Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebratory Red

Tonight, why not try a really special red instead of traditional bubbly?  As, I've been saying throughout the holiday season, its okay to do a little cheating.  Tomorrow is the first day of the New Year after all, and the day that we get re-inspired to do all things good, happy and healthy.  But, if you've made your commitment to follow the rules tonight, consider bringing a special bottle of red wine rather than champagne to whatever party or intimate soiree you've got planned.

Max and I love the wines from Orin Swift Cellars.  The brainchild of David Phinney, the new, small production wines are amazingly rich blends with labels nearly as special as the grapes.  His flagship wine, The Prisoner, is a delicious Zinfandel blend and our personal favorite. You can sometimes find a bottle at Whole Foods for just under $40.  I've found bottles for as little as $32 at random wine shops.  His Saldo and Abstract will run you about $25 and if you're feeling spendy, look for Papillon or Mercury Head.  We've tried all of them save for Mercury Head, but  I am confident that if you love California wines as we do, you will be thrilled with any of these bottles. You will definitely want to hit up your local wine shop or specialty liquor store to find these beauties.  Every once in a while you'll get lucky at Whole Foods, but a run into Ralph's on your way to a party isn't going to score you an Orin Swift.

Cheers to a Happy & Healthy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Spinach, Leek & Fennel Soup

While hanging out at our family home over the Thanksgiving holiday, I peeped this recipe in my mom's issue of Cooking Light.  I've come to think of soup as a wonderful way to turn a huge dose of vegetables into a full, satisfying meal (if you eat enough of it).  So, I tore it out along with a few other recipes, and then asked permission.  Luckily she said it was fine. 

Before heading East for the holidays, I made this soup one rainy evening.  With holiday decorations and a roaring fire as a back drop, this soup made for a warm, festive meal.  The fennel, leeks and spinach in this recipe create a full compliment of flavors all within the bounds of the Gundry lifestyle.

  • 2  large fennel bulbs with stalks and fronds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leek (about 2 medium)
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cut stalks from bulb of fennel and remove tough outer leaves. Pull feathery fronds from stalks,mince to measure 2 tablespoons and set aside. Cut bulbs in half lengthwise, discard core and chop bulbs to measure about 4 cups.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add fennel bulb, leek, shallot, thyme and salt. Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Add broth, water, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are soft, approximately 12 minutes. 

Discard bay leaf. Stir in spinach and black pepper.   

Remove from heat. Cover and let stand five minutes at room temperature.

Pour the mixture into a blender. and whirl until smooth. You may have to puree in batches, depending on the size of your blender.  
Ladle into bowls and garnish with fennel fronds.  

Serves 2 to 4.  

In Phase 1, top with or serve along side your protein of choice (turkey bacon, pancetta or goat cheese would be a nice topper).  

Check out my green soup fetish here, here and here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Combating Holiday Temptations

It's that time of year - holiday decorations, Christmas songs, shopping, chilly weather and food! everywhere!  During the holiday season we're confronted with delectable looking food constantly - at parties, in the lunch room at work, brought right to our front door by lovely neighbors or the UPS man.  What to do?  Acknowledge you're human and then arm yourself with a few tools.
As you may have read in my Thanksgiving post, I think it's okay to cheat every once in a while.  It would take enormous strength to make it through the holiday season without straying from Gundry.  Unless you are a superman or superwoman, I think a solid goal for this holiday season would be to limit your indulging to about a quarter of what you might have done in years past.

A few tips for you:

Don't eat the whole plate.  If someone gives you a gift of food, don't feel compelled to eat it.  If it looks just too cute or yummy to pass up, then by all means, try it out, but avoid finishing the whole platter or basket. Instead, throw some away, bring it to work, take advantage of the opportunity to re-gift or give it to a needy individual.
Choose a caesar salad.  At your holiday dinners and lunches this year, choose a caesar salad for your meal.  They are on the menu at almost every establishment, even pubs, diners, sports bars and fast food joints.  A caesar salad is delicious and filling and isn't total diet food, so you may just avoid weird stares or comments from your fellow celebrators.  Caesar salads are also a good go-to for traveling, you can find one in many airport eateries.
I ordered this Caesar salad at a holiday lunch with girlfriends.  Don't forget to hold the croutons. 
Don't show up hungry.  If you've got a big holiday party coming up, don't show up starving, you'll end up eating and drinking everything out of necessity.  Instead, have a snack or meal ahead of time.  When you arrive, take a plate and choose a few items that you know you will really enjoy.  Savor them and try to stay away for the rest of the evening or stick to Gundry-friendly items like olives, cheese and veggies.
Keep chocolate at hand for emergencies.  Keep chocolate in your purse or in your desk at work.  If the lunch room cookie buffet calls, reach for some chocolate instead.  You can even carry chocolate with you to parties - if you're having trouble avoiding the yule log, gingerbread men and cheesecake, sneak a piece of chocolate from your purse or pocket.  My favorite emergency chocolates are the 70% cocoa wedges from Trader Joe's.  The 16-piece tins can easily be thrown in a bag without risk of getting chocolate everywhere.  The wedges are the perfect size to just pop in your mouth and the chocolate itself is one of the most delicious varieties of dark chocolate I have tried.
Choose your events.  Don't look at the entire holiday season as an excuse to eat poorly.  Look at your calendar of events and decide ahead of time when you are going to let yourself indulge.  Keep in mind that you don't have to go overboard.  Maybe "indulging" simply means that you will allow yourself to eat a bite of cheesecake.  Maybe indulging means that you will order the pasta.  You know your own limits.  Be realistic, but don't be too easy on yourself.

Don't beat yourself up.  If you happen to slip up and eat more than you intended or stray further than you had envisioned, don't beat yourself up.  Acknowledge it, move on and recommit. The principles of Gundry are always there to get you back on track.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thanksgiving Side Dish - Curried Cauliflower with Almonds

So, Thanksgiving went off without a hitch.  We had a wide array of choices - some traditional, some Gundry-friendly - all delicious.  I made a curried cauliflower - a recipe I've been working on for a while that isn't quite perfect, but still pretty tasty (suggestions welcome!). It was at least yummy enough to get a comment from my 17-year old cousin who apparently does not normally eat cauliflower - despite the fact that her mom (my aunt who is also on Gundry) is a delicious cook. 

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets (or 1 bag of florets)
1 tablespoon curry
2 teaspoons garam masala*
3 tablespoons greek yogurt (or other unsweetened yogurt)
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup (plus more for drizzling) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Place cauliflower on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast until tender and golden, approximately 45 minutes.  While cauliflower is roasting, make the dressing.  Whisk together olive oil, curry and garam masala.  Place the almonds on a square of foil, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Fold up the sides of the foil to seal in the almonds.  Place in the oven and cook until fragrant.  When cauliflower is roasted, pull out of the oven and allow to cool.  Place cauliflower in a bowl, pour over the curry dressing, and stir until incorporated.  Add yogurt and mix.  Add almonds and mix.  Salt, pepper and curry to taste.

*You can find garam masala in the spice isle of most grocery stores

Here are some other photos of our family Thanksgiving...

The turkey, getting ready for the roaster - the bird was spread with an herb butter underneath the skin, stuffed with citrus, onions, herbs and garlic and covered with a spice rub
My sister-in-law's delicious spinach salad with pears, blue cheese and pecans
My mom's yummy Brussels sprout dish with low-carb tortilla "bread crumbs" and crisped prosciutto... with the hustle and bustle that was going on in the kitchen we left it a little too long under the broiler  (hence the char on top).  It was still delicious!
My 14-year-old cousin created this beautiful centerpiece and a tablescape with candles and gourds.
We were blessed with a White Thanksgiving at my parents' central California  vacation home.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

When I was a little girl, I liked very few foods.  I didn’t even like cheese!  I went through a phase where I would  even scrape the cheese off of pizza.  Needless to say, my mom had quite a time getting me to like many of the dinners she prepared.  One dinner I really enjoyed however was a simple potato soup with bacon.  As the weather starts to turn cold, I’ve been thinking about this soup.  As you’ve read, I’ve found that cauliflower is a wonderfully satisfying stand-in for potatoes.  So, I set out to find a simple cauliflower soup that might satisfy my craving for  my mom’s potato soup.  The recipe below is modified from one I found on 

2 small heads cauliflower
3 garlic cloves
¼ large red onion, cut into large pieces
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut cauliflower into 1-inch flowerets (about 10 cups).  In a large baking pan toss cauliflower, garlic, and onion with extra virgin olive oil to coat.  
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in middle of oven about 30 minutes, or until golden.
In a large pot simmer broth, water and herbs together with the roasted cauliflower mixture until the cauliflower is very tender (about 20 minutes). 
Discard bay leaf and transfer half the contents of the pot to a blender and puree.  Add the rest of the mixture to the blender and puree until incorporated.  Puree for only a few seconds for a chunky consistency or until smooth if you prefer.  Stir in salt and pepper to taste and cream if using.  Sprinkle more fresh thyme on top if desired.
This recipe yields approximately three or four main course servings.  It would be delicious sprinkled with some crisp, turkey bacon bits if you want a little something more.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gundry Thanksgiving - What To Do!

First of all - don't fret!
Second of all (as I often tell my mother) - embrace the cheat!

Gundry is a way of life and it is always there to get you back on track.  If you want to be 100% Gundry all the time - I support you and admire you.  If that seems overwhelming - well, then you're probably normal.  Thanksgiving is a once-a-year event that is, in many ways, about the feast itself.  So, if you want to cheat a little bit - do so.

In my family there are a number of us that are on Gundry and many who are not.  So, when planning our potluck feast, I assigned the traditional non-Gundry items to members of the family not on Gundry - i.e. my uncle and his lovely new wife were assinged stuffing and bread - and I asked each of the Gundry followers to contribute a Gundry-friendly side dish.

While we're making an effort to have lots of delicious Gundry-approved options available, we will still be prepareing some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes.  Despite their dedication to the Gundry lifestyle, my dear Max is still making his famous Cheesy Potatoes and my aunt is still in charge of baking pies - it's tradition!  I wait all year to indulge in my aunt's famous chocolate chip pie!  Although, word has it she is working on a Gundry-friendly pumpkin pie using almond meal in the crust and a combination of agave and stevia to sweeten the pumpkin (we're allowed 1 cup per day).

For most of the Gundry-ers in the family, we will probably partake in a bit of the traditional stuff, but moderate ourselves more than we would have pre-Gundry.

If you are participating in a Thanksgiving feast in which you are the only Gundry'er, offer to bring a side dish and bring a Gundry-approved vegetable or green salad.  You can load up on veggies and some turkey and partake in a few bits of the traditional items like mashed potatoes, candied yams and stuffing.

Here are some delicious, festive and Gundry-friendly recipes from the latest issue of Sunset magazine:

side dishes
Warm Brussels Sprout Leaves with Toasted Garlic and Lemon
Warm Brussels sprout leaves with toasted garlic and lemon
Roasted Cauliflower with Capers
Roasted cauliflower with capers
Southwestern Roasted Green Beans
Southwestern Roasted Green Beans (Sunset, Nov. 2001)

Roasted Chile-Lime Broccolini
Roasted chile-lime broccolini

I'm thinking of trying this recipe using the cheese as the base instead of the bread and reduced balsamic instead of honey -
Chestnut and Sharp Cheddar Crostini
Chestnut and sharp cheddar crostini
Try this dip wtih veganaise or yogurt instead of mayonnaise.  You can bring endive leaves for Gundry'ers and bread for everyone else -
Warm Crab and Artichoke Dip with French Bread
Warm crab and artichoke dip
Whatever you decide to cook and eat, enjoy yourself!  The feast aside, Thanksgiving is truly about giving thanks for all the good in your life and spending time with friends and family!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Smoked Salmon Frittata with Goat Cheese, Capers & Red Onion

We had a guest in town recently, and while I know he wouldn't care what I fed him, I still feel obligated to step it up a notch when I'm feeding someone other than Max or myself.  Looking through the frige on Sunday morning I was inspired by some smoked salmon and left over goat cheese.  Try this lovely combination of flavors the next time you want to make an impressive and Gundry-friendly breakfast or brunch.  Actually, this hearty frittata could stand up as lunch or even dinner.
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
8 eggs, whisked with salt and pepper
2 slices smoked salmon, torn into pieces
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon capers

Turn the broiler onto high heat.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Add whisked egg.  Carefully place pieces of salmon, goat cheese crumbles and capers into the egg.  Cook until the sides are set and will separate from the edge of the skillet.  Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the frittata is lightly browned.
Serves four.

For more on frittatas check out these recipes here and here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Zucchini & Watercress Soup

This recipe comes courtesy of Sophie Dahl, granddaughter of famous author Roald Dahl, via Food & Wine Magazine.  I really enjoy zucchini and am always looking for new ways to enjoy veggies.  When I saw this recipe, I had to try it.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small pinch of saffron threads (about 10), crumbled
1 pound zucchini, coarsely chopped
3 cups chicken stock
8 ounces watercress, chopped*
1 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)*
Salt and freshly ground pepper*

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and saffron threads and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 7 minutes. 
Add the zucchini and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Cook over low heat until the zucchini is tender, approximately 10 minutes. Add the watercress and cook for 5 minutes longer.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion, zucchini and watercress to a blender. Add the cream and 1/2 cup of the stock and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and pour into bowls.  
Drizzle some good olive oil over the top.
I never quite know how much to buy when ingredients are given in weights (i.e. 8 ounces of watercress).  For most veggies, you can use the scales in the store to make sure you're buying the right amount.  As a measure for the watercress - a typical bag or box of lettuce is 4 or 5 oz.  

Heavy cream is not technically on the diet.  However, it doens't have any sugar.  The recipe calls for only a slight amount which adds a nice richness and creaminess to the soup.  You can weigh the pros and cons and omit if you'd like.

As I've mentioned before, my inclination is always to slightly under salt and then allow each individual to season her meal to her liking. Ruining an entire batch of soup by adding too much salt is pretty upsetting!

This dish is protein light, so in the initial Tear Down phase, eat some protein as well - perhaps a couple hard boiled eggs or a grilled chicken breast.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Curried Zucchini Frittata topped with Mixed Greens & Smoked Salmon

I've been super busy lately with work and trying to pull together a destination wedding.  I want to keep Max and I on track, so I have to come up with simple meals that I can prepare quickly when I get home from work.  On your busy nights, have brunch for dinner with this yummy frittata.  
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. zucchini, chopped*
1/2 onion, diced
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
12 eggs*
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup smoked salmon torn into small pieces
4 oz. mixed greens

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add zucchini, onion, curry powder and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender, approximately 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk together with remaining teaspoon of salt and pepper.
When zucchini is cooked, spread evenly over the bottom of the skillet.
  Pour eggs over the top and cook until the bottom is set.*
  Place the skillet* under the broiler* until the top is cooked and golden brown.
Cut the frittata into quarters, top with mixed greens, and a few small pieces of smoked salmon.  Drizzle with a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

P.s. Check out my new skillet.  My wonderful, soon-to-be mother-in-law scored us some previously-loved All-Clad pans on eBay.

I used 2 fairly large zucchini.  Because squash are often crooked, I cut off the ends and then stand the zucchini on end to slice it in half.  This technique is not foolproof, but it helps to get even cuts.  For a large zucchini I will cut each half again, lengthwise into halves or thirds before chopping crosswise into smaller pieces.
You can remove some of the yolks or use an egg substitute if you prefer.
You can tell if the bottom is set when the sides of the frittata can be pulled away from the edge of the skillet with a spatula.
If your skillet has a plastic handle, cover it in tin foil before placing under the broiler.
In some ovens the broiler is in the drawer below the oven and in some the broiler is on the top of the oven.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stir fry with Cabbage, Bell Pepper, Snow Peas & Chicken

I find that recreating Asian food at home is quite difficult... it just never tastes the same as in restaurants.  You won't mistake this dish for take-out, but it is simple and yummy and probably a heck of a lot healthier than what you might order from your favorite Chinese food joint. I adapted this meal from an Ellie Krieger recipe.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 head napa cabbage, sliced
1 cup snow peas
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 - 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken*
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil

 Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and ginger and saute, stirring, until the onions are softened, about 2 minutes.
 Add the cabbage and cook until just starting to wilt, about 2 minutes
Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar and snow peas and mix well.  Cover and cook until the cabbage is wilted, about 4 minutes.  
 Stir in chicken until heated through.  Serve in bowls and drizzle with toasted sesame oil.

Phases: In the Tear Down Phase use a full cup of chicken for 2 people.  Reduce to a 1/2 cup as you move on in the diet.

*I bought a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods and used some for our lunch salads and some for dinner.  You can also cook extra chicken when preparing a meal earlier in the week and then use the leftovers in this meal.