Greek Bruschetta Recipe

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Inspired by my niece’s recent trip to Greece, i switched out the bread, cheese & vinegar in this recipe so i could live vicariously through her stories and cuisine!

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INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 or 2 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

1/8 tsp coarse sea salt

dash of pepper

4 heirloom or roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/2 cup green pepper, diced

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

pita bread

4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

optional:  splash of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

optional: serve with Kalamata olives and a glass of red wine never hurts ;).

IMG_2216METHOD:

1.  Combine first five ingredients into a small bowl and set aside.

2.  Dice all your fresh veggies.

3.  Grill the plain pita bread over medium heat until lightly toasted and stiff.  Immediately cut into fourths and brush with the garlic rosemary olive oil.

4.  Top veggies over pita wedges & brush on more oil.

5.  Sprinkle with feta and serve immediately.

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Now “Mangia!” which means eat in Italian and “Opa!” an exclamation to party, get down and dance with joy in Greek.

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Photo Collection Of Cold vs Hot Lunch

“What we learn becomes who we are.”

For the last three days, i was a kid again in the school cafeteria.  I began a conversation with the girls about their favorite book series of the moment- The Boxcar Children and My Weird School.  I talked to the boys about dogs and showed them a picture of my big, slobbery Bullmastiff.  They excitedly told me all about their dogs, and how they bounce their neighbor’s dogs up and down on the diving board until they fall in the pool.  Omg… thank God those dogs are labrador retrievers and love water!

I grew up a hot lunch kid from Kindergarten to Senior year.  My children are cold lunch everyday.  I thought this collection of photos might offer a perspective to showcase the missing opportunity for not only nutrition, but also for the love and connection between us and the food that we eat.  Along with clean water, food is our life source- not only for our bodies, but it feeds our minds and our souls.  Hope you enjoy.

DAY ONE

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DAY TWO

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DAY THREE

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In my lifetime…

i hope to see every child enjoy a beautiful, yummy, fresh school lunch.  I hope these children, like the ones i met in the last few days, are fed energizing real food so the world can enjoy, to full capacity, the talents and unique contribution that only they themselves can bring

…to the table.

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Inspirational “Food Education for Kids” Video

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To watch a sweet, 6 minute video to inspire you to support the idea of Food Education for Kids, click this link below:

http://youtu.be/43BSP1gwEhE

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The Four Elements of Chai Tea

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Chai means “tea” in Hindi.

Some of us have repeated ourselves by asking for “Chai Tea” at our local tea and coffeehouses, bought the convenient quart box at the grocery store, or have steeped individual chai flavored tea bags.  Here is how to make it at home using the raw ingredients- the same ingredients used for many thousands of years by kings and other Chai lovers from China to India and other exotic places.  Chai recipes not only vary from region to region, but from family to family.

My good friend Suparna, raised in India, happily shared some trade secrets- telling me how easy it was to do after she began reciting her family’s recipe by heart.  The spices she gave me were carried all the way from her last trip to Dubai.  She uses a 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup milk ratio for each cup of tea.  Although some may add milk at the end, Suparna boils both the milk and the tea together so “it forms a froth and a deeper flavor.”  She grates the ginger, not slices.  When she’s in a pinch, she’ll add Marsala (a powdered combination of all these types of spices) instead to plain, regular black tea and milk.

The four common elements of Chai are;  black tea, spices, milk and sweetener.  From there, you can create, substitute, rearrange, and omit- maybe even create a special variation  for your family.  

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I used pure Assam teabags by Taylor’s of Harrogate which is grown in the Brahmaputra Valley in north-east India.  My spin is that i like to add the brown sugar at the same time as the rest of the spices, opposed to at the very end so i don’t forget. It also enables me to begin the clean up process while it’s brewing.  I find that grating the ginger, like my friend suggests, really does add more flavor.

 

Home Brewed Chai – serves 4

3 cups cold water

1 cup cold whole milk

(1) 1-inch peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 whole cinnamon stick

5 whole cloves

4 whole cardamom pods, crushed lightly with mortar and pestle

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

2 Tbls brown sugar

2 black tea bags or the equivalent of 1 Tbls loose black tea leaves

Add all ingredients- except for the tea- into a medium pot.  Bring to a boil, watching carefully for the froth to not boil over.  Reduce heat to low and cover- simmering for 10 minutes.  Add tea and steep 5 more minutes. Strain into a heat resistant container. Pour and serve.

Inhale the Ayurvedic aromas, and sip in its healing, cleansing powers.

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Chai, as you know, is warm, sweet, and creamy. It’s a luxurious drink that is so cozy and medicinal, you’ll want to share it with loved ones.

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Cook it.  Share it. Live it.

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Amy Baker Wambold is a volunteer Ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Community.  Amy follows her passion for raising real food awareness, writing and food photography through her blog, http://www.junkfoodjournal.com, which focuses on the beauty and entertainment of real food and family.

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APPsolutely Foodtastic

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver  NAILS IT  with his Jamie Oliver Recipes App because he not only teaches you a real food recipe with a great outcome, but he teaches you techniques which in turn teaches you…

HOW TO  COOK IN GENERAl.

It’s sort of like a little $2.99 glimpse into culinary school training for everyday cooking! Or free for 7 days with no strings attached- unless those strings are wrapped around chicken legs of course! :p

Here are some snapshots of the app….

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Which i used to make these peach & maple glazed pork chops…

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and this hoisin chicken salad with sesame rice balls…

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and this ham, leek and chicken pot pie!

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Start smiling now.

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Jamie Oliver won’t just tell you what ingredients and measurements to use, he includes optional, short, likable, no-nonsense videos that give you the tools to be a better home cook.  Jamie teaches you 3:1 ratios and variations for salad dressings and proper knife skills. His belief, passion and love for food education is from the heart and oozes out of every cell in his body.

This app is great for both a beginner level- because he touches quickly at the common mistakes some people make- but it’s also perfect for seasoned home cooks who want to be challenged, or need fresh ideas or want to learn how to build flavors upon flavors. He’ll teach you how to make a herb basting brush for the grill and you’ll be toasting pecans in maple syrup and dusting off your mortar & pestle and grinding up dried, red chile peppers.  You’ll develop a better connection and appreciation for your food, because you are using beautiful produce and spices and giving them the love and attention they deserve.  It puts the love back into cooking and enables you to translate that love to your family and friends…

“for cooking is its own form of language.”  

The food photos are amazing, the app is user-friendly (hey, if i can do it…,) and it is, by my definition, lifestyle food- comfort foods using real food that is not ultra rich full of butter, not diet oriented, and not too boring or too fancy either.

You can “like” dishes when you have time to browse, and store them in “My Likes” for when you have time to shop later for ingredients- which of course is listed in a shopping list by a press of a button and updated easily for the number of people you need to serve. You may snap and share a photo through social media if you want to, or not.  And after the meal has been enjoyed by people you love, you can add notes for next time.

And if you are self-taught, like me, he will build your kitchen confidence when he confirms what you are doing right (and wrong!)  If you grew up NOT learning the proper techniques of cooking, then this App has your name written all over it, in olive oil.

So try it.

I promise

it will

UP. YOUR.GAME.

Peace, love & real food

Posted in Childhood Diabetes, Childhood Obesity, cooking videos, Education, foodie love, Health, Healthy School Kids, Obesity, Parenting, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#1 Food Tip

I was asked what my #1 Food Tip is… and i’d have to say…

“Unleash your inner artist by cooking simple and fresh- using minimally processed ingredients.  Food is all love after all!  So don’t be afraid to get fresh!”

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And I’m happy to announce that junkfoodjournal is entering it’s 3rd year in publication!  Can’t wait to share with each other more foodie reads, food love, thoughts and photos together!

Happy Sunday Funday

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Why I Love Real Food- A Stroll “Thru” Memory Lane

I am the youngest of EIGHT kids.  My parents owned a businesses that ran 24 hours a day which they never stopped growing.  How busy and stressed they must have been!  

I was mostly a hot lunch kid from kindergarten through senior year in high school.  I can remember by 10th grade i was blotting the grease off my cafeteria pizza with my napkin and “grossing out” over the gray color of the hamburger meat.  I remember my excitement and relief when an optional taco salad bar was offered.  I got it every time i could.  I was so thankful for lettuce.

I had the late time slot for lunch.  Some days were really hard to wait to eat because before school, I remember having maybe one fried egg or a mug of hot chocolate.  If i had both, i felt sick from the combo churning in my belly riding on big, bumpy bus number ten. Other breakfasts consisted of a quick small bowl of kid sugar cereal or wheat toast with margarine- because it was believed to be better than butter.  I was always in such a rush to catch the school bus.

By late morning i’d sneak into the cafeteria where study hall was held and buy a cake doughnut with chocolate icing not because i wanted something sweet, but because that was all that i could get my hands on. I needed to stop the hunger pains and low energy so i could focus and learn.  (Note to self at the time:  a complete breakfast is important.)

Cut to my dear old dad.  As an older, hardworking, successful businessman he enjoyed his self-made good life. He appreciated good tasting food and would pay any price for it.  I remember lavish dinner buffets with meats and cream sauces, fried shrimp, creamed vegetables and a table assortment of desserts- and i’m sure after a buffet like that, he or my mom wouldn’t have to worry about one of us eight kids getting hungry for a few hours.

He was proud of his Austrian/German heritage so we ate our share of sausages too- which he’d buy from a quality independent butcher on the other side of town. He’d always go the extra mile to get quality food.  I thank him for passing this quest for quality onto me.  I’d drive to three or four different stores sometimes to get the best ingredients. We’d drive hours sometimes for a great restaurant!  My favorite being The Berghoff in Chicago for Wiener Schnitzel a la Holstein (fried egg on top) with creamed spinach.

But my dad also loved to cook great healthy meals at home too- and he loved to bake his own bread.  I remember him spraying water mist into the oven because a bread maker told him it makes for better bread.  He’d stand there in his white undershirt taking out his anger and stress as he’d aggressively knead and slam the bread on our big stand alone wooden chopping block.  (Note to self at the time: cooking relieves stress.)

He’d make Hungarian stew when i was about seven years old, which looked disgusting to me at that age, but that was what was being served for dinner, so if i didn’t eat it, i didn’t eat dinner, period.

He made a mean spaghetti and meatballs to feed twenty (including leftovers), hearty beef and bean chilis and homemade soups like lentil, split pea, and potato leek soup that would knock your socks off.  I’ll never forget how my dad sent me back to the store three different times in a row because i kept bringing back something other than a leek because i didn’t know what a leek was!  And how embarrassed i was when he sent me only for ginger.  Oh not the bottled kind- the actual ginger root.  Imagine a self-conscious teen putting nothing else on the check out belt but one, lonely, light brown, wormy alien with arms down for purchase.  It was as bad as buying my first box of tampons.

I was exposed to a lot of other good home cooking too- thanks to some help from my fun-loving Grandma and Aunt who trimmed bags upon bags of green beans and peeled pounds upon pounds of fresh prawns, and husked corn cob after corn cob.  These two sweet ladies,  who dressed alike, would do all the dishes afterwards as well. Feeding around 15 people was like feeding a small army! Because with all of us kids, it was common to have a close friend or steady boyfriend or girlfriend around.  My dad told me we’d go through a gallon of milk every dinner- give or take a spilled glass or two- which he said happened like clockwork.

It’s a good thing we lived in the bitter cold climate of Wisconsin so we could use the garage as extra food storage. The garage step WAS our second refrigerator, believe it or not.

But thanks to family history, inactivity, stress and the unhealthy part of his diet- like trips to the custard stand- he came down with adult onset diabetes, Type 2.  This is the disease that since appearing in more and more children now, they’ve dropped the term “adult onset.” My mom’s diabetes didn’t show up until decades later.  She did not have a family history, and without life getting in the way, this nature lover would’ve ate more vegan meals. She taught me to love vegetables.  I remember at restaurants she’d ask where they got their veal because she refused to eat Provimi veal after reading how they treated their animals.

My saint of a mom is a very trusting person, so she believed her pediatrician when he told her that formula was better than breastfeeding.  Only one out of us eight kids was breastfed.

After she gained her weight, she went on Weight Watchers- a diet plan. This is when i learned what the word diet meant.  I remember her giving me cottage cheese with canned peaches or canned pineapple, and she’d take us out to big salad bars at the local steakhouse.

But sometimes, with laundry levels higher than i ever knew possible, she was just plain exhausted by six o’clock at night.  I remember one occasion she brought McDonald’s home for dinner. She didn’t even take our individual orders- she just ordered ten of everything.  In her cigarette-scented work clothes- she NEVER smoked a day in her life, but her coworker did- she dumped the fast food out of several bags onto our huge kitchen table as we all clawed at her screaming with excitement trying to grab our favorites before someone else did.

As a latch key kid, (a child who comes home from school to a house where the parent is still at work) i would make my own after school snack.  I’d have frozen orange juice in a cup and scrape it with a spoon while watching The Little House on the Prairie before running around the neighborhood until the street lights came on.  Or i’d lick peanut butter off a spoon for 20 minutes to the last half hour of General Hospital Soap Opera with my older sisters before putting on my roller-skates and grabbing my mom’s best bed sheet to “get wind” with a friend as we’d “sail” down the center of our long street.  Or i’d make “kid pizza” with my english muffin, Pizza Quick brand sauce and shredded mozzarella in a toaster oven before riding my bike four miles with friends roundtrip to the local pharmacy for candy and freedom.  I was a very active kid with miles of energy- earning blue ribbons and breaking track and gym records.  I grew up without a weight problem.

By the time i enrolled at a University, just about all i knew how to make was popcorn on the stove and toast- and i’d usually burn both. I could heat up Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup and somehow i’d burn that as well.  LOL.  But every cloud has a silver lining, because this is the main reason for my love for teaching kids how to cook.  I want them to hold dinner parties for their future hungry college friends! My kids are making scrambled eggs, cutting fruit, and reading a recipe to whip up a dark chocolate soufflé for a special treat! #proudmama.  In fact, as i write this blog post, the older one is making all of us a mango/raspberry/almond milk smoothie with banana and chia seeds. #thankful.

While growing up, I noticed some of my older brothers and sisters having weight issues.  My 6 ft 3 older overweight brother shared with me that while he was in college, one fast food drive thru order was not enough to fill him up.  Since he was too embarrassed to order more, he’d go to a second drive thru and order a second meal.

I remember witnessing my beautiful sister’s addiction to diet soda. She drank the tall bottles of Diet Pepsi for energy to fill her stomach instead of reaching for food.  She grew painfully thin- she looked anorexic.  She became pale and lifeless.  (Note to self at the time- fast food and diet soda are bad.)

I didn’t want to fall into the overweight or underweight family member category.  I didn’t fully understand diabetes, but i knew i didn’t want that either.  So i began reading my parents books lying around the house.  I think the first book i bought with my own money was The Blood Sugar Solution.

I listened to what the doctor’s were telling my parents what to eat- one and a half biscuits of unsweetened shredded wheat cereal for breakfast with a half of banana, a handful of walnuts and skim milk.  And the more i read, the more things i learned like ripe bananas have more sugar than “greener” ones and how cinnamon can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

But then i was reading to the point where i was receiving conflicting food advice.  And I had growing concern about the large amounts of fat-free, sugar-free creamer my parents were pouring into their morning cup of joe.  I knew it was a lot because they were always running out and putting it on the grocery list.

Cut to me in college.  I was spending more time at a friend’s parent’s lake house.  The mom had a gorgeous soul, free-flowing blonde hair, trim, beautiful complexion and her eyes as bright and happy as her smile.  After waterskiing, she’d hold dinner out on the deck with fresh slices of raw organic tomatoes and onions, boiled corn on the cob and oven roasted turkey or fish. Her desserts were ripe peaches from the farmer down her street who used an honor system for payment with a wooden box next to his unattended stand.

She’d make us soy milk smoothies with flax oil, lecithin and fruit.  She cooked brown rice pancakes topped with 100% maple syrup- not the sugar-free Mrs. Butterworth’s brand i was eating at home.  She’d drink strong as mud Kona coffee with a splash of cream.  Butter on her toast- not margarine. (Note to self at the time:  different caucasian families have different food cultures.)

My wonderful dad, who made friends with everyone he’d meet, lived to a ripe old age celebrating many milestones and over 50 years of marriage to his bride before he passed away.  His long life was made possible thanks partly to the healthy aspect of his diet, but mainly to the many bottles of prescription pills, many heart surgeries, and a doting, loving wife.

I’m lucky enough to have my mom living one block away.  She loves to collect cookbooks and read recipes- she always has. Her lifelong celebrity crush was Dr. Andrew Weil- the health guru, who helped pave the way to the road of healthy eating.  She purchased his books her entire life-  the most popular one called “8 Weeks to Optimum Health.” Years ago, when he opened up his first restaurant, True Food right here in our very own town, she booked an event and invited me.  Afterwards, I snapped a picture of the two of them.  She never thought in a million years she’d ever get to meet him.

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So for these reasons and many, many more-

I LOVE REAL FOOD & FOOD EDUCATION.

(This blog post was written per request of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Community, where i volunteer my time as an Ambassador promoting real food and food education.)

 

 

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