Friday, May 30, 2008

Cauliflower, Romaine Lettuce, Preconceived Ideas

I had never been a big fan of cauliflower until last year when I learned how to roast it. Now you might think, what's so hard about roasting it? Don't you roast it as you would anyother vegetable? Sure! But sometimes there's little tricks that make it just that much better. For instance, cauliflower needs to be steamed, to soften it slightly, before letting it carmelize during the roasting my opinion. You can acheive that by covering the roasting sheet with foil for 10-15 min. and then uncovering it and roasting for an additional 10-15 min, depending on the size of the pieces. One of my favorite ways is to cut the cauliflower into wedges, through the core, instead of into small flowerettes. (I also trim the stalk, cut it into pieces, just as I would for broccoli also, and roasted it too along with the other pieces)

I have to give my friend, Jill, credit for turning me on to the website of Two Small Farms, and to the idea of the weekly CSA box of organic vegetables, which she also gets. Jill doesn't like cauliflower, or at least she hasn't liked it in the past, so she gave me hers, lucky me! But I've promised to show her how I roast it in the hopes of changing her mind, as much as I'd like to keep getting free cauliflower!

So one more thing.....we got another head of cauliflower this week, and as I was pulling the leaves off and throwing them away, it occured to me to cook the leaves. So I confess, I fished them out of the trash (they were on top!), washed them, and the next day, sliced them by lining them up and cutting crosswise into thin strips. I threw them into a hot pan with some spring garlic, stirfried quickly in a tbl. oil, a pinch of salt, and cooked for about 5 min. They had a slight cauliflower taste and stayed crunchy. And unless Fawn tells me that cauliflower leaves are food for pigs or cows or goats, I'll only but cauliflower at the farmers market with the leaves still on!

I roasted 2 heads of cauliflower with some small brussels, from the farmers market, and 1 large yam I've had for about 4 weeks (yikes!). With the leftover roasted veggies I made a salad using some romaine lettuce, and warm anchovy dressing....yum!

Warm Anchovy Dressing

Heat small pan, add 2 tbl. olive oil, when hot add 2-4 anchovy filets, chopped. Swirl around for about 1 minute, add 1-2 crushed garlic cloves for an additional minute, take off heat. Add the juice of one lemon, a pinch of salt and pour over salad and toss. (Be careful with the salt, depending on how much anchovy you use)

OK....romaine lettuce. I stand corrected! I love it! This is the reason for my original resistance.....I was under the assumption that most lettuces nutritional value was less than other choices like cabbages, spinach or greens, and it is much less than spinach and some greens, but not cabbage. In fact romaine lettuce has a good level of nutritional value, as well as plain old good flavor! I will actually buy it from now on!

Lesson? You have to be open to learning about new foods, by tasting....really tasting, not just looking at recipes, that include new foods, for ideas of flavor combinations, and checking out the nutritional facts.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Open to Joy

Oh, there's so much going on in my personal life right now that I would love to just write a post about chicken stock, or salads, or some new vegetable I'm digging, (Lord knows I've got tons of step by step pictures and recipes, etc., and that stuff is coming soon!) but knowing that life unfolds in ways that my attention and awareness is what's responsible for growth, I've been busy taking advantage of just letting things happen as they may, relaxing, remembering to let things flow, while not forgetting what's really important, my family, my home, my word, my integrity, my responsibility to be my best. To recognize when I can do better, and then do better. I haven't been willing to force some sort of creative energy to blog.

While I was in a yoga class one morning the teacher was guiding us into a pose, and during the last few seconds, when it gets really tough and you need the most strength to endure, she said, "Come on guys, struggle with it, don't give up, struggle." My immediate thought was that life's not supposed to be a struggle, and what would happen if, instead of struggling, I relaxed into the pose? Just relaxed...let it "happen".....let go, let it flow. Not that we don't experience struggles, we do, but once we recognize it as a struggle, can't we change our minds? See it for what it is, take what we need from it and then move on?

Like the yoga pose....once it starts to feel "hard", experience the pain, or the struggle, and then chose to let go. That may mean you fall out of the pose, or that may mean you fall "into" the pose. Either way it's a relief! It's just a pose. A position in time and space. And that changes everyday, every moment.

But what about "no pain, no gain"?

I love it when I'm reminded in yoga that some of the poses are supposed to open up you heart chakra. In these poses you pull yours arms back away from your heart, opening up that vulnerablity. I always take advantage of these times, in these poses, by reaching with trust and passion with outstretched arms and say to God (to the Universe), "I'm am here, take me and do what You will because I know it will be good, and it will be lovely. That I know". And as open as I am to goodness and to loveliness, I am also open to pain, and to discomfort, and I trust that whichever one comes to me, it is the experience that will guide my life forward. I'm not in a hurry to get to any one destination, I don't need a shortcut, there's too much goodness to be had along the way, and I want more, not less.

From pain we have the opportunity for joy. These past 3 years have been the happiest, most joyful, and the most appreciative, but looking back at my, almost, 45 years I see how much I acted from pain, instead of joy.....but that's over and I'm fine with that, because I have the next 45 years to act more from joy than pain. I think I'll chose that....act from joy, not pain. Everyday I can chose joy, what a relief.

I bought a t-shirt yesterday that says, "Let the sun shine in"......OK, I will!

Life is good, life is joy.....relax.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Butterfinger Thighs

Butterfingers have been my drug of choice lately. And I say that because sugar is a drug to me. Not a little bit of sugar, alot of sugar....not one or two candy bars, but 3 king size candy bars and 2 regular sized candy bars, and even at that point I have to talk myself into stopping. Compulsive overeating has been my eating habit for too long. And for me compulsive overeating almost always starts with a sugar craving. When I start to crave sugar I'm not hungry. I'm not hungry for food that is...I'm looking for a "feeling". I'm looking to change my consciousness the way a drug would. The way alcohol or any other type drug can change the way we feel, sugar just happens to be the one I like.

Now, I'm not writing about my particular habit of eating too much sugar compulsively because I'm sad about it, or mad about it or depressed about it, or tortured by it, it is, what it is, that's all. I've been doing alot of reading, thinking and talking about compulsive overeating, and binge eating, but I don't dwell on the reasons why it became a habit, instead I'm looking for ways to change it, and I succed in changing it many times. And the reason why I want to continue to change it is because it's just not healthy, plain and simple.

It's not healthy for 2 reasons, the obvious is that it can make you become fat by consuming too many calories that your body doesn't need. But you can be a more normal bodyweight and still compulsively overeat by managing it in some sort of way....I'm an example of that! The other reason, and the reason why I'm changing it, is that it doesn't make me feel good to experience acting in a way that is counter productive to how I want to I say I want to live and act. Mental health is as important as physical health. And although I'm not sad, mad, depressed, or tortured, it does create, or I should say, sometimes I let it create feelings of stress.

I know my body's natural weight set point is a reflection of healthy eating. Not just healthy foods, but healthy eating. I'm not at my body's natural set do I know? Because I know what I'm eating and how I'm eating it...compulsively! Three king size, and 2 regular sized candy bars is not natural! I'm not afraid of ever being 250lbs again, I know that will never happen, but how exciting to know that once I truly establish the habit of healthy eating I'll weigh exactly what I'm supposed to, naturally, easily and at peace.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Perfect Timing

Did I do it? Did I manage to not overshop? I think I did! As of this moment I only have a few artichokes (2 lg and 5 small...going in the pressure cooker tomorrow morning) and 1 head of romaine lettuce from last weeks CSA box! I'll tell you one thing, if I only ate, first, all of my good, fresh, healthy, foods, I wouldn't have this extra 5-10 lbs hanging around, lol! (Hmmnn...I think I'll try that approach!)

I supplemented with 3 cabbages, (2 green 1 red), 1 kale, 1 chard, 3 red bells, carrots (2lbs) 1 celery stalk, mushrooms (1lb), onions (5lbs), cilantro and 5 lemons...I think that's it! And, with the exception of the Romaine lettuce, it will all be used before I pick up my next box tomorrow night! I have to say, the lettuces are not my favorite, I just don't chose to eat lettuces! But 1/2 of the Romaine will be a Ceasar for me, and 1/2 for a Greek salad for Mark.

Gemelli Pasta w/Arugula, Roasted Red Bell and Black Olives

4 oz. gemelli pasta
extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch arugula
1 roasted red bell (see previous post about roasting peppers)
6-8 oil cured black olives, sliced
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Roast red bell, and cut into strips about the same size as the pasta. Stack and cut arugula leaves (removing any tough stems), crosswise 3-4 times. Cook pasta according to package directions until 'al dente, drain reserving some pasta water to thin sauce if needed. Toss hot pasta with oil and arugula to wilt, add red bell, olives and crumbled feta cheese.

This only serves 2! Although most people would use twice the pasta and the same amount of veggies (maybe a little more cheese!), if I were going to double the serving size I would double the other ingredients also. In fact I picked up a package of 3 tri-colored bell peppers from Trader Joes, because I know I'm getting more arugula this week and I want to make it again! (It killed me to buy peppers from freakin' Canada, but sometimes cheap and convenient gets me too! lol)

I actually had 2 things left over from the previous weeks CSA box, the turnip greens (those made it into veggie soup), and the arugula. Arugula is one of my favorite greens for pasta, so why it took me over a week to get around to using it, I don't know. It's fast and easy because it wilts with the heat of the pasta, and because of it's 'bite' I like it with sweet red bell. This time I had some feta cheese in the fridge and oil cured black olives. I only had one red bell and I chose to roast it, because I'm on a "pepper roasting roll", lol, it's so stinkin' easy! I might have even included some of the roasted jalapenos from a few days ago, except I ended up eating them all already!

Eat your veggies first, make life good!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Heat is On, in more ways than one!

We've been having a mini heat wave so I've been sweating my ass off in the gym, and making iced tea and fruit smoothies!
Green Tea and Papaya Smoothie

Slice papayas as you would melons, cut into smaller chinks and spread them on a small baking sheet lined with parchment, (or foil), and freeze. Combine frozen papaya chunks, tea, squeeze of 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp. sugar or honey, 1/2-1 c. ice, in blender. (I add 2tbl. pysillum fiber to mine)

Papayas are not that sweet, so combining them with another, more sweet fruit is also a good idea, like 1/2 mango, 1/2 banana, sweet strawberries, pineapple, etc. Pictured above is a Mexican papaya (large, dark orange), and a Hawaiian papaya (smaller, more yellow, more expensive, lol!)

************************************************************************************* Roasting Jalapenos

Just before I got to make my first shopping trip on Thursday to Whole Foods, I had an abundance of jalapenos, so I roasted them not knowing exactly what I was going to do with them, but I knew that I could always freeze them to use another time.

I had black beans in my pantry and a frozen smoked turkey leg in my freezer, so I was thinking black bean soup w/smoked turkey and roasted jalapeno cream, which I made Friday morning in my pressure cooker, before going to yoga! Thank goodness I picked up my secruity veggies...celery and carrots...and I got one bunch of collard greens in my CSA box that I also added to the soup.

Place jalapenos on grate over open flame on gas stove, turning, until the skin becomes charred on all sides, using tongs. Place charred peppers in plastic bag for 5-10 minutes, so the heat can steam and loosen the skin.
Cut of all four sides of roasted jalapenos, leaving the seeds with the stem. Scrape off charred skin.
Cut into strips to top tacos, bean dip, crostini, toss with pasta, throw into salads, or just eat them on they're own!
I put them in a food processor with plain yogurt and a pinch of salt to make roasted jalapeno cream to top my black bean and turkey soup. (Also good as a topping for any mexican dish, like tacos, enchilada, burritos, etc.)

Black Bean Soup

onion, diced
celery, diced
carrot, diced
red bell, diced
garlic, crushed
cumin, oregano, 2 tsp.
4-6 c. water (or stock)
black beans, 1 1/2 c. pre soaked
smoked turkey leg or thigh
collard greens, 1 bunch de-stemmed and sliced into ribbons.

This soup is made in the classic order....Saute diced veggies for 5-10 min., adding garlic in the last minute (seasoning with salt should be a "given"). Add spices and cook for one more additional minute. Add water, beans, turkey, and cook according to pot. Pressure cook bringing to high pressure and cook for 25 min, letting pressure come down naturally, or in stockpot, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 1-1/2 hours, (check beans for doneness). I added collard greens to hot soup, turned off heat, and put the lid on for 15-20 min.

I used water instead of stock because the turkey had a bone to flavor the soup.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shopping Day....It's Almost Here!

I don't think I've been to Whole Foods since before my trip to Santa Barbara 2 weeks ago, and I still have enough food for for quite a few meals! I did go to the Farmers Market on Sunday and bought some oranges, Italian broccoli (I haven't used any yet, and it's 3 days later), green garlic, (How can I resist? It won't be around much longer.), and that was it! I've been to my small neighborhood Asian market, and Mexican market for jalapenos, red bell, garlic, (I don't know why, but the Mexican market always has the freshest garlic), papayas....I think that's it.

Of course we've been to Trader Joes to stock up on our staples, like yogurt, nuts, and nut butter, dried fruits, milk, cream, juice, ice cream, cage free eggs, cereal, black licorice, lemons, organic yellow onions, mushrooms and bagged spinach for Mark's stir-fries, oh, and by the way, I found some frozen buffalo burgers that Mark is really digging that will be part of our regular TJ's shopping list. But 90% of all TJ's shopping is Mark's food, he lives on pretty much what I've just listed, eating the same foods everyday.

My CSA box keeps including baby salad greens, something that I would never buy because I like cabbage based salads, so I've been using them in my wilted salads almost everyday along with the last of my 3 bunches of agretti (boo hoo, now it's gone). Last week it included my favorite carrots, since they're so tasty I didn't want to use them for cooking, I want to eat them raw, but I couldn't eat them all in a week, so I shredded 4 of the last 6 to be ready for some sort of salad (pictured w/purple carrot, scallions, jalapeno and sesame dressing),and cut 2 into sticks for munchies. I still have the arugula, and 1/2 of the turnip greens, and I pick up another box tonight.

I don't need anything really, but can you believe I'm out of chicken stock? Anyone that knows me, knows I always have homemade chicken stock in my freezer. The reason why I don't have any is because I don't need any chicken, so why go to the store? And because I haven't been to the store I ran out of celery and cooking carrots. But it's making me nervous to not have any stock in stock, lol! I still have ready made soups in my freezer (chili pepper, kale, garbanzo bean, leek/pea, mushroom barley), along with preportioned meals of lamb, beef roast, and pulled pork, so I guess I don't really need any, but I'm bored with no kitchen chores! Even my pressure cooker is lonely!

Speaking of my pressure cooker, I've been wanting to make a salad with barley, but I don't have any! It doesn't make sense to me to go and buy some since I have brown rice, quinoa, and plenty of beans to use instead (not to mention I always have pastas in my pantry) see where I'm going.....I have too much food! My fridge is practically bare, and I still have too much food!

Maybe I don't need to go shopping. How good is my life?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Eating and Health

Not everyone has emotional feelings about eating and food, but alot of people do, I think more than not! One of the reasons I started Food and Thought was to write about my emotions that relate to eating and food, away from many readers of Rediscovering Strength that don't understand. But I feel as if most everyone has "something" that is driven emotionally, for instance, just replace 'binge eating' with some other behavior. Fawn and I had a conversation about 'fatal flaws'......everyone seems to have one (at least one, lol!) that drives a person to do things they think they don't want to do, or feel as if they have no control over.

Well, eating is my "thing". Not food. Food is not the problem. Food is the innocent victim of my eating habits! That's why I refuse to blame it. That's why I refuse to deny myself of all of it's life giving, joy giving, goodness. When I realized, just recently, the difference between "eating" and "food", a light bulb went off in my head. That makes perfect sense because I'm not hungry for food when I start to overeat. I like to eat. The physical act of doesn't matter most of the time what I'm eating, I've certainly overate things I look back on and think, "Why did I 'waste' all of those calories on that?" Food is not the enemy, how much food I eat, and how I eat it (complusively), does not reflect good health.

I currently weigh about 5-10lbs more than I say I want to weigh. Why am I not satisfied with where I am right now, at 135-138lbs, when I'm still way ahead of where I started? Why can't I just settle for where I am right now? I'm still very fit, more so than most women my age or even younger. I can move with freedom at this weight. I'm still nowhere near "fat". For the most part I love the way my body looks, and I can wear the clothes I want to wear. So why should I want to change anything?

Because I know that my current bodyweight is a reflection of too much unhealthy eating. I know I'm eating too much because I have been gaining bodyweight, not maintaining. My bodyweight is moving in an unhealthy direction, as a result of unhealthy eating. Binge eating. Too much food, and too many calories my body doesn't need.

What I want in my life is to be healthy, because I know what that feels like, and it's awesome! Why I had to move away from it, I don't know, and I don't care. For whatever the reason, ( I have a few ideas, lol), it's fine, I am where I am, and I always have choice. The choice to move toward health or away from it. The type of foods we eat help determine the health of our physical bodies, and the way we eat foods determine the health of our minds. I feel that both define health. And I will not settle for less.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Kale Salad with Sesame Dressing

Since I can't go to the store....I don't really need to....I'm finding the challenge of using only what I have alot of fun! I made this kale salad because I had kale 2 weeks in a row in my CSA box and, to be honest, I'm tired of just throwing it in soup, lol!

Whole Foods makes a kale and sesame salad that, in my opinion, sucks! It doesn't have near enough flavor, of sesame or anything else! But I like the idea of sesame dressing with kale so I made up my own, based on a internet recipe search.

Sesame Dressing

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. olive oil (or any other oil)
2 tsp. soy sauce
1-2 tsp. tahini
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (or unseasoned rice vinegar)
1 clove garlic, crushed

This makes enough dressing for a salad made with 1-2 bunches of kale.

Blanch or steam a hearty variety of kale leaves, stripped from stems. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, strain and then squeeze the excess water from the leaves...then refluff! You can add whatever other sliced or chopped veggies that lend themselves to an 'asian' style salad, I still had some purple scallions, so I used those.

Of course sesame seeds would of been most appropriate to sprinkle on, but the ones I have in my cabinet could be months, or even years old, and I wanted a nut with a little more 'mouth feel' anyway, so I used almonds.....sliced would of looked nicer, but I didn't have any already sliced, so I chopped my own! (about 1 oz)

I got alot of my favorite carrots in my CSA box this week, so I'll julienne a couple and make a carrot salad with this sesame dresssing. I'm tempted to go the the store for sesame seeds, but I'll resist! I've got plenty of other nuts and seeds to use in the mean time. Now, resisting the farmers market this weekend is going to be a real challenge! I love the farmers market!

But I still have plenty of veggies including enough for 3-4 days of wilted salads, and I've got some turnips I need to do something with. I've already cut the turnips into wedges, blanched them, and washed the turnip greens. I'm thinking about a salad with brown rice/quinoa/barley and some sort of dressing...I'm not sure yet.

PS The leek and pea soup came out great! I'm hooked on leek soup now, lol!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


OK, I admit, I'm a shopaholic! A food shopaholic! I love buying food, fresh food, good food. But the point of fresh food is the freshness! If I can't use it that day or within a couple of days, what's the point? I'm lucky, at this point in my life, I have the time, and I make it a priority, to shop nearly everyday, but I buy too much. Since I hate "wasting" food, I find it nearly impossible to throw anything away, I try and eat all of it! And although I eat tons, and I do mean tons, of veggies it's just too much food. I've gotten in the habit of eating too much food. (More about that another time)

In addition to shopping too much and buying too much, I've got that CSA box once a week. The CSA box has things I wouldn't normally buy, and I want to take advantage of, not only trying new things, but getting a different kind of nutrition from the variety it provides.

So, I've decided instead of going shopping for more stuff, which I don't really need, I'm going to have to work with what I've got first. I'm cleaning out the fridge by using what I have before shopping for more...and it's killing me, lol! I'm out of green cabbage, carrots and celery, but I've got so much more to work with, and so much more to eat, before I'll allow myself to buy more. And I've got another CSA box to pick up tonight!

I'm totally into wilted salads these days, thanks to Fawn, dressed with simple oil and lemon, and you can make one with practically anything you have in the fridge. Here's what I had, (Left to right).

agretti, CSA

varigated raddichio, SB farmers market

purple scallions, SB farmers market

green garlic, Whole Foods

I threw these in a screamin' hot pan for 5 minutes with 1tbl oil and a little salt, and then poured the hot veggies on 1/2 head of escarole (CSA), adding diced chicken breast (freezer), smokey bleu cheese and a good squeeze of lemon.

Today I'll have the basically the same combination, although I used up the raddichio, bleu cheese and chicken, instead I've got some pulled pork, finely shredded red cabbage, apple and instead of lemon I think I'll make a dressing with apple cider vinegar.

Last night after dinner I put a some pork in the pressure cooker and made soup with kale and baby carrots (CSA & SB FM). Today I'll be making some leek and pea soup for the freezer, since I just can't eat everything!

Monday, May 5, 2008


This was my favorite purchase from the farmers market on Saturday in Santa Barbara, two Cherimoyas. Here's more information about this fruit, I will definitely be looking for more in my local latin markets, the farmers markets, and the flea markets!

I wanted to make a shake out of it's thick and creamy flesh, adding it to some iced tea in the blender. But once I cut it open, I just couldn't wait, I had to eat it! Maybe the next one will end up in a smoothie.

My other farmers market purcahses were, baby carrots, more green garlic (before it disappears), purple scallions, and, how can I forget....super fresh English peas!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

No Sugar Success?

I'm here in Santa Barbara and I dragged Jen to a yoga class yesterday in a new studio...boy, was it hot! When the class was over the studio offered a nice tray of fruit, mango, melon, strawberries, pineapple.....and....jelly beans, chocolate.....

Jelly beans and chocolate! I took a few pieces of fruit, but then I found my hand reaching for the small pkg of jelly beans before I stopped myself. I stopped myself because I had gotten used to not letting myself mindlessly reach for those pure sugar candy snacks.....until I realized, oh yea, I can have these now! Wow! That was weird.

And atlhough I did end up taking some jelly beans and chocolate, the feeling I had when making that choice was different than before. It was a much more conscious descision. A descision of control, a descision of conscious choice, not a compulsive reaction. But that conscious choice started to lead to a compulsive action.

So after yoga Jen and I went shopping and ended up at the grocery for some seafood before going back home to cook dinner. That's where I bought some more jelly beans! I had jelly beans on the brain. Now, if I hadn't been with Jen I would of totally been "down" for a jelly bean binge! But wanting to set an example and trying to be on my best behavior I only bought a small amount, and after one more handful I didn't eat anymore. Instead I chose to get back to the house, do my swing workout, take a shower and finish cooking a fabulous dinner, in which I chose to have seconds of some really good fresh healthy food, instead of more candy! I kept reminding myself that I could have the jelly beans if I wanted to, but not before my workout, or my dinner. And if after those two things, I still wanted them, which I didn't, I could choose them.

So I guess my point is that I started to establish a new habit of sugar awareness. An awareness of how much I waste, nutritionally, on empty calories when I choose to eat sugar unconsciously. More aware of how much more value my body gets from making mostly fresh nutritious food choices.....I don't have to be 100%, there's nothing horribly wrong with a little junk food. It's when a little bit turns into alot, and then alot turns into only.

And I admit, I had my share of a couple of cookie and ice cream/yogurt binges last month, but cutting way back on the sugar was a success. Enough so, although I don't have to keep it out of my diet completely, I will continue to try and cut back drastically.

This month the nuts and the oatmeal have got to go! I ended up gaining 3 lbs. last month by trading off sugar for fats and carbs. In just the past few days I feel lighter, and I can't wait to see how this works. Now I'm going to go try on my jeans again!

Life is good.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Road Trip Lunch

Here's what I packed for the road,
Sliced Fuji apple w/ginger and lemon
Sliced strawberries
Cabbage/broccoli slaw w/chicken and curry dressing
Salad on a stick w/ceasar dip (2 containers of veggies, cut up)
Pasta salad w/collard greens, chicken and black olives

This should be plenty of food for the day, and some left over for the beach tomorrow! Although I'm planning on cooking once I get there around dinner time, and I'm taking some agretti with me for a meal tomorrow. Gotta run....
Life is good!