Thursday, October 11, 2012

I've Moved!

Hey Hungry For The Truth Readers -

I haven't flown the coop, only moved.  Actually I decided to simplify things and put my blog and website under a single umbrella, so you can now read my postings at .

Hope you'll come along for the ride.   Here's my latest post:

Happy Thursday

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Garden Ragu

It's not really a revelation that I love cooking from scratch. And since I'm fond of avoiding things out of a jar or can whenever possible, September is a banner month for me because of tomato season. Case in point:  Bill and I had a sudden surplus of tomatoes from the four plants we brought home from an area nursery one sunny day in early June.  We slept late this morning, and after a walk to soak in some sun, were hungry for something of substance.  Both of us took one look at the soft orange and red globes on the counter and threw ourselves into another collaboration: He diced the onions, I chopped the tomatoes, and then set some chicken stock in a sauce pan to boil (see recipe below for complete details).

It was a single-dish, brunch inspired by Chef Suvir Saran's Meatless Ragu that he made yesterday at the 12th Annual Saratoga Wine & Food and Fall Ferrari Festival in Saratoga Springs. Suvir was the emcee for the Adirondack Appliance Cast Iron Chef Final Round between Jaime Ortiz of the Angelo Mazzone restaurant empire in Albany and Schenectady and Patrick Longton of The Wishing Well in Saratoga Springs.  Later, Suvir headed to the Adirondack Appliance tent  to sign copies of his latest cookbook, "Masala Farm," and offer a few pointers on healthy, delicious eating.

"I don't know if I'm changing lives, but I hope I am," said Saran as he surveyed the hundreds who'd turned out for the competition and to sample the wines and cheeses of Italy. "I want people to know that eating foods that are healthy can actually be quite a delicious experience." And then he got to work chopping vegetables for his Meatless Ragu.

Delicious indeed. My meatless ragu didn't mimic his ingredients exactly, but it was a beautiful blend of ingredients straight from the soil:  onions, tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, and olive oil.  This ragu even included some tomato tops and bottoms that normally would have been tossed because they're not symmetrical enough to fit in a sandwich.  Trust me, they still taste like great tomatoes and work beautifully in a sauce.  I stockpile them in tupperware and by week's end have a healthy supply.

When doing a ragu like this, the ingredients may be simple, but there's an undeniable time investment required, and let me be clear about this:  THAT'S OK!   If you believe that punching 4:00 minutes into a microwave digit panel is enough time spent on a meal, I urge you to reconsider, for reasons revolving around flavor, health, and economics.  At the risk of sounding trite, you really are what you eat.  And maybe it's not practical to cook like this everyday, but why not spend an hour on a weekend and make something truly delightful?

Yes, this ragu is a bit like a toddler in that it needs constant supervision. You can walk away for a minute or two but for best results you've got to stir it (and the pasta) every few minutes, and watch to make sure the flame's not too high.  If it cooks too fast the vegetables just won't have the same texture or sweetness.  Blended with al dente penne, this chunky ragu accented with fresh herbs was divine and healthy in equal measure. Therefore, I felt a moral obligation to post this on a sunny Sunday afternoon, in hopes that not some but ALL of you will give tomato and onion chopping a chance.  You just may even enjoy being an alchemist in the kitchen and give the microwave a few days off.

Garden Ragu
(Like all home-cooking, use what you have available plus instinct to guide you. This isn't baking, so exact amounts aren't crucial)

2 medium sized onions, diced
4-6 large tomatoes, diced or cut in chunks
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Sugar to taste
2 springs of fresh Rosemary, roughly chopped
1 small handful of fresh Oregano, roughly chopped
(if you don't have fresh, use a tablespoon of dried for each)

For pasta
1 cup dried penne pasta (I use Bio-Nature gluten-free pasta)
1/2 to 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

In a large skillet, heat oil until warm and add the onions. Extra Virgin Olive Oil smokes easily so don't have the heat too high.  Saute the onions until soft and translucent, not caramelized. Add chopped tomatoes and simmer over low to medium heat, stirring every few minutes to ensure vegetables cook evenly. Onions and tomatoes should be well oiled, so add more oil as needed.

While vegetables simmer and get softer, bring 1/2 cup chicken stock to boil in medium sized saucepan. Add penne.  There should be enough liquid so that the pasta is a little more than submerged. Turn heat down, add a spoonful of oil, and stir.  Cover when not stirring, pasta should be gently simmering and stirred every few minutes so it doesn't stick together.

When vegetables have become soft and chunky, add fresh herbs and mix well. Then add a bit of salt and sugar to taste (about a teaspoon each). If vegetables are nicely oiled but feel a little dry and not saucy enough, add a tiny bit of hot water to the pan. By this time, pasta should have absorbed all the liquid to become al dente (the Italians use this term for pasta that's not mushy). Add pasta to the saucepan of ragu and stir till it's all well blended.  Serve immediately.  Normally I love pasta with a sprinkling of Peccorino, but this ragu is so good on its own, I don't want the delicate flavors to be overpowered so I skip it.  Buon Appetito!

Chef and cookbook author Suvir Saran makes his Meatless Ragu at the Adirondack Appliance booth at the Sept. 8 Saratoga Wine & Food and Fall Ferrari Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center

The next morning, inspired by Suvir Saran's meatless creation, I made my own version of a ragu sans beef

Add a little gluten-free penne and it's pure magic

Friday, August 31, 2012

I never get tired of reminding everyone how wonderfully delicious gluten-free eating is. Case in point, this morning's breakfast:  Potatoes in cellar, Rosemary in garden, light olive oil in pantry = Chef Bill's magnificent Pommes Frites.  Life is Delicious!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Morning Parfait: Blueberries, Steel Cut Oats, and Yogurt

As deep as my adoration of sunny side up eggs is, variety is the spice of life.  This morning, my pallate was calling for flavors and textures beyond that of creamy egg yolks and sauteed vegetables.  I love carbs in the morning and it's usually the fibrous, whole grain variety I go for, though I'm the first to admit that a stack of gluten-free pancakes with real syrup and butter is a beautiful thing. (More on that a.m. indulgence when the cold weather and fall foliage comes to my neighborhood).

It had been way too long since my last visit to the bag of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Steel Cut Oats in my cupboard, but it's August and a steaming bowl of hot cereal wasn't in the cards, so I took a different route. My cravings and pantry inventory conspired to make the perfect breakfast parfait. 

If soaked overnight, bullet-hard steel cut oats soften perfectly. Since the refrigerator still had a huge haul from blueberry picking last week, I decided to puree a batch and simmer it down to a reduction. In went the oats and some shredded coconut to soak overnight. In the morning, I added goat milk yogurt. (When I say I'm dairy-free it's the cow products I lay off of.  Sheep and goat products agree with me just fine, but I only eat them about twice a week). The result was a fabulous breakfast loaded with flavor, complex carbs, fiber, and a little calcium and protein. Perfect before a workout.  And may I say...Thank GOD for Bob's Red Mill.  Their gluten-free products are reasonably priced and fantastic!

Blueberry Breakfast Parfait
Serves 1

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Steel Cut Oats
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Flaked Unsweetened Coconut
1/2 cup goat's milk yogurt

Puree blueberries in a food processor until berries are liquidy but still a little chunky. Place in a saucepan and simmer on low heat uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The berries should be liquidy but with a little thickness. Turn off heat and add oatmeal and coconut, stirring thoroughly.  Cover and let sit overnight.  In the morning add goat yogurt and stir until blended. Serve immediately. 

Note - Sweetening with a tablespoon of agave is optional, I like tasting the fruit and coconut unobstructed so I left if out. 

Bob's Red Mill - His gluten-free products are usually in the picture on the mornings I don't have eggs

The perfect breakfast parfait - served with a side of Inspiration

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Joys of Chickpea Flour...and Lucini

Chickpea Frittata with Pesto

Since going gluten-free three and a half years ago, I've had a longstanding love affair with polenta. It's been a sensual substitute for bread on many an occasion.  Sometimes I'll bake it in a lasagna pan, then slice it into squares and sautee it in olive oil, the perfect companion to eggs or sausage.  There's also the whisked on the stove top version which results in a creamier rendition, sort of like a very thick hot cereal.  I love using a yellow, puffy cloud of it as the perfect underpinning to a juicy pork chop or crispy piece of roast chicken.

So when I came across a bag of Chickpea Frittata mix in my supermarket's gluten-free section, I was intrigued.  Chickpea flour was the only ingredient, and all the instructions asked is that I mix the 8.8 ounces of flour with 3 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of oil, and some salt. The simplicity drew me in, but the brand name sold me. Lucini.  Makers of my favorite olive oil and tomato sauce.  All their products are organic and have a wonderful, clean taste.  Their extra virgin olive oil is pungent and deep emerald, but I also adore their lemon-tinged olive oil which is infused with real lemon essence, not a fragrance. Lucini's jars of tomato sauce have taken starring roles in gluten-free pasta dinners and steaming bowls of my tomato soup, which I sometimes morph into cream of tomato with the addition of room temperature chevre. A few turns of the whisk, and viola, a velvety cream of tomato without the cow dairy.

But back to the chickpea fritatta. I'd just made a batch of pesto the day before which was aching for a purpose.  Since I love polenta topped with pesto, I decided to give this a whirl and let's just say the results were DIVINE!  Unlike polenta, there was no gritty texture to these heavenly triangles of warm, yellow dough.  The consistency was as creamy as a cheesecake, but with the substance of a soft bread...kind of difficult to describe - you've just got to experience it for yourself.

The cool thing about my newfound gastronomic love is that it tastes amazing, and is SO much healthier than most other flours because of its protein and fiber content.  Check Lucini's site for store locaters, or order online.  You won't be sorry. .

As I said, the recipe for the chickpea frittata is simple.  It can be topped with a good marinara, some fresh herbs and olive oil, a mushroom sauce....just about anything you'd put on toasted bread or pizza.  I highly recommend homemade pesto because it's basil season and plentiful at farmers markets.  I have no formal measured recipe for it.  Good pesto is a matter of texture.  You need a base of fresh leaves, enough olive oil to make a paste, several cloves of garlic for flavor, and grated peccorino for flavor and further texture.  Here's how I make it, you can play with this version and change ratios as you see fit.  I usually add more oil at the end because I like pesto to be nice and liquidy rather than chunky.  It was the perfect topping to a piping hot slice of chickpea frittata this morning. And needless to say, gave me more than enough energy for a DDPYOGA Strength Builder workout.

Stacey's Homemade Pesto
1 generous bouquet of fresh basil from the farmer's market
1 bottle Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 tub of grated Peccorino Romano Cheese
1/2 lemon or t tablespoon bottled lemon juice

Pick leaves from stem and place in a food processor.  You may need to grind them in shifts and not add all at once in the beginning. Add garlic cloves, 1/3 cup of cheese, and about a half cup olive oil, or enough to make a paste out of the leaves.  Pulse for 20-30 seconds at a time until well blended.  Add more leaves if there are any until all the leaves are blended in.  You may need to alternately add more oil and cheese, depending on how pungent you want the flavor to be and how liquidy you prefer your pesto.  Pour into a serving bowl and add the juice from half a lemon or the tablespoon of bottled juice and stir thoroughly.  Serve immediately.  Cover tightly and refrigerate any leftovers.

Bon Appetit!

Fresh out of the oven...

A fitting crown to a delicious carb

...we really liked it

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Perfect Post Workout Snack

...or whenever you're craving something with sweetness and carbs.  This little gem delivers both, plus a little clean protein to balance it out, and the ingredients are simple: one toasted slice of gluten-free bread or roll, a few tablespoons of almond or sunflower seed butter, and a generous slathering of fruit spread.

After a more vigorous DDPYOGA workout (Double Black Diamond, Diamond Cutter) or dumbbell lifting at the gym, I'm RAVENOUS.  It's also the perfect time to feed throbbing muscles which are desperately in want of a glucose hit.  So I put this easy combination together for a recent recharge in between lunch and dinner.  I've also used this as a breakfast.  It's sooo good.  Especially when I have a soft, spongey roll from my area gluten-free bakery on hand.  If you don't live near Albany, N.Y. and can't get to Sherry Lynn's ( the Schar brand makes wonderful rolls and breads, from baguettes to ciabatta (  

Yesterday I was especially fortunate because the fruit spread used was from my friends Suvir Saran and Charlie Burd.  My favorite gentlemen farmers lovingly handcrafted this glistening elixir in the Masala Farm kitchen with the help of Charlie's dear Grandmother who was visiting from West Virginia.  If the words Masala Farm sound familiar, it's because Suvir is a renowned chef, lecturer, Celebrity Top Chef star, and cookbook author.  His most recent cookbook is "Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes From An Uncommon Life In The Country."  The book weaves a tapestry of recipes and farm anecdotes so enticing,  you just might find yourself scouting the Washington County real estate ads. 

Suvir also has two previous books to his credit: "Indian Home Cooking" and "American Masala."  Both pay culinary homage to his Motherland of India as they inform a few American classics such as Suvir's succulent "Tamarind-Glazed Meatloaf" or his "Fried Chicken Masala," a creation accented by a buttermilk brining and a fragrant sprinkling of Garam Masala.

Suvir has not only given me wonderful recipes, his books impart a beautiful philosophy towards food and eating that had been sorely missing from my life for the majority of it. After reading his books and interviewing him on numerous occasions, I concluded that Suvir is indeed onto something: Kitchens are sacred territory and the central nerve of the home.

“In the Indian home, the kitchen is where we create magical tastes that have the power to heal the mind, body, and soul. All cultures that are a happy people meet in the kitchen,” he says. “I want to encourage people to go back to the kitchen and start nurturing. You are what you eat. And so my philosophy, and that of my parents and grandparents, is to cook, share, and eat with care and thought.”

Suvir and Charlie are big on sharing.  They gifted me with this jam on a recent visit for some of Masala Farm's spectacular goose eggs. When I arrived Suvir, Charlie, and his grandmother were a three-person assemblyline, steadily cranking out little mountains of pitted cherries from a local farm.  It was a mammoth task, but a labor of Love, Suvir assured me, as he place a jar of blackberry jam (they make several varieties) into my grateful hands. 

I took it home and put it in safe keeping for the occasion when I truly craved it.  Yesterday the occasion arose and I ate Suvir's labor of Love with unmitigated pleasure, and the awareness that sharing is an integral element of our sacred kitchens.

Perfect after a workout...or for breakfast

Charlie's lovely grandmother, Bernice Burd, cheerfully works the jam-making assembly line at Masala Farm. Behind her, Suvir doesn't let the pits get him down

The glorious fruits of Washington County

A tub full of cherries - a fantasy come true for me!

Let the alchemy begin. Eventually this morphs into....

...Divinity in a jar. 
For more information on Suvir Saran's books or the farm, visit .

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Something Sweet...Every now and then, I just have to. So I tried a new product last week: 1-2-3 Gluten Free Chewy Chipless Cookie Mix. .

Since it's a chipless product, I threw in a bag of mint chocolate chips that had been in the pantry for months and were just begging for a purpose. The combination was DIVINE.  And by that I don't mean the cookies were OK for a gluten-free product. The 16-year-old food critic of the house who's not gluten-free declared them the best chocolate chip cookies he's ever had. Further evidence that eating gluten-free is not a punishment, but rather, a pleasure. 

And speaking of pleasure (one of my favorite topics), part of how I'm maintaining a 185-pound weight drop includes retooling my definition of pleasure.  These cookies were fairly good sized so I had one.  I was clear about the purpose of the cookie:  a little psychological pleasure. And make no mistake, it's an essential element of life. Just ask any chronic yo-yo dieter if you don't believe me. 

But the operative word here is a little pleasure.  I ate the cookie with focus and awareness, enjoying every crumb. Four years ago, my definition of pleasure was to eat as much as I wanted of a good-tasting food and it effortlessly spiraled into a way of life for me that felt normal. It was also a custom that got me into a bit of a pickle physically. 

So yesterday, instead of half a batch of these little gems, I ate one. Something I've learned in all this:  the freezer is my FRIEND!  I'm now the queen of squirreling away a surplus of Almond Meringue Cookies or slices of gluten-free chocolate cake. It's wonderful to have them lying in wait at my disposal when the mood for pleasure (not to be confused with numbing out and escaping) strikes me. 

These lengths I go to may sound time-consuming and elaborate but they're really not.  Like anything else, if I do it over and over it guessed it...a habit!  And I do it because I want to keep my current wardrobe. And because it's so much easier to move around the world (and staircases and the back seat of a two-door Hyundai) if I eat for one and not seven. So now, smaller, more strategically applied forms of pleasure it is. Believe me, it's a very fair trade.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 6, 2012


Eggplant-Chego:  This is LIVING!

Chef Bill made me the most delightful dinner the other night - a cleaned up version of one of my favorites: Eggplant Parm. This dish may look elaborate and involved, but I assure you, it's very do-able.  The crux of it involves dredging eggplant slices in gluten-free bread crumbs and then baking them until crisp. The slices are then layered in a baking dish with layers of a Bolognese-style meat sauce and topped with slices of Manchego cheese, a sheep's milk cheese.  The result is positively delicious and no yucky, heavy feeling afterwards because my pipes aren't clogged with gluten or cow dairy.  If you desire a more specific recipe, give me a shout and I'll have Chef Bill dictate his magic formula for all you wonderful readers.  Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Simple Joys of Swai

Swai is one of my favorite types of fish:  inexpensive, and surprisingly moist and tender if cooked via Chef Bill's recipe below. Probably another reason I like it so much is that it bears a striking resemblance to catfish. I moan over this recipe, and I'm not a big fish lover.  The key is not overcooking. According to Chef Bill, it's best to be less concerned with the blackening than with the proper cooking of the fish.  It does not have to be traditionally blackened to taste good.  Chef Bill made this for dinner the other night, and true our gluten-free nature, served it with a side of homemade potato hash. It's also great with  green beans, sauteed spinach, baked zucchini, a side of basmati rice, a baked potato, gluten-free cappellini with oil and garlic - just about anything.  Summer's the perfect time to enjoy a little Swai.   Let me know how you like the recipe  -  Bon Appetit!

Sauteed Swai
Serves Two:

Two Swai filets
Olive Oil
Good Quality Cajun Spice such as Emeril's Essence or Paul Prudhomme's Fish Magic

Lightly brush or rub filets with olive oil. Fairly heavily season both sides of the filet with Cajun spice. Heat approximately 3 TBS. olive oil in a large frying pan till almost smoking. Sear fish on one side approximately two minutes. Flip fish over with spatula and sear for two minutes. Add one pat butter to pan until pan is about smoking. Sear for 40 seconds each side. Serve immediately.

A Glorious and Gluten-Free Meal, compliments of Chef Bill...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Morning Glory: Baked Cherries

Have I mentioned that I'm in love with this little clay baking pot I found at Good Will last year?  It's amazing. After having so many good things come out of it after 30 minutes in the oven, I'm convinced it's an alchemist.  I've baked everything from mini-casseroles and leftover soup to duck eggs over potatoes and coconut milk rice pudding in this adorable little cassoulet. There must be something about the covered-clay-baking-process that turns the ordinary into the sublime. Eggs are more evenly cooked, desserts are more soft and creamy, and soups are imbued with new flavor and life. This morning I decided to give baked cherries a whirl.

My Ayurvedic constitution is Kapha (  so maybe that's why I prefer warm foods vs. ice-cold.  Warm fruit out of the oven is simply more enjoyable to me, whether it's apples, peaches, or berries.  The heat, when applied gently and for the right amount of time, beautifully brings out the flavor, as well as a river of juices you just wouldn't get from fruit out of the fridge, or even at room temperature.  One of my most adored fruits are now in season so what better time to do the baking experiment:  a crock full of washed bing cherries baked covered at 335 for 30 minutes. This morning the cherries were straight out of the fridge; if you're using room temperature cherries, the time or temperature might vary.  I always turn the oven off at the end and let them marinate a little more, say 10 minutes or so.  The result is pure Nirvana: The beauty and fragrance of a cherry pie minus the white stuff to wreak havoc with the blood sugar.

The photos might not do their splendor justice, so you'll just have to try it out to see what  I mean.  Any covered casserole dish will do if you don't have a crock.  Let the cherry-baking begin!  Bon Appetit...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Almond Joy - My A.M. Ritual Improved

Espresso in the a.m. has been a ritual since the 80's.  Once I discovered its hedonistic depth and flavor, there was no going back to coffee.  The thing is, I've never been a black coffee kind of drinker, so the octane of my espresso was always tempered with a generous splash of cream. It was my own version of a strong, full-bodied latte.

Three years ago, when I found DDPYOGA and the guidance of Diamond Dallas Page and Terri Lange, they strongly urged me to give up cow dairy.  It was sound advice, but I also knew I was in no way, shape or form ready or willing to give up cream from my beloved a.m. ritual.  When I undertook a vow to change my life, health, and food choices, I knew that to make it work long-term, I had to be realistic.  For me, this meant keeping pleasure in the equation to a certain would be crucial to the longevity of my changes.  The deal I made with myself was as follows:  cow cheese takes a hike; cream in the espresso stays in the picture.  This decision was due in large part to never finding a suitable cream substitute.  I didn't like the fake creamers or the substitutes made of soy or coconut.  Then oneday, an unexpected revelation:  Almond Milk makes FABULOUS latte's.

It all came about quite by accident while vacationing at my friend Rene's house.  Rene is also a recent 'no cow dairy' convert and drinks only Almond Milk.  My first morning there I was horrified to discover she hadn't had time to shop for cream, and I was too groggy for a supermarket run, so I bit the bullet and heated Almond Milk on the stove in a saucepan in tandem with the percolating Bialetti.

"It's gonna be horrible," I thought to myself as I mixed the two together in a mug.  Then I took a sip.  Then I smiled in delight.  That was a year ago.  Suffice it to say, I don't buy cream anymore. I'm not saying Almond Milk tastes the same. How could it?  It's an entirely different substance with significantly less fat, but somehow, it still works.  And it has loads more nutrition (Calcium, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Phosphorus, Manganese) than cream.  Now that my palate is acclimated to it, cream tastes a little heavy and odd when I'm dining out and it's the only option.

The key to a good espresso latte is adding enough Almond Milk to make it milky and lush without overpowering the coffee. I use about a half cup of espresso to 1 cup of Almond Milk.  Another way of gauging it is color:  I prefer my Almond Latte's to be a deep beige.  If you're not into espresso, use whatever coffee you're accustomed to.  So if you're a regular coffee drinker, I hope you'll give the Almond option a try, and let me know how you like it.  Oh, and it's also FANTASTIC chilled...just in time for heatwave season.

And last but not least:  my favorite brand is Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze, Unsweetened.  It's only 40 calories a cup, loaded with nutrients, and unloaded with sugar. Sweetened varieties can range from 60 to 90 calories a cup and I'd rather spend the calories elsewhere. 

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Sweet Sound of Guided Meditation

Last night I needed some comfort. Rather urgently.  It was the end of a rather drawn-out and trying day, and I felt my irateness rising, slumped at the computer answering e-mails and taking care of back-logged business, noting that the day's "To Accomplish" list looked woefully unchecked. 

I'm in the midst of maintaining a 185 weight loss.  The process began in January of 2009. On the surface, it seemed like everything fell seamlessly into place:   I found DDPYOGA and began doing it; I listened to the advice of Dallas Page and Terri Lange and stopped eating gluten and cow dairy, and among other milestones that year, I was spurred by my steady weight change and decided to train for and complete Avon's walking marathon for breast cancer research.  

The steady shrinking of my hipline garnered a lot of oooh and aahhs from those around me and I'm not going to pretend I wasn't ecstatic because of it. But there were emotional demons to conquor before the poundage faded away. All along, even when I was 300 pounds + for so many years, I've made sure to pay careful attention to the part of me that is incorporeal.  Sure it's a fact that the body needs care, but I've come to realize that the outer is only a reflection of the inner afterall, so what good does it do to focus solely on calories-in and sit-ups?  I've been down that road before, twice to the tune of two 100-pound weight losses and subsequent regains. Not interested.

So last night, as I felt the breezey undercurrents of emotional turmoil gaining velocity, I knew the breeze could easily churn into funnel clouds if I didn't acknowledge them with a time out.  Four years ago, the time-out would have consisted of me beelining into the kitchen for the most easily accessible fistfull of simple carbs.  I no longer attempt to solve problems this way.  

Instead, I decided that some soothing of my Spirit was in order.  I employ a variety of remedies for this ranging from getting down on the floor and stretching to candlelight and incense, flipping on some relaxation music, or one of my favorites:  reaching for the headphones and turning on a guided meditation.  There's nothing like a gentle, calming voice to guide me back into the gale-free zone of serenity again.  Shelley Cummins is one of my favorite purveyors of the guided meditation.  She's a spiritual teacher and yogini I've studied with for years, and Shelley conducts workshops around the world. Since I can't always get to where she is, I thank God for her MP3 downloads. Last night I took refuge in her Tonglen Breathing Meditation, a transformational breathing practice meaning "to send and to receive."

Shelley's meditation downloads, books, and yoga DVD's are available on Amazon ( )

As I drifted off to sleep last night to the strains of the meditation, with seagulls and ocean waves interspersed with Shelley's gentle directives, I was truly at peace. How good it felt to listen to what my body and soul really wanted and give it to them.  To me, that's the essence of real nourishment.

For more information on Shelley Cummins, visit  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Recent Gluten and Dairy-Free* Lunch

OK everyone,  I have just one question to ask:  Do I look like I'm suffering?

Chef Bill recently surprised me with this creation:  a pan-seared burger with Montreal spice and melted goat gouda, served on sauted spinach and onions, and topped with an over-easy fried egg sprinkled with Paprika.  Every millimeter of it was mouthwatering.  The point I hope you've already connected with is, clean eating can be FABULOUS!  It's all in how you play it.

Many of you know about my yolk fetish (Bill definitely does), so it was with great pleasure that I dove into this succulent concoction. When possible I food combine (eat protein and carbs at separate times). In general when it comes to burgers, I can do without a bun, it's the cheese that's non-negotiable. Besides this was so off the carts in flavor and texture, I was too busy to notice.  One look a the photos and I hope it's clear that it's totally possible to clean and decadent!

Bon Appetit!

* By Dairy-Free, I'm referring to cow dairy

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Greens and Beans

Vegetables and I are still a work in progress. It's true I've dropped 185 pounds via DDPYOGA and clean eating, but I've yet to develop a burning passion for eating my veggies as regularly as my nutritionist (and DDP and Terri Lange) say I should.  Often, I modify their obtrusive texture by transforming them into velvety purees or comforting soups.

Case in point:  the succulent soup recipe below that my significant other (a trained chef) made me last night for dinner. He adapted it from the cookbook that Albany, N.Y.'s incomparable Cafe Capriccio published 20 years ago.

It's a simple, easy recipe that I love for both its flavor and ability to deliver a nutritional punch of fiber, greens, and in this case, protein (I made it the main course by topping it with two eggs poached in chicken broth).  It was a glorious meal, not just because it tasted so good, but because I evaded the dubious task of having to down a big bowls of cold greens. Instead, I sat down to a nice, piping hot bowl of THIS!

Greens and Beans

4 large cloves garlic chopped
1 1 pound can cannelini beans
1 large bag spinach or one head kale
5 strips bacon cooked and chopped (not crisp)
6 cups chicken stock (we used Swanson's low-sodium)
3 twists fresh pepper
dash sea salt
Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. bacon grease

In a large wok or Dutch oven, blanch garlic and olive oil and cook until just softened over medium heat. Add greens and wilt. Add beans, chopped bacon, and stock, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve.  Optional: sprinkle with Peccorino cheese (a sheep milk cheese similar to parmesan); or top with two eggs poached in chicken broth.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Arthur Boorman Tonight on DDP Radio!

DDP Radio Welcomes Special Guest From Team DDPYOGA, Arthur Boorman

Wednesday May 16, 2012 @ 9 PM EST, 347-994-1216

Some of you, from my YouTube video know that I had a lightbulb moment one afternoon in 2009 while watching Oprah.  There on the screen emanated Carnie Wilson, looking thinner, happier, and more radiant than I'd ever seen her. When I learned that Diamond Dallas Page and his DDPYOGA helped her attain such an achievement, I did some immediate Googling and found the Team DDP Yoga site, the DVD's, and the wonderful online journal of Terri Lange, Godmother of DDPYOGA. I also found Arthur Boorman's  famous transformation video.  To call it remarkable is an understatement. 

For many years, Arthur was as overweight and out of shape as I was that cold winter day three and a half years ago on my maiden viewing of "Arthur Walks."  But Arthur had more than excess weight plaguing him. He was a disabled American veteran who walked with canes.  For 15 years they were his constant companion. But somehow, through this magical, mystical system known as DDPYOGA, Arthur was out of the canes and sprinting at the end of the video.  That testimony, more than anything else showed me what was possible. I realized this was no ordinary 'before and after' smoke and mirrors gimmick.  Arthur made it clear throughout the video that he got what he got because of the time and energy he put into the workouts. There was no manipulation, no hollow or outlandish promises, and no suspicious time lapses.  Arthur put it out there plain, for all the world to see.  That's Arthur:  no fluff, no gimmicks. He gets to the point, tells it like it is and above all, gets the job done.

You may have heard that Arthur Boorman has exploded into nationally-known status thanks to his video going viral and a subsequent appearance on Good Morning America last week.  So, whether you've known about King Arthur for years or have just discovered his inspirational story, tonight's your chance to hear him live and even ask him a question (if you get in line quickly enough). He's the special guest on 
DDP RADIO at 9 p.m. EST tonight. DDP, Robert, Sparky, and I will take your calls and chatroom questions and hear from Arthur himself what keeps him motivated and in warrior-form after five years of the DDPYOGA lifestyle. 

We've got a great show lined up this week but, as always, the shows are only as good as YOUR participation, so get in line early with a question or a comment, either via the chatroom or by phoning in to be a part of the show.  Give us a call @ 
347-994-1216, and tell us how you are doing, or give a shout out to that
 Team DDP YOGA member who has inspired you.

Don't forget that if you miss the show live, you can always get every show that's ever been done, on demand, from the DDP Radio archives on 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Feeling...Means Keeping It Off

How am I keeping 185 unwanted pounds off of me?  Hint:  Clean Eating and DDPYOGA are key, but they're only two-thirds of the equation. Here's the truth the corrupt and clueless diet industry doesn't want you to know.  The last thing they want is for a food addict to make a full recovery.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If You Bake It, They Will Hum...

I don't mean to imply that food is a panacea for all the world's (or even my) problems, but sometimes there's just no escaping a simple truth:  A piece of homemade chocolate cake tends to imbue life with an undeniable zip. Even better: pulling off a creation that's dense and decadent and not being all that talented a baker to begin with.  What I mean is, I made this lovely work of art from a mix.  

For a while now, I've heard the growing buzz from the g-free community about Namaste products. My mentor and friend, Diamond Dallas Page ( swears by them.  He's been eating gluten and cow-dairy free for years and got me to convert three years ago. Our reasons for doing it may be different:  his body was battered by a decade long career as a professional wrestler; mine was battered by several decades of the American way of eating.  By eating clean he gets to walk across the room pain-free without hobbling and I get to walk across the room minus the burden of 185 unwanted pounds. Dallas has one unbendable rule though, about g-free eating:  it must taste good or he won't eat it.  Naturally he values his health, but he also knows the value of pleasure, and blandness, no matter how healthy, usually doesn't spell out a lifelong habit. 
In spite of Dallas's endorsement, I admit to being initially skeptical about Namaste. Their baking mixes and pastas aren't just gluten-free, they address a multitude of allergies. In other words, the products are made in a dedicated facility which eliminates any chance of cross contamination, and are free of wheat, gluten, corn, soy, potato, dairy, casein, tree nuts, and peanuts. How in God's name, I wondered, would cookies or cake taste good under such circumstances?  Curiosity ultimately won in the end and this week, as I realized it had been several long months since a piece of chocolate cake had passed my lips, I set about putting their mix to the test.  It turned out to be astonishingly easy since all that was required was the addition of water, eggs, and oil. The frosting was equally breezy:  a few tablespoons of margerine and warm water was all it took.  An hour later (30 to bake, 30 to cool), I presented my significant other and his teenaged son with a glistening, two-layer chocolate wonder.  Neither eats gluten-free, both said it was better than any cake mix they'd ever tried. 
The reason for this can be traced back to Daphne Taylor, who founded the business more than a decade ago when she decided to give a young family friend saddled with food allergies the treat of a lifetime:  a batch of brownies he could actually eat.  That maiden tray of brownies born out of pure concern ultimately gave way to a homespun but burgeoning business that cranks out bags of mixes like chocolate and vanilla cake, pizza crust, cookie mix, all-purpose baking mix, muffin mix, pancake and waffle mix, bread mix, and flavored pastas. 
 I swooned at the denseness of the chocolate cake and the glossy decadence of the chocolate fudge frosting. The cake was sweet. It was moist. It was ultra-chocolatey. And it didn't take a wrecking ball to my health.  I pretty much eat according to my body's wisdom (and that includes honoring the cravings) but yes, Virginia, quantity DOES matter. So I had a nice, generous piece, but not a quarter of the cake as I would have easily done back in the day. But the good news is, I can have my cake and eat it too, in more ways than one.  And birthday celebrations just got a whole lot more intriguing. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sweet Comfort: Cherry-Coconut Cobbler

Since March is entering like a bit of a lamb in my region, I decided to transmute the lemons of a cold, rainy day into a healing tonic of a concoction.  In today's case it was a piping hot tray of gluten-free cherry cobbler.  Yes Virginia, sometimes I just want a little steamy, creamy comfort food and regular readers know my policy:  when I really want it and I'm not using the food as an escape hatch to elude reality, I indulge, enjoy, and move on. And the best part is when I keep it gluten and dairy-free, I indulge without taking a wrecking ball to my health and balance.

Since the day was damp and cold, what called to me was something cheery and bright...and somehow I knew cornmeal would be involved (I keep an inexhaustible supply in the cupboards). This recipe was inspired by a cobbler I saw in Bon Appetit that called for a mix of cherries and cranberries and was topped with a cornbread crust. Unable to lay my hands on the issue, I winged it, which is the eternal beauty of cooking comfort foods at home.  Unless you're dealing with fried chicken (where proper oil temperature is crucial for palatable results), comfort food prep is pretty screw-up-proof.

This recipe also proves out the benefits of having a well-stocked cupboard because I was able to indulge the sudden urge to add dried coconut to the equation. Also on hand was a 22 ounce jar of Clearbrook Farms Cherry Fruit Tart, basically a ready-to-go cherry filling for tarts and pies.  You could use canned pie filling or frozen berries at room temperature with a bit of sugar added. The 22 ounces of cherries didn't go as far as I thought it would and since corn bread can easily turn Sahara-dry in the oven, I thought fast and mixed the cherries with half a cup of grapefruit juice and a tablespoon of lemon juice.  The extra liquid was just what the cornmeal needed to make a plush, juicy-on-the-bottom of the crust topping.  When I gave the bubbling results to a somewhat picky eater of a teen, the consensus was two thumbs up.

This cobbler's great on its own, but today, I served it with a dollop of So Delicious Vanilla Ice Cream, making it officially dairy-free.  A clean comfort food recipe if there ever was one - Bon Appetit!

Cherry-Coconut Cobbler

1 22-ounce jar or can of cherry pie filling or the frozen berry equivalent
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup coconut powder or unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 330

Spray an 8 x 10 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside

Bring water to a boil and add cornmeal, salt, sugar, vanilla, and oil and whisk vigorously. Reduce heat to low and continue whisking until mixture is thick.  Turn heat off and whisk in coconut. The cornmeal should be porridge consistency but not runny. If too thick, add a bit of hot water.

Pour fruit into baking pan. Drizzle the two juices over the fruit and mix slightly so it's evenly distributed. With a rubber spatula, drop cornmeal bit by bit on top of the fruit and spread slightly so it's an even crust.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Serve hot.

Emotional Eating Disclaimer:
With something this delicious, the fact that it's a 'clean' gluten and dairy-free recipe could delude the eater into believing eating half or perhaps the entire tray may not be such a bad idea (trust me, I've been there).  So I corral my portions into small dishes like this pyrex glass dish (about 3/4 cup). So HANDY!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Decadent Liver Pate

So here it favorite way to get more iron in my diet.  Believe it or not chicken liver is one of my favorite things in the world but nowhere is it more enjoyable than in pate form. Pate, I've discovered, is a lot like meatloaf or chicken soup.  It's one of those home-cooked classics that comes out a little different each time, depending on which spices are prevalent in the cupboard and what wine or sherry is on hand.

This pate was made with Madeira wine but it's also great with sherry, cognac, and red wine. I've also made it with butter but today's batch was sauteed with grapeseed oil, my frying oil of choice for its healthiness (throw your canola oil OUT, ok?) and high smoking point.  Crowned with a glorious slathering of caramelized onions and served with a relish tray of baby sweet gherkins, grainy mustard, capers, fresh chopped red onions, and caramelized onions. To continue properly in the Jewish tradition, the pate would be spread on toasted rye bread slices or matzoh crackers, but for tonight's dinner, I went with rice cakes.  And they actually handled all that decadent action pretty well.  Liver pate is one of those loaded foods that'll hold you over for hours.  Sometimes I have it in the morning instead of eggs, for lunch instead of chicken, or right after a hard DDPYOGA workout when I'm ravenous.  Making  your own is also inexpensive compared to the prepared varieties and its loaded with protein and iron.

Decadent Liver Pate

1 16-ounce tub of chicken livers
2 large onions, sliced or diced
6-10 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup butter or oil
1/2 cup wine or sherry
1 tsp. celery or regular salt
2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil or butter until slightly caramelized. Add the liver and mix thoroughly as it's sauteed over medium heat.  After two minutes, add wine, salt, seasoning, and rosemary. Sautee for 15 minutes uncovered. Let cool until lukewarm or room temperature and process in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.  Keeps refrigerated for about a week.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Flavor Vs. Freedom: What's It Worth?

There I was at the dinner table, ladeling Turkey Tetrazzini into white ceramic bowls - mine and theirs.  I don't inflict my clean-eating ways on others, unless, of course, they choose to go willingly. And so, for this particular dinner, I made two versions of one of the most creamy and classic ways to enjoy leftover turkey. Theirs ('they' being my significant other and his teen-aged son): chopped turkey breast, minced pimentos, spices, and copious amounts of sour cream. The only difference in my version of the Tetrazzini was the sour cream was replaced by goat yogurt. 

Both versions were tossed with al dente gluten-free rigatoni.  That's because Significant Other & Son like g-free pasta, so we all cook with it. What they don't dig, however, is the pungent taste and comparatively runny texture of goat yogurt vs. sour cream. 

As they both raved about the Tetrazzini and how flavorful and creamy it was, they asked me point blank if I really like the taste of goat yogurt and the honest answer is....Yes. But truthfully, I like sour cream better.  There's nothing like the richness of it and I've yet to find an equal in the world of goat, sheep, or soy alternatives. 

And that's just the way it is.  It's the trade I've chosen to make when three years ago, I traded in 185 pounds of unwanted fat and trapped fluid. The price wasn't as high as you might imagine.  There was no dieting, surgery, or drugs involved. But some fine-tuning of the food I consumed was in order, and I decided the best way to make the trade is by doing it honestly and not kidding myself. 

We all know there's no shortage of weight loss philosophies and gurus out there who build their premise on deceit.  The smoke-and-mirrors-trickery of "this bone-dry, oven-baked 'fried chicken' tastes just as good as the real thing." Or 'Try this alfredo sauce made with fat-free half and'll never know the difference."

Uh, yeah I will.  I've tried all the tricks.  All the ways to keep some of my favorite binge foods in the equation while erasing the calories and ensuing physical damage.  Doesn't work.  Not by a long shot. 

Three years ago, I stepped on the scale at my doctor's office and stood there in silent horror as the digits scrolled to 345. The time had finally come to reverse the tide.  I was 44 and battered by a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, so let's just say I'd become an expert at what didn't work.

Dieting and severe deprivation were out of the question. So where was I go to?  The middle road.  At long last, after a lifetime of swinging like a deranged Tarazn between the extremes of gluttony and starvation, I realized that freedom and long-term success would involve the two extremes integrating into a way of life that spelled the end of drastic and unrealistic measures. 

Pleasure was an immutable part of the equation.  But the destruction had to go...and it couldn't be ejected forcibly.  I'd tried and tried so many times to eliminate binge-eating by sheer will, by becoming a harsh drill sergeant and screaming 'STOP!' as if such a simple command could bring an addiction to its knees.  Each attempt only got me further in the hole. Here's the other awakening I had three years ago:   the binge-eating would only be eliminated when I faced the reasons I was knocking myself semi-unconscious with food in the first place. Admittedly easier said than done, but worth walking through the fire for.  

So here's a rough outline of my relationship with food now.  It stems from honoring my particular likes and dislikes.  I'm realistic enough now to accept that I won't eat a food I'm not into, no matter how healthy Dr. Oz says it is. But it can't all be a pleasure ride or else how could I drop 185 pounds without dieting?  I'm mindful that my body requires certain amounts of protein, fat, vegetables, and carbohydrates to function properly.  So now I listen hard to my body...and NOT a magazine or diet that tells me what and how much to eat. I also want those combinations to be as interesting and enticing as possible.  Sometimes on days I workout hard, I'll augment the protein intake with an egg-white protein drink (I actually love them now, especially when super-charged with a heaping spoonful of cocoa powder). And then there are the days when a Turkey Tetrazzini casserole, buttered gluten-free bagel, or a slice of flourless chocolate cake are the only things that'll fill the bill. 

Thanks to the advice of the mentors who led me out of the woods, Diamond Dallas Page ( WWW.DDPYOGA.COM ) and Terri Lange, I was handed priceless advice on a silver platter:  eliminate gluten and cow-dairy from my repertoire and watch what happens.  I have tremendous respect for them both so I listened, even though I doubted I could live without cheese longterm.  Guess what?  After the initial month-long period of withdrawal, I felt better than I ever thought possible, so I kept running with it.  And began to enjoy the undiscovered world of goat gouda, truffle-infused chevre, and peccorinio. 

Sometimes, goat and sheep cheese is comparable or actually better than its cow counterparts and other times, as with sour cream, the substitute doesn't quite float my boat. When I began eating clean, I wanted to go about it honestly so I did the requesite mourning for the fat-injected flavor of cream cheese, the cottony texture of wonder bread squeezing a tuna sandwich together, but in a post 9-11 world, how can I really view such a loss as tragic? Even more so when I  saw the amazing return on my investment: down 12 sizes, feelin' groovy, and able to do things I've never done

*  Spring myself from a chaise lounge without back-up
*  Shop for clothing anywhere but Lane Bryant
*  Cross my legs
*  Gracefully eject myself from '68 Corvette Coupe
*  Navigate a crowded restaurant without knocking chairs over, Godzilla-style, with my hips

The short-list of freedoms may sound like small potatoes, but to anyone who's been in bondage for any reason or length of time, I don't have to spell out how valuable it is. There's nothing like it.  The physical freedom is probably the most obvious to those who have known me for years.  I love looking and feeling free.  But what I love hearing most is when someone says to me my eyes have life in them again.

It's true...I've returned from the underground of a 20- year slumber.  It's good to be back.  And if sour cream has to take a back seat, do you think I really mind?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lentil & Rice Soup: Warm Up and Fill Up

One of the longstanding traditions in our family was pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day.  I'm not sure what the ritual was supposed to usher in, but in our house it was an unshakable cooking odor that seemed to seep into the molecular level of the carpeting and drapes and hover like a semi-hostile ghost for weeks.

Nowadays, my New Year's Day Tradition is a little more ways than one.  I still have days when I'm nothing but carnivorous, but the frequency is less.  I've discovered it's just a natural change that occured during the past three years as I've dropped 185 through clean eating (specifically no gluten or cow-dairy) and being physcially engaged (DDPYOGA, long distance walking, weight-lifting).  Oh yeah, and feeling with awareness.  What, did you think it was all about calories and exercise?  No one gets to where I was on the scale without doing some serious sprinting away from feelings, and if you're looking for similar freedom from bondage, you'd better learn to make friends with feeling what you're avoiding most, or it's gong to be a long and bumpy ride through the valley of dieting snakeoil salesmen.

But back to the subject.  I've still gotta eat.  Heck, I still love it; I mean REALLY love it and always will, only now, I zero in on food that enhances everything:  my mood, the way my vital organs function, and my metabolism.  Firm rule of thumb:  it's got to taste good or why bother.  I spent too many years in purgatory pretending bone-dry 'oven fried' chicken was just as good as the real thing.  No more of that.  When I want fried chicken, I go to Hattie's.  And when it's a cold, gloomy January day, I often want some version of lentil soup.  There are endless varieties of them and not just because of the dozens of varieties of lentils out there.  They adapt beautifully to any spice palate. Lentils are also astoundingly inexpensive, and loaded with nutrition.  And when blended with a simple carb like rice or potatoes, equate to a complete meat or cheese necessary to round out the meal.

Here's a version I did on New Year's Day. To be honest, when I do soup, I just rummage through the spice cabinet and shake whatever strikes my fancy that day into the pot.  For this batch it was something like paprika, onion salt, rosemary, and cayenne pepper. Soups are very forgiving and hard to screw up completely.  If you're a novice, don't be afraid to play with flavors.  You'll probably end up savoring the results.

New Year's Day Lentil Soup

1 bag lentils (for this I used split orange lentils)*
2 large to medium onions, sliced or diced**
1 head garlic, cloves smashed
Olive or grapeseed oil for sauteeing the vegetables
Two tablespoons of seasoning:  whatever's in the cupboard. Paprika, garlic or onion powder, thyme, sage, rosemary.  Whatever blend you choose should total about two tablespoons.
1/4 cup powdered chicken stock or 4 boullion cubes

* If using whole lentils, like pinto beans or black-eyed peas, you'll need to soak them in water overnight
**You can add chopped carrots, celery, leeks to the onions and garlic.  No rules with this soup!

Pour split lentils into a large stock pot and add about a quart of purified drinking water. Let soak for two hours. Water will absorb into the lentils. After two hours of soaking, place lentils over medium heat and add more water until they're submerged by about 3 inches.

In a large frying pan, add chopped vegetables and enough oil to coat them well. Sautee over medium heat until at least soft and translucent. It's OK if some of them brown, it enhances the soup's flavor. Setcooked vegetables aside as lentils continue to cook. After about an hour, do a texture check to see if lentil are soft enough to eat.  They should somewhere in between hard pellets and mush.  A bit al dente, but with some give. Once they're cooked to desired texture, add the boullion, spices, and vegetables and simmer on low heat for aboutr 15 minutes.

As we all know, soup's better the next day, but you may want to dig into this immediately.  I served this version with a sticky-wild rice blend, but you can go with potatoes or gluten-free pasta.  A little Peccorino cheese (a sheep's milk cheese that's similar to Parmasean) sprinkled over each bowl makes it extra Divine.

Bon Appetit!