Getting Real

Do you want to live your life with energy and vitality? Learn what real food is and how to easily incorporate it into your every day life! Because our lives are busier than ever, processed, packaged and generally unwholesome foods lacking any nutritional value dominate our diet because of the convenience factor. If you are tired, have digestion problems or other chronic health issues and want to feel better, it's time to stop eating out of packages, stop eating food filled with chemicals and other non food ingredients and start eating fresh, real food. I am a REAL MOM living in the REAL WORLD trying to feed my family REAL FOOD. It isn't always easy, but it is very possible. I hope to help you learn what real food is and then how to make real food a part of your every day life.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


How many nights a week do you cook dinner?  Setting Saturdays and Sundays aside, I encourage you all to work toward cooking four to five nights out of the week.   I understand that for some of you this may sound like a daunting or impossible task.  If you are one of those people who already cooks Monday thru Friday then huge props to you!  If you aren't cooking at all, start with one night, and if you are already cooking one night, then start cooking two nights and so on.  I encourage you to set realistic goals whenever you are trying to make a change.  I would never tell you if you have never cooked a homemade meal to immediately begin cooking every night.  That is a sure fire way to become overwhelmed and quit altogether, so take it slow.  This is all a journey that is forever shifting and changing, enjoy the journey.  Where ever you are today in your process, I can guarantee it is not where you will be 3 months, 6 months or a year from now.  Regardless of where you are in your own personal path toward health and wellness, I hope that these shopping lists and menus help to make your life easier, tastier, and healthier!

Aside from drinking Green Juice (referencing my last blog), cooking for yourself is the number 1 way to improve your health.  When you eat at a restaurant or bring food in, you truly have no idea what is going into your food.  There are certainly exceptions to this rule, and one can find some amazing, healthful takeout options, but the majority of restaurants cook their food with excess amounts of salt, butter, and oil and do not use organic fruits, vegetables, or meat.

I believe that everything you cook during the week should be simple to prepare and take very little time.  I also believe that the flavor of the food should shine through rather than over saucing or salting your food, I say let the ingredients speak for themselves.  There are a few things you should know about the way I cook.

(1) I am never afraid to experiment with ingredients or amounts.  Don't feel you need to follow each recipe exactly as written, I certainly do not.
(2) I cook mostly vegetarian meals.  In my real life, vegetables are the main dish.  I personally do not eat chicken, beef or pork and only eat fish occasionally when I know the source.  So, the majority of these recipes are vegetarian.  In addition, I use organic dairy sparingly and it is optional in most of the dishes I prepare.  I am not suggesting that you all run out and become vegans or vegetarians tomorrow, but what I am suggesting is that Americans eat too much animal protein.  We are not meant to eat animal protein every day.  If you are concerned you won't get enough protein without your meat, stop worrying, I assure you that you will get enough protein.  This is clearly a topic for another blog, but wanted to make you aware that Vegetables take center stage in these recipes.  I cook my family fish or chicken once a week, so 1 out 5 of these recipes will include chicken or fish.  If you feel you need more animal protein at your meals, then at least consider making it a side dish to go along with these vegetarian recipes rather than the main dish.  
(3) I do not use any nuts in my recipes.  There are two reasons for this.  First of all, my son is allergic to all nuts so obviously nuts do not make it into my house.  Secondly, unless nuts are first soaked and then dehydrated, they can be difficult to digest.
(4) These recipes feed 4-5 people and have leftovers, so adjust accordingly depending on how many people you are cooking for.
(5) You will use leftovers later in the week for your meals.  I will make notes when to set aside some of the food for a future meal.   I also use leftovers for lunch.
(6) Many of the recipes are Tara originals or recipes I tweaked from somewhere else.  I will make note when I get the recipe from some other source.
(8) I use ORGANIC whenever possible. (Also a topic for a later blog)
(9) I eat gluten and wheat free so the majority of the recipes are wheat and gluten free.  Even if you do not have a problem with wheat or gluten, trust me, we could all use a little less wheat and gluten in our lives.
(10) Remember I am just a REAL person cooking in REAL life so if you have any questions about the recipes or it looks like I left something out, please reach out to me and I will answer any questions.

What you will find below is a master shopping list with everything you need to prepare 5 nights worth of healthful dinners, plus the ingredients to make green juice.  Feel free to use the recipes a la carte if you prefer, but I constantly hear from my friends and clients that they would cook more often if someone else planned the meals for them and told them everything they needed.  In response to that request, I have done the meal planning for you.  Also, many of my recipes use leftovers from previous meals.  Remember, to set realistic goals for yourself and do NOT stress yourself out.  If cooking ends up stressing you out then the health benefits from home cooked food will be cancelled out by all the damage the stress would be causing.  So chill out, have fun in the kitchen, and enjoy your creations.   I hope to be able to post a new week of dinner menus every few weeks or so.  Happy Shopping and Cooking!  

1 bag of romaine hearts
1 cucumber
goji berries
hemp seeds
4 avocados
1 bunch of scallion
 1 container of grape tomatoes
1 bag of baby spinach
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of mint
7 lemons
ginger (either 1 inch of fresh ginger root or already jarred grated ginger)
2 yellow onions
1 red onion
1 bunch of carrots or 1 bag of baby carrots
1 container of pre peeled garlic cloves
8 red peppers
1 orange pepper
1 yellow pepper
4 portobello mushrooms
1 package of arugula
2 limes
5 sweet potatoes
3 bunches of curly Kale
1 container of raw sunflower seeds
1 container of raw pumpkin seeds
grated parmesan cheese
8 ounces of rice milk
1 bag of brown rice penne pasta
Cold Pressed extra virgin olive oil
Grapeseed Oil (a better oil to use when cooking at a higher heat)
Truffle Oil (olive oil infused with white truffles)
Apple Cider Vinegar
raw honey
Nama Shoyu soy sauce
16 cups of vegetable stock (buy store bought low sodium stock or make your own by boiling water with a variety of veges such as carrots, onions, garlic, peppercorns, celery - if you choose to make your own please add these vegies to your shopping list)
Cumin ( a spice)
2 jars of Raos Tomato Sauce (Raos happens to be my favorite, but if you have a favorite feel free to use that)
3 cups of uncooked quinoa
1 package of Ezekial sprouted grain or sprouted corn tortillas
2 cups of dried black beans or 1 can of low sodium black beans
4 cups of dried red lentils
Celtic Sea Salt
garlic powder
nutritional yeast
Kombu (a sea vegetable than can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
1 lb of organic, pasture raised, ground turkey meat

1 bag of brown rice pasta
1 container of grape tomatoes
1 bag of baby spinach
1 bunch of basil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup of shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Cold Pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 cup rice milk
1 lemon (zest and juice)

Cook pasta in boiling water until slightly al dente.  Combine the following ingredients in the food processor while the pasta is cooking: baby spinach, basil, garlic cloves, sunflower seeds, parmesan cheese, olive oil, rice milk, juice and zest of 1 lemon.  Do NOT cook the sauce, rather toss it with the brown rice pasta while the pasta is still hot from cooking, chop up the tomatoes and add in to the pasta and serve.  

SALAD DRESSING (From Natalia Rose's book, "Raw Food Detox Diet")  *This will make enough dressing for 3 days of salad
Combine the following ingredients in the food processor  
2 cups of fresh lemon juice (approximately 5 lemons)
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of Nama Shoyu soy sauce
3 tablespoons of honey
1 inch of fresh ginger or 1 tablespoon of jarred, grated ginger
1 1/2 cups of cold pressed olive oil

SALAD -  In most homes this should be enough salad for Monday and Tuesday night, however, if you are like me, then you may want to double the amount of salad so you will be sure to have enough for Tuesday night as well.
1 bag of romaine hearts
1 cucumber
1/4 cup goji berries
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 avocado
1 bunch of scallion

*** In preparation for Tuesday night soak the lentils in water overnight

4 garlic cloves
1 onion
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 stalks of celery
1 bunch of carrots (6-8) or 1 bag of baby carrots
4 cups of uncooked red lentils
12 cups of vegetable stock
1/3 cup of cumin
2 cups of tomato sauce

Soak the red lentils over night or for as long as you possibly can and then rinse well.  Coat the bottom of the soup pot with the olive oil and place on medium heat.  Chop the garlic and onion and cook until slightly tender.  Add the carrots, celery and lentils.  Add the Vegetable stock and stir.  Then add the cumin and tomato sauce.  Stir again and bring to a boil, once boiling, bring the heat back to simmer and cook for 30 minutes.  Remove soup from heat and let cool.  Use an immersion blender or a food processor to blend the soup together.  If you do not own an immersion blender I highly recommend that you purchase one as you can blend the soup while it is still in the pot and it makes your life SO much easier.

SALAD AND SALAD DRESSING -  See Mondays recipes and use leftovers

6 Red Peppers
3 Cups of uncooked quinoa
1 jar of Tomato Sauce
parmesan cheese (optional)

Pre heat the oven to 350.  Boil 6 cups of water and add the quinoa, reduce to a simmer and cover.  If you have never cooked quinoa, it's similar to cooking rice or cous cous.  It should take approximately 10 minutes for the quinoa to cook.  Once the quinoa is cooked, put 1/3 of the quinoa aside for dinner on Thursday night. While the quinoa is cooking prepare the peppers by slicing the top off and clean out the inside, keep the tops of the peppers.  Combine the quinoa with 1/2 of the jar of sauce.  Fill the peppers with the quinoa and sauce mixture.  Pour the rest of the of the sauce over the peppers, sprinkle with parmesan cheese if you would like, and put the tops of the peppers back on top.    Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

1 package of arugula
2 tablespoons of truffle oil
1 lemon
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds

Toss the arugula with the truffle oil and juice of 1 lemon.  For extra lemon flavor, zest the yellow skin of the lemon into the salad.  Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds.

***Soak the black beans in preparation for tomorrow night

2 red peppers
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
4 portobello mushrooms
1 onion
1 lime
Ezekiel tortillas
grape seed oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne, garlic powder, paprika

Slice the peppers, onion and mushrooms in strips.  Lightly coat a saute pan with grape seed oil.  Add the onion and saute on medium heat until soft, add the peppers and saute until tender, add the mushrooms and squeeze the juice of the lime onto the vegetables.  Remove vegetables from heat and add the cayenne, garlic powder, and paprika to taste (I suggested a teaspoon of each).  Serve with the tortillas and guacomole.

3 avocados
1 lime
1 lemon
1/4 red onion
salt and pepper to taste

Mash up the avocados.  Add the lime and lemon juice.  Chop up the onion finely and add.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  A little hint to keep the guacamole green - keep a pit in the guacamole.

Quinoa (cooked on Wednesday night)
1 can black beans or 2 cups dried black beans
Fresh mint
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the black beans, quinoa, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Chop the fresh mint and sprinkle on top.  This is very simple to prepare.  Obviously, canned beans save time, however, if you have the time, preparing your own beans is actually quite simple.  Soak your beans overnight or all day.  Rinse before cooking.  Bring about six cups of water to a boil and add the beans, lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes.  Add a piece of kombu (a sea vegetable) for added minerals and to make the beans more digestible.

1 lb of Turkey meat
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon paprika

Preheat oven to 425.  Combine Turkey meat with paprika and garlic powder.  Form small, slider sized patties.  Place patties on a baking sheet.  Bake burgers for 15 minutes.

5 sweet potatoes
grapeseed oil
celtic sea salt

Pre heat oven to 425.  Slice sweet potatoes into thin round circles.  Toss with Grapeseed oil.  Coat the sweet potatoes lightly, you do not want them swimming in the oil.  Bake for 25 minutes and then flip sweet potatoes over.  Bake for another 25 minutes or until crispy.  Sprinkle with celtic sea salt.

3 Bunches of kale
nutritional yeast
olive oil

There are two ways to prepare kale chips:  In a traditional oven or in a dehydrator (if you have one).
Remove the kale leaves from the stems and place in a bowl. Lightly coat the kale with olive oil and liberally sprinkle nutritional yeast.  Toss all ingredients together.  

If you are dehydrating the kale, spread the kale onto the sheets and set the dehydrator on 115.  Leave the dehydrator on until the kale becomes crispy.  This will usually take about 3 hours (longer is fine too - for instance you can leave it on overnight).  If you are baking the kale chips, preheat your oven to 350 and bake for 10 minutes or until the edges of the kale is slightly browned but not burnt.


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