Thursday, May 20, 2010
Some women buy shoes, some shop for clothes. Me? I buy food, mostly vegetables, almost obsessively. I have been trying to cut back on other food purchases, especially grains as I refuse to buy any until I completely deplete my pantry stocks. In fact, I am trying to avoid going to the store entirely and rather shop at the farmers market exclusively while emptying out the pantry. It shouldn't be too hard to avoid Whole Foods for a while. What will be a challenge, however, is to use the tiny amounts of random grains, flours, assorted legumes and spices.
Yesterday, I made a salad from the lettuces in my garden and a pasta with some garbanzos, capers, some farmer's market dandelion greens and plenty of the olive oil that I bought at the Saturday farmers market. So many of my peers will tsk at my love for pasta, but I cannot deny it. It is such a good vessel for incorporating more greens into one's diet, at least it is in our house.
Dandelion Greens Pasta
pasta of your choosing
1 bunch dandelion greens, sliced into thin ribbons
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon capers
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, less if you can't take the heat
zest of one lemon
Cook the pasta according to package directions. While it is cooking, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the dandelion greens and garbanzos. Cook until the greens begin to wilt, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, capers and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, drizzle with olive oil to taste. Yum.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
When I tell you what's in it, many of you will be cursing me as a diet thwarter, but hang on a sec. As you know, the key to good health and good nutrition is eating REAL FOOD. I do not advocate low fat foods, diet meals or snacks, anything prepared or processed and this dish doesn't fall into any of those categories.
On Wednesday, I got some eggs, mustard greens, potatoes and olive oil from the farmers market and on Thursday morning, my dish was created. I should back up a little. I love mashed potatoes, but not the traditional creamy, buttery mashed potatoes, they do nothing for me, really. I love my mashed potatoes with olive oil and a little salt. Oh and greens. First, I boil the potatoes, leaving some of the skin on, then smash with a potato masher and add liberal amounts of olive oil until the consistency is right. Then I add chopped sauteed greens like mustard, spinach or dandelion to the mash. On Wednesday, this was the side dish that went with a roasted chicken (also from the farmers market)-on Thursday morning, I used the leftovers in my fritatta.
Simply, put the potato mixture into a non-stick skillet (the only time I use it is for fritattas), then add 4-6 lightly beaten eggs, swirl around to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and cover the potato mixture, then put the pan in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the eggs are puffy and set. Voila! (I also added a tiny bit of leftover feta, which gives a nice salty kick).
Monday, May 10, 2010
As a holistic nutritionist, my primary concern is really health through diet. Now, everyone and their mother has an opinion on what is healthy and what should be included in one's diet. My philosophy is really pretty simple. Eat mainly a plant based diet with good quality protein and healthy fats. Eat mainly plants, which can be translated to eat a lot of vegetables, and everything else in moderation. If you want cookies, and I do, eat them from time to time, but not everyday.
Most of the people I meet are not so interested in health. What they are interested is reaching a certain number on the scale-weight loss. Argh! I say "argh" because I see people do and eat the silliest things in the name of dieting and truthfully, they are not always in the best interest of one's health. So I am going to go through popular diets to see what people are doing to lose the pounds.
I have decided to start a new segment of book reviews where I will tell you about the latest diet book that I have read. First up is "Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads" by Christine Avanti.
What a killer title. Avanti's book addresses the salad eating dieters head on. Either they are eating 1500 calorie bombs disguised as salads, or they are eating measly portions of lettuce and other raw vegetables that will leave them starving in a matter of minutes. Her two main points are to eat often, every 4 hours to be precise and to eat protein and carbohydrates together. Both of these concepts make sense. Eating frequently will prevent dips in blood sugar that causes whacked out hormones which can lead to weight gain or prevent weight loss. The concept of eating protein and carbs together is really important too because the protein will slow down the absorption of the carbohydrate. It all goes back to maintaining even levels of blood sugar. This is Avanti's main concept- that irregularities in blood sugar are the barrier to losing weight.
I like this book. Avanti has some really good ideas that are well researched and supported in science. It is not so technical that it will go over your head either. She includes simple recipes and suggestions for eating out which are always helpful for readers.
The only issue that I would caution people to consider with this or any diet book is that these books are written to sell. They are generalized so that they can be applied to everyone. Many people will see success with this plan, but not everyone. I, for one thing, hate to eat every four hours. It seems that when I try to eat several small meals as many books recommend, I am in the kitchen constantly. So this doesn't work for me, but it might work for you. I prefer to eat 3 well balanced meals and maybe have a snack in between if necessary, but it's not usually necessary, again-for me. Another thing is the PC combo (eating protein and carbohydrates together) will not work for everyone. I have a friend who does very poorly when she eats the two together. In her case, she eats carbs alone or with vegetables but experiences significant digestive trouble when eating the two together.
Remember that we are all individuals. What works for one might not work for another. Regardless, the concept of blood sugar regulation in general and specifically as it relates to weight loss is particularly important. While some will certainly see weight loss by eating several small meals frequently and making those meals PC combos, I would urge people to consider the source of the food too. Complex carbs are always better than simple carbs of white bread and candy. Avanti does suggest making wise choices, but that isn't a cornerstone of this book. I am always going to suggest making quality choices over quantity choices when it comes to food. So, even though a fast food hamburger might be a PC combo or might not be that many calories, the quality of the beef is questionable at best and the quality of that meal is way too low for me to even consider. Nevertheless, pick this book up if you are looking to understand more about blood sugar regulation and for some quick and easy recipes.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
This meal was inspired to Robin's recent detox. Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's a good idea to have a couple of go-to salads for nights when you do not want to turn the oven on. These are really light dishes, but you could always add some garbanzos or leftover chicken to make them more main course meals.
Above is a miso soup I whipped up in just a few minutes by adding some sliced carrots and asparagus to boiling vegetable stock or water. When those begin to soften, add sliced shitake mushrooms, finely shredded kale and then lower the heat to a simmer. Whisk in white miso to taste, being sure not to let the soup boil after the miso has been added.
Avocado & Onion Salad
Thinly slice a white onion and toss with lemon juice. Set aside.
In another bowl, add sundried tomatoes, sliced avocado, finely chopped fresh mint. Add the onion. Drizzle with olive oil and add more lemon juice as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
Like almost any salad, vary the ingredients based on the season and what you have in your fridge. Here, I shaved some raw asparagus, chopped some pea shoots, artichoke hearts and romaine and added some kelp noodles. The kelp noodles are crunchy, but they don't have that briney seaweedy taste that can sometimes be overpowering. Mix everything together, season with salt and pepper and toss with olive oil and ume plum vinegar. Ume plum vinegar can be found in the asian section of the supermarket, but if you can't find it substitute lemon juice.
Friday, May 7, 2010
I had a similar salad at the Westside Tavern a few weeks back and really loved it. I had the idea to make it while I was at Whole Foods drooling into their cheese and olive bar. I could have made the entire salad from ingredients that were in that bar, olives, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, feta...yum! Instead, I got only some sun dried tomatoes (much better than the jarred variety) and feta. The rest of the salad was composed from leftover cooked chicken and sautéed mushrooms tossed with some romaine and fresh herbs.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Well, really I am only going to show you one way and tell you about the other. I ate too fast to have any evidence of the first quinoa dish. Quinoa (it's pronounced KEEN WA, mom) falls into that category we hear people talking about called "whole grains," although technically, it's a seed. It is a really great source of protein, which is why you should be eating it.
In general, none of us is probably deficient in protein. We are deficient in quite a few vitamins and minerals due to the fact that we don't eat enough fruits or vegetables-that and we eat too much of the stuff that we shouldn't like sugar, refined flour, caffeine etc...So why, if we don't need to worry about protein am I suggesting quinoa? Because it is cheap, versatile and doesn't have the saturated fats that are found in many other protein sources. It cooks like rice does, in a ratio of about 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa and it cooks in about 20 minutes.
This morning, I made a big pot of quinoa. I put half of it in a bowl in the fridge for later. The rest, I left in the pot, added some almond milk, a spoonful of almond butter and a spoonful of vanilla whey powder, topped with fresh berries - quinoa porridge. Yum. Prepare it according to package directions, then treat it as you would oatmeal. I added the whey powder because I have been experimenting with other sources of protein, but you can easily omit it, add some honey, nut milk (or organic cow's milk), nuts, berries or whatever else you normally put on your oatmeal. I added a little almond butter because fat phobes, fat doesn't make you fat, but it does help fill you up so you aren't hungry as soon as you put the bowl down.
I used the remaining quinoa to create this Mediterranean inspired dish. In this house, garlic and red pepper flakes are almost always found when olive oil is present.
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions*
1/4 cup olive oil, give or take
2 cloves sliced garlic
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
leftover steamed vegetables (asparagus & broccoli)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 cup feta
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for a minute or two, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the capers and the vegetables and cook for another couple of minutes. Because the vegetables are already cooked, you just want to reheat them and coat them with the oil, red pepper and garlic. When everything is coasted in the oil and reheated, pour on top of the quinoa, added a little crumbled feta and more olive oil as needed.
Just in case the package doesn't say it, you should rinse the quinoa before cooking or you will notice a slightly bitter taste.