Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

As my love affair with all things spicy cools off, I have to find ways to live in between.  I am between my love of food relationship exploration and the need for it not to kill my stomach.  Creole food is one of those perplexing situations for me. About a year ago on a pinning spree I took on gumbo and LOVE it.  I love the earthy and fiery flavors with the simple base.  Recently, a more palatable version found my bowl as tweaking to remove shellfish allergy and reduce reflux triggers.  This reworking of a Creole icon reduces the spice, lowers fat content, and switches to a low acid tomato.   Make your shopping list, grab your pots, and find the zydeco music.  It’s time to channel that not so spicy but spiced up food encounter.

Gumbo/Stew

Ingredients and Prep

Roux

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour or all purpose gluten free flour

Gumbo

  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 tsp of Creole Seasoning (cayenne will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried parsley can be substituted)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1 lb of chicken cooked and diced
  •  oz of smoked turkey sausage (if you can handle the spicy go for chicken andouille sausage)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 9 ounces of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Optional add ins: crawfish or shellfish

Cooking

  1. Roux: this mystical beast is the wonderment base.  The key is to never leave it alone and constantly stir.
    • Heat skillet to medium heat then add in oil.  Gentle stir in flour with a whisk and keep stirring.  The goal is a medium to medium dark brown.  Once you reach the desired color, give your arm a break and head to step 2.
  2. Add in: garlic, red bell pepper, celery, and tomatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes
  3. Add in broth, meat, and spices
  4. Simmer on low for about an hour

How you address or dress this dish when it’s done is up to you.  The classic is with rice.  We went for corn polenta (pictured), but it’s up to you and any idea you dream of.  Classics like this have staying power as it carries tradition, memories, and iconic flavors.  It doesn’t mean you can’t mess around a little in your food relationship.

Namaste

Check out part two next week!

Health foodie: Finding the (pH) Balance in Your Food Relationship

Health foodie: Finding the (pH) Balance in Your Food Relationship

Spicy foods and I have had a long time love affair in our food relationship.  It seems that now we are at least on a separation if not headed for limited contact relationship.  Our relationship literally burns my heart, among other things.  Heart burn, acid reflux, and bile reflux are serious conditions that do more than irritate.  Due to high acid production, it can erode your digestive system from mouth to intestines.  It can be painful and may even cause esophageal spasms.  Not being able to use your esophagus sucks at the very least and scary at times.  To find balance in your food relationship, you need pH balance- acid vs alkaline.  This doesn’t mean acidic food are bad all together, many have amazing nutritional value and for some people, acidity is needed.  For us fiery, acidic bellies- we need to tone it down and tailor our relationship.

It’s starts with “we’re on a break.” For some time or all the time or on a limited basis you need to quit these foods: caffeine, citrus fruits, cocoa beans (coffee/chocolate), tomatoes, spicy, hot temps, high fats, processed, fried foods.  A relationship with a medical professional may help you decide what that relationship will look like.  These foods are either high in acid or cause more stomach acid production.  If you are extra sensitive then avoiding most fruits, gluten, dairy, and onions may be of benefit.

So now what do I eat?  I truly did have a spicy food addiction.  In treating and making new relationship routines I have become a humongous fan of oats.  I like oats before, but it’s a whole new love now.  Oats are excellent for regulating blood sugar among many things but for the sake of stomach acid- it absorbs acid and helps regulate the guts.  Every morning I have oatmeal with raw honey and sliced bananas.  Every. Freaking. Morning.  Raw honey, it HAS to be raw, has amazing healing properties and bananas are on the helpful with the acid list.  Ginger in tea or added to a meal is another pH balancing friend.  Probiotics like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha will tip the pH scale in your favor.  And veggies.  Veggies are alkaline which is the yin to acid’s yang so to speak, especially those greens and carrots.  Avocados, herbal teas, nuts, seeds, tofu, amaranth, and legumes are other alkaline options for daily contacts in your food relationship.

Love red sauces.  Me too! What do I do with tomato based sauces to combat acidity? Carrots.  These handy veggies in a puree aid in leveling out tomato’s acidity.  Cooking time is important too.  It need to be limited and I do not cook my sauces over thirty minutes.  More cook time, more acid.  Spices and herbs can contribute to raising the pH level.  An example is enchilada sauce.  I either eliminate the chili powder completely or reduce it, the up the cumin by half more.  This can be applied to any enchilada sauce recipe or pin you see.  Below I have included how I make my carrot puree plus a recipe for a reduced acid pasta sauce.  The carrot thing really does work.

Carrot Puree

2 carrots peeled and diced in 1 cup of water.  Cook until soft and blend or food processor until smooth.  You can double to make extra to store or freeze for later use.

Reduced Acid Pasta Sauce

  • 2 ( 29 oz) can of Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of carrot puree
  • 2 bay leaves (cue 90’s kid in school lunchroom memories)
  • 2 tablespoons basil
  • 1 tablespoon oregano

img_1285.jpg

Cooking: measure it, dump it, stir it, and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.

You can cook longer if you can stand higher acidity.  TBH- I love longer cooked sauces; however, they are not loving me back at the moment.  Care for your gut as it cares for the rest of you.

Please like share or pass along!

Namaste

Aside

Health Foodie, the Moody Eater

Your mental health to function at it’s best requires a multi-faceted care routine.  Physical activity is one essential part.  The input of human connection is another.  Your brain needs creative exercises.  Self care is important.  Proper sleep is crucial.  Professional support may become part too.   Our food relationship plays into our mental well being too.    At times our emotions start to over ride the food choices we make, “eating your feelings” or “moody eating.” This can lead to body and mental harming decisions.  Or it could be telling us something important we need.  What if you could flip your food life and eat for your moods?  Give your brain and nerves what they need ahead of time and enhance their function.

When you eat for your brain,  think “whole rainbow.” If it doesn’t require an ingredient list or has very few ingredients, eat it.  Avoid chemical, dyes, etc as much as possible.  They can harm your physical body then affect your mental health.  Then aim for variety in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.  Super food is a gimmick.  There are some foods like avocados, spinach, kale, berries that are dense in nutrients.  More bang for your buck.  But their impact on your health is limited if you limit what you eat with them.  The variety doesn’t have to be daily and balance is key.  Eat seasonal or rotate.  For us this week it’s mangoes, pineapple, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, green lettuce.  Next week will be a different story.  Go “whole rainbow.”

This is where my food life gets serious.  I LOVE herbs and spices. Recently, a well meaning comment was made on a food item not having any flavor because it didn’t have salt.  No salt doesn’t have to mean no flavor. We have much work to do in our food life if we believe that.  Seasoning is more than flavor.  Just as your food is rich in brain and nervous system nutrients, herbs can do the same.  The herbs used in the recipes/ideas below have a variety of key nutrient players for mental wellness.  We will cook with chives, parsley, ginger, dill, and garlic.  These offer magnesium, iron, choline, potassium, calcium, vitamin C,  copper, and zinc.  All of these are important for your mental functionality.   I come across magnesium and zinc often as natural options people use for mental wellness.   Three out of six of our household members take magnesium for mental focus and help with migraines as a part of our medical conversations and care routines. Do caution with mixing with other meds and zinc should by food digestion only; just because it’s on a OTC shelf doesn’t mean it’s safe.  Other herbs and spices help with brain and nerve function: rosemary, basil, cinnamon, peppermint, lavender, bay leaf, etc.

Let’s start with the A.M.  Eggs and I have a love hate/relationship.  I love eggs, the yolk hates me back.  Pictured are egg whites due to this relationship but this works with scrambled eggs/omelet too.  It’s as easy adding a teaspoon of dill/ teaspoon of chives to your eggs while cooking.  You can do fresh herbs.  In this case I did dried dill and 3 chive stalks chopped.   Chives give a onion taste (similar to a green onion)  with dill adding lively flavor.  Another way to take your A.M. lightly.

This dish can go so many ways.  The base consists of lightly cooked veggies such as zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, onion, bok choy, etc.  I cooked them in a tablespoon of butter with two cloves of garlic chopped and 2 teaspoons of ground ginger.  Not all veggies require the same amount of cooking.  Carrots, onion, mushrooms take longer.  After cooking five to seven minutes, add in things like zucchini and bok choy to cook a few minutes more.  You can add rice, I chose rice noodles.  Often I leave meat out of this part of the food relationship.  However, meat can be added.  I broke the routine by adding teriyaki marinated chicken in this case.

In all honesty, I thought all my children would hate this following meal.  Redreignofterror did not disappoint but the feedback I got wasn’t half bad.  The adults loved it.  This adult loved the simplicity and cheese.  Watching fats and getting in the good fats are important.  This was part of a day with very low fat.  A creamy, cheesy meal was well deserved.  Herbs make the encounter interesting with a balanced, light flavor.

A couple of notes about the recipe.  Dried herbs can replace fresh ones. I seriously did put in a packaged food.  I truly did not feel like cooking and chopping bacon, I don’t like grease or touching grease.  However, bacon can be cooked and chopped instead of the suggested ingredient. Dealers choice.

cheesy herb cauliflower and blt salad

I am currently glued to culinary videos and trying out new recipes.  Look out for more recipes and ways to liven up your food life soon.

Namaste in your mental health and food life journey

Aside

Health Foodie: Taking A.M. Lightly

I have food infatuations. There are several items that are my staples, several in rotation, and an obsession of the moment. Egg plants and sweet potatoes have been it. At some point our relationship will cool a little and they will become part of the fridge stock.

Except salsa. We are always hot for each other. I love the substance of the sweet potato and avocado to fuel with the lightness of egg white and salsa.  It comes with a variety of nutrition which goes beyond the fuel. Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals are a few things that fight disease, enhance bodily functions, and reduce aging. It is gluten free with “make it gluten options.”  An incredible balance to get us going.

A. M. Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes cooked and peeled
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  1. Mash sweet potatoes and flour together- start boiling water20180223_1019541067962792.jpg
  2. Spread out on a flour surface and shape a square
  3. Cut into 1 inch squares
  4. Place a few squares in boiled water- wait for it to float then let it ride the waves for about a min
  5. Pull out and let cool
  6. Continue for the rest of the squares

In picture it is topped with egg white, avocado, and pico.  Walnuts and raw honey would be a great option for a sweet tooth and omega brain boost.  Some whole fruit with yogurt or kefir is great. Tomatoes, oregano, chopped garlic, and chopped spinach are an amazing combo too.

Simple Pico de Gallo

Ingredients

  • One medium onion
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • 1 table spoon of cilantro
  • Sea salt
  • 1 jalapeño dice
  1. Dice tomato and onion and jalapeño  then mix
  2. Squeeze in lemon or lime on mixture
  3. Stir in cilantro with add salt to taste

This is food satisfaction from the start that doesn’t have to be overly complicated.  The gnocchi recipe can be halved for a smaller amount or the full recipe offers leftovers for the next day.

Namaste and Start Your Day

Want more ways to improve your food relationship? Subscribe then it comes to you plus other ways to live an exceptional life.

No Spam and Minimal Email Drops Promise pexels-photo-888899.jpeg

Aside

Health Foodie & Veggie Relationships: Let Them Love You Back

I like flexibility in my food relationships.  Could this be a fajita? A wrap? Ditch the tortilla for a salad? Add some spices for Italian flare? It all depends on what the mood today.  Buying a  few, key ingredients that work in multiple ways can be a powerhouse to you and your budget.  Freshness variety is great.  Too much variety of perishables in a small window of time can be costly and if you can’t eat it all before expiration, wasteful.  It’s about intent.  This list can have a few additions and be used in multiple ways for delicious health.

The Core List:

Bell Peppers

Mushrooms

Roma tomatoes

Spinach

Green Onion

Kale

What you can add on for flavor variety

  1. Lightly cook peppers with mushrooms.  Then put on a couple corn tortillas with a half to a full ounce of neufchatel cream cheese on each tortilla.  Add red pepper flakes, a few slices of avocado, and the rest of the veggies. Corn tortillas and neufchatel cream cheese are lower in fat and calories.  
  2. Roast veggies-  add black beans with salsa, a half cup of brown rice.
  3. Light roast veggies with 1 tablespoon of oregano and basil with two cloves of garlic; add whole grain pasta with a light butter sauce
  4. Lean meat the size of your hand palm to numbers 1-3 like chicken breast, 90% beef, ground turkey or chicken.
  5. Breakfast: lightly roast veggies and add egg/egg whites, lean bacon or sausage

Caution:

Be good with your tortilla, rice, and pasta carbs.

You need carbs within the suggested serving.

food-healthy-vegetables-potatoes.jpg

These veggie combos love you much.  Most the vegetables contain vitamin Bs which makes your calorie fuel burn better.  Vitamin Bs and magnesium are essential for nerve function thus your brain, they have that too.  Eat it now to help with focus and handling stress later.  Quite a bit of these veggies are packed with antioxidants, especially vitamins E & A.  This means reduced cancer risk and help with the fight in aging at the very least.  Vitamin C dominates in this group and brings more than immune boost to the table.  C also plays a vital role in helping to absorb other vitamins and minerals.  We could go all day about nutritional value in this list, but take this start.  Work your short list for the long list of total body benefit.

Please leave a comment on the veggie you love/tolerate and the ones on your black list. Me: spinach and I have a love affair.  Brussel sprouts are earning my trust.  I become faint by smell of cooked turnip greens.  

Namaste and Let Your Veggies Love You

Aside

Health Foodie Loving More Veggies… Because Bacon

This would not be categorized as a vegetarian dish because of our bacon entanglement.  Also, I am literally eating my words on this whole “I won’t eat brussel sprout thing.” This collaboration of previous brussel sprout consumption dare and my ghost child’s new professed love of goat cheese with bacon enhancement.  All culminating in a simple and quick delicious recipe.  Anyone has the time and skill for this.

 

Ingredients and Prep

Brussel sprouts (steamed, cut in half)

Bacon (cooked, diced)

Goat cheese crumbles (package opened)

Olive oil- one tablespoon

Steps to brussel sprouts in bacon, cheese glory

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F

2. Lightly drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan

2. Steam brussel sprouts and cut in half then spread out on pan

3. Cook bacon but barely (light brown and soft) or cheat like me and buy the pre cooked.  D

4. Dice barely cooked bacon and sprinkle over brussel sprouts.

5. Place pan in the oven for ten minutes.

6. After the bacon brussel sprouts cool for five to ten minutes, sprinkle goat cheese over.

Done- Bacon fulfillment with sneaky nutrition

Namaste 💓🥓🥗

The Health Foodie: Coming to a Loving Place in Her Relationship with Food.

The Health Foodie: Coming to a Loving Place in Her Relationship with Food.

I am a girl who loves to eat.  Protein shakes are great for on the fly and nutrition punch in the gut/ for the gut. However, I want real food.  For so long I either mindlessly ate and neglected the attention it deserved or hated food because we didn’t understand each other and how to work together.  From leechy junk food who hangs around- in undesirable places- to that empty feeling calorie, I struggled.  After years of the love/hate tango we have finally come to healthy terms.

 

Our arrangements go like this:  I sit to eat and no longer eat on the run.  I was horrible about not taking my time and being thoughtless.   Now we have a time to be present in choices and time to be present at the meal.  This gives me the power to keep negative and unhealthy foods are under my control.   I have the right to be choosy in who shows up to dinner, lunch, breakfast, and in between. Especially salt and fats. I can say no and send them packing. Now herbs and spices provide the excitement in the relationship without the regret.  Protein, fruit, and veggies have an open door policy.  Except Brussels sprouts.  They are banned for life.  I won’t do it.  I just won’t.  No longer is the misguided goal to be skinny which brings resentment in my diet and to myself.  We agreed on nutrition with flavor to maintain a healthy body and mind, while feeding the soul.  Soul food is a real thing my friends. Cantina salsa and dark chocolate are what feeds mine.  Seriously, salsa on everything from taco to eggs.

 

 

 

Salsa and chocolate aside, one of my food loves is lo mien. Unfortunately, gluten and I are no longer are on speaking terms.  A lot of my favorites had to be re-imagined.  Thus pork with veggie lo mien is born.  Simple and flavored pack protein and veggies. Warning: soy sauce is involved.  It’s that salt thing. Low sodium is on the invitation list.

 

 

Ingredients and prep

 

 

Pork: lean/low fat cuts, about 4-5 ounces per adult person

Cabbage (green and purple): sliced or buy pre shredded

Carrots: diced or if you do it like I do, it comes with the pre shredded cabbage

Onions: sweet/vidalia- sliced thin   OR Green onions chopped small

Mushrooms: sliced thin

Ginger: powdered

Soy: remember, low sodium

Canola oil or extra virgin olive oil

Minced garlic: pre-bought or DIY

Optional: bok choy diced, kale sliced

 

 

 
We are totally normal.  No fancy kitchen and short staff.
Get cooking:
1. Get a skillet and turn the stove onto a medium heat.  Add a tablespoon of canola oil or extra virgin olive oil (either oil in a spray works too).  Lightly sprinkle ginger and minced garlic on one side of the pork.  Cook the pork in the pan.  I am looking for browning on the outside and no pink showing.  About 10-15 mins on each side- the thinner the cut the less amount of time each side takes.  Suggested inside temp for pork is 145 degrees Fahrenheit if you have a meat thermometer handy. Let it rest 3-5 minutes and you can slice and dice it how you want.
2. While the pork is cooking-  add a tablespoon of canola oil or evoo (thank you Rachel Ray) to a wok, skillet, or whatever will hold the veggies.  Some of us lack the gourmet kitchen but make it work.  Not all veggies cook equally.  Start mushrooms and onions (not green onions).  If you are cooking bok choy, add it in with the mushroom and onions.  Cook for 10 minutes or so.  Then add carrots, cabbage or that bag of pre shredded stuff and if you are doing kale or green onions, throw it in too.  I usually find the total cooking time for veggies is twenty minutes. Slightly soft veggies is the goal.   Those last couple of minutes sprinkle some low sodium soy sauce and some ginger powder to taste.  If you like a lot of either, let someone else add and taste it.  Keep it light.

 

Pork and Veggie Lo Mein

 

 

That’s it. Step one and pork done.  Step two and veggie lo mein done.  Constructive suggestions in how to improve our relationships in this specific area are welcomed.  Raving reviews are encouraged. You know, for the the food.
 

 

Namaste and nourish love

*originally published on September 17, 2017