Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Recipe: Raw Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

This is my new snack option – incredibly filling and incredibly fibrous. In other words, this puppy will fill you up and clean you out!

Raw Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

2 cups almond milk (I used Almond Breeze, Unsweetened Chocolate)
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbs raw cacao
cinnamon, to taste
liquid Stevia, to taste (I used chocolate)

Mix all ingredients in a mason jar, then put on the lid tightly and shake.

Let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours until nice and thick.

I think I waited about 4-5 hours, though a lot of recipes suggest that you let it sit overnight.

It stays good in the fridge, so I think there’s some wiggle-room.

If you’ve never had chia seeds before, they make a nice tapioca like pudding, and they are incredibly nutritious.

p.s. I’m sure you could make it with Vanilla milk, vanilla stevia, and without the cacao, but why would you want to? 😉

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Recipe: Black Bean and Corn Salad (Gluten-Free)

The other day I realized that I still had 36 cans of organic black beans left over from the case-lot sale last October – that is, before I decided to go mostly raw.

I also realized I had a ton of fresh corn in the fridge, thanks to the local CSA.

Given that black beans are really good for you and I hate to waste food, I found myself dusting off my cookbooks – you know, the ones where you actually cook – and pouring over the pages until I found something that I thought might do the trick.

The winner: Anne Lindsay’s Black Bean and Corn Salad (slightly modified, of course)!

1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet red bell pepper
2 cups raw corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green onions
4 tbs chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Dressing:

3 Tbs rice or cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp organic brown mustard (or Dijon)
1/4 tsp each of agave nectar, sea salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tsp each of water and vegetable oil (I actually forgot this part and didn’t notice until I was typing it up, so that leads me to believe that it’s optional!)

1. In a bowl, combine beans, red pepper, corn, celery, onions, and coriander.
2. Dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, agave, sea salt, and pepper; whisk in water and oil. Pour over salad and stir to mix.

Makes 8 servings

calories: 117
protein: 6 grams
total fat: 2 grams (unless, of course, you forget the oil, like I did!)
saturated fat: trace
carbohydrates: 21 grams
fiber: 4 grams
sodium: 204 milligrams

This was quite tasty and I’m sure that I’ll make it again. I mean, after all, I still have 34 cans of beans in the basement!

Regardless, I served it with fresh tomato and cucumber slices. Water-based. Easy. Beautiful. and Tasty! An all around win.

Enjoy!

Refurbishing Old Favorites: KJ’s Raw “Rice” Salad

One of the things that transitioning to a majority raw diet has taught me is that you need to be able to eat at least some of the things that you used to love when you were eating cooked food.

Sometimes that means just going ahead and eating it, as I did the other night when I had a delicious part-cooked part-raw meal at my friend Meg Maker’s house or as I did last night, when I met some former students for dinner at the Elephant Walk.

Other times, however, it means learning to refashion (or even refurbish) old cooked favorites.

A couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about a salad that a friend of mine used to make in graduate school. It wasn’t a traditional salad, as its base ingredient was cooked sushi rice. I believe the ingredients were rice, vinegar, avocado, crumbled nori sheets, and cucumber. I’m pretty sure that it came from one of the Moosewood Cookbooks and may have been called Sushi Salad or something like that.

Well, I’ve been thinking about that salad a lot, and this is what I came up with:

KJ’s “Rice Salad”

Ingredients:

2 cups cauliflower, “riced” in the high speed blender or food processor
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 – 1 small avocados, diced
1 medium carrot, finely grated
6 – 8 stalks of baby asparagus, snapped into pieces (optional)
1 tomato, diced (optional)
2 Tablespoons of raw organic dulse flakes (or crumbled nori sheets)
Sesame oil, to taste
Braggs amino acid, to taste

Directions:

Rice the cauliflower by cutting it small bite size pieces, then hitting the pulse button until you have reached desired consistency.

Add all of your other ingredients in layers, then drizzle on the sesame oil and the Braggs amino acids, to taste.

Gently toss to mix the flavors.

It’s fast, easy, delicious, healthy, and absolutely gorgeous. What more could you want?

Enjoy!

Finally, a woman who knows how to make a salad!

One of the things I really dislike about trying to eat raw out is the sad definitions that non-raw people have of salads.

Even if you say – without any equivocation whatsoever – that you want a big salad, you’re still likely to get something that looks like something that wouldn’t satiate a six year old.

Indeed, my best results have come when I’ve actually brought my own food (that is, avocados and sunflower seeds) to dress up whatever meager offerings they’ve brought.

My favorite story about trying to order a raw dinner salad is thus:

KJ: I would like a large salad – -I mean huge – with all raw vegetables – anything you have is great. Any and all veggies – as long as it’s raw. Charge me whatever you will. I don’t care if it’s $25.00.

Server: Would you like grilled asparagus?

KJ: No, nothing grilled. Raw asparagus is fine. In fact, it would be great.

Server: You want raw asparagus? As in uncooked? You can’t possibly want that.

KJ: Actually, I do. Raw asparagus would be awesome, in fact.

She looked at me like I had just sprouted raw asparagus from my head!

Salad comes out: no asparagus.

Instead, I am offered a veritable feast of two scant cups of spinach, about a 1/2 cup of broccoli, 4 mushrooms, 4 tomato wedges (not even full quarters), 1/8 cup of grated carrots, and two decorative radishes.

Yum (as an appetizer…maybe).

I whip out my avocado and nuts and the waitress looks downright offended: “We have avocados in the kitchen. Would you like one?”

KJ: “No, I’ll use mine.” What part of any and all fresh vegetables did you not understand?!

Next time, I think I’ll just take a copy of this blog post to show the restaurant industry the difference between a side salad and a dinner salad! It might save everyone a lot of hassle, not to mention a couple of servings of raw indignation.

The Sunburst Salad

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it and Happy Spring to those who don’t.

Today, which happens to be the last day of my 21Day Sugar Detox Cleanse, I am heading to MJ’s parents for holiday brunch.

Though their menu sounds absolutely scrumptious, there is not a single thing on the menu that wouldn’t put me into toxic shock having had nothing sweet in my system for a full three weeks!

Thank goodness they don’t care if you bring your own so to speak as long as you show up! It is after all – or at least should be – all about the people as opposed to all about the food.

So I am bringing some Black Sesame Seed Bread and Black Pepper Cashew Cheeze (courtesy of Ani Phyo) and my new favorite dinner option now that it’s warmed up: what I call “The Sunburst Salad.”

Recipe:

Several cups of spinach, mescalin, etc.

1 shredded golden beet
1 shredded zucchini
1 shredded red beet
1 shredded carrot (make sure to limit to 1/2 cup per serving if you’re on a sugar cleanse)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

And anything else you might have on hand as long as it’s suitably gorgeous!

Dress with juice of 1 lemon, 2 limes, extra virgin olive oil, and Braggs Liquid Aminos.

It’s seriously delicious!

Something tells me that I am going to love being raw in the spring and summer months and may be looking for work in warmer climates from here on out!

Nine down, one more to go!

Yes, I’m still alive after 8 days of limeade cleansing!

The most incongruous part of this whole process has, ironically, not been the complete absence of food, but my workout shoes that have laid untouched next to the Nordic Track. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve gone 8 – 9 days without exercise.

Now granted, I have done some light yoga (barefoot) and walked from my car to the office (in my regular shoes), but there’s been no sustained activity.

I figure there will be plenty time for that next week, however, as I attempt to restart my metabolism, which has surely slowed during this process.

The next eleven days will be interesting, because, believe it or not, we’re not done!

Tomorrow – while I’m still on the green juice – will involve food prep. Again, it was a shock to open the dishwasher for the first time in a week and see, lo and behold, dishes! Not to mention the forgotten feel of a fork in my hand. I remember laughing with Penni Shelton, the founder of Raw Food Rehab said, when starting her juice feast, “Sometimes it’s a good idea to just step away from the fork for a while.” I think she might be on to something.

Then, from Monday March 15 to Wednesday March 24, we’re on a ten day deep liver cleanse, which introduces some food, but not a lot.

Breakfast – 2 scoops of NutriClear and 1 scoop of rice protein powder and a package of detox supplements.

Lunch – a clean meal (meaning nothing with anything that even remotely looks like sugar) and another pack of supplements.

Snack – 2 scoops of Nutriclear and 1 scoop of rice protein powder.

Dinner – a clean meal (again, no sugar) and yet another pack of supplements.

Personally, I think this is going to be more challenging than the limeade fast, because at least with the limeade you could get a sugar hit every 10 minutes – whether you needed it or not.

However, I am thrilled to be back in the kitchen tomorrow. First up: Ani Phyo’s Black Sesame Sunflower Bread!

Then, between March 25 – April 3, even though we will be on regular meals (that is, no more Nutriclear and Rice Protein Powder shakes for breakfast and snack) we’ll still be sugar free.

Let me tell you, the term spring cleaning has taken on a whole new meaning at Camp Living Lively!

Four Down, Six to Go

The fast is going by quickly – I guess that’s why they call it a fast!

No real symptoms to speak of.

Though things are obviously still being cleansed (stuff that I don’t even care to know how long has been in my body given that I haven’t eaten in four days!) I’ve decided to take a break from the optional portion of the fast – that is, the internal salt water bath.

The first couple of days it was fine, but today it was the gift that kept on giving. Given that I have classes tomorrow, it’s probably not a good idea to be dashing to the loo every five minutes!

And speaking of classes, before I started this regimen, I had promised mine that I would make them some raw fudge/cookies on the last day of classes. The bad news meant that in order to keep my promise, I was actually cooking tonight. The good news is that I am so sugared out from the local grade B maple syrup in the limeade that the dough wasn’t even remotely appealing. All of the cookies made it into the freezer unmolested and all of the remaining nuts and dough remnants went right down the sink.

Anyway, time for a cuppa (sans the biscuits) and off to bed!

Goodnight!

For Your Viewing Pleasure: Two On The Industrial Food Complex

If you’re at all interested in the politics behind where you get your food, you really can’t afford to miss these two videos! They’re not as graphic as Food, Inc. or King Corn, but they’re incredibly informative.

The first is Jamie Oliver at TED 2010 (21 min). And while I’m here, all of the TED talks are good. If you haven’t checked them out, you’re missing out. I’ve yet to watch one where I wasn’t completely blown away!

The second is Michael Pollen on Democracy Now (59 min). If you’re reading this blog, I assume that you know who he is, but if not, get more information about Pollen here!

I think that the thing that surprised me the most out of these two talks is their treatment of school food! Because I don’t have kids, I don’t think about school lunch programs; but if you have a kid, you can’t afford not to.

If you need an idea for Valentine’s Day….

…or just any old excuse to make chocolate, these may just be your answer!

I made these tonight and I must say that Michael J was particularly appreciative of my efforts in the kitchen.

If you don’t have heart shaped ice trays, they are available – as is everything else you could possibly ever imagine and then some – at Amazon.

Raw Sweet Potato and Leek Soup

When I picked up my local farm share last week, I was a little dismayed to find out that it had THREE sweet potatoes in it! Sweet potatoes?! What the heck can I do with sweet potatoes?

Well, all I can say is thank goodness for the web. After some googling, I found this recipe at SpaFinders.com. Not only is this soup surprisingly gorgeous, it is absolutely delicious!

By far the best raw soup I’ve tried yet!

Raw sweet potato and leek soup
Ingredients:

1 lb sweet potato
1 lb leek
1 avocado
1 tbsp Braggs seasoning
1 small knob ginger (finely chopped)
1/2 white onion
1 vine-ripened tomato
Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste
1 cups charged water

Procedure:

Peel, wash, and chop the sweet potato and leeks.

Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender (preferably a Vita-mix or a Blendtec) and blend until the texture is smooth.

Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Enjoy!

p.s. Because this soup seems to get thick, feel free to dilute with a tablespoon or two of hot (though not boiling) water just before serving! Not only will it improve the consistency, it will warm it up for you, making it feel a little more like soup. Also, during the winter months, you might want to try heating your bowls before serving!

The Colors of Health: Red, Gold, and Green

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, going raw has really opened up the world of vegetables to me – well, that and joining a local organic CSA.

Over the last three weeks, we’ve probably gone through four (if not six!) heads of cabbage – some of them green, some of them red (or, technically, purple).

Anyway, I started off using the larger, outer leafs as wraps for burritos and using the smaller, inner leaves for making small batches of slaw.

That was until I made a batch of raw hummus out of tahini and zucchini that was just begging for some chips – hence the habit of tearing red (or purple) cabbage leaves into chip sized chunks was born. Trust me, no one was more surprised than me about how good raw cabbage leaves taste when combined with a little hummus! Let’s just say that life was good.

But then the CSA cabbage started.

I had one head left over from the week before, had just bought a red one, and got two more!

At this point in my life I am committed to two things when it comes to food: don’t waste it and (obviously) don’t cook it!

So, racking my brain for an answer, I hit on a solution: slaw. And lots of it!

Now, if you’re like me and grew up anywhere remotely resembling the south, your idea of slaw probably involves a lot of mayonnaise and other sundry items – none of which resemble anything close to being raw (let alone good for you). But I was determined, and here’s what I came up with:

1 head of cabbage (green), shredded
3-4 carrots, finely grated
1/2 cup of parsley, finely minced (I’ve also used cilantro)
Braggs Liquid Aminos, to taste (at least 3 tablespoons, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Braggs)
2 limes, juiced
1/2 – 1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon of turmeric (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon of cumin (or more, to taste)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Himalayan sea salt (pink), to taste

This stuff is seriously delicious. I’ve been eating it by the plate – sometimes alone, sometimes mixed with Shirataki noodles, which aren’t technically raw, but aren’t technically food, since they’re all fiber and are, by design, indigestible.

Since I was eating so much cabbage – as wraps, as chips, and as slaw, I found myself wondering what nutrients cabbage actually contained. I mean, it wasn’t like I didn’t know what cabbage was prior to my latest pro-cabbage phase, but I certainly hadn’t ever given it much thought. I mean, it’s cabbage. Not that interesting. Right?

Well, not really.

Cabbage, as it turns out, is a cruciferous vegetable – as are other well known superstar vegetables (a/k/a super food veggies) such as broccoli, kale, brussels, and bok choy. According to the Whole Foods website:

The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables initiate an intricate dance inside our cells in which gene response elements direct and balance the steps among dozens of detoxification enzyme partners, each performing its own protective role in perfect balance with the other dancers. The natural synergy that results optimizes our cells’ ability to disarm and clear free radicals and toxins, including potential carcinogens, which may be why cruciferous vegetables appear to lower our risk of cancer more effectively than any other vegetables or fruits.

For more information about cabbage, go here. And to learn more about the health benefits of cruciferous veggies and how to get more of them into your diet, go here.

Now, some of you might be thinking: Well, that’s all well and good, but I thought cabbage gave people gas.

Well, yes and no.

Personally it doesn’t bother me, but I know it does some people. That’s where the turmeric comes in. And besides it’s wonderful flatulance reducing properties, turmeric is a superfood in it’s own right.

Trust me, if your not getting enough cruciferous vegetables or turmeric in your diet, you might want to consider adding more. Men in particular, should seriously consider increasing their intake of turmeric – especially to any recipe including cauliflower (which is, you guessed it, another cruciferous veggie)!

So, if you’re stuck in a rut on your vegetable consumption, branch out. And whatever else you do, eat your turmeric!

Rawmazing Recipes to Keep

When I first started blogging, I said it was to remind me of that I know was true.

As I age, I’m finding that it’s really more and more about reminding of me that which I don’t want to lose!

Taking a quick break between student meetings, I found this wonderful list of recipes from Rawmazing that definitely fall in the category of that which I don’t want to lose!

I am particularly psyched to try the Baba Ghanoush (something I’ve really been missing since having gone raw) and the Spinach Cashew “Cheese” Spread, which, at the drop of a hat, can double as the filling for a spinach quiche or the sauce for Spinach Cashew Zucchini Pasta! I mean, seriously, in addition to looking absolutely gorgeous, how convenient is that?!

Tip of the Day: Substitute Collard Greens for Tortilla Wraps

The thing that surprises me the most about having adopted a raw diet (28 days raw as of today), is just how many vegetables there are in the world that I just ignored. And I am someone who regularly filled up the basket at the Coop on fresh veggies!

When I was eating cooked food, I usually bought the fixings for a nice spinach salad, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green beans, beets, zucchini and kale. Now, in addition to all of these vegetables, I am routinely eating butternut squash, cabbage (green and red, especially red), turnips, and my most recent addiction, collard greens.

Prior to last week, I had never even seen a collard green (at least not one that wasn’t swimming in bacon grease)!

Now, not only do I put them (raw) in smoothies, I also use them to make burritos! Wide and sturdy, collard leaves are the perfect size for wraps or tortillas.

All you have to do is cut out (or scrape down the stiff stem in the center) and then fill it with your favorite topping. Lately I’ve been filling mine up with cashew cheez (nut butter) and a beet and carrot slaw. It’s delicious. It’s filling. And it’s aesthetically pleasing.

Tonight I am going to make up an Indian pate with walnuts and spices. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t vouch for it, but you can check out the recipe here courtesy of The Raw Foods Witch, Nathalie Lussier.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for…Zucchini and Bananas?!

I made banana ice cream tonight, because I wanted something a little sweet. It was 99% fruit and vegetable and 1% all natural sweetener and spice.

The recipe (in case you’re interested):

1 cup of sliced frozen bananas
1/2 cup of sliced frozen zucchini
Some chocolate stevia (to taste, though dates would have worked as well)
and a dash (or two) of cinnamon
Enough water to blend (Add 1 tablespoon at a time)

Throw it all in the blender (scraping down the sides when necessary) and voila! It was to die for. And as the die-hard calorie counter in me thought: “Wow, this whole thing is only 139 calories and has absolutely no fat!”

Believe it or not, this blog post is not about the ice cream.

It’s about the fact that I’m just weeks away from forty and I never knew that you could make ice cream without dairy, without sugar, and without fat.

Seriously, what’s wrong with this picture?

How could I have gotten to forty – given all of the years I have struggled with my weight – and not known that you could eat this way?

Seriously, it boggles the mind.

Perhaps it has something to do that there’s no big business money to be made in selling raw food. Maybe it’s because the “food” industry – and I use the quotations meaningfully are more interested in creating “fat-free” and “low carb” options that can stay on the shelf for years than they are in educating people on how to eat!

I mean, for all of the years that I either ate ice cream (and felt bad about it) or didn’t eat it (and resented it) there was nothing stopping me from tossing a couple of bananas and some, er, squash, into a blender and making my own.

Nothing, that is, but knowledge and an unhealthy dose of cultural conditioning.

One of the things that I like about going raw is that it forces you to rethink just about everything that you’ve ever thought about cooking or food. It forces creativity, because if you don’t get creative – fast – you’re not going to succeed.

Today, I am going to make hummus, tabouli, and Pad Thai (all raw). Given that I use zucchini in my ice cream, I’ll let you just think on what today will bring.

By the way, if you’re more of a chocolate ice cream sort of person than a banana ice cream sort of person, you can add raw cacao (2 Tbs) and raw chocolate nibs (1 Tbs) to the base described above for a truly decadent treat! You might also want to change the banana:zucchini ratio to 1 cup of banana and 2 cups of zucchini.

If you try it, drop me a note and let me know what you think! Or better yet, if you make up your own version, let me know! One can never have enough healthy ice cream options!

Quick and Healthy Snack Options III – Cashew & Cherry Cheese Spread

Can anyone tell that I am getting ready to go back to work and am in a desperate race against time to figure out what kinds of snacks I can pack now that I am gluten-free and going for at least 75% raw?

Well, today, I whipped this up in my high speed blender, which – trust me – is getting more and more use as the days slide by. To tell you the truth, I’m thinking about getting one for my office!

Cashew & Cherry Cheese Spread

2 cups of raw organic cashews
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons water
1 lemon
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries (I found these in the bulk section at Whole Foods).

Soak the cashews for 1 to 2 hours, drain, then toss into a high speed blender (such as Blendtec or Vitamix)

Add agave nectar and the water.

Grate all of the peel off the lemon and add it to the cashew mix. You may want to do this directly over the blender container to avoid making a mess!

Juice the lemon directly into the blender, seeds and all.

Blend until relatively smooth.

[On my Blendtec, I used the dip/sauce/fondue setting. I think I scraped it down and hit for a couple of pulses just for good measure].

Add the 1/2 cup of dried cherries.

Blend enough until the cherries start to break up.

[At this point, the blender didn’t sound happy, so I just used the pulse feature a couple of times and let the cherries do what they wanted!]

This yielded about two cups of a lightly sweet, yet zingy spread. It’s about 120 calories per 2 Tbs, so it’s just a little more caloric than other more common nut butters.

I took two tablespoons and filled up four stalks of celery (which was plenty filling as a morning and afternoon snack)!

Note, the original recipe (which did not call for water and did call for a touch of sea salt) was much, much thicker and quite a bit more cheese-like.

I found this gem (along with several others) at Choosing Raw. If you have any curiosity whatsoever about how to eat well, raw, you’ll get your answers there!

The Easiest, Healthiest (and some of the most delicious) Fudge You’ll Ever Make

A few weeks ago, I made the decision to add more raw food into my diet. In fact, I just made the pledge (on twitter @KJLively) that no baked desserts shall pass these lips over the holidays. Somehow, it seems like making a higher pledge (like no gluten, no baked goods) and sticking to it will be easier than making tons of decisions on a dessert-by-dessert basis.

But, not to be a dessert killjoy during the holidays, I have sat up the raw food lab in the kitchen. I have a ton of raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, as well as dates, raisins, bananas, raw cacao powder, cacao nibs, coconut oil, zucchini, and (don’t ask) avocado. For those of you who don’t do raw, you’ll be relieved to know that all this does not go into the same recipe. 🙂

I decided to start simple, with Mint Chocolate Fudge balls, recipe courtesy of the Raw Foods Witch, Nathalie Lussier. You can also download her free cookbook: “28 Desserts You Can Eat Everyday,” in exchange for your name and email. Not a bad deal, if you think about it.

I am definitely making these this year at my parents’ house!

Mint Chocolate Fudge Balls

• 1/2 cup raw nut butter of choice (almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, etc.)
• 1/2 cup soft dates
• 1/4 cup raw cacao powder or carob powder
• Drop of mint or peppermint oils

Blend the dates separately first, to ensure that they will be smooth in the final product.
Then add the remaining ingredients and blend until the entire mixture forms into a ball of
dough.

Take pieces of dough and roll in your hands to form balls.

Store in freezer or fridge.

Makes 16 small balls

Per 2: 127 calories, 7.8 g fat, 0.7 saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium, 12.3 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g fiber, 6.9 g sugar, 4.4 g protein

These are super easy – and rich enough that the two (or even one) just might do you!

Note: I put these in the freezer and it dried them out enough that they’re more like cookies – think Newman’s Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip!

Another “Make-Do Recipe” Does Good

Michael J and I arrived home from a three day cross country jaunt at 4:00 a.m. to an empty fridge, snow on the ground, and workers coming to tear out the basement floor in less than 5 hours.

Needless to say that this morning has been something of a blur – what with the overall tiredness, the generalized burnout, and – now – the buzz of the Sawzall Saw and the all too cheerful chatter of workers who obviously got more sleep than we did.

Before I knew it, it was lunch time; the refrigerator was all but bare. Of course, we could have yet another peanut butter and Ezekial Bread sandwich or ricecakes and hummus (which had been the mainstays on yesterday’s travel fiasco), but the thought left me cold.

In fact, what I really wanted was something warm.

I turned my inner critic off and opened the fridge: couple of cartons of tofu that I had bought for some recipe or another but never used, several packages of Shirataki Noodles, garlic, celery, carrots, and a bunch of broccoli that didn’t look quite fresh enough to eat raw. There were also some sweet potatoes (which would take too long) and some hemp shake fixin’s which would have been great – that is, if it wasn’t cold and the airlines hadn’t lost my blender! (I’ll have more to say about that later!)

As I piled all of the ingredients up on the counter, I got a nostalgic longing for this little hole in the wall Chinese place I used to go to in Indiana. They had this amazing tofu and veggie soup that I ate almost everyday for lunch. I decided to give recreating it a try and though it wasn’t perfect, it was pretty darned good. And, more to the point, it’s definitely going into the rotation as Michael J even had some!

Given that the Shirataki noodles are calorie-free – yes, you head me, so, if you like noodles and didn’t check out the link above, you may want to do that now – I can imagine making this up (or some version thereof) to just have around on those cold nights when I’m coming home late from work and too chilly and too tired to make anything else.

Let me know what you think!

Tofu and Shirataki Noodle Soup

“A very satisfying soup that warms the spirit on an otherwise cold and dispirited day”

1 cup baby carrots, sliced
5 stalks celery, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups of water
3 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon (Organic, Vegetable)
2 Bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 – 2 cups broccoli florets

1 carton of extra firm tofu (drained, and pressed to reduce liquid)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 – 2 tsp of San-J Tamari Sauce (or other gluten-free soy sauce)

2 packages of Shirataki noodles (prepared according to package)

Add first ten ingredients (through salt and papper) in a large stew pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer until carrots are tender (around 15 minutes).

Add broccoli.

Heat oil in a separate skillet; when hot, add tofu and cook until sides are browned. Add Tamari sauce and saute gently for a few minutes to season tofu.

Add tofu and the noodles to the soup pot. Heat until warm throughout. Remove bay leaves and serve

Serves 4 (Generously): 178 calories, 9.8 g. fat, 1.4 g. saturated fat, 272.5 mg sodium, 14 g. carbs, 5.9 grams fiber, 1.2 grams sugar, 13.5 grams protein.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday yesterday.

I, personally, had a fabulous Thanksgiving. It was probably one of two in my entire lifetime of eating solid food that I wasn’t completely stressed out about food and/or walked away from the table feeling like a bloated tub of lard.

As we head into the holiday season, it’s important to remember that even though most people just plan on gaining ten pounds over the holidays, because that’s what happens to everyone, you’re not everyone! Or at least you don’t have to be.

Keeping that in mind, let me tell you about my day:

I actually came in 47 calories below my daily calorie budget yesterday, which, believe you me, is another first! And I know that if I can make it through Thanksgiving – the most food focused of all the holidays – while meeting my goals and not feeling the least bit deprived, then I can make it through the rest of the season similarly unscathed.

So what was different this year?

I got up yesterday morning, while the house was still quiet. I made some decisions about what I was going to be taking to MJ’s parents’ for dinner, I made one of the salads that needed to chill (recipe will follow), I had my normal breakfast (a Berry Hemp Shake) and then I did an hour of yoga.

By the time I was done, the household was awake. I put away the yoga mat, made some tea and touched base with Michael J and our new housemate. When Michael J went downstairs to his man cave, I continued to talk to Sarah (the new HM) – for a couple of hours really. It was nice. Around 11:30, I made second breakfast (egg white omelet with veggies) and while Sarah took a shower and got ready to go to her holiday celebration, I did a 30 minute workout tape (K-Bells: Total Body Blast). As soon as I was done, Michael J came up and said, “Want to go for a walk?”

Sure, why not?

By the time we got back, we both needed showers and I still had two dishes to make (Spicy Yams and Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Dates), so as you might imagine, things got a little crazy. One of the reasons I was bringing three dishes was that I had volunteered to make some gluten-free options because Michael J and I are both gluten-free, as is Michael J’s brother, who was driving up that day and was, thus, at the mercy of his family for healthy options (which, as it turned out, there were several)!

Although we were rushed (it was already 2:30 and we were slated to eat at 4:00), Michael J and I both sat down and had lunch. Yes, you heard me. We had lunch at 2:30, when we were going to be eating Thanksgiving dinner at 4:00! Because this year, instead of saving calories for the meal itself, I decided to actively spend them before the meal.

Now, granted, I only had a huge bowl of kale and garlic sauteed in coconut oil and a handful of roasted almonds (which amounted to about 300 or so calories), but it was enough to take the edge off. Especially because kale and almonds are both superfoods, meaning that they are nutrient-rich and extremely satisfying.

It was an interesting feeling to show up for Thanksgiving dinner and not be the slightest bit hungry. Not that that stopped me of course, when it actually came time to eat, but it did slow me down.

As it was, I cheerfully skipped the appetizers and when it was time for dinner (served closer to 5:00 than the slated 4:00), I ended up following Michael Pollen’s advice and “treated meat as a condiment.” I think I may have had three ounces of turkey (which was scrumptious by the way), quinoa salad, a spoonful (or two) of the rice pilaf, a spoonful of yams, some broccoli, and some green beans. It was a beautiful plate. I wish that I had taken a picture of it.

Full of crisp harvest colors and surprisingly free of anything mashed or looking even remotely like gravy or butter, it really was a culinary work of art. And it tasted even better than it looked!

Now, dessert was a little tricky. Mainly because Michael J’s sister-in-law sat an individual sized bowl of chocolate pie filling in front of me topped with homemade whipped cream that had been made especially for those of us following gluten-free diets. And, being a total sucker for homemade chocolate pie, I went for it. And, God, it was good! As were the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies!

But let me tell you, after being relatively sugar free now for over two months, I could literally feel the sugar leeching into my blood stream. And I have had worse cravings today than I’ve since I went gluten-free. I have a friend who says with increasing regularity that “sugar is the devil.” I’m beginning to believe her!

Overall, it was a very nice holiday. I had a great time exercising and even a better time getting to connect with friends and family. Even though my own parents and sister are far away, I also made sure to talk to them a couple of times throughout the day. And while it is true that I spent a good part of the afternoon cooking, the day really was more people-focused than food-focused, which is nice (and, I realize, a lot easier if you’re going to dinner instead of hosting it). Thanks, Mrs. Y doing all of the heavy lifting!

So based on the wonderful day I had yesterday, I will do my level best to make this season more about health and people and less about stress and food.

I am definitely going to make it less about sugar!

There are other things that I am going to publicly commit to that will – hopefully – make me more accountable to myself over the next six weeks (and beyond). But for now, I will leave it as this: Happy Holidays, everyone!

Recipe: Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Dates (Gluten-Free)

1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
(Note: I substituted 2 Tablespoons of Nutiva’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for the butter and olive oil)!
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 red, yellow, or green bell pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon, ground allspice or nutmeg

1/2 cup dates
3 cups cooked brown, white or basmati rice
(Note: I use brown basmati rice, because it’s so much more aromatic than the other two)!
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a large heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil. Saute the onions and garlic on medium heat until just tender. Finely chop the bell pepper, and add it to the sauteing onion. Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and allspice/nutmeg. Finely chop the dates, and add them to the onions. Stir in the rice and the parsley, sprinkle on the water, and heat uncovered for a few minutes. When the rice is hot, stir in the almonds, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

This was taken and modified from the Moosewood Cooks at Home! If you don’t have this one, I would highly recommend it!

Serves 4 generously; could easily be a meal served with fresh garden salad, dressed with fresh lemon juice!

Per 8 ounce serving: 290 calories, 5.3 grams of protein, 8.5 grams of fat, 75 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol