Bring on the breakfasts

I’m under an eight-hour food and drink fast before the wisdom teeth come out. Unfortunately, that means missing favorite meal of the day.

As a kid (and extremely picky eater), I detested breakfast: Cereal always got soggy in the milk; eggs were icky; oatmeal was boring; yogurt was weird; and pancakes held little appeal. The breakfasts of my formative years were cheese toast, Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls on the weekend. It was hardly the diet of champions, but thankfully my tastes have matured considerably since then.

I may miss out on this great start-of-the-day, but that doesn’t mean I won’t drool over my favorites. I imagine there will be much drooling for other reasons anyway.

Ooey gooey Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal— recipe courtesy of Fannetastic Food

Ooey gooey Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal— recipe courtesy of Fannetastic Food

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Another Fannetastic Food find: I like topping these protein-packed pancakes with sliced apples and Greek yogurt

These flour-less pancakes are equally tasty topped with slivered almonds and raspberries

These flour-less pancakes are equally tasty topped with slivered almonds and raspberries

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Multigrain bread with almond butter and flax seeds and Greek yogurt with chopped pineapple, coconut flakes, and more flax seeds

Over-easy egg atop multigrain toast and garlic-sautéed spinach

Over-easy egg atop multigrain toast and garlic-sautéed spinach

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A menu of mush

There comes a time in a teen’s life when her real-world experience and years of learning leads to a certain wisdom. Or in most cases, wisdom teeth.

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I’ll subsist on smoothies like this Carrot-Pineapple rendition but without the straw

Enter me. I got my 12-year molars at 15 and now I’m getting my wisdom teeth ten years later than the average person. The two teeth (I only have two) should be relatively easy to remove, and I’m relieved to know that my sore mouth and locked jaw were not some chronic TMJ pain. For two days, I could barely manage to open my mouth: Chewing anything larger (or denser) than a raspberry presented a real problem.

This pre-antibiotic spell gave me a preview into what eating will be like immediately following the extraction. And let me tell you (you being readers under the age of 17), it puts a damper on one’s gastronomic gusto. Here’s my post-surgery meal plan, based on recent experience with lock jaw and suggestions on Internet forums. I will try to stick with my gluten-free detox, but if push comes to shove, some exceptions may be made. The cardinal rule: No straws whatsoever.

  • Applesauce
  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt (get the good bacteria back in action)
  • Savory or sweet millet/quinoa porridge
  • Small berries
  • Hummus by the spoonful
  • Almond butter by the spoonful
  • Soups and broths
  • Scrambled or over-easy eggs
  • Polenta or grits
  • Super-tender fish fillets
  • Jell-O (exactly when else does one eat Jell-O?)
  • Frozen banana “ice cream”
  • Whole Foods’s vegan chocolate pudding

Any other recommendations? I’ve got to stock up the pantry stat.

G-free… again

I have a reputation for trying detoxes, cleanses, elimination diets and other odd fasts. Just when I met my friend in Atlanta last weekend she asked, “What are you eating these days?” Yep, tales of what is — or more importantly is not — on my plate travel far and wide.

Five years ago I did my first “crazy” diet. I gave up gluten, the notorious, sticky substance found in wheat, rye and barely. At the time, gluten was just rising to infamy as the new villain of food groups (see also: salt in the ’80s and high-fat content in the ’90s).

Nope. Everything in this box is off-limits for three more weeks

Nope. Everything in this box is off-limits for three more weeks

I felt fine on the diet but not completed cured. To test for celiac, you have to be ingesting gluten regularly for about four weeks so the telltale antibodies will show up in the blood test. After five months of no regular bread, cupcakes, pretzels, etc., I finally had a doughnut Thanksgiving morning of 2008. It was amazing.

Flash forward several years and two negative blood tests later: I’ve cut out gluten again. It turns out that the whole time I thought I was g-free the first time, sneaky sources like deli meats (yep, they’re fillers for many brands) and spirits (distilled from grain) kept me from following through. While I thankfully do not have celiac, I wonder whether some small but annoying symptoms would benefit from avoiding these foods. It is, according to the NYT, the one protein the human body cannot fully digest.

It’s one week in, and I’ve slipped only once — at least that I know of. It turns out that Altoids do not have gluten but the miniature versions do.

Have you ever done an elimination diet for common allergens like soy, dairy, eggs, corn or another food? What was your experience like?

Friday flyby of links

It’s not my intention to only post on Fridays, but between beach trips, starting a temporary assignment and seeing Jurassic Park in IMAX 3D (highly recommend!), the days keep slipping away. Since my temp position is a “hurry up and wait” type of gig, I have had time to catch up on plenty of online articles and blogs.

Bountiful and beautiful harvest. Photo courtesy of tavorminaphotography.com

Bountiful and beautiful harvest. Photo courtesy of tavorminaphotography.com

Here’s some food for thought (har har) to make those last few cubicle-tethered hours fly:

Happy weekend!

Jumping off the veggie wagon

At the end of July 2011, I decided to become a vegetarian pescetarian. Ever since I’d returned from Argentina where a diet of beef, beef and more beef was the norm, I rarely craved red meat and had begun eschewing poultry, too. Quitting meat just felt right, but I still wanted my sushi and scallops.

Flash-forward a year and a half later when I find myself hungry too often and sick of anything related to soy. Then, a few weeks ago, a head cold had me down for the count, and all the homeopathic sites plus some more reliable sources (thank you, MayoClinic and NIH) suggested chicken noodle soup.

Chicken-rice soup is just what the doctor ordered

Chicken-rice soup is just what the doctor ordered

I caved and enjoyed a hot bowl of chicken-rice soup from Chix in the U Street corridor. Four years ago when I was interning in DC, Chix became one of my favorite go-to places for its cheap, tasty fare. Now the menu goes beyond the standard chicken halves and quarters to include wraps and chop bowls.

Since this tasty transgression, I’ve had turkey, pork and, yes, beef. I’m trying to keep my consumption of animal product in check (once a day at most), since in case you haven’t heard for the umpteenth time, vegetarians are healthier.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for true-blue vegetarians, but for me, it’s nice to feel full again without having to consume ridiculous amounts of beans or soy. Going out to eat is a whole different world now — not to say I’ll stop ordering those housemade veggie burgers. They’re just too good to pass up.

Buttermilk Plum Cake before bidding adieu to dairy

After a couple of busy months spent traveling, hosting friends, and indulging a bit too much, I’m putting myself on a month-long dairy fast. But first, let’s talk plum cake.

Few desserts conjure equal parts comfort and intrigue. Unlike a torte, macaroon, or flan, the name immediately puts you at ease (even if like me, you initially have no idea what it is). I came across this recipe last summer when bloggess extrordinaire Heidi Swason (of 101 Cookbooks)was promoting her new book. Even before reading the list of ingredients, I became enamored with the word, scribbling it down in absentminded reverie. I am pleased to report that end result is as cozy and as unique as its namesake.

The cake boiled over a bit, so I would recommend putting a pan underneath the pie/tart pan to avoid nuked spillage (and setting your fire alarm off). I subbed dark brown sugar for the raw cane sugar and neglected to add the sprinkling of sugar on top, but thankfully the sweetness and flavor turned out just right. Plumy.

* Note: For dishes that call for less buttermilk (think 1/4 to 1/2 cup), I’ve done a little trick wherein you add some vinegar to regular milk to produce a similar acidity. The taste might be slightly different, but this sort of substitution should lend itself well to this recipe, too.

Tastes like summer

The plums in the pie go round and round

Gooey goodness

Four fresh cookbooks for spring

A friend recently gifted me her extra copy of Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which is considered one of the cornerstone cookbooks for vegetarian cuisine. Madison divides the book up to focus on different ingredients such as polenta, garlic, peppers, lentils, etc. and how to properly prepare each for various dishes. Since I’ve only been a veggie (technically a “pescaterian”) for less than a year, I think this book will be a useful tool in learning the basics. The only drawback I see so far is that many of the recipes call for ingredients like dill, cream, chives, and exotic grains (cracked wheat, anyone?) that I rarely have in stock. I wonder if those items were more common in veggie cooking 15 years ago when the book was first published, or if I’m just not well-versed enough yet to know what the staples are.

Conversely, these new releases offer a more modern approach (re: more pictures, less emphasis on dairy-based foods) and seem similar to my two favorite cookbooks: Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave and Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I probably should curtail this craving for culinary books, but it’s hard to resist.

1. My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A get-to-know-your-coworkers survey at work asked “What celebrity’s life would you like and why?” GP, obviously. She’s like a modern Renaissance woman: She acts, she sings, she travels the world, she goes on culinary tours with world-famous chefs, writes weekly newsletters, and she cooks. Although there are some meat-based dishes, re-imagined entrées, particularly those with a Spanish or exotic twist (mhmmm Vegetable Paella) sound divine.

2. Power Foods from the editors of Whole Living magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend when I came across this book in Target, I was shocked (shocked!) that I had missed any buzz about this cookbook from the creators of one of my favorite publications. Perfect for pescatarians, this book starts with an introduction to foods that pack a nutritional punch (nuts, vegetables, fruits, beans, fish, etc) before moving into the recipes. Eats like the Greek-Yogurt and Vegetable Sandwiches, which toss avocados and walnuts into the mix, sound enticing but never daunting as most of the recipes are quite short.

3. Clean Food and the subsequent Clean Start by Terry Walters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The same friend who gave me the Deborah Madison book suggested I check out these two. While Amazon does not offer a preview, from what I understand Walters emphasizes local ingredients and whole foods without relying on processed vegetarian substitutions — a major boon considering the thought of seitan still makes me queasy. Also, it seems that Clean Food is divided by the season, which is one of my favorite features of Everyday Food.

4. Cooking Light Way to Cook Vegetarian from the Editors of Cooking Light 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, how I love receiving my weekly e-mail of recipes from this magazine/website. Again, no preview is available online, but I remember distinctly thinking that the book seemed to contain an excellent selection of their vegetarian and vegan dishes with straightforward instructions and tempting photographs. And since I’m a fan of their magazine, I imagine the recipes would be equally impressive.