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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

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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WOW it is cold out there. Makes you want to put on sweats, curl up under a blanket and eat something like mac ‘n cheese! Veggies are certainly not everyone’s priority this time of year. And even if they are still at the top of your list of favorite foods, they may not be for your husband or children. (At any time of year!) That’s why it can be helpful to disguise them as something else. Now, if you’ve ever been to a raw restaurant, you know that veggies can be transformed in to an endless variety of foods and you can’t even tell they are what they are. It’s amazing! For the purpose of this post, we will keep it SIMPLE.

The benefits of hiding vegetables is two-fold. Of course, you are adding the nutrients of vegetables to a dish, enough said. But also, the displacement of whatever you are substituting the vegetable for is a huge benefit too. Faking out your kids with a bowl of “chips” or “onion rings”? The real deal is so unhealthy, and you are eliminating trans fats, sodium, preservatives and a whole list of things you can’t pronounce. For instance, last night instead of empty calorie-filled white pasta, we had zucchini “noodles”. You can transform boring this…

…into delectable this! When all the tomato sauce goodness soaks in to the zucc, it is just not the same vegetable. Or any vegetable at all.

So let’s see how we can transform healthy produce in to all sorts of palate-pleasing dishes!

Juices and Smoothies: This is an easy one! Throw an apple in the juicer with a bunch of greens and it’s suddenly a sweet treat! With bananas and blueberries in a smoothie, your taste buds won’t even notice the kale.

Breakfast: Try adding pumpkin to oats or yogurt with a little cinnamon and nuts, it’s more like dessert. How about an egg scramble with a bunch of chopped up veggies? Add a little hot sauce? Mmm! Or how about a healthy zucchini muffin? No one thinks they are anything but delicious – until they hear there is zucchini inside!

Starches: There are SO many ways to substitute white flour with vegetables. Cauliflower is one of the most versatile. Depending on how finely you grind it up and when and how much you cook it, it can stand in for mashed potatoes, potato salad, rice or risotto, or breadcrumbs. Did you know you can make a delicious stuffing with cauli instead of bread? As we’ve already seen, you can make “pasta” noodles out of zucchini – most squashes and root vegetables for that matter. Spaghetti squash is a great stand-in. You can also use these same veggies, and bell peppers too, as noodles for Asian-themed dishes – add a peanut or sesame sauce. To take the pasta theme one step further, if you thinly shave root veggies they can make a fantastic ravioli too. For the last of the starches, how about using cabbage instead of a tortilla? Or even a hamburger bun – though that is less “hidden”, it at least still allows you to pick up the burger with your hands so that has to count for something!

Fried foods – I can’t tell you how easy it is to cut sweet potatoes in to the shape of french fries, toss them with a little olive and salt and pepper, throw them in the oven for a little while and suddenly you have awesome-tasting “fries”. Thinly slice any root vegetable, toss them with the same ingredients and bake them in to crispy chips! Your kids or husband may cringe at the mention of kale – mine certainly does – but when you add oil, salt and a little cheese and bake them into chips they are a whole different animal. You can even make onion rings or zucchini fritters that taste freakin delicious baked in the oven.

Dips: Who doesn’t love guacamole and salsa? And what’s more, you can use veggie chips to dip! Pesto can be made with added vegetables and it is delicious – try adding bell peppers or mushrooms next time! I had a roasted red pepper dip at a restaurant the other night and it was fantastic. Ever made raita? Add some garlic and cucumber to plain yogurt, it’s to easy.

Dessert: Yes, even dessert. I guarantee you no one will notice if your chocolate pudding is made with an avocado base. Guarantee it! They may ask how you made it because it is so smooth and delicious, but not because it taste anything like avo!

Well, that’s a pretty good start. So go eat your veggies – no excuses!!

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I got a great question today and I thought it warranted a longer explanation. So here I am, inspired to write a post that I hope people will find helpful. And motivating! This time it’s not about calories in (food), but rather calories out. The question was… As you get in shape, your resting heart rate goes down – does a lower heart rate mean less calories burned? Yes. But that isn’t the whole story and in fact it’s more good news than bad.

OK so it doesn’t seem quite fair. The more fit you are, the slower your heart rate, so the less automatically, effortlessly you say goodbye to calories. But here’s why that’s a good thing!

  • Your body is more efficient. It takes work to keep that complicated system functioning. The less effort you require to keep everything running smoothly and keep your body healthy, the better. Right?! You’ve got a heartbeat to maintain, food to digest and for that matter good and bad bacteria to sort through. It’s a lot of work for your immune system to fight off infections, especially this time of year! I try to hold my breath when forced to stand near all these people who seem to be hacking up a lung, but I can’t hold it that long! And oh yes, your lungs! They need to move air in and out, well, pretty much non-stop. Isn’t it kind of comforting to think that you can make this less work for your body? I certainly wouldn’t want it to get too tired to perform any of these relatively important functions.
  • The fitter you are and the more efficient your body becomes, the more energy you have for other things. How much more fun is life when you jump out of bed and run around doing a million things! When you have energy, your whole outlook changes. You are more optimistic, things seem more achievable and they are. And let’s face it, you’re more fun to be around! Unless it’s 5AM and the unfortunate person next to you is not a morning person, but… you get my drift.
  • You are in better shape! Yes, that’s the problem, I know, I know. But it means you can work out harder! You have more capacity to push yourself and get a better workout, which means… more calories burned! That’s what you wanted, right? The harder you work during your workout, the more calories you burn afterwards. The more muscle you build. And muscles burn a lot more calories than fat!
  • There is a lot more that goes in to your metabolism than resting heart rate and I’m guessing your metabolism is only getting healthier. The amount you exercise, the foods you eat… I for one do not subscribe to the all calories are equal idea. Provided you are fueling your body with better options than before you started losing weight, you are improving your metabolism.

Not the prettiest picture, but certainly an illustration of making healthy choices. And a seriously simple dip* that tasted so good! There are SO many reasons why exercise is important. The question pertained to the calorie issue so I will stop there for now. It’s kind of a central theme to this blog, though, so you can imagine there will be more to come on that subject. (As if you didn’t already know that exercise is generally positive!)

*For this veggie dip, I threw a few things in to the food processor and voila. No measurements were made, just threw everything in and pushed a button. I used white beans, olive oil, a little bit of garlic, lemon juice, cumin and a touch of salt.

Enjoy!

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Hopefully you get the Michael Pollan reference. The Omnivore’s Dilemma? In Defense of Food? If you looking at the computer screen with a confused look on your face, get up and run out the door to pick up one of his books ASAP.

Right then, on with the blog post… I noticed as I made my way through the grocery store today that I do not crave sugar at all. I never thought this was possible. I mean, I have kept my sugar addiction at bay and eaten a very healthy diet for the last several years, but no desire at all? Once upon a (recent) time, I was the craziest sugarholic I’d ever met. Lack of sugar cravings almost invariably meant that I was about to notice all the other symptoms that accompany the flu, in short order. Today I saw some of the things I would have HAD to get in the past and… nothing. I don’t know if this is because I told myself these foods are absolutely off limits, no if’s and’s or but’s; if it’s because I am too frightened of the consequences it will have, given my blood sugar issues, pushing me down the path toward full-blown diabetes; if the mood swings and digestive issues and the crap I know I will go through as a result has become that unpalatable; or if it’s simply because I haven’t had the evil starch in so long. I imagine it is a combination of all these things, but mostly the last point.

And I am absolutely not complaining one bit. I don’t miss it. The best part is that the experience gives me deeper insight in to what it takes to get away from sugar addiction, for me and for anyone else. Honestly, if I can kick the habit, anyone can kick the habit. Well… that may not be fair, but certainly almost anyone. There are so many strategies, substitutions, remedies. Exercise, stay hydrated, don’t let yourself get too hungry, make healthy sweet treats at home, the list goes on and on and on. The ‘suck it up and just don’t eat for a couple weeks’ strategy works for some people. Sugar, if you are really dedicated to the cause, will not beat you. Or me!

I made the simplest dinner that perfectly fulfilled my need for comfort food. One of my favorite meals used to be pasta with pesto, preferably gnocchi but I wasn’t about to argue with regular white pasta either. Today? Who needs the pasta?! This was delicious, I did not feel like I was missing a thing!

Spinach and Buckwheat with Pesto

Ingredients

2T olive oil
1/2 small onion
1/8 (approx.) cup raw cheese
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup whole grain buckwheat (pre-cooked)
pesto (to taste)*
*Note I usually make my own pesto with nothing but fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts and the slightest bit of sea salt; but today I cheated with an organic, store-bought version with the same ingredients.

Directions

Heat olive oil in a pan and throw in onions. Cook for five minutes or until softened. Throw in sprinkling of cheese, spinach and buckwheat and cover for one minute, until spinach is just wilted. Quickly turn off stove and mix all ingredients together. Do not over-cook.

This was honestly so delicious and hit the spot. If you have a better tolerance than I do, of course you will want to have fresh white pasta from time to time, and you should enjoy it! But try using whole grains as a substitute now and then. Or even better, often. Even whole wheat pasta is processed, the closer you can get to the way nature intended (whole grains) is best. And when you do feel the craving, try to have more sauce than pasta. I’m certain some people will disagree or think I’m crazy, but I never understood the concept of eating a large plate of mostly white pasta with just a teeny bit of marinara sauce. The tomato sauce is the best part! Make tomato sauce with tons of veggies, even sausage or some other meat if that’s your thing – and make the pasta just another ingredient rather than the main one. The plain ol’ pasta doesn’t offer you much, at least once it gets past your taste buds.

When Michael Pollan said ‘eat food’ he meant eat it in the form of food, like the edible kind, not as in the kind that comes from a box or a can. His rules are pretty simple. Don’t eat too much? Pretty straightforward. I realize people may find this part easier said than done, but it’s a LOT easier to control how much you eat when you aren’t loading up on sugar. I think the last part, ‘mostly plants’, is the most important part. If you are eating a heap of raw vegetables, no one is going to tell you you really should be watching your portion size. What is better than vegetables? They are delicious, available in a wide variety and ridiculously healthy for you, giving you energy and well-being. What’s not to love? You violently chew them up and swallow them without mercy and they just give back! Incorporate more of them and make everything else a side show.

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Ah titles… not my strong suit. I really just don’t go the extra mile to come up with good ones and I don’t see that changing. Hopefully you will just roll your eyes and trust that there will be some good content despite the title. (And even more hopefully, there is some good content!)

Wwowwww. I am so excited about this dessert. I have yet to see a healthier truffle, and they are so easy to make and SO tasty. The best part is they are even rich, like a gourmet store-bought truffle, so you can eat one (or two) and not feel the need to stuff ten more down your face. No seriously, it’s not because they taste bad, they really are delicious! Maybe it’s just that I haven’t had anything resembling sugar in so long that my taste buds are out of whack. But I’m not going to argue with that, that is fine with me – I’d like to see us all have that problem! Take a look…

Date Truffles (adapted from Edible Nutrition)

Ingredients

15 pitted dates
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup almonds
1 tablespoons coconut oil
1/8 cup water (to texture)
cinnamon for dusting (optional)
coconut for dusting (optional)
Directions
Mix ingredients in a food processor. Add water gradually until you reach desired texture. Pull apart about a teaspoon size of mixture and roll into a ball.  Dust with cinnamon or coconut, or just eat them plain!

Now, I’m not advocating eating these for every meal. There are dates in the recipe and, therefore, sugar but this is an excellent option when you are craving a delicious chocolate treat.

And now for something unrelated to chocolate… if that should interest you at all… People seemed to like the tip on upcoming movie Forks over Knives, so I thought I would share another worthwhile health-related thing I did this week. This one you can enjoy now (I think)! The other night I was lucky enough to preview a new exhibit at the Natural History Museum.

There was a lot going on and I didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d like going through it, so I will definitely be going back. It was informative, not boring at all and pretty extensive. And, obviously, there is all sorts of other cool stuff to see once you are there. Oh, and it’s a LOT warmer in the museum than it is outside, so… good winter activity!

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Another day gone in a flash. Back at the doctor for more blood tests this morning, monitoring this pre-diabetes issue. Every time I go there I leave behind at least four vials of my blood, it’s not a good pattern. It’s amazing I don’t run out! One of the tests we did was for magnesium level. Did you know that magnesium deficiency can contribute to insulin resistance? If you are having problems with the regulation of your blood sugar it is worth checking in to.

At 6:30 after running around all day, speaking to clients, stuffing lunch down my face and getting some much needed work done, working out was not at the top of my list. But I took the day off yesterday so there was no arguing with the gym as it called to me. I am hyper-sensitive to exercise. If I let a couple of days go by without getting it things cease working properly. Including my brain. Exercise is crucial to regulating blood sugar. So there you have it. I went to the gym.

Once I got there, as always, it felt good to be working out. I felt strong! But even feeling as good as it did to sweat, as I ran, I thought “I’ll cut it short so I don’t use up too much energy and I can still get a really tough workout in tomorrow morning.” What? That just doesn’t make sense. Do you ever do this? Why save energy for the next workout when you could just give everything to one you’re doing right then and there? Because it’s easier to procrastinate? It’s not like I have a race tomorrow. I’ll just give it everything I have now and I’ll give it everything I have tomorrow and if I am dead tired and just can’t move another minute, I can stop. I actually think I would have stopped tonight if I hadn’t thought of a book I recently read. It’s about writing, but the message translates to just about anything:

Anne Dillard has said that day by day you have to give the work before you all the best stuff you have, not saving up for later projects. If you give freely, there will always be more. This is a radical proposition that runs so contrary to human nature, that I personally keep trying to find loopholes in it. But it is only when I go ahead and decide to shoot my literary, creative wad on a daily basis that I get any sense of full presence, of being Zorba the Greek at the keyboard. Otherwise I am a wired little rodent squirreling things away, hoarding and worrying about supply. Arthritis forms in my hands and in the hands my mind is using to shape things…

You are going to have to give and give and give, or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver.

from bird by bird by Anne Lamott

And so on I went for an additional 15 minutes. Good heart-pumping music on my iPod didn’t hurt, either. And yes I really did have this deep thought on the treadmill. I come up with some of my best ideas when running! Like continuing to run, for one. On this particular evening, I actually took it a little farther. I started thinking about what Matt Frazier writes on his No Meat Athlete website about moderation. This time the message is about veganism but, again, the message translates to so many other things. (You can read the inspiring posts here and here, and you should.) He’s so right. Why settle for moderation? You can accomplish so much more when you don’t.

Getting home at 8:30 I quickly threw together something surprisingly delicious! It’s so easy when you have the right things handy.

I boiled some whole grain buckwheat in one pot. Meanwhile I chopped up Brussels sprouts and onions and stuck them in a pan with some coconut oil and then, just at the end, added a little bit of balsamic. Threw it all together and added a few walnuts. Done in minutes! So simple.

Side note: I went to a screening of Forks over Knives the other night. It was great! I highly recommend seeing it when it comes out. The movie is about the prevalence of “diseases of affluence” that are taking over our society, how diabetes rates are soaring and are affecting people younger and younger and how such a large number of people are on drugs for things that could be reversed (and could have been prevented in the first place) through a diet of whole foods. It emphasizes a diet of plant-based foods and the importance of getting away from processed foods. The film largely covers the work of Dr. Colin Campbell (of China Study fame) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. I am so glad I saw it.

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Ah food cravings… why can’t they ever be for things like steamed kale or raw broccoli spears? No no. Of course, the most common craving known to man – actually it seems to be more often woman, no fair! – is for something sweet.  I suppose there are evolutionary reasons behind it but that hardly helps us now, does it. Well, the good news is there are plenty of current, easily explained reasons for it now too. This is especially good news because it means there are ways to manage these cravings and use them to our benefit rather than let them be our downfall. With a little practice it’s not even that difficult! If I can get over my cravings for sweets, trust me, anyone can.

The truth is that cravings really are – no, really – our friend. They do happen for a reason, our bodies are trying to tell us something! We just need to figure out what that message is. If you just ate something salty, your body may be trying to compensate with something sweet to balance itself out. Heck, maybe you just ate something sweet – sugar is addictive so having some doesn’t help much in alleviating the craving, it just makes you want more! You could be craving nutrients that you aren’t getting or your hormones could be out of whack. Have you ever tried drinking water when you crave sweets – maybe you are just thirsty. Maybe it’s not even biology-related, perhaps you are just bored! Sometimes we crave that immediate satisfaction that we know we are going to get from that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth cupcake. And sometimes it’s a much bigger issue, something we are missing in our lives on a deeper level. All of these are things we can deal with!

The biggest problem today is that what was once sweet is no longer so sweet. Our ancestors may have had sweet cravings, but I think we can be pretty sure they were not looking for Jelly Bellies or Coke. They found sweetness in fruits and vegetables, even grains. Well, we can too! It’s just a matter of adjusting how we eat. Try adding more fruits and sweet vegetables to your diet. OK, sometimes you just really want a tasty dessert, try using a replacement for sugar like raw honey or agave nectar. (Try the recipes below!) Are you just bored? Try doing something else that will bring you pleasure without taking in calories! There are tons of strategies for overcoming that overwhelming desire for candies, cookies and other desserts. It really is worth it for your health. Despite their bad name, there is increasing evidence that sugar may be more of a culprit than dietary cholesterol and fat when it comes to cardiovascular disease. You only get one body, take care of it!

Gluten Free Coconut Macaroons

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ cup agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1. In a mixing bowl whisk egg whites and salt until stiff
2. Fold in agave, vanilla and coconut
3. Drop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet, one rounded tablespoonful at a time
4. Pinch each macaroon at the top (like a kiss)
5. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned

Raw Brownie Bites

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup flax seeds or flax seed meal
2 T coconut oil
1 small pinch of vanilla extract
1 small pinch of Himalayan sea salt
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Place all ingredients in food processor until combined, roll into balls and refrigerate or freeze for storage. Serve cold from the fridge.

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