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...