Tuesday, 29 November 2011

a very un-foodie thanksgiving

So, last year’s Thanksgiving was a kitchen marathon of sorts (aka Foodbuzz 24^3 event), which allowed for a lot of culinary creativity and local food. It was a fun (but exhausting) day culminated with $80 worth of homemade ice cream.

Unfortunately, this year I caught the plague of death, which got me banned from the kitchen and all food preparation. So much for getting the flu shot this year [totally bitter about this].


So, instead I present two post-Thankgiving recipes. The Brussels sprouts can really be made whenever. I’ve come to appreciate this vegetable after years of associating it with water chestnuts, jicama, and beets (the other 3 foods I despise). It’s quite miraculous, actually.

For this recipe, I halved the sprouts, tossed them with olive oil, salt, garlic, and pepper and roasted them @ 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. After roasting, I drizzled them with a tablespoon or two of maple syrup and added some dried cranberries.


A break from traditional turkey soup (although that was also consumed in our house post T-day). I made a basic pizza crust and topped it with a thin layer of cheese, sundried tomatoes, leftover turkey, onions, and mozzarella cheese.  


I felt better on Thanksgiving day and was super thankful for that among other things. And it was pretty fantastic to get 4 days off…one of the perks of switching to outpatient nutrition.

photo (6)

Looks like I’ll be downing the vitamin C and ordering more wheat grass stat. Being sick is not something I’d like to repeat anytime soon…

Any favorite ways to use up Tgiving leftovers?


Monday, 28 November 2011

Update to my Previous Post

I got some interesting comments to my last post so I just wanted to respond to them.  Lani had a different view of the Weekend Immersion, so please read her comment if you are interested.  Wendy pointed out a great post from her blog about the chemicals in food designed to make them as stimulating as possible.  I highly recommend reading this and watching the attached video.

Then I also wanted to update you on my roasted veggie experiment.  It turned out great!  For marinate I used juice from 1/2 orange, 1 Tbsp of black fig vinegar, and a squeeze of no-salt mustard--maybe 1-2 Tbsps?  I used onions, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potato.  About 1/4 lb each.  Tonight I will use more as I needed more food today.  maybe I'll use 1/3 lb each.  I think I'll cook it for 40 minutes with the foil, and 20 minutes without.  Yesterday I did 30 minutes and 15.  Actually that did turn out pretty good.  Maybe I will do 35 and 15.  I don't want them soggy.  or 30 and 20.  It might take me a few days to get it right.  My seasonings were fresh rosemary and sage.    It was really good!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Princeton Immersion, Thanksgiving, soup, and stuff

I went to Dr. Fuhrman's Princeton Immersion last weekend.  It was a wonderful trip for many reasons!  It was a great road trip with my friend Suz.  We stopped in Pittsburg to see my best pal Gail, sadly, only for a few hours.  I worked with a student for a day at Princeton which was very productive.  We visited with Suz's parents in Philidelphia.  And the immersion was fantastic.  It was jam-packed with lectures. Dr. Fuhrman is so energetic and interesting, you really can listen to him for hours.  Even better was the food.  This is the main reason I go, though I did learn a lot from the lectures.  I thought I knew it all by now, but one thing I get out of the in-person lectures is what Dr. Fuhrman is passionate about, and what is less certain scientifically.  It helps reinforce what the most important things are to keep in mind.  But the food!  It was the best I've ever had at one of these events.  I think that was in large part due to Chef Martin Oswald's contributions.  He owns a nutritarian restaurant in Aspen, Colorado!  (called the Pyramid Bistro).  He gave a talk on the last day and I have been having fun putting his tips into practice!  We got the recipes from the immersion and slides from his talk.  They are worth a lot!

So today I'm back from the holidays and putting some of my new knowledge into action.  My soup today has Indian spices and I cooked up the onion as Chef Martin described:  first you heat up a stainless steel pot until hot, then put the onions and garlic in.  They sizzle up, slightly brown, and then release their juices.  You don't need oil, and they still gain a nice flavor.  Fun, it worked!  I did that with the leeks, celery, collards and kale too.  Then the pot was looking pretty burned and I thought, this will take forever to clean up.  But then I did the mushrooms the same way.  Well, they release so much liquid that it just ended up cleaning up the pot.  When they were done, the pot was clean.  ha!   a nice accidental discovery.  My soup was just my usual pile of things that I found in the co-op or my freezer.  I soaked beans, red himalayan rice, lentils, and purple barley overnight, and started cooking them in the morning.  Then cooked up the onions, garlic, celery, leeks, mushrooms, even the collards and kale, like Chef Martin described.  Added them to the pot one by one.  Oh I cooked up a festival squash in the oven, then added it to the soup after it cooled.  Oh yeah, and while cooking up the onion and other veggies, I added some graram masala and curry powder as they cooked.  Add the end I added some currants and fresh ground ginger.  It made for a nice hearty soup.  I froze most of it in single-serving containers.  yum.  I think I'll have it for breakfast every day.   I'll be doing my food prep at night this week.

My food plans for the week are soup for breakfast, and salad and roasted veggies for lunch and dinner.  The salads will be micro-salads made from lettuce, cabbage, maybe some broccoli and cauliflower, all cut up finely in the food processor; and topped with pomegranate seeds, grapefruit or orange, seed mixture, and flavored vinegar.  I love these.  The name should be changed from micro-salad to high-powered salad because it is so nutrient rich.  Tonight I'll experiment with roasted veggies.  I hope I can get this right.  I'm going to follow Chef Martin's advice to cover with foil at first so they essentially steam cook (before burning on the outside), then take of the foil to roast at the end.  I'll top with fresh herbs.  The veggies available now (that I like) are broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, onions, leeks, and sweet potato.  I'll do a little of each.  I am just learning to do this.  It would be nice to do a big batch and eat them for several days but I'm not sure how well they will keep.  I think I'll start off by just trying to do one day at a time and hope it isn't too time consuming.  I will add some flavored vinegar and mustard as marinate.  I got some fresh sage and rosemary at the co-op and have some basil from the garden in my freezer.  I hope this works!

Well, this post is long enough so I won't go into Thanksgiving much except to say I made apple sauce for my "brother-in law."  He had two 18 lb bags of apples!  holy cow, we had all the burners going:

It was fun though.  I nibbled a lot on the apples.  In fact, it was so much fun, we decided to make some for ourselves when we got home.  My batch has no sugar in it.  I'm not sure what I will use it in as I am not a great dessert maker or baker, the usual use of apple sauce.  But, heck, it probably could go in soup.

Here's tonight's quick salad I threw together, which is yummy, as salads always are:

That's got lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, blueberries, banana, small orange, seed mixture, and d'angou pear vinegar.

whew.  time to go fold laundry, then start tomorrow's food prep.  whew!  

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

adventures in pasta making

Making food with other people is one of my favorite things ever. There’s just something fantastic about taking time to cook good food in a culture which thrives on fast-paced everything.


The fact that this from-scratch dinner was created on a Friday night post an exhausting work week was especially significant. I guess that would explain {in part} why I made and then forgot a pan of garlic bread in the oven…until the next morning. Croutons, anyone?

Other people kept themselves entertained by riding my bike around the living room and rearranging furniture. So helpful.


Homemade pasta is tricky. We used whole wheat flour, which made the noodles more dense, but they were still delicious. We also didn’t end up using the extruder attachment because the dough was pretty sticky. Any tips from seasoned pasta experts?


vegetarian pasta sauce [dave made this, and it was deeelish]

  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 T. flour
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 t. sea salt, plus more to taste
  • creative additions: goat cheese and parmesan cheese
  • Grind cashews in food processor. Sauté onion, garlic, and basil in olive oil. Create roux from 1 T olive oil, 1 T flour, and 2 cups milk. Add nutritional yeast, salt, and goat cheese if you want. Add sauté mix to roux and cashews and process in blender until smooth.

    We capped the meal with amazing tiramisu, thanks to my friend Jenn’s handy work with egg yolks, ladyfingers, and an abundance of mascarpone cheese. It was so good and so food-coma inducing.


    Making food with excellent company is wonderful, as are good friends who help you do the dishes when all you really want to do is turn off the lights and pretend a mountain of dirty pans will not be sitting in your sink the next morning.

    In other news, the warm weather this weekend brought a return to running. I took a week off, and it definitely helped, although I was completely antsy and ready to run by the time Saturday rolled around. However, I have decided that the extra yoga was definitely beneficial and a pretty great endoftheday destresser. 

  • Until next time, friends…


    btubs :: when was the last time you made dinner with someone else?

  • Sunday, 13 November 2011


    Hi everyone,

    I just posted two other posts below this one, so feel free to check them out.

    How's your Thanksgiving Challenge going?   Mine is going fine.  To be honest, I'm not really doing a Challenge with a deadline, I'm just trying to live my life and enjoy my healthy eating as I go.  I'm concentrating on work right now.   So I'm chugging along with my healthy eating and exercise and work and play.  Note that Dr. Fuhrman is hosting a Holiday Challenge if you want to join that.  It starts on Nov. 21.

    Despite my new emphasis on work, I planned several months ago to attend Dr. Fuhrman's Weekend Immersion which is coming up next weekend!  I'm driving out with nutritarian friend Suz.  We leave on Wed.  Should be fun.  Actually I will work with a colleague there on Friday before the immersion starts so I'm looking forward to that.

    I've been eating a lot of squash the last few weeks.  Okay, I went a little overboard. I think when I get back from my trip, I will just have one squash a week that I'll dump into my soup after I cook both up during my weekend food prep fests.  But I have two more of these festival squashes which are really good and they are not too big.  I will eat one today, and one on Tuesday.  In fact, I am hungry now so looking forward to digging into part of it at lunch time.  Here's a picture of it, after baking and cooling:

    It's so easy to prepare this way:  just throw it in the oven, bake for 1.5 hours at 350 F, let cool, then cut in half, remove the seeds, remove the good stuff and mix it in with your soup our just mash up with some pumpkin pie spice.  It's very moist when you bake it in the skin.  The skin tastes good too.  Lost of people shared their favorite cooking techniques on one of my previous posts here.

    Oh, I've also been enjoying pomegranates the last few weeks!  I've had them in my micro salads with an apple too in addition to all the veggies.  That plus a little lime juice adds a great flavor.   This post describes what I've been doing on weekdays mostly.

    The Pleasure Trap

    I've mentioned in a few past posts, I am a huge fan of Dr. Douglas Lisle, an evolutionary psychologist who helps us "nutritarians" understand why it's so hard to go against the grain.  He follows Dr. McDougall's plan, and works Dr. Alan Goldhammer at the True North Health Center.  These are all very similar to Dr. Fuhrman's plan:  a whole foods, plant based diet with no oils, very limited refined sugars, and very limited salt.   This makes us very different from everyone else!

    I had read Dr. Lisle's "The Pleasure Trap" once or twice before, but I finally sat down to watch the DVD over the last few weeks.  It consists of 3 lectures.  They were probably given at one of Dr. McDougall's Advanced Study Weekends, which are awesome (I've never attended but I purchased the online lectures from the last one and they are really interesting).   Anyway, back to the Pleasure Trap, I think the DVD is much better than the book!   Normally I prefer reading books, but I didn't get nearly as much out of the book in this case.  There are three concepts he gets across in the DVD (and book probably) and I only got one of them out of the book (duh).  These concepts are part of his, I think he calls it, the motivational triad, where all animals, including humans:
    1. seek pleasure
    2.  conserving energy
    3. pain avoidance

    You can see how each one of these can get us into trouble in today's artificial food world.  

    1.  We seek pleasure.  We evolved to get pleasure from sweet and high-caloric foods because it helps us 2, conserve energy.   Of course, now we have an overabundance of highly addictive sweet, high fat, and high salt food.   The Pleasure Trap is a consequence of this.  This is:  if we don't eat these sweet and processed foods, we get plenty of pleasure from fruits and whole foods, and we have our ups and downs and obstacles and just go along and are sometimes happy and sometimes not.   If we start eating highly processed foods and drugs (caffeine, chocolate, sweets, even white bread), we get great stimulation and surges, great pleasure hits.  But here is the kicker:  we get used to it and after a while, the pleasure from eating these things comes more from the cessation of pain when we are withdrawing from them (e.g., before we have our morning coffee).  So after a while, we just have our same ups and downs and aren't getting anymore pleasure than the guy eating fruit and squash and rice and beans.  While it might not be easy, we can break this pleasure trap, and eat the healthy diet and get just as much pleasure.  To help people break the cycle, you can go to these health immersions that Dr. McDougall and Dr. Fuhrman offer, or go fast for a week at True North, then eat their food for a week, and totally reset your taste buds.  

    2.  Conserving energy.  It's good to recognize that this is an intuitive motivational drive.  Now we see the problem with fast food drive up windows.  Talk about an easy way to get 1000 calories quickly!  Our ancestors never had it so easy.  This is also why we crave high-calorie foods.  We intuitively seek them out.   The way to address this is to consciously fill up on low-calorie foods.  Fortunately these are usually nutrient-dense, even while being low-calories--things like vegetables of all kinds.  After a period of abstinence you can lose your taste for fat.  I even find sugar is too sweet for me now.  even dates.  I love the sweetness in carrots (but then our local carrots are really good!).  

    3.  Pain avoidance.  Oddly enough, you would think this is the least related to food issues, but for me, at the stage I'm at where I like eating this way and knowing how to do it in my sleep, this is the issue I am working on, and it's nice to understand better that it's because I'm a normal human that I struggle with this.  and that is, social pain!  We have a very strong evolutionary motivation to be accepted by our peers and fit in with them.  Our egos are designed to tell us where we stand in the hierarchy and who are friends are (I'm paraphrasing and might not have got this right, but it sounded fascinating!).  For me, going off plan is never about the taste of the food.  I don't like the taste anymore!   But I still do it occasionally, and for the dumbest of reasons--because the person in line in front of me is doing it!   It's about being one of them.  I thought about this at my meditation class last week.  Sometimes I look at unhealthy people and I think, I don't want to be like them, and yet, I do.  So I embraced them in my mind and I said, I am you and you are me and we are all the same (you tend to have these new agey thoughts when you meditate, ha!).  And when I think that way, then I can avoid the food.  I realize, I'm not rejecting them when I reject the food.  And hopefully they aren't rejecting me, which is what really counts from an instinctive perspective.  I think men and women are different on this in some ways in that men are more prone to the hierarchy and have to learn how to do their healthy-eating thing in a non-threatening way to the alpha brother-in-law they are spending the weekend with; and women are more prone to wanting to be accepted and to not offend and we have to learn how to interact in a way that we still feel we are accepted and fitting in.  Dr. Lisle describes different ways to respond to other people depending on their attitude.  I need to stop writing now, so I'll leave that for you to find out when you watch the DVD.  

    Final Garden Harvest

    Today after my jog, I stopped off at the garden, looked it over, and decided the collards and kale really aren't growing anymore, so it's time to harvest what's left and pull the plants.  We had a couple of hard freezes the last few weeks, and that is supposed to sweeten them up.  It appears to be the case as confirmed by my nibbles during harvest.    Here's a picture of the collards after one frosty night last week:

    Today I cut off all the rest of the leaves, de-stemmed them, stuffed them into freezer bags, and put them in the downstairs freezer.  Here's a picture of the freezer:  

    This is collards, broccoli leaves, cauliflower leaves, and brussels sprouts leaves (they all look like collards); brussels sprouts are in the door (not shown).  This is pretty easy to do.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, it will be even easier to cook them up, because if you crinkle them with your hands, immediately after taking them out of the freezer, they crumble into small pieces--that is, no chopping!   How easy is that?

    These are so economical!  If I use one bag a week in soup, I think I've got several months worth of greens in the freezer!  Dang, we only paid about $10 for all these plants and they give us greens for at least 6 months of the year.

    The kale is good enough to eat raw on salads, so I don't usually freeze it.  I harvested two big bags of it and hope to be able to eat it over the next week.  I will be traveling with a  nutritarian friend so maybe we can share it.

    Tuesday, 8 November 2011

    quick dinners and dumb ankles

    Quick weeknight dinners are even more essential now that it’s darker and colder, and I have an overpowering desire to take a nap as soon as I get home from work. I’ve been living on soup for the past few weeks, but that does start to get old after a while. Especially since I end up eating the same soup for a week straight.

    A new favorite…whole wheat tortillas with goat cheese, spinach, sundried tomatoes, and caramelized onions.


    Another quick dinner idea: sautéed, spiralized zucchini with onions, garlic, a shake of parmesan cheese, and lots of black pepper. and organic polenta.


    And…sad day for bad gymnastics ankle and running. I’ve had bad ankles since my days as a flippy mcflipperson and an injury that included simultaneous ankle sprains. I heard a pop during my windy run on Sunday that does not bode well for running this week [which is frustrating]. Looks like a whole lotta yoga (and icing) is on tap…


    In other news, I have decided that it would be super fantastic to learn Copland’s Clarinet Concerto this year [not so sure my neighbors agree]. I worked a little on this piece my senior year of college…and it’s funny how listening to it brings back a ton of memories, kind of reminiscent of how certain smells immediately remind me of particular places and people.


    Amazing dinner of epicness planned for Friday night…and it will not involve soup.


    btdubs :: fave quick weeknight meal?

    Monday, 7 November 2011

    we eat good food

    Today I got an appreciation of how much I’ve learned the last 6 years of being a nutritarian.  A co-worker was curious about my squash and I said “it’s squash mixed in with a little veggie bean soup.”   I gave her a taste and she said, “You must have added lots of spices.”  I said, no that’s actually the taste of the squash.  It’s very flavorful.   She said, I have no idea how to cook that.  I said, I just threw it in the oven for an hour.  Someone else chimed in saying you need olive oil to keep it from drying out, and I said, no, just put it in whole and the moisture stays in.  I think when the conversation ended, my friend still felt that squash was beyond her skill level (despite her Ph.D. in astrophysics).  I suspect she thought you had to do something fancy to make it taste that good.    That was me too 6 years ago.  I didn’t realize how good fresh high quality produce could taste.  I thought you had to know a lot and put a lot of effort into making food taste good.  I relied on restaurants to supply me with the really good food.  I figured, they were the professionals.  Now I realize whole foods hold fantastic flavors.  Processed and restaurant foods can’t compete. 

    It’s good to realize this because I sometimes get the silly notion that I am deprived because I don’t get to enjoy the same foods as everyone else.  Sure, my food can’t compete with ice cream for pure stimulation.  But pretty much everything else I make tastes a lot, and I mean, a lot, better than what I used to eat.

    Thursday, 3 November 2011

    Winter Squash!

    How did I go so long without appreciating winter squash?  Oh my gosh, my food has been so good this week.   I've been trying different squashes out.  Here's what I bought at the store:

    That's festival, red kuri (I think), acorn, and delicata.  Today I bought a butternut.   The festival, which may also be called sweet dumpling or carnival (I think), was fantastic!   The delicata and red kuri were bland.  I read in wikipedia that red kuri gets real sweet when ripe so I think I'll let my second one sit around for a month and then try it.   Not sure I'll go for the delicata again.  The acorn was very good, definitely a repeat.  I've had butternut before, will have that tomorrow and I expect that will be good.  

    Since I am the ultimate lazy cook, here's how I prepared them:   put them in the oven at 300 F for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Head of to exercise class.  return, turn off oven, let cool, cut open, remove some of the seedy stuff, leaving the yummy stuff, mix that in with soup.  The soup I made last weekend and froze in daily containers.  This had beans, tomatoes, some grains, lots of garden/local veggies, and some spices.   Oh, I also add some grated ginger and pumpkin pie spice to the mixture.  Here's a picture of my daily meals this week.  At left is the soup/squash mixture.  

    At right are "micro-salads."  This is a bunch of veggies and fruit chopped in a food processor.  This week it was usually romaine lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, kale, apple, pomegranate seeds, orange juice and fruit infused vinegar.   Very yummy.   Today for a treat I had the same veggies, but mango, strawberries, raspberries, and banana for the fruit.  I had these fruits on hand for a fruit salad I made for housemate.   As usual, I ate carrots and kohlrabi while preparing.  

    I might be boring and eat this way for a couple of weeks.  That's kind of what I do.  

    Tuesday, 1 November 2011

    corn maze, soup, and an apartment tour…

    My latest fall adventure involved a trek through a corn maze with some friends; I now fully understand why people get lost in these things. In fact, I think it’d be absolutely terrifying to wander through at night.


    Unfortunately, it had been a very rainy morning, so the maze was pretty muddy. One of the kids in front of us completely wiped out. I bet that was one unhappy trip home. I hope his parents bought him a donut.


    The corn maze was conveniently housed on a farm, so I bought a butternut squash to make one of my fave cold weather soups (also a delicious way to use up some of the apples left over from last weekend). Topped with a smattering of local cheese, this soup is  packed with lots of vitamin A and C. Winter squash also contains fiber, potassium, omega 3 fatty acids, and B vitamins, perfect for helping the immune system as flu season sets in.


    And now a little apartment tour…if you’re totally not interested, I won’t be offended; you can skip right down the post. :) Most everything is vintage, thrifted, repurposed, or handmade.


    These lovely [slightly crooked, I know!] frames are courtesy of Happy Go Vintage, the ex-apartmentmate’s Etsy store.  She has lots of awesome vintage finds if you’re interested in unique housewares.


    Sadly, the fireplace is out of commission, but it’s a great spot for my collection of random candles. 


    I converted an old trunk my parents had into a coffee table and home for artsy poetry magazines. I made the magazine coasters a few years ago…oh, the magic of modge podge.


    I have two huge windows in my kitchen, which allows for a wealth of natural light. I appreciate this.


    And yes, that is an art piece made out of paper towel and toilet paper tubes.   


    Another busy week of fielding food allergy questions and TPN (IV nutrition) calculations. Hoping to blog about some test recipes I’m using for some kiddos with allergies soon.

    So excited that it’s already Wednesday tomorrow…


    btdubs :: what things are you grateful for this week?