Carrots Raised in Fear

April 23, 2008

Whoa.  That was some heavy-duty holistic workshop tonight.  We covered a huge array of topics, and ended the evening by packing jars with homemade cultured veggies (which, methinks, I will write about in due time, on this very blog).  Overall, I really enjoyed the course, especially since we’ll be taking the changes slowly, and one at a time.  Homework this week:  eating without distractions. 

Rather than bore you all with the minutiae of my diet/lifestyle/meditation/life overhaul program every week, I’ve decided that in future I’ll just add a little coda at the end of whichever post happens to follow my classes.  But for today, I’d like to provide a general sense of the core principles we covered.  And to do that, I’m going to tell a little story, one that spans the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Once upon a time, when I first started teaching, I knew exactly one person who was vegan.  As someone who’d done some minimal reading about different diets, I understood what “vegan” meant, but had never actually met one of the species in the flesh (no pun intended).  But Ms. X was very hip and very cool (sporting both bleached blonde, spiky hair and faux-leather corsets–those were the days just on the heels of Madonna’s pointy bra, after all), so I screwed up my courage and invited her and her dark, brooding boyfriend to dinner.

I have to give them credit for actually eating what I served.  It’s not that any of it was particularly distasteful on its own–I did know how to cook, after all–but I threw together such a hodge-podge of disparate dishes (based solely on the fact that each was devoid of animal products) that the menu was fairly, shall we say, “eclectic.”  It was a situation reminiscent of one my former friend M used to describe to me: often, when acquaintances first heard he was gay, they’d burst out, “Oh, I know another gay guy! Why don’t I fix you up with him!” (assuming, of course, that their shared sexual orientation would, on its own, give rise to an immediate and eternal love affair).   

Well, that’s how I treated my vegan dishes that evening, I’m sorry to say. Ever had kasha-stuffed samosas alongside mango and curry rice, with sweet and sour carrot/parsnip patties?  Oh, and with a side of guacamole? Well, I have.  And it wasn’t pretty, trust me.

It was during our dinner that Ms. X began to worry aloud about the direction in which she foresaw her diet heading.  No, she wasn’t fretting about the stereotypical vegan concerns, such as how to acquire enough calcium in the diet or where to get sufficient vitamin B12; Ms. X was ruminating (oops, sorry–again, no pun. . . ) about cruelty to vegetables.  After cutting out meat, then fish, then eggs and dairy, then every other non-produce foodstuff from her diet, Ms. X now wondered how she could continue to eat even vegetables and fruits. Eventually, she surmised, “I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep eating carrots raised in fear.”

Perhaps you need to take a moment here to compose yourself.  (The HH loves that line. . . but that’s neither here nor there.)

Okay.  To continue:

Well, apart from giving me nightmares about carrots suffocating in plastic bags, carrots crammed one on top of the other into too-small cartons, baby carrots being clubbed to death, etc.–Ms. X did introduce the notion that we could all stand to be a bit more mindful of what we put into our bodies. And during our course this evening, we discussed this very issue at some length (though not in the same terms as Ms. X’s lament). 

As we know, all living things (and this would include plants) emit an energy field; and recent new-agey theories focus quite directly on the impact our own “energy” has on the outcome of our lives (as in, “the intention you set will influence the outcome you achieve,” for those of you who’ve seen or read The Secret).  Then there are also Emoto’s amazing studies on the effects of energy on water, etcetera. 

On a more pragmatic level, is it possible the energy in our food has an impact on us?

Well, said my teacher tonight, the answer is “yes.”  Hence her recommendation to eat without distractions, to notice the food we put into our mouths, and to opt for whole, organic, raw foods whenever possible. Natural nutritionists have long asserted that “dead” foods (such as highly processed or GMO products), being composed to a large degree of chemicals and non-organic materials, harbor no real, “living” nutrients, and so can’t, in any meaningful sense, nourish us.  That’s why we can gorge on various fast foods and pre-packaged foods, yet still remain hungry even after consuming massive quantities of them. 

In the end, it may behoove us to treat our orange roots with a little more consideration, but it’s these non-foods that should really incite fear instead.  

And so, my prescription from this evening’s class was fairly clear (apologies to Michael Pollan): Eat plants. Many raw. Not much else.  I’ll do my best, but I can’t promise. 

In the meantime, I’ll still be preparing “regular” dishes and will continue to post about them on the blog (and when I cook something with fearsome ingredients, I’ll attempt to restrict my intake to tiny nibbles). 

Tonight’s coda:  A few years after our inauspicious dinner, Ms. X got pregnant.  During those nine months, “for the health of the baby,” she returned to eating meat, and continued to do so after the baby was born. She was still eating animal products up until we lost touch about a decade ago. I have no idea about carrots, though.

 

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“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.”]

onionbread3.jpg

I considered going back to basics and entitling this post, simply, “Bread and Spread,” but decided against the too-generic descriptor (even though it does offer up a lovely rhyme).  But these two foods, when eaten together, really could inspire poetry (if you’ll forgive the extended metaphor), so I opted for my slightly rhapsodic title instead.  And besides, with Easter coming up tomorrow, “pastoral” seemed like the right choice.

I’ve been hankering after this Potato Bread ever since I read about it a while back on Johanna’s blog (and originally posted on Redacted Recipes). Johanna’s version of the recipe, bespeckled with little amethyst wisps of grated purple potatoes, was not only visually beautiful, but her post also described the bread itself–its taste and texture–as veritably irresistible. 

Now, I’m not a huge fan of bread per se (I rarely, if ever, eat sandwiches–though I made an exception for a Tempeh Ruben a while back).  If I do eat bread, I want it to be the dense, dark, whole-grain kind that originated in an anonymous Eastern European country.  This sounded like just the ticket, so I set about altering the ingredients to render them a bit more NAG-friendly.

onionbread4.jpgIn the end, I baked this bread three times (I forced myself to stop at three, because I also ended up eating most of each one!). Because the original recipe contained cheese, I substituted nutritional yeast to provide a similar flavor.  My first effort (right) contained a bit too much yeast, I’m afraid, and the sharp astringency was a little overpowering.  With attempt number two, I halved the yeast, but added diced avocado to emulate  chunks of soft feta cheese scattered throughout the bread (photo below). 

onionbreadslice3.jpg (Ehm, er. . . wouldn’t recommend this one.  I might try the avoca-cheese again in future, but I’d use much less and definitely cut the chunks very small; that way, it might just work). 

Third time was definitely the charm:  I introduced chopped roma tomato and subbed fresh dill instead of thyme.  Number Three (photo below) was, by far, my favorite.

 oniontombreadslice.jpg

As Johanna attested, this bread was fantastic.  Even though mine isn’t quite as pretty to look at as hers, the moist, dense interior and perfectly balanced flavors of the green onion, cheesiness, and potato worked in agreeable harmony.  Each bite provided a slightly different mosaic of flavors, each with its own unique configuration and gustatory sparkle. I, too, had to stop myself from consuming too much of this delightful loaf at one sitting.

And while it was stellar all on its own, the bread also made a perfect base for a favorite spread of mine, Carrot Pâté. I created the latter recipe about five years ago (when I first started teaching cooking classes), as a way to veganize a fabulous pâté I’d been preparing for over 10 years before that (back when favorite recipes had to be clipped from magazine pages and preserved in file folders).   

Most of the carrots we consume around here tend toward the pre-peeled, miniature variety (aka “baby carrots”). Those are what we feed The Girls as treats, and, equally often,  as “dessert” after dinner.  And although Elsie adores the minis (and will even occasionally bare her teeth at Chaser for the culinary privilege), she turns her wet, black nose up with disdain at the regular, full-sized kind.  (Once, I ran out of the miniatures, and tried feeding her ordinary organic carrots. I took great care to cut them into strips approximately the same size as baby carrots. She examined my offering like a mortician views a corpse, let out a little contemptuous snort, and walked away.  Huh?)  Have you ever known a DOG that’s a picky eater? And not only that–this is a dog whose puppyhood was characterized by eating poo for dessert! But no; no regular carrots for this Prima Donna.

Um, excuse me, Mum, but if I might just interject to point out that the baby carrots are harvested much earlier in the growth cycle and are, therefore, significantly sweeter?  And also that you didn’t peel those big ones, either, Mum.  So they still retained all those little bumps and ridges on the exterior, which was rather irritating to my sensitive gums and teeth.  Just saying.”

carrotpateslice1.jpgAnd while it’s technically a  pâté, I actually prefer to eat this for breakfast.  With the sweetness of carrots and light, custardy texture courtesy of silken tofu, it’s a perfect morning accompaniment.  Along with the bread, you’ll be getting your morning serving of protein, veggies, and carbs, all in one delicious repast.  In fact, this would be an ideal pairing for a leisurely Easter Brunch, if you haven’t got your entire menu set already.

I thought this meal would be a great submission to Weekend Breakfast Blogging, which was created by Nandita at Saffron Trail and is being hosted this month by Mansi of Fun and Food.  The theme this month is “Balanced Breakfast Meals.”

(“Actually, Mum, I love this pâté even when you make it with “those” carrots. Pureeing the carrots makes them so much more palatable. So please feel free to share.“)

And to those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter, all!

Cheesy Onion Potato Bread and Carrot Pâté

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carrotpatewhole.jpg

 

Cheesy Onion Potato Bread

adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

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

You will quickly become addicted to this hearty, moist, and filling bread–be warned!  I’ve included my own adaptation of the recipe here. 

Vegan Carrot Pâté

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

If you consider carrots as mundane, plain-Jane, plebeian roots to be served only when drenched in sweet glaze or when playing second fiddle in a duo with peas, you’re in for a real treat with this pâté

 

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

My Diet: MIA

February 15, 2008

For the three of you who’ve been following this blog since the beginning, you may have noticed that my “diet” posts (ie, posts in which I talk about how my diet’s not working, posts in which I discuss how I’d like my diet to be working better, posts in which I examine how I might be able to make my diet work better, or, simply, posts in which I use the word “diet” a lot) have gone MIA.  Wherefore art thou, O Ricki’s Diet, and why has she forsaken you?

Well, I must apologize.  It’s not that I’ve forgotten about my diet (ha! AS IF), but more that I haven’t felt there was anything worth reporting or mulling over lately without sounding terribly repetitive. Given that the original intent of this blog was (at least, partly) to chronicle what I hoped would be a monumental (40-lb.) weight loss over the next year, and to share with you how I was going to go about doing that, I seem to have lost sight (but never taste, apparently, or I might have actually lost an ounce or two) of the goal. 

Honestly, it’s not because the “diet” aspect of the blog is any less important.  It’s not because writing about food–desserts, especially–is any more fun (even though it is). It’s mostly that I haven’t been feeling very worthy of writing about dieting lately, given my recent eating patterns (which, suspiciously, resemble my pre-blog eating patterns).  How can I write with any authority about losing weight when I’m not doing so?  If you’ve looked at the progress tracker at all, you’ll see that the numbers have been going up, down, up, down, up, down, even more than the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills negotiations.  I’ve been so taken lately with all the appealing, interesting recipes and food in the world of blogging that I’ve neglected taking care of me and my health.

Well, that’s all about to change.  Now that Valentine’s Day is almost over (in our house, it’s taking place tomorrow), I’ve made a resolution.  True, most people make their resolutions on January 1st; but I’ve always been a later bloomer. 

Soooo. . . I’m going to declare the rest of February a “Chocolate-Free Zone.” 

You see, since I was a wee tot (who am I kidding?  I was never “wee”), chocolate has been the bane of my existence. Like an ex-boyfriend that you can’t quite let go of, like a Canadian winter, like the Oscars–I both love it and hate it.

The “love it” part is easy:  it’s a perfect base for dessert (which, after all, is my area of specialization); it’s creamy, smooth, sweet, delectable; it’s a booster of serotonin levels; it’s a portable bite for that 3:00 PM sugar crash; and it’s my very, very favorite, “I-can-eat-it-any-time-even-for-breakfast,” food.

The “hate it” part is less black and white (or milk and white, depending on your predilection): it’s a source of sometimes uncontrollable cravings; it’s the cause of weight gain (though not of acne, as once believed); it’s a pathetically poor substitute for a hug, a phone call with your best friend, or therapy; and it’s usually not as good as you thought it was going to be (sort of like that ex-boyfriend, again).

For me, the only way to avoid the inner turmoil around chocolate is the extreme move of cutting it out entirely.  Not forever (I couldn’t live with that), but for at least a week, until the urge passes. I’m embarking on a chocolate fast.  No chocolate.  No eating it, no baking with it, no buying it, no hiding it in the cupboard for a little nip when I’m feeling down. 

Instead, I’m going to try out a week (or, if I can make it, two) of eating in a way that’s worked for me in the past: a NAG-friendly , semi-detox diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds; minimal whole-grain flours; and only stevia as an added sweetener.  And NO CHOCOLATE.  (“How about cocoa, Mum?”) No, not even cocoa. (“How about carob, Mum?”)  Carob is acceptable. I’m also going to aim for over 50% raw foods each day. 

For me, this move is part desperation and part a yearning to regain to the experience of vibrant energy and health I enjoyed during my year studying natural nutrition.  At the time, one of my teachers there followed a 100% raw-foods (or living-foods, as it’s also called) diet. She also taught cooking classes, and I attended every one.  I was amazed at how fantastic the food was–colorful, delicious, a veritable feast for the senses.  I’m hoping to share some of her recipes, as well as others I’ve discovered over the years.

Hopefully, this new hard-line regime will help me ride out the chocolate-DTs, followed by a more moderate approach to eating (and, of course, chocolate)–and maybe even a little weight loss.

I do have a couple of desserts and one or two other dishes that I’ve recently prepared and will post as blog entries over the next two weeks, but for the most part, I’ll be sharing my healthier, detoxifying, health-conferring goodies with you.  And I’m hoping that declaring it this way on the blog will help me to actually follow through!

So I hope you’ll bear with me after the recent influx of indulgent baked goods.  Like some of you, I sometimes feel that a day without baking is a day devoid of some ineffable, necessary primal “something,” something that satisfies at the chromosomal level. 

No doubt, the baking will return.  Part of my goal when I started this blog was to lose 40 pounds before my next birthday, and unless I somehow get the chocolate habit under control, I know it won’t be a very happy one.  (And speaking of birthdays, another HUGE impetus for the chocolate ban is the upcoming birthday bash for Gemini I’s husband–a massive party in the works–on March 1st.  Two weeks away; need something nice, nothing fits, don’t want to have to buy something new. Think I could lose 10 pounds by then?  Me, either.)

And so, chocolate, adieu.  It’s only for a short while, but I’m hoping that absence, in this case, will not make the heart grow fonder.  No doubt I will miss you; I may even pine for you.  Still, one day, I hope to look at you with the same indifferent eye with which I gaze at Cream of Wheat, or paisley, or Josh Groban (sorry, Josh, not a big fan). After the week is over, let’s renegotiate our relationship in a more level-headed manner. In the meantime, I’ll attempt to forge ahead on my own, without you. But we’ll always have Paris (it is, after all, home of your finest specimens).

(“Oh, Mum, you’re so histrionic.  Really, get a grip. Who cares about chocolate?  It’s not a big deal.  But, um, you’re not thinking of changing your mind about carob now too, are you?  Because, you know, we’re allowed to eat carob, and we really love that carob-date thing you make.  So we can keep the carob, can’t we, Mum? Can’t we?  Mum???”)

elsiecarob.jpg

Well, I hope everyone out there had a Happy New Year.  Ours would have been very pleasant and laid back–after all, we were guests at my friend’s 8000 square foot “cottage” (you read that right–were we lucky, or what??), we were in a pastoral wonderland of snow, lake, birch trees, rare birds and other wildlife prancing past the picture windows between the stone and wood walls, and we spent the time with two of my very favorite people in the world, Gemini I and Gemini II, as well as their families.  Could it get any better?

In our pre-Chaser days, we used to go up there fairly frequently, and have spent many a lovely Thanksgiving or Christmas with the Gemini I family. This time, however, we discovered a tiny, heretofore unseen quirk in our (post-Chaser) Elsie Girl, something we’d never witnessed before:  she has a newfound propensity to lunge at and–if permitted–eat any of the other dogs up there (Chaser excluded).  What the–?? 

My beloved fur baby, the one I’ve adored since we got her from the pound back in 2002, the one who is consistently docile and sweet and gentle?  The one I refer to variously as Sweet Face, Sweet Girl, Honey Girl, My Darling Girl, My Little Love, and innumerable other nausea-inducing, endearing sobriquets?  The one who timorously permits Chaser to nibble endlessly on her ears like popcorn at the movies, who hangs her head in submission when I see her even walking toward the open garbage can, who lies at my feet silently here at the computer and reminds me, with a barely perceptible, feathery whisper of a touch with her nose, that it’s dinnertime? 

Yes, that one.  What on earth has gotten into her?

As a result of this sudden possession by the Dog Satan, we spent most of the time hovering over Elsie to ensure that she didn’t consume Gemini I’s new cat, or bundling up in our snow suits to accompany Elsie on the leash to do her “business” outside.  How I wish Cesar Millan lived in Canada. Sniff.

I also realized, as soon as we were on the road and past the point where it would be feasible to turn back, that I’d forgotten my camera up north.  Granted, it’s a cheap little unit (I must be the only blogger on the face of the planet who takes pictures with a camera she got for free using Air Miles), and also I have no photographic ability, but I am inordinately fond of the thing and it feels like traipsing around the house naked to post without photos of any kind. 

The final rather unpleasant discovery to greet me after the weekend (well, actually, the last two weeks) is that it appears I have gained a couple of pounds (really?  pigging out on baked goods and chocolate can do that to you?).  As a result of all these events, I’ve been feeling pretty disheartened since we got back.  Boo hoo.

Well, as Cesar himself would say, it’s the owner, not the dog, that needs training whenever there’s a problem.  Don’t I know it: time to listen to The Great Emperor of Dog Training and get my ass in gear, literally and figuratively.  Also, a perfect opportunity for some goal setting (notice I didn’t say, “resolutions”). 

Every year around this time–sometimes right on the first of the year, sometimes not until April–I sit down and write out a “Five-Year Plan,” a set of goals to reach within 5 years, 2 years, one year, and the next six months.  This is something I learned about from the original study at Harvard (I didn’t participate, just read about it) that confirmed how those people who actually write down their goals are more inclined to someday achieve them.  Some years it works better, some years worse, but it always seems to help keep me on track and steer me toward my goals, even when I immediately put the list back in its desk drawer and promptly forget about it till the next year. 

I’m also always amazed at the goals that eventually come to fruition even when I’ve literally forgotten about them in the interim.  To wit, a couple of years ago one of the goals I wrote was “Work with a business coach for free.”  Through a series of serendipitous events, I ended up with three full months of terrific coaching. Similarly, “guest appearance on TV morning show.”  Or, “Adopt second dog.”  At the time I wrote that, my HH’s response was a definite “no.” As the months rolled by, for some reason, he ultimately changed his mind, and eventually he succumbed.  Now, he’s Chaser’s greatest fan, and the two of them are almost inseparable.(“Thanks for changing your mind, Dad!  You’re so much fun to wrestle with. . .but wait a sec, Mum, if you’re not also my greatest fan, then whose fan are you–?“). 

So, to that end, I am going to list my goals.  I will say straight up that this isn’t the complete list, as there are still some things that I’ll keep private (goals related to relationship, family, etc.), but given the name of the blog, I think I should at least include all the food-related and health-related ones here. 

Of course, everyone and their cousin is making resolutions about now, and to that end, there was a humorous send up of these kinds of lists in the Arts and Life section of the National Post today.  Near the top of the list was this goal:

“Shed those unwanted pounds, or, if that’s too hard, spend some quality time with those pounds at a Wendy’s and make them feel wanted again.” 

In that same spirit, I shall not berate myself for those “unwanted” two pounds, or the fairly unstable wagon off of which I’ve fallen. Instead, I’m going to set about outlining some goals for the next while.

And So:

Five Years Hence:

  • Post and Beam.  My lifelong (okay, adult-long) dream is to own a post and beam, slightly north of the city, with my two dogs and HH (and in it, I’ll still be writing this blog, of course).
  • maintain normal, healthy weight and eating habits (continued since year one), following the plan I outlined, below, in the 6-month goal. 
  • go swimming on a regular basis (something I used to love as a kid/teenager, and have been too embarrassed to do in public since the weight gain).
  • Have meditation as a daily part of my life, yoga (or other easy-on-the-joints, meditative exercise) as a weekly part of my life.
  • continue to have an easy, healthy relationship with dessert, able to enjoy with moderation without being thrown into binge mode, as outlined below in the one-year goal.
  • have a healthy, effective method in place for dealing with stress (hey, may as well reach high once I’m setting goals, right?).

Two Years Hence:

  • maintain normal, healthy lifestyle and eating habits since year one (as outlined below, in the 6 month section).
  • maintain a healthy, normal relationship to dessert, as outlined below in the one year goal.
  • have meditation as a daily part of my life, yoga or similar type of exercise as weekly.
  • go swimming again–take lessons if necessary.
  • have healthy, effective method for dealing with stress in place and almost perfected.

One Year Hence:

  • reach normal, healthy weight (about 50 pounds from now) 
  •  achieve a sense of control around desserts–that is, the ability to eat them within reason, without breaking into a binge because of one chocolate bar, or brownie, or piece of cake
  • continue to create healthy, delicious desserts for fun and profit
  • continue to eat a balanced, NAG-friendly diet.
  • complete an intro to yoga course, and continue throughout the year.
  • improve work on weights, to previous levels, working with trainer if necessary.
  • continue with regular exercise at least 6 days a week, as outlined below.

Six Months Hence:

  • down 25 pounds from now
  • eat a balanced, NAG-friendly diet.  (I know from past experience that this will help me with the dessert goal, above, as I seem so much less inclined toward unhealthy foods when I regularly consume veggies, whole grains, and the like).
  • exercise regularly:  weights/club at least 3x per week; treadmill at least 4x per week (I know this can be done, as I’ve done it before, for years at a time)
  • take intro to yoga or similar exercise course; begin meditation, with the help of a course if necessary.

I think these are realistic goals, especially since I know I’ve mastered some of them in the past.  I’m also giving myself a fairly lengthy period to establish new habits (I’ve read that it takes about 6 weeks of repetition to establish a new habit, but have never found that to be true for me; even after 2 years of eating no sweeteners whatsoever, it didn’t take long to return to old habits once I allowed sugar back into my life).

Now, of course there are many other goals on the piece of paper written out here at home, such as those related to my writing career or travelling (basically, I’d like to do some).  But for now, if I can focus on the physical health and psychological wellness, I think I’d have a great head start toward everything else. 

(“You go for it, Mum!  My goal this year is to earn more treats.  Oh, and I suppose not to attempt ripping apart other dogs would be good, too.’)

Mostly Raw Chocolate Truffles

December 10, 2007

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Aren’t chocolate truffles just the height of decadence?  At this time of year, they seem to abound on coffee tables, in buffets, or in scalloped porcelain dishes that have been handed down from generation to generation.

Well, for dessert day here at DD&D, I thought I’d share a recipe for my favorite NAG-friendly chocolate trufffles.

 I’ve always loved these ultra-rich, velvety treats, but in recent years have sought out other, more health-supportive ways to indulge my hankering. When I discovered raw truffles, I knew I’d found the winner–the candy I could eat with impunity yet would still allow me to feel just a little bit naughty while I savored them.  And these babies actually contain many compounds that are good for your heart!

There are many recipes for raw chocolate truffles on the Internet and in raw lifestyle cookbooks (though not on the Holidailies  site).  I was given this recipe by a friend a couple of years ago, and I tinkered with it quite a bit before ending up with this version. The recipe uses both maple syrup and agave nectar, which allows for a smoother, silkier texture.

I also favor dark cocoa powder rather than Dutch process. Yes, I am aware that those in the upper echelons of the food blogging world would never make use of such a base form of cocoa; but it turns out, in fact, that the darker the cocoa, the more flavonoids it contains. So Dutch process is actually less efficient at fighting off all those pesky chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, or Type II Diabetes.  Mary Engler, in her article, “The Emerging Role of Flavonoid-Rich Cocoa and Chocolate in Cardiovascular Health and Disease,”  tells us,

“It is important to note that the amount of flavonoids in chocolate is not only dependent on the cacao bean, but also on the processing steps involved in its manufacture, e.g., excess heat and alkalization (“Dutch” process) can significantly reduce the amount of flavonoids.” 

Besdies, dark cocoa just looks so much better in this recipe.

 Similarly, the fats in the cashews (mostly unsaturated) are also good for your ticker.  And according to one of my favorite sites, cashews also contain a fair amount of magnesium, equally beneficial for heart health.  If you aren’t concerned about the cashews being raw, go ahead and use regular cashew butter–it will still taste amazing.

These truffles can tend toward the soft side, so you must be sure to refrigerate them if you want them to hold their shape.  If you’re not too fussy about achieving a perfect sphere, dig in as soon as you’ve rolled them.

Mostly Raw Chocolate Truffles

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

trufflesonplate.jpg

 

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

Moroccan Spiced Tomato Soup

December 6, 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.”]  

 

 

As promised, I’m going to supply the recipes from the cooking class I taught last week—my last ever in my home (sniff!). 

moroccantomatosoup2.jpg

But first, I must interrupt today’s entry because I’ve been tagged for a meme! Annie over at Forest Street Kitchen kindly included me in the game.   Considering that up until yesterday I didn’t even know what a meme was, this should be fun. Can I offer this as an open invitation to other readers/bloggers to answer as well?  I’d love to hear from you. And I’ll tag Deb. Here goes: 

FOUR JOBS I HAVE HAD: 

  • Telephone salesperson selling wholesale frozen sides of beef (even funnier once you know that I grew up with a father who was a butcher AND that I don’t eat meat any more).
  • Writer for local entertainment magazine geared at American tourists (MAN do I miss those complimentary tickets to theatre, museums, launch parties, etc.!!)
  • Size 9 dress model (Yes. True. Very long ago. Ah, how the mighty’s weight has risen).
  • Baker for vegetarian restaurant (totally serendipitous, result of a friend with a big mouth—and how I will always love her for getting me involved in this world!).

FOUR PLACES I’VE LIVED: 

  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Born and raised there.  No, I am not a Francophone, though I went to French immersion school and visited France as part of a school trip (it was fantastique!).
  • Framingham, Massachusetts.  Home of the famous heart study.  Also home of (some of) my American cousins, with whom I spent a teenaged summer.
  • Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  Location of the first university I attended (University of Windsor), southernmost city in Canada, actually SOUTH of Detroit.  Where I rediscovered the exquisite joy of reading literature, where I met my beloved mentor (the recent loss of whom I deeply mourn), and where I finally grew up (a bit).  
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Current home, where I’ve been since coming to do my PhD in 1983, where I married and divorced, subsequently met my HH and adopted my cherished Girls, and rediscovered my childlike tendencies (not to be confused with childish, mind you).

 FOUR PLACES I’VE BEEN ON HOLIDAY: 

  • California: with my best friend A. Three weeks of hysterical laughter, amazing sights, meeting great people, feeling totally independent.
  • London: 30 years after California, two more weeks with A, this time at her home in England, having a riotous time with her and her adorable new hubby.
  • Bandol, France: three weeks as a French immersion student (see above), nerdy enough to actually attend the classes they’d scheduled instead of wandering around the South of France by myself (I did attend scheduled tours, though, which were lovely).
  • Newfoundland, Canada: Two weeks with my Honey, our first “real” vacation together, as we discovered the beauty and bounty of our very own country, and how it is so vast that a short flight east can feel like visiting another continent. 

FOUR FAVORITE FOODS: 

  • Chocolate.  What else?  All intensities, all shades.  Best when organic, when somehow connected to caramel, but always welcome in any form.
  • Spicy Penang Fried Keow Tow noodles from our favorite Malaysian restaurant. Must order with at least 2 other people present, or I eat the entire platter.
  • Almond-Curry Stir Fry with tofu, from my friend Nettie’s cookbook. The combination of curry and almond butter in the sauce is startling and delectable.
  • Simple, raw Kale and Avocado Salad. Fresh, crunchy, creamy—the perfect way to consume kale.  Not bitter!  Not bitter! (recipe in a later post). 

FOUR PLACES I’D RATHER BE:

  • With my HH, somewhere warm.
  •  With my sisters, somewhere warm.
  •  With my girlfriends, somewhere warm.
  •  With my Girls, somewhere warm. 

Whew!  That was actually lots of fun. Thanks, imagineannie, for including me!  Looking forward to hearing what others have to say.

 Now, on to today’s NAG-friendly recipe. . . .  

This recipe for Moroccan Spiced Tomato Soup was originally given to me by a former office mate, who eventually became a close friend. At the time (late 1980s), I was perpetually in awe of her, as she was somewhat of an anomaly among our colleagues:  the first bona fide vegan I ever knew, she was both incredibly intelligent and incredibly beautiful. Amazonian in height (over six feet tall), she still had something of an ethereal nature about her, with cropped ashen hair and a model’s grace. She spoke with a calming, velvety voice and I loved spending time with her and soaking up details about her alternative (extremely alternative, at the time!) lifestyle.  Although she and I have lost touch over the years, my HH and I still enjoy this soup every winter.  It’s one of our favorites as a hearty and warming dinner.  

Don’t be put off by the ostensibly bizarre inclusion of peanut butter here.  It virtually disappears into the soup and effectively simulates the addition of thick cream.  

Moroccan Spiced Tomato Soup

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

moroccantomatosoup1.jpg

 The combination of creaminess, spices, and tomatoes provides the perfect comfort food for a cool evening, or after you’ve just finished posting your Holidailies entry.  This is a quick and fabulous soup. Pair with corn bread or a crusty french loaf for a complete meal.  [Note: this soup can easily be made gluten-free with GF ketchup.]

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

The Diet: NAG

October 30, 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.”]  

* * *

Today’s post will outline the diet plan I intend to follow for the next year and the rest of my life. 

1) NAG Diet.  As I mentioned, at school they called it “NAG”: natural, alive, good quality.  So what does this mean?

Natural:  foods that are not processed or are minimally processed.  So nothing packaged, no frozen dinners, no prepared cakes, cookies, buns, muffins, breads, nothing with preservatives, colorings, additives, chemicals, or anything like that.  Does this sound hard?  Actually, it’s the way I usually eat anyway, ever since my diagnosis with candida in 1999.  What’s great about this category is that everything is just what you see when you buy it:  an apple is an apple, quinoa is quinoa, eggs are always eggs.  Nothing added, nothing taken away. 

If you can eat this way (at least some of the time) you’ll find two things:  first, your groceries are cheaper.  When you buy brown rice and cook it yourself along with onion, peppers, and herbs, you are paying waaaaay less than buying pre-packaged rice pilaf mix.  Second, everything you eat is more filling, more substantial, and, eventually, more satisfying.  You’re getting real food, with real nutrition.  Oh, and a third, one worth mentioning:  everything takes much longer to cook.  I’ll deal with this issue throughout the blog, as I list what I’ve cooked and how long it takes.

Alive: for optimum health, “live” or raw foods are recommended.  This is not to say I’m advocating following a raw diet. No, just raw some of the time (I’m aiming for something raw with each meal, 30-50% raw each day).  This could mean a fresh apple cut up into cereal, a salad with lunch, baby carrots for a snack, cucumber slices with dinner. Or it could mean a raw almond-veggie pate as a lunch option (recipe to follow–promise!). As raw foodists know, raw foods contain health-enhancing enzymes that also help us to digest food better.  You digest faster and more efficiently with raw. . . it only makes sense to include it.

Good quality:  this trait refers to many things, but generally I think, “organic.”  I try to include as much organic food as possible in my diet.  One thing that’s absolutely essential to me is that any animal product be organic.  After learning what’s done to milk, meat, eggs, cheese, etc., I wouldn’t even give my dogs non-organic in these areas!  (Lucky for Elsie and Chaser, they get lots of organic veggies with their organic dog food for dinner.) (“We do appreciate that, Mum, really!”)

I guess I’m lucky in that I do love healthy foods, so it’s no hardship to eat this way.  The problem is that I also love unhealthy food.  So I can eat a perfectly healthy meal of my favorite almond-curry stir-fry with tofu and mixed veggies, then 30 minutes later eat 6 cookies.  Granted, the cookies are my own creations, made with spelt flour and Sucanat or maple syrup. . . but it ‘s the quantity, man, the quantity! 

Which leads me to. . . the rest of the diet. 

2) PORTION CONTROL. Ideally, if I follow the diet I see in my head, I’ll be able to eat moderate amounts of very healthy foods, with small amounts of less healthy foods (such as my beloved desserts or a glass of wine occasionally).  For me, this is probably the biggest challenge:  I don’t feel I’ve “eaten” unless I feel full (sometimes, almost to the point of bursting). So being able to eat a regular-sized meal followed by a regluar-sized dessert would be an amazing accomplishment for me.

3) EXERCISE. Technically, not part of the diet, but an integral part of the plan related to it.  The mission is to alternate my weights with aerobic exercise, 6 days a week.  This means treadmill for me, as bad knees prohibit either running or cycling.

Interestingly, I do already walk every day by virtue of my furry girls (“No problem, mum, we’re happy to remind you to take us out!”).  I generally take them out every afternoon for a minimum of 20 minutes (this in addition to their morning walk, courtesy of C., and their evening walk, which we all take together).  I see this as one of the major benefits of having dogs. Though I have to say here, that when we watch The Dog Whisperer, one of our favorite shows (“No! Don’t watch that, mum! Don’t watch that show!”), I’m always amazed that when asked how often they walk their dogs, people say things like, “Well, I manage to get out once a week. . . .”.  Huh?  Knowing that dogs were basically born to be outside running around, I would destroy myself with guilt if I didn’t take them out at least twice a day.  Strangely, though, the twice-daily dog walks don’t seem to affect my weight.  Ergo, adding in the aerobics every second day.

That’s it for now.  Tomorrow, I’ll cover the Goals section of the plan, after which I’ll really be on my way.