Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Generally, when I go to the market, I don't follow a list. I just buy what looks good and then figure out what to do with it later. Today, I had a plan. I am so sick of strawberries, I cannot stand to eat another one, so apples were high on my list. They are just starting to come into season and there is nothing better than that first crisp, tart bite of an apple. I got New Jersey apples this morning. Seems fitting, given that is where I originate, so I decided to try them. Texturally they are like McIntosh which is my least favorite apple, but the taste is a bit sweeter. I don't know that I would seek these out again, but they will serve their purpose of being eaten!
Rarely can I find any organic hot peppers, serranos or jalapenos-even at Whole Foods. When I see them at the farmers market, I always pick up a few and since I have been thinking about an Indian curry, these will do nicely.
I did not want to leave without broccoli which was going to be a main ingredient in today's lunch-leftover soba noodles with an asian vinaigrette and steamed broccoli. These baby broccoli are really tender and delicious.
I am growing a few basil plants, but since they are from seeds, they never grow very much before I pick all of the leaves off. I got a basket of heirloom cherry tomatoes yesterday and figured that paired with some fresh basil, it would be a perfect pasta sauce.
These are the aforementioned heirloom cherry tomatoes. I love heirloom tomatoes. Not only do they taste amazing but they are also beautiful and colorful, they really brighten up a dish. Here in LA, we can get good tomatoes through October and even into November and I never get sick of them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This afternoon I went to the farmers market for the sole purpose of getting kale to make the massaged kale salad that my friend Aarti made on her new food network show Aarti Party. Coincidentally, I ran into Aarti at the market.

I love kale! I always have it in the fridge and generally eat it at least three times per week. It incredibly nutritious-from the same family as broccoli. My recipe is a loosely based on Aarti's recipe, but it is a good example of how you do not have to follow a recipe word for word. I used the same technique of massaging the kale, but I swapped out the mango for another sweet ingredient, golden raisins and instead of the pepitas, I opted for toasted almonds. Now, back to the kale massaging, you might think that sounds weird, but kale is pretty tough. By literally rubbing it with a little sea salt, olive oil and lemon juice (or a bit of your favorite salad dressing), you break down the fibers in the kale and it becomes really tender. Give it a try.

Kale Salad
1 lemon, cut in half and juiced
olive oil
sea salt
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
1 bunch kale, cut into ribbons
1/4 cup almonds, toasted (or your favorite nut raw or toasted)
1/3 cup golden raisins (or mango or apple)

Mix the lemon juice with several tablespoons of olive oil to make a simple vinaigrette. Place the kale in a large bowl, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with half of the dressing. Using both hands, gently rub the dressing into the kale for about 2 minutes. You will notice that the kale turns deep green and becomes softer. Stir the honey into the remaining dressing. Add the nuts and raisins to the kale. Drizzle with the remaining dressing to taste.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Not only do I choose the healthiest foods to cook and to eat, but I also choose the healthiest cleaning supplies for my home. I am not a huge fan of cleaning, I'm not very good at it. My mom, on the other hand, is an excellent cleaner. That woman leaves a bathroom sparkling, not me. Thanks to all my free time this summer, I have been committed to at least trying to really clean and learn how to do it well.

I just got this new fantastic book, NONTOXIC HOUSECLEANING by Amy Kolb Noyes. It's really more of a guide than a book. It cuts right to the chase, starting with natural ingredients for housecleaning, the appropriate sponges and scrubbers and then gives recipes for cleaning concoctions and how and when to use them.

Today, for instance, I made my own soft scrub using castile soap and baking soda. This could not have been any cheaper. The baking soda was about $1.30 and the soap was $11 for a huge bottle of which I used about 10 drops. This mix that I whipped up completely cleaned my bathroom and left it smelling very minty! Hurray!

It's important to use natural or "green" cleaning products, because while the others work, they are toxic. They give off fumes and contain chemicals that are not so good for the body. I generally buy the seventh generation brand and I'm totally committed to only using non toxic cleaning supplies for the health of me and my husband, but also for our two little dogs. My dogs weigh 4 and 7 pounds respectively. They have short little legs and their little bodies are close to the ground. They also will lick anything and everything they come across, so using safe cleaning products is the only option in this house.

I can't wait to tackle the rest of the house using my new all natural homemade cleaning recipes! Next up is the stovetop.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


This week, I couldn't resist the heirloom tomatoes. Tomatoes most represent summer, in my opinion. They are the one thing that I never buy any other time of the year. In fact, I don't ever buy them from the store, not even Whole Foods because they are nowhere near as good as they are fresh from the garden. During the summer months, I always have heirlooms around. They are so good, that you really don't have to do anything to them. I love to buy a bunch of different kinds, thinly slice some, quarter others and serve them with some basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
Eggplant is another summer favorite. We have all seen the regular Italian eggplant and probably the long and skinny Japanese eggplant, but did you know there is a white eggplant, a green striped one and these little purple baby eggplants? Last year I bought all of the varieties to do a taste test and found that there wasn't really a discernible difference in flavor. The little ones in the picture are about the size of my thumb! My plan is to halve them and saute them later in some olive oil and garlic along with the peppers...
Peppers are on the list of the "dirty dozen." The dirty dozen is a list of the fruits and vegetables with the highest concentration of pesticides, therefore, you should always seek out organic options for them. These are another truly seasonal item. You see peppers at the grocery store year round, but they never have any organic ones. As a result, I have a very short window during the summer months where I get to enjoy them. In general, I prefer them cooked to raw, but my favorite way to have them is roasted. To roast a pepper, you simply place it directly on the flame of your stove's burner and char it. Once the outside is black and fully charred, put it in a paper bag or in a bowl covered with cling film. Let it cool for a few minutes and then, simply peel off the skin.

When I was a kid it was a toss up between peaches and strawberries for my favorite fruit. I used to pick every last piece of flesh from the pit before finally throwing it away-it was a tedious but well worth it practice. I love peach and blueberry tarts with nut crusts, grilled peaches with ice cream or fresh yogurt but nothing is better than biting into a perfectly ripe, sweet O Henry peach.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


This morning I went rifling through the produce drawers of my fridge. I took out some stuff that had been there and replaced it with the new items that I got at the farmers market this morning. What was left over from the week was a tiny head of broccoli, some cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and an avocado. These ingredients seemed like a good combination for an omelet. Although it looks huge in the picture, I only used two free range eggs.

First, I sautéed the vegetables in a little oil then removed them from the pan and added the lightly beaten eggs. Once they were almost set, I added the veg back to the pan and folded eggs over and topped with sliced avocado. This is a great way to get extra veggies into your diet.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Tonight was the first night in a while that I was on my own for dinner. I could have anything, go anywhere, so many choices what should I do? Ultimately, I decided to make a grassfed beef burger and salad. The burger can go on the grill and the salad, obviously didn't involve any cooking-which means minimal cleanup.

Having recently completed a 20 page paper on gluten, I have really been rethinking the grains that I eat. For example, using a bun for my burger would just be filler, so I opted out of the bun. After all, I was getting all of the carbs I needed through the giant salad that took up almost the entire plate and some leftover rice that I added to the salad.

Grassfed beef is much better than conventional meat because it contains vitamin A and Omega 3 fats, which we all need to eat more and is lower in fat. An added bonus with the grassfed beef is that the chance of e. coli is virtually unheard of.

So there you have it- a quick dinner with hardly any cleanup. Yum.


My beloved blueberries have been replaced with a new favorite-Persian mulberries. I was tipped off that they would be making an appearance at the farmers market this week, so I made sure to get there early and snatch some up. Oh my god are they good. They are incredibly sweet with a slightly acidic finish and went perfectly with my raw yogurt this morning. I am not sure how long their season is, but you can bet that I will be getting more, hopefully as early as this weekend. They are not cheap, running at about $10 a pint, but they really are worth every penny.
I ran into my new friends Susan and D.J. who is the head chef at Lou on Vine this morning. D.J. gave me a fig and that was my second stop, after the mulberries. I love figs on their own, as part of a cheese platter and roasted with some goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. These figs are really sweet and need to be eaten raw, so they will be appearing in a fruit salad along with some of the early O'Henry peaches I picked up this morning. I should take a moment to say that this weekend I ate some of D.J's amazing food and I have been dreaming about it ever since. I have not yet gone to Lou, I am ashamed to say, but it has shot to the very top of my list.

I grew up picking and eating string beans right from the vine in my grandfather's garden. Anyone who has ever eaten fresh picked green beans know that they are so much more flavorful then those bland beans found year round in the grocery store. Normally, I like my vegetables rather al dente, but last year when I was in Italy, I had some braised Romano beans and that is the only way I ever want to eat them. They taste just like string beans yet because of the flatness have more surface area and that makes me love them more. These beans will be appearing in the near future on my table with some olive oil and garlic, perhaps along that grassfed bison steak I got at the market.
Amaranth greens are not something that I find very often but I always get them when I do happen upon them. They are a slightly bitter, less so than arugula and they are a good source of protein and vitamins. I usually sauté them lightly in olive oil and garlic but my favorite way to prepare them is to fold the sautéed leaves into olive oil smashed potatoes. I then use those leftovers in a fritatta.

So that's it for this week's farmers market. Assuming that I remember to take pictures, you will be seeing some of these items in future posts as they make their way into my menus.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Tonight's dinner took me less than 30 minutes to put together and it was delicious! Tomatoes are in season and I picked these right from my garden and made them into a super quick pan sauce that I served over local halibut. This sauce is really versatile and can be used on pasta, chicken, fish, beef or lamb and only takes a sec.

I just thinly sliced some garlic and added it to a skillet with some olive oil and red pepper flakes, of course. Then add the sliced cherry tomatoes to the pan and cook until they are wilted. Simple.

The green beans were simply blanched then tossed with a mixture of minced shallots and pancetta cooked in olive oil.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I've got to be honest, I am not a fan of the master cleanse-you know the one that people start January 1st when they resolve to eat healthier and to get into shape. It's the one where you don't eat anything but you drink water with lemon juice, cayenne and honey. I could NEVER do that. I like to eat but more than that, I am really active. I run at least 30 miles per week, there is no way I could do a traditional cleanse while not eating. I had heard a lot about "CLEAN" by Alejandro Junger and decided to give it a go.

Junger suggests following his plan for 21 days, although he admits that one or two weeks will be beneficial as well. I decided to try out with one week. The plan is an elimination diet. There is no alcohol, caffeine, dairy, wheat, red meat, sugar, soy and more. In addition to eliminating certain foods from the diet, you are to eat two liquid meals and only one "real" meal during the day. Replace breakfast and dinner with fresh juices and smoothies (not the kind from Jamba Juice that are loaded with frozen yogurt) but nutritious smoothies that include fresh fruits and vegetables. The idea is that in replacing real food with liquids, you are giving the digestive system a break and allowing the liver to deal with the toxins it has been storing away for a raining day.

Remember that episode of I Love Lucy where she and Ethel are working at the chocolate factory. The conveyor belt speeds up and they cannot manage the chocolates and start stuffing them wherever they can. The liver does the same thing. The liver processes all the toxins that we take in from the air, water, food but because we live in a toxic environment and are constantly stuffing our faces, the liver cannot tackle all of the toxins that enter the body. So it stores them in the body, it stores them in fat cell with the hopes that it can deal with them at a later time. Following a cleanse gives the liver that break it needs to process the toxins.

Most people I came into contact with last week swore that they could never do a cleanse, but most people would benefit from giving the body a little rest to recover from all of the abuse it sustains.
I'll be honest, I was a bit skeptical, but I felt great and I wasn't really hungry. Ok, maybe toward the end of the day, I was slightly hungry, but it was really manageable. If you are thinking about cleansing, pick up CLEAN. It's a great read explaining the importance of detoxing from time to time. It also gives you a clear understanding of how to begin and follow his program, recipes included.