Thursday, July 15, 2010

I just learned about this food nutrient density rating system, and I had to share!  Here's to your health, America!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Health-full Kitchen Tip: Blackberry Smush

This week, we got two pints of gorgeous blackberries in our CSA delivery.  I love summer -- so much delicious, wonderful fruit.  Though I have to say, this July weather in Los Angeles is cold, gray, and depressing ... and endless, it seems.  What gives?  Well, eating bright, health-full food helps give me a little morning boost when there's no sunshine to do it.

Anyway, back to the blackberries.  This morning, there were five left over, sitting in the fridge, waiting patiently to be eaten.  Now usually I just eat them whole, but today I had this notion that I could warm them up slightly in the toaster oven (on top of my waffle), and smush them gently with a fork to make a sort of chunky, no-sugar-added, jam.  You see, I usually run on sugar, and my addiction was getting out of hand.  I've been trying to wean myself from this very unhealth-full addiction, and lately, I've been trying ways to have delicious treats with no added sugar.  Enter stage left: blackberry smush.

There's no recipe for this; I'm not even sure it warrants a blog post.  But it worked for me, and I love to share health-full tips, in case they might work for you, too.  Here's what you do: toast a piece of bread, a waffle, whatever you like, in a toaster oven*.  When it's lightly toasted, place the blackberries on top of the bread, and turn the toaster oven to broil.  Let the blackberries warm up under the heat of the broiler for 15 seconds - 1 minute, depending on if your blackberries are at room temperature or cold from the fridge.  Won't take too long.  You can poke them with your finger to see if they feel warm.  Now, pull your toast/waffle out and stick it on a plate, and then take a fork and gently smush the blackberries.  They'll spit some blackberry juice, so have caution when smushing and be sure you're not wearing your Sunday finery.

There -- you've now got toast or waffle, fancied up with some warm blackberries!


*(If you don't have a toaster oven, you can do this in the regular oven: put it on broil, put your bread underneath, and when the top starts to brown, flip over to toast the other side, and then add your berries.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime Yum: Fried Green Tomatoes

I have wanted to make fried green tomatoes ever since I saw the movie a million years ago as a kid.  And it just so happened that on this lovely summer day, our weekly CSA delivery included three fat tomatoes, and one of them was nice and firm and green.  It also happened that fried green tomatoes seemed the perfect accompaniment to the dish of sauteed corn and zucchini with caramelized onions, oregano, and cilantro.  Turns out, fried green tomatoes are super easy to make and ridiculously tasty.  Now I'm going to have to scour farmers' markets to see if I can get more!  

My Joy of Cooking says that the recipe was "the traditional solution to the problem of tomatoes that do not have time to ripen before the first frost."  Well, there you go.  I'm not sure if the first frost has passed, but I'm guessing it has.  But that lovely green tomato that was gifted to me today suggests that perhaps there is hope indeed.

Here's how to make them, thanks to the inspiration from The Joy of Cooking.

What you need:

-- 1 to 2 green tomatoes
-- 1/2 c. ground cornmeal
-- 1/4 c. all purpose flour
-- seasonings: salt, pepper, and a sprinkling any dried or fresh herbs you want to use (thyme, parsley, etc.)
-- 1/4 c. unsweetened, non-dairy milk
-- olive oil

Here's what to do:

1.  Prep the tomatoes.  Wash and remove the stem ends, then cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.

2.  On a plate, gently combine cornmeal, flour, and seasonings, and mix with your fingers or a spoon.  Put the 1/4 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk in a small bowl.

3.  Dip the tomato slices in the milk, then coat with the cornmeal/flour mixture, and shake off excess.  Set aside.

4.  Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  When the oil is hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle, gently place your tomato slices in the pan.  Let cook until golden and crisp, and then flip (adding more oil if necessary) and let the other side get nice and golden and crisp.

5.  Serve piping hot, but be careful -- you'll want to gobble these up and they'll certainly burn your mouth!  Worth it, nevertheless.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Judgment, Just Love: Start Where You Are

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: vegan is not a four letter word.  But, yes, it can be a daunting word.

Heck, even I'm daunted by it sometimes.  Though I eat a plant-based, vegan diet, I've chosen to abandon the "vegan" label.  Why?  First of all, I want my choices to be sustainable (and doable) for the rest of my life.  If I feel like I "can't" have something, then I want it all the more.  And I don't want to feel like crap if I decide to eat a doughnut (can't the doughnut do that all on its own?).  Thus, I can eat whatever I want, and I simply choose a plant-based diet because it tastes the best and feels the best for me.  To be honest, there's nothing I feel like I'm "missing."  I love the way I eat.

Second, I'm human.  All I can do is the best I can.  (Isn't that all we can ever do?)  That means that on occasion, such as when I travel, I opt for vegetarianism when necessary.  There was a time that I felt awful about that, or about when I scarfed a churro at Disneyland, but no longer.  I'm human, and I'm doing the best that I can, and I don't want to judge myself or others.  Aren't we all doing the best we can with where we are?

What this world needs -- in my humble opinion -- is a heck of a lot more love.  So I love me, and I love you, and I trust that we're all doing the best that we can.

A friend of mine posted this great quote on Facebook recently: "Start where you are; use what you have; do what you can; and it will be enough."

Love that.

By the by, if you're curious about trying a vegan diet for a day, a week, or a month, or just learning more about it, this is a great article by Virginia Messina, "Go Vegan in 10 Easy Steps."  She gives some great tips for transitioning.  It's a big transition too; if you opt for it, go slowly and gently, and give yourself lots of love and encouragement.  It will also take a little while (not too long) for your body to adjust to a totally different way of eating.  So be as patient as you can.  Remind yourself that you're choosing health and compassion for you, the planet and the animals.  But most of all, choose it for you.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Delicious and Simple Healthfullness: Sauteed Cannellini Beans with Fresh Chard

A little over a year ago, I was researching and writing an article on Hollywood vegans for The Food Magazine.  What stood out to me then, and what still does, is that in each of the interviews with actresses Emily Deschanel, Lake Bell, and Vanessa Lengies, and with writer (of Skinny Bitch fame) Rory Freedman, each raved about the deliciousness of vegan food and also how your tastes change when you start eating more healthfully.

It seems to good to be true, I know.  I once had a torrid love affair with butter, so believe me, I wanted to believe this magical prophesy even as I was skeptical.  Gotta say, folks, it's true.  If you give your taste buds and your body a chance to adjust to healthful eating, you won't crave anything (unhealthy) that you're not eating.  Seriously.  Just ask my husband who once said he'd never give up hamburgers and one day found himself simply not wanting to eat them.  Wowzers.