Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thoughts on a Thursday

Thursdays are wonderful since Friday is in close proximity!

I had a fabulous dinner made with miracle noodles (calorie free) and a pad Thai sauce that was left at my doorstep by an unknown person (true story; we are still trying to pin point the kind person who left a 1 gallon container of pad Thai sauce on my porch). Dont worry, I froze the sauce in small jars and have been thawing it as needed; safety first! The miracle noodles arrived today from Amazon; they were also left at my doorstep but I know who dropped them off (the USPS guy)!
My Meyer lemon tree is blooming!! Glorious year # 3!
Sweet precious bell peppers; hurry before the groundhogs (or deer, rabbits, squirrels or chipmunks) find you!
Juliet tomatoes- So regal!
Jalapenos are here (I cant find the swiggly for the n!!)
Thai red chillies
Finally, as requested by my sous chef Julia, the proportions to my calorie free mojito mocktail: 1 1/4 cups ice, 1 cup sparkling water, juice of 1 lime (or 2 if you like it tart), 1/4 cup packed mint leaves and 4 packets stevia. This was a tough request, but I had to remake this complicated recipe...I aim to please..LOL.

And Congratulations to my buddy Laura Williams for passing the RD exam today!!! You are a star!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Calorie Free Mojito Mocktail

One of my favorite ways to enjoy a Wednesday evening study session is with a mocktail or 2. And when mocktails are calorie free...well that is even bettter. Beverages seem to keep my mouth busy and help me avoid HTMS (hand to mouth syndrome of caloric goodies), especially when studying! So here is the special waist-friendly frozen mojito style beverage:
Sparkling water, ice, fresh mint, lime juice and stevia! That's it..just good ol summer time staples at our place.
Blend until frothy
So delicious and calorie free! (mint leaves dont count right!? lol)
And now I can study comfortably and well hydrated :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nutty Chocolate Zucchini Bites

The goal of this recipe was to use up a lonely zucchini that had been lounging in my refrigerator for over a week; it was a gift from my thoughtful neighbors who could not themselves use up all the fresh produce from their CSA delivery. Not only did I use up this little helpless zucchini, but I also used up half of my pantry staples (dates, flaxseed meal, walnuts.. ect.). I am exhausted.
Here is the story. I tested a super fun recipe last night, requested by a wellness coach in Ohio, newly titled Carrot Cake bites. The recipe was adapted from this awesome site:

Turns out they are pretty amazing.

Since I am such a creative and innovative being, I decided that I would create the perfect little treat using my lonesome zucchini. My quest began at 6:30pm and ended at 9:30 pm (I did some studying in between). The problem: zucchinis have sooo much moisture!! Even a bit of coconut flour, which typically sucks the life (H2O) out of everything, did not do the trick. What did the trick you ask? Multiple additions of nuts, cranberries, dates, and flaxseed in order to achieve the perfect texture. So now my original Chocolate Zucchini Bites idea is a Walnut Chocolate Cranberry-Date-Flaxseed Bites recipeto simplify, I gave them a nickname: Nutty Chocolate Zucchini Bites…and they are pretty tasty (thank goodness)!

          Nutty Chocolate Zucchini Bites
2 ¼ cups walnuts or almonds
½ cup ground flaxseed
1 medium zucchini, cut into chucks
1/3 cup cocoa powder
¼ cup coconut flour
1/3 cup almond butter
1 cup dried cranberries
16 dates, pitted
4 packets stevia
2 tsp. cinnamon
Place walnuts, almonds and flaxseed in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped; reserve ½ cup of mixture for topping.

Add remaining ingredients to food processor and pulse until thick paste forms.
Spread in a pan and top with reserved walnut-almond mixture. Chill for at least 1 hour.
Voila..Nutty Chocolate Zucchini Bites
Maybe not as sexy as the Carrot Cake Bites, but not too bad.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lemon Verbena and Garden Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Lemon Verbena from my garden, with its intoxicating and unforgetable aroma.

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

2 ½ cups organic whole milk
2 cups Organic heavy cream
1 ½ cups lemon verbena leaves
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
I sought to impress our friends this weekend at a dinner party; I believe I succeeded! 

Heat milk, cream, lemon verbena and sugar in a medium pot over medium low heat, being careful not to boil. Once hot, remove from heat and steep for 5-10 minutes. Blend mixture, either with an emersion blender or in a blender (this helps infuse the wonderful lemon verbena flavors). Stain through a fine mesh sieve.  Beat egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk in hot cream mixture in slowly, ½ cup at a time. This is called tempering; adding the mixture in all at once would result in scrambled eggs (not sexy in your ice cream). Pour mixture back into pot and heat over medium, stirring, until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat, transfer to large bowl or shallow container to cool. Refrigerate covered to chill completely. Once chilled, place mixture in ice cream maker (may need to do this in batches depending on size) and churn for about 30 minutes, or until mixture is creamy.

Chocolate Cookie:

 ½ cup coconut oil
1/3 cup sucanat
4 packets stevia
1 egg plus 1 white
¾ cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. almond milk

2 Tbsp. dark chocolate mini chunks or chips

Beat coconut oil, sugar and stevia until creamy. Beat in egg and egg white. Stir in remaining ingredients (excepet chocolate chunks). Batter will be thick. Line a pan for foil, leaving a few inches of foil over the rim of the pan. Using a small spatula (dipping it in water every so often helps to prevent sticking) spread batter in a thin layer. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chunks. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes.
Cool cookie and lift from pan; cut into half, trimming to make even. Place one of the cookie halves in a pan lined with either foil or parchment paper.
Spread ice cream over top of cookie, working quickly to prevent melting.

Top with raspberries or other fruit, if desired. My raspberries were from Tracey’s enchanted garden.
Last time I ate raspberries from Tracey’s garden, I was inclined to write about my experience:

This afternoon I ate some fresh picked raspberries from Tracey's garden; their sweetness was almost like placing sugars crystals on the tip of my tongue. Their fragrant aroma was like that of a bouquet of wild flowers delivered on an anniversary morning. The peach like feel of the little morsels gently caressing my lips as I engulfed them one after the other felt like tender tickles. A bright deep red hue on each and every little bit of berry. The crunchy seeds and juicy pulp throughout my palate was enough to recreate even the more distant memories. 

Top with other cookie halve and freeze for at least 3 hours before cutting.
Yes! They are sexy little ice cream sandwiches

Dessert is served!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lobster Fest 2012

Lobster Fest 2012 proved to be a complete success, something akin to Woodstock:). My sous chef Julia and I tested 6 self-developed lobster recipes in 3.5 hours; timing was everything, as the well- known sensory and nutrition team would be our panel of taste tasters. With highly sophisticated palates such as theirs, we sought to impress them as well as amuse their every taste bud.

Lobster and White Bean Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette
Lobster Sherry Bisque
Zesty Lobster Baguette
Linguni with Lobster Pink Sauce
Lobster Quesdillas with Pineapple Salsa
Lobster Mac and Cheese
My team Julia and Erin the Lobster cleaners(I helped too!)

Hey little guys, looking fresh!
I must say that our professional photographers were not the kindest or sociable beings; our excitement seemed to annoy them. For this reason, I must make every effort to develop my food styling skills so that I can avoid those two dry and bitter characters in the future. For now, I will continue to take photos on my trusty little blue-cased iphone.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Restaurant Review- Sushi Too on Walnut

Last night, as I was reading my new book Will Write for Food, I decided that if I dont make it as a culinary dietitian, that I would simply become a famous food writter. True, it may take some time to actually become famous, but when I do, it will be off to Paris to cover new restaurant openings, followed by numerous invitations to food and wine festivals and multiple interviews with famous chefs; you know, the usual. Of course I would also be involved in other types of food writting: cookbooks, recipes, memoir, fiction, culinary travel, restaurant reviews, ect....just sayin'.

As a new self proclaimed food critic, I decided to take matters into my own hands and pay a visit to a little sushi restaurant on Walnut Street. I was definitely in good company, as my friends Jillian, Leann and Zeak were there for support (and dinner)!

It was about 6pm on hot Tuesday evening in Pittsburgh. The kind hostess greeted us quickly after entering. We were seated in a back corner; a perfect location for people watching and a clear view of the sushi bar. I admit, the 2 separate menus were a bit overwhelming (and they were paper!), but with assistance from my friends, I was able to find the sashimi and sushi section before my low blood sugar became disabling . I ordered the tuna tataki, unagi sushi and a seaweed salad; these are my go-to items and a restaurant must be able to execute these dishes perfectly if they want my approval.
And I was pleased.
Jillian ordered the spicy tuna sashimi; in my opinion, this looks more like a tuna tartar or tataki. I missed the opportunity to take photos of Leann and Zeak's dishes; I was too busy scarfing my food down. I will be better prepared for my next restarurant review (and maybe have a snack ahead of time). Until next time!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Most Amazing Salad Dressing EVER!

My hubby and I eat salads almost daily; we have become salad dressing snobs! Last week, while exploring the salad dressing varieties, he discovered a dressing called Woodstock by Annie's! Pretty cute huh? Turns out it is pretty tasty stuff, almost addicting. The kind of dressing that actually makes you look forward to your salad; it is a winner. Upon running out of this "crack" like dressing, I decided that I if  I was going to eat another salad, that I would have to recreate the dressing! So here goes...

Sundried Tomato Tahini Dressing

10 sundried tomatoes, ¾ cup hot water, 2 cloves garlic, 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup tahini
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional), ¼ cup tamari and ¼ cup olive oil

First, I let the tomatoes hydrate in the hot water; then pulse pulse chop!

Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and delicious.

Tomato Tahini Dressing-Oh how I have thought about making you all day long...

And so..I had my salad...finally. Cant wait until the hubby tastes this homemade version of his Woodstock find! He will be absolutely hooked; I am!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Inspired Pumpkin Protein Bars

Pumpkin Protein Bars

I finally made Jamie Eason's Pumpkin Protein Bars! These little tender bars are almost cake-like and they taste like that first skinny sliver of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, sans the whipped cream.
 Gathering all the ingredients delayed my fun; the Xylitol sweetener and the baby food (which Jamie frequently uses in her recipes) were finally in my pantry.

They babies are super moist, unlike the usual protein bar texture (the kind with too much flaxseed meal). I give credit to the Xylitol sweetener! Xylitol has hygroscopicity (ability to attact and maintain water molecules);it maintains softness better than sucrose! 
It is just as sweet as sucrose/sugar with only 2/3 its calories. 
In addition, this sweetetner has a glycemic index of 7!! This is because it does not require insulin for its uptake into the cell. I know, it sounds crazy, that is exactly what I was thinking. I did some research however, in order to understand how this is possible. Turns out instead of going through glycolysis, the pathway of choice is the hexose monophosphate shunt which is NAPD dependent. Xylitol is also a normal intermediate in human metabolism; we produce 5-15g per day. 

More fun facts (from
1.Structurally, xylitol has no aldehyde group and ketone group, so it will not produce “Maillard” browning reaction while heating and may be made into bakery food of different flavors.
2. Xylitol is capable of promoting proliferation of bifidobacterium as well as beneficial flora in intestinal tract and improving gastrointestinal function; with high activity, it is a promising functional additive.
3. As xylitol can hardly be fermented by yeast, it is a poor medium for microorganisms.
4. Cool feeling of xylitol can increase flavor of mint, spearmint and other food.

Here is a link to Jamie Eason's fabulous protein bars:

I used pear puree instead of apple and I used an oat flour/white whole wheat flour combo.

Vitamix; turns any grain into flour! Jamie Eason likes to use oat flour since it is more nutritious than wheat flour. Oat flour has more protein than whole wheat flour too! I made my own oat flour in the Vitamix:)

Pumpkin Protein Bars; THANKS JAMIE EASON!!

So yummy! Note-eat these in moderation; Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and may cause some GI distress!


From the issue entitled "Special Issue: Bioenergy"