To nourish your mind as well as your body

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, August 27, 2010

Popeye's Favorite Sammy

I recently had a conversation with one of my vegetarian friends about the beneficial bioavailability of iron in beets and it got me thinking. Why didn't Popeye gulp cans full of beets as well as spinach? The truth is, he probably did. He just did it off camera.

In honor of my favorite buff sailor's iron fetish, I invented this iron intensive treat. A meal that will make your muscles bulge and your head do that weird exorcist twisty thing. Okay, maybe not. But it does taste super good. :)

Popeye's Favorite Sammy
(1 serving)

1 healthy bun or spinach tortilla
2 spoonfuls delish beetslaw
5 grape tomatoes
handful fresh baby spinach
1 large spoonful fresh ranch dressing

Fresh Ranch Dressing
(This recipe is one I modified from Cooking Light and use regularly. Makes 1 cup.)

3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 tsp fresh dill, minced
1 tsp fresh basil, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix these ingredients into a bowl and stir well. For a lumpless consistency, throw them in the food processor. I like to make maybe 2-3 times this recipe and keep it in the fridge for salads, etc.

Delish Beetslaw
(~14 servings)

4 beets, cleaned, skinned, and quartered
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large spoonful organic, raw honey
1 cup water
5 cloves garlic
3-4 inches ginger
ground sea salt, to taste
1 package shredded cabbage from TJ's

Add the water, beets, ginger, and garlic to the food processor and chop fine. Remove to a large side bowl. Next add the carrots, celery, honey, and salt to the food processor. Chop fine again. Add to the large side bowl. Stir all together, add the cabbage, and mix well, making sure the cabbage is well coated in the beet juice. You'll know because all that green is going to turn purple from the beet juice. :) Put the bowl in the fridge to chill. You can eat this plain, as a slaw or salad base. Or you can use it as a ;ettuce substitute in sandwiches, like Popeye's Favorite Sammy above. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Frosty Banana "Cream"

My favorite part of eating ice cream when I was younger was waiting for the ice cream to melt through the cone and then eating that mushy sweetness. I love melted ice cream. I've been craving a little sweetness lately and missing those sweet summer days. Here's a raw treat to beat the heat. 

Frosty Banana "Cream"
(3-4 servings)

2 organic bananas, frozen and cut into small slices
handful of raw almonds
1 spoonful organic raw honey
dash cinnamon
1/2 cup almond milk

Blend in your food processor. You can either eat the dribbly, chilled goodness or pour it into a container and stick it in the freezer for a little while. :)


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sumptuous Stuffed Tomatoes

In my delicious biweekly organic food delivery, I received the following items: fresh tomatoes, spinach, crimini mushrooms, and garlic. While I was perusing my take, considering what I could do with these savory delights, the scent of my little basil pot overcame my senses and gave me the idea for this delicious recipe.

Sumptuous Stuffed Tomatoes
(6 servings)

3 tomatoes, halved
2 handfuls raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 generous handful fresh basil
2 generous handfuls spinach
3 cloves garlic
1-2 stalks celery
4 crimini mushrooms, washed and quartered
pepper to taste

Set your oven to 350 F.

Take your pepitas and throw them into your food processor, grinding into a semi-fine dust. It's okay if there are some bigger chunks for crunch. Pour out half the ground pepitas into a small bowl.

Halve our tomatoes and scoop out the juicy innards, placing the "shells" onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Spoon the juicy innards into your food processor along with the remaining pepitas. Add the spinach, basil, celery, garlic, and mushrooms. "Mix" into a paste. You can add salt if you want, I didn't find it needed any.

Using a large spoon to scoop the mixture into the tomato shells. Sprinkle the tops with the saved pepitas. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Go on; have a peace! Have two!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Easy Steak Dinner

I am not eating beef any more. I haven't for a while. I'm actually completely off red meat. My best buddy in the whole world, however, came to visit last week and he likes it. So I threw a quick dinner together for him and he very much enjoyed it. Therefore, I thought I would share it here for your enjoyment. :)

Easy Steak Dinner

top sirloin steak, cut into 1" strips and then cut down into halves or thirds (bite size)
mirin and soy sauce for marinade (1 part mirin to 3 parts soy)
two cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dark sesame oil

Place the steak strips in a tupperware container and fill according to the above ratio with mirin and soy sauce. Close the lid of the tupperware and turn to make sure the steak is thoroughly coated. Allow to marinate for 10-20 minutes.

Saute some garlic in a skillet with dark sesame oil and a splash of soy sauce.

Add the meat and cook until all sides are browned and have stopped bleeding. Pour off the excess juices and serve with something green. Spinach? Broccoli? You could stir-fry some kale with some garlic and lemon juice, that might be a nice side.

Go on. Have a peace!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Guide to Weekly Meal Planning

Planning your meals a week (or even a few days) in advance is a great way to save time, money, and keep a handle on what exactly you're eating. The key to this is the same basic rule you find in bento making. You must allow for colors and you must make sure you are hitting the three main categories: starch, protein, and fiber. And healthy fats. Don't forget the healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, organic peanut butter, flax oil, etc).

My trainer, Leon Lavigne, gives excellent specific advice on when to eat what, but I'll share with you the short and sweet version of his extensive information.

1. Healthy starches (yams, brown rice, oatmeal, carrots, whole wheat bread/pasta, etc) in the morning, fibers (cruciferous veggies like spinach, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, etc) at night.
2. Avoid processed carbohydrates (table sugar, white flour, etc).
3. Eat smaller meals.

You know that reminder: "Don't shop hungry"? With a meal plan and will power, this will not matter. You'll know what you're eating and you'll know it's going to be delicious!

You can make your own weekly meal plan chart or you can use the one I use (which you can download here). The "extras" section on the bottom is where I note things that I haven't yet used from the previous week or leftovers, just as a reminder so I don't forget about them. :)

Hope this helps!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

To Buy Organic or Not to Buy Organic

There's been a lot of discussion lately about buying organic. There are even services that offer to deliver local, organic fruits and vegetables straight to your doorway to encourage organic purchasing (e.g. L.O.V.E. Delivery and Farm Fresh To You). But what does "organic" even mean? And what are the real benefits of going organic?

My science-minded father has a good time shaking his head at "organic" produce and chuckling, "Everything's organic." (The joke refers to the chemical term "organic": noting something that is characteristic of, pertaining to, or derived from living organisms; of or relating to animal or plant constituents having a carbon basis.)  But "organic" in the context of food is actually a term that is defined by the USDA to refer to foods that are grown where the use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and other chemicals is avoided or restricted.

So why buy organic?

A. Buying organic can be a way of "going green". The United States uses approximately 350 million pounds of pesticide a year (agricultural, home, and commercial use) link. The chemicals used end up in rivers and streams, as well as ground water, and affect animals, fish, birds, and people. The EPA classifies more than 40% of the pesticides used in agriculture, home, and commercial use in the United States as "likely, probable, or possible carcinogens". In a world of Brita filters and bottled water paranoia, how are we okay with pouring chemicals into our active fresh water supplies - not to mention poisoning fish, flora, and fauna?

B. Unlike most propaganda will tell you, organic food isn't more nutritious than non-organic food link. The important factor about eating organic foods is that they are far less likely to have chemical residues, which is really important when considering some of the fruit and veggie crops that are usually heavily treated with pesticides. Vegetarian Magazine offered a list of these crops, so I'm sharing it here:

Bell peppers
Imported grapes

The above fruits and vegetables are things you should try to buy organically. Apparently, again according to VM, sweet potatoes, onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwifruit, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, and honeydew melon are not as dangerous non-organically, which I assume means these crops don't receive the same pesticides or, if they do, they are far less affected.

A note on meats:
The USDA has standards for organic meat products which require commonly used agricultural chemicals to a) not be used at all, or b) for a 'wash out' period to be observed before meat and milk from a 'treated' animal can be sold. Health risks associated with meats are generally associated with the fat and cholesterol contents of the meats, not their chemical residues. The USDA regulations do not require that the "organic" animals be treated well.

So what was the point again? Oh, right. To buy organic or not. Personally, I do. The food may not last as long, but since I buy in small quantities - just as much as I need for the next couple days - I end up healthier, happier, and hipper with the green wave. The USDA, in answer to the question "Is organic food safer to eat?" answered "For the most part, yes." The choice, however, is up to you.

All that said, be wary of falsely labeled organic products. If the product is USDA approved organic, it will have a label noting its affiliation. If the label simply says "organic", it may still be organic, but it is not USDA approved.

Have a peace. :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010


All right. So, I'm not exactly sure how to put the index together. I will figure that out. In the meanwhile, I've put all the labels at the bottom of the page. You can click on an ingredient or a topic and it will take you to all of the associated content on the blog. Hope this helps in the meantime while I hassle with HTML. :)


Cashew Crusted Basil Tilapia with Spinach

Cashew Crusted Basil Tilapia with Spinach
(6 servings)

~1.3 lb boneless, skinless tilapia
2 handfuls raw cashews
~3 oz spinach
~10 large leaves fresh basil, divided, roughly chopped
1/4 cup nonfat sour cream (or, for a vegan variety, use Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream non-hydrogenated)
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 cloves garlic, divided, minced
3 tsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Take your tilapia and cut into single serving portions (about 1/2 a filet) laying them out into an 11x15 in baking pan.

Take 2 handfuls raw cashews and "chop" them in the food processor in small chunks. Remove to a side bowl. If there is cashew "dust", leave that in the processor.

Into the dusty processor, add sour cream, lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves, and 5 leaves of fresh basil. Process until smooth.

Heat 3 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Mince the 2 remaining cloves of garlic and brown. Add ~3 oz spinach (unchopped) and about 5 large leaves of basil (roughly chopped). Cook until wilted (2-4 min), stirring gently. Remove from heat.

Spread sour cream blend over the fish evenly.

Lay the spinach over the spread fish evenly.

Sprinkly chopped cashews over top all.

Bake for 28 minutes.

This is simply delicious! The fish came out so flakey and smooth, the whole dish was rich and a real treasure for the tongue. So easy to make and so, so good. Go on! Have a peace!

Scratch your Itch

Earlier this year I was invited to participate in a fun opportunity to get published and help people learn about the editing process - how could I pass something like that up? So I didn't. The result is the "wild card entry" in Volume 2 of Scratch, which is a publication of the 2010 contest's winning short stories.

My short story, "Sawyer's Nest", is the last one in the book, so it's very easy to find. :) If you're interested, Scratch is on sale for $15 at this link. There's some really great writing in there, besides mine.

Have a peace. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Haiku for August

蝉しぐれ家出するには今がよし  前田吐実男
semi-shigure iede suru niwa ima ga yoshi
cicada chorus
now is the best time
to abandon home
                                              Tomio Maeda
from “Haiku Shiki” (“Haiku Four Seasons,” a monthly haiku magazine) ,  May 2010 Issue, Tokyo Shiki Shuppan, Tokyo

Monday, August 2, 2010

Potato Latkes

Just finished the first portion of Critical Mass Performance Group's Polish Project. Inspired by several weeks worth of research, I decided to try to make healthified latkes. Brought these to the rest of my cast and they were gone in a hot second. :)

Potato Latkes
~20 little potato pancakes

1/3 cup egg whites
1 clove garlic, minced
2 green onion stalks, chopped
3 tbsp sweet sorghum flour
3/4 tsp sea salt (more to taste)
~15 turns of a pepper grinder
3.8 lbs small red potatoes, cut into quarters

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Combine egg whites, onions, garlic, flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Shred the potatoes - you can do this using a normal food shredder or you can do what I did and throw them in the food processor with the shredding mechanism on (or not). The main idea is to achieve a coarse consistency. If you use just a normal food processor, use it on pulse and don't let it get too mushy.

Take the shredded potatoes and drain in a colander over a bowl, pressing at the potatoes to squeeze out any extra moisture. [I did this in several waves, dumping the squeezed potato shreddings into the bowl as I finished with them because my colander is teeeensy. :) ] Pour off the potato water from the bowl and there should be a thick, white residue on the bottom. That is potato starch. I used about half of that in my recipe. You can use more or less, depending on your personal taste.

Mix all ingredients together well. Then scoop a large spoonful onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, then flatten it out a bit. You'll want to leave a good couple inches between each pancake.

Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then take out, flip over, and put in for another 15 until they are nice and crispy. Serve with non-fat sour cream or applesauce (the applesauce combo is my favorite) or just munch plain. :)

Go on. Have a peace. Have two. :)