Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Madeleine Time!



Hanging out at a Starbucks coffee shop, I typically manage to only take pictures of the bakery items, and rarely eat them, but they have one luxurious, guiltfree snack: madeleines. This winter  I made a batch from scratch, using this recipe. They were delicious, but a tad involved. Last weekend, Giada Di Laurentiis showed a simpler way to make madeleines using a bake mix. These madeleines are made in 10min and baked in 15min. To be honest --- they are addictive! But we are just having one with coffee, right?
  • 2 large egg whites or 1/4 cup eggwhite mixture
  • 1 cup yellow cake mix (recommended: Betty Crocker Supermoist Butter Cake)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1.5 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (I used orange zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Special equipment: 12 (3-inch) nonstick madeleine molds
Put an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a madeleine mold with baking spray (ie. butter and flour spray) liberally and set aside (alternatively, butter madeleine molds liberally with butter and dust with flour).

Batter: In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cake mix, butter, honey, water, orange zest, and almond extract. Beat the ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat until the batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Spoon the batter into the prepared molds. Make sure to fill only 2/3 of each mold or less since the madeeines will rise.

Bake until the edges are golden and the center of the madeleines spring back when touched, about 15 to 16 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a small rubber spatula, remove the madeleines and arrange, scalloped side up, on a wire rack. Cool for 15 minutes, sprinkle with powder sugar and serve.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spicy Asian Beef


After all these motivational posts, back to food! This is a quick and delicious dish, spicy asian beef. I make it with what Nigella Lawson calls 'minute steaks', very thin sliced steaks that fry in a minute on both sides. I cut them into thin stripes, the same with a red bell pepper, a hot pepper and a half red onion and some straw mushrooms. Throw into the mix  some garlic and indonesian soy sauce. Dinner in 10 minutes!

1 minute steak, thinly sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 red onion, cut into thin half moons
1/2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup straw mushroom (canned)
salt, pepper
Indonesian teriyaki sauce (other other soy or terikayi sauce)
1/2 ts canola oil or peanut oil

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet, add the onions, bell pepper and hot pepper, saute til softened. Add the garlic and beef, and saute until beef is cook through and browned. Add the teriyaki sauce, salt and pepper and the mushroom, and heat through. Serve!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Love as the Ultimate Superfood

I like reading the Crazy Sexy Life blog for its various guest post and reminders of inspiring messages of living a holistic life. Today's one is close to my heart. So, I take it straight from the blog post (click to read the entire post):

"Here are a few simple ideas to get that heart chakra opened up again:

-Laugh. Seems so obvious, but laughing is really the ultimate remedy. Nothing opens up the chakras (energy systems in the body) quite like a good, solid giggle.
-Rebound. Who wouldn’t be in a state of joy while jumping up and down on a mini-trampoline? I have yet to meet that person.
-Listen to music. Preferably songs that are fun, energizing, or emotionally moving!
-Nature: Get Outdoors and into Some Green. To be in the presence of nature is to be in the presence of magnificent love power.

So in my mind anything we could possibly eat, no matter the superfood status, pales in comparison to love!

Love feels good.
Love pervades.
Love heals all.
Love is really all there is.





Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pet Peeve Rant: why weightloss shows send the wrong message

I accidentally tuned in to the season start of "The Biggest Loser" (always think "looser" would be the right name, no?), and saw the new format of picking 3 candidates per larger city. They had to compete for a placement on the show by running 1 Mile. These guys/gals were around 300-400 pounds and had not run in  like 20 years. I am not a medical doctor, but this seemed medically dangerous, but, alas just made in heaven for reality tv high ratings. Promptly, one guy with dreadlocks collapsed, and had to be taken to the hospital. Reality tv drama, a necessary ingredient, right?

It makes me so mad that shows like this send the message that, well, if you want to have any chance to loose weight, you have to SUFFER, big time, because otherwise you don't deserve it and you already know it is impossible, right? We just want to make sure to confirm this message. You have to do impossible things, like run when you barely can get out of a chair, exercise for 5 hours a day while Jillian Michaels yells at you for not trying hard enough, just humiliation and beating yourself up all the way. 

While this might make for high reality tv ratings of overweight people sitting at home, and thinking, oh, yes, I should do this, I am so glad I am at home and don't have to do this (you know, like other people watching horror movies in the safety of their own homes...), this simply sends the wrong message. I firmly believe that any successful weightloss can only be accomplished by being gentle on yourself. Yes, it is ok to start small. Go for a walk, do something you can do and that feels pleasant. After walking for a month, you might feel more compelled to try a few minutes to run. Yes, you CAN do it, and you DON'T have to suffer and it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE, and it can actually be fun, and you can actually want to keep it up. Be gentle, go slow, love yourself.

Same crappy show: Thintervation with Jackie Warner. Yelling at someone "You don't know your strength, you don't know what you can do, but I know. Get rid of this princess attitude.", well., that borders on abuse. Jackie, go home. 





Monday, September 20, 2010

Is your food cool?


If not, just bring along the new lunch cooler bag from Wholefood. In pink, of course.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Moroccan Stuffed Peppers


I saw this great looking dish on peanutbutterfinger, and so I had to give it a try. In the end, I changed quite a few ingredients around, but I guess this is how it goes..... Nevertheless, these are the tastiest individual moroccan spiced stuffed pepper (and skinny to boot!)!

1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1/2 packet Knorr vegetable soup mix
3 TB Trader Joes red pepper spread
2 TB harissa
1/4 cup frozen sweet corn
2 TB panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup eggwhites
2 large bell peppers, cut into rounds


Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all ingredients besides the pepper sin a large bowl
Cut the bottom of the peppers, and fill them. Cut the remaining pepper (depending on size) into 1in high rounds, and fill with turkey mix.
Bake for 40-60
minutes to an hour, until the turkey stuffing is fully cooked


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best Individual Meatloaves Ever





This is a great way to make meatloaf, and portion it: using a muffin baking pan. Also, all meatloaves will have a crust! The small meatloaves can easily be frozen and taste just as good as leftovers. 

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1/2 envelope onion soup mix
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs  
1/4 cup egg beaters
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup water 
1/2 cup fresh corn
garlic powder, and pepper  (all optional) 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together but do not over mix or it will be tough. Use an icecream scooper, and fill a muffin pan. Bake for35-45 mins.  

If you like a glaze, use a BBQ sauce mixed with a little splenda brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper and spread it on top of the meatloaves for the last 15 minutes or so.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Relax and stay in your skinny jeans!


I always suspected that stress is one of the biggest contributors to a juggle with weight, and minimizing stress helps the most. But now there is proof. A 2009 study at University of Otago in New Zealand showed that women loose more weight with yoga and relaxation techniques than those with exercise and diet. Now, ain't this great!  

Note:
Quoting from an interesting post on "Crazy Sexy Life":

To varying degrees, based on the body’s perceived severity of the stress [..it does not always have to be 'stress', any kind of stimulation is sufficient], cortisol is released as a stimulant. Since our adrenal glands were not designed to be used as often as they are today, it’s common for them to become overworked, resulting in an exhaustion called adrenal burnout.

Stress-free people are fat-burning machines. A stressed person’s system will switch from burning fat (as fuel) to carbohydrates in the form of sugar. Burning more sugar and less fat, the body will begin to store body fat instead of using it for energy. This leads to overworked adrenal glands, adrenal fatigue, reduction in sleep quality, and many stress-related impairments.

End quote. And, let me add, it will easily lead to weight gain.
So, turn off the TV, the computer, read a good book, take a walk on a quiet beach or a yoga class, and/or simply laugh at life and yourself and often the absurdity of it all.





Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spicy Seafood Risotto



Fall, or a prelude of Fall, came with a bang this year. From searing heat, sunshine and 90F it became cold, rainy, and gray. Fall weather changes my appetite, and risotto is one of my favorite fall foods. This one tries to preserve the summer heat and spirit by using hot chili peppers and Trader Joes frozen seafood mix. 

Ingredients:
1 small white onion, finely diced
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 TB butter
100g/3.5oz arborio rice
a few glucks of dry sherry
1 spicy chili pepper, cut into thin slices
a few strands of saffron 
500ml of shrimp bouillon (dissolve a Knorr shrimp bouillon cube in 500ml boiling water)
cup of frozen Trader Joes seafood mix (fresh shrimp, calamari, scallops)
Parmesan, freshly grated.



Dissolve the butter in a large heavy skillet. Don't brown it, just melt it. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until translucent (not browned!) and add the risotto rice to toast it in the onions, garlic and butter mix for 3-4 min on medium-low heat. Add the sherry, and simmer until the sherry has evaporated. Add a laddle (ca. 1/2 cup) of the shrimp bouillion to the risotto, stir, and let simmer on low until the liquid is evaporated. Then, add another laddle (the bouillon should be hot). Do this until the rice is soft and most of the stock has been used, ca 20-25min. Now, add the seafood, and cook for 2-3 min until shrimp are cooked, have turned pink and into the shape of a 'C' ("C" is for 'cooked', an "O" would be for "overcooked). Grate parmesan cheese into the hot risotto, and serve.






Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spicy Thai Coconut Soup


This soup is very versatile -- light, with just a few mushroom and carrots and seafood, or filling with noodles, corn, edamame. It is all in the base. Ever since I found these fabulous spicy chili peppers at the Farmers market at Peacemeal Farm, I am finding new ways to use them. They make all the difference in this soup.

Thai coconut soup base:
2 cups of water
1/2 can of light coconut milk
1 TB red curry paste
1 TB bonito-based soup base
1 large red hot chili pepper (FM), sliced in thin stripes
1 inch ginger, cut in thin strips
1 garlic clove, cut into strips
curry leaves or lemon grass

Heat the water and add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil, and add ingredients from the list below. Simmer for 10-15min. Serve with thinly cut green onions.

Other soup ingredients:
King Oyster mushroom, thinly sliced
shitake mushroom, thinly sliced
tiny corn
sweet corn
carrots, cut in thin stripes
scallops
shrimp

Optionally:
peas
noodles
edamame
green onions

Makes 2-3 large servings.