Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Veggie Queen in New York City

I was in New York City recently where I had a chance to meet my friend Fran Costigan, also known as The Dairy-Free Dessert Diva, on a cool, rainy early Spring day. But seeing Fran certainly brightened things up. And the fact that we were both completely engaged and chatting away while having a pot of tea in a tea salon at The Chelsea Market made the time fly by.

Fran took me on a tour of the market which is an old building filled with food-related shops and The Food Network Studios. While we were there someone was conducting a food tour of some of the shops, similar to what Fran and I did but ours wasn't structured.

Judging from what I saw, most New Yorkers are living on white flour and sugar -- there were at least 4 bakeries and a candy shop within a short distance of one another. My favorite stop, other than the expensive tea shop ($6 for a pot of tea), was Amy's Bakery which makes bread of many yummy types. I got a pumpernickel rye sunflower raisin breadstick that was truly delicious. The bread was dense but not heavy with a thick, chewy crust. I bought 2 of them and was actually pleased that I hadn't bought a loaf for I surely would have eaten it all.

The saddest part of meeting Fran was that we had so little time together but we'll meet again at Vegetarian Summerfest in June in Johnstown, PA. I would have loved to have tasted something that Fran baked. What she suggests is: Eat clean, green, whole and save room for good desserts! I concur.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beet Salad for Easter -- Made Fast in the Pressure Cooker

Last Friday I took a trip to Tierra Vegetables farmstand to get beets but I actually only bought 1 beet. They grow Lutz, a large sugarbeet. My one beet was over 2 pounds. And I was really excited about cooking it. I just had a craving for beets and knew that anyone who really likes them would be thrilled, especially paired with bitter greens.

Luckily at our Easter dinner there were at least 3 of us, one of them my sister-in-law who is from England. She said that she doesn't cook fresh beets. Huh? Maybe if she knew that they would cook in about 10 minutes in the pressure cooker, she would do it.

Here's the recipe which comes from my cookbook The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment which is available on my website

Orange Scented Beet Salad
Makes 4 1 cup servings of beets plus ½ cup greens
3 minutes high pressure; 7 minute natural pressure release
Cooking beets has never been easier. They become so tender that you don’t even need to peel them.

1 ½ pounds beets, about 6 med.
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 large slices orange zest
2 tablespoons agave nectar, Sucanat or brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 green onions, sliced
2 cups spicy greens like arugula, mustard or a mix, washed and dried

Scrub beets. Remove tops, stems and tails and cut in half. Then cut into ¼-inch slices.
Put the orange juice, vinegar and the large slices of orange zest into the cooker. Add the beet slices. Lock on the lid. Bring the pressure to high over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain high pressure for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Let the pressure come down naturally for 7 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. Test beets to be sure that they are cooked through. If not, bring back to pressure for another 2 minutes, and let come down naturally. Test again.

Remove the lid, tilting it away from you. Remove the large pieces of orange zest. Stir in the brown sugar and mustard.

Remove the beets from the cooking liquid and let cool for 5 minutes. Mix the orange zest and green onions with the beets. Pour the liquid from the cooker over the beets. Spoon ¼ of the mixture onto ½ cup of spicy greens on individual salad plates. Or you may chill the beets, without the zest and green onions, and let sit in the liquid for a day or two. Right before serving stir in the orange zest and green onions.

©2007 from The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Veggie Queen's Been Busy

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted. I have been busy with article writing and recipe and personal development, one more fun and interesting than the other, you can ponder that. I was working on developing recipes with beer but I wasn't feeling so great so having leftover beer didn't do a thing for me. Of the 10 recipes that I did, only a few were well-loved and the rest were OK. Once I retest the recipe for the Beer Dark Chocolate Bread with alternate ingredients, I will post it here for all to make. It was quite delicious but it didn't make it at all on the health chart.

I was in Anaheim this past week at the Natural Products Expo. Almost anything and everything that you'd buy at Whole Foods or your local natural food store was on exhibit there. Michael Pollan was the keynote speaker. And for those of you who have not read previous posts, Michael and I have a history together. We went to school together and rode the same bus (in elementary school) from first grade until high school. We shared many an English class through the years and he's still a better writer than I am.

I was telling some folks that I know Michael when he happened to walk by at an industry reception. I invited him to sit down so we got to chat with him for about an hour. He said that after walking the show floor he'll stick to his assertion that we ought to be eating real food. I couldn't agree more. And in my opinion, if you are going to eat prepared food, choose the least processed kind that is also organic. But in general, you have to cook your food yourself if you want to eat for health.

Mollie Katzen was also at the show. She gave an interesting talk about how to change what's on your plate to increase health. She said that no one needs to give up anything but switch the proportions of various foods, choosing whole grains, beans, nuts and fruit most often. When I said hi to Mollie after her talk, she said to me, "I have your book." That was definitely a thrill.

I also met Andrew Weil, MD, twice at the show. I got his latest book on Healthy Aging but haven't had time to read it yet.

Spring is upon us here in CA and with it has come the first asparagus and artichokes. I have not yet transitioned much from broccoli and winter vegetables as I missed last week's farmer's markets. So Wednesday, I can get back to my schedule and get what's fresh. I experienced a severe lack of vegetables made worse by the following experience, which may be a reflection of how many people eat.

My father-in-law and his wife are visiting from Florida. They had family over for dinner (which I hadn't realized or I would have eaten prior). This was what was served between 4 and 8 p.m. Two types of potato chips, brie and Ritz crackers, shrimp with cocktail sauce, Swedish meatballs with ligonberry sauce, hot dogs and hamburgers with white buns, potato salad and onion slices. There was nothing green at all. Oh, and in my honor I got a small quiche (which is not something that I really eat). But what I really needed after all my travels was a huge salad. There wasn't even any lettuce for the burgers or I would have eaten it. And for the kids to drink, there were various types of soda. If this is the standard American diet (and I've been told that it is), it is no wonder to me, that people are obese and dying young.

Some people may call me a freak for eating well but I feel good and have lots of energy which I am sure wouldn't be the case if I ate the food served last night, even a few times a week. Ugh, I can't even bear the thought. People need dietary makeovers.

And the worst part, I am having Easter lunch with the same clan. My sister-in-law is cooking (and she's from England) and she's getting a ham. I am definitely going to eat before I go.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Can Make You Thin But Why Would I Want to?

Last night I watched the I Can Make You Thin show on TV. The host Paul McKenna is a PhD, a hypnotist, and England's top selling non-fiction author. He has 4 golden rules for eating and he didn't make them up -- I probably did 20+ years ago. They are:
  • Eat when you are hungry
  • Eat what you want
  • Eat consciously
  • When you think you are full, STOP eating

He tells people to put down their forks and chew their food thoroughly. This is all sensible info. But he's lying about making people thin, and I don't think that is so important. Being thin isn't what counts -- it's being healthy and loving yourself, no matter what weight you are. If you are exercising and eating right, chances are you can lose weight and get to your ideal body weight, which might not make you thin.

I don't think that thin is your target. Not everyone ought to be thin, and some of us have it easier than others in the being thin department. But don't let that fool you because even some people who are thin (like moi) have been heavier at times in the past. 6 months or a year of inattentive eating does lead to weight gain. The same is true once you start paying attention -- the pounds can and will come off.

And no one is likely to dispute that eating lots of vegetables can help lead you down the thinner-than-thou road. Give it a try -- and fore go the Ranch dressing, unless you must, be do it consciously.