Monday, February 23, 2009

Grapefruit, Avocado, Yogurt Delight

Combo always triggers a wrinkled brow when suggested, but always a smile once tasted (well, if you like the ingredients to begin with).

I learned to make it like this:

Peel and section the grapefruit like an orange. Peel off the skins so you have the tender inside bits bare naked, in their full slice form = Very Pretty.
Slice avocado
Place both on a plate in a pretty arrangement
Add some honey to yogurt to make it a bit saucy, then pour over the avo and GF in a perty artful fasion.
Sprinkle with nutmeg

I'm lazy. Plus I am addicted to nuts, adding them to lots of things for the crunch factor. Over time, the recipe and execution morphed into:

Slice GF in half. I lurve the Red variety. Get GF spoon (one of those little suckers with the knife-y edges on it). Take out the tender morsels in whatever way you can get them...if intact, great, if not, it works, too.
Slice avo (I usually use a half per person)
Put GF, avo, and a handful of almonds in a bowl.
Slop on yogurt (Nancy's is best....good tang)
Put a dab of maple syrup on (not too much...just a dab)
Sprinkle tons of cinnamon on top (helps with that glycemic stuff)
Stir so all sludged up.

Divine. Had it, this morning. Yum.

photo from here

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Fine Art Of Yogurt Pairing

I don't make yogurt from scratch. I've tried it, but found that the cost/benefit ratio of making it, given the varieties easily available to me, isn't worth it. Plus, somehow mine does not taste as good as the stuff I can buy.

Let me be clear...I don't mean Dannon yogurt. In nosying around google search, I found documents where Dannon says it's only gluten free yogurt is the plain. While not a consideration for everyone...I gotta ask...why the hell put gluten in yogurt...or any of the other crap that's not needed?

ANY yogurt eaten should contain...and ONLY contain...milk and bacteria. One kind I eat regularly has milk powder, too, but I count that as milk without the water. But that's it. No sugar. No corn syrup. No aspartame. No cornstarch, fructose, gelatin, malic acid, phosphates (are you kidding me??? phosphates???) and other stuff that's derived from other real food that are whole...but the stuff isn't. It's chemically processed. It's not nessary. And, the biggest affront of all: it makes for an inferior tasting product. What the heck is wrong with these cheaterly thickened, sweet milk, fake, yogurtlike stuff producers?

Rant over.

The bacteria that digest the milk into yogurt for us are our friends. They break down the unhappier elements of dairy that so many want to avoid and help us grow a happy intestinal tract with all their little lactobacillus glory. I love the way my daughter put it..."Mom..I love eating my bacteria poo every morning." ...the circle of life....


There are tons of different kinds of (non-Dannon) yogurts. I only buy nonsweetened, plain yogurt. Why? Because the sweetened kinds, even the healthy ones, are too sweet for me. Definitely too sweet for my morning meal.

Over the years, I've learned a lot about yogurt, eventually figuring out and discovering the Art Of Yogurt Pairing. These days I always have three kinds of plain yogurt in my fridge, available for different kinds of dishes.

Nancy's Organic Plain Non-Fat Yogurt

I tend to buy non-fat yogurt, not because of the fat content issue, but of the protein content one. If you look at the labels, you'll find that buying nonfat amps the protein by a factor of two, usually more. It's also tangier, if you want that. I, obviously, do.

You'll notice that Nancy only sells plain, vanilla and a honey yogurt. If she offers fruit, it's in a separate container on top. Nancy is the one who adds the milk powder.

I've been buying her product for over two decades. It used to be the only kind of yogurt I ate. My kids devoured it.

We consumed it in all sorts of ways in addition to simply adding fruits.

Indian food- I find it the best for raita because it's pretty tangy and not too thick. It makes outrageous lassi's. These are yogurt drinks. Put yogurt (1/4 cup or so), water, a drop of honey or maple syrup into a blender. Blend until the consistency you want it, adding more yogurt or water as the case may be for you. Indian restaurants usually add a drop of rose water. Quite yummy, if you ask me, but be careful how much you add. My kids usually put in way too much for my tastes.

Sour Cream replacement...if you are one who thinks the fats in sour cream are not what you want to put in your body but love the taste, adding yogurt instead totally changes that for you. You can still have the taste of the cream but instead of adding tons of fat, you are adding indesputable goodness. I have used it in my Gillette's Grandma's World Famous Sour Cream Coffee Cake (which has been dubbed the best coffee cake in the world by more than one person fortunate enough to have tasted/gluttoned on it and which may or may not be shared here as it's a closely guarded family secret ).

It is great for breakfast with puffed corn or rice, almonds and honey. Just add ingredients and sludgify.

It sill remains my favorite pairing for bananas, coconut and almonds. Or pineapple, coconut and almonds. The tangies complement the sweetnesses. No additional sugars are needed.

Nancy's is the ONLY variety to perfectly pair with my absolutely favorite way to eat yogurt these days: Grapefruit And Avocado Salad. Will share that recipe tomorrow.

So, as I mentioned that I used to only eat Nancy's. This was until the arrival of Trader's Joes in my life. We lurve Trader's Joe's for all sorts of reasons, one of which is these products:

Trader Joe's Plain Organic Non-Fat Yogurt

It's the best one for berries and berries are why I buy it. It's actually in a white container with the same cow, but I could not find an online pic. It's pretty bland, without the tang of Nancy's. It's runnier than I tend to like my yogurt, kind of like Pavel's Russian Yogurt, which I like but is not available at TJ's. But it's perfection for Blueberries and/or any other sort of berries. I always add nuts to my fruit/yogurt mixes. Because it's yummy-er. And because of the health benefits of adding a fat to counteract the sugars of the dairy and fruit high glycemic response. I find walnuts to be the best nut pairing for the berries. If I want things sweeter, for some reason I always use Stevia as the sweetener of choice for these berry/yogurt concoctions. And always cinnamon (again...aside from the yum factor it helps with the insulin response).

It's a good one for the raita, too, especially if you want it more saucy.

Trader Joe's Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

I got introduced to Greek Yogurt in Greece. It was Fage. OMG!!! Heaven...peaches and full fat fage on a boat at harbor in the Medterranian. It was sublime, creamy goodness.

I got home and Good Ole Fage wasn't around much in these parts, yet. It also costs an arm and a $5+ for a small container.

Then when TJ's came to town, I saw that they carried not only it, but their own, expensive-but-still-relatively-cheap-to-the-Fage Greek Yogurt. The picture on the right was pilfered from this blog. And the price is still pretty steep as you can see. But to this hedonist, it's money well spent.

This stuff is amazing. Greeks definitely have their yogurt down. If you put it on a fork, it sticks to it. Plus, if you buy the non-fat, it's got tons of protein.

I use this for treats. Like on top of my non-wheat crepes with fruits. And my Cooked Fruit Desserts. It's not as tangy as Nancy's, not as bland as TJ's cow stuff above. A dab is amazing on black beans, rice and salsa as a sour cream replacement. In fact, these days, if I use yogurt as a sour cream replacement, I use this stuff as it's more like sour cream than the Nancy's.

I usually have at least two containers in my fridge at all times for yogurt emergencies. Beyond yum.

And it's also fantatic all by its lonesome right outa the container. Or with peaches on a sailboat in any lake close to where you are.

I'm sure there are tons of new yogurt pairings to be discovered and explored. Would love anyone who comes by to share their favorite yogurt experiences.

Be well and give great thanks for the little bacteria.

Monday, February 16, 2009

'Tater Soup

It's been raining for days. Love it. Soup weather.

I don't know about you, but I get on craving jags with different soups each year. Three years ago it was Gypsy Soup (garbanzos, peppers, tomatoes and spicies). Last year it was Lentil with Kale. This year it's 'Tater Soup.

Ah, the potato...such a maligned food. I believe it's gotten its bad rap from the reductionist nutritionists who take everything down to molecules, forgetting that we know about 1/100th of what there is to know about the synergistic aspect of whole foods. (another ranty sort of post in the making about that one!)

Yes, it's a high glycemic index food. But when combined with fats, that aspect of it is toned down. It's high in vitamins, a "...source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.

Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals." (this quote taken from here, wherein you can read even more about the wonders of Mr. Potato).

This soup is amazingly simple. I got it from one of the two friends I've dubbed "My Iowa friends." It's actually, in the end, simply mashed potatoes in a soup base with cream and butter. I'm not much of a mashed potato sorta gal, but this soup...ah this soup. It invokes safety, cuddles and groundedness. My body feels happy after eating it. Yum.


5ish pounds of potatoes
A large onion or leeks ...depending on how alium-y you like your soup...I generally use two large leeks, sliced small or minced
Water or veggie broth to cover potatoes
Butter- a stick, preferably organic and NOT margarine
Cream- preferably organic
French Sea Salt
Parsley (if you want to get fancy)

Cut potatoes into a number of different sizes. When I first started to make this, I cut them all uniformly. I learned to cut about half of them in very smallish under 1`/2 inch. Then cube or whatever, the rest in larger pieces...closer to 1 1/2 or so. This way the smallish pieces fall apart to make a thick broth, but you still have the larger pieces to get hunkies of potatoes, which makes the soup satisfying.

Put potatoes and alium in pan. Cover with the broth or water. Cook until the large potato pieces are tender but not falling apart. Put in butter, and enough cream to give the broth some color, to taste. Add other stuff and serve.


As I use this for the main course of my meals, I want some protein. So I had this idea to put fish in. I got totally addicted to Psarosoupa (fish soup) in Greece. This is a much simpler way to make it and the fish does not overpower. I never had that problem in Greece, where each family has their own recipe, but when I tried to make it, I guess I overcooked the fish stock or something. Plus, my understanding from a couple of cooks over there, they use this really small fish to make the stock and we don't have it here. This recipe of potatoe soup tasted close enough to those traditional soups to bring back memories of balmy nights on the beach tavernas after a day of sailing. I use Rock Fish or Cod. Cook up (I generaly fry/steam it in Grapeseed oil). Add to the soup after it's in the bowl. If I have leftovers, I store the fish seperately and add at the end of heating up the soup so as to warm it but not recook it.

You can also add other veggies. My daughter makes an Italian version of the soup with kale and Italian sausage, fewer potatoes and more cream.

While the variations are wonderful, for me, it's the simplicity of the potaoes, and the mild fish that keep calling me back. Yup...this is what's for dinner tonight. I'm trying it in the crockpot for the first time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Me And Meat

Yeah. So...vegetarianism. Almost always associated with healthy eating. Often a cause for which people are willing to do all sorts of reactionary deeds, from trying to convert others to "The One Right Way" to attacking fur wearing individuals.

To them I say: Yawn. I see you as Vegeterrorists.

Gillette at age 16....reading all sorts of esoteric treatises from all sorts of spiritual paths about that "One Right Way." One Teacher said that since all of Life is energy, and that everything is connected, when we eat the flesh of something that has been killed, we eat the energy of trauma that the animal felt when it was in the stock yard and then cruelly killed. Didn't appeal. I started the process of stopping eating flesh.

Chicken was easy. My Mom and I used to get KFC and put it in the oven to crisp up. Yum. But then there was the issue of veins snapping back when I would eat the legs. Eeeuw. It was the first to go.

Then I let go of beef. Not a well received decision, given that my grandparents were in the cattle raising business. When I was a kid, I used to cry hearing the young steers braying in the fields at weaning and de-balling times. But yeah...tongue sandwiches. Burgers on the grill. "Rocky Mountain Oysters." Pickled Pigs Feet. Steaks. This was my Midwestern legacy.

So there I was, age 16...the Teenage Vegetarian Weirdo smack dab of middle America in 1972. I was a freak. The last thing to go was crab on my birthday at age 17. But I was ready.

My lacto-ovo vegetarianism was not something I found difficult. I am such a hedonist, that if it had been, I probably wouldn't have been one for 28 years. I never missed flesh. Didn't want it.

Until I hit age 45-6ish. For some reason, all of a sudden I wanted fish. Or as I call it...feesh. I then went from cooked fish to sushi in about three months.

In the interim, I never proselytized. As I have said, I don't care what you eat. It's none of my business. I also think that some bodies require meat to be whole and healthy, others don't. Sorry...I simply don't believe there is only One Way. (even though, as I have clearly indicated, I do have my opinions...and that, obviously, my opinion that there isn't only One Way is, itself, an indication that I think that "The Way," yes?...ah...Gillette...).

I am now 52. I enjoy all sorts of feesh and seafoods. Since age 50, I've been trying more land animals. I'm able to consume a bit of fois gras (because when I do, it's at a top notch restaurant, with an amazing wine pairing and accompaniments). I've made pate at home and can have one bite. I'm able to eat a small, couple bite lamb chop and then I'm done. I tried one steak at The French Laundry. Got down two bites and then I was done. Word has it by my two steak eating companions that it was the best on the planet, so my guess is it's safe to say I'm not a steak fan. Venison, the same. I'm able to eat small pieces of pork items in small amounts in things that disguise it.

I'm not sure if I will ever want a full portion of land animal food. I don't force myself, I merely listen to urges and experiment. It's all about fun.

I don't usually talk about my preferences in the flesh department but I am doing so here to explain one aspect of this blog. Although I've always lived with meat eaters and cooked for them, I don't taste the stuff so have no idea if the dishes are good or not. The eaters tell me they are. And they eat the stuff. And they are not polite enough to eat crap, so I believe them.

I confess, I've never gotten the beef thing down. Anything but hamburger in small bits and chicken fried steak always end up tough. Ironically, even though chicken is the LAST thing I would eat (ba-luck, veins), my kids all say I make the best chicken they've ever tasted outside a high end restaurant. Go figure.

But the upshot is that you won't find much in the way of recipes of the landlocked/airborne flesh sort here.

Unless I start to eat more of them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kale, Feta and Sun Dried Tomato Scramble

The current favorite incarnation of the Sublime Scramble. If you've never made a scramble before or want some new tricks, see about the basics here.

I generally make this for one (that would be me. There is usually a bit left over for a mid-morning snack the next's good cold, too):

Eggs- 2
Kale- 1 1/2 c current favorite is the curly variety. Dino is good, too....well...actually they're all good
Leeks- 1/2-3/4 c raw
Mushrooms- three large crimini or any other sort
Garlic- as much or little as the mood strikes you
Sun Dried Tomatoes-about 2 TBS...the best I've tasted are the Julienne Strip ones from Trader Joe's. Yum.
Feta- about 2-3TBS
Fresh basil leaves or pesto to taste
Walnuts- to taste...I generally do about 1/4 c
Hot chili peppers (if'n you like yer food spicy)- to taste
Oil- preferably olive or grapeseed..1-2 TB

Chop all veggies. Mince garlic if you use it. Put oil in pan. I put all the veg in at the same time for this one. Stir and cook, watching that the kale doesn't stick and burn...might want to add a couple of TB of water after a few minutes of sauteeing to steam it.

When veggies are cooked to your liking, add the eggs, the cheese and the tomatoes. Scramble until thickened to your desired tastey doneness.

Top with basil, walnuts, and chilis if you desire.

Great with green tea or a cup of good, strong coffee. Also goes great with a piece of Essene bread toasted, with almond butter.

Put on some nice classical music in the background, sit by a window looking out over the great Earth and enjoy this most wonderful way to start the day with all senses aglow and happy healthy food in your belly.

Picture of curly Kale from here This site looks great for gardeners!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sublime Scramble

Ah, breakfast. If we believe Jack and others, it's the most important meal of the day.

Scrambles. My favorite.

One of the things I like about them is that they can be the repository for that little bit of leftovers all mishmashed together with a bit of cheese and seasonings to create an endless variety of tasty breakfast meals. The end result is that they end up more than the sum of their pieces and parts. And what better way to get in a bunch of veggies?

In fact, mine are generally mostly veggies, with the egg barely holding them together. Since crunch is one of my favorite flavors, I almost always put in some sort of nut. Always a cheese. Usually an herb or two...when possible, sprinkled fresh over the top. Sometimes I even put in leftover grains. They truly do taste yummy with the egg, even though they don't sound like they would. I'll be sharing different combos I've developed, but would love to suggest that you be bold and give things a try. You might be really surprised at what you come up with.

Basic cooking directions-

Most of mine have some sort of allium- onion, shallot, garlic, scallion, etc. These days my allium of choice is leeks. I'm addicted. I know the most American's are most familiar with them in soups. But they're great sauteed. Just cut the greenest stem off and mince, cooking like you would any onion.

Chop other veggies. For a single serving, I generally use 1-2 eggs (two ends up being too much food for me, but they're good cold, for a healthy snack). Veggie amounts? Raw, I usually have 2-3 cups with every thing combined. They cook down. If you want meats, then get them together- cook your bacon and crumble, get your ham in bite-able hunks, whatever. Get out your nuts, cheese and herbs. Lightly whisk the eggs. Everything is now eager and happy to be combined to sublimeness.

Put oil in your pan (butter, olive, grapeseed, etc.). You want enough to give it some oomph, but you don't want overly oily scrambles. I usually use about a TB of oil for a single serving. I'm not that worried if there's a bit more because healthy oils are GOOD for me. But I want it to taste good. It's all about the taste.

Heat the oil...medium heat is OK, but watch it. Put in the allium(s) for a minute. Then add the other veggies. If you have veggies that take varying amounts of time to cook, put the more hardy ones in first and cook for awhile, like you would do with a stir fry. If I have kale (which I generally do), then I will often put in some water (2-3 TBS) for it to steam as I don't want it to stick and burn.

You want the veggies to be slightly undercooked, still having substance and taste. You can tell when they're ready when they are bright colored and/or you take out a piece and it's a little less cooked than you would normally like it. (If you aren't a cook, ultimately all this stuff becomes second nature, but everything takes time to learn.)

When the veggies are in their perfect state of delicious doneness, add your whisked eggs and the cheese. Cooking the cheese with the eggs( instead of adding it at the end to melt) renders a different quality to the dish. It's these subtle differences which all add up to something being amazing vs. good. These things are Important.

We all have our preferences in eggs. Some are quite passionate about it and will send their eggs back if a restaurant over or under cooks them. I, myself, prefer my scrambled eggs a bit on the side of overdoneness. Just watch them. When they are your verson of perfect, happy eggy goodness, serve, adding nuts either at the end in the pan or simply on top. I usually add my herbs after serving.

Voila...protein, veg, vitamin goodness all rolled up into a far better breakfast scramble than you can find at any high end restaurant. And oooh...the endless possibilities for discovering new, uncharted tasty combos...!!! Makes me very happy.

(And darn I wish I had a camera. Not much in the stock photo department with egg scrambles. Will post one when I get one)

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Flavor Of Food Snobbery mostly about me and what I'm willing to put in my mouth.

I eat whole foods. Usually organic. Usually locally grown fruit, veg and nuts. Why? Partly because they are healthier for me. Partly because I can as I live in California in an area which grows just about everything. Mostly because they simply taste better (once you allow your taste buds to remember what real food tastes like).

I eat real, whole oils and fats. I avoid sugar and other foods that adversely affect me (wheat, corn and some other grains). This does not mean I never eat them. But I know when and how I will pay the price if I do.

Yeah, I have a can or four...I'm not completely neurotic about this stuff it's just how my life evolved given my choices. But my pantry has very few boxes and cans. Most of my food comes in bulk or without packaging. I do most of my cooking from scratch. It's not difficult and (usually) doesn't take as long as advertised. It's worth it to me. It tastes better. And for this hedonist, it's gotta taste good or I spit it out.

I don't care what you eat. It's your body and you get to do what you want with it.

But that does not mean that I don't have opinions. (Gee...imagine that? A Leo with an opinion!)
And I have more than a few in the food and nutrition department.

And I do get a different kind of snobby then the just me snobby sort from time to time.

Just being honest.

Where does my impatient food snobbery show up?

-If you tell me that all sweeteners are the same
-If you tell me that eating canned veggies is the same as eating fresh.
-If you tell me that the only thing that matters in losing weight is the caloric count of a food
-If you tell me you are depressed or bi-polar and have to be on meds when you eat a diet that consists primarily of chemicalized shaiza...or that your ADD child is not affected by the abysmal lunch you pack for him...and you are unwilling to TRY to eat healthily before turning to meds that are dangerous
-When I hear that real food somehow doesn't taste as good as crap food
-Or that it's too expensive to eat healthy
-when people tell me their M.D. said it's perfectly OK to eat shaiza...when I know allopathy knows very little about food and how it works
-When people tell me that low fat foods are good for me...or margarine...or Splenda

And I know there are more. I'll be addressing all these in future posts, but mostly focusing on the fun stuff.

We are what we eat.

I want The Best for my body. That means I want it to taste better than just good. That also means I want it to be a good thing for my health.

I admit it. I am a food snob. But a cute one. Usually.

image from here

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Good Day!

I've been blogging in the relationship/sex blog world for a few years now. I love food and consider myself a cute, unpretentious food snob. I've been thinking about starting a foodie blog for some time now. And we go.

The header art is by Frieda Kahlo. It's been cropped from her painting "Still Life With Parrot."

My intention is to combine art, food (both that I cook and from restaurants I may visit) and fun. I have no clue as to where this will go. Unfortunately I don't have a camera at this time (mine's broken and has not been replaced). So pics will have to be stock for the time being.