[Sometimes, you just want a dish that's quick and easy--no fuss. I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so simple to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
Some people love surprises. Me, I’m not a big fan of the unexpected. Well, let me rephrase that: I’m not a big fan of the unexpected when I’m the one being surprised. If someone else, on the other hand, is treated to an unforeseen birthday party, or engagement ring, or earwig, well, then, I just lurve surprises!
Case in point: some of you will recall my snowbound trail-walk with the Girls a couple of weeks ago, which I reported on Facebook. It was the afternoon following (yet another) snowstorm**, and I’d spent the requisite 27 minutes bundling myself in layers as protection from the cold: two pairs of socks; long underwear topped with thick corduroy pants; cotton undershirt under cotton turtleneck, under fleece-lined sweater. On top of that, I added a pair of thick rubber galoshes, a padded ski jacket, a pair of thin gloves underneath a pair of thick gloves, a fleece hat topped with earmuffs for good measure, and my hood. Oh, and let’s not forget my sunglasses, huge contraptions that I wear over my regular glasses (really).
Looking like some bizarre Alaskan zombie, I somehow managed to ease myself out of the car and waddle my way along the trail, which was still blanketed in pristine snow that had clearly not been trod by anyone else that day.
The Girls always love these walks, so I’m happy to provide them. Besides, it’s kind of fun to watch Chaser scampering and leaping, bunny-like, through the snow whenever she’s off-leash. On that day, however, she was doing something different: not just leaping and prancing, but diving face-first into the snow, burying her entire head in it, over and over, at 2-foot (3/4-meter) intervals. Then she’d surface, nose covered in powder, sniffing the air as if a steak were sizzling nearby. What was up with that? I couldn’t help but laugh as I recalled a documentary the HH had been watching a few nights earlier about foxes, who thrust their snouts into the snow in order to seize their prey. How funny, I thought. Tee hee hee. . .
And then, it happened. Chaser dove head-first into the snow and came up with. . . a mouse! A LIVE MOUSE.
IN. HER. MOUTH!!
What followed could have come straight out of a National Lampoon vacation movie. I started shrieking like a banshee: “Drop it! Drop it! DROP ITTTTTT!!!!” as I sprinted (well, more like shuffled, zombie-like) through the snow toward her, arms flailing like a flag in a hurricane. And, to her credit, she did drop it.
The mouse stumbled across the path (by this time a bit wobbly), aiming to scoot back into its burrow. By now Elsie had figured out something was afoot, and came charging; she too, grabbed the tiny rodent in her muzzle and held it aloft for me to admire, the mouse’s feet and tail flapping uncontrollably. And again, my horrified shrieking, “DROP IT!!!” as I leapt to grab The Girls’ collars and prevent any further nose-poking of the mouse across the snow. By now my voice was pretty hoarse and my face was pretty darned red.
But as I threw myself forward, I lost my footing and crashed down–thwack!–rather ungracefully onto the snow (luckily, the depth of the snow, combined with my natural padding “back there,” saved me from injury). Before I could regain my composure, the mouse went berserk, zig-zagging across my legs. All I can say is that I’m glad there was no one else around to see what ensued as I struggled to get up, legs jerking like loose wires in an electrical storm, still shrieking (shrieking even more!), still clinging for dear life to the Girls’ collars so they couldn’t dive in for Round Two.
Finally, with all three of us panting and our hearts racing, I steadied myself, once again upright and watched as the mouse ambled back to safety under the blanket of snow. Frankly, I am still not sure which one of us was more traumatized by the experience.
So as you can see, I don’t react too well to unexpected, er, “visitors.” Needless to say, we won’t be back to that particular trail as long as the snow remains on the ground.
Now, when I receive an unexpected surprise from food, well, that’s a whole ‘nother story. This spread (or dip) came about, for instance, as a serendiptious discovery because we had run out of fresh produce. What with all the book edits, I’ve had not time for grocery shopping. (I know, boo hoo for me. Okay, cue violins). The only green ingredients left in the fridge were a few limp stems of fresh cilantro, half a cucumber from our CSA, half a lime and that neglected chunk of the HH’s brie cheese, cowering way at the back. I decided I’d create something based on all the nonperishable ingredients in the cupboard that I’ve been hoarding saving for a day just such as that one. I rooted around to find a can of black beans and some almond butter. I could work with that!
A quick whir in the food processor and my slightly unconventional black bean dip was made. We ate it with leftover corn chips from our previous nacho night along with the remnants of the cucumber. The following day (after a trip to the grocery store), I smeared it on a raw collard leaf, added grated carrot and sprouts, and had a fabulous raw collard wrap. If you’re looking for a high-protein snack or light meal, this is a great recipe.
And–don’t let it surprise you–you may just discover that you love it.
** I’ve officially dubbed this season “The Winter that Refused To Leave.” I mean, really, Mother Nature? This isn’t funny any more.
DDD READERS: It May Be Time To Update Your Subscription!
I know that many of you, like me, read your favorite blogs via Google Reader. Well, if that’s how you keep up with DDD, be warned that Reader is closing down as of July 1, 2013! (I know–boo hoo).
I am always so grateful for your visits and your comments on the blog and I don’t want you to lose touch! To ensure that you continue to receive notices whenever I add a new blog post–or to get updates on the new cookbook or other happenings here at DDD–you can easily subscribe via email. That way, you won’t miss a thing! Just click here to receive every new DDD post right in your Inbox.
Thanks so much for reading. (And if any of you know of other good readers to use instead, please share in the comments!).
Oil-free Black Bean Spread or Dip
This is a super-quick twist on classic black bean dip, with more protein than the original. If you like a spicy dip, add about 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) minced jalapeno.
1 can (15 ounces or 400 ml) black beans, well rinsed and drained
juice of 1/2 lime
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) natural smooth almond butter
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cumin
1/4 cup (60 ml) cilantro leaves
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water, or more, to taste
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add more water until desired consistency is reached (you’ll need more for a dip vs. a spread). Makes about 1-1/2 cups/360 ml. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
[No, you're not in a time warp or losing your mind. . . this is, indeed, a repeat of an earlier post from January of this year, that was lost when my blog was hacked. Luckily for me, two intrepid readers, Jayme and Cristina, printed it out and were able to send it to me (thank you so much to both of you!). So here it is, re-transcribed in full, for your reading pleasure. Sadly, they weren't able to save all your wonderful comments from the original. So please do comment again--or if you missed it the first time!]
While I’m not big on “year in review” posts on the blog and I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions (though I do set goals every year), I thought it was time for another anti-candida diet update for those of you who’ve been following along this journey with me since March, 2009–and for those of you who are newer to the blog, here’s why I eat the way I do. (Oh, and if you’re here just for the recipe, feel free to skip on down to the bottom of the post and enjoy some anti-candida friendly Nachos Supreme).
FIRST, AN ANTI-CANDIDA UPDATE:
I haven’t shared much about the ACD lately. For many of us, just embarking on the diet is a Herculean task, the first three or so months so challenging that you want to vent and share and question and gain some sort of catharsis just by putting all your frustrations, fears and fury out there. For me, the beginning of the diet was like hearing from an old nemesis who’d moved away for a while and then suddenly thunders back into town, harassing you with phone calls every day and asking for all kinds of favors. You dread hearing from that “friend” again. No wonder I’ve avoided the topic.
Still, now that I’m heading into four years on the diet, I feel as if I’ve established a certain level of stability and imagine that this is the way I will live for the rest of my life. This kind of balance is, in most ways, reassuring and allows me to go about my daily business without having to pay attention to every morsel that passes my lips, and without having to worry too much that I’ll have a reaction to something I eat (though that still does happen, too–see below).
I’ve developed a strategy to deal with outbreaks and, for the most part, can anticipate them. But there are still ongoing challenges for me, in any case, that continue to this day. For those of you who’ve just started and feel as if there’s no end in sight, for those of you who may also be maintaining, or for those of you who are just curious, here’s an update, and what I’ve learned after almost 13 total years of experience with this diet.
[Faux Chocolate for when you can't have the real thing. . . or even when you can.]
1. Hold Steady on NO sugar, fungus, vinegar (except ACV), active yeast.
Over time, it gets easier to allow some formerly taboo ingredients back into your diet. I will never (NEVER) eat refined sugar again; however, my repertoire of natural sweeteners has grown from stevia and yacon syrup in Stage 1 to stevia, yacon, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, lucuma, and the (very occasional) agave. I still don’t consume maple syrup (sob) or any kind of cane sugar (take note, those of you on “sugar-free” diets: evaporated cane juice is just a fancy name for “sugar.”)
Also still prohibited from my culinary repertoire are mushrooms of all kinds (though I did take a tincture for sinus issues that contained some mushroom extracts, with no ill effects); any alcohol (double sob, especially at this time of year–Oh, Segura, how I missed thee on New Year’s Eve! Dear Glenlivet, how I wish you could warm my heart this winter; and take note, G&Ts, summers will never be the same without you), or regular vinegar (I do use apple cider vinegar, often referred to as ACV, since it’s known to have anti-fungal properties, among other myriad health benefits.)
I did re-introduce some previously banned foods once I entered Stage 3 and maintenance, a couple of years ago. These include whole-grain gluten-free flours (though I’ve come to realize that too much flour or too many flour-based foods don’t work for me), plus some lower glycemic fruits that I missed terribly and eat only on occasion (to wit, pomegranate, or goji berries in place of raisins and prunes in place of dates, plus a few others).
2. Address Slip-Ups as Quickly as Possible.
Just because I don’t eat sugar doesn’t mean I’ve beaten my sugar addiction. When I make desserts and consume them too often (which for me means once a day), I find that I crave them, begin to eat more, and eventually succumb to a “binge” (my definition of a binge these days is 3 or 4 cookies, say, nothing like the entire tubs of Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting I used to eat, straight from the can, with a butter knife).
I still subscribe to Stacy Halprin’s philosophy, mentioned earlier on this blog: if you do slip up, do not berate yourself. Simply move to the next meal, or next snack, and start over as if it never happened. Repeat until the behavior sticks. Apparently it takes 6-8 tries for a smokers to permanently quit smoking; when I learned to drive (at the ripe old age of 33!), it took me more than a year–driving every day–before that habit became natural to me and I no longer had to think actively about it. I don’t see why overriding poor eating habits and conquering sweets cravings should be any different. In other words, I’m willing to keep trying 50 times, or 500 times, to prevail with healthy eating that sticks permanently. Nine-five percent of the time, I’m successful.
Right now, my weight is “up” again. I tend to fluctuate up to 20 pounds in one direction or another (kids, do not try this at home). If I am consistent in my healthy eating and exercise, it eventually balances out again (though my naturopath is now suspecting adrenal fatigue–for which I’m currently being treated–and hidden, uncovered allergies in this case, for which I’ll follow an elimination diet eventually).
For me personally, certain carbs (mostly grains) seem to be the culprit. However, my diet also relies on fat-laden foods like nuts and seeds for much of my protein (and sweet cravings), so I am sure that my weight is connected to how much of those I consume as well; not to mention that I’m not heading into the stage of “mature woman” (though not getting those senior discounts just yet–darn!), which can cause weight gain. And, as many of you have helpfully pointed out in the comments, addressing long-standing emotional issues is essential to permanently banish excess weight. Despite many years of therapy (and continued visits), those emotional issues still hang on. But I’m working on it! If I go up a few pounds (or ten), I try not to freak out too much, which only causes stress (and then stress eating. . . a vicious cycle).
4. Pick Your Battles, in Food as in Life.
Even though I know that some foods might trigger cravings, I am not willing to forfeit all aspects of a “normal” life at this point being on the diet. My hubby and I still eat in restaurants on occasion (and that “occasion” has decreased dramatically from 3-4 times a week in our first year together, down to maybe once a month at present).
Similarly, when we’re on vacation, I do my best to ensure that the meals are ACD-compliant, but if I have some vinegar in a salad dressing, or even (gasp!) dates in a raw dessert, I do not worry about it. I find those aren’t he events that trigger overeating in any case; when I’m on holiday, I don’t have access to my own kitchen, so I won’t go bake up a brownie and scarf down three pieces of it one afternoon. For me, the triggers are much more here at home.
[Still a favorite snack and an absolute must for me when I want a "safe" sweet.]
5. When Necessary, Return to Square One.
Unlike weight-loss diets, the ACD is kind of a diet for life, and you don’t get to reincorporate most of the foods you gave up once you’ve attained your “goal.” It does afford the opportunity, on maintenance, to enjoy so many of the delicious, even decadent, desserts that I love so much; but with the ACD, I find that (for me, at least), it’s a good idea to return occasionally to the first stage of the diet, sort of like a detox or the way you can “revert to default settings” on your computer. I revisit Stage One when I feel I’ve veered too far from the strictures of anti-candida living (say, like when I’ve been baking 4 or 5 times a day over several months when testing for a new cookbook). At those times, I try to par down the diet and consume only the foods that helped to reverse the symptoms in the first place: clean veggies; fresh fruits, sparingly; nuts and seeds; less starchy legumes and beans; some grains.
When I’m attempting to reset my metabolism this way, I forfeit any baked goods and most flours as well, going grain-free as much as possible (I don’t worry about the occasional bowl of steel-cut oats or rice with Indian food, for instance, but I don’t’ mix up muffins or cakes or pancakes for breakfast during those times). After a couple of weeks on this regimen, I usually feel recharged and revitalized, ready to resume my regular ACD activities.
My goal this winter is to incorporate more fresh juices and raw foods into my winter diet. I love fresh juice–even 100% vegetable varieties–and raw foods have always been a favorite. The challenge, I think, will be to steer clear of sweeter desserts, even as I bake them up daily for the next month to complete a manuscript. [Edit, February 2013: manuscript completed--baking done for a while!]
So how will that affect what I post here on the blog? Expect to see more savory dishes and more grain-free fare (including desserts). I was delighted with your response to my detox juice post a while back and hope to post more juice recipes as well. And, of course, I want to hear from you and what you’d like to see more of: Stage One foods? Later foods? Stevia-based desserts? More main dishes? Let me know and I’ll go for it–I am always up for a recipe challenge!
If you’re on an anti-candida diet, or, like me, have been on it for a while, I’d love to hear how this compares to your experience. What are the greatest challenges for you on the diet? What has helped you to stay the course? Please share your experiences, tips and tricks, or anything else candida-related that you’d like in the comments! (Even if you’re not following an anti-candida diet, feel free to share your experiences around consuming sugar and how it has affected you as well).
And now–today’s recipe (congratulations if you’ve made it this far!). This is a dish The HH and I have whenever I’m stumped for what to make for dinner, or if we simply feel like eating something that tastes a little bit “naughty.” These are nachos fully loaded with all the toppers that we love and that make for totally indulgent “junk food.” This dish hits all the key spots for gustatory variety and satisfaction: crunchy (corn chips), salty (ditto), smooth and creamy (cheese sauce), briney (olives), hot and fiery (jalapenos), saucy (salsa), meaty (meat crumbles). Feel free to substitute your own favorite cheese sauce or even grated Daiya if it means speeding up the prep time.
This is the anti-candida diet equivalent of fast food. If you can tolerate corn, this makes a spectacular quick dinner–or plate to share with friends on a casual Saturday evening.
Toppings of choice: sliced olives, sliced onion, sliced jalapenos, chopped sweet bell peppers
Preheat oven to 400F (200 C). Line a pie plate or pan with corn chips. Prepare the cheesy sauce and set aside.
Top the chips with a layer of beans, a layer of meaty crumbles, and a layer of cheese sauce. Sprinkle with toppings of choice and bake for 25-35 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and everything is heated through. Dig in and enjoy. Makes 4 dinner servings or 8 snack servings.
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a small pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken; stir for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and use on nachos. May also be used on pasta or as a dip for raw veggies.
You know how they say there are more than 50 different Inuit words for snow? Well, anyone who’s read my blog though a season or two likely already knows how I feel about winter. I mean, if there were 50 (or more) ways to say “I loathe it with my entire being, abhor it to the very depths of my soul and spirit, despise it more than the fictional progeny of Osama Bin Laden, Hitler, Satan and Paul Bernardo combined” (never mind that they’re all male and therefore couldn’t spawn any progeny on their own)–well, if there were myriad ways to say “I ABSOLUTELY HATE, HATE, HATE WINTER,” then you just know I’d be the first one to utter each and every one of those words.
Then again, I must admit we’ve been pretty lucky with the dreaded frigid season this year. So far, we haven’t had a single pirta (the Inuit word for “blizzard”), nor has there been any natquik (drifting snow particles), any qengaruk (snow banks), qerretrar (icy crust on snow) or navcite (getting caught in an avalanche). In fact, even as I type this blog post, I barely see any aniu (fallen snow on the ground) at all outside. What I’d much prefer to see, however, is beaming sunshine (blessed relief from pasty white winter skin), swaying green leaves (nature reawakening after months of hibernation), itsy bitsy tank tops and teeny tiny cut offs (high school students on summer vacation), sprinklers (happy Girls) and thermometers soaring to 30C/86F (happy Ricki).
Well, if I must suffer throughenduresurvive tolerate a winter in Toronto, I’m glad to have quick, warming, filling dishes like these simple, satisfying oatmeal wedges. If you’ve got leftover cooked oats and aren’t sure what to do with them, or if you just want another option that isn’t a bowl of porridge for breakfast, this is a great way to use them.
Years ago, I wrote book reviews for a magazine called The Niagara Current. They once sent me a cookbook by a local author, Kathleen Sloan McIntosh, called New Celtic Cooking. It seemed to me that the book contained a plethora of recipes made with steel-cut or rolled oats, each with a slightly different texture, preparation method, and name–and virtually every one appealed to me. There were farls, bannocks, bread, pancakes, baps, oaten, cakes, and probably several dozen more I can’t remember at the moment. I recall leafing through the book and thinking that the Celts could easily have rivalled the Inuit when it came to naming recipes with oats. I wrote a lovely review, as I recall, then slid the book onto one of my cookbook shelves and promptly forgot about it.
The other night, as I was scrounging through the fridge looking for something quick and hearty to cook for dinner, I spied some leftover cooked steel cut oats on one of the shelves. Now, you’d think that McIntosh’s book would come to mind and that I’d seek out one of those oat-based recipes, wouldn’t you? But that didn’t happen. To begin with, my mind is probably even more crowded these days than my bookshelves, so it never occurred to me. And even if it had, I mean, really–would you be able to find anything in this mess o’ books?
[Kitchen chaos extends to bookshelves: please ignore that blurry box of Nut Thins crackers in the foreground!]
Instead, what I did was hark back to an old favorite, Chinese Scallion Pancakes. I had the idea to combine the concept of a scallion flatbread with the simplicity of my Pan-Seared Oatmeal wedges for a savory spin on oats. I chopped the onions, grated some carrot, added seasoning–and in about 20 minutes, dinner was served. I completed the meal with a salad of mixed greens with added nuts/seeds for extra protein (though oats themselves are no slouch in this department; a 1-cup serving boasts 13g of protein).
The result was a terrific light supper. The wedges are crispy on the outside, creamy and nubby on the inside, with the characteristic caramelized flavor of fried onions. I added carrot for a bit of visual interest and additional vitamins, but really, you can adapt this recipe in an infinite number of ways, adding chopped veggies, seeds, different flavorings or seasonings as you see fit. In fact, I bet there are more than 50 variations to these oatmeal wedges. Now. . . . all that remains is just to name them all.
[Here with a splash of Bragg's liquid aminos for a flavor accent.]
Savory Pan-Fried Oatmeal Wedges with Green Onion and Grated Carrot
Super simple to whip up, these wedges are great as a light main dish or appetizer course. They’re great on their own with a splash of Bragg’s or soy sauce, or squirt of sriracha; or use them as a base for a stew or legume-based curry.
In a medium bowl, blend together the oats, onions, carrot, garlic salt, dill and salt, if using. Brush a large nonstick frypan with about half the oil and heat over medium heat. Plop the oat mixture into the pan and flatten with a spatula until about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick, shaping into a round. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the edges and bottom are browned (lift a little bit of the edge with the spatula to check). Brush the top with the rest of the melted coconut oil and then carefully cut the round into four wedges. Gently turn each wedge and cook on the other side until browned, 6-8 more minutes. Slide the wedges onto plates and serve with Bragg’s, wheat-free soy sauce or sriracha. Makes 4 servings.
It’s holiday season–and what works better at the holidays than a holiday PARTY? My friend Cara is hosting a full month of festivities in the form of a Clean Eating Cocktail Party on her blog, with a new recipe for party food (you know–appetizers, finger foods, snacky stuff and yummy sweet treats) every day this month!
Well, today is my day to contribute to the buffet table! I decided to make something I’ve been dreaming up for a long while–these Coconut-Crusted Tofu Bites with Creamy Green Curry Dipping Sauce. I was served little appetizers on Chinese spoons a couple of years ago at a wedding, and I just couldn’t forget them. I combined my idea for this bite-sized fusion dish of crispy cubes of tofu and a creamy hot dipping sauce with the one-bite-per-spoon presentation and came up with one of my favorite appetizers of all time.
Every year, I spend pretty much the entire fall and winter whining, grumbling and griping about the weather (Oh, how I hate the cold! How I wish this season would just whiz by with no snow! How come we can’t have summer all year–boo hoo? And how are you supposed to wear those hats with the ear flaps, anyway??–etc., etc.). Well, seems that so far this year, I’m getting my wish. It’s incredible how quickly the time is zipping by–winter will be over before you know it. Seems it was just Labor Day; then, all of the sudden, Canadian Thanksgiving; and now it’s almost American Thanksgiving. Before we know it, it will be Christmas–and my goodness, where have all the days gone??
Well, I suppose I have a valid excuse for that fleeting feeling this year. What with a full course load at the college (we’re in the throes of final-stretch of the semester, with piles of essays and assignments to mark), a cookbook manuscript due in, oh, just a few weeks (gulp!!), cooking up new and tasty anti-candida fare every day, plus all the usual demands at home (“Now that you mention it, Mum, we have been feeling rather neglected these days. . . though taste-testing all your baked goods hasn’t been too bad“)–well, no wonder I feel as if I’ve been living in a time warp. Sort of like Young Joe gazing across the table at Old Joe and wondering how the heck he got there. (Okay, so that’s an obscure allusion. But you should go see it–it really was a good movie. And I have such an old-lady crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt.).
Well, this faux tuna is pretty good exemplar of the types of foods I’ve been eating lately: quick and easy to prepare, even quicker and easier to eat (and it can be made portable, too–bonus points!).
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I consider my mother to be a latent vegetarian. She didn’t eat meat, and she refused to touch the whole fish my dad sometimes brought home, that he’d been given as gifts from customers.
A major exception, however, was canned tuna. My mother would purchase only the “solid white” kind, mix it with an inordinate amount of mayonnaise for a mushy, white, gluey spread that she slathered on sandwiches or plopped over salads. According to my mom, the white kind was the only kind that was edible, with its firm flesh and mild taste. At the time, I couldn’t understand why she’d eat it at all, since to me it was reminiscent of shredded cardboard–not that I had any true experience consuming shredded cardboard, of course. (“Mum, take it from us–and we do have experience eating shredded cardboard–there’s just no comparison with canned tuna.“). In retrospect, I imagine the reason she preferred that type was precisely because it didn’t taste anything like fish.
As for me, I prefer my tuna faux, in any case. I’ve already served up some yummy chickpea-based spread on this blog before, but this new recipe offered a terrific alternative that was both light and filling at the same time. Unlike the more common versions, this recipe from the book Main Street Veganby author Victoria Moran contains no legumes, but is nut-based instead. I received a copy of the book last summer from the publisher, and have been meaning to write about it since (see what I mean about time zipping by?).
While the book does contain recipes, it is not a cookbook per se; instead, Main Street Vegan provides a reference source and guidebook for anyone who may be curious about, or interested in, adopting a vegan lifestyle, but is not sure where or how to begin. The book offers a balanced, non-preachy, informative and even keeled approach without proselytizing. As her publisher tells, us some of the topics covered in the book include:
Figuring out what works for you as an individual, even if that means taking baby steps
Saving money; being plant-based doesn’t have to mean spending your whole paycheck on Tofutti or Tofurkey
Leaving diets behind and making peace with your body for keeps
Making this work in real life: dating, raising kids, traveling, eating out, and getting along with people who just wish you’d eat some meat
How a vegan diet changes the world for animals, and for people
Plus much more! Each chapter ends with a recipe. This Faux Tuna made an appearance after the chapter, “Let Fish Off the Hook.”
This spread really does look a lot like “the real thing,” except this one is full of flavor and plant-based nutritional goodness as well–nothing at all fishy about that.
2 cups (480 ml) raw walnuts, soaked in room temperature water 4-6 hours and drained
1/4 cup (60 ml) dulse fronds, washed (I used kombu)
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 Tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped celery
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped onion
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh dill, chopped (measure first, then chop)
Combine walnuts, dulse, bell pepper, garlic, lemon juice, oil and salt in a food processor and process until it becomes creamy, adding water as needed. Add parsley and blend briefly. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and mix in the celery, onion and dill with a fork. Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Makes about 2 cups.
“Mum, it may not be from a can, but this Faux Tuna still looks great to us–we’d love to taste-test some of this! I think you’d better let us deal with the leftovers. . . .I mean, you don’t want us to keep feeling neglected, now, do you?”
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Sometimes, the oddest combinations of ingredients result in some of the most delectable dishes you’ll ever eat. (Please, someone, tell the HH that this principle doesn’t apply equally when rummaging through the closet the morning before laundry day. Brown and green striped shirt combined with navy blue corduroys and black dress shoes does not a brilliant ensemble make.).
Today’s recipe was developed due to the overabundance of produce in my back yard–basil and jalapenos, to be exact. For the first time ever, my basil just refuses to stop growing (it’s sort of like the Jack Nicholson of basil plants). I am not complaining, believe me. I could eat pesto every day for the next three months and be happy.
The jalapeno plant shooting toward the sky like Jack’s beanstalk* was a bit more of a surprise, however. Last year’s plant yielded about a dozen jalapenos all season. This year, I pick a dozen peppers almost daily, and seems the very next time I glance in its direction, the stems have sprouted a dozen more peppers suspended from the branches, swaying like crystal teardrops from a ballroom chandelier.
I love jalapenos (and the über-frugal hausfrau in me loves saving all that money by growing my own even more), but what to do with 24 jalapenos?? (I am going to try these poppers next. The ones I already made, with homemade hemp goat cheese, were so hot I couldn’t feel my lips for an hour after the first bite. Note to self: remove seeds next time).
[Just look at that creamy avocado-basil action!]
I thought about what to cook. I thought about my burgeoning basil and my proliferating peppers. I thought about the remnants of potato, radish and avocado in my fridge drawers**. I thought about the fact that summer–despite my earnest, protracted entreaties to the Weather Gods and my eardrum-shattering wails of despair ricocheting throughout our house this past weekend when the temperature plummeted to 10C/50 F at night (sorry about that, Girls–I know your ears are delicate)–is on its way out. (Why, oh why can’t I live somewhere where there is no winter? Oh. Right. That would mean moving.).
The cooler temperatures may herald the end of BBQ season, but a good, warm potato salad is never out of place. This recipe combines my love of roasted potato (both white and sweet), my surplus of basil and at least a bit of the jalapeno along with a variation on my original avocado pesto dressing, and–optionally–crumbled tempeh bacon. When gently mixed together, the potato chunks are bathed in the smooth, garlicky pesto dressing, the sweet potato offering a perfect counterpoint to the starchy red-skins. The whole thing is punctuated by just the right amount of crunch from the radishes and a residual heat from the jalapeno. And if you love tempeh bacon as I do, the crumbles contribute a smoky accent that harmonizes beautifully with the salad’s more prominent flavors.
[Even on Day Two, still delicious. Here sprinkled with tempeh bacon crumbles.]
I just loved this salad. I’ve eaten it four times in the past week, and each time have welcomed it on my plate with good cheer and a hearty appetite. If you like unusual flavor combinations and are looking for a new twist on classic potato salad, I’d highly recommend you give it a try. If not, just try adding a bit of chocolate and see how it works out.
** Nope, not a typo. If you pop your avocados in the fridge the day before they are perfectly ripe, they will keep for another week in the refrigerator without going bad. Remove from fridge, bring to room temperature, and voilà–perfectly ripe avo.
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) dijon mustard
3 drops plain liquid stevia
1 medium just-ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 small jalapeno pepper, minced
1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) water, to your taste
fine sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, toss the white potatoes with one Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and sprinkle lightly with fine sea salt. Spread out in a single layer on one of the cookie sheets. Next, toss the sweet potato with the other Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and sprinkle lightly with fine sea salt; spread in a single layer on the other cookie sheet (you want to keep the two types of potato separate, as they will cook at different rates and will have to be removed from the oven at different times). Bake 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are just soft and remove from the oven as ready; the sweet potato will likely be cooked first. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the radishes and green onions in a large salad bowl and set aside. Once the potatoes are ready, add them to the bowl.
Prepare the dressing: In a mini food processor or Magic Bullet, place the basil and garlic and process until the basil is finely chopped. Add remaining dressing ingredients and continue to process until a thick, creamy texture is achieved (add water until desire thickness is reached; I like it similar to mayonnaise). Add the dressing to the bowl and gently toss to coat the potatoes. If desired, sprinkle with tempeh bacon and toss again. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 generous servings. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
It was my first visit to this holistic practitioner, and I knew from the outset it was the place for me. Shutting out the mid-day hubbub of Toronto’s Yonge Street behind me, I swung open the heavy oak door; inside, there was a comfortable hush in the air, like padding through a field of snow. The receptionist smiled and led me to the plush waiting room where I was offered a cup of freshly brewed ginger tea (Why yes, I’d love some, thanks.). With its deep, cushy sofas, fireplace and infusion of natural light, the room felt like the kind in which I’d be comfortable meditating, or napping, or sinking into a juicy novel.
When it was my turn, I followed the assistant upstairs to the examination room, where she offered me a parrafin wax treatment: one at a time, my hands were immersed into a basin of liquid, lavender-scented wax, caressing my fingers in soothing warmth before the assistant blanketed them in thick terrycloth mitts. Throughout the actual appointment, the doctor explained each procedure and the rationale behind it; at each step of the way, she asked if it was all right to proceed (it was). After about an hour in the chair, I was sad to learn I’d miss the usual final step in the procedure–a complimentary reflexology treatment–as the reflexologist was on vacation that week (Darn!Well, next time.).
I left the office feeling relaxed and pampered, yet impressed by the knowledge, compassion and professional care of the staff. You know, it almost makes me want to head back to the dentist again as soon as I—
What?! Did I just say, “THE DENTIST”?
That’s right, folks. That was a dental appointment. Yep, I’m pretty sure I can get behind this whole “holistic dentistry” thing.
After all of your advice, commiseration and feedback during my Ordeal Number One (the Ordeal of the Root Canal) over the past couple of weeks, I decided to pursue the holistic route. For that, I thank you. And thanks, too, for all the links and information you imparted that led me to this new dentist. At this point, since my pain has subsided substantially and the root is apparently still alive, her best advice is to wait and see, and re-visit in a month or so–so that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m sorry to say that our little Chaser did not have an equally positive experience during her recent appointment at the Vee Eee Tee last week (note to non-dog owners: certain words, like W-A-L-K, or T-R-E-A-T, or the aforementioned V-E-T, must always be spelled out to avoid evoking a canine reaction that can instantly escalate from “happy and alert” to “your sofa has just been ripped into forty-seven pieces.”).
Although our Vee Eee Tee is, herself, extremely warm, knowledgeable and accomplished in her field, none of that means anything to our wee one, who has suffered dread fear ever since her first N-A-I-L trim. At her annual appointment last week, I fairly had to drag her into the examining room, after which she cowered under the table until the Vee Eee Tee and her assistant coaxedencouragedbribed hauled her out for her shots. It pained me to cradle Chaser’s little head, pupils large as stormclouds, as the Vee Eee Tee administered the rabies vaccine (at which, ironically, Chaser didn’t even flinch; she didn’t feel a thing).
Oddly enough, as I remarked to the Vee Eee Tee, her office is the only place where our Girls literally swap personalities for a time: Elsie, normally as laid back as a hung over surfer snoozing on the beach, transforms into a prancing, whining, leaping spitfire even as we approach the building; while Chaser, normally the epitome of “In Your Face,” trembles uncontrollably, her ears plastered against her head, tail curled so far under her belly that it almost peeks out from her collar, in an effort to evade the N-A-I-L trimmer.
["Mum, you exaggerate. I wasn't cowering under that examining table. . . I was, er, um. . .trying to hide this geeky pink bandage. Yeah, that's right. . . I mean, you should have known that all the cool kids at the doggie daycare wear yellow, Mum. ]
Once we finally returned home from the ordeal, I found myself craving comfort food (preferably something easy to cook and not too hard on the teeth). For the HH, pizza is the quintessential convenience food; but for me, pizza means a homemade crust that is almost never quick to make. Then I remembered a recipe I’d seen almost a year ago on Oh She Glows, for these Quinoa Pizza Balls (unfortunately, I could no longer find the recipe on Angela’s site). Not only quick and easy, they’re also bite-sized so you don’t have to worry about eating half a pizza at one sitting (totally hypothetical example, you understand).
I was enjoying a plate of pizza balls and salad within about half an hour, and let me tell you, they were good. Crispy exterior with a soft, moist center, and a definite flavor of a traditional Margherita pizza (minus the mozzarella, of course), they were just what I needed that afternoon, as The Girls and I recovered from Ordeal Number Two (the Ordeal of the Vee Eee Tee).
“Mum, the pizza balls were okay and everything, but I think I would have preferred that reflexology treament.”
The simplicity of these balls belies their complex flavors. The pairing of fresh basil and tomato paste here is truly evocative of pizza. These make a great party appetizer or main course alongside a crisp salad.
2/3 cup (160 ml) quinoa, dry
2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth or stock
2 cups (480 ml–one 19-ounce/400 ml can) cooked white or red kidney beans
10-15 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) dried oregano
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
2/3 cup (160 ml) tomato paste
3-5 drops plain stevia liquid, to your taste
garlic salt, to your taste
If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, rinse well and drain. Bring the broth to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Add quinoa, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Check the quinoa; if the liquid is not yet absorbed, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes longer, until the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is softened. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mash the beans with a potato masher or large fork until almost smooth (but leave a little texture). Add remaining ingredients, including quinoa, and, with clean hands, knead the “dough” to combine well.
Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop the mixture and roll into balls. Place on cookie sheets and bake in preheated oven 25-35 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through, until the balls are dry and well browned on the outside. Serve immediately, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Makes about two dozen. May be frozen.
Before I get to today’s recipe, I just wanted to say “thank you” for your kind comments, emails and tweets about the new Simply Gluten Free Magazine! I’m thrilled to be an Associate Editor handling vegan recipes for the magazine. If you haven’t heard about it yet, head over to the website to learn more! I’m really looking forward to the inaugural issue in November.
And now, on to today’s food! This is the dish that prompted me to want to explore my cultural heritage. I mean, my dad was born in Poland (I don’t speak Polish; never been there) and my mom’s family was originally from Russia (I don’t speak Russian; never been there), and it feels like high time I learned more about the different peoples from whom I am descended.
In fact, the closest ties I have with either of those countries is (a) the knowledge of a few corny (and decidely non-PC) jokes; and (b) a taste for Stolichnaya and a decades-old crush on Mikhail Baryshnikov, respectively. This salad seemed the perfect vehicle to get in touch with my roots–both literally and figuratively–in a more direct way.
Then, a few weeks ago, I came across a similar recipe (this time called venegret) on Stephanie’s blog. Stephanie pointed out that the salad hails from both the Ukraine and Russia, where it is pretty much a staple throughout the year. At that point, I could practically hear my ancestors’ voices imploring me: “Dahlink, just make it already!” (not sure how Zsa Zsa Gabor insinuated herself among my Russian ancestors, but whatever). Besides, who can deny Zsa Zsa’s their ancestors’ wishes?
Although it’s not a typical summer dish, the vinegret certainly fulfils my intention to consume more salads this summer, and it would be a perfect dish to replace the standard potato salad at a BBQ. The original version features boiled root veggies (sometimes in the same pot, sometimes not), chopped, and tossed with a few accompaniments, including chopped dill pickles with their juices (other recipes include sauerkraut, which I added as well). Note that the entire thing is rendered a brilliant fuschia fairly quickly after mixing; I snapped the photos here before allowing the vinegret to sit and the colors to meld.
I knew from the ingredient list alone that I’d love the vinegret (was it pre-programmed into my Polish/Russian genes?). The combination of starchy potatoes, sweet beet and carrot with the pungency of the pickle brine (used here instead of vinegar in the dressing), the aromatic dill and sweetness of the peas was a perfect flavor medley for my palate.
I served this up to the HH without offering any genealogical background, merely stating that it was a “new kind of potato salad.” After some initial hesitation, the familiarity and allure of the green peas convinced him to give it a try. And that’s when I discovered the cross-cultural appeal of the vinegret as well: even with his own Scottish-English heritage, the HH was more than happy to polish off his plateful.
Of course, there’s still loads more for me to learn, but this dish was a good start. All I can say is, Spasibo, Zsa Zsa Grandma.
I was a bit skeptical when I first dug into this salad, but after the first bite, I understood what the fuss was all about. With naturally fermented pickles (and juice), this salad provides a great hit of probiotics as well as a tangy, unusual flavor blend.
1 large beet, peeled and diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 med carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup (240 ml) cooked peas
1 large or 2 med dill pickles, chopped fine
2 Tbsp-1/4 cup (30-60 ml) pickle juice, to your taste
1/3 cup (80 ml) sauerkraut, with a bit of juice (ie, don’t drain too well)
10 drops plain liquid stevia
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh chopped dill
2-3 green onions, sliced
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
fine sea salt, to taste
Peel the potato, carrot and beet, and cook separately (to retain colors) in boiling water until just tender, 10-20 minutes each (the beet will likely take the longest). Drain and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss lightly to combine. Add the cooled root vegetables and stir to coat with the dressing, until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Serve at room temperature or cold. Makse 4-6 servings. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 2 days.
Sometimes you just get in the culinary groove, and thank the Great Gods of Grub when the recipes continue to flow easily and smoothly, like ganache over ice cream. This past week was one of those weeks for me. You know, the kind when you attempt to recreate an old favorite without gluten, eggs, dairy or refined sugars, and the results exceed your expectations–on the first try! Or when you have a sudden brainwave to combine your favorite nut butter with your favorite veggies, resulting in oven fries that have changed people’s lives (okay, probably not really, but blame Angela– that’s what she said). Or what about when you peruse the contents of the fridge to scrounge the last remaining remnants of a bag of raw almonds, raw pumpkinseeds and a half a lemon; you decide to combine them with some of the overabundant fresh herbs in your garden, a bit of this and a bit of that–and come up with one of the best darned raw pâtés you’ve ever made?
It does seem sometimes that the rest of life is merely an interruption in your cooking and blogging, doesn’t it?
Although my desk was piled high with student papers to mark (inevitable as the semester draws to a close), I couldn’t very well stop eating, now, could I? So in between bouts of reading, circling mis-spelled words with a red pen, and inking comments all over the assignments, I cooked up a few things so the HH and I wouldn’t starve. (“Mum, that’s very dog-like of you to say that. We thought we were the only ones who felt like we were starving if we hadn’t eaten in the last 20 minutes.”).
First up was the final version of a Rustic Peach and Mascarpone Tart on Oatcake Crust that I’d been working on for a while. This time, it all came together–tender, biscuit-like crust; rich, luxurious “mascarpone”; and juicy, mouth-watering glazed peaches. I was so tickled with it that I even submitted it to an event at one of our national newspapers, and last Saturday, was chuffed to see this (I posted the original photo on my Facebook page):
[Yes, that's supposed to be a sketch of moi. Basically, that's why I entered the event--to get my own "Gastrosketch"!!]
The tart success was followed by an amazing appetizer (hint: it involves quinoa); a new favorite ice cream (hint: you won’t find it at Baskin-Robbins); a whack of recipes from the cookbook in my next giveaway post (hint: next week!); homemade hemp milk (hint: Hippie-dippy!); and, of course, this incredible pâté, which I consumed one morning for breakfast, rolled in raw collard leaves, like so:
The spread is also great on rice cakes, crackers, or perched on a baby carrot for a high-protein midafternoon snack. The key to its ethereal creaminess is avocado. And while I’ve created many a raw veggie pâté in my day, I’ve never thought to add avocado to the mix. Yes, it does amp up the fat content considerably; but it also lends a velvet smoothness to the base of the spread that, combined with the bits of texture from the veggies, nuts and seeds, elevates it beyond the usual mix of this sort. And pumpkinseeds are actually a great anti-candida food since they are anti-parasitic (not to mention oh-so-important for all the prostate glands out there, gentlemen.).
I realize that the kitchen muses may not deign to visit me every week, so I’m always happy when I experience that kind of creative success in the kitchen for a few days running. And even though the food processor and VitaMix may now grow silent for a few days, I can still enjoy the results of last week’s experiments this week–while I sit at my desk, marking essays.
Creamy Raw Almond and Pumpkinseed Pâté
Feel free to switch up the herbs in this fresh, raw pâté. I loved dill the most, but if it’s not your thing, use parsley or cilantro instead.
3/4 cup (135 g) raw natural almonds, soaked in room temperature water for 6-8 hours, or more (if soaking more than 10 hours, refresh the water and store in the refrigerator overnight)
1/2 cup (75 g) raw pumpkinseeds, unsoaked (dry)
1 large clove garlic
1 large carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh leafy herbs, unpacked (I used a mix of parsley, basil and dill; cilantro would be great, too)
meat of 1/2 small avocado
1/4 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt, to your taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
juice of 1/2 lemon, or a bit more, to taste
water, if necessary
Drain and rinse the almonds; drain again and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the pumpkinseeds and blend until they break up and appear finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy, with a few flecks of color from the carrot and herbs remaining; if the pâté is too thick, add water a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. It should be thick, but spreadable.
Transfer to a container and store in fridge until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups/480 ml. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here in the DDD household, what with mega-marking for my classes at the college, a whirlwind trip to Montreal (more on that anon), the regular array of doctor’s appointments, a quick visit for a dental emergency (my molar is fine now), evening visits to the Vet emergency clinic (Chaser is fine now), weekday visits from the emergency plumber (the toilet is fine now), and long-deferred evenings with the HH (our relationship will be fine now). So thank you all for your patience in waiting for this next recipe!
Before I get to the recipe, though, I’m going to make you wait just a wee bit longer (am I terrible, or what?) so I can share a little from our trip to Montreal last weekend.
After spending time with my dad to wish him both both a Happy Father’s Day and a Happy 91st Birthday (yes, you read that right!), I knew exactly where I wanted to dine: Aux Vivres, one of the most popular, hippest vegan spots in that city.
Despite driving over an hour before we found the place (which was quite the feat, considering we were only 15 minutes away when we started), we were thrilled to finally ease into a parking spot and run across Boulevard St.-Laurent into the bright, bustling and (thankfully) bilingual café.
After a heavy (if yummy) brunch that morning, the one thing I really craved was a green juice. I started with the Popeye, while the HH went for a Mango Lassi:
[The HH's Mango lassi on the left, my green juice on the right.]
For dinner, the HH (of course) chose the closest thing to meat on the menu and ordered the Portobello Burger, about which he raved.
[Manly Portobello Burger. Look at the size of those fries!]
I sank my teeth into a Buddha Bowl with grilled tempeh (which reminded me that I also need to make these types of bowls at home more often!):
[Vegan Happy Meal--apologies for the blurred photo!]
All in all, a wonderful meal, as always. We had hoped to get to Crudessence as well, but ran out of time!
Naw, kidding! (I honestly can’t imagine such a thing. . . ).
[Vibrant with additions of grape tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, spring mix and cucumber.]
So, despite the fact that I *could* continue sharing an indefinite number of desserts until, oh, 2042 or so (to me, nothing is ever as interesting as dessert, so I tend to lean–heavily–in that direction), I have chosen to take a break from the sweet stuff and begin to share all the other stuff I eat on a daily basis.
When I posted what I considered to be a fairly basic kale salad the other day on Facebook and got a resounding response from readers (in fact, that little update got more comments/likes than anything else I’ve ever posted on the page), I realized that regular food deserves its moment in the sun, too! (Well, not really “in the sun,” of course, since we all know that would be bad for its health and increase its chances of skin cancer–but you know what I mean).
[A blend with purple cabbage, green apple, and pumpkin seeds]
In a way, I think of this salad as the culinary counterpart to The HH. (What? The salad is going a little bald at the top?).
Let me explain.
Like so many other couples who’ve been together for some time, the HH and I have established routines in our lives. He’s the one who gets up in the morning to walk The Girls; I’m the one who feeds them their dinner. In the evenings, we walk them together. When we prepare our own dinner, I’m the kitchen director and the HH is my sous-chef (well, chopper, at any rate). He’s in charge of the lawn mower and I’m in charge of the food processor. Et cetera.
As a teenager, I remember glancing at my parents sitting across from each other at the dinner table and thinking that their lives were unbearably dull and routine, devoid of amy spark or novelty. They just seemed so. . . . blasé with each other.
[With cherry tomatoes, green cabbage, sunflower seeds and chopped pecans]
These days, though, I’ve come to appreciate that there is comfort and security in familiarity. It’s like sliding into the car seat each morning with everything already adjusted, so there’s no need to fix the rear-view mirror or move the chair forward; or that beloved blouse you’ve worn so many times you recognize the faint aroma of your favorite perfume when you withdraw it from your drawer. Or like that old wooden spoon you got as a gift when you moved into your first apartment, the one that’s stained and glossy with the nuance of oils and sugar and cookie dough batter that have worked their way into the wood grain over the years, the handle having shaped itself to your grip over time with so many uses.
Life with a long-term partner is like that, too: the steady, repeated drum of your daily life like the constant flow of water from a stream, engraving its pattern into the rock; eventually, the rough edges are all smoothed out, the water’s groove etched permanently.
It’s the daily, quotidien habits that provide a sense of harmony and contentment, even when we begin to take them for granted. Sometimes, it takes an outsider’s comment–”Wow, that HH is so funny!” a friend might remark after we’ve all had dinner together, or “I can’t believe that the HH knew who Robert Bussard was!” or “Seriously? The HH painted that??”–to startle us back into appreciation. And at times like that, I remember exactly why I was so smitten to begin with, and what it is I still love.
[A perfect summer lunch plate.]
So, okay, maybe it’s a stretch, but I think we go through the same dulling of appreciation with familiar foods, too. Anything that you eat regularly–part of the “routine”–can be taken for granted, and you may lose sight of how remarkably great that food seems to someone who doesn’t consume it on a regular basis.*
That’s why I was so taken aback by your response to this salad on Facebook. Ever since I first encountered a similar recipe in Kim’s recipe calendar, we’ve eaten a variation on this dish at least once a week in our house; to me, it’s as familiar as my fingerprints. At the same time, the fact that it is so common offers a sense of regularity (and–ahem–I mean that in both senses of the word). Your reaction made me wonder if perhaps there was more here than I realized–had I been taking my quotidien Kale Salad for granted?
Well, thanks to all of you for recasting my perception of this salad. To me, it had become a pair of comfy PJs, a favorite hairbrush that’s softened with years of use, a constant, steady and familiar companion whose presence was so ubiquitous it almost receded into the background.
But now, looking at it with new eyes, my heart jumps again when I gaze in that direction. And I appreciate him it more than ever.
*I’d say this principle is true of every food except chocolate, of course. I am still just as besotted today as I was the first day I encountered it.
What’s your kitchen staple–a dish that’s common in your kitchen, but might seem new and tantalizing to someone else?
[With added hemp seeds, sprouts, radish, apple and chopped pecans]
Kale Salad, Fully Loaded
This is really less of a recipe and more of a guideline. Essential ingredients, in my opinion, are “The Base;” (it IS a kale salad, after all!); “Crunchy Veggies” (especially carrot and beet); “Fresh Herbs,” which I feel really “make” this salad; and “Nuts and Seeds” (at least one choice). All the other categories can be omitted if desired and you’ll still end up with a yummy salad. Switching up the ingredients in each category allows for infinite possibilities. Take your pick and enjoy salad all year!
1 bunch (6-9 leaves) curly kale or Swiss chard (red or white), or a combination
1 cup (240 ml) mixed baby salad greens, bite-sized romaine lettuce, bite-sized butter lettuce, arugula (rocket) or a combination
1 medium carrot, grated
1 medium beet, grated
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 red, yellow or orange pepper, diced
1/2 cup (120 ml) of at least 2 types of coarsely chopped fresh herbs (my favorites are dill, basil, mint, flat leaf parsley and cilantro)
1/2 cup total of any combination of fresh nut pieces and seeds (my favorite combinations are walnuts or pecans and hemp seeds; walnuts or pecans and sunflower seeds; almonds and pumpkin seeds)
2 cups (480 ml) total of any of the following (or any combination):
finely shredded white or purple cabbage
1 apple or pear, cored and diced; or 1 cup fresh blueberries or strawberries; or 1 avocado, peeled, cored and diced; or 1/4 cup goji berries or golden berries; or 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
Other Add-Ins (all of these are optional):
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin
4-6 radishes, sliced in half-moons
1/3 cucumber, sliced in half moons
handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
handful of sprouts (my favorites are sunflower, pea, or alfalfa sprouts)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
2 Tbsp -1/4 cup (30-60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
juice of 1/2 large lemon, to your taste
Soften the kale: Remove the kale leaves from the ribs; discard ribs, then wash and dry the leaves. Stack the leaves, roll tightly (jelly-roll style), then cut thinly crosswise to create long thin shreds. Chop the shreds into smaller pieces and place in a large salad bowl.
Sprinkle the kale with salt and drizzle with about 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil. Using your clean hands, “massage” the kale, squeezing it and squishing it between your fingers, until it begins to darken and soften a bit (this breaks down the fibers in the leaves and renders them more easily digestible–but they will still retain a nice crunch). Wash and chop the chard using the same method and add to the bowl (it doesn’t need to be massaged).
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss with the lemon juice and more salt and/or olive oil, if desired. I like this salad fairly dry, so that the leaves are just barely coated with dressing but not in the least wet, with no excess dressing pooling at the bottom of the bowl. The HH prefers his more saturated; it is entirely up to you. Makes 3-5 meal-sized servings or 6-8 side servings. Will keep, covered in the refrigerator, up to 3 days (and will still remain crunchy!).