Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 23: Treat Meat as a Flavoring or Special Occasion Food

I can do this.  Today is Tuesday, day 2 of week 23. Yesterday the only protein/meat bi-product I ate was eggs. One container of Trader Joe's egg white salad over raw broccoli, eda mame and a giant pile of arugula for brunch.  A giant bowl of ramen with veggies and a poached egg for dinner (hondashi broth which is fish based).

Pollan notes in this chapter that, "vegetarians are healthier than carnivores". I think this statement is ridiculous. I don't know anyone who is a carnivore. Even my meat loving German Shepherds are not carnivores. As a matter of fact, almost all vertebrates are omnivores. Pollan's statement is silly.  Because we are omnivores the statement cannot hold true in any way. Of course humans who are true carnivores would be less healthy than a vegetarian, because even a vegetarian would come closer to the diversified diet that our bodies have evolved to be suited for.  The counterpart cannot hold true, certainly, for our carnivorous vertebrate cousins the lion, the tiger and the bear. Surely these carnivores are not less healthy than their bohemian radical pinko friends who abstain from the hunt?

At any rate, Pollan strongly advocates for an omnivorous diet in which meat is simply an accessory to the meal, and to a lifetime of meals.  He calls this type of vorism flexitarianism.  OK. This we can do despite the silliness of his semantics.  For dinner tonight (after eating the leftover ramen, no egg, for lunch) I am going to steam the broccoli in the fridge, toss it with garlic in hot olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. I can go an entire week without meat as a main course. Not a problem. I will let you know later in the week how I fare. If you are listening.  A fallow blog gathers lots of moss but very little readership.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leafy Lunches

Thinking about food and food victimization all day yesterday after my post stating that lunch was, "on upper management", implying I was dietarily victimized by what someone else chose for my lunch. I have a car. The offices in which my cubicle is located lies equidistant between a Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods.  Instead of hormonally hoovering two pieces of pizza and a Caesar salad (as chosen by aforementioned management), I hopped in my hoopty and headed for TJ's.

Lunches the rest of this week:

  • One container Egg White Salad (xantham gum, created as a by-product during the fermentation of sucrose and glucose, is used to help maintain emulsification, in other words to keep oil from separating from the rest of a mixture).
  • Large pile of arugula leaves.
  • 3/4 cup raw broccoli.
  • 2 tablespoons eggplant hummus.
  • Galeo's Miso Caesar dressing (literally nothing unrecognizable on the label).
This week will be an empowered week of leafy salads with lean egg white protein and lots of fiber. FTW.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 22: Eat Plants, Mostly Leaves

Last week I started off a day late and a dollar short after a long overly fun weekend in Lake Havasu City (spending literally no time in White Trash lake).  So, I am on the train again.  For a very early breakfast I ate a couple handfuls of fresh Rainier cherries and later Chobani Greek Yogurt.  For lunch, half a chicken sandwich and a large green salad. (Hormones are dictating that I inhale anything and everything within hoovering distance, so this felt like self control. And lunch was on upper management, so I did the best I could with what I had.)

I have prepped nicely for the next few days.  Tonight, we are grilling small cuts of beef marinated overnight bulgogi style. With the small cuts of meat (maybe 4 ounces per person after grilling), grilled corn on the cob salad with pasilla peppers tossed with lots of organic arugula (leaves).

Tomorrow: pork loin chile verde cooked in the crock pot with broccoli, squirted with lots of lemon juice from my prolific giant sized lemon producing tree. This recipe cooks a lot of pork loin, and most likely I will freeze some in small portions for lunches. BTW, I consider broccoli leaves. The leaves and the entire tree, as a matter of fact.

Wednesday:  Cooking spicy Italian turkey sausage in tomato sauce has become a habit. Something so easy my husband can do it quickly and deliciously hopefully encouraging him to do more cooking in the future. I have served this in the past over cous cous, polenta, etc.  Wednesday I plan to serve it over strands of spaghetti squash.

I haven't planned for the rest of the week, and this does seem kind of like a hard one.  A lot of advance planning needs to happen so I don't end up eating the exact same lunch I ate today the rest of the week. I am thinking of bringing salads with some lean protein and a bottle of my favorite dressing (Galeo's Miso Ceasar), because that's more tempting than any delivery option.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Getting Bloggy With It

It's been 76 days since my last post in this blog, which means halted this eating experiment for about 10 weeks or so, setting my time table for finishing back aways. However, my disinclination to finish part one coupled with my desire to move onto part two should set me ahead a few of those weeks. Let me explain.

I stopped in April at Week 13. The next few weeks reiterated more of the same: eat foods you can picture in their raw state (14), get out of the supermarket (15), buy snacks at the farmer's market (16), eat foods that have been cooked by humans (17,do zombies still count as human even though they're in a post-humanoid state?), don't eat food made by people wearing protective gear (17), came from a plant eat made in a plant don't eat (18), it ain't food if you got it in a drive through (19), can't be called the same thing in multiple languages (20). The problem is I got the point loud and clear in the first 13 weeks.

And the point made many subtle changes in my diet. I shop at the farmer's market more. I eat drive through far less although on occasion I succumb when traveling, and I am only drinking diet Cokes on occasion when I need some caffeine. No more non-dairy creamer or soy milk creamer. I take my food to lunch everyday even when lunch is being provided. Etc, etc and on and on.

Facing blogger burn out for a multitude of reasons on my other and main blog over the last few months didn't help me stick to this project when I was at a point in Food Rules that felt as though Pollan were beating me over the head with sticks taken from his soap box.  I am ready to start again, skipping forward to Part II, Week 22: What Type of Food Should I Eat? (Mostly Plants).

And so it continues.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Week 13: Eat Only Foods That Will Eventually Rot

Interestingly, in this rule one of the things Pollan notes will happen during processing is that Omega-3 fatty acids get removed from many foods because it attracts insects, fungi and bacteria. So we all dutifully take our Omega-3 supplements while eating processed food. We are strange creatures, humans. One exception to the "eat things that rot" rule is honey with a close to infinite shelf life.

Already, I started today by eating peanut butter for breakfast. And not the freshly ground kind you need to stir every time you use it, the kind I was annoyingly raised upon. I probably ate the worst kind you can buy. Glorious peanut butter with jelly swirls. Don't grocery shop when you are hungry. Eat something before going in the store. I shopped yesterday after an intense day of teaching with very little time to eat only a sad, dry orange and a container of greek yogurt. < 400 calories before a 3 o'clock grocery shop means things like peanut butter with jelly swirls ends up in your basket. (D had requested peanut butter, and hence my foray away from the periphery!)

In my defense, I did make lentil soup and roasted baby and sweet potatoes for dinner last night. We have boatloads of beautiful leftovers. :-)

Shop the Periphery Easter Supper

No better way to celebrate your lack of faith by celebrating the rebirth of spring for everyone.

T brought the main course, I did these roasted artichokes from the Zuni Cafe cookbook and something fun for our salad.

First, trim the chokes. Most cooks complain about the difficulty of trimming an artichoke, but I don't find it that laborious. Be sure to have a dog or two at your feet and some good music on, or in my case sports on the TV.  I use kitchen sheers to trim the pointy ends of the leaves, chop an inch off the very tip top and the bottom inch of the stem.  Then, use a paring knife to cut just underneath the heart, and a spoon to scoop out the parts of the heart that are too hairy and pointy to eat.

Dip the chokes in water and lemon juice to keep the open flesh from turning brown and par-boil for about 4 minutes. Next time I will par boil a little longer as these came out undercooked after their initial roasting time and had to go back in the oven.

In addition to the oilive oil, pepper and sea salt I threw in on top of the artichokes before they went in the oven, I added the finely diced rind of one of my preserved lemons from Week 3. Before and after roasting, the rinds are wildly delicious, sweet, citrus and salty all at the same time.

Both my cooking guests took one of the lemons home in a non-environmentally friendly plastic bag. I tried the environmentally friendly zip bags from Whole Foods. They suck ass.

Roasted artichokes with garlic, sea salt and preserved lemons. Artichokes: produce section of grocery store. Lemons: my backyard.


My name is Liz and I am a reality TV addict.  I have not accepted that I cannot change this, not 100% sure I have the courage to do so, and I haven't reached ability to accept it yet. However!  Chef's Academy did affect what we ate for Easter dinner this year.  Chef Novelli taught his charges how to make parmesan cheese baskets. They were so cute! And a lot of what Chef Novelli did looked beautiful and seemed simple in construction.  Here, a video of the basket from Bravo.   

I also used the recipe from Fine Dinings blog for comparative analysis.

I baked the cheese about 10 minutes or so, not on silicon or parchment but on my insulated cookie sheet sprayed lightly with olive oil.  I did not add any truffle oil or seeds to the grated cheese. After about 10 minutes, I pulled the tray out and gently lifted the slightly soft, slightly brittle cheese from the tray and draped it over a couple pint beer glasses to make the basket shape.

Et, voila! Parmesan cheese wedges: back wall of grocery store in gourmet cheese section.

For the salad, I prepped finger bowls of bleu cheese, sprouts and green onion.

T brought greens from her CSA box, and tore them with her tiny hands into tiny bite sized pieces. Note to self: I need a salad spinner.

My Easter Basket!  Thanks, T!

T's leg o' lamb.  She bought this at Whole Foods in Hollywood, if I recall correctly. Ingeniously, she had the butcher cut the entire shank from the leg and rewrap it more evenly around the bone and secure with string. This helps the meat cook more evenly. It's not quite as caveman fabulous, but it's gorgeous to look at and more effective.

2 large lemons, zest of 1 removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
3 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
a 7-pound leg of lamb (ask butcher to remove pelvic bone and tie lamb  for easier carving)
2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs and lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut off and discard pith from zested lemon and cut off and discard zest and pith from other lemon. In a saucepan of boiling water blanch zest 1 minute and drain in a colander. Cut each lemon crosswise into 6 slices.
In a small food processor blend rosemary, garlic, zest, 1 tablespoon oil, lemon juice, and salt until mixture is chopped fine.
With tip of a small sharp knife cut small slits all over lamb and rub rosemary mixture over lamb, rubbing into slits. Arrange lemon slices in middle of a large roasting pan and arrange lamb on them. Roast lamb in middle of oven 45 minutes.
Quarter potatoes and in a saucepan cover with salted cold water by 1 inch. Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes, covered, 5 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander and in a bowl toss with remaining tablespoon oil. Arrange potatoes around lamb and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Roast lamb and potatoes, stirring potatoes occasionally, 55 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 140°F. for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and let stand 15 minutes. Increase temperature to 500°F. and roast potatoes and lemons in one layer 5 to 10 minutes more, or until golden. Transfer potatoes and lemons with a slotted spoon to bowl and toss with chives. Transfer potato mixture to a platter.
Serve lamb, sliced thin across grain, with potatoes, garnished with rosemary and lemon wedges.

Lamb: butcher department, left hand wall of grocery store. Rosemary: T's garden.

Easter supper.

One lone freesia.

Ang and J joined us and brought the sweets!  Raspberry lemon tart with almond crust. Very nice.

My favorite, key lime pie with shortbread cookie crust. Um, not happy I had to share. Which means it wasn't good, it was GREAT.

Tiramisu. Not so great, Whole Foods. Dry in the middle and not boozey enough.

And this nut tart was beautiful in our minds, however there was no caramel or chocolate in the middle. Just a pile of nuts with a trace of chocolate drizzled over the top. Meh.

Sweets: Whole Foods deli aisle along the right wall.

Congrats, Ang and J, on the reinvention of your relationship. We wish you the very best.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week 12: Shop the Peripheries of the Supermarket

I became introduced to this method of shopping when jumping on the Zone bandwagon back in 2000. Think about your supermarket, which looks more or less like this. Walk in and immediately head to the left, strolling through produce. Toward the back corner are luncheon meats and sometimes a bakery (I detest grocery store bakery items), and along the back wall are gourmet cheeses, eggs, dairy and sometimes non-dried pastas and Italian sauces in plastic containers.  Along the other wall, maybe as you turn the back corner, is seafood and the butcher department. Typically (thankfully) booze is located along the shelving facing the walls so you needn't worry about having to veer from your path for your red, red wine, make me feel so fine.

While there is plenty of room for misguidance by staying along the periphery, (processed cheeses, meats with nitrates, non-dairy creamer, Lunchables, and so on) you also stay away from anything in a big box, brightly colored packaging (Kraft cheese-like products not included), and overly processed carbs.  I managed to lose a fair amount of honeymoon weight by shopping this way for six months or so and playing loads of tennis.

By following Pollan's rules thus far I have definitely managed to eat a lot healthier in the last 4.5 months or so. I am eating way more veggies than I used to, lots of fruit and almost no processed carbs with the sole exception being pasta once a week or so.  I have not, however, managed to lose any food blogger weight despite a very regular exercise program. I think my (un?)healthy booze consumption is a key protagonist in this issue.  Booze and I may be taking an intermission for a few weeks as all this running, spinning and kettlebelling, while making me firm and increasing my cardio capacity, isn't making a dent in the outer layer of foodie fat.