Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kale Chip Virgin... No More!

Can you believe this intrepid dietitian has never made kale chips?  I know, living in the Pacific Northwest where kale is practically a food group, I'm not sure how it's possible either.  Ben and I were grocery shopping on Sunday and a lovely young lady was giving out samples of raw kale chips flavored with vegan nacho cheese.  I'm still on the fence about nacho cheese-flavored anything, but I was sold on the kale chips!

I've been fabulously busy seeing patients and teaching at Bastyr and doing a bit of consulting but today I had three (!) cancellations, so I decided to play a bit with my new photography lights. Today is a quintessentially grey Seattle day, the type of grey that seems viscous, reducing all activity to slow motion; the type of day that makes you want to start an IV drip of hot cocoa and watch a marathon of some terrible-yet-lovable TV show.  Instead, I put on my galoshes and picked the few remaining good stalks of lacinato (dinosaur) kale out of my tiny garden patch to try recreating the morsels from the grocery store.

Did I tell you that my garden patch is dying?  There's been an empty lot behind my home for years, but this past spring its owner decided he wanted to do more than store stacks of two-by-fours on his property. He has proceeded to build two monstrous townhomes about 15 feet from my kitchen window.  My little kale plants have put up a valiant, sunless fight, but this is the last year of gardening in my little patch of earth.

Being as this is my first time making my very own kale chips, I learned two very important facts:

First, kale chips are DELICIOUS!  Crisp, covered in olive oil and a touch of salt, I consumed the entire first experimental batch (with the help of Duncan the dastardly dachshund, who deemed them lovely, if a bit difficult to chew).

Second, you really need to remove the stems.  I thought I could get away with stems in the baby lacinato straight from my garden, but even the freshest of kale stems are too tough to chew once baked.  I've been eating kale chips like a maniacal cartoon character whipping through ears of corn on the cob.

Kale Chips
To make your very own kale chips, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Stem and chop whatever type of kale suits your mood.  Add a bit of olive oil and massage until all the leave are covered.  Toss on a pinch of salt and whatever other seasoning you desire (wouldn't smoked paprika be divine?).  Lay them on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the leaves are crisp and begin to blacken (but not burn!).  Let them cool, then snack away.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Essentially Gluten-Free

Gluten-free bread that requires chewing.  Nuts and seeds that end on a sweet, rather than gummy, taste.  Bread soft and pliable enough to eat untoasted with butter.  Bread that doesn't melt in your mouth.

The Essential Baking Company has given us such a gluten-free bread.

I recognize there are foods you want to melt in your mouth--M & Ms for instance--but for me, bread has never been one of those foods.  I want my bread to have substance and weight, to feel like it's going to give me sustenance and carry me through until my next meal, not evaporate like cotton candy the moment it hits my stomach.

So far I've only tried the Super Seed Multi-Grain bread, but I love it so much I can't bring myself to purchase the others.  My first loaf was flawless.  My second had some air bubbles in it.  While not all the slices were good for sandwiches, it was delicious nonetheless.

Try it and tell me what you think!

**I have no affiliation with The Essential Baking Company.  The opinions presented here are mine, and unsolicited.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Brownies! (Gluten-Free, From Scratch!)

Ben just adores brownies.  We often buy the mix, but the other night we were having a quiet evening at home and didn't want to leave, so we whipped up a batch of these!

I started with melted chocolate... but I kept adding chocolate.  These aren't cake brownies, these are dense, thick, triple-chocolate brownies.

I've been into coconut sugar lately, and I like my brownies slightly less sweet, with a richer flavor.
Feel free to substitute another kind of sweetener.

Brownies (Gluten-Free)

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
4 eggs
2 cups coconut sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut, vegetable, or coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9-inch square baking pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine the flours and xanthan gum.
Beat the eggs, sugar and salt until mixed.  Blend in oil, vanilla, melted chocolate and chocolate powder.
Beat in dry ingredients and chocolate chips.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

These brownies should be slightly underdone.
Cool completely before cutting.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012


It's summer and I'm into muesli, slightly sweet and nutty with lots of filling fiber from the oats.  Instead of buying it pre-made, I decided to prepare my own with my favorite ingredients.  Change up the nuts, seeds and fruit to suit your tastes.


3 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons ground flax
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup diced apricots
1/4 cup diced dates

Combine all ingredients and serve with milk, non-dairy milk or yogurt.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce)

I love poached eggs.  Love 'em.  For years my standard breakfast has been a simple poached egg with a slice of toast.  Easy to prepare in under five minutes, and filling. Eggs Benedict are my favorite, but I also adore eggs poached in red wine a la Julia Child.

A few years back, Ben and I took a trip to Leavenworth, a little town the Cascades built to resemble a Bavarian village (including the bank and Safeway).  It's irresistibly touristy, with great hiking and amazing German food.  We stayed in a little bed-and-breakfast named Autumn Pond (yes, I picked it for the name), and while ensconced there, our hosts made us the most delectable breakfast of eggs baked in tomato sauce.  I'm sure it was inspired by our darling Julia.  The eggs weren't precisely poached, but baked and poached occupy the same esteemed spot in my brain, and I've been hooked ever since.

With my adoration of poached eggs comes a fascination with breakfast and breakfast foods.  Why do Americans eat cold cereal while the French prefer a bit of bread and jam and the Israelis eat salad and white cheese?  I'm sure someone, somewhere has written a treatise on such questions, but I prefer to explore with my palate rather than my brain.

David Lebovitz recently wrote a post on Israeli breakfast and I swooned at the sight of eggs in tomato sauce.  Shakshuka is a North African dish adopted by Israel, and every person makes it a little differently.  You can use lemon and feta or zucchini or peppers with your tomatoes and spices.  What I loved about this was the intense savory flavor.  I've never been one for sweet breakfasts like waffles or donuts.  I can tolerate brunch only after I've been up for a respectable amount of time and have already consumed some tea and a bit of toast.

I cribbed off of Yotam Ottolenghi's shakshuka recipe to create my own, and I humbly suggest you do the same.  Yotam has a wonderful how-to video and is quite the expert.

Yotam's recipe calls for peppers, which Ben doesn't like and we never have in the house.  I didn't go shopping to make shakshuka; I woke up early Monday morning, read David's post and decided to make it with whatever ingredients I had, which didn't turn out to be much!

In my shakshuka I used cumin seeds, safflower oil, shallots, sugar, bay leaves, dried thyme, fresh cilantro (coriander), fresh parsley, a little cayenne, canned tomatoes, salt and eggs.  I poached the eggs for 15 minutes as suggested and found the yolks came out harder than I like, so next time I'll check them more frequently.

Are you going to make shakshuka?  What are you going to put in it?

Monday, June 18, 2012

BlogHer Food 2012

This is potato salad.  Marinated onion, little ball of blue cheese, pickle, bacon, disks of potato and a little pipette of mayo.  Potato salad.

Even a week after BlogHer, I'm still talking about the food.

I was blown away.  I'm a nutritionist, so I go to nutrition conferences constantly, but we've never had anything like this.  Our conferences seem to specialize is trays of green beans drowning in butter and sad little chicken cutlets floating in an unknowable sauce.  Not so at BlogHer Food 2012, because ladies and gentlemen, these are food people!

Gazpacho, marinated tomatoes with caviar, spinach salad, curry chicken salad and a fruit cup for dessert

I don't think I've been to a better conference.  Every session was fascinating, even those I wouldn't have chosen for myself.  I volunteered as a mic wrangler for the event, meaning I ran around with a microphone for people who wanted to ask questions of the presenters.  I love being involved behind the scenes of any event and as a mic wrangler, I could pretend I was a key player, though truthfully I was just a volunteer that showed up for a couple of days.

So, why did we need every single person to speak into a mic?  Was the conference really that big?  Yes, there were a respectable number of participants and staff (I heard one estimate around 500 attendees) but the true reason for the mics is that they were recording every session so we can all listen to sessions that we missed!  I'm not sure how to access the audio yet, but the live blogs of all the sessions have been posted in the BlogHer Food '12 Virtual Conference.

Janet Helm speaking alongside Amelia Winslow and Kath Younger on Friday morning

A highlight for me was meeting Janet Helm during my first session as mic wrangler in a session titled "Separate Food Fact from Fiction and Enhance Your Credibility." I'll admit, the topic of this session didn't thrill me.  I'm an RD.  I spend all my time looking at research and shooting down food myths, but Janet Helm is a force to be reckoned with in the nutrition world and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear her speak.  Janet is the great mind behind the Nutrition Blog Network and Healthy Aperture, both excellent resources for nutrition and healthy eating.  And, full disclosure, yours truly is a contributor. 

I met so many fabulous people that I have a stack of business cards an inch thick.  I'll have to go back through and renew the tenuous connections we made at the conference.  I will say that I've never met a nicer bunch--not one crochety old lady in the mix!  I'm particularly excited to have met hometown girl Adina of Gluten Free Travelette, Polly, BlogHer conference programmer extraordinnaire and writer of Lesbian Dad, and Singrit of Craving Something Good.  For the rest, I will slowly go back through my cards, putting faces to names, reading blogs, connecting on Twitter, and slowly building the friendships we started in a short two days.

Tangerine juice with honey foam on Saturday morning

On Friday afternoon I attended "How to Shoot a Video on a Budget" with the creators of Weelicious and I honestly could have stayed there all day.  I'm so excited to use some of their tips and tricks to shoot some fabulous (and short) videos for FoodWise Nutrition.

Lunch at Thoa's Restaurant after my photography session

Another session I got to attend and not work was "Taking your Food Photography Outdoors" with Taylor Mathis.  This man has inspired me to continue to lug my camera and a diffuser or two out to dinner, much to Ben's chagrin.  I'm not strange, just part of a minority that wants a perfect photo of every meal.  What's strange about that?

There's so much more I could write.  I could tell you about recipe copyrights (lists of ingredients aren't copywriter, and methods only are if they contain "substantial literary expression") or how Bryant Terry re-energized me to advocate for sustainable food.  I could tell you how thrilled I was to have gluten-free choices at every meal or how much fun it was to talk to the reps for Bob's Red Mill and All Recipes.  I could bore you to tears with details.  Truthfully, I'm still looking over my notes and digesting everything I learned and remembering fondly everyone I met.  I hope that someday you, too, can attend a conference that you enjoy every part of.  

On to BlogHer Food 2013 in Austin!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Food for Four, NYT-Style?

This food price comparison infographic was published in the NY Times in September of 2011.
Yes, it is cheaper to eat whole foods instead of buying McDonalds, but there are a few issues with their comparison meals:
  • I wonder: why did they serve milk instead of water with the last two meals?  One cup of milk has 6-10 grams of protein, which doesn't matter all that much for the chicken meal, but in the beans and rice meal it nearly doubles the amount of protein per serving.
  • Where are the seasonings and condiments?  I don't know about you, but there's no way I eat a roast chicken with just salt and pepper or beans and rice with no chiles or cumin!
  • Where are the vegetables in the beans and rice meal?  Yes, there are two bell peppers and an onion, but divided four ways...  Eating so few veggies on a regular basis won't do you any favors.
  • The serving sizes of carbs in the chicken and bean meals seem extravagant, especially in the pictures of the full plates.  I tell my clients to serve themselves a carb portion equal to the size of their fist.  The chicken meal can definitely lose the bread and the bean meal can halve the rice, which will open up more room for veggies.
  • Where's the brown rice?  One of the simplest health changes you can make is replace white processed grains with brown, helping you fill up on fiber and essential B vitamins.
  • It's an aesthetic choice, but why is there bacon with the beans and rice meal?  Would it be so bad to show a vegetarian meal?  Perhaps this is me picking nits, I don't know.
  • Finally, this is obviously nowhere near organic.  I wonder how prices would change if they were serving organic (or at least free-range) meat and organic veggies, beans and rice?  That would be a truly interesting contrast, and food for thought.
What do you think?  Is this an accurate comparison?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Roasted Garlic Scapes

It's raining today in Seattle, one of the intermittent downpours that is actually not that common here.  Don't get me wrong, it rains a lot, but it's usually a light rain or drizzle, not this sky-opening drench.  June here is always horrible, which I think everyone forgets year to year.  May was lovely, and it will be bright and sunny in July, but for now it's cold and damp--hats and umbrellas required.

In just a couple of hours I'm heading downtown to do volunteer training for the BlogHer Food conference!  I'm going to be a 'mic wrangler' for several sessions Friday and Saturday, so if you're attending the conference, flag me down and say, "Hi!"

In between working this morning and volunteer training in the afternoon, I made a quick batch of garlic spears to go with left-over chicken curry for lunch.  I'm always on the lookout for new vegetables, both because veggies are delicious and I get bored eating the same broccoli, kale, lettuce and green beans over and over again.  Lately, my grocery store, Central Market, has been featuring garlic scapes, the flowering tops of garlic.  I'd eaten them once last year at a friends BBQ, but they were grilled (not my favorite way to eat veggies) and a bit overdone.  I decided to give them another shot when I got to sample them at the grocery store.

Garlic scapes have a light garlic flavor when cooked and cooled, and their texture reminds me vaguely of asparagus, though not as stringy.  I couldn't find a nutrient breakdown for garlic spears but nutritionally, I expect they're similar to the shoots of most vegetables, high in vitamins A and K, with lots of B-vitamins and minerals to boot.

I roasted these puppies in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes with a little olive oil and salt.  When they were finished I tossed them with a garlic vinaigrette to help bring out the natural garlic flavor and add a little sour to the mix.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Yellow Field Peas

These are yellow field peas.  The sales lady at Nash's Organic Produce though I would like them, so I purchased a bag and turned them into a pea with ham hock soup in the slow cooker.  She was right, they were amazing!

Their flavor was earthy and warm, more subtle then green split peas, but substantial enough to hold up against the more robust ham hock.  Dried peas have a similar nutritional profile to legumes: high in protein, fiber and a good source of folic acid, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium.

To prepare field peas:

  • Wash and sort beans, looking for bad peas and stones.  Notice in the above picture how similar the rocks look to the peas.
  • Cover with water, 1-2 inches over the top of the pea.
  • Cook with kombu to break down undigestible polysaccharides and reduce intestinal gas
  • Cooking times vary with preparation method.  Use a pressure cooker or slow cooker or simmer them on the stovetop.

Have you ever had whole field peas?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Farmer's Market Lunch

Ben and I have been heading off to the Ballard Farmer's Market with some regularity again.  We used to go every Sunday but somehow got derailed last October.  We go to the farmers market before going to the grocery store so we can get the freshest possible produce and last Sunday, when we came home from the market, we realized that the only food in the house was what we just bought so we made a simple scramble for lunch.

Here's where we bought our food:

Stokesberry Sustainable Farm: Eggs

Wilson Fish: Smoked Salmon

Port Madison Farms: Goat cheese

Sea Breeze Farm: Raw milk tea*

Miro Tea: Assam

Kale tops from our garden!

How much local food do you eat?  Where do you shop?

* Consuming raw and unpasteurized milk carries an increased risk of illness

Monday, April 30, 2012

Meatless Monday: Tofu Stir-fry with Miso Almond Sauce

There's no denying it, I'm into vegetables right now.  Spring is here and I'm ready to fill up on greens and broccoli and peppers and whatever else I can get my hands on.  Sadly, it's still raining in Seattle, though there's a warmth to the air that wasn't there even a few weeks ago.  I'm not much for salads until it's hot enough to wander about in a short-sleeved shirt so we are doing a lot of stir-frys.

This is a simple tofu stir-fry with a flavorful sauce.  I lightly fried soft organic tofu in high heat safflower oil and set it aside and cooked the vegetables.  I started by sautéing broccoli and carrots for a minute or two and then adding the bok choy and zucchini.  While the veggies cooked I whisked together a simple sauce of 3 T almond butter, 2 T lemon juice, 1 T white miso, 1/2 tsp dried ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 tsp chili flakes and 1/2 tsp hot pepper sesame oil.  If you're a little more methodical in the kitchen, I recommend preparing all your ingredients before you start cooking.  Finally, I added the tofu back into the pan with the veggies and drizzled the sauce over.  Cook for another minute or two and serve over sweet brown rice, garnished with chopped scallions.  Start the rice a good 45 minutes before you want to eat but the stir-fry should take less than 20 minutes to prepare!

What are you cooking for meatless Monday?

Recipe inspired by Vegetarian Times, April/May 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Cupcakes and a Camera!

Yes, please.

It was my birthday last Friday.  I've always loved my birthday and I usually go all-out with a party or dinner out.  This year is no exception, and by pure chance, my birthday lasted for a week--on the Sunday before, Ben surprised me with a trip to Glazer's for a new camera!  Can you believe it?  Unbeknownst to me, he'd been saving since my little Pentax broke and I could get the exact camera I wanted with an extra lens and all the accoutrements.  As you can imagine, I spent the week cooking up lovely, photogenic recipes to share with you all, and I started with cupcakes!

Foreground: Coconut sugar out of the package.       Background: Coconut sugar put through the food processor.

I've been experimenting with coconut sugar, and this is the first baked good I've made with it. Coconut sugar is considered a low-gylcemic food and can be used in a 1:1 substitution with white or brown sugar. Nutritionally, coconut sugar is high in several vitamins and minerals.

Per Wikipedia:
"Coconut sugar has a high mineral content, being a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.  In addition, it contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. When compared to brown sugar, coconut sugar has 36 times the iron, four times the magnesium and 10 times the amount of zinc."

I purchased mine in the bulk section of the grocery store for around $5.50/lb.  It's not cheap, but it has a wonderful dark and nutty flavor similar to brown sugar.  Right out of the package the coconut sugar was very coarse, and I had to put it through the food processor to make it fine enough to bake with.  I never got it powdery enough to use in the frosting.

Celebrate with me.   Have a cupcake!

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting (Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free!)

62 g sorghum flour
62 g brown rice flour
25 g potato starch
25 g tapioca flour
1/2 c + 1 T neutral-flavored oil
7 oz sugar (I used coconut sugar)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 oz unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao)
2 tsp instant coffee
2 tsp vanilla

1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed cocoa)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
~2 T almond milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil and flour the muffin tins, or fill tins with muffin cups.
  2. Weigh out flours and combine with baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and instant coffee.
  3. Place oil and sugar into mixing bowl and beat until combined and slightly whipped.
    Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.
  4. Slowly beat in dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time and mix until just combined.
  5. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for ~25 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Allow to cool before frosting.

For the frosting:
  1. Beat together coconut oil and cocoa powder.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with almond milk and vanilla.  The frosting should be stiff and not too moist.  Refrigerate if planning to pipe through a pastry bag.

Cake adapted from The New Best Recipe Cookbook
Frosting adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World


Monday, April 16, 2012

How Does Your Kale Grow?

Lacinato Kale

I haven't put in my garden yet.  Have you?  Usually at this point in the season I've at least prepared my beds and planted my sugar snap peas.

However, this year is different.  This year the neighbors are building a townhouse right next to my garden and random crap keeps getting thrown over the fence.  Last week they sprayed our apartment with cement (accidentally, of course), but I'm sure some of it got in the garden.  So I'm waiting. Waiting until when, I don't know, but in the meantime, I have a great kale patch!

Flat Leaf Green Kale

Last winter I planted Lacinato kale and flat leaf green kale, and both are still going strong!  We ate fresh kale all through last winter except for a brief period when it died off in the snow.  I cook it any which way, sautéed or braised as a side, blanched as a warm salad, as part of a pasta dish or thrown in soups.  You'll remember from a couple of posts ago, I even throw it in smoothies.

I've posted many recipes about cooking chard, and the wonderful thing about leafy greens is that you can effortlessly substitute one for another.  Look at any of my chard recipes and just increase the cooking time by a few minutes!

Here are some suggestions:

Green Smoothies
Coconut Chicken Soup
Kale and Lemon Salad
Poached Eggs Over Greens
Pasta Over Greens
Blanched Greens

Go forth and kale!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Digital Disaster and Smoky Black Bean Soup

Gaze upon the face of my apocalypse.

My camera broke in February.  The sensor is dead, and it will cost more than the camera is worth to get it repaired.  My little Pentax DSLR has served me well these past 7 years, but I guess it was time to go.

I started taking photos with my iPhone and Powershot, but I wasn't happy with the results.  The past few blogs are excellent examples of mediocre photography.  I muddled along, insisting to myself that plenty of people can take beautiful iPhone pictures and I just needed to learn the new medium.  This delusion held until Lightroom (my photo-editing software) stopped loading on my computer and my older-than-dirt photo printer simultaneously gave out.  My shoulders sagged in defeat.

Beautiful pictures are an integral part of blogging for me, so I stopped.  It wasn't a conscious choice. It snuck up on me.  I've written a dozen recipes to post, but upon realizing I had no pictures to go with them, I stuck the recipes in a folder and forgot about them.  I told myself I'd put them up next week... and that turned into next month... and now here we are.

I'm working on getting a new camera, which it turns out is mighty difficult around tax time.  It will happen; I just have to be patient, which isn't my strongest virtue.  Back to practicing with my iPhone.

In the meantime, I give you this photo-less black bean soup!

Spicy Black Bean Soup

2 T high heat safflower oil
1 onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
2 cloves garlic, put through garlic press or minced
2 chiles in adobo sauce, minced
1 ½ tsp cumin
~ 9 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 cups of water or broth
Salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in soup pan over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion and celery and reduce heat to just below medium.  Sauté, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until onion is translucent and soft.
  2. Add garlic, chilis and cumin and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add beans, tomatoes and water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for ~20 minutes.  Salt to taste.
  3.  Lightly mash soup with potato masher or puree 2 cups and add back into soup.
Serve with diced avocado, cilantro and dairy-free, soy free plain yogurt.


      Canned adobo peppers are easiest to work with frozen.  Place indivudiual peppers on a cookie sheet and freeze at least 12 hours.  Place together in a storage container or bag.  The peppers will remain separate, but slightly soft and easy to cut.  Remove the desired number of peppers and chop on a cutting board.

      If you’re unable to find canned adobo peppers without gluten, simply purchase dried adobo chilis and grind in a coffee grinder until they form a fine powder.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Miso Zucchini Salad

Sundays are my day to get chores done and boy howdy, was yesterday packed full!  I started off the day by taking Duncan to play in the park with his friend Cat, a rather excited catahoula leopard dog, and by the time we got home we were pooped and hungry!  Sometimes I'm a little decision-challenged, but I'm guessing that I shouldn't have been trying out a new pressure-cooker egg recipe while starving.  Michael Ruhlman has been publishing a series of pressure-cooking blogs written by Laura Pazzaglia, and ever since he posted on pressure-cooking eggs, I've been dying to try the recipe for Eggs en Cocoette.  I happened to be missing most of the logical ingredients, so I settled on putting a little pesto in the bottom of the ramekin and goat cheese on top.  I tried to cook the eggs covered in foil for a soft yolk, but I somehow messed up the timing; first they were raw, then they were overdone, but they still tasted delicious.  I look forward to trying again next weekend.  Hopefully I'll get it right.

With the pressure-cooker out and very few groceries in the house, I decided to make chili for dinner.  My dried kidney beans were at least a year old, but I soldiered ahead with high hopes.  After an hour-long soak, I pressure-cooked them; they still weren't done, so I pulled them off the stove and left them in the hot water while we went to tea with Ben's parents.  When I  came home, they were mostly soft and that was enough for me.  I made my chili and darn it if my beans weren't mostly OK!

Admittedly, I hadn't set the bar very high.

Eggs and beans and chili bring me to my Asian-inspired zucchini salad.  As I mentioned, we hadn't gone grocery shopping in a week and were rather low on just about everything.  Fortunately, we overbought last week, and still had some nice, viable produce in the fridge, including a bag of zucchini.  I've been bored out of my mind with veggies lately, and with the crocuses starting to bloom and spring peeping around the corner, I'm into salads.  So what can I do with zucchini that doesn't involve roasting or steaming or sautéing?  I started Googling and voila, a lovely recipe for miso zucchini salad.  With a few modifications, I served Asian zucchini salad with chili for dinner.  Not my most well-thought out meal, I'll admit, but theres something to be said for just using what's in the fridge and making tasty food.

Miso Zucchini Salad

2 large zucchinis, cut into large matchsticks
1 1/2 T white miso paste
1 T GF tamari
1/2 T seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 T lime juice
1/2 tsp hot pepper sesame oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp sesame seeds

  1. Place chopped zucchini in large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine miso paste, tamari, seasoned rice vinegar, lime juice, hot pepper sesame oil and maple syrup.  Mix well and pour over zucchini.
  3. Add cilantro and sesame seeds.  Serve cold.
Adapted from all


Monday, February 20, 2012

Eat like a dietitian part 2

I've stolen the idea of posting my weekly menu from my fellow blogger Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World , both because I love the idea and because patients are always asking me what I eat.  No, I don't think everyone should eat like me, but darn it, if it helps you to eat healthier or provides new ideas, I'm happy to post a few weeks worth of menus.

If you're curious why I only plan meals through Wednesday, see my original post on menu planning.  Also,  despite what my meal list looks like, I always put veggies with my dinners but what exactly depends on what's in season and what's on-sale.

Sunday: One-Pot Cod with Chorizo, Potatoes, and Paprika Aioli w/ Salad from Cook's Illustrated
Monday: Bibimbap (see my previous post for the recipe and veggie sides here)
Tuesday: Pesto Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Blanch Kale (from our winter garden!)
Wednesday: Beef Tacos with lots o' veggies on top and broccoli salad

What are you eating this week?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Eat like a dietitian

Interesting meal addition from our friend Erik
Do you plan your meals?  I know I have to, otherwise we'd eat scrambled eggs for dinner every night.  It's not just that I need to know what to purchase at the grocery store, I also need to make enough food for lunches as well.  While I wouldn't call our household a scheduling nightmare, it's certainly a balancing act to make sure there is enough prepared food available.

My schedule is different everyday but I for sure see patients Monday-Wednesday, some nights not getting home until after seven.  Ben works a strange split schedule, mostly at the community college for 10 am to 1 pm and then tutoring roughly from 3-7 pm, returning home around 7:30 or 8:00.  I cook dinner during the week, making sure there enough left-overs for us to eat have a hot, instant lunch.

Every week is a little different.  Some weeks I have lots of patience and cooking time and no evening obligations.  Some weeks I have networking events almost every night and I throw food in the slow cooker every morning.  Some weeks are in-between.

When I sit down to plan meals, I try to balance my meal selections, rotating fish, beef, chicken, pork and vegetarian, though sometime we end up with more fish than not.  I also tend not to write down the exact vegetable side because that will depend upon whats on sale at the grocery store or farmer's market.

Here's what was on our menu this week:

Sunday: Szechwan pork stir-fry with bok choy from the latest Cook's Illustrated (it was delicious!)
Monday: Fish tacos or pasta with pesto and smoked salmon and chard (depends whats was on sale)
Tuesday: Salmon burgers and salad (working late)
Wednesday: Roast chicken and potatoes with brussels sprouts or broccoli
Thursday: Guys Night- leftovers or scrambled eggs
Friday: Home made pizza or something else fun
Saturday: Dinner with friends, menu TBA

How do you plan your meals?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kale Smoothie!

This smoothie is for all of you out there who leave angry comments on my posts about burgers and cake.  Somehow, the collective consciousness of America has decided that red meat, sugar and, well, anything the least bit tasty is unhealthy, and the idea of a dietitian enjoying dead cow with bacon and bleu cheese (yum!) appalls you.  So I'm going to throw you a bone.

First, I agree that the Standard American diet ("SAD") needs help, and I don't propose eating burgers and fries every day.  I'm not a fan of extreme diets in general, like raw foods or the paleo diet.  Moderation, my friends, is the name of the game.

Which brings me to smoothies.  I'm not a huge smoothie fan because they usually contain a significant amount of added sugar and too many calories.  I don't consider them a good meal replacement because our body treats liquids and solids differently.  If you drink a smoothie for a meal, your body is going to be looking for more calories very quickly because fluid doesn't translate into satiety--liquids don't keep you feeling full.

The other issue I have with smoothies is that they lack protein and they give you a giant hit of sugar. Even pure fruit sugar can be disruptive to blood glucose regulation.  Yes, as a new vegetarian in high school I made smoothies with protein powder, and that can do the job, but between the chalky consistency and sour aftertaste, I wrote them off for many years.

Fast forward to January 2012, when all I want is a damn smoothie!  And cole slaw.  And beets.  And fish.  No, I'm not pregnant.  My body just thinks it's spring and is determined to get some fresh food!

For my first foray into smoothie making I consulted my fabulous friend Angie, who also happens to be a dietitian.  She's not nearly as squeamish about pureed food as I am, and offered some lovely suggestions.  This smoothie isn't a meal or even a snack.  Drink this (or eat it with a spoon) with some protein!  I've been having a bit of smoothie in the morning with my poached egg and muesli, and it's been delicious.  And yes, I'm undeniably proud of getting some fruit AND veggies with my breakfast!

Kale Smoothie!  I used my food processor because my blender doesn't, well... blend.

Kale Smoothie

1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 apple
1 banana
1 Satsuma orange, peeled
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup almond milk (or any type you enjoy)
~ 1 tsp coconut butter or flax oil (optional)

  1. Boil water and blanch kale for 5-7 minutes, depending on toughness of leaf.  Plunge into ice water or run under cold water until chilled.  Squeeze out excess liquid.
  2. In food processor, blender, or Vitamix, combine apple, banana, satsuma, and ginger.  Blend until roughly chopped and then slowly add almond milk.  If you prefer a thinner consistency, add more  milk.
  3. If you'd like to add fat, I recommend flax oil or coconut butter (Angie says it's delicious, but I've never tried it).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fear Itself

Some days it seems my entire life is about food.  I work with patients, discussing food and how it impacts their health.  I write about food.  I share new recipes with friends and family.  I tweet and Facebook and photograph food.  In the evening, I create beautiful meals from magazines or cookbooks or ideas that pop into my head.  I spend Saturdays making cake and crepe recipes gluten-free.  I love food.  I love every minute of every discussion about food and nutrition and health, but being a dietitian is only one part of who I am.

I'm also dyslexic.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was 7 or 8 and it was actually a relief.  Suddenly I understood why learning how to spell the days of the week and months of the year was a herculean feat.  It explained my trouble writing individual letters and my difficulty distinguishing vowels in speech.  Dyslexia explained why I couldn't read.
Tinted glasses were thought to reduce symptoms of dyslexia
Once we had a diagnosis, it was a problem to solve, a mountain to climb, not an impossible wall.  I was put into reading therapy and eye therapy and had rose-colored glasses all through elementary school.  No joke--actual glasses that were tinted pink.  Reading and spelling and speaking weren't easy, and spelling lists were a nightmare my mother and I dreaded.  I would try and try and try and give up, tears of frustration streaming down my face, and then I would try some more.  The result of all this effort is that I can spell and say most words and only mess up my numbers 75% of the time.  I have to work twice as hard to read and memorize but I've always been in the top of my class.  I have a Master's degree.

I've been thinking about dyslexia because I've been reading a book called The Dyslexic Advantage that discusses how the dyslexic brain is different from a "normal" brain.  The authors posit that one isn't better than the other; the dyslexic brain simply processes differently, so dyslexics have different strengths.  It's all theory at this point, but it did seem to explain why Ben finds computers so intuitive and I don't.  Like most books in the business of trying to turn a problem into an advantage, it errs too much on the side of trying to convince me I'm lucky to be dyslexic.  I don't feel lucky.  I'm just me.  But reading an entire book about dyslexia made me really consider what it's like to live with a learning disability and I realized that one word describes my experience: Fear.

As a dyslexic, I'm afraid of so many simple situations and daily tasks.

In no particular order, I'm afraid of:

  • Dialing the wrong number on the phone
  • Saying people's names for fear of mispronouncing them
  • Transposing numbers on check and taxes
  • Handwriting anything because I can't use spell check
  • Putting money in the wrong slot at the parking garage.
  • Misreading road signs and directions
  • Giving the grocery clerk the wrong amount of money
  • Reading aloud
  • Speaking in front of people when I have to read from notes
  • Misreading directions on medication
  • Incorrectly writing down the weight and height of my patients
  • Posting a blog that hasn't been proof-read by Ben
  • Sending professional email
  • Misreading the time so I'm either early or late
  • Typing email addresses incorrectly (why do people combine strange words to form addresses???)
  • Spelling the word "convenient"

This isn't a complete list, but I guarantee I've been in every one of those situations at least once.  A couple of years ago I added the numbers wrong on the taxes and we owed $600 more than I thought.  Keep in mind: I had triple-checked the math.

Why do I bring this up on a nutrition blog?  I live in fear, and as it turns out, so do many of my patients.

I was talking with a patient the other day and she told me she was afraid to go to the gym because she didn't want other people judging her weight.  Another patient with celiac was afraid to talk to the waiter in the restaurant because she didn't want him to feel bothered by her specific food needs.  Another patient was afraid of what would happen if she actually lost the weight she's been carrying most of her adult life.

It seems like a whole lot of us are walking around terrified.  I say, enough!

I don't have a magic pill to make the fear go away, but the first step is to be aware of your emotional state.  Check in with yourself and see what brain state is dictating your decisions.  If you're avoiding a dance class because you're afraid you're too clumsy, it might be time to give the fear the ol' middle finger and try the class!

Journaling often helps in these scenarios, but if that's too much, take a moment and think about why you are doing what you do.  If fear is present, determine if it's legitimate fear.  Being afraid of a dark alley at night is perfectly reasonable fear, but driving around the block again and again until you find a  to avoid parallel parking is not.

We all make mistakes, and often the only person who really notices is you.  And if you make a big mistake, like I did on the taxes, I guarantee somebody will show up to tell you what you did wrong.  Just  because you might mess up sometimes doesn't mean you shouldn't try at all.  At the risk of sounding like a Nike ad, just do it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Wonderland

In Seattle it snows and then the snow melts and then it freezes and ices.  As we speak there is an ice storm blanketing our city.  It doesn't feel a think like a storm, just light freezing rain falling gently to the ground in below freezing temperatures but the result is broken tree limbs and downed power lines.  Thus far my little family is safe and warm and I hope everyone else's family is as well.

*Photo from Komo 4

Friday, January 13, 2012

What will your exercise routine look like when you're 94?

This gentleman is 94 years old and still doing his exercise routine. Isn't he amazing? Are you feeling inspired yet?

Exercise because you love it and it feels great, not because you told yourself you must.

Thanks Fanatic Cook for sharing this video. If your curious about the little bats our athletic gentleman is swinging, Fanatic Cook did a little investigating and they are Indian clubs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If only....

If only I could lose 10 pounds I could wear that new dress/try a dance class/find a mate/be happy.

Do you tell yourself some version of the sentence above?  Do you limit the activities you do because you don't think you're pretty enough or skinny enough?  Tell the truth.  The answer is probably yes.

There's a disjoint in this country between what advertisers tell us to eat and what Hollywood tells us to look like.  Ever want to see what real people look like on TV?  Watch a British TV show and see that yes, women can have arm fat AND be stars.

The dirty little secret that the entertainment media doesn't want us to know is that regular people have love handles and hips and butts.  Now, these same people can be in great shape too by doing activities that they love, not caring what the world thinks.  If you hold Gwyneth Paltrow up as your standard of beauty to strive for, you're sure to come up short.

Sure, some people are born skinny and can eat anything to stay tiny but most people have to starve themselves to be a size zero.  Do you want to starve yourself?  If the answer's no, then it's time to chuck the ol' body image issues out the window and live like you love life!  Exercise because you love the way it makes you feel, not because you want to loose 5 pounds.  Eat veggies because they taste fabulous and you feel good after eating them.  And for goodness sake, wear a bathing suit!  Summer only comes around once a year so you may as well enjoy it!

People, it's time to love your life, including your body and stop abusing yourself because you look the way you look.  This is the only body you get, it's getting older one day at a time so you may as well enjoy what you have right now while you have it!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Healthy at Every Size

Have you read Healthy at Every Size by Linda Bacon, Ph.D?  Yes, that's her real name, isn't that fabulous? We read it late last year for our Nutrition Study group and what we dietitians admired most was that this book wasn't trying to convince you to try one more diet but to live a healthy, happy life, regardless of your size.  The first portion of the book is dedicated to discussing how we maintain our weight physiologically and what dieting does to our bodies.  Here are just a few of the points in HAES:

  • Slows the rate at which your body burns calories
  • Increases your body'd efficiency at wringing every possible calorie out of the food you do eat so you digest food faster and get hungry quicker
  • Causes you to crave high fat foods
  • Increases your appetite
  • Reduces your energy levels
  • Lowers your body temperature so you are using less energy
  • Reduces your ability to feel hungry and full, making it easier to confuse hunger with emotional needs
  • Reduces your total amount of muscle tissue
  • Increases your fat storage enzymes and decreases your fat-release enzymes
So, if you're unhappy with your weight or looks, should you give up, eat cheetos and want marathons of The Real Housewives of New Jersey?  Absolutely not!

What you should do is live well.  Live well is the title of chapter 10 in HAES and to me that phrase encompasses a whole range of concepts, from eating nutritious food that you enjoy to being kind to yourself and participating in activities you love.  Did you know joy lowers stress, which in turn lowers cortisol and allows you to loose weight?

I encourage you to take a look at Dr. Bacon's book and tell me what you think of her take on weight loss.

* Picture from

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What size plate should you use?

I've been re-reading Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink and he has this fabulous graphic in chapter 3, Surveying the Tablescape.  Look at the picture above.  Which dot is bigger?

The answer of course is that both dots are the same size but depending on what you put around it, the dot either looks larger or smaller.  This goes for food as well.  Per Brian:

"If you spoon four ounces of mashed potatoes onto a 12-inch plate, it will look like a lot less than if you had spooned it onto an 8-inch plate.  Even if you intended to limit your portion size, the larger plate would likely influence your to serve more.  And since we all tend to finish what we serve ourselves, we would probably end up eating it all."

So, how to do you trick your mind into eating reasonable portions?  Get rid of all your 12 inch dinner plates.  Try eating on a salad plate and see how your portions sizes change.

America's expanding waistlines didn't happen over-night and our weight gain has been accompanied by a disturbing expansion of chinaware.  Another tidbit from Dr. Wansink

"Serving-size norms were different 50 years ago.  How do we know this?  One way is by comparing Grandmother's dinner plates with our own.  An antiques dealer told me that when people shopping for antique plates find a pattern they like, they often take a dinner plate up to him and say, "I like these cute little salad plates.  Do you have matching dinner plates?"  One woman even asked if he had any duplicates of the serving platters that she could use as dinner plates."

I'm thinking it might want to go get a fabulous antique china set to help me limit my portion sizes!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gluten Free Corn Muffins

Life is busy here in the Hoverter household.  Ben has been off from one or both of his jobs for about a month and he's spent that time furiously writing his novel.  He has high hopes that the rough draft will be done in another three months but it will be a challenge since he started back at both his jobs full time today.  I've been seeing patients and writing and networking and cooking.  Somehow, together we get everything done and thus far we've managed to eat well, mostly due to our crock pot.

Ben and I have been cooking out of America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution magazine.  Last week when I had a full day of patients in Bothell, Ben threw some ribs in the pot and when I got home at 6:30 pm, I decided we had to have corn muffins to go with them.  I adapted this recipe from The New Best Recipe (from the editors of Cook's Illustrated).  Anyone think I should be paid to market for America's Test Kitchen yet?  I love their recipes because they work and they're guaranteed to be flavorful.

For my baking conversions, I've been using the Gluten Free Girl's ratio of 70% whole grains and 30% starch.  An example of how I did my flour conversion:

10 oz AP four = 283g
70% = 198g Whole grain flour
30% = 85g    Starch

For whole grains I usually use sorghum, brown rice and/or millet flour and for the starches I use a combination of tapioca and potato starch.  If you want to make this recipe using regular flour, simply use 10 oz or 2 cups of AP flour and eliminate the guar gum.

Corn Muffins

Makes 12 - 15 muffins

65 g sorghum flour
35 g millet flour
100 g brown rice flour
42 g tapioca flour
42 g potato starch
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 T guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
8 T unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup sour cream (vegan or regular)
1/2 cup milk (almond or regular)

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Put muffin cups in tins or grease tins and set aside.
  2. Combine flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  In another bowl, gently beat eggs and then whisk in the sugar and finally the melted butter.  Add half the sour cream and half the milk, whisk, and then add the remainder of the sour cream and milk.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined and smooth.  Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups and bake ~18 minutes, rotating the muffin tin half way through, until muffins are light golden brown.  
  4. Cool at least 5 minutes and serve warm


Recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Watch a testimonial about working with Autumn!

Are you interested to hear what a real patient thinks of working with me? Katie is an amazing, inspiring person and I've been thrilled to have her as a client! She was very brave to speak honestly about her story on tape and allow me to share it with you, and I hope you all enjoy watching it as much as I did!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolve to make goals, not resolutions

(With a tip-o'-the-cap to the great Bill Watterson)

It's that time of year again.  Everyone is making resolutions to organize the clutter, finally stick to a budget, or accomplish "the big one": losing weight.  Making changes to improve your life is fantastic, but oh, the pressure!  You can't pick up a magazine or newspaper without orders to join a boot camp or try new budgeting software.

I think changes to improve your mental, physical and spiritual health are wonderful, but who decided that come January first, we have to be completely different people from the year before?  Would it be so horrific to stay your same, wonderful self for 2012?

It makes sense to me that the new year cleans the slate and allows us to start fresh in areas we feel need work, but why make "resolutions"?  They're vague and give you no plan to achieve your goals.

Take weight loss.  "I resolve to lose 15 pounds in 2012."  But how are you going to lose 15 pounds?  Are you going to exercise? Eat less?  Take a daily walk?

Doesn't it make more sense to set achievable health goals and know that weight loss will be an added benefit?  Instead of resolving to lose weight (a fuzzy notion at best) try these specific health goals on for size:

"I am going to take a walk everyday with the dog."
"I'm going to do Zumba twice per week."
"I'm going eat vegetables with lunch and dinner."
"I'm going to eat out only three days a week instead of five."

Small, measurable, specific goals that give you a task to perform are the way to go.  In fact, you can start with one in January and add a second goal in February, and so on.  That way when March rolls around and most people's New Year's resolutions are a long-forgotten dream, you'll still be going strong!

So tell me: what specific New Year's Goals are you going to make?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope all of you had a safe, wonderful and joyous celebration, whatever you chose to do. 

Me?  I stayed in with Ben and the dog and enjoyed a leisurely evening of our favorite activities.  To kick it off, we walked Duncan well before the neighbors started lighting M-80s and let him pursue his favorite activities: sniffing out squirrels and peeing on poles.

NYE Appetizers

We dined on light appetizers while playing games and finally had a late dinner of bibimbap while enjoying our latest favorite TV show, White Collar.  We read and relaxed and chatted and cuddled.  Staying in has been our tradition for years and typically we have a series of movies to watch.  Sometimes it's a trilogy like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings and sometimes it's just a theme like "Stallone action movies".

In our younger days, we went off to the clubs in a large group that inevitably ended in comical disaster.  One memorable year, we were at Club Nation the night it closed.  We were upstairs having a drink and the DJ forgot to announce the countdown to midnight; in the room below us, the DJ had so many train wrecks that the audience swarmed the stage and trashed his gear.  Within our lovely, drunken group, there was tension between couples (and triples!), and one girls' feel hurt so badly that she pranced down the streets of Seattle barefoot.  The evening ended desperately trying to get a cab at 3 am while avoiding drunk drivers.

I don't miss those days.

Without the pressure to go out and have a good time, I enjoy New Year's celebrations much more than I used to, and in keeping with our more recent tradition of staying in, I was asleep before midnight.  Seeing how I'm so well rested, I can face 2012 with a spring in my step and a song in my heart.  I hope you all are doing the same.

Happy New Year, everyone!