Italian tomato and squash stir fry

My garden is finally giving back! Here is my favorite recipe to use up all the squash and tomatoes that are being harvested! Fresh basil is the best. This recipe serves 2.

1 ½ cups cooked pasta
1 TBLS olive oil
1 small yellow squash sliced
¼ onion diced
12 grape tomatoes cut in halves (you can use cherry or diced large tomatoes)
1 clove garlic minced
1 bunch fresh basil chopped
½ packet chicken bouillon (or 1/3 cup chicken stock)
Sprinkle of shredded parmesan cheese

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan. When it’s hot, add squash slices and stir fry. Next add onion, then tomatoes and garlic. You want to continue stirring to keep the squash from turning too soft.  Once the squash is cooked through but still firm, add the bouillon with 1/3 cup of water (or chicken stock) and top with basil. Continue stirring until the basil is wilted. Serve immediately over pasta and sprinkle with cheese.


Acid reducing revisited

It’s been a few months since I brought up the desire to get off my acid reducing heartburn medication and I’m happy to say I’ve had some success. To remind you, recent studies increased my concern that long term medication may cause nutrient malabsorption.

So it is a slow process…….I tried cold turkey with bad results. I tried to treat with mild treatments like Tums and Maalox which helped but not enough. Remember ….I read an article that the body of a daily acid reducing medication taker adapts by increasing acid production to manage food intake to some degree. That means quitting cold turkey will feel worse than when they started the medication in the first place.  This also means that the body has the ability to readjust the amount of acid it produces as the medication is decreased. Hence why this is a SLOW process!

I finally tried a pattern of two days on the medication and one day off adding the mild treatments if needed. That lasted about 6 weeks. Then I moved to one day on and one day off. I’m at the point where that works without the mild treatments in between!

Now, before you assume it was as easy as this, I had tricks for the days off I’d like to share. On the days off, I ate 6 smaller meals over the course of the day with the last food eaten no later than 3 hours before I went to bed. This kept my stomach partially empty. I stayed away from food high in salt, fat or sugar. I avoided beans, spicy or acidic foods. For me that included Mexican food, peppers and dishes with high amounts of garlic or tomatoes. You know which ones you react to! Caffeine and alcohol were also off the list. That doesn’t mean it can’t be added later, but it’s the easiest way to make the transition.

I’ll keep you updated.  Let me know if you have tried with success!

Save your squash!

Hey gardeners! Are you having problems with your squash? Here are my two biggest problems and how I deal with them!

Rot – I found that flowers left to die on the plant or growing squash sometimes result in fungus and rot. I remove my spent flowers daily to keep that from happening.

Squash borer – oh, for those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a moth that lays eggs in the base of the stems of squash plant and the worm that results bores up the stem. You can see holes where the eggs are laid. Many times you will see the shrapnel left behind just to the outside. If you are diligent, the first time you see the hole, you can take a knife and cut the stem with the grain until you find the little bugger.  Dig him out and squash him! No pun intended!  If you bury the ongoing stems of the squash plant, it will actually set roots and the damage caused by the borer won’t affect it as much. But you have to be diligent and try to keep those suckers at bay! My garden is always riddled with them, even having to chase the moths away routinely!

The good news is although these issues run rampant in my garden every year it’s healthy enough to result in a large harvest for both me and mother nature!


Mold on my produce

I was cutting up strawberries with my sister when we came across a few with soft spots or mold. Feeding a hungry mob, we wanted to get the most out of the strawberries as possible. She followed my lead on cutting out the soft spots on the strawberries but when I came across a tiny spot of white mold on an otherwise beautiful strawberry, I threw it out. She asked “Why don’t you just cut that off and use the rest of the strawberry?” It hadn’t dawned on me that many people don’t about when and when not try and salvage contaminated food.

When you find soft spots on your produce, it’s usually from bruising and sometimes from the food starting to breakdown.  It’s when you can physically see the white, grey or green fuzz that you are sure you have a mold. The problem is mold is not just sitting on the surface of your food; it has long skinny roots that reach deep inside for moisture. Once you see mold, your food is contaminated and is best to throw out with a FEW exceptions. Mold can be removed from hard cheeses and still eaten, but soft cheeses shouldn’t. It’s the same thing for produce. Mold thrives off moisture, so most fruits and veges should be thrown out if there is even a hint of mold. The only exception is extremely hard ones like carrots or other root vegetables.

What happens when you eat mold? Well first, it tastes bad! There is nothing worse than the surprise of taking a bite into a piece of moldy food! Second, if you have an allergy to molds, which is very common, you will have an allergic reaction to some degree. It’s also not easy to tell what type of mold you are dealing with. There are many types of molds and some are toxic enough to make you sick. On a rare occasion, it could even be deadly.

So take that ugly white fuzz seriously. Make sure to triple check your produce before you buy it. And you have probably heard the cardinal rule….when in doubt, throw it out!

Just breathe……

I woke this morning from a bad dream. There was a lot of tension in my body  leaving it stiff, achy and creeky. I even had a little headache. When you wake with that kind of body stress, you are rarely as productive during the day as you could be.  Before you pop out of bed, stop…. concentrate on relaxing your body and just breathe. Listen to the birds sing or the quietness that is the morning. Long deep breaths in and slow long exhales flood your body with life giving air. Red blood cells are replenished with oxygen, bringing it to the brain and increasing brain activity. Slowly, the tension goes away and your mind becomes more awake and aware. Your mental state also improves.

There is a reason doctors are concerned with such things as apnea which prevent the body from getting the proper care when you are asleep. Its even been linked to heart disease! Whatever might be stressing your body, whether it’s work, over use or even a disease, it’s important to stop, relax and just breathe. Your body will pay you back with health and happiness!

Tired of Tuna?

Are you tired of the same old canned tuna that you eat three times a week to follow diet guidelines for diabetes, weight loss, rheumatologic conditions or your heart? Here is a great way to jazz it up and possibly increase the benefits! Start with a large fresh fillet of your favorite fish and grill it with a non-fat rub. Cut the cooked fish into 3-4oz portions and put in freezer containers with ½ cup cooked rice. Now you have multiple individual meals like you would have with 3oz canned tuna, but better because it also includes your serving of carbs. And it’s cheaper!

What I do is buy a large fillet of salmon and cook it on the George Foreman Grill. Salmon has higher Omega 3 fatty acids than tuna. My favorite seasonings are Lawry’s seasoned pepper or lemon pepper, and I’ve found a great restaurant that sells seafood rubs called Rub with Love. I use brown rice and cook the salmon lightly so that when I microwave it, the consistency is perfect.  Easy to pack for lunch at work!

I hope this gives you more variety so you can enjoy your meals even on a diet!

Don’t gain weight on vacation!

How did I maintain my weight on vacation last week? I went out to restaurants for every meal. I even stopped for a snack or two! What is the secret? I WALKED EVERYWHERE! I wore running shoes no matter how I dressed. I was determined to reach every destination by walking. With a pedometer, I confirmed that I walked between 6 and 9 miles a day. I won’t lie…I was tired at the end of the day, but it allowed me to sleep like a baby, which isn’t usual for me in a hotel. Then I was up bright and early, and refreshed to boot!

A couple days I thought I couldn’t walk anymore, so I headed back to the room to take a break. I laid on the bed backwards, putting my feet up on the headboard to let the blood rush back up my body. Closed the eyes for 15 minutes, maybe took a quick shower and good as new!

If you haven’t vacationed on foot before, you would be surprised at what you see that you wouldn’t have if you had driven everywhere. It’s the best way to come across that little hole in the wall bakery or specialty store. Or it may even be as simple as something artistic that you wouldn’t have noticed before.

I weighed myself when I got home and I was the same weight as when I left. I’ll admit, it took a day or two to get back to full energy level, but what a trip! I saw so much in so little time!