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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

My continuing research about how to improve my overall health, has led me to modify my diet so that it’s 70 to 80 percent fruits and vegetables, with a little starch and protein to round it out. I am primarily eating fish (every possible kind of seafood) and fowl (chicken and duck) for my protein, which is what I relied on for my main source of protein for the 24 years I didn’t “eat mammal.” I try to get my starch from healthy sources like sweet potatoes, but I’m half Japanese, so I regularly eat rice. I’m also not one to give up all comfort foods, so I occasionally make gluten-free pasta using brown rice or chickpea flour pastas, which the kids love. I often toss the pasta with chicken sausage, braised chard and fresh tomatoes to “health it up.” And since dairy and I remain estranged, the only dairy I consume is a little grass-fed butter, ghee and organic whole-milk, Greek-style yogurt on occasion.

Since my diet is mainly focused on vegetables, I’m reframing my idea of what constitutes a meal. I grew up with the idea that dinner included a main dish–usually involving meat, accompanied by a simple salad and cooked vegetable. My new favorite thing to do is cook 3-4 vegetable side dishes, which together with a little protein make a fun, nutritious and not-at-all-boring meal in which there is not necessarily an obvious “main dish.” And I truly dislike eating salad for the sake of eating salad, so I’m continually searching for salads that feel like a meal in and of themselves.

I made, served and ate this particular salad this past summer, but it’s really a dish for all seasons, and all its ingredients are readily available year-round. It’s from the Jerusalem cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi. I’m a huge fan of all Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, having first discovered his incredibly delicious food in a tiny shop off Kensington High Street when I lived in London many moons ago. I was new to London–and newly pregnant, and stumbled upon the tiny shop purely by accident. Even though I lived in London only a few years, I considered a takeout meal from the shop a special treat. I fondly remember marveling at all the delectable looking dishes displayed in tiers in the shop front window. My mouth would instantly start watering upon seeing the array of colorful vegetable dishes and beautiful, yet simple desserts. Everything was fresh, flavorful and colorful. What I appreciate most about Ottolenghi’s cooking is that (most of) the dishes are relatively simple to make relying heavily on an abundance of spices and variety of textures. It’s what makes his food beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

Most of the recipes I share on my site are completely my own invention, or they are ones I’ve modified from someone else’s recipe, or developed by combining various parts of several people’s recipes. However, this one I want to share as is because it’s perfect just as it is. One caveat is that I’ve been making it so often that I’ve stopped measuring the ingredients, and it’s fair to say you have a lot of leniency with this recipe; a little extra this or a little less that still results in a delicious salad.

Ingredients

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

3-1/2 oz/100 g pitted, Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 small pitas, roughly torn into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup/75 g whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 tsp sumac

1/2 tsp chile flakes

5 oz/150 g baby spinach leaves

2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

salt

Preparation

Place the dates and onion slices in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and pink of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

While the date mixture is marinating, heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan. (I use my 10-inch cast-iron pan.) Add the pita and almonds and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Note: The Ottolenghi recipe actually says to cook the pita for 4 to 6 minutes, but that has never been enough for me, so maybe our US pita cooks differently. Remove from the heat and mix in the sump, chili flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside too cool.

To serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large bowl. Drain off and discard any extra vinegar from the date/onion mixture before adding the dates and onion to the spinach. Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Adjust seasoning as desired and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Happy almost end of “not-like-any-other” summer! I hope you and your loved ones have kept healthy–both physically and emotionally. These are extraordinary times for sure, and so many of us regularly feeling anxious, stressed, even depressed. I hope you have been managing all right. I’ve developed my own strategies for staying (relatively speaking) positive and optimistic. I recognize (and remind myself!) that the pandemic is temporary, even if it’s not as temporary as we had initially hoped. I try to spend as much time in nature as I can, which has been challenging since I’m working full-time and raising two children who can’t be in camp due to Covid-19 restraints.  I also bought an excellent book on mindfulness, which has helped me reduce stress more than meditation has because it’s very purposeful and intentional and helps me reshape and redirect my thinking. I found mediation was leaving too much to chance even if it helped me relax.

Of course, I’m also trying to maintain a healthy diet so I’m better protected against the Coronavirus–or any virus for that matter, and so I can maintain a healthy weight since I can’t go to the gym anymore and my workouts are more sporadic. I will admit I’ve fallen victim to the Covid-19 snack phenomenon, whereby I often find myself standing in front of my refrigerator, door open, considering what to eat when I’m not actually hungry! Do you know what I’m talking about?? There have been so many funny memes posted about this, and it really gives us insight into the human psyche.

But back to the pancakes… I have made these my go-to breakfast because it’s super easy to whip up a lot of batter, store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator, and quickly make a nutritious, delicious breakfast for days to come. I usually don’t put maple syrup on mine, and instead use a big dollop of my strawberry chia puree, which I also make a big batch of and keep stored in the fridge.

These pancakes are really good, eggy in texture and packed with protein thanks to the four eggs, almond flour, hempseed and collagen peptides. Sometimes I make them with extra cinnamon, but then use maple syrup instead of the strawberry puree so the strawberry and cinnamon aren’t competing with each other. And the best part? You can just throw all the ingredients into your Vitamix or other high-powered blender and voila!

 

Ingredients

1 large banana

4 eggs

1/4 cup almond milk

3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup raw hulled hempseed

1/2 cup tapioca flour

2 scoops collagen peptides (I like this brand)

1 Tbsp coconut sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon*

1/2 tsp salt

*If you want the super-cinnamony version, use 1-1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

 

Preparation

Blend everything together in a high-powered blender until completely smooth. Cook in a buttered or oiled cast iron or nonstick pan over medium-low to medium heat until golden brown (3-4 minutes). Flip and cook the opposite side until just golden (1-2 minutes).

Strawberry Chia Puree (made in advance)

In a glass bowl or large glass jar, stir 4 cups fresh or frozen pureed strawberries with 2 heaping tablespoons chia seeds, the juice of half a lemon, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup. Cover and let sit in the fridge for four hours before using. Store in the fridge for up to five days.

Be well, and enjoy!

 

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I did not drop off the face of the earth, but it has been ages since I’ve posted anything here. The past few months have challenged me physically as well as emotionally. Making the decision to move from my comfortable life in northern California to the massive city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in order to support my husband’s work was incredibly difficult. Convincing the children to go along with the decision was equally difficult. Packing up a significant part of our home (where the expression “pack-rat” got redefined) took far more time than I could have imagined. Getting all the paperwork in order and loose ends tied up–bank accounts, visas, residence permits, nearly drove us insane. Finding homes for some of our beloved pets–since we only brought two to Brazil, I found particularly difficult, and at the end, heartbreaking, since I consider our animals family.

Fortunately, the expat community in Sao Paulo, although relatively small, is wonderfully supportive, and Brazilians in general are friendly and kind. We live adventure nearly every day, and grow from it–personally and as world citizens. On top of requiring me to learn another language, the move has required dietary changes, such as regular servings of pineapple, papaya and watermelon instead of my daily helpings of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Chard remains elusive, and rice and beans abound. My cooking has not been spectacular, but a few dishes, and some of my travels definitely warrant sharing.

This dish I made back home, but never got around to posting until now. I call this my “breakfast (or lunch) of champions” because it is full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and it’s packed with flavor. In reality, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend eating bacon right before you head out for a 6-kilometer run. But if you have an important meeting, need to run a few hours worth of errands, or are going on a big hike and want sustained energy for 4-5 hours, this dish is perfect.

Like many people, my body doesn’t tolerate most types of beans as well as I would like, but garbanzo beans appear to be the exception, and garbanzo bean flour is the main ingredient in the crepes. I couldn’t be more thankful, because garbanzo beans are a great source of insoluble fiber (important for keeping our colons healthy!), protein, and several vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium and folate.

 

Ingredients

For the crepes, whisk together the following until you get a smooth, runny batter consistency:

1 cup sprouted garbanzo bean flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

3/4-1 cup water

Pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp of avocado oil, plus more for the pan

 

Preparation

Swirl a little oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour in half of the batter and swirl the pan gently to spread the batter evenly across the bottom of the pan. Cook until set and the bottom is just starting to turn golden brown–approximately 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip the crepe over and cook another 2 minutes.

Repeat. This recipe makes 4-6 crepes depending on how thick you make them.

 

Ingredients

For the wrap I call “breakfast of champions,” I place the following ingredients on each crepe and fold in half or in thirds for serving.

2-3 strips of bacon, cooked

1 egg, fried sunny side up

Two leaves of curly kale (tough stocks removed, and lightly braised)

1/2 an avocado, peeled and sliced

Coarse-ground sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

This combination tastes insanely good and flavorful, but you can experiment with whatever you like. I cook the bacon in a cast-iron pan first. After removing the cooked bacon, I drain off the excess fat and lightly braise the kale leaves in the same pan so they pick up all the delicious bits and pieces left from cooking the bacon.

Note: These crepes are super easy and quick to make, but you can double or triple the crepe batter recipe and make a batch so you have them handy. Just be sure to put a sheet of parchment paper between crepes and store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Please note that they are best fresh and warm, as can stiffen slightly if refrigerated or left out for any length of time.

Enjoy!

 

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