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February 18, 2021

One of the Healthiest Fruits on the Planet

We are on week #33, counting down with my expectant friend. As some of you know from experience, she is getting pretty uncomfortable. My prayer for he

February 11, 2021

Fun with Jicama

At week #32, baby is a jicama in size. That’s right, a jicama. Starts with a J and sounds like an H. Jicama is a globe-shaped root vegetable with pa

February 4, 2021

Sumo, Coconut, and the Birth Month

If you’re an orange lover, I have some REALLY GOOD NEWS! The Sumo are here. Sumo oranges, that is. I wrote about them last year. If you missed that

January 28, 2021

5 Reasons Why Your Snack Bar May Not Be Your Friend

In a recent conversation, the topic of cereal/granola/protein bars came up. They appear to be a healthy snack, especially for a very busy person who i

January 21, 2021

Getting Back on Track

Baby size at 29 weeks is a butternut squash. And, like last week’s eggplant, butternut squash is technically a fruit. Since I wouldn’t care to eat

January 14, 2021

The Surprising Truth about Eggplant, and a Recipe

A large eggplant. That is the vegetable size of a baby at week #28. Oh, but wait just a minute. An eggplant is actually a FRUIT because it grows from

January 7, 2021

My Least Favorite Vegetable and a Challenge

At week #27 baby is the size of… …a head of cauliflower. Most of you know that I do not care for this vegetable. I’ve tried. Truth is that cauli

December 31, 2020

Cheers to Scallions and a New Year

At week #26, baby is the size of a scallion. The first question that popped into my head is: What’s the difference between a scallion and a green on

December 24, 2020

The Hope and Excitement of a Baby

A bit of background for my new readers: I’m taking the produce journey along with my good friend who is expecting. As we track the progression, we l

Two Steps Forward

The title of today’s blog is also the title of a book I finished reading last month. Two Steps Forward, is the second book in 3-book series by Sharon Garlough Brown. The stories revolve around the very different lives of four women as they are drawn into a spiritual formation journey at a retreat center. They all hit various roadblocks along the way and form the Sensible Shoes Club. To find out more, you’ll have to read the books.

So, of course, I am relating this to another aspect of life: food. Since our spiritual souls live in physical bodies, food is A REALLY BIG DEAL. As much as we may try (in vain, I might add) to not think about it, life is much about food.

Friends get together for breakfast, lunch, and meet up for dinner. I wonder how many business lunches happen across the country on any given day. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and his pals were always meeting at Tom’s Restaurant. Friends cast found themselves at Central Perk. Jesus frequently ate with tax collectors and other colorful characters.

Life and food are inseparable; which is why I often say, “It’s all about the food.” Translation: “This is life.”

When we are practicing making better choices, the task of eating healthy may seem a bit daunting. We have every good intention of consuming LOTS of vegetables, minimizing sugar and red meat, getting to the gym. Then, life happens and we are involved in a food frenzy that seems to take us off course. When your friends suggest meeting for pizza on Friday night, your family celebrates the September birthdays on Saturday, and you have an anniversary brunch on Sunday at 11:00AM, well, two steps forward, one step back. Life, food, life.

What to do? Take it in stride by practicing the 80 (healthy foods)/20 (not ideal foods) rule. Remember portion control, adequate water intake, scheduled workout routines, and my favorite: only eat it if it’s AMAZING.

I love discovering food combinations that satisfy the need for comfort, sugar, chocolate, carbs, etc., yet do not make me feel as though I took one step back. You may call it cheating. I call it REAL.

This week, I am celebrating life with this simple recipe for brownies. Thank you, Shaina, for bringing these to my attention. The secret is to only eat one or two small brownies and savor every bite. Folks who are non-compliant (yes, like my husband) will not be fighting you for the last crumb, so relax and enjoy. Two steps forward, two steps forward. Victory!

3-INGREDIENT BROWNIES (Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free)

3 medium, overripe bananas (approximately 1 cup or so)
1/2 cup smooth almond butter (or any smooth nut butter)
2 T – 1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder (more = richer taste)
You may like to add a small amount of coconut oil to make these a bit moister.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small cake pan or loaf pan and set aside.

In a small glass bowl (for microwave) or in a pan (for stovetop) melt your nut butter. In a large mixing bowl, add the banana, nut butter and cocoa powder and mix very well. If you prefer a smoother texture to your brownies, use a mixer or blender.

Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing into pieces.

These are best refrigerated and they keep longer too.

 “Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.”—Julia Cameron

Michigan Peaches and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Delightful summer days and lots of kids are back in school. When I heard from one of my favorite moms that she sent her daughters to school the first day and forgot to send their lunches along–oops– the memories of car pooling, parent-teacher conferences and peanut butter sandwiches reminded me of how life used to be– and how quickly time passes.

To you moms out there with some newfound freedom, do something special at least once a week that is a treat for YOU! It may even be a much-needed, well-deserved afternoon nap.

Today, I am feeling immense gratitude for Michigan peaches. This is their time to steal the show and they have won the Grand Champion ribbon. They are so juicy and sweet, you need 3 napkins to wipe your face after eating one. If you haven’t yet enjoyed your seasonal peach, find a market today and indulge. Peach season, like life, is short.

In honor of back to school and nostalgia, I baked our favorite chocolate chip cookies. My husband, fondly referred to as Mr. Non-Compliant, is pleased. He has been asking for his Newman-O’s (like Oreos only “healthier”—they’re organic) daily and I have neglected to buy more. One package lasts him about 4 days and I’ve been busy eating peaches.

It’s not only back to school for the kids. I have something special for you adults who are interested in learning something new. Introducing “Carol’s Kitchen Coaching 101.” September’s topic is “Fun with Vegetables.” This is small group coaching that takes place in my kitchen. The coaching session will last approximately 3 hours and is limited to 8 people.

My plan is to coach on a variety of topics in the coming months. For details and to sign up, click here Carol’s Kitchen Coaching Event

Best wishes for a fantastic school year. And remember, when you eat the cookie, make sure it’s amazing!

“Sometimes me think, ‘What is friend?’ and then me say, ‘Friend is someone to share the last cookie with.’” —Cookie Monster

Tomato Pie

Now is the time to make tomato pie. I am of the opinion that homegrown tomatoes are a slice of heaven, here and now. If you’ve never experienced tomato pie with homegrown tomatoes, you have not yet fully lived.

I first learned about tomato pie from Laurie Colwin. Laurie was a novelist and short story writer who wrote some great books about food. I love to read books about food, so she became my buddy and mentor, even though I never had the pleasure of meeting her.  

For those of you who have dietary restrictions, you may alter this recipe in any way that suits you, with one exception—you must include tomatoes. I made it with a gluten-free crust and it was delicious. I have even made it with…canned tomatoes, when one very cold winter, I was in desperate need of a summer fix. Making (and eating) this brings me great joy, along with an abundance of happy memories.

I am sharing Laurie’s recipe so that you may experience a bit more of summer abundance– and a slice of heaven.

TOMATO PIE

The pie has a double biscuit-dough crust, made by blending:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Approximately 3/4 cup milk

Blend by hand or food processor. I like to use a pastry blender, since I once over- processed my pie dough and had to start over. Roll out half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate with it.  

Pie ingredients:

  • 2 pounds peeled fresh tomatoes or 2×28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, drained
  • Basil, chives, or scallions, depending on availability and your mood
  • 1 and ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Slice the tomatoes thin and lay the slices over the crust. Scatter them with your chosen seasoning and sprinkle one cup of the cheese on top of the tomatoes. Over this, drizzle the mayonnaise that has been thinned with the lemon juice. Top this with the rest of the grated cheese. Roll out the remaining dough, fit it over the filling, and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Cut several steam vents in the top crust and bake the pie at 400 degrees F. for about 25 minutes, or until bubbly and the crust is golden. The secret of this pie is to reheat it before serving, which among other things ensures that the cheese is soft and gooey. It can be made early in the morning, then reheated in the evening at 350 degrees F. until hot.

Taken from  More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen.  

“It is hard to describe how delicious this is, especially on a hot day with a glass of magnificent iced tea in a beautiful setting, but it would doubtless be just as scrumptious on a cold day in your warm kitchen with a cup of coffee.” – Laurie Colwin

Basil Turkey Burgers

Here’s a quick and easy meal that’s big on flavor. Pan fried in the kitchen or grilled outdoors, they’re delicious! The addition of olive oil keeps them from being dry. For those of you who don’t eat dairy and like a little “kick,” add a bit of cayenne pepper.

1 pound ground turkey (93% lean)
3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1-2 Tablespoonfuls extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoonful (or to taste) Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Strong cheese, such as Romano, Swiss or BellaVitano Merlot (optional)

In a small bowl, combine ground turkey, chopped basil leaves (cutting with kitchen shears works well, too), extra virgin olive oil, and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Make into 3 patties. Grill or pan fry until brown and cooked through. Testing with a meat thermometer is a sure way of knowing when they are done. Add a bit of cheese at the end of cooking time.

Serve with sliced Vidalia onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and your favorite condiments.

A note about cheese: for those of you who tolerate dairy products, a small bit of very flavorful cheese compliments the mild flavor of the turkey beautifully. I like BellaVitano Merlot, a Cheddar-Parmesan inspired cheese immersed in Merlot wine for extra tang. It is sold by weight and I have found it in Costco and other local grocery stores that sell fine cheeses. By using a cheese with a more robust flavor, you need less. Of course, goat cheese is another option.

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child