Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grilled Vegetable Stack with Arugula Spread

I told you all that my poor Max is sick of salads and that I had started the wheels turning to try to figure out some suitable, alternative lunch options.  (Check out sick-of-salads-for-lunch Part 1). With my exploration of Pesto Possibilities fresh on the mind, I thought: "what about lettuce as sauce?" and began dreaming up this creation of grilled vegetables spread with an arugula sauce.  The down-side of this lunch option versus a salad of raw veg is that grilling (or any cooking for that matter) generally (there are some exceptions) reduces nutrient-availability and we Gundry'ers are on a journey back through our food evolution toward eating more and more nutrient-rich, raw, leafy greens.  BUT, of utmost importance is sticking with the diet and Max needs some variety. He said it was delicious!

5 oz. box or bag of arugula*
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
*Arugula has a very distinct taste.  I think next time I might try a combination of spinach and arugula, so the flavor of the spread is more of a compliment to the taste of the grilled vegetables.  
Brush or drizzle vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium heat until tender and browned.  Grilled vegetables are actually still quite tasty when cold (or reheated).  So, grill a bunch of veggies and refrigerate left overs for lunch the follow day or later in the week.

I used a spoon to spread some of the arugula sauce on the bottom of the plate, and then laid two layers of zucchini, bell pepper and more spread.  Next, I added half a sausage (itself halved so it stayed in place on the stack) and more spread.  I topped the stack with grilled onions and basil leaves.

PHASES: If you're in the initial stage of Phase 1 you can use a whole sausage (instead of just half) or another animal protein such as a grilled chicken breast.  For Phase 2 substitute the animal protein with a couple slices of mozzarella (water-packed), add a dollop or two of ricotta or sprinkle with 1/4 - 1/2 cup of feta.  In Phase 3, slice the vegetables a bit thinner and eat the stack raw.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic with "Breaded" Chicken Cutlets

Prior to following DGDE, I rarely ate cauliflower.  In fact, I recall a conversation at a friend's birthday party a few years back in which I scolded a really fit, gay gentleman for planning to serve mashed cauliflower in lieu of potatoes at his Thanksgiving soiree.  However, as you've seen, I'm a convert and I now eat mashed cauliflower fairly regularly.  A few months back, my friend (also a fellow blogger and amateur chefstress) urged me to try this vegetable roasted. So, tonight, I did, and my goodness, it was delicious!
Simply toss cauliflower in extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven until tender and browned, approximately 45 minutes.  For an added dimension, I threw in a few garlic cloves about half way through the roasting.  I served the cauliflower with Dr. G's Fried Chicken with Almond "Breading" (recipe below and on page 246 of DGDE) over some greens and red onions.  Serve, as shown, for a Phase 2 meal or with a bit more chicken in Phase 1.  Max and I finished the better part of two Trader Joe's 12-oz. bags of cauliflower florets.

Fried Chicken with Almond "Breading"
Phases 1 -3, Serves 2 (and Later 4)
1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
2 skinless, boneless free-range chicken breasts*
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon (optional)
Combine buttermilk and Tabasco in a sturdy resealable plastic bag or flat casserole dish.  Pound chicken breasts under a piece of plastic wrap with a wooden mallet or back of a heavy spoon until about 1/2 inch thick.  Place the breasts in the buttermilk mixtures and soak at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the almond meal, salt and pepper and place in another resealable plastic bag.* Drain chicken breasts and immediately drop one into the bag with the almond meal and shake to cover.  Remove and repeat with second breast.  Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook about 4 minutes on first side.  Lower the heat to  medium, turn the chicken and cook 4 minutes on other side, or until done.  Remove the chicken to a carving board to sit for 2 minutes.  Slice into 1/2 inch strips and serve over lettuce or other greens.  Drizzle with oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.  
* I don't generally have buttermilk around the house.  I used a combination of almond milk and egg substitute and it worked just fine. I cut a chicken breast into smaller cutlets as seen in the picture and skipped the pounding step.  I just put the almond meal on a plate and tossed the chicken by hand - no use in wasting a plastic bag!  

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tuna Salad with Endive Dippers

If you're like my fiance Max, your pre-Gundry lunch life was fairly exciting... a sandwhich here, a burger there, maybe a Chinese chicken salad with those delicious, little, fried, crunchy things... and now, well, all you see is salads... and is it just you or is Poppy putting more and more greens in every day!?!? While I would happily eat a salad everyday, I empathize with Max and thought "I can figure out a way to pack a bunch of raw greens into a meal that is not a salad".  My first sick-of-salads-for-lunch invention is: Tuna Salad with Endive Dippers.  You can see in the pictures below, I pack the tuna salad itself with a bunch of chopped greens.
2 5-oz. cans tuna
1 shallot, minced
2 Cups arugula or other greens, chopped
3 - 4 Tbsp Vegenaise*
1 - 2 Tbsp capers, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with endive leaves.   This recipe is for approximately three servings in Phase 1 and six servings in Phase 2. The endive is a "free food", so stretch out your serving of tuna salad on a bunch of these crunchy, slightly bitter leaves!

*So, I'm not exactly sure what are Gundry's thoughts on Vegenaise.  Mayonnaise is listed as an unfriendly "white food", even though it has no sugar (well, full fat mayo has no sugar whereas lower fat mayos substitute fat with sugar).  From what I can surmise, the reason mayo is an unfriendly food is because of the high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.  Mayo is made with soybean oil, which is a "brown", grain-based oil (high in omega-6 fatty acids)  See DGDE, page 108.  Vegenaise on the other hand is made with Canola oil a "green" oil (high in omega-3 fatty acids).  Follow Your Heart brand vegenaise offers a High Omega-3 variety. According to the packaging, it is "made with expeller-pressed canola oil, making it naturally rich in omega-3's, with a superb 2.5-to-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Canola oil also has the lowest saturated fat of all widely used salad oils. High-Omega-3 Vegenaise delivers all the rich taste of real mayonnaise, without the usual cholesterol and preservatives..." According to Dr. G. our ancestors ate a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of 1:1 or 2:1 and our traditional western, grain-based diet means a ratio between 20:1 and 40:1. Yikes!  So... I am pretty confident that vegenaise with a 2.5-1 ratio is a friendly food and it tastes like real mayo!  You can also use unsweetened, plain yogurt, olive oil or a combination.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pesto Possibilities

While on our destination wedding scouting trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, we were treated to a tasting menu at a hotel we love (don't get too excited, there are some major details to work out before we can sign on the dotted line) and where we hope to gather friends and family in February to celebrate our marriage.  While the entire menu was a knock-out, the taste that stuck out most in my mind was an unusually delicious pesto that decorated a surf and turf plate.  When I inquired about the sauce (or "souse" as adorably pronounced by restaurant manager Fabian) he said that it included a mixture of herbs, primarily parsley.  Of course, I was inspired to get in the kitchen and explore my pesto possibilities.
Traditional Pesto
Basil Pesto Recipe from Giada de Laurentiis' everyday italian, 2005
2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (approximately)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a blender, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped.  With the blender still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistency.  Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the cheese.  Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste.  (The pesto can be made 2 days ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.)

Explore your pesto possibilities by substituting or adding nuts such as walnuts or pecans or herbs like arugula, parsley, spinach or mint. Add dimension to pesto by including other ingredients like tomatoes or olives.

I made a pesto with a combination of basil, parsley and arugula and mostly walnuts with some pine nuts.  I used it to baste zucchini before grilling (shown below along side chicken stuffed with basil, Parmesan and tomato) and also as a sauce (I thinned it with a bit more extra-virgin olive oil) on a grilled radicchio salad with slivers of Parmesan and crisped prosciutto.
Since the sauce has protein (nuts and cheese) you'll want to be careful about how much you use and with what you eat it.  You can also play with omitting or using less protein and increasing the amount of greens.  I made a pesto with no nuts and loads of parsley and arugula - almost a "free food" with only a little bit of cheese.  Again, I used it to baste food (tofu and endive this time) before grilling and then I added more as a sauce before serving.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Breaking in the New Digs

I've got the kitchen unpacked!  While we are far from settled (there are boxes everywhere!) and leaving the Country in two days (we're headed to Playa del Carmen to scout out a venue for our February 2011 destination wedding), I decided it was time to take the new kitchen for a test drive.  In the interest of keeping my attention on unpacking, I kept it simple: roasted brussels and sausages with sauted onions and peppers.

Simply trim off the end and slice in half.  Throw the halves on a cookie sheet and toss in olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour until tender and browned.
Slice peppers and onions thinly.  Heat olive oil in a large saute pan, add veggies and stir for a few minutes to coat with oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Turn heat down and cook low and slow while the brussels roast.  Stir from time to time to make sure you're not burning anything (deep brown onions are yummy, black ones, not so much).  Add oil, adjust temperature or remove from heat as needed.
I bought already cooked sausages so they just needed to be heated.  Heat in a saute pan with a bit of spray or oil or grill on the bbq.  Cook until heated through and browned.
Serve the sausage topped with the peppers and onions or if you're in the mood for a ball-park-style treat, you can throw it in a low-carb tortilla and top it all with some spicy mustard.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

No Time To Cook?

Between being away for the 4th and moving to a new home, I've spent nary a second in the kitchen except to pack it up. With my pots, pans, favorite knife and various cooking tools scattered and wrapped in boxes, I've had an "opportunity" to rely on preprepared foods from around town.  I was familiar with the vast options at Whole Foods (they have detailed ingredients labels so you can make sure there isn't a bunch of sugar lurking in an otherwise healthy looking vegetable medley) but I just discovered a lovely little spot called Lemonade.  If you're lucky enough to live close to one of their locations (downtown, beverly, venice) you should definitely give yourself a break from cooking at some point and enjoy any one of their delicious Gundry-friendly options.
Below is there full list of salads (some work, some don't, but you see my point), with the ones I tried bolded.  With the cheese, avocado and nuts in many of the choices, you don't really need extra protein, depending on which phase you're in.  Well, Movers are on their way... I'll "see" you in my new kitchen.
Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan Cheese, Balsamic 
Snap Peas, Edamame, Sesame Vinaigrette 
Beets, Pickled Red Onions, Hazelnut Vinaigrette 
Cauliflower, Golden Raisins, Almonds, Curry 
Broccoli, Ricotta, Champagne Vinaigrette 
Green Tomato, Sweet Corn, Pepitas, Ancho Chili Vinaigrette 
Persimmon, Arugula, Blue Cheese, Sherry Vinaigrette 
Asparagus, Sieved Egg, Sherry Whole Grain Emulsion 
Spaghetti Squash, Farro, Pomegranate Vinaigrette 
Braised Cabbage, Apple, Goat Cheese 
Avocado, Cherry Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, Lime Vinaigrette 
Fennel, Satsuma Orange, Kalamata Olives 
Braised Lima Bean, Lemon, Parmesan 
Zucchini, Cherry Tomato, Bulgarian Feta, Mint Vinaigrette 
Blue Lake Green Beans, Garbanzo, Butter Bean, Lemon Sumac 
Peruvian Purple Potatoes, Capers, Basil, Anchoiade Vinaigrette 
Quinoa, Cucumber, Radish, Ginger Orange Vinaigrette 
Beluga Lentils, Eggplant, Red Peppers, Sherry Vinaigrette 
Israeli Couscous, Wild Mushrooms, Parmesan, Truffle Vinaigrette 
Cantaloupe, Persian Cucumber, Prosciutto, Arugula 
Spanish Tuna, Rice, Haricot Vert, Red Pepper Vinaigrette 
Chicken Breast, Butternut Squash, Grapes, Oregano 
Orecchiette Pasta, Roasted Chicken, Chimichurri 
Watermelon Radish, Ahi Tuna, Snap Pea, Sesame Seeds

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tempting Tempeh: My New Favorite Protein

Dr. G. encourages us move away from animal-based proteins after the initial "Teardown phase" of his program.  So, I've been trying to do just that.  Several months back I tried tempeh for the first time, and I love it.
I'm pretty sure I had never even heard of tempeh prior to reading Dr. Gundry's Diet Evolution.  It is a plant-based protein made from fermented soybeans formed into blocks.
I find it to be a hearty meat substitute.  It reminds me a bit of the consistency and mild taste of a garbanzo bean.  I've been chopping it up and putting it on my lunch salads.
It is also delicious cooked. Here's Dr. G's recipe for Cajun Blackened Tempeh on page 200:

1 (11-ounce) block tempeh, thawed (if frozen) and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick strips
3 tablespoons light soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, such as Emeril's
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Toss the tempeh strips in the soy sauce, then sprinkle with or roll in Cajun seasoning.  Heat the oil in a nonstick or cast iron frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the tempeh and brown for 2 minutes; turn and brown on the other side for 2 minutes more.

Why ditch animal protein?  According to Dr. G. it takes a lot of heat to break down the proteins in animal flesh, which sends a message to your genes that you are working too hard and aren't worth keeping around.  Too much heat activates those killer genes!  Check out his explanation for yourself on pages 134 and 135 of DGDE.