Thursday, September 1, 2011

No-Spend Month Begins… with shopping?

Well, it’s September and I’m off and running with my “no-spend month.” I have been questioning the sanity of  taking on two major projects at once: keeping my grocery spending to $200 this month, and doing a fruit & vegetable fast for health purposes. So far, I’ve done two days of my fast, and I’m going through fruits and vegetables at a pretty good pace. It used to take us a month to finish off a bunch of celery. I’m on my third bunch this week. I’m going through more carrots than Bugs Bunny. The kale in the garden is looking pretty picked-over… but, I’m down five pounds and feeling a lot better physically and mentally, so I’ll keep on going.

Today I finally managed to get out to buy more produce. I didn’t have a car for two days while my husband’s truck was in the shop, so the purchases I had  hoped to put on the August spreadsheet got moved to September. I stopped at a farmer’s market and picked up loads of carrots (6 pounds), two bunches of celery and a five-pound basket of apples. If I had gone to the grocery store for all that, I think it would have run about $20, but it only came to $11.50.

For the family dinner tonight, I used some leftover roast chicken to make chicken souvlaki. I made up some homemade sub rolls from one of our favorite bread recipes (nicknamed "Awesome Bread"), and let the family decide how they wanted to eat it. My husband made a chicken souvlaki sub, putting his chicken, lettuce, tomato and black olives into the sub roll and pouring the Greek dressing over the filling. Bethany and Candy (home from med school for a surprise 2-day visit)  made themselves chicken souvlaki salads and used the bread to sop up the extra dressing. I sipped my Carrot/Apple/Celery/Kale juice and reminded myself of the 5 pounds I’ve lost so far. That gave me strength to stay on track.

I got exciting news today. LOL, even though I’m doing a “no-spend month”, I will be taking a all-expense paid trip to Texas! The recipe I posted a few weeks ago for Greek Lamb Burgers was a finalist in the Frito-Lay “Tastes from Home” contest, and I ended up getting the most votes. I don’t know all the details yet, like when I leave, but on September 15th, the Frito-Lay blog will have a live streaming video of Frito-Lay executive chef Stephen Kalil preparing my recipe, and I get to have a cameo appearance in the video. I’m so excited! I’ve never been to Texas. I wish I could take Ron or Bethany with me, but it’s a trip for one. I will take loads and loads of pictures, and blog about the trip!

I also had a bit of a challenge tonight… Ron came home from work yesterday and said that he needed to bring in a birthday cake for work on Friday. It needed to be dairy-free and nut-free, due to some food allergies in the office. I did some internet searches, and now I’m being tortured by the smell of a dairy-free chocolate cake just about ready to come out of the oven. I found a recipe for a dairy-free frosting, too, and Ron came up with the idea to drizzle some raspberry jam over the top to make it look fancy.

Last year, my family had lunch at a bakery/cafe and got a loaf of their bread to go with our salad. The four of us polished off the whole loaf in one sitting (it was a small loaf), while exclaiming, "This bread is awesome!" When we got home, I tried to duplicate the chewy, seeded texture of the bread. This came pretty close, so my family dubbed it "Awesome Bread." Here's the recipe: 

Awesome Bread
2 c boiling water
½ c steel-cut oats
½ c oatmeal
½  c honey
2 ½ tsp yeast
1 ½ c whole wheat flour
¼ c gluten
½ c flaxseed, ground
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
All-Purpose Flour to make soft dough (about 2 cups)
extra sesame seeds and poppy seeds to sprinkle on loaves

Pour boiling water over oats & oatmeal. Add honey and stir. When mixture cools to lukewarm, add yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Add whole wheat flour, gluten & flaxseed. Mix in sunflower seeds & sesame seeds, with enough flour to make a soft dough. Let rise 45-60 minutes. Shape into two long loaves. Sprinkle with sesame seeds & poppy seeds. Let rise 45-60 minutes. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. 

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