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.