Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Left Out or Love What You Got?

Last night I went to class hungry.  That was the request of the teacher, to come to class with a "an empty belly."  I have some sort of fear of hunger.  Not that I've ever really gone hungry for too long.  It's more a fear that is unfounded and silly for someone growing up where huge varieties, that can fill every taste, are available all the time.  Still, I made a plan. 

I didn't know if a meal would be served or a small snack, but I picked up a burrito on the way to class.  I had wanted to try a little taco stand that was supposed to be good and authentic.  I figured if I didn't eat it in class, I would have it after. 

We were given class time to write about hunger.  The lovely guest teacher then passed out her incredible chocolate chip cookies she had baked for us that morning.  They looked beautiful and smelled divine.  Everyone took one except me.  When one disposable plastic gladware tub was quickly emptied, another one was passed around.  I had a brief moment of desire and let it pass.  I could focus on the class and be filled with inspiration and ideas.  I felt better knowing I had something I could feel good about eating waiting for me.  While a burrito is not a chocolate chip cookie, it felt at least a little special that I didn't have to cook that night. 

I waited until I got home to eat.  Then it hit me.  That old lousy feeling of being different, being left out and not able to participate in life in the same way.  It wasn't the cookies though that really brought it on.  It was my fellow students writing.  The second writing exercise of the night had us writing about a food we crave.  I wrote about comfort foods.  I wrote badly.  My fellow students wrote beautiful bits of craving special alcoholic drinks or items they shared with their family.  The scenes of enjoyment were vivid and alive.  Their writing showed lives filled with love and laughter that the food was a part of and not a substitute for. 

I slowly ate my burrito thinking about how many people have asked me what do I do when I can't eat the food at a party or have to pass on things offered because I know they will make me ill.  I always try to be gracious and not make others feel badly.  I also try to promise myself that I will have something similar, made with ingredients I can feel good about soon.  I'll plan to bake my own cookies or pick something up from Babycakes or a whole foods restaurant like Souen. 

I made a cup of tea realizing I didn't want sweets. (odd for me.) I need to call a friend, make a date, have more fun with others in my life and I must make that happen in a bigger way. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sandwich Twists

I do love a good sandwich.  Simple organic turkey with lettuce and tomato makes a quick delicious meal or I had a seitan club last week that was fantastic with guacamole and a whole salad stuffed in there.

Bread however isn't something I want to be eating every day.  It dries me out.  Immediately my skin is flaky and parched, I'm thirsty and far more tired than when I don't eat bread.  I wonder if the staff of life was really more like whole grains kneaded up and baked that turned into flour products later?

So what else is there for a quick sandwich like experience?  First of all try millet squares.  One fun thing to do is cook 1 Cup of millet in 3 cups of water for 20 minutes and spread the grain into a a loaf pan to cool.  Slice cooled slices and spread with hummus and pea sprouts (Trader Joe's has organic pea sprouts constantly now...)

Steam collard leafs with the hard part of the stem cut out and roll-up all sorts of fillings inside.  I often use steamed kale leaves going the other direction like rice in a sushi roll.  Sushi rolls also can be non traditional.  Mexican rice and bean and guacamole sushi or a tuna and quinoa wrap.  Tofu scramble goes terrific in a sushi and collard wraps with lemon tempeh are divine.

Play around for your favorites and see what you come up with!

Simple Chicken (or Tempeh)/Collard roll-up
For one portion:

4 oz. grilled chicken (1/3 of a package Tempeh for vegetarians)
1 scallion and/or
carrot sliced and/or
burdock sliced
1 or two leaves of Kale
1 big or 2 small Collard leaves

For Dressing:

equal amounts of tahini and white miso
lemon zest
grated onion
parsley (optional)
water to thin

Steam the veggies for a few minutes so they are still firm and bright in color.  The collards and kale will only take less than a minute.   Mix the dressing ingredients together using just a little grated onion and lemon zest to taste, thinning out with water to a spreadable not too runny consistency.  Lay the collard down on a sushi mat with the inner side of the leaf facing up.  Lay the kale crosswise at the bottom of the collard as in making a sushi roll. Then lay the vegetables and chicken on top of the kale leaves.  Spoon dressing on top and carefully roll up.  It is easier to roll the thinner things are sliced and neatly laid together.   Cut the roll in half or into quarter slices and serve.

Monday, February 27, 2012

You're Oscar Worthy Bod is Easy!

I checked my Facebook this morning to see a buzz of Oscar comments.  The ones that make me crazy are the girls saying who looks too thin because the issue is theirs, not the stars.  They don't feel good about their own bodies so they are picking on those who are out there being role models.  I only saw a few moments, but the stars like Gweneth and Angelina looked stunning and beautiful.  I was thinking I could probably use a good bra like Paltrow had, not, oh dear look at her size.

Get over your issues and realize that when we eat wonderful clean food, being a size 2 is a natural occurrence, pretty easy, and healthy.  Couple a whole foods lifestyle with a little exercise (and those ladies have kids folks......double exercise.) and you won't be thinking about weight ever again. 

Only someone who is thinking about their own weight is making comments on someone else.  When you feel terrific in your own skin, you'll be looking at other things.  (income, clothes, or that when someone else does your make-up it's incredible...)  Notice what you notice, what issues you would like to resolve, what makes you crazy or what passes by unnoticed.  If you have health handled you most likely don't think about it.  If you are struggling with pain, you'll be looking for a way out.

One thing that happens with knowing how to create more balance with food is that surprising things start occurring in every area of your life.  Perhaps it has to do with when your energy is happier, happier things happen?  I don't know and that part is not very "scientific" but weight - that's an easy one.  Start with a whole foods diet but please, do study how it works so you don't end up rotely following some plan. 

I happened to also see on Facebook a meal people were "liking" that pictured a pretty plate of rice, beans and vegetables with a bean soup and a rice pudding dessert.  Those sorts of too much rice and beans meals, (not to mention with all those beans, the rice pudding is probably going to create a gassy belly and be uncomfortable) are not really the best for everyone.  Please learn what you are doing and then be  the inspiration for someone else to stop picking on anyone out there and be happy inside and out.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Alchemy of Transformation

What's your story?  The idea of who you are that you cling to.  Does it serve you?  Do you go around feeling like a failure or a success?  Do you stand strong for your own beliefs or just fall for what ever is going around the room that day?  Like having a coffee because someone is making a Starbucks run and you don't want to be left out?  Not everyone needs to be a leader but everyone ought to know what they want.  What do you want to create?  Are you willing to stand for that?  Even fight for that?

Food is a wonderful transformative tool.  It's just one.  If you eat differently you will start to think differently and feel differently.  Good thoughts and feelings can lead you to start having a much better life.  You'll have more energy to go after what you want.  You'll enjoy your kids more when your mind is clear and your body free of pains, itches or annoying gas.  You will come up with new ideas and things that previously felt like chores become easy, simple and painless. 

Are you willing to transform, or are you clinging to an old story?  Start writing a new one.  Take a stand today.   Be the best version of yourself and you can't do that eating bars and drinking juice.  You get to start fueling your body with things that make you happy, and get your cells singing.  Whole whole whole to slide down the rabbit hole into a new land of possibility.  Get outside of the matrix you thought you were stuck in and begin living fantastically today.  It's always been there for you.  You just need to walk inside.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rockin Rules

Rules sometimes sounds like a dirty word but we all have them.  What do you put on first, your socks or your underwear?  Who does the laundry in your family and when?  What soap do you use?  When do you brush your teeth?  I'm sure you have some ideas of how you do things and you have made up rules to play the games of getting dressed or getting clean.  We all live by some kinds of rules and often upsets are when you think yours are right and others should be playing your way. 

Then it can be fun to mix things up.  Eat breakfast foods for dinner or have pie for breakfast.  What if you are looking to change your body?  What rules apply?  Do you try and fail at diets because they have too many rules or are you so afraid of change that new foods upset you?  I've seen it all.  Even one girl who was so addicted to junk food she made up ideas about healthy foods because she didn't want to change her rules about what she ate even though she felt lousy.  That's just crazy. 

If you are looking to shed some weight for example, I suggest you get some new rules.  Amounts are one way to go, but most people like to feel full and satiated from their food.  If you like eating a lot and being slender and energetic then a whole foods diet is for you.  First make rules about all of your treat foods and stick to them, like coffee as a once a week treat instead of every day.  Second make rules about portions and learn what true hungry and full are so you can see the signs and make the game easy to win instead of frustrating.

Working with a coach can help keep you on track while you get your rules together and find your personal winning strategy.  We also have great little tricks to get your brain and body inline with what it is you want to create for yourself.  No sense having some strict rule that you are always in resistance to.  Life should be fun, bountiful and tasty.  Let go of your old worn out rules and get in the game where everyone wins.

You'll be so happy to Rock your Rules when you see how good they look and feel....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Heavenly Chestnuts

I took down my post from yesterday 'cuz i didn't want to be a complainer.  Just saw has some incredible vegan recipes and I'd like to post them on that restaurant's FB page.   I'm still a little angry at that food I sent back and got charged for yesterday because healthy restaurants should try a little harder to be good rather than think people will eat anything because it's supposed to be good for you. 

Speaking of simple and good.  I found the best tasting dried chestnuts in Chinatown a couple of days ago.  You never know when getting redirected will be a great gift.  I like to get jobs tears barley from a stand I found on the corner of Mott and Hester streets.  They have clean products and good prices.  Only they stopped having my barley and told me to go down the street to another shop.  The first shop didn't look so good to me, so after two very messy fish sellers, I walked into a dry goods store that had some nice looking jobs tears.  I took some home, washed it well and cooked it.  Fantastic.  It was maybe the best I've had.  I went back for more and tried their dried chestnuts.  Even better than the Italian ones I used to covet.  I just soaked them and then boiled with a piece of kombu for 45min.

Or you might try cooking them with other vegetables or make a soup:

Squash and Chestnut Soup

Elegant soup for two
This soup has a velvety texture and both sweet and savory in flavor.  Terrific for holidays or entertaining since it’s also so simple to prepare.

1/4 Cup dried chestnuts soaked with all dark red skin removed
2” Kombu
1/2 large butternut squash
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 – 1 tsp. Thyme
1 large clove garlic – pressed into soup
White miso to taste
Water to cover

Put the chestnuts and their soaking water into a pot with the Kombu.  Simmer covered for 25 minutes.  Add the squash, onion, garlic and Thyme and water to cover.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool somewhat and then blend all ingredients adding the miso.  Garnish with nutmeg and parsley. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jam'n Oat Treats

And remember this gem?  An oldie but a goodie.  So many ways to make it fun.  Use melted chocolate to decorate or add chips and forget the jam.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Jammin’ Oat Treats
2 C. Roasted Oat Flakes
1 ½ C. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
½ C.  Oil (we used to use corn oil, if you can find it organic...)
½ C. Maple Syrup
Preheat oven to 350°. Place the Oats on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Blend Oats to a flour in blender and place in a large bowl. Mix Flour, Oat Flour and Sea Salt together and make a well in the center. Whip together the Oil, Maple Syrup and Vanilla using a fork. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Form Dough and press two thirds into a nine inch pan. Spread Jam on top, then crumble the remaining Dough over the top of the Jam. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sinfully Easy Strawberry Mousse

This one is from that very first cookbook.  I just happened to pull it out of the archives just in time for Valentine's Day....

Strawberry Mousse
2 Tbs. Agar-Agar
2 C. Apple-Strawberry Juice
1 Tbs. Kudzu dissolved in a little cold water (optional)
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 Tbs. Tahini
1 Pint Strawberries, chopped
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Tbs. Rice Syrup
Strawberries, Sliced for Garnish
Place the juice, salt and water in a pan. Add the agar-agar. Cook on med/low until the agar-agar dissolves. Add the Strawberries and Vanilla and mix gently. Pour into a serving dish and leave to set in a cool place. Place the firm mixture with Tahini and Rice Syrup in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into individual dishes and garnish. Serve cool or chilled. This is also terrific using fresh apricots instead of strawberries.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Empty Fridge Magic

I woke up this morning uninspired by the thought of making meals.  My millet was already soaking for breakfast so that was good.   I figured I could make a bleak salad with the few items still in my fridge for a lunch.  I've had salads for the last four days.  They were wonderful but I felt pretty done with them, or at least the ones I was making.  Only I didn't pick up any new produce and the only two things looking fresh were an 89 cent bag of organic carrots from Trader Joe's and a bunch of celery, with a lot of empty space and a few bits here and there.

If there were a cooking contest for making something fantastic from fragments, I would be a contender.  I sauteed the half of an onion getting it sweet and soft before adding three chopped carrots and the few leftover slices of burdock, some water and got that boiling.  I placed the almost ready to yellow arugula in a bowl and shredded a large stalk of celery on top of it.  I took the two wilted artichoke hearts that were still good and chopped them on top of the greens.  Now for a dressing.  There was a half of a lime looking like it might be going bad.  Thankfully it was okay and still had some juice.  Lime, olive oil, sea salt and maple syrup made the veggies seem gourmet.

When my carrots were soft I blended the mixture up with some white miso for a thick soup and boiled some brown rice pasta.  The meal was fresh, delicious and far more than I first imagined.  The magic of cooking.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stepping it Up

What have you been green lighting lately?  Do you give yourself the go ahead to do what you have always done?  That probably gets you what you are used to.  If you have any areas that need improvement or alteration in your life, you know you need to start making some changes to get the results you want.

Do it in steps.  Get used to small changes and keep making them and get yourself to start being how you want to be.  Want to let go of unwanted weight?  What about just allowing yourself to be happier?  Has exercise somehow fallen by the wayside?  Start taking steps and stick to them to become just what you do.  It might be look at Facebook or your email less and get more done in your day?  What steps would get you to where you want to be?

Enjoy the steps.  I love to read and each time I go back to a good book where I left off I progress a little farther in the story.  I don't expect myself to read every book cover to cover in a single sitting.  So why would you expect to make changes in your life all at once and then be upset when they don't last?  Chapters are little steps of the story. 

You get to decide what is the next scene you are going to play out today.  Do you want it to be getting you to your dreams?  Do you want to feel better?  Look better?  Be happier? Start now and give yourself something concrete you can feel good about.  Think about where you will get your food today, where does exercise fit in and how you want to feel about yourself and then carry those steps out. 

I notice working with a coach will help you to be able to do more and stick to more because there are then two of you on your team.  Most people will do more when they have someone they are accountable to or giving them games to play.  

Grab a session for yourself or if you have been thinking of becoming a coach - there is one spot open for the training

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Easy Cheesy Risotto - Vegan Style

Sometimes laziness rules.  I think I made this recipe up just because I didn't feel like making stock to use in the risotto.  It's simple and tasty and goes well with a beer or wine.

Easy Cheesy Risotto

5 C. Water, warmed
1 C. Arborio rice
Splash Mirin (optional)
1/4 tsp.tumeric
1 yellow onion chopped
3-4 large cloves garlic chopped
1 T Olive Oil
1 T. white miso
1 lemon's zest

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil.  Toss in the lemon zest and turmeric.  Add the rice and continue to stir for several minutes.  Add the Mirin if using and then add about 1/2 cup of water at a time.  Adding more as the water is absorbed.  Use a small amount of water to dilute the miso.  When you have used all of the water add the miso.

Variation:  Add fresh Salmon chunks (with skin removed) towards the end of cooking.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl with Beer Brownies to think about for Feb. 14th

Watching the Super Bowl this year was super fun.  When I went to the address I was invited to and walked out of the elevator, the hallway had exactly the kind of look I expected to see everywhere in New York.  Modern and clean but still something old world about it too.  The Hostess was about the most wonderful person you would want to meet.  Laid back, warm, with an understated elegance that calms the nervous system and makes everyone feel so happy to be there.  She put out a beautiful buffet with brownies that had beer in them to enhance the flavor.

You have to love anyone who puts beer in their Super Bowl brownies.  It shows thoughtfulness, amusement, and creativity.  To top the night off, NY won so everyone was excited.  But it was the joy in that home and the little details that I'll always remember.

To make your own experimental brownies, here is a version that is heart friendly, vegan friendly and very simple.  If you want to try adding 1/4 -1/2 C beer, I suggest using dry sweetener and perhaps take out the baking soda.  The fizz in the beer ought to give enough rise. 

Brilliant Brownies

This version is low in cholesterol and fat typically associated with rich chocolaty brownies.

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.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I just realized Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  While some folks think it is just about buying, others want to get gooey in their sharing of love.  I kinda like a day where it's cool to be crafty.  You could scrapbook a card, make a fun photo collage, use all the glitter you like, or bake up something sweet.  Don't worry, no candy hearts were eaten in the making of this blog or my cards.  I'm just having fun using them as materials like construction paper and glue.  You wouldn't eat those either.  Later I might just make a personal sized Apple Crisp though.  Here's the recipe so you can make one for you and your valentine.

Apple Crisp
6-8 Cups of thinly sliced organic apples (get a mixture of your favorites like Pink Lady, Roma, Granny Smith, etc. peels on or off, your choice.)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 T. arrowroot powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 C. organic brown rice syrup (or honey)
1 T. lemon juice
1 + tsp. vanilla


1 Cup Spelt or pastry flour (or 1/2 Cup plus 1/2 Cup unbleached white flour)
Pinch of sea salt
3 T. rice bran oil or safflower oil
3-4 T. brown rice syrup (or honey)

Pre-heat oven to 400°F
In a mixing bowl combine the apples with the arrowroot, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.  In a small bowl mix the lemon juice, vanilla, and 1/2 Cup of syrup and then stir into the apples.  Place mixture in a baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.  It will get bubbly so you might want to place something in your oven underneath in case of spillage.  While that is baking mix the 1 cup of flour with the salt and oil and then work in the sweetener to form a crumbly topping.  Remove the foil from the cooked apples and sprinkle the topping on top.  Put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes  to cook the topping just until brown.