Spring Cleaning Day 2

Cauliflower Stir Fry

I actually enjoyed this morning’s breaksfast despite the hemming and hawing from my Walter and Katya.  It was a cucumber pear juice spiced up with fresh ginger that to me was refreshing and had just the right bite to it.
Cucumber Pear Juice

For Katya and I, I heated up the broccoli soup and packed us up a lunch that also included sliced apple drizzled with lemon and a side of almonds.
I also toted along the Golden Elixir which is a concoction with hot water, lemon, spices and honey.  I didn’t have the tumeric but used cinnamon and it was like drinking a delicious spicey apple cider throughout the day.
Dinner was a stir fry using cauliflower finely chopped as the ‘rice’ with a mix of vegetables.  I did leave out the sweet red pepper because I don’t like the taste of cooked peppers.  As the cook I got to make that choice!
I also got creative with the left over vegetables from the broth.  I just couldn’t stand to see those go to waste so I pureed them with some tahini, curry, salt and pepper.  Even my daughter reached for more!

Spring Cleaning Day 1

Green Lemonade and Broccoli Soup

We started our day with drink number one: Green Lemonade. I modified the quantities somewhat as I don’t have a juice extractor, but rather a Vitamix blender. It was thicker and frothier and while my daughter found it too sour, we drank up and enjoyed.
Our lunch would be a little off: it was leftovers from the evening before. Sautéed vegetables in a coconut sauce, with noodles made from a Japanese root. It has some corn starch and the dish had organic GMO free tofu. Other than that, for better or worse we were off to a good start.

In the evening I came home and got the cleansing broth going while Walter ran to pick up a few missing ingredients. During that time I got to browse the on line version of the article. Online you can launch a little app called ziplist which allows you to create shopping lists with a couple of clicks for each recipe. In this tool I created lists for weeks one, two and three. I still think it would be better to include a weekly shopping list that gives you quantities for one, two, and four participants. And online there could even be a calculator where you plug in the number of people and the quantities adjusts accordingly.

Dinner for night one was a creamy broccoli soup with the broth as the base. As I just made the broth, I used the spinach from it for the soup. The recipe worked as expected and it was delicious.

Spring Cleaning for the Body

First Week Pow WowWe are finally going to do it; spring cleaning for the body: a three week cleanse! Back in January I read about a cleanse that seemed very palatable. I have done several different types and what I liked about this was you could eat the whole time and you didn’t need to invest in all sorts of supplements. Just real whole food, preferably organic.

I definitely wanted to try it but when – months went by? Then Katya, my daughter, suggested we do the cleanse. With Walter, my husband, in agreement, we picked Monday as our day to begin. We figured all was in the magazine so after a beach morning on Sunday, we went to do the shopping for week one.

The magazine wasn’t as well organized as we would have liked – including some recipes being left out. We did our best to get everything so we could follow the plan as closely as possible. As a health coach I wanted to see if this would be something good to recommend to clients.

The day got away from us so I didn’t have too much time to prepare. I did make us a great dinner that would be a good substitute for the first day’s lunch even though it included tofu.

Stay posted to see how we progress…

Cheesecake?

Raw Cashew CheesecakeIt’s that time of year again. Shavuot.  A holiday that falls just seven weeks after Passover when the Jews are given the Torah.    The Torah is compared to a “life of milk and honey”.  That is why for this holiday it is all about dairy which means cheese cake.

Sounds wonderful. Who wouldn’t love cheesecake? But what about for those of us who can’t or choose not to have dairy?  In comes the wonderful cashew.   From a hard cheese platter or lasagna enjoyed at Pure Food and Wine, to pesto, spreads and desserts the cashew is an integral ingredient to replace cheese.   This nut  is delicious and  fabulous for you too!  All nuts are beneficial  for you. They are a source for protein, fiber and minerals like potassium and calcium.  And yes, cashews are high in fat which our bodies need – just not too much.  You can read more about them at at one of my favorite resources: Worlds Healthiest Foods.

So why am I so stuck on cashews?  Because they make a delicious ‘cheese cake’.  Replace the typical graham cracker crust with almonds, and sweeten with maple syrup and you have a delicious vegan, gluten free option.

The version I make is raw and extremely easy to make.  You blend the almonds with dates to make the crust.  Then blend the cashews with coconut oil and dates.  For variety I blended in mango and then lightly mixed in blueberries.

So now even the dairy free can enjoy this holiday.

Chealthy Challah

spelt challahI love baking challah.  Kneading the dough is especially relaxing for me.  It is a comfort when the house is filled with a warming aroma while the challah is in the oven.

So how I could I refuse the Chabad Prospect Heights when they asked me to participate in a challah making workshop?  My focus was to show how to make healthy challah.  The challah I make is always with whole grains, and a small amount of honey instead sugar.

So what is challah anyway?  It is a delicious bread that is eaten on the Sabbath and Festival meals.  (And it also makes great french toast.)  Challah is meant to represent the ‘manna’ or food that came down from the heavens while Jews were wandering the desert.

There are specific rules about Challah and how it is made.  It can only be made from 5 specific grains. These are wheat, spelt, barley, rye, and oat. Traditionally challah is made with white flour but I prefer the whole grains. For the class I made a spelt challah which went over very well. But let’s not forget the gluten intolerant. For this crowd, myself included, I made little oat challah rolls. Oat happens to be the only permissible grain for making challah that does not contain gluten. Yum!

If you would like to bake the spelt or oat challah send me a comment and I will email you the recipes.

Where’s the Beef? A New Taste for Stroganoff.

For some reason when my mother was describing a dinner she attend where she was served Beef Bourguignon it made me think of Stroganoff.  Not just any, but mom’s in particular.  She made this dish for us as kids and it always felt fancy and tasted great.  I hadn’t thought about this dish until this point but I remembered how much I enjoyed it. Not the beef per se, but the flavor of the wine and mustard. The creaminess of the sauce.  What’s a girl to do who doesn’t eat meat, wheat or dairy?!

Mom’s response? Make it vegan. Make it gluten free. You can do it. You will just have to find replacements for the beef, the cream…

I headed for my computer and looked online. The recipes all shared paprika, mustard, and soy sauce. Some had broth, others wine.  All had flour. All had soy.  So, with a little imagination I had to come up with something different. Cashew Cream, shitake mushrooms and a gluten free pasta – my favorite brand is Ancient Harvest.  And I chose the wine, a nice dry white, over the broth.

The result fulfilled my childhood memory, left me sated and my family thoroughly enjoyed a new entry to our meal menu.

Keeping Pesach Healthy and Simple

Healthy Pesach Fruits and VegetablesPesach, otherwise known as Passover, is the holiday when we clean out our homes until there is not one morsel of a breadcrumb.  It is a time for us to reflect and humble our egos.  It is also a great time to eat simple and healthy foods without compromising taste.

The first two nights are the traditional seder nights with a festive meal.  The last two nights of the holiday are also festive meals.  In between, the requirement is to not eat any hametz – anything leavened.

This year my family and I decided to spend the holidays away from  home.  While we were staying at a friend’s house in some ways it was like camping.  We brought all the Passover staples that are hard to get outside of Brooklyn which caters to one of the worlds largest Jewish populations.

So while eating this time of year can be challenge – especially for us dairy free pescatarians – it is really an opportunity.  The best of which is leaving all processed foods out of the picture, except for the matzah.  Our shopping was targeted to the produce section of any supermarket or stopping at the few farmstands that were open this time of year.  The real challenge was being creative with the limited ingredients available to us during this week.

We saved the fancy fish dishes for the festival days, so for the in between we went for some tasty vegetarian options.

Breakfasts were filled with a lot of fruits, omlettes loaded with vegetables and of course the classic Matzah Brei.  We also made hot quinoa cereal filled with bananas, raisins and nuts.  Lunches were generally ‘on the go’ picnics with matzah (gluten free for me), charoset,  a sweet, dark-colored, paste made of fruits and nuts, almond butter and left overs.

The dinners were the real time to get creative.  Two of my favorite veg meals were Spaghetti Squash al Pesto with a side of Collard greens and Fresh Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with a Sauteed Spinach Medley.  I also enjoyed the seared tuna served with a citrus arugula salad, and topped with sauteed grated horseradish, the home made gefilte fish with not a grain of sugar, and the baked salmon seasoned with a cumin rub and served with a dill cashew cream.

Since not all spices are kosher for Passover, having basic seasonings such as sea salt, ground black pepper and white pepper, cumin, hot paprika, and oregano can turn anything into a delicious meal.  Especially if you add fresh cilantro, rosemary, tarragon and basil.

While I used these few seasonings in almost every meal, it was the variations on the vegetables or fish that made the changes in the flavors.  And the proof was my kids plates were empty and they asked for seconds.

What’s for Breakfast? Did You Say Soup?

Vegetable Miso Soup

Thinly sliced swiss chard, just a leaf or two, carrot slivers, shitake mushrooms, finely cut scallions, and small cubes of firm tofu simmered in water.  Then, a couple of teaspoons of miso paste stirred in.  Breakfast?  It was for me and my daughter this morning.

I remember being a little girl at a friend’s house and just wanting tomato soup for breakfast.  My hosts thought it was an odd choice but it hit the spot.  While we are accustomed to particular breakfast foods like eggs and bagels, do you ever get a craving for soup in the morning?  Especially on a cold morning this is a terrific way to start your day.   Miso soup can be put together in 10-15 minutes.  Just pull a few veggies out of the fridge, thinly slice and let simmer for a few minutes. It’s filled with healthy ingredients so why not listen to this craving? Fill up and warm up all at once.

Thanksgiving: Let’s Talk Turkey

Veritable Thanksgiving Feast

People always ask me “What do you eat if you don’t eat turkey?”  I have gone many times with an abundance of delicious vegan side dishes that to me make up a fine meal. This year I – by my son’s inspiration – included fish to the menu.  The fixings I created can be enjoyed well beyond Thanksgiving: Chipotle Quinoa Salad, Arugula Salad with Apples and Walnuts, Broiled Salmon marinated in ginger pomegranate juice, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Cornbread with a side of cranberry sauce.  Everything I made was gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and delicious; including the chocolate brownie topped with fresh fruit.

The real topper was the next day my daughter and I headed off to the Woodstock Farm Animal SanctuaryWoodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.  We spent the rest of the weekend taking care of these wonderful animals which was the best treat of all. So not only were our palettes satisfied over this holiday; our hearts were too.

Did you say Millet Burger?

I was looking for something different to do with millet.  I wanted to make it the center of the meal rather than a side dish.

When faced with trying to figure out what to do I tend to turn to the internet despite having tons of recipe books.  I did a search on millet burger and many ideas came up.What I was after was a simple yet tasty option.  The recipe I chose included cooked millet, grated beets, mint, and sesame oil.  While it was simple to put together and tasted good, it lacked the flavor luster I was really looking for.  So my next attempt I decided to experiment.

I sauteed onions, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin in olive oil and then added this mixture to the original ingredients.  I also included jalapeño to give a little zest.  These additions gave the fritters the umph I thought they needed.  I then made a spicy mayonaise (you can use vegan or regular) as a topping. We all were very satisfied with the results.