Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wasn't this a neat surprise?

Thanks for the vote of confidence. When I received the award notification, I realized how proud I was to be counted along with a growing number of people, world-wide, who've heard their own private alarm, and are taking control and assuming responsibility for their health and well-being.

As I posted earlier, this month is all about moderation. I start each day with a green smoothie, using a variety of fruit from day to day and including a generous helping of spinach, kale or romaine. I'm drinking about a quart of veggie juice each day - using it as a meal replacement (large glass - 12 oz) or in conjunction with some raw veggies such as a salad or veggie plate (smaller glass - 6 oz). If I have a cooked food meal it has been a vegan combination.

Here are the ingredients for today's jar of juice
I used 5 carrots, 1 stalk of celery, 2 Kirby cucumbers, 2 red apples, 1/3 bunch of flat leaf parsley, 1 beet, half a lemon and, not shown as they were an afterthought, 4 big strawberries.

Using beets sparingly along with other root vegetables is very palatable, especially with a little fruit to smooth out the earthy flavor. Carrots have a high sugar content, too. The greens give it an interesting herbal undertone and the celery, with its high sodium, brings out all the flavors just as adding a bit of sea salt does for cooked foods. The apple and lemon add a touch of sweetness and a bit of tang.

I'm experimenting with various vegetable combinations. Not only to vary the taste but to ensure a wide variety of nutrients. What an adventure!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Body Needs A Break

Karen Knowler's* Robust Red Juice

It's been a little over six months since I embarked on The Raw Divas 7-Day raw food detox program. This blog is a record of the gradual inching away from green smoothies, mono-fruit meals, simple veggie snacks to big mixed salads, steamed vegetables, added grains, spicy salsas and sauces gracing pasta . . . on and on and on.

Not only does the scale show the results - UP, UP, UP. It's registering 4 - 5 lbs more than a month ago. But my energy level lags and I know, not just intellectually, but in every fiber of my being, that I'm sliding down the slippery slope — and if I keep on this path, the next thing will be burgers and fries!

I took the first step in that direction last evening. I dined out at a vegan spot, but had a "Philly-Dilly" on a big white French Hoagie roll! Yikes. The sandwich was laden with tasty, sautéed seitan (mock steak), peppers, onions, soy cheese and veganaise. As opposed to other things, it was relatively healthy, I guess. But I thought I was past that kind of eating!

As good as it all tasted going down, it rested in my stomach like the proverbial lead balloon. And I still felt a bit queasy when I awoke this morning.

It was a great wake-up call.

Coincidentally, if you believe in coincidence, providentially, if that's your bent, earlier in the week Heidi at Raw Food Right Now posted about her decision to embark on a juice feasting agenda. This is a big undertaking as the program runs 92 days. I read about her decision with interest and even spent some time investigating David Rainoshek's website, Juice Feasting, and watched the short introductory video. Right on the heels of looking into that site, Karen Knowler's weekly e-zine, Successfully Raw, arrived. And lo and behold, Karen's recipe of the week turned out to be a fantastic juice combination. The signs were all there! I knew I had to make some changes.

I assembled the ingredients called for in Karen's recipe and made about a quart of rosy red juice, which will be my mainstay for today's lunch. This is juice not a smoothie. Made in the juicer not the blender.

I'm posting the ingredients as Karen's newsletter is free to the public when you sign up for her free e-zine, and I certainly encourage you to sign up. Her experience, advice and inspiration provide a wealth of detailed guidance as we travel along the highway to health.
And believe me, every bit of help makes each step easier and more successful.

Karen's Tip-Top Cocktail*
1 beet (bulb only)
4 medium carrots
3 oranges
6 apples
1 small bunch of parsley
4 strawberries

Courtesy of: © Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach 2008,

I've often wondered how the wine enthusiasts can actually discern the various flavors in a sip of wine. Now I know! As I sipped my Tip-Top cocktail, I could taste the sweetness of the apple, the fresh, crisp herbal flavor of the flat leaf parsley, the robust, earthy flavor of the beet , the underlying richness from the carrots, and the light fresh flavor of the citrus. Karen reminds us not to omit the strawberries—and it's easy to see why, the bright, sweet finish they leave on the palate is unmistakable. This juice is a great example of "the whole being greater than the sum of its parts." It's a dynamite combination of fruit and vegetables offering a healthy dose of nutrients with a palate pleasing smooth finish. A nice way to give the digestive system a rest, maintain your energy, and enjoy nature's bounty.

I plan to follow a light eating pattern of juicing, raw fruits and veggies, green smoothies, raw nuts, seeds, lots of filtered water and only occasionally adding vegan soups or whole grain dishes over the next 30 days. I'll see how my system reacts and perhaps renegotiate my choices going forward but I feel certain they will lean toward more juicing, more raw food. I feel so good when I follow this eating lifestyle, but the years of habit, addictions, peer pressure, convenience, and poor time management, make it easy for us to slip back into old habits and eating patterns.

All we need to do is one good thing at a time, taking baby steps as we explore the options. Develop an eating plan that is right for ourselves based on our age, health, weight, lifestyle. And keep in mind that each right thing we do for ourselves brings us one step closer to realizing optimum health. Makes sense to me to at least try.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I've always thought of Brussels sprouts as little cabbages, but I read that these little green heads are members of the mustard family. Though given the faint cabbage odor they impart during cooking makes me suspect they are at least kissin' cousins.

Last March, I reported that many of us have been enjoying this vegetable sliced and sautéed with shallots, then finished off with a dab of spicy brown mustard. But recently, I ran across another clever rendition that has the core cut out and the leaves separated before sautéeing them quickly in olive oil with sliced shallots and pistachios, then finished with a generous drizzle of lemon juice, salt and pepper.

The evening I decided to put in the extra effort to separate the leaves from a few sprouts, I started a half cup of Lundberg Farms Japonica rice. That's the combination of black and mahogany rice that I find so full flavored and perfect to combine with vegetables to make a full meal. My local Publix carries a selection of various Lundberg rices. Unfortunately, they don't carry this one. I pick it up at Whole Foods or Chamberlin's and try to always have an extra package tucked away as it makes a great meat substitute for stuffing veggies as well as a good base for a variety of rice bowls.

I gave the rice a little boost by starting it as I would for risotto. After rinsing the rice well in cold water, I heated a small sauce pan with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and added half a medium sweet onion, finely chopped. Once the onions had begun to sweat, but not browned, I added the rice and sautéed for a moment or two, stirring to coat each grain with oil, then I added a generous splash of dry vermouth and let that cook down before adding the water and salt, bringing it to a boil, then covering and turning down to a gentle simmer. This hardy rice takes about 40 minutes to cook. I use a pot with a glass lid so I can keep an eye on the evaporation process after the first 30 minutes. Once it appears dry — I leave it covered and move it off heat while I proceed with the rest of the meal preparations.

I have to plead guilty to having no pistachios in the house, but I did have walnuts, almonds, cashews and hazelnuts. Any one of them would have served well to replace the pistachios, but I chose the hazelnuts. I thought the rich, full-bodied flavor, skins and all, would stand up well to the sprouts.

The combination of meaty black rice, sprouts and nuts made a delicious rice bowl once seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. The addition of fresh lemon juice, before serving, gave the bowl a fresh, lively kick. The amazing feature is the bottom line. . . I used a half cup of rice, two shallots, 8 sprouts, a quarter cup of chopped hazelnuts and the juice from half a lemon.

You do the math based on where you live and where you shop — how little does this cost?

Not only is this inexpensive, but how easy it is to prepare a delicious meal simply and quickly with just a handful of ingredients. And the hidden benefit? It's super nutritious!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Sunday mid-day meal is often an indulgence of cooked food. While whole and unprocessed, it does have a tendency to be a bit high in the carb department, often with a generous helping of dairy in the form of cheese or sour cream.

Today's treat is a version of the popular peasant food reputed to have originated in Naples, pasta with puttanesca sauce. Roughly translated: "in the style of the whore". The Italian word for whore being puttana.

Legend has it that it was a quick, easy meal for the 'ladies of the evening' to prepare in between customers. Another school of thought suggests the name was derived from the Latin word, putida "stinking", as the strong aroma of the sauce would attract men from the street.

The original version includes anchovies. I often skip the anchovies, relying solely on good quality olive oil, flavorful tomatoes, with kalamata olives and capers ensuring a depth of flavor that is rich and pleasing even without the signature ingredient.

This is a very simple sauce, made quickly while the pasta cooks, using pantry ingredients.

Make it a few times and you'll come to rely on it for a quick meal served over pasta or as a full flavored accompaniment for a mild fish fillet or chicken breast. It will be equally impressive in the dining room for company.

The sauce is a thoughtful gift item, too. Bottled up in a quart canning jar, tied with a big ribbon, nestled in an attractive little basket along with a loaf of crunchy, peasant bread or a bottle of red wine, it makes a unique birthday, thank you or hostess gift.


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes in puree with basil (or fire-roasted crushed tomatoes)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
3 anchovy fillets (if using)
1-1/2 TBS drained capers
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

3/4 pound thin spaghetti
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about one minute. Add tomatoes, olives, anchovies(if using), capers, oregano and crushed red pepper. Simmer sauce over medium heat until thickened, breaking up the tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While sauce cooks, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al denté. Drain and return to pot, add sauce, toss to coat. Serve with grated cheese.