Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fried zucchini, gluten free

Recently I started doing a 21 day detox cleanse.  Having the CSA and access to lots of organic veggies definitely makes it easier.  And the timing was great - my father & step mother are on vacation for a week so I got their share last week and will again this week - TONS of organic veggies.

I don't want to get too into detail about the cleanse as it is a program that was purchased and there's probably copy-write infringement issues, but I can easily say its essentially an elimination diet with a focus on eating 'clean' foods; which is to say non-processed, organic, low allergen foods.

The list of what not to eat is pretty long, but I actually was unfazed by much of it - I don't eat a lot of processed foods, or packaged items, or sweeteners or sweetened things, or many of the other items listed.  Going wheat/gluten free is somewhat challenging but not terrible - I eat a relatively low gluten diet normally.  And I'd actually been cutting back on caffeine on my own for the last few months.  Going alcohol free for 3 weeks is a slight annoyance, only in that its a restriction, but in reality I go 3 week stretches without a drink all the time out of mere circumstance.  No nightshades could be a challenge, but luckily they aren't in season yet, so even though they are staples in my diet, lately not so much anyway.  But dairy?  Dairy free?  That one is hard.  I eat and cook with dairy daily; I love cheese!  And butter!  And milk!  Cheese in salads, and on sandwiches, and eggs, and with veggies, and on pasta. My usual lunch protein comes at least in part via a daily yogurt.  No dairy is my challenge.

But I committed to this and dang it I'm going to do it.

Dinner day 1 was actually rather regular.  Chicken breast, with a healthy sprinkling of curry powder, pan fried in coconut oil, served with brown rice and sauteed (in coconut oil, not my usual olive oil-butter (dairy!) blend) mixed veggies (chard, zucchini & onion).  Tasty, simple and typical.  And oh man cooking in coconut oil has the best smell!

Dinner day 2 dinner was, well less inspired for me.  I had some ground bison (a great choice of meats as US law required bison never be given antibiotics or hormones) which I cooked up with some kidney beans and garlic, some fresh thyme and a drop of oil (bison is very lean).  I served my fiance his on a roll with a few slices of delicious forbidden pepper jack cheese.  Mine I had over brown rice.  It was still delicious though, and probably if I hadn't had the pepper jack in the house I wouldn't have missed it so terribly.

Dinner day 3 was both lazy and experimental, and actually quite awesome.  Fried zucchini.  I sliced up a zuc and prepared two bowls - one with beaten egg and one with a blend of flax meal, chia seeds, garlic powder and salt.  I heated up some more of the delectable smelling coconut oil in a large pan and dunked my zucchini medallions in to egg, then my dry mix (both sides) and then into the pan.  They took about 7 minutes to cook, flipping mid-way through.  I transferred them onto a paper towel and then onto a plate for munching.  

They had a nice nutty flavor and the chia seeds added a bit of crunch but not in an unpleasant way.  I ate them as is, with no dipping sauce or adornments as I couldn't think of any non-processed, nightshade or dairy sauces to make.  The chia seeds and flax meal added protein as well as adding to the fiber, and overall it was like having a decadent appetizer for dinner... minus a chipotle aioli dipping sauce (chipotles are alas, nighshades).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Herbed quinoa & zucchini

The early warm weather and ample rains this spring have led to another bounty summer at my CSA.  Plus this year for the first time I signed up for an herb share. Luckily this year also marks my household having 2 people instead of one – an extra mouth to feed is a good thing when swimming in produce!

But also, sadly this year saw the closing of my beloved local grocery store, Keyfood.  Sure I still have H-Mart a few blocks away or giant supermarkets Pathmark and Waldbaums a bit further, but none have the convenience or proximity Keyfood had.  Or the awesome staff I’d gotten to know over the 10 years I’ve lived in the ‘hood.

No grocery store means living off of stores of food and less last minute quick trips for fresh protein sources.  That’s ok, I have quinoa to last several meals; I stocked up on non-perishables during the 25% off sales during Keyfood’s last days.  It was bittersweet savings, but that didn’t stop me.

My herb share brought me two herbs I’d never had before, SummerySavory and Lemon Thyme.  I'd of course had regular thyme before though, and this wasn't too different, except the thyme had flowered, which made it lovely and aromatic… but geez what a hassle to pull the tiny little leaves off without getting any flowers.  The summer savory at least was easy – it looked and worked much like rosemary, although it certainly had its own distinctive flavor – almost sharp.

I set some quinoa going in the rice cooker in vegetable broth.  While it cooked I pulled herb leaves and put them in the food processor along with a handful of cilantro left from the week before.  I processed the herbs, along with some fresh cracked black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and about 2 ounces of munster cheese.  On the other side of the kitchen I sliced up zucchini and cipollini onions (bulb and greens), and melted some butter in a large pan with olive oil.  I sautĂ©ed my zucchini and onion, with some Kosher salt and it was done just about the same time as my quinoa.  I folded the herb-cheese mixture into the grains, and there you go, dinner. 

I wondered a bit if my fiancĂ© would mind a vegetarian meal, but decided to not make mention of it.  He didn’t either and just said it tasted great.