Thursday, July 29, 2010

my Cafe salad, yum!!

I have two favorite salads from two different but equally expensive restaurants in the county (one in SLO and one in Paso). I decided to combine my favorite elements from each and create my very own cafe salad. So here's my fusion salad:

My maple candied Walnut, Apple, Apricot salad.
(super easy!!)

First you need to make your own candied walnuts. You can make them however you prefer but I wanted a recipe that didn't contain either refined sugars or eggs. I found a recipe which I modified to my tastes and to fit the restaurants recipe. The expensive restaurant salad has pepper on their candied walnuts and it's a really nice touch.

Maple Candied Walnuts:
2 cups raw walnut halves
3 tablespoons grade B organic maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (my fav is Pasolivo)
(optional ingredients: cinnamon or pepper. also
optional: a pinch of sea salt)
preheat oven to 400 degrees. mix all ingredients into a glass baking dish. Coat the walnuts completely and bake for 12-14 mins, check often to make sure they don't burn. When done immediately transfer to a plate to cool. yum, they're sooooo good!!

Now for the salad itself.

My version of the two salads

1/2 a granny smith green apple, sliced
3 organic dried apricots, diced
handful of the candied walnuts
arugula (adds a delicious peppery taste)
honey mustard vinagrette
(instead of making my own from scratch I use the Annie's Organics Lite Honey Mustard Vinagrette)

And the finished product- soooo good and tastes really similar to the restaurant salads I was trying to recreate- not quite as sweet but so delicious!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wheelin' and Dealin'!

Alright, so here's the deal with the photo above. That gorgeous multi-charm and medallion necklace is an Alisa Michelle- a designer I knew nothing about until 2 weeks ago. My cousin Paige invited me (for better or for worse, I don't know!!) to this website called Haute Look. It's basically a website where you can buy designer items at a really discounted price- like the above mentioned necklace which I saved $197 on!!!!!! So this is a little bit of shameless promotion here, I do get perks if people sign up and buy- but really we'd both be winning- you would get amazing deals and I would get credits to get amazing deals!!!!! So below are links to 2- that's right 2, amazing designer discount sites- it's free to sign up, so you've got nothing to lose!!!!!!!

Haute Look: Click Here

Ideeli- Click here

do it- you know you want tooooo......... :) LOL

Monday, May 10, 2010

Today's Food Adventure Brought To You By: Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow's site has some amazing stuff on it. That is where I found the recipe for this yummy (yet time consuming) dish called Bibimbop. (final product pictured above). Bibimbop is basically a rice bowl with lots of veggies. This dish is pretty labor intensive, as you have to saute and blanche vegetables, make a spicy miso sauce and cook a separate dish called Kinpira. Now that I've made it once it will be easier but doing this for the first time it took up quite a bit of time. So for the ingredients list and detailed instructions see Gwyneth's website by following this link: Bibimbop
Here's my attempt, with photos. See captions for descriptions.
The first thing I did was blanche the broccolini and baby bok choy (which I over-cooked and ruined- so it's not in the final photo). I had never blanched veggies before so I had to look online for instructions. It's pretty easy (except for bok choy, LOL). Basically you boil the veg, but for a short time, you don't actually cook it all the way. Then you remove it from the boiling water, straight to a bowl of ice water.

next I sliced up the zucchini, mushrooms and minced the garlic. For some reason I didn't take photos while making the spicy miso sauce, but it was at this stage that I made it. That sauce was really easy to make- reminds me of bbq sauce. I like mine spicy so I put in a lot of hot pepper sesame oil.

I chopped up some baked tofu and fried it in some sesame oil. I had never had fried tofu before and it's super yummy!!!

Here's a shot of all of the veggies that will be tossed in with the rice. So we have: blanched broccolini, sauteed bean sprouts & zucchini with garlic and ginger, sauteed mushrooms (also with garlic and ginger) and the fried tofu. I couldn't find sesame seeds (crazy I know- I went to 2 different stores!!!) and I also couldn't find the kimchi from the original recipe so those two things are missing from mine. Below are the photos for the second dish in this recipe- Kinpira.

Here is the burdock root. It looks like a tree branch before you peel the skin. It peels just like a carrot.

cut the burdock root at an angle as thin a possible. My knife wasn't really sharp enough to properly do this with the burdock or the carrot, but it worked fine, I'm not too picky. Stack the burdock rounds in a row to prepare for "julienne" cuts. This is explained visually on the video on Gwyneth's website.

here is the "julienne" cut for the burdock root. I didn't take photos of the carrot as it's the exact same thing as the burdock root.

saute the burdock root for 5 mins before adding the carrot.

after adding the carrot, add water (or the japanese stock explained in Gwyneth's recipe). At this point you will also add the Mirin, Soy Sauce and agave nectar. Let this mixture boil, cover and reduce heat to low. You'll cook this for 15 mins. After the 15 mins you'll put the heat back up to high, remove lid and sauce until sauce is reduced and veggies are shiny.

here is the finished Kinpira.

in a bowl, put brown rice and top with all of the ingredients. The sauce is hiding underneath the veggies. The picture above is everything but the fried tofu and shredded nori. Below is the final product with all ingredients.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Whew, I Made It!!

Okay, the cleanse is officially over. I made it 4 days (well 3 and 3/4 days, really) which I'm really proud of. So how do I feel? Do I feel fully cleansed? Not really. Do I feel good? Yes! Have I begun to conquer some pretty nasty demons? Yes. Would I do this particular cleanse again? Probably not.

Here's the deal. The reason I don't feel particularly cleansed is because I never felt energized/light. I feel like I missed out on something there. I think it's because I forgot to do the laxative tea every night, which affected how much I really detoxed. I think I didn't detox to my full potential thereby never feeling fully cleansed. However, I do feel good. I feel like I have a clean slate to work with. For the most part I've made really smart choices since I've gone back to eating (the exception being the movie popcorn and child's sized box of Mike and Ikes- oops!!) The thing I am happiest about is my stomach shrinking, allowing me to start over again with healthy portion sizes- which was one of my personal demons.

I have to admit that I did get everything out of this cleanse that I was hoping for- so while I didn't feel particularly cleansed or detoxed I DID reach my original goal. The purpose for this cleanse (which I may have previously stated) was to push the reset button on my mind and my stomach. I wanted to be able to start fresh mentally, view food differently, prove to myself that I have the willpower, jump start my weight loss and regain control of my portion sizes by shrinking my stomach. I achieved ALL of these things!!

I have been trying to lose weight since the beginning of the year with very slow success- it wasn't until I got pneumonia that I lost any significant amount of weight (which obviously isn't the healthy way to lose weight, but it worked!). Since I was sluggish in losing weight yet again, I thought that doing this cleanse would again shock my system into letting some of the weight go. I knew that any weight I lost wouldn't necessarily stay off as some would be water weight but if I could lose at least 3 lbs out of it I'd be happy. So far that's exactly what I've achieved.

The next cleanse/detox that I am considering is on that Gwyneth Paltrow does that she posted on her website/weekly newsletter (my introduction to this detox is also courtesy of Miss Phoebe- who is my go-to gal!) I'm thinking of doing this 7 day detox in either June or July, as they will be warmer months and it will feel good to eat lighter- it just seems that the foods on this detox are summery!

So on to my next adventure!!! Trying new healthy foods/cuisines! I'm super excited!! So what is that next food adventure you might ask??? Well I'm thinking of trying a recipe I found on Goop called Bibimbop- so stay tuned for how that turns out!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Temptation, Temptation, Go Away! Come Again Some Other Day!!

Okay so it's 5pm on day 3. Originally I was going to end the cleanse tonight with dinner, but I have decided to see it 'til the very end. After some advice/little pep talk from my friend Phoebe today I've decided to slowly wean myself off of the cleanse and back to food tomorrow. Seeing Phoebe today inspired me to keep going a little bit longer. Oddly enough part of me wants to keep going, but part of me wants to chuck it in right now and dive into my hummus!!!

Here's how my first day at work on the cleanse went. First of all I had a short day today which made it a lot easier!! If I'm to do a longer day then I need to make sure to bring plenty of the lemonade concoction to keep me satisfied and not light headed. I did have a dizzy spell once, towards the end of my day- which makes sense since I didn't bring enough lemonade.

Three things were hard today- 1. I work next door to a cafe- when you smell coffee and various foods it makes it very hard to neither drink coffee nor eat food. 2. I had to go to our local health food/grocery store to stock up on more lemons (oy vey, no more lemons!!) and I was dying for some food once I got in there- I could smell delicious things!!! Why on today of all days did they have amazing food samples on EVERY aisle!! They even had a woman passing out samples of their lemons bars- heaven help me!!!! I made it out there without breaking my cleanse. 3. my husband is currently making pancakes- one of my favorite foods- this is getting very tough....

I think tomorrow will be the end day....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lemons, Lemons, and more Lemons!

As of today I have juiced a total of 30 lemons- again I question if I'm sane!! So it's day 2 of the cleanse and while it's getting easier in some ways, it's also getting harder. I am dreaming of food a little less, peeing a little less, but also drinking less of the concoction.

Last night I forgot to drink the laxative tea, which turns out to be a big mistake as it's 3 pm and no bowel movements- which is unusual for me on a normal day, let alone a cleanse. I am still as tired as I was yesterday and a bit more flighty- feeling light headed but not in a vertigo/dizzy kind of way. I woke up with a headache, but my stomach wasn't growling, which was a good sign. Last night I went to bed with my stomach growling loudly and constantly but I was so tired I didn't even care. Once I drank the lemonade this morning my headache went away, which I was so grateful for!

Today so far has consisted of: drinking a liter and a half of the lemonade, 1 cup of green tea, countless pieces of fruity gum, water, another trip to the grocery store, a trip to the health food store, making another gallon of the lemonade and lots of reading (to distract me from dreams of food). The grocery store was a little bit easier today (maybe because I didn't smell baked goods this time!) What I'm finding difficult is my own refrigerator!!!!! Every time I open that darn thing I see my hummus and olive tapenade, which is sooooo good on pita bread- torture!!!! Since my husband is not doing the cleanse he's eating like normal so our fridge and pantry is stocked, but the hardest thing is when he cooks- those smells!!!!- oh it's too much!

I'm going to try to go beyond tomorrow (Tuesday, day 3), but if I only do 3 days it's okay. I only committed to 3 days in the beginning anyway, but I would like to see what my body can do and what I can handle- because I've realized that for me this is way more mental than physical!!!!! I've had a very unhealthy and complicated relationship with food my whole life, so I'm trying to wrestle with some demons by doing this cleanse. I'm trying to teach myself that I rule my body and my mind. I am in control. I'm trying to press the reset button so that the first day after the cleanse is day 1 of my new attitude- a clean slate.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cleanse Me (or how many days til I can chew?)

So I volunteered to do the Master Cleanse with my friend Phoebe- who for the record did not coerce me into this, I really did walk into it voluntarily- and today is day 1. Phoebe- the wonderfully brave and experienced soul- is doing it for 10 days while I on the other hand am beginning to question my 3 day commitment!! Ha, ha- what, I ask myself have I gotten myself into!!

I diligently started out last night with the natural laxative tea (my personal one is Traditional Medicinals Chocolate Smooth Move- which doesn't taste like chocolate I might add). It seemed to do it's work as the day went on. Mostly I just had to pee constantly.

My husband (who is not doing the cleanse and thinks I'm insane) and I decided to head to the beach for some relaxation, reading and distraction (for me). I brought my lemon concoction hoping to stave off the cravings. We stayed about an hour before it just got to be too much for me, I wanted to be closer to a bathroom and frivolous television. Before we could head home I had to run to the grocery store to stock up on supplies- I didn't realize how quickly I would go through the beverage. Going to that grocery store was torture!!!!!! I think my sense of smell was heightened even more than usual because I could smell every darn thing that the deli counter had to offer, while on my way to the produce section for my lemons. Daniel just laughed as I frantically grabbed what I needed and told him to hurry up- cuz I just couldn't handle the smells any longer.

So basically at the end of day one, this is what I found: I peed immensely, dreamt about food constantly and was so tired I could have gone to bed at 6pm. I forced myself to stay up til 10pm, which is quite early for me normally. I did forget to have the laxative tea, which was a mistake, as I'm on day 2 and no bowel movements. Stay tuned as I cover each day. I keep reminding myself that I only committed for 3 days, so can do it!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mochi Waffles- yes please!!

So the first time I tried this recipe from Alicia Silverstone's book I didn't cook it long enough (which I didn't realize until too late) and it was not so good. BUT I've made it twice since and it's really yummy!! So here we go.....

Mochi Waffle Goodness:

so here's the mochi before slicing into 1/2 inch thick slices. and yes that's a tiny cutting board- no use in getting the big one dirty.

lay the mochi slices on the pre-heated waffle iron. you don't need to oil the iron, the mochi won't stick. I've done it both with the cut side down and non-cut side down. it doesn't seem to make a difference. (the mochi slices have a few dents in the photo below because I put the lid down on the waffle iron and then remembered that I hadn't taken a picture yet.)

after experimenting I've come to the conclusion with my waffle iron that I need to cook the waffle for 10 minutes. waffle irons vary so you'll have to experiment with your own. the first time I tried this recipe I cooked them following the waffle irons recommended cooking times and it was so undercooked and gooey on the inside- it was inedible.
I finished this up with a little bit of pure maple syrup. the book calls for you to make a fancy syrup with chopped walnuts and brown rice syrup. I'm sure it's delicious but the pure maple syrup is easier. YUM!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

29-Day Giving Challenge

So I joined this site (group really) today called 29- Day Giving Challenge and what better way to spread the word than blog about it. I was browsing another blog (Kiss Me, I'm Vegan! ) and saw her badge, which made me curious as to what this challenge was all about. See my husband and I have been wanting to simplify our lives (which in his case means getting rid of objects we don't need, but in my case this means many things- lose excess weight, manage stress, simplify our finances etc.....) so this concept really appealed to me. I decided to officially join for a few reasons, the big one being if I officially join something then I'll stick to it cuz I'll hold myself accountable.

Basically you can give anything you want- time, money, food, advice, a smile- anything. You're supposed to do it everyday in 29 days, but they're flexible. I may not get it all done in the first 29 days, as some of these "gifts" I want to be really meaningful and not just something simple, so I'm going to have to do some brainstorming. Mom, Dad- you were my first "gift" yesterday and you didn't even know it!! Those yummy chocolate peanut butter treats I made- those were my first gift! Hopefully I didn't also accidently give you the gift of a few pounds too!! Work ladies- you will receive the gift of those little cups of heaven too!!

I just wanted to share this little venture with everyone- maybe you will be inspired to join as well!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Let's Talk YUMMY!!

Below are the ingredients to make the most amazing treats you'll find this side of the International Date Line. (and they're vegan to boot!!!)
Let's hear a woot! woot! for Alicia Silverstone's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups!
here's the ingredients and recipe to make these dangerously delicious treats:
1/2 cup earth balance butter
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 cup grain sweetened non dairy chocolate chips
1/4 cup soy, rice or nut milk
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, almonds or pecans

directions (with photos):
line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
melt butter in a small saucepan over med. heat. stir in peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. remove mixture from heat. evenly divide the mixture among the muffin cups.
combine the chocolate and milk in another pan. stir over medium heat until chocolate is melted. spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. (*I personally felt that I needed to add more milk to mine next time, as my chocolate chips were dark chocolate and it ended up being a bit too rich for me. ) the photo below illustrates these previous instructions. (recipe continues below)
Top each with the chopped nuts. I chose almonds as the chopped nuts. I had quite a time chopping those nuts! they flew everywhere!! Below are the cups with the added chopped nuts before they set up in the fridge. They were perfect and ready to eat after 2 hours.
Here are the finished product after a little over 2 hours in the fridge. *Note that there are already 3 missing!!!!! They are sooooooo good!!!!!!!
My husband and I have decided that these treats are going to be for special occasions or just not a regular thing because they are irresistible!!!! I CANNOT be trusted with these in the house!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vive La Salade- Part Deux! aka The Goods....

So let's talk about this beautiful, amazing salad from the previous post! This pic was before it was tossed so you can only see the avocado and pine nuts but there is, oh- so- much more in there!!!

Basically it's an organic spring mix topped with some of the most flavorful vegetable goodness! Obviously everyone's taste buds are different so some of the ingredients might not be your idea of heaven, but my husband and I are currently obsessed with it and have had this exact meal 3 nights in a row!

After finishing Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet, I was inspired to walk the produce section of the market and grab for things I would normally walk right passed. This would basically be the radish/root vegetable section. I decided it was time to add some daikon to my life. Daikon is a natural diuretic and cuts through fat, it has a mild flavor and looks like a giant white carrot (it should be VERY firm, so you know it's fresh).

So along with the daikon here's what also lies lurking beneath those avos.....

thinly sliced green bell peppers (vitamin C, folic acid, Vitamin B6, anti-oxidant)
shredded carrot (we all know the benefits of this veggie- beta carotene and others....)
shredded red radish (which has a whole slew of medicinal properties!! very detoxifying.)
the above mentioned daikon- shredded
sliced cucumbers (anti-inflammatory, vitamin C and fiber in the skin)
kidney beans (fiber, iron, protein)
garbanzo beans (fiber, iron, protein)
avocado (the list of benefits is so long, I'm just too lazy to type them all- but anti- aging is a good one!!!)
toasted pine nuts (protein, fiber, appetite suppressant!!!! and quite a few more benefits!)

I also added some left over cold brown rice one night and my husband adds tomatoes to his. I like to top my salad with Annie's Organic "Goddess" dressing. My husband eats his without dressing, but sometimes sneaks a bit of Annie's too. :)

Let me go on a tangent for a moment about pine nuts. I never really thought much of the little pine nut, sure I'd had them on greek salads, but I never really remembered their flavor. I had an amazingly simple salad from a restaurant the other day which included pine nuts. I was inspired to do this myself and went in search of organic raw pine nuts that I could toast myself. I had some sticker shock (a pound of raw organic pine nuts from the bulk section of my local health food store is $29.99!!!!!!!!). I got a handful, hoping I wasn't breaking the bank and decided I would savour each and every nut! I'm like the pine nut nazi around my house! I make sure not to lose any from the pan (after being toasted) and I make sure each one is consumed- I don't want to waste a single penny!!!! I needn't have been concerned about that, each and every one of those guys is consumed- they are so good!!! They have a nutty, buttery flavor which tastes so heavenly with avocado, which then makes the whole salad taste amazing- it must be experienced to really know what I'm talking about!! I am a pine nut convert (but will have to limit their use as 1. they're beaucoup expensive and 2. they're kinda high in fat for such a little thing!!! even thought it's beneficial fat)

Hopefully this inspires some of you to make your own "bowl of heaven"...

Food Revolution- Vive La Salade!

Here in the Grantham house we began our food revolution a year and a half ago. My husband welcomed it, which I'm grateful for and has traveled right along with me as we've gone on a healthier journey. We are not super strict by any means but we've cut a lot of things out of our diet and added some unique foods that aren't on the average persons daily meal plan. He never complains about what I put in front of him- he's an adventurous eater (far more than I am) and will try anything once. I'm a very lucky girl!

This is not only a blog about food but also kind of an ode to my Mother. I was raised on homemade, healthful, balanced meals. We had vegetables from our garden, lean meats and no fried foods. I didn't even know how to fry food until I was out of high school. When we got treats it was from the health food store- I even remember the package to the organic peanut butter cups I would get (a queen bee)- or we'd get Tiger's Milk bars (those bars still take me back to childhood, whenever I eat one I feel 6 years old!!) This is not to say we never had Oreo cookies, cuz we did- but we were limited on how many we could have and I honestly don't remember them being in the house all the time. My mother has always been a healthy eater and when I was young she was able to instill that in my sister and I. We were never allowed to have sugary cereals or twinkies and McDonald's was a rare "treat". Unfortunately when I was old enough to make my own food choices I went hog wild and the complete opposite of my childhood. I wanted to know how the other half lived and what I'd been "missing out" on all those years. I had all of the "forbidden" foods I could get. I bought those sugary cereals, had Taco Bell, ate cookie dough with abandon, and never met an ice cream flavor I didn't like. That started in Jr. High and slowly got worse as High School came around. My High School actually had a Taco Bell and Pizza Hut cart!! I had 2 bean burritos for lunch everyday- they were cheap and good. I never thought about what I put in my mouth. I bet my mom didn't even know that's what I had for lunch or that in Jr. High lunch consisted of a shared pack of mini donuts and a diet coke.

Fast forward many years and many pounds later (and a few successful diets followed by relapsing and weight gain), I began thinking about what I was eating. I had stopped eating whatever I wanted in whatever quantities and started thinking about calories etc.... That helped in curbing my free-for-all attitude but it really did nothing for my actual health. So I started thinking about processed foods, artificial sweeteners, going organic, going back to being vegetarian (which my whole family made the shift to when I was about 13) and trying to re-capture the good habits and foods of my childhood. I try to be really diligent about artificial sweeteners- I am a huge believer in getting rid of high fructose corn syrup and banishing it to the netherworld, and I also won't have aspartame or anything else that isn't from nature cuz that stuff has been proven to be cancer causing as well as mimic the symptoms of many auto-immune diseases. I know that I get some refined sugar in my diet, but I can say that it's a small amount compared to what I was having 2 years ago. Basically if I don't know what something is on the ingredients list I'll put it back. Anything that sounds like a science project or came from a petri dish is something I don't want and can stay on the shelf, thank you very much.

Since starting my clean eating habits I've definitely had days where I don't stick to it for every meal. I love a good ol' Subway sandwich (which I just found out has high fructose corn syrup in the bread!!!- gonna have to re-think that.....) and sometimes I'll have a cookie from the coffee shop next to my work (which contain Crisco, unfortunately!). Recently I began thinking about tightening the reins a bit more. I have a wonderful co-worker who has been vegan for over a year. She inspires me and while I'm not ready to go vegan, I want to start incorporating more vegan meals into my life. BUT I already wrote a blog on that whole part of this journey, no need to repeat so back to my mom......

As I was making dinner the other night (pictured above) I suddenly came to the realization that I'm turning into my mother!!! For some women this might their worst nightmare come true but for me it's great and not cringe worthy in the least! I was chopping and slicing the fruit for the delicious fruit salad and dumping them into a big ol' bowl and as I was tossing the fruit I had an epiphany!- this is my mother's fruit salad!!!!!!! I know it's just simple chopped fruit but subconsciously when I was shopping for my fruit I grabbed only the fruits my mother puts in hers- I passed the kiwis, ignored the oranges and didn't even notice the raspberries. My husband even made a comment about this as we were eating it!! See mom, everything you taught me is finally being put to good use, even if it took decades!!!

Sometimes when I'm making dinner I'll think to myself "hmm mom would probably like this", such as the salad in the above picture (which should have a whole blog to itself cuz it's a bowl of heaven!!!!) and I smile to myself. So it's okay if I'm turning into my mom, cuz she's one fantastic lady who taught me some valuable things (not just about food), set an awesome example and I love her fiercely!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Great Day with Friends!!

On Monday I had the good fortune to hang out with my dear friends Maggie and Rudianne. Maggie has recently lost her husband Don to ALS, a tragic and horrible illness. I love hanging out with these girls but it means so much more now.

We started off by having a great lunch at The Custom House with lots and lots of talking and laughing and reminiscing. Then we went for a walk to the post office, took a spin to the candy store (which was so amazing!! I surprised myself by not buying a single thing for myself- but Daniel did get some goodies!!!) and stopped at a coffee shop.

The coffee took forever, but that ended up being a good thing because we got to be girlie girls and look through Maggie's Nordstroms and Saks catalogs! I certainly learned some lessons in how expensive things are from Saks!!! There was a watch in there for $193000!!!!!! Holy Cow!!! But we had so much fun flipping through the pages dreaming about the frivolous things we wanted (like some MAC make-up!!! hee hee!!!!)

I'm even more excited because next week Maggie and I are going to Santa Barbara (with our friend Abby!!) and we're gonna do some retail therapy! My time with Maggie is precious and always has been, so I'm excited to spend a day with her and Abby, having nothing important to do, nowhere we have to be (besides the MAC counter).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm Dipping My Toes In

In my previous blog I talked about changing my diet and lifestyle. I'm dipping my toes into the vegan pool, cuz I'm not quite ready to dive. My friend Phoebe introduced me to this particular kale chip recipe (I've tried others but this wins hands down!!) This is actually a combination of 2 different "raw" diet recipes. I don't own a dehydrator (which I will now have to purchase after realizing how very time consuming this recipe can be without one!), so I had to devise a different way of doing it. I have another kale chip recipe that you bake at the low temp of 300, so I used that instruction with this. Here's what I did folks (with photos too- oooo, how very cooking show of me!!)

Nacho Cheesy Kale Chips:

1 bunch of curly kale
1/2 teaspoon each of: garlic, onion and chili powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 cup of raw organic cashews (soak for 2 hours in water to soften) ** see note below
1 red bell pepper- seeds removed and chopped
juice of 1 lemon

Instructions (with photos!!):

1. pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. slice the leaves of kale away from their stalks. tear leaves into large bite sized pieces. discard the stalks.
2. **(note on cashews. the recipe says to soak the raw cashews for 2 hours, but they are assuming you have an amazing Vitamix, which I don't have. I soaked them overnight, cuz I just have a Kitchenaid blender- this worked perfectly!!) combine all ingredients (except kale) in blender or food processor. Puree these ingredients. This mixture becomes a hummus-like consistency and looks like the photo below. (this tastes delicious on it's own! I bet it would taste awesome on some pita bread!!) I found this mixture to be a bit too thick to get all of my kale chips crispy. I would add a little olive oil or more lemon juice to make it a bit more runny- or add more kale.

3. in a large bowl combine the kale leaves and coating mixture. You can use your hands but I get eczema so I can't have my hands moist for too long, so I used some tongs to toss everything together.

4. arrange the coated leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet. It's important that they are a single layer. I made the mistake of having some overlap and the ones on the bottom never got crispy.
5. bake in the oven for approx. 30-40 mins, but check them often!!!! My original kale chip recipe only baked for 20 mins. but because of the coating on these they take longer. These are so delicious and worth the wait, but I do want to invest in a dehydrator so it's done properly and I can walk away from them for several hours and get some other things done (*someday when I get that dehydrator I'll update this recipe with the instructions for that). For those of us without the dehydrator this recipe works just fine! Below is the finished product. They're crispy, crunchy and honestly they taste like nacho cheese chips (without the massive calories and the guilt)!!!!!!!!!! Simply divine!!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Naughty Little Cheese!

(*this could be a long one.....) So I've been on a quest for a year and half to eat healthier both for weight loss and for my health (I don't want any nasty cancer or diabetes coming my way!!!). I started this journey after I read, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. As cheesy as this sounds that book changed my life because it made me change the way that I looked at food. I wanted to cut out all the processed junk, send high fructose corn syrup into the trash, and was determined to not eat anything that's ingredients list was long and full of things I'd never heard of and sounded like plastic. I wasn't entirely sure where to start and then an amazing little publication came my way, landed in my lamp and saved my taste buds!!! It's a fabulous magazine called "Clean Eating"
So that's where I started. I got excited about cooking and discovered that I love chopping veggies!!! Daniel loved it because we had homemade tasty meals every night that were healthy and good for you. Tosca Reno is a contributing columnist to the magazine and she had a book called the "Eat Clean Diet" so I got that, read it cover to cover and started my eat clean diet lifestyle. I was eating well, drinking TONS of water (and peeing like crazy)- I was stoked... and then.....da, da, duuuummmm- I gained 15 lbs!!!! yes that's right I GAINED on a diet!!!!!!! sooooo not stoked about that!!!!
So I had to re-evaluate what I was doing. Why was I following a diet to what I thought was a "T" and gaining weight? Well here's the answer. After really looking at what I'd been eating I realized that it wasn't the food at all but my portion sizes and my free- for- all attitude, because I thought "well these are healthy good- for- me foods, so I can have meals and snacks and some more snacks!". So I went back on weight watchers (which I had done once before successfully 2 years ago) BUT I was doing it with my "eat clean" foods. So, still no processed foods etc.... but using the weight watchers points system to keep me from overdoing my portions.
Fast forward 10 weeks and 10 lbs less (yeeesssssss!!! and below is my inspiration picture that I keep on my fridge!) and I'm still exploring healthier eating habits.
A little background before I get into the next and current leg in my journey (and the WHOLE reason for writing this particular blog). My fabulous co-worker and friend Jenn became vegan around the same time I started eating clean. I've been inspired by her and am so glad I've been able to witness her journey too!! I've been flirting with the idea of becoming vegan, so I went back to being a vegetarian, which I was for 10 years, in the hopes that I could make the leap to being vegan.
So I picked up a copy of Alicia Silverstone's book, "The Kind Diet" which is a vegan cookbook (and explains the reasons to be vegan and why meat, dairy, etc... is bad for you). I wouldn't say it's mind blowing because I am aware of all the information in the book BUT the way she writes has really inspired me and I feel I can relate to her and she makes me feel like I can make the leap. She's also not judgmental about just dipping your toes in and not just jumping into the lifestyle. That makes me happy because I'm not quite ready to go all vegan all the time. I have an addiction to dairy that I need to kick. I can't help it, I love me some good creamy ice cream! Oh and I can't forget that naughty little cheese. Cheese and I have had a strange relationship over the years. When I was a kid I didn't like cheese at all (or eggs for that matter cuz they smelled yucky) because it was gooey when melted (except for mozzarella on pizza). Then I had a grilled cheese sandwich (can't say what age this was) and from then on I never met a grilled cheese I didn't like. I would love to turn back the clock and not have that grilled cheese that started the love affair, but honestly it was going to happen anyway, you addictive little lump of goodness! So this my friends is why I'm not quite ready to go completely vegan- goat cheese stuffed mushrooms, feta crumbles in salad, cheddar cheese and crackers, jack cheese on a garden burger, blue cheese and apple slices in salad and mozzarella on pizza- the list goes on... Anyway it's a process and we'll see how I do. If nothing else I hope to at least be eating lots of whole grains, veggies and things I've never tried (like nutritional yeast which tastes like parmesan cheese!!!!!!!!)

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm Allergic to Myself.

So I've been pretty sick the last two weeks, but was hanging in there and just thought I had that nasty virus going around. I wasn't worried and was kinda enjoying my husky voice until yesterday.

Yesterday I woke up with a nasty case of the hives! All I could think about are the warnings on over the counter drugs that say "if you have a rash you should see a Dr. immediately as you could have a serious illness". To put it mildly I freaked! Daniel and I carpooled, so the whole drive to SLO I was obsessing. I took Benedryl so eventually the rash went away, but I knew it was time to bite the bullet, face my biggest fear and see the dreaded Dr. (and yes I cried when I found out my mom couldn't go with me- yes I am a big baby!!!)

Up until this point I just thought I had bronchitis, cuz I was coughing something major but didn't have a congested nose or sinuses and wasn't coughing up colored mucus. Due to my crazy coughing my stomach muscles hurt and my voice was nearly gone, and when I did have it I sounded like an 80 year old crispy smoker from Florida. Needless to say my husband did not find it sexy and said I sounded like a robot on the phone. Not good. The worst I would have to say was coughing so hard I started to dry heave. That happened a few times and wasn't so fabulous.

So anyway, the universe stepped in for me yesterday and provided me with a 2 hour cancellation so I could see the Dr. I got to the office, filled out all of the paperwork and waited. So of course my rash was long gone and I wasn't feeling too bad at that point but stayed put.
I finally saw the Dr. after having my vitals taken and proceeded to spill every detail I could think of regarding my illness. After a thorough examination where the words, "I don't want this to turn into a girlie show" were uttered by the Dr., I was diagnosed with Pneumonia and Bronchitis! Lucky me!! I also got to have chest xrays, which was a first for me. Let me say how very strange it is to see your own organs (and to see what pneumonia looks like- it looks like white plant roots growing in you lungs)!

After he addressed the pneumonia, then he addressed the hives. So apparently I'm having an allergic reaction to the actual illness. Crazy. He said it might be an allergic reaction to the over the counter meds, but that seems unlikely as they are all things I've taken in the past with no problems. So basically I'm allergic to myself- or so I like to say. I have regular and chronic eczema for an unknown reason all my adult life and now I break out in hives when I get sick- just wonderful!

So here I am hopped up on drugs and doing my best to get better. I have also found out that I have side effects from the inhaler I was given. I am to take 2-4 puffs ("Like you're taking a hit"- oh yes, I have a Californian Dr.) Well I did 4 puffs yesterday which was probably 2 too many. About 6 pm last night while I was still working my eyesight started to get funky. I was experiencing black and white squiggles that flashed. At one point I looked at my client in the mirror and it looked like she only had one eye because I couldn't see her other eye, my vision was that messed up (and thank goodness I was just blowdrying and not cutting because that would have been impossible at that point!!). I knew it had to be the inhaler, as I hadn't taken anything else, and I had just had my eyes examined at the Dr.'s and they were fine. So I'm trying to lay off the inhaler- though I did use it today but only 2 puffs and so far no vision problems.

So here I am 11 days after I started to get sick, with pneumonia, bronchitis, bronchospasm, an allergy to myself (ha ha!) and a newfound addiction to "The View". That is what 3 days off of work, a computer and hulu will do to you!!!