Are You A Food-Centered Family?

We are well into 2015, and I finally got a chance to mentally take in the gifts I received over Christmas. So much is going on in my family, and in everyone’s family, over the month of December: traveling from one coast to another, traveling from one house to another, eating at, possibly, every new spot in Cleveland, Ohio, buying and giving gifts, sending and getting Holiday cards, carting Monsieur all over the country (kind of), dealing with a stolen wallet (fortunately that doesn’t happen every December), and the million other things that make up the busiest time of the year. It seems that with so many things going on, it’s easy to miss out on the things going on around us.

One of the gifts I received was Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2013 from my mother-in-law. I love these annual cookbooks. I get to pull out the old magazines I’ve been saving and transfer any notes of mine from the magazines to the cookbook, and then send the magazines off to a good home. It makes me feel so organized.

The note from the editor, Scott Mowbray, caught my eye from the October 2012 publication. “Sign of a food-centered family: During one meal, they talk about what the next meal will be.”  Hmmm.  This idea was brought up while he was interviewing Chef Ming Tsai.  Chef Ming explains how important food was to his family, and his Dad would always take photos of the food they shared.  Ahead of his time, right?  Mowbray notes that we, hopefully, eat about 82,000 meal throughout our lives, and we should remember them.  I would add to that point that we should respect them as well because meals are more than a plate of food in front of us.  Think about a family meal – it indicates we are healthy enough to enjoy a meal, we have money in order to purchase what is in front of us, and we have loved ones surrounding us.  Now being food-centered can turn a little crazy quickly, and we’ve all been there, too.  For example, I’m sitting with my family at a restaurant for lunch and we start talking about what we will eat for dinner, or I’m out to dinner with friends and I start discussing lunch options for the following day with my husband.  There is a fine line between enjoying a moment and taking it in and rushing through a moment in order to get to the next moment.  I hope I take the time with each eating event, and I will be more mindful that I do so in the future.  But this does not mean I will stop thinking or discussing the next meal!  Again, it’s that fine balance between appreciating and anticipating.  I think it can be done in a healthy way.

But this editorial note got me thinking: Is everyone like me, Chef Ming, and the Cooking Light editor?  Does everyone think about the next meal while they are still seated at a table?  Is this common?  Of course I love cooking and eating, so every meal is usually an adventure for me.  Why wouldn’t I look forward to the next one?  And if you are reading this, you probably feel the same way about food.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

And in the spirit of thinking about the next meal, I’m listing the meals I made, and will make, this week for dinner.  I’ve added the links so that you can easily access the recipe if you so desire.

Nutty Vegetable Sauté (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipes/nutty-vegetable-saute/)  This was made over the weekend, but the leftovers have carried into this week’s lunch and dinner menus.  I love when that happens!

Spicy Lentil-Walnut Burgers (http://www.marthastewart.com/318248/spicy-lentil-walnut-burgers) served with Roasted Carrots.  I was attempting to make a healthy “Burgers and Fries” meal for the viewing of The Ohio State v. Oregon football game.  I served it with Chunky Olive Hummus from Trader Joe’s (YUM!) and Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Flat Bread.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars (http://www.marthastewart.com/1065205/peanut-butter-and-jelly-bars) These were made as a half-time treat during the football game.  This was followed by one Stone Enjoy By IPA (http://enjoyby.stonebrewing.com/) to celebrate the victorious OSU!

 

O-H . . .

O-H . . .

Wild Mushroom Farro Risotto (Farrotto) (http://www.moreuncorked.com/!S0wXzFfbyV6LkYgba2nHpA!/Wild-Mushroom-Farro-Risotto-Farrotto) I omit the butter from this recipe and add more olive oil.  I may add more than 2 ounces of goat cheese.  Two ounces? HA!

Salad There is no recipe for this one.  I usually make a salad most nights of the week.  Occasionally the salad is the main course with a bunch of stuff in it, or I will make a simple one, like an arugula and red pepper salad.  I grew up eating a salad with dinner most nights of the week, so I like the tradition – and it’s tasty!

Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato Relish (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/falafel-stuffed-eggplant)

Again, let me know your thoughts regarding the “Food-Centered Family”!  I’d love to hear from you!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

 

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Two For The Price of One

My last post discussed FINALLY going to places that have been on “the list”. You know, that list of restaurants you make that you intend to visit in the near future? The one that keeps growing? The one where Juniper and Ivy was added to it before it even opened in March, but have yet to go? (Side note, I do have reservations there in a couple of weeks – FINALLY! I briefly digress.) That list that continues to grow, but you find yourself, once again, at Pizza Port in OB ordering another delicious pie and a pint? Please tell me you do so that you make me feel better.

I try very hard not to be that way with the dinners I make at home, but there is a particular comfort in making a dish that you know what you need, the steps you need to take, and that it will turn out to be a delicious meal while you watch Brian Williams deliver the news in yet another stunning tie. We love Brian Williams in my house.   I won’t say who loves him the most. So back to the dinner recipes!   With the heat San Diego has been experiencing, it has been hard to think of new and refreshing meals. Grilling or sautéing chicken (because I don’t want to leave the air-conditioned comfort of my house) and serving it over a salad is getting SO played.

I fell in love with this recipe that was emailed to me by Food and Wine. The recipe online is not complete for some reason, so the one below has my changes and additions. If you would like to see the original recipe, go to http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tomato-and-peach-salad-with-crisp-tofu. It is so refreshing, and you can easily play around with the ingredient list if there’s something you want to add or delete. I would really hesitate from deleting any items. I ended up not using all of the dressing that I had made, so dinner for the following night was already on my mind.

First Night: Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu

  • 2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2  tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons canola oil or grape seed oil
  • 24 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained well and cubed
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 peaches, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  1. Put the serranos in a small heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil with the vinegar, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the brine over the serranos and let stand for 15 minutes, until cooled to room temperature. If you are not a huge fan of heat, you can easily omit this ingredient.  However, the sweetness from the peaches and the peppery quality of the arugula tastes awesome with the candied Serrano. Another option, you could finely chopped the chiles and add them to the dressing in order to spread the “heat wealth”.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, mustard and 6 tablespoons of the oil. (Here is where you could add the chopped serrano, if you so desire.)
  3. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until shimmering. Add the tofu, season with salt, and cook over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.  (*Add only enough tofu to the pan so that it can properly brown.  Add more oil if needed between batches.)
  4. Once the tofu has cooled, place the tofu in a large mixing bowl.  Add the tomatoes, peaches, arugula, and basil.  If you didn’t add the serranos to the dressing, add those in at this time.  I added about half of the chiles.  I like things spicy, but I want to taste my food as well! I also added some of the serrano brine.  The amount of the Ginger Soy Dressing you can add really depends on you.  I used about 2 Tablespoons. Gently mix all of the ingredients together.  (*The amount of tofu I sautéed may be more than you will need.  However, if you have leftovers, add it to a salad the next day for lunch:)

 

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A week earlier I noticed, and clipped, a recipe in the local paper. I used that recipe as a springboard for the salad I made last night using the leftover dressing from the Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/09/get-fresh-cool-ideas-cucumbers/).

Second Night: Megan’s Quick Chilled Shrimp, Cucumber and Soba Noodle Salad

  • 6 ounces soba noodles
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp (bought uncooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s and sautéed)
  • 1½ cups sliced cucumbers
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup (or more) mint
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • sliced serranos left over from the previous evening’s dinner
  • Left over dressing from previous evening’s dinner. I used about 2 Tablespoons of dressing, but you can add as much or as little as you like.  My husband and I eat large portions, so the recipes above were enough for the 2 of us. If you are cooking for 1, I would still make these portions and then you have lunch for the next day or two.

 

  1. Cook soba noodles as directed on the package. If you are like me and buy your shrimp frozen and raw, cook shrimp, let them cool and add to a large salad bowl. If you buy them precooked, just go ahead and add them to the bowl as is. Add cooked and cooled noodles to the bowl. Add cucumbers, carrots, mint, cilantro, scallions, serranos (if you like a little heat), and as much dressing as you like. Mix all ingredients together.

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On a final note, even though it feels like a nice Summer day in the Sahara Desert, Fall is quickly approaching.  Ever since I became a coffee drinker, I haven’t been able to enjoy what used to be a favorite beverage of mine, Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks.  It just tastes too sweet and fake.  I had a free beverage coming my way, so I decided to try an Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte (Venti because it was free, of course.) but opted out of the 6 shots of flavor (Can you imagine???), and I requested just one flavor shot.  Also, I requested non fat milk and an extra shot of espresso.   Perfection.  The only problem is that it was probably a $6 drink, so I will have to wait for another freebie before I order another one!

 

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It’s like a thesis on the side of my beverage!

Enjoy the last few days of Summer!  Take Care and Happy Eating!

 

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? I Have My Answer!

Hello everyone!

Two very cool things happened this week.  First, I finally have a new computer!  Woohoo! Thanks, Costco!  Now I can finally post to my blog and read other people’s’!  I’m old-fashioned.  I really don’t like reading very much on my phone.  (I need to get used to Windows 8, too.) The other bit of news is that I finished the 30 day Clean Cleanse – without cheating!  I began this cleanse as a test.  I wanted to see how I would feel after giving up processed foods, dairy, alcohol, etc. I’m so happy I did.  Here’s a list of why I loved this cleanse:

  1. My mind seems a little sharper.
  2.  My mood is much brighter. But like I told my husband, this cleanse will not change your personality.  Sometimes (and only sometimes) I can be a bit annoying.  A cleanse is not a cure-all.  Sorry.
  3. I have more energy.  For some reason, I had zero energy on Saturday.  I have no idea why, but I just felt exhausted.  I went for a run with Franz, and I could hardly run a  block.  Again, this cleanse will not make you perfect.
  4. It was fun going out with friends and not thinking about food and drinks.  Sounds crazy, right?  I feel like I take forever studying menus, taking pictures of my food, thinking about what I could write later, etc.  This month felt like a break.  I went to Alpine Beer Company with a group of people, and it was nice just sitting outside and hanging out.  Hopefully I’ll go back for their beer and food another time.  It looked and smelled amazing.  Check out the menu: https://alpinebeerco.wordpress.com/pub-info/pub-menu/
  5. I love that I lost a few pounds – 12 in total.
  6.  I had my blood pressure taken Monday, and the nurse commented that I must have been very calm.  I’ve never had a problem with my blood pressure, but it was really good!

I’ve got a feeling, and it’s all good!

I must mention that I am so impressed with 3 places that enabled me to stick to the cleanse when I wasn’t home.  I went to Mammoth for a ski weekend (about 6 or so hours from San Diego), and I had a blast.  After skiing one day, we went to the food court at Canyon Lodge.  I was expecting not to have too many options.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The woman in charge of the salad bar made me an amazing kale salad with roasted red beets, grilled chicken, and a ton of excellent fresh veggies.  I just pointed and she piled it into a large silver bowl.  She could tell I was hesitant about the dressings available, so she pointed out the vinegar and oil to me, I added them to the bowl, she tossed away, and lunch was served!  Two other restaurants that impressed me were Point Loma Seafoods and Pita Jungle in Hillcrest.  Fresh grilled fish with a gorgeous view of Point Loma Marina and downtown San Diego is a great way to stick to a cleanse.  Pita Jungle has awesome hummus (which is allowed on the cleanse) and a salmon dish that is truly filling and only $12.99.  I went to C-Level and had a meager salmon dish for $30.  It was tasty and fresh, and you can’t ask for a better view of San Diego, but this meal did not satisfy my hunger.  It’s a cleanse, not Hunger Games! Thirty days went by relatively fast.  I plan on sticking with a few things that I’ve done over the past month.

  1. I didn’t eat a whole bunch of processed foods before, but I will further decrease my consumption.  For example, no more Lean Cuisine and I will greatly cutback on cereal.  I plan on treating cereal as a dessert as opposed to breakfast.
  2. I will continue making smoothies for breakfast.  They really give me the energy I need, and it keeps me full until lunch and beyond, if necessary.
  3. I’m obsessed with cooking with coconut oil.  I love the flavor it imparts.  Seriously, give it a try, if you haven’t already.
  4. I will continue snacking on kale chips, almonds, dried kimchi (Trader Joe’s has made me an addict), unsweetened coconut flakes, hummus and almond butter.  All of these things give me energy as opposed to a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate which just makes me want to eat 4 more squares.

The last comment I will make regarding the cleanse is one that may need to be addressed.  A couple of people have asked, so I’m assuming more people out there might have the same question.  It’s a question concerning bowels.  Yep, you might wonder about this aspect of a cleanse.  I will be straight with you.  I’ve never had a problem in that department.  If you do have difficulties, and you start a cleanse, I would guess you may notice a big change.  For me, I noticed that I would go more often throughout the day – usually after a meal or even a snack.  However, it was never a problem.  Depending on your body, you may or may not need this product: http://www.hulu.com/watch/10308

Some of you have mentioned that you are on a cleanse or thinking about starting.  Let me know how it’s going!

Take Care and Happy Eating!