Sunday, January 31, 2010

Creativity in Cleansing (Millet Casserole)

We are at it again with the cleansing business. My intention was to blog (is "blog" a verb yet?) 1 cleansing recipe a day for the 10 days we and the group were cleansing. Alas with all the cooking that needed to get done, there has been nary a moment to blog.

The first cleanse I ever did was the Master Cleanse, that is actually how this blog business got started. That cleanse changed my life, primarily because it got me blogging.

I used to paint, I never cooked (this is going back about 12 years), I would bead and make all kinds of half assed craft projects. I cried the first time someone tried to teach me to saute a portabella mushroom, the pressure nearly broke my 20 year old self down. At that time I thought the vegetarian food that my boyfriend made was bland, and my creativity was expressed in other ways than cooking.

My next phase of life brought me to San Francisco. There, I had many failed attempts to embrace painting, and always wanted to cook more often but never did. I loved the creative energy in the city but my own creative expression was missing (there were too many amazing restaurants where people could cook great food for me, and too many fun bars to distract me from my paints).

Once I entered the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, nutrition, diet and all the avenues of living a health focused lifestyle had my attention. People I hadn't seen since I moved to SF would ask if I was still painting and I always felt badly saying, unfortunately no- I didn't paint much anymore. The guilt I would feel. Often I would tell myself "I should", I should paint more, I should craft. What I wasn't realizing was that I felt satisfied, I didn't feeling like anything was missing until someone would ask the question. Then one day while I was justifying to an old friend why I had been such a bum in the arts department, the excuses of cooking and nutrition study were flying, when I realized all my creativity was going into the kitchen! Now, it gives me great pleasure to be creating in the kitchen and then linking my work there with my blog here. Using this blog as inspiration for cooking and using cooking as inspiration for this blog, both creative in their own right.

So the now Health Counselor, has to ask the question: Where has your energy been going and where would you like it to go?

I used this most recent cleanse group as inspiration for myself to cleanse as well. It is a food based cleanse, and I added more fats than what I suggest for the rest of the group, because I also have to feed the milk monster, Wesley. It is essentially an elimination diet with a few other food supplements. The cleanse is designed to flush toxins and carry them out of the body, as well as give you the opportunity to test for allergies and sensitivities when you start to add foods back in. Eliminating foods like dairy, wheat, salt, and sugar can lead to some pretty bland food, fortunately our bodies and taste buds adjust and we start to taste the sugars in the grain or fruit. Using sea vegetables like arame or kombu allow you to also get some natural salt flavor. Why for dessert, just a few minutes ago, Chopper and I had bowls of mashed butternut squash with nothing added and it was delicious.

Cran-water is a cleanse staple. Yep 64 oz a day to flush the system.

Last spring sweet root vegetables weren't an option on the cleanse, though plenty of fresh fruit was. In keeping with the seasons we swapped the fruit out for the squash, sweet potatoes, and beets. The seeds made a nice treat with a little chili pepper and cumin.

Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, and brussel sprouts help to convert the toxins to non-toxic waste before leaving your body.

A cleanse meal. Brown rice getting its flavor from onion, garlic, olives, and nutritional yeast, sauteed with collard greens. Topped with avocado and arame seaweed. This was actually really tasty.

A cleanse smorgasborg. Roasted butternut squash (cinnamon and stevia), spinach/cabbage salad, avocado/tomato salad in cleanse friendly pesto, wild shrimp, and roasted brussel sprouts.

And another...purple rice with diced tomatoes and olives. Leftover butternut squash and brussel sprouts.

Wesley helps me cook. Please no judgment on me wielding such a large knife with him so close, I am very careful. He was holding the garlic for me.

Rainbow Chard and Collard Greens. The first ingredients needed to make the chard/millet casserole.

Millet and Swiss Chard Casserole

Ingredients:

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups millet

1 large onion, chopped finely

2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely

1 large bunch of Swiss Chard, stems removed and chopped into small pieces

1 large bunch of collard greens

1 small semi-hot pepper, such as a Cherry Hot, seeds and ribs removed, chopped finely

1/4 cup ground flax

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 Tablespoon dried thyme, divided

salt & pepper

1 bay leaf or kombu

sprinkle of paprika

1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) In a stockpot, bring vegetable stock, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, bay leaf and a teaspoon of the dried thyme to a boil. Add millet, reduce heat and simmer until all stock is absorbed and millet is fluffy. Remove and discard bay leaf or kombu.

3) In a large frying pan, add onion and garlic, with ½ tsp olive oil and saute until just translucent. Add pepper and Swiss Chard and collards, cook until just wilted.

4) Combine the contents of the frying pan with the millet, adding the remaining dried thyme. Stir to combine all ingredients thoroughly.

5) Grease a casserole dish with ½ T olive oil and spread millet and chard mixture evenly over the dish. Sprinkle with flax seed and nutritional as if it were cheese (yum)

Dust lightly with paprika.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes for a crispier top.


I rinsed the millet and then toasted it on a sheet pan in the oven for about 10 minutes. Millet is very soothing for the digestive tract as well as being high in minerals and nutrients. Great for pregnant women suffering morning sickness.


Look at that chard-it's bright pink!


The finished dish was quite delicious. Very reminiscent of stuffing.