The Meals That Got Away

Everything in the kitchen isn’t all sunshine and daisies; sometimes you create  meals that are real stinkers. And, as luck would have it, these off meals are generally the ones you’ve poured the most time and energy into. Nothing sends me into a frenzy of emotional eating  more than taking the third nope-this-isn’t-going-to-work bite of a meal that flopped. By then I’m running to fill the void in my heart (and stomach, duh) with something terrible.  Oddly enough, I got both these recipes off the same blog. Maybe it just isn’t the place for me to get some foodie advice.

Last week I was on Bex Life (I love listening to her talks!) and she had a guest blogger who was giving out a recipe for cauliflower crust pizza. My gluten free heart sang as if it was battling for the win on American Idol.  I love cauliflower and the fact that I didn’t have to utilize any of my insanely pricey gluten-free flour blend made my wallet hum a ditty as well.

Looks are deceiving! The inside was complete mush!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (serves 3)

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano

Toppings:

  • Sauce (I used a box of crushed tomatoes)
  • Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor pulse cauliflower until it’s well processed. Scrape down the sides as needed. Lay cauliflower out on a baking sheet, pre- sprayed with non-stick spray or using a slipat. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a large bowl. Add eggs, grated cheese, flax and spices. Mix together well. Spoon “dough” onto a pizza stone, covered pizza pan* or baking sheet. Bake for 16-17 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon sauce onto dough and season with spices. Add fresh mozzarella. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

I mean, look how awesome and clean that recipe looks. I managed to find the particular brand of tomatoes—Pomi—she mentions in her video. I even went authentic and sprung from the fresh mozzarella, like any good Italian Mamma would do. Wait, there’s more, I even bought the really shnazzy Boars Head pepperoni. Man, I had high, high hopes, but I knew something wasn’t going right when, after taking the ground up cauliflower out of the oven for the third time, it wasn’t the golden, crispy brown as seen on the video. Mind you my food processor is a fraction of the size of hers, so it took be 12 painstaking batches. I baked the pizza for 30 minutes and had to accept the crust just wasn’t going to set. I was bumming.

The next recipe I tried was a raw vegan carrot soup with a few simple ingredients: seven carrots, two cloves of garlic, one whole avocado, lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste.

You may know I’m a huge fan of making a batch of soup at the beginning of the week during the school year. Now that summer is rolling around I can start looking towards raw, cold soups, which are perfect for the temperatures we’ll (hopefully) be getting in the near future. I had tried out this recipe a few months back, prior to my juicer, and my blender couldn’t handle the pureed carrots. It sputtered, it grumbled, it said “no smooth soup for you!”  I was left with a chunky, off tasting mess. This time I was so ready, but to no avail it still tasted funny. I wanted so desperately to like it, and I’m sure it’s not a bad recipe, but my taste buds just weren’t feeling it.

Needless to say, I was at least able to salvage a few pictures from the creation.

Yup, making food you don’t end up liking sucks. You’ve wasted time, you’ve wasted money, and if you plan out your meals like I do you probably don’t have much lying around to calm those tummy grumbles. Sometimes all you can do is grab a banana, slather it in some peanut butter, and deal with your melodramatics by watching a C-rate Netflix movie while drinking a glass of nice wine that you had been saving for the ill-fated, extravagant meal….I’m not bitter or anything!

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

Campbells ain’t got nuttin’ on me.

Like those Hollywood girls that can sing, dance, act, and “design” clothes, I’m slowly turning a fecta to the nth degree when it comes to this blog. Soon, very soon, I’ll be pulling out the big guns for a yoga-palooza, which I cannot wait to unveil. (I suppose I shouldn’t have guns and yoga in the same sentence, so, instead, I’m pulling out the big singing bowls.) I’ve also got plans to bring more natural skin care & fashion to the site. But taking baby steps, today I start down the wheat free route. Being gluten free is kind of a big deal when it comes to my diet, and I want those with gluten issues ranging from mild sensitivities to full blown allergies and Celiac to be able to come here for reviews and recipes that don’t make them feel like outsiders.  (Note: I’ve yet to find a gluten free pizza crust that is both indulgent and sinful. Find me one and I’ll reward you handsomely. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.)

I’ve been gluten free for about two months, and though I admit I have my days where I walk by the bread sample at the grocery store and bitch about not being able to have a slice with butter, the initial pangs and feeling-like-an-outsider-irritations are starting to subside. However, I still have to be on my toes for wheat that is lurking in the most unsuspecting of recipes. Case in point: soups.  I’m a Mainer—I mean, Mainah—and lobster bisque is off the menu. So is fish chowder. Why? Because these types of soups are thickened using flour. Even the seemingly harmless tomato soup features a roux of flour and butter, and, unfortunately, the smallest bit sets me off. Thankfully most soups have allergens immediately listed at the top of the label, so I can get to the disappointment in 5 seconds instead of 30 seconds of hopeful and baited breath. Not to be divorced from the creamy, red goodness of tomato soup, I dug through Google until I found a most satisfying alternative.

Thank goodness for gluten free mamas! This recipe is from the blog Gluten Free Mom. Thank youuuuuu!

Wonderful Tomato Soup –> Click on title for the recipe & full blog post from Gluten Free Mom

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 5 large tomatoes chopped – if you do not have fresh tomatoes you can use 2 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 T tomato paste (freeze the leftover paste for later use)
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 1/2  T dried basil or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 T salt (or to taste – we always add a little more)
  • 2 t pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or a casein free alternative such as almond milk)

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat.  Saute the onions and carrots until tender,  about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt and pepper and stir well.

Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are very tender.”

In batches put the soup through a food processor, or use an immersion stick. Of course I used this as yet another opportunity to use my blend stick. After you’ve gotten it to the desired consistency, add the cream or almond milk. Gluten Free Mom says the almond milk makes the soup taste sweeter, so you decide (I used cream.) I really loved the carrots, as they added a heartiness that is sometimes missing from tomato soup. Call me naughty, naughty, but I love salt and added an extra pinch as the recipe suggested. However, if there was anything to change it would be using a little less salt than the recipe asked for. Since this was the first time making it I decided to go with canned tomatoes, but next time I will definitely be using fresh ones.

This is one of my favorite soups and we were easily able to have eight good-sized bowls. Eeking out servings need not apply. Chris gave it many thumbs up. I made this on Monday and when I had the final bowl on Friday it still tasted awesome; Longevity is the hallmark of a great meal.

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

PS: Check out my friend Jillian’s new food blog Zest & Honey. It’s awesome. She’s awesome. In the words of Nike: Just Do It

Eating healthy at school- Salad & other tips

I have the college luxury of being able to cook my own meals, but for 2 years I suffered eating dining hall food, so I understand what a pain it can be to enjoy what you’re eating, never mind eating healthy. Last year at my school—when I wasn’t eating meat—I asked if the dining hall (who claimed to be really open to conversation) could start serving healthier options for the meat-less. A pasta-lifestyle does not a healthy diet make. Let’s just say I was shocked at the push back I got from a certain head chef who “claimed” they cared about the health of her students. It was appalling and still makes my blood boil.  The cooks practically went out of their way to make healthy food unappealing.  Eating healthy doesn’t need to be overly expensive, per say, but it is a lot cheaper to feed everyone pizza and chicken nuggets than fresh food. It’s a sad truism in this country. It seemed Sodexo (the notorious food provider we had) was more interested in saving a buck, getting rebates from the junk snacks they were hocking at us, and being lazy in their chef prep skills. Thankfully, there are ways to navigate the pizza, fries, burgers, and soft-serve machine. One of the first things I started doing was incorporating a salad into my lunch and dinner. I allowed myself to eat what the main course was, but filling up with good for me foods  beforehand helped me cut down on the greasy, buttery, salty, laxative (mmmhmmm) laden food.

Can I make a salad? Or can I make a salad?!!

Now, salads can seem really boring, but once you get used to eating them I guarantee you’ll crave them. For starters, you need to make a real, healthy salad. Ditch the ice berg lettuce and try using the darker, leafy greens, as these are true super foods! Add in hard boiled eggs, cucumbers, baby corn, mushrooms, onions (bring gum), olives, etc. Sliced apples, mandarin oranges, and pears are a nice added touch. Nix the croutons, bacon bits, and cheese. If you want something sprinkled on top try dried cranberries or sliced nuts. And for Pete’s sake, no more calorie heavy dressings like ranch, Italian, or Catalina! Why undo all your hard work by slathering it in gunk? Instead drizzle on some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You’ll feel fresh and light afterward, and since your stomach registers volumes you won’t be as ravenous.

At the same time,  accept the fact that your body will crave different things during different times of the year. A lot of it is weather dependent. Most people like eating salads, fruits, and raw vegetables during the hot summer months and warm, hearty foods during the winter. During the fall season you have to practically force a salad down my throat, but oddly enough, come winter, I’m back on the greens. We’re all wired differently, but I can safely say that most of us could use more salads in our lives.

Just as delicious!

Other tips:

Only get ice cream or a dessert one day of the week.

Even if it kills you, get up in time to have a sit down breakfast of eggs, oatmeal, milk, juice, yogurt, etc, whatever you want. Don’t be the student who’s always grabbing a bagel on the run; trust me, your waist will thank you.

Wean yourself off of sugary sodas and juices by starting each meal with at least one glass of water.

Grab fruit like bananas, oranges, and apples for mid-day snacks.

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

Why I Made the Change

So, I haven’t really told you guys how I made the change over from being a fairly average nosher to a more cognoscente and mindful eating. I did mentioned how Tara Stiles was the catalyst to listening to my body and observing what I put into it. It wasn’t until this past January when I really put it into practice. It all started by going pescotarian (someone who eats seafood but not land meat.) I started reading about how the animals in many slaughterhouses in our country are treated. Slaughterhouses are stressful places to work and it doesn’t take much for the handlers to start abusing the animals. Pigs are sodomized by objects lying around, chickens are thrown like soccer balls, people, very disgustingly, shove electric shockers into cows’ vaginas. I’m not one for swearing, but that shit is sick as fuck! I felt immense guilt for eating meat, especially since my family (or school) wasn’t regularly buying meat from reputable farms. There was no weaning myself off of red meat, then chicken, then pork; I went cold turkey. I was surprised to find that after the first month I didn’t really have cravings except for fried chicken, pork from Chinese restaurants, and the occasional burger—all relatively unhealthy. I had no desire for steak or grilled chicken. Unfortunately my school wasn’t very vegetarian friendly (a person needs more than tofu and veggie burgers, people!) and I found myself learning the art of the salad. I mean a real, colorful salad, not the kind with ranch, cheese, croutons, and those squiggly crunchy bits. I slowly started learning about other diets like the raw food and vegan. Though I never went completely raw or vegan, I tried to as much food in its natural state to my diet.

There was also food I found myself eating less of. Bread was no longer a big part of my diet, as veggie sandwiches really weren’t that enthralling. My milk consumption decreased significantly as well, as I started eating more Greek yogurt to add protein (which the average person really doesn’t need loads of, despite the typical ‘how do you get your protein’ claim), and iron, which I admit was hard to get. I noticed myself feeling better and having more energy almost immediately. I used to always need a nap in the afternoon. During the summer I started venturing into fake meats. I never wanted them to become a huge part of my diet, as they are highly processed, but Chris and I fell in love with Morning Stars Hickory Smoked “Ribs”.  Summer is also when I started feeling like absolutely crap again. July was brutal. There were many mornings when I would wake up, make an egg, and feel so exhausted that I had to go back to sleep again. I could barely function at my job and was an emotional wreck. My hair was falling out, my hands hurt, and I was deathly frightened. I thought it was the lack of meat that was doing this to me. The doctors ran blood tests and my iron levels and thyroid were fine. Everyone chalked it up to stress, but I knew it was more than that. It wasn’t until a few months into the school year that I finally began putting the pieces together.

Image: JupiterImages.Jen Christiansen

One morning I was eating toast and within minutes my hands started hurting. It felt like my bones were itching. I’d eat pizza and the next day I wake up feeling like someone had hit me with large beam. After some internet sleuthing, once again: thank goodness for Google, I stumbled upon sites talking about gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat that more and more people are having difficulty digesting. It can cause severe stomach pains, gas, bloating, hand pain (!), brain fog, and numerous other conditions. Celiac Disease has the same symptoms, but if you keep eating gluten it damages the lining of your stomach, making absorption harder. I decided to test this theory out. It’s very hard to do something and not subconsciously cause yourself pain, but I knew I wasn’t lying to myself when not long after eating a slice of whole grain toast I doubled over onto the bed in intense stomach pains. Then there was the brain fog that would follow me around for a few hours. In severe cases when I ate a lot of pizza (which is now my kryptonite) I would have intense feelings of gas in my stomach that would never, erm, work their way out. Not to mention if I kept eating more wheat my stomach would start lurching. I’ve thrown up 6 times in my life, so I knew this was not normal. After realizing this was something I couldn’t eat anymore, I also had the horrible realization that right now was not a time in my life where I could not eat meat and wheat/gluten products which are found in so many foods. After a few weeks of telling myself that it was okay and that my health was just as important, is started eating meat again. One thing I notice is that the amount of meat I eat is so miniscule to what I used to eat, and I still hardly crave red meat. I have a much healthier relationship with a food group. I try my hardest to buy meat from good farmers, but I cannot all the time. I’m not much for dinner time grace, but I do say a little thank you to the animals. Almost instantaneously I felt better. I started dreaming again and realized a big reason why I felt better back in January wasn’t necessarily from kicking meat, but from limiting my gluten intact. And the reason I felt horrible in the summer is because wheat and gluten are generally the first few ingredients listed in fake meat.

I got tested for celiac disease over break. Unfortunately gluten sensitivity is not something they can easily test for and the general celiac disease panel they use only shows 2 of the 5 possible inhibitors that can show up for celiac positive patients.  But after explaining my symptoms to my doctor she said she felt 100% okay letting me avoid gluten and wheat. The worst part about the testing was that I had to eat gluten a few weeks before hand. I was in so much pain and was extremely grouchy for several days, and I didn’t feel completely right for quite some time. My test results came back this week and they were back normal. Still, this still doesn’t change the fact it makes me feel absolutely horrid. Life is going to be pretty different for me. I’ve been trying Udi’s gluten free bread (awesome), gluten free rolls (disgusting), and reading all labels. I’ve also been playing around with how much bread I can eat before I feel sick and am realizing that it is a very delicate balance between feeling fine and being knocked off my ass. So long sweet pizza. You will be missed.

It took me a really long time to figure this all out. What is most scary is that this is something I know in my heart has been plaguing me for years. It wasn’t until I started peeling away all those unhealthy eating habits that I could get to the source of the issue. The more you strip away the uglier and more painful it gets, but it is absolutely necessary. Again, I cannot stress this enough, listen to your body. If you always feel gross after you eat then simply start eliminating foods to see if you feel better. And don’t let doctors try to sell you the easy answer. Three people told me “oh, it’s just lactose that is making you feel bad.” Errrr, wrong! I can drink all the milk I want and feel excellent. You are the best judge of your body. Just listen carefully and it’ll tell you what to do.

Now Peel Away!

Jocellyn

Tools of the Trade!

Healthy living is a complex balance of proper food choices, exercise, reduced stress, and a relaxed attitude. I find that the last two come naturally after we have found a way to properly nourish and exercise our bodies. In America especially, exercise is extremely popular. But I don’t think we exercise correctly. I am always seeing people at the gym, grunting it out for miles on the treadmill, spending their precious time only to go eat horribly the next day. It’s a vicious cycle. Although I believe exercise is an extremely important part of being a healthy person, I believe most Americans need to get their eating habits majorly in line first. How ironic that the acronym for Standard American Diet is such! This post and the next will lay the foundation for you to build a fertile diet (and I mean diet in how you eat on a regular basis, not diet as in starving yourself!) I call this post: Tools of the trade!

Anything you do in life is not going to be enjoyable without the correct tools that you feel comfortable using. Let’s first start with the knives. You can’t always pop healthy food in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, stir, reheat again for 30 seconds, and let sit until cool; you have to prepare it. Not having anything but steak knives, or having dull knives, will immediately make food prep undesirable because it becomes cumbersome and quite possibly dangerous! Now I’ll be the first to admit that I check on Williams-Sonoma and lust over the Wusthof knife sets—you best believe the 20 piece collection will be prominently featured on my wedding registry—but the average chef can make do without spending 2 grand. I got a cheap knife set at the new goods section of The Goodwill for $15. They are really nothing special, and they get the occasional water marks, but they haven’t let me down.  Check e’m out! You can also go to a store like TJ Maxx and buy a high end chef knife to have around as well. Big brands like Henckels and Wusthof do have entry level sets costing around $100, but the quality is not the same as their top lines, so scope out reviews on various websites before you buy! And to the vegetarians: buy a knife set as well. You might not need all the steak knives, but you will need something burly to chop through root vegetables.

Humana ❤ Humana. Some day...

 

The next important items you’ll need are a variety of Tupperware containers. I notice people tend to use them just for leftovers and they grow dusty in the cabinet. Not anymore! At the beginning of the week, and whenever I have a spare ten minutes, I’ll chop up the fruits and/or veggies I’ve bought and pop them into a container. That way they’re all ready for salads and omelets, so I have no excuse except for sheer laziness to not throw something together quickly.  I also think it looks more visually appealing than a fridge haphazardly packed. I strongly suggest you invest in one or two containers that are specifically made for salad eaters. There will be a spot for you to store a little canister of dressing so you won’t have to lug around extra containers or bottles.  I use the word invest fairly loose since I got some for $1.50 each at The Christmas Tree Shop! Woop, Woop. As we come more concerned with the safety of our plastics, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to purchase a set of glass bowls with Tupperware tops. The glass won’t break down or warp in the microwave, and it doesn’t stain or hold smells like plastics will. Because, really, who hasn’t had a perfectly good container stained by marinara sauce?!

Another novel idea is having variety in your kitchen. Think twins. Buy more than one spatula, one cutting board, one stirring spoon, etc, etc. This partially stems out of pure laziness. You’re rushing out the door, you forget to clean the spatula, and you go to make eggs later and are greeted by a hard mess of yellow. So you pull out your other spatula. Problem solved (as long as you don’t forget to wash that one as well…) Buying different cutting boards can also clear up any potential health risks. My boyfriend and I don’t have a dishwasher in our apartment (or a double sink, which is a whole other story to gripe about), so we try to be as careful as we can to not leave traces of raw chicken, fish, or red meat. One cutting board can be designated for meat, the other veggies, and so on. It also wouldn’t hurt to get a mini cutting board for the times when it is unnecessary to pull out the big guns, say, when you’re cutting up baby portabella shroomies!

Finally, strongly consider buying a blender and food processor. These two appliances, especially a blender, are really helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Blenders make great smoothies and cold soups. Food processors, although not as crucial, are great for creating homemade tomato sauces and decadent raw vegan treats like chocolate mousse and avocado and coconut-milk ice cream! I don’t even want to get started on how I obsessively pine for a Blentec or Vitamix Blender, both are around $400, but a $30 Proctor Silex one will do the trick. The same goes for a food processor.

My mom says she loves us all, but I'm not afraid to pick favorites. I ❤ my blender

 

Take these few essential ideas and begin marching toward your new healthy life. As a college student paying my way, I can attest that you don’t need to buy expensive items and appliances to make kitchen adventures exciting and easier. Check your mail for coupons to your favorite stores, watch prices, read (and read and read) lots of reviews, and check out second hand shops to find what you need for even less. Buying these items yourself will hold you accountable for using them, because no one wants to see $30 collect dust!

Now Go Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn