THIS SITE HAS MOVED!
A vibrant and refreshing salad to help usher in the spring season. . .
There’s also a great giveaway over there you might like to find out about. . . 🙂
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs
March 14, 2009
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!
If you’re reading this, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the shiny, new Diet, Dessert and Dogs by clicking here.
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing from you on the new site!
(“Um, Mum, you are taking us with you, aren’t you? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”)
* Or, Give Pods a Chance!
[Okra pods, in the raw]
I have a confession to make. I haven’t told you all about this yet because, quite frankly, I was afraid you’d reject me. Move that cursor elsewhere, and click. At best, roll your eyes. Maybe snort in disgust. Maybe gag, even.
But I’ve decided it’s time. I mean, really, what kind of lasting relationship can we have without full disclosure?
So I’m just going to come out and say it:
I love okra.
Are you running for the hills yet?
Oh, I know what you’re thinking: Okra? That polygonal pod that’s a staple in gumbo, and mostly reviled? That much-maligned member of the marrow family (but cocoa is in that family, too!) that most people reject without so much as a nibble? That pariah of the produce aisle that’s often referred to as gluey, viscous, slimy or mucilaginous–with seeds that remind you of those bowls of peeled grape “eyeballs” we all stuck our hands into at Halloween when we were kids?
Yep. That okra.
I adore okra’s long, lantern-shaped pods, the vibrant green skins with just a hint of fuzz and the wagon-wheel innards when you cut them across. I love the mild, slightly woodsy flavor and the pop of the seeds in your mouth. I could eat okra every day, and never tire of it.
I think it’s heartbreaking that okra gets such a bad rap. Okra is like the pimply nerd at school–the reject, the Carrie, the Napoleon Dynamite , the Ugly Betty. The last kid to be chosen for the baseball team. The scrawny kid on the beach who gets sand kicked in his face. The pink-and-too-frilly kid who takes her dad to the prom. The computer geek nobody wants to date so then he quits high school and starts some computer company run from his parents garage and redeems himself by becoming the richest guy in America. . . oh, wait. That would make him Bill Gates, wouldn’t it? And then he’d actually be much sought after, wouldn’t he? Well, heck! To my mind, that IS okra!
[A bit of spice, a bit of bite, a bit of lemon zest: an endearing combination.]
I think we should give okra the accolades it deserves. Let’s nurture its low self-esteem. Let’s compliment its grassy hue and lovely symmetry, tug its cute little tail at the narrow end and make it blush. Sure, it was born a green vegetable (already at a disadvantage compared to, say, watermelon). And then there’s the goo factor. But sometimes, with a recipe that takes our humble ingredient and pushes it to be its best, well, that little green lantern can really shine. That’s what I wish for my buddy, okra.
In these recipes, okra is elevated to something that transcends its reputation. It’s like okra gussied up for a date. Okra getting an A+ in physics. Okra at its best self–I know, like okra after taking one of Oprah’s “Be Your Best Self” weekends! (Just imagine the introductions at that seminar, sort of like David Letterman’s ill-fated attempt at hosting the Oscars: “Okra, meet Oprah. Oprah, okra.”).
Besides, okra has much to offer us. Described by WholeHealthMD as having a taste that “falls somewhere between that of eggplant and asparagus,” it’s a good source of Vitamin C and several minerals; and the seeds offer up protein in every pod, along with 4 grams of both soluble (known to help keep cholesterol levels in check) and insoluble (great for regularity) fiber in a one-cup (240 ml) serving.
[Still slightly al dente in this photo; cook a bit longer if you’re an okra neophyte.]
These are two of my favorite okra dishes, ones that we consume fairly regularly here in the DDD household. The first is another adaptation from my dog-eared copy of Flip Shelton’s Green, a Moroccan Spiced Okra-Quinoa Pilaf. I’ve made liberal changes to this one, including altering the base from rice to quinoa. The spices are subtle with a barely detectable undertone of lemon zest in the mix. Served sprinkled with chopped nuts, this pilaf is a meal in a bowl all on its own.
The second dish comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Indian Cooking Course by Manisha Kanani. Again, I’ve made a few alterations to the original, which asks you to dry-cook the okra on the stovetop; I’ve found that adding chopped tomatoes and allowing the tender pods to stew in the juices produces a more appealing taste and texture. Although a masala curry, this one isn’t the least bit spicy, yet is still rife with the flavors of tomato, cumin, coriander and fresh cilantro. It’s a perfect side dish for Indian food, of course, but we also enjoy this as an accompaniment to burgers or cooked grains.
So go ahead, give okra a try! Who knows? You may even like it. And don’t worry, the secret will be safe with me.
Moroccan-Spiced Pilaf with Quinoa and Okra
adapted from Flip Shelton’s Green
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
adapted from Indian Cooking Course by Manisha Kanani
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs
March 11, 2009
I’m going to be dashing around town for the next couple of days, doing cooking classes (short notice, but if you’re in the Toronto area, I’ll be at the Bayview/Sheppard Loblaws tonight at 7:00–would love to meet you!), and then my friend Babe is coming to town tomorrow, so I won’t have much time for cooking (except for other people, that is).
When we were undergraduates, my friend Babe had a roster of what she called “permadates.” These were straight guys who were no more than friends, but were willing to stand in whenever a male presence was required–at a work function, say, a family wedding or bar mitzvah, a school reunion, etc. She’d call up the permadate and he was always happy to receive a free meal, free booze, and maybe some dancing in exchange for allowing Babe hang on to his rippled bicep and elbow for the evening. A win-win!
I think the same concept extends to foods as well. Don’t we all have our own favored dishes, the go-to recipes that we whip up when we need something that will impress, will look good and taste good–and which won’t expect any “favors” at the end of the evening? These are the “permadishes,” the old standbys that never disappoint.
I’ve been relying a lot on “candida standbys”–simple foods that are compatible with the ACD–this week. A lettuce wrap here, some baked tofu (without soy sauce, of course) there, here a roasted veggie, there a baked sweet potato, raw almonds and pumpkin seeds everywhere.
Then I realized I’ve already got quite a few candida-friendly dishes right here on this blog–dishes that are already in my repertoire, but happen to be suitable for the ACD. These are great for anyone who’s battling candida, but even more, for anyone who’s seeking a cleaner, less toxic, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting diet as well.
Until I cook again, I’ll leave you with some of these reliable favorites. Nothing like a good permadish to get you through a busy week!
- Raw Almond-Veggie Pâté (omit miso if you’re sensitive)
- The Perfect Guacamole
- Cheela (Chickpea pancakes)
- Avocado Mayonnaise
- Lentil-Tomato Spaghetti Sauce (omit the spaghetti, of course!)
- Roasted Garlic and Pumpkinseed Pesto
- Balti Tofu and Chickpeas in a Thick Creamy Coconut Sauce
- Kitchari (an anti-candida stew)
- Quick and Easy Tofu Masala (omit mushrooms for ACD)
- Sweet Potato and Kasha Burgers (use non-fermented soy sauce, such as Bragg’s)
- Cauliflower, Parsnip and Bean Mash
- Kale and Avocado Salad
- Dandelion-Potato Salad (some diets permit potatoes in moderation)
- Spiced Cauliflower Soup
- Easy Millet and Red Pepper Pilaf
- Sweet Potato “Fries”
“Mum, how about considering us permadogs? You know you can count on us. And of course I always rely on my big sister to take good care of me, too.”
“Aw, zip it, Chaser–you’re making me blush.”
March 8, 2009
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.”]
These days, I try to be a little nutty every day.
Of course I don’t mean “nutty” as in “I missed my plane so I’m going to become a minor celebrity on YouTube” nutty. Or “I think I’ll switch careers at the pinnacle of my success and adopt the mien of a skid row bum from another planet” type of nutty. And certainly not “just drop me in the middle of the Sahara without any food, water or shelter, and see how I hold up for a week” sort of nutty. While it may be true I do, on occasion, exhibit behavior one might characterize as “nutty” (at least that’s what the HH keeps telling me), I was referring to the toothsome, bite-sized, healthy-fat-and-protein-rich kind of nutty. An “Uncle S.” kind of nutty.
You see, I’ve had a fairly rocky history with nuts–and I blame it all on my Uncle S.
One of my favorite relatives, Uncle S (along with Aunty M) lived upstairs in our family’s duplex during my childhood. We kids would scoot out the door, up the stairs and into their home without a thought or an invitation, assuming it was simply the top floor of our own place. Aunty M would greet us, hand over some homemade cookies, and then we’d go seek out our uncle.
I have to admit, I didn’t fully appreciate Uncle S’s unique charms until I was an adult. An unrivalled prankster, Uncle S was a puckish, Punk’d prototype whose myriad tricks were relentless. Case in point: every Sunday, our family would pile into Uncle S’s taxi (this was before my dad acquired a car) for an outing in the countryside. We’d drive for a while, after which, like clockwork, Uncle S would begin to hem and haw: “Gee, I don’t remember passing that tree over there. Maybe I took a wrong turn. You know, I’m not exactly sure where we are–maybe we’re lost. Ricki, which way should I go?” Given that I was only four or five at the time, I had no idea; but, also like clockwork, Uncle S’s musings sent me into paroxysms of anxiety, certain I’d be wandering forever in the woods, never to see my own home, bed or Barbie dolls again.
Once I grew older, I could appreciate Uncle S’s humor, his always jovial and somewhat michievious expression, reminiscent of the Pillsbury Dough Boy (although not in any way chubby). In fact, I’d say Uncle S resembled a cartoon character more than anything else: having lost his hair as a young man, his shiny dome was encircled with a fluffy white fringe that snaked round the back of his neck and behind his ears. His nose, slightly bulbous at the tip, was, like his cheeks, often flushed pink, and he wore a perpetual half-smile on his face.
Uncle S had a favorite expression, “No Fun!” which he used the way one would utter, “No Way!” or “You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me!”. The CFO and I found this endlessly amusing. To wit:
Ricki: Uncle S, my goldfish had babies and now we have four fishies.
Uncle S: No Fun!
[Ricki and The CFO erupt in peals of uncontrollable giggles, hands clamped over their mouths].
The summer my mother died, it seemed only Uncle S could lighten the moribund shroud of silence in the hospital waiting room where our family sat in stunned silence. Uncle S would ramble on, his words always infused with optimism and hope. One evening, as we all sat lost in resigned torpor, Uncle S was positioned across from me and the CFO, an absent, bemused expression on his face. The CFO leaned over to me and whispered, “Hey, doesn’t Uncle S sort of look like Bozo the Clown?” That smile! That fringe! That nose! Why yes, yes he did–and with that, Uncle S unwittingly bestowed on us a truly priceless gift: the only moment of unrestrained hilarity in an otherwise unbearable summer.
Ah, yes, you’re wondering about the nuts.
Uncle S loved to eat nuts. In particular, he was never without his glass jar of Planter’s Dry Roasted peanuts, which he carried with him wherever he went. Another open jar was stationed on a TV tray beside his armchair so he could munch as he enjoyed the Ed Sullivan Show. He’d pour a small mound into his open palm, then tip it into his mouth with a quick flick of the wrist as if tossing a ball for a prize at the midway. Then he’d plow ahead with whatever it was he’d been saying, mouth open and chewing, oblivious as the ground up bits of nut began to escape his mouth in little bursts of beige spray as he spoke. (In fact, those Planter’s nuts and an opened can of peas and carrots–spooned straight from the can, cold–are pretty much all I ever remember him eating).
For some inexplicable reason, I decided nuts were not my thing back then.
I’m happy to report that my nut aversion was finally overcome when I came across Elaine Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet (geared toward people with Crohn’s, Colitis, or other bowel diseases) while studying nutrition. Her recipes employ nut flours (basically just ground nuts), and I began to experiment with them back then. Almonds tend to be the most versatile (and mildest in flavor), but almost any nut will do–pop it in a food processor and blend to a mealy consistency.
To some extent, I’m following the ACD for the next month or so to heal my gut and encourage a little digestive rejuvenation. This means eating less gluten, fewer grains, and more fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These pancakes were an auspicious first attempt.
Made mostly with almond meal and a smidge of chickpea (besan) flour, they nevertheless retain a light, airy texture and a refreshing lemon tang. Neither the almond nor the chickpea asserts itself too prominently, so the flavor remains mild. I served these last week (before eschewing all sweeteners) with a splash of organic maple syrup from Coombs Family Farms that I received as sample (more on that in an upcoming post) and they were, quite simply, delicious.
I may not be nutty enough to consume a jar of Planter’s peanuts just yet. Still, these little treats are a healthy step in the right direction.
Grain-Free Lemony Almond Pancakes (and ACD variation)
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
Last Year at this Time: Week at Warp Speed and Easy Dinner
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs
January 18, 2009
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!
If you’re reading this, you’ve landed on the old site. Please come visit the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs, by clicking here.
The close friendship between my buddy Sterlin and me was soldered back in high school, when we first discovered that we were the only two girls in the entire school who had never had a boyfriend (well, I guess there was “BB,” too, but we figured that sleeping with the entire senior class had to count for something).
This revelation prompted an immediate sense of community between us, after which we spent endless hours (in the way that only teenagers can) on the telephone, musing about why we didn’t have a boyfriend, how much we wished we could have a boyfriend, what we would do if we ever got a boyfriend, and what it was other girls like BB had that we didn’t, allowing them to seemingly conjure streams of drooling boys trailing behind them like empty cans tied to a “Just Married” car bumper. Entirely unjustly, we thought, these girls enjoyed a surfeit of boyfriends, while we had to make do with an unrequited crush on our French teacher, Mr. Krauser.
But then, we discovered historical romance novels, and our focus shifted. You know the ones: innocent, nubile, yet spunky lass is swept away (usually literally) by swaggering, swarthy, self-assured rake with a (very well hidden) heart of gold. Over time, he wins her devotion, while she tames his savage nature. Well, we were spunky, weren’t we? Sterlin and I began to daydream, starry-eyed, about meeting a similar hero (even though we never fully understood exactly what a “rake” was) and riding off into the sunset, where he’d unravel the secrets of our nascent womanhood and we would charm his wild heart.
In the books, at least, we could get close to the most desirable of men. For some reason, these novels (at least, the ones I remember) all sported titles pairing two nouns, representing male and female: there was The Wolf and the Dove, and The Flame and The Flower (both Kathleen E. Woodiwiss masterworks) or perhaps The Raven and The Rose or The Pirate and the Pagan (both by Virginia Henley). And let’s not forget my favorite, The French Teacher and the Girl with Braces and Long Hair Parted in the Middle Who Liked to Bake (okay, my memory may be a bit fuzzy on that one–high school was a long time ago!).
Well, given our combined paucity of feminine wiles flirting ability lacy lingerie boyfriend-attracting attributes, we eventually decided to woo our guys with food (the way to a man’s heart, and all that). So Sterlin developed Date Pasta as her staple, while I attempted to perfect an ideal chocolate cheesecake, or brownie, or even muffin (since, you know, I had high hopes of my imaginary beau staying for breakfast).
Those erstwhile romantic efforts came back to me in a flash last week after I’d been browsing through some old cookbooks. Previously, I’d had a little email exchange with Lisa (Show Me Vegan) about buying or keeping cookbooks we no longer really use, or those that contain only a smattering of recipes still relevant to our newly acquired dietary habits.
One such tome in my collection is called The Breakfast Book, by Diana Terry (and though I’ve owned this book since the 1980s, I never realized until today that it was published in Australia–which, I may have mentioned, is the land of my dreams, with its picturesque vistas, lush wilderness, stunning cities, enviable weather, and dashing, rakish Aussie gentelmen–all of whom just happen to speak with that sexy Australian accent).
Ah, yes, well. Pardon me: back to the book. Terry offers a sample menu for a brunch with a decidedly orange theme. The lucky boyfriend guest is treated to Champagne with Grand Marnier, Scrambled Eggs with Wholemeal Brioches, Fresh Fruit with Ricotta-Orange Dip, and Viennese-Style Coffee. Of course, none of the recipes would suit me in its present form, but that certainly didn’t stop this spunky gal.
After reading about the citrus-suffused eggs that were then gingerly ladled over a split brioche, its top placed rakishly askew, I asked myself: “Who said tofu scrambles should be savory, anyway? Why not sweet? And why must they always be one shade shy of neon yellow? And couldn’t my own, homemade, biscuits stand in for a brioche? And just what does “rakishly” actually mean, anyway?”
So I created this scramble, which is slightly sweet and not too yellow. And it’s very creamy. And it has orange zest and juice in it. And you ladle it gingerly over the bottom of a carob and raisin biscuit, the top of which is placed rakishly askew over it.
And may I just say–I ended up loving this dish. In fact, our affair bordered on the torrid. Who needs a boyfriend? I’d rather eat this*. But if you’re feeling generous, go ahead and share it with your wolf, or your flame, or your rake.
[PS. Giveaway, as promised, will be announced in my next post–stay tuned!]
*Okay, not really. If I had to choose between a sweet tofu scramble and my sweet HH, of course the HH would win out. But just barely.
Sweet Scramble with Carob-Raisin Biscuits
based on an idea in The Breakfast Book by Diana Terry
Carob and Raisin Biscuits
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs