Sunday, September 18, 2011

From The Archives - Rut Removal

Originally from September 2008

“Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables.  They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.”  ~Elizabeth Berry

“Red meat is not bad for you.  Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!”  ~Tommy Smothers

Tip of the Month
Are you back from vacation or back to school?  Maybe you’ve just run out of ideas to put on your plate?  This month I thought we could fall into some fun, and use the tool I call “Rut Removal”.   I get stuck in ruts sometimes where I make the same few meals over and over.  Then I get tired of those foods.  Occasionally, I get so tired of them, I don’t even want to see them again – ever!   Rut removeal requires knowing you are in a rut and then taking some actions to get yourself into a space where preparing food is fun again.  Every day we are not exactly the same person we were the day before.  You get to decide who you would like to be.  Most people create the same stuff with the same thoughts day after day.  Over time they might mature and find they see things differently.  You can accelerate it by playing with seeing things and feeling things differently all the time.  In the beginning of the new movie Elegy, the professor tells his students that when they read War and Peace again years later, the story will be different.  The words in the book do not change, but we do.  (I’m paraphrasing I hope you know.)  So getting out of a rut can be as simple as revisiting your old cookbooks and getting some new ideas of what you might like.  The gorgeous pictures in Gourmet or Bon Appetit magazines can spark your imagination too.  Swapping out ingredients to make the dishes healthier or more to your palate is usually a fairly simple thing to do.   I also get ideas from looking at menus or visiting a restaurant and not just experiencing what I order but I look around at the plates nearby and just sort of take notes. 

Mixing up your ingredients is a great way to get out of a rut.  How often do you purchase the jicama or plantains?  What have you done with a rutabega lately?  Taking home different produce items or ordering a grain like Hato Mugi barely – (makes your skin glow by the way.)  for a salad that everyone will ooh and ahh over.   I just ordered 5 lbs.  so I can create with this easy to digest grain over many meals.  Taking home new ingredients forces you to come up with something new.  The plantains might spark a cuban meal or you could make croutons for a salad like they do at Hugos restaurant.  If you have never been there, use your imagination as to what that might be.  Croutons are really just roasted up chunks of bread or in this case, plantain, with spices - in the oven.  Perfect for this changable time of year in a salad with romaine, black beans and what ever else you enjoy.


Cabbage and Quinoa Salad

Here is a simple salad that can change with your mood.  Add grilled tofu, tempeh, chicken or beef for a heartier meal or grilled vegetables for a different feel.  If you choose coconut oil you’ll have more of a Caribbean flavor and if you choose flax oil you’ll get your omega 3’s.  See what else you might like to add into this already complete meal dish.

½ small cabbage, shredded
1 medium to large carrot, shredded
1 small fennel, sliced into matchsticks
1 large green onion, chopped
oil (of your choice and to taste.)
Sprinkle of sea salt
Apple cider vinegar (drizzle in to taste.)
½ lemon
Cooked quinoa (cooking up 1/3 C will yield about 1 C. and that is a good amount.)
Blanched & Roasted Almonds (optional)
Nori Sprinkle for garnish (optional)

To cook the quinoa:
Place 1/3 C. rinsed quinoa in a pot with 1 Cup of water and a very small pinch of sea salt.  Bring to a boil.  Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat to low.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until all of the water is gone.  Allow to cool.

To Blanch and roast almonds:
Toss the almonds into boiling water and boil for 2 minutes.  Strain and rinse under cold water.  Peel the dark skins off the almonds.  Place on a baking sheet in a pre-heated oven (350º) for 10 – 15 minutes until they turn slightly brown.

Place the cabbage, carrot, fennel and onions in a bowl.  Mix in the sprinkle of sea salt with your hands.  Add oil, vinegar to taste.  Add the cooled quinoa and squeeze in the juice from the lemon.  Place in the fridge to cool.  Before serving add any additional items.  Sprinkle each serving with Nori.

Light and Luscious Barley Salad

Try this with any grain and veggie combo you like.  Hato Mugi barley is Japanese pearled Barley.

1 C Cooked Hato Mugi Barley
1 – 2 carrots chopped and blanched
2-3 Scallions or a small bunch of chives chopped and blanched
Dressing:  2 parts flax seed oil to 1 part ume vinegar.

Mix all the ingredients and serve on a bed of blanched kale.
Add blanched corn kernels as well or use red onion in place of scallion.

Story Time (names are changed, stories are true)
Janie was stuck in a rut with her food, mostly out of fear.  She was so afraid of being fat that she ate the same few things all the time.  Special K with non-fat milk for breakfast, or a small yogurt.  One piece of fruit for a snack.  Salad for lunch, and dinner was a fish or chicken or meat usually plain, grilled, with steamed vegetables.  She hardly touched carbs and avoided oils and fats like they were lethal.  She used supplements to fill in the gaps.  Her body started revolting on her though, from such a limited diet and she was not happy emotionally either, but she pretended to be as much as she could.  All of this looks like healthy food to many, only it’s a whole log of acidity going on, and not enough fiber either.  I asked her to try a little more whole grain, a little more oil and a lot more variety in both foods and styles of cooking.  In just two weeks, Janie blossomed.  She felt better and looked better than she had in years.  Her energy skyrocketed and she didn’t gain any weight, in fact she looked even sleeker yet with a healthy glow and vibrancy that was far sexier than the pinched pale version of herself that I’d spoken to at first.  Variety in food can be a wonderful thing!

Fun Food Facts
The sweetest kale is said to be after a frost so get ready for some hearty greens this fall.  There are so many varieties of kale, you are sure to find your favorite.  It’s a vegetable that gives us more strength and is especially good for the lungs and intestines.  Kale also contains lutein that is known to ward off macular degeneration and is just plain good for the eyes.  It also may be effective for warding off some types of cancer as well, especially of the colon.  Piling on the greens for better health all around is a good practice. 

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