Revisiting vegetables in good company

goodies-for-raw-lasagna

Hi All,

last night “Off White Living” , in cahootz with my dear friend A., hosted a cooking class at our house entitled “Raising the Pasta Bar”.

It was a success, for both myself and A, and the guests.  As one guests put it: “it was fun to revisit vegetables in good company”………… 

In usual fashion, A. and I relished in the excitement of trying to put together a recipe portfolio for our guests that was creative, fun, and easy.  Here are a few pics from the evening to inspire those who could’t make it (BTW: the top picture is a mix of ingredients for a raw lasagana…YUMMMM)

matt-and-a

 

Matt and A. cooking and sharing info with the group

 

pesto-festo1

I will leave you with a recipe that was shared last night.  This one comes from A. and its a great way to get your greens and enjoy everybody’s favorite: PESTO!!!!  you can put this over any type of pasta, as well as use it as a dip, eat it with eggs, spread it on a sanwhich….endless possibilities!!

Pesto with Arugula and Spinach

 

1 large bunch of fresh basil

2 cups of arugula and spinach (or you favorite green)

3 cloves of garlic; more or less to your taste

¼ cup plus or minus of EVOO

One small handful of nuts (pine nuts, almonds or walnuts)

About a handful of grated parmesan cheese; to your taste

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

 

Chop all ingredients and add to a food processor. Mix well leaving a little chunky. Taste as you go to see if you need to add more or less of any ingredients. Chopping the ingredients prior to mixing will allow for a chunkier less paste like pesto with a bold flavor.

 

Use this pesto on veggies, quinoa, rice, or pasta. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

its beginning to look a lot like detox

check out day two of detox!

I am winding down my day with a hot shower and the use of a fabulous coconut lotion my friend S. picked up for me from Austrailia.  Detox makes me tired, so I’m going to study until 9pm, talk with Matt on Skype until 9:30 and hit the hay.  Funny, I didn’t think my body was THAT toxic, being as I just did this process in November.  Must have been all that time with family – I’m purging the foods and the family stress 🙂

At the end of this week I’m treating myself to a haircut at the Aveda Institute in Portland.  If I can’t eat out, at least I can have great hair!  They have great haircuts, products and service, and its easy on the pocketbook.

Rebecca

Day 1 of a pre-holiday detox: GOING GREEN

Ti’s the season to DETOX!!!

So my friend A. and I decided to do a little detox before the holidays so that we could walk into Thanksgiving feeling pretty good about our choices.  Truthfully, after being derailed (in the BEST way possible) by my adventures in Italy and a visit to see Matt in California, its been a little hard to be as committed to wheat/dairy/refined sugar free living.  Once my tongue gets a little taste, it’s ON, sister!

With what I term as “the eating season” just on the horizon, now is my chance to get my body a bit back into balance and reconnect with why I love off-white eating/living so much: I FEEL BETTER.  My body has felt a little sluggish and my brain has also been a little less sharp b/c of the allure of the tasty white treats lately.  And I can’t help but wonder if my little visit from aunt “FLU” (yes, FLU, not flow) was worsened because of less than idea food choices (why did they have to make pumpkin bars at work last week and put them in the fridge where my lunch sits….)

Thank goodness for A. because she will help me stay on track, and I will help her too!  We are even co-house sitting for a mutual friend and have planned some fun “Cleanse Cooking” nights.  Yes, we have a sick sense of fun, and thank GOD we have one another!  If any of you have ever tried to eat a detox style diet (details to follow) you know how tough it can be to stay strong in the face of adversity, so having friend to do this with me helps A LOT.

Here’s the down and dirty of our detox diet, which will last between today (Nov 16th) and Thanksgiving (Nov 27th).  

 

  • A diet free of all dairy (incl eggs), flours of any kind (even spelt!) and concentrated sweeteners of any kind (looks like its stevia city for a few days)
  • Ample green veggies, such as collards, kale, broccoli, watercress, parsley, green onions, spinach ,etc.  Basically, we will be living on greens and green juices
  • Herbs and spices such as: ginger, lemon, garlic, turmeric, nettles, milk thistle, cinnamon are our friends
  • Fruits include only low sugar options: Green apples, cranberries, and dark berries
  • Flaxmeal and Omega-3 supplements daily
  • Healthy fats daily: extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, raw and sprouted nuts
  • Lean protein: wild fish, organic white meats and a daily protein shake (I’m using Metagenix Inflameze protein powder 1x/day)
  • Fresh legumes, such as adzuki beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans, and lentils.
  • Eating regularly throughout the day (I said DETOX, not starvation diet or fasting diet….we need our strength)
  • Water, water, water, water………you get the idea
  • Warm lemon water upon rising every day

 

Sounds reasonable enough, right?? Well, already I’ve had to stare in the face of baking some  apricot pecan chocolate bars with pomegranate glaze for an upcoming work event.  I strategically planned on baking these bars today, on day 1, because I’m still fired up on this whole detox business, and I’m feeling pretty strong.  I also made a wise choice of baking the bars after eating lunch (Mixed greens with tilapia and avocado) so I wasn’t hungry.  Its amazing how avocado can almost taste like chocolate when I’m really imaginative……

So, when I was looking back through all of my handy-dandy little videos, I found a clip that I recorded when visiting Matt in Davis in Sept and its PERFECT, because its about cooking greens.  So, here ya go!!!  Enjoy and maybe it will inspire you to gear up for the holidays with a little abstinent eating.  Just think about how much tastier those holiday treats will be after a cleanse – like a tall glass of water after a long day in the desert!!!

Enjoy!

PS: I make reference to some Himalayan sea salt but really it’s not actually sea salt….it’s from the himalayas, which are clearly different than the ocean….must have been the Davis heat going to my head 🙂

Dine from the vine

Masterpiece!  4 months at an attempt to foster a garden, and look at the bounty I received….one luscious tomato!  Clearly I should just stick to cooking foods already harvested because my thumb is not green.  Nonetheless, what to cook with my precious morsel?

Since I’m going to be gone a lot this week (3 nights away from home: housesitting, visiting a friend at Skamania lodge (yay!!)), I had to plan ahead for 3-4 breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  I know myself and the temptation to purchase food becomes very strong if I’ve not planned well.  Now that Matt is in schoolnd the budget for eating out is quite different than it used to be, batch cooking for busy weeks is going to be a Sunday mainstay.  Plus, the choices I sometimes make when my stomach and my appetite call the shots aren’t always the best and I end up regretting them later.  Especially in lovely Woodburn, OR where there aren’t many good places to eat.  Sometimes I eat at the Bistro at work, but mostly I prefer to just BYOL and call it good.

Off to the kitchen I went with my one lovely tomato and an idea.  Here is what I prepared for the week ahead:

1 batch of chicken ‘n’ veggies (see recipe below)
5 hardboiled eggs (for breakfast or to put into a salad)
1 large tupperware of salad as a base for lunch a couple of days
1 HUGE yam, cut into 3 pieces to accompany my meals
Plus I added into my every so large lunch bag: a container of hummus, yogurt, organic black beans, 4 slices of Ezekiel bread, and about 6 carrots and 6 pieces of fruit.  Vioala, I am set for the upcoming week’s needs.  Yes, I will be rather sick of chicken and salads by Wednesday, but that’s okay because I’m banking on having left over barley risotto from my cooking class!  It pays to be the cook sometimes.

Here’s my ‘on a whim’ chicken ‘n’ veggie recipe, complete with warming spices to balance the chilly Salem weather:

4 large free range chicken breasts
2 tbsp EVOO
Sea salt, to taste
3 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/3 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 beautiful, home grown tomoato, chopped
1 can of chopped tomatoes to offset my pathetic garden yield
1 zucchini, chopped into small pieces

Coat the bottom of a pyrex dish with EVOO.  Add chicken and coat with the rest of the EVOO.  Dust with spices and salt.  Spread seasonings with a brush.

Add the tomatoes, onion and zucchini.

Sprinkle with a little salt.

Cook at 400 covered for about 40 minutes, and then uncovered for 10 minutes.

TIP: I just learned from The Professional Chef book (a good reference for anybody wanting to learn about cooking without paying for culinary school) that when cooking in glass you can reduce the temp by 25 degrees for the same amount of time, which is why I chose 400.

Makes 6 -8 servings.

Good night, all, and happy Off-White living.

Rebecca

the sweet truth about HFCS

I just about died today.  I’m happily watching a little TV on the Discovery Channel and I see this blasphemy:

 

OH MY GOD!!!!  Gee, I wonder who funded it ….oh, the corn growers association…hmm….big shocker.  Their big angle – “its just corn”……OH MY GOD x 2!!!!!!!  No, it is NOT just corn, and even if it WAS, the way its modified so much that it stresses the liver, increases blood sugar, and is more likely to contribute to carb addiction and the odd maladies that go with food sensitivities (headaches, constipation, bloating, inflammation).  It is NOT a food.  And just because it only has the same calories as regular does NOT MAKE IT OKAY!!!  This totally negates the notion that we really ought not to promote eating sugar.  Moderation will come when we focus on filling our diets with abundant wholesome foods.  Most of us don’t need to hear messages about eating sugar in moderation, as we get enough options to do so on a regular basis. 

The other part that baffles me is why this commercial landed itself on the Discovery Health channel.  What kinds of values does this channel embody if they allow such rubbish to be broadcasted.  How much money does it take to be willing to propagate a lie.  

My hope is that none of you Off-white readers will take this commercial seriously. Of course you won’t – you are all much too smart for that!! 🙂  Please tell your friends and family there is more to the story than these two lovely people sharing a popsicle in the park.  Its not innocent.  It’s deceptive. It’s wrong.  Now more than ever we need to continue educating through example and experience the benefits of eating real, wholesome foods.  Our children and our friends are looking to us to be models.  

Okay, off my soapbox!

Off White goes to youTube!!

Hey there everybody,

just wanted to share my exciting news.  Just recently I purchased what might be the greatest gadget since the KitchenAid: a flip camera from Flip Video.

So, what a better way to debut, than to discuss Olive Oil…right???  Yeah, random topic but I was at Pike’s Place market in Seattle recently and decided to take the camera on its maiden Off-White voyage.  It was a mix of what was available to me and what wouldn’t get me kicked out of any shops or harrassed by other tourists.

So, with pleasure, I give you Olive Oil 101.  enjoy!

Livin’ la vida Loca

I feel so fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest.  Just today I was chatting with my good friend, C. at her local hangout called Cooper’s in SE Portland.  Lucky for us, the owner – a seemingly happy and inspired man, stopped at our table for a quick chat about all things local, community-based, and fun.    I got to thinking about how cool a place like Portland and its surroundings are because the people simply live a life dedicated to supporting the ‘little guy’, and that ‘little guy’ then provides everything from awesome food and a place to hang on a Saturday afternoon, to 2.5 lb Walla Walla onions, as seen in this pic.

How blessed am I to live here and experience this?  The icing on this cake: most of what is yielded from these locally inspired people is truly authetic (see last post), and very much in alignment with Off-White living.

We’ve been taking advantage of the flavors of our local region all summer long, and here’s a short list of what I’ve had the prviledge of experiencing:

sautees Walla Walla onions
Elk burgers from local Elk
Sheep cheese
berries that make your eyes roll into the back of your head
Amazing stories about Russian immigrants having to flee to Iran for 22 yrs before coming to the NW
Dinner parties that last well into the 11th hour, complete with heirloom tomato salads and quinoa pilaf
Trips to Bob’s Red mill
Rose hip infused dark chocolates served with our bill at the Park Kitchen restaurant
Laughing with friends at the Portland Saturday market, where you purchase all the ingredients to make this:

 

 

Livin’ La Vida Loca Burger

1 lb local ground Elk meat
2 tbsp fresh rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large (and I mean large) Walla Walla onion from the farmer’s market
1 bunch of varied lettuces, from farmer’s markets or your friends garden
1 slice of Dave’s Killer spelt bread
1 fresh cucumber, from farmer’s market or your friends garden 

take the elk meat and mix with herbs/salt/pepper.  Divide into 4 patties, set aside. Slice the onion into 1/4″ rounds, set aside.  Heat the grill to med heat and add a little butter or olive oil to the area where the onions will grill.  Add onions and elk burger patties to the grill, cooking the patty mostly on one side first before flipping.  mix the onions regularly so they grill evenly.  Add salt or pepper as needed.

Toast the spelt bread and add the condiments for a burger, to your liking.  Once done, add the burger patties atop the toasted bread and finish off with grilled onions, a little lettuce and perhaps a slice of tomato.  Serve with a simple side salad of mixed greens + cucumbers…..enjoy!!

aaaahhhh,  it is the good life here, and  I am so very grateful. 
 

Authenticity: in food and in life

Okay, so this post is going to be a bit non-traditional, in that I’m not going to focus on the usual topics of recipes, food politics, and the like.  Recently I’ve been struck by a notion much deeper than that, yet it also relates to the concepts of Off White.

I want to talk about authenticity.  Its been a theme in my life lately, and I think there is a lesson in here for me somewhere.

Today at work, a very special person (we will call him J.) helped me see what is most important in my life, and that is being true to myself, my purpose, and from there living from a place of love.  No resistance, no emotional ‘junk food’ to toxify the soul.  Its much harder than it sounds, even though my experience tells me that being real, living in trust, and accepting what “is” sparks the fire of inspiration, synchronicity and peacefulness.

I can totally liken this to food too.  When I think about how our bodies respond to artificial, manipulated or contrived substances, like processed foods, or foods prepared without kindness or intention, the result is disease (in the long run) or discomfort.   My spirit is pretty much the same way.  Admittingly, I’ve been feeding my mind and my heart some junk food lately, because of fear and judgement.  And guess what…I feel totally sick and disassociated from my center.

So then I got to thinking a little deeper, and the work of Dr. Emoto came  to mind.  He is the guy who did all the work with images of water that were exposed to different words, music, and experiences.  his work is profound.  
Our bodies are mostly water, as is everything we eat.  I got to thinking about my mindset lately when I sit down to a meal.  Have I eaten in peace or with anger?  Have I hurried to eat my food becuase I’ve been over consumed by some other task or thought?  Do I even stop to appreciate the fact that I can go to the grocery store and buy anything I want.  Anything.  And what do I choose?  

To give you an idea of what Dr. Emoto’s work respresents, check out these pictures, taken from his website.  They depict the difference between purity, nature, and kindness and unconscious actions or negativity.  
         

Water from the cleanest river in 
Japan

I love these pictures because they remind me that nature is always going to create something more profound, more authentic and hence more beautiful than what is man-made.  Nature’s gentle way yields perfection.  When I extrapolate that to my thoughts and actions, I can see how being in flow, listening to my body, and trusting the process will bring a wellbeing far more profound than when I  try and force it or artificially recreate it.  I simply must allow and listen to the innate guidance we all have inside of us.

The deeper aspects of living Off White invite each of us to listen to that inner wisdom and learn from nature.    I have been humbled and inspired lately by this concept, and my hope is that perhaps you will to.  
A place to begin?  How about gratitude.  Think of something to be grateful for when you sit down to a meal or when you purchase food at the market.  Thing of something you are thankful for when you wake up and when you go to bed.  Its amazing how such a simple concept can really alter your perception of life, and hence the choices you then make, for the better.

I am so grateful for this blog, and the voice you all have given me to express myself.  The internet can be a powerful tool for connection, when the intentions are right.

Thank you 🙂
Rebecca

sorry world, I’ve been a little distracted

Clearly its been too long.  I couldn’t even recall my wordpress (blog host site) password when I tried to log in.  It took 3 tries.  Yikes!

Fear not, I’m still off-white (well, mostly) and living well.  There have simply been many distractions, such as climbing  trips, husbands getting ready to head to grad school, hard drive failures on my computer, etc.  yes, excuses.  

The pic above is from our recent climb of Mt. Adams, in southern Washington.  We were blessed to be totally unaffected by the fire (not even smoky air), but it was a bit daunting to see the flames grow taller every hour as we completed our expedition.

So, what is new in the world of “off white”, you may ask.  I’ll tell you.  Trail putty.  Yep, that’s a fun new one that we’ve been playing with.  It’s a nice derivation of a tasty treat my friends and I sampled last spring on a bike event up in Washington.  Thank you to the Vancouver cycling club for the inspiration.

Try this recipe when you need a hiking snack or you are tired of shelling out upwards of $3 for a good quality energy bar.  Apparently New Seasons in Portland sells something similar for about $3/bar.  Our are better, I promise!!

Matt’s Trail Putty:

3/4 cup almond butter
2 tbsp rice protein powder
1 tbsp agave nectar
cinnamon, to taste (or leave it out)

In the almond butter jar, fold in the rice powder and the agave and finally the cinnamon.  Take the concoction out of jar and form into a log on tinfoil.  Refrigerate for about 2-3 hrs and cut into strips.

It works best when not squished in a backpack, as we experienced on our climb of Mt. Adams last weekend. 

 

I’m also working on an energy bar made with mung beans, but based on our last sample batch, it’s back to the drawing board for that one.  Mung beans are quite so easy to work with as almond butter is, but we’ll get it.

For those who are wondering about what the heck a mung bean is, check out this site.  Mung beans are an excellent protein and fiber source and are really easy to digest.  In many traditional eastern cultures, cleansing diets often include something called a “kitchery”, usually a mix of mung beans + rice + some veggies for healing.  Good stuff.

I’ll leave you with a clip from Youtube on how to cook some mung bean soup.  Enjoy and have a great “off white” day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA4JpRRg-94

Secret to getting in all your veggies: Go VEGAN

I have a secret, which I shall reveal……one of the ways in which I get all my veggies in and learn how to cook with those weird ones, like collards and turnips, is that I go vegan.

Those of you who know me are saying “wait a minute, you totally eat meat”.  yes, this is true, but I also think like a vegan when it comes to getting in my veggies and I use a lot of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks to help me out.

Here’s my thought: meat is relatively easy to prepare, at least in basic ways.  I can broil, bake, pan fry, bbq, etc and get a nice tasty lean protein.  But I can only eat baby carrots and spinach from a bag so long before I really want something creative with vegetables.

I now cook dark, leafy greens, like collards or kale at least once a week, and often 2-3x/week.  But if you knew me 10 yrs ago, this was soooo not the case.  I was your basic American.  I though canned green  beans and canned corn were pretty fine choices to fill my veggie requirement, especially if I ate them with ketchup (yes, gross, I know – but I was all about making them sweet).

My mom gave me my first vegetarian cookbook, entitled “Vegetarian cooking for everyone” by Deborah Madison about 5 yrs ago when I started to seriously change my diet and wanted to know how to make veggies taste better than ice cream.

I give myself permission to write in my cookbooks.  I see  them as living, breathing entities that capture both the author’s perspective and my own about a dish.  Plus, I’m just a geek and like to make note in books.  it make me feel smart.

thank God I have a very compassionate husband, as some of my adventures did not turn out well…such as the lasagna which had about 5 lbs of mushrooms and a bechamel sauce.  I’m sooo not a French chef, and totally underestimated the importance of cooking fine sauces in a tender way with a proven method.   I think we went out to Mexican that night instead…..

So, I want to share one of my favorite recipes from this book.  This one usually comes out pretty well – even for first timers!  I modified it a bit from the original. It makes an awesome summer salad and you can absolutely go carnivorous with it by adding chunks of chicken or turkey to it, or on the side.

Enjoy!

PS: other cookbooks I like are :”Greens”, also by Deborah Madison, and the Blossoming Lotus cookbook.

Quinoa or Bulgur and Green Lentil Salad with Chickpeas

Serves 2-4, depending on serving size

½ cup French green lentils, washed
1 bay leaf
¾ cup fine or medium bulgur or quinoa
5 scallions, including some of the greens, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
Grated zest of 2 lemons
6-8 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1.5 cups chickpeas (rinsed and drained if canned)
2 cups finely chopped parsley
1 – 1.5 cups chopped vegetables of your choice: cucumber, colored bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, etc
½ cup chopped mint

Cover the lentils with water in a small saucepan, add the bay leave and ½ tsp salt.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 25 minutes, until lentils are tender but firm.  Let them stand another 20 minutes.  Cook the grain (bulgur or quinoa as needed)

Whisk together scallions, garlic, lemon zest and juice, oil, paprika, and ½ tsp salt in a large bowl.  When lentils are done, drain them and add them to the dressing.  Press out any excess water.  Add the bulgur along with the chickpeas, parsley, mint, and vegetables.  Toss gently and then taste for salt/pepper. Can be served warm or cold.