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February 2012

January 2012

Green Onions on Toast?

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This mornings breakfast was delicious , skinny and so easy! Wok steamed asparagus, dressed with truffle oil and a bit of sesame seed. A coddled egg that was poached in 1/4 teaspoon of cream, earth balance 'Butter", fine herbs , a pinch of Parmesan and then the real surprise!
Last night when out with two of my favorite pals , Mary surprised Laura with a vintage Gates Mills/ Chagrin Valley Hunt Club cookbook. The recipes were hysterical! Totally out of date, fun things from the late 50's that our mothers used to make!


There was one that stood out in particular...a classic called " Green onions on toast" three ingredients...green onions, butter and toast. Under the broiler for a few minutes, nothing else . We laughed so hard that we almost choked. Well girls? I stand corrected. Green onions on toast is what's underneath that poached egg. I used earth balance instead of butter, but the flavors were totally complimentary. Silly Mrs. Wagley or whomever she was forgot the most important part:) next week I'm going to try it with the egg and some smoked salmon!

 

Scallions on toast?
Only Five Weight Watchers Points!

Scallions on toast?



Fashion and Food Alchemy!

The first and best news is that since we were last together is that I’ve lost four pounds and Jim’s lost 6 ! We’re so excited and are still really enjoying the diet ! Next stop? Ralph Lauren Blue Label ! Well, maybe not quite the next stop but I’m about 20 pounds away and I’ve promised myself that I’m not accepting any substitutes!

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Wandering around the  5th floor of Bergdorf’s last week I realized just how long it’s been since I really had fun shopping for clothes! My style has changed and it’s not that I mind the way I look, in fact I don’t think that I do too badly for a 52 year whose clothing staples used to be mini skirts and really tight Tshirts! However I want the opportunity to turn down clothes because I just don’t like them, not because I’m afraid to even try them on. I’ve hidden behind expensive perfume and Chanel lipstick  for a very long time and obviously this hasn’t been a poor trade! However eating this well is helping me to see that maybe there’s still a bit of life in me yet and I still want to play dress up, the way I used to when I was just a girl!

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Like I wrote in my last note, I’m not using any particular cleanse. For years I’ve tried everything, but not with any lasting results. I’ve decided to create my own, using a combination of the French techniques that I love , Asian foodie wisdom and a bit of alchemy and last week I bought what I now consider to be the 2nd most important piece of equipment that I own, my Le Creuset Wok ! Talk about a brilliant blending of cultures…and only Le Creuset could do it! It heats perfectly, nothing sticks (and it’s not Teflon!) and it’s not just for stir frying anymore.  I’m using it for quick braising, stir frying and stewing and all of these things I can do using a fraction of the fat. Mostly I’m just using a good nonstick olive oil spray that I buy at Whole Foods. What’s happened is that the flavor just explodes and as someone that’s passionately driven  by her sense of taste and smell this is the most important thing! If it doesn’t taste or smell good, I’m definitely not going to eat it and will immediately reach for the fatty andfilling substitute; 3 cheese, prosciutto and pesto pizza anyone?

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Herbs and spices play a huge role here, and this particular way of cooking serves them well. I use herbs and spices not just for flavor, but for their properties, one little known part of my life is that I trained for over 10 years with one of the most amazing herbalists I’ve ever known, your classic “good witch in the woods” , LaWanna Rine.  

 

She taught me that food IS medicine, long before most 20th century physicians ever thought about it that way.  Everything brewing in her kitchen had a purpose and she wildcrafted most of it as do I to this day; the  exception being  when  the snow is flying. In the winter, that’s what Penzeys herbs and spices are for and if you’ve never tried them, they’re  absolutely wonderful. Their spice and herb blends can make a decent cook out of anyone who thinks that they can’t cook.  I do use supplements but my tastes prefer them as close to the origins as possible when I can get them that way. Real food is live food and that’s what I believe that you need to create real wellness.

 

 These days I’m drinking a simple tea in the evenings evening that I make from fresh ginger root, cinnamon, valerian and honey which settles my stomach, relaxes me and balances my blood sugar so that I’m not ravenous come morning, which means that I’m getting a much better nights sleep. It also smells and tastes incredible which is all part of the process. Fairly soon I’ll begin drinking my favorite morning cleansing drink which is pineapple juice, fresh chard, lemon juice, a 1/4teaspoonful of good olive oil, Chinese five spice powder, honey and cinnamon, which a healthy dash of homemade bitters and believe it or not a teaspoonful of French green clay! I take all of it and throw it into my Vitamix with a handful of ice and blend quickly.  It’s delicious and the French clay is one of the best detoxifiers that I use, having literally brought animals (and friends) back from brink of death and real illness with the stuff. There’s nothing better in an emergency situation where an animals been poisoned, the stuff draws out impurities like no other. I tend to avoid commercial smoothie and mixed drink powders, because every time I try them I hate the taste, but occasionally I will add some nutritional yeast and lecithin.  

 

Come March I’ll be talking about wild ramps ;  a delightful forest garlic  which is one of the best blood purifiers that I know and I love to stew with chicken for a really healthy broth. This year I can’t wait to put them to the test in my new wok. The flavors and aromas that I get with wok cooking surpass my expectations and bring a new depth to my experience of cooking. For me cooking is alchemical, much like some of the natural perfumers that we love. A bit of sage, a pinch of fresh rosemary and a few lavender buds stewed with a bit of white potato and leek turn a simple chicken breast into a fragrant and soothing dish that settles my stomach easily.

 

That same chicken breast, piece of tofu or fish when it’s quickly stir fried with a bit of bok choy, sweet potato, onion, garlic , chopped peanuts , cayenne, cinnamon, ginger and allspice turns into a very warming dish that doesn’t need anything extra in the way of carbs and is completely satisfying on a really cold evening without any of the bloating side effects. For anyone allergic to peanuts I’ve discovered spicy tamari pumpkin seeds; these are so satisfying for anyone with a ground nut allergy. 

 

The final piece of the puzzle is presentation. Make sure you sit down to eat, put everything on a pretty plate, use a cloth napkin (better for the environment) and treat yourself well because you deserve it! Put on a yummy perfume! ( Today's scent is Opium!)  Turn on some music.  Chew and breathe. Relax and make everyday into a day for candles and wine (or a steaming cup of herbal tea!)! This is about having a real relationship with your food and allowing it to love you back. If you’re joining me on this journey, leave me a comment and let me know how you’re doing! It’s great to have playmates and I’m thankful for you all!

 

Eat Well, Be Well, Live and Love well!

 

Beth

 


New York Breakfast!

It's about 12 degrees and I didn't want to send Jim outside into the brutal cold without something to really put some fire in his belly! This was fast( 10 minutes!) and delicious!

Half a sprouted grain bagel, vegan cream cheese, one lightly scrambled egg, no butter, tomatoes ,onions , fresh dill and a a slice of really great gravlax...now if only there was a French press pot of Viennese coffee being air shipped from Bouchon.......

For those of you counting Weight Watchers points...7

New York Breakfast!


Cleanse? What Cleanse? I can't do a Cleanse! (Or can I?)

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2012 has marked a turning point in my life. I'm 52, still not satisfied with my weight loss but overall very satisfied with my health. We had an incredible holiday, ate like horses and generally overindulged to the point that when we got home from our whirlwind east coast journey things were definitely a little bit tighter. Then to add insult to injury Alex looked at me when we were riding horses a few weeks ago that "Mom, if you don't lose 20 pounds you're going to shorten your riding life by at least 15 years..thats over a pound and a half per year MOTHER!" Now Alex is no paragon of virtue but he knows me and he's right. I would be devatasted to lose my ability to ride. Also around that time my niece reminded me that I absolutely know how to eat right but it's just a matter of will. She's right too...I've just been a bit lazy. So armed with those thoughts and a committment from my son to do it with us (He's given up alcohol and cigarettes for a couple of weeks) Jim and I have begun a food cleanse. 

So to start here's where we are:

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Maybe both of us are a few pounds lighter than when these were taken but only a few pounds....like 2  a piece:)

I'm only teasing about the scary part. I really have no body hangups, generally loving to be naked way more than clothed but scary is realizing that I'm middle aged and that I may not be able to rely on my usually present health. I've been lucky and I want to prevent what I can. So we've tossed out the rule books and gone back to some good old common sense. I'm not a nutritionist and I don't pretend to be, but I do know alot about food and creating a life that you'll love. When I apply those thoughts to this it becomes easy. Beautiful food, Beautiful tablesettings, helping you get back into relationship with what you eat. I love food so much that I'm always astonished when people don't. I've got several friends that really hate to cook and it's a dilemma for them. If you fall in to that category I've got easy ideas and thoughts for you too!

So our cleanse is a bit of a hybrid and I'm definitely not following anyones diet. I've been vegetarian/ vegan on and off for a few years and it's not a utopia, you can still carry alot of weight as either. It's just my preference as an committed friend to animals ,but I've had to find a way to make veganism work for me. It doesn't always because during different times of the month my body craves that sort of protein. Sometimes I can make the substitutions work but when I can't I let myself eat what I want, figuring that my body knows best. Sometimes that's vegan, sometimes that's vegetarian and sometimes that's completely Raw Food and sometimes that's meat. That puts me at about 90%/10 % and sometimes that changes. Do I think that it's one of the best ways possible to eat if the food is prepared well and combined correctly? You bet. I feel great when I'm eating minimal amounts of flesh and dairy. (We don't snore either..a huge plus!)

  What we are eating is what I've taken to calling Spa Food, because that's essentially what it is. There's a reason that you lose weight and look great during a time at a great spa. The food is minimally prepared, but it's fresh ,flavorful and absolutely gorgeous, uses only the tiniest bits of oil and dairy (if any) and hardly any sugar. Very little meat and if anything, really fresh fish. Lots of vegetables, plenty of fresh fruit and lots of water! Hardly any alcohol and very little caffeine. I'm using plenty of French technique and Asian food intelligence to create meals that are light, flavorful and satisfying. Another one of my rules? If it's not delicious it's not passing between these lips. We've got one splurge night a week where we can eat/drink what we want and enjoy it, in moderation, from soup to nuts! We're supplementing with great vitamins and herbals but I find that whenever I'm on a great diet I need way less of them. Let your food be your medicine right?

I'm not hungry and neither is my ever ravenous husband. The alcohol part is tougher but that's because we're used to having wine with dinner all of the time. I've begun to really appreciate though just how clearheaded I am without it and I'm not willing to have the puffy bags under my eyes return. I am just amazed by how flat they are... 

So my goal is to lose 25 pounds and my husbands is about the same. Sor far he's down 4 and I'm down three and it's only been about a week and a half. We weigh in on Sunday so I'll be weighing with our successes. Attached is my very first podcast...so many of you have seen it and responded so favorably and I am grateful.

 

So my parting thought are make every meal count, sit down and enjoy them with someone you love. Chew slowly and remember to breath. Enjoy your food, just less of it and eat what works for you. there's no set formula , that is until you get really sick and  that demands a huge life change. Why not do it yourself first, before something happens and then eat what you love on occasion.  I'll see you again very soon!

Be well, Eat well, Live and Love Well,

Beth