Thursday, February 26, 2009

What do you do about Breakfast?

When I talk about breakfast, I want you to first clear your mind of the image of someone shaking their finger and saying in an old and crackly voice 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day'.

That said, it's true. Breakfast is THE most important meal of the day. I have a long list of why, but let me highlight the top three:
1. Helps regulate blood sugar
2. Great opportunity to get fresh fruit, eggs and whole grains like oats in your diet
3. Gives you energy to start the day

What does this all really translate to -Better able to manage your weight and a healthy body and immune system

There are three disservices you do to your body by not eating breakfast.

1. By not eating, signals are sent to your body that you are starving it. So it holds onto whatever food you do give it and stores it as fat for energy needed later.

2. By not eating regularly your metabolism will slow down and it becomes more difficult to lose weight.

3. By the time you do eat, you are so hungry you overeat and typically the wrong things like chips, sweets, etc. So you end up eating more of the wrong type of calories.

Now that I have convinced you that breakfast will keep you at an ideal weight and in good health, what do you eat?
Another time I will talk about cholesterol and eggs, but for now, trust me that they are fantastic for you. Whole eggs too - the white are hard to digest and rob you of nutrients. The yolks are truly the best part.
1. Frittatas, scrambles, nests (leafy greens and tomatoes made into pockets and eggs baked inside) are all great options.
2. Oatmeal, quinoa cereals with fruits and nuts are also tasty
3. Soups are great for breakfast too. They are warm and nourishing
4. Coconut smoothies with coconut milk, fruit, water, green powder are fantastic because they are portable and will definitely take you through to lunch

What about Cherios, Chex, and all the other cold, boxed cereals?
These all use a machine called an extruder to be produced...sounds scary in itself eh? You should be worried. They put the grains under tremendous pressure to puff and shape them. Studies are showing some serious side effects from this process on rats and while they are rats, I still would not use these as a staple item.
You have likely heard about all the sugar in these too, so read the label too. Simple grains plus sugar are going to spike insulin which causes a deep crash. You can't focus, you get more hungry and eat all the bad things again.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekly Menu 2/23

This week's menu is insipired by Dr. Mary Enig's "Eat Fat, Lose Fat" book. For those of you who cannot stand coconut, this is really not the book for you. For those of you who are fat phobic or not eating a balanced diet (with sufficient carbohydrates, protein AND FAT) and not feeling 100%, this is a really good resource to give you the science behind why you need fat, and why coconut is a great source and some fun meal plans to lose weight, to maintain weight and to reach optimum health.
I found that if I had to follow the meal plan laid out by Mary Enig it would be too much food in a week, and it would also be too much work - and for those that know me, you know I don't mind going the distance for food - so this needed some help. I took my food coaching tools out and made a meal plan, grocery list and list of to dos to get this all done and organized for the week. Went of without a hitch today! Don't think that this is too much work or too organized - for the rest of the week all I do is assemble and re-heat. I get all my nutrients, well balanced meals, no stress!

Monday: Red chile pork, steamed broccoli and cream of vegetable soup
Tuesday: Salad with baked chicken and coconut peanut sauce, green beans
Wednesday: Coconut corn soup, whole grain bread, raw cheese
Thursday: Egg scramble with natural bacon, sauteed spinach and cream of vegetable soup
Friday: Halibut, Indian curry vegetables with coconut milk, cream of vegetable soup and chutney

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Root Vegetable and Mushroom Pie with Rosemary Biscuit Topping

I received a subscription to Bon Appetit for the holidays and I am so happy I did. The photographs, the ideas, the recipes! This is a winner. I decided to swap the flour in the pie mixture with arrowroot powder - it is a great thickener with no weird flavor or texture. The trick is adding it more towards the end (where with flour you need it at the beginning). You could definitely do the BA recipe for biscuits, but I decided to try a gluten free biscuit. Your choice, but I wanted to highlight that this could easily be GF and DF (dairy free), and it is a much more interesting way to get your root vegetables (and it has pretty much every root veg in there!). Much of this can be done ahead, so this can be a slow cooked Sunday meal, or it can be a comforting weeknight meal that you just assemble the night of.

You can find the recipe at:

I have re-posted the recipe, but with my changes here:

6 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth
2 very large carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, covered with hot water for 10 minutes. Reserve liquid and chop mushrooms into 1/2 inch chunks
3 tablespoons butter or oil
3 cups chopped onions
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2-3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
2 tablespoons imported dry Sherry
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley


  • Bring 6 cups stock to boil in large pot over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve bouillon. Add carrots and next 5 ingredients. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Drain; reserve vegetables and broth.
  • Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Mix in garlic and rosemary; stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in reserved broth. Cook until reduced by about half. Add the arrowroot powder. Then cream and Sherry. Cook until sauce is thick and reduced to 4 cups, whisking often. Mix in reserved vegetables and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to buttered 13x9x2-inch baking dish. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with foil; chill.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake filling, covered, until bubbling, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare biscuits.


Pre mix 1 cup rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour, 1 cup cornstarch, 1 cup potato flour

7/8 cup of the flour mixture
1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp sucanat
1/2 tsp salt

3 tablespoons butter or vegan non-hydrogenated margarine
1/2 cup buttermilk

In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter until it resembles the size of peas. Stir in the buttermilk and work gently until the dough forms a ball. Roll out onto a dusted surface and roll to about 3/4" thickness. Cut the dough into rounds. Lay on top of the vegetable mix.

Final Preparation

Lay biscuit dough atop hot filling by heaping tablespoonfuls; sprinkle with pepper. Bake uncovered until tester inserted into center of biscuits comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekly Menu 2/8/09

This weeks menu was inspired by the latest Bon Appetit I just received in the mail, and a soup book someone loaned me. I also wanted to build out some more freezer meals because I am still making efforts to save time, save money, but feed our family nourishing and whole foods. I pre-made most everything today (Sunday) so this week should be a breeze. And cravings for easy to go food should be obsolete with all this fantastic food in the fridge and freezer!

Sunday: Homemade Italian Sausage (pulled from our freezer reserves) with bell pepper and onions and sauteed kale and dandelion greens

Monday: Arroz con Pollo with mixed green and tangerine salad

Tuesday: Bon Appetit's Root Vegetable and Mushroom Pie (I am doing a gluten free version of the biscuits on top, and I have modifications for the flour they added to the mixture)

Wednesday: Fresh Greens Soup and Leftover Chicken from Monday's Arroz con Pollo

Thursday: Artichoke and Potato Soup with salad

Friday: Leftovers

This week's tip:
Try doubling your soup recipes. If you are a family of two, just make what it calls for and initially freeze half. You will have 2-3 meals ready for you whenever you are in a pinch. If you are a family of one, try partnering up with a friend to split the work, ingredients and risk of trying new recipes. Cook together or meet up to exchange your foods.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gluten Free Coffee Muffins

Before you throw your arms up and say forget it because it's gluten free, take a look. I don't make things that try to mock a modern version. For example I don't get tofurkey, I don't like most gluten free bread....these are things that you just shouldn't try to replicate if you have a food sensitivity.
That is how I survived the 10 years that I had a sensitivity to milk protein. I ate as many whole foods as possible and tested recipes until I could make them just taste good and not 'ok, but dairy free.
So, these muffins. I was hesitant to try them, but I will tell you they are great! Give them a try next time you have guests over.
Coffee Muffins
Adapted from the "Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods" by Bette Hagman
Before you start, mix 1 cup garfava flour, 1 cup cornstarch and 1 cup tapioca flour in a storage bin
1 1/2 cups flour mix
1/2 cup sucanat
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbls melted butter
2 eggs
2 tsp instant espresso
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup chocolate chips (to add right before baking on top of the muffins, otherwise they sink to the bottom)
Cupcake liners
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line muffin tin.
2. In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, coffee and butter together.
4. Add half the flour mixture until just moist. The key with this is not to overmix or beat.
5. Add half the buttermilk, stir lightly.
6. Add the rest of the flour, stir. Then the rest of the buttermilk. Stir lightly.
7. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Top with chocolate chips if you want.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
I would suggest tasting the batter before. It doesn't taste good, so that is not why I am suggesting that. Instead, I just thought it was so cool how the bean taste gets cooked out and how baking is such a science!
According to the original author, each muffin packs 6 grams of protein! Enjoy with some tea or coffee.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NT Eggplant Relish

Nourishing Traditions page 167 Eggplant Relish
We made this for our Superbowl party and I will say that it was a great addition. Served it with whole wheat pita chips. I love tahini and capers so smothering eggplant in them was heaven. I would suggest making sure you chop everything pretty small. Not into a pulsed paste, but really small chunks. We kept it large and while that was ok, it would have better mouth feel and dipping ability if you had it smaller.
Also, we didn't let the eggplant sit in a colander. I never do this. I think it is usually suggested to draw out the bitter flavor eggplant can have. I have tried both ways and never found a difference. Just make sure your eggplant are relatively young and not super bruised and I think you will be ok.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nourishing Traditions Recipe Reviews

You will find that I have added a category called "Nourishing Traditions Recipe Reviews". Basically as I went to go conquer trying things from this book, I found that I didn't know where to start or in some cases, what to actually do. The ingredients, the techniques - they were all new to me. I Googled and came up with a few things, but I still have not found someone who is methodically going through the book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, and reviewing and adding commentary about how to make the recipe better.
I am not going to list the recipe, because I really do think it's a key text to have in your own library. I will be referencing the Revised Second Edition from 2001. This is an easy book to find. Try starting with Amazon.

Natasha's Sheppherd's Pie

This is really one of those things that I put together based on flavors I knew were in a regular Shepperd's pie, but I either didn't want to follow an exact recipe or wanted to replace the typical 'white' products with something more nourishing. This is also a great recipe to make on Sunday and quickly re-heat for a nourishing and tasty weeknight meal. Just serve with a salad for a whole meal!
Specifically I did a mix of russet potatoes with sweet potatoes to top it. And I did ground beef and natural chicken livers (you really can't taste them in this application) to give the meat portion more nutrition. I also did a lot more vegetables in the mixture than you would normally find. Lastly, I didn't use flour to thicken the sauce and instead used arrowroot powder. Give it a try! The only thing I would change next time is to find an alternative to the worcestershire sauce. Additional herbs, some tamari and anchovies would probably do the trick if you didn't make your own full on batch of worcestershire.

Serves: 4 large servings or 6 smaller servings

1 small onion, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 lb beef
1/2 lb natural chicken livers (soaked in lemon juice for 2 hours, rinse and pat dry, remove filament), finely chopped
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 Tbls arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 Tbls worcestershire sauce
1 russet potato
1 sweet potato
Butter (optional)
Cream (optional)
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 F.

1. Scrub the russet and sweet potatoes and poke with a knife. Toss in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until they are soft. Set aside and let cool.

2. Over medium heat, warm a bit of olive oil or butter and soften the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper as it cooks. Set aside.

3. Warm another tablespoon of olive oil and toss in the beef. When mostly cooked, toss in the livers.

4. A minute after the livers are added, toss in the broth and worcestershire sauce and let come to a boil. Add the arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) and cook for a few more minutes until the sauce is thick enough to leave a line when you run your spoon through it.

5. Combine the meat and vegetables and put in the bottom of a medium casserole dish (I personally like Corningware products).

6. Take the potatoes out of their skins and mash in a bowl. Mix with just olive oil, or butter and cream (don't be afraid of the fat - remember, in moderation it is good for you and will satiate you.

7. Top the meat mixture with the potatoes.

8. Put in oven and bake until warmed through and potatoes are a little crispy on top.

Weekly Menu 2/2/09

This weeks menu was inspired by a desire to make more comfort foods. The weather has been warm actually, but I have just wanted to eat my favorite things. The shepherds pie for example was to satisfy a craving from one of our favorite restaurants, Sullivans, in La Honda where some of the best English food is made in this area. But being the food coach, I also wanted to make these nourishing and balanced, so I added my own twists. Enjoy!

Monday: Natasha's Impromptu Shepherds Pie - Food Coach Style
Tuesday: BBQ chicken with soaked brown rice, sauteed kale and chard and homemade balsamic vinaigrette
Wednesday: Sushi made with nori, brown rice and leftover chicken, spinach salad on the side
Thursday: Baked pork chops, polenta, sauteed greens (spinach, kale, chard) with onions
Friday: Portuguese cookoff with friends - to be determined and I will be sharing recipes with you!