Pages

Friday, August 28, 2009

Home made frozen yogurt is surpisingly simple...


I used to love frozen yogurt. It's been incredibly hot here in L.A. the last couple of days, and I've seen frozen yogurt shops pop up like popcorn over the last few months. Now I see people eating out of cups with Pink Berry or Froplay or any other number of yogurt names on them. Since both cane sugar and chemicals mess with everyone, and cause me to feel just lousy, I don't ever partake anymore of what's in those stores (oh and of course dairy messes with most of us too).

Several years ago I had bought a frozen yogurt/ice cream maker. It's one of those pretty simple ones where you freeze the canister overnight, pour in your ingredients and let the little mixing arm stir it up into a perfectly frozen treat. I had been dating a man at that time I so wanted to get closer to. He loved frozen treats, and I thought it would be a fun thing we could create together. Various frozen confections, toppings, etc. He and that thought, never came to any fruition. I somehow let the dust collect on my machine.

Today I dusted it off, pulled the canister from the freezer and decided to experiment a little. I simple added plain soy yogurt (Wildwood), agave and fresh strawberries sliced and mashed a little. I let the machine run for about ten minutes and sure enough - strawberry frozen yogurt was what I got! It was quite nice. I still might like it with a little vanilla and perhaps something with oil in it. Must be why so many ice creams are made with cashews?

If you had a whole lot of yogurt and different mixes to mix in it could be a fun thing to have at a party! Especially when it is so hot like this. Watch out, next we'll be seeing the frozen yogurt machine at all the catered events. I was just at a premiere where they had an incredibly fun photo booth machine where they could also project the photos up on a screen all night as well as give you a copy. Why not personalized frozen treats?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Peaches are not as profitable as Poptarts

I just got done being interviewed about weight loss. It is always fun to see what comes out of my mouth when people ask me questions. One of the things I spoke about was the simplicity of how as a society we have deviated so far away from eating whole foods. "Peaches are not as profitable as poptarts." I said. I used to eat a lot of poptarts in the morning. Now with my whole grain, I have whole fruit. I can see how someone who wanted to capitalize on my simple and satisfying early morning meal, came up with a poptart. It's like having a slice of pie for breakfast and even more convenient.

Now as we strive to be more "green" I would imagine that many would see the waste in such food stuff. You've got the packaging that is wasteful and the less then beneficial does of sugary non food that wastes your energy, ages you faster and slows you down. Children are getting diabetes and other diseases at an alarming rate, not to mention obese.

I don't remember any obese kids when I was growing up. There was not a lot of soda drinking, snacking or super sized anything that has become normal today. Portions seem out of control here in America as well as the junk that gets passed for food. What is normal for you? Where would you like to upgrade or shave a little?

You can save money and have more energy eating more whole and take a peek at how much "fun food" you might have in your life. Where you marketed into believing it's really okay? Remember, Peaches are not as profitable as poptarts and good health doesn't pay for the drug companies but you are worth more than allowing less than supreme living into your life.... I reminded the interviewer that weight loss can be easy when you learn how food works.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Easy, Fast and Cheap

I was relishing one of my old favorites yesterday. A simple black bean saute with carrots, onions, romaine lettuce, thyme, and tamari that can be put over rice along side fried plantains or an ear of corn. It's so simple fast and delicious. You must have all of the ingredients for it to have just the right flavor. Without the romaine for example it would just be like a black bean soup, just less water.

As I sat enjoying this dish I looked at how even my all organic ingredients still only came out to pennies per serving. Sure my Eden Organic black beans might be 50 cents more than Trader Joes's, only I like them better. With three or four servings per can, it's still quite reasonable. The entire meal was maybe $3. The time it took to put together was only about 10 minutes.

That would be the obvious cost factor. The less apparent cost effective benefits are in the quality of the food. More nutrients in how fresh and organic it all was, equals better health and less need to visit doctors or healers later. Less buying of supplements. And the biggest benefit comes from the added energy.

What most people do not seem to realize as they choose fast food or convenience foods is the energy costs. If your food is draining you instead of giving you abundant energy, that is a very big deficit. Not to mention that then you might be tempted to get stimulants to keep you going. Coffee, chocolate, energy bars all can add up to weight gain, lower immunity, lower real energy and even mind fog so you get less done which is often why you might be eating them in the first place.

To not take the time for fresh healthy food is costing many a lot more than they bargained for. So what really is easy, fast and cheap? Take a little time for higher quality living and take all your saving on a vacation....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Healthier Brownie

I just read a post where someone asked for a gluten free brownie recipe and the response was a brownie with black beans in it. It reminds me of those books on how to sneak foods into your kid. I always found this devious. In this case it sounds abusive as beans and sweets often, well most of the time, well, pretty much give you gas! Sometimes painful, horrific gas.

Would someone who already has digestive troubles really want beans in their desserts? Maybe no one is noticing because they already do have digestive troubles so flatulence and abdominal pain are ordinary occurrences? Many people who believe themselves to be gluten intolerant really have other issues going on undiagnosed. Gluten intolerance effects a small percent of the population and those that have celiac understand how that is a very difficult thing to have. It's starting to be popular to cut out gluten because doctors seem to be getting lazy in their ability to uncover what is really going on. The elimination of gluten can help a myriad of things for a while from allergies to weight issues, chronic fatigue, bloating, etc. If it is not the real problem though it's not going to help for that long. It could be viral, candida overgrowth, overtaxed adrenals or more. Find out what the real culprit is and until then, I wouldn't put any beans in your brownies...

Here's one vegan brownie I came up with years ago.
This version is low in cholesterol and fat typically associated with rich chocolaty brownies. If you wish to use oat and barley flour or spelt or another non wheat flour - try it!

3/4 C. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3/4 C. Unbleached White Flour
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1 1/4 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Baking soda
3/4 C. good quality cocoa powder

1/2 C. Safflower or Rice Bran oil
3/4 C. maple syrup
1/4 C. barley malt
1/4 C. water
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Oil an 8” square brownie pan. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl. Add the wet to the dry and mix thoroughly without overmixing. Pour batter into the oiled baking dish and even out the batter in the pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes. The top will crack but it’s a brownie it is supposed to be moist and not like a cake so don’t go doing the knife test and leaving it in the oven too long. Allow to cool and then place in fridge for a few hours before cutting

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home made graham crackers


I was looking at the graham crackers today but I didn't end up buying any. Later that evening I decided I would like a cracker so I made some. I just happen to have some graham flour in my fridge just for such an occasion. I tried an all graham dough that has a slight wheaty taste to it. While not as sweet as a cookie and not as plain as a cracker I would feel very good about giving these to kids with such simple ingredients in them.
  • 4 T Earth Balance
  • 1 egg
  • 4 T Agave
  • 4 T Brown Rice Syrup (or any combination of sweeteners you like.)
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 C graham flour
  • 3/4 C unbleached pastry flour (or use all graham flour or your own combination.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the Earth Balance and sweeteners in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the egg and blend.
  4. Add baking soda into the butter mixture.
  5. In another bowl mix the flours and then add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix into cookie dough. If it is too wet add a tad more flour.
  6. If you can roll right on your cookie sheet just line with parchment and roll out 1/2 the dough on each sheet. If not you will need to roll on a floured surface and then cut out your cookies.
  7. With a knife, score the dough, without cutting through, into squares or use cookie cutters.
  8. Prick each square a few times with the tines of a fork.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes until edges get brown.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool on racks. (They will crisp up as they cool.)

Here is an M cafe inspired salad at home. I met three friends there last night in Culver City. The four of us sat at one of the little tables near the window with our array of different orders. I love going to M because there is a freedom in that they only use good ingredients. I do not need to ask for anything special and I can just relax and enjoy. I wanted to go there originally to have a celebratory strawberry cupcake. I had been there with my neighbor two months prior for one the day before I started a two month cleansing experiment. This was the end of that and so we were bookending and acknowledging what I had just accomplished.

I did not know it would not just be the two of us and the four seemed better than I could have imagined. There was a lovely synergy at the table. The food was an excuse to share stories, laugh, learn a little, laugh, create community, laugh. By the time I went for the cupcake it really was literally unnecessary icing. I did enjoy it, but I enjoyed the company so much I needed nothing else to make the evening sweet.

I watched as community was sewn into a beautiful garment that we all share now. It is something that I feel many people need far more to stay healthy. The village used to lift people up and support the health of each individual, because that supported the health of the tribe as a whole. Each contributing her/his part. There is a lack of real community here. It's a transient town and hugely competitive. Superficialness rules and keeps the Botox flowing. The struggle for many with food is an intrinsic need to fill up that void and try to satisfy the depths of ones self that can never really be filled by substance. No amount of shopping or eating or even sex can fill up the desire for real community.

My neighbor is terrific at creating, seeking and finding it and I hope to carry her lessons where ever I go.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Farm Fresh vs. Store - Why Pay More?

I found myself at the farmers market today wandering more than purchasing. I did get some lovely fruit and flowers but not much else. Simply why pay more for vegetables than I would at the store? A bunch of carrots at the farmers market was $1.50 or $2 when they are only $1.29 at my co-op. All organic of course. The onions are currently 99 cents at the store and farm stand fresh they are $1.50 so I end up not buying the produce because why would I pay more? The flowers on the other hand were only a fraction of the cost and the fruit at the farmers market is not only fresher and often sweeter, the organic strawberries were only $2 a basket.

I do love the camaraderie at the Wednesday market. Each week it is like meeting up with old friends as we exchange stores. The avocado grower knows my whole love life and Richard who sells the sugar snap peas reminds me of my Dad. He always has something cute to say. Perhaps that is why many people don't mind the few cents more to have those interactions. Perhaps those interactions make the food taste even better all week long? You can also purchase it all in one place and be done with it. Eggs, milk, even organic meat and juice and bread are there right along side the vast array of California produce. It's beautiful and fun....still though, why pay more....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Non Dairy Queen Bliss


I went to Whole Foods this afternoon to pick up a couple of things for dinner. I decided I would like some ice-cream sort of thing to go with a meringue cookie. (See this month's newsletter from SusanMarque.com for the recipe.) At first I grabbed a bottle of amasake and thought I might make my own. Then I took a peek at all the new vegan, non-dairy, agave sweetened ice creams out there. While I have loved Tomberlies, I don't love the price tag. I picked up one that was far cheaper and it looked great. Great that is until I read natural flavors towards the end of the ingredient list. Natural flavors is a great way for food manufacturers to hide glutamates. I'm particularly sensitive and I never feel well if products contain them.

In case you don't know what a glutamate is, it is an excitotoxin to the brain when it is used as a food additive. Basically exciting cells to their death and can create little holes in the brain. I find that I feel oddly awful from them, and it makes the food eaten not so much fun after all.

Then I picked up one called Coconut Bliss. While I'm not a coconut fan, I do like coconut water from immature coconuts so I took home a vanilla and gave it a try. I loved it. So smooth and creamy and light. It reminded me of a dairy queen only cleaner. The ingredients are simple and organic. I'll have to try other flavors of it now. Plus it went great with the meringue cookie and fruit. I'm sure it will be excellent with chocolate sauce.

Is it still a stir fry if you use white wine and thyme? Well it is good regardless of what to call it. Good food can be as simple as that. A good attitude, a good life, it can be as simple as that too. It's all how you make it up. This has taken me a very long time to really "get". It's easy to understand but to buck the old habits and take on freedom can take practice.

Anything you practice you get better at. Practice bad habits and they seem normal and when you decide to switch you might find yourself falling back. You just keep marching towards what you want instead of what you don't want. Keeping at it until the new habits are well worn enough they become automatic.

If your relationship is stuck, or your diet or how you are living your life in any way. Add something new. Relax more and find thoughts that make you feel great. Be kinder when you can. Take advantage of what you can do now to make things fun, fresh and new. It might be adding a little white wine and thyme - who knew?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Has anyone ever given you a gift certificate? Probably. I got one from a friend for my birthday to a restaurant I'd never been to. It's an organic restaurant called Kreation cafe on Montana avenue in Santa Monica. It looked okay, but didn't entice me all that much when I had first looked at the menu. The certificate had to be used at dinner and you needed to spend about $10 more than it's value in order to use it. In other words, I needed someone to eat dinner with who would want to go to this restaurant.

Six months later my friend Andy is sitting on my couch and says he wants to take me to an early dinner, where could we go. I was just going through some papers and there was the certificate. "You want to try this place?" I asked. He is always up for something new, so off we went.

I was happy from the moment we stepped into this little organic oasis of wood and greenery. You get to eat in the back in what feels very greenhouse like with succulents beautifully adorning the walls. We split an appetizer of eggplant dip. The plate decorated with a fennel and celery salad and three lovely blanched almonds, served on a white square plate. The entree was presented on a long rectangular plate and was perfect for splitting. Four large chunks of tender organic meat cooked to perfection, surrounded with a fantastic array of vegetables from sweet grilled corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, another salad, it was lovely. At this point I would have been quite happy. The desserts were then the crowning jewel to the meal. Andy was in bliss with a chocolate fudge cake and I was perfectly pleased with three lovely squares of pistachio baklava adorned with berries. and of course tea for me. I like having tea at the end of a meal. It makes it feel wrapped up and complete.

Somehow it feels like I'm still living the Julie & Julia material with all of these gourmet treats. It is wonderful there are getting to be more restaurants that have wonderful options, all organic and this restaurant features many vegan plates as well. I loved the atmosphere, the presentation, it all makes such a difference. When you eat at home make it just as much fun with making your food look beautiful and have the dishes be fun for you too. I like to tell clients to make one new dish each week. Then you build your repertoire of things you know how to do.

Long blog today but I hope you are inspired...sometimes all it takes is one good meal....
For more inspiration - sign up for a session at www.susanmarque.com!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cooking Cucumbers

Cucumbers have never been a particular favorite of mine. Well, except when at a facial and someone is delicately placing slices over my eyes. Those cucumbers are especially nice. Experiences like that have been few and far between in my life. The common cucumber that turns up in salads or languishes on my plate even when someone has taken the time to marinate them and sprinkle elegantly with parsley, have left me with a so so opinion.

When reading in Julie & Julia about the fact she wasn't a big cucumber fan either, I could relate. Then the enormous delight in the ones she cooked in butter (Yeah, everything she was eating was pretty much cooked in butter...)got me intrigued. So I pulled out the remains of the one I bought and had used in some sushi rolls last night. I figured rice bran oil might be a tad too plain so I sauteed them in sesame oil and sprinkled in a little ume vinegar. Yes! I am now a fan of the sauteed cucs myself!

Thanks to both Julie and Julia!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Julie & Julia and Me...


I just finished reading Julie & Julia this morning and I'm off to see the movie this afternoon. That must be why I needed to make meringue cookies this morning. I like making something fun on Sundays so that was it today. I'm going to put the recipe in the newsletter tomorrow.

Back from the film and it was terrific. Nora Ephron is La writer supreme!!! I love her. No offense to the lovely Ms. Powell but the film beat the book for once. They could give Nora an adaptation award in my opinion. Anyway, both were very close to my heart in many respects. The food, the search for more in ones life, the writing...

I am grateful that I learned cooking that is fast and simple to do. I made a quick yaki soba tonight for dinner since my friend wanted to go to a later movie and I never eat dinner this late. Fast, simple and satisfying, I don't use as much oil as they do in a restaurant. Sooo easy to saute what ever veggies you want, and what ever meat or tofu you wish. While the noodles boil, slice and saute away and then add the noodles and some soy sauce and you are good to go. Meringues with ice cream and chocolate sauce can be a perfect ending...