Check out this healthier, still yummy and just as weird looking version.....here
3 layers of tomato flavor in this bowl of yum. Get recipe here.
Try this totally different spin on cheeseburger macaroni...here
I love food.
I mean, I REALLY love food. I pondered why I have such an intense affinity for all things gastronomic. I was not short of answers to my query.
I love to play with my food. When cooking, hands truly are the best utensils. They can work magic rubbing herbs under the skin of a chicken or performing many other culinary tasks like no inanimate implement can. More importantly, there is something therapeutic about making meat loaf or kneading bread dough with my bare hands, like an epicurean stress ball, if you will. Pounding, patting, mashing, mixing. Eating with my bare hands brings pleasure as well, in a primal sense. Plucking mussels from their shells. Scooping up curry into a warm piece of naan. Licking off all the sauce.
I love to smell my food. Some like expensive perfume, give me bacon and onions. Freshly ground coffee evokes a mental happy dance. I even love the smell of garlic. While many stop in the floral department of the grocery store to smell the flowers, I head straight for the living basil in the produce section to catch a whiff. Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg simmering on the stove immediately gives me memories of my favorite season, autumn.
Autumn. Apples. Spices. Warmth. I’ve always loved the seasonality of food. Autumn makes me crave warm stews, such as a chicken cacciatore or coq au vin, enjoyed in good company with a glass of red wine. Wintertime and I’m enjoying hearty breakfasts of nourishing oatmeal with nuts or exploring various hot beverages. With the arrival of spring so comes an abundance of produce and the desire for lighter meals, while in the hot summer I love experimenting with raw foods cooking and making various flavors of homemade ice cream.
I love discovering unique and unusual foods. Fiddlehead ferns, cricket flour, dragonfruit. I’ve tried them and more. Then I want to explore various ways to prepare these new flavors. Techniques are another fun activity for me. If I don’t already know how to do it, I’m ready to learn. Various eating styles intrigue me as well. I can cook and eat raw vegan, carnivorous paleo, and anything in-between.
I love being creative when it comes to food. What else can I turn into French fries? How many different dishes can I come up with that are all purple? What can I do to macaroni and cheese to make it healthier? I love pairing foods. Learning what flavors best go with what flavors so much so that it becomes automatic. Knowing which of these pairings are less common so I can WOW people with my creations, because they never would have thought those things would go together. Pairing wine with foods, yes, but other beverages as well, such as should I have a Darjeeling tea or an oolong with this dish?
I love the history of food. I often wonder who looked at some of the things we eat first and said “I wonder if I can eat THAT”. Let’s face it, some of our foods are not that easy to get into. The person who first shucked an oyster, more than likely with bare hands, must have either been really hungry or really patient. Someone had to be the one to decide to get past the hideous stench of durian to discover it was ok to eat. Oftentimes I laugh at myself because I know the history of mincemeat or how alfredo sauce came into being. I love knowing not only about different cuisines and customs, but subcategories within that cuisine. Chinese food isn’t just Chinese food; there’s Cantonese, Beijing, Sichuan, Mongolian and Hunan, and they are all distinctively different, much like France with its Nicoise, Provencal, Corsican, Alsatian and more. I even love personal traditions and memories with food. I am a trained chef and have worked in the business for many years, yet I will still make Chicken and Dumplings in the same simple and “semi-homemade” way my mother did, because it is the way my mother did.
I love the usefulness of food. Food is so much more to a living creature than tasting good and eliminating hunger pangs. Everything we could possibly need, every nutrient, every medicinal purpose can be found in our food. Certain foods even look like the organ they are best suited to assist. Walnuts, very high in healthful fatty acids, look like a tiny brain, which is the organ that needs those fatty acids, and a tomato, which is good for the heart, has its own four chambers. Real food, the kind that comes from mother earth, is truly our life blood. Healthful, balanced and nourishing foods can heal and repair the body and soul just as quick as garbage, faux foods posing as something edible, can destroy them.
Finally, I love to taste my food. Not chow down mindlessly while multitasking, but truly taste every morsel. I love intense flavors like a tannic red wine, an 85% cacao piece of dark chocolate, hot spice in every possible form you can imagine, sharp cheese, and double shot espresso. I appreciate the lusciousness of red, ripe, juicy strawberries in the height of their season. I love tasting the plethora of heirloom tomatoes or varieties of apples, appreciating the difference in each variety rather than simply seeing them as all just tomatoes and apples.
There are foods I haven’t tasted yet, techniques I haven’t learned, recipes I’ve yet to master. Perhaps this is what I love about food most of all – my learning will never end. There will always be something new to explore. I want to travel mostly for the food. When my husband takes me to his hometown of New York City, the first things on my agenda are to eat my way through Chinatown, have some Brooklyn style pizza, and get some knish at one of the best delis in town. I will not leave this planet until I’ve had pastry in France, tapas in Spain and mezze in Greece. With each new food I gain new experiences and memories that are as important to life as the food itself. Sharing great food and drink with wonderful friends over enchanting conversation in a beautiful environment is truly life’s pleasure. Food is my pleasure.
I love food.
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c shredded carrots
½ c chopped fresh parsley
2 minced cloves garlic
½ c chopped red onion
½ c sunflower seeds
1 ¼ c almond meal
½ tbsp olive oil
1 ½ T Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp fresh oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Smash half the beans. Add the rest of the beans and remaining ingredients. Shape into patties. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Either pan fry, or bake in 350 degree oven for 15 min per side. Put on Bibb lettuce leaves with your choice of toppings.
Do you have a spice rack full of dried herbs? How old are they? Did you know that dried herbs begin to lose potency after a few months? So that 3 year old jar of basil isn’t doing your marinara sauce much good.
Why not grow your own? Fresh herbs add so much more flavor and aroma to your cooking, not to mention they can be beautiful and add a wonderful smell to your home or garden. Many fresh herbs have health properties as well as culinary, and you can also grow medicinal herbs to replace some of the synthetic things lurking in your medicine cabinet.
Growing herbs indoors is a good choice if you have limited outdoor space. You can get small planters or use a window box. Growing them outside works just as well; you can grow them alone in pots or a garden, but they make great companions for flowers and vegetables! When growing with vegetables, they can enhance the flavor of whatever vegetable they are planted with! Try a pizza garden, planting basil and oregano with tomatoes and peppers. Chives can enhance the flavors of carrots. Herbs can also attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. For example, lavender and rosemary are helpful when planting in a flower garden. Some herbs come in different colors, such as sage, thyme and mint, so that can add to your flower garden’s beauty!
Whether planting in the window or outside, take the sun into consideration when deciding what to plant. If your area is sunny and hot, try thyme, coriander, lavender, basil, lemon verbena, dill, sage and rosemary. If the area is shady and not so warm, better choices would be mint, parsley, lemon balm, chives and oregano. It would also be helpful to know which herbs are annuals and perennials:
Don’t forget to plant those medicinal herbs! Many culinary herbs can be used medicinally. Basil is anti-inflammatory and great for joint pain. Tarragon is good for toothaches and tummies. Sage can help with hot flashes and sore throats. Rosemary is full of antioxidants and helpful for heart health. Oregano and thyme are useful for infections, especially respiratory; and do you know why parsley is often used as a garnish at restaurants? It’s because it’s great to freshen breath! You can snip a piece off and chew on it! Other medicinal herbs would be an awesome addition to your garden. They can be used in holistic preparations as well as brewed into teas. Echinacea and astragalus for the immune system, burdock and dandelion for detox, lavender and valerian for relaxation and insomnia, and calendula is a wonderful used topically for wound healing.
Frequent harvesting will help with a thick, hearty growth. Harvest in the morning after dew has evaporated but before the sun gets too hot and dries out the leaves. Be gentle; you don’t want to bruise your herbs. Use immediately or store for later. To keep them fresh, rinse off any dirt under cool water, shake off the excess and pat dry. Treat as you would fresh cut flowers by trimming off excess stems and storing in a vase of cool water, keeping the leaves from being submerged. Store in the refrigerator (except for basil, which should be stored on the counter). Change the water if it becomes cloudy and clip off any yellow, brown or slimy leaves. Drying and freezing are other ways you can store your herbs, especially if you have more than you can handle. I once had a client whose greenhouse was overgrown with enough mint to last a lifetime! If planning to dry and/or freeze, do so soon after harvesting while the herbs are their freshest.
When cooking with your freshly grown herbs, remember than if a recipe calls for dried herbs, you would use three times the amount of fresh. Use them at room temperature for the best flavor. Chop or tear them into small pieces for more even distribution, and add them towards the end of the cooking time. Try making a “bouquet garni “– bundle your whole fresh herbs together and tie with culinary string, or better yet, another herb (chives work well). You add this to your pot and remove before serving.
What are your favorite herbs? Let me know and I’ll get you some recipes!
Its that time of year when everyone starts resolutions, and in a couple of weeks a lot of people will be done with those resolutions. Especially when it comes to healthy changes, I think a lot of people are very gung ho and go all out and try things that aren’t really sustainable long term. The whole concept of dieting implies that there is an end to it. You do things to lose weight or make health changes with the intention of ending those methods and going back to the way you ate before. And some of those methods are extreme. Drinking shakes or eating frozen diet dinners all day, or following a fad diet such as the master cleanse or cabbage soup diet are not sustainable long term. I mean lets be honest, we all love to eat, so who really wants to eat cabbage all day? In addition, very low calorie diets can actually mess up your metabolism, then when you feel like you have been starving and you start eating the amount of calories that you SHOULD eat again, you will actually gain weight. This is why so many people abandon resolutions and ehy diets don’t work.
First of all don’t wait until the new year or even until the next Monday to start getting healthy. I mean how many times have you started a diet on Monday, cheated by Wednesday and resolved to start again the next Monday? Don’t look at it as something you have to begin or end. Just start making small healthy changes now, on a Thursday in april, its totally fine!
You should never go hungry and you should never just eliminate an entire food group. Eat REAL food. Using meal substitutions or prepackaged diet meals may make it easy, but once you start eating real food again you haven’t learned anything you can keep for life. This is one reason so many people start the same resolution again every single year!
An important strategy I have learned is to focus on adding the good habits rather than eliminating the bad ones. Im not saying not to change your bad habits, but if you focus on increasing the good habits, chances are the bad ones will gradually drop off as you get healthier on their own! For example, rather than telling yourself you CANT eat a sugary dessert, focus on adding some fresh fruit to a smaller portion of that dessert. When trying to drink more water and less soda, instead of telling yourself you CANT have the soda because you have to drink water, tell yourself that you are increasing your water intake so you can be healthy, and it just so happens to be replacing your soda. Putting a positive spin on these changes really makes a difference.
Also celebrate smaller achievements. If your soda intake was 6 a day with zero water, and today you had 4 sodas and 2 glasses of water, pat yoursMikelf on the back! If you wait until a goal is completed in its entirety, you aren’t going to notice the small successes along the way, which help keep you motivated.
Don’t concentrate on the number on the scale. Your weight can fluctuate many pounds a day depending on many factors, and you may actually gain a few pounds when you start exercise while your metabolism is resetting before the weight starts to drop, because muscle is heavier than fat. Rather you should notice how you feel, how your clothes fit, and your energy level.
Remember there is no reason you cant eat healthy and still enjoy your food. Learn how to make your favorite foods healthy and start gradually making the changes. Try new healthy foods such as vegetables prepared in different ways. And don’t force yourself to do things that don’t work for you. Hate the treadmill - then don’t do it! If you love to dance let that be your cardio. The keys to success are not depriving yourself or overwhelming yourself with things that just don’t fit in your lifestyle.
Listen in at 49:30 as I discuss the health benefits of apples with Happy News Host Rachel Stovall, along with delicious ways to enjoy them.
It is possible to eat healthy on a limited budget, it just takes some planning and preparation. Here are some tips:
-Save your vegetable scraps and bones during the week. Make a stock with these on the weekend and then use any vegetables that need to be used up, as well as pantry staples to make a great soup for pennies!
-Stock up on nonperishable pantry staples and frozen fruits, veggies and meats when you are able. This will allow you to have a stockpile of items you can use to throw together a quick meal from items you already have in your kitchen when funds are low.
-Larger cuts of meat are usually cheaper. Buy the whole chicken and cut it up yourself instead of already done for you. Purchase roasts and larger, tougher cuts of meat, cooking them in a crock pot and using the meat in a variety of ways throughout the week. See here.
-Buy food that is local and in season. Better yet, try growing some of your own!
-Spend some time each week for meal planning. Sit down with coupons and sale papers and plan your meals around those items you can get at a good price. Stick to your list at the store, and never shop while hungry!
- The "dollar menu" may sound cheap, but it adds up! Almost every cuisine in the world has a version of rice and beans. This is a great inexpensive meal that is also healthy. Get some ideas here.
Here is an article on ideas for a whole chicken, which is cheaper than individual parts and can easily be roasted in the oven on the weekend.