[It was great to read so many positive messages from all you okra fans in response to my last post.  Who knew there were so many okra supporters out there?  Here’s to a new image for our pal okra!  To the dawning of the age of okra–a new era is born, and it’s brimming with green pods and seeds! Okra is cool!  Okra is au courant!  Okra rules! O-Kra! O-Kra! O-Kra! Whoo!]

 

[No, you’re not allowed this on the ACD diet. Image courtesy of Naijablog.]

Now that I’ve completed my first week of strict adherence to the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD), I thought I’d put down some thoughts and reactions for those of you who are contemplating embarking on it, or for those who are simply curious. (If you’re here seeking a new recipe, please come back tomorrow–we’ll have cookies!)

First, I am thrilled to say I have not veered even one iota from the procrustean parameters of the diet.  Having said that, I’m also amazed at how difficult I am finding it this time round.

Maybe I’d just forgotten how painful the process was last time, nine years ago, but I don’t recall struggling with it this much back then. Somehow, a decade made all the difference!  True, I am also nine years older, and nine years closer to the dreaded “M” stage of life. ** Or maybe those little candida critters have been pumping iron in the interim and are now more resilient than ever. 

[You are allowed burgers (sans bread)–but who would want one? Image courtesy of Beltway Confidential.]

As I mentioned in my previous post, this diet requires elimination of any food that could feed yeast or help yeast to grow (ie, allergens, toxins, etc.), leaving precious little to eat.  For omnivores, the bulk of the diet would become meat, chicken, fish, eggs. But if you don’t eat those foods, not much else remains once you cut out all grains and fruits, plus some veggies (okay, not all grains; I’m allowed 1/4 cup of one gluten-free grain per day)–not to mention sauces, condiments, alcohol, fermented foods, and so on.

Here’s what you should know if you’re curious about trying the ACD.

The Challenges:

Because I’d done this before, I was already aware of a few of these challenges, which made it a bit easier to follow the diet.  Still, it can be very difficult to stick with it unless you’re prepared for some of the following. 

  • No Dessert for You.  Since most people on this diet are addicted to sweets, cutting out the usual baked goods, puddings, candies, cakes, pies, etc. is really tough.  Initially, my body went carb-crazy and I had to eat something every two hours or so to keep my blood sugar levels steady.  This passed by day three (thankfully–it can really mess up your schedule!). I’ve also managed to create a few ACD-friendly “desserts”–which I’ll post anon.

carrot1

[Here’s your dessert on the ACD. Image courtesy of Innocent Creativity blog.]

  • Precious Few Grains. The first phase of the diet eliminates most carbs, and allows very few of the “acceptable” ones.  To my mind, it seems very similar to a low-carb or low-GI diet.  Which would make sense, I suppose, since its purpose is to starve off candida albicans–an organism that feeds on sugar (including blood sugar).
  • Hunger.  Perhaps I should more accurately designate the feeling  as “unresolved cravings.”  I mean, I can count on one hand the times I’ve experienced true hunger.  On this topic, I think Mark Bittman has something useful to say. A couple of weeks ago, I heard an interview with the man, discussing his newest tome, Food Matters.  Among other things, Bittman mentioned how his “vegan until six” diet plan helped him lose 35 pounds and regain his health. 

In the radio interview, he was asked how he managed to alter his diet so radically and still stick with the plan. His response was enlightening (and I paraphrase liberally here): “Well, consider the three major needs in our lives, for food, sleep, and sex.  We all learn to control our sexual urges fairly early on; and certainly most of us in the working world regularly ignore our need for sleep.  Yet we never, ever, in our society, are willing to allow ourselves to feel hungry.  Like needs for sex and sleep, why can’t we just ignore it when we feel hungry sometimes?” 

For me, Bittman’s comment was a little epiphany. Clearly, my appetite is telling me to eat when I don’t actually require more food; the ACD supplies all the nutritional requirements necessary. What I’m fighting is the desire for those last six Hershey kisses just because they’re left at the bottom of the bag (and really, why would you leave six little kisses sitting there?) or the mindless crunching on handfuls of Red Hot Blues because I just got home from work and dinner won’t be ready for a couple of hours and what else am I going to do while I peek intermittently at Oprah?–well, you get the idea.  Remembering Bittman’s advice this past week allowed me to overcome those cravings, at least most of the time. 

  • Die-Off Reaction.  As the yeasty beasties die off, they release toxins into the system that must then be filtered and cleared out by your own detoxification systems of liver and kidneys.  This can be tough on your body.  The second day of the diet, I was convinced I was coming down with a flu: my forehead pulsated, my muscles felt weak, all I wanted to do was sleep.  By day three, it had disappeared.  Even though you may feel worse initially, it’s important to push through.

The Benefits:

It’s been a mere seven days, but already I can recognzie a few of the benefits of this cleanse:

  • Symptoms abate.  Almost immediately, I noticed that my chronically blocked sinuses began to clear.  I had a strange sensation of, “hey! What’s all that air in my nose?” before I realized, “oh, THIS is what it feels like to breathe out of both nostrils.”  Similarly, the muscle weakness disappeared, some tummy grumblings cleared significantly, eyes were less swollen in the AM, and so on.
  • Clarity of Thought. One of the oft-mentioned symptoms of candida overload is fuzzy thinking or inability to concentrate.  This will begin to clear once the yeast begin to die off, after about 3 days or so.
  • Energy.  Yeast and other toxins sap your energy.  Once they begin to take a hike, your energy returns–and you’re suddenly intensely grateful for the extra hours you have during each day to blog, read, meditate, spend time with loved ones, or do anything else you please.

chaserrollgrass

[I concur, Mum–it’s great to have boundless energy! You should try rolling on the grass some time!]

I won’t be chronicling the events of every week in this much detail, but will likely mention the more significant milestonres every now and again as I move through the process over the next five weeks.  If anyone has any specific questions about the diet or the experience, please let me know and I’d be happy to address them in an upcoming post as well.

Um, Mum, you know that no one could be more serious about food and eating than we are.  .  . but really, I think you need to take a chill pill on this one.  Because this post is really a downer.”

girlsscaredfaces

I don’t mean this post as a downer.  The ACD will tax your willpower and force you to confront your worst eating habits. . . but that can be a really good thing.  For me, it’s a necessity.  Well, every nine years or so, anyway. 

** no, not “Marriage,” though that might throw me just as much.  I meant “Menopause.”

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Dog Day: Be Mine

February 14, 2009

elsieface

“Mum, I heard it’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m practising my best come-hither look. . . do you think that cute Henry will notice?  In the meantime, would you mind peeling me a grape?” **

chaserface2

Hey, Elsie, is this how you do it?  How’s this, huh? What do you think?  Is this come hither? Huh?  Well, I don’t like grapes, anyway.  Sigh.”

** Yes, I know grapes should never be fed to dogs.  The references was for quoting song lyric purposes only. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!! 🙂

Featured in Clean Eating!

February 12, 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.”]  

* * * * * * * * * *

Just a quick note to share some exciting news: my recipe for Orange-Infused Chocolate Almond Cake is featured in this month’s Clean Eating magazine! 

choctorte3

When I was asked by the folks at the magazine to create a recipe for a healthy, fudgy chocolate cake (that met the Clean Eating requirements, of course–basically the NAG diet that I follow anyway), I was thrilled and got to work!  I actually submitted the recipe last summer, but that’s how far in advance the schedule is planned. I didn’t want to mention anything until I saw it in print with my own eyes. . . and now it’s finally here–yay! Wow, did their food stylist ever make that cake look gorgeous (the pic above is mine, not theirs–the magazine version is much more attractive!)

For those of you who can get the magazine where you live, it’s the March/April issue, with a bowl of Black-Eyed Pea Stew on the cover and the banner headline, “Try Our Chocolate-Almond Cake: Enjoy a Second Guilt-Free Slice”.  And while my recipe was mentioned on the cover, to see my name credited, you have to squint really hard, then look at the teeny, tiny, teensy weensy little print along the fold to the right of the recipe (which is on the last page of the mag, in the “Happy Endings” section).

For those who are interested, the magazine is based on the philosophy/diet of Tosca Reno, who wrote the book Eat Clean.  Some of the articles in this particular issue include 5-ingredient entrées, nutritious snacks, allergy-proofing your home, risotto by Food Network host Aida Mollenkamp, and antioxidant berries, goji and acai (and no, I have no personal stake in the magazine–I’m not affiliated with them in any way except for having developed that recipe for them). 

I wish I could reprint the recipe here, but I can’t, as Clean Eating purchased the recipe rights as well.  But I think you can at least get an idea from the photo above! 

New recipe next post, I promise 🙂

PS  Vegan/Vegetarian readers take note:  while 22 of the 68 recipes in the magazine are vegetarian, most do contain eggs or dairy (mine doesn’t, of course!).

Mum, if clean eating means ‘cleaning out your bowl every time you eat,’ then I think we could write for that magazine, too.  Or maybe we could just be taste-testers. Much better than eating snow, I’m sure.”

chasersnowface

I’d planned my own giveaway announcement today in honor of Obama’s impending inauguration, but that will have to wait for later, because I just found this out:  

Vote in the Food Blog Awards 2008

 FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT: DDD IS A FOOD BLOG AWARD FINALIST!

A huge THANK YOU to Tea of Tea and Cookies for letting me know that my l’il blog has been chosen as one of five finalists in the Well Fed Network’s Food Blog Awards for 2008–in the “Best Food Blog: Writing” category!  

WHOO HOO!!!! YIPPEEE!!!! YAY!!! WHEEEEEE!  ACHOOO!!!!  YOWZA!!!

(Sorry about the sneeze in there–just SO DARNED EXCITED!).

THANK YOU, to each and every one of you who visits this site regularly, who reads this blog and has provided such amazing encouragement and feedback over the past year, to those who suggested DDD for the award, and to the judges for choosing it.  I have no doubt that this nomination is a direct result of all your support and comments! I can’t tell you all how thrilled I am to be nominated!  (But I’m gonna try. . . ).

But the voting starts TODAY–so please vote!  Voting extends to 8:00 PM on Saturday, January 24th,  so you can celebrate Obama’s inauguration and still have time to vote!  

If you like DDD and think this blog deserves to win. . .

GO OUT AND VOTE!!  And even though DDD may be the underdog on the list (the Diet, Dessert and UnderDog?), it’s incredibly exciting even to be on the same list as those other blogs! Okay, before I get too “Academy Awards-speech” on you, here are the details:

Votes must be registered through the official Well Fed Network page, so be sure to click through from there.   And please spread the word in case others aren’t aware of the awards!

I’ll post my other (giveaway) announcement in the next day or two, after the excitement has worn off a little (mine, not Obama’s).  In the meantime, here’s that link again:

Vote for DDD for Best Food Blog: Writing

and the general page to vote for all other categories:

Well Fed Network Food Blogging Awards 2008

And one more time, THANK YOU.  Have I ever mentioned that I think food bloggers and readers are THE BEST? 

If you’re new to DDD or arrived via the Well Fed Network, welcome!  Thanks for stopping by.  You can probably gain a good sense of the writing from the following selection of posts:

Now, I’m off to watch history in the making (see, your votes DO count!!)

xo Ricki

Sorry, Mum, we just can’t get excited about a blog award. . .oh, but wait–if you do win, does that mean you’ll be able to provide us with extra treats? Yay! Congratulations, Mum!”

eandcneardoor

Have a Wonderful Holiday

December 25, 2008

To everyone celebrating today, whether Christmas or just time off–

Hope your holidays are joyful, relaxing, fun, filled with delicious food and in the company of loved ones!

[NB.  No dogs were harmed in the making of this photo, despite the fact that Chaser looks like a terrified deer in the headlightsShe really is a drama queen.]

xmascard22

“Oh, Mum, I always thought I was royalty!  Tell my subjects that Elsie and I send our very best wishes, too!  And I just can’t wait to go out and romp in the snow this holiday!  And maybe you and Dad got us some new toys this holiday, wouldn’t that be great?  And maybe we can get to go for some extra walks over the–“

“Zip it, Chaser, or we’ll never get that treat Mum promised us for wearing these ridiculous hats.  *Sigh.*”

Im FReE

December 10, 2008

elsieconeless

Mi Mum tuk off th kone becuz i wuz so sad. **

Now Im happee I playd with Chsr tody. But she bits my ear maybee i shud put th kone bak on.

Thnks for asking abut me.  Wht grate blog buddys yu all are.

xoxoxoxo Elsie

**Also becuz i kept hittng th wall and got stuk on the stairs.

I had intended a lovely post today, in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend to the south of us.  But time constraints (read: massive, unwieldly pile of essays and assignments to mark) have prevented me from following through. So I’ll just have to wait till the next batch of holidays in December to post about some new, frost-and-snow inspired, treats.

Instead, I thought I’d pull together a few recipes from previous posts that are suitably festive for a holiday table, or the breakfast table the following day (I’ve also got a few detox recipes on the blog–I’ll let you seek those out yourselves, as required).  Most of these are fairly quick to make as well, as long as you’ve got the ingredients on hand.

Hope everyone enjoys some togetherness with friends and family, great food, and a bit of time to relax and play.

See you after the holiday!

chaserunderbed

Mum, will Elsie be able to play again after the holiday?  I mean, it’s just so boring with her out of commission. . .

Main Meal Dishes:

Side Dishes:

Desserts:

Breakfast Dishes:

Recently, I was tagged by Kelly at The Pink Apron and River of Wing It Vegan to share 7 random facts about myself, and Giz at Equal Opportunity Kitchen to do a blog-related meme.

I do enjoy memes (and love reading about others through their memes), but I must admit that I am finding it more and more difficult to come up with new facts about myself.  That, and I suspect some of you are growing a little weary of reading about me and my various eccentricities, when what you’re really here for is the food! 😉

“Um, Mum, your readers may be a bit overloaded on YOUR memes, but what about us?  There are still plenty of random facts we could tell you about the two of us. . . .”

“Yeah, right! Hey, Elsie, how about that we love to play!  And that the yellow ball is my favorite!  Oh, oh, and that we LOVE to jump up on people!  And what about that we bark at cars that drive by outside!  Or that we love Greenies!  Or how about the way I pull on your ear every 30 seconds–“

“Zip it, Chaser. I am sure they get the idea. But there will be no ear-pulling for the next ten days, at least.”

Ah, yes, that reminds me: before I get to the meme, I should also mention the “Injury” referred to in the post title.  Once again, our accident-prone Elsie Girl has had a brush with the law  mortality a metal post. While frolicking with her sister the other day, sweet Elsie ran too close to a steel goal post at the park and whacked her side against it, ripping off a chunk of her haunch.  Poor baby!  And so the HH and I (and Chaser, who, after all, couldn’t be left all alone at home) spent our Saturday evening at the Vet Emergency clinic, where Elsie was treated to a bit of a shave, a cleansing of the wound, some staples to reconnect the skin, and a lovely cone on her head, which she absolutely abhors, poor thing.

Here she is, in all her misery:

elsiecollar1

[“Help. . . . me. . . . . “]

The worst part is that Chaser is terrified of the cone and won’t go near Elsie right now.  No more ear-biting, indeed.

And now, on to the meme, and seven random facts about me.  I won’t tag anyone else (it seems many of you have already done this one), but please do feel free to participate if you’d like.  

1) I didn’t learn to drive a car until I was about 30.  Well, I first acquired my license at 16 like the rest of my friends, but then moved away to university and didn’t have the opportunity to drive again until I was married.  I’d taken lessons for about a week when my husband and I decided to separate, which meant I was driving myself to work (about an hour each way) along busy provincial highways long before I felt ready to do so.  Talk about baptism by fire! (In this case, by ice, actually, as it was mid-winter when all this transpired).  A couple of dents to the fender and more than a decade later, and I’m finally comfortable behind the wheel.

oddcupandsaucer12

2) I collect odd cups and saucers, and champagne flutes.    When I was a kid, my mom had a collection of odd cups and saucers that seemed to exist just outside our awareness in a glass cabinet in the kitchen. When I moved out on my own, however, my sisters starting giving me similar items as gifts, and I began to really appreciate them.  I love the varying patterns one finds on the older designs, the delicate structure of the cup and saucer, the nearly transparent quality of the fine china, and the elegance they exude (I always feel I should raise my pinkie when I sip out of one of them). 

oddcupandsaucer2

A few years after I began to collect the cups and saucers, I was introduced to champagne (or, at least, sparkling wine) when a friend served me a glass of Segura Viudas.  Well, I was so impressed that shortly thereafter, I began to collect champagne flutes, too.  I’ll often buy them on sale at the end of the season–who wants to buy just one flute, right?–and have amassed about 3 dozen so far. 

champflute  My favorites are a couple I received for birthdays, the voluptuous pewter-stemmed one the HH gave me the first year we were together (see left), and the Waterford crystal pair the HH and I purchased for the turn of the century. 

3) I memorized every word of Beowulf in the original Old English during my PhD.  For our final exam, we were given a random passage in Old English and had to translate it.  Not wanting to take any chances, I decided to memorize the entire poem.  How much do I remember today?  This much: “Hwat! we, Gar-dena, in yeor dayum. . .”  Yep, the first five words. Well, it got me an “A” on the exam, anyway.

4) I was asked to be Valedictorian at my high school graduation, but I was too shy and said no.  Decades later, I’m still shy, but when I was given the opportunity again for my graduation from nutrition school in 2003, I decided I couldn’t pass it up twice, and said yes.  Very happy that I did!

5) When I was a teen, some of my friends and I worked as cashiers at the local drugstore (called a “pharmacy” in Montreal, even though the actual pharmacy dispensary was a small space at the back of the store).  We used to call it “The Phunny Pharm.”  My friends Babe, Sterlin, Phil and Angel also all worked there, so on any given day, it was guaranteed that I’d be working alongside one of my best friends.  We often created code words to alert each other when a cute guy came in the store. The names were connected to various cigarette brands (which, in those days, were sold out in the open from shelves behind the cash).  The cuter the guy, the stronger the brand we chose for his nickname.  When we saw a REALLY cute guy, we’d call across the aisle to each other, “Hey, Ric, do you have any packs of Rothmans at your cash?” or, “Um, Sterlin, I think I’ve run out of Du Maurier over here. . . ” The men never twigged in to it, even though sometimes three of us would come running to the counter at the same time, all ostensibly “looking for a pack of Rothmans.”

6) I started smoking in my 20s and didn’t quit until I met the HH in 1997 (at which point I was smoking about 1/2 pack a day–though nothing as strong as Rothman’s, of course).  Now, don’t go thinking that he was such a great influence on me, or anything. . . I quit because of my various health issues, not for love (how very unromantic of me, I know).  When I revamped my diet, I figured I should give my lungs a break, too.  The only smoke I’ve inhaled since then is second-hand. 

7) I once got to meet Chris de Burgh in person (true, not very exciting to all of you out there too young to recognize the name!).  At the height of his popularity, some friends and I went to one of his concerts in Montreal.  Because my friend Angel had met him while traveling in Ireland and they’d become correspondents (in the days before email, folks), he arranged backstage passes for her and five of her friends.  Somewhere in a box in my basement is a wine-stained scrap of paper on which is scrawled something to the effect of, “For Ricki, With all best wishes, Chris de Burgh.”  (Hey–maybe I can sell it and become one of those mansion-people I wrote about in the last post?)

So there you go, seven random facts.  I know I mentioned yet another meme to post, but I think I’ll save that for another day and avert a real Meme Overload.  And on the subject of overloading, I’ve got a nice, light and not-too-filling post-Thanksgiving recipe for you next time round.

To those of you in the U.S., hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

elsiecollar21

[“I bet all those people outside are having a great holiday weekend. . . and all I can do is stare out this window. . . *sigh*.”]

Dog Day: Happy Halloween

October 31, 2008

Possible Captions:

“”We are peasant babooshkas who have toiled in the fields and lost our fortunes, so please give us some food.”

“We are cute little homeless girls and we have lost our fortunes, so please give us some food.”

“We are (food)bank robbers here to get our fortunes, so give us some food–or else.”

“Mum, we are humiliated having to wear these costumes, so please stop this silly trick and just give us the treats.”

“Mum, we are kinda freaked out by these tight-fitting costumes, so please stop this silly trick and just give us the treats.”

“Mum, why must you anthropomorphize us and make us wear these silly costumes?  We deserve our canine dignity!  Now, give us some treats.”

“Mum, is this the best you could do for costumes?  An old hat and a scarf?  Really, Mum, this is beneath us.  I think you’d better just give us our treats.”

“Wow, look how monstrous our eyes seem with the yellow and green shiny glow in the center!  MWWHOOOHAAAA,  Scary! Okay, now give us some treats.”

“I think this brown and orange ensemble is rather fetching on me, don’t you, Elsie?” “I’ll fetch YOU, Chaser. Sure, you get the vibrant colors and I get the dowdy gray.  I think I need some treats.”

“Oooh, Mr. Demille, I think I’m ready for my close up!” “Oh, great, Chaser, now we might never get out of these horrible things. Couldn’t you just zip it? Those treats are taking forever. . .  *sigh*.”

And please feel free to add more captions in the comments section . . . .

and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE BY CLICKING HERE.

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this fourth entry, I’m focusing on Coconut. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]

Well, folks, it’s been quite the day here at the DDD household.  This post may be a tad longer than usual, so relax, don those fuzzy slippers, curl up by the firewall, and read on. . .

The day started out almost like any other, except that the HH, suffering from a bout of the flu, was at home.  Knowing he needed something substantial and nourishing–and fearing I might be felled as well–I cooked up a huge batch of stick-to-your-ribs, nutrient-dense, thick and creamy Baked Oatmeal.  So far, so good.

As is our habit, the HH and I ate our meal at the table, as The Girls waited in the wings (really just across the floor), like so:

Once we were done, as usual, we offered The Girls the leftovers.  In this case, it amounted to about 1/4 cup (60 ml.) cooked oatmeal each.  I scraped the oatmeal into their bowls, set them on the floor, and the enthusiastic slurping began. 

“Isn’t it cute how they hoover it up?” I mused absentmindedly to the HH.

“Yep, they really seem to like that apple-raisin combo,” he remarked.

“Ha, ha, yes, the–the WHAT?!!  Apple-raisin??!!!  RAISIN???!!!!”  How could I have missed them?? HOW COULD I BE SO IRRESPONSIBLE???!!!! RAISIN. Oh, no. . . . . . 

I swooped in to whisk the bowls out of reach–but alas, too late.  They’d both eaten several mouthfuls of raisin-infused oatmeal!  Now, as any of you with dogs already know, recent media reports have warned that raisins–for some unknown reason–can be highly toxic to dogs, sometimes causing nausea, renal failure–or worse.  Horrors!

In a panic, I called the vet to see what to do.  My mind was already reeling with unspeakable possibilities. “Bring them in immediately,” she commanded. 

And so, a few moments of carelessness led Ricki to spend half her morning chewing her nails in the vet’s office, waiting for The Girls to upchuck a few mouthfuls of cooked oatmeal, apples, and raisins. 

Thankfully, everyone came through just fine (though to tell the truth, I’m probably still a bit traumatized–but that might just be because of the size of the vet bill).

Well, after the Ordeal of the Raisins, I was in no mood to crack open a coconut, so we’ll forgo that demonstration today.  I do, however, have this yummy coconut-rich Cabbage T’horin for you, as the first entry in the Lucky Comestibles: Coconut series.  (And no dogs were harmed in the making of this side dish).  

*   *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Coconut, like coffee, chocolate and wine, is a perfect example of culinary atavism: hailed as a boon to health in one generation, scorned in the next, then revived as a “health food” yet again decades later.

Given a bad rap in the past because of its high saturated fat content, what we think of as coconut, that white “meat” that’s most often eaten shredded and dried, is actually the nut of a fresh, green coconut fruit.  In recent years controversy has developed over whether or not coconut oil is or is not good for us.  Apparently considered a panacea in the tropical countries where it’s naturally abundant,  coconuts have been touted more recently in North America as well, to treat a variety of medical problems. 

In nutrition school, we learned that the saturated fats in coconut, unlike those in other foods with a high sat fat content (such as meat or butter), are considered “medium chain fatty acids,” which don’t increase cholesterol levels or contribute to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular issues.  In fact, most of the studies previously done on coconut oil focused on hydrogenated varieties, and hydrogenation renders any fats unhealthy

Some researchers also believe that coconut oil is useful for a plethora of ills, including fungal infections (caprylic acid, derived from coconut, is a primary alternative treatment for candida yeast overgrowth), viruses, parasites, digestive disorders, and a wealth of other conditions, as well as helping to prevent heart disease and promote weight loss (though I’ve never been the beneficiary of this last characteristic). 

One thing that’s indisputable is its place as first choice when you’re seeking an oil to cook with on high heat.  Because of its saturated status, coconut oil is the oil least damaged by heat, which makes it great for frying (even though I know you never fry foods, right?) or baking.  And because it’s solid at room temperature (as long as your room is below 76F), coconut oil makes a great butter substitute, and can be used interchangeably with butter. At the organic market where I used to sell my baked goods, one of the vendors was known to eat it off a spoon.  I never quite achieved that lofty accomplishment, but do use it for stir-fries and baking.  

Fresh coconuts also confer health benefits, through the coconut “water” (the liquid inside the coconut fruit–not to be confused with coconut milk, which is made by boiling the meat of a coconut). I had the opportunity to drink some fresh coconut water extracted from one of these green coconuts a few years back when in nutrition school.  An incredibly healthy imbibement, the liquid from a fresh young coconut is said to have the same electolyte balance as our blood, so it’s a wonderful energy drink (which, according to Wikipedia, can actually be taken intravenously!) .  I must admit I wasn’t a fan. Apparently, coconut water is now being sold already flavored, so I may give it a try.

As to coconut milk, well. . . is there anything richer tasting than full fat coconut milk?  It’s the base for my soy-free vegan whipped cream (the recipe for which is being tweaked daily, with the goal of perfection by the time it appears in the upcoming cookbook) and many a creamy sauce.  I love it in desserts and use it in baking as well when I can, although again, you don’t want to overdo the sat fat. 

Finally, there’s the coconut itself.  Fresh coconut meat is unparalleled in flavor and texture, but practicality does take over most of the time when we’re cooking or baking, and dried is a fine substitute.  I’ve used freshly grated coconut meat on only a handful of occasions in cooking.  Generally, I prefer unsweetened, as I’d rather have control over the amount of sweetener in my foods (and shredded coconut is often sweetened with white sugar).  This way, as well, you need buy only one type, as it’s suitable for both cooking and baking.  For the recipes in the Lucky Comestibles series, I’ll try to include coconut meat, milk, and oil (and leave you to try fresh coconut water on your own).

Today’s recipe, the first one I made from my new cookbook, Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon, features shredded dried coconut.

According to the book, this dish hails from Kerala province in India, the very name of which means “Land of the Coconut Palms” and where “almost everything contains coconut.” I think this T’horin is testament to that sentiment–I mean, how often would you consider combining coconut with your cabbage?  And yet, it really works.

Try this out for a quick, easy, and incredibly tasty dish. Unlike many dishes with cabbage, this one stir-fries it without the addition of very much liquid, for a crisp yet fully cooked result.  I thoroughly enjoyed it as a side with dinner–and was sure it never came anywhere near the drooling mouths of The Girls.

“Thanks, Mum, we appreciate that. . . we’re still feeling a bit woozy from that weird breakfast you gave us.”

Cabbage T’horin

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

[Now, why would I place chopsticks in a photo of an Indian dish, you ask?  Beats me; just thought they looked nice somehow.  I did eat the T’horin with them, though.]

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