Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I reminded how important music is for me, and how happy it makes me feel. How important it is to feel happy. Sunshine makes me happy, shoes, cats, good red wine and food, funny intelligent people, but I forgot about the music.
BTW: the adorable Alice in Wonderland inspired ceramic cup below is by the Maine artist (and director of the Portland Museum of Art) Patti Sandberg.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
- 1 TB butter for 12-hole muffin pan
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup quinoa flour
- 4 ts baking powder
- 1/2 ts seasalt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 ts grainy mustard
- fresh ground black pepper
- 100 g feta, cut into small dice
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
- handful basil leaves, chiffonade
- about 12 springs of thyme, chopped
- 4-6 kale leaves, chopped
Quarter the cherry tomatoes, and arrange on a foil covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and some salt and pepper, and bake for 15 minutes until slightly wilted and caramelized, but not completely cooked. Set aside to cool.
Transfer the baked cherry tomatoes to a large mixing bowl along with the sliced basil, chopped thyme, chopped kale, toasted pine nuts, and the feta. Gently fold together. In a separate bowl beat the eggs, milk and mustard together and add to the tomato mix. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt, and sift onto the tomato mix, top with a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper and fold together just until the batter comes together, be careful not to over mix. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Most recipes for kale dishes (beside smoothies) include using only the leaves, not the stems (“too fiberous”). I used to throw them away, but after making kale chips a few times, and a whole pile of stems available, I simply made a smoothie with them. They taste just as good and have all the nutrients.
Kale (stem) blueberry smoothie (vegan, clean):
- stems from 1 bunch of curly kale
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 cup unflavored almond milk
- liquid stevia (if desired)
- 1 cup ice cube
- goji berries
Mix all the ingredients (besides the goji berries) in a blender and mix. Pour into a glass and add some goji berries. Enjoy!
“Doctors analyzed changes in diet and lifestyle habits of 120,877 people from three long-running medical studies. All were health professionals and not obese at the start. Their weight was measured every four years for up to two decades, and they detailed their diet on questionnaires. On average, participants gained nearly 17 pounds over the 20-year period. For each four-year period, food choices contributed nearly 4 pounds. Exercise, for those who did it, cut less than 2 pounds.
Potato chips were the biggest dietary offender. Each daily serving containing 1 ounce (about 15 chips and 160 calories) led to a 1.69-pound uptick over four years. That's compared to sweets and desserts, which added 0.41 pound.”
The morale of the story is: even if you eat healthy most of the time but add a tiny diet offender like that cocktail or extra ice cream or potato chips or the midnight snack from the fridge regularly….it adds up over time and might sabotage your weightloss/maintenance. It definitely gets me in trouble: I like to snack, crackers, pretzels, a glass of wine at the end of the day.
But also the opposite is true: replace the chips with an apple or carrots and hummus, take that walk around the neighborhood after dinner instead of watching TV, walk the steps instead of taking the elevator, biking to work instead of taking the car,….. little lifestyle changes also add up. It is not always the big gesture that counts, but the little things can make a big impact. Especially, if we tell ourselves, ah, it is just a little thing, it doesn’t count… and we ignore the hand in the cookie jar. I think this is why maintenance is sometimes hard, we loosen the rules on the little things again.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
After all this chatting, back to food! This is a wonderful summer recipe, which can be eaten warm, cold or at room temperature, taken to picnics, eaten at the beach, or simply be a dinner. It has few ingredients, but needs special equipment, a julienne peeler or grater, to slice the zucchini into paperthin strands.
Zucchini Spaghetti with Mint (single large serving):
- 2 oz spaghetti
- 2 medium-sized zucchini, washed
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 TB olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 3 TB white wine (like chardonnay)
- 3 TB water or vegetable broth
- fresh mint
Cook the spaghetti al dente according to instructions. Use the julienne peeler, and slice the zucchini into thin strands. Once you are done, prepare a skillet with the olive oil, and add the zucchini. Make sure to separate the strands by hand. Saute for about 2-3 min before the zucchini start browning, and add the water and white wine. The zucchini basically should cook and soften in the water/wine mix on medium-low heat for about 5-7min. Add the salt and pepper, and the grated garlic. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the zucchini, and mix gently. Serve with some fresh mint! (you can also add some fresh mint to the mix).
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
It is officially summer. Fortunately, the weather plays along, too. It’s not quite very warm, but warm enough. My hopes are up for July….. Yesterday, I finished listening to the audiobook “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. Love it! Audiobooks are a great way of ‘reading’ books when you actually don’t have time but you are cleaning, or cooking or exercising or driving long distances. What I particularly liked about the audiobook that it was read by different persons, one for Abby, one for Minnie and one for Skeeter. It made for a really funny book! I laughed out loud quite often. I also accidently tuned in to the Glee Project on TV last week, and was in awe of the amazing talent on the show, scratching my head how ANYONE could be eliminated (not like the Bachelorette, where the whole show should be scraped). So, I gave Glee itself another try, starting from the beginning on netflix instant play, and yeah, there we go, another contributor for good summer mood.
Chanelle says he has his own ways of feeling good—long naps in the catnip bed. Hope, you are having a good summer, too!
Monday, June 20, 2011
Last fall I started with ‘clean eating’, which in my case means mostly plant-based food, mostly vegetables, some grains, hummus, apples, wholegrain bread, and the occasional seafood. For protein I started to add Sun Warrior protein powder and recently tofu. I feel great but I also looked at people running marathons and half marathons and thought I’d never have enough energy to do something like that. This summer it started to bug me that I have a relatively low level of energy, and stumbled upon an article that said that vegans would be good off to take a B-12 supplement. Pills don’t work well, because the B-12is not absorbed well through the digestive tract and shots would be best. Shots? Seeing a doc? Needles? No. So, I started with 2 liquid supplements, one from NOW and one from GNC, and I basically drip it underneath my tongue for direct absorption (the GNC cherry flavored one definitely tastes better!). After a week of using the supplement, I must say my energy levels have increased. I have more energy through out the day, and recover from exercise quickly. Still don’t feel like running a marathon, but I definitely feel energized again. So, vegans, take your vitamin B-12! Or eat your beef liver and nutritional yeast (bah!).
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Love the kale chips I made a few days ago, but I also came up with a new, spicy version using real (vegan) sour cream, garlic, chili flakes, and toasted sesame oil. They are to die for! Caution: seriously addictive!
Spicy Asian Kale Chips:
- 2 TB grapeseed oil (or canolo oil)
- 1/4 cup vegan sour cream
- 1 TB bragg amino acids
- 1 ts toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup filtered water
- 1 TB apple cider vinegar
- 2 garlic gloves, peeled
- 1 ts grated ginger
- 2 TB nutritional yeast based chipotle parmesan (or nutritional yeast)
- chili flakes
- 1 bunch of curly kale or tuscan, washed
Blend all the ingredients (besides the kale) in a blender to a real smooth, but slightly liquidity consistency. Destem each kale leaf, and rip the leaf in ‘chip’-sized pieces. Placel the kale pieces in a large mixing bowl and pour the marinade over the them, and mix the marinade into the kale pile using both hands (yes, it is slightly messy). Make sure to massage the marinade into each leaf. Distributed the kale chips on the sheets of the dehydrator; avoid overlapping leaves because they take longer to dry and crisp up. One bunch of kale filled exactly one dehydrator with 5 trays to the brim. Dry on 105F for ca 12h. Store in an airtight container.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I also found a new way to ‘recycle’ the kale stems: they make a perfect vegan kale smoothie if you have a blender that pulverizes them well so you will never taste the difference.
Chipotle Parmesan Kale Chips:
- 1 cup cashew nuts (soaked in filtered water for 2h)
- 1/4-/1/3 cup filtered water
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 TB apple cider vinegar
- 2 garlic gloves, peeled
- 2 TB nutritional yeast based chipotle parmesan (or nutritional yeast)
- 1 hot pepper, dried or fresh
- 1 bunch of curly kale, washed
Destem the kale by ripping chips sized pieces of the kale leaves and discard (or save) the stems (for a smoothie). Place the raw kale pieces in a large bowl, pour the sauce on top and get massaging. Massage the ‘cheez’ mix into the heap of kale and rubbing the sauce into the individual leaves to that all of them are covered fairly well.
Distributed the kale chips on the sheets of the dehydrator; avoid overlapping leaves because they take longer to dry and crisp up. One bunch of kale filled exactly one dehydrator with 5 trays to the brim. Dry on 105F for ca 12h, and get munching on tasty, crunchy kale chips!
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
After providing the lilac bush with a long overdue trim this afternoon, I was really hungry so this called for a sandwich! A vegan sandwich with all the trimmings: home-made dark pumpernickel bread (King Arthur Flour), 3 layer hummus (Trader Joes), mixed salad greens from the farmers market, mini tomatoes, marinated baked light tofu and low-fat veganaise. Can I say “yum”?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
First thing I did this morning was finally baking mini chocolate vegan cupcakes. The first batch was a hit and miss; I had a nice recipe, decided to half it, but forgot to half some of the ingredients. The cupcakes rose and then… deflated. They did taste insanely sweet (sugar was one of the things I forgot to half). So, in my general gritty mood I threw them out and started over. This time paying more attention to the recipe and using a true and tried recipe (at least by the originator), vegan cupcakes by Chef Chloe, the vegan chef who won the Cupcakes Wars on Food TV last year. The cupcakes came out well, but needed something, i.e. frosting. It was the first time ever that I made frosting. I used coconut oil, and it adds wonderful flavor. Since my frostening abilities are in the infancy stage I leave you with the original picture by Chef Chloe.
1/2 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/6 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Preheat oven to 350 F and line 2 12-cup mini cupcake pans with paper liners. Sift and then whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and espresso powder until smooth. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix with a small whisk. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners until each cup is 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
1 cup hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, preferably organic
2 TB refined coconut oil at room temperature
1 ts vanilla extract
1-2 TB water
Combine the confectioners’ sugar, the coconut oil, and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk with a hand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. With the mixer running, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until the desired buttercream consistency. (I just needed 1 TB).
Assembly: Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, slice off the top 1/3 of each cupcake and slather with frosting and sliced strawberries. Place the top of the cupcake back on top and add an additional bit of frosting and sliced strawberries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
A few days ago, I finally picked up some morels at Whole Foods. Admittedly, I never had morels before but Mark Bittman preparing them on “The Minimalist” got me interested. The price of morels is outrageous ($39.99 for a pound) so I just bought just a few fresh ones. I fried them in olive oil with salt and pepper, and added a few (previously frozen) artichoke hearts, cooked spaghetti, garlic and vegan sour cream. Overall it was delicious but the ingredients slightly overpowered the taste of the morels.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
This is for all you creative types (including me). I have read the “Crazy Sexy Life” blog by Kris Carr for several years now, and I love to read her inspirational posts, often by guest bloggers, because they align with my own philosophy, and sometimes it is good to get a reminder and refresher. If you don’t know Kris, she is a 30-something woman who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer about 7 years ago. Since then she has been on a quest to heal herself with holistic medicine, eating often raw and plant-based and taking care of emotional and spiritual hygiene. She is still alive, the cancer has not gone away but does not grow either, and on top of it all, she is pretty funny and hilarious.
This is a guest post on her blog today by Jen Luden. She focuses on what to expect (and not expect) if going on a writer’s retreat. However, many of those thoughts apply to a daily creative life. You can find her full post on Kris’s blog, and my emphasized (self reminders) below.
Jen Louden: “A creative retreat is the quintessential artist’s or writer’s dream. Time to tend your creative spark, think long, interrupted thoughts, meander, recharge and burrow into that project you’ve been flirting with.
Here are the five principles I use when I lead — or take — a retreat.
Lower Your Standards
When asked how he managed to write a poem almost every day (including the day he died!), the poet William Stafford replied, “I lowered my standards.”
The opposite tends to happen... All that striving and impossible goal setting…kills the retreat vibe and the possibility of getting your truest work done — and certainly kills the creative renewal you are seeking.
You know that good advice when you’re packing for a trip to take out half of what you just put in your suitcase? Same thing goes for what you plan to do on a retreat. Cut it in half. And then in half again. I beg you.
Clearly State What Will Be Enough
Last year I was gifted a week’s writing retreat by the venerable Fetzer Institute, and I set very clear “conditions of enoughness,” as I call them, for my week: no email, no Twitter, no Facebook; finishing a first draft of a new project; connecting with the other writers by being present and listening fully each evening. Naming these tangible facts created a foundation that allowed me to do the kind of deep writing and thinking I had been craving, as well as nap, take walks with my new friends and leave wildly inspired and renewed.
Declare a Time Element
On retreat […or otherwise..], it’s vital you follow your desires, enjoy plenty of rest and play, and by deciding when and for how long you will work, you give yourself a gentle framework of satisfaction and containment. Otherwise, the endless expanse of time can be paralyzing. So maybe you paint from 9 a.m. to12 p.m. everyday, and meander the rest of the time. Or you write in 15-minute timed intervals with 1-minute breaks for one hour, then take a 1-hour photography break.
Be sure to lower the bar on your time element! Just because you have 14 hours or so of being awake doesn’t mean you can create for 13 1/2 of them.
Declare Yourself Satisfied Even if You Don’t Feel Satisfied
This is one of the most powerful ideas I teach. You did what you said you would do — say, write for 2 hours, no checking email, then take a “noticing” walk with your camera, then read poetry and meditate. You get to the end of your day and you feel disappointed, or worried you aren’t using your retreat wisely if you aren’t wringing every bit of writing life out of it. You are so adorably normal!
The very best way to deal with this feeling is to say, out loud (yes, you feel silly doing this — so what?), “I did what I said I would and that it is enough. I am satisfied even if I don’t feel satisfied.” One of the most insidious — and common — ways we undermine our creativity is by belittling what we did. Learn to rest in what you have accomplished, honor it, and you’ll be infused with new energy and well-being. Train your awareness to notice the good and the real.
…..But most precious of all, they remind you of why you create: how creating brings you in contact with the very heartbeat of life, the connection to all that is, and the overwhelming delight of being alive.”
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Although I mostly eat plant-based once in a while I need a little pizza. It is comfort food, a “I worked too hard today and had no break so I deserve something luxurious”, a little splurge. Pizza is rather calorie-rich thanks to cheese and pepperoni, but a little pizza can’t hurt, right? This one is really tiny, but still amounts to 80kcals (Smart ones, mini pizzas, pepperoni). Neverthless, it does the trick. Because it was about the pizza. Not about being hungry.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
P.s. when it is not occupied with a laptop, cats tend to disappropriate it as cat tent.
The best green smoothie ever:
- 1 1/2 cup unflavored almond milk (e.g. Silk)
- 1/4 SO coconut milk
- large bunch of cleaned kale
- handful of strawberries, hulled
- 1 stalk rhubarb
- 1/4 of a banana (frozen)
- liquid stevia
- 1 cup ice cubes
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The trick to the super creamy polenta is twofold: 1) the ratio between liquid to cornmeal is 7:1 (so a lot more liquid than usual recipes ask for), and 2) cooking it much, much longer, like hours, than usual recipes say. Genius Melissa simply cooked it in the slow cooker because she had no time to babysit the polenta for 2 hours (who has?). Sounded all convincing enough for me to try it out, but I also wanted to veganize it. I replaced milk and half and half and butter with unsweetened, unflavored almond milk and some coconut milk, and the polenta was so creamy and perfect that it did not need any more vegan butter or sour cream. You gotta try this!
creamy vegan polenta (makes about 2 servings):
- 1/4 cup coarse corn meal
- 1 1/2 cups unflavored unsweetened almond milk (like Silk, or Whole Foods brand)
- 1/2 cup unflavored coconut milk (not the thick one from the can, but the drinking kind)
- a bit of sea salt
- a few grates of nutmeg
Here, I serve it with stove-top grilled asparagus, mushrooms, red onions and fresh corn, and a drizzle of Stonewall Kitchen’s Vidalia Onion and Fig Sauce.
Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- liquid stevia (E.g. NuNaturals)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh rhubarb, cut into pieces
- at least 1 cup ice cubes
Monday, June 6, 2011
I found this beautiful picture of Natasha’s Birthday this morning browsing through my google reader. Ready for dessert and travels? (source)
Finally some good weather, and the first garden patio guests for the season. A fresh breeze surrounds the table, the bugs have other things to do (til sundown) and it is nice to catch on sun rays and each other.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Basic dough (single bread):
- 2 TB whole-grain Instabake mix
1 TB ground flax seeds
- 1/4 ts baking powder
2 TB unflavored almond milk
Kalamata Walnut bread:
- 1 TB chopped, toasted walnuts
- 4-5 marinated kalamata olives, sliced
- 1/2 TB Herbs de provence
- 1/2 ts garlic powder
- 1 ts roasted salted pumpkin seeds (peppinos)
- 4-5 sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 ts garlic powder
- 1/2 TB roasted red pepper spread (e.g. Trader Joes)
Mix all ingredients, and pour into a sprayed, small (ca. 4 inch) metal baking pan(*), and bake at 400F for 20min.
Note: I found these single-serve metal pans at Target stores. Each bread has ca. 80kcal (walnut kalamata has more).
Thursday, June 2, 2011
The grilled vegetable plate was rounded out by arugula salad and Trader Joe’s ranch dressing, home-made onion chutney, and a dash of BBQ sauce. Grilled strawberries taste like an in-between fresh ones and baked warm, sweet ones. Delicious!
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
For lunch I tried a tablespoon of vegan sour cream in a saute of fresh poblano pepper and grilled corn with some caramelized scallops. So good!
The sour cream from the same company that makes Vegenaise: