Posts Tagged ‘comfort food’

Healthy Reset: Week 4

July 27, 2015
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Beautiful roasted beets. The secret to success is preparation.

This week started off with a stressful bang. While trying to make plans to meet a friend between presentations at a trade show, she remarked that the website listed my presentations on Tuesday. Great, except they were supposed to be on Wednesday.

Yikes! I worked on them all weekend, but they weren’t done yet. I was also booked with another client for an all day meeting that people were flying in for on Tuesday. I am the ultimate multi-tasker, but being in two places at once is not in my repertoire. A marathon ensued, and a mere 15 hours later, I had two presentations loaded onto my computer. All that’s left was trying to figure out what I was going to say, and I’d be good to go. My other client was extremely forgiving. I hope that they are still a client next season.

It's 11pm. Do you know where your presentation is?

It’s 11pm. Do you know where your presentation is?

Getting home from work at midnight usually entails indulging in my favorite  comfort food dinner of popcorn and red wine. Hello Whole 30! No corn, no butter and no wine. Somehow decaf tea and berries with cashews didn’t provide me with any great comfort or pleasure, but it was a far better choice nutritionally. I am however, quite proud of myself for not caving. My energy level has been extremely high, which really helped me cope with the week.

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Late to bed and early to rise, I crammed for my presentations and somehow pulled them off. My stress level was off the Richter scale, yet something odd happened. Throughout the entire ordeal, I had an inner sense of calm, although I was completely stressed out. I was nervous about pulling together the content, an then about getting up in front of a room full of professionals and not knowing what I was talking about, yet the butterflies and tension were fully under control. Is it possible that my healthy diet left me well nourished, moderately well rested (less tossing and turning, and no burning stomach) and therefore more able to deal with the pressure? Is it possible that the junk I consume is what wears me down, and not the stress itself? I certainly don’t want to go through this again anytime soon to find out, but it is food for thought. Literally.

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How could anyone prefer fake colored processed junk to gorgeous rainbow carrots?

How could anyone prefer fake colored processed junk to gorgeous rainbow carrots?

Wednesday brought a huge sigh of relief, as the tension of the previous weeks started to leave my body. I had a work related cocktail party where I happily sipped sparkling water with lime and avoided the hors d’ouerves. Since I got home late, I ordered a Mediterranean Salad without cheese for dinner. It arrived with double cheese which I tried to surgically remove. Feta cheese is soft and clings to everything, so getting rid of it wasn’t easy. If I ended up ingesting a microscopic piece of it, life will have to go on anyways.

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I had an all day seminar on Thursday, so I had some poached eggs and cherry tomatoes for breakfast, and brought a banana and a little glob of almond butter in a jar, “just in case.” I was happy to see that banana, since there wasn’t anything else I could eat. Even the vegan options were carb heavy. When I got home at 3:30 I gorged on cashews. Not the best example of Whole 30 eating, but sometime a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

A business dinner wrapped up the crazy week! Although there was a prix fixe menu, I was able to navigate it. The appetizers, served family style were all off limits, but thanks to my nut binge, I was able to hold off. I dissected a burata and tomato canape, eating only the tomato part, to appear social. While almost everyone at the long community table opted for pasta, I had the chicken breast, which was simply grilled with a few vegetables and a drizzle of flavorful pesto that didn’t have any cheese in it. It was wonderful, and I doggy bagged half of it for lunch the next day. Score! It became joke, since only one person at a table of trend forecasters and fashion experts stepped out of the norm. Rather than make a fuss about my diet, I simply declared that pasta was over and chicken was the next big thing. Comic relief and a delicious, compliant dinner to boot! When dessert rolled around, there was some fresh berry thing in a deep bowl, so I asked for mine without the sauce or pastry. Nobody noticed that my little bowl contained anything different from theirs, so again, I was able to skirt the diet issue and stay on course.

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We are coming into the home stretch. I am feeling energetic, despite the crazy week, and I think my hair seems a little healthier, although that may be attributed to a recent cut. A friend complimented my skin. My supposedly stress induced stomach aches have not ruled their ugly heads during this incredibly stressful time. My usual three to five pound weight fluctuations have stabilized to a pretty consistent number. (I lost a little weight at the beginning, but have not seen much of a drop lately.)

Next week is looking like it will be a calm one, so I may stay on track for awhile until a reason to go off presents itself. The next phase is re-entry, where each food group is added back individually to see what makes you feel unwell. I am dreading that little journey of self discovery, but it should be interesting. There is no re-entry for alchohol or sugar, since it presumed that everyone feels bad when partaking in them.

Today is day 29 of 30. Stay tuned….I am almost done!

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Unrecipe of the Week: White Bean Soup

January 2, 2014

Mojettes from Marais Poitevin

It’s a new year, and so far, it’s a cold one. Temperatures are expected to drop into the single digits in New York City,  and snow is on it’s way. I am craving warmth and comfort, and this soup should fit the bill.

It’s low in fat and calories, and high in protein and nutrients, thanks to the white beans, tomatoes and baby kale.

White Bean Soup

Rinse 1 can (or box: kudos Whole Foods for your new BPA free packaging!) of cannelinni beans and put them in a pot with about 6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, a few springs of fresh thyme, rosemary and a few sage leaves. Add 2 crushed garlic cloves, and simmer for about 30 minutes or so. Add one 26 oz. can or box of chopped tomatoes with their juice, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove the herbs and garlic cloves,  and add several handfuls of shredded baby kale. Cook another 15 minutes until the kale is softened. If at any point, the soup gets too thick, add more stock or water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you prefer a thick, smooth soup, you can puree it at this point.

When ready to serve, drizzle each bowl with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Winter Comfort

February 15, 2013

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The weather in New York has been cold and miserable. Last night’s blizzard left us thankfully unscathed, but we are in the mood for hunkering down at home. What is more soothing on a lazy winter night than the all-American classic, tomato soup and grilled cheese?
This simple soup has few ingredients and lots of taste. The grilled cheese croutons offer an unexpected twist. It is quick enough for a weeknight meal tomorrow’s lunch, with a little Parmesan cheese, instead of the croutons.

For the Tomato Soup:

Saute a diced onion and a few diced cloves of garlic in olive oil until soft and transparent. Add about 52 oz. (2 tetra packs or large cans ) chopped tomatoes and about 36 oz.vegetable or chicken stock. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and herbs. I added a bay leaf, and some cayenne pepper for a little heat. Oregano and basil are also nice touches. It’s an unrecipe…use whatever flavors you like to season the soup. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Puree the soup at return it to the pot. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a little cream to the soup if desired. Enjoy with grilled cheese croutons.

Grilled Cheese Croutons:

Butter the bread of your choice. Fill sandwiches with cheese. Gruyere adds a sophisticated jolt of flavor, but good old cheddar is fine too. A used a shredded 4 cheese blend that I had on hand. Grill the sandwiches on both sides until they are golden brown, and the cheese is melted inside. Cut into 6 or 8 squares and serve in the soup.

Enjoy!

Unrecipe of the Week: Risotto with Butternut Squash and Kale

October 5, 2012

During the week, I tend to make the same old things for dinner; salmon, shrimp, and an occasional roasted chicken from Whole Foods.  It’s fast and nutritious, but a bit dull at times.

The CSA box is pushing me outside my comfort zone, and challenging me to use what is at hand to whip up dinner.

Tonight, I used the butternut squash and kale, in a rich risotto with seared scallops on top. It was comfort food at its best. Delicious, but simple enough to allow the flavors of the farm fresh ingredients to shine.

Risotto with Butternut Squash and Kale:

Halve the squash and rub it with a little olive oil. Roast it in a hot oven for about 45 minutes, until it is soft.

Scoop out and discard the seeds, and skin, and cut the squash into small cubes. * I only used ½ of the squash. Wrap the other half up for another use.

In a large pot, sauté one small diced onion in a little olive oil and butter. Add 1 or 2 cups of Arborio rice (depending on portion size) and stir until the rice is about to brown.

Add 1cup or so of chicken or vegetable stock and white wine to the pot, and stir until it is absorbed. Keep doing this for about 20-25 minutes until the rice is tender, and almost porridge-like. It is not necessary to stir it every minute, but be careful that the liquid does not cook out while it is unattended. Stirring also helps get the desired creamy consistency.

Stir in some grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

While the rice is cooking, wash a couple of handfuls of the kale and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Sauté it in a bit of olive oil with some salt and pepper for a couple of minutes until it starts to wilt. Set aside.

Gently mix the squash and the kale into the rice mixture. Serve in bowls and enjoy!

Seared scallops optional.


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