heat down to low and add cooked egg and rice and mix everything together. Turn off heat. If you want this recipe to be soy-free, then it is ready to serve. Otherwise, add some soy sauce and stir, just a teaspoon at a time, until it tastes just right to you. (Be careful! I have over-poured the soy sauce before and there is no going back once it is in there. So really, just pour it in a teaspoon at a time.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DIY Sewing Table

Last summer, Delys and her family moved into their first home. I was able to fly out a few days later to help a bit with the unpacking. When we pulled out her sewing machine, Delys mentioned how much she would like to have a designated space where it could live full time so that she wouldn't have to set it up and take it down every time she had a project to work on. Later that day, while we were rummaging in one of the sheds in her yard, we discovered an old shelf/cupboard that the former owner had left there. "Ah ha!" I thought, "A sewing table. . . ."

So, with the help of these little craftsmen, we carried it outside, removed the cupboard door and shelf, and turned it upside down. I drew a gentle curve on a large piece of cardboard and traced it on to the bottom of the piece. (I centered it between the left side of the entire piece and the left side of the cupboard on the right.) Using a jigsaw, I cut out the curve and then repeated the process on the middle shelf. These cut outs created a space for her feet and knees.

I sanded the rough edges, washed off the dirt and sawdust, and then let it dry thoroughly. We headed to the hardware store and bought a small can of primer that the helpful hardware man recommended for painting over laminated surfaces--the primer helps the paint adhere to the slick surface--and Delys chose a paint color. 

We applied one coat of primer and two coats of color. After it was completely dry, we replaced the shelf, reattached the door and, voila, a sewing table! The top of the table gives her plenty of sewing space, and the cupboard on the right provides storage for her supplies. (Delys pointed out that this could also function well as a computer desk or any other work center.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Pregnancy creates a special kind of eating dilemma. Yes, you're supposed to gain weight but no, probably not as much as you're actually gaining. And yes, you're supposed to gain it from wholesome proteins and vegetables but no, it's not easy to quench your hunger with vegetables. And yes, cooked vegetables make you nauseated, and no, you never feel like cooking or baking anyways.

All you really want to eat is a bag of Cadbury mini eggs or 7 bowls of cereal.

At least, that's my experience. Therefore imagine my delight when I found this unassuming recipe on Pinterest. The peanut butter fulfilled my doctor's order for more protein, while oats and honey fulfilled my craving for carbs and sugar (but in a fairly wholesome, non-processed way.) Plus, it is maybe the shortest and easiest recipe in the history of ever, and it requires no baking. It's a pregnant woman's dream:

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup honey (or up to 1 cup, if you'd like it a touch sweeter)
3 cups old fashioned oats

Melt peanut butter and honey in a medium bowl in the microwave (approximately 1 minute) and stir in oats until well combined. Press into a 9"x9" pan. Cover and leave in the fridge until set (a couple of hours.) Cut into bars and enjoy.

That's it. Easy-peasy. And one of these bars will fill me up for a while. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about this solution to my insatiable hunger until I shared it with my mother. See, she and daddy are on this hard-core healthy eating kick, so instead of congratulating me on my happy internet find, she said, "Oh, don't those sound kind of bad for you?"

What??? Man, mom is always one-upping me with the high standards of her internal healthometer (which seems to cut out all foods but cheese, fruit, and cobb salad, by the way.) Still, I thought she'd find this recipe relatively benign. I mean lets break it down: oats. Oats are good for you. They are full of protein and fibery goodness. Peanut butter. Ok, all things in moderation, but George Washington Carver gave this great nation a precious gift with the invention of peanut butter. It is un-American to condemn it. Honey. Yes, honey is sugar (mmm...) but it's also kind of a nice, natural sugar, right? Look, Elder Ballard calls honey "one of nature's most beneficial foods" in this talk; he clearly backs me up...

I don't know why I felt the need to stick up for my bars. I mean, obviously they were already a step up from the girl scout thin mints or the frozen cookie dough which were also competing for my attention. However, I decided to do a lil math figure to approximate the nutrition facts. Here, good people, are the results:

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 bar
Servings per recipe: 12


% Daily value
(based on a 2000 calorie diet)
Saturated Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Vitamin E

As far as snacks go, it's a pretty natural, non-processed, low-sodium one that also has a significant amount of fiber, protein, iron, vitamin E, and niacin. Plus, a quick Google search suggests that it has significantly fewer calories than an average peanut butter and honey sandwich, and mom sent me off to school many-a-time with one of those tucked into my brown paper lunch bag. I rest my case.

I'm sure my cravings will continue to change as I recover from pregnantdom (at least I hope so!) Yet I'm happy to have this recipe logged away as a quick, easy, fairly-guiltless snack.