Friday, April 29, 2011

Olive Oil - It is not your friend

I know. It was hard for me to believe it, too. I heard so much in the media about the wonders of olive oil, how was good for you, how the Mediterraneans practically drank it and were thin, and on and on. Oh and how I used all that information to my benefit. I bought EVOO (yes, even Rachael Ray, my idol, loves it) by the gallons. From Costco. I used the good news as an excuse to go overboard, frying with olive oil, pouring it on pasta, soaking it up with my bread.

What I didn't factor in is the fact that ALL oil has 120 calories per tablespoon. I could gobble one tablespoon up in one good soak of my baguette. Ounce for ounce oil is one of the most fattening foods you can eat! Don't even think that drizzling it over your asparagus makes it less fattening. It goes straight to your waistline. Mark my words. I know it is true. I watched it do just that. Year. After. Year.

You think the Mediterraneans were thin because of the olive oil? Heck no. They were thin because their traditional diet contained TONS of vegetables. They were thin in SPITE of their olive oil consumption. That's not the case anymore as their diets are changing just as ours changed. Fast food and fats are the evil.

Bottom line is this: Olive oil is fattening. And along with all the other oils AND the other fats out there (think butter, dairy, and all forms of meat), if you eat fat, you get fat. Eliminate them from your diet. Yup. I said it. Stop consuming all of that. Get your healthy oil from raw nuts. Just a handful a day will supply you with all the real goodness fats have to offer you.

Here is a great recipe for a spread or dip found on Gena's website, Choosing Raw...delicious with carrots or any other veggies or spread on a sandwich. It is good. I can vouch for that.

Raw Curried Cashew Spread

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cashews (soaked at least one hour, preferably several)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar, or 3 pitted dates, soaked
1/4 tsp salt (the next ingredient is miso, so if you’re sensitive to salt, start with a little less and add more as needed)
1 tbsp mellow white miso
1 tsp mild (but high quality) curry
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, stopping a few times to scrape the bowl. When the mix becomes relatively smooth, add a thin stream of water until it’s very creamy, but still thick in texture — akin to a hearty hummus. Serve on its own, in wraps, on salads, or as a dip.

I used the agave because I forgot to soak dates. In fact, I'll admit that I didn't even read that there was an option because I was so excited. Next time I'll use the dates just because I've been reading that agave is just a super small step above regular white sugar. Seriously. Oh and I added a bit more curry and cumin than recommended because I can.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Raw Apple Crumble

My desserts, of late, has been relegated to delicious smoothies of the chocolate and chai variety. Great stuff. Don't get me wrong. Very dessert like but I usually have them first thing in the morning. Well, lately I've been thinking about a nice after meal dessert, a special treat for the family.

Last night was the perfect opportunity. All the stars aligned. When I got home, Kika (daughter #2) was making a beautiful vegan asparagus soup (presentation and all, no oil, salt, or sugar). She didn't think that would be enough for a filling meal but if dessert was in the mix it would be perfect. There was a bowl of apples that no one was eating (pears seem to be the fruit of choice this week). And all of the other ingredients were in my pantry, too.

I found the recipe via a favorite blog: Healthy Girl's Kitchen. This led me to The Real Meal Today blog. I can't wait for mango season. I may even choose to do a raw pear crumble next week. I certainly can't be eating like this several times a week. Even though it has no refined sugar, dates have a super high sugar content. A once in a while indulgence.

Ingredients
1 cup walnuts or pecans, raw (or roasted would work but wouldn't be "raw")
4 pitted Medjool dates
3 apples, peeled, sliced and diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 apples, peeled, sliced and large diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 pitted Medjool dates
¼ cup raisins
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg 
Topping:
Blend the walnuts and 4 dates in a food processor until the texture is a little smaller than Grape Nuts. Spoon into a small bowl and set aside. 
Filling: 
Toss the 3 peeled, sliced and diced apples with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and set aside in a medium sized bowl. Next, in the food processor, blend the remaining 2 apples, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 6 pitted dates, raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Toss this mixture with the diced apples.
Place a bit of the apple filling into small dessert dishes and sprinkle with date-nut topping. Serves 6.
This is the topping. I did this first in the food processor.
Getting ready to chop up the 2 cups apple, dates, raisins, lemon juice and spices
Gonna mix the 3 cups apple with 2 cups processed apple mixture
And here it is all mixed up ready to be spooned into bowls
The recipe said it serves 4 but I made all of this! It was lots.
 
Yummy goodness









The next time I make this I may chop up the 3 apples a little smaller. I thought the chunks were a little too big. I loved the topping!! I may even sub cranberries for the raisins. Or maybe try macadamia nuts instead of pecans. Or use mangoes instead of apples. I can't wait for mango season! This would be OH SO WONDERFUL with mangoes. Kika, who loves butter and sugar (don't we all?) and does NOT like nuts, really liked this dessert. As did daughter #3 and husband #1. ;-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eat to Live

It's not how much you eat, it's what you eat. When I first read this in the book, Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, I had to take a long pause to ponder its meaning. It's not how much you eat, it's what you eat. In simpler terms, you can eat like a bird but if what you're eating is sugar, fat, and salt then you are not going to lose weight. Those foods, in and of themselves, are addictive.You'll just eat more of it at the next sitting. Think along the lines of corned beef hash, a freshly baked roll smothered in real butter, a slice (or two) of cheesecake or butter mochi. Fat begets fat. Starch turns to sugar. Salt makes you crave more food.

However, if your choices are along the lines of vegetables, fruits, and legumes (think of the variety of beans at your disposal),  then by all means HAVE AT IT! Eat to your heart's content. Morning, noon, and night. Snack in between. Think it's too much? Nope. It's not. Eat more! You can't get enough! Need an in between snack? Have a fruit! Or even a small handful of raw nuts or seeds. Maybe a super whole grain.

It's the MOST difficult and yet EASIEST way to not only slim down but, more importantly, to GET HEALTHY. Vegetables. Fruits. Beans. Some nuts and seeds. Super whole grains (not whole flours).

Trust me on this one. Try it for a week.
And if you need more help, grab a copy of the book, Eat to Live. I happen to know it's available as an audiobook in iTunes, as a Vook (video/book) on an iPad, it's available on a Kindle or you can buy the book on Amazon.com. What'll come out of reading this book? At the best, it could change your life. Heal your body. What's the least? You will be informed and understand how all diseases we suffer today stem from what we put in our mouths. And that in and of itself, is worth its price.

Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie

I first saw the makings of this delicious shake on a youtube video. Chef AJ is all about Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live lifestyle. You can friend Chef AJ on Facebook. She's my fave. Oh. And don't forget to buy her book, Unprocessed, at amazon.com.

Ingredients
3 cups Almond or soy milk
1 cup Pomegranate juice (optional)
6 oz. spinach
2 cups frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana
2 dates (don't forget to remove the seed)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder

Blend together.  Enjoy. Okay, now back to the ingredients...I don't ever measure the ingredients. I just kind of dump the stuff in. This morning I made a blender full. In fact, it was a little too full. Good thing my husband wasn't nearby with his white shirt on. Yikes! It ended up making 3 jars and one venti size cup of smoothies, plenty for me to share with some friends. I almost fill the blender with the spinach. and then I add enough milk (and sometimes don't even use the pomegranate juice if I don't have any) to fill the blender about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Then I put in about 3-4 cups of blueberries, 4 pitted dates (I will never forget to take the seed out because, well, I did forget one time), a banana (or 3 or 4 depending on how big they are) and 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. And then I added some ice. Just to make it even more icy good.
 I shared it. And they loved it. True.
all the "dry" ingredients
side view for your pleasure
See how much soy milk?
3 jars full and one venti cup full

Tortilla Soup

This recipe is EASY PEASY. And oh so delicious and good for you.

Ingredients
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 can corn (or frozen corn)
1 can non-fat refried beans
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup salsa
fresh cilantro (optional) chopped, to your liking
Baked tortilla chips
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
1 heaping tsp ground cumin
pepper to taste
limes, quartered
green onion, chopped (optional)

In a pot, mix together broth, corn, beans, tomato sauce, salsa, oregno, cumin, and pepper. When it is heated through, ladle into soup bowls, add crumbled up tortilla chips and cilantro/green onions. Squeeze in a quarter of a lime. Enjoy.

That's the basic recipe. For me, I doubled it. In fact, I didn't have any canned refried beans, I had some that I made and froze in a ziploc. I just plopped in a BIG piece. At least 2 cans worth. I don't think it would hurt to go a little over on the beans. And maybe even add a can of black beans. And I didn't have enough salsa (I only had 1/4 cup for a doubled recipe) so I added some chopped garlic and chopped round onion to the pot. If I had bell peppers I would have added that, too. And maybe jalapeno. That might be good to spice it up. It's hard to go wrong with this one. And don't forget the lime. It really adds to the taste. For the tortillas I actually took some corn tortillas (which I just love because it is basically stone ground corn. No oil involved), cut them up with a knife and baked them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (turning them half way through). You do away with the salt and oil! And once you crumble them into the soup, it makes no difference. So that made me think that maybe I don't need to bake at all. Next time I'll just cut up the tortillas in strips and add that to the soup.
No fat. YES!
Please excuse the junk pictures. I only had my iPhone.

Getting ready to go into the oven




Done baking!

simmering in the pot
Condiments ready



Oops. Too late for the picture!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Raw Curried Cashew Spread

When I first started cooking along nutritarian lines, I have to admit it was way beyond anything I was comfortable with. Not cooking with oil (even olive oil!) and butter (I live for butter!). Not using sugar OR flour. Very very different. I struggled. Ugh. I writhe in pain just thinking about it (figuratively speaking, of course). I search and grasp for anything I can find that has ingredients I can identify and hopefully already have in my pantry. Some have been successful. Some are huge flops. A spicy tempeh (read into this: FAKE MEAT) went straight into the trash (after i fished pieces out of the pan that was inundated with delicious fresh veggies).
Most of the time I can't even remember how I stumbled upon a recipe. But all I can tell you about this one is: IT IS A WINNER. Winner winner vegan dinner. In fact this raw curried cashew spread is so good that I brought it to a VERY important meeting that I am privileged to sit in on today. The leaders of the leaders of a big organization. Whoa. And I served it with multi grain crackers. All good.
This recipe came from one of the blogs I follow on a regular basis. Let me recommend it to you.  Choosing Raw.  Now don't go poopoo-ing eating raw. This is beyond anything you can poopoo. Trust me. Again.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cashews (soaked at least one hour, preferably several)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar, or 3 pitted dates, soaked
1/4 tsp salt (the next ingredient is miso, so if you’re sensitive to salt, start with a little less and add more as needed)
1 tbsp mellow white miso
1 tsp mild (but high quality) curry
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, stopping a few times to scrape the bowl. When the mix becomes relatively smooth, add a thin stream of water until it’s very creamy, but still thick in texture — akin to a hearty hummus. Serve on its own, in wraps, on salads, or as a dip.

I used the agave because I forgot to soak dates. In fact, I'll admit that I didn't even read that there was an option because I was so excited. Next time I'll use the dates just because I've been reading that agave is just a super small step above regular white sugar. Seriously. Oh and I added a bit more curry and cumin than recommended because I can.

Before

After

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Green Chai Smoothie

When I first started my new eating regimen, I perused the internet for blogs related to my latest craze. There are quite a few. One of nine that I bookmarked on my iPad is Healthy Girl's Kitchen. I especially love that she has a "before" and "after" pic on her blog and this, in itself, inspires me. The fact that she is now blogging about recipes found in Chef AJ's new cookbook, Unprocessed, makes me love her blog even more. So when I saw her blog about chai, one of my favorite all time great memory inducing drinks, I knew I had to get to the store asap to buy the spices needed for the chai spice blend.
If you love chai and you love eating healthy, believe me, YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS. Okay, sorry for yelling but it is really that good. I gave some to my friend and Zumba instructor, Kanani, and that was not the end of it. I received several text messages from her as she waited for me to get home so I could send her the recipe. It's that good. I already made more spice mix. Go to the store right now if you don't have all the spices in your pantry. Healthy Girl's chai recipe can be found here. I changed it up a bit (except for the spice mix).

Green Chai Smoothie

Ingredients
One blender full of fresh spinach
1-2 large frozen bananas
4 pitted Medjool dates
7 ice cubes (more or less)
2 tsp. chai spice blend (see below)
Enough milk (soy, almond, rice...whichever you prefer)
(Makes about 3 nice size servings which you want to do so you can share or keep an extra one or two for later)

Add it all to your blender (I have a Vita Mix that I love and cherish) and blend it up. No regrets. Trust me.
See how much spinach is in here? It's a lot!

I am now a lover of Medjool dates mostly because I have, for the most part, given up sugar. Dates sweeten all my sweets.

I used soymilk but usually I would use unsweetened almond milk. Here you can see how much milk I added AND my wonderful spice mix.

Top view. You can see the spinach, frozen bananas, and spice mix.

Getting ready to blend it all up!

Chai spice blend
2 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground cloves
2 1/2 tbsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. white pepper (I used black pepper because that's what I had)

Put it in a jar and shake it up. I would double the recipe if I were you. And put it close to your blender. You will use it often.

The color is really quite beautiful.

If you go on Healthy Girl's blog she has a picture of herself drinking her chai drink so I thought I'd do the same. Hers is way cuter but I gave it a shot. What the heck!

Quinoa Salad

 
I have a couple of confessions:
1. To date, I have not made a quinoa dish that I have liked (until now).
2. I got this recipe on someone's blog and for the life of me I cannot remember where so I can't give credit where credit is due. I don't like that. But I like this recipe and so I am compelled to share it. Forgive me please. :-( 

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 green onions
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse under cold, running water until the water no longer foams. Bring the quinoa, salt, and water to a boil in a saucepan.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Once done, stir in the garbanzo beans, tomatoes, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro to serve. I actually just chopped up the cilantro with the onion and added it into the salad. I also reduced the addition of the olive oil to 1 teaspoon. And I added some freshly ground pepper.

Bought this at a local health food store

Tomatoes (yellow & red) and garlic (added 1 extra garlic)

cilantro and green onion

Cooked quinoa

Ingredients before mixed. Can you tell what's missing?

This was my lunch: quinoa salad and peas

After I ate the salad I realized I forgot to add the chickpeas so I did.

Yay for lunch tomorrow!
I

Fresh Veggie & Fruit Juices

About a month ago, my daughter let me know that a neighbor of hers was going to make fresh veggie/fruit juices in the morning and we could purchase a mason jar (16 oz.) for $5.00. A great deal. Freshly made. Cute jar. Almost a drive thru pick up. We did this for about 2 weeks until I started thinking, hey, I could do this myself. We have a Champion Juicer, after all. Commercial model. We bought it YEARS ago and we were actually selling them to people who wanted to make their own poi. We called them poi machines.

So off to the market I went to buy a variety of veggies. We started a couple of weeks ago. There is no recipe. In the beginning we were putting in a lot of green apples (bought a big bag at Cost-U-Less) and carrots because I knew this would make the "green" juice sweet and I was, to say the least, not a big fan of any green colored juice, thinking in my mind about shots of wheatgrass I had seen at Jamba Juice. Gross looking. I also added beets in the beginning so that my "green" juice would be a beautiful red and I knew beets were sweet, too.  I've since evolved. Today's juice is DEFINITELY green and I only used one green apple.
This is all the veggies/fruits we added

 Wanna name those goodies before I actually tell you?

We had beet greens (but no beets, kale, cucumber (2), one green apple, and several carrots (small ones, unpeeled).

We washed them in the new strainer I bought in SF (Yup. Thank you, Crate and Barrel. I packed that big beauty in my suitcase and it has been my favorite kitchen accessory as of late) and then commenced with the juicing.
In goes greens
 The Champion Juicer doesn't take all that well to the greens part. It loves harder things like carrots and beets and apples. But I go ahead and add some greens and then alternate with a carrot or some apple slices to push the greens through.
pulp
 I am surprised by how dry the pulp is. That juicer really takes ALL the liquid out of the veggies.

Action shot
I save all the pulp for the compost pile. I know the worms are going to love it because it's already chewed up for them!

Just short of 4 cups
 Okay, there is a lot of scum that floats on the top when you make your juice. I'm not sure why. I think I read somewhere that those are impurities. I don't know, but I still skim it off with a strainer I have and dump it down the sink. This is what I'm left with--pure nutritional goodness.
No longer filled with iced coffee. I am all about healthy living.

Add straw and enjoy
When my husband took his first sip, I asked him what he thought. He said, in this order, "Potent. Green. VERY GOOD."

I think my main point would be to 1) buy a good juicer if you don't already have one. I think it's a good investment. I particularly like the Champion Juicer (and my friend got on on Craigslist for half the price just recently) because it doubles as my poi/kulolo maker. If I were Puerto Rican I know I'd be using it for pasteles (not that only Puerto Ricans make pasteles but you get my point, right?). And an added bonus is the WONDRFUL "ice cream" it makes just using bananas. Or pineapples. I can't wait for mango season. And 2) Don't be afraid to experiment. Tomorrow's juice will have parsley, mint and lemon. Some pepper sounds like it would go well, don't you think?

Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Life and Lentil Soup

I can't begin to tell you where I have been, what I've been doing, who I've been doing it with :-) and why I've been doing it. Well, eventually I will but for now know that I am on a new track in life, one that I've never traversed before and I am enjoying the ride!

I absolutely PROMISE to post more regularly.

Oh. And I just returned from San Francisco and enjoyed food in every shape, form, and color.

My Scandinavian self LOVES potatoes in all colors

I love this display of clean carrots

The fresh earthy smell mesmerizes me. The price tag does something else to me.

Love the mold!

Dinner at Espetus

Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park

In the meantime I have got to use this blog to, at the very least, post the recipes of the foods I am now eating. And hopefully lead you to a few of the NEW blogs I peruse on an almost daily basis. I have been learning to cook in a whole new way. And though difficult at first, I am beginning to enjoy it!

The night before last I made a most delicious lentil soup. Whowouldathought that lentil soup could be so delicious? The recipe called for french lentils but I just used the regular ones in the bag. And I used the whole bag (which I guess is a bit more than 2 cups) and just kinda almost doubled up on the ingredients. It's a fairly forgiving recipe that I found here on epicurious.com. Read through the entire ingredient list and directions and know that I:

1. did not saute veggies in any oil whatsoever. I just put about 1/8 cup of water on the bottom of my pot and water sauted them.
2. I used a tad bit of chicken broth (maybe 1 cup) and the rest was water.
3. I also added potatoes, cut up in small chunks.
4. I didn't use balsamic vinegar.
5. I ended up blending almost all the soup, except for maybe 3 cups and I didn't add any extra broth.

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons extra–virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery stalks plus chopped celery leaves for garnish
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4 cups lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 1 14 1/2–ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Directions
    Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium–high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups broth, lentils, and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.
    Transfer 2 cups soup (mostly solids) to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pan; thin soup with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if too thick. Season with salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with celery leaves.

    Sorry no pictures. But it lasted us for two meals PLUS my lunch.  Definitely a do again-er.