Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Brunch with Mom: Grain-Free Waffles

I got back to the States yesterday to spend the holidays with my family, and a very special 24 hours it's been. My nephew is taller, my building is being renovated, and my old skin feels familiar and foreign at the same time...an interesting state nonetheless! This morning was rare and terrific, a lovely brunch of waffles with my mom. Even though 10 years ago such a tradition would not have been grain or sugar free, it still provided the same feeling that some things never should change.

Grain Free Flax Waffles w/ Apple Compote

1 cup of ground flax meal
4 eggs
1/2 stick butter or margarine
1/2 cup of almond milk
3 T cream cheese
1/2 t baking powder
6 packets of powdered Stevia (or 1/4 cup sweetener equivalent)
1 t cinnamon
1/4 cup water

  • In a large bowl mix the flax meal and baking powder.

  • In a small pan, melt butter and cream cheese over a low flame. In a small bowl, pour in mixter and whisk in eggs, and milk.

  • Add the cinnamon and Stevia, whisking well.

  • Add wet to dry, and add water to thin the batter (I added roughly a quarter cup).

  • Using a soup ladle, scoop about 2-3 T of the mixture into your waffle iron.

  • Serve with sugar free syrup or a fruit compote. I made a quick apple compote by chopping half an apple and reducing it in some water, cider vinegar, Stevia, and arrowroot.
Yum! Happy Thanksgiving/Frohe Festtage! ~c*x

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Discovering Italian Vegetables...

When I moved to Switzerland I tried to find a German translation for kale, my favorite leafy green. Googling did not help. When shopping I spotted a prickly green that looked a lot like dinosaur kale, called Wirz. I took it home, cooked it up happily, but noted the texture seemed a little tougher almost like collards....because it's not kale. It's actually savoy cabbage, popular in Italy and one of several new veggies that have become a staple for me.

The second was even more eye-catching - the beautiful geometric wonder of Romanesco broccoli. Also from Italy, it is in the broccoli/cauliflower family and in fact also referred to as Roman cauliflower. Sort of broccoli and cauliflowers gorgeous love child :) and so tender it's perfectly crunchy raw or lightly blanched.

Savoy Salad w/ Fried Shiitake Mushrooms and Toasted Seeds

1.5 cups of savoy cabbage or kale
3-4 large fresh heads of shiitake mushrooms
1 small red onion
1 - 2 T seeds and/or nuts (I used walnuts and pumpkin seeds)
2 T + 1 t olive oil
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 drop Stevia liquid (optional)
dry mustard powder
sea salt

  • Wash the cabbage (or kale if using), squeeze, and cut into strips. Then whisk together about 1.5 T of the olive oil with the vinegar, Stevia, mustard and salt. Set aside.

  • Slice the mushrooms medium/thin and dice the red onions.

  • Heat a medium pan and add seeds, toasting for a few minutes. Remove from heat.

  • In the same pan, warm remaining oil (or a pat of butter if you like!) and add the onions and mushrooms. Sautée for roughly 5 minutes before removing from heat.

  • Toss together the cabbage, onions, mushrooms, seeds and vinegraitte. The warm/cool contrast is what makes this great.
Romanesco Broccoli & Savoy Slaw

1.5 cups of savoy cabbage
1 head of Romanesco broccoli
1 small red onion
1 small clove of garlic, minced (optional)
2 T plain yogurt
1 T homemade mayonnaise
1 t apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 t dry mustard powder
1/4 t garlic salt (or plain sea salt if using fresh garlic)

  • Blanch the cabbage for 1-2 minutes in boiling water. Remove to ice water to cool, and blanch the Romanesco for 3 minutes. Remove to ice water.
  • While the vegetables blanch, mix together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard powder, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt. Chill.
  • Dice the red onion, and wring excess water from cooled cabbage.
  • Toss it all together and enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Bit Primal

As in, Primal eating that is. People tell me I'm an old soul, but that may true more tangibly than I know. I find when I eat the foods that have been around for a while - meat, fish, eggs, fresh vegetables - I feel alert, serene, and energetic. When I eat anything with added sugar or that is refined, I become lethargic and impulsive. Try it for yourselves. On days when you have a breakfast of protein/fat, you rarely get the 3pm munchies. I've decided to lay off of grains (even the non-gluten variety) for a few days after a veritable feast and the cravings that followed last weekend.

I realized that what seems to work for me is to eat more like our ancestors. They weren't processing grains into flours or reducing fruit sugars to high fructose corn syrup :) And though saturated fat in excess is unhealthy, the nutrients in lean meats and even beef and lamb can be tremendous compared to that of a grain. Now I'm not a strict proponent of Paleo diets, as I think in small amounts dairy, brown rice and lentils can be beneficial. It's also tricky for vegetarians. Yet I just find that in general we have lost balance to the point where in many shops one can't find anything natural, wheat, or sugar free. Availability is often the second hurdle to staying fit, behind of course awareness of what's good for your body. It is absolutely worth the effort to give your body everything it needs, which I believe the Primal diet does. Another thing I love is that there's no measurement - you learn to listen to your senses. With the satiety from meat or fish proteins, you will then find you don't really need to snack much between meals. And a little fat is fine! After all, the countries that consume the most fat have the lowest incidences of heart disease (grüezi Switzerland, France, even Spain!).

Below is my meal plan for today based (almost) entirely on primal/paleo ingredients. First, breakfast.

Deviled Eggs w/ Spinach Mayo & Chicken Liver Pâté

1 medium boiled egg

1-2 t spinach mayo (recipe below)

2 t chicken liver pâté (recipe below)

Spinach mayonnaise:
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup olive oil
dried mustard powder
apple cider vinegar
sea salt
lemon juice (optional)
spinach, finely chopped

Chicken liver pâté
200 g chicken livers
sea salt
black pepper
olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 - 2 t butter
1 t heavy cream (optional)
1/2 t herbes de provence
  • While you boil the egg(s), make the mayo by whipping one egg yolk. Add a dash of mustard powder, salt, and apple cider vinegar. Then add olive oil in a slow, steady stream until the mixture emulsifies.

  • Continue adding the oil until desired thickness (I had about 1/2 cup), and then mix in finely chopped spinach, salt, and if you like lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate.

  • For the chicken liver pate, salt and pepper chicken livers and then sautée them in a little olive oil on each side. Once they turn color, add roughly 1/4 cup of water and and braise until most of the liquid has evaporated.

  • Let the livers cool slightly before adding to a food processor with a couple of teaspoons of butter, 1/2 teaspoon of herbes de provence and a little cream (optional). Process into a thick paste and refrigerate to cool.

  • Peel and halve the egg. Scoop out the yolks from each side and mash with the chilled mayonnaise and chicken liver paté. Voilá.
On the side I had a couple of seed crackers. For a mid-morning snack, I had a simple protein shake with ice, Stevia and 2 T of cream. At lunch I made a burger (no bun!) topped with caramelized onions and more spinach mayo, with a side of cukes and kohlrabi fries. I snacked on nuts, seeds and (sod it!) some cheese. I try to eat goat's cheese when the urge strikes :)...Then it was time for dinner, when I ate a huge savoy cabbage salad with some fried mushrooms,toasted nuts and seeds. See the recipe above.

All in all, I am pleased with the primal style of natural eating. It's basically the crux of recommended eating plans for those with candidiasis, fibromyalgia, autism, diabetes and a host of other chronic illnesses. I am forced to find creative ways to eat vegetables 60% of the time (rather than grains or dairy). I also feel amazingly focused and energized after a meal for hours, believe me a first for a chronic snacker. I'll definitely stick to this through next month and update with how I'm feeling.

Stay healthy ~c*x