Saturday, May 2, 2009

Arame, quinoa, gomasio...where are we? (amazing sea vegetable/grain salad)

Yummy almost cleanse friendly salad.

So today is the first official day of the cleanse, HOWEVER I won't be starting till Sunday. I felt real pangs of guilt as I ate my eggs this morning. The reason being, I had more people sign up than I expected and sold out of Cranberry juice (a major component of the cleanse) so we are going off the island today to get more. For everyone out there starting today, what a perfect day for it! Well, I guess it's how you look at it, rain can either mean relaxing, movies, crafts, yoga, as you sip your cranwater and eliminate a lot, OR it can mean stir crazy give me a beer and a burger. Doesn't the first option sound so much nicer?

In preparation for the cleanse, I made a salad yesterday that was (almost) cleanse friendly. The salad fell off the cleanse wagon when I added kidney beans, not that there is anything wrong with kidney beans, but on this particular cleanse they are a very dense carbohydrate and the entire cleanse is made up of carbohydrates in the form of veggies, fruits, and grains so they are just one component (of many) that we shall go without. But it was not a cleanse day and so kidney beans it was.

This was a beautiful salad using kale, carrots, quinoa, wild salmon, kidney beans, ginger vinegarette (dressing was made with flax oil and apple cider vinegar to make it cleanse friendly), and Arame. Arame is a sea vegetable which is super high in iron, calcium and iodine (great for thyroid function). It adds a nice salt flavor to foods, and is pretty mild in flavor compared with other seaweeds. I like to use it in salads because it mixes in well without being overpowering. Next time you are in a health food store pick yourself up some. It is a great introduction to seaweeds in cooking and can boost the mineral content of any dish (you can even add it to rice or soups while they cook to give a boost there as well). You just soak it for about 10-15 minutes in cool or warm water and it'll be ready to mix in.

The quinoa (pronounced keen-nwa) is an amazing grain, high in magnesium and protein. It carries all 8 essential amino acids and it considered a "superfood".
Before making quinoa always rinse it. The water above is not boiling. Quinoa has a natural occuring toxin called saponin on its surface which easily rinses off, it also causes these bubbles. Rinsing 1-3 times should do the trick, and you'll know when the water no longer looks sudsy. (don't worry, if you've eaten quinoa in the past and didn't rinse it, you'll be fine. It's just good to know)
When done quinoa is light and fluffy with a nice snap to it as you bite.

Here's the arame, soaking dutifully.

Tearing the kale into bite size pieces make it good for a salad. I dressed the kale right away and let it sit. This way the kale also softens as it marinates.

Dressed kale, quinoa and carrots (say that 5 times fast)

Then came the canned wild salmon (wild is always best, not only for nutritional value but also farming methods wreak havoc on the environment, polluting water and damaging reefs). Canned is really tasty and you get extra calcium from some softened bones that are mixed in (you don't even notice them)

The arame sits nicely on top and was sprinkled with a little Gomasio (toasted sesame seeds and sea salt, great for flavoring without a lot of salt)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cleansing, but first....Dessert (3 delicious healthy desserts)

What an amazing cleanse group session last night!! Really. Everyone is energized, nervous, excited, with a little emotional potpourri like this, is certain to make you feel alive. 20 cleanse seekers are joining me in a 10 day cleanse/elimination diet. We start tomorrow and I already can't wait till Monday to hear everyone's thoughts and feelings at our next session! When I start the cleanse, I will share some cleanse recipes, but it won't be till then...I have one more day of eating how I'd like!

Today I will share with you some of my favorite (healthy) desserts these days. Don't worry there is a whole list of unhealthy desserts that I have been enjoying, with ice cream topping that list, but these are what I make at home when I want a treat (don't forget on Block Island you can't just run to the corner store, we gots to get creative!)

Dessert #1. The Baked Apple: yes I know, it's been around for years, this was a favorite of mine growing up (I was raised in a no sweets zone). I've just made my own variation and it doesn't involve an apple corer (those things were such a pain)

Thinly slice apple
Put in bowl and top with a healthy dollop of almond butter (you can use peanut butter, but if you want the opportunity to branch out..this is your chance!)
Drizzle (my nizzle) with some agave nectar
Sprinkle with cinnamon (Aside: I was sprinkling my cinnamon when something didn't quite look right, it was turmeric! The stuff is great for you, but I can't say I love it. I continued on with lots of cinnamon and I have to say the turmeric has added a really nice depth of flavor)
Put in the toaster oven on 400* for about 10 minutes (make sure to use an oven safe bowl)
You can use a microwave for convenience, but only for about a minute or 2.
When it comes out I like to sprinkle it with a little flax seed, gives it that nutty, crust like texture/flavor. The juices seep out of the apple, the almond butter and agave get all gooey, and the spice(s) add really nice flavor. So good!

Don't they look so fresh and clean?

Now they look dirty and delicious!
#2 This one a client told me about.
1/2 grapefruit (sliced/prepped)
Drizzle with agave
Sprinkle with cinnamon
Microwave for 1 minute. You can use the toaster over for this one too 400* about 6-7 minutes
Really delicious. Who would have thought...warm citrus?

#3 Really simple (well they all are), hardly a stretch of the imagination...but worth the small stretch
Organic plain yogurt (or greek yogurt)
sliced strawberries (organic, they are on the dirty dozen)
drizzle with agave
Top with toasted pecans

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Got Potatoes? (potato pancakes & eggs)

Like my cute little egg pucks? They do taste better than they look.

More left over potatoes? I went from greens day to day to potatoes, how far we've fallen. I do suggest trying to get greens into your potatoes, whether it be on the side or in with the potatoes. Ok ok enough lets move on.

So, now you have mashed potatoes left over from the fish dish. Chop up whatever green you have in the fridge, kale, chard, beet greens, spinach, whatever it is. Saute the greens and some onion, till they are bright green and soft and mix them in with your potatoes. Scramble an egg and some shredded cheese (parmesan or cheddar) and mix in with the potato mixture. Heat about a 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, when the oil is nice and hot, make the potato in patties and toss in the hot oil. These took about about 10-15 minutes flipping every 2-3 minutes to make sure they didn't stick. While the potato pancakes were cooking I decided to try out our egg poaching pan (I figured the oil in the pancakes was enough, poached eggs are cooked with steam). Having never poached eggs before I over estimated the amount of time it would take, the yolks weren't as runny as we would've liked em, but whatta ya gonna do?

You can make the pancakes with mushrooms, sweet potatoes, or any veg that you'd like. Yum yum yum. If you have the potatoes already mashed it is super quick and easy. My leftover potatoes made about 8 pancakes, so I froze the last 4. This is like cooking once and eating 3 times! Never be afraid to freeze.The best part of this meal is getting to use the ketchup!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mango my mango (cod pappilote w/ mango/avocado salad)

I thought a few fun recipes and dishes before we go into cleanse mode would be a good idea. I had a great turnout for the cleanse group last night and I am getting super excited to join a dynamic group of people on the cleansing journey. I will give you all of the details of the cleanse once we are underway, if you'd like you may even choose to try it out for yourself.

Looking at the dish I've chosen here, I believe it is cleanse friendly if you subtract the potatoes, wow I'd be happy to eat something like that while cleansing (alright!). This dish was inspired by the left over baked potatoes last week. They got mashed and then came the fish, I noticed I happened to have a red onion, a mango, and avocado...I knew something delicious would come these ingredients, I just didn't know quite what to make of it.

Fortunately after working in restaurants for years, I have some pretty good chef friends. One of them who I call any time I get stuck in the kitchen. He is a good friend and a great chef, he's also a character, and I wish I had a picture of Aaron I could post here for all of you. So I gave Aaron a buzz, and he let me know I was definitely on the right track. I was going to simply bake the fish, when he suggested I do it Papillote style. En Papillote (french for In paper) is a dish where fish is baked in a parchment paper with jullienned vegetables and herbs, this creates a steaming technique and makes a beautiful fragrant dish. In Nicaragua I had papillote where they steamed the fish in banana leaves (it probably has a different name then, but it was made the same way). For my fish I simply dressed it in some sliced lemon and seasoned it with herbs, then, instead of wrapping it in paper, I put a lid on the pan creating the same steaming effect.

Cod in a cast iron pan topped with oregano, lemon basil, thyme, lemon slices and some chopped onion.

The fish only took about 12 minutes, but in the meantime I mixed the mango with the avocado, onion, some cucumber, oh yeah and some golden beets (another one of Aaron's suggestions...he actually miss heard me and thought I said beets, when I corrected him he sounded disappointed and brought to my attention that mangos and beets are an excellent combination. I was lucky to have 2 golden beets in the fridge). The beets were blanched for just a few minutes to soften them a bit and then tossed in. I believe I used some herbed white vinegar (just a splash) some lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil (Aaron spoke about the importance of the acid in the sweet dish, white wine was mentioned as an option.) The salad was really good. I suggest making it at any time for any reason.Aside from the mango salad we threw some arugula on the plate. I can't seem to get enough of it lately. Alone drizzled with a little olive oil and a dash of sea salt...delicious.

And to slice a mango....Slice the mango as close to the pit as possible. In the meaty part you've just sliced away from the pit, make grid like slices and then turn the peel out to reveal the mango chunks, either slice off with a knife or pull off with your hands...or eat right out with ya mouth.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Busy Bees

Life has been very busy for Chopper and I, and I’m not complaining. This is how our life goes, nothing….nothing… and then BOOM its spring, its summer, and then Halloween and Christmas come rushing in. It is hard to remember the distraction and bustle in the middle of February. It is also hard to motivate and utilize that time in preparation for what comes in May. In May we move twice, if all goes well “close” on “our” house (on the mainland), I start working 2 jobs, start our birthing classes and manage to continue to practice self-care and a life of happy moderation. Of course I planned to do a cleanse in the middle of it all.

I have been busy planning a group cleanse for a small group of brave people living on Block Island. It is a food-based cleanse and I will make the necessary adjustments to make it a healthy cleanse for a pregnant woman (or athlete or nursing mother, as the group may demand). Tonight I give a presentation on cleansing, in hopes that I will inspire more people to make the challenge of self-care, a priority for 10 days. When I am planning something like this, I can’t help but dream or envision a time when everyone in my small community of 900, may be cleansing together. Focusing on taking walks in nature, making healthy food together, and feeling the woes of eliminating wheat, sugar and dairy together, and supporting each other through the emotional ups and downs associated with such a change. I know the dream of 900 may never happen (I can’t bring myself to say “will never”), but I am hoping for a nice group of perhaps 10 people.

Cleansing is challenging, it may only seem like deprivation if that is how you look at it. I hope to inspire people to see it as a new beginning and a fresh look at food, their relationship to it, and what it means to care for your body.

In the meantime, we have been enjoying a lot of comfort food lately. I think it is the pregnancy, because usually this time of year I crave lots of salads and clean foods. After those mexi-potatoes last week we had leftovers, so we had a fish dish with mashed potatoes and potato pancakes. Those recipes are on their way, they were beautiful dishes. When the dust settles.

The cleanse starts May 2, if you’d like to follow along. I will post more information as we get under way.