Saturday, April 20, 2013

Veggie Pad Thai Sans Noodles

Inspired by a recipe I found on Health-Bent, I decided to make a healthier version of traditional pad thai.

Yummy veggie pad thai!

Just like most people, I like pad thai in restaurants. Problem is, it's typically full of sugar and other questionable ingredients. So I thought it would be nice to make a more whole foods version with all veggies topped with a healthier sauce.

Mostly I followed the recipe from Health-Bent, but I used evil peanut butter instead of almond butter because I had it on hand and I like it. I also used shallots instead of onion, and used only 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and mostly water sauteed.

In addition to the zucchini noodles they showed, I used a mix of grated cauliflower, grated broccoli, sliced nappa cabbage, and a bit of carrot. I was already prepping and chopping veggies for another recipe I planned to make, Vietnamese summer rolls.

That's a lot of chopped veg!

Delish! I squeezed the juice of a lime over it, topped with cilantro and slurped it up! I'll definitely make it again. Thanks Health-Bent!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Chocolate Smoothie

I finally picked up "unprocessed" chocolate powder and made a smoothie with it.

Some research says that chocolate is darn healthy. Check this out!

I hadn't eaten in 17 hours or so and I was very excited to have a smoothie. I made this one with:

1/2 banana
frozen raspberries
spoonful of cocoa powder
some unsweetened dried coconut flakes

I topped it with a little local bee pollen and some flax seeds. It was so good!!! Not too chocolatey or sweet but just a nice cocoa flavor.

No, I didn't put any onion in it, that is just my onion garden that I am getting ready to plant on my terrace.

After writing about this now I want another smoothie...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hummus Lettuce Wraps with Mackerel

Some people think beans are evil and unhealthy. I am not sure about that but I like them.

Some people think beans are one of the healthiest foods we can eat. I am not sure about that but I like them.

So I eat them for now, unless I decide I don't like them or I am convinced that they are evil and unhealthy.

I made homemade hummus today. Have you ever soaked chickpeas? (garbanzo beans for you Americans) Check this out! After just soaking overnight they more than triple in size! That's a bargain food in my book. Imagine soaking your cash overnight and it triples in quantity, wouldn't that be nice?

So I made hummus without adding oil. Most would say this is not real hummus, and I can live with that. I'm just trying to avoid processed food right now and even olive oil is not a whole food. I made the hummus with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water, a dash of salt, and a bit of cumin.

Then I slathered it on a piece of lettuce, topped with sliced tomato, sliced serrano chile, lime juice and some smoked mackrel. Roll it up and stuff it in your face!

Have you had smoked mackerel before? I haven't, but it is gooooood! A source of omega-3 fatty acids and it is supposed to be a sustainable fish. Well, the package said duurzame, so I hope they aren't lying!

A yummy lunch or snack, and you could even play around with the presentation and make it into a nice canape for guests.

It's even better with some fresh herbs like mint or cilantro.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hunter-Gatherer Diet

I really liked this video as it echoes what I have thought many times while hearing what a "ancestral", "paleo", "natural" or "primal" diet should and should not include.

Back in the day I studied a bit about some of the native peoples of California, where I grew up. As far as I understood, they ate a huge variety of foods including some grains like wild rice and seeds of wild grasses. Also acorns (fat and carbs) formed a substantial portion of the diet, especially when there wasn't anything else to eat. It wasn't all meat meat meat, but they definitely ate all kinds of animals.

It annoys me when "paleo experts" say that grains are not part of a natural or ancestral diet, because it just doesn't match up with what I have learned. It makes me wonder whether these "paleo experts" are just making up facts as they go along.

I think the main thing we need to understand when thinking about a healthy, natural diet is to avoid processed foods and to eat whole foods. And to consider scarcity and seasonality.

Maybe hunter-gatherers do eat grains, but definitely NOT at the level we eat them in a standard diet. So for the most part we should surely avoid stuff like baked goods and pasta made from refined wheat. At the same time, are paleo waffles made of coconut flour really much better for you than a regular old Leggo my Eggo waffle? Seems like both are pretty unlikely in a hunter-gatherer diet.

Of course, allergies and food sensitivities are a whole different topic. If it makes you sick, don't eat it.

While I really agree with a lot of the principles of the paleo diet, I don't like stuff that is just made up based on what some self-made "expert" thinks hunter-gatherers eat. Let's stick with the facts, or as much as we know of them at least. I always advocate using your own brain instead of just following someone. Maybe they'll end up to be right, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't question or think for yourself.

What do you think? Do you avoid grains or gluten? All grains or just some?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Superfood Risotto

Of course we've all heard of superfoods by now. But what are they exactly? The Oxford English dictionary defines superfood as "a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being".

Cauliflower: As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, cauliflower is believed to confer fantastic health benefits to those who eat it regularly. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, as well as other antioxidants and phytonutrients. Plus it's hella yummy!

Mushrooms: Mushrooms are also considered a nutrition powerhouse. One cup of crimini mushrooms provides a good source of 18 different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant phytonutrients.

Onion: Onions are an outstanding source of polyphenols, including the flavonoid polyphenols. Within this flavonoid category, onions are a standout source of quercetin. Onions, are members of the allium family, and both are rich in sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors and for many of their health-promoting effects.

Garlic: Garlic is also a member of the allium family, and thus contains loads of sulfur compounds giving it anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Usually we think of the healthiest meal as a rainbow of colors. But this brown and tan dish packs a serious healthy punch!

I sauteed the mushrooms, onions and garlic in a bit of butter while grating cauliflower (by hand) to make cauliflower rice. I then added the grated cauliflower to a pan to saute and soften a bit, adding a dash of salt, dried rosemary, and some freshly ground black pepper.

 Then I added the contents of the two pans together, squeezed a bit of lemon over the top and dinner was served!

Yummy! It really satisfied like regular risotto without the extra calories and empty carbs. Not only that, but the cauliflower is a superfood with tons of beneficial properties. Win win winner!

You could add grated parmigiano over the top, and cook it with a bit of milk or nut milk to give it a creamy consistency. I've been trying to avoid milk (due to the coughing issues) so I just added a bit of cheese on top for flavor. Really good!

Have you tried cauliflower rice? Have you made cauliflower risotto? Try it!

(source for veggie info:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sweet Potato Salad

Oh I just made the yummiest salad and I had to share!

Yesterday I baked some sweet potatoes in the oven and today I ate them up!

Have you tried water sauteing or dry sauteing? It's not rocket science but it's kind of revolutionary.

Maybe you don't limit fat in your diet, or perhaps you do. One thing that is relatively agreed upon is that heating fats is not optimal. Some fats, like lard or coconut oil are better for cooking, but they might not fit the flavor profile you are going for in a dish. Enter water sauteing!

I find that it works really well for onions. I love cooked (especially browned) onions but I hate raw onions. To water saute the onions I just cut them up as usual, and toss them in a hot pan with a little water. Keep the flame at medium/low. As the water evaporates, they cook and then begin to brown. You have to watch them a bit to make sure your flame is not too high. Add water if they are browning too fast without cooking, or turn down the heat.

I add spices like cumin to give them an even earthier flavor when the water is all gone. The cumin also browns and adds more savory goodness. But don't let it burn!

After the onions were mostly done, I also added some red chili, pine nuts, a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of pimenton de la vera. Then I tossed in the cooked sweet potato slices and some flax seeds just to heat them up. I also made a quick lemon dressing inspired by Girl on Raw, but in a regular food processor so it was very chunky. Yum!

Topped some lettuce with the mix and gobbled it up!

Have a great weekend everyone! xoxo

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dairy and Coughing

I made myself into a weird little science experiment last week.

Did any of you get that killer flu that was going around this winter? The one that makes you feel like absolute crap for a week and then you still keep coughing and snotting for another week or more?

Yes I got it and it was horrid.

I was sick as a dog for a week then the coughing, it never seemed to get better. It would be ok, but then I would bike around the city and be out in the cold air (it was 0 deg) and blammo! coughing would start again. It just wouldn't go away.

I tried being careful with what I ate. I didn't drink alcohol. I didn't drink coffee. I didn't stay out late or do anything fun. When that didn't work I tried going out and drinking beers. Nope. Still this annoying little cough that made my chest hurt. But I could tell it was just a cough, not bronchitis or anything needing meds.

A few friends were having the exact same experience. They were using prescription inhalers and taking codeine, but they weren't getting better either!

One day I realized that lately I had been trying to eat "healthier" by having a daily breakfast of yogurt with berries. It was yummy, and I felt that the micro-organisms and antioxidants would help me fight the cough. But wait, dairy and phlegm, isn't there some connection???

So to the internet I went a-searchin' but I found a-nuthin'. Yeah, some people said dairy increases congestion and some said no. The science basically said no, but I decided to quit the yogurt anyway.

Guess who stopped coughing the next day?

Coincidence? Placebo? I don't know. But I don't want to cough so I'll be avoiding yogurt at least until the weather warms up!

So instead of yogurt and fruit I've just been enjoying the fruit. Frozen and blended up with a sprinkle of homemade nutty granola on top. It's delish! Here's my bowl of frozen cherries, 1/2 banana, spinach, cashews, water with a bit of granola. My granola is made with spelt and oat flakes, nuts, flax seeds, and sweetened with applesauce. Yummo!

What about you? Do you have any experience with dairy and congestion?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Where I've Been and Farmers Markets

I realized that if any of my old blogging buddies come back here I should explain where I've been for 2-3 years! HA!

Well, I moved from sunny California to not-so-sunny Amsterdam. Wheeee!

It's been absolutely grand, though I will say that sadly for the most part the food is better back in my homeland. At least there is a bit more variety. But Amsterdam is really starting to catch the paleo and vegan bug so more alternatives are popping up in the stores, and there is a lot of growing awareness about ethical, sustainable animal farming.

There are many open air markets around the city which is very nice. There is typically at least one street market in every neighborhood which is open during the day time. There are also weekly organic markets, usually on Saturdays. But I do miss my 3-4 times per week huge organic markets with every vegetable and fruit you could dream of in California! Oh the nice weather...

I have apparently become very Dutch in complaining about the weather.

While the produce situation here is not as wonderful, it is still not bad! Did you know that the Netherlands is the world's biggest grower of tomatoes? Illogical until you see the huge greenhouses in the countryside.

Kale is a very popular food here, they eat it in a dish called stamppot which is potato mashed with kale and topped with sausage. To be honest, I'll just have the kale. For some reason I am not the biggest fan of mashed potato; I know, I'm weird.

In the winter farmer's market I have found that the apples here are very good, and there is always a lot of pumpkin. Luckily now we are coming up on spring so that means strawberries and asparagus! Yippee!!

What are you looking for in the farmer's markets this month? Any spring fruits or veggies that are exciting you?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Vegan vs Paleo

Hi peeps! OK, it's been ages and ages but I am thinking of reviving this site. I don't think any of the 3 people who used to read my blabbering will ever check back here so I guess I am just starting all over again in the same space! :)

In a previous life this site was mostly paleo or primal eating focused. I still believe that the ancestral way of eating makes the most logical sense, but there are a few problems I have with the paleo diet as it seems to be getting more popular and some people are creating their own versions of it that seem pretty wacky.

As far as the healthiest diet goes, I'm torn between a vegan plant-centered diet and a paleo diet. The research really seems to go both ways, and each camp uses research and statistics to further their own ideas but I'm not 100% convinced that either one is right. One thing that I think the true paleo diet and a true plant-based diet agree upon is that plants (veggies and fruits) are good for us!

When I think about what a hunter-gatherer eats on a daily basis I am guessing it is not a breakfast of 3 eggs with bacon and a dinner of a huge steak with butter. I'm not saying that means it is unhealthy, but it does not seem NATURAL! So paleo proponents saying that eating lots of meat is healthy just seems illogical and unnatural. It might feel good and keep you full but arguing that it is an ancestral way of eating is just faulty, unless you are Inuit. And the whole tirade against grains and beans, I just am not convinced.

I've also been watching some films (Forks Over Knives, etc) and reading about vegan and nutritarian diets (Dr Fuhrman, vegan bloggers, raw foodists) that recommend huge amounts of fruits and vegetables, with no added oils or salt. In one way, it seems really natural, just lots of plants. But on the other hand, is it really natural for us to NEED to eat such huge quantities of veggies that we must use a high speed blender in order to mainline it all into our tummies at every meal? If so, then why wasn't I born with a Vitamix in my fat little paw?

But everyone is different and to each their own. To me it makes the most logical sense to follow a plant-centric, wholefoods (seasonal, local) diet and add a bit of meat, fish or fowl for nutrition and flavor.

That's not too difficult, is it? ;)

So in the future I plan to be sharing some of my recipes and meals and maybe talking about some of the research and reading I do. I hope someone will want to read it! (and discuss it in a nice way, I am open to your thoughts but haters with agendas aren't welcome here)