Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Sweet and Sour Savory Cabbage

I can’t believe that this is my new favorite recipe.

I was lamenting the ooh-gobs and ooh-gobs of cabbage that had come in the CSA, when I happened upon my Body Ecology eRecipe Cookbook.

Page 23 out of 36: Sweet and Sour Savory Cabbage.

I figured it was that or culture it and for some reason the culturing – at least for the moment – holds no appeal.

I made this last week and I had several meals of just cabbage. Not nutritiously complete, granted, but it was literally all I wanted. I found myself at work day dreaming about cabbage – how wrong is that?!

Last week I used two heads of red, though this week I stuck with the recipe. Here it goes.

Sweet and Sour Savor Cabbage

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage, julienne

1 head of red cabbage, julienne

1 large vidalia onion, julienne

1 Tbs salted butter (or grass fed ghee with a pinch of salt)

1/2 tsp (or more to taste) coriander

1/2 tsp (or more to taste) cardamon

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp white stevia powder (or between 8 and 10 drops liquid stevia)

Directions:

  1. Peel off outer leaves from cabbage, cut in half and remove – core and julienne in 1/4″ slices. Prepare the onion in the same way.
  2. Heat stock pit over medium heat. Sauté onion in butter until translucent and lightly caramelized. Add cabbage and mix well.
  3. Mix stevia with apple cider vinegar and dissolve thoroughly.
  4. Add stevia and apple cider vinegar to vegetables. Season with dry spices.
  5. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until cabbage is soft and fragrant.

The book says it’s a great dish to add to salads or as a side dish to a meal. I ate it hot. I ate it cold. I ate is as a side and as the meal. LOVE IT.  And I am assuming – hoping – that it’s really good for you!

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Fall CSA: What to Do?

My husband and I have been traveling quite a bit this season and as a result we had fallen quite behind on eating the content of our weekly farm share.

As a result, our fridge was literally bursting with cauliflower, eggplant, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, beets, and the like.

Last week, I went on a broiling frenzy. I made containers and containers full of broiled veggies that were excellent, easy, and super fulfilling snacks, sides, etc. In the case of the cauliflower, which actually got a little crispy and developed this lovely smoky flavor, I would just eat it cold, straight out of the container. They also filled out the edges of packed lunches and late dinners after a long day at the office.

My broiling technique is pretty low key.

Preheat the oven to 500 (on baking)

Chop the veggies up (in the case of the butternut squash, I also peel it and seed it).

Toss them in olive oil.

Put them on the pan.

Switch the oven over to broil and let it go for anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on the veggies and the desired crispiness.

I also took several baby beets, washed them, wrapped them in foil, and cooked them until they were tender. Here, I waited until they were cooked and quasi-cool to remove the skin with my fingers.

I think today I am going to tackle the delicata (truly one of life’s pleasures), the celeriac.

Celeriac

What’s in your fridge? And more importantly, what do you plan to do with it?

Another Fall Recipe: Pumpkin Hummus

I was truly bummed to discover that my body is not nearly as fond of garbanzo beans as it used to be. Despite my disappointment, that meant that I had dramatically reduced my hummus intake.

However, I really like hummus, so I started searching for alternatives. I actually found this none on About.com.

Shockingly easy and it combines two of my favorite flavors perfectly:

Pumpkin Hummus

  • 1 15-ounce canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a food processor, combine ingredients until smooth and creamy. If hummus is too thick (mine wasn’t), you can add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency.
Serving Suggestion:
I served mine with roasted eggplant (another one of those items in my CSA that I struggle to use). Here I just sliced the eggplant into medallions, brushed a little olive oil, black pepper and sea salt, and then put them under the broiler. You have to watch them, because if you sliced them super thin they’l burn quickly. So, start getting twitchy around 6 minutes. Though it you sliced them thick, it may take a while. Again depending on thickness you may need to turn them. Broiled eggplant is definitely more art than science.
Enjoy.

Don’t Forget to Taste Your Mistakes – Eggplant…Sauce?

So, here I am, surrounded by my summer CSA.

I have more eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers than you can shake a stick at (whatever that means).

So, I thought that I’d try making a recipe that I saw somewhere online but was too lazy to look for. It was supposed to be Eggplant Caviar. What it turned into was sauce. What it’s going to turn into is topping for spiralized zucchini since none of the raw tomato sauces that I’ve tried this year (so far) have done anything for me.

Here it goes:

KJ’s Eggplant…Sauce

2 lbs of cooked and peeled eggplant (I tossed mine in the oven – poked full of holes and wrapped in aluminum foil – until they were soft).

4 cloves of garlic (could have been more)

1 tomato

a bunch of basil

1/2 tsp of sea salt

black pepper to taste (I used the pepper grinder)

1/4 cup of olive oil

I threw it all in the Blender and hit the Sauce, Paste, Dressing option (I have a Bled-tec).

I’m not going to lie to you. It’s not pretty – it’s sort of a boring beige.

But, boy, is it yummy. I’m definitely having some tomorrow over some zucchini noodles. It was great off a spoon straight out of the blender jar; I can only imagine how good it’s going to be after it sits overnight.

So, the short of the long of it: sometimes the mistakes are worth writing down (and making again).

Rutabaga and Celeriac Soup

So, I have been stockpiling rutabaga’s like nobody’s business – gotta love those Winter CSA shares.

After perusing a number of websites for potential uses for rutabaga, I decided to smash a couple of soup recipes together and make my own.

This soup is hearty on its own, but I’ve been eating with along side a serving of my signature kale dish or a couple of slices of low carb, gluten free bread. Enjoy.

Rutabaga and Celeriac Soup

1 tbs oil (olive or coconut)
1 yellow onion, sliced (or diced)
6 cloves of garlic (peeled and diced)
1 large (or 2 medium) rutabaga (peeled and diced)
1 celeriac root (peeled and diced)
6 – 8 cups of broth (I used vegetable broth because I was in a hurry, but I’m sure homemade chicken broth would work just as well, if not better)
3 bay leaves
1 piece of Kombu
Sea Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
Paprika (to taste and for decoration)
Parsley (for decoration)
4 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt (optional)

In a large soup pan (or stock pot) sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. Then add the rutabaga and the celeriac root.

Add enough broth to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a nice simmer. Cook for 20 minutes (or until veggies are tender).

Remove bay leaves.

In small batches, run the soup through a high speed blender (or mash with a potato masher). Put pureed soup back into the pot and then use sea salt and black pepper for seasoning.

Serve in individual bowls (serves 4 to 8), decorate each serving with paprika and fresh parsley. Add a dollop of yogurt (optional).

Melt in Your Mouth Shin Stew

In keeping with the recent chronicling of the contents of our Winter CSA, Michael and I were faced with a dilemma: Shin steak?

Unlike previous years, where we just did veggies (and on occasion wild flowers), this year we did the omnivore option, which means that every week we also get some combination of organic grass fed beef or chicken, locally made sausage, cage free eggs, honey, or, on the weeks Michael’s out of town, Shitaki mushrooms.

Not realizing that shin steak is one of the toughest cuts of beef there is, I assumed that we could just grill it. Wrong!

Luckily, I did a little investigation before hand and we ended with with this recipe from British Chef, Jamie Oliver.

It was very British, very hearty, and super filling. And it really did melt in your mouth. But it was also very un-British in the sense that it was tasty, flavorful, and a little on the spicy side.

I followed the recipe pretty much word for word, though I added a couple extra cloves of garlic (which is per normal for me) and omitted the mushrooms (which is per normal for Michael). I used garbanzo/fava bean flour in order to keep it gluten free.

We also didn’t have a bottle of Chianti on hand, so we went for the cheapest ($8.00) bottle of red we could find.

Michael pointed out the recipe calls for 2/3 a bottle, probably with the assumption that you’ll still have two glasses left over for dinner. Well, maybe with a different bottle of wine that might work, but with this one not so much.

So if you find yourself with a pound or more of shin steak, knock yourself out. Though I’m sure it would work just as well with regular old stew meat.

Sugar Free Chocolate Thin Mints? Seriously?

For the last several months, I have been working with a phenomenal women’s coach, Tara Marino. I have worked with a lot of people in the past and I must admit that she is one of the best and – if you’re a woman and you’re interested in living a more elegant life – you should definitely check her out at her website, Elegant Femme.

One of the things that Tara does so well is help you set daily rituals; in fact, she calls them your “Daily Requirements.” Some of these requirements tap into your spiritual side, some of them tap into your intellectual side, whereas others tap into your more sensual or more physical side.

I’ve been very good about all of them – which tells you something about how good Tara is if you’ve ever heard me rail about not being able to ritualize my routines – all of them, that is, except one.

The one that I’m having the most trouble with is to eat raw chocolate at least once a day.

Wow, Tara’s a real slave driver, isn’t she?

Okay, so what’s up with me not eating raw chocolate, especially when I’ve been given permission to do so? Heck, not only permission, but a strongly, yet elegantly worded recommendation?

  1. I don’t live in California (yet), so I actually don’t have easy access to raw chocolate unless I make it.
  2. I am really sensitive to sugar, so even though raw chocolate is raw, I’m a little leery about desserts with sugar – even agave – in them, to the degree that it could potentially be a slippery slope.
  3. I actually have a hard time indulging myself this way when it comes to food.

Okay, so yesterday, I was going to all of my favorite food blogs, looking for gluten-free recipes for Thanksgiving (these include two mostly raw food blogs Rawmazing and PurelyTwins (used to be Pure2Raw), both of whom I’ve called out before).

Well, as it turns out, PurelyTwins has a recipe – a very simple and delicious recipe – for Sugar Free Chocolate Thin Mints that are made primarily out of hemp powder and coconut oil. Not only are hemp and coconut oil an important part of my diet already, they also reduce hunger and promote thyroid health. And, more importantly – they’re sugar free!

So, I tried these last night and I must say, Daily Requirements, Here I Come.

The entire process took about 10 minutes (and that was the first time through the recipe). These are going to become a (daily) staple.

p.s. It is worth noting that mine were a little “hempy,” but I think that’s a matter of the hemp powder I used. I have a another brand which is a little more mellow. As they note in the video, each protein powder is different, so it’s worth some experimentation.

Beet and Carrot Slaw: Recipe

A friend of mine just sent an email requesting my Beet and Carrot Slaw recipe. I immediately went to the blog to send her a link. After searching for about ten minutes, I realized that I talk about this all the time, but I had yet to choke up the recipe.

This recipe is so easy and so delicious. And even my husband, who has never been much of a beet eater, goes through periods where he eats this everyday. It’s also gorgeous and would be a welcome, uh, cleansing addition to any Thanksgiving meal. Next time I make it – which will probably be in a couple of days since I just added it to my own Thanksgiving menu – I’ll be sure to take a picture!

Beet and Carrot Slaw

Ingredients

Equal numbers of beets and carrots, peeled and grated finely (or run through a processor); I usually do about 4 medium to large or 6 small. It depends on how much you want to make.

1/2 bunch of parsley, cleaned and minced.

2 tablespoons (more or less) of extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon AND 1 lime

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 tablespoon of cumin

Directions

1) Add all of the ingredients except the spice in a large metal bowl and toss well.

2) Then sprinkle the spices while continuing to toss (to avoid clumping).

3) Adjust seasoning and oil to taste.

4) Enjoy!

A picture’s worth a thousand words

Now, my winter farm share is not all about the squash, the rutabaga and the celeriac. It’s also about the kale. Kale, without a doubt, is one of my favorite foods. And also buried in there are leeks (as well as brussels, carrots, garlic, lettuce, and beets). My favorite kale recipe – at least for this year – is also quite simple and is excellent any time of day (including breakfast).

KJ’s Easy Kale Recipe (2012)

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil (or Olive)
1 (or 2) leeks, cleaned and sliced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
cumin, to taste
1 stalk of kale (ours comes on a stalk, but basically a bunch), washed, chopped, stems removed
Sea salt
The juice of a half a lemon

  1. In a wok or frying pan, saute the leeks and the garlic in the oil.
  2. Add cumin and stir for about a minute
  3. Toss in the kale, continue to stir
  4. Add the salt and top it off with the lemon juice

I like my kale to still have some shape to it, but it’s a matter of taste. Once you start cooking, it really should only take a few minutes from start to finish. I always cut everything up first to make sure that nothing gets overcooked.

KJ’s Homemade Chicken Broth

I fancy myself a pretty good cook and I am definitely a soup lover. That said, can you believe that I have never – had never, as of yesterday – made my own chicken broth?

And now that I have, I fear it’s like getting your first Mac – there is no going back. Though I must admit that it was a little disconcerting putting a whole chicken (or a fryer, I believe they’re called) into a pot of soon-to-be-boiling water.

That said, I made chicken broth. It was a bit of a hassle, but it really added a nice dimension to my soups. I started off with a couple of recipes on-line and then turned it into one of my own.

KJ’s Homemade Chicken Broth

1 fryer (all the inner bits cleaned out if he/she didn’t come that way)
7 to 10 cups of water
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 inch fresh ginger, grated

Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste.

  1. Wash the chicken, inside out.
  2. Put said chicken into a large soup pot (and try to ignore how much it feels like an infant resting in your hand).
  3. Put in 7 to 10 cups, enough to cover the chicken.
  4. Bring water to boil, then let simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Pull the chicken out and let cool (the meat should be well over 169 degrees at this point – more like 200, but it can’t hurt to check for safety).
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients to the water.
  7. Remove the skin from the chicken and the meat from the bones. Put the skin and the bones back into the pot and put the meat in the fridge for snacks, lunches, salads, etc.).
  8. Bring the broth-to-be back up to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
  9. Pull all of the solids out of the broth; easiest to use a slotted spoon and then pour through a sieve.
  10. Store broth in Ball jars in the fridge. (A film of fat will form on the broth as it cools; you just skim that off before using).

I’ll be the first to admit that is seems like a lot of work for broth – but, boy, did it ever make my soup delicious, giving it a rich undertone that I’ve never been able to get with prepared broth.

Besides that, it made the house smell great and I have lunches for four days in the left over meat (or, most likely, my husband will as I’ll be busy eating the soup).

Indian-Spiced Roasted Squash Soup

I am in experimentation mode, trying to determine what soup – if any – we’re going to have at Thanksgiving. Soup has always been my thing and having soup at a big meal is one way to make sure that I don’t overeat.

This one, which appeared in the November 2011 edition of Cooking Light, is definitely a contender!

Indian Spiced Roasted Squash Soup

1 cup chopped yellow onion
8 ounces carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (1-pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (8-ounce) acorn squash (or whatever you happen to have on hand)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon of ground red pepper (cayenne)
14 ounces of chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

Optional:
6 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt
6 teaspoons honey

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Arrange the first five ingredients on a jelly roll (or a roaster pan). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper. Toss. Roast at 500 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender, turning once. Cool for 10 minutes. Peel acorn squash; discard skin.
  3. Combine vegetable mixture, 2 cups of water, curry powder. garam masala, and red pepper in a food processor (or high speed blender); pulse to desired consistency. Scrape mixture into large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in broth; bring to boil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and stir in salt.
  4. Combine honey and yogurt, stirring well. Serve with soup

Calories (more or less, since I used real chicken broth instead of the canned fat free version they originally called for): 143, Fat: 3.1 g, Protein: 4.8 g, Carbohydrate: 27g, Fiber: 4.4 g.

Notes: Make sure you cook it for that 10 minutes to thicken it up, or if you’re pressed for time, use less broth.

Winterizing My Favorite Summer Soup: Recipe

All summer long, I have been eating this deliciously simple cauliflower and carrot soup. It’s pretty (a beautiful warm yellow), it’s tasty, it’s light, and it works as lunch with a couple slices of gluten free toast, it works with dinner, and it works as a snack.

The only problem is that it’s not that substantial – and where I live, it’s getting dark early and it’s getting cold. And when it’s dark and cold, I want something that’s really going to stick.

The original recipe is courtesy of Body Ecology. Or at least that’s where the idea came from, it’s been so long that I can’t remember what the actual recipe called for (a trait that I fear I picked up from my Grandmother Lively). Regardless, here’s how I make it:

Carrot Cauliflower Soup

2 cups of onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons (or more) of dried Tarragon
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
2 or 3 cups of carrots (depending on how big the cauliflower is)
Water
Sea salt
A.Vogle Trocomare Organic Spicy Seasoning

In a large soup pan, saute the onions and the tarragon until onions are translucent. Add the cauliflower and the carrots. Add enough water to cover the veggies, bring to a boil and then simmer until veggies are tender (which tends to be about 20-30 minutes).

Blend up the entire mixture in a high speed blender (you’ll have to do that in batches).

Return entire mixture to pot, then season to taste.

I like the Vogle seasoning salt, but I’ve also used curry or cumin when I didn’t have enough. It might take more than you think, but start small and just keep tasting it. You can always add more later, at the table.

Because I was trying to make the soup more substantial (and I had a ton of stuff from the CSA that was just going to go to waste if I didn’t do something quick), I decided to start adding stuff, namely 1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed and 1/2 celeriac bulb, peeled and cubed.

It was delicious – really stellar and super filling. This is definitely going to be my new normal, at least until spring rolls around!

Indeed, it was so filling that I was able to drop the gluten-free toast at lunch and still be completely satisfied.

The Last Meal: Changing the Diet Up Yet Again

If I had a dollar for every time that I’ve radically changed the way I eat….

It’s been a rough few months on the body-love front. I have no idea what I weigh, but very few things in my closet actually fit.

A couple of things are going on:

My thyroid crashed (again).

I’m not doing the things I need to do to take care of myself (meaning less yoga, less hooping).

I’m not getting enough sleep.

I’m not getting enough exercise (see above).

And I’m not loving myself in any way shape or form – sorry coach!

The one thing that I was doing, however, was eating cleanly. In fact, it’s not a exaggeration to say that this is the cleanest that I’ve eaten, ever. I had hoped that would be enough.

Yet I keep getting bigger and bigger and more recently PMS is now pre-, present-, and post-. Bloating, mood swings, and boobs from hell. Two days ago, the cloth of my blouse was nearly unbearable; the poor things hurt to the touch – which also cuts down on any desire intimacy or closeness of any form.

I had a call with a holistic health care person and he mentioned something about food and thyroid suppression and, more importantly, the foods that suppress the thyroid – the number one culprits being sweet potatoes (yams), brussel sprouts, raw spinach, raw kale, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. You might not know this, but 90% of everything that I eat (other than hemp and other forms of protein powders) is comprised of yams, brussel sprouts, raw spinach, raw kale, turnips, cauliflower, and broccoli.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how the body becomes addicted to the very things that are bad for it.

Last night, I had my last meal: brussels, broccoli, carrot and cauliflower soup, and a little mini-green smoothie with spinach and kale. Before I began, I just looked at it, letting the anticipation build. Then I enjoyed every single solitary bite. I swear, you would have thought I was eating cheesecake! I even lit candles.

Somehow this latest dietary transition seems more difficult than previous ones, and I’m not sure why. There are obviously straightforward substitutions. Collards or chard for kale, green beans for broccoli, asparagus for brussel sprouts, and romaine and red leaf lettuce for spinach. And I’m sure that I can find a nice butternut squash soup recipe to replace my carrot and cauliflower, but it’s not going to be the same.

I keep reminding myself, food is food. It’s not for pleasure. It doesn’t matter that you’re being asked to give up your favorite foods, yet again. Because, when I think about it, this last batch of favorites became favorites when the last batch went away.

So what can you eat when you want to help nourish your thyroid? Well, the list is short and there’s nothing on it that’s particularly appealing. But appealing or not, it’s what I’ve got and I’m sure that however unappealing it may seem, I will learn to love again.

Because, to paraphrase Tony Robbins, nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels.

Stay tuned for thyroid nourishing recipes (sans sweet potatoes (yams), brussel sprouts, raw spinach, raw kale, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, etc). Wish me luck!

KJ’s Should Be Famous Guacamole

I’m not sure why I stopped making this. When I mentioned that to my beloved, he said: “Maybe because I don’t eat guacamole?”

Given that that means twice as much for me, I really don’t know why I stopped.

I whipped this out over the holidays and it literally flew off the table. So for posterity’s sake, lest I forget again:

KJ’s Should Be Famous Guacamole

4 ripe avocados
2 small vine ripened tomatoes, diced
1/2 a bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
the juice of 1 lime
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, to taste
dash of cayenne
sea salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve.

To make the mixing easier, I tend to mash the avocados using a potato masher before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Serve with blue corn tortilla chips (or hemp tortilla chips from the same company if you can find them).

Though spoons, fingers, and celery sticks seem to work just as well!

Surviving the Holidays (for the most part, intact)

Every year I dread the holidays.

It’s not the busyness or the hassle of traveling. It’s not the weird family dynamics (I actually enjoy spending time with my family). It’s not the increasing credit card balance or the last minute wrapping. It’s not the panicked trips to the store searching frantically for tape or thyme (not to mention, t-i-m-e).

It’s really all about the food.

Christmas at my parents house is like a minefield. There is literally sugar in every room in the house (save the bathrooms).

Seriously, it’s everywhere. My father’s bark covered pretzels, Ritz crackers, saltines, and mixed nuts. Cookies and chocolate. And then once my relatives arrived, the pie parade: coconut cream (to die for), my Aunt Mary’s chocolate pie (should be illegal, especially since she uses corn starch in the filling for us gluten-free folk), my cousin Megan’s pumpkin pie, and my cousin Matthew’s pecan pie (which I am pretty sure is illegal in a few states). Then there’s the bourbon balls the neighbors brought….

Did I mention that we also had a 60th surprise birthday party on the 23rd? So that also meant we had an extra dark chocolate sheet cake floating around and a ton of Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato. Seriously, this stuff was insane and was worth the three hours of misery that followed (can any one say lactose intolerant?) A lesser ice cream wouldn’t have been, but this – most definitely.

Regardless, despite all of the potential minefields (including several bottles of wine and about three different batches of my sister’s world-famous margaritas), I actually made it through relatively unscathed – that one brutal stomach ache aside.

So, how did I do it?

1) I thanked the powers that be that I have a wicked gluten-intolerance, because that knocked out a whole lot of options. I remember Anthony Robbins saying something about, “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels,” but I think a more personally motivating mantra is this: “Nothing – and I mean nothing – tastes as good as gluten-free feels.” (If only I could find something similar for sugar!)

2) I planned ahead. Knowing that we were going to be doing a party spread (in addition to the holidays), I ordered gluten-free options from what Jena la Flamme assures me is the best gluten-free bakery in the country (and I must say, I agree), where I ordered some awesome baguettes, some cupcakes, and a pumpkin bread (which, damn the bad luck, is still sitting uneaten in my mother’s fridge!)

3) I tried new things and substituted, substituted, substituted. My newest finds are Q Tonic Water (which I drank in place of wine and margaritas) and hemp tortilla chips, which have a lot more protein than corn chips and are, thus, more filling.

4) I pulled out my old favorites, meaning that I baked garnet yams, ate my normal sauteed kale, and even whipped up three – count them three – batches of my incredible guacamole (Notice the correspondence between the number of batches of guac and margaritas?)

5) I packed my yoga mat (and did yoga twice a day while I was there) and my hula hoop. Although my parents don’t have a great indoor space to hoop and their yard/driveway is slanted, I still got in a little hooping every day.

6) I set an intention going in – to wear the same skinny jeans going out that I wore going in (I should have specified comfort level, but there’s always next year).

7) I remembered that all things are transitory. I’ve realized that I have this belief that when I gain weight – in any amount – that it’s never going away. I tend to get really down on myself and start doing crazy restrictive things with my diet. This time I remembered that things change. My waist got bigger, that means that it can get smaller. It was only four days. (And sure enough, just after two days of being back at my home and doing my normal thing, my waist is looking a lot more familiar to me). What is that saying: change is the only constant? It’s a good thing to remember.

Now, that’s not to say that things went flawlessly or that things are completely back to where they were before I left for the holidays.

I’m just now beginning to pull myself out of the “sugar skid.”

Sugar is my crack; there’s no doubt about it.

Normally sugar doesn’t bother me, because I don’t eat it – like, ever. I don’t even eat fruit. Because as soon as I do, it’s like I’m an addict. In fact, I was speaking with a dear friend of mine who works with seriously addicted people and she asked me to describe – in great detail – what it feels like and what happens to me when I eat sugar. I was telling her and she was nodding.

Her response? “It seems like the sugar is triggering a dopamine response in you, much like drugs or alcohol do for many of my clients.”

Lovely.

I got home on Tuesday around 1:00 a.m., after having polished off the last of the Byerly’s dark chocolate salted sea caramels that my father had so lovingly packed in my bag.

Wednesday, I found the bark covered pecans in my suitcase, which my father had made specifically for me (since I can’t – thank goodness – eat his other creations). I ate them slowly and savored each one.

Thursday, I found the contents of my stocking that my mother had so carefully packed up for me and stowed away in the pocket of my backpack. I had one Ghiradelli Square – Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt (which was but a pale comparison of the aforementioned Byerly’s caramel, by the way). I also had an apple.

Today (Friday), who knows? I don’t feel totally out of control when I think about sugar – but part of that’s because we don’t have any in the house. Well, Michael J has some raw honey, but that’s even too sweet for me.

When my dad taught my sister and I to drive, he’d take us out to snow covered parking lots, tell us to go really fast and hit the brakes. Lesson: learn to turn into the skid and stay in control of the wheel.

In some ways, this holiday season brought back a lot of those memories.

Was I out of control around sugar?

Maybe.

But because I headed into it with foresight, planning, and flexibility I feel like it was/is going to be a quick recovery. And who knows, I may be better in the long run for the slippage. Because next time it happens, I’ll know even better what to do.

Happy Holidays!!!

Ah, even more ways and reasons to eat yams….

I’m consistently blown away by how good the Whole Foods website is.

For instance, check out their page on yams.

I’ll be curious to do the slice and steam prep they recommend for maximum health benefits (including blood sugar regulation), but it’s doubtful that I will ever give up my favorite: Candied Yams Without the Candy.

Although I had originally pitched this as a dessert, I’ve recently paired it with black beans, a little bit of forbidden rice (for texture more than anything else though it too is ridiculously good and good for you) and, last but certainly not least, my favorite kale recipe.

I put it all together on a beautiful multicolored, hand-thrown plate/bowl (7″) and I’m good to go. Not only is it super satisfying, it’s also beautiful with the gem-like colors: emerald, not quite ruby, and onyx. Seriously it’s almost as visually appealing as it is delicious.

New Winter Dessert Smoothie

I know that for most people, the words “winter” and “smoothie” rarely go in the same sentence.

However, I am one of those people that love cold, creamy desserts all year long.

Unfortunately, like most of the people in my family, I can no longer easily reach for ice cream or even a milkshake, as my ability to digest dairy (even raw dairy and goat’s milk yogurt, which is totally annoying) has diminished with age.

I can eat it (or drink it); it’s not like it causes me to swell up or anything like that. But it makes me feel crappy and it really throws a wrench in my normal digestion.

So for me, protein based shakes have become a staple – not only for breakfast, but also for snacks and desserts.

My newest concoction is perfect for the fall. I haven’t yet come up with the perfect name yet, but here it goes.

Vanilla Garnet Spiced Smoothie

8-12 ounces of cold water (or unsweetened almond milk)
4 tablespoons of Raw Organic Living Harvest Hemp Powder – Vanilla Spice Formula
1 medium garnet yam, cooked
1 tablespoon of psyllium husk (or Yerba Prima’s Colon Care)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 pinch of pink sea salt
1/8 teaspoon of xantham gum, to thicken

Put all of the ingredients in a blender (preferably a high speed blender, though it may not be necessary for this particular recipe).

This is ridiculously good. I’m sure that you could also use pumpkin, but since I had a yam on hand, I just tossed it in – skin and all!

It hits all my buttons, the ingredients are super healthy, and it’s chock full of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. It also tastes suspiciously like a pumpkin pie milk shake (especially if you use almond milk as opposed to water). And if you’re worried about being cold, the cinnamon and the cayenne are very warming; I’m sure that cloves or nutmeg would also be excellent.

I’ve had it twice this way and I’m pretty happy with it. However, because I’m really conscious of adding more fat to my diet – yes, you heard me, more fat to my diet – I may throw in half an avocado or a tablespoon or two of coconut oil, manna, or creamed coconut.

I’ll keep you posted as the recipe evolves and if you try it, please do the same!

p.s. Now this makes a lot of smoothie, so you could easily serve four as a dessert!

Back to Basics: Three Solid Squares or Five Small…Triangles???

One of the biggest contradictions in the health and fitness field is how much you should eat and when.

In my mother’s day, the conventional wisdom was that you should eat three square meals a day (whatever that means) and minimize snacking.

In recent years, however, the experts say that it’s better to eat five half meals a day (usually between 300 and 400 calories per meal).

The former is supposed to give your digestion system a break between meals.

The latter is supposed to keep your digestion system running – burning more calories. Also, eating every couple of hours is supposed to keep your blood sugar from crashing, which helps prevent fat storage. There are a lot of really healthy, skinny, and attractive people out there who swear by this method of eating and it makes a lot of intuitive sense to me.

However, in practice, it just didn’t work. That is, it didn’t work for me.

My problem? I’m not sure, but my best guess is portion control.

See, I like to feel full. I tend to eat fast and I have never gotten the hang of stopping when I’m 80% full. If I could remember to eat slowly, I would imagine a whole host of problems would resolve themselves. But no matter how hard I try, I’m usually 75% through my meal before I remember, “Oh yeah. You were going to slow down.”

I kid you not: I’m actually considering having the worlds “breathe” and “slow down” stenciled on the wall of my office.

Of course, not eating at my desk might also help, but I digress….

Regardless, eating five meals until you’re full really meant that I was eating way too much food.

I have tried to eat less. I have tried to slow down.

Unfortunately, however, “try” is outcome equivalent of “close.” And as “they” say, “close” only counts in horse shoes.

Thus, I have gone back to three solid squares a day and, so far, it’s working for me.

It’s working in the sense that I am less hungry and, contrary to popular belief, I am actually eating less food, calorie-wise.

At first it seemed scary to eat a meal with 500 calories in it, but I’m getting used to it. And as it turns out, the key to feeling full (and not crashing your blood sugar) is protein. Lots of protein.

For the last several days, it’s looked like this:

Breakfast Smoothie (384 calories; with 54 grams of protein).

Lunch (385-450 calories; with 21-24 grams of protein)

Snack (150 calories; 14 – 27 grams of protein)

Dinner (400 – 600; 30 grams of protein)

After dinner snack: herbal tea!

And, believe it or not, so far so good.

It’s working a lot better than the 5 meals, though I suppose that could have something to do with the fact that I have completely cut out sugar (averaging about 16 – 25 grams a day)….

I haven’t been back on the scale since this has all started, but I’ll be sure to let you know. I was thinking about “weighing in” on Friday…or not. Though I probably will, because, as I will discuss in another post, I’ve also come to appreciate having tighter feedback loops.

Oh, one last thing! Since I’ve gone back to larger three meals – instead of five smaller ones – I’ve had virtually no stress eating or any other compulsive food-related behavior. That in and of itself is worth the cost of an extra meal.

Chocolate and Cinnamon Socca

It’s been a long absence from this blog. I’ve been writing the journey from where I was when I was a regular blogger to where I am now, but the details seem long and convoluted and are of probably no interest to anyone other than myself.

However, I have been in the kitchen, so I may as well share my new discoveries.

Socca.

Socca? What the heck is socca?

I had never even heard of socca until I ran across this post from the Pure2Raw Twins.

Socca is a bread that you make from garbanzo bean (or chick pea) flour, which not only is gluten-free but is chock full of fiber and protein.

As I mentioned in the last post, I am in the process of sugar detox. Part of that means eating protein at every meal, including snacks.

Since I’m just as happy eating big protein-less salads and soups as I am anything else, I decided a little socca seemed in order.

I didn’t have any ground cardamon, so I subbed cinnamon.

Here it goes:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat an iron cast skillet in the oven, with 2 1/2 Tbs coconut oil

1 cup chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 c. raw cacao
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. sea salt

Pour the batter into the center of the heated skillet and let it run out to the edges.

Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

I sat the skillet on a rack to cool and then used a baker’s cake decorating spatula to get it out (carefully, as you want it in one piece).

I cut it into 8 wedges. It’s dense and not particularly sweet (I think that next time I might add in some stevia), but it’s a great texture for sandwiches. And I can imagine that I’ll be eating it as a good source of gluten-free, high protein, bread.

Man, if I wasn’t on that no-sugar thing, this would be awesome with a little raw almond butter and honey! But I digress…

If you’re allergic to gluten or know someone who is, I highly recommend that you check out the twins’ webpage.

I think their pumpkin socca recipe is next on my list!

I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

Post Script: Chocolate Cinnamon Socca is phenomenal as a carrier for natural peanut butter!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

I love pumpkin. And I love smoothies, so when I saw my friend Ana’s post Winter Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, I was in heaven.

I even had pumpkin, so I was all set! Right?

Wrong. I went to the store without reading the recipe and when I got back I realized I was without carrot juice and without green cabbage. And as it turned out, I didn’t need the pumpkin – fresh and organic from the local farm – as the recipe called for sweet potatoes.

Have I mentioned that I am on a 31 day sugar detox and can’t have sweet potatoes? And technically, I’m only supposed to have 1/2 cup of carrots at a time!

I also needed some protein, because I hadn’t had any at lunch. What’s a girl to do?

Create her own Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. I hope Ana can forgive me for bastardizing her recipe!

KJ’s Version of Ana Poirier’s Winter Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbs vanilla rice protein powder
1 small wedge of red cabbage
1/2 avocado
Liquid Stevia (I put in 4 -5 drops and it was pretty darned sweet; so proceed with caution).
6 ice cubes

Put all ingredients in a high speed blender and puree until smooth.

I’m not sure what color the original is supposed to be, but this was a beautiful berry color – thanks to the red cabbage, no doubt, which you really could not taste at all!

So, if you’re in the mood for a little pumpkin pie, check this out. It’s surprisingly delicious. Or check out Ana’s. Or better yet, check out both!

I know I certainly be whipping up a batch of these post-Christmas dinner!

Enjoy, and if you try it, let me know what you thought!