Archive for December, 2009

Nothing says Happy New Year like a hangover

December 31, 2009

A few of my friends – well who am I kidding, most of my friends – are big drinkers. I am not judging, just simply stating the facts. And after last night (you know who you are) you are going to need this. For all of my over-indulgent friends here is something that I hope will help the day after.  By the way, you’re welcome.

Remember when Julia Child told you to save the liver? Her words have never been more true.  My favorite Oriental Medical Practitioner and sister-in-law Candice Nelms, www.candicenelms.com suggests taking milk thistle before a night on the town. Milk Thistle (try saying that 10 times fast) protects your liver by preventing toxins from alcohol entering while helping to remove existing toxins. Take two 70 mg capsules with a meal, before or while drinking.

Or for those of you who had no idea you were going to get blotto the night before, and thus took no thistle, try this smoothie:

1 frozen banana (if you don’t have one in the freezer add ice)

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons honey

Cover your ears before blending or it will sound like a knife thru your head.

The banana helps calm the stomach, and honey, builds up the depleted blood sugar levels. The milk soothes the stomach and re-hydrates your system. Bananas are also rich in electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, which are depleted during drinking.

Here’s to you.  Happy New Year!

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

December 30, 2009

Come along for the ride with Barbara Kingsolver and her husband and two daughters as they pledge to become locavores for one year.  For those of you who don’t know, a locavore is a person who eats only local food.  (Just thought I’d clear up any misconceptions. My husband thought it might be some type of dinosaur.)

I highly recommend  Animal,Vegetable,Miracle for all of you who want to learn more about healthy alternatives to processed foods, industrial agriculture and ecology, and delicious seasonal recipes.  You can think of it as a how-to guide for planting (for the adventurous) eating, buying and cooking locally.

I can’t imagine moving out of Manhattan to a farm but the book does inspire me to support my local farmers, take more of an interest in where the food I am eating comes from and gives me an even greater appreciation for the people that grow and transport all of their delicious, nutritious food from their farm to our table.

To all the local farmers out there, wishing you a very Happy New Year with thanks and gratitude.

MEATLESS MONDAY ON TUESDAY

December 29, 2009

For those of you who thought I forgot about Meatless Monday, I can assure you I did not.  I was stuck in the airport for the last 15 hours visiting my very carnivorous family and did not get in until a few hours ago. Anyhoo, let’s just pretend today is Monday and here is a great meatless breakfast recipe that even a prehistoric family will love. I actually made this tofu scramble (from my favorite Vegan Cookbook, “Vegan With A Vengeance” for Christmas morning and  my meat loving family ate it all up.  (They had no idea it was made with something that rhymes with Mofu).

Scrambled Tofu

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium-size yellow onion chopped into ½ inch chunks

2 cups thinly sliced cremini mushrooms

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained

¼ cup nutritional yeast (you can find this in the bulk section of Whole Foods or any health food store.  It is a good source of B12 and especially good for Vegans.  It also tastes like cheese!)

juice of ½ lemon

1 carrot peeled

For spice blend:

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with your fingers

1 teaspoon ground paprika

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions for 3 minutes until softened; add the mushrooms, sauté for 5 minutes; add the garlic, sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the spice blend and mix it up for 15 seconds or so.  Add ¼ cup water to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to get all the garlic and spices.

Crumble in the tofu and mix well. Don’t crush the tofu, just kind of lift it and mix it around.  You want it to remain chunky. Let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from sticking too much. Lower the heat a bit if you find the tofu is sticking. Add the lemon juice. Add the nutritional yeast and mix it up. If the mixture is sticking to the pan, add splashes of water. The moistness really depends on how much water the tofu was retaining before you added it. Grate the carrot into the tofu mixture and serve.

December 23, 2009

The holidays can mean a lot of traveling. And in this economy, for a lot of us, that means road trip. But now, that doesn’t necessarily mean every meal consists of Big Macs and Stuckey rolls. Believe it or not, you can eat healthy even when you spend the day in the family truckster thanks to a brilliant tool – the EatWellGuide trip planner (http://bit.ly/sa5xH).

It’s so easy.

You plug in where you’re starting and where you’re headed, hit enter and the trip planner shows not only your route, but also where you can find local, sustainable, organic food along the way.

So skip the blue plate at the Flying J, and pick up some food that’s good for everyone. Even Aunt Edna.

Check out http://bit.ly/sa5xH

December 18, 2009

Here’s an easy stocking stuffer suggestion. Karen Berman’s Friday Night Bites, an adorable collection of recipes and crafts for the entire family.  My favorite? Dinner on the moon – Create a Phases of the Moon centerpiece while you prep Garlic Crescent Moon Rolls, Distant Star Salad, Green Cheese Tortellini Alfredo and for dessert, Moon Rock Chocolate Chip Biscotti. My daughter loves it and aside from my husband’s never-ending stream of “Houston, we have an appetizer” jokes, it’s good fun.

I also love the Dino Dinner – Make Fossil Breadsticks, Primordial Soup, Saber-toothed Salad, Quesadillasaurus and chocolate Dinoturtles with Elbones Fossils for a craft project. It’s a meal that would make Wilma Flintstone jealous.

Friday Night Bites has 20 themed menus including over 100 recipes for appetizers, main courses, pastas, salads, sides, desserts, and interactive and educational activities. Order it here…

http://www.amazon.com/Friday-Night-Bites-Weekend-Recipes/dp/0762436417

Giving yourself holiday presence

December 17, 2009

The holidays are upon us and this is supposed to be the happiest time of the year – jolly, festive parties, quality time with your family, peace and love and goodwill and…

Wait a minute.

The last time I spent with my family wasn’t calming at all…it was, as my husband would say “exactly the opposite of calming.”

But quality time with the family is some times simply unavoidable. So how do you keep yourself sane?

Yes, a quick Xanax when nobody’s looking or a big fat martini when they are will tamp down the knife-in-your-head tension headache that starts as you pull into your Aunt Edna’s driveway and gird your loins for her annual “My, you’ve gained weight!” pronouncement.

But, believe it or not, those are not the healthiest of options. So let me make some pre-emptive suggestions. What you want to do is increase your production of serotonin. That’s the neurotransmitter that calms you down or at least gives you a rest from the voices in your brain screaming “Run! Leave! Take the rugelach with you!”

Try plums, pineapple, bananas or sour cherries for a serotonin boost. Proteins, like, wild fish and seafood, whey protein, eggs, beef and turkey can also increase the production of serotonin in your stress soaked brain.

And as an added bonus, remember that dark chocolate is a mood boosting snack, as are sweet potatoes and raisins thanks to their rich vitamin B6 content.

Besides eating calming foods, don’t forget to do some basic stress management – Take time out of your schedule to get a massage, facial, lap dance, whatever it is that floats your boat.

Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

Well, if you insist…

December 16, 2009

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t believe in calorie counting.  I feel like it’s an outdated practice that we just can’t seem to let go of. Kind of like that jumpsuit with the huge shoulder pads still hanging in the back of my closet. Or my husband’s insistence on trying out for American Idol every season. Counting calories reminds me of days past when cottage cheese and rye crisps where all the diet rage. And I think we have evolved so much since then…Or have we?

Okay, just for fun, let’s say you want to know how many calories are in a large order of French fries or the amount of saturated fat in a Double R burger? (not that you would ever be eating that stuff, right?) Check out acaloriecounter.com.  Not only can you find out the calories of your favorite foods, but you can get all of their juicy nutrition facts too.

Find out the top ten fast foods that have the most saturated fats, the 88 most unhealthy foods you can eat, get guidelines on how to read food labels, and discover that girl scout cookies still contain trans fats (even though they made a big hoopla about getting rid of it).

And as an added bonus, the author has a snarky tone that I love too.

I still believe that if you eat real, whole foods and avoid processed, chemical junk food, you really won’t have a problem with your weight.  But, if you insist on going by the numbers, ACalorieCounter is a fun option.

My latest conspiracy theory

December 15, 2009

I’ve mentioned a few unpleasant theories and truths about the food industry on this blog, but today I have one that is actually pretty wonderful – Chocolate is good for you. In fact, I’ll go even farther and let you in on a bigger secret. Chocolate is a SUPERFOOD.

Now, I’m not suggesting you start serving Milky Ways for breakfast. I’m talking about raw chocolate. Raw chocolate is loaded with antioxidants (more than green tea and wine). It contains protein, fats, calcium, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin and magnesium (which you need to keep your brain running tip top). Studies have shown that raw chocolate may be good for the heart, can lower your blood pressure and even decrease your appetite. Oh, and it’s an aphrodisiac.

Kind of hard to find a downside here, huh? In fact, I even found a great sale on raw chocolate from a company called The Chocolate Conspiracy. All their bars are sweetened with local honey, their cacao (the magic ingredient that makes chocolate so incredible) is an heirloom strain bean and all other ingredients are raw and certified organic. And they’re all on sale for Christmas. Just five bucks a bar. In other words – yeah, I’ll say it – this is a sweet deal.

Get yours at EatChocolateConspiracy.com.

What do you have in common with Paul McCartney and Al Gore?

December 14, 2009

Well, aside from a love of the White Album and a tendency to take a liiiiiiitle too much credit for inventing the internets, you could also share a very special tradition found in the McCartney and Gore households – Meatless Mondays. This quickly spreading trend is a great way to help the environment (beef consumption is responsible for about a fifth of global greenhouse gasses emissions) and, if you’re not eating organic, grassfed, hormone and antibiotic free beef, you’re better off without it.

Join me as MMMunchonthis.com becomes part of the Meatless Monday crusade (I didn’t call it a Moo-vement. You’re welcome.). This is your chance to play smug, hipster with a conscience for a day and help maximize the impact of your decision by encouraging your friends family and neighbors to try too. And as an added encouragement, I’ll even throw in this delish meat-free chili recipe from Meatless Monday’s own Chef Ian.

http://www.meatlessmonday.com/join-the-movement/

Chef Ian’s Macho Monday Chili!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 90 minutes

Serves: 4

1 medium Spanish onion, diced

2 medium red bell peppers, diced

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup garlic, chopped

2 tbs chili powder

1 tbs paprika

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

8 cups cold water

1 15-ounce can red kidney beans

1 15-ounce can navy beans

1 15-ounce can black beans

7 ounces Goya Recaito (a pre-cooked Spanish spice)

Directions

Sauté onion and peppers in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic, chili powder, paprika and crushed red pepper and cook for another minute.

Add sautéed ingredients to a large stockpot. Add cold water and beans. Simmer slowly for 1 1/2hours, then add the recaito. Cook for about 3 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning to your personal taste.

Note: for thicker chili, cook an extra 10-20 minutes, or puree 4 ounces of chili in a blender or food processor, and add back to the chili.

How do you have an intelligent conversation with your kids? Use a talking cow.

December 11, 2009


It’s never too early to start teaching your kids about making healthy food choices and the importance of sustainable practices. And if you can throw in a bit of The Matrix, well that’s not a bad thing either. Here’s a fun tool to begin the conversation with your mmmunchkins – The Meatrix. It’s a cute cartoon that also happens to be a biting exposé on America’s factory farms.

And it does it all in terms simple enough that even Keanu Reeves could understand.

(thanks to The Sustainable Table for discovering The Meatrix – http://www.sustainabletable.org/?pv=blog)