Spinach, Cranberry and Mango Salad

Posted May 31st, 2011 in Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

In my excitement at finishing my post this morning, I forgot to add the details of the delicious salad I made for supper last night and enjoyed again for lunch today. Before starting on the salad, I marinated 4 small chicken breasts in mango chutney (Jack’s fresh variety) for about 1/2 an hour. Then I grabbed the nearest available ‘volunteer’ and asked them to bbq them for me. On high they only took about 6 minutes per side and were delicious.

Last night was a busy night with hockey and training sessions, so there wasn’t lots of time. When I have a busy night like that I use the packaged, pre-washed lettuce so that we have fresh greens without having lots of chopping.

Spinach, Cranberry & Mango Salad

3 large handfuls baby spinach
2 large handfuls mixed field greens with herbs (this one had lots of dill)
1 large mango, peeled and cubed
1 large handful of dried cranberries (note how accurate my measuring is when I’m busy???)
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup toasted pecans (or the sweet and spicy ones if you have them around)

Dressing
1/2 cup of oil – I used a combination of flax seed oil, walnut oil and olive oil
1 lemon, juiced – I added the rind too before I juiced it
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Mix together the salad ingredients and then dress just before serving. This can actually sit with the dressing in the refrigerator for lunch tomorrow! I served this with 1/2 a marinated chicken breast cubed (though the kids made chicken on a bun with a salad I won’t lie!).

Because I had it in the garden, I added some bright purple and yellow pansies to the top to make it pretty. But sprouts would be just as nice.

And yes, I forgot to take a photo before I devoured it. Sorry.

 

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Cancer Surgery – What you need to know ahead of time

Posted May 31st, 2011 in Angiogenesis, Breast Cancer, Cancer Surgery by Rebecca Lane

My view as I write this!

Yesterday I was flipping through my binder of cancer articles that I have collected, intending to read when I have the chance, and came across this article written by Dr. Steven Nemeroff, Oncology Health Advisor to Life Extension Foundation. Click here for the full article.

I am not a doctor, but I can give a ‘Coles Notes’ version of this article so that you can decide whether or not it contains information you would be interested in researching further and discussing treatment options with your MD, ND and oncologist. Knowledge is power!

As you probably know, the surgical removal of the primary tumor is the first treatment option for many cancers. The reason behind surgically removing the tumor is that once the tumor has been removed, then the body can be returned to health. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t take into account the reality that, in many instances, after surgery the cancer frequently metastasizes (spreads to another organ). This metastasis can be more serious than the original tumor – and can often prove fatal.

Metastasis of the tumor may occur after surgery as a result of cancer cells splitting off from the tumor and dispersing into the bloodstream or seeding directly into the chest or abdomen. To form a new tumor, that cell must first adhere to the lining of the blood vessel where it secretes powerful enzymes that break down the epithelial lining and basement lining of the blood vessel and allow the cell to burrow through the surrounding connective tissue and arrive at the organ that is its final destination. Here the cancer cell can multiply and form a new colony.

Given this information, what can individuals undergoing surgery to removal a tumor do to protect themselves against an increased risk of metastasis?

Cancer cell adhesion

Cancer cells that have broken away from the primary tumor utilize adhesion molecules – called galectin-3 – to adhere to clump together and thereby form colonies. These molecules are present on the surface of cancer cells and work like Velcro to allow free-standing cancer cells to stick together. Galectin-3 is also used by cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream to latch onto the lining of the blood vessels. This adhesion is a critical step in the tumor forming process.

According to Dr. Nemeroff, a natural supplement called modified citrus pectin (MCP) can inhibit cancer cell adhesion by binding to the galectin-3 adhesion molecules on the surface of cancer cells, thereby preventing cancer cells from sticking together and forming a cluster. MCP can also inhibit circulating tumor cells from adhering to blood vessel linings. There’s a lot of research that has been done to determine the efficacy of MCP and it’s available in this article. Most trial dosages have been 14.4 grams/day for one year.

In addition to modified citrus pectin, studies using Cimetidine (common name is Tagamet, an over the counter medication for heartburn) have shown that it inhibits cancer cell adhesion by blocking the expression of an adhesion molecule – called E-selectin – on the surface of cells lining blood vessels. This blocks the ability of cancer cells to latch on to the blood vessel walls.

The combined data suggests that at least five days prior to surgery, to ingest 800 mg of cimetidine daily and at least 14 grams of modified citrus pectin daily. According to Dr. Nemeroff, this regimen can be followed for a year or longer to reduce metastatic risk.

Preventing Surgery-induced Immune Suppression

The immune system plays an essential role in healing cancer. An important white blood cell to be aware of is the Natural Killer cells (NK). It’s role is to seek out and destroy cancer cells. However, surgery itself reduces NK activity! So without question, it is critical to actively strengthen the immune function by enhancing NK cell activity in the period before surgery.

One prominent natural supplement that can increase NK cell activity is PSK, a specially prepared extract from the Coriolus mushroom. Other supplements that have been documented to increase NK cell activity are garlic, glutamine, IP6 (inositol hexaphosphate), AHCC (active hexose correlated compound) and lactoferrin.

Pharmaceuticals used to increase NK cell activity include interferon-alpha and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor, as well as interleukin.

At least five days prior to surgery, institute a natural killer cell enhancing program involving PSK, lactoferrin, glutamine, garlic, IP6, and AHCC.

Cancer Vaccines

Produced from a person’s own cancer cells removed during surgery, these highly individualized cancer vaccines greatly amplify the ability of the immune system to identify and target any residual cancer cells present in the body. Cancer vaccines provide the immune system with the specific identifying markers of the cancer that can then be used to mount a successful attack against metastatic cancer cells.

Angiogenesis

Angiogenesis is the process by which new blood vessels are formed from pre-existing blood vessels. Cancer cells use this normal and necessary wound healing process in order to increase blood supply (and thereby oxygen and nutrients) to the tumor. The formation of a blood supply allows tumors to grow beyond the size of a pinhead – without angiogenesis they must remain 1-2mm.

The presence of the primary tumor serves to inhibit the growth of metastatic cancer elsewhere in the body. The primary tumor produces anti-angiogenic factors which restricts the growth of metastases. Surgical removal of the primary cancer results in the removal of these anti-angiogenic factors, and the growth of metastasis is no longer inhibited.

In fact, after surgery levels of factors that increase angiogenesis (to heal the wound) – called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) – are significantly elevated. This can result in an increased formation of new blood vessels supplying areas of metastatic cancer – whether from newly formed colonies or from the activation of dormant micrometastases (those pinhead sized tumors that were before angiogenesis unable to be nourished by a blood supply).

Various nutrients have been shown to inhibit VEGF. These include soy isoflavones (genistein), silibinin (a component of milk thistle), chrysin, green tea (EGCG), and curcumin (also see other posts about angiogenesis).

Five days prior to surgery, the patient may consider supplementing with standardized green tea extract, curcumin, soy genistein extract and silibinin.

Surgical Anesthesia can influence Metastasis

The conventional medical approach to surgical anesthesia has been to use general anesthesia during surgery followed by intravenous morphine after surgery for pain control. The may not be the optimal approach.

Morphine weakens the immune system by diminishing NK activity. Studies on mice actually found that morphine increased angiogenesis and stimulated the growth of breast cancer.

One new approach is the use of conventional general anesthesia combined with regional anesthesia (only affects a specific part of the body). The use of regional anesthesia reduces the amount of general anesthesia required during surgery as well as decreasing the amount of morphine needed after surgery for pain control – especially for nausea and vomiting.

Those requiring morphine for pain control post surgery can consider asking for Tramadol instead. Unlike morphine, tramadol does not suppress immune function and has actually been shown to stimulate NK cell activity.

Less Invasive Surgery

Surgery places an enormous physical stress on the body. Surgeries that are less invasive, therefore less traumatic and less stressful, pose less risk of metastasis, compared to more invasive. An example of a less traumatic surgery for the abdomen, and pelvis is laparascopic surgery – where small incisions rather than large, are used.

For lung cancer, video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is a minimally invasive surgery that you might want to consider.

Inflammation

Cancer surgery causes an increased production of inflammatory chemicals. These chemicals increase the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), a highly potent inflammatory enzyme which plays a pivotal role in promoting cancer growth and metastatis. It fuels cancer growth by stimulating the formation of new blood vessels feeding the tumor, by increasing cancer cell adhesion to the blood vessel walls, and enhances the ability of the cancer cells to metastasize.

Initially, COX-2 inhibitor drugs were designed to alleviate inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, but they have been shown to possess powerful anti-cancer activity.

A number of nutritional and herbal supplements are known to inhibit COX-2. These include curcumin, resveratrol, vitamin E, soy isoflavones (genistein), green tea (EGCG), quercetin, fish oil, feverfew, and silymarin (milk thistle).

Pharmaceutical COX-2 inhibitors include Celebrex and NSAIDS, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

Conclusion

Since cancer-related death is most commonly the result of metastatic disease, it is crucial to minimize this facilitation. Therefore it is essential to be informed and employ preventative interventions during this critical time in order to minimize recurrence and metastatic spread.

I hope that you have found the key points of this article as interesting and important as I did. If you have any questions, please discuss this article with your MD, ND, oncologist – or give me a call and I can point you in the direction of answers.

Click here to link to the Life Extension Cancer Surgery Special Report with supplement guidelines.

 

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Chinatown in NYC – revisted

Posted May 26th, 2011 in Cooking classes, Meatless, Recipes, Restaurant review by Rebecca Lane

View of NYCs Chinatown

Why are you sighing you ask? I just wrote this – and hit Publish – and it disappeared!

Dragonfruit in Chinatown

Where do unpublished blog posts go I wonder? Does anyone ever see them again? Who knew that if you leave your laptop overnight and DON’T actually post your post something happens and it becomes unpublishable. Deeply saddening!

Luckily, Chinatown was not a sad place. Look at the beautiful colours and textures to the left. This is a common sight in NYCs Chinese section – and further along you find vendors selling wonderful vibrant vegetables and fruit (who can resist a pink and green dragon fruit?), origami sculptures, bonsai, and brightly coloured toys. It is one of the oldest ethnic Chinese areas outside of Asia.

Marinated Frogs Legs

Our five hour tour started with a visit to an underground shopping mall where you could purchase any body part of an animal you can imagine. The Chinese use every part of the animal for cooking and eating – from marinated frogs legs, chicken feet, black chickens (apparently their feathers are white and fluffy, but their skin is definitely black) and all internal organs, you can purchase them here.

Dried starfish and sea cucumbers

From here we found several dried goods stores where we found all kinds of things I wouldn’t even have thought could be dried – like sea cucumbers and starfish. These coconut curls though would be beautiful on a chocolate, coconut cake I’m thinking. Maybe I should come up with a recipe. No doubt the Chinatown here in TO will be able to provide the curls.

Coconut Curls

That’s one of the things I realized. We have a thriving Chinatown here in Toronto, and I never visit it. I got so many ideas for foods that I would love to try and experiment with from NYC and could probably have had the same, or a similar experience at home. So often, we get in a plane to experience something that’s in our own backyards. But it takes a plane ride for us to see it!

Vegetarian Dim Sum

The group experienced Vegetarian Dim Sum together. I’m not certain that I would do it again. I’ve had Dim Sum before and have a texture problem with the custard like quality of the food. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE custard – but not when it’s made with rice flour and warm and gelatinous and a little greasy.

After spending the morning and the early afternoon experiencing the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Chinatown, we walked across Canal Street to Little Italy. It may only be one street long, but there’s lots of Italian flavour let me tell you – and amazing that it’s just across the street from Chinatown!

Cannoli - first taste

Sherri tried her first Cannoli and we found a little Italian restaurant that served delicious pizza – fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. Ohhh – it was so good. It could have been made more delicious by the margaritas that were served along with the pizza? And the umbrella protecting us from the rain? And the good-looking Italian men in the restaurant? Nah – it was tasty. Sometimes the really simple recipes are the best. Once recipes get too complex, the flavour gets lost.

Here is where we started walking – after we found a restroom, which is not an easy task in Little Italy! We walked to Soho in search of a store selling Doc Marten’s for Sherri – at Spring and Green. Next time I come to NYC, I’m starting my shopping here. It’s so pretty with lots of tiny little one-of-a-kind boutiques that I would love to have browsed through. Unfortunately we had dinner reservations so had to keep moving.

Those reservations were being held at Blossom of NYC. Weary and wet again – we picked a rainy weekend to discover the joys of New York – I had a delicious mixed field greens salad with a sweet potato filled ravioli topped with pine nuts. This meal was made even better by its proximity to Cocoa V where we went for dessert – lots of decadent chocolate. Who could ask for more? Oh yes – it was close to our hotel!

Our last day was Sunday – so we needed a great Sunday brunch spot and found that Sarabeth‘s at Central Park South is THE place to be in New York City for brunch. After a decidedly fluffy breakfast of eggs and scones – and delicious jam I might add – we went for a walk through Central Park and along 5th Avenue. Before we knew it, it was time to fly home to beautiful TO.

Until we return NYC and Natural Gourmet Institute.

Here’s the recipe for the Homemade Ricotta we stuffed the Ravioli with –

Homemade Ricotta (makes 1 quart)

1 gallon whole milk
1 cup heavy cream (not ultra pasteurized)
2 tsps salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

In a large pot (one gallon large), heat the milk and cream to 100°F. Add the salt and continue heating, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until an instant read thermometer reads 185°F.

Add the lemon juice and gently stir. The lemon juice causes the milk to separate. Reduce heat to really low and cook until curds form (about 1 minute). Do not let mixture come to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Line a sieve in a bowl with damp cheesecloth and gently ladle curds into the cloth, letting it drain for an hour. The longer it sits, the harder it becomes. Transfer to container and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 5 days.

 

 

Insight of the Day

Posted May 23rd, 2011 in Fats by Rebecca Lane
Heating vegetable oils to the point where they smoke can cause trans-fats to form

Heating vegetable oils to the point where they smoke can cause trans-fats to form

Just read today’s insight from Bob Proctor and had to share because it is something that I believe completely:

“One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.” – Earl Nightingale, Author and Speaker, 1921-1989

This is something that I have always believed and never really followed through on. I’m always reading about food and its healing powers – and I really want to be knowledgeable so that I can share it with everyone that I meet. And I know that keeping on top of new research in the field is critical to helping people make change in their life.

Just yesterday, I was sitting at a Vegetarian Dim Sum restaurant in NY Chinatown with a table full of foodies and nutritionists. We had a disagreement about how trans-fats could be created. Most said that the flipped trans-bonds could be created only through hydrogenation – but I was sure that I had read somewhere that the trans-bonds could also be made from overheating vegetable fats and by deep frying. So, as soon as I got home (and remembered) I checked in Udo Erasmus’ book Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill and found that indeed trans-bonds can replace the natural cis-bonds if overheated – here’s the reference on page 107:

“Cis-double bonds have both hydrogen atoms on the carbons involved in double bonds on the same side of the molecule. The twist that occurs at high temperatures reached during frying, deep-frying, hydrogenation and, to a smaller extent, deodorization, flips the hydrogens on the carbons involved in double bonds onto opposite sides of the molecule.”

This is really important knowledge because frying unsaturated fats like olive oil and vegetable oil at high temperatures can cause not only the fats to break down and become rancid and full of free-radicals, but also can cause trans-fats to be formed which are unnatural and damaging to the body. If oils become so hot that they smoke or turn brown – the random free radical reactions due to light, oxidation-rancidity and heat-twisting effects combine, interact and synergize each other’s destructiveness.

Research has shown that damaged fats can produce atherosclerosis (trans-bonds are stickier than cis-bonds), can impair cell respiration and other cell functions, inhibit immune functions, and lead to cancer. (page 115 of Erasmus)

I realize that I need to give more background information and define some terms to make this valuable knowledge for everyone, but the point that I’m making is that removing margarine and shortenings and partially-hydrogenated oils from our diet is only a starting point. Fried foods can be just as damaging and we need to be aware of their effects on our bodies when we choose to include them in our diet. When heating vegetable oils, use vegetable stock and water to keep them cool and to stop them from burning and becoming damaged. This technique makes little difference to the taste but huge difference to the health of the oils.

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NYC and the Natural Gourmet Institute

Posted May 23rd, 2011 in Cooking classes, Grains, Meatless, Recipes, Restaurant review by Rebecca Lane

We had a wonderful, whirlwind tour of NYC this weekend that included a Pasta cooking class at Natural Gourmet Institute and a walking (and eating) tour of Chinatown. I’ve got lots of photos and a recipe to follow – but first the details!

Sherri & Pina at Xai Xai, a South African Restaurant

Before we begin, I want to apologize for the fact that there are no photos of me. It seems that if you remember to bring a camera, then you become the biographer rather than the subject of the biography! Anyway, there are very few photos of me because I often remember my camera! Enough said.

We arrived in NYC on Thursday afternoon and spent the afternoon walking toward the Theatre District and visited Times Square (this was quite a hike from our hotel at W 29th and 7th Avenue – the Holiday Inn Express). About 5 o’clock in the afternoon we walked by the sign for Wicked and decided that we would try and get cancelled tickets. We quickly managed to get 2 tickets but were waiting on a 3rd when something wonderful happened. There was a lottery called for 13 spots in the front row! Who knew? So Sherri and I left Pina in the line-up and put our names in the lottery along with 100s of other people. There were a lot of people trying to get these tickets! Anyway, I won a ticket and for $26.25 I was able to watch ‘Wicked’ from the front row.

To celebrate, we walked down to Xia Xia, a South African restaurant for a Margaritta (I know, you don’t usually associate the two – but they were on sale for $4 there and we couldn’t resist). Along with the delicious margarittas, we tried Goat Cheese Stuffed Pepperdaw Peppers which are delicious mildly spicy peppers from South Africa. Got to try and find them here – does anyone know where I might find them in Toronto?

With the pepperdaws, we had Oven-roasted Asparagus with Melted Brie in an Orange Honey sauce. I’m thinking that the name should say it all.  It was fabulous. Melted brie topped with asparagus tips served with an orange-honey sauce that would have been even better if the orange was a stronger flavour. When I try it at home, I think that I’ll try zesting some of the rind to punch up the flavour.

The next day was Friday, and we spent the day shopping. It rained all day so we literally ducked from one store into the next. But a few shoes managed to find their way into my suitcase as well as a raincoat and matching scarf. Our destination for lunch was Angelica’s Kitchen on E 12th street. I can’t remember what we ate exactly as I didn’t take notes nor did I take photos (hey, it was raining, we walked many, many miles and my feet were wet and blistered – I was not in my happy place!). We started with the soup of the day which was potato and leek with an arugula sauce on the top. It was a beautiful white soup with a swirl of green on the top. After that, we asked the waiter for help (I think we were all in the same ‘gloomy cloud’ place and so hungry and thirsty we couldn’t really make decisions) and he suggested that we try the Pantry Plate with hummus, a simple salad, and garlic lemon marinated kale. It was tasty – to finish off the hummus we tried some of their Sourdough bread which was a good idea as we didn’t want to waste any!

By this time we needed to head back to the hotel and dry off before our Pasta class. I have to admit that I was feeling so exhausted that the idea of standing for the next 4 hours filled me with dread. Yeah – I had come all of this way for this one class and I just wanted to go to bed with my feet suspended high above me. And I thought those boots were made for walking!

Chef Richard LaMarita demonstrating how to make pasta

Despite my trepidations and my aching feet, off we marched to the Natural Gourmet Institute to learn how to make pasta. And let me tell you that I’m really glad that I did. We had a blast! Chef Richard LaMarita was so knowledgeable, not just about the food but he had learned how to make it by traveling around the area and learned from the locals. Can you imagine? I would so love to do that! Look out world, I’m going to join the ranks of traveling food writers! I just want to eat everywhere really.

Here’s a shot of Richard showing how to make the pasta and get it ready for cooking. Note how his hands are blurred? That’s because he talks with his hands too!

Sherri rolling out the dough for Pappardelle pasta

We made delicious sauces too, then came the exciting phase – rolling out the pasta dough! Here’s Sherri showing you excellent technique! That’s Aliza helping out because Sous-chef Rebecca chose this moment to take some photos. She and Daniel worked on the same recipes as we did – so we were a little competitive. Thanks for the ribbing you two!

Enough writing for today. All these food ideas has made me hungry so I need to go and think about what’s for supper. I’ll tell you all about Chinatown and Blossom tomorrow. This way you’ll get two recipes instead of just one!

This was our favourite recipe – Rye Gnocchi with Sage Butter with grateful thanks for sharing it with us to Natural Gourmet Institute and Chef Richard.

Rye Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Gnocchi

2 lbs baking potatoes (about 4), washed
kosher salt to sprinkle on baking sheet
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground caraway seed
1/2 to 1 cup rye flour (+ 2 Tbsp for dusting baking sheet)

Sauce

6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chiffonade (plus 6 whole for garnish)
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet covered with kosher salt (you want the potatoes to dry out, so cover the pan well to absorb all of the moisture). Bake potatoes for 1 hour, or until for tender. Set aside to cool until warm, not hot.
  2. While the potatoes are still warm, scoop out flesh from the skin. Pass them through a ricer and place in a bowl. Be sure to keep the potatoes as light and fluffy as possible, ensuring a light gnocchi.
  3. Add the egg yolks, salt, pepper, ground caraway seed and just enough flour to create the dough. Do not overwork it, add just enough flour to make it come together. Do not knead. Cut the dough in half and roll into cords about 1.5″ thick. Cut off pieces about 3/4″ long with a pastry knife. Set aside on a baking sheet sprinkled with rye flour. Gnocchi can be frozen at this point.
  4. Place the gnocchi into boiling, salted water. Cook until they float and start to swell slightly (about 1 minute after they float to the surface). Undercooking the gnocchi will make them heavy. Overcooking them will make them tough.
  5. While gnocchi are cooking, melt the butter in a pan just until it begins to brown. Quickly take the pan off the heat and toss in the sage leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Take gnocchi out of the water (we used a large spider scieve) and place right into sauce in pan. Toss to fully coat. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese and garnished with sage leaves.

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Trip to NYC to visit the Natural Gourmet Institute

Posted May 18th, 2011 in Cooking classes, Fish, Meatless, Recipes by Rebecca Lane

My garden after the rain

Tomorrow morning I’m off to New York City to take some classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute. I’m going with Sherri Doak and Pina Constantinos from Nature’s Emporium and we look forward to learning how to make some delicious food as well as visit some of the places we’ve been reading about. Saturday night we’ll be eating at the raw food restaurant Pure Food and Wine. I promise to post lots of details and will take some photographs too (but for now, here’s a photo of my post rain flower-filled garden).

We were disappointed to find out that tomorrow night’s class has been cancelled due to lack of enrollment. Too bad – NYC is missing out on some serious information about Spices, the key to a delicious meal in my opinion. Hopefully we will be able to attend the Seitan class instead but there is a waiting list. Failing that, I’m certain that we’ll find something to see and eat in New York! Who knows, we might even be able to do some shopping too!

Last night we went out for supper to celebrate my daughter’s passing her driving test. She wanted to celebrate – I needed a drink!! There are some delicious vegetarian options available at restaurants now – even the Roadhouse style restaurant. I found a tasty whole wheat pasta dish with spinach, roasted red peppers and tomatoes – Tuscan Linguini I think it was called. But there were also plenty of salad options too.

Supper tonight will be left-over Asian Coleslaw (recipe yesterday) with a Rice Bowl from Refresh cookbook. Here’s the recipe for Dragon Rice Bowl (it calles for Tofu, I’ll be using shrimp instead).

1 large zucchini, sliced diagonally
3 tomatoes, sliced thickly
12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 cups cooked brown basmati rice (per package directions – use a little vegetable stock to replace some water for more flavour)
1 batch Tamari gravy (follows)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (I prefer parsley)
1 bunch green onions, chopped (chives from the garden will replace)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Grill the zucchini, tomatoes and shrimp in the oven (or on the BBQ) at medium to high heat, until lightly browned.

Put 1.5 cups brown basmati rice in each bowl. Pour 1/4 of the Tamari Gravy on top of the rice.

Divide the grilled veggies and shrimp into 4 and put on top or beside the rice. Garnish with cilantro (parsley), green onions (chives) and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Tamari Gravy (from Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp spelt flour (or rice flour if going gluten-free)
2 cups water
3 Tbsp tamari

Gently heat butter and oil over medium heat. Slowly stir in flour until a smooth paste is formed. Cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.

Still stirring, add water little by little, to form a smooth thick sauce – I use a whisk to help with this stage.

Add tamari, still stirring constantly. You may need to add a little more water to achieve desired thickness. But this usually takes a few minutes (1-2 minutes depending on the flour used) after the gravy has come to a boil for the flour to thicken to the desired consistency.

 

Gardening versus Cooking

Posted May 17th, 2011 in Meat in, Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

The Garden Before the Overhaul

I’ve been in the garden. For me, time passes very quickly when I’m digging, weeding, or just dreaming in my garden. I love the feel of dirt on my hands and the ground beneath my feet. My vegetable garden was in a shambles and needed to be completely overhauled. So despite the rain that’s what I’ve been doing. And now the asparagus are starting to show, the rhubarb is beautiful, I discovered strawberry plants and onions, herbs that I thought had been lost. Its always a wonder to me that I can forget what belongs where, but they always come back and surprise me in the spring.

Asparagus shoots - I ate them this morning though!

You may be able to tell that I’m not the kind of person who makes detailed plans of my garden. Every year I intend to! But then I get caught up in the sheer wonder of all that’s going on, and usually fall behind on the weeding or edging or mowing or planting. Mother’s Day weekend I visited a garden in Kanata that was wonderfully organized and everywhere you looked there was colour and things sprouting. Mine’s not like that!

My garden is quite beautiful in its own way though and if you ever want to see it, I’m always happy to show it off like a proud parent!

Garden half finished

After my time in the garden, I managed to head into the kitchen and make a delicious supper. I was hungry after all of the labour! And my body ached!

Pad Thai

My sister-in-law and I made this recipe together from her favourite cookbook, the name of which escapes me though. I’ve made quite a few changes to it as my husband can’t eat shellfish – so here’s the adaptation.

400 g package of broad rice noodles
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes juiced)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp chili sauce
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz. boneless chicken breast, diced (1 large chicken breast – both halves)
2 eggs beaten
3 cups bean sprouts
6 green onions, slivered into 1 inch lengths
2 Tbsp toasted chopped peanuts

Garnish: coriander sprigs, 1 lime cut into wedges

Soak noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, drain and put aside. Combine fish sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, chili sauce, and stock. Put aside.

Heat a wok on high and add oil and a little stock to cook the oil down. Stir in the garlic and cook for 10 seconds, then add the chicken. Stir fry 3-4 minutes until chicken is no longer pink, add eggs and toss until scrambled. (You could easily make this a vegetarian recipe by replacing the chicken with tofu.)

Add noodles to wok. Mix well to combine. Pour sauce over top. Cook until noodles are soft – about 2 minutes. Stir constantly.

Stir in bean sprouts, onions and peanuts and fry 1 minutes. Serve with garnish.  This is also delicious the second day if you have any leftovers.

I served the pad thai with an Asian coleslaw from Caroline Dupont’s Enlightened Eating cookbook.

Asian Coleslaw

1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1/2 white cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, grated
2 green onions, slivered
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Dressing:
2 Tbsp tamari
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic
1 tsp grated ginger

Toss all of the salad ingredients together. Then put all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. Pour over the salad and allow to soak well before serving.

Garnish with coriander and some fresh sprouts on the top.

Day 30 – Lunch at live

Posted May 5th, 2011 in Raw Foods, Restaurant review, Salads, Soups to warm you by Rebecca Lane

Tomato and Quinoa soup

Yesterday I had a wonderful day visiting with my friend and colleague Isabelle Zolkower, who also has the fortune of being married to a photographer. Rick, her husband, took the photos of me on Facebook and on this site – and I couldn’t be happier with them! My son told me that he now knows where he gets all of his good looks from!! I think he’s fishing for something?

After the morning primping in front of the camera, Isabelle took me to a restaurant near her home called “live” which serves organic raw food (and some cooked food too). I’m hoping to share the wonderful experience with you through words and images.

Be gentle with me, I’m not used to taking photos yet and they really need some practice!

Pecan sushi

Lunch started with Tomato and Quinoa soup (I started the soup before I remembered to take a photo – my apologies). It was served with dehydrated sweet potato chips sprinkled with cayenne pepper. The chips were a special treat and now I can’t wait to get my own dehydrator to make my own. The main ingredients of the soup were tomato, quinoa, carrots, onion, fresh basil and oregano from my best guess.

Then, between the 2 of us we chose 3 entrees – can you say greedy??? The first to arrive was a Pecan sushi – can you imagine? Wrapped in nori seaweed was pecan sunflower hummus with herbs around slivered carrots and dehydrated sweet potatoes, with a miso maple glaze. It was so good.

Beet and Cashew ravioli

A beet ravioli with basil pesto and balsamic reduction arrived next. The ravioli was made from very thinly sliced beets separated by an herbed cashew spread, and then on the top was sprinkled ground cashews. This was served with a spinach salad with a lime dressing and the balsamic reduction. I want to try to recreate this myself – perhaps at Carolyn Dupont’s next retreat in June!

The final entree was Rainbow kale and walnut salad – kale, walnuts, carrots, beets, raisins, seeds, sprouts, sun dried tomatoes dressed with a creamy dill tahini sauce. This was tasty, but I think I would leave the sun-dried tomatoes out, and use walnut butter instead of the tahini to make the dressing.

Rainbow Kale and Walnut salad

Neither of us loved the desserts, so we won’t say more about those. But overall we had a wonderful lunch. I hope these descriptions and photos give you food for thought for your next raw food experiments!

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Day 29 – Dinner, day after election day

Posted May 3rd, 2011 in Recipes, Salads by Rebecca Lane

Dinner - Beet & Carrot salad, Asparagus & Goat Cheese Pasta salad with Spicy Maple Glazed Pecans

I spent the day cooking with Sherri working again on Gluten-Free desserts. Unfortunately my kids thought everything we made was a “fail” so feeling a little let down. They haven’t gotten used to the different tastes and textures of gluten-free flours yet.

Luckily, a few of the things I made for dinner yesterday were really enjoyed so I thought I would share them with you here.

Spiced Maple-Glazed Pecans (adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe)

4 cups pecan halves
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp coarse sea salt
4 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cayenne (if you like a little more spice, make it 3/4 tsp)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix all of the ingredients together well making sure that every pecan is coated. On a large cookie sheet, covered with either parchment paper or a Silpat, pour out the pecans into a single layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until fragrant and gently toasted in colour.

Emily ate an entire mason jar of these with her friend after school! Delicious with the fresh Beet and Carrot Salad which follows – or with an Apple, Pecan Chicken salad that I’ll post tomorrow.

Beet & Carrot Salad

3 carrots, grated
3 beets, grated
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lemon balm (mine was just about 1″ high!), chopped
1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped

Dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp flax oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup

Combine all of the fresh ingredients and then pour the dressing over top. Toss to combine and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Delicious the day after too. Serve with the pecans above.

Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Pasta Salad

250 g kamut penne pasta (1/2 a bag)
4 cups water
1 tsp sea salt

1/2 bunch asparagus, tips off and cut into 2″ pieces
1/2 red pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped
freshly ground pepper
dulse flakes

Dressing:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp flax oil
1 Tbsp walnut oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente. Before pouring out the water, blanche the asparagus pieces in the water for 1 minute. Pour out the water and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Allow to cool (this is when I made the other salad).

To the pasta and asparagus, add the red pepper, cheese and herbs. Pour the dressing over top and serve. I saved some of the fresh chives to sprinkle on the top but some broccoli sprouts would be attractive also.

Day 28 – Election Day & Granola

Posted May 2nd, 2011 in Grains, Recipes by Rebecca Lane

What a wonderful weekend! Saturday was a beautiful gift and I spent it outside the whole day – I even have the pink shoulders to prove it. Then rain on Sunday meant that I could have a snoozy day – catching up on rest and reading under a blanket. And since I don’t do any cooking on Sunday, I really did it for the whole day.

Today, I had an appointment downtown Toronto which I’ve just returned from to find a comment requesting my recipe for granola. So I’m going to give you my granola recipe, then I’m heading off to the poles to vote. Afterward I plan on making a beet and carrot salad, and a pasta and asparagus and feta cheese salad I think – maybe with some little appetizer-sized falafal to round it out for dinner.

Here’s the recipe for Crunchy Granola – adapted from Eva Cabaca’s Holistic Food Preparation course notes. She has a new cookbook available from her site: http://www.livenutritionschool.com

Crunchy Granola

3 cups oat flakes (or sprouted buckwheat)
1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped (or any nuts that you choose)
1 cup dry coconut flakes (or a combination of coconut and seeds)
1/2 cup currants (or cranberries, or dried blueberries)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup rice syrup
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
pinch salt
spice as desired (ginger and cinnamon are my first choices)

Mix the oat flakes, nuts, coconut, currants and spices together in a large bowl. Bring water to boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat and add the rice syrup, coconut oil, olive oil and salt. Dissolve.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. Clumps will form.

Place the contents onto a cookie sheet or large baking pan and dry at 150°F for 4 hours until crispy. Do not mix during drying.

When finished, cool, and store in an air-tight container.

I have this every morning covered with my kefir, some sliced fresh fruit and then a spoonful of ground flax seed on top. Delicious.