Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eat Your Greens - Dandelion Greens that is

Dandelion grows like a weed..... most of us have seen it inch up in our precious lawns and we quickly pull it out so as not to spread.  Ah, but the kind of dandelion greens I'm eating are the beautiful fresh long and leafy ones currently available in the produce section.  I like the organic variety.  Here's what I'm doing with this beautiful bunch.

           Dandelion Greens with Warm Hazelnut Dressing
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 2 - 3 cups when trimmed)
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ cup hazelnuts, sliced or chopped
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon balsamic
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim off leggy stems then cut the best leaves into 1" strips.   Wash/rinse well, pat dry with a towel or spin in salad spinner, then place in large bowl. 

For the dressing:  In small skillet, heat EVOO to medium+ (but not high), add garlic and nuts and stir til just below golden.  Then stir in balsamic and salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Easy on the pepper and watch your temp because you don't want to brown the garlic or nuts, you just want them golden and this should happen within just a minute or two. 

Pour hot vinaigrette over greens, toss and serve immediately.   Makes 4 salad servings

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

I love tomatoes

Well, summer has come and gone, but my tomato plants are still yielding so luckily I’m still harvesting! And what do I do with these sweet gems……I make Gazpacho, of course.
There just isn’t anything like Gazpacho from homegrown tomatoes. This photo shows my three tomato plants which I grew in containers on my sunny deck. I had so, so many tomatoes from these three plants. I grew Better Boy, Celebrity and Roma tomatoes. My favorite this year is the Celebrity. They are almost perfectly round and plump and oh so sweet and delicious. (The photo might appear that the plants look straggly and picked over now but you can see there are still tomatoes ready for picking’ even now in mid-September.) (I was so anxious to pick and eat the tomatoes a few weeks ago when they began to ripen that I forgot to take photos while these plants were in full bloom.
And guess what? Gazpacho just happens to be a calorie conscious food and quite delicious with a slice or two of ripe avocado on top! Check out my recipe for Gazpacho in the “recipe” tab on the right column here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Three Years of Blogging, Cooking, Learning and Growing

This month marks the third anniversary of this blog. When I started this blog in July of 2007, I never dreamed I would become a regular food and lifestyle blogger! I just wanted to post a few recipes to encourage my friends to eat better. And now three years later I see that one posting at a time over a period of time translates into a lot of articles....enough material for a book. (Yes, I'm still procrastinating on completing my book....but at least it's "in the works".) I'm not sure how many people read this blog, but I hope someone gets encouragement from it. I can tell you that it has brought me a sense of purpose, accomplishment and joy. Because of this blog I've learned new use a digital camera and import photos here, there and everywhere, I've learned how to use the video component and to upload to the various sites I use and I've become confident in my writing. And most importantly I've been able to share some of my recipe creations for the world to see and use. These are just a few of the rewards I have gotten from posting articles to this blog. I feel a sense of joy that I get to create and have a voice here. Creativity, in and out of the kitchen is one my most important values and I am grateful that I am able to play with creativity often.

A few things I've done in the past year:

I've discovered Vegan cooking. I love the clean, freshness of it. I even sneak in vegan dishes to my clients and then when they taste it they are happily amazed. "Native Foods" cookbook has great vegan recipes that are easy and very, very healthy.

I've built my client base so that I am now working steady as a Personal Chef.

I continue my fitness programs and love the feeling I have of actually "being fit, strong and full of vitality." One of the most important things I've done to that end, is that I started strength training 9 months ago and have done it consistently ever since. I have seen that all it really takes is a little effort to be willing to just pick up those weights twice a week. The benefits I've received are wonderful......most importantly, I feel strong. This has had a huge impact on my success in the kitchen and my ability to perform at a high and fast level, since spending hours upon hours on hard kitchen floors, lifting, bending, chopping, reaching in and out of hot ovens, low cabinets and deep sinks is very physically taxing. Without upper body strength it would be impossible for me to physically sustain energy and stamina.

I tried out for two cooking shows. One of the shows was Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay. I went on the initial interview and they actually called me back for a second interview. I met Gordon (he's actually a very nice man) and although I was not selected in the final round, I was completely happy to even be in the running.

And finally, I've built and expanded my own cooking skills through practice, practice, practice. I am so lucky to have clients who enjoy the foods I prepare and who are willing to experiment with the health conscious way I cook.

Oh, I should not forget to tell you that I purchased an immersion blender and it's been a wonderful kitchen tool. I love that thing!

My herb garden is flourishing now with basil, rosemary, greek oregano, lemon thyme, italian parsley and cilantro. I am also growing 3 types of tomatoes and eggplant. My garden is a container garden, not too big, just enough to keep under control. Next month when my tomatoes are ready, I'm going to make gazpacho. There just isn't anything like fresh gazpacho.

Enjoy your summer and if you need any fresh or email me and I'll pick some and give them to you the next time I see you. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Home Made Salad Dressing

Those bottled salad dressings - and there are many of them on grocery store shelves - taste just that "bottled". If you love to eat a lot of salad, why not make your own fresh salad dressing. It's so easy. Here's a perfect Italian Salad Dressing recipe.

2 small or 1 large fresh garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning**
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put all the above ingredients into a glass screw top jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously until blended. (Or you can put all ingredients into a bowl and use a wire whisk to blend thoroughly.) Makes about 1/2 cup of dressing.

**use Morton and Bassett brand dry herbs. They cost a little more, but they are heavenly. Once you experience the Morton and Bassett Italian Seasoning you'll never use any other brand. It's simply the best.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Get Strong, Stay Young

Here I am again touting the benefits of exercise. I do so from personal experience and dedication.

Six months ago I started Upper Body Strength Training. I've been lifting light weights in 12 different exercises twice a week since September of 2009. When I first started I was using 3 and 5 pound weights, doing 3 sets of 8 reps. Now, six months later, with a nicely toned and firmer upper body (shoulders, arms, pecs, upper back) I look sleek. But more importantly I FEEL FABULOUS! I'm now lifting 8 and 10 pound weights, 12 reps, 3 sets.

Eating good, healthy food and getting exercise that includes cardio work and strength training has been my fountain of youth. I swear by it because I feel great!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A good thing to do in the morning.......

Breakfast is so important -- don't skip it.. If you don't have much time, try any one of these quick morning delights and make it a regular they are highly beneficial to your general health and well being. Notice that each of the following meals combines fiber, protein and fruit.
Breakfast meal #1
Fruit and Toast - yes, it's that simple, and healthy if you purchase a high quality fiber/protein bread like "Milton's Multi Grain". Toast one or two slices and spread Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed butter on it. Also eat one whole piece of fresh fruit, or slice two different fruits and eat half of each. I like to slice half an organic red apple, and a kiwi. I put the remaining half in an airtight container in the refrigerator and have it the next morning.
Breakfast meal #2
Morning cocktail meal - squeeze 1 whole grapefruit. Add it to your blender. Add in 1/2 cup blueberries, one cup soy milk, rice milk or almond milk, and 3 tablespoons freshly ground flaxseeds. Blend very well on high. (Adjust quantities for your personal preference for a thin or thicker drink). There are unlimited variations you can make, get creative!
Breakfast meal #3
Fiber meal - oatmeal is probably one of the best things you can eat in the morning. I do not recommend instant flavored oatmeal as it is loaded with who knows what. Use regular or 1-minute oatmeal, and cook following the package directions. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds atop. Enjoy with a glass of fresh fruit juice.
Breakfast meal #4
Brown Rice breakfast - prepare one or two servings of brown organic basmatic rice (takes about 40 minutes but you can cook it while getting ready for your day). Do not add salt. Serve with Paul Braggs Amino Acid. (If you've never tried this you are in for a treat. It's sort of like soy/tamari, but a lot healthier for you.) Enjoy this with a piece of your favorite fruit.
Breakfast #5
One egg delight - soft or hard boil one egg, make a slice of toast and spread with Brummel and Brown Yogurt butter and enjoy a slice of fresh fruit with it.

Notice there are no bagels here! And there are no unhealthy mystery meats. The above 5 breakfast selections are designed for busy people who want high nutrition, low salt and low calorie foods.

Start your day off right and you are sure to enjoy it even more.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Healthy New Year's Resolution: Eat more broccoli

In the top ten of the world's most healthiest foods is broccoli. Eaten regularly, along with other healthy foods it is touted to help reduce heart disease. That's enough to make me want to eat it, however being the vegetable lover that I am, I eat it because I love it. Usually I lightly steam it and eat it as a side to whatever dish I'm having. Sometimes I eat it raw or simply blanched. And, here's my secret: I drink the water it is steamed in. Yes, that's right.....I drink the broccoli broth. It's actually more like a tea in that it is very subtle in flavor. I'm convinced it holds much of the nutrients from the broccoli.

A few tips about broccoli:
  • when buying broccoli, select florets that are dark green, even bluish or purplish green, because they contain a higher concentration of beta-carotene then pale green or yellowish-green florets. Select broccoli that is firm and not limp.
  • consume both the stems and the leaves as they are good sources of nutrients as well -- the stems are high in fiber and the leaves are high in beta-carotene.
  • when cooking broccoli it is best to peel off the tough outer layer of the stem before cooking (use a potato peeler). Slice them into medium size pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the florets; add the leaves along with the florets.
Don't throw away those stems and leaves.... enjoying them will not only give you added flavor and nutrition, but more broccoli for your buck! And, make it a nutritious ritual to drink the broth.