Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Ol' Fashioned Way

I heard something funny the other day (okay, possibly this won't be funny to you, but humor me). Someone said 'Oh yeah I am going to try to lose weight the old fashioned way - Weight Watchers'.
Where to begin here. True, that is a program that has worked for a number of people including many celebrities. True, it can teach people how to eat without overeating.
False, it is in NO way the old fashioned way. Eating foods from a box, counting calories and points is not how generations before us kept healthy.
So let me share with you that the old fashioned way to managing weight is focusing on whole foods and whole meals. No counting calories, no counting points, no warming up food from a box in minutes in the microwave, no eating on the run. I get that people are busy and I get that it can be stressful to plan meals and put it all together (I can help with this, don't forget to check out my web site at But remember that every little bit counts, and with each week you can add a new habit from the real old days that brings you back to a way of life that uses nutrition to stay healthy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Celebrity Chefs and the Home Cook

I was watching a commentary show with Anthony Bourdain yesterday with him and about 5 other professional chefs. They were basically sitting around eating fabulous food, and commenting on various questions and opinions about food, international experiences, worst restaurant experiences, etc. One of the questions Anthony asked was 'do you think the rise of celebrity chefs has been helpful or will it be detrimental?'. He adds to it 'let me give you the worst case scenario - Rachael Ray'. I started laughing. I like Rachael, but the way he phrased it.

Funny question to ask I thought, but I listened. Everyone had the same opinion as me, which is that anything that motivates people to get excited about food and cooking in their own home is a good thing. I am a big FoodTV person, as well as Fine Living Network and then I have a few shows on PBS I watch too. I just set the DVR to record a variety of shows, and then I spend probably a total of 1-2 hours a week watching them. I don't watch the whole thing, I skim - kind of like when you skim a book. Just so I get the idea. Plus most all of them post their recipes online now. It is great for inspiration, learning new techniques, history and recipes.

So if you don't already, try to find some inspiration from a celebrity chef to get you cooking more at home.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Snacks: Nut free and Handy

One of the challenges of snacks, especially for school age children, is having something that is healthy, handy (doesn't require utensils or complicated preparation), interesting, and in many schools today, nut or peanut free. I came up with a few ideas I wanted to share to build on my Super Snacks posting . I have also recently heard feedback that schools are not allowing chips or anything that resembles a chip or cracker allowed on campus....comments on that later. Let's get to snackin'!

Good ol' ants on a log: Remember these? Perfect to go snack with vegetables, fruit and then your choice of a filling can add a dairy or good fat serving in there too. I like celery with peanut butter and raisins, but you can also do almond butter (some schools are only peanut free), cream cheese, or goat cheese. You can also do currants (a more sour fruit) instead of raisins. Other dried fruits would be fun and tasty as well. All you do is cut the celery stalk into thirds. Fill with cheese or nut butter and line the fruit on top - as if they were ants crawling on a log.

Date rolls: Dates are great for to go snacks and they combine really well with a number of flavors. They are also quite sweet, but because we are talking about a whole fruit and not just juice for example, it has all the fiber and vitamins and minerals needed to best digest it. I like dates processed in the food processor with a bit of water, good coconut flakes (no sulfites added), perhaps a bit of pure cocoa powder, pine nuts or almonds if nuts are ok - all rolled into small balls. 2 of these little bad boys is the perfect amount to regulate blood sugar and keep someone going until their next main meal.

Raw Vegetables: Simple, I know. But one of the best snacks is some raw carrots, celery, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas or edamame (generally I steer clear of processed soy products and try to focus on either fermented soy like miso or whole soy like edamame).

Asparagus Rolls: Usually you see these at fancy dinner parties, but I think you can make them a tasty and fun snack. Lightly blanch your asparagus stems in lightly salted water. Wrap with a bit of good quality ham or turkey that has been thinly sliced. You can also add a bit of goat or cream cheese in between the meat and asparagus.

Flax Muffins: There is a really great recipe for flax muffins on the back of Bob's Red Mill flax meal. You can also find it on their web site here:
You could easily take the nuts out, and I don't add the sugar at all - you have enough with all the fruit. If you really wanted to, add half the amount in the form of sucanat (a better sweetener to use as it is a more whole product). These would pack a good carbohydrate, fruit and fat punch. Please don't fear fat, it doesn't make you fat...more on that another time.

Sushi Sammies: In our family we call sandwiches, 'sammies'. And I like to make my own sushi - it is easy! No need for fancy rollers - just use a tea towel. Basically lay a tea towel out, and put the nori (dried seaweed) on top. Put about 1/4 cup cooked brown rice on top and then add thinly sliced cucumber, carrots, smoked salmon, goat or cream cheese and/or cooked mushrooms at the top of the nori roll (you pick what to put in). Start the roll by hand, and then wrap the tea towel around the nori and keep tightly rolling. Cut carefully with a sharp knife into equal pieces.

Bagels and Cheese-Veg Spread: I think this is a perfect area to make your own cheese spread to add to a wholesome bagel (think whole wheat, spelt, etc with no weird ingredients). You can pulse some cream cheese, ricotta or goat cheese in a food processor with your favorite herbs, salt and pepper, a bit of olive oil and some steamed spinach, artichoke hearts and/or eggplant. Top with a slice of tomato and you have a tasty to go sandwich. Instead of cheese you can also make baked veggie patties or maybe chicken nugget patties with extra vegetables added in.

A friend and fellow blogger of mine makes these, and you could easily adapt to remove the nuts:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dim Sum

Typically when I eat out it happens because of convenience, social situations or I simply can't make it at home (amount of time, recipes, difficulty). Dim sum falls into this last category. We love dim sum in the LL household.
In case you are not familiar with dim sum, it is a Chinese style of cooking/cuisine with little bites and dumplings of tasty fixings. Ranges from savory or sweet, steamed or fried or baked and spicy or mild. It is typically a brunch/lunch time event and accompanied with tea. Once you are seated you are typically offered tea. Then the fun begins as the various carts circle around the room displaying what just came out of the kitchen. You point at the cart and they put the basket of goodness on your table and stamp your card with the marker for the dim sum (price depends for the various dumplings). And if you don't want it you do the no thanks face and shake your hand across the table - that is not mandatory but it is my husband's trademark for dim sum and probably the main reason all of our friends like going with us - to watch him manage the dim sum intake.....moving then have several dipping options: none, soy sauce, Chinese mustard or hot sauce. Dip and eat!
My major gripe with dim sum is I have no idea what is actually going into my food. I know there is MSG (mono sodium glutamate - a preservative used as a flavor enhancer in many Asian cuisines) and MSG is terribly bad for you (and I myself am quite sensitive to it). That aside, like any other place you eat out, you simply don't know where the ingredients came from and who is making it.
So here is the really exciting part of this post, I made my own! And it turned out great. A good friend of mine has a book from the late 70's that her mom used to use called 'Dim Sum' by Rhoda Yee. This is my new dim sum bible. It is by no means a task to do alone, and it is time consuming. However, it is the perfect get together for friends to just sit and talk and enjoy food. Plus when you start something like this, you make a ton, eat some that day and then have the rest frozen for another time. It is kind of the same as when Latin families get together to make tamales.
So here was my favorite recipe of everything we made yesterday:

Siu Mai (shoo-my)
Makes about 10 dozen

1 lb ground pork sausage
1 lb fresh ground pork
2 tsp salt
1 can water chestnuts, finely minced
2 tbls ginger, finely minced
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbls light soy sauce
1 tbls salted turnips, finely minced (you could omit, but this was an interesting ingredient we found at our local Asian specialty store)
4 tbls sugar
1 tsp teriyaki sauce
1 tsp sherry
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup cilantro,finely minced
1 stalk green onions, finely minced
1 package round wonton skins

Mix all the ingredients into a bowl together.

Take about 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling and put into the center of the wonton skin. You are going to leave the top open so what you do is fold the edges around the meat mixture. Then, holding from the top and the bottom, pat the mixture so it is flattened and secure in the little pocket pouch. Set inside a tray of some sort and cover with a paper towel.

Fire up your stove and warm up a couple of inches of water in a pot with a steamer basket - do not let the water touch the basket. When boiling, put your dim sum in the basket and steam for about 15 minutes.

Take out, eat when cooled enough to not burn your mouth. Serve with soy sauce, hot sauce and/or sesame oil. Enjoy!

Note, when you are working with won ton skins they should be kept moist. So keep covered with a wet paper towel, or keep them in the package they came in as you take one at a time out. Do not take them all out, separate and then try to stuff - you will be upset that you just ruined a whole package :)


I love chocolate. Typically I always have some kind of good quality chocolate in the house for when I have cravings and to add a little something extra to dessert or when guests are over.

The definition of good quality is something without extra additives, a dark chocolate (I prefer to go in the 70% cocoa range), and preferably something organic. I think it is a good idea to keep things like chocolate in your house because that way if you are craving it, you have already made the choice before hand to give yourself a good quality product.

Yesterday at the farmers market I came upon the Go To Chocolate booth and stopped because my friend had just picked up one of their Go To bars on Wednesday at a different farmers market and was RAVING about it. So we stopped and spoke to the owner and her daughter about the products and process. Fantastic philosophy, great packaging (I don't care, packaging is sort of a big deal to me - at least I am aware of it :) ) and nice people. So I bought the vegan sample box and tasted it today with my husband. He is not a choco-holic and he really appreciated these bad boys. All natural products, and just really great flavor combinations.
I am adding Go To Chocolates to my list of favorite gifts to give and favorite chocolates to have around. I particularly liked the blood orange olive oil chocolate truffle (they infuse the olive oil with blood oranges in the pressing process and Go To uses olive oil to soften the chocolate). And I am not an orange and chocolate person - this was different.
You can look them up on the web at:

Apologies for no photo.....they were too good :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Balance it Out

The responses I get are interesting when people find out I am a food coach. Generally I think a food coach is associated with a rigid eater with nothing but salad and poached chicken...ok kidding, no one thinks I eat that way. However, with the holidays approaching especially, I am getting a lot of 'This is terrible for you I know' or 'You would die if you knew what I ate this weekend'. And this comes up with simple things like chocolate.
Truth is, it is about balance. It is about having good moments and bad - in a day or a week. I don't have the source at my fingertips, but there is some statistic that Americans gain an average of 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year - every year. Top that with a serious problem of not getting on track again and dropping the weight again, we get the current obesity epidemic.
So know that I don't believe in dieting, I don't believe in cutting food out of your diet (if you are a healthy person without food allergies or sensitivities, etc), but rather focus on enjoying food and cooking and find a program that for the most part serves your health!