Gilmores celebrate National Health & Fitness Day

Did you know Saturday was National Health & Fitness Day? We celebrated by going on a 2.5-mile walk with my mom. Actually, we invited all the Fresno Christian Schools staff but not too many showed up. We need to work to publicize it a little better next year - maybe even invite the whole school. We started at the Jamba Juice at the corner of Shepherd and Cedar. We took the walking/running path toward Woodward Park and then circled back. We enjoyed our walk with Nana Maria (also a Fresno Christian 5th grade teacher). This was a great time to catch up and get the blood flowing Dorina's prego legs...
Meilani and Dorina's favorite part of the day was the finish at Jamba Juice. We shared the Peach Perfection 100% Fruit smoothie and even scored lunch at ZPizza a cool new healthy pizza & pasta place next door. Chicken Penne with Pesto sauce and flat bread: Yummy!


Recipe of the Week: Dorina's Tortilla Soup

Something about fall makes me start craving hearty soups and stews. This is my version of a corn tortilla soup that's been a favorite of our family through the years. We've passed on the recipe to many other families and it seems to be a universal fave. This tortilla soup is a thicker pureed version compared to what a lot of restaurants serve.

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 organic boneless chicken breasts,
1/2 jalapeno, minced (1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
6 organic corn tortillas (7”)
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups fresh sweet corn (or 2 - 16 oz. cans of organic white corn or 1 package frozen organic sweet corn)
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped (or 1 - 28 oz. can chopped organic tomatoes)
1/3 cup organic tomato paste
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
2 cups water
1 quart organic chicken stock

Sour cream
Blue corn tortilla chips or 5 corn tortillas cut in strips
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large Dutch oven-type pot. Cut chicken breasts into small bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with minced jalapeno or crushed red pepper. Sauté in in pot.
2. Chop onion. Add to pot and sauté until onions are translucent.
3. Meanwhile, add three tablespoons oil to a large frying pan. Cut tortillas into one-inch strips. Brown tortilla strips in pan. (Reserve half the strips on a plate for garnish if desired.) Add other half of tortilla strips to the soup pot.
4. Add garlic and jalapenos/red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it) to soup pot. Add two cups corn and 5 chopped tomatoes to pot. Mix.
5. Add spices: cumin, salt, black pepper and chili pepper. Add tomato paste.
6. Finally, add 2 cups water and 1 quart chicken stock. Stir ingredients together well.
7. Bring soup to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender (or transferring to regular blender) and puree the soup. (You can skip this step if you prefer a chunky soup.)
8. Allow soup to continue cooking at a low heat for 10 minutes. Continue to puree until large chunks of chicken and tomatoes are blended into the soup.
9. At this point, you can decide about the consistency. If you like a thicker soup, leave as is and allow to cook longer. If you want to thin out the soup add 1/2 cup water until you are satisfied with the consistency.
10. Add two remaining cups of corn to pot and serve.
11. Put garnishes in separate bowls. Allow your guest or family to add garnish their soup themselves for fun or you can do it and wow them with the presentation.


Menu Planner: September

If you're anything like me, the end of the month means digging in the fridge and freezer to see what's left that I can use. I actually love this opportunity to be creative until the next paycheck comes. Suppliment your meals with some inexpensive garden or farmer's market deals. This week I'm using up our yellow squash from the garden, some carrots I found in the bottom of the fridge, and some of the hearty grains I have in the freezer like barley. Let your crockpot be your friend this week and try out a few new things!

**(Please share your comments if you have ideas you use to spruce up your family's end-of-the-month meals.)

This week's menus:

Week #4

Crockpot tri-tip
Mushroom risotto
Spinach salad with broccoli & carrots

Coconut Curry Chicken (at Stacie & Forest's house!)
Basmati Rice

Dorina's Tortilla Soup
Taco salad with cheese, beans & avocado

Luscious Leftovers = Beef & Barley Stew

Spinach ravioli with Marinara Sauce
Chicken sausage & Sauteed squash
Homemade Whole Wheat Honey Bread

tri-tip sandwiches

Sweet & Sour Turkey Meatballs
Leftover rice
Zuchinni & Yellow pepper stir fry

Week #3

Teriyaki Burgers
Steamed Broccoli
Sliced Cantaloupe

Peanut Chicken Satay Skewers
Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas
Brown rice

Butternut squash lasagna
Caesar Salad
Whole Wheat sourdough bread

Cumin Honey Grilled Lamb
Brussel sprouts with Walnut-Lemon Vinaigerette
Bulgar pilaf

Grilled salmon
Walnut pesto pasta with yellow squash
Baby Greens salad with goat cheese & grilled peaches

Feta-Chicken Pizza
No-Pudge Peanut Butter Brownies

Luscious Leftovers

Week #2:

Baked Coconut Fish
Brown Rice
Macaroni Salad
Pineapple Cheesecake

Salad greens with parmesan, olives, tomatoes
Organic Spinach Ravioli (new at Costco)
served with Alfredo sauce, chicken sausage and squash
Crusty Whole wheat bread

Rice Chips & Guacamole
Green enchiladas topped with cheese
Refried beans
Mexican rice

Luscious Leftovers*

Chik-Fil-A opens in Fresno!
Check it out & get a free chicken sandwich
or healthy kids' meal...

Cindy's Famous Meatloaf
Smashed Potatoes
Steamed broccoli

Garden Bounty Vegetable Soup
Homemade Whole Grain Bread
Baby Greens salad with avocado, corn and cherry tomatoes

Week #1:

Eggplant parmesan
Whole wheat bread
Green salad with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese

Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches
with Green peppers & onions

Grilled honey-teriyaki chicken
Brown rice
Breaded zucchini spears

Simple Summer Pasta
with Cherry tomatoes, olives and Fresh Mozarella
(Chicken Sausage)

Mahi Mahi Tacos
with Cabbage slaw &
Tropical salsa
Brown rice & black beans

Vegetarian pizza
Peach Berry Crisp with
Vanilla Ice Cream

Grilled Turkey-feta burgers
on Whole Wheat buns
with Fresh lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese
Fruit Salad


Recipe of the Week: Cindy's Inspired Meatloaf

When even a touch of cooler weather hits, it triggers that desire for comfort food. I decided to try out an American classic that we've never really made before in our house. (Ok, I made it once the first year we were married and Ericlee didn't like the recipe and told me so. I've never made it since!) My best friend Cindy in Florida made us this scrumptious meatloaf a few months ago and it rekindled all of our love for the classic main dish. The crispy edges and lean meat had us all digging in the pan (and later the fridge) for more. Of course, Cindy cooks like me. She looks in her cupboard and fridge and makes it up. She sent me a list of random ingredients she *sometimes* uses for the meatloaf. I made it into a recipe. Our family loved it and gobbled it up in no time. Here's a great way to get some veggies and whole grains into your family without them noticing. Feel free to experiment and make it your own recipe.

"More Please" Meatloaf

1 pound lean, organic meat (look for the leanest you can find!)
5 eggs
1/3 cup Trader Joe's Smoky All-Natural BBq Sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 large or 1 small red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup wheatgrass, oat bran, bulgar or other grain of choice (optional)
olive oil spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Spray olive oil in 1 loaf pan.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs.
4. Add spices and veggies to bowl.
5. Blend together mixture with meat, using fingers.
6. Add wheatgrass and BBQ sauce. (The mixture will be very wet)
7. Plop into loaf pan and pat evenly. Cook approximately 1 hour or until edges are crispy brown.
8. Serve with more BBQ on the side for those who like to slather it on.

Makes 1 loaf, serves 4.

Suggested sides: Mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, spinach salad with peaches and goat cheese


Field Trip: Whole Foods brings Local and Organic options to our doorstep

We joined a Mothering & Play Group with some local moms (lots of our friends). On Fridays, we take the kiddos on field trips. Last Friday we went on an educational tour of Whole Foods Market, a national all-natural food chain. We have one a mile from our house and we wanted to explore what they had in the way of affordable healthy foods. The kids couldn't wait to get inside!

Admittedly, the coolest thing about our tour was the SAMPLES we were served in every department of the store. We started off with fresh, locally-grown, organic raspberries. Meilani was a big fan! The produce at Whole Foods is a mix of locally-grown conventional stuff and all-organic. They are very intentional about where they buy produce from and presenting the best quality to customers for maximum taste. This section in particular is pristine and inviting with all the colors of the fruits and vegetables.

One cool fact we found out is the bananas at Whole Foods are from Earth University in Costa Rica. I was really excited about this because I visited Earth University during my semester in Costa Rica in college. It's a cutting-edge place where they are reaching out doing community development and growing and selling fruit. They reach out to women particularly and help them build small businesses through a microloan program subsidized by their organic banana production. Pretty cool!

Next stop: the seafood department. Our guide let the kids touch a real crab and we oohed and ahhed over the prepared salmon cakes and homemade clam chowder. Then on to the Meat department to hear about all the range-free and hormone free beef, lamb, pork and poultry. The guy did joke about the prices telling us that some people call Whole Foods the "whole paycheck" store. That might not be entirely true if you know where the bargains are but you will pay a pretty penny for this high-quality meat.

After sampling soy milk, cheese and artisan olives, we ventured into the "prepared foods" section of Whole Foods. This is a healthy food mecca for people who don't like to cook. They have everything from freshly-prepared sushi to deli sandwiches. They served up slices of pizza made in their special brick oven for our tour group of little ones. Bon appetit!

We also went to the bakery with all its impressive fancy cakes and cream puffs. We sampled organic cookies. We also learned about Whole Foods open package policy. Because they have so many unique and special products, shoppers can ask any clerk to open a package and give them a taste. Unbelievable! We ended up in the cosmetic department (my fave) with all their paraben-free lotions and make-up. I scored some sparkly eye shadow and nail polish. We also went home with free samples of Barney Butter (almond butter) and organic soaps. Whole Foods wholly spoiled us!

Journey note:
We go to Whole Foods now about twice a month for specialty produce items, inexpensive staples (especially their coupon deals or 365 brand) and baking supplies (all kinds of natural sweeteners and whole grain flours). We love the prepared food section but we only can afford it if we have a special gift certificate. Looking for a great lunch date? Check out Whole Foods cafe area. They serve up awesome homemade soups and breads daily.


Cooking Club: Hawaiian BBQ Menu

Tonight we hosted our monthly Cooking Club. Since the temperatures still soar in the 90s here in Fresno but the evenings are pleasant and cool, we decided to host a Hawaiian Luau Barbeque on our patio. Move over L&L Barbeque! We decided to pick some healthy versions of the classic luau recipes. Here's the menu and recipes we featured. A-LO-HA!

Hawaiian Luau Menu:

Chips with Peach Salsa
Tropical Smoothies
Macaroni Salad with a Healthy Twist
Hawaiian Sweet Bread
Grilled Chinese Chicken Wings Appetizer
Coconut Baked Fish
Grilled Mahi Mahi with Tropical Salsa
Sweet Potato (Piele) Casserole
Pineapple Haupia Cheesecake

Chinese Chicken Wings
-2 teaspoons garlic powder
-2 green onions, chopped
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-1 tablespoon white wine
-1/2 cup water
-1/2 cup honey
-12 chicken wings (hormone free, cage free)

1. Combine all ingredients except chicken wings as a marinade. Whisk together in 9x13 pan.
2. Add chicken wings. Allow to marinade minimum 1 hour.
3. Grill and serve.

Coconut Baked Fish
(Adapted from A LITTLE HAWAIIAN COOKBOOK by Kelly Malone)
-4 tilapia or other white fish fillets
-1 small onion, peeled and cut in wedges
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 tomatoes skinned, de-seeded and diced
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
-1 pinch dried chili pepper flakes (to taste)
-salt & pepper
-1 1/2 cups coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a 9x13 baking dish, arrange the fish in a single layer.
3. Saute the onion in the olive oil until transparent.
4. Add tomatoes and red pepper to saute. Continue sauteing for additional 5 minutes.
5. Add coconut milk and heat until just warm.
6. Pour the coconut-vegetable mixture over the fish.
7. Cover dish and bake 20-30 minutes until fish is flaky.
8. Serve over rice.

Hawaiian Sweet Potato Casserole
(Adapted from A LITTLE HAWAIIAN COOKBOOK by Kelly Malone)
-1 tablespoon butter
-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
-4 bananas, peeled and sliced
-4 apples, cored, peeled and sliced into rings
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
-1/2 cup rum
-2 tablespoons mint, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease large casserole dish with butter.
3. Boil sliced sweet potatoes for approximately 5 minutes.
4. Layer sweet potatoes, bananas and apples.
5. In a small bowl, blend coconut milk, brandy and mint. Pour over casserole.
6. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes.
7. Uncover dish for 10 minutes and allow to brown.

Dorina’s Grilled Mahi Mahi with Tropical Salsa
-4 fillets mahi mahi fish
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-olive oil spray
-1/2 red onion, chopped
-1 cup mango, chopped
-1 cup pineapple, chopped
-1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
-1 pinch red pepper flakes (to taste)

1. Sprinkle fish fillets with salt and pepper.
2. Spray grill with olive oil spray.
3. Grill fish fillets for approximately 12-15 minutes until flaky.
4. Meanwhile, assemble salsa.
5. Top fish with salsa and serve.


Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies

Ok, friends. I know some of you have been begging me for this recipe. I've been on a quest for a long time for a "healthy" but yummy cookie. I think I found one - at least one that passes our family's chewy, chocolatey, yummy test. I have to give a nod to my friend Lisa Pearmain from Arizona who inspired this recipe. She served up her own version this summer. I've doctored it a bit to make it with a healthy twist.

1 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups quick or old fashioned oats uncooked
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup organic raw brown sugar
1 slightly beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup organic canned pumpkin (found in baking section of market)
1 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
3. Mix butter and yogurt then gradually brown sugar.
4. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well.
5. Mix in pumpkin and then stir in chocolate chips.
6. Bake 18-20 minutes or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool then eat or store!

Note: Makes about 3 dozen cookies if you use heaping teaspoon size dough. I double the recipe because one can 15-ounce pumpkin has 2 cups as does a package of chocolate chips. Not to mention, these cookies go fast. Enjoy!


Pregnancy: Trying for Healthy in the First Trimester

By Dorina Gilmore

We have a new healthy challenge in our family. This summer I found out I am pregnant with our second child. We are thrilled. Of course, the beginning of pregnancy never thrills me. For all you mamas out there who have experienced pregnancy before, you know that the first trimester can be a bear. I'm one of the blessed types that feels nauseated all day long for my first trimester - not just for that proverbial morning sickness. Let's just say it was a struggle to keep any food down.

That said, eating is key throughout pregnancy. I don't believe the people who say, "Eat what you want!" During my first pregnancy, I took those secret trips to Taco Bell and ate lots of ice cream. I thought it didn't matter. Now that I'm pregnant for a second time I want to work hard to eat good stuff. I truly believe that walnuts (good omega-3s) are going to make my baby smarter. I've done the research and I know that organic strawberries and blueberries (Vitamin C) are going to build good antibodies. I know oatmeal can help with milk supply for nursing mamas. In short, it does matter what you eat. I'm convinced.

Am I perfect? No way. In those first three months, pounding kale and spinach was not really high up on my list even though I knew the health benefits. My husband suggested salad and I felt like barfing. True confession time: I have to admit I did order a Little Caesar's pepperoni pizza and ate off it for 3 days. Everything else sounded and looked disgusting. Thank God, I made it through that phase.

After a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself, my husband and I went shopping and started the quest for healthy pregnancy mini-meals. News flash: Pregnancy is time to snack. I can never stomach a full-on meal without feeling the affects of heartburn, indigestion or worse. We decided it was time to find the stuff in the supermarket that looked really good to me and was really healthy for me and our baby.

Here are some ideas...

-Sliced peaches & cottage cheese
-Organic pretzels
-Organic Z-bars or Odwalla bars (always keep a stash in my purse)
-Hummus on pita bread
-Apple slices with peanut butter
-Nuts & raisins/other dried fruit (always keep a stash in the car)
-Mini bagel with cheese or almond butter
-Oatmeal Cookies packed with raisins and dark chocolate and other good stuff
-Kashi cheese crackers
-Organic yogurt
-Dark chocolate-covered frozen bananas
-Egg & cheese burritos

I'd love to hear from you. Any suggestions for great pregnancy snacks or what I call mini-meals? Let's encourage each other on this journey. Daddies, you can help too! I'm on to the second trimester now and I'm reveling in the idea of eating again!


Recipe of the Week: Simple Summer Pasta

Move over Rachael Ray. We've got a new 20-minute meal that's healthy and doesn't have 20 ingredients. This easy-to-whip-up whole wheat pasta dish makes use of fresh produce from the garden or farmer's market. We liked this vegetarian version but you could always add an Italian Chicken Sausage or other organic meat of your choice. Serve it with a nice loaf of crusty wheat bread and a glass of berry lemonade or white wine. It's a perfect end-of-summer patio meal.

Buon Appetito!

-1 package whole wheat penne or other pasta
-2 cups cherry tomatoes
-1 can black olives, sliced
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 8-oz container fresh ovaline mozarella, cubed
-10 fresh basil leaves
-salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package. Be sure not to overcook the pasta. Go for al dente, not mushy.
2. While hot, stir in olive oil, tomatoes and black olives.
3. Add mozarella cheese cubes (and bite-sized pieces of sausage if desired).
4. Rip up basil leaves with fingers and sprinkl on top.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste. (My hubby also likes it with those red pepper flakes that people often use on pizza.)
6. Serve.

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