A Bowl Lotta Love

March 4, 2009

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.”]  

[Thanks to everyone who left such sweet comments and encouragement for the hellish week of marking!  (And I know I still owe some of you emails. . . coming soon!) Some of you who are students noted that you’d be doing as much work on the other side of the red pen. Whether students, parents, teachers or the lucky few whose only connection to academia is reading about it in the newspapers–hope you all survived the past crunch week or so of midterms, study week, or finals. Now get ready, ’cause there’s a lengthy return post ahead–on to the food!]

1stbowl51

[Base of rice and buckwheatsautéed rapini and chard with onions and garlic; tahini-miso sauce; sprinkled with hemp seeds.]

I’m sure we’ve all met her (or perhaps we are her?): that woman who’s incredibly competent at dispensing affection, comfort, nurturing or support–yet seems to ignore her own emotional needs and physical well-being.

Well, I admit it, I’m as guilty as the next gal.  Ten days away from the DDD home base had me reflecting often on this whole notion of self-love.  Actually, that was only one among a plethora of topics on which I mused during the hiatus, which included (but was not limited to) the following: 

  • how much I miss blogging when I’m away.  I was struck by a true sense of void during this time, and it astounded me. Honestly, who are “they” who post studies about the Internet and  prophecies of doom regarding how it diminishes social skills or limits interactions with other people? Seriously.  In some cases, I’m in contact with blog buddies more often than my “in-person” friends (some of whom live only five minutes away).  Don’t let anyone tell you that the society of bloggers isn’t a bona fide community of lively, vibrant, and very much interactive people–all of you!
  • how many different ways one can answer the same exam question (more than you might think, but not quite as many as the meaning of life, the universe and everything).
  • how to create a tasty, grain-free breakfast pancake. I wanted something that didn’t require refined, or even whole-grain, flour–and I found it!  (more on that anon).
  • how this &%$!!?* winter refuses to retreat, even though it’s March already and why are you still hanging around, Mr. Jack Frost, can’t you tell you’re not welcome anymore and nobody wants you here, so just go away and don’t come back, ya big bully!
  • how, with the economy as bad as it is, I’m hoping the HH and I might still save for our dream home (okay, I’d be willing to cut some of the frills and just be happy with a daydream home).  And while we’re both incredibly lucky to still be gainfully employed, on the topic of saving money and stretching a dollar, I’ve been mightily inspired by the frugal and fantastic Melody over at MeloMeals.
  • why, once again, I have been willing to risk my health, well-being and future for the evil (and truly, ephemeral) charms of that sepia seductress, chocolate.

3rdbowl4

[Oat groats and amaranth base; grilled eggplant and grilled marinated tofu; broccoli, avocado and green onion; orange-fig sauce.]

Yes, folks, it’s time to focus on the “diet” portion of this blog yet again. 

When I first began to ponder how I’d spend my break from the college, I considered traveling to a new locale, attending a retreat, picking up old hobbies like sewing or knitting–but it never occurred to me I’d get sick instead.  Then, at my annual checkup last week, I discovered that my old candida afflction has reared its yeasty head yet again, and this time, with a potency that could rival the combined superpowers of the X-Men.  

I’ve decided that in order to rid myself of this recurring problem once and for all, I’ll need to return to the anti-candida diet (ACD).  I’ll be facing a highly restrictive diet and a few detoxes or cleanses along the way (no wonder I’ve been avoiding it).  But I’ve had it with the persistent cycle of diet, dessert and destruction (you thought I was going to say “dogs,” didn’t you? heh heh!). To paraphrase that seminal queen of weight loss, Susan Powter, “the insanity must stop!” (And what the heck ever happened to her, anyway?). 

I’m going on an anti-candida diet so I can be healthy.  So I can move more easily, and feel comfortable in my own body.  So I can express a little more self-love and self-care through my diet and lifestyle. (Anyone familiar with Sally’s fabulous blog already knows what I mean by this:  treating my body, mind and spirit with the kindness, reverence, and care it deserves.)  So I can enjoy a social life without being fixated on food. Oh, and so I can lose 40 pounds by my highschool reunion this May. **

My last “true” candida cleanse occurred nine years ago, and in the interim, my eating habits have slowly reverted to those that got me in trouble in the first place (chocolate too often; sweets too often; wine too often). After reading the diet on  this site (which is slightly less ascetic than the regimen I followed before), I think it’s doable (the only recommendation with which I disagree is to use aspartame or aseulfame, so I’ll just omit those).

To those of you who’ve been reading for a while, I understand if you’re skeptical, and I apologize.  After all, I’ve tried more than a few times to cut chocolate and sugar from my life.  Well, I’ve learned it’s never a great idea to publicly declare such a complete lifestyle overhaul on the blog, because later on, if you don’t meet your lofty goal, your initial vow is indelibly there for all the internet to see. With that in mind, I’ll restrict my candida commentary to the Progress Tracker page (may as well give it a new use, as I long ago stopped recording my weight over there).

And since I’ve already done a bit of baking over the past couple of weeks, I can intersperse the spartan dishes with more interesting fare.  If I play my screens right, you folks will barely notice a difference.

2ndbowl21

[Rice and brown lentil base; spinach leaves and steamed sweet potato wedges with chopped green onions; topped with almond-curry sauce.]

The first step is to prepare the system with a week or two of clean, whole-foods eating that doesn’t worry about yeast or fermentation (yeast and fermented foods will be cleared out next).   Rice or noodle bowls are a great place to start.

4thbow3

[Barley and amaranth base; grilled red pepper strips and onions; steamed broccoli; sprinkling of cashews and sunflower seeds; topped with tahini-miso sauce.]

Meals-in-a-bowl like these have become very popular at health-food restaurants and stores around North America.  There’s a local haunt that serves an amazing bowl called, appropriately, “The Mish-Mash Bowl.” Every meal contains either brown rice or quinoa, topped with your choice of four toppings from three categories (protein, veggies, or good fats), then drizzled with your choice of one or two dressings.

My own variation on the Mish Mash is a quartet of at least one healthy grain plus a protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrate (ie, veggies).  I was amazed at how satisfying–and how filling–a clean, healthy bowl can be.  The marriage of fresh, colorful veggies with chewy grains and the crunch of nuts or seeds is entirely enchanting (almost as enchanting as that vixen, chocolate–though in a different way, of course).

In putting these together, what I discovered rather quickly is that “the sauce makes the bowl.” A grain bowl sans effective topping is sort of like a perfect outfit without the right shoes or accessories–it may be good quality, it may be tailored , it may even sport a designer label, but without the proper accoutrements, it’s just a length of beige, beige, beige. 

With a winning sauce, however, these bowls are stellar; they’re delectable; they evoke impatient yearning; they’re Zagat-worthy.  And, much like those lines of toddlers’ clothing that allow the kids to dress themselves by choosing one top and one pre-coordinated bottom, they’re fun to mix and match, just to see what comes up.  

The combinations here are simply starting points to get you going; play around with different grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, veggies, and sauces.  Use these sauces with any combination you please, or go with my mixes–either way, you’ll be treating yourself with love.   

**I asked this question entirely tongue in cheek–so please, no need to send me emails detailing how unhealthy a 40-pound weight loss in 8 weeks would be!  I have no intention of actually losing that much.  Besides, at the rate I’ve been going this past year, a FOUR pound loss by May would be nothing short of miraculous.

Tahini-Miso Sauce

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

4thbowl21

Almond and Curry Sauce 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

2ndbowl1

Orange Fig Sauce

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

3rdbowl3

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Reubenesque Sandwich

February 7, 2008

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.”]

Sometimes I wish I’d lived in the 1600s.  No, not for the lack of modern excesses like cell phones or Doritos or Survivor. Not for what was, in those days, the nonchalant expectation of personal chefs, cleaners, and maids (and all for no pay!). Not for the lack of indoor plumbing, heating, electricity or even daily bathing  (as I recently learned from the way-cool book I’m reading, The Dirt on Clean). Not even because back then, people already had dogs as pets, though of course they weren’t treated as well as our canine friends are today. (“Yes, Mum, you do treat us very well.  This is a nice story, yadda yadda yadda, but when are you going to get to the part about food?”)

Allow me to clarify: when I say I would have liked living back then, I’m talking about cultural attitudes towards female pulchritude.  If today’s society held the same culturally-influenced ideals as to what is considered “beautiful” as they did in the 1600s, I’d be one fine-lookin’ piece of chattel. (Well, for the first 15 or so years of my life, anyway, after which I’d be forcibly betrothed to an old coot and made to bear six or eight children before shrivelling up like a dried dishrag and croaking from some 17th-Century pestilence).

Yes, I’ve always believed that, if only the zaftig female bodytype were still in style today, I’d have it made.  No more dieting! No more worrying about the little number printed on that tag sewn in the seam of my shirts! No more debating whether to get the elastic waist or the buttons! After all, those groups of 1600’s Rubenesque damsels in all those famous paintings could certainly have stood to get to the gym a little more often, and yet they were considered the paragon of beauty, right? 

However, since I live in the 21st century, I’m less inclined to flaunt my excess poundage.  With my recently-renewed vow to eat healthfully and also openly embrace the “now,” I’ve decided I may as well make peace with my plumpness, if not celebrate it.  Pondering all things Rubenesque, my mind naturally meandered toward the the concept of Reuben sandwiches.  Not only are they, too, pleasingly plump, but eating them may just ensure that I stay that way, as well (Bonus!).

reubenclosed2.jpg In my long-ago meat-eating days (though not as long-ago as the 1600s, mind you), I used to relish Reubens (the sandwiches, not the painter–though I suppose I’d have to concede that his work is okay).

There’s just something tantalizing about the mix of all those towering slices of pink, pickled meat, their softly shredded edges peeking out from beneath a buttered, crisply toasted piece of rye; the sour, briny haystack of sauerkraut, all smothered in creamy, sweet and tangy dressing (your choice of either Russian or Thousand Island), then capped off with a languid, softly spreading cloud of melted swiss cheese–well, the synergy of that particular combination of elements has always made my mouth water. 

I’ve encountered many recipes for vegan Reubens over the years, but nothing seemed to tickle my fancy (and my fancy is usually pretty ticklish, I can tell you*).  Then, the other evening, I finally decided to finish unpacking those fourteen boxes of cookbooks that have been waiting, patiently, in our basement since our recent move (who am I kidding?  November 12th is no longer “recent,” by any stretch of the imagination!). In the process, I happened upon my copy of Vegan with a Vengeance, and found–ta da!–a fabulous recipe for a vegan Tempeh Reuben Sandwich.

Well, since I am no longer fond of meat in any case, and since I have also determined to live in the moment, I decided, tempeh fugit! and went about preparing that sandwich. (Oooh.  I can hear the groans through the computer screen. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

With my mouth already watering in anticipation, I assembled the sandwich even though we were short a few key ingredients.  I was too impatient to properly marinate my tempeh,  so just steamed it in a little Braggs and water, as I normally do (which accounts for its pale countenance in the photos–sort of like a 17th Century Courtesan, come to think of it).  However, I did do up the rest of the recipe pretty much as described, except using a spelt bagel for the rye bread in the original.

The result was spectacular.  That Isa sure can whip up some great recipes! I devoured the thing in minutes, smacking my lips and licking my fingers as I imagine the denizens of King Charles’s court might have done as they sat round their enormous oak tables, imbibing and feasting. 

Not only are these sandwiches delectable, they are so chock full of filling that I daresay they themselves appear rather amply endowed. Like sandwich, like maker; eating that Reuben really did make me feel as if I inhabited a scene from a Rubens after all. Now, if only I could get that “servants at my beck and call” thing happening.

Tempeh Reuben Sandwich (adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance)

reubeninside.jpg

Rather than reprint the recipe here, I’ll tell you what I did differently from the original:

  • 1 spelt bagel, cut in half and toasted instead of pumpernickel bread
  • instead of marinating the tempeh (which I would definitely do next time), I steamed it in about 1/4 cup water and 2 Tbsp. Braggs, then brushed with olive oil and browned lightly in a skillet
  • I omitted the avocado from the sandwich, because (a) I didn’t think it would work as a substitute for cheese, and (b) we didn’t have any.

*No, I wasn’t being suggestive, just silly.  Goodness me, you people have a depraved sense of humor! 

Sister Love, Self Love

January 18, 2008

This morning, as I slipped out of the shower and dashed toward my towel, I was arrested by the flashing image of some alien being–large, bulbous torso with spindly appendages,  squishy and amorphous, with a dimpled, pasty-grey hide–as my gaze flitted briefly across the mirrored door of the medicine cabinet.  Extraterrestrial close encounters in my bathroom? Ultra-magnified image of a cotton ball and stray eyelashes? Cate Blanchett in her newest role, as Truman Capote? 

Uh, no, to all of the above, sad to say. With a start, I realized that mysterious reflection was me.

My HH finally put up the medicine cabinet a few days ago, so I wasn’t yet used to having a mirror in just that location, and forgot to avert my eyes as my naked self passed by.  Now, with two mirrors basically facing each other in the bathroom, just as they tend to do in women’s dressing rooms, I am treated to the full 3-D, 360 degrees, visual equivalent of surround-sound, image of myself every time I exit from the shower.  Bummer.  BIG bummer, if you get my drift.

Why is it I’ve come to avoid looking at myself in the mirror, you may wonder?  As a child, I never really thought about my looks very much.  These days, I can barely stand to gaze at my own reflection, and most especially not naked.  For many women, this is the last frontier of self-esteem:  being able to take in our own naked reflections without censure, or nausea.

I know that my body is not where I’d like it to be, and what’s worse, I know it has been in a much better place in the past.  As much as I consciously tout–and believe in–self-acceptance and self-love, it never occurred to me that I’m sabotaging myself by avoiding my mirror image just because I don’t like what I see.  What I end up doing each time I refuse to look is nurture that kernel of low self-esteem.

As it happens, The CFO is coming to visit this weekend (a deferred trip, after the last one was cancelled due to a snow storm).  Like my mother, my older sister, and me, The CFO has struggled with her weight most of her adult life.  And when I think of her and how I feel about her, it would seem ludicrous to me to reject her based on weight gain, of course.  So, if I’m infinitely capable of lavishing unconditional love on my friends and family regarless of physical appearance, it begs the question: why can’t I do so with myself as well?  

I believe in self-acceptance, and I’ve written about this before.  And I’m repeatedly inspired by other bloggers who’ve managed to incorporate self-love into their diet routines.   But I tend to separate acceptance from approval in my assessment, sort of like the mother of a toddler who tells her naughty child, “I still love YOU, but I am very angry at what you did.”  And let me tell you, what my fat cells are doing these days really sucks.

But I’m working on it.  There’s a great scene in the otherwise nondescript movie, Safe, one of Julianne Moore’s early films (1995).  Suffering from multiple allergies to basically everything (what was once called “20th Century Disease“), Moore’s character withdraws from the “real” world to an alternative-medicine retreat where she can be sheltered from the onslaught of all civilization’s many toxins and environmental villains.  Part of her cure involves practising self-love; her therapists believe that the root of her problems stems from her inability to really love herself, unconditionally. 

The movie ends with a tone that is both somewhat mocking (of all things alternative) and also portentous: Moore stands facing herself in the mirror and repeatedly chokes on the words, “I love you,” as she stares into the reflection of her own eyes.  But watching the scene, you just know that her salvation lies in that little phrase, in truly believing it.

I think this coming weekend is the perfect place to embark on a new approach to achieving such a salvation: I’m going to throw a superabundance of affection toward the CFO over the next two days, and attempt to do the same with myself, especially next time I pass by the mirror.  There may not be any skinny dipping in my foreseeable future, but perhaps I’ll eventually step out of the shower without shielding my eyes. 

 Have a great weekend, all.