Monthly Archives: September 2012

From Garden To Plate: Zucchini and Tomatoes

An important person in my life asked me some time ago about my goals for the next five years. One of them was (and still is) that I would like to grow more of our food. I passionately believe that being connected to our food–especially by planting, nurturing, and harvesting our own bounty–helps us to make more mindful decisions about what we consume. And for children, the fun of digging in the dirt and helping the Earth bring forth her fruit, is often enough to help them overcome some of their prejudices against eating things that look distinctly like bunny food by the time they get to the table.

Due to a move, our garden space this year was smaller than in the past, but significant in that it has timed sprinklers, and therefore, consistent watering (plants need water!). We filled it primarily with basil, chives, oregano, and mint, some just-for-fun flowers, and a few vegetable plants. I’ve never had luck growing bell peppers where we live, and this year was no different. Our pepper plant produced three tiny, shriveled, anemic-looking green bells that still remain on the stalk.

We did, however, grow a great little crop of tomatoes and one, massive, zucchini.

Luke and I did the harvesting together. I loved watching him gently push back the leaves and vines and stalks to reach inside, and then carefully place tomatoes in his colander. We compared the different sizes and degrees of wrinkly-ness, admired their deep red hue, and shared in some general mutual appreciation. Of course, we also tasted a few.

He had to heave the zucchini up and carry it with both hands. It was big.

While we picked things, we talked about the recipes we would be preparing: tomato and basil salad, zucchini bread muffins, and sauteed zucchini. I make a point to do this in order to help start them thinking about eating what we’ve grown, and to help get that connection between garden and plate crackling in their young hearts.

I’ll be honest here. The kids were all more excited about the chocolate zucchini bread muffins (cupcakes, really) we were planning to make than the other things. But my favorite turned out to be the salad; sun-warmed tomatoes paired with fresh basil and a little olive oil is a quintessential summer flavor combination, and something I always look forward to and savor as we roll into fall.

This particular late-summer salad rounded out a dinner of salmon, broccoli, and bulghur (a food that the “l”-challenged members of this family…ahem…little boys, really enjoy saying) with dried fruit and cardamom (YUM).

The following day we started in on the zucchini, shredding most of it to make muffins. Something new I learned about giant zucchini: they have giant seeds, too. Giant seeds that you really shouldn’t bake into muffins. (Aside: I’m always amazed at how much zucchini can disappear into a baked good. Was this phenomenon the inspiration for Jessica Seinfeld’s popular book?) While the muffins were a hit, they were also pretty sugary. Next time I think I’ll try these zucchini fritters.

Luckily Will was available to help pick out seeds and cut the remainder of the oversized vegetable. He cooked it up with some Bragg’s to go along with our dinner of black-eyed peas and flax-sesame cornbread. This eager boy is just beginning to show a real interest in cooking, and I enjoy teaching him how to cut and chop and saute!

Involving kids in the process of cooking their food is another way to help them develop a connection to what they are eating. Feeling pride and ownership over the meal goes along way toward food acceptance. Its also a really nice way to spend time talking and laughing with them!

All in all, our tomato and zucchini harvest made for a couple of days of good garden-to-plate lessons, and some tasty food! Next year I’ll try for even more edibles, and the young growers and chefs will be a little older. In the meantime, we’ll harvest from our local farmer’s market and the produce section at the grocery store, and we’ll continue cooking and eating together and having FUN!

Conundrum: Available Technology vs. Insurance Coverage

A friend and I were talking the other day–brainstorming, really–about the gap in technology that exists for diabetes testing and pump therapy, verses, well, anything else electronic. Sure, there’s a touch-screen insulin pump that will be available at some point, but you still have to connect that fancy little box up to a computer with a good old-fashioned USB cable. Where’s the wireless capability?

Why can my phone sync wirelessly with every single other device I own, but I still have to manually download data from our meters and pumps? Data that would be a lot more useful in real-time rather than a month later, or however often I can squeak out enough time to dig out my USB transmitter, log in to Medtronic.com (what were those passwords again?) and lasso my kids so they can stand right next to the computer.

And forget collecting glucometer data…our meters don’t come with the cord connector, you have to order that separately. (To be fair, I am aware that Medtronic’s own One-Touch Ultra meter relays BG numbers to the Medtronic pump for future data collection, but we’ve chosen not to use that meter–just personal preference.)

We came up with some great ideas for practical and elegant technology we’d love to use. And then I ran across this video this morning and remembered some of the realities of Health Care, and more specifically, of Health Insurance.

Insurance companies don’t usually like to pay for New and Different. I’ve lost several hours of my life on the phone with the insurance company, trying to win even minimal coverage of the test strips for a micro-sample meter system whose technology is already over 4 years old. And I’ve had to go through it every time we’ve ordered new supplies.

It’s frustrating. Just as I’m sure it was frustrating for the young lady in this video to find a new technology that would SIMPLIFY (and don’t we T1D families deserve some simplification?)  her testing and data collection, only to find it financially out-of-the-stratosphere-impossible.

In the near future I hope to see a couple of new developments on the diabetes front:

  • A system that incorporates testing technology with Smartphone communication. Maybe even one that also communicates with a pump. And someday, a complete closed loop CGM-pump system ( iDiabetes? Apple, I would be a devoted customer for LIFE.)
  • Insurance coverage for diabetes that actually keeps up with the rapidly developing technology and tools of Type 1 management.

That’s it for now.

I’m trying to use up all of last week’s food before the weekend: roasted sweet potatoes, baked salmon, quinoa with red peppers, and kale/spinach salad with radishes. Not too shabby for a Wednesday afternoon!

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread Recipe

This sounds really tasty! I can’t wait to make it; I think my kids will love it for dipping chips or veggies. From Savvy Vegetarian:

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread is a sample recipe from ‘Cooking Vegan’ by vegan dietitian Vesanto Melina, and vegan chef Joseph Forest.

My tasters loved it and inhaled it along with any cracker-like food. Quick & simple to make, this olive spread recipe will make you forget that hummus even exists.

Total prep & cook time: 2 hrs

5 Servings

Nutrition Data, 1/2 Cup Serving: 272 cal, 29g carb, 10g fat, 281mg sodium, 11g fiber, 10g protein

Ingredients:

2 1/2 Cups cooked or canned white beans, rinsed

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped green or black olives

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Put the beans, lemon juice, oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth

Add the olives and parsley and process until evenly distributed, about 5 seconds

Transfer the spread to a bowl or covered container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to marry and deepen.

Cooking Tips:

Common white beans, such as cannellini (white kidney), great northern, and navy beans, are used in casseroles and soups and are particularly tasty when baked with tomato sauce. Here, they are used to make a delectable spread that can be served with crackers or raw vegetables. The flavor of this mineral-rich spread will deepen if it is made a couple of hours before serving.

Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, White Bean, Olive, and Thyme Spread will keep for 4 to 5 days.

via White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread Recipe.

Family Camp – ConnecT1D

The Majors are going to Camp!

I happened upon a post a few weeks ago from a Seattle-area group called ConnecT1D for an upcoming Diabetes Family Camp the organization will be hosting next month. It sounded like so much fun! A weekend of family togetherness, campfires, mess hall dining and canoeing….all while connecting with other T1D families, and even learning some new things about living with Type 1:

ConnecT1D is founded on the simple principle that people with diabetes manage their disease better when they have connections to and support from others with diabetes. To live our mission to connect people with diabetes to each other and to disease management resources, ConnecT1D will host our first annual Family Camp, October 12-14th, 2012!

Our home for the weekend is Warm Beach Camp, about 50 miles north of Seattle. Families with children of all ages are welcome. The weekend’s agenda is packed full of presenters and breakout sessions covering a variety of key topics including: managing the emotional impact of diabetes, diabetes in your school, advanced pump and CGM use, and many more. The breakout sessions facilitate the sharing of tips, frustrations and encouragement.

While parents gain and share valuable insights into raising a family impacted by Type 1 Diabetes, the kids’ agenda is simple: FUN and FRIENDSHIP. Children (ages 0-12) will be paired up with energetic volunteers who are knowledgeable about Type 1 Diabetes. The kids programming and the Warm Beach facilities offer a wide-variety of age-appropriate activities to help kids meet other kids, just like them, who deal with diabetes every day. Teens ages 13 and up are eligible for junior camp counselor and camp counselor positions.

via Family Camp – ConnecT1D.

I filled out the scholarship application that night, but I waited to mention it to Evie, Will, and Luke until I knew if we were going to be able to go. A few days ago I received a phone call from a Camp Director with news that one of their generous donors will be sponsoring us for the weekend. I am absolutely thrilled, and grateful. And the kids’ eyes lit up when I told them all about it.

Let the Countdown To Camp begin….

Banana Oatmeal Blueberry Get-Out-The-Door Muffins

Mmmmm…..the smell of breakfast.

Faced this morning with a surplus of rapidly ripening Costco bananas and a freezer full of last summer’s blueberries, I set out to make a large batch of breakfast muffins…..that I could return to the freezer for later.

Admittedly, things get a little hectic around here before we leave for school, and sometimes, sometimes Evie takes her breakfast to eat in the car (okay, at least once a week). I need a few more quick–and not too messy if it happens to go out the door in a napkin–breakfast foods.

So voilá. A large batch of freezer-ready muffins, chocked full of fruit and oatmeal and breakfasty goodness. If you try these out let me know what you think!

Banana Oatmeal Blueberry Get-Out-The-Door Breakfast Muffins
Makes 30 muffins

Per Muffin: 123 calories, 20 gm carbohydrate, 4 gm fat, 2 gm protein.

(Note: Reducing the amount of sugar by half would reduce carbohydrate to 17 gm. You can also use whole wheat flour to replace up to half the amount given for some additional fiber.)

1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup rolled oats, regular or quick-cooking
2 cups (about 4 large) bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 T lemon zest
2 cups flour
¼ cup fresh ground flaxseed
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour (or use muffin cups) muffin tins.

Combine oats and milk in a small bowl and set aside to soften.

Combine mashed bananas and sugar in medium bowl. Stir in melted butter, followed by eggs, and then milk. Add lemon zest, stir, and set aside.

In large bowl, mix flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Combine well.

Add softened oatmeal to the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour wet ingredients onto flour mixture and fold a few times. Add blueberries and fold again, until just combined. Do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups ¾ full and bake for 20-22 minutes, until browned on top. Cool completely on wire rack or dish towel. Serve immediately or freeze for later use.