Wednesday, 30 March 2011

sustainability fused music

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that music has been a big part of my life. Last weekend I went home to see an orchestra concert centered around the theme of sustainability. Super nerdy, but I actually like going to concerts alone; I don’t enjoy them if I’m constantly worried that the people I’m with are bored or want to leave.


[I used to spend HOURS in a practice room…in college and grad school, I played at least 2-4 hrs/day!].

While there were some absolutely fantastic musical moments, the corresponding media presentation left a lot to be desired. But still, it was refreshing and exciting to see that my hometown is beginning to explore the concept of sustainability.


Speaking of green-friendly things, lately, I’ve been all about the smoothies. I especially crave them after running…


kale + banana + almond milk


kale + blueberries + banana + almond milk

Can you tell I’m kind of obsessed with kale right now?! And I’m excited for more produce to be in season. This summer, I’m pretty sure I’m going to pick a crazy amount of blueberries.

Also, CSN sent me this lovely set of knives to review [while I received them for free, the following review is my own opinion)].


After picking them up at a Fedex holding center (which very much resembled a maximum security prison), I tested them on some celery.


Their sharpness didn’t blow me away, but then again maybe that’s a good thing…I’d like all my fingers to remain intact, thank you very much. And let’s be honest, the last knife set I owned was a Target special, so these are a huge improvement.

favorite smoothie ingredient?! ready, go…


p.s. did anyone see the article in the NY Times about food dyes and behavioral problems?! pretty interesting stuff…but I still think companies should be required to disclose GMOs just as they’re required to alert us to artificial food dyes.

Monday, 28 March 2011

weekend cooking and potluck

I had a fun weekend of cooking and we had a nutritarian potluck too. It was great fun. I made Dr. Fuhrman's famous anti-cancer soup. It was good but I like my soups better. It makes a huge batch though, which is great. Here it is in my giant stock pot:

We had that at the potluck, and still had tons leftover to freeze into lunch-size portions.

For the potluck, Jim brought spring rolls and dipping sauces which were yummy. Colleen brought baked apples with a raisin cashew sauce. And Sue brought tomatoes and bananas. We enjoyed our food and gabbed for hours. Sue left me with large a ripe banana which I froze and then blended up for breakfast on Sunday--with nothing else! It's yummy.

On Saturday, after I made the soup and before the potluck, I made house-mate's smoothies for the week. But first I had a yummy fruit salad with some of the fruit.

On Sunday, we had soup and manna bread for lunch. Then at dinner I was back into my weeknight routine of making confetti salads for the next day. This is my last week of eating carrots. I have about 10 lbs left but they are probably not going to last for more than a week. It was a great year for local carrots. But the end of carrots is also the start of spring produce. The California strawberries were on special today and they are good. Soon we'll have local spinach and salad greens.

My weekday meals this week will be confetti salads, beans or soup, and manna bread for breakfast and lunch; and carrots and other veggies at dinner.

new cookbook

Chef AJ has published her cookbook Unprocessed. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet (just got the book last week) but have read the book cover to cover. It looks great. For one thing, the chapter on her story is amazing. Wow! What a turn-around she had when she replaced unhealthy (processed) food with healthy (unprocessed). She follows this with a few short chapters on why and how to eat healthy, concise, entertaining, and to the point. For another thing, she starts the recipes with desserts. That's my kind of cookbook. And finally, her recipes look easy to make, with usually less than 10 ingredients, and 1-2 short paragraphs describing how to make them. I'll tell you what I want to make: chocolate fondue. holy cow: peanut butter and chocolate. I might have to forgo the chocolate and just make it a peanut butter fondue.

banana bread

Not my recipe, another one from Virtually Vegan Mama. I'd like someone to make this and give me a piece. :) It looks good.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

the renal diet is [seriously] crazy

I’m working with a lot of patients with renal (kidney-related) disease at my new job, and the diet I have to recommend for many of these patients is one that would be very difficult to follow myself.


For being such small organs (approximately each the size of a fist), the kidneys do a whole lotta work!

  • filter waste from the blood
  • release erythropoeitin, which stimulates production of red blood cells
  • regulate electrolytes (sodium, potassium) and release renin, which regulates blood pressure
  • release calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, which helps maintain calcium for bones and for normal chemical balance in the body
  • regulate acid-base balance

When your kidneys aren’t working properly, this affects sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein regulation, which may require you to decrease consumption of foods that contain these items.

These would be some of the hardest ones for me to give up…

  • bananas
  • oranges
  • sweet potatoes
  • beans
  • peanut butter
  • chocolate

I’d really love to come up with some fun food ideas that fit into the kidney diet guidelines, a sort of cookbook to give to clients with creative recipes. Like cauliflower mac & cheese and faux chicken nuggets (because let’s face it…all children love these foods).


I made whole wheat apple muffins recently. If made a smidge smaller, they might just fit into the renal diet [**edited to add: Since I've received some comments about this, I wanted to say that in general, these muffins would not be acceptable as a regular part of a renal diet. I think that most foods can fit into the renal diet as special treats, but they should not be consumed occasionally. As always, consult your renal dietitian, who is familiar with your specific case, labs, meds, etc. before making any dietary changes].

My modifications: sub applesauce for the butter and leave out some of the sugar (or don’t…I won’t tell).


Yes, these are giant muffins because I have a Texas-sized muffin tin, which is incredibly fun to use and requires less filling of muffins cups, which I also appreciate.


Time for a run…it’s sunny but still cold here! Spring can come anytime…..anytime.

How would you do on the renal diet?!


Monday, 21 March 2011

more desserts

ooh, just came across these too:

and Grab-n-Go Chocolate-Banana Oat Bars from the same. This looks even easier, more my style and she says she likes it better. I would just grind up some hemp seed to substitute for the hemp protein powder.

Quinoa, Apricot and Oat Muffin Clusters

Just saw this posted on virtually vegan mama's blog. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks good to me. hmm, I'm having a potluck next week. Maybe I'll try it out there.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Nutrtarian Potluck in Madison, WI

If you live in the area, you are welcome to attend our Nutritarian Potluck next Saturday!

Lunch and Dinner

You know that joke when someone presents a big bowl of food to a group and says, "this is mine, what are you having?" That's how I am with salads every day. I eat a lot of salads. I guess you could say I'm addicted. Today's ingredients are: romaine lettuce, kale, broccoli raab (first time!), broccoli, cauliflower, red bell pepper, cucumber, apple, cilantro, seed mixture, and d'angou pear vinegar.

Today I also had (or will have) some beans (yum!), a piece of manna bread (yum!), lots of carrots (yum!), and some orange remainders (weird yes, but yum).

Tonight I'll prep tomorrow's confetti salads since it's a work day tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that because I'll add mango and blueberries to it, along with the veggies (lettuce, kale, cabbage, broccoli raab, broccoli, cauliflower) and seasonings (seed mixture, vinegar, cilantro).

This week's beans!

This week's beans are so good! Wow, they taste like baked beans only without the added fat, salt, and sugar. I basically followed this recipe. I used rancho gordo cargamanto cranberry bean. They are kind of big and creamy, yet don't fall apart. But any dried bean would do. I chopped the onion and mushrooms in the food processor, out of laziness. This changes the texture compared to chopping with a knife. Either way is good. The mushrooms give the dish a kind of meaty texture. I dished it out into 10 bowls to freeze and take into work. Yum!

For fun I calculated the nutritional info per serving: calories, 234; protein 12 g (20%); carbs 45 g (77%), fat less than 1 gm.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

This week's foods

I've been eating a lot of raw foods lately. It's mostly because I haven't been making the time to cook, but I also like it. I'm in a happy rut with these "confetti" or "micro" salads. My base is usually lettuce, baby bok choy, spinach, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, sometimes red bell pepper, cucumber. Then if I go the savory route, maybe some tomatoes, beans, corn, spices (e.g., Mexican or Italian). Or go the sweet route, some yummy fruit like apple, grapefruit, strawberries, mango, blueberries, mango (not all of them, 1 or 2). Then maybe some cilantro and lime juice, and/or flavored vinegar and/or orange juice. Yesterday I had fresh strawberries and blackberries. Was that ever yummy. A few days ago I had an apple and grapefruit. On weekdays last week I had a big one of these salads for brekky and lunch. I've also been eating a ton of carrots. The season for local carrots will end soon. I'm on maybe the last 25 lb bag. They are sweet and yummy. My dinners lately have included large portions of carrots. I'm just having fun eating large quantities before they run out. The good news is, about the time they run out, we start seeing spring crops at the grocery store--local spinach and lettuce greens. So I'll have something new to look forward to.

About the only cooked thing I've been eating lately is beans. Today I prepped my favorite mixture of beans, carrot juice, onions and mushrooms, to cook up tomorrow. I also made housemate smoothies and my seed mixture. Tomorrow I probably won't feel like being in the kitchen much so will probably just scrounge on raw veggies and beans. And manna bread. I've had that the last few days. I think that's raw too.

manna bread

I've mentioned this brand of bread in previous posts. Here is the description from their website:

What is Manna bread? It is a cake-like, sprouted bread, yeast free bread, organic bread, free of salt, no oils, no sweeteners, no leavening agents. Manna is a moist and delicious, high in protein and fiber. Available in 9 delicious flavors.

I've posted before about the carrot raisin flavor. That is pretty sweet and more dessert like. Our co-op just started carrying their multi-grain version, with the following ingredients:

Sprouted organic wheat kernels, filtered water, organic brown rice, organic barley, organic millet, organic flax seed, organic rye kernels, organic soy beans, organic rolled oats, organic oat bran, organic cornmeal.

I really like this. It has a slight sweet taste even though it's all grains (and flax seed and soy beans? weird). It satisfies my desires to eat grains and bread-like foods, but I don't have desires to overeat it.

[pseudo] spring break!

Currently taking a self-imposed spring break before work gets super crazy. Pretty much the best idea ever:

family ski trip: lots of laughing, some faceplanting (never try to push me as we get off the lift or bad things will happen to you), and gorgeous weather.


epic day of yeast-bread baking: yeast is a unicellular organism that ferments sugar into carbon dioxide gas, causing bread to rise. Making yeast bread can be a little tricky because the water temperature for dissolving has to be just right (100-110 F).


I helped Dave make this recipe for whole wheat bread with caraway and anise, which ends with semi-braiding the bread. It was hardcore (as in 10 minutes of kneading which I didn’t do) but turned out really well…it’s pretty amazing to make and eat your own bread.


The second best use of yeast is to make homemade pizza dough. I actually prefer homemade pizza over other pizza. And it’s incredibly easy (and cheap!) to make.


Super excited that spring starts this Sunday…it’s about time!

Do you have a fave recipe that incorporates yeast?


Sunday, 13 March 2011

preservative-free snackage

I officially finished M. Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma this past week. If you haven’t read his books, I’d highly recommend them for an in-depth look at what our food system has become. Seriously scary.


Many of Pollan’s sentiments regarding food echo my own, and I’ve definitely become enlightened on the whole industrial organic scheme and the crazy ingredients in packaged products. I don’t eat many, but even the ones I occasionally buy sometimes make me cringe.

For example:



Hello, sketchy ingredients.

Enter this version:


Ingredients: whole wheat flour, salt, turbinado sugar, baking soda, olive oil, butter.

Much, much better. I left out the extra salt and butter because you’ll find these already have plenty of butter.


Now, there is no way I could possibly make as many crackers as some autobot-powered machine. However, I also was ill-equipped (no clue where my rolling pin is…I used a can of olive oil spray). I think the yield should really be between 40-50 crackers (mine was closer to 30).


These crackers are also pretty awesome with peanut butter dip [greek yogurt + PB + vanilla extract + cinnamon]. And you don’t have to eat 60 billion because they definitely are more filling than those of a certain brand.


Maybe I was excited to eat them. Or maybe I was excited that it was 40 degrees outside = perfect running weather. Or…maybe it was that extra hour of sleep I lost…


I also outsmarted my super sensitive smoke detector by taking out the battery…success!

What did you do this weekend?!


***Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the craziness happening in Japan. I can’t even completely comprehend the situation but am most certainly thinking of all who are grieving…

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

rainy wednesday

It rained all day, and I have to confess that I actually enjoy rain. Despite the fact that the sun is hiding, I like the sound of rain, the slightly melancholy mood it potentiates, and the excuse it provides to eat soup and homemade bread.


[Even without the heat on, my apt is 60 billion degrees, which is awesome for proofing bread.]

I love homemade sourdough bread, but I decided to try this no-knead bread from Mark Bittman since I haven’t made any starter yet. It was pretty easy; you can quickly mix up the dough before work and bake it when you come back. Using whole wheat flour makes the bread especially dense and gives it a nutty flavor.


And this butternut squash and apple soup has become one of my favorites. I pre-cooked the squash yesterday to save time. Confession: I never roast the spices. And I don’t measure them either. But it always seems to work out okay.


In other news, I’m kind of in love with running in the rain. Although I splashed through some major puddles and was completely soaked after an hour, I see rain as a sign that spring is coming (finally…geez!), and I’m pretty excited about that.

Rain…love it or hate it?


Monday, 7 March 2011

belief ----> action

Whenever I move to a new place, it’s not long before I start to notice little quirks…like the large flock of geese that honk at all hours of the day (and night) and a very sensitive smoke alarm that went off no less than 4 times when I was roasting butternut squash. But, that just gives the space character, right?!


I had some requests for an apartment tour. Honestly, it makes me cringe to let you see everything half finished, but here’s one wall in progress; there are faux polaroid photos going on top of the corkboards eventually. Btdubs, everything is not crooked, the photographer just doesn’t know how to hold a camera straight…


Embroidery is super easy, and it makes inexpensive wall art [tutorial here!]. The frames are simply embroidery hoops that I painted in 5 minutes.


I stitched this piece during the snow craziness this weekend. To me, trees symbolize growth and hope, so I think it’s a pretty relevant piece of wall art for this stage in my life…


Lately, I’ve been pondering the intersection between belief and action. If you truly believe in something, won’t you do it? And if you don’t, does that mean you don’t really believe it after all?

For me, this means putting into practice the nutrition principles I value: eating real food, moderation, local and sustainable food, etc. I find it ironic that my busy dietitian job is forcing me to be more thoughtful about nutrition [as in, I have to plan healthful meals or they won’t happen!].


I’ve seen variations of sweet potato hummus floating around the blogosphere, so I decided to give it a try. I’m definitely more of a savory hummus fan, and the sweet potato gives this a sweet bent, so I’m not quite sure what I think of it.

[modified] sweet potato hummus :: based on gena’s recipe

  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked, skin removed, and cut into chunks
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained,
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice from 1/2 an orange
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • black pepper to taste
  • shake of cinnamon
  • water

Mix everything together and blend via food processor. This hummus also weirdly tastes good with bbq sauce. Maybe because I love eating sweet potato fries with this particular condiment?

Anyone else have any unique hummus recipes?!


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Bean veggie soup

This is just beans, lots of veggies that Dr. Fuhrman always recommends, some grains, and carrot juice. Tastes real good.

1 lb beans
juice of 5 lbs carrots (or 1 quart store-bought)
1/4 cup hulled barley
1/4 cup brown rice
1/4 cup wild rice
1-2 onions
1 lb mushrooms
4 cloves garlic
1 stalk broccoli
1/3 cauliflower
1 zucchini
1 bunch kale

I soaked the beans overnight in the carrot juice in a big stock pot. If you prefer, you can soak them in water overnight, then rinse in the morning, then add the carrot juice. Start cooking the beans in carrot juice while chopping all the veggies. I used a food processor to chop them. Put them in a big bowl and stir them up. Once the beans have cooked for an hour or so, you can add the veggies and grains. Cook for another hour or two until the beans are tender.

Wow, I forgot to add spices and it still tasted great. You could add some oregano or thyme, heck I don't know, maybe some of those spice mixes like Fines Herbes, Herbes de Provence, Bouquet Garni.

This made a lot of soup. We ate lots (too much), then I dished them into 1-cup bowls to freeze and eat whenever I want. Here they are in the freezer. Oops I should clean out the freezer. I had a spill in there a while back. It's mainly hemp seeds but it's messy...

tomorrow's salad

Let's see if I can remember what went into this:

1 head lettuce
1/2 small head cabbage
1 stalk broccoli
1/3 cauliflower
1/2 cucumber
1 celery stalk
some spinach and arugula, maybe 1 cup packed each?
2 apples, cored

1 cup frozen corn
juice of 1 small orange and 1 small lime
2 Tbsp seed mixture (soaks up the juice)

Chop everything (except the last 3) in food processor and combine in a big bowl. Add the last three ingredients. The lime adds a nice zing. I wonder if cumin would be good in this. Or cinnamon...or pumpkin pie spice. It seemed good as it was so I didn't want to mess with it. Update: I did try pumpkin pie spice the next day and didn't like it so much--doesn't go well with the lime. Fortunately it didn't ruin it, but I don't recommend it.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

back in the loop

I was only without internet for a week, but I kinda feel like I’ve been disconnected from the world! I have a habit of starting each morning with the New York Times website (in an attempt to be more educated about world events) + coffee, and I’m a compulsive email checker.
When I was home this past weekend, the most bizarre thing happened. In the midst of moving furniture, I left my wallet on the trunk of my dad’s car…and he drove off with it like that! I didn’t realize it until the next morning but miraculously found it in a snow bank. Everything was still there…just snowcovered.
Moving, as expected, was a giant pain. But I have to say I LOVE having my own space. After being around patients and craziness all day, I just need Pandora and a clean apartment. And I can now walk to work, which is pretty fantastic.
Other than that, I’m trying to up my vegetable intake to combat the effects of stress and increased exposure to all sorts of lovely germs. Bring on the kale smoothies…
And I definitely tested out my oven this weekend by baking some banana bread. I think my new neighbors will love living next to me…maybe this will make up for playing my clarinet in the apartment (ha).
Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! More nutrition-related posts coming soon…promise.
p.s. another CSN review coming. Lately, I've been browsing their office furniture, especially since my desk chair got lost somewhere in transit during the move.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Mexican Chopped Salad

Today's salad started with my usual veggies chopped in a food processor: romaine lettuce, kale, bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. Stir in a giant mixing bowl.

Then I chopped 2 apples and a yellow bell pepper in the food processor and added those. I would have added cilantro but I didn't have any. Stir into the giant mixing bowl.

Then tomatoes from a 16 oz can (from our garden). beans. and 1 cup frozen corn. Stir into the giant mixing bowl.

I took the water from the can and added 3 Tbsp seed mixture, 1 Tbsp oregano, a sprinkle of chipotle powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1-2 Tbsp spicy pecan vinegar (any vinegar or lime or lemon will do), stirred that together and then stir into the giant mixing bowl.

I'm looking forward to lunch and dinner!

Breakfast was just nibbling on this and carrots and sugar snap peas while preparing.