Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recipe Of The Week: Vegetable Bisque

OK fellow Truth asked for it and here it is:  
Recipe Wednesday.
Recipe Wednesday is...
The perfect antidote for sailing through mid-week doldrums
The entree, side-dish, or dessert you just may devour for dinner this weekend
The beginning of realizing the eye-opening possibilities of eating gluten, wheat, and dairy free, deliciously. 

Bon Appetit My Friends!

Vegetable Bisque

This is one of the many answers I've come up with to make peace with my lukewarm attitude towards vegetables.  Still have to remind myself to eat them after all these years!  I'm just not a fan of the flavor and texture of a lot of them, especially the mealy cruciferous ones like broccoli and cauliflower.  I recently made a vegetable bisque using a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots).  Any combination works.  A velvety bisque is a great way to ingest them pleasurably. And because of the coconut milk, there's no dairy hangover.
For this and any bisque recipe you'll need a traditional or immersion blender.  Immersions are my preferred method because you don't have to take the soup out of the pot to blend.  You do, however, have to be super-careful about splattering.  You could sautee onions or garlic on the side and add once vegetables have cooked but it's not necessary.  I was in such a hurry when I made this I used onion powder and garlic salt.  My spice cupboard is a HUGE time-saver on busy days. 

1 bag frozen vegetables
1 TBS. powdered chicken stock or boullion
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 can coconut milk (regular or light)

Place vegetables in stock pot and add enough water so that it's about an inch deep, no more. Add seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are fork-tender.  Add coconut milk and then blend thoroughly until there are no solid vegetable pieces left.

This is great on its own or mixed with rice.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today's Food Intake

I guess it's not so odd that some people are curious.  Ever since my first absorbing voyage through the pages of Cosmo (circa age 22) I've been fascinated with the food-intake habits of those I aspired to look like.  I memorized breakfast irregularities, fluid-releasing tricks, fiber-overload, protein underload predilections of the models and movie stars. I never did master the art of mimicing the eating habits of Cindy Crawford and Vendela (remember her?), but then I realized it's best to just listen to my body, because its signals and cues were designed specifically for me and I'd spent inordinate amounts of energy ignoring them.

That said, HFTT readers know I've always been an open book about the journey that never ends.  I'm down 180 pounds and 12 sizes through movement, clean eating and feeling with awareness, so naturally people want a few details on the mechanics.  Occasionally I'll get a query from a reader in Toronto asking what I had for lunch today.  So when I saw another e-mail from one of my favorite and most loyal fellow Truth Seekers, I felt a thunderbolt of inspiration:  Make it a semi-regular blog post.

It'll be illuminating for all of us, including me.  Because nothing puts what I've eaten for the day in a more unobjective light than writing it down...and then making it public.

Remember, I didn't get here by dieting or following to the letter what someone else did.  I got great advice from my mentors, Dallas Page and Terri Lange, a nutritionist, various members of Team YRG, and my trainer at the gym.  Ultimately I made it my own and that's what I encourage you to do.

I eat for both nutrition and pleasure.  For years I tried to stomp the latter out of the equation, believing that it was somehow immoral and unnecessary.  Oh, how wrong I was.  So here's what my tastebuds experienced today...this evening both they and my body are pretty darn happy:

9 a.m.
Double espresso with 4 TBS. light cream and 3/4 TBS honey
Hot water and herbal tea (throughout the day)
2 duck eggs, Sunny
1/2 gluten-free roll, toasted with BUTTER

1 p.m.
1 cup raspberries - I usually eat fruit on its own, better for digestion

2 p.m.
Rhubarb tea ('s rhubarb season!)
1 gluten-free cupcake

5 p.m.
Protein drink made with 1 scoop egg white protein powder, 12 oz. unsweetened almond milk, and a few shakes of cinnamon and apple pie spice (had a craving for the aromatic red spices today)

8 p.m.
Kale Salad with tahini dressing

11 p.m. (as soon as I post this)
Protein drink made with 1 scoop egg white protein power, 12 ounces unsweetened almond milk, spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder

There you have it.  Some days there are three formal meals, some days five or six smaller ones, and on days like today, semi-organized grazing. Today was a little more carb-oriented because I lifted hard at the gym, followed by 35 minutes of treadmill, and later the YRG Fat Burner (a 25-minute quickie workout I do to keep limber and on top of the core strength). Being fluid with whatever my body's calling for works best for me.  What works best for you?  I know you'll have some delicious fun finding out.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recipe of The Week

OK fellow Truth asked for it and here it is:  
The debut of Recipe Wednesday!
Recipe Wednesday is...
The perfect antidote for sailing through mid-week doldrums
The entree, side-dish, or dessert you just may devour for dinner this weekend
The beginning of realizing the eye-opening possibilities of eating gluten, wheat, and dairy free, deliciously. 

Bon Appetit My Friends!

Gluten and Dairy-Free Pizza

Did the title of this recipe just induce a major buzz kill?  I admit, it would have cooled my jets a little too, had I not eaten this very dish last night for dinner.  And might I say my Lotus Love clients were DAZZLED.  Now I can't take all the credit, a major part of it goes to Namaste Foods, LLC. They make pizza, cake, cookie mixes and other delights in a dedicated allergen-free facility and everything they make is wheat, gluten, corn, dairy, soy, potato, peanut, and tree nut-free.  Talk about purity!  But I've heard through the food-allergy grapevine that their stuff is also outstanding and it has proved to be true. Not only was texture and flavor a winner, I was stunned that the only effort required was adding water to the mix and applying a little wire whisk action.  No rolling, punching or kneading.

My advice is if you're gonna do it, do it right.  I've tried other GF pizza crust mixes and let's just say the results were sandy, grainy, and crumbly-dry disappointments.  Seek out Namaste pizza crust mix.  If you can't find it at your local store, visit their site and place an order: .

Below is the recipe I made last based on ingredients in the freezer and cupboards.  Pizza topping combinations can be as individual as the fingerprint, but whether you make it vegetable or meat-laden, USE A GOOD CRUST!

My other secret for great pizza - great sauce. That means healthy sauce, not one messed up with corn syrup or canola oil.  Have cans of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes on hand for just such an occasion.  Add extra virgin olive oil, salt, sugar, or Agave according to your preferences.

1 bag Namaste Pizza Crust Mix
2 medium onions
Light olive oil for sauteeing
1 32 ounce can tomato sauce (no sugar or oil added)
4-6 ounces of Peccorino (a sheep's milk cheese similar to Romano and Parmasan)
4 large sausage links
Agave nectar

Prepare pizza crust according to instructions and set aside in mixing bowl. Namaste has two servings per bag, I made a big Sicilian style pizza so used the whole bag.

Empty tomato sauce into medium sauce pan and add 1 TBS. Agave nectar and teaspoon of salt.  Simmer uncovered on low heat (this allows some of the water in the sauce to reduce and makes a thicker, more flavorful sauce).

Preheat oven to 450

Spray a large square baking sheet (like a cookie sheet with a rim) with cooking spray and pour pizza batter into pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

In large skillet, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan (medium heat). Slice onions in thin rings and sautee until carmelized. In a seperate skillet, cook sausage until done, about 15-20 minutes.  Let sausage cool and cut into slices if links. You can also use ground sausage. Add sausage to the onions and mix well. Turn off heat.

When pizza crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove from oven. Spread tomato sauce over the crust, followed by sausage and onion mixture.  Finish by grating Peccorino with a cheese grater over the pizza until it's well covered.  When you get down to the last third of your cheese block, switch from finely grated to large shreds (amps up the cheese flavor and the presentation).

Place pizza back in oven and bake for another 15 minutes.  Prepare to be dazzled!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Temptation Calling

Anyone who says eating isn't a major part of the allure of traveling either has paralyzed tastebuds or isn't being truthful.  Or they're simply the kind I've never been able to figure out:  dispassionate about food in a take-it or leave-it sort of way.

Never have I been afflicted with that particular brand of apathy.  I adore food and its varying temperatures, textures, colors, aromas, and flavors. Swan-dives into gluttony do me no favors, though.  And my body knows the difference now. It doesn't enjoy being drugged anymore (actually, it never did, but it took a while for my mind and spirit to catch up).  Also, I'm not a grateful wearer of denim, and we all know how little wiggle room there is where that iron-willed fabric is concerned.

At the same time, what's the point of travel and adventure if I eat exactly as I do at home?  I love eating clean (no gluten or cow dairy) but when I'm on the Open Road, I tend to take in both the sights and the culinary wonders. Gluten, because of the way it bloats me and saps my energy, is avoided at all costs.  Besides, even on the road there are rice, potato, and corn options in abundance.  I make the occasional indulgence back into the realm of dairy, but it really has to be worth it (superior quality, imaginative presentation).

During the past month I've had back-to-back trips to Florida, Wisconsin, and Alabama. And I realized, as I had to tug a little harder to get my denim pants situated around my waistline the other day, that it was time to dial the indulgence back a few degrees.

In my quest for better health and living with more clarity, I've dropped 180 pounds along the way.  And put a few rules in place from both ends of the spectrum: eating will be done for both pleasure and nutrition, and not to sledgehammer the living daylights out of unpleasant feelings. No food is off limits, but yes, Virginia, quantity does matter.

For example, last week at a seafood restaurant overlooking Mobile Bay, I knew before seeing the menu I'd be getting in one of my top ten favorites:  fried seafood.  But I ordered two vegetable sides with it and told the waitress to hold the fries.  Anytime a menu has lentils (whether it's chick pea salad or black beans and rice) I order them for the fiber more than anything else.  Salads as appetizers are a no-brainer. And my secret weapon?  A steady stream of hot water or herbal tea throughout the meal.  Anyone who has ever washed dishes by hand knows the mighty power steaming water has over a greasy plate.

These are all tricks I employ to make crossing over to the other side a little less impactful.  During the past month I've moaned with pleasure over velvety crawfish bisque, a fluffy and decadent square of Tiramisu, Seafood Eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin), and Oysters Rockefeller.  I enjoy it all with appreciation and awareness, don't eat until I'm shaking my head with regret, and always leave something behind on the plate...a small but significant gesture that I'm in charge of the food, not the other way around.

Always leaving something behind....

Inspite of the safeguards I put in place, it's easy, amazingly easy, to let things slide when traveling.  Maybe it's the combination of the adrenaline of new territory, the stress-charged atmosphere at airports, and edible temptation everywhere that collude to deceive me. And speaking of airports (where I've spent a lot of time waiting lately), I realized I've been subtly operating under one delusion in particular:  food eaten in airport terminals doesn't count.  The calories exist in a hologram and don't really have a consequence.  I'm in survival mode.  I need a little extra comfort before the flight.  The rationales are endless.

Last night on my way home from Mobile, Ala., I made a decision that meant my waiting time at the airport would quadruple:  I volunteered to get bumped from my flight in exchange for an irresistible travel voucher that equals a free plane ticket.  Instead of arriving home at 6:30 p.m., it would be 11:30 p.m.  As I signed on the dotted line I felt the siren call of wanting comfort in the form of food beginning to wail.  Then the ticket agent slid a meal voucher across the formica. All around me were fast food joints pushing burgers, tacos, sweet and sour pork, fried chicken, obscene cinnamon buns as mammoth as they were overly sweet, and ice cream (are you aware there are now cones made of cake?).

Believe it or not, with all the gorgeous fruits of my New Life, there are moments that I get frustrated and infuriated that I can't just dive back in...Sometimes I really do just want the sensation on my tongue....and the sedative effects of sugar and fat sliding through my body. Especially when I'm overly tired and missing home. Instead, I backed away from the food court, hopped on a moving floor and didn't look back till I got to my terminal. Which mercifully had a smoothie stand that sold packaged fresh fruit cup.  Two containers of it were my dinner that night. I'd taken a stand against temptation and it felt glorious.  Why fruit cup for dinner?  I was virtually sedentary the entire day, and after a vegetable omelet and grits for breakfast, and nuts and dried fruit for lunch, I was hardly underfed.

There was more food I could have delved into in my back pack (my emergency supply of clean foods), but I knew it would have been mindless eating.  So I pulled out another form of comfort I keep for such emergencies (the latest Town & Country) and dove in.  My digestive track and denim pants both approved.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First Mini-Dress!

All I wanted to do was buy a stove top espresso maker.  That was the plan as I walked into the mall yesterday, smack in between the busy-ness of touching down at the airport after nearly two weeks away from home, and a three-hour drive to New Jersey for a Spiritual Retreat at the sanctuary of the one and only Masha Penson.

I get a little edgy if I don't have espresso in the morning, brewed to the specifications to which I've grown accustomed:  the steaming contents of a size medium Bialetti pot, four tablespoons of light cream, and 3/4 tablespoon of honey.  Pure Bliss.  I'd been ten days without this morning elixir and could take no more, so in I popped to Colonie Center and the Coffee Beanery, where they sell great equipment and accessories.

Sorry, espresso always gets me off on a tangent.  So yesterday afternoon, I'm sailing out of Colonie Center with my shiny steel espresso pot and making a beeline for the New York State Thruway when I was stopped cold in my tracks by an orange dress hanging in the entry way of an eyebrow-threading boutique adorably named Arch. They specialize in brow threading and Mehndi tattoos so it was surprising there was clothing at all, but the orange work of art with black embroidery literally shouted to me across the corridor, where ironically, I was bypassing one of my former passions:  those hot and sticky cinnamon buns the size of doorstops.  Or as I like to call them, the binge-eater's version of shooting up.

Even before pulling the dress off its silver hanger I could tell it was one of those above-the-knee varietals ...the blithe and airy dresses I'd only seen on other women.  That's when the heart started racing.  Was the world ready for this?  Was I?  Before I'd fully yanked the apricot-colored fabric all the way over my head, my inner-knowing kicked in, and I realized I'd be walking out onto public asphalt wearing the little orange dress.  Good thing, because it fit perfectly...something I wasn't sure would actually happen after 10 days of semi-recreational eating (an occupational hazard of the travel writer).

I loved the way it looked and felt on me, but this was a MINI dress. The thought of walking out from behind the black velvet dressing room curtain terrified me. I first poked my head out, then the rest of me...eyes fixed on the boutique owner and the woman she was waiting on. Uncensored first-few-seconds-of-viewing reactions were what I was after.  If they looked aghast or tried stifling a laugh, that would be my sign to 86 Operation First Mini Dress.

But there was no suppressed laughter, and I detected no flashes of disgust or pity.  I realize it's wise to take a salewoman's oohing and aahhing with grain of salt, but Sarah either really loved the little orange dress on me or has missed her calling as an Academy Award caliber actor. Besides, every fiber in me was pulsating with joy.  I loved everything about the dress, from the color and embroidery detail, to the price, and the way the lightness of the fabric danced across my skin.

Some of you regular readers know that an ongoing theme of my transformation has been that of visibility.  Other ways of putting that include allowing myself to feel vulnerable, making frequent trips out of my comfort zone, and confronting fears for the sheer challenge of it (like skulling, parasailing, or letting a man get to know me).

For many years I was hidden.  Literally and figuratively. Carrying the burden of nearly 200 pounds of excess weight plus the unquantifiable emotional pain that accompanies it has a tendency to wreak havoc on your Life force.   I don't know if in my former state Life avoided me or I avoided Life.  I do know now that Life responds to how I approach it.  When I started paying attention to who I really am, stopped drugging myself with food, and started deconstruction on the wall of protection, Life responded with Amazing people and situations...some of whom seemed to be literally airlifted into my lap. Without me orchestrating it. That's the beauty of Life and its responsive nature.

So how could I not (grain of saleswoman salt and all) take this dress and love it?  Yes, I was not entirely comfortable walking out the door wearing it. My breathing was guarded and shallow as I sensed wind and sun on my knees...I may have even looked nervously around the parking lot to see if there was a lurking cop. I felt like I'd just broken a major law of proper conduct.  But I kept on walking.  You know why? Beause I can't remember the last time I said no, turned back, and not taken a challenge by the hand.  So why start now?