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Archive for February, 2011

Rawsagna

In honor of my lunch date at Pure Food and Wine today, I thought I would share the experience with you. As it is my favorite restaurant in NYC, of course I had to try to make one of their signature dishes. Have you ever tried to make a raw dish? That you actually serve to guests?? Well this one comes out phenomenal. Give it a try!

Zucchini-and-Green-Zebra-Tomato Lasagne with Basil-Pistachio Pesto

by Matthew Kenney of Pure Food and Wine
Ingredients
Lemon-Pignoli “Ricotta”
2 cups raw pignoli nuts, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional; available in health food stores)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Tomato Sauce
2 cups good-quality sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed), soaked in water for at least 2 hours
1 medium ripe tomato, diced
1/4 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons sea salt
Pinch hot-pepper flakes
Basil-Pistachio Pesto
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup raw pistachios
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Lasagna
3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
3 medium green-zebra tomatoes (or other heirloom variety)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Garnish: whole basil leaves

Cooking Instructions

Lemon-Pignoli “Ricotta”
Blend the pignoli, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt in a food processor. Don’t be in such a hurry that you forget this next part as I did (although it turned out delicious anyway!!) Add 6 tablespoons water, 1T at a time, and pulse until the texture becomes fluffy.
Tomato Sauce
Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth.
Basil-Pistachio Pesto
Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth.
Lasagna
Cut zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices, then cut in half crosswise.
This cheese slicer came in VERY handy!
Cut the tomatoes in half…
…and each half into thin slices.
Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with several of the zucchini slices. (With each layer, keep in mind you will need enough of each ingredient to do this three times.) Drizzle olive oil over the zucchini slices, spread tomato sauce over it, followed by small dollops of ‘ricotta’ and pesto. Add a layer of tomato slices, and sprinkle with oregano and thyme. Repeat in entirety two more times. Serve  and amaze your guests!

Behold the masterpiece! Guaranteed to get RAVE reviews from all who are lucky enough to snag a piece.

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I hear from a lot of people that they do everything under the sun to try to lose weight and yet it still just doesn’t seem to be happening. They eat all the right foods, they go to the gym as often as possible, they seem to be getting a decent amount of sleep. But what did you eat in between all those angelic meals you had? What did you do when you went to the gym – were you sweating up a storm or talking to people and maybe grabbing a machine for a couple minutes?

It’s easy to miss the details. I know, for example, that I tend to eat a lot more when I’m eating with my husband. Or any guy 1.5x my size for that matter. I was recently on vacation with some girlfriends and when we went out to dinner I would find myself wanting so much more than they were eating. Frankly, I think I do tend to eat more than the average female adult, but I probably could do with a little less sometimes. The point is to pay attention to how much you’re eating, not how much your company is eating. When you are with someone who eats a lot more, ie your spouse who may be bigger than you are, you don’t need to eat as much as they do.  Or when you go out to dinner with a bunch of people – alcohol gets mixed in and your portion sensors go haywire! Especially because the people around you indulge. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the same food but just have a little less. You savor each bite just a little bit less and less after the first one anyway! At what point will you realize that you are going to enjoy the next bite that overstuffs you a lot less than the last one.

When you’re cooking, do you pay attention to what you add to the dish? An extra stick of butter might be overkill, but if you throw in a chunk here and a slice there, it seems like less. A pinch of salt may bring out the flavor, but several mindless pinches take over the dish. (If you’re drinking a glass of wine – or two or three – while cooking it’s especially easy to lose track.)

Is this what you have on hand for snacks?

What about snacks? Do you reach for snacks during the day without thinking about it? You eat healthy meals but forget to pay attention to what happens in between? Maybe you think the food doesn’t count if you’re standing up or doing work at the same time? Or maybe you do reach for the healthy bag of mixed nuts – they’re raw and unsalted – but you keep reaching and reaching until you’ve eaten the whole bag? It’s a lot easier to keep your portions in check if you only give yourself the amount you want to eat. Take the nuts out of the bag, stick them in a little dish and close the bag before you start eating. Speed counts too – if you wolf them down, of course you aren’t going to be full after the 2.5 seconds it took to swallow them. Try to eat them slower and actually pay attention to what they taste like. Condiments too. You may be eating what seems like healthy fare, but sticking tons of sugary ketchup (catsup?) on it. Or oops, I’m eating farm-fresh vegetables but I accidentally deep fried them before they got to my mouth! Fresh produce is so delectable but it’s difficult to really taste it if it’s covered in who knows what. Pay attention to the amount and the flavors of the food you put in your mouth.

One thing I should note about portion size: do make sure you eat enough. Starving yourself is NOT going to help you lose weight, it’s only going to slow down your metabolism, give you less energy than you need and make you moody and irritable so nobody wants to hang out with you. Not only that, you generally reach a point where you realize you haven’t had enough food and suddenly you’re ravenous and have eaten everything in sight before you know what’s happened. Again it’s about paying attention. Your body will tell you when it’s still hungry. I don’t mean bored and wanting to munch on things, I mean genuinely hungry.

This may be SLIGHTLY small for an entree

Exercise works the same way. You can do it reluctantly or you can do it well. You know what I’m talking about, you see those people at the gym who are really only there to socialize with the other people at the gym. The women in the locker room who look like they are getting ready to go out to a fancy dinner and then you realize they are in their workout clothes and they are actually beautifying themselves to go out on the gym floor. You know who you are! It’s fine if that’s what you want to do, but don’t tell me you are working out every day and can’t understand why you aren’t getting more fit. Muscle definition happens when you actually pick up the weight – and hopefully put as much effort and concentration as you possibly can into it! There are days when I just hop on a treadmill or run around the park with a thousand other things running through my mind – I think you need those workouts too. Part physical benefit, part mental. But I think you get so much more from exercise when you put your mind to it and really pay attention to what you’re doing. If you’re going to work out, do it well! PUSH yourself! Get the most from it! Maaaaaybe even enjoy it? Try new things! Pay attention to what they feel like, what parts of your body they work.

Do you remember what you just read? Did you pay attention? 😉 I challenge you to really notice your body next time you are exercising – how does each muscle feel and how hard are you really pushing yourself? Pay attention to your food and how much you really need to be satiated. Is the next bite really going to make you a happier person? Or is being satiated as opposed to over-stuffed going to make you feel better?

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The honeymoon, that is! Yep, we’re back! And not 100% thrilled about it, what with the drastic weather change and the reality of going back to work, but… it’s the Year of the Rabbit and it’s going to ROCK! In no small part due to its strong start – what better way to kick off a year than spend over a month with your favorite person in the world exploring new continents and NOT worrying about your day job? It sounds obvious but a good dose of vacation does wonders for your health, both mentally and physically. The nuts part is that people we met along our travels weren’t the least bit shocked by our adventure – only in the US is it outrageous to take more than a few days holiday at one time. I gotta say, my body has never been happier.

It’s never really been a secret that I prefer 80+ degree weather to sub-freezing temps and heaps of snow. (I mean really, what better way is there to eat a meal than this?) Most of the health- and fitness-related lessons from the trip were equally unsurprising, but it was nice to put theory into practice and see that I actually know what I’m talking about and can follow my own advice.

Lesson #1: I work out most days in general, but on the honeymoon getting to the gym was not my top priority, and rightly so. We went a few times and also got in some great outdoor runs, but mostly we just did a ton of walking. And wow did we cover a lot of hills! On most days here at home, we sit at work all day and then hopefully get an hour or so of gym time. My body was much happier with the constant movement. And I hardly even noticed I was exercising because it was fun, not something I was forcing myself to do! (That’s key to keeping it up.) But what can you do, we have to work to make a living and most jobs tend to be sedentary. At least we can make an effort to break it up a bit. I can’t tell you how much your body will appreciate it! Try to get up every hour or so and walk around, or go for a brisk walk outside. How can you expect everything to function properly when you sit all day – if you are stagnant, your insides are going to be stagnant too (if ya know what I mean!)

The view at the top was worth it!

Lesson #2: Eat real food! (“Not too much. Mostly plants.”) I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Don’t eat stuff out of boxes. Don’t eat low-fat, sugar-free adulterated garbage, just eat real fruits and vegetables! I barely had any dairy while we were away but the very little I had was full-fat, regular milk. (In Japan I had a few soy lattes and wow was their soy milk better than ours in the states!) In any case, we didn’t find the fake stuff so easy to come by – not that we would have wanted it. Look at this delicious real meal – best sushi I’ve ever had! Note the not-huge portion size.

And look at how tiny this restaurant was!

OK I’ll admit this traditional Japanese breakfast left a little to be desired.

But dinner the night before was amazing!

Lesson #3: Take your time at meals, enjoy the company and focus on what you’re eating. It’s so easy to eat in front of the TV at night and not really pay attention to the fact that you happen to be shoveling food in your face. We tend to eat way too fast. Often while we’re on the go, running from one place to the next. When you’re forced to eat out at restaurants almost every night, watching TV isn’t usually an option. Relax, slow down so your food can digest and enjoy the person you are sitting with. What’s the rush!

Lesson #4: Eat at home! Good God, after all the restaurant-eating we were dying for home-cooked food. Thankfully we had a few visits with friends and family along the way, so we were able to get our fix. I really missed the ability to eat clean and make the things I want the way I want them. I never knew how much I would crave plain vegetables! Grilling! There isn’t enough space in this blog, or your attention span, to begin to describe all the benefits of making your own meals. Have fun with it! Even if you don’t think you are a good cook, it can be so great to experiment – we all have to learn somewhere. Make the effort to choose organic vegetables, humanely-raised meat. It’s much more satisfying to eat when you’ve gone to all the work of preparing everything. I can’t tell you how thrilled we were to get to my cousin’s house and find a whole salmon in the sink.

Lesson #5: Be thankful for what you have. 🙂

Happy New Year!! The year of the rabbit is my year so I plan to make it ridiculously good. And why not?

 

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