Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coconut Cashew Squash Curry

As of yesterday, I am now on a "Nutritional Cleanse" which means I am having 2 smoothies a day and one healthy meal. It is similar to Dr. Unger's "Clean" but instead of using his products I am using Designs for Health Paleo-Cleanse. So far so good.
My one meal yesterday was this incredible Squash Curry. I found the recipe in Sunset magazine but altered it because the final fat count was 48 grams per serving. I am not fat phobic. I am probably too liberal with olive oil. I turn my nose up at low fat and fat free diary products and fake low calorie cheeses and products. However, I have two exceptions to my dislike of low fat/ non fat foods: yogurt and coconut milk. So, unless you are some really big muscular dude or a naturally thin person with a fast metabolism and are doing intense cardio for an hour a day 5 or more days a week, you do not need to eat 48 grams of fat in one meal. Or at least I don't. It doesn't matter how healthy the food I eat is, if I eat too much of it I will gain weight.
So I nixed the full fat coconut milk and substituted low fat coconut milk and chicken broth. The other substitutions I made for this recipe were: delicata squash instead of pumpkin, a small handful cashews per serving instead of a 1/4 cup, brown rice instead of white rice, and I added mint.
This is amazing when cleansing because it tastes so decadent it almost feels like you are eating some sort of a desert.
Feel free to make it more fattening if you fall into one of the categories mentioned above.

Coconut Cashew Curry

1 1/2 qts. peeled, 1 1/2-in. chunks pumpkin or other orange-fleshed squash (from a 3-lb. squash) (I used Delicata)

About 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided (I used olive)

1 onion, halved and cut into half-moons

1 or 2 red or green serrano chiles, minced

1 cinnamon stick (2 1/2 in. long)

20 fresh curry leaves* or 6 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 can (14.5 oz.) coconut milk ( I used low fat and some chicken broth)

1 cup salted roasted cashews (I sprinkle a few per serving on top)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Steamed basmati rice (I used brown)

1. Sprinkle pumpkin with 1/2 tsp. salt. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown half the pumpkin in oil, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes; reduce heat if pumpkin starts getting dark. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 1 tbsp. oil and remaining pumpkin.

2. Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil meanwhile in another large frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until deep golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer half to the nonstick frying pan and reserve other half in a bowl.

3. Add chiles, cinnamon, and curry leaves to onion in pan. Cook, stirring often, until curry leaves are very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add turmeric, cumin, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Return pumpkin to nonstick frying pan (with onion) and add coconut milk. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer until pumpkin is tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in cashews and lemon juice, and add more salt to taste. Top curry with reserved onion and serve with rice. Add fresh herbs like mint and cilantro and basil.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Turkey Chili

For the last few days my head was in a three-pronged vice pressing on my eye, the back of my neck and the side of my head, i.e. I had a heinous migraine. It was one of the worst ones I've had in a long time. I had to close the blinds, get under the covers and close my eyes for much of the last 2 days. I felt it coming on but did not want to take immitrex because surely heavy-duty migraine meds are not really "cleansing". Big mistake. I should know better. Because once those buggers get a hold of you, they don't let go. By the time I gave in and took the drugs the migraine had taken hold of me and the drugs made only enough of a dent in the pain that I could actually sleep. Despite being drugged up and still in pain I was luckily not too nauseous and still managed to eat leftover beans and some wild rice and roasted cauliflower and a few smoothies over the last few days.

When it was all over, and I was hung-over from the meds and certain that I was basically back at square one in terms of cleansing because now my liver was presented with the task of removing 400mg of toxic brain numbing and delirium inducing drugs from my system, I was craving something SUBSTANTIAL. Like perhaps a hang-over breakfast with eggs and cheese and bread and bacon. But I decided to press on and stay away from all or nothing thinking, which has been my downfall on many occasions, particularly when it comes to health and fitness goals. I used to (briefly) be a runner and afterwards, if I wasn't running 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, it wasn't exercise. If I was dieting it wasn't successful unless I was 100% perfect and was practically starving myself. If I caved in then I'd say forget it "I'LL START MONDAY” and then proceed to pig out or sit on my ass rather than make some less ambitious but still worthwhile effort.

So in the spirit of abandoning these self-defeating and ridiculous ideas I have pressed on. I decided turkey chili was substantial yet would still work on the cleanse, so decided to update my old version of chili, which includes 12 ounces of beer, yogurt, cheese, and tortillas. I wanted to add a depth of flavor that I would lose without the beer so decided to add more flavor via spices. I went with cocoa powder and cinnamon. I replaced the cheese and yogurt and tortilla with radishes and lime juice. Thinly sliced radishes with lime and salt are one of my favorite snacks. A friend’s mom introduced me to this super simple yet very surprisingly satisfying combo. She had it at the Mexico City airport, of all places.

After all of this I got a text from a friend of mine who is an AMAZING chef who is opening a restaurant in Santa Monica called Tar and Roses. I have been eating and loving his food since the late 90's when he was the chef at Axe when it first re-opened on Abbot Kinney. His text said, simply, "soft opening tonight, let me know if you can make it." There was no way I was going to miss this because of a cleanse. Once I got there I realized because it was a soft opening and they were just serving appetizers I was not going to be able to "order" something cleanse friendly. So I just ate whatever glorious creations they brought me. And I had a glass of wine. And today I won’t have wine or tuna conserve with aioli or blue cheese with honeycomb and bread or foie gras topped with yuzu jam. And I won't feel guilty and my cleanse isn't ruined. So there.


2 pounds ground turkey

2 onions, diced

1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cups chicken broth

1 tbs olive oil

3 tbs chili powder

2 bay leaves

1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

1.5 tsp kosher salt

1.5 tsp. oregano

1.5 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

to garnish:

avocado, thinly sliced radish, cilantro, chopped green onion, lime

Saute onions in the olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add turkey and break up with a spoon until no longer pink. Stir all spices and bay leaves into onions. Add tomatoes and their juices and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve with toppings.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shrimp, Beans, and Kale with Herb Pesto

Day four and I have a hideous detox headache that has officially morphed into a migraine. This is part of why when I detox I prefer going to We Care Spa. I mean who wouldn't want to cleanse at a swanky spa where all temptation is removed and all that is required of you is to manage to make it your afternoon massage and to drink a variety of juices and teas and concoctions that are all pretty much pre-made for you? I never get bad headaches there- maybe a mild one every now and then, but nothing like today. Part of the reason is because at We Care you get colonics everyday. So many toxins are coming out of your system that if you don't help your body get rid of them they can build up and give you detox symptoms. We Care is like detoxing virtually symptom free. The opposite of symptom free We Care bliss is the Master Cleanse - I have never felt like such shit in my entire life. If you have any kind of heavy metal toxicity (which I have) and you do the Master Cleanse you will pretty much be in hell.
Despite my migraine I managed to make this for lunch. I used the beans I had put in the freezer from day one. I lightly boiled some kale, then added it to a pan with a little olive oil, garlic and red chili flakes. Then I added the beans to heat them through. While this was going I sauteed some really amazing big fat shrimp from Santa Monica Seafood in a bit of olive oil. I drizzled some of the tahini dressing I made earlier this week over the greens and beans then topped with the shrimp and a little bit of pesto I had made last night. I had a bunch of herbs (parsley, cilantro, and basil) and some pepitas so I toasted the pepitas and put them in a food processor with the herbs, olive oil, juice of one lime, salt and a clove of garlic. I didn't measure anything I just went by how it looked and tasted which is something you learn to do over time, but once you have made pesto once or twice from a recipe, you should have no problem winging it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Roasted Delicata Squash and Broccoli w/ Tahini Dressing

Day three of a cleanse and dealing with unreasonable people and workers pounding on your windows to remove them from the walls do not mix well so I will keep this brief. This is what I had for dinner last night. Had leftover squash and broccoli with tahini and brown rice for breakfast and a smoothie for lunch. Today I miss my toxins and if I hadn't already announced to the world that I was on a cleanse I just might have made up some excuse that it's too hard to cleanse and have all the windows in your house replaced, or maybe I should do this next week or whatever. So this is working. Bah Humbug....

Roasted Broccoli and Delicata Squash with Tahini Dressing
mixed greens
1 head broccoli florets
2 delicata squash peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/2 rounds
1/2 cup tahini
grated zest and juice from one lemon
1 minced garlic cloves
3 tbs olive oil
2/3 cup water
1-2 teaspoons smoked spanish paprika
(taste first after 1 tsp and if you want add more- also if you don't have smoked spanish paprika you can add 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp regular paprika)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
On a baking sheet toss squash, broccoli, 1 tbs olive oil, and salt
Roast veggies until soft

In the meantime puree in a blender all other ingredients to make Tahini dressing.
Take greens, top with veg, drizzle with 1/4 cup tahini dressing.
Save the rest of the dressing for salads throughout the week- lasts for 1 week.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Saffron Marinated Chicken, Quinoa with Asparagus Puree & Esalen Kale Salad

My mother hates vegetables. I have to continually disguise and otherwise alter vegetables to get her to eat them. She is pretty much like a kid when it comes to food. She knows veggies are good for her but would rather eat a doughnut or a cookie. If you have kids or adults who eat like kids (sugar obsessed, don't like vegetables) here is a trick. Take the soup I made yesterday with cabbage and beans- put it in a blender with a hunk of feta cheese and puree it. Add some homemade croutons by cutting up some whole grain bread and toasting it in a pan with some olive oil. Voila. You just got your kids to eat cabbage.

Some people, upon discovering that a Big Mac can survive virtually unchanged for years, stop eating them (see http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/09/12-year-old-mcdonalds-hamburger-still-looking-good.html). Others like my mother or most kids don't even flinch.

Did you see that episode on Jamie Oliver's show when he showed a bunch of kids that chicken McNuggets were made with pureed chicken carcasses and nasty wobbly bits? And they were like, "EEEWWWWWWW". And then Jamie coated them in batter and fried them up and the kids still wanted to eat them? (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9B7im8aQjo&NR=1&feature=endscreen) If you can still eat a Chicken McNugget after seeing this I am concerned. You are nutritionally hosed.

My theory is that if the apocalypse were to happen and another race of beings came upon earth and out of curiosity decided to have a look at what we left behind one of the things they would find would be an old Big Mac. And they would have no idea that it was food. There would be a whole team of alien scientists trying to figure out the cultural significance and purpose of the Big Mac.

So what does all if this has to do with Saffron Chicken, Asparagus Quinoa and Esalen Kale Salad? Not much other than you should eat this and not a Big Mac.

Esalen Kale Salad

My dear friend Caz Love works in the kitchen at Esalen Institute and taught me how to make this crazy good kale salad. I added apple to it inspired by my other dear friend Jess, who makes a kick ass kale salad with apples and nuts.

Equal parts olive oil, lemon juice, and Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (I did ¼ cup of each)

Big bunch of kale de-stemmed and cut into ribbons (I did a ½ a bag of pre-washed, pre-stemmed mixed with a bit of carrots and cabbage)

Red onion cut in half and onion thinly sliced (I did half an onion)

Toasted nut or nuts of your choice (I did pepitas)

Toast nuts over medium heat in a pan. Put the sliced onion in a bowl and cover with the lemon juice and Braggs. Let onions marinate while you massage the olive oil into the kale. Do this until the kale feels tender enough that you personally want to eat it. Then add the onions with the lemon and Bragg's mixture and toasted nuts and toss to combine.

Saffron Marinated Chicken

This is adapted form a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi. I like it because it has so much flavor and I am pretty much obsessed with saffron.

4 chicken breasts

2 red onions, sliced

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

a generous pinch of saffron strands

juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp cold water

2 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

Marinate the chicken, onion, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight.

Separate the chicken and the onions. Grill the onions in a grill basket and the chicken directly over the coals or flame. Alternately, you can roast everything together, marinade and all, in the oven in a roasting dish at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.

You can also see in the photo above some roasted fennel and quinoa with asparagus puree. Asparagus puree is a recipe I never get tired of. I found it in the New York Times when it was used as the base for a pasta sauce mixed with prosciutto. During a cleanse I replaced the pasta with quinoa and omitted the ham and never looked back. Not that I don’t love pasta and ham, but this is my go-to recipe for a healthy side dish that anybody will love. It is also good for breakfast. I had some today topped with a poached egg. And by the way the Esalen Kale salad is also great in quinoa for breakfast. They serve it at Esalen every morning. Yum.

Asparagus Puree over Quinoa

2 pounds whole asparagus

1 tbs finely grated lemon rind

2 tbs reserved steaming liquid

2 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

1. Trim asparagus by breaking stem where the tough part meets the tender. Cut just below the tip and set aside. Cut remaining tender stems into one-inch pieces. Steam for about 6 minutes, depending on thickness of stems, until quite tender, but still bright green. Remove stems and reserve steaming liquid.

2. Place stem pieces in food processor with lemon rind, olive oil, and 1 tablespoon reserved liquid. Process to a sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Using the same steamer cook asparagus tips 2-4 minutes, depending on thickness, until just until tender

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Spoon asparagus puree over quinoa.

Top with asparagus tips.

You can also stir the sauce into the quinoa, add grated Parmesan cheese and top with toasted pine nuts.