Thursday, January 22, 2009


I was skeptical when Ben told me last week that he was going to make homemade carnitas....I just thought 'uhhh'. I like it from the taco shop and I rarely get it because it is so fatty and makes me nauseous, but I do like it. He found the recipe here:

I will tell you two things about this:
1. This is EASY!
2. This is the best carnitas I have ever had

I really recommend this recipe and I suggest trying this one week. You can use this for tacos, empanada filling, soup, burritos, etc etc etc! With a snappy little salad on the side and some mashed avocado, fresh radishes and fresh made salsa and lime, you can't beat a tastier meal. I wanted to add that we use non GMO corn tortillas in our house. They are readily available, and if you have a choice, why add more junk to your system? You shouldn’t! Most corn, unless otherwise noted, is genetically modified (GMO). I suggest reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivores Dilemma if you really want a nice picture of how this came about and what it is.
This was a great meal because we got to control how fatty it was, the quality of ingredients and we got to connect with our food.
A true whole food meal with a ton of flavor and love.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fancy Food Show Reviews

This past Sunday I visited the Fancy Food Show at the Moscone Center in San Francisco - What a trip! I found out about the show from a friend who does catering, so I thought this was going to be more interesting than specifically useful to the food coaching business. I could not have been more wrong. Well, it was both extremely interesting and useful. Let me give you some general notes and some favorite product highlights:

General Notes
I started out in the natural and organic hall - hundreds and hundreds of vendors selling almost anything you can imagine. The most popular items were tea, crackers, nuts and chocolate. Not to mention that there were at least 7 or 8 specialty water companies selling basically the same thing. The market is clearly demanding these convenience snacks and a search for a 'healthy' sweet. What became evident immediately was that most all of these snacks are not whole foods (remember, a whole food is something you can read the ingredients on and it has less than 5 ingredients). They are purely trying to satisfy the new obsession with 'organic' as a title and the addiction to sweet or salty snacks. I had fun with the vendors asking what various ingredients were.
What was also interesting was the focus on packaging. I won't generalize and say all the companies are there to sell and profit, but I will say that many are. Rightfully so as so many people are not relying on whole foods to snack on, and prepare meals with. And they are reaching the masses through calculated packaging. Just a nice little reminder that you really need to turn the package over, read the ingredients and then make a choice....ask yourself 'do I want to put this in my body?'

Redwood Hill Goat Farm - I love the goat milk yogurt from this company and I was able to meet the owners. Really great example of how you can just ask about farming practices and as soon as you see the passion and know how it is done, you are instantly drawn to want that product because you know it is ok for you.
Indian Food To Go by Tandoor Chef- for a prepared food, I didn't mind the ingredient list for this company, and it actually tasted dang good. It was interesting to see that there were at least 5 Indian pre-prepared food companies in this one hall. It's easy to make! I will try to get you more Indian recipes this year just to prove it to you.
Alternative Milks - we found several, but two that interested me were Living Harvest's Hemp Milk. Neutral taste, a list of ingredients I don't really know what everything is so I have more research to do. The other was called Mimi Creme and it was cashew and almond milk. Also need to do more research.
Natural Sodas: GUS (Grown Up Soda) was really good. Vignette (non alcoholic soda made from wine grapes) also great. Fentimans and Dry soda were also good. More whole ingredients, but definitely something for every now and then.
Cleaning Products - I am a big, huge fan of the Mrs. Meyers brand. Natural cleaning products that are super affordable. That wasn't new to me, but I wanted to highlight that I really like their products and it was fun to visit their booth. I did come across something new called Twist. They use natural, biodegradable product to clean your home and dishes, etc with. I had not thought about what my dish sponges were made from until I spoke with them. Check it out.
Redneck Pepper - The food was good, but these guys are funny as heck. Check them out at
Pre-packaged Grains - This company is just a few miles from me and I didn't know it until today so I hope to find out where she is distributing and more about the business, but had some tasty samples to hand out and I really like their mission statement.
Tasty Baby - www. I stopped by this booth and learned some really interesting things. I would advocate making as much of your baby food as you can, but this is a great alternative. It is frozen baby food, and it is all organic and they have BPA free containers. They had samples, but I felt a little awkward tasting....moving on. What I found interesting is that I often recommend that people eat frozen over canned foods because canned undergoes tremendous heat and pressure which reduces the nutritional value of your food. I never thought about that in the context of baby food in a jar. Turns out for Tasty Baby they have to heat the food to 185 and then flash freeze it compared to over 200 degrees for at least 30 minutes in the jarring process.
Republic of Tea - This booth was HUGE! And they had each type of tea brewed and ready to serve. We tried about 5 of them and it was delightful. Their tea is very accesible and I like each one I try. I think they have a few organic types, which is my only gripe, but I like their stuff.
Portion Controlled Chocolate - Chocolate and sweets and cookies were HUGE at this event. I really couldn't believe it. There were two companies I found that I didn't mind the ingredient list, liked the people and liked how they packaged for portion control - which I think helps when you are talking about sweets. has these tic tac like boxes that hold their chocolates and the most concentrated dark chocolate also has espresso and they were dang tasty.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Weekly Menu for 1/18/09

Monday: Liver and onions, herbed millet, sauteed spinach
Tuesday: Millet and Arab spiced chicken over parsnips and onions, celery root soup and sauteed zucchini
Wednesday: Posole with steamed greens
Thursday: Homemade carnitas tacos with taco bar fixings (avocado, radish, salsa, corn tortillas) and sauteed zucchini
Friday: Leftover posole and greens

You may be asking yourself, goodness gracious what is she doing on Monday! I have not spent a great deal of time talking about my involvement with the Weston A. Price Foundation or Nourishing Our Children campaign, but one of my goals for 2009 was to incorporate more principals from WAPF and the Nourishing Traditions book by Sally Fallon (given my profession, it is my duty to try things on myself first!). The last three weeks I have added raw milk. This next week I wanted to try organ meats. There is a lot more I can write about why organ meats are good for you, but the short of it is that they are rich in vitamins A and D which are good for a variety of things in your body. Each week I am going to be trying something from Nourishing Traditions - a great book I highly recommend you pick up, and will try to give a review of the recipe each week. My involvement with WAPF doesn't mean I am against vegetarianism - I respect and support each persons choice to do what they want. I also still have my own realistic ways to incorporate good food into a busy life. Stay tuned to see how I continue to do this!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baking Soda - In Indian Food?

I learned something very interesting yesterday from an Indian friend. I had a hankering for some Indian take out at lunch (sometimes, you just can plan and plan your meals, but you crave something and I figure as long as I make good choices and I get the essence of my craving, it's in line with my general principals....anyway, moving on). She informed me that most of the Indian places she goes to don't satisfy her palette. Now, she is a good cook so I figured it was just about flavor, but she went on to inform me that they thicken the sauces with both cornstarch AND baking soda. I didn't believe her, had to ask again. She said, no, they definitely add baking soda.

So, this explains why it's hard to digest Indian food from restaurants and gives you the burps (pee yew). Your stomach is supposed to be acidic (some other time I will launch into my spiel about not using Tums or other antacids). It is a digestive need for the stomach to be acidic. If you are stressed, sick, eating poor foods or eating foods with baking soda in it, your body can't properly digest or assimilate (transfer the nutrients from food to the form your body can use it) because the pH is not correct.

Just another reason to take a class, read a book, watch a show - anything to try and cook more at home! I have mastered a few Indian spice combinations and next time, I will just wait until I get home to satisfy that craving.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekly Menu for 1/11/09

Here we are in the second week of the new year! This week's menu is simple, but nutrient dense. It is a busy week so I chose things I knew we could pre-make today (Sunday) and then either warm up or toss together throughout the week. Here is what we have:

Sunday: Homemade bratwurst with cabbage and potatoes (with skins)
Monday: Simple grilled shrimp over spinach with citrus vinaigrette and a side of brown rice
Tuesday: Lentils with Indian flavored cauliflower topped with cheese
Wednesday: Marinated flank steak over rice with black beans and spinach salad
Thursday: Chicken stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon and baked, sauteed spinach and quinoa
Friday: Fiesta fiesta!! Just kidding. Something fun and impromptu here.

A note about the homemade sausage. Friday night the husband took some time ( a few hours) to research and then make his own sausage. It was quite the experience, but I highly recommend it if you are a make from scratch type person. Sausage is usually packed full of nitrites and nitrates and fillers like non fat milk and such. These are just meat and spices. The best part is we get to season the way we want as well. Sausage is not a low fat dish either, but the important thing is to BALANCE the meal by having at least half the plate being vegetables. I will post more information about this after the husband does a write up for me.
Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Winter Minerals

Something I have touched on in my blog, but perhaps never clearly said is that we are generally out of touch with our food. That is such a general statement so let me elaborate with an example. How many of you still buy tomatoes this time of year? How about peaches? Look around, and you will notice those are not in season. Your next question might be something like 'so what if it is not in season?'. Well, I am not trying to change the world here (just trying to mix our modern time restrictions, busy schedules and technology with more traditional ways of eating and living), but if you think about produce in your own home and how great it tastes when first picked you can imagine that the nutritional value of that food is much higher at that time. If you are eating out of season foods they have to travel from somewhere not near here. That means possibly eating foods that have been irradiated, genetically modified, waxed and who knows what else. The best way to know what to buy, is to go to the farmer's market and look around. Right now our farmers market is closed here in town for a few months, but there are several CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) available in most all communities that directly supply you with seasonal foods. You can also go to the grocery store and look around for what is abundant and priced right. Right now you will see a lot of root vegetables, squash and hardy greens like kale, chard, cabbage and brussel sprouts. All of these foods are extremely rich in minerals and winter is the perfect time to re-mineralize your body. Again, most people don't think of each season as a time to nourish yourself for a particular reason. As a result many people continue to eat the highly refined and processed foods without a regularly supported diet of seasonal foods and eventually they become depleted and sick (with a cold, digestive disorder, etc). You will notice that these foods are cheap too. Eating whole foods is not only nourishing, but easy on the pocket. Combined with organized meal planning and a good pantry and you are set! This posting was the inspiration for me making Sally Fallon's Winter Root Vegetable Soup from Nourishing Traditions. If you don't own this book, I suggest buying it or picking it up at the library. It is a good informational text, as well as cookbook. This soup is extremely tasty and will make you feel warm and nourished!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
We started the year off in Napa, CA this year and let me tell you - that is the best way to start the year! Rang it in with a fantastic meal at the Culinary Institute (Greystone), massage and mineral pools, then our two favorite wineries Sullivan and Fontanella, ate at Bottega in Yountville (a Michael Chiarello restaurant - he was there and it was fabulous!) and then Ad Hoc (a Thomas Keller restaurant and a heck of an experience - make reservations!!). I am a seriously full, but happy camper right now.
A very special thanks to Jeff and Karen Fontanella for a fantastic tasting experience and visit! For those who love wine, love my blog, love to eat and know where your stuff is coming from, you have to visit them. Not only are they good people (that is a Southern term I picked up from my father in law), but they have a beautiful tasting room and property the winery is situated on, and....the wine is great! Anyway, I wanted to talk about them not only because I was appreciative, but if you are going to the Napa area, give them a call and stop by because you won't ever have a tasting experience quite like this. It is better than any winery on the main strip and the price is right and so are the people and the ambiance.
This was also a good trip because it was a reminder of how I practice food and food coaching. When we do Napa we stay away from the super touristy scene and go for really good food and wine and the experience. Like our trip with Jeff and Karen at Fontanella we were able to spend time talking about wine, the Valley, food, and how it all comes together. It's about connection. At Ad Hoc we had a really interesting upscale dining experience with a casual atmosphere and reasonable prices. Just things you don't do everyday, but when you do it you realize how much you love it and how everyday or week should have a little piece of that.
This year look out for more regular postings (sorry about the lag at the end there!) and more seasonal talk. To start this week for meals we have the following on tap:
Sunday: Slow Cooker Beef Stew with our Fontanella Cab we picked up on Friday
Monday: Winter vegetable soup (From Nourishing Traditions pg 213), roast chicken, Roast brussel sprouts
Tuesday: Winter vegetable soup with sausage and peppers (recipe from Lidia Bastianich), green salad
Wednesday: Veggie puree pancakes (Nourishing Traditions pg 412), salad and grilled flank steak
Thursday: White fish (fresh from Fisherman Porter) in a lemon caper white wine sauce, green salad, vegetable patties
Friday: Mediterranean fish soup, green salad

Stay tuned for an update on our Christmas Crab feast. I am having some issues getting photos up which is why I held off.