Please Standby

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!

ecleancpaw1

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.”

chaserkisselsie

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A Bowl Lotta Love

March 4, 2009

Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

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

1stbowl51

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

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

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

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

3rdbowl4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2ndbowl21

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

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

4thbow3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tahini-Miso Sauce

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

4thbowl21

Almond and Curry Sauce 

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

2ndbowl1

Orange Fig Sauce

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

3rdbowl3

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

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Happy Trails

January 9, 2008

Snacks:  should we or shouldn’t we?  The jury seems to be out on that one.  Just this morning, as I plodded along on my trusty treadmill, I happened upon a brief TV interview with ND Penny Kendall-Reed hawking  discussing her new book, The No-Crave Diet.  One of the supposed myths that she busted was the idea that we should basically snack all day long ( what’s been referred to as “grazing” in recent years), and eat 4-6 smaller meals per day.

 

No, no, no, said Ms. Kendall-Reed, that theory has been thrown out the window!  Recent science indicates that leptin, the fat-controlling hormone in our bodies, only begins to really work its magic about 5 hours after we’ve last eaten (and so, works best overnight).  If we keep shoving food into our mouths every two to three hours, we undermine the function of leptin.  So to really lose weight, she advised, don’t snack at all.  Stick with 3 meals–that’s it.

Well, I’m not sure I could ever give up snacks entirely, but if I do snack, I’d prefer it to be something that isn’t going to cause my fat cells to multiply or my arteries to stiffen up.  What better choice than trail mix?  It’s the perfect snack for us North Americans:  quick, portable, ostensibly healthy, it provides us with the twin hits of two favorite tastes, sweet and salty.  

But don’t kid yourself that you’re eating a health food if you consume store-bought varieties.  Often, these are roasted in unhealthy oils (the nuts), coated in unhealthy oils (the dried fruits) or sprinkled with flour (wheat can be nasty for some) or sugar (which is nasty for everyone). They may also contain additives, coloring, artificial flavorings, preservatives, or hydrogenated oils. By far, the best way to acquire trail mix is to make your own.  And since it’s so easy to throw together, why not?

girlsoncarpet.jpg I thought it might be useful to run through the basic components and offer what would or wouldn’t work for a healthy trail mix.  I’ll also include our own preferred mixture here at the DDD residence (“We particulary enjoy those cashews, Mum. But thanks for not giving us those raisins!“).

What Should I Include in a Basic Trail Mix? 

The generic recipe is very simple:  use any combination of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and cereals that you like. 

  

Just keep in mind one essential rule:  minimize or eliminate processing. In other words, for the optimal trail mix, it’s preferable to gather all your ingredients in their raw form, measure according to healthy percentages of protein and carbs (since the original purpose of trail mix was to provide a boost of energy while hiking—a high-exertion activity—it should contain a fair amount of protein and carbs for energy, or a high proportion of nuts and seeds), then dehydrate or cook the ingredients, as you wish. 

  My own basic trail mix recipe includes:

  • approximately 75% nuts and seeds (I use almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, peanuts, and Brazil nuts; pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds)
  • about 20% dried fruits (I use unsweetened dried cherries, dried cranberries, raisins, chopped dates and chopped figs)
  • and about 5% grains or cereals, if you wish (I tend not to worry about the cereal part).

The following guidelines may help you decide which ingredients to include in your own mix.

 NUTS AND SEEDS:  

In general, nuts are a wonderful and very nutritious food.  They contain heart-healthy Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats, monounsaturated fats, antioxidant vitamin E, and they are also generally high in protein.  Nuts arrive in their own natural packaging—their shells—which will help preserve and protect them as well until ready to use.   

Because it’s more difficult to buy nuts with the shells still on and then shell them yourself before blending into a trail mix (that alone would provide enough exercise to earn the right to eat them all!), the second best choice is raw, natural nuts from a health food store.

Organic nuts, of course, would be preferable, but these are often quite expensive.

Choose unroasted, unsalted, raw, natural nuts for your mix.  If you wish, you can roast them yourself, by laying them out on a rimmed cookie sheet and baking in a 350 F (180C) oven for about 10-15 minutes, until just starting to turn golden.  If you do choose to add salt, use a natural sea salt with a full complement of minerals.  Cool completely before adding to your mix.

Keep in mind that the oils in nuts and seeds are volatile; this means they are prone to rancidity if exposed to air, heat, or oxygen (which is why you don’t want to buy those pre-roasted ones). In order to preserve the integrity of the oils in your nuts and seeds, refrigerate (or freeze) raw nuts/seeds until you use them. This way, you’ll obtain the highest health benefits from your healthy snack. 

 Best choices:

  • Almonds.  These are always at the top of my list, since they offer a high protein content, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, and a lower fat content than most other nuts.  They are also the highest nut for calcium.
  • Coconut.  Previously maligned because of its high saturated fat content, coconut has recently been promoted by some alternative health professionals as a heart-healthy food that can also help preserve thyroid functioning. If you can find high quality organic coconut, this can be a great addition to your trail mix.
  • Pumpkin Seeds. Known to be high in zinc, pumpkin seeds can help boost immunity and have been shown to help prevent prostate problems. They’re also high in iron and other minerals.  The phytosterols (plant sterols) in pumpkin seeds have also been shown to help reduce cholesterol.
  • Sesame Seeds.  These tiny gems are a great source of calcium and the same type of phytosterols as in pumpkin seeds. Remember that they need to be chewed to crack the outer hull, as this exposes the healthy oils within and renders the seeds digestible by our digestive tract (otherwise, sesame seeds—like flax seeds—are not digested and pass whole through our systems.  While they offer fibre in this manner, they won’t offer nutrients this way).
  • Walnuts.  Filled with healthy Omega 3 oils, walnuts are good for brain function (and they look like little brains, don’t they?) and heart health.  Slightly higher in fat (about 65%), they probably should be eaten in moderation.

 Avoid:   

  • Conventional (non-organic) peanuts.  Even if you’re not allergic, peanuts can harbor aflatoxins, a highly toxic mold (supposedly more toxic than DDT!).  Organic peanuts tend to be less problematic in this area.
  • Commercially prepared soy nuts.  In general, though soybeans offer great protein and are also important for women in pre- and menopausal years, commercial varieties are often roasted in poor-quality oils, high in added fat, and, unless organic, genetically modified. Check preparation and ingredients carefully if buying soy nuts.

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[“Yum!  Thanks for those cashews, Dad!”]

FRUITS:

Fruits are not only a high-fibre, no-fat snack; they’re also an excellent source of vitamins, some minerals (especially dates, raisins, and figs), and they add the chewiness and sweetness that so many of us crave in a trail mix.  

 Best Choices: 

  • Apricots:  These fruits offer a great source of vitamin A.  The organic variety is naturally darker in color than conventional apricots, and much sweeter! If you’ve never tried organic dried apricots, I highly recommend them.
  • Blueberries/Cranberries: both these berries have been shown to help prevent urinary tract infections by inhibiting bacteria from clinging to the urinary tract. They’re also high in vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Cherries:  tart, organic dried cherries provide pucker-power in a trail mix and offer vitamins A and C, as well as a source of calcium.
  • Goji Berries: A relatively new addition to the realm of dried fruit, Goji berries are delicious (not quite as sweet as raisins and a bit chewier), with an impressive nutritional profile including high levels of vitamin C (higher by weight than oranges), several vitamins and minerals, and an array of amino acids.  I previously wrote about goji berries (among other things) in this post.
  • Raisins:  a perennial favorite, raisins are a good source of iron and also contain other minerals and vitamin B. Don’t forget, however, that raisins can be poisonous to dogs! (“We appreciate that, Mum.”)
  • Figs: dried figs are known to be anti-parasitic and help keep the intestines in good shape.  They also provide a great fruit source of calcium as well as potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and phosphorous, not to mention good fibre content! I’ve grown very fond of figs (it’s just platonic, silly) and will post some new recipes with them in the next week or so as well.

Avoid:  

  • non-organic dried fruits, as they can be coated in wheat flour (to prevent sticking together), sugar and/or unhealthy oils (same reason as flour), and often contain sulfites (a preserving agent).   For people concerned with maintaining the enzymes present in raw fruits, look for dried fruits that have been dehydrated at low temperatures (usually below 118 degrees F).

 CEREALS (Optional): 

Best Choices:

  • plain puffed cereals, such as brown rice (I use Erehwhon unsalted) or organic oat circles. Many gluten-free grains, such as quinoa or millet, are now also available puffed as well.
  • Avoid: many commercial cereals contain sugar, hydrogenated oils, flavors, and so on. Check labels to ensure healthy ingredients and no extra sweetener. 

How Do I Store My Trail Mix and How Long Should I Keep It? 

For maximum longevity, store your trail mix in sealed, opaque containers in the refrigerator and take out only as much as you’ll need at a time.  This will keep both the nuts and seeds fresh as long as possible, usually about a month (though it likely won’t last that long).  However, if you detect even the slightest trace of rancidity in the taste of your nuts or seeds, it’s always better to discard the mix.

Trail mix is a real staple in our house, as my HH adores nuts of all kinds (Including me.  You DID see that one coming, didn’t you??).  And making your own, besides being fun, provides a comforting sense that your snacks can provide at least some of the essential nutrients in your day.  And what if Ms. Kendall-Reid is right, and we should forgo our daily snacks?  Well, just toss that trail mix into a big bowl of organic baby greens, and you’ve got an instant meal (and no one’s prohibiting that just yet!).

Earth Bowl Breakfast

November 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.”]  

earthbowltop.jpg 

After several days of doing my part for Nestles, Cadbury, Lindt, Hershey and the rest of the candy industry by indiscriminately devouring every on-sale bag of Halloween chocolate available, this morning I decided to return to my NAG core and have one of my favorite breakfasts.  It’s called Earth Bowl.

I originally got this recipe from the cookbook Enlightened Eating, by my colleague Caroline Dupont.  I’ve modified it slightly to suit my own tastes.

Basically a bowl of fruit and nuts/seeds, this raw dish is reminiscent of cold cereal with its mix of crunchy, wet, and sweet.  The orange juice provides a liquid base into which you toss the other ingredients.  For those who prefer cereals with multiple ingredients (or, like me, those who will pour four types of cereal into one bowl just to get a variety in every spoonful), this is the perfect combination. earthbowlside.jpgThe diced apple provides a wet, juicy crunch; the walnuts and pumpkin seeds are a softer crunch, with decidedly savory and even bitter undertones; and the berries are cold, dissolve on your tongue, and tangy.  All this, bathed in fresh orange juice, provides more sweetness and a great slurpy base. 

The bowl is also uber-nutritious, with omega 3’s in the nuts/seeds, zinc in the seeds, fabulous proanthocyanins in the berries, and your basic keep-the-doctor-away nutrients in the apple.  It’s also filling and can carry you through the morning.  All this, and raw, too! (“Sounds delicious, Mum! Did we mention that we love apples?”)

Earth Bowl

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