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alookale2

[Potato-Kale Curry]

First, and most importantly: Happy 2009, everyone!  Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and good wishes for the new year.  I can’t even begin to express how much I appreciate them all and how much blogging has brought into my life.  But by far, the best part is you–readers and other bloggers.  Thank you for sharing 2008 with me, and I look forward to 2009!

The HH and I (sans The Girls, unfortunately, as our Elsie Girl refuses to play nice with the other five dogs who live there) spent another lovely, bucolic New Year’s Eve with my friends Gemini I and II and their broods up at Gemini I’s palatial country “cottage.”  We ate, we drank, and Gemini II’s hubby lit fireworks just before midnight, when we toasted in 2009.  The rest of the time, we chillaxed to the max, reading in front of the fireplace, watching ice fishers huddled by their hut atop the lake, taking photos of indigenous birds perched at the feeder outside the window, or working as a group on the massive, 2-page annual crossword puzzle  that’s printed in The Globe and Mail.  I didn’t even mind the snow and ice (a New Year’s Eve miracle!).

And now, back to reality. . . and back to business.

 Although I more or less threw resolutions out the window many years ago (really, don’t I already know I’ll want to lose weight after the holidays?), I do update a list I call my “Five Year Plan.”  In it, I write down goals for the following six months, the following year, two years, and five years.  I try to arrange them so that the earlier goals might naturally precede the later goals (eg., six months:  take a course in html; one year: design own web page). 

Okay, so maybe it’s just another version of resolutions after all. . .but this long-term view has worked well for me in the past: one of the most unusual “goals” that came to fruition was “work with a business coach–for free”; and so far, the best one (way back before I met the HH) was “own my own home,” something I’m adding back to the list this year, now that we’ve been renting for. . . well, far too long.

I’ve decided that this list works best when it’s kept private, as last year’s list, while not that different from the ones I wrote before it, was a total bust.  Instead of losing 50 pounds over the past 50 weeks or so, I’ve gained about four (definitely more than the “1.5 pound” holiday average. My parents always encouraged me to try to be above average, so I guess I can say I’ve accomplished that now).

Still, I believe the concept is a great one and one that most people should try at least once.  As the famous Harvard study  demonstrated, those who write down their goals (as opposed to simply thinking of them) tend to concretize them, and the goals are more apt to come true.  For whatever reason, putting something down on paper triggers a mechanism in the brain that impels you to action.  I will share the easiest goal on my list, though:  remain part of the blogging world, and keep blogging regularly.  That one, at least, I know will be pure pleasure to enact!

Before I bid 2008 adieu permanently, however, I wanted to share the amazing Indian feast we had when the CFO visited at Christmas time.  Although our meal on December 25th was relatively traditional, it was this one (the following night) that became the high point of holiday meals for us. 

peascreamysauce2

[Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce]

I first discovered Indian cuisine about 10 years ago, after having to change my diet dramatically and seek out foods that met my dietary challenges.  At the time, being both a meat eater and a wheat eater, those challenges were plentiful.

Then I began to frequent Indian restaurants.  Most dishes were not only wheat-free, but gluten-free as well!  And the vegetarian/vegan options seemed endless.  Here in Toronto, many Indian restaurants operate as all-you-can-eat buffets.  These ostensibly boundless displays of vegetable- and legume-based dishes were dazzling and even a bit overwhelming at first, as I was determined to try every dish in my new culinary repertoire. (Eventually, I realized, many of those dishes had been sitting out under warming lights for hours, or were thrown together from leftovers of two or more of the previous day’s dishes; I began to opt for sit-down restaurants instead).

It seemed natural to attempt to re-create those spicy, saucy, succulent meals at home. I  bought a couple of Indian cookbooks and went to work.  In those days, I cooked a lot of chicken and meat dishes, some of which I’ve converted over the years.  Perhaps it was curry overload; perhaps I assumed I’d never achieve a comparable result without the meat.  For whatever reason, I hadn’t cooked a full Indian meal in some time.

Then I remembered that the CFO was also a fan of the cuisine and had an idea to whip up our own little Indian buffet as a post-Christmas dinner.  The results were stellar, and made me wonder why I’ve neglected those recipes for so long.

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[Three-Lentil Dal]

Our meal included a fabulous multi-lentil dal based on Lisa’s recipe (my only change to the original recipe was using three types of lentil instead of lentils and moong beans); peas in a creamy sauce; curried potatoes and kale; and cheela (chickpea pancakes) along with basmati rice.  While the potato dish was pretty much a haphazard combination of leftover tomato sauce, chopped kale, and chunks of spud, I did take note of the other recipes and can share them here.

Each of these dishes on its own would make a warming, satisfying light meal; put them together, and you’ve got a memorable finale to an eventful year. 

One definite item in my next 5-Year Plan:  Cook Indian more often.

Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce

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

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Super quick and easy, this side dish provides a lovely visual contrast to the mostly dull colors of long-simmered curries.  The vibrant green and sweet flavor of the peas is perfect as an accompaniment to the intense spice of the other dishes. From  an unidentified cookbook–sorry!

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

Cheela* (Chickpea Pancakes)

adapted from Meena Pathak’s Indian Cooking for Family and Friends

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

*From what I can tell, these are also sometimes called pudla. Whatever you call them, they were so remarkably good that we consumed them all before I realized I’d not taken a photo. But other versions abound on the net; for photos, check out the blog posts by Johanna, Lisa, Pikelet and Pie  (with zucchini) or (for an Italian twist) Kalyn.

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

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

 

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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.” 

[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 third entry, I’m focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]

Since today was the first Sunday following my Total Health course (and I promise–that’s the last time I’ll mention it!), I realized it was time to resume my regular Progress Tracker entries. 

It’s been nine whole weeks since I had a regular Sunday weigh-in, so this morning, I donned my sweats and and finally returned to the workout club (Well, hi again, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! I’m back, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets!  I actually missed you, Septuagenarian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts!).

After completing various stretches and weights, I performed the official post-course, ritual weigh in.  And the result?  After NINE WEEKS of eating healthfully and stepping up my exercise routine (literally–I’ve doubled the amount of walking I do each day since the osteopenia diagnosis), I lost. . . . are you ready for it?  Okay, here goes. . . . I lost. . . . FOUR POUNDS. 

Yep, four. Quatre. 4. Vier. Quattro. IV.  Tessera. FOUR!!!!  In nine weeks.

Lovely, no?  That’s just under half pound a week.  Okay, I suppose that’s not awful considering that the goal of the course was not to lose weight so much as to learn about healthy eating and to undergo an attitude adjustment in that area.  During the course, I consumed just as much (healthy) food as I wanted to and never deprived myself in any way (except during the cleanse week, obviously).  What this means is that I am now exactly back where I started when I began this blog–with 40 pounds to lose to reach my goal.  And while I do feel better since taking the course, that’s simply not acceptable.  Nope.

And so. . . I’ve decided to take up the challenge offered by Gizmar from Equal Opportunity Kitchen, who wrote in her recent comment: “Ok, I’m throwing down the gauntlet – I want to lose some weight – I challenge you to a slim down!!!”  Giz, you’re on! Ah, but how much weight?  And in what time period?  I will contact you so we can work out the details.  But for now, I’ve decided, it’s time to get serious! (Again).  Watch out, excess avoirdupois!  Take a hike, jiggly thighs! Run for the hills, cellulite!  I am  on a mission.

* Sigh. *

(Okay, end of weight rant.  We now return to this week’s regularly scheduled Lucky Comestible.)

One thing I realized while on my cleanse week is that I don’t eat nearly as many legumes as I should.  Sure, if you consider peanut butter and carob, I suppose there’s a regular intake, but in general, my diet is sorely lacking.

As a child, the only beans I was ever served were the canned variety.  Heinz Baked Beans made a quick and yummy dinner, just on their own.  (Of course, my mother bought the “in tomato sauce” flavor so she wouldn’t have to deal with that one pasty, white, slimy chunk of pork fat that always rose to the top of the can.  A few years ago, the HH and I took a course called Mini Med School at the University of Toronto. One evening, we were led down winding, clandestine hallways through an unmarked door into the actual anatomy lab, where we examined formaldehyde-infused hunks of human limbs, their outer layers peeled away to expose the muscles and bones underneath.  One thigh had a rectangular chunk of flesh carved out, the cutout placed neatly on the counter beside it like a rubber bathtub stopper.  Well, that little cube of pork fat looked just like the rectangular hunk of thigh. Good move, Mom.)

When I moved into my very first apartment the summer before my Master’s program began, my father’s housewarming gift to me was a smoked ham. (Not so strange if you consider that he owned a butcher shop–what else would he give me?).  With the help of my trusty Joy of Cooking, I ended up making split pea and ham soup (even then, I couldn’t stomach the idea of an entire piece of ham on its own).  I had just started dating my first true love a couple of weeks earlier (hey, Spaghetti Ears!  How’s tricks?) and he, along with his two room mates, kindly relieved me of any superfluous soup–which, as it turned out, was pretty much all of it.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy bean dishes, either.  It’s just that I never really think to make them.  In more recent years, I’ve amassed a fairly reliable roster of bean recipes that I use on a rotating basis.  There’s hummus, of course, but also sundried tomato hummus and roasted garlic hummus.  Oh, and I can’t forget white bean hummus or fava bean hummus or even no-bean hummus (which, come to think of it, doesn’t really belong in the “dishes with beans” category, does it?). The HH and I also enjoy lentil-spaghetti sauce about twice a year, as well as my version of Tuscan baked beans (with olive oil and sage) and a classic three-bean salad in the summertime. Other than that, though, it’s pretty much hummus all around.

Well, I decided it was time to create something new and interesting with legumes.  In keeping with the focus on avocado, I naturally gravitated toward the green legumes–or, more correctly, “legume”: lentils.  Besides being one of the quickest to cook (they’re done in only 25 minutes, with no soaking required), lentils also provide a substantial contribution to your daily mineral requirements. In addition, they’re extremely high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble, important for healthy cholesterol levels), and they’re known to help keep blood sugar levels steady. Oh, and they taste really good!

I seized the green theme and just ran with it (okay, I kind of “speed-walked” with it), throwing pistachios into the mix as well.  In these patties, the avocado acts as an egg substitute, while the nuts and beans work in tandem to provide a complete protein.  While they’re not overly “meaty” in texture (the outside is crispy while the inside remains soft), these burgers are great either baked or fried, and would probably make a tasty loaf as well.  Just for fun (and because I’m weird that way), I baked half the recipe and browned the other half in a frypan. I have to say that I actually preferred the baked version, which also held its shape better. 

These patties are a great way to subtly add more legumes to your diet. And if you happen to be watching your weight–well, as it turns out, they’re pretty low-cal, too (about 150 calories each patty).  Shall we start with these for dinner, Giz?

Lentil Pistachio Patties

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

These substantial patties offer a full-bodied flavor with a wonderful protein content, courtesy of the lentils and pistachios. The trio of avocado, olive oil, and pistachio adds richness and a healthy dose of  heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

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

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.”]

What?  Can it really be that a week has gone by already?  While it does feel like a long time since I’ve been blogging (and boy, did I ever miss it), I am amazed at how quickly these seven days have whizzed by. 

So, how did I spend my week of catch-up? 

First, I resolved to eat only food that is 100% good for me.  I ate exclusively organic, healthy, completely unprocessed fruits, vegetables, brown rice and soy products.  I never once had a craving for chocolate–or anything sweet, actually–and didn’t even attempt a baked good.  The Girls were model citizens, never whining, and playing perfectly with each other (and never waking us up before 7:00 AM to go out and “do their business”).  Oh, and I lost FIFTEEN POUNDS!  FIFTEEN, can you believe it?? As luck would have it, my old boyfriend called me up just as I was feeling pretty good about myself, and we met for drinks and, oops, I drank a little too much. . . .but just as things were about to heat up, I caught the eye of a dashingly handsome (in that slightly edgy, slightly anachronistic way), very roguish guy named James T. Kirk and we were inexplicably drawn to each other. . . strange, the romance never went beyond chaste kissing, for some reason. . .  

Oh, wait a second.  That was the Mirror Image, Parallel-Universe Ricki’s week.  (I knew that black leather jacket and greased back hair on the HH seemed oddly out of place!). Sorry ’bout that.

 Okay, so here’s what MY week was like: 

  • I marked exams, marked assignments, marked exams, marked papers, answered emails, marked exams, went to meetings, marked exams, marked exams. Finally finished the pile of exams!
  • I trudged through snow and rain and sleet with The Girls.  Twice a day.  In the snow.  And sleet. Having to wear a hat wrecked my hair.  Many times.
  • It snowed.  It snowed, snowed, snowed, and then snowed some more.  We have now exceeded the all-time record for snowfall in a single season in Toronto.  Something like 280 centimeters (about 110 inches).  Of snow. Fallen on the ground.  Snow.
  • I decided that I have to move somewhere where winter  (and snow) does not exist. 
  • I taught two cooking classes for the Upstairs series at the Real Canadian Superstores.  And for once, I remembered to bring my camera!  (See recipes and photos below).
  • I returned to WOCA, with even stronger resolve.  I foresee this ending up more like MOCA or even YOCA, as I seem unable to resist the allure of that evil temptress, chocolate.  I managed to avoid the dark devil during this past week (except for minute bites–see next bullet), but in inverse proportion to eating foods like nuts or dried fruits, which help assuage cravings.  Still, nothing baked, nothing with chocolate, nothing with added sweeteners, and I can at least feel good about that.
  • (Perhaps best of all): I managed to test out out FIVE (count ’em, five) recipes from my new cookbook by Nava Atlas, Vegan Express. I will post a genuine book review this week, but for today, will share the dishes from my cooking class (not literally, of course, since this isn’t really the alternative universe, which means food can’t be passed through the computer screen. . .but if I could do it, I would).

Okay, so not so shabby, I suppose, considering I was a psychological mess at the beginning of the week.  THANK YOU all again for your very dear comments.  Man, I wish I could invite you all over for an afternoon tea and baked goodies! Instead, my sincere gratitude will have to do. 

And so. . . .the cooking class.  Easy to replicate (even more so if you live on the Enterprise).  Sure, what the heck, go ahead and do try this at home. Here’s how (explained at warp speed):

  • First, get yourself an assistant*.  Have her prep all the food for you in advance by measuring, cleaning, peeling, chopping, and setting up the mise en place.
  • Put on apron and chef’s pillbox hat (Très à la mode).
  • Lead class: stir, chat, tell anecdotes, sauté, mix, process, gab, pour, tell jokes, combine, explain nutrients, spread, bake, plate, serve, and answer questions. Fun!
  • Enjoy your own sample servings of both dishes. . . recipes, below.

And it only took four bullet points (that’s two hours in real time).  I made these two dishes because they always seem to please non-vegetarians, and you never know who’ll turn up to these classes.  Oh, and they’re both gluten-free (if you serve the sauce over GF pasta, of course).  I’m also submitting this pasta recipe to Ruth of Once Upon A Feast, who hosts the popular event, Presto Pasta Nights.

These photos were taken on store plates–disposables–so there’s no pretty porcelain under these dishes.  Apologies!

Spaghetti with Lentil-Tomato Sauce  

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

 

 

lentilspagsauce.jpg 

This recipe has been a staple in my house for so long (predating the HH, even) that I don’t remember any longer where it originated.  The grated parsnip provides a subtle, meaty taste (parsnips can be quite savory and earthy), without declaring itself too glaringly, as the bits tend to dissolve in the sauce as it simmers.  It’s also a perfect dish for all you Inter-Diet couples.  My HH simply adds his own ground beef or cut up pieces of sausage to the sauce after he dishes out his own. 

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

Avocado Pesto Salad  

 

 

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

 

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The salad is my attempt to invite a touch of spring into a dreary winter.  Because pine nuts are so lovely sprinkled on a salad, I’ve left them whole, and used avocado (which lends a wonderful richness to the dressing) blended with basil to replicate the pesto base.  Dress only as much as you’ll eat at one sitting–the salad wilts fairly quickly after it’s been dressed (whereas the opposite is true of me when I encounter that seductive Negative-James T Kirk character).

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