Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Awesome Breakfast Food Class

I can't believe it is Tuesday.  I am already beginning to gear up for my next class.

Here is the breakfast food menu I will be teaching on Friday:

Antioxidant Slushi with Berry Combinations
Almond Mylk
Grain-Free Granola
Coconut Smoothie
Coconut Porridge With Berries
Almond Mylk Smoothie

Today I planned the menu and organized the recipes.

Wednesday I will soak the nuts and seeds.

Thursday I will dehydrate the granola and crackers.

Friday is the class!!!

All menus are grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free - Organic and made with Love.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Creative Kale

It is always exciting to hear back from class attendees and find out that they are enjoying the recipes and making them at home for their families.

That is awesome!

That is the BEST compliment I can get!

I always encourage attendees to be creative with the recipes - use them as a template - and experiment with them - have fun with them.

The kale salad that I prepared has been folded into rice pasta for robust and garlic-y pasta salad.

The creamy kale slaw that I prepared has been served with tortilla chips and salsa.

The marinated collard greens have been served on top of steamed vegetables and swirled into a bowl of miso soup.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Eat Green

A Rainbow Of Colorful Food

Spring is the time to think green - in honor of spring I kicked off my first raw food class of the year in my kitchen friday night.

The focus of the class was how to get more green food into the diet with a special emphasis on how to prepare kale and collard greens which - because of their fibrous nature - will present some special challenges in the raw - unless properly prepared.

I offered some of my personal favorite recipes for salads, soups, and smoothies - all culled from years of preparing raw food cuisine - a long with a slew of ideas for serving them.

With only a blender, food processor, cutting board and ceramic knife we prepared some seriously delicious green cuisine.

Take a look at the menu:

Marinated Collard Greens
Green Power Soup
Kale Salad
Kale Slaw
Spinach Soup - with an creamy almond base
Hydrating Green Smoothie

Friday, April 26, 2013

Congee For Breakfast

This morning I had congee for breakfast.  Congee, a rice porridge that is popular in Asia, is comfort food in a bowl. 

Congee is easy to prepare if you have a crock pot.

The secret of making congee is to add 4 - 6 parts liquid to 1 part rice.  You can play with the proportions to see what texture and thickness you prefer.

I like to start congee the night before when I am in the kitchen making dinner for Dan and I.  I put homemade chicken broth, soaked brown basmati rice, minced ginger, minced garlic and tamari sauce in a crock pot, set it on a low temperature, and let it simmer all night.

In the morning the rice is thick, moist, and custard like.

Although congee is delicious eaten as is - for variety you can stir in meat, chicken, fish, beans, eggs, or vegetables of your choice.

This morning I stirred shredded chicken into my congee.  It was delicious and I served it with a side of last night's left-over vegetables - sauteed bok choy, turnips, carrots, and peas.

Congee is warming and easy to digest and is reputed to be an excellent food for those that are recovering from illness.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Breakfast Food Adventures

Those of you who follow my posts know that I made a goal last week to eat a wider variety of food at breakfast.   I had gotten into a pretty significant food rut - lock-stepped into the habit of preparing only certain things at breakfast.  One advantage of eating a wider variety of foods is that we are more likely to get a wider variety of nutrients and micro-nutrients than when we eat the same thing day in and day out.

Having just completed my one week goal today -  I have to admit that I have enjoyed the journey out of the breakfast food rut.  Though some breakfasts were better than others - overall I have enjoyed the variety, creativity, and experimentation. 

This morning I had a bowl of miso soup made with sea veggies, dried shrimp, bok choy, carrots, and an egg.

Simple - but it kept me fueled on a 1 hour hike and a fairly strong yoga practice this morning.  Not bad!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Criteria For A Good Breakfast

I have certainly been steering my breakfast boat toward a more varied nutrient profile this week.

Though some breakfasts have been more successful and satisfying than others  - getting out of a breakfast food rut has been a whole lot easier than I imagined it would be.

What did I have for breakfast this morning?

Those of you who have been following my recent posts will not be surprised to learn that I relied on vegetables - in this case broccoli and carrots - left-over from last nights dinner.  In addition I had a couple of slices of gluten-free sourdough bread from Grindstone Bakery, topped with avocado and smoked wild caught sockeye salmon.

Criteria For A Good Breakfast:


Tastes good

Varied Nutrient Profile - at least different from the morning before

Easy to prepare - this one took a few minutes to prepare!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Did You Eat For Breakfast?

This week the focus is on breakfast food.

What does your breakfast typically look like?

Are you in a food rut and eat the same thing for breakfast every morning?  Or are you more adventuresome and mix things up a lot?

Does breakfast keep your blood sugar stable until lunch?

Does breakfast support your unique energy needs - whether you are working at a desk - or training as an athlete?

As you know I am a big proponent of making allowances for individual differences when it comes to food and what we eat.  What works for some most likely will not work for everybody.

 For instance I LOVE eating vegetables for breakfast.

I imagine that there are a lot of folks out there that would find eating fresh vegetables for breakfast rather strange. 

Fresh vegetables - since they don't come in a box or package - are one of those foods that require some TLC.  You generally have to do a fair amount of work to prepare a delicious dish of vegetables.

Rather than spend a lot of precious time in the morning washing and chopping vegetables - I re-warm the vegetables from the night before.  This morning I had a well-seasoned melange of sauteed onion, carrot, broccoli and bitter greens with poached egg for breakfast.

Eating left-overs for breakfast saves time in the morning, really satisfies my hunger and keeps me feeling well nourished until it is time for me to eat lunch.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Second Breakfast?

This morning, inspired by my daughter Carrisa, I thought I would get creative and make a breakfast smoothie. 

I made what I thought would be a fairly substantial non-dairy base using rice, rice bran, almonds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds all strained through a nut mylk bag.  Then I blended the mylk up with  frozen bananas and about 1 teaspoon of spirulina.

At the risk of sounding like a hobbit - about an hour later - I was looking for second breakfast.

I quickly ran to the kitchen and re-heated last nights left-overs - hooray for left-overs - thin sliced beef in a mixed vegetable dish well seasoned with onion, fennel and basil.  It was heavenly.

Nix smoothies. 

Don't get me wrong - I like the idea of a breakfast smoothie - coconut based ones are definitely a favorite - but smoothies in the morning have never worked for me.

It may not sound like a very traditional breakfast - but when my body is looking for serious food - nothing is more satisfying than dinner left-overs.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

AND - Now On To What I Ate For Breakfast

Now that I am off my food expert rant - I can get to the good stuff - what I ate for breakfast.

This week I made a goal to break out of my food ruts and routines and try to eat a wider variety of foods for breakfast.

This morning I reheated black forbidden rice and veggies - in this case onions and carrots that had been braised in broth - left-over from dinner.

I really like having dinner left-overs for breakfast because it makes for such an effortless food prep in the morning.  Why not make a little extra at dinner to save time in the morning?  And why do you suppose left-overs taste so good - often better - then when the dish was freshly made?

The other thing that I noticed is that several diet experts have told me that if I eat a high protein breakfast with plenty of fat that I will be able to sustain my energy for up to 5 hours - in spite of my tendency to get low blood sugar - without a hitch.

Well - this is anecdotal and totally n=1 but I ate a fairly low protein - low fat breakfast this morning and felt great and actually went 6 hours before my next meal.  Yes my tummy started rumbling at around hour 5 - but I did not get any of the head fog symptoms that are associated with low blood sugar.

So it appears that I can be a bit more food adventuresome in the morning - not lock-stepped into a high protein and high fat regime every morning - without worrying too much about sustaining my blood sugars.

Hooray!   I feel so free!

Is There A Diet Expert?

For about the past three years I have been working with a healthcare practitioner who recommends supplements for me to take.  During those three years I have gotten to know her fairly well as we talk on the phone quite frequently.  She is one of the delightful and helpful FEW who are easy to reach and nearly always available for questions.  So far I feel like her recommended supplement regime - based upon the analysis of a hair sample about twice a year - has been - if not positive - then in the very least - a benign experience.

The reason that I sound somewhat cautious regarding the benefits of the supplement program - even though some significant health issues have resolved themselves during the time period I was taking them  - is that I am not certain - and have no way of knowing for certain - that a specific supplement has - in fact - affected a specific positive change or outcome.

And I would feel VERY cautious to recommend that others follow me and do what I do.  In fact, I often feel VERY cautious about recommending just about anything to others.

So for the time being I have decided to content myself to quietly taking the supplements in good faith - believing that they may/will in the end have an overall salubrious health benefit.  

All of that being said - the same healthcare practitioner highly recommends a fairly specific diet - with the caveat that it might need to be tweaked here and there to accommodate individual differences.  It just so happens that the diet she highly recommends is the diet that she herself - after years of experimentation - discovered that she thrives on.  Does that mean that everybody will thrive on variations of the same diet?  The same or very similar macro and micro-nutrient ratios?

Telling others what foods may or may not be best for them makes me REALLY nervous.  I like to share what my diet comprises and looks like from time to time - but I really shy away from telling others that they should do likewise or eat like I do.

If I WERE to pretend that I was a diet expert - I would probably confuse everybody anyway.  I am a great experimenter at heart.  I am always changing my diet up to try something new or different.  It would certainly be difficult for me to be a diet expert if I could not keep changing my mind about what the perfect diet - of the moment - might be.

That is why I think that it is only truly safe for me to be an expert on myself.  And even that is a tall order considering that my health, my condition, my body, mind and spirit - like the weather - are always changing - are in fact - a work in progress.  My health is dynamic and not static or fixed as the diet experts would prefer to have me believe - the one size fits all diet theory - that never changes year in and year out - so that you can make them the expert and just follow their diet.

Hopefully, I can become my own inner diet expert.  Hopefully, I can cultivate the wisdom to listen to my own body and through awareness discover what supports me in feeling my best - what boosts my energy - what helps me thrive and live my life to the fullest.  And not surprisingly, it may even change from time to time as I change.  And I promise I will not tell you that if you follow me and eat what I eat that you will feel great too.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Food Goal

One of the things that I have noticed lately is that I tend to get into food ruts.  Choosing and preparing the same foods day in and day out.   I have noticed that I even have a tendency to order the same meals when I go out to restaurants.

I don't know exactly why I do this - but I think that one of the reasons - at least in part - is to simplify meal preparation - especially when I am pressed for time.

One good reason - however - to eat a wider variety of foods is that we tend to get a wider variety of nutrients in our diet.

One of my food goals for the coming week is to begin eating a wider variety of food at breakfast - rather than eating the same thing every morning. 

Thursday I had a bowl of vegetable miso soup with a small piece of salmon for breakfast.  It was made with left-overs from the night before - so that was really simple.

Friday I had a bowl of black forbidden rice with burdock root pickle, gluten-free sourdough toast spread with coconut oil, and a side of steamed spinach.

This morning I had an organic egg over easy, braised kale and collard greens with sliced avocado.

What I am finding is that it really takes no more time or effort to create a different style breakfast each morning - it simply takes a little more mental flexibility.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Miso Soup For Breakfast

Now that I have completed the one-week cleanse it is nice to indulge in a little wild caught sockeye salmon.

This morning I took a small piece of the salmon left-over from last night, along with left-over veggies, cut up strips of nori, a handful of left-over basmati rice and put together a pretty decent instant miso soup for breakfast this morning.

One of the things that I like about soup for breakfast is that it makes such a warm, liquid, soothing first meal.  Every breakfast is different because you can so easily compose a different soup each morning using different vegetables, grains, or seasonings.  When you are in a hurry - as I was this morning - you can re-invent last night's left-overs.

Sometimes I make a large batch of miso soup using a homemade dashi broth.  When I make larger batches I store what I don't use in a large glass mason-jar and have that for several days.

Rather than add the miso to the whole batch of broth I add the miso to each individual serving.  I dissolve the miso into each individual serving so that the live enzymes in the miso are not lost by re-heating.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Well here I am at day seven - the finish line for my one-week vegan cleanse.

Overall I am totally impressed and surprised at how easy it was.  I never felt uncomfortable.  I did get a bit hungry a few times - but that was only from a lack of planning on my part.  

I think it was a nice respite from the heavier and fattier foods I had been indulging in all winter and I feel light and somewhat refreshed for lack of a better word.  I think the respite or refreshment could not have come at a better time - as spring is the traditional time for lightening up the diet to prepare the body for warmer days ahead.

As an aside - I believe that I slept a tad better this week too.

I can definitely see myself doing this again and perhaps making it a spring-cleanse tradition.

What the whole thing has inspired me to do on a day-to-day basis - and not just a once a year basis - is re-examine my macro-nutrient ratios and make some adjustments.  I want to play with the ratios and reduce - though not eliminate - animal fat and protein overall and see how I do in the next year.   I will be interested to see if reduced animal fat and protein helps ameliorate some of the imbalances that Dr. Pendleberry is currently treating me for.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Six Days Vegan

I can't believe that I am six days into my one week vegan cleanse.

I have nothing special to report today except that we have had some fairly cool cloudy weather the past couple of days here in southern California and I find my taste is leaning toward warming and comforting macrobiotic style meals - which is not surprising considering my macrobiotic training.

This morning I made quinoa with ground chia seeds, burdock root pickle,  and miso soup with all of last night's left-over veggies thrown in.

For lunch I made black beans (slow cooked in a crock pot) - yes! the black beans finally sprouted - and quinoa with steamed colorful veggies such as bok choy, kale, carrots and squash.  I dressed the meal up with a homemade dressing.

Both meals were fairly easy to put together.

Tonight I am really taking the easy way out and meeting a friend for dinner at Lyfe Kitchen in Culver City - reputed to have healthy delicious vegan/gluten free meals.

P.S. - Not that crazy about Lyfe Kitchen.  The meal was skimpy and I ended up eating again when I got home last night.  In fact, I ate right up until bedtime.  My favorite vegan eatery is Real Foods Daily.  If I am going to go out for a vegan meal - make it Real Foods Daily.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Horray for Lentils!

I am three years into eating animal products and five days into a one-week vegan cleanse.  Having cycled through numerous variations of vegetarianism, veganism and pescetarianism over the past four decades - those four decades punctuated occasionally by relatively short-lived flirtations with more serious animal products - usually around Thanksgiving - it is worthy to note that over the past three years - while I experimented with the dietary guidelines of the Weston A. Price Foundation - I gave serious animal products - such as grass-fed beef, lamb, pheasant, duck, chicken liver pate, beef heart, beef liver, home grown chicken eggs, turkey eggs, raw milk, raw milk cheese, kefir, even occasional pork sausage and bacon - a long-term whirl for the first time since I was 18 years old.

Having grown a personal chef business based upon my expertise in vegetarian cuisine - I had a lot of new skill sets to acquire in short order - and I found that I relied on Julia Child and Sally Fallon almost exclusively.

As I return to my vegetarian culinary roots this week - I find myself most surprised by the level of commitment required to really pull this off.  It takes a lot of TLC to create lovingly prepared plant based meals.  In fact, one could easily become food-obsessed - and almost by necessity-  to really thrive on this life-style/food style.

While I wait for my black beans to sprout - day four and they are still look rather unpromising - I re-sprouted another batch of lentils.  I am very thankful for the lowly lentil - and repent of my former criticism of lentils as boring to look at and eat - as lentils have provided me with near miraculous fast food - on this slow food journey.

Today for lunch I had lightly steamed lentil sprouts, and sprouted steamed quinoa topped with burdock pickle, kale salad, avocado slices and nori strips.

Hooray for lentils!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cooked Or Raw?

Bob Ligon, who practices traditional Chinese medicine as well as macrobiotics, unlikely as that may seem to those that have studied the theories of yin and yang, would be happy to know that I am favoring cooked vegetables slightly ahead of salads this week.

In honor of Bob Ligon and well cooked vegetables I would like to dedicate this post to my favorite vegetable dish of the week.  If necessity is the mother of invention - then last nights nearly empty vegetable bin inspired a delicious dish of slow cooked onions, grated carrot, and bitter greens flavored with red wine and tamari sauce.  I ate the veggies with a side of black forbidden rice topped with homemade burdock root pickle - which, incidentally, had been ripening in a dark cupboard for the past 4 - 5 months.

It was perfection in a bowl - and somewhat reminiscent of my macrobiotic days.

Now I am on my way to re-supply the veggie bins.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Minimalist Approach - Does It Work?

So here I am again today.

Though there is often a tendency toward self-absorption when one is learning a new skill or doing something one is not habituated to - especially when that something is food related - I find that I should probably be paying MORE attention to food preparation now that I have committed myself to a one-week vegan cleanse.  I think I have been taking a bit of a minimalist approach.  Well maybe the minimalist approach and that slight edgy hunger is compatible with the whole cleanse concept.

I think commitment is an important word in this discussion.

This whole vegan cleanse is interesting - but I realize that I really have to put more effort into food preparation to make it completely enjoyable and worthwhile.  I have not been giving my food preparation sufficient attention to make the food interesting.

There is a lot of soaking and sprouting involved.  The juicing uses up a lot of veggies - so I am shopping more often.  The juicer needs a lot of cleaning - so I am spending more time in the kitchen.

Today the black beans did not sprout according to schedule - so I am going without. 

The black rice is nice - but I am working away at a pot that still has several servings left.

I think it takes a lot of work and commitment to eat vegan.  It would be nice to have a co-partner. - someone to help with the cooking and the eating.

I do like the idea of colorful food.

Today I have eaten:

Green:  celery, collards, kale, dandelion, green apple

Orange: yams, carrots, butternut squash

White: onions, daikon

Yellow: crookneck squash

Black:  rice, black mission figs

Purple:  mulberries, acai

Colorful Food

Here I am.  I did not know that changing up my diet would be this easy.  I think my body is welcoming the lighter fare.

Today is actually day three of my one-week vegan cleanse - but this post is what I ate yesterday - which is confusing I know.

This has been pretty fun actually and I am enjoying playing with all the colorful food.

I started with green and made a delicious green juice with fennel, green apple, kale and wheat grass. 

Then I moved on to purple and made a smoothie with blueberries, flax seed and banana.

I had broccoli, spinach, bok choy, and kale for more green - which I served with black forbidden rice and pickled burdock root.  I am sauteing most of my veggies in coconut oil.

I had some sprouted steamed brown lentils for protein.  The lentils were pretty boring looking and tasting - so I need to figure out something better.

When I had a guest over for dinner I ate everything but the meat.  The baked orange yam with coconut oil was particularly satisfying.

Right now I am craving a purple yam. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One Week Vegan

Here I am after a six month hiatus.

I am about to embark on a one-week cleanse at the advise of Dr. Pendleberry my Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Dr. Pendleberry, said that I have a damp, moist, stagnant condition - which sounds like a weather report that belies the dry and often windy weather we have had all winter in Southern California - and which is supposed to respond well to herbal preparations and special diet.

The herbal preparation for an internal damp condition is a saffron colored powder which I stir into a cup of hot water twice a day.  I suspect that it has turmeric and ginger in it.

The special diet is a vegan diet - which means that I will eliminate all animal products from my diet.

I am supposed to focus on green food - such as kale, collards and broccoli.  To fill in the hungry spaces I can have moderate amounts of seeds, sprouted seed grains and legumes, or rice.

I began the cleanse yesterday. 

Yesterday I had enormous amounts of green food.  I had celery, kale, ginger, lime, and green apple juice, steamed broccoli, miso soup with green seaweed, kale, and spinach.  When my energy began to flag mid-afternoon I made a rather yummy non-green smoothie with filtered water, flax seeds, stabilized rice bran, frozen banana, and blueberries.  I punctuated all the green food with some sprouted steamed black eyed peas and rice, and sourdough bread from Grindstone Bakery spread with coconut oil.

Initially, I thought my body would go into shock as I do like my grass-fed butter and eggs in the morning.  And I am used to having a nice piece of protein for dinner too - salmon being a favorite - but, actually I felt pretty good all day.  I felt lighter.  Colors seemed more vibrant when I was out walking - it was a gorgeous day - and I slept well too.

This is actually easier than I thought it would be.