Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oh, happiness!!!!

I have had several people tell me lately that I am much better at writing than I am at talking.  Now here's the thing, I will chat your ear off, but when it comes to talking, I struggle.  I can chat until the cows come home, but I prefer not to talk about things I am worried, stressed, or upset about.  The downside of this is that I usually keep things bottled up inside, the upside of this is that I am a good listener and people sense that.  I frequently have complete strangers open up and tell me their life story.  And sometimes it's a little weird, like the lady at Walmart who showed me her hysterectomy scar.  But, every once in a while, I connect with someone and hear a story that makes me wonder "how does this person not have a book written about them."  Last night was one of those times.  I am not going to share the details of the conversation, but I know that last night my minis went to bed late because we started talking about kindness, gratitude, and life and none of us wanted the conversation to end.  I wanted them to know that I think they are perfect just the way they are, I love them, I thank God for them, and tomorrow when they wake up I will be overjoyed to see them.  And we all agreed that is a pretty awesome way to feel about someone.  And then my wise 6-year old mini said, "what if everyone felt that way about everyone?"  And we all agreed, that would be a pretty amazing world.  So, I challenged them to try it....emulate that message to everyone you encounter each day.  And my mini McGhees agreed that I should challenge all of you to do it as well.

Are you rolling your eyes right now?  I know there are some perpetually pissy people out there that just can't fathom being gracious and kind and nice to strangers.  Well, fine.  Be that way.  But be prepared that there are people like the McGhee family that will hunt you down and spread our happiness germs all over you.  And your crankiness won't stand a chance against this.....

So it's not just the McGhee family that has a happiness project in mind.  I am a big fan of Dr. Andrew Weil.  He is one of those really smart medical doctors from Harvard, so as you would imagine, I sort of have a crush on him.  And by crush, I mean I want you to be my grandpa, not I want you to be my boyfriend type crush.  I am reading Dr. Weil's book, Spontaneous Happiness.  The book examines the causes of true happiness in life and then meshes Eastern and Western philosophy, conventional and alternative medicine to come up with strategies for people to find more happiness in their life.  The book is intended for everyone, from someone who is depressed to someone who wants to find more happiness in life.  I would say on the happiness scale in life, I am a 9.8 out of 10....that's pretty damn happy!  But, I am still finding the book fascinating.

And since this is a blog about FOOD, I thought I would share one of Dr. Weil's recipes that we love love love!!!!

Tart Cherry-Apple Crunch
This is what Dr. Weil has to say about this dessert....Food as Medicine 
There is no better start to a dessert than with plump, tart cherries and apples. And the walnuts in here add not only a crunchy texture, they also contribute healthful omega-3 fatty acids.
The insoluble fiber in apples attaches to LDL cholesterol in the digestive tract and removes it from the body; adding one large apple to the daily diet has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol by up to 11 percent.

  • 1 pound frozen pitted tart cherries
  • 1 green apple, cored and diced
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cherry or apple juice
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped 2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1. Preheat oven to  400°F.
2. In a bowl, toss together the cherries, apple, brown sugar, and almond extract.
3. In a cup, mix the cornstarch and juice and add to the fruit mixture, stirring well.
4. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch-square baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
5. Mix together the remaining ingredients. Crumble the mixture on top of the fruit.
6. Bake for 30 minutes. Raise heat to broil and brown topping lightly for 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven. Serve warm or cold.  (I say you're nuts if you serve this cold, serve it warm!!!!)

Yeah!  A dessert even us health nuts are excited about!  We had ours after a dinner of meatloaf and cauliflower popcorn.  You all know I am not a huge's gross when it's raw, it smells funny when it's cooking, and it's not all that tasty.  I would love for our family to go vegetarian, but here's the thing....Mr. McGhee is from Wisconsin.  And Wisconsinites love meat.  They also love cheese, beer, Carharts, and fast cars that race in circles.  When I suggested to Mr. McGhee that we go vegetarian, he told me no way because "I am a man and men need to eat meat."  So, I tried to disprove his theory by finding a picture of a hot, hunky male vegetarian and all I could find was this guy.  So maybe Mr. McGhee is right and men do need meat.  And since I live with 3 men, I decided to make meatloaf.  I followed a recipe from the Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook.

Mr. McGhee's men-need-meat loaf

  • 2 tbsp oil (I used olive)
  • 2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground meat (I used grass-fed beef)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ (I used ground flaxseed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt (I used yogurt)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 tsp herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.  (I lined mine with tin foil instead)
2.  In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until tender.  Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
3.  Add meat, oats, wheat germ, eggs, tomato juice, yogurt, parsley, salt, herbs de Provence, pepper, and cheese.
4.  Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and with your hands shape into a 5 x 9 log.  (I made small mini loaves instead).
5.  Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes,  or until set, golden brown, and cooked thoroughly.  I cooked my small patties for about 40 minutes.  

I halved this recipe.  I know men need meat, but not that much meat!  This was plenty for the 5 of us, we even had leftovers.  

We had our meatloaf with cauliflower popcorn.  I roasted one whole head of cauliflower.  Next time I will roast two.

  • one head of cauliflower, chopped into florets  (we prefer really small florets)
  • few tbsp olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • few tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • salt
1.  Preheat oven to 400F.
2.  Drizzle oil over cauliflower and stir to coat.
3.  Spread cauliflower out on parchment lined baking sheet. (I used tin foil)
4.  Sprinkle with garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and a bit of salt.
5.  Bake for 20-40 minutes until starts to brown.

The cauliflower was delish.  I thought the meatloaf was okay.  The McGhee meat-lovers gave it two thumbs up.  

Have a great sunshiny day!  And be happy!!!!