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  1. Viva la Vitamix

    January 17, 2013 by Laura

    On January 7 I started what is either a 21 Day Purification Program (if you’re a Whole Foods shopper type) or a LOSE UP TO 12 POUNDS IN ONLY 3 WEEKS MIRACLE DIET!! (if you’re more of a Safeway shopper). I do this maybe twice a year and always feel good eating all those veggies. It’s kind of a kick-start thing. Although last time I did it, it was more of a launchpad to the holiday smörgåsbord (don’t you love the excellent Nordic letters? Admittedly, I ate no Scandinavian food over the holidays), so I’ll have to figure something else out. This time around, I’m being a little less aggressive about it. Maybe because I’ve added the running. Also, I’m trying to develop good habits for afterward, as this is not sustainable.

    The program goes like this: you take 75 of the giant, gel-capped, “supplement” pills 9 times a day. You add the sawdust to your smoothies, which you eat instead of food. Then, you can eat anything on this list: fruit, vegetable, brown rice, wild rice, lentils. If it’s not on the list, a crazed, vegan, ultra-marathoner comes over to break your wrist. Simple.

    Today I am totally bored with smoothies. And with salad. It’s 28 freaking degrees outside, and I am blending frozen blueberries. Not into it. So in order to mix it up a little (by the way, in real life, I never say “mix it up a little”), I grabbed the cookbook that came with my Vitamix. Remember my Vitamix? The one I swooned over back in 2010 when I got it? I still love it. I use it every day. Lately, though, I think I’m sensing that it’s bored with smoothies too. I am definitely not using it to its full potential. After all, it can do ANYTHING. I’m trying to teach it to address my holiday cards, which I promise will go out this week. What? Martin Luther King Day is a holiday. Peace on Earth, good will toward men? What was I talking about?

    The nice thing for me about Vitamix food, it that you mostly don’t have to chew it. Since I got my braces, I’ve had trouble remembering to wear my elastics, so if I don’t have to take them out and put them it to eat, it’s easier (especially at work, where no amount of scrupulous hand hygiene and glove wearing can make you forget that you’ve just administered a suppository before lunch). Where was I?

    Oh, an easy recipe: Vegetable Soup I Made the Other Day and Ate for Breakfast Today

    Trim, peel, dice, and sauté in a soup pot until lovely the following veggies, reserving the trimmed, peeled bits:

    1 onion
    2 carrots
    2 stalks celery
    1 large parsnip
    2 cloves garlic

    Take the peeled bits, along with a potato and maybe some bones from the roasted chicken that the rest of the family ate, and put in a pot. Cover with water and boil the heck out of it. Normally I wouldn’t do it so crassly, but who has the time? Turn off the sauté so it doesn’t burn. Add 2 cans of stewed tomatoes (with or without the italian seasonings, I don’t care) to the sautéed veggies. When the stock seems to have taken on some color, strain it into the veggies. Simmer for a few minutes, then very carefully, in batches, blend it all up (in a Vitamix if you have one). Salt and pepper and other herbs and spices to taste. I also dumped Guthrie’s leftover coconut milk in it. All Done!

    This recipe is not in the Vitamix cookbook, by the way. Maybe next time.

  2. Day 1 all over again

    June 10, 2011 by Laura

    Well, I’ve been away to deal with some family “issues” which themselves could be a whole other blog. I had most of this post written, and sadly it’s still relevant a month later. Here it is, finished. But after this I’m working on a righteous tirade on our food supply.

    When I started this endeavor, the scale said I was in the 170’s. I am now flirting with 140’s, but keep bouncing back to 151. Damn damn damn. So now I have to re-dedicate myself to this, because in addition to trying to be Excruciatingly Healthy, I have joined The Biggest Loser at work — a friendly competition with a small wager. One thing I am not is excruciatingly competitive. I tend to say, “The hell with it, I’m taking my checkers and going home. I don’t need the aggravation.” Don’t get me wrong, I like to win–who doesn’t? But I’m one of those, “Hey, good game, if it couldn’t be me, I’m glad it was you” types. Also, in a passive – aggressive move, I might just forfeit. You win. Smirk. Does that make me a quitter? hmmmm…

    What was I talking about?

    Right, so the scale is stuck at 150.8. Also, I notice the toxic hunger sensation creeping in, because I’ve been snacking on whole wheat pita & hummus in non-nutritarian proportions. This stuff is real, people. Suddenly, I’m thinking, “Oh my God I’m STARVING!!” Which I haven’t thought for a while. So with a fridge full of kale and chard and cheez, I’m going to start from Day 1 again.

    What was Day 1? It probably wasn’t the weird hamburger helper type meal I just made in an effort to empty the freezer of all ingredients that had taken up a long term lease on the shelf space. Let’s see, shall we? (Cue the blurry flashback effect here):

    Breakfast: Quick Banana Breakfast to Go

    Lunch: Raw Vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and red pepper), Russian Fig Dressing/Dip, Black Bean Lettuce Bundles, Melon

    Dinner: Quinoa Bean Salad, High Cruciferous Vegetable Stew, Apple Surprise or fresh fruit.

    Oh, man, really? I have strayed far.

    So the banana breakfast is this: 2 cups frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 1/3 cup pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons dried currants, 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds, 2 bananas sliced.

    Combine it all & heat in a microwave for 3 minutes. Serves 2.

    I don’t think I ever made this, so I am going to put it together tonight so it’s ready to go in the a.m. Wish me luck! Again!





  3. Quinoa and Chard Cakes – Recipes for Health –

    May 24, 2011 by Laura

    Quinoa and Chard Cakes – Recipes for Health –


    This recipe looked too good not to share. In order to “Nutrify” it, I would cut out some saute oil; use fat free Greek style yogurt; and add some flaxseed meal. If you use it, let me know how it is.

  4. How to get more greens

    April 26, 2011 by Laura

    Kale, collards, turnip and mustard (ANDI 1000)

    The way I prepare these greens most often is as follows:

    For kale & collards, cut the spine out of the leaf and chop the leaf up. For the turnip and mustard greens, I just cut off the stem if it’s woody. Wash and cut the greens or make life very easy and buy a blend of “braising greens” from Trader Joe’s or the produce department.

    In a saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil and saute some crushed or minced garlic until it’s fragrant. Don’t let it burn. Add the greens and toss them around the pan to coat with oil and garlic. They’ll wilt and shrink quite bit. At this point I like to add some chicken or vegetable stock and braise the greens for 15  or 20 minutes. I am not a raw foodie. I like my greens cooked. I also add hot pepper flakes and lemon juice.

    If you want something heartier, you can add more stock, a can of diced tomatoes, and can of white beans, and some shredded Parmesan ( a little just before you serve the stew).

    Also, for the truly devoted, raw collard leaves can be used like wraps instead of tortillas.

    Spinach (ANDI 739)

    I buy washed baby spinach by the ton. I throw handfuls in smoothies, wilt it for omelets, stuff it in pitas with hummus. I mix it in with salads, but I am not a fan of the straight-up spinach salad.

    –more to come when the kids go to sleep again.



  5. A Pancake Recipe

    April 14, 2011 by Laura

    I thought I’d lighten the mood a little.

    Weekend mornings are for pancakes around here. For years I’ve been using a pancake recipe from my very tattered old copy of The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown. It’s very simple, straightforward, and easily modified. Below is the original recipe, re-typed in its entirety, and some modifications I’ve made to further up the ANDI. All annoying formatting and syntax is faithfully reproduced from the original.

    47) Whole Wheat Pancakes
    Are entirely exceptional, especially served with jam-marbled sour cream and eggs poached with love.
    (Serve 6 perhaps)
    2c whole wheat (pastry) flour
    1 T baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    1 T brown sugar or honey
    3 eggs, separated
    2 c milk
    1/2 c oil
    Sift flour with baking powder, salt and sugar. If using honey, add it to the milk and oil. Beat milk and oil into the yolks.
    Combine yolks, milk and oil with dry ingredients until just blended; then fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Cook on greased griddle or frying pan. May be made any size.
    May be made without separating eggs.
    May also be made with fruit puree: apple, apricot, peach, pear, in place of milk or
    Add fruit chunks, or
    Slip in some tahini, nuts, sesame or sunflower seeds, or
    Use some corn meal or rolled oats, barley flour or buck wheat (1/2 c).
    For waffles use only 1 1/4 c milk.


    First of all, I can’t condone the sour cream and eggs and still maintain my Nutri-integrity. But it does sound good, and if you’re so inclined, I’m sure it’s delicious. My modifications: I have never separated the eggs, and they’re still great. I have substituted 1/2 cup cornmeal for an equal amount of flour, and that’s very good, especially when you drop blueberries in while they cook. Latest nifty tricks: 1 T oil instead of 1/2 cup; 3 tablespoon ground flax seeds combined and allowed to sit with 9 tablespoons hot water in place of the eggs. This really works. I also used soy and hazelnut milk in place of the dairy. And I used maple syrup instead of the sugar, because I miss Vermont. These are very nearly fail-proof and the recipe makes a lot of normal sized pancakes.

    Next, an okra recipe!


  6. Full of beans

    March 19, 2011 by Laura

    As a Nutritarian, I am committed to eating one serving of beans or legumes daily. Here is why, according to Dr. Fuhrman’s website:

    “Beans’ unique composition makes them a dietary wonder. Beans are rich in fiber and resistant starch and are not easily broken down by enzymes in the small intestine. They pass into the large intestine where bacteria ferment them into short chain fatty acids such as butyrate.6 Butyrate protects against colon cancer in many different ways:

    • Butyrate halts cancer cell growth and causes cancer cell death.7 

    • Butyrate increases the expression of detoxifying enzymes and limits DNA damage due to oxidative stress.8

    • Butyrate inhibits tumors from acquiring a blood supply.7

    • Butyrate has anti-inflammatory affects.7″


    So there. I love beans. And before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way, okay?

    They both work. ‘Nuff said.

    Tonight I made a vegetarian bean soup with a blend of about 10 varieties of beans. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the ham. It’s not that the soup was lacking anything, I am just very partial to bean soup with ham. Ham, however, does not pass the “Will this make me healthier?” test. Here is the recipe for my delicious, ham-less, bean soup:

    Makes a lot, use a big pot.

    Dice and saute in a small amount of olive oil the following:

    • 1 yellow onion
    • 1 or 2 ribs of celery
    • 1 or 2 carrots
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • 3 cloves garlic

    when they are soft and fragrant, add:

    • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
    • 3 cups of assorted beans and lentils
    • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
    • 2 cups of tomato sauce (I used some I’d made a few days ago)
    • 12 cups of water or stock
    • bay leaf or 2
    • thyme

    Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for 3 hours or until the beans are soft. Add some fresh parsley, and correct the seasonings with salt & pepper.

    Serve with crusty bread and bacon fat.

    And beer.

    Oh, sorry, that was my evil twin.

  7. Parsnip Soup with Leeks and Parsley Recipe | Simply Recipes

    March 17, 2011 by Laura

    Parsnip Soup with Leeks and Parsley Recipe | Simply Recipes.

    The food blog Simply Recipes is one I’ve been following for a few years. Indeed, it is simple, with beautiful photos and well worked recipes. Elise, the blogger, is a Bay Area resident, so her recipes resonate here. Elise is a classic foodie, apparently eating whatever she wants without regretting a calorie. Her recipes are delicious, but nowadays I often have to modify them to accomodate my current nutritional requirements. Here’s a recipe for parsnip soup that I plan to make today, minus the butter and some of the salt and oil, of course. Perfect for St. Patrick’s day.

  8. Vitamix Mania

    March 16, 2011 by Laura

    Last week I strolled innocently enough into my local Costco. You know, just another mom needing 900 baby wipes and a case of San Pellegrino. Little did I know, I had a date with destiny. It was Vitamix demo day in Santa Rosa, and I was the target demographic. How did they know? They actually held up a panel of the Whole Foods grocery bag with the Top 10 ANDI foods printed on it. At first I made some feeble, “I’ll have to check with my husband before I make this kind of purchase,” statement. Yeah, right. I did a couple of laps to try to shake off the small appliance lust.

    But the hum of the 2+ Peak HP motor was like a siren. After passing up the samples of Louisiana Hot Links, I again found myself at the booth where Michael and Diane of were fixing up a “live foods” smoothie for the crowd. Across the aisle, a larger crowd was elbowing for caramel popcorn. Two aisles down, Melva was just taking the Dino Bites out of the counter top oven. They were no match for the green goodness flowing from the easy-to-clean BPA-free Eastman Tritan co-polyester container. “Okay, just put one in the cart, quick! Before I come to my senses.” On the drive home, I think I heard it singing to me.

    Oh, just what is a Vitamix? Only the most totally freaking awesome food preparation device ever made. What?! Don’t you call it a “blender.” A blender makes stupid frozen cocktails. A Vitamix makes “perfectly smooth whole food juice and smoothies, steaming hot soup from fresh produce, and low-fat frozen treats.” Take that and stick it in your Osterizer. Oh, you can’t, because the Osterizer couldn’t handle it. Lalala.

    I think I’ve used it 40 times in 5 days. I’m in love with it. I walk in the kitchen and it purrs.

    What’s the best thing I’ve made with it? Hmmmm… I think the Raw Borscht. No, I’m serious. If you love beets like I do, you’ll want to make this:

    Raw Borscht (serves 2)


    • 1 large beet, peeled & cut into chunks
    • 1 large carrot washed & cut into chunks
    • 1-2 ribs celery cut up
    • 1/4 red onion or the white parts of 4 scallions chopped
    • 1/2 to 1 whole avocado
    • 1/2 cup raw cashews
    • small clove garlic
    • About 1 teaspoon of minced jalapeño
    • About 1 teaspoon of minced fresh ginger
    • juice of a lemon
    • splash apple cider or rice wine vinegar
    • 1 cup of water–I used San Pellegrino for a bit of effervescence
    • salt & pepper

    Put it all in your Vitamix and blend adding more water to achieve a smooth, creamy consistency. Garnish with dill & chopped cucumber or more avocado. I wish I had a picture, because it is the most beautiful magenta color. It’s quite tangy & warming, even though it’s a cold soup. Add ice to make it really cold, or blend it for 4-5 minutes to heat it up.

    When we were in Santa Cruz, we ate at Malabar Restaurant on Front Street. I can’t recommend the place highly enough. Truly, truly delicious-by-any-standard vegetarian fare. They had a raw borscht they made with Kombucha. I might try that next, even though Kombucha is up there with Vegemite on my list of dubious comestibles.

    Stay tuned for more Vitamix Magic…

  9. Guess who went to the gym today?

    February 22, 2011 by Laura

    Woohoooo! I did it: I joined the Y. I also signed the boys up for swim lessons on Saturdays, which means I’ll have to show up there on the weekends too.

    Thanks to Donna for the moral support. I spent 20 full minutes on the elliptical; did some quad and hamstring Nautilus stuff; stretched and did something ouchy under my left scapula. It’s better now. More pats on the back, please…

    I promised a recipe so here it is. It’s a tofu-based dressing I whipped up and poured over broccoli slaw tonight:

    • 1 block soft, silken tofu
    • 2 scallions/green onions chopped
    • 1/2 roasted red pepper (I used one from a jar)
    • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
    • generous shake of spike or other salt-free seasoning
    • squirt lemon juice
    • splash rice wine vinegar
    • various & sundry dried and fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, parsley, dill
    • 1 clove garlic chopped

    Blend it all up until smooth & creamy, taste and modify as desired. Pour over salad or use as a dip. As you can see, I’m not much for measuring, so my recipes are more like suggestions that worked out well for me. Try it and let me know how it goes.

    I’m a salad fanatic. I think it’s a California thing, although I remember inventing salad dressings when I lived in Vermont. There was this creamy buttermilk Gorgonzola with dill… I’ll have to figure out a way to do it without Gorgonzola. Sigh.

  10. What’s a nice vegan like you…

    February 15, 2011 by Laura

    Ok, I’m not really a vegan. I feel like such a poser. This is what happens when Nutritarian meets wanna-be farmer. I have longed for a chicken coop and chickens for years now. I had a pet chicken a few years ago: Dixie Chicken. She was a lovely Black Star chicken who slept in a waxed produce box in my studio apartment by night, and roamed around the property by day. Besides providing me with a large, brown egg daily, her most endearing quality was her insatiable appetite for potato bugs. I loved that chicken. One fateful night, she refused to get in her box and decided to bed down in the goat shed. She was a sitting duck, er cluck. The next morning I found two eggs and… well, it wasn’t pretty.

    As a Nutritarian, I am allowed four animal products per week. Eggs score a paltry 27 on the ANDI scale, but a kale omelet? That’s gotta be worth something. And just how much do I love eggs? I have an egg cup collection. I once wanted to open a store devoted to eggs & egg-y things. I pictured a boutique in Soho with Peeps and caviar and, you know, Fabergé eggs. Necessities, really.

    So far my endeavor is going quite well. I am down 7 (!) pounds since I started about 3 weeks ago. I’m eating about a pound of veggies per day. Zero dairy, zero white flour, very little in the way of refined sweeteners (there’s some in the soy milk), no red meat. My chicken & fish intake is down to nearly nothing also. And just ask Dale, we probably ate 10 pounds of chicken a week around here.

    My biggest challenge is trying not to invent some rationalization to eat some gorgeous, locally produced bread, cheese, bacon, duck confit, what-have-you. I feel personally responsible for keeping small agricultural producers going. After all, they’ve probably felt the drop in business since I stopped eating cheese.

    My methods these days to keep myself on track are 1) picture my current self in a beige dress; 2) picture my future self in a beige dress; and 3) ask myself this question before I eat: Will this make me healthier or not? Not “Would this be so bad in the context of an otherwise very healthy diet?” or “Is this food ok in moderation?” or “Is THIS really the cookie that will put me over the edge?” But rather, if I eat this thing right here that I think I want– Michel Cluizel chocolate, Wild Flour Bread fougasse, fresh Dungeness crab cake, apple-smoked BLT with avocado, Bear Republic Racer 5… will I be healthier? And if the answer is no, the answer is no, right? Actually, it’s what I do to Amos 25 times a day.

    Mind you, I am no longer even bothering to remember that I was once a professional food person. Now I’m a “busy working mom trying to throw down a healthy meal for my family in 20 minutes or less!” Imagine pert smile here. Here’s what we ate for dinner:

    A big plate of salad with oil-free, roasted red pepper dressing (I forget what I put in it). A “pizza” as follows:
    For 4 servings

    • 4 “Ezekiel 4:9” Sprouted Grain Tortillas
    • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
    • your favorite shredded cheez (I used a combo of the previously reviewed products)
    • 1/4 red onion sliced thinly
    • 1 clove garlic chopped
    • big handful of baby spinach leaves
    • about 12 frozen artichoke hearts (I think they’re quartered)
    • sliced roasted red pepper (I used the jarred kind)

    Preheat your oven to at least 450, hotter if it goes hotter. Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet or 2 and divide the sauce among them. Cover the sauce with the cheez so it resembles an actual pizza. In a large pan or wok saute the onions & garlic using either a very brief spray of cooking spray, or a bit of hot water. You don’t need to cook them for long, as they will further cook in the oven. Add the spinach & artichoke hearts and cook until the spinach is wilted and the artichoke hearts are no longer frozen. Add in the red pepper strips. Divide this mixture among the peetsas — it should be heaped a little. Put them in the oven for 10 minutes or so. The tortillas should crisp up a bit. Sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs, red pepper flakes, and some kind of shaky cheez. Enjoy!