"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: quinoa

“healthy” meets “foodie” . . .

guacamole post

Wow! Once you actually look around the grocery store, outside of the usual places we always go to, there are lots of new non-gluten, non-sugar foodstuffs to try out. One of my favorites is “Better Chip” spinach-kale corn chips. They were so full of flavor, crunchy and tasty with the homemade guacamole that I made for lunch today.

I followed the usual guacamole recipes and used two just-ripe avocados, three tiny ripe tomatoes, cut up, about 2 tablespoons of chopped red onion, a bunch of fresh cilantro leaves (makes all the difference); fresh lime juice and a scoop of asian hot chili sauce. I mixed it up into a rough chop mash and tasted it with one of the spinach/kale chips. Honestly, I could eat like this forever!

You know those volcanic rock mortars on legs that you can get to make guacamole? It’s called a “mocajete,” I think. I looked at one on the Williams-Sonoma website but in the back of my mind was thinking that I already had a bowl that would lend itself perfectly to serving guacamole. Sure enough, the bowl in the photo above that I’ve had for ages, was made from a thick slab of clay by Sandy Brown (an English potter) and has a deep well for a bowl that was perfect. It’s boosted my confidence that efforts to reduce glucose needn’t be dreary and/or boring.

On another note, even though I’m not really eating much fruit during the intensive part of this regimen (7 more weeks to go,) there were fresh strawberries and rhubarb on sale yesterday that I brought home to stew together into a compote. It took a little time because there were so many strawberries to rinse off, cut up and remove a lot of the white parts inside, cooked in a pot with the sliced rhubarb. No water was added, just heated up the berries and rhubarb over low and then medium heat. It cooked down incredibly quickly, and after it cooled, I added a tablespoon of agave nectar to sweeten it slightly. (Next time, I’ll use stevia instead.)  I ate a small serving of it just like that and G. had the fruit spooned over Haagan Daz vanilla swiss almond ice cream.

Since nuts are both good for you and tasty, I happened upon a brand of cashew nut butter that is dry roasted and combined with safflower oil. I don’t know if it’s the dry roasting process or what, but “Crazy Charlie’s” cashew butter is satisfying for a one-spoonful snack because it’s so full of flavor. When I first opened it, there was some separation of oil and I stirred it up until it was thoroughly mixed. I read a tip online to store it in the refrigerator so that it doesn’t separate again. Perfect!

Rather than dipping it straight out of the jar, I found these “super seed” crackers, manufactured by “Mary’s Gone Crackers” that are made from: “organic whole grain brown rice, oranic whole grain quinoa, organic pumpkin seeds, organic sunflower seeds, organic brown flax seeds, organic brown sesame seeds, organic poppy seeds, filtered water, sea salt, organic seaweed, organic black pepper, organic herbs. Zero grams of sugar. I guess they’re really organic – as you can see from the way they listed the ingredients on the box.

So, eating differently is starting to feel a little lighter — which is also the way I walked this morning, not clomping my feet along but just stepping lightly without trying too hard. I’m unusually undisciplined so to do anything four days in a row is pushing it for me. Mentally, I didn’t feel like going for my walk this morning but I made myself do it and am glad I did. It does make a difference that I’m answering up at my physical which is scheduled for mid-July.

And so, I’m finding that alternative eating, and living, doesn’t have to be punishment. It doesn’t have to be laborious or a dirge of “should-haves” rather than being free to enjoy what we want. Our dinners are now two dishes, max. It used to be three or four dishes a night (protein, vegetable, carb (potato, sweet potato, rice, couscous) and a salad. Now, we have protein and either a cooked vegetable OR a large salad. The protein is a third of the size of the vegetables which easily takes care of portion control.

For sure, these fancy spinach/kale chips, super seed crackers and roasted cashew nut butters are pricey. Okay, expensive. They probably cost a third more than I might pay for ordinary goods. However, there are only a few of them in my pantry and they are exponentially more tasty, interesting and healthy to eat.

The non-gluten, low sugar eating movement has triggered the development of new products that also appeal to “foodies” like me. Michio Kushi and his wife, Aveline, started natural food stores with Erewhon decades ago. But until recently, health food stores seemed medicinally oriented (no pun intended) and it sometimes felt like one was shopping for food in a pharmacy rather than browsing in a gourmet delicatessen.

Now, It feels like we have entered the dawn of an alternative era: healthy meets foodie! And it’s a good one!






pocketful of rye . . .

. . . rye bread dough risingA friend of mine, R., lives in a tiny row house near Regent’s Park in the Marylebone district of London. The door is painted bright yellow and there is a veritable garden on the front pavement and across the way, lined with trees in pots, flowers and other vegetation. Once, when I visited her, she served a small loaf of rye bread which had a tight crumb and toasted up beautifully with a crusty exterior and chewy insides. It was just right, spread with thin slices of pate, or sweet butter and homemade jam. Fruitlessly, I have looked for a loaf that resembles this memory a long time ago, and had given up finding such a tasty loaf of dark bread.
rye bread beg
Recently, my daughter, M., mentioned that she baked a spelt/rye bread from a recipe a friend gave to her awhile ago. Nigel Slater, a cookery maven from England also has a recipe for spelt/rye bread, this one with a little grated parmesan cheese added during the second kneading of the dough. Because the heat wave that we’ve had dispersed into drizzly rain and fog, it’s much cooler now and I thought I would weigh in and try my hand at making one of these loaves of bread. Nigel Slater’s recipe is given for two loaves and the ingredients are listed in metric specifications. I like to make one loaf at a time so I cut the recipe in half. Here are my approximate measurements converted from his:

Nigel Slater’s rye loaf: In a warmed bowl, combine dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups rye flour; 1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour; 1/3 cup white flour; 1 tablespoon (packet) of dry yeast; 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt. Whisk these dry ingredients together to combine.

Heat scant 1 1/2 cups of water to warm but not hot; stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey.
Pour water/honey into dry mixture and stir to combine. (Mine was a little dry when I added 1 1/4 cups of water so I added in a bit more, that’s why I increased the measurement from 1 1/4 to a scant 1 1/2 cups)

Reserve 1/8 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese to knead into the dough after it rises the first time.

Pull and stretch dough while kneading for a good 4-5 minutes. Lightly oil a clean bowl and let the dough rise until it is doubled, covered with a cloth or plastic wrap. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a lightly floured board and knead again, briefly, for just a minute or two, adding parmesan as you go. I patted the dough into a rectangle, sprinkled parmesan cheese with a spoon, folded it over into thirds, then over again; repeated twice.

Butter a bread pan and flour it, shake out the excess flour. Shape the kneaded dough into a loaf and place in the pan, cover and set aside for a half hour or so until it has risen again.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Yes, I was surprised at this too but that’s the proper conversion from “220C, gasmark 8.”

Bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp on top. Remove from the oven, leave for 10 minutes, then lift out and leave the loaf to cool before slicing. To keep, wrap in foil or kitchen film and set aside. It will also freeze well.

. . .fresh out of the oven!

. . .fresh out of the oven!

So that’s tonight’s supper, along with a couple of croquettes of sweet potato, quinoa and cranberries that I picked up at Whole Foods yesterday. A small, crispy green salad would be good alongside.

after dinner postscript: next time, I would stretch, pull and knead the dough differently to incorporate more air into the dough during the first kneading step. Might also add a little more water too!