May 172016
 

Wow – it’s been nearly 2 years since I posted here, really? Well, I haven’t experimented with or adapted a recipe in so long that was so good! This one was just a make-it-up-as-I-go along recipe… so, here goes. It’s definitely vegetarian, but could easily be vegan if you omit the parmesan. Maybe dust with some yeast flakes? Not sure how that would do flavour-wise, but it’s worth a try!

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced (I tend to press 1 clove, but leave it whole, and then mince or grate the other clove)
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 medium sized zucchini, roughly shredded or grated
  • 2 Tbsp dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup water, boiling
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable stock or white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • dried tagliatelle — enough for 3-4 servings
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

Preparation:

Prepare the tagliatelle according to package directions, setting a timer to ensure the pasta cooks al dente.

Boil the water and add the porcini mushrooms to soak.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium-low heat. When warm, add the garlic. When the garlic starts to smell, add the marmite and chilli flakes, stirring to break up and dissolve the marmite.

After the marmite has dissolved, add the grated zucchini to the pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes, allowing the zucchini to release its liquid. Stir occasionally, and add a sprinkle of both salt and pepper.

Add half the stock to the pan and turn up the heat slightly. Allow to simmer, to reduce the liquid a bit, for 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, drain the mushrooms and squeeze dry. Add half the mushroom broth to the pan also.

Chop up the porcini mushrooms and add to the pan, stirring.

Reserve the vegetable and mushroom stock and add as necessary once the ragú begins to thicken; every few minutes, thin it out with some stock and allow to reduce again. Taste, and add salt, pepper, and chilli flakes to taste. Continue cooking until the sauce reduces to your consistency of choice. A ragú should be thick but not chunky or gummy, with enough liquid to coat the pasta it will be served with. Continue tasting and adjusting seasoning as necessary.

When the ragú reaches the appropriate consistency, remove from heat or turn down to the lowest heat possible.

Once cooked, drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and toss with another tablespoon of olive oil.

Add the pasta to the same pan as the ragú; toss to coat the pasta completely. Leave in the pan for 3 minutes, tossing occasionally, to allow the pasta to soak up some of the flavour of the sauce.

To serve, dish into pasta bowls, dust with some parmesan and toss slightly. Garnish with chopped parsley and a fresh drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4 (or 3 very hungry people! hah).

Mar 202012
 

Okay, so I made this up. And it was yum (I ate every last bit!) but not as yum as it could've been. What's below includes what I would've changed / added, as noted by a *. I might even add some celery next time for a bit of crunch!

2 small red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed, trimmed, and diced into 1-2 cm cubes
2 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed, trimmed, and diced into 1-2 cm cubes
2 dill pickles, minced 
2 shallots, minced or 2 T. red onion
1/3 cup corn (I had fresh corn from the cob I'd taken off a few weeks ago and frozen, but canned or frozen would work well)
a handful (maybe 10-12) cooked medium-sized prawns
1-2 T chopped fresh dill*
3 T chopped cilantro*

3-4 T of Lemon Sesame Dressing (from Moosewood Cooks at Home)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes and sweet potatoes together in a big pot of salted water. Check for doneness (about 7-10 minutes) and remove from heat when fork-tender. Drain, put into a bowl, and pop into freezer to cool.

Prep remaining ingredients, including the dressing if you've not yet made it. After prepping all ingredients, or after about 10-15 minutes, remove the potatoes from the freezer. In a large mixing bowl, put potatoes, dill pickles, shallots, corn, prawns, and dill. Toss gently to combine. Pour over dressing. Taste, add salt and pepper as needed. Dust with chopped cilantro just prior to serving. 

Serves 2-3. 
Jan 192011
 

Day 2

Post-dinner:
  • Sleepytime tea sweetened with a touch of dark maple syrup (cheating a teensy bit; maple syrup is not quite a refined sugar, but not quite a natural one either — if you know me well you know I like shades of grey… or amber in this case. heh.)
  • Two pieces of Granola in the Raw, cranberry flavor — I'm still craving something sweet to replace that dark chocolate I've become so used to!
Before bed:
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax mixed with warm water
I now have leftover cabbage soup plus last night's collard greens with braised tempeh, so I think tomorrow is completely taken care of. Unless I see something wilting in my fridge that must be cooked and eaten, that is. 🙂

Jan 182011
 

People who know me know that this is the third time I’ve gone the detox route. Those who don’t know me so well may have heard me talk about it before but don’t know really what I’m talking about. If you don’t know me at all, you’re scratching your head right now. However, people in all of these categories often scratch their head when I tell them that for me, a detox means eliminating (or trying to) alcohol, caffeine, animal products, sugar, and gluten from my diet for 21 days. Such people scratch their heads because they can’t quite figure out what the heck a person eats if not those things. 

Regardless of where you are on the How Well We Know Adrienne And Her Detox Methods spectrum (it’s a very wide spectrum! haha), this post is for you. However, I will admit it has been inspired by those who fall into that last category, who may imagine I am sitting at home alone sipping water and gnawing on carrots all day. 

O ye of little culinary creativity. 

I’m currently unemployed (read: time on my hands) and so I thought I’d blog a bit about what the heck I’m actually eating every day, in an effort to show you that detoxing/cleansing (I use those words interchangeably) is not that difficult and in fact can be quite yummy!

But first, a brief longish note as to why I detox in the first place.

My yoga teacher, Twee, first turned me on to the concept of detoxing. I will admit at the time — two years ago now — I thought it a crazy idea. I’ve always been a big believer in “all things in moderation” and am usually pretty good about living that philosophy. I didn’t believe in cutting things out of my diet, fasting, etc. It seemed silly to me. I really believed (and still do, mostly) that our bodies are quite capable of taking care of themselves. Fast forward one year – the beginning of 2010. My only New Years Resolution of 2010 was to continue to cut red meat out of my diet. I had done this before — years ago when I lived in England, and the previous year, my last year living in Vietnam. The first time, in England in 2002, it began when I became very very ill — I have (had?) a host of health problems which I won’t go into detail about here, but if you’re really curious, catch me on Twitter or email me and we can compare notes. Suffice it to say that I was at the end of my rope and finally heeded my friend Kate’s sagely wisdom: “Get thee to an acupuncturist!” I was not a believer in acupuncture or any holistic therapies, but I was quite ill and Western medicine’s specialists of specialists, drugs, and surgeries had failed me. I had nothing to lose except a bunch of quid, and so I went. My acupuncturist quickly assessed my situation and one of the many immediate recommendations she made was that I cut red meat out of my diet. Being from Alberta, land of steak and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding (nomnom!), this was a bit of a shock. But I was desperately seeking wellness and so I agreed. I cut red meat out of my diet and soon I was energetic and symptom free — I know that sounds cheesy and like something you see on an infomercial, but I’m really not lying. I have witnesses! 🙂 There were several other dietary changes I made that contributed to this, but the single biggest one was cutting out red meat, and being selective about poultry (free-range only, hormone-free, etc.). 

Fast forward again. I moved to Qatar and fell in love with Lebanese lamb chops and kofte and schwarma and well… you can imagine what happened to my “no red meat” rule. Notsogood. Unsurprisingly, I became riddled with symptoms of sickness again. I aimed to have some balance; I felt couldn’t give up red meat completely — those lamb chops were just too dang good! — but I tried to eat less of them. I moved to Vietnam and tried to maintain this same balance. In Hanoi, I met a yoga teacher who helped me understand my body based on Ayurvedic health, and discovered my main dosha is Vata. Upon further research, I discovered that it is recommended that Vata dosha types should avoid red meat. This gave me pause. Twice now — once from a Chinese traditional medicine perspective, once from an Ayurvedic medicine perspective — it had been recommended that I should avoid eating red meat. Maybe I shouldn’t ignore this fact? I resolved that year (2009) to again cut red meat out of my diet. 

So, in 2010, one year after meeting Twee and learning more about the concept of detoxing — and having already been mostly red-meat free — I decided to do a bit of research into this detox thing (btw, I say “mostly” because I’m not super finicky about not eating red meat; I will have a bite of someone’s burger from time to time, and at Christmas I usually succumb to Italian cured meats). In my research I came across many different types of detox — from eating nothing but cabbage for 3 days to juice fasts to alkaline only diets to eating nothing. You name it, it is out there. As you might imagine, some are safer than others. Some just sounded like pure nonsense!

Having never “dieted” before in my life (I’m generally blessed with a good metabolism), I wasn’t sure where to start, but I knew I wanted something that was healthy and addressed body, mind, and spirit. That’s what led me to Quantum Wellness, by Kelly Freston. Yes, she’s been on Oprah. Yes, the foreword is by Dr. Oz. And yes, I’ll admit that gave her some cred in my mind. I began reading the first few pages and knew immediately this was the book I was looking for. I continued to do more research; I spoke to friends and learned that most of my friends who detox do something very similar to what Freston recommends, though most of them had never heard of her (it seems they’ve based their detoxes on what their yoga teachers / alternative health practitioners recommend). My friend Brighde recommended Crazy Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr, which I admit I did not look into right away, but in the past year has garnered more of my attention. I also looked at, as I said, literally HUNDREDS of websites. I can’t even begin to tell you which ones, but some are better than others. Eventually I was able to piece together a cleanse for myself based mostly on Freston’s book, but also with some bits from The Great American Detox Diet, by Alex Jamieson, and other bits I found online here and there.

In my research I learned that detoxing is not unhealthy when it is done properly. In fact, I learned that many doctors from all backgrounds recommend some kind of detox at least once a year. Many say it’s one of the best things you can do for your body. People who detox report all kinds of wonderful effects, from clear skin to increased energy to better sleep. Several studies have even suggested that fasting in general can reduce chances of Huntington disease and diabetes. Eventually, I thought that if I did enough research on health and nutrition — ensuring I had enough vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, and carbohydrates daily — I would probably be fine to detox. I thought I’d give it a go. I mentioned it to my doctor, who supported it fully and was if anything rather surprised at how much I already knew. She agreed that no matter what, I had to make sure I was getting all the nutrients I needed. She’s not pro-vegetarianism, I will add, but is supportive of anyone who does their research and doesn’t just do a “fad” diet to lose weight, as those are very unhealthy. We agreed that what I was doing was not a fad diet, but rather an experiment. 

So off I went!

One of the best passages that gives explains why I detox is this one, from Freston (2008, p.68): 

It takes a lot of work to break down food, keep all the organs and systems running, and deal with stress. The body doesn’t have the luxury of putting everything else on hold so that it can tend to the deeper issues of processing and releasing the stored toxins, extra fat, and waste that have accumulated over the years. When you put certain foods on the back burner for a bit, your body has a reprieve from its normal everyday chore of digesting difficult things, and it can really dig into that much-needed heavier work.

Even as our bodies are uniquely designed to survive under less-than-ideal conditions, we still need to take proactive steps to maximize our ability to heal, regenerate, and operate at optimal capacity. When the body is overburdened with too many toxins, it simply isn’t able to function efficiently and, over time, we will feel “off our game” and perhaps get sick.

So, as Freston says, I tend to think of my cleanse as a short vacation from all the toxins, some of which I have control over and many of which I don’t (e.g. pollutants). If you’re curious about why the above food “toxins” have been chosen, please leaf through Freston’s book — she explains the reason for cutting out each of them. And note that I’m not saying here this kind of detox is what’s best for everyone; I chose it for myself based on my own health situation and individual needs. I know many of the toxins she mentions do affect my body, mind, and spirit, and so cutting them temporarily out made sense to me. I firmly believe each person has to choose what makes sense to him/her. 🙂

And for me, the part that’s most difficult to cut out is caffeine. I’m a true coffee addict in every sense. Further research revealed that many doctors do not recommend cutting out caffeine cold turkey, and so the first time I detoxed, I allowed myself 1 cup of coffee each morning. The second time, I kept the 1 cup of coffee, but tried switching to green tea after the first week, with some success, but not wholly. This time, I’m going to try to completely switch to green tea in the last two weeks. It’s tough! Especially with recent research indicating that coffee helps women deal with stress! Now I know why I’ve been an addict!

Back to my main purpose here…

I had thought about starting a separate blog for Adrienne Does Detox Take 3, but decided against it because of the pressure to post each day, and I’ve simply got too much coming up in the next few weeks to be able to commit to that. Instead, I will post here what I’ve eaten on given days… perhaps I’ll have time to post each day, perhaps not. At any rate, my goal is to show you that you can do a detox and still eat incredibly yummy food!

Here’s what I ate today:

Upon rising — first thing out of bed: (usually I do this before yoga, today I did it after)

  • half lemon, squeezed into a glass of tepid or warm water, with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp of ground flax meal mixed into a glass of tepid water

Breakfast:

  • A giant smoothie made from banana, apple, spinach, agave nectar, soy milk and vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup coffee

Lunch: 

  • 1 cup vegetable broth, warmed
  • Garlic-sauteed spinach and tomatoes in olive oil with chili pepper flakes, fresh orange juice, and pumpkin seeds over quinoa cooked in vegetable broth
  • a glass of water

Dinner:

Post-dinner:

  • Rooibos tea, sweetened with agave nectar
  • a clementine

Just before bed:

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp of ground flax meal mixed into water

A few notes:

  • I decided to include veggie broth in my detox after reading several articles that advocate that its ingredients help flush out toxins. Reading about the benefits of an alkaline diet, I decided to give it a shot — and I do think it’s beneficial. The past two detoxes I have made my own vegetable broth, but this time I am supplementing with high-quality preservative-free organic store-bought broth.  Normally I would drink veggie broth as part of dinner, too, but tonight’s dinner was just super filling, so I will opt to have it before bed instead.
  • Lemon juice mixed with warm water first thing in the morning has long been known (since the ancients!) as a detoxifier for many reasons. Firstly, it’s a major antioxidant, high in Vitamin C. Secondly, it helps digestion, particularly the bowels — so it’s a great jump start to metabolism in the morning. The bit of cayenne pepper helps to do this, too, and is a warming agent (I tend to omit the cayenne in the summer). Lastly, lemon juice has been known to be a major liver cleanser
  • The ground flax mixed with water is not only full of nutrients, but it also acts as fiber to make sure everything stays regular and all those toxins do indeed make their way OUT! Eventually, after a few days or the first week, I will probably be able to cut the evening flax + water combination. Will have to see how I feel.

And that’s about it! See, not too difficult! All meals were very easy and were prepared in less than 30 minutes, although I will admit this is not always the case. Often, I am using beans or other legumes which require much more cooking time. And I’m sure that will be the case again at some point over the next few weeks. But really, my point is here — it’s not that hard to cut all those things out of your diet and still eat delicious, yummy food!

 

 

Nov 162010
 

So I recently decided to start using Basis Foods for my produce, after having been introduced to them at a recent visit to the New Amsterdam Market. I’ve only tried them once, but so far I am quite impressed. They brought me a big bag of produce straight from the farms — both fruit and veggies — as well as eggs, cheese, and bread. My only complaint is that two of the eggs were broken when the delivery arrived but really, everything else has been so fabulous that I can’t complain too much. Their friendly service, reliability, and of course the yumminess of all the goodies they brought me really do make up for a couple of broken eggs.

Speaking of those goodies… one of the things in this week’s delivery was buttercup squash, which I had never heard of before. I consider to be quite a food connoisseur so I of course had to do some research. I do love squash, so I knew this was the perfect challenge! After viewing and subsequently drooling over a plethora of recipes online when I should have been writing my thesis, I decided that I was going to take bits and pieces from various recipes and make up my own recipe. The delivery also included Russian Red kale (another yum!) and so I knew I wanted to include that. Here is what I came up with.

Buttercup squash

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic — minced
  • 1 leek — quartered lengthwise, cleaned, and then chopped (most people use only the white part but I used it all!)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper — seeded and minced (reduce this if you don’t like kick, or substitute cayenne pepper if you don’t have access to jalapenos)
  • 1 bunch leafy Red Russian kale — cleaned, tough stems removed, and chopped roughly (you can use any other kind of kale you have, of course)
  • 3 medium carrots — peeled and chopped roughly
  • 1 buttercup squash — peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (the peeling is tricky; use the sharpest knife you have and be careful)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (if you prefer a richer broth, use chicken; I used 3 cups of vegetable broth and ended up adding 1 cup of water also)
  • cracked or freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or add to taste
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese (can substitute sour cream, or omit altogether if you want a vegan recipe)
  • cilantro — chopped for garnish

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, jalapeno pepper, and leeks; saute until leeks are translucent and fragrant. Add kale. Saute over medium heat until kale is wilted and soft; about 3-5 minutes. Add carrots; allow them to saute over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add squash, broth, and black pepper. Bring to boil then reduce heat low or medium low and allow to simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

After 20 minutes check to see consistency. By this point the squash and carrots should be soft enough that you can crush them with the back of a spoon. If they are not yet soft enough, return the cover and give it another 5-10 minutes. When squash and carrots are completely soft, remove from heat and puree in batches, or with an immersion (stick) blender. Add additional stock or water if consistency of soup is too thick, and adjust seasonings at this point (check — if you add more stock or water you may need to add salt at this point).

Return to heat and heat soup until it is warm again.

Serve each portion warm in a bowl with a dollop (1 tablespoon) of cream cheese or sour cream (optional) and a half-tablespoon of cilantro as garnish.

Serves 4-6

Buttercup Squash by greeny_meanie

Feb 162010
 
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the price of organic fruits and vegetables?  In a perfect world it would be great to protect the environment (soil, air, and water pollution), protect our health, and protect the welfare of animals by eliminating the use of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, toxins, hormones, and antibiotics. However, to many individuals and families a grocery cart full of all organic fruits and vegetables is beyond their financial means. Therefore, I have created a list to help make your decision a little easier at the grocery store.

This is a great list! Very comprehensive guide to when you really SHOULD buy organic, and when it doesn’t matter and non-organic is okay.

Jan 112010
 

I have tried to cook versions of Indian dahl on more than one occasion and they usually turn out bland and blah — clearly, I have not gotten the spice combination correct. Until now! It is, hands down, the best recipe for dahl I have had! I even think it's better than some I have eaten in restaurants, if I may say so myself.

Most of this recipe was adapted from Lisa's Kitchen, but I made some adjustments after reading a recipe on a message board, and in a cookbook, Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine. I share it here not as my own, but as something compiled and recreated. The adjusted lentil recipe is vegan and gluten-free. It also uses brown rice syrup in place of refined (simple) sugar, which is healthier and better for your metabolism because it is a complex sugar.

This recipe yields a rather spicy version. As it was cooking I was a bit worried that it would be too spicy even for me (and I am very tolerant) but once the sauce mixed into the lentils it turned out to be perfect. However, if you're not big on heat, cut back the cayenne and fresh chili pepper considerably — or serve with lots of raita or yogurt. One thing – the asafetida will really stink up your kitchen. It is strong and pungent, so turn on the fans and open the window.

Spicy Indian Green Lentils

1 cup green lentils, soaked 4 hours or overnight
2 tablespoons safflower oil

½ medium onion finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds (yellow or black)
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
1 ½ teaspoons of sea salt
¾ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon of asafetida*
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 – 2 hot red or green chilies, depending on your tolerance (I used 1 rather large jalapeno)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup of brown rice syrup (you could use brown sugar or jaggery)
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/2-1 teaspoon of yellow curry powder (curry leaves could also be used)

Put soaked lentils in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are very soft and tender — roughly 20-30 minutes.

In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to sputter and pop. Add the cumin, salt, cayenne, asafetida and turmeric, stir and immediately add the tomatoes, chili pepper, sugar, cilantro, and curry. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has a sauce-like consistency — roughly 10 minutes.

When the lentils and peas are done, mash a portion of the legumes with the back of a spoon. Add the sauce in the frying pan to the lentils, cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Serve with white or brown basmati rice, and some raita or yogurt on the side.

Yields 4 servings.

*Asafetida (sometimes written asefoetida) is a very pungent powdered gum resin with an oniony- garlic flavor. You can find it in Indian or health food stores, or in the spice section of your supermarket. To substitute, you may use garlic or onion powder.