November 29, 2007
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I have to admit, it took me a long time to warm up to tofu.
When I first revamped my diet in accordance with the NAG principles, I had never eaten tofu, let alone familiarized myself with the many varieties in which it’s available. My naturopath touted the truism you hear so often: “It’s basically flavorless on its own, so it absorbs the flavor of whatever you cook it with. ” Great!, I thought, I’ll make some tofu tonight! , and went out and bought some.
Back then, I didn’t know about the importance of buying organic tofu, or which type to buy, so I just got any old extra-firm. Went home, and created some kind of pseudo-stew (the ingredients of which elude me now) and tasted it. Bah! Feh! Ptewie! I couldn’t even eat one full mouthful.
No taste, you say? Absorbs the flavors of whatever it’s with? Uh, sorry, no. Tofu tastes exactly like what it is: cooked, compressed soybeans. Ugh.
It took me several months of experimentation, some great cookbooks, and a dogged determination to finally hit upon a few recipes I could actually eat and enjoy. Over the years, tofu has become one of my very favorite foods, a staple in our home, despite the many controversies swirling round it.
The trick, I’ve found, is to use assertive flavors that can complement and conceal it. Pressing the tofu helps considerably, as that causes the water to exude, thereby leaving little gaps for the sauce to sneak its way in and become absorbed. Baking firm or extra-firm tofu in a hearty sauce is useful, too. (Now, desserts are a whole other matter, and they most often require aseptically-packaged silken tofu. But depending on the dessert, you can choose anything from Soft-Silken to Extra-Firm Silken. Occasionally, cheesecakes are good with Chinese-style, water-packed firm tofu. Some souffle-type desserts are best made with medium tofu. Okay, got all that? Quiz to follow).
I’ve said this before, and it truly bears repeating: I’m a very lazy cook. Not the best trait for someone whose dietary restrictions require that everything be made from scratch. Consequently, I try to find shortcuts where I can. Use the food processor instead of the hand grater; make up huge batches and freeze for later re-heating; or, as in the case of this morning’s breakfast, recyle up leftovers whenever possible.
[Yesterday's Simple Sauteed Greens]
I enjoyed some simple sauteed greens for dinner last evening (yes, that’s all I even wanted, after a mid-afternoon chocolate frenzy), and so had a container of pre-sauteed broccoli rabe hanging out in the fridge. The saute was super-easy: sliced garlic, olive oil, chopped rabe. That’s it. I also noticed some leftover canned crushed tomatoes being stored in a glass jar. I’d been hankering after a tofu scramble for several days, so thought this would be a great opportunity to whip one up (no matter that the house is still not unpacked, and I’m hosting what will probably be my last-ever at home cooking class tomorrow evening–none of which is prepared yet).
Tofu is a wonderful scrambled egg substitute, I find, especially when it’s crumbled (as here) rather than cubed. This dish provides complete protein courtesy of the tofu, high-protein pine nuts, and the greens. You’ll also be acquiring a surfeit of minerals here, due to the many trace minerals in the greens and the high iron in the raisins. Garlic and tomato round out the dish for antioxidant benefits–and the many anti-bacterial, anti-viral qualities of the garlic are a true boon this time of year (at least, for those of us enduring a cold, wet winter, such as we get in Ontario).
You’ll find this dish is still quite saucy, so decrease the tomatoes if desired. The combination of herbs works wonderfully with the pine nuts and raisins, the sweetness of which act as a perfect counterpoint to the bitter greens and slightly acrid tomato. If you find broccoli rabe too bitter, I think chopped chard would be excellent here, too.
As I said, I ate this for breakfast, but it seems to me most people would find it suitable as a dinner dish or even a side dish.
Mediterranean Tofu Scramble
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
November 27, 2007
For a long time when I was younger, my weight would fluctuate fairly regularly, sometimes quite a lot in a relatively short time. My basic pattern seemed to be this: I’d feel some kind of impetus to stay on a diet, get charged up to lose weight, and would begin eating to accomplish that goal (ah, such fond memories of An Entire Box of Weight Watchers Chocolate Mousse For Dinner; or One Compressed Cube of Dried Ramen Noodles for dinner; or Three Boiled Artichokes for Dinner; or A Raisin-Bran Muffin and Peanut Butter For Dinner). Eventually, after semi-starving myself for several months, taking up weights and power walks, I’d manage to get into shape and lose anywhere between 20 and 35 pounds. I’d revert to a size I could be happy with (usually a 10), and regain some sort of confidence and the sense that I could actually be attractive to the opposite sex.
This shift in mental state would, inevitably, precipitate a change in the energy I projected, and–bingo!–like magic, I’d seem to meet men. I’d find another boyfriend, get serious, start dating, and after four to eight months, gain back all my weight. Believe it or not, it wasn’t the stereotypical reason (ie, being so comfortable that now I felt I could eat whatever I wanted) that caused me to gain; it was sheer stress from being in a relationship (I’m still trying to work on that one with my H.H.).
In any case, as a college teacher at the time, I was forced to get dressed every day and head onto campus to teach. My increased weight and blooming midsection were on display for all to see.
Now, I wonder, how many overweight, 30-something women in the prime of their childbearing years haven’t had this experience:
[passing you in the hallway] “Hi, Miss. Wow, congratulations!”
[Blank stare. Congratulations? Did they just announce a promotion and I missed it? Did I win the lottery and not realize it?]. “Congratulations? On what?”
[Blank stare, followed by uncomfortable silence]. “Uh, congratulations on your, you know, upcoming addition.”
[Truly stumped]. “Addition? To what?”
[Longer silence. Visibly uncomfortable now]. “To your, your family. You know, um, er, uh. . . because you’re expecting.”
[Blood draining from face. Light-headed silence. Following the thread to its inevitable conclusion]. “Expecting? Expecting what?”
[Desperately glancing around for a loose floorboard, garbage chute, natural disaster, abducting alien, or any other exit strategy] “Um, a baby? I mean, aren’t you–?”. . . . .
It makes sense, really. When students see a 30-something woman gaining weight at such an accelerated pace, and especially when said 30-something tends to carry most of her weight in her abdomen (I’m a pear-shaped person, and it all settles on that expanse between waist–such as it is–and upper thigh, though at least that means I’m less prone to sudden heart attacks), well, when they see that kind of weight gain, they most naturally assume that the 30-something is pregnant.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Oh, when are you due?” To which I’d reply, in a voice shrinking with humiliation, “I’m not pregnant.” After the 27th incident or thereabouts, I’d gotten over being mortified, and it basically just started to piss me off.
Now, seriously, what kind of person asks someone else if she’s pregnant without already knowing the answer? I would never dare to pose such a question unless the last words the woman had uttered were something like, “Oh, by the way, I’m pregnant, I mean with child; you know, expecting a baby, in the family way, with a bun in the oven, and and I’m going to be giving birth to a human infant in a week or so.”
After years of awkward conversations concerning my faux fecundity, I decided I had to combat this pattern somehow. So I came up with a battle plan:
- The next time someone asked if I was pregnant, I would smile sweetly and respond, “Why? Do I look pregnant?”
- If someone asked me when I was due, I planned to say, “In —-,” and name the previous month. In other words, if the inquiry came in January, I’d say I was due in December. Let the questioner do the math and figure out I couldn’t possibly be pregnant yet. Either that, or I was the next miracle to be profiled on Unsolved Mysteries.
- If anyone asked whether I was pregnant, I’d answer, “No, I was pregnant until a couple of days ago, though.” Hah! Now let’s see what kind of quip s/he could come up with!
- My favorite: I intended to have a custom T-shirt made, to wear whenever I gained uncomely amounts of weight in a short span, emblazoned with the words, “I’m Not Pregnant, Just Fat.” That way, I could avoid the whole uncomfortable exchange entirely.
This embarrassing question hasn’t been directed at me in recent years, thankfully, mostly because I’m now too old for people to think I’m pregnant any more. Or maybe my weight has redistributed, and now I’m just fat all over instead of only in my belly. Either way, I am grateful I haven’t had to deal with it. Of course, just because I’m not asked that question any more doesn’t solve the real problem of my freqently erratic weight gain–but that’s another issue entirely.
November 25, 2007
I remember vividly my first day in English class as an undergraduate student, so many decades ago. The professor was lecturing about Samuel Beckett, and remarked that Beckett was “an enigma.” With that comment, I felt a little faint: here I was, an upstart 17 year-old already in her second year of university (courtesy of advanced credits from having attended CEGEP in Quebec), and I had no idea what “enigma” meant. I immediately scribbled the word down at the top of my notepage, and as soon as class was over, dashed home to look it up. Thus started my lifelong practise of vocabulary-expanding via writing things down. Needless to say, as soon as this new word was on my linguistic radar, I began to see it everywhere.
The same pattern persisted with basically all the new words I learned along the way (okay, maybe not with “hermeneutic”), but the one that stuck in my mind and won a singular place in my heart was oxymoron. You know, the kind of paradox that contains the opposite of itself, yet is essentially true: to wit, George Carlin’s famous “jumbo shrimp” or the now-ancient (and no longer true, anyway) “Canadian literature.” So when I say that I myself am an oxymoronic kind of eater, I say it with a modicum of affection. But with a heavy stress on “moronic.”
Tofu and Twinkies, Collards and Caramels, Chard and Chocolate, Brewer’s Yeast and Brownies–take any of these diametrically opposed pairs of foodstuffs, and I love each individual part–and love them equally. I can munch on millet with sauteed garlic, onion, tamari and walnuts, then an hour later, go out and chomp on some chocolate-covered raisins. I can eat a delicious meal of raw kale salad with avocado, baked sweet potato wedges with sesame seeds and Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce (I must post that recipe–fab!), then later in the afternoon, suck back some Betty Crocker Cream Cheese “Flavor” Frosting, straight from the can. And, just as with my Girls, I recognize that each one is totally different from the other, yet can adore each with the same degree of passion.
I got to thinking about this paradox today after spending a lovely morning at the Whole Life Expo with my friend Michelle. I’d previously enjoyed a great week of eating totally healthfully (yes, I’ve been indulging in my Mock-Chocolate Pudding, but hey, it’s tofu and agave nectar!) and looked forward to seeing a plethora of new health-foodie products at the show.
After a long drive downtown during which our chatter became so animated that I, the driver, nearly hit a streetcar at one point, we began our tour of the place. Aisles and aisles of alternative-health products to gaze upon and sample. It was like Disneyland for hippies! As it turned out, we started our tour in the food section, and viewed some amazing products. All with abundant free samples. All delicious. All good for me. Until the chocolate.
First up was goji berries, the latest berry to join the antioxidant roster. If you haven’t tasted gojis yet, I’d highly recommend it. Higher in Vitamin C than oranges, higher in Beta Carotene than carrots, higher in protein than whole wheat, and higher in most other vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients than pretty much any other berry, these little crimson gems are both tart and sweet, with a whif of bitterness as a nearly undetectable afterthought. One of my favorite alternative health gurus, Dr. Ben Kim, describes them as a cross between “sweet cherries and plums.” I’m a regular consumer of them, and so was highly intrigued by their latest incarnation, enrobed in pomegranate-flavored yogurt coating. Yum! After a couple of samples, I found myself dishing out $10 for one small bag.
[The yogurt-covered variety]
We also saw (and sampled) a wide range of shakes, smoothies, greens powders, supplements, juicers, oils, all-natural soaps, and more before happening upon the Xocai healthy chocolate booth. Now, I’m not even a fan of dark chocolate, but these nuggets contain both blueberries and acai berries for the ultimate in antioxidant benefits. The perfect combination of decadence and desirability at the same time. Of course, we just had to sample it. Both flavors. More than once.
What happened then was something that’s occurred probably thousands of times in my life: one bite of chocolate and all my previous willpower just dissolved–poof!–like that. Suddenly, I was overcome by the urge to eat every piece of chocolate, and anything else, in sight. (Unfortunately, that also included a spoonful of concentrated maca liquid, very nearly causing that chocolate to re-visit me on its way back up.)
Shortly thereafter, we came upon yet another chocolate-touting booth and I bought not one, but two 100-gram bars. Quite enjoyed the cappuccino one on the way home (though I did save some for C.). Now, I feel quite confident that Michelle did not go home and do the same, considering her stable, and very slim, physique.
By the time I arrived home, I’d eaten the other bar, too. Reflecting on this behavior, I had somewhat of a revelation regarding my bingeing habit. Seems I run on something very much like a binary code: my compulsion for sweets is either “on” or “off,” but there’s no in between. (Ergo, I seem incapable of moderation in that area). Eating that one initial piece of chocolate flicked the toggle switch to the “on” position, and I was off and running (toward chocolate). So I’m beginning to see that one of my strategies must be to simply not go therein the first place–no initial taste, so no overweening desire to eat the entire bar, cake, package, can, bag, jar, or whatever.
By dinnertime, I’d reverted to eating from the healthy side of the spectrum, a la Stacy Halprin’s advice (ie, just soldier on as if it never happened). So I whipped up some of my very favorite vegan Mac and “Cheese” (or “Cheeze,” as the original recipe calls it) from the Fat Free Vegan’s blog (I used rice pasta, though). Filled with the aforementioned brewer’s yeast and its cheesy goodness, miso, tahini, and a whack of delish herbs and spices, this is true comfort food that’s also incredibly nutrient-dense and good for you. Given that I had only rice milk (albeit unflavored) in the house, I was afraid it would ruin the flavor, but it turned out just as delicious as usual.
[Elsie polishing off the sauce, enjoying her share of B12 for the day]
And now, at least, I can feel as if I’ve eaten something that will nourish my body and help me recover from the chocolate overload today. Not quite as bad as Tofu with Twinkies, but chocolate (and chocolate, and chocolate) with vegan mac and cheeze–still pretty contradictory.
This evening, remembering something Michelle said as we drove home (no near-fender bender that time), sparked another mini-epiphany for me. Apparently, she used to be one of those “Type A” personalities, always rushing to fill her time as much as possible, to accomplish seventy tasks a day, running from one pre-planned event to another. Now, having met her in her current incarnation, I can only say that imagining her behaving in that manner seems virtually impossible.
Once she started yoga, she said, she’d effortlessly lost five pounds and found that she had a new perspective, one which allowed her to relax, take things as they come, and enjoy the moments in her life. It was a deliberate choice, she said, but now she makes a point of not letting the “little things” get to her, and trying to slow down and enjoy each day.
I felt a little bit of squishy nostalgia for my own year at nutrition school (oh so far away, now), when I was able to focus on health in all its myriad aspects–physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. During that time, I ate really, really well, and spent time preparing and appreciating the fantastic food I was learning about and cooking with; I took time to appreciate my dog and my honey (oops, yes, I think it was in that order, actually), enjoyed relaxing and meditating and reading and listening to music; enjoyed breathing in the sharp air in the autumn mornings, meandering walks along the trail with The Girls, an occasional glass of red with my honey over dinner–heck, I even enjoyed the plush feel of the carpet under me each morning as I struggled through my sit-ups.
During that year, I enjoyed all the daily pleasures and even some of the more mundane tasks–all the things that were a regular part of my existence. It really does make a difference, I realized, if you take even a few minutes to exhale away the stress and anxiety that can so easily accumulate.
Thinking about it, I realized a paradox extends to the rest of my life, as well, not just my eating habits. I have the credentials of a holistic practitioner (nutritionist), yet am regularly afflicted by the same pressures and unhealthy habits of so many other middle class, overworked white-collar workers. I resolved, immediately, to meditate tonight.
But I’d just better make it quick, because I only have ten minutes to de-stress before I have to get back to work.
November 23, 2007
Today was an odd day, as I had to return to the old place to meet the cleaners for their final go-through. Standing around as they swept, wiped, polished and mopped made me feel nostalgic for the past, yet kind of weird at the same time, being in the near-empty (except for us) space once again. My H.H. and I actually still have lots more to do, what with closets full of our paintings, several boxes of records (yes, as in “record albums”) in the basement, assorted and sundry nails, screws, and picture hooks on the walls, and one spot, near the bottom of the front door’s moulding, where the Poo Poo Girl chewed a teeny spot out when she was about six months old and teething (C. will be painting it over this weekend).
I truly can’t believe how much effort, money, time, money, and money we’ve sunk into that place, given that (a) we don’t own it; (b) we were excellent tenants for over six years and took really good care of the place while we were there; and (c) we don’t actually live there any more! But after the summer fiasco in which the hellish landlady freaked when the air conditioner broke (not our fault, I promise), I decided I’m going to try to ensure that she has nothing to complain about once we’re gone (officially, on November 29th, even though we actually moved out on the 12th). So sad to think that this is how our generally happy six years of living there will end.
Despite the rather disheartening morning working in the empty house, I agreed to bake up a batch of muffins for a customer today, so came home after my walk with The Girls and set to work. The order was for my favorite, the Sweet Harvest Muffin, which supplies each lucky eater with a full serving of vegetables in each muffin. (No, I am not trying to bask in reflected glory of Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld and her mega-selling debut cookbook; I, like many others out there, have been baking goodies with disguised spinach in them for many years now).
Before I knew it, I was totally engrossed in the task at hand, measuring, pouring, stirring and scooping; and ended up with two dozen lovelies that will be wrapped and sent on their merry way tomorrow. As always, baking lifted my spirits and distracted me from an otherwise sour mood. And now I can say I’ve had at least 1/2 a vegetable serving today (managed to stop myself after taste-testing the first half). (“And we appreciated being able to taste-test that other half, Mum!”)
November 22, 2007
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!
"Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren't we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog."]
* * *
The snow here in the GTA this morning is relentless–curtains of white, ice pellets grazing your cheeks as you attempt, vainly, to walk the crunchy path to the local park to appease The Girls. It was Chaser’s first experience with snow, and apparently (so my H.H. tells me), she loved it, bouncing and prancing and pawing at every crystallized chunk that scuttled her way along the road. (“That stuff is awesome, Mum! Can we go out again? Can we? Huh? Huh?!”)
[If you look really hard, you can see snowflakes against the fence.]
On mornings like this, I wish I had a fireplace before which I could curl up and just read, my latest book club book (as-yet unchosen, since it will be my pick this time round), one of the fifty or so I have stacked up in my office, the entire newspaper, magazines, or food mags. But, hey, wait a second! I do have a fireplace (albeit gas–ugh), one of the nicer features of this house. Unfortunately, it’s still surrounded by boxes and as-yet unassembled bookcases and other detritus that we haven’t found a place for yet.
But something about the snow and the cold, as we all know, elicits a strong desire for comfort foods. As if I don’t have enough cravings for chocolate, anyway.
In order to satisfy the urge and eat something relatively healthy, I decided to mix up my favorite vegan chocolate pudding. Now, admittedly, there are at least 7,482 such recipes floating on the Internet and in various vegan cookbooks, but I still think mine is best. It’s an amalgam of recipes I’ve read over the years for similar puddings, from the McDougall‘s original to the ubiquitous vegan chocolate mousse one finds everywhere.
This one is ultra-rich tasting, creamy and has a certain globby texture that reminds me exactly of old-fashioned, cooked, chocolate pudding. Only this one is made with relatively low-fat silken tofu (the kind in the aseptic boxes), cocoa powder (lower fat than actual chocolate), and agave nectar instead of any refined sugar. Chocolate bliss, truly.
One caveat: my photos do not do justice to this extraordinary dessert. (In fact, the H.H. thinks it looks sort of like poo. “Poo? Did you say, ‘Poo,’ Mum? But I love to eat poo!”). Seriously, you have to try it. Even the highly carnivorous H.H. loves it (despite its scatological appearance).
Heavenly Chocolate Tofu Pudding
[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog. For more information, check the "Cookbook" button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]
TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
November 21, 2007
Does this happen to all new bloggers? I come up here to my (still chaotic, after the move) office, intending to do work, and end up sitting for over an hour reading other blogs. If I’m not reading other blogs, I’m reading about blogs, looking for answers to my (many) questions on WordPress’s FAQ.
I’m learning about a whole new world of incredible writers and fascinating people, so many of whom seem to be connected to each other. Having done this for less than a month, I’m already familiar with so many blogs that seem to appear on almost every blogroll: Smitten Kitchen, Orangette, 101 Cookbooks, The Wednesday Chef, Kalyn’s Kitchen, Becks and Posh, and, of course, the piece de resistance, the one that started it all, the very apex of cooking blogs, Chocolate and Zucchini. There are more, there are so many more. . . how to find the time to read them all? And how do all these people find each other?
And yet, I am inexorably drawn to reading them, so enjoy immersing myself in this strange, isolated-yet-connected, online world. I still have much to learn, about RSS feeds and avatars (I think that’s what they’re called) and widgets and trackbacks (still can’t figure out what the heck those are) and everything else blog-related. I just discovered NaBloPoMo (which, at first, my murky memory rendered as “NaMoFoBlo”–how rude of me!), and am so sorry that I’m too late to qualify (unless I cheat, which I won’t).
Ah, so much to learn. And so little time. Now, for instance, I must reluctantly turn to the 200-plus assignments that await marking. And I think I could use some chocolate.
And by the way, Happy Thanksgiving to my American cousins. . . both literal and figurative. :)
November 18, 2007
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved!
If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!
“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]
After a rollicking time last evening (it was my Human Honey’s birthday, so we splurged ridiculously at one of our very favorite restaurants), I woke up, late, this morning and decided that it was time to return to the pleasures of baking. After all, I haven’t baked anything in seven whole days! Can it be only seven days since we left the old place??
The first challenge to address was “what to bake?” Then it hit me that I’m scheduled to teach a cooking class on Tuesday, and desperately needed to re-test one of the recipes I’d dashed off so cavalierly before the move. With the class looming, I figured it best to try out the recipe before sending it in print to the cooking class coordinator. Besides, I had all the ingredients on hand, I was sure I could locate all the necessary equipment, and–most important of all–I was really hungry for something real, something freshly baked, something–well, something not chocolate.
The perfect recipe? My old standard, Orange-Oatmeal Muffins.
This recipe is one of the very first I ever created with alternative-to-wheat flours, and it remains one of our favorites here in the house. (“Yes, we love it, too, Mum!”) I’ve given it out to scores of friends, acquaintances, and cooking class participants, and everyone has been amazed at how simple the recipe is to prepare, how moist and dense the texture, and how generally yummy the result.
When I was first told not to eat wheat, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I’ve since learned that spelt (especially light spelt) flour is more or less a one-for-one replacement for wheat, and we have come to prefer its subtle, slightly nutty, slightly sweeter taste. (Once, when I was baking “regular” vegan muffins–ie, choc full o’ sugar, white flour, and margarine–for a vegetarian restaurant, my H.H. and I felt the need to taste-test them to ensure they’d come out right before I dropped them off at the restaurant. But by then, we’d been eating spelt- and kamut-based baked goods for three or four years already. We took one bite of the pallid, unremarkable little quick bread and immediatley spat it out. “It has no flavor!” we cried, and “this tastes like styrofoam!” we exclaimed. (Though how we’d recognize the taste of styrofoam, I have no idea.) We’d become so accustomed to eating food that has real depth, real substance, real nutritional value, that the old, conventional baked goods tasted sickly and bland to us.) Nowadays, I think of spelt as a fraternal twin, rather than a distant cousin, of wheat.
When experimenting with muffin recipes back then, I wanted to create something with only natural sweeteners, preferably fruit-based, both for the vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant properties, as well as for the fiber and stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels compared to refined sweeteners. I opted for a bit of maple syrup (for its intense sweetness) paired with blackstrap molasses (for the incredible nutritional punch, the calcium, iron, and other trace minerals). Back then, flush with my newfound natural-nutritionist zeal, I was determined to include as many whole grains as possible in each recipe, so threw in three.
While considering which fruits to include, I was struck by a childhood memory of a strange habit my mother had had. On afternoons when she wasn’t working, after setting up whatever dishes she’d be preparing for dinner, she’d retire to her bedroom (where the only TV in our house was located), tote along a fresh orange, and sit watching her soap opera while she munched on it. What made her practice unusual (besides sitting on the edge of a bed to watch TV at 2:00 PM) was the way she consumed the fruit: she’d wash the orange, then bite into it the way one usually tackles a fresh apple–chomping straight through it, skin and all. The juice would squirt, the flesh would fly a little, and she’d chew with a slightly squishy, slightly crunchy sound as she slurped, munched, and spat out the seeds onto a paper towel (we never seemed to have paper napkins in our house).
I thought about my mother’s odd approach to oranges as I set about creating this recipe. Why couldn’t I include the whole orange here, too, skin and all? After all, much of the best nutritional value in the orange actually resides in the skin and pith, the slightly bitter white lining just under the orange peel. Antioxidants, bioflavonoids, cholesterol-lowering properties–I could include all of these. I decided to give it a try, guessing that the combination of sweeteners and slight bitterness from the full orange would complement each other beautifully. I was right!
Similarly, the combination of spelt and kamut allows a mix of hard and soft flours for a solid, but not too heavy, texture, and the oats provide a bit of chewiness and dimension.
These are definitely not conventional muffins. They’re low in fat, full in flavor, dense, and very moist. You’ll find little flecks of orange peel and date scattered throughout. I love these muffins for breakfast, warm with a little almond butter. You’ll need a food processor for this recipe.
Wheat-Free Orange Oatmeal Muffins
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
November 17, 2007
It’s simple, really:
- Decide to move house four months in advance; ask honey to begin packing that day. Draw up a list of all the tasks that need to be completed, and review list with sweetie so you can each pick key tasks and assign due dates. Smile with self-satisfaction when the list is done.
- Ask honey to begin packing three months in advance. Remind honey that wooden moldings need to be repaired, 60-plus boxes in basement need to be reviewed and re-sealed (since last move, 6 years ago), garage needs to be emptied and cleaned, yard needs to be tidied up and mowed, and personal items all still need to be packed.
- Ask honey to begin packing two months in advance. Stress the importance of sticking to our list, packing our least-needed items, doing the minor repairs to the house.
- Ask honey to begin packing one month in advance. Tersely comment that the list seems to have been ignored, none of the growing pile of packing has been accomplished by him, moving day looms, new packing boxes are required, and all of the repairs to the house still need to be undertaken.
- Two weeks in advance, frantically implore honey to begin packing. Anxiously remind him that the movers are coming in fourteen days, the kitchen and bedroom and TV room and most of the office have not been packed, and the minor repairs to the house still need to be completed.
- Three days in advance, scream like a deranged harpy at honey that we need to begin packing NOW. Run like a maniac from room to room, haphazardly tossing miscellaneous and sundry items into packing boxes, dash around the house stuffing everything and anything into boxes, bags, cartons, plastic bins, etc. Lift and push aside and disassemble and wrap and fold and untie and unhook and unscrew and unplug and layer and tape and cram and stack more items and boxes and bins than you ever thought possible in 72 hours.
- Two days in advance, glance about you and realize that you are never going to finish it all before the movers arrive. Redouble your efforts to lift and push aside and disassemble. . . . after midnight, fall into bed exhausted.
- One day in advance, expend most of your energy shrieking at honey that this is all his fault, if only he’d listened to you and been organized and followed the list, you’d be ready to move now, instead of throwing things with abandon into bags, stuffing things with neither rhyme nor reasons into boxes, blindly shoving items into bins and cartons, while he works frantically on the minor repairs to the house.
- Moving day, spend the wee hours still futilely attempting to pack items while waiting for the movers to arrive. Continue as they undertake the monumental task of displacing and replacing your entire life’s meaning as it’s packed into various containers, ignoring the few directives written on the cardboard with black magic marker. Watch, helplessly, as they stack all of the 60-plus boxes that used to contain untouched books, kitchen gadgets, grandmother’s possessions and other unwanted items in the same haphazard pile (four deep and five high) of boxes that contain all of your current, essential, just-packed possessions.
- On moving day, run back and forth between old and new residences, attempting to direct the movers so they don’t wreck your beloved antique sewing machine, lifting and moving boxes they’ve already stacked because you notice they belong upstairs in the office instead of way down in the basement, carrying oddly shaped and as-yet unpacked items (such as your honey’s grandfather’s massive umbrella, your mother’s silver 3-tier cake serving platter, your dogs’ four pillows [pre-LL Bean], your barber’s mirror for the wall in the bathroom, your sneakers, your jar of sauerkraut and other fridge-related items, and more) into the house as you vainly attempt to find a place for them that won’t have to be changed within the next few hours.
- On moving day, help the movers with the heavier and more awkward items, such as the treadmill, the plants, the box of spices, the lawn chairs, the chest freezer, the pail of agave nectar, the box of shoe boxes, or the brooms and mops. Almost drop several boxes, trip several times, bang into walls and bookcases and stair bannisters over and over, so that eventually (and by the time you notice, three days later), your arms and legs are awash in bruises, vaguely resembling a Jackson Pollock painting.
- At 10:15 on moving day, begin to search desperately for at least one of the boxes you’d marked “Open First.” When this appears futile, use your last few ounces of energy to begin slitting open sealed boxes, searching desperately for anything you could use at this late date to cover your bed so you can fall into it in a crumpled heap.
- At 10:30 PM, unable to find anything to put on your bed, drive in a catatonic state to the local Wal-Mart, arriving just as they’re about to close, to purchase new sheets. Pick any old thing just to get something. Arrive home and somehow manage to place your new, shades-of-vomited-salmon sheets on the bed.
- Brush your teeth with your index finger in the only bathroom with no windows (since there are no blinds or curtains in any of the rooms), then feel your way in the dark (since you’re naked–you couldn’t find any boxes of clothes, either) to the bed and sleep like a dead person for 6 hours until your excited dogs poke their wet, cold noses into your cheek to wake you.
- Spend every waking moment since then unpacking, replacing, stocking, shelving, unwrapping, folding, cleaning, organizing, assembling, purchasing, setting up, refilling, and howling like a banshee at your honey that if only you had listened to me and gotten started early and been organized and done what I said we would not be in this horrible mess now and I could find my *&#@$!! underwear and we’d have our house set up and we’d be able to start our life instead of having to wade through a chaotic mass of cardboard and paper and plastic and twine and cloth and wool and dog hair and food and every other single thing we own in a jumbled mass that’s going to take weeks just to go through, let alone set up properly and you make me crazy and I want to break something and I am so stressed that I’m eating pounds of chocolate over the past few days and I have no idea how I’m going to get through this ordeal without cracking up.
- A couple of days after moving, weigh yourself and nearly faint to see that you have not gained an ounce, not a gram, not a wee line on the scale, even though you’ve been gorging on chocolate at every possible opportunity (between unpacking, organizing, assembling, etc.).
- Write about it all in your blog. Heave a heavy sigh. It’s gone. It’s out. It’s over.
- Get back to the task at hand: 462 boxes that need to be unpacked, methodically, one box at a time.
(“Mum? Are you okay, Mum? . . . . . um. . . . will we still be able to go on our walk today?”)
November 15, 2007
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I’m beginning to think this blog should be called “Chocolate, Chocolate and Chocolate.” I was truly not aware that one person could consume so much Lindt in a 4-day period and still survive. I think they should give me danger pay, or something.
So: what to do about my chocolate addiction? I’ve maintained for years that sugar is just as addictive as any drug, illegal or otherwise. Only it’s worse: you can live in a world without alcohol by removing it entirely from your life and cupboards. But you can never eliminate food entirely from your life (or even dessert, if you live and socialize among other humans). And given that my own mother died of complications related to diabetes, one would think I’d take special care to avoid a similar demise.
But that’s the conundrum: I am intelligent, educated, nutrition-savvy, quirky (okay, “quirky” isn’t really relevant, but I like that fact)–yet can’t seem to get a grip on my eating habits. I do know that, like any other addict, if I make it through an initial “drying out” phase and avoid chocolate and other sweets for a period of about a week or two, it will be smooth sailing from then on. So I’ve tried, many a time, to begin a new, healthy regimen and get past that hump. Lately, it seems an impossible task.
And so, back to a fresh attempt tomorrow. No, wait, not tomorrow, but right now! Just because I ate a bag of Lindt minis today doesn’t necessarily mean I need to stay off the wagon, does it? I can eat a healthy, nutritious, delicious dinner. I remember that obese woman, Stacey Halprin, who’d lost the equivalent of a person or two. At one point, she was interviewed on Oprah, talking about what she’d learned after being slim for over a year. She basically said that you don’t have to blow it just because you’ve eaten something ‘bad.’ She said, “If you wake up in the morning and you’ve been to a buffet breakfast or in my case, have a row of Oreos in the afternoon, I don’t starve because I know by noon, I’m going to tilt back the fridge. . . . What the winners do is they go to the exact next meal, and they start like it never happened.”
And so I shall (update tomorrow).
(“Good for you, Mum! We don’t mind healthy eating, either. Can we have some more of that sweet potato you gave us for dinner?”)