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There's more to life than beans and rice...

Friday, November 05, 2010

...but I think they are tasty. Especially with pico de gallo. emoticon

Hello! I wanted to let you all know how I have been progressing on this gluten-free stuff.

First off though, I have been lying around on the couch for the past two days with a temperature of 103. I could sometimes make it move down to 101, but it kept jumping back up. I turned to my best friend for advice. (Having a bit of trouble with my health insurance right now!) She has been sick so much she could practically be a doctor besides the fact that sheís like a walking pharmacy! Following her orders I have successfully kept my temp down to its usual 97 degrees for about 12 hours now.

I sadly must admit that I have still been eating too many frozen dinners in lieu of finding meals that are gluten-free, meat-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. (Oh yeah, and try finding recipes that take those things into consideration that DON'T include mushrooms, squash or coconut. YUCK!) I havenít eaten meat in forever, my body canít handle dairy (except for yogurt) and the more I read about (unfermented) soy Iíd rather stay away. So basically, Iím incredibly difficult when it comes to food!

I have been getting cookbooks from the library so I can plan out a weekís worth of meals with whole foods that take into account my food intolerances and preferences. It hasnít been easy, but hereís what I have so far to try this next week (which would have been this week if I hadnít gotten sick!)

Black Bean Burgers (I know I used to make these, but the recipe will have been revamped to be gluten-free)

Pumpkin Enchiladas (homemade enchilada sauce and CORN tortillas)

Protein Potatoes (basically mashed potatoes with a few surprises)

Avocado Bean Salad

and Yam and Bean Burritos.

But all this talk is boring, so here is some food that already meets my requirements!

This is a bowl at the Laughing Planet Cafť in Portland aptly named the Steamed Rice, Beans, and Veggies bowl.

I know it looks like a big pile of vegetables, but there are pinto beans and brown rice under there too, really!

The tomatillo salsa really kicks the flavors up a notch. Oh and the pico de gallo doesnít hurt ;)

Yay something I can eat!

But I thought about it and this would SUPER simple to make at home. So I made up some pico de gallo, which I was super lazy about and will definitely be chopping finer next time.

I reheated some pre-made brown rice and pinto beans.

And topped everything with steamed broccoli and carrots.

I think I am making this (blank)-free cooking too hard on myself! But sometimes it just seems easier to grab a can of

And dump it into a bowl.

By the way, if you do happen to do this and realize that there is more liquid than you would like, please use a strainer! Otherwise you will be annoyed like I was when I dumped a good quarter of it in the sink. Trust me, you can clean a strainer. And if you have a dishwasher like I do, thereís no excuse!

Keep well everyone and if you do get sick follow your doctorís (or trusted friendís) advice, if you know they know what they are talking about!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AUBREYINGMAN 11/13/2010 12:43AM

    I really liked the pico de gallo you made. I keep putting it on everything, even my scrabbled eggs.

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DNJEN471 11/7/2010 5:01PM

    One of my fav recipies is simple: One cup cooked brown rice, 1 can black beans, 1 can corn and 1 small jar of salsa. Mix it together and whallah! Easy and tasty!

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BANKER-CHUCK 11/7/2010 2:01AM

    I love Beans!!! I love making my own salsa especially Pico de Gallo. I grow my own chili peppers that are really hot. (Fresh tobasco peppers) Now I am hungry, so I am going to boil some beans!! emoticon

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*AMBER512 11/5/2010 1:37PM

    Yup! At least that's what the blood tests show. Haven't had a biopsy yet, which I believe is the next step.

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BSTELLING 11/5/2010 1:32PM

    I'm on a strict veg diet without any dairy, meat, eggs, etc. Noticed that you have celiac disease so no gluten. That must be really hard. I would really miss my WW bread for a start. Best of luck to you.

Comment edited on: 11/5/2010 1:34:30 PM

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Is gluten-free your way to be?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Okay, Iím not really sure how to start this, but let me just apologize for being M.I.A. lately!

So where have I been?

Well, a lot of placesÖand nowhere all at the same time! I have been alternating between feeling sick and being in pain for years now. I have gone from being on my parentís health insurance, to not having any, to being on my husbandís, to losing it, to finally having some again! This last round of doctor visits has finally yielded a possible answer.

Celiac disease. I have tried explaining it to multiple people and every time I think ďsilly yak.Ē But the pain and discomfort is anything but silly! Basically, celiac is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. There is no cure, but there is one effective treatment - a lifelong gluten-free diet. Simple, right?

Well, as Iím finding out, not exactly. The problem with gluten is that it seems to be everywhere! It is used as a binder in many foods. But itís not just that, it can be found in beauty products like lotions, shampoos, makeup and even toothpaste. Even foods that are naturally gluten-free can become contaminated with gluten.

I have even found products that proclaim GLUTEN-FREE happily on the front and ďprocessed in a factory that also processes wheat productsĒ on the back. Gluten-free crackers that go down the same conveyor belt as regular ones are no longer gluten-free! With some online research I can find out that some of the companies put it on there for liability reasons, but they do actually use separate equipment.

I have to admit that I am completely overwhelmed in this. I have no idea what Iím doing! I have some recipes to try, but I donít have most of the ingredients for them.

I have basically started this gluten-free journey with eating way more processed foods than I was before. Pretty much seeing what says gluten-free on it and eating that. I just feel so completely out of my comfort zone without being able to lean on the whole grains I know and love!

I donít eat meat and my stomach can only handle limited dairy, so trying to get in enough protein has been interesting! My stomach is testy if I eat too much soy or beans in a sitting. AGH! FrustrationÖ

So my food has been a pretty big repetition of the following:

Breakfast Quinoa (Yummy! Too bad, eating this a couple of days in a row made my stomach burn like someone threw a match down my throat. emoticon Ugh)

(recipe by Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point: www.healthytippingpoint.com/breakfas

FSTG chips, of course

Cut up veggies and hummus

Zing Bars (I have tried the chocolate peanut butter and the chocolate chip. The one in the picture tastes way better, but has whey in it, which my stomach doesn't always appreciate).

Vanís Frozen Waffles (Definitely not the same as regular waffles, I really have no idea why anyone would want to go on a gluten-free diet unless they really have to!)

Amyís is a brand I trust and they have numerous gluten-free items. Some have been good, others not so much.

Amyís Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Enchilada Dinner (doesnít look that great, but it actually tastes really, really good).

Amyís Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Burrito (the best gluten-free thing I have tried. Iím not really sure what the tortilla is made out of, but it actually tastes good!)

Amyís Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pizza (while the sauce and toppings are amazing, I really, really, REALLY miss soft chewy crust. The crust on this is crunchy and tastes too much like corn for some reason).

Dinner last night was what my husband and I called the ďbean wrapĒ dinner. But, now that I canít have my soft, chewy flour tortilla (corn tortillas are NOT the same!!) I just went without.

Here is my pile of bean mush (aka black beans, greek yogurt, green onions, bell pepper, lemon juice, cumin and other spices)

Looks much prettier when it is in a tortilla with the lettuce! Lol

On the side I had steamed broccoli, cauliflower, brown rice and salsa. At least I know I can cook one thing that works!

Next up I will try something with this Udiís bread I bought.

Definitely wasnít cheap! Luckily a friend gave me some coupons and another one told me how good it is. So hopefully thatís a good sign!

I have been told to invest in a bread machine. Which is probably true, but I have already bought some new pans, a new toaster, and some new plastic containers.

Throughout this week I will be going through the process of decontaminating my kitchen. I want to have one full cupboard dedicated to my gluten-free food and cooking ware that is free of gluten contamination. The holidays will definitely be an interesting experienceÖ.

Ok, thatís all I have for now. Iím sorry I donít have any new, fun recipes to share with you! But, hopefully soon I will.

Had you heard of celiac before? Is anyone else having to live gluten-free?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MRS.CARLY 11/4/2010 9:30PM

    I Personally think that I am gluten intolerant. I've been tested for celiac's disease and tested negative (Blood test). It seems like EVERYTHING makes me sick. Even some gluten free prepackaged foods so I think I'm also soy intolerant and lactose intolerant. I usually just stay sick :-(

Any meal plans or recipes that you have to offer, or ideas you want to share would be great!

ANOTHER sucky thing about gluten free processed products...they are so low in fiber!

Comment edited on: 11/4/2010 9:38:20 PM

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DNJEN471 11/2/2010 10:20AM

    I love Amy's products. They are so tasty!

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ALISHAB3 10/20/2010 9:27AM

    The easiest way to eat gluten free is really just plain fruits, vegetables, and meats. Some people can tolerate some legumes, but not everybody can do the starches. I found that rice gave me a lot of trouble too.

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WALKSFAR 10/20/2010 9:00AM

    Welcome to my world. I have been living GF since 1983... before there were all these nice GF products on the market.


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AUBREYINGMAN 10/20/2010 12:32AM

    I am sorry honey that you are having to make so many changes. I am glad that you have been able to find at least a some foods right off the bat.

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LOVEMYLAPTOP 10/19/2010 10:55PM

    There is a spark team called "Celiac disease and gluten free." It might be a god idea for you to join it for suggestions, too.

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LOVEMYLAPTOP 10/19/2010 10:55PM

    There is a spark team called "Celiac disease and gluten free." It might be a god idea for you to join it for suggestions, too.

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DJ4HEALTH 10/19/2010 9:49PM

    It is for me because I don't want to hurt all the time if I eat those foods.

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BANKER-CHUCK 10/19/2010 8:17PM

    My wife discovered she was gluten intolerant about 4 years ago. It is really tough at first trying to figure out what you can eat. We have pretty much perfected a gluten free diet. We use a lot of Red Mill flours that are gluten free. Since I do most of the cooking I use a lot of rice flour where I used to use wheat. I even make milk gravy using rice flour. For tax purposes save all your bills for purchasing gluten-free meals because it is a special diet.
We have found some people have various tolerances to gluten. I know my wife has mistakenly eaten foods with gluten because of cross contamination. You have to be "SUPER" careful eating in restaurants. You have to really push your point across very hard to let them know what could happen if you are contaminated with gluten. My wife know someone who tells the waitress, "if you serve me food with any wheat, even if you only cut bread with a knife, call 911 and take me to the hospital" She adds that she will have the hospital send the restaurant the hospital bill. Most people don't have a clue what you are talking about unless you drive the point home.
Good luck to you. You will bet better if you stick to the gluten-free foods.

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MDTWEETY 10/19/2010 6:56PM

    Wow, I would be overwhelmed with all that too. Elisabeth Hasselbeck has celiac disease and she wrote a book about a year ago. I saw her on TV promoting it. May be worth flipping through?

Here is a link about her experience:

Good luck and hugs!!!

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STEPFANIER 10/19/2010 5:11PM

  I'm so sorry for you, Amber! My friend Abbie has a fledgling blog that you might enjoy: http://www.aglutenforpunishment.blo

Have you tried millet bread? Gina from Fitnessista swears by it (she avoids wheat)

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Check it Out : My Pics at Portland VegFest

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I had a GREAT Saturday! Got to go out to Sweet Tomatoes with my husband, had a fun time at church, and got all of my grocery shopping done for the week at the farmerís market and New Seasons.

But before all of that we went to the Portland VegFest!

If you are in the Portland (Oregon) area, check out the second day of the Portland VegFest today at the convention center! (More info here: nwveg.org/vegfest.php )

There were over 100 vendors passing out free samples of raw, vegetarian or vegan food. I tried almost every single thing (I didnít even try to track the food I ate. There were too many random bites of so many different kinds of food!) The only things I stayed away from were the fake meats. I donít like how they try to taste like meat (I donít eat meat because I HATE it) and I know that they arenít clean. There are a lot of chemicals involved when trying to take something without meat and make it taste like meat!

Special shout-out to Genesis Juices. I didnít get a picture of them, but the apple-ginger juice I tried was out of this world! I have got to find where I can get more!

I didnít get as many pictures as I would have liked because of how many people there were, but here are a few highlights I wanted to share with you.

Yay! Weíre almost to the front of the line!

Before it got so busy.

Sorry for the blurry picture but this vegan marshmallow was too good not to share!

Aubrey holds our swag bag while trying a vegan sausage patty.

The faux meats were Aubrey-approved! Not all of them, but his absolute favorite one was a seasoned tofu bite from Papa Gís Deli.

Raw Squash Hummus (I hate squash, but this was really good!)

THE BEST beans I have ever eaten! Refried black beans that are in various stores around here.

Oh! I also stayed away from the milk alternatives. I donít like milk or any milk-like liquid. But Aubrey was impressed with this hemp milk.

Looking through the brochure of Daveís Killer Bread while waiting in line to try the Sin Dawg.

Sin Dawg = sinfully good! Eaten in moderation!! Or chowed down on with cinnamony remants on your cheeks...

Vega Smoothie Mixes Ė not great on their own, but would be awesome in a smoothie!

Mango Sorbet bar from Turtle Mountain

After enjoying my ďdessertĒ we saw that another convention was going on next door.

We walked in to the free event and received another bag to gather up more free stuff!

Stopped by the Luna tent.

Free samples of spray sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lotionsÖIím there!

They were going to do a kickboxing demonstration near this line to try and win gift cards to P.F. Changís. So we got in line to kill time. I spun the wheel and won a $15 gift card. Aubrey took his turn and won a free kidís meal. But, when he told the girl running it that we donít have kids she let him spin again. Then he won a $10 gift card!

So now we have $25 to spendÖ.I have never been there before. I looked through the menu they had and I have no idea what Iíd actually get there, but it should be a fun adventure!

Kickboxing demonstration

After trying so many raw, vegan and vegetarian foods I was feeling pumped full of energy.

Donít mind me!

We still havenít gone through everything we got, but here is a sample of what we took home!

This doesnít count all of the food we snacked on throughout the day before coming home!

Here are some up close shots.

We were so wiped from everything that I almost fell asleep at church. Had to come home and hop in bed.

Now Iím off to teach the three-year-oldís! Luckily I am well-rested and wonít fall asleep on them!

I hope you are able to check out events like this near you! It was a LOT of fun.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PINETREEGIRL 11/2/2010 8:49AM

    What a cool convention! I love Portland.

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DNJEN471 9/30/2010 9:59PM

    Wow! What an awesome event! I would so love it if one of those rolled through our area! P.F. Changs has really good vegetarian lettuce wraps, if you like tofu- theirs is firm and tasty.

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RAEDAY 9/21/2010 12:41PM

    I have never been to Portland, but have always wanted to go, and now I am more convinced than ever that it will be awesome! I am 50% happy for you, and 50% jealous. Maybe a little more toward the jealous side though.

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MDTWEETY 9/20/2010 10:47AM

    Looks like a lot of fun! :) It's always good to be able to sample things that you might like but don't necessarily want to buy just to try it, and of course finding things that you would not have otherwise known they existed. :)

P.S. You look great!!!

Comment edited on: 9/20/2010 10:48:10 AM

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TUBLADY 9/19/2010 4:40PM

    That looked like a fun thing to attend. might try that next year. It's too late to go today.
It would be fun to sample the products, before buying and find out you don't care for it.

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ITSAWRAP_DIMI 9/19/2010 4:30PM

    That is sooooo cool Vegfest. My oldest is vegetarian and I dont mind meatless meals Wish they would do something like this in Georgia. I will be on the lookout. Looks like you had a BLAST!!!

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AUBREYINGMAN 9/19/2010 4:22PM

    I had a really fun time at VegFest. The food was pretty good overall. Also just having all those different vendors there at one time was a great opportunity to try so many new things.


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BANKER-CHUCK 9/19/2010 2:06PM

    I have lived in Portland area for over 18 years and never heard of VegFest. I will have to put the website on my favorites and go next time. I live on the Westside and try to avoid going downtown/convention center. I know a lot of neat things go on on the water front, but getting there seems to be a battle.
Glad you had a nice time.

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CITRUSPINE 9/19/2010 2:05PM

    Thanks for sharing you pictures. My in laws live n Portland and were telling me about the fest. I can now relate to it and some of what she was talking about. Her favorite was the mango sorbet bar.
Glad you had a nice time and got lots of "stuff".

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Pictures to Salivate Over

Friday, September 17, 2010

I have been super busy lately, so I havenít been trying as many new recipes as I used to. But here are a few pictures of my latest food adventures to tide you over.

Banana Soft Serve (yes this is an old picture, but come on, YUM!)

Homemade Hummus

I love Sweet Tomatoes

Empty Nut Butter JarÖ

ÖBecomes SIAJ (Smoothie in a Jar)

Playing with Farmerís Market swag

I do have a full blog coming soon that should be fun! And I promise to try some new recipes to share with you all!

Have a great weekend!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KNMMOMMY 9/19/2010 12:26AM

    You crack me up. And thanks for making me hungry! :)

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DENI_ZEN 9/18/2010 7:54PM

    Amber, I really do believe you were put on this earth to be a Food Blogger! I think any of those who have a deep appreciation, lust, etc., of food, are bound to join your ever swelling ranks of HappySparkers :) I know I, for one, will be anxiously awaiting your next blog entry! All the best, Sandi emoticon

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ALEXAALEXA 9/18/2010 6:39PM

    Hi there! I love your blog!I found it out by mistake after a comment you did on another blog about Operation Beautiful, and you are on spark!

I added you as my friend at once.I also joined your team. emoticon

I like the idea behind Operation Beautiful, though I live in Europe in a non-English speaking country but yet I just bought sticky papernotes to place few notes somewhere, then send them to the website. Things like: You should eat healthy yummy foods and beauty is not a number on the scale... emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/18/2010 6:47:41 PM

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AUBREYINGMAN 9/18/2010 11:04AM

    I still think smoothie in a jar is kinda weird. The face was just a spur of the moment thought!

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BANKER-CHUCK 9/17/2010 7:09PM

    Nice smiley face on your plate. emoticon

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*AMBER512 9/17/2010 3:09PM

    My husband was so proud of himself for making that smiley face out of vegetables. He even told me I should put it on my blog! How could I refuse? emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/17/2010 8:08:56 PM

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MDTWEETY 9/17/2010 2:54PM

    That last photo is CUTE!! :)

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SCREWIE 9/17/2010 1:11PM


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Roasted Veggies - Aren't these pretty?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I keep reading and hearing about how wonderful roasted vegetables taste and yet the amount of time they need to cook has put me off from trying them. (Often 30-50 minutes in the oven!)

Well, I finally decided to do it and go all out!

First up I bought some eggplant.

I sliced them, and then drizzled on olive oil, salt, pepper, and a mix of other spices.

Baked in the oven preheated to 400 degrees for 14 minutes per side.

These were okay, but definitely very chewy. Then again, the recipe I used said they would be! Here it is dipped in my favorite condiment Ė mustard!

Next up I bought a parsnip. I have never had one before and I really loved it raw. Itís like a carrot, except a bit sweeter.

I cut it up into pieces and did the same thing (drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and other spices).

Cooked for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, tossing them around every 10 minutes or so.

I actually didnít like these. They were way too sweet. Probably why I still havenít tried sweet potato fries. I donít like my French fries to be sweet! A very strange thing since I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. But some foods just need to be savory.

Next up was a purple cauliflower Aubrey spotted at the farmerís market.

Isnít it pretty?

Covered with the usual suspects. Roasted at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (although I will probably do it longer next time).

This was my favorite! I can finally understand why people like roasting so much! AlthoughÖI donít know if I would do it on a regular basis as I truly am that lazy when it comes to cooking when I want to eat!

While the cauliflower was roasting I stir-fried a mixture of other veggies with some fresh garlic and olive oil.

Added the stir-fried veggies and roasted cauliflower together with some brown rice on the side.

I later decided I truly love brown rice mixed with salsa, even if it doesnít quite fit with the mood of the rest of the meal. It is simply the best way to eat brown rice!

It was a great meal and filling. Although I realized later I should have cooked up some edamame (which is still sitting in my freezer after buying it weeks ago) for some protein. I will try it one day, I promise!

Have you ever had roasted veggies? Do you have any favorites that I should try?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DNJEN471 9/10/2010 10:56PM

    I love roasted peppers and onions- thrown over rice. So yummy!

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THEASHINATOR 9/8/2010 4:17PM

    Have you ever tried broiling? Set your oven to broil and put the veggies on the top rack. I often do asparagus, bell pepper slices, mushrooms, halved cherry tomatos, etc and it goes much faster than regular baking. Depending on the veggie and how crunchy you like them, they can be cooked in 10-15 minutes, and the broiler leaves a beautiful roasted coat over them.

Purple cauliflower?! I have never tried that before but I'll take your word for it that it's tasty! Good for you for trying so many new things! :)

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AUBREYINGMAN 9/8/2010 9:50AM

    I agree I liked the roasted broccoli, I mean cauliflower, whatever, the best. It was really taste and very purple.

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CAHUNO2 9/8/2010 9:39AM

    Peppers and I add them to anything! I'm going to look for a purple cauliflower! Thanks for the info! emoticon

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MDTWEETY 9/8/2010 8:04AM

    Peppers and broccoli! :)

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GOLDENLILLY 9/8/2010 6:37AM

    They look delicious! For the fall and winter, I enjoy roasting root vegetables: Carrots, beets, sweet potato and turnip. Cut them into chunks, salt, pepper, olive oil and some maple syrup!
Bake them on high heat until they're tender. They are sweet and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. ENJOY!

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BYTHEBOOKS 9/7/2010 10:36PM

    Brussels Sprouts, beets and whole cloves of garlic with some fresh rosemary and thyme with the olive oil, some sea salt and pepper. Yumm-O!

And your story is inspirational! Keep up the great work!

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NPA4LOSS 9/7/2010 9:47PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Wonderful and beautiful blog. I am going to have to try as the cooler weather is coming. emoticon

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CARRAND 9/7/2010 8:53PM

    I like roasted carrots and roasted green beans. I put garlic with the green beans and they're yummy. I slice the carrots thin so they cook quicker. I don't like to wait for my food, either!

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DOLLBABE56 9/7/2010 7:06PM

    It all looks so delicious! emoticon

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MOM2ACAT 9/7/2010 6:30PM

    I like your idea of mixing brown rice with salsa!

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BEKKASHAY 9/7/2010 6:25PM

    wow awesome blog! I am going to try that! I actually do mushrooms..whole mushrooms, same things on top but just roast for about 20 minutes (a little sprinkle of paremesean cheese on them are yummy too!) I am going to try the egg plant!

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WINE4GIRL 9/7/2010 5:55PM

    Yummy, yummy, yummy! never thought of roasting cauliflower! Have you tried roasting whole heads of garlic? Great, nutty flavor!

I will have to try the parsnips. Thanks for that too! I roast lots of veggies, including Brussels sprouts, together - check out my page for a pic.

You can also slice the eggplant in long strips and let it crisp up like chips. Just be careful not to burn. They are great with a horseradish may dip. A little dip goes a long way!

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PATTK1220 9/7/2010 5:18PM

    I love roasted root veggies. Try putting some spicy peanut sauce in your rice. It's really lovely with the nutty taste of brown rice. I often use it as a condiment on steamed veggies, too.

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STEELMAGNOLIA10 9/7/2010 4:51PM

    I love roasting summer squash. I also roast all kinds of peppers, let them cool and use them thru the week. We grew lemon boy tomatoes and they have a hint of lemon taste to them. Nice addition to the salad. Our goal has been how colorful can you make a salad. Thanks for sharing. Not an eggplant lover but I will try the parsnip instead of fries for my sweet tooth kid.

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QUILTINGQUE 9/7/2010 4:49PM

    That all looked really good. My daughter and I keep deciding we are going to try eggplant, even bought on a few times, but had to throw it out because it sat for too long. Maybe we will try for one more time!

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1THING 9/7/2010 4:38PM

    I love roasted root veggie, they are too good.

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CATHRINE2010 9/7/2010 4:33PM

    liked the fact you can eat purple cauliflower thought they were only lawn ornaments

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