Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vision vs. Execution

Babies! A friend had her first baby last week. I got the honor of participating in the early part of the process. I needled acupuncture points to begin labor. I get so excited being part of the team that welcomes a new soul into the world.

My baby shower gift is providing food for mom, dad and baby for at least the first month. I could say it's an excuse just to see the baby! This week, I made my first delivery. Here's the menu:

Sundried Tomato Winter Squash Risotto

Creamy Potato Leek Rustic Vegetable Soup

Pecorino Plum Parsley Scones

After making all the food, I realized it was carb-heavy. Better to start with easy to digest foods the first week, since mom is breastfeeding. Bitter flavor is the only taste we acquire, so I thought it best to wait on recipes including kale, collards and rutabagas until week four and beyond!

Sundried Tomato Winter Squash Risotto

I realized halfway through the "pour, absorb, stir" risotto process that risotto is best eaten immediately. It doesn't keep well. That's ok, the winter squash I wanted the store didn't have, so the stringy variety was falling apart as the risotto cooked. It wasn't going to be a picture perfect entrée anyway.

1o sundried tomatoes softened and diced

½ cup butter/shortening

2 cups firm non-stringy winter squash, roasted and cubed

½ cup onion, diced

1 clove garlic

2 ½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups lightly packed arugula

1/3 cup julienned basil

2/3 cup pecorino cheese grated


Saute onion, garlic and sundried tomatoes for 10 minute over medium flame. Add the rice, stir and toast it for about 3 minutes. Add the wine, let it evaporate. Add the stock in portions, about 2/3 cup at a time until absorbed. Stir once after adding each portion of stock. Slowly adding stock brings out the creaminess, not the sticky starchiness. When the rice is just about done, add in the arugula and basil, stir until the greens wilt. Add the grated cheese and squash cubes and stir and serve.

Creamy Potato Leek Rustic Vegetable Soup

I ended up pureeing the potato and leek since I was a little lazy in the uniformly chopping the leeks. Long stringy chunks of leek would have been a little too rustic for anyone.

2 lbs or about 4 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 cups water

2 cups leeks

1 cup onion diced

1 cup red or orange pepper

2 cups spinach

4 cups mushrooms, quartered

1 large tomato

Fresh basil and Italian parsley

1 tsp salt

1 ½ cups milk (almond milk)

½ cup vegetable stock

Boil potatoes in 4 cups of water until soft. Sauté leeks and onion in olive oil, transfer to potato and water. Either transfer in sections to a food processor to puree or just use the handblender in the pot like I did. Sauté diced pepper, add in the mushrooms until reduced. Transfer those to the soup pot, add the chopped tomato, herbs, milk, salt, and stock. Stir and serve.

Pecorino Plum Parsley Scones

I was out of my usual flours, but was hellbent on making scones. I love the flavor combination of the deep purply sweet September plums with the bitter Italian parsley and the salty sharpness of pecorino cheese; it makes a great salad with Italian fare. I combined those three into scones; the ones I made turned into crispy crumbly drop scones thanks to the combo of rice flour, hazelnut meal and oat flour. Here's what I would do instead.

2 cups ripe plums, chopped

1/3 to ½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

½ cup grated pecorino cheese

1 ½ cup sorghum flour

1 ½ cup quinoa flour

½ cup butter

½ - 1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 T maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in the butter to the dry ingredients. Beat ½ cup of buttermilk with the egg and maple syrup. Slowly add the dry to the wet. If too dry to handle, add small amounts of the additional ½ cup of milk. If it's too wet you can add more flour or just make drop scones. Fold in the plums, parsley and cheese. Pat or roll out onto a surface and cut into 12 triangles and bake at 350 for 25 ish minutes.

Next week is Veggie Burgers, Baked Beans, and Apple Pie!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fit Day or Not

A friend is clocking her calories and exercise at I decided to give it a try. I have slowly been gaining weight over the last few years; there are many possible or combination of reasons. Could be slowing metabolism, could be reduced exercise, could be increased stress/cortisol levels, and could be a shift in diet.

Maybe this will give me a glimpse at what it is or is not. I am just tracking what I eat and my exercise level. I am not making any changes in either so I can get an idea of what is going on right now and assess what can be altered in the future.

The site is pretty comprehensive with many report options – graphs and charts galore! The anal-retentive or OCD planner in me drooled at the charting options. As long as I log my food intake accurately and activities, I can track my nutrition level - percentage of carbohydrates, fat and proteins, total nutrition, nutrition as RDA and DV, nutrition budget, calories over time, calories eaten, fat breakdown; Activity and metabolism; Trends – calories eat vs burned and calorie balance over time; weight changes, and goals for weight and calories and measurements. I can also keep a calendar, a journal and track my moods. That won't be happening but, yes, a comprehensive site marketed to the planner in me.

Each day I typed in food I ate. The program pulls up options and you choose one to add to your food list. Each food on the list has a nutrition label just like packaged foods. You could just pick one that is closest to what you've consumed or you can create your own food item and input the nutrition label data. For homemade soup that consisted of rice and beans and a water broth, I just entered beans, dried, cooked and the approximate portion size and rice, brown, cooked and its portion size. I cheated a little there. There were many options on the food list for cellophane noodles, but the nutrition labels didn't match so I created my own. I realize even if I am not making the best food choices, I rarely eat more than 1500 calories/day. I think that's good.

Each day I typed in the exercise for the day. Well, I don't exercise outside of walking right now, but the program already gives you a freebie. The program deducts over 2000 calories just for living and breathing. Great! Again I typed in walk in the search, the program pulled up options. I picked the walking pace that matched my walking pace to and from work, entered the distance and the number of minutes. I could have included other walking activities – paces walking around the office, up and down stairs, carrying supplies, etc but I didn't bother.

There is an option to alter your metabolic rate. I played around with the option, but since I have no way right now to quantify or prove my metabolic rate I left it alone.

I've only completed 2 weeks and it has yielded some insight. A number of the products I consumed this week weren't my usual fare. It was very much "revert to childhood" week. You may have noticed I said products not foods. Vegetables, grains, and herbs comprise 90% of what I purchase and the remainder is shortening, oil, gluten-free waffles. This week I was at the grocery store 4 times. Yep. I bought prepared items, not just prepared items FROZEN items. I bought a frozen pizza Monday, crispy battered fish fillets and skinny cow ice cream sandwiches Thursday. Whoa Nelly. I must be going through a crisis. I also grabbed a chicken breast and a cabbage cranberry walnut salad for lunch one day. Adding that to all the pizza from the previous insane week with no time to cook, I knew fats in my pie chart of carbs, fats and protein will comprise a big slice.

I barely got a green vegetable or an orange vegetable in me this week. I think the best I managed was one bunch of kale, plenty of green apples and does homemade apple pie count? Needless to say my RDA or Daily Value of vitamins was a bit scarce on calcium, magnesium, folic acid, some B vitamins as well as vitamin C and E.

With that knowledge, I dug out my multivitamin, my probiotics, and my chlorophyll and prepared plenty of greens and oranges for the next week. I pulled out the yoga schedules for the neighborhood studios. I will keep you posted on how my charts alter and how my life alters.