Posts tagged ‘cooking’

Anatomy of a Damn Good Meal

On Wednesday, Matt and I had the extreme pleasure of dining with our good friend and professional Chef, Randy Rabney of The Conscious Plate (Visit her website and sign up for her amazing newsletters–I always learn so much from her!)

I just wanted to show you some pics of our dinner that Randy made.

First, Randy and Matt:

They are posing so beautifully with our appetizer: grilled flatbread with 2 different cheeses (Don’t remember the type, but they were delish!). One was topped simply with arugula and drizzled with truffle oil (swoon!) and the other with basil and a beautiful red and white heirloom tomato that just tasted like summer.  Randy also offered us truffled honey to drizzle on top, although my darling Matt ate it straight from the jar with a spoon!

Here’s a close up of the appetizer:

Looks good, right? It was. And so simple.

Next up, dinner…steak (grass-fed, naturally) cooked to perfection, a simple summer salad (arugula, sweet corn, grilled zucchini, scallions, and a simple vinaigrette) and grilled potatoes.

Are you hungry yet?

But don’t forget about dessert! Randy’s next door neighbor is The Able Baker who made rockin’ mocha cupcakes for us. They were amazeballs.

All of this was paired with a Brunello di Montalcino that Matt and I bought on our honeymoon….it was 10 years old and simply the greatest wine ever.

I wanted to show you this meal not only to make you jealous, but also show you how a good, wholesome, memorable meal need not be complicated. In fact, simplicity rules….and that’s what randy lives by. High quality ingredients will stand alone.

Thanks, Randy!

July 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm 2 comments

I heart my rice cooker

My latest kitchen gadget is my rice cooker.

In the past few months I’ve taken to making a boat load of grains on Sunday night for the week, making lunch preparation a snap. I take 1/2 cup of rice, toss in a multitude of veggies (I’m into steamed broccoli, lemon broccoli, steamed carrots, and collard greens), toss in some beans, drizzle with pesto or hummus and I’ve got an amazeballs lunch.

Anyway, back to the rice cooker…this baby makes all types of rice perfectly. I tried short grain rose brown rice. I threw in 2 cups, the right amount of water, pressed the button and forgot about it. Fifty minutes later…perfect rice! No more watching the pot!

This gizmo also cooks dry beans to perfection (I made adzuki beans last night) and also steams vegetables. It also does the laundry and tells you “I love you.” OK, obviously that’s not true, but it still rocks.

Lucky for me I got my version on sale for $60 at Bloomingdales…it’s a smaller 5 cup version, but I can’t ever picture myself making that much rice in one sitting.

And, I am very happy that I can tell Matt “I told you so!” as he thought I would NEVER use it. I TOLD YOU SO!

Perhaps a rice cooker is just what you need!

PS. Check out my new photos on the “About Me” page…courtesy of the incredible Sheila Williams

July 26, 2010 at 1:28 pm 2 comments

Back from the Ranch-with a new recipe for you!

Me and Chef

Hello C&C Friends,

Oh, how I’ve missed you!

I just spent the most BLISSFUL week at my favorite place on earth, Rancho la Puerta in Baja California. I spent my days exercising (um, hello cardio drumming class!), taking dance classes (I can now salsa and line dance), hiking, getting massaged, meeting the greatest people, and eating delicious food!

I had the opportunity to take a small, personalized cooking class at the Ranch’s cooking school, La Cocina Que Canta,  with the Executive Chef of the Ranch (see me and Chef, above). We split into teams and cooked a delicious, healthy meal filled with organic vegetables straight from the Ranch garden.

My task was to make the quinoa–and you know how much I LOVE my quinoa. I made this dish again last night at home and it was still fabulous.

But before I give you the recipe, here are a few awesome facts about quinoa:

*Quinoa is NOT a grain! It’s a SEED of a large plant called the Chenopodium quinoa. It is a distant relative to spinach, beets and chard.

*It is one of the only plant foods that supplies ALL the amino acids necessary for a “complete” protein. A half cup of cooked quinoa has more than 4 grams of protein!

*Quinoa is gluten free

*Quinoa ranks highest among all grains in potassium, high in iron and most B vitamins and is a good source of zinc, copper, magnesium, and manganese

And without further ado, here’s the recipe!

PEPPERMINT QUINOA

(I am listing the original recipe as I made it at the ranch. However, at home I am WAY too lazy to use 3 types of quinoa, so I just used 1 cup of one type of quinoa with 2 cups of water. It yields less quinoa, but the recipe still works perfectly)

Ingredients:

1 cup white quinoa

1 cup red quinoa

1 cup black quinoa

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 T olive oil

3 medium white onions, small dice

3 cloves garlic, minced finely

4 tomatoes, seeds removed, small dice

1 handful mint leaves, no stems, chiffonade

2 tablespoons lemon thyme or thyme, stems removed

Directions

1. Wash quinoas separately in fine mesh strainer.  Boil 2 cups water in 3 different pots, each for a different color of quinoa. Cook quinoa approx 15 minutes or until done. Set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in saute pan and add the diced white onions. Cook until translucent and then add the minced garlic. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Add diced tomatoes, sliced mint and the thyme. Continue cooking for approximately 3 minutes, making sure to retain color of tomatoes and mint

4. Toss the 3 cooked quinoa varieites together and then add the vegetable saute.  Serve hot.

June 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm 1 comment

Eating Well…Very Well!

With the end of the semester so close I can almost taste it  I’m thinking of what I want to focus on with my free time.

One of the main things, besides watching copious amounts of television and hitting the gym, is getting back into cooking. Ahhh, how I’ve missed my romance with my kitchen.  Granted, I do cook, however it usually involves creating something with leftover steamed vegetables that’s rushed and thrown together. Healthy, yes, and saves me lunch money, but not exactly nourishing.

 My go-to source for fabulous, easy, and healthy (naturally) recipes is Eating Well.  I’ve been getting the magazine, Eating Well, for quite some time now and it’s like porn to a health foodie like me. The web site is a treasure trove of recipes and easy to search.

I’ve bookmarked a few recipes I can’t wait to try…come Thursday night I’ll have the time to try them!

What is your favorite source for recipes?

May 4, 2010 at 6:21 pm 1 comment

Rooting for Fall

root

Ah, Fall, how I love you and everything you bring. Slightly cooler temperatures. Anything involving pumpkin. An excuse to wear my Uggs again. Lots of cuddling on the sofa. And although I desperately miss my fresh summer fruits and berries (so long until next year!), I truly enjoy cooking more in the Fall- hearty soups, stews, and roasted vegetables.

What you are going to find now in season are lots of root vegetables. By definition, a root vegetable is exactly what is sounds like: the edible root part of the plant that grows underground. Examples include beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips, etc. They’re super healthy and nutrious, and I recommend eating LOTS of them this season.

In alternative health and nutrition, root vegetables are known to be very grounding for our energies, empower us and keep us firmly connected to the earth (not literally, obviously, but figuratively, of course!). If you’re feeling spacey, confused, lost, and “all over the place,” as Matt says, try adding some root vegetables to your diet.

Here are some of the more popular root vegetables you’ll see at your farmer’s market or supermarket:

 *Beets: Have the most sugar, but only 35 calories in one-half cup serving

*Carrots: Fabulous source of beta-carotene.

*Parsnips: Relatives of the carote (without beta-carotene). Good source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium. One of my faves since it’s so sweet.

*Turnips: Don’t be scared by their funny shape! Perfect pureed, mashed, roasted, or added to soups and stews.

*Radishes: Sounrce of vitamin C and phytochemicals. Low calorie snack with hummus.Known to be detoxifying. My favorite restaurant offers fresh radishes with homemade butter and salt. Um, holla!

 To get you started on your quest to become more grounded, here’s a great recipe for roasted root veggies. This is Matt’s Fall specialty. The great part about roasting is that you can rarely mess up the recipe!  Enjoy!

 Roasted Root Vegetables by Wolfgang Puck (Find original recipe here)

Ingredients

  • 8 to 12 slender carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 8 to 12 baby turnips, peeled
  • 6 to 8 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise in halves
  • 1 or 2 large parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 1 or 2 medium onions, trimmed, peeled and halved, each 1/2 cut into quarters
  • 1 or 2 large beets , peeled and cut into thick wedges
  • 1 or 2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cut into thick wedges
  • 1 celery  root, trimmed and halved, halves cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put all the vegetables and the herb sprigs in a large baking dish. Season well with salt and black pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss them with your hands to coat them evenly.

Put the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve the vegetables from their baking dish or transfer them to a platter to accompany a roasted main course.

September 30, 2009 at 2:04 pm 1 comment

Matt says: Real Men Wear Aprons!

cookIf nothing else, Amanda and I will always do our best to be honest about our life in food and all of our experiences. As dictated by Amanda’s post last night on binge eating (I made my hemp-seed chocolate chip cookies last night under the guise of “I’m making it for a friend, but really i want to eat about 5), we all fall victim to eating more than we want to, and then we have to decide whether or not we want to lose too much sleep on it or just get moving again. But that’s just a precursor to the point of this posting.

As I said, we always try to be upfront about what we are doing and how we are working to continue or develop a healthier lifestyle. I can say that without a doubt that one of the biggest and simpler ways to eat better is to cook your own food. When Amanda and I met years ago, neither one of us could cook. I think I tried to impress her by picking up some pre-made steak and vegetables and cooking them in my dinky apartment. (She was polite and said it was good, but it was just nasty).

 Amanda over the years has developed into a great cook and healthy eater because on top of learning what foods you should or shouldn’t eat, she also learned to cook. I think people are afraid of learning to cook because they feel like they don’t know what they’re doing and if they’re like me, they are afraid to make a mistake.

 I still am, and that keeps me out of the kitchen most of the time.

 Lately though, I’ve had more free time and this has given me the will to try out new things in the kitchen and learn how to make recipes. For the most part, I will find a recipe i like and then just follow it step-by step. As I get more comfortable, I will improvise, try adding in new flavors or processes, and once i get really comfortable, i get all kinds of crazy. (Amanda loves when I LOVE something, because then I get REALLY good at making it).

 But still, my knowledge is very limited. There are some basic things I can’t do, like cut an onion properly, or tell when an avocado is too ripe. Being left handed doesn’t help either, as I tend to get things skewed, and they look kind of funky.

So for my anniversary gift (which if you can believe was in June), Amanda got me cooking lessons at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE). She had originally gotten me the beginner class, but when I called to sign up, they said it was for people who didn’t know how to use an oven. Literally. So i signed up for the next level, which is what she took and how she learned to cook. It makes me laugh now to think about it because she’s such a pro but when we first moved in together, she couldn’t cut carrots.

 I understand that cooking lessons can cost money and may not seem like the most prudent use of money, but as time goes by I truly believe that a healthy lifestyle can best be achieved in the kitchen. I like my junk food, but I get freaked out more and more when I go to restaurants and have no idea what is going into my meals. Sometimes I turn a blind eye, and sometimes I’ll eat something even knowing that it was prepared under less than ideal standards. But I firmly believe that in order to be truly healthy, one must be willing to get a little dirty in the kitchen (not literally dirty, b/c you should probably practice good hygiene, wash your hands and food in the kitchen…unless you’re into that sort of thing). It may seem daunting at first, but like anything else, all you have to do is try. It’s ok to not get it right the first time, and truth is more often than not the first time you try a recipe it might not turn out that well. But that’s why god created take out.

 My class starts next week and runs Monday-Friday, 10-3. I’ll do my best to report back each day on my progress but promise to give a report at the end of the week.

 Wish me luck.

September 10, 2009 at 3:41 pm 2 comments

The Integrative Nutrition Way of Life

This is the Integrative Nutrition food pyramid. WAY better than the USDA pyramid!

This is the Integrative Nutrition food pyramid. WAY better than the USDA pyramid!

Happy Monday, readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

I graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition on Sunday, making me officially a certified holistic health counselor. I received my certificate, as well as the one from the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and they’re ready to be mounted on the wall.  On Saturday morning, I stood up in front of 1500 fellow students and told them about my sugar addiction, and that I haven’t had a bout of binging or uncontrolled eating since I stopped eating sugar and sweeteners. I was completely freaked out to be speaking to a group that large, but it was also extremely cathartic and exhilirating. Needless to say, I finished up the weekend feeling very proud of myself for all I have accomplished (and grateful for YOU, my supporters, for joining me on this journey)

The school was an incredible experience. I can 100% confirm that my life has been transformed (for the better) and what’s even better that this is only the beginning! I already have my eyes on the next training I want to do, but nothing is official yet.  And in a week and a half, I’ll be done with my microbiology class and I’ll have  glorious month off from school Yessssss!

I had another post prepared for you, however, when browsing the Huffington Post website this morning I came across an article that the founder of IIN, Joshua Rosenthal, wrote.  In it he highlights the 12 steps to a healthy life, and these are foundation of what we learned at IIN (and is also my approach to health and wellness)

Article below, written by Joshua Rosenthal:

I’ve spent over 25 years observing how people eat and what they eat and it’s fascinating. What I’ve noticed is that people are confused and frustrated. One month there will be a study claiming the health benefits of eggs and the next month there will be a study claiming it’s a bad source of cholesterol.

I’m going to give you the non-frustrating approach to healthy eating and living. An approach that will be easy to follow for the rest of your life. It’s based on two little theories that have helped my clients, over 9,000 Integrative Nutrition students and their clients.

Bio-Individuality

For several years I followed a macrobiotic diet and I counseled and taught others to follow these principles to improve their health. I experienced improved health so I truly believed my clients would too. I got very mixed results. Some people experienced better health, but not everyone. So I began to experiment. Some of them got better if they ate more raw foods, while others got better if they ate less raw foods. I realized that one person’s food is another person’s poison.

Primary Food
When I was experimenting with my clients on different ways of eating I came across people who experienced improved health by leaving a dysfunctional career or falling in love. It was fascinating! I realized that there’s more to health than the foods we eat. Yes, it’s good to eat your vegetables, but relationships, career, spirituality and exercise is food for the soul.

These are the two “big concepts” that I’ve found have the largest impact on my clients and students.

However, there are also a lot more detailed concepts you can play with. But remember, in the spirit of bio-individuality, these are not hard-and-fast rules that work for everyone. Try your own take on them and see if they might be useful for you.

1. Drink more water: There is no right amount of water to drink, but generally the bigger and more active you are, the more you should drink. By increasing the amount of water you drink you can significantly reduce cravings, aches and pains and increase your energy.

2. Practice cooking: You might hate me for saying this, but cooking is a fundamental step to healthier living. By making your own meals you know what’s going into them. Meals don’t need to take hours to prepare and involve multiple ingredients.

3. Increase whole grains: Trust me it’s not these types of carbohydrates that have led to the obesity epidemic, but rather the processed goods like doughnuts. Whole grains are some of the best sources of nutritional support and provide long-lasting energy.

4. Increase sweet vegetables: People forget that these exist and they are the perfect medicine for the sweet tooth. Instead of depending on processed sugar, you can add more naturally sweet flavors to your diet and dramatically reduce sweet cravings.

5. Increase leafy green vegetables: These are seriously lacking in the American diet and they are most essential for creating long-lasting health. More specifically they help eliminate depression, improve liver, gallbladder and kidney function.

6. Experiment with protein: The majority of Americans eat way too much protein and mostly in the form of animal meat. Try other forms like beans or soy.

7. Eat less meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods; consume less coffee, alcohol and tobacco: Did you notice I said eat less instead of don’t eat? If I told you not to drink coffee or chocolate you would want it all the more. By increasing your whole grains, vegetables and water you will naturally crowd out the more processed items.

8. Develop easy self-care habits: People get so wrapped up in their busy lives that they forget to take care of themselves. This can be something as simple as a relaxing bath and as nice as a day at the spa.

9. Have healthy relationships: I call love the ultimate superfood. A loving, supportive relationship can nourish your soul. What’s more is when you feel love and happiness you are more likely to eat better. Reach out to that one person who makes you feel loved and nourished.

10. Find physical activity: You don’t need to spend hours at the gym. What gets you moving?

11. Find work you love or a way to love the work you have: So many of us spend 8 hours a day in a job that is unfulfilling and end up stressed out which leads to a slew of health problems. Ask yourself if your job is aligned with your values.

12. Develop a spiritual practice: Some people freak out when I tell them this, but it’s really about connecting with yourself. You don’t need to start going to church or praying every day. Maybe being spiritual means taking a walk in nature. Finding a spiritual practice can help you slow down and appreciate the non-material things in life.

This is the most laid back health program ever, but it really works. You don’t need to follow the steps in order and you can do one step a week. Pick the step that you are most interested in trying. Have you wanted to try a pilates or yoga class? Go for it! Maybe you’ve wanted to experiment in the kitchen.

I also recommend that you don’t do it alone. Everyone has someone in their life that also wants to improve their health. Who is that for you? You can be each other’s supportive coach and hold each other accountable for making the small changes to improved health.

I look forward to working with you on this journey to improved health and happiness.

July 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm 8 comments

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