Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sweet Zucchini Bread (Gluten-Free Option)

This is the recipe I use for the zucchini bread I've been making for the dances ever since our vegetable CSA started delivering massive amounts of squash. This is adapted from the Joy of Cooking, which is absolutely my favorite cookbook ever. If you don't have one, you should go buy one right now, like even before you finish reading this article. I have modified it to be gluten-free, and I also like to use Craisins, which were not in the original recipe.

Sweet Zucchini Bread

Prepare the zucchini:

  • Layer 3 sheets of paper towels on a plate. 
  • Using a food processor grating disk or a hand-grater, shred a zucchini. 
  • Put the shredded zucchini on the paper towels, and flatten the shreds. Then place 3 more layered paper towels on top of the zucchini. Set a dinner plate or something flat and moderately heavy on top of the zucchini to help drain the excess moisture. Go away and do something fun for about an hour or so while it's drying out. This is a good time exercise, go take a shower, do your hair, or listen to some really awesome music. Don't get on social media. The election coverage will just depress you.

Make the bread:

  • Preheat the oven to 350*F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
  • Whisk together:
    • 1 1/2 C gluten-free baking flour (I usually use Bob's Red Mill all-purpose GF flour.)
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Blend well in a large bowl:
    • 3/4 C sugar (or brown sugar)
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • 1/2 C light olive oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Stir in the dry ingredients. Blend with a few swift strokes:
    • 2 C grated zucchini (I have never once actually measured the following)
    • 3/4 C walnuts
    • 3/4 C Craisins 
  • Scrape the batter into the greased pan. Bake until the bread pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding completely on the rack. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dance and Travel: Atlantic City edition

My husband and I love to vacation, and on every trip, we seek out places to dance. It is actually one of the things we look for when planning vacations: where is there a vibrant dancing scene? Some of the best spots we've found are Las Vegas, NV and also Denver, Co. We think we have the best dancing scene in the world in the DC metro area, but that's just because we live there and we know all the good venues!

Right now, I am writing this from Atlantic City, NJ, where we have spent the past few days. Here are some dancing suggestions for this city:

  • Boogie Nights. Inside the Tropicana Casino. We went Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday was definitely the better party night. This was also the first time the club was trying to do a dance lesson from 9-10, which worked out great! Saturday, no lesson, and the night got off to a much slower start. 
    • Pros: Fun decor, 1970s-80s throwback music. The go-go girls are adorable and not offensively dressed. Think "cute." Security makes sure people don't take drinks on the dance floor. Lots of people in costume.
    • Cons: Cover charge. It's free for hotel guests on Thursday (90s night), but there's a cover other weekend nights. It was a $10 cover on Saturday, which was kind of a boring night there. The lit-up plastic floor is rather sticky, so it's hard on your joints if you want to do any serious dancing. You'll need to bring your own partner or be ok with dancing by yourself, as this is not really the kind of place where people dance with others. Small dance floor.
  • Tango lounge, inside the Tropicana Casino. They had a band Thursday and Friday night, and there was a halfway-decent dance space up near the band. Further back, the floor got sticky and it was hard to move. No cover charge. 
  • Clancy's by the Bay, 101 E. Maryland Ave, Somers Point, NJ. This was actually about a 20-minute drive from Atlantic City, and we only heard about it because the guy who taught the hustle dance lesson at Boogie Nights told us about it. Here, on Sunday night, there was ample space to dance, a DJ, a nice wood floor and no cover. The restaurant had really good food, so we went early and ate. The dancers there do mostly hustle, and the music was a little slow for our taste--we love the classic disco, but we weren't familiar with many of the songs. Nevertheless, there were many skilled dancers there and the floor stayed busy, but not overcrowded. As outsiders, no one really talked to us or interacted with us (except the one guy who had taught the hustle lesson at Boogie Nights and invited us), so I can't say it was the friendlies scene I've ever been to, but it was all right. While there, I saw that Clancy's also has live bands on the weekends, so if I come back again, I would like to check that out. One disadvantage is that this event is kind of like one of those places you can't find unless you've already been there. I had the name of the restaurant, and I was able to find it through Google maps, but I could find absolutely nothing about dancing on Sunday nights. I went to the website and the Facebook page, and absolutely no mention of this dance. I also googled "Hustle dancing New Jersey" and found only listings for ballroom studios. So, I think a lot of less-determined people might have felt like they had the wrong information and would not have ventured 20 minutes from their hotel on the off chance that there might be dancing in Somers Point. But we did get a lot of good dancing in, we definitely got some exercise, and we'd probably check it out again on another visit, but I would feel better if I could confirm online that the event was still going on!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Yogafit Level 1 Experience

I just returned from my first Yogafit training experience in Savannah, GA, this weekend. I am still a LOT tired, but I had some thoughts I wanted to write out while things were still fresh in my mind.

I have been comtemplating beginning a yoga instructor training process for some time. I have been practicing yoga for more than 20 years, off and on. I started out with a Raquel Welch yoga VHS back in college, and I have taken several varieties of classes in different settings throughout the years. I have loved some of the classes and others were not a great fit. But yoga itself appeals to many parts of me. It's not just great exercise, but it leaves me feeling peaceful, grounded, and connected with my inner light.

However, I had many obstacles to instructor training. It is very expensive in a lot of studios. If I did a local training program, I would have to commit one weekend every month, regardless of my personal life and schedule. I would also have had to shell out $3,000 all at once. Having three kids either in, or getting close to college, the training programs in my town were just not a good fit. Also, as an ACE-certified group fitness instructor and personal trainer, I needed a training program that would also get me ACE-approved Continuing Ed credits.

Yogafit allowed me to get my ConEd, to study on my own schedule, and to pay for workshops one at a time instead of all up front, so it worked for my needs.

I chose to take my class in Savannah, GA, because the timing worked and I had never been to that city before, so I got to take a little mini-vacation. My husband came along, and he got to tour the city during the day.

Our workshop began bright and early Saturday morning. At 8 am. We spent about the first hour reading a section of the manual that took me like, 20 minutes to read. So I had time to re-read. And lay on the floor. And check my email. And take a tiny nap. Around 9, after introducing ourselves to one another, we began our yoga practice for the morning. It is always a pleasure to take a class with a master trainer, and this was no exception. It was a delicious and invigorating class!

The rest of day 1, we worked through the instructor manual and we broke down some poses. Which meant holding poses a really long time while we got everything aligned properly and sorted out. I realized, not for the first time, that my right hip has issues. Now I know that when I return to my regular yoga class at home, I am going to ask my instructor to go ahead and let me know when I am out of alignment. Being cockeyed anywhere in your body, although you may still be able to function well, eventually causes issues in other areas.

One of the things I found interesting on day 1 was the variety of experience and fitness levels in the class. Some people had only taken a few yoga classes before committing to the training. I sensed that the workshop was very physically and emotionally draining for those folks. One woman actually left halfway through the second day. I'm not sure why, but she chose to go home after investing about 15 hours in the training. So, my tip for anyone looking at a yoga instructor training of any sort would be to take yoga regularly for at least a year first. Try different styles. See which type really speaks to you, and get in good "yoga shape," which is different from good running shape or weightlifting shape.

In any instructor training I have ever been to, it is typical that participants will not have a chair. In my first training, this was a surprise to me, but now I'm just used to it. We spent 18 hours either sitting on the floor in various uncomfortable positions or standing up and exercising. By the end of day 1, everyone is sore. By the end of day 2, sitting "comfortably" is a matter of finding the position that hurts the least. My tips for surviving the floor-sitting in any instructor training: prep for it ahead of time. Spend more time than normal sitting on the floor and eschewing chairs. This is tough if you have an office job, but even taking some time in the evenings to watch TV on the floor helps build up the low-back muscles that will support you. Also, get a couple of yoga blocks (or even bring them with you). You can stack 2 on top of each other and sit on them, like a supported hero's pose. I find this to be the most comfortable floor-sitting position. The worst, and where I often end up, is on my belly with my upper body weight supported on my forearms. It's terrible for my neck and shoulders and I always feel it the next day, but there comes a point where my low back just needs to stretch the opposite direction.

Also, many training rooms vary widely in temperature. They are usually fitness/aerobics rooms that tend to be kept right at the teeth-chattering point because people will be working out there. This will be great during the time you are working out, but once you finish, you will be sweaty and very soon you will get cold. For me, this is a recipe for a great cold. So whenever I go to a fitness training, I bring multiple changes of clothes in the bag that comes in with me. It's all flexible and comfortable, but I usually like two full sets of shorts, sports bras, tanks and underpants (so I can change everything after the workout) and a sweatshirt & pants. If they do the workout at the beginning of the day and I don't change my clothes, I get really tired of smelling myself by the end of the day. Instead, I do the workout, skip to the bathroom after, strip off the exercise gear, swab down with baby wipes, put on the clean clothes. Ta-da. Set for the rest of the day. My hair may be gross, but who cares?

Generally speaking, instructor trainings pack a lot of information into a short amount of time, so there are very few breaks. You start early, go till lunch, break for 30 minutes and go again from 1-6 or so. During this time, you'll have at least one real workout (maybe more) and you'll break down moves, work on form and technique, and run through small segments of a class. So you'll be exercising and your body will require energy at regular intervals. It is a great practice to bring a couple of easy-to-digest snacks along with you. Bananas, grapes, yogurt, protein bars, hard-boiled eggs, whatever works for you and your dietary needs, but you will most likely get hungry before you break for lunch or dinner, which can not only distract you, it can make you impatient, decrease your ability to perform the tasks you're trying to do, and generally make the experience less pleasant.

Most instructor trainings involve some theory and some hands-on instruction. Participants will generally have to lead a few moments of class to someone. In my Yogafit training, we worked up from cueing a partner through a short flow to a small group of 2, then 3, and finally 5 people. What I really liked here was that we gradually worked up to a larger group instead of having to start out with the whole room full of people. We also worked with different partners/groups each time, so we got to know more people in the training, which I though was great for team-building. Our instructor, Nelani, also spent a lot of time guiding us on providing constructive feedback, and all the people I worked with did a great job of that. I felt positive and motivated by their comments instead of torn-down. With each experience, I felt more confident leading.

The Yogafit level 1 instructor manual is a great resource. It spells out a few sample workouts--enough to get you started--with enough detail in the cues that you could literally just memorize the cues in the workbook and go. That's enough to get you through your eight hours of community service before you even have to start thinking about putting your own flow together. What a great resource!

I have been teaching movement for a while, so I came in pretty comfortable with the concept of talking a group through a workout. I can't say how the experience went for others who were making their first transition to the front of the room. I felt that the exercise science behind the Yogafit program was sound, and that the focus of the program is solidly safety-first. I like that a lot.

There are a few parts of the philosophy that might take me some time to get used to, like saying "we" instead of "You" during class, but the more I practice it, I can understand the goal behind it.

All in all, I was very pleased with my Yogafit training experience. I am looking forward to my next training, but next time, I will try to find one closer to home!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lasagne many ways

In my house, we have a vegetarian, two picky eaters, and one gluten-free person. So, we have some food challenges. On top of that, I try to do the healthy/organic/local thing to the best of my ability. I fall short all the time, but I do make an effort. One recent successful effort was this homemade lasagne. It is highly adaptable. I made it three different ways--as I described them at home: Glutinous and Meaty, Glutinous but Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free.

What I love about this lasagne is that you don't bother with cooking the noodles before you assemble it. The noodles cook right in the sauce (which is why the sauce needs to be so thin before you cook it). Some folks say I'm crazy, but I've been doing it this way since college and I love it.

Even with making three versions and fresh sauce, the hands-on time was one hour. Then it took an hour to cook. How do I know that? I made it while watching a Star Trek rerun, and it baked while I was at my daughter's band concert.

1 lb Hot Italian Turkey Sausage. I used Shady Brook Farms.
1 onion, diced.
1 red pepper, diced.
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes. I used Muir Glen organic fire-roasted.
1 8-oz container ricotta cheese.
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg.
6 large leaves kale. I had the flat-leaf kind, but any type would work. Remove the center stems and chop the leaves. If you have vegetable-averse eaters, chop them very fine or run them through the food processor.
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves.
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves.
salt and pepper to taste.
Uncooked lasagne noodles (regular or gluten free. If you can't find GF lasagne noodles, you can actually use GF penne, which is more readily available. But then you have to call the dish "baked ziti.")

The process:
1. Remove the casings from the turkey sausage and brown over medium heat, breaking up the meat with the spatula or wooden spoon. When all the sausage is cooked through, turn it out onto a plate lined with paper towels to let the excess fat drain off.

2. If you have no vegetarians in your house, cook the diced onions and peppers in the pan previously occupied by the turkey sausage. (Vegetarian homes: use a clean pan). Cook until the onions turn translucent.
Add the chopped kale, cook just until the kale begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Add the can of crushed tomatoes. Refill that can with tap water and add that to the sauce. It will be thin. That is okay right now. Stir everything together. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer over low-medium heat.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, ricotta and 1 cup of the mozzarella.

4. Pull out your casserole dishes and set them on the counter. For my three-version lasagne, I used two loaf pans (my daughter and I each get our own) and a two-quart Pyrex pan. If you are only making one version, you can use a large lasagne pan.

5. Finely chop the basil and oregano leaves and add them to your sauce. Add the salt and pepper, stir everything together and turn off the heat on the stove.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

7. Assemble the lasagnes:

  • Using a soup ladle for the sauce, spread a layer of sauce over the bottom of each pan.
  • Layer uncooked lasagne noodles (or whatever GF pasta you could find) over the sauce.
  • Spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles.
  • Spread a layer of turkey sausage on the NON-vegetarian dishes.
  • Repeat, sauce/pasta/cheese/sausage.
  • This process usually makes two full layers, and then I run out of cheese. At that point, coat the lasagnes with any remaining sauce. 
  • Top each lasagne with a share of the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.
  • Cover with tin foil and bake in the 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, then remove the tin foil and continue cooking until the cheese gets brown and bubbly, about another 15 minutes.
8. Remove the lasagne and allow it to cool for a few minutes while you assemble your salad and have your kids set the table. Ta-da!

Friday, May 29, 2015

CSA vegetable survival tips

Whenever I talk about my CSA on social media, someone invariably asks me about the Confederate States of America. Although I do love history, in this case, I'm talking about Community Supported Agriculture, in which consumers (me) buy a share in the season's harvest. We usually pay up front in the late winter or early spring, so that the farmers have the "seed money" to get rolling. Then, we go and pick up our harvest share once a week. In our case, since we value organic produce, we selected an all-organic CSA that also had a convenient pick-up day, time and location, The Fredericksburg Area CSA Project.

The reason I personally love a CSA is that I get really fresh, locally grown food. I am supporting agriculture in my own community. I also chose this specific CSA because all the suppliers are organic farms, and that's important to me. The fact that most of the food I buy at the grocery store travels from California, Oregon, Mexico and Chile is very frustrating to me, when there is perfectly good farmland right here in Virginia. Every mile my produce travels takes a toll on its nutritional value and on the environment. Yes, I will still buy bananas from Ecuador and avocados from California, because I love them, and they just don't grow in this climate, but I would like the bulk of my food to be as local as possible.

I have done a CSA before, but it has been several years. I haven't had one since I moved to the Fredericksburg area. In my previous experience, I learned some valuable CSA survival skills.

  1. Make time to get to the pickup each week. It sounds obvious, but this is your one day to get your veggies. The pick up day and time should be a generally good day and time for you. The one I have now works well. For my previous CSA, I had to travel 30 miles in rush hour traffic after the end of a long work day. There were many days I just couldn't make it. That resulted in a waste of money and a less positive experience for me.
  2. Make a serious effort to include vegetables every time you eat. This doesn't mean you need to become a vegetarian, but find some way to squeeze veggies into every meal and snack. At breakfast, it's pretty simple to put kale (or any greens) into your morning smoothie along with carrots and beets. I have given these veggie smoothies to my kids and even my reluctant husband, and as long as all the bits are well pureed, everyone was fine with that. If you don't do smoothies, throw some spinach (or any other greens) into your eggs. The addition of sautéed onion and feta cheese makes a delicious omelette. Make a salad with lunch and dinner. 
  3. Use the internet to find recipes for the mysterious vegetables you've never seen before. The first time I got mustard greens, I was stumped. But I found over time that you can stir-fry just about anything with a bit of soy sauce and garlic and it tastes awesome. You can toss most vegetables (especially beets, sweet potato, carrot, asparagus, broccoli, kohlrabi) in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes and they come out caramelized and delicious. But just spending a few minutes looking up collard green recipes can open your eyes to new possibilities you may not have considered--like an Asian rice and raw collard salad with sesame oil, soy sauce and hot peppers.
  4. Understand that seasons vary. When you buy produce at the grocery store, the selection is pretty much the same in July as it is in December. With a CSA (depending on where you live) the variety changes with the season. Early spring will feature lots of leafy greens. In Virginia, we don't see tomatoes until July. Be patient, and instead of longing for the vegetables you can't have, love the ones you're with. Of course, you can always supplement your CSA supply with other veggies, but if you have a large share, you might already have a struggle consuming what you have before the vegetables wilt.
  5. Store carefully. Once you pick up your veggies, take care to store them properly. Greens wilt quickly, but it helps if you bring lettuce home  (or kale, collards, herbs, etc.) and wrap them in a couple of damp paper towels, then put them back in a plastic grocery bag, and nestle them into the refrigerator. Don't feel like you have to jam everything into the vegetable crisper. Not only are you more likely to see and select the vegetables if they are out on the shelves, the extra humidity in the main compartment of the refrigerator that results from opening and closing the door actually helps keep the greens fresh longer. Here's a link to a handy article from the Washington Post about storing veggies:
  6. Share the wealth. If you feel overwhelmed by your vegetable share, give some of your abundance to others. Neighbors, friends, parents, grown-up kids, maybe even a homeless shelter might be able to use what you can't handle. It's all better than throwing away the produce you pre-paid for.
  7. Plan for absences. If you have to be out of town or miss a share day, arrange to have someone else pick up your stuff. That way, it doesn't go to waste, and your friend can either enjoy the free food (if you are out of town) or can hold it for you until you can pick it up.
  8. Keep an open mind. Over the course of the season, it is pretty much a sure thing you will receive vegetables that you never would have picked on your own. My husband, for example, dislikes both kale and collard greens, which of course are an early-season staple. If you get things you think you don't like, make a serious effort to find new ways to prepare them. Maybe you just don't like spinach when it's cooked, but it's okay in a salad. Perhaps you can roast that vegetable with olive oil and salt and you find a new appreciation for it. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Springtime Smoothies

When the weather starts to warm up, it seems I can no longer bring myself to make hot cereal every morning, but neither do I want to eat processed cold cereal that my body will burn through in about an hour, leaving me hungrier than before. So as the spring greens and veggies start to come into season, I start working out my blender and trying some delicious smoothie recipes.
Ruby Red smoothie with beets, carrots and celery

The first breakfast smoothie I ever made was sometime back in the late 1980s. I got the recipe from an issue of Vogue or Cosmo. One banana, a cup of vanilla yogurt and a cup of orange juice. That was a very basic recipe, and although it was pretty tasty (and easy) I wouldn't make it now. Too much sugar--especially with the sweetened vanilla yogurt.

Today, I try to use more whole fruits and organic vegetables as close to in-season as I can. I love to slip in some fresh greens (baby kale mix, baby spinach, etc) but sometimes their color turns the smoothie a shade I call "Incdredible Hulky." They still taste pretty good, though, thanks to the ever-present banana and orange juice that help to sweeten the mix.

As a standard base, I start with one banana and about 1/2 cup of orange juice. The banana provides some body as well as sugar and the juice helps liquefy the rest of the smoothie. You could also use half a banana and any other kind of juice, or even a different kind of liquid, like a different juice or some variation of milk (cow, goat, coconut, almond, soy).

I usually use plain Greek yogurt for protein, as long as I have it on hand. You could also add a scoop of protein powder if you wish. I would recommend not using sweetened or flavored yogurt, even if it's sugar-free. If you are accustomed to the standard American diet that is packed with hidden sugars, these smoothies may initially seem rather tart, but rather than using a pre-sweetened packaged yogurt, try a plain yogurt and a little bit of honey so that you control how much sweetness you add. You can also skip the yogurt altogether if you don't have it, but to me, smoothies without yogurt seem thin and watery.

I have included a few basic recipes, ranging from a fruity flavor to more seriously veggie. You can always play with the fruit and vegetable combinations, and add honey or agave nectar for sweetness if you need it.

Basic smoothie 
1/2 cup frozen fruit (unsweetened strawberries, mangoes, blueberries, or a combination)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 banana
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 easy-peel mandarin oranges (peeled)
Place the frozen fruit and orange juice in the blender first. Pulse 3 times, then add the remaining ingredients. Pulse again, and then turn the blender on to the smoothie setting. Check the consistency, make sure everything is well blended, and enjoy.

Use the basic smoothie recipe above, but add with the frozen fruit
1 full-sized organic carrot, cut into 1/2-inch rounds

Place the frozen fruit, carrot and orange juice in the blender first. Pulse 3 times, then add the remaining ingredients. Pulse again, and then turn the blender on to the smoothie setting. Check the consistency, make sure everything is well blended, and enjoy.

Incredible Hulk
Use the basic smoothie recipe above, but add with the frozen fruit
1 full-sized organic carrot, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 handfuls of organic greens (baby Kale mix, baby spinach)

Place the frozen fruit, carrot and orange juice in the blender first. Pulse 3 times, then add the remaining ingredients. Pulse again, and then turn the blender on to the smoothie setting. Check the consistency, make sure everything is well blended, and enjoy.

Ruby red
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup orange juice
2 full-sized organic carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 stalk organic celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 raw organic beet, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 banana
2 easy-peel mandarin oranges (peeled)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

Place the frozen fruit, vegetables and orange juice in the blender first. Pulse 3 times, then add the remaining ingredients. Pulse again, and then turn the blender on to the smoothie setting. Check the consistency, make sure everything is well blended, and enjoy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crock-Pot Pork tenderloin with acorn squash and apples

Sometimes I jest that I feel like every night in my kitchen is an episode of "Chopped." I have 30 minutes, a can of tuna, box of quinoa, and an orange. Now go! I actually enjoy those opportunities to be creative with what I have on hand. Although I seem to have to stop at a store nearly every day to pick up something (deodorant for the boy, conditioner for the girl, milk for everyone), I really don't like running out to get a specific item just for dinner. Sometimes that's just not possible: I may really have only 15 minutes between the time I get home and the time I have to leave to take the kids somewhere, and I need to start something that will be edible by the time I get home.

Last night was a Chopped night. I had a pork tenderloin, but I was out of my usual accompaniments: gluten free soy sauce and onions. I took a look around the kitchen and I spotted an acorn squash and a few apples that were a little too mature for lunch boxes, but still perfectly edible. If you don't have an acorn squash, you could substitute any winter squash (butternut, turban, etc.) or even sweet potatoes. And if you don't have fresh apples, I think dried apples would work well with a little extra water.

So, in about 15 minutes, dinner was in the crock pot. I didn't measure things out to create a real recipe. What I have here is more of a general idea. This should probably serve three, if you do not make total pigs of yourselves like my husband and I did.

1 tsp olive oil
1 pork tenderloin
1 acorn squash, washed, seeded, cut into wedges. leave the skin on.
3 tart apples (preferably the firm kind that hold up to cooking, like Jazz). Peeled, cored & sliced.
2 tbsp Craisins
1 tsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Cardamom
Dusting of Black Pepper

Set your crock pot to low.
Use a paper towel to rub the olive oil around the inside of the crock pot.
Place the pork tenderloin on the bottom.
Top with the squash, sliced apples and Craisins.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and honey.
Add about 1/4 cup water.
Sprinkle cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper on top.
Cook in the Crock on low for about 4-5 hours while you are out running errands and attending PTO meetings.
Return home to find a delicious pork dinner waiting for you.