Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lost lunch

Sigh. This is what happens when you watch too many LOST episodes on netflix and don’t find time to go to the grocery store: you have to make do with the leftovers in the fridge for the 2nd day: roasted beets, lentil meatballs, and an apple. Still good.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Tricolore Lunch

I was out of greens today for my lunch salad, so I had to improvise. These three pairs work well individually and together: carrots and dates, fresh cremini mushroom sauted with small black beans and a dash of BBQ sauce, and balsamic roasted beets with toasted pine nuts. Green salad, who?

Carrots and date salad: (1 serving)

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • juice of 1 lemon (I used a meyer lemon)
  • 1 ts sugar or honey
  • 1 date, chopped

Mix the lemon juice with the sugar, and pour over the grated carrots. Mix well, add the chopped dates and mix again – serve.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Salad, the restaurant edition

The other day I drove to Belfast, ME, and had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Chase’s Daily, which again has been nominated for Best Chefs, Northeast by the James Beard foundation this year. Chase’s grow their own produce and they often have openings for helpers in the kitchen and on the farm. I had the roasted beet salad, made with garlic vinaigrette, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese. Interestingly, the side salad was (rare) mixed greenhouse greens stretched with the more winter-friendly white cabbage. 


At home I roasted the 2 large beets I had bought at the Belfast Coop to prepare my own roasted beet salad for the week. I cut up the beets, arranged them in a ovenproof ceramic form, drizzled some Fig Balsamic vinegar and added some vegetable broth, covered the form with foil, and baked at 400F for 1h 15 min. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mango Coconut Kale

Sometimes, the simplest dishes are the best – especially if they include a new flavor combination. – 


Melt 1 ts of coconut oil in a pan, slice about a 1/3 fresh mango into small chunks and saute in the coconut oil (add optionally: Brussels sprouts or edamane). Add 1 grated clove of garlic, and about 4-5 sliced Tuscan kale leaves. Add about 3 TB of water, and a teaspoon of tamari sauce and saute until the kale is wilted. Serve with Sriracha.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Naked Maine

Spring break is around the corner and I took the opportunity for a little coastal trip. Not a speck of snow on the coast, the lawns look yellow, the trees skeletal black, the blue sea is the background. I call it the time of Naked Maine, because you see things you normally don’t see with the lush leaf coverage in the summer. In one of my favorite garden stores I found this cute family. I think I have to go back and adopt them…


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vegan Chia Waffles

With spring approaching it is time for brunches and…. waffles. I bought this great all-clad waffle maker a few years ago that makes thin, crispy waffles. This is a very basic vegan recipe that tastes fantastic -- a slight sweetness to it, crisp and tasty. It can be altered with walnuts nuts, blueberries or cacao nibs  (mixed in the dry ingredients). They also freeze well. 

Vegan Chia Waffles (makes 6 waffles)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 TB chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ts liquid stevia
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix the wet ingredients in a different bowl. Combine and mix until the waffle dough is without lumps.

Preheat waffle iron (typically, a green light goes on). Now spray with nonstick baking spray (it has some flour in it) (or wipe down with some oil). Cook waffles according to the waffle maker's instructions, which usually means putting about 1/4 cup batter on the iron, closing, and waiting for a light to go out. I baked mine longer than the light signal (about 4 min altogether so that they are on the crispy side). 

Make 6 waffles using 1/4 cup of waffle dough. 1 waffle, 90kcal.

Attitude Jumping Jacks

Sometimes it would be good to have Crossfit exercises for one’s attitude: give me 10 things fast for which you are grateful today. Now, come up with 20 different things that you can do on a mild, rainy, overcast day that others in California with their constant sunshine cannot do? Give me 5 things that make today a productive day? Give me 7 things that made you laugh out loud lately.

After squatting your attitude and putting it through jumping jacks, it should be realigned for some carpe diem.

Well, leftover roasted whole plum tomato soup definitely helps, too.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Rah-rah-rah. It is officially mud season. In Maine there are only 3 seasons --- summer, winter and mud season (we generously add foilage to summer, aka Indian summer). It rained over night, the ground has started to thaw out from the winter freeze and trail running shoes have to be replaced with Hunter rain boots. The arrival of summer clock started ticking with the lent clock. Easter and tank top weather often coincide. Six more weeks?


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Salad Fiesta, Encore!

I am still making my way through new salad variations. After focusing on fresh Florida strawberries and star fruit previously, pre-cut mango slices caught my attention in the grocery store yesterday. While I love the flavor and texture of fresh mangos, I am not a big fan of preparing them, somehow it is always a mess, so prepared mango slices seem the ticket – great for salads, snacking, smoothies as well as sauteing them with spicy coconut sauces. The rest of the salad was mixed lettuce, sliced cherry tomatoes, diced red bell pepper, the only balsamic vinaigrette you’ll ever need, mango, herbed feta, and pistachios (Trader Joes has great shelled unsalted pistachios!).


Monday, February 20, 2012

Roasted plum tomato soup

Tomato soup. One of my all time favorite soups. There is only a handful ingredients, but there are so many ways to get it right or not so right. The preparation of the ingredients makes all the difference between a so-so dish and a smack your lips gourmet soup. This is definitely the way to ‘do it right’. All the steps and the order are very important: plum tomatoes (out of a can, at this winter season) roasted in the oven with fresh carrots, shallots and a dash of brown sugar to get the deep, caramelized flavors, and starting the soup base with a tablespoon of butter (vegan or not, this is a must!), red pepper flakes brought back to life in the bubbling butter, garlic caramelized  in the heated butter, all mixed up with some tomato paste and then thinned out with a jigger of lemon flavored vodka. The rest is easy. Salute! 

Roasted plum tomato soup (makes 3 medium or 2 large servings):

  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained of their juices (I used Trader Joes unsalted plum tomatoes)
  • 1/2 TB light brown sugar
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 shallots, chopped into large pieces (or 1/2 red onion)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1 TB unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 TBs tomato paste 
  • 2 TBs of lemon flavor or regular vodka 
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 1 TB sour cream or creme fraiche (or heavy cream)

Step1: Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, mix the plum tomatoes from the can (without their juice, save those juices for the soup or later!), the carrots, shallots, and brown sugar with a dash of ground black pepper, and arrange in a flat spread-out layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat (or aluminum foil). Place in the middle of the oven and roasted for 30 min. The sugars likely caramelize not only on the tomatoes but also on the mat. 


While the tomato mix is roasting, prepare the soup base. In a large pot, melt the butter on medium heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes, before the butter turns it color (it should NOT get brown). Now, add the micro planed garlic, and constantly stir. The butter and garlic will get slightly brown, but only saute for about 1 min and then add tomato paste and mix in until it  is all combined (it probably comes together in a tomato paste ball). Cook it like this for about 1 min, constantly stirring and breaking it up. Take pot of the heat (you don’t want the vodka to suddenly ignite), and add the vodka, stir it in the sauce, and bring the pot back to the heat, constantly stirring and mixing, for about 1 min.

Now, add the can of crushed tomatoes (crushed, not diced! If they diced, puree them first). Mix it all until the butter-garlic-tomato paste-vodka mixture is well combined with the crushed tomatoes. Add 1 cup of water with some bouillon (or 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock), and bring it to a simmer.

Once the roasted tomatoes are ready, add all of them and the onions and roasted carrots to the soup, and simmer for about 15min (last picture below).

Now, you can use an immersion blender and blend the soup or let it cool, and puree it in the vitamix, and then reheat. Once the soup is blended, stir in about 1 TB of creme fraiche or vegan sour cream or heavy cream. Serve with a dash of creme fraiche and pepitas. 

Finest tomato soup, EVER. 

Leftovers are also great.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Carrot cakes

A few days ago I found really small round spring forms in the Easter baking collection at Target, ideal for single-serving cakes. Today, I did my second batch of carrot cakes (the first one without eggs was a bit soggy), so, the carrot cakes are not quite vegan and not quite gluten-free, but they are very tasty, nevertheless.


Carrot cakes (makes 3 small carrot cakes):

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 ts cinnamon
  • 1 large organic free range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 90 ml almond milk
  • 1 ts maple syrup 
  • 1/4 ts vanilla extract
  • 1/8 ts liquid stevia
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 TB coconut flakes, sweetened
  • 20 pistachios, chopped
  • cooking spray (for 3 X 5 inch spring form)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix the dry ingredients in a larger bowl (all-purpose flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon) and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (1 egg, mustard, almond milk, vanilla extract, stevia), then pour the wet into the dry ingredients and combine well. Add the grated carrots, the coconut flakes and the pistachios, and mix in well.

Spray the spring pans with some cooking spray, and divide the carrot cake batter into the three spring pans.

Bake at 400F for 35min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: 1 carrot cake: 250kcal.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Star spangled salad

How was your day? Mine was very long since I woke up way too early and I feel like putting up my feet tonight, watch TV and not think much. My salad moved on from Florida strawberries to star fruit. As per usual, a layer of mixed lettuce, followed by a layer of radicchio, and balsamic vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, creamy goat cheese crumbles, fresh crushed pepper, and the salad star… well, the star fruit.


The White on Rice

There we think brown rice is the good stuff since it is not stripped of its hull which contains, as they tell us, all the vitamins and minerals. But now, it turns out, that very specific hull can also contain an extraordinary amount of arsenic, which is in the soil naturally but also often used in pesticides. A recent study claims that organic (!) brown rice syrup, often used in cereal bars and even baby formula, contains alarming rates of inorganic arsenic. Baby formula? really? Let me think, doesn't organic mean no pesticides? 

Quote: (report on ABC News Medical Unit)

“The EPA drinking water standard is 10 parts per billion for total arsenic, which combines inorganic and organic arsenic. Jackson's team tested one package of soy-based baby formula made with organic brown rice syrup and found a total arsenic level of 60 ppb, including about 25 ppb of inorganic arsenic.


They also detected arsenic levels ranging from 23 to 128 ppb in cereal bars made with brown rice syrup; and levels of 84 to 171 ppb in three flavors of energy shots.”

So, I guess it’s back to the white on rice. 

And let’s just hope the arsenic study was not funded by the old lace corn (syrup) industry.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Over2nights oats

I made overnight oats on Monday evening, rolled oats, almond milk, chia seeds, and chopped fresh strawberries. Unfortunately I forgot them in the fridge yesterday on my way to work, and so they stayed another night and came with me today. Still good! Love those tiny containers! Got some skinny pants today at GAP that almost match the color of the strawberries…. Spring, at least you are in my shopping bag!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

If you are in a relationship or not. If you are happily in love or have a broken heart. If you get a Valentine’s card from your mom or your cat only – remember, with Whitney Houston, the greatest love of all is to love yourself. Happy Valentine’s day!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Have you exercised today?

No? not yet? Maybe, you have to find the right kind of exercise that basically is all F.U.N. to you, and it doesn’t even feel like exercise. Because, there can be exercise that is just not your thing. But, Chanelle was all game today.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

I look to you

Today, I did what probably many did. I turned on Pandora on my ipad and typed in Whitney Houston, and went about my Sunday morning in the kitchen. I had already watched many of her videos on youtube last night, groused that that 80s style was so hideous, but mesmerized by her voice and energy. When I read about it on twitter first, I could not believe it. And then I cried. The last time I cried when someone I didn't know personally died was when Steve Jobs passed away. She was one of the great voices in the last decades, besides Celine Dion and Jennifer Hudson, with voices that just go under your skin because there is so much of them and their emotion in it. 

Goodbye, Whitney. Hopefully, you are in a better place now.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snow tires

This is an unusual winter. Last year (and normally) if we get snow we get about 2ft in one snow storm. This year when there is ‘snow’ predicted on the weather forecast, we are in for 2 inches. I am not complaining. Today I put on my new Yactrax (Yactrax are to winter boots what chains are to winter tires), and I gave them a test walk in the new snow/slush/ice. They make for a remarkable grip on the treacherous surface so I survived a walk to town unharmed for a change. I even said hello to a fellow fresh snow lover along the way. He was slightly disappointed that I had no snacks this time.

Back home with a impeding sense of loss I watched the 33rd episode of Breaking Bad which is also the last episode on Netlfix instant play. I think I might move on to the first episode of Lost.


Get your tazo on

In the winter I sometimes have a problem with sufficient hydration. In the summer, it seems easier to jug down several tumblers of iced water, but in the winter I seem to forget about liquids and you can only drink so much tea at Starbucks. But then, with lack of hydration I feel even more in a winter energy slumber than usual. So,  this is my recent ritual to keep up with the fluids: in the morning I get the kettle on and bring a quart of water to a boil. In a large tea pot I hang 3 tazo passion tea bags, and then fill the pot with the hot water. It cools during the day, and I make several tumblers with ice cubes, a pinch of stevia and cooled passion tea. Delicious!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Raw Amazeballz

I came across an inspiration for tiny raw ballz that finally stuck. I never was too interested in any kind of cake balls or protein powder balls, but these are a nice --- whole food, raw, healthy snack, great to bring to Starbucks for a busy afternoon on the computer when the hunger pangs before dinner but you only have a choice of vanilla scones or sugary pink ball pops to hold you over (or you have to suck it up).

They are also quick to make (makes 9 small ballz):

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 5 medjool dates (the organic ones at whole foods are amazing!)
  • 7 walnut halves, chopped
  • 1 TB chia seeds
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/2 TB maple syrup
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • 1 carrot, grated

Pour the rolled oats in the food processor and chop until finely ground. Remove the pit of the medjool dates, and chop them with a knife. Add piece by piece to the ground oatmeal flour (so that they distribute better). Process long enough that the mix starts to get sticky. Now add the remaining ingredients, and processes until the mix comes together (quite a sticky dough). Take small portions and roll them between your hands in a ball like shape. Store in the fridge! Enjoy!

1 amazeball: 54kcal


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The PawPad

Is your cat a game mouser? He/she might if you give them free reign to your IPad and load the Affection Collection cat app, which is supposed to keep cats entertained while you are detained otherwise (at work, for example). My mom told me about it and those kittens on youtube seem to have an awful lot of fun chasing the virtual mice. So, of course I had to download it and try it out on all of my kitties. Although, they all were enticed by the mice and the virtual yarn balls, only one was excited enough to actual try to paw-chase them. Maybe, it works better for kittens. At least, my IPad is still scratch-free. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Beatrice Peltre’s La Tartine Gourmande blog was the 2nd blog I ever read (the first one was 101 Cookbooks), and I am still especially mesmerized by Bea’s food photography. Her whimsical, playful food styling with the use of bright clear colors (and also good dose of pink) still fascinate me. I also have made several of her recipes (like the tea almond cakes, and her apple olive oil cake) and she basically got me into gluten-free baking, not because I need gluten-free but because the gluten-free flours such as quinoa flour, rice flour and almond flour are so much tastier than regular flour.

Since 2009 she has been working on a cookbook and I was sure this would be one I’d buy without having ever looked into it. – yesterday, it was finally released and arrived. Can’t wait to explore the recipes!


Monday, February 6, 2012

The Tale of DinDin

The tale of dinner sometimes starts with some red wine. I like the liberte cabernet that I get at Trader Joes. It continues with sauteing a handful of Brussels sprouts and two  handfuls of frozen broccoli in a little bit of water until thawed and cooked tender (10min most), and a handful of kale, wilted down in the same pan, with some fresh ground red peppercorns. In another pan, a handful of chopped button mushroom and half a handful of frozen exotic mushroom, sauted in a tiny bit of sesame oil with a some salt until the mushrooms are nice and brown. All served with a drizzle of BBQ sauce, hot sauce and goat cheese crumbles.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cozy Sunday

Sunday! The official day off. I already went for a very chilly and icy walk, bundled up in my most serious winter clothes (almost floor length thick down coat, fur lined winter boots). The woodstove now is roaring hot and brings a cozy warmth to  the living room and the kitchen. Chanelle relaxes on a whicker chair not far from the woodstove and takes in the warmth. Baby Cat snacks on organic, free range, freshly roasted chicken legs (and purrs while eating). The sun is slowly setting behind the trees, the TV is on and New England is ready to get game on.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ice Age

It’s an unusual winter but unlike others who report that milder than usual temps make them feel like spring is in the air we are just in less of a deep freeze than normal. But, it is cold enough to not feel like temperatures that make you want to shed layers. The occasionally very mild temperature have melted any existing snow just to freeze over again. The 5 inches of snow in my garden are covered with a 1/2 inch ice crust. Makes for some interesting walking…. The neighbors’ kitty is better off with built-in spikes and claws herself elegantly over the ice.


Lunch is still with those gorgeous Florida strawberries, hummus and pepitas.


Are you Valentine’s ready?

Here is a cute idea of preparing heart-shaped boiled eggs for your sweetie(s)! 


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Of the Tale of Processed Food

It is not a pretty story. Although there is pink involved. But pink slime? If you have not lost your appetite yet, you might after reading the story of how McDonalds processes its hamburger meat. Ugh.