Thursday, April 26, 2012

Traditional Pork Bacon vs. Turkey Bacon

I haven't always abstained from eating pork.

When I was young, I was raised eating pig meat. And like most people, I loved it. I loved pork chops, I loved ham, and I loved bacon. But, then I got to learn where bacon comes from and got to meet cute little pigs in person, and eventually I just couldn't eat them anymore. I have an early memory of meeting a cute little piglet on a class trip to the farm in the first grade. I feel this memory has helped to instill the negative feelings I have towards slaughtering these darling creatures.

For a long time meat wasn't on the menu at all, but then I abandoned my vegetarian diet once again and started eating red meat and poultry once again. I still won't eat pig, but sometimes I catch a whiff of bacon frying and can't help but desire a taste. 

Then last year I was introduced to turkey bacon. I had known of its existence, but I was afraid it just would not compare and make me miss traditional pork bacon all the more.  Guess what- I was mistaken! It's great! It tastes very similar, and much less fatty! 

Now you too can have your questions and concerns answered if you've been thinking about making the switch, just read on!

Q: Why is turkey bacon better for you than "regular" bacon?
A: It has far less saturated fat and calories than pork bacon.

Q: But, what about the often higher sodium content?
A: Even though in most brands of turkey bacon there is a higher sodium content, the benefits of eating less saturated fats far outweighs those of eating less salt. There are even brands available that should have less salt than others, just read the labels. If you have a problem with high salt intake, you should be cutting back on salty meats to begin with. Everything in moderation!

Q: What else should I be aware of when choosing turkey bacon over pork bacon?
A: Choose organic over conventional as a healthier choice that is also more sustainable, and also look for "nitrate-free." Nitrates when cooked at temperatures high enough to be burned can cause cancer-causing carcinogens to form. Eating turkey also leave a slightly lighter carbon footprint on the planet. 

Q: How do I cook turkey bacon?
A: You can cook it the same way you cook regular bacon- by frying it to desired crispiness, or by baking it. Baking it is healthier and less greasy, plus can make it even crispier if that's how you like it! Cook in oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes on baking sheet, turning once half way through.  

If you switch to turkey, you will see it is just like using pork bacon, and you will be helping your health and the planet :) Of course, simply cutting back on meat or out of your diet completely is an even better choice, but I think most people who read this blog are omnivores! 

Pigs are also treated very poorly in factory farms, to an extent that would break any person with a conscience's heart. They are kept in cages where they can barely move, just to be fattened up before their slaughter. Piglets are taken away from their mothers just weeks after birth, only to be crammed into other cages just as their mothers were. The air is over-polluted, the animals suffer from disabilities due to lack of exercise, and the environment not only breeds poorly treated animals, but poorly produced food for consumption. Just read here and see if it doesn't make you reconsider your supermarket shopping list. 

This is not to say that turkeys are treated any better, but if you are a meat-eater and want a healthier choice, turkey is the way to go. Choosing organic, cage-free, antibiotic-free turkey will help to ensure you are getting the best offering out there.

Currently, my favorite way to enjoy turkey bacon is lightly frying it up in a pan then sticking it in between 2 slices of multi-grain bread with smoked cheddar. Grill or fry in pan- yum! Another yummy way is to wrap up asparagus spears in it and bake. Click image below for recipe.

Have a good weekend! Check back soon!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Meatless Monday Product Review: Gardein Chipotle Lime Crispy Fingers

This will mark my third product review. I didn't expect to write one so soon, but I felt compelled to after taking a chance on a new "meat substitute" product, something I didn't think I'd do ever again. Plus, it's Meatless Monday afterall...

Judging by the package, Gardein's Chipotle Lime Crispy Fingers look pretty darn tasty. Anything Chipotle is bound to catch my eye, so I decided to give them a try. On the package they really look like chicken fingers too! 

Now, as some of my readers who've been following my blog since the beginning may recall, I used to be a committed vegetarian. While I was a vegetarian, I was never too into meat substitute products that were made to taste like meat. I just never understood the point- I was vegetarian because I didn't want to eat meat, and I was not interested in eating fake meat either. Sure, I liked veggie burgers because they tasted like what they were called, but that was about it. I did try some "Tofurkey"-type stuff (is that what it's called?) and even vegan cheese, but it just was never the same, and usually tasted like plastic.

Gardein's Crispy Fingers are not the exception. They may not taste like plastic, but they do not taste very good either. The seasoning was pretty good and they were nice and crispy, and the texture of the soy protein and gluten combination did somewhat resemble meat, but I didn't care about it resembling meat as I have already stated. I was expecting hoping it would look more like the texture of classic tofu, but it looked like it had been specifically molded to look like chicken strips. The smell of them baking even fooled my dog, and he sat right by my chair begging for a bite with his puppy eyes while I ate them in a wrap.

Besides soy protein and gluten, the ingredients of the strips include "ancient grain flour", which also intrigued me. The "ancient grain flour" contains kamut®, amaranth, millet and quinoa. This awesome combination of grains did not save this product, although I do wish I could obtain this "ancient grain flour" on it's own. I can make it if I really want to, I suppose. The strips also contain an array of seasonings such as cilantro, chipotle pepper and lemon peel. Nothing too fancy, but it all still sounded very promising.

Here is what I prepared:

(makes 1 serving) 

3 Gardein Chipotle Lime Crispy Fingers™
1 whole grain wrap
2 full leaves of romaine
1/2 cup of red and green bell pepper strips
2 tbsp tahini dressing (recipe below)
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 tsp lime juice

Tahini Dressing

1 tbsp sesame tahini paste
1 tbsp water
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Bake the strips in oven according to package instructions. While they're baking, mix the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl, adding more water or sesame tahini paste as needed (I use Joyva brand sesame tahini). Optionally, you could also add some minced garlic to it. Have wrap ready to go by layering ingredients onto the wrap as desired. I put down the romaine, then the peppers, then the cilantro, then the lime and tahini dressing. When the crispy fingers are done, allow them to cool for a few minutes before placing onto wrap. I put extra tahini on it since I did not like the taste so much.

Now, you may be wondering- why bother providing a recipe if I gave this product a poor review? Well, I figure you may not want to take my word for it and try them for yourself. Let me know if you do and if you happen to come across a different flavor or product that you think is actually better.

Do you know a great product I should review, or a product you’re curious about but afraid to try? Let me know in the comments! Just please suggest a natural, organic, eco-friendly, or health or food-related product so it will at least coincide with my blog’s theme, thanks!

Note: I was not paid or asked to write this review, I did it by my own accord.

Have a happy Meatless Monday!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Meatless Monday: Zesty Corn Fritters

It's a little late in the day, but I figured better late than never! The reason for my tardiness with this post is because Boo-Boovania now has another resident: moi. Yes, as you may have read in my last post, April has been a month for accidents mainly targeted at poor Lily, but yesterday I slipped on the playground I took her to and busted my foot. It was okay at first after the initial shock of pain wore off, but as the day wore on, I realized the pain was not subsiding but getting worse and worse. Fearing the worst after reading about symptoms surrounding broken bones in feet, I made a trip to the emergency room with my dear mother, only to find that I had merely sprained it. They hooked me up with a boot (pictured below) and a pair of crutches (which are just a pain and going unused). My foot feels much better today, but needless to say, being in the ER kept me from writing a post.

This boot was made for limpin'

Today's Meatless Monday post is a recipe a I first made over a month ago and have since replicated in different ways by adding or subtracting ingredients. Overall, this particular concoction is not your average overly-battered corn fritter. Enjoy!

Zesty Corn Fritters

Serving suggestion for if it weren't Meatless Monday


1 14 oz package frozen corn defrosted, or fresh corn from 3-4 ears
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small jalapenos or 1 large, de-seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1 lime, juiced
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup water (plus extra if needed) 
Apprx. 1 cup oil for frying (canola, grapeseed or vegetable)

In a large bowl, mix flour, seasonings and baking powder together in bowl, then beat in the eggs, lime and water. Stir until smooth, then add all other ingredients except for the oil. If mixture looks too wet, add a little more flour; if it looks too dry, add a little more water. It should basically look like pancake batter with chunks of veggies in it. 


Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot enough (simmering and smoking, but not boiling), drop spoonfuls of the fritter batter into pan like in the picture below.

Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from pan with a spatula and set on paper toweled plate or cookie sheets. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. These babies go nicely with black beans (such as this soup), enchiladas, or a Southwestern-style salad.

getting golden

a version I made with slightly less flour


My family and I enjoy these just fine without any dipping sauce, but you can find some tasty sauce recipes at the two links below, where I also based my recipe off of.

These are SO GOOD and quite easy to make. You can bake them too, but these are one of the few foods I really do enjoy more fried. Using a healthier oil such as grapeseed or canola keeps the calories down. You could even use coconut or olive, although I never tried either.

These will be a hit with your family and any dinner guests you might have over. They are also ideal for cook-outs and parties. You can mix it up and add other ingredients to make it unique to your tastes with the greatest of ease. Just use the batter ingredients and corn as your base.

Grapeseed oil is not an oil I commonly use, mainly because it can be a bit costly, but you should be informed of its potential health benefits. It's most commonly known for promoting healthy skin, but it also very good for your heart, full of healthy fats and omegas, and has a high amount of antioxidants from vitamins C, E and beta carotene.  To get the most potent grapeseed oil, go organic!

Once again I hope to be posting more often as soon as possible, until then thanks for reading! Comments are always appreciated!

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's been a month for boo-boos

Lily is going through another growth spurt again, and this one comes with lots of boo-boos.

First of all, at her big 2nd birthday party with her cousin Rhys who was born just 2 days after her, (which was over a month ago btw), she got herself a big old goose egg the size of a golf ball on her forehead right as we were packing up the car, due mostly to her just being overly tired since she was unable to nap that day. After that finally started to completely clear up, she had another birthday party-related mishap after her other cousin's bday party and took a topple down the stairs. Luckily, she landed on the soft, cushy, yoga mat I leave at the foot of said stairs for just in case something like that were to happen, and she did not even suffer a single bruise or bump.

Now for some pictures to help lighten mood...

Lily's double chocolate cake made by Nanny

Cousins :)

Pin-the-bow on Minnie made by me (you know you thought it was store-bought!)

Lovely birthday girl, pre-bump

After the trauma of that event seemed to have finally worn off, on Easter she took a spill on Grandpa and Grandma's back porch step and scraped the side of her little face and landed herself a partial black eye. ACK!!!! I thought I could not take anymore of these little tumbles, and swore after that I'd keep her locked up in a padded room, but then I reminded myself that kids fall, and this was something I was just going to have to deal with and let her go through. THEN, earlier today (Friday) she took yet ANOTHER little topple when she decided it was a good idea to try and push her toy lawnmower on the back cement stoop, and when Grandpa tried to stop her, she fell over her lawnmower and landed face first onto the concrete pathway at the bottom of the stoop, DIRECTLY ON TO THE SAME PART OF HER FACE SHE SCRAPED LAST WEEKEND.


She now has quite the collection on her sweet little face, and I am almost too ashamed to take her anywhere, fearing the disdainful and scolding looks of other mothers I may cross paths with. I already did have a small incident the day after Easter when I took Lily to Target and the check-out lady decided to inquire about Lily's black-and-blue-and-scabbed face.

It went something like this:

Check-out lady: (looking at Lily in horror) gasp! What happened to her face?
Me: Oh, she had a little tumble yesterday. She's ok.
Check-out lady: What happened?
Me: (looking at her like is it really your business?) Well, she just had a little too much Easter excitement and slipped on the porch step.
Check-out lady: So she fell? (looks at me suspiciously)
Me: (quite seriously) Yes. She fell. She's ok, really.
Check-out lady: (still looking at Lily in horror) She's ok?
Me: YES.
Check-out lady: Are you sure?
Me: Do you have any children of your own?
Check-out lady: Yes, and one grandson.
Me: So, what? Did they never fall before?
Check-out lady: (silent for a moment, then-) Just be careful.

Oh, thank you so much, check-out lady. I really needed to know all that.

Current boo-boo collection

Ugh. So, I felt the need to vent a bit. The grandparents keep telling us it's normal and we can't do much about it except keep her as safe as possible, although it's inevitable she will get into little scrapes and bumps and possible injuries (I recall jumping off the swing set and breaking my right arm when I was 8).  It's part of growing up. She needs to learn how to fall down so she can pick herself back up, and all that jazz.

I'm still going to look into body padding and helmuts...

Anyhoo, does anyone else have any boo-boo tales to tell? Is there anyone out there who can make me feel less guilty? Poor thing...I just hope it doesn't get worse and worse...

And now for some Easter pics so we can end on a sweet note!

Finding her first eggs

I found 2!

Showing Daddy her eggs

Quite the haul (and part of the reason she fell down in the first place)

"There are raisins in these things?"

My pretty Easter sweetie

Have a great weekend!

( I have got to start putting more recipes on here again... )

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Product Review: Grain Berry Bran Flakes

This is only my second product review, but I was recently introduced to this cereal and I really like it- enough to want to tell you about it!

Grain Berry Bran Flakes®

how I like to enjoy them

I'd actually seen it in the cereal aisle a couple of times before Paul decided to go and buy it for us because he found it on sale one week. I was afraid it might taste like cardboard like so many other bran flakes tend to, but these are actually quite flavorful in a rich and hearty sort of way. They even have a delicate sweetness and just enough crunch.

The box boasts that it is full of antioxidants, having "oz. for oz. more antioxidants than blueberries, pomegranate juice, or red wine." As most of us know, antioxidants are very beneficial in a number of ways, including keeping the heart healthy, fighting cancer-causing free radicals and supporting the immune system. What makes this cereal particularly different from other bran flakes is that the flakes are made from grain berries, a plant which contains all the extra antioxidizing benefits. Read more about this incredible plant here.  

helping herself

The ultimate taste-test came when I offered Lily a bite. She didn't seem to be too thrilled at first, but then asked for seconds! She especially liked them when I added fresh berries to the mix. We enjoyed them with my favorite new milk, Blue Diamond Almond-Coconut Milk® (another review I should do!). 

Since getting hooked on the Bran Flakes, we have also enjoyed the Grain Berry Toasted Oats® and Honey Nut® , respectively. 

Some of the vitamins and minerals the Bran Flakes contain:
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Zinc

Pick up a box today! They were recently on sale 2 for $5 at Shop Rite, so they can be found there for sure. 

*Note: I was not paid or endorsed in any way to write this review. I reviewed this product entirely of my own accord.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Meatless Monday: White Bean and Escarole Soup

You already know I love my soups…and the way the weather has been lately, I had a hankerin’ for something to give me that warm, cozy feeling inside.  Luckily, my mother-in-law (also known as “Nanny Rose”, as you may recall if you caught this post) made this delicious soup recently that I just had to try and make myself. Even luckilier (not a word?), she gave me some leftover escarole sautéed with garlic and olive oil. What luck indeed! I was able to replicate her yummy recipe quite well, if I do so say so myself…

White Bean and Escarole Soup
(serves 8-10)


6 cups water
1 large bunch of escarole (or 2 smaller ones)
1 14 oz can or package of white beans, preferably Small, but Northern will work too
1 cup of baby spinach, rinsed (optional)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp cayenne pepper (or less depending on your taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the stem section (the white part) off of the bottom, then thoroughly rinse the leafy part under cold water. Once rinsed, chop up as you would a bunch of romaine, so the pieces are not too big and not too small. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat then add the garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes or until fragrant. Next, add the escarole and spinach and mix together with the olive oil and garlic, then add the water and bring to a boil.

If you’re using canned beans, rinse them if you have not already done so, then add to the pot. Stir in the tomato paste, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring heat down to a low simmer, then cover, cooking for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour (the longer you simmer the stronger the flavors will be).  Add more seasoning as needed. Serve with sharp cheese and crispy, crusty, warm bread.

I like to add extra cayenne, but if you’re serving it to people (or kids) who don’t like things to be too hot and spicy, don’t be as liberal. You can also add more tomato paste to balance it out and bring more flavor to the broth as children may find it unappealing as is. This is also a particularly garlicy soup since it has the strongest flavor of all the ingredients you’re putting in besides the cayenne, so some kids may not dig that either. To be honest, this is more of an adult soup I’d say. I offered it to Lily and she turned her nose right up at it and I could not get her to even taste it no matter how many times I offered. Poor thing had a head cold for a couple days too, but apparently it also caused her to lose her appetite. It would have been ideal for her sinuses, but all she’d eat is small amounts of fruit. If you're a vegetarian who's feeling sick, give this soup a try!

my little sick girl :(

For little ones with undeveloped palates, you can scoop out some of the greens and beans and mix with some small-shaped pasta, such as orzo or ditalini, topped with some Parm cheese or extra olive oil. Lily liked it that way.

Escarole is a leafy vegetable I don’t make too often. Not too many recipes come to mind when I think of it, but generally it can be used like most other greens, such as spinach and kale. It’s a little less bitter and the taste is a quite delicate when cooked, but it is still extremely versatile. After making this soup, I’d like to try some other dishes with it.

Additionally, like other greens, escarole is very good for you. It’s a type of endive (which I did not know until I looked it up) chock full of vitamins K, C, A and B, as well as a high amount of folate which helps protect against cancer. Escarole also contains a wide variety of minerals, such as magnesium, calcium and iron.

I never really looked at the Livestrong website before, but there is a lot of info on escarole there as well many other foods and the health benefits associated with them. Take a look!

Happy Meatless Monday! I hope you enjoy whatever you’re having. Link it up in the comments :)

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