Tag Archives: recipes

Time to Detox

The time has come for me to detox again. I feel like this has actually become something I really look forward to. The ritual of the detox is something I enjoy, plus I always feel amazing afterward. Work has been insanely stressful and I’m beginning to agree with the people who tell me I’m crazy for deciding to stick with neuroendocrinological surgery. Regardless, the detox always helps me focus a bit. I planned to start after the holidays and February gave me an entire month to prepare.

I have decided to mix the detox process up a bit and follow a different plan. The entire process will take 21 days, so I am planning on starting March 4. This gives me one more weekend to beginning cooking some of the food I will need for the next 21 days. My friends will probably start to notice how moody I’m becoming around March 10-12. A week or so into each detox, my body starts to rebel and I get cranky. Hopefully by preparing all of what I need in advance, I can stave off the crankiness for awhile.

Plan Basics:

– Lots of fluids: at least 64-oz a day
– Base diet: lentils, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils and seasonings
– Glass of warm water with lemon each morning
– Prep each meal well before
– Stretching routine each morning
– Continue to run my 50+ miles a week
– Add in 30 min of yoga/pilates a day
– No fish or gluten-free grains until week two
– No eggs or non-GMO soy until week three
– 21 day food journal

I will be using Whole Living’s recipes for the duration of the detox process.

Week 1: Breakfast
Week 1: Lunch
Week 1: Dinner

Week 2: Breakfast
Week 2: Lunch
Week 2: Dinner

Week 3: Breakfast
Week 3: Lunch
Week 3: Dinner

Snacks

I will keep you updated on my progress as often as I can spare some time to make a post. At the moment I am currently fighting a nasty upper respiratory infection, but this too shall pass.

Let me know what you think about this detox plan! I’m curious to see if this one is better than the last one I did. It doesn’t seem to be near as strict, so I hope it still works just as well.

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Creamy Curried Shrimp Salad (aka, Jamie Oliver’s Guilt Trip)

Being a physician tends to put a kibosh on any of my culinary adventures.  When I get home, I’m usually exhausted and want to exert as little energy as possible to put food in my belly. Over the years I have mastered the art of the cereal for dinner, perfected the 10 minute spaghetti and learned to love Lean Cuisine. The beep-beep of the microwave has become a comforting sound after a long day in the OR.

She looks very happy using the microwave. Almost TOO happy...

I do feel a little guilty though. Not to brag, but I am a pretty talented chef. Over the years I have taken a few classes and honed my skills throwing dinner parties for my limited group of friends. Whenever I begin to punch the backlit keys on the microwave, I hear Jamie Oliver in the back of my mind saying, “What are you doing? You have at least 45 minutes and I can put an entire meal together in 30! Why can’t you?!”

"Look at all of this! I made this in my SLEEP! What did you do today?!"

So today, I pulled out Mr. Oliver’s book and flipped through the barely worn pages. It’s a beautiful cookbook. Page after page of fresh, homemade menus and gorgeous photographs that detail the instructions. It’s food porn really. Delicious, intoxicating food porn…

I see you drooling. Don't try to hide it.

As I was flipping through, I kept reminding myself that I was also cooking for a very finicky pregnant woman. The dishes that looked delicious to me, I knew she might turn her nose up at. Since I had craved Indian food all week, I decided on something curried. I used the recipe for curry sauce in the cookbook, but instead of using Patak’s jalfrezi paste, I substituted the weird off brand that the Indian market close to me carries. I say “off-brand,” because the labels on the jar are written in a language I can not understand. The woman that runs the market, however, loves me and she recommended this paste.

"Eat this yellow paste in this jar. I promise it's good for your health!"

The dish is insanely easy to make. You mix the jalfrezi paste with some coconut milk, heat it until it gets thick and then pour it over your shrimp in a bowl. You can either choose to sauté the already cooked shrimp after or, if you’re like me, you can just eat it without sautéing it.

At this time, you should know that I have gone totally off the cookbook. I used Jamie Oliver’s curry sauce recipe to make the shrimp marinade, and then decided to just do my thing for the rest of the meal*.

Alright, back to the food.

After you have coated the shrimp with the curry mixture, add some yogurt to the bowl. I used pre-made raita, to which I added some celery, arugula, and jicama. Toss all of this together and set aside.

Yummy, yum, yum.

Next, I started putting together my side dishes. I wanted to make a bodega style menu, so I used bags of “Magic Masala” potato chips. Since I try to eat healthy, I put together a massive bowl of greens topped with chunks of paneer, canned chickpeas, tomatoes and some jicama. I also chopped up a cucumber and pepper that really needed to be used and mixed them with the left over raita.

The last touch to the meal was the bowl of fruit for dessert. Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries all covered with lemon juice. There was a mango as well, but Ev’s doesn’t like mango at the moment (pregnancy, I assume) so I will just eat it for lunch tomorrow.

Ripe for the eating.

When all the sides were completed (20-30 min), I sliced the hoagie rolls and laid red-tipped leaf lettuce inside each one. Then I filled the rolls with the curried shrimp mixture, topped it with a little curry powder and voilà!

Everyone had a nice helping of salad and we enjoyed the cucumber/pepper/raita mixture with our chips. The fresh fruit was the perfect finishing touch for the meal. I received accolades from my cousin’s boyfriend and he even asked if we could have this again.

Beautiful AND tasty!

Even though the thought of cooking after 10 hours seemed daunting, I’m glad that I sucked it up. It was really nice to have a sit-down dinner with everyone and the food was delicious. This entire meal really made me think about how much I love cooking. As happy as I am in the kitchen, I shouldn’t be content with a microwave meal every night. I am already looking through my other cookbooks, trying to decide meals for the next few weeks. I think I might try the “Spinach & Feta Filo Pie” from Jamie Oliver’s book next!

*I will put the entire recipe and the step-by-step instructions under the “Eats” section of the blog.

Question(s): How often do you prepare an entire meal? What 30 min (preferably vegetarian) meals do you suggest?

Persian Nights

Even though I was feeling under-the-weather, thanks to Ewa and the sketchy burritos she brought home, I was invited to attend a small get together at a colleagues home. They were celebrating his wife’s first commissioned painting and invited me over for a night of amazingly delicious Persian food.

Even though I have had Persian food before, I have never actually had any made specifically for me. We have always gone to a restaurant or tried some at a friends party. This was the first time that I had dishes made especially for me! My co-worker’s wife started off with saffron tea (chia/chai) and shirini :

The tea was exceptional. It had a strong flavour with hints of saffron and his wife showed us the “Iranian way” to add sugar to the drink. Instead of placing the sugar cube directly in the tea, you put place the cube between your front teeth and bite down with just enough pressure to hold it. Then you take small sips and let the tea wash over the sugar cube, which then sweetens the tea as you drink it. The sugar she gave us wasn’t ordinary sugar either, she had all kinds of flavoured sugars (which I neglected to take a photo of!). I particularly liked the rosewater sugar, but she also had vanilla, saffron, cardamom, anise and lime. each of the sugars was pressed into a delicate little shape. The rosewater “cubes” looked like roses, the vanilla like little gold domes. The first one to go was the leaf-shaped lime flavored sugar, followed shortly by the vanilla. She gave me some of the cardamom sugar to take home and I look forward to using it in my daily tea.

The cookies that she had set out with the tea were amazing. Shirini (sweets) were surprising. She had made two flavors, coconut and walnut. I tried the walnut first and it was similar to meringue in consistency, but outrageously delicious. It was so light and flavourful and I complimented her on the ability to make something so tasty, but so delicate. The coconut one was just as wonderful and I actually liked it more. I so wanted to take a huge box of them home, but I also don’t want to detox again after overdosing on Persian sweets.

After the tea, she brought out torsu (pickled vegetables) and we sampled those until the main courses arrived. As a vegetarian, I was a little worried that I may have to eat some meat dishes since I didn’t want to offend anyone. When the main courses arrived, the non-vegetarians had joje kabob, ghorme sabzi, hummus, olives, barbari bread, grilled vegetables, zafrani pulao, and  salad-e shirazi.

The food smelled amazing and she had even put some food into to-go containers, so that way we could take it take to families (or in my case, back home for devouring later). As a vegetarian, however, I was presented with my own special dish:

The salad was kefir cheese, hummus, cucumbers, red/green pepper, onion, olives, feta cheese and chopped herbs. I also had some of the shirazi salad and barbari bread. The warm bread was a perfect compliment to the salad and my cousin let me try some of her ghorme sabzi after she had eaten all the lamb. I also had a small dish of rice, sprinkled with saffron and container of hummus topped with olives.

The entire meal was fantastic and I could not thank all of them enough. Everyone who was at the dinner (a bunch of rowdy Persians!) appeared to have a lot of fun and I felt bad that we had to kind of “eat and run” because I was not feeling well. It did piqué my interest in Persian cuisine, so I signed up for a Persian cooking class at the end of the month and a cheese-making class in mi-February (which I may end of missing).

It was a great evening and I can’t wait to have them over to my house for a Polish dinner! I am already planning the menu and getting excited!

Question(s): Have you ever taken a cooking class before? What was the course over? Do you still use the recipes/techniques that you learned?

Recipes I Can Cook in My Sleep

Today my, “only living with me for a week” cousin, informed me over my lunch break that we would be having guests for dinner. She hadn’t asked if it would be alright, so I was a little peeved with her. Thankfully it was only three of her coworkers and they were laid back. I decided to make a vegetable soup recipe that I love and the dinner went swimmingly. I felt pretty good about throwing a delicious dinner together on such short notice and it was all because I have stashed away four, “go to” recipes which I thought I would share. These recipes are easy, quick and don’t need ridiculous ingredients.

1. Fish Tacos
– This recipe is fairly easy and the fact that it is highly customizable means you can make a variety of guests happy. I really like fish tacos because they are light, quick and it is often something people haven’t tried. I enjoy introducing people to new foods and this recipe is easy enough that I have used it on plenty of occasions.

Fish Taco leftovers make a great meal the next day!

2. Spinach Pesto

– One of the easiest recipes I have ever made. Its simplicity is what makes it so delicious. This particular pesto is low in calories and can be made in a matter of minutes. It is great when you need to fix lunch quickly or when you would rather showcase a side dish at dinner.

3. Vegetable Soup
– Do you have vegetables that you purchased at the Farmer’s Market that need to be used? Do you have a large stockpot? Then you have the main ingredients for this easy recipe. I often empty the contents of my crisper drawer for this recipe and it has never let me down.

Vegetable soup for the surprise guests.

4. Pierogi
– Not only can I make this recipe in my sleep, I think I learned how to make pierogi before I could even talk. The secret to a good pierogi is the dough/filling ratio. Make sure your pierogi aren’t too thick, but also that they don’t bust when you cook them.

Morel mushrooms make the best pierogi filling, but they are difficult to find and expensive.

Each of these recipes have saved me many times. I recently purchased four bins and filled each with the non-perishable ingredients used to make the above recipes. I figure that, if I ever find myself in a bind, I can grab one of those bins and quickly prepare a meal without having to look up a recipe! Since I used the vegetable soup recipe today, I will have to refill the bin for future use.

Question(s): Do you have go-to recipes that you know by heart? Willing to share?

Indian food, how does it work?

I recently purchased At Home With Madhur Jaffrey and have been trying to work my way through the recipes. Jaffrey’s book is a collection of recipes from “India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” all of which are easy to recreate. I thought I would share some of my favourite recipes from the book, in hopes that more people will try their hand at preparing Indian cuisine.

Bhuni Bhindi (my favourite recipe so far)

12 oz fresh okra
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
3/4 cup (2 oz) shallots or onions that have been peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and cut into fine rings
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp crushed red chilies
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

-Cut off the top stem ends and the very tips of the okra pods. Cut each pod diagonally into 3-4 slices, depending upon size.
-Pour the oil into a medium frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds and then (a few seconds later) add all the sliced okra. Fry for 5 minutes, stir frequently.
-When the okra begins to brown, add the shallots and continue frying for another 3-4 minutes.
-When the shallots start to brown, reduce the heat to low and add the coriander, red chilies, and salt. Continue cooking for another 7-9 minutes.
-After the okra begins to crisp, add the lemon juice and mix together well.
-Serve with chapatis and raita.

Simple and delicious! Indian food isn’t as hard as everyone seems to think it is. I use to shy away from preparing Indian dishes because I thought it would be difficult, but if you learn a few basic recipes you will be able to apply the same techniques to more complex dishes!

Another recipe I really enjoyed (because I’m a bad Jew) was “Mussels in a Creamy Coconut Sauce.” The recipe is a little more time intensive, but definitely worth it.

Mussels in a Creamy Coconut Sauce

2 lbs medium-sized mussels
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp whole, brown mustard seeds
1 onion (about 6 oz), finely chopped
1 tsp fresh, peeled and finely grated ginger
1 tsp crush garlic
1 3/4 cups coconut milk (make sure to shake well)
2 tsp ground cumin seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
15 fresh curry leaves or 10 fresh basil leaves, crushed in the palm of your hand
4 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2 fresh green chilies, partially slit
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup water

-Start by scrubbing the mussels well with a brush, discarding those that remain open even after they are tapped. Remove any stringy beards.
-Put the oil in a large pot and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop (this only takes a few seconds) add the onions and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes.
-When the onions begin to soften, add the ginger and garlic. Stir for another minute and then pour in the coconut milk + 1 cup water.
-Stir the ingredients together and then add the cumin, cayenne, salt, curry/basil leaves, cilantro, green chilies and lemon juice. Let the mixture come to a simmer.
-As the dish begins to simmer, leave uncovered and stir frequently for 5 minutes.
-After 5 minutes, add all the mussels, bring to medium-high heat and cover. Let the mussels boil in the broth for 5 minutes and check to see that they have all opened.
-Discard any mussels that have not opened after boiling.
-You can eat this by itself, serve with rice or serve with a salad.

The last recipe that I will share with you is Jaffrey’s “Karhai Broccoli.” I made this for my cousin and she asked me for the recipe. It was delicious and went really well with the fish I served.

Karhai Broccoli

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp ground asafetida*
1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 tsp whole mustard seeds
6 cups trimmed and cut broccoli (cut broccoli no loner than 1 1/2 inches)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water

-Pour the oil into a wok and set over medium-high heat. When the oil has heated, put in the asafetida, cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop add the broccoli florets.
-Stir the broccoli for 1-2 minutes, adding the salt and cayenne as you stir.
-Pour in 1/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. When the water begins to simmer, cover and turn the heat to low. Cook the broccoli for 7-8 minutes or under it is just beginning to get tender. Make sure to stir the dish regularly.
-Serve with main dish (meat or tofu) and rice

*When I saw that the recipe called for asafetida, I thought “Where in the world am I going to find that?” Turns out that most Indian stores have this on hand, but that you can also substitute equal parts garlic and onion powder if you can not find asafetida.

Try your hand at preparing Indian food. I promise you that it is not as challenging as it seems! You can also buy Madhur Jaffrey’s great book and learn more delicious recipes. Good luck.