September – Musings

September – Musings

I found this in my draft folder, meant to send it out last month. So, here it is a little late.

Food posts are coming, not to worry, I haven’t changed the format of this blog. Rather I thought you might enjoy a change. We’ve had a few days of warm weather, in the 80’s F, unusual for this late in September. But this heat does not feel like summer heat. Cool is there as an undertone, very subtle, almost at the edge of consciousness.

I wrote this several years ago after walking my dog through a long alleyway between the houses in our Oakland neighborhood. Plot B is an unofficial off-leash dog path, a bower of trees about 4 blocks long. Dogs love it because there are squirrels to chase, fallen trees to jump over, and usually another dog to greet at some point along the trail. Unless you live in the neighborhood, plot B is a secret. To find it you must walk a narrow path between houses. Originally called plot B, for the past few years it has been called Oak Park. I still call it plot B, and that is how my dog knows it.

Plot B

Summer

Late afternoon

Sunlight slanting through dusty air

 

Tall trees on either side

Oak, bay, redwood, plum and fig

Climbing roses

Their branches meet above the trail

A green tunnel

And secret path

 

Birds call

Announcing riches

Of ripe blackberries in sunlit patches

Fallen plums

Wealth of weeds

Forgotten place

 

I miss your hand in mine

Together quiet observers

In this hidden wild place

Watching summer end

And fall begin

 

When I wrote it I was thinking about walking our old dog with my child, now grown. It was one of our favorite places to go in the late afternoon.

Please be kind, a poet I am not.

Happy change of seasons, no matter what your hemisphere.

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Through the gate at the back of the property

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My current equivalent to Plot B

 

 

February – Fast Metabolism Week 4, phase 3

February – Fast Metabolism Week 4, phase 3

Here we are, in the last few days of the four week cycle. I admit that I veered off the program last night. We sold our house in Oakland this week and friends wanted to celebrate with us, I had some wonderful champagne (and then, with resolve weakened, some chocolate). Under the circumstances I don’t think it was a horrible mistake, I am almost at my goal weight. My thought is to go another week to make up for the cheats, probably not exactly at the end but after a week’s break.

I will continue to post recipes that are appropriate to different phases of the diet, and link them to the appropriate phase. My hope is to make it easier for anyone who follows to find food that is easy, delicious and appropriate. Search through my categories for Fast Metabolism to find the full listing of the various weeks, menus, and recipes. Then follow the links to find the recipes and menu ideas.

Phase 3 is a treat after the restricted high protein days of phase 2.

Breakfast – sprouted wheat toast with avocado, red onion, smoked salmon and cucumber.

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Breakfast – phase 3

Snack – 1/4 cup walnuts

Lunch – thinly sliced turkey breast with a smear of hummus, then wrapped around a cucumber spear. Blueberries.

Snack – 1/4 cup almonds

Dinner – roast chicken with brown rice and roasted vegetablesIMG_7115 2

Monday night we will de-brief and see how everyone did. Look for that post with my summary and comments.

Meanwhile, we consider this diet a great success. We all lost weight. But even better, we all have a new appreciation and approach to food. Although it seems complicated, the diet was easy to follow. And, we didn’t die of boredom.

January – Phase 3, Fast Metabolism

January – Phase 3, Fast Metabolism

This is the last day of week 3, only one more week to go. I missed posting about phase 2 this week. I find phase 2 the most challenging, and frankly boring. Eating just lean protein and greens is “ho hum”. Phase 3 food seems positively decadent after phase 2, allowing moderate amounts of  “healthy” fats such as avocado, nut butter, hummus,  and coconut milk.

In phase 2, I frankly don’t care much about food. I eat because I have to, not because I am interested in what is on my plate. In fact, one day last week I forgot to eat entirely. Not good actually according to the diet. But I was super busy and occupied, I forgot to take food with me, and eating never occurred to me. That is until it got to be dinner time and I was at a friend’s house. By then I was hungry, really hungry. I did ‘cheat’ and have some phase 3 salmon and raw almonds because that was what was there. Really, I had to eat something!

My new scale is supposed to arrive today. Because my old one was rusted and corroded, it was a victim of our downsizing. After my friend (who has lost over 9 pounds in three weeks and feels amazing) raved about her new digital scale, I broke down and ordered one from Amazon.

I am not going to be able to tell you how much weight I have lost because I didn’t weigh myself at the beginning. I will tell you that my clothes are loose and my stomach is flatter. For me the weight loss was secondary to the overall reset. It’s a reset of habits, of taste buds, and overall approach to food. After three weeks I can tell you that I consider that part of the diet a success, the next week will only cement it. My friends who joined me on this adventure say the same thing.

So, what does my last day in phase 3 for this week look like?

Breakfast – fresh raspberries, sprouted wheat toast with almond butter

Snack – raw almonds

Lunch – Buffalo Chicken Chowder from Dishing Up the Dirt, (modified by using coconut oil instead of ghee and a sweet potato instead of russet); with celery sticks on the side and a tangerine. You can follow the link to the recipe, I found it had good flavor but the sweet potato didn’t thicken the chowder the way a russet would have. IMG_7093

Much to my surprise, on doing some research on the wild wide web, I came across another recipe which is very close to how I modified it. They used rice flour to thicken it a little, a good idea. I may like this one better from the blog Easy and Delish, Buffalo Chicken Chowder. I will try it this week and let you know. Changing the chicken breast to thighs would add more flavor (unless cooked sous vide I find chicken breasts too dry). The Frank’s Hot Sauce in the Dishing Up the Dirt recipe was good, keep that if you like spicy things.

My husband wanted something a little more substantial and added a can of pinto beans and some baby spinach. That is also a good option but it is coming closer to something else (chili?) and further away from Buffalo Chicken. IMG_7095

Look for a post, later in the week. Sometime when I am closer to phase 3 again, I will combine the two into something I a bit more to my own taste.

Snack – raw walnuts

DinnerSpicy Lamb Soup-Stew with Garbanzos 

Follow the link if you would like the recipe.

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January – Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

January – Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

My family is very fond of what I call soup/stew. It’s not really a stew, more like a very substantial soup. it’s a soup that is a full meal, and it perfectly describes this Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash. You could serve it with a salad or throw in some baby spinach to wilt just before serving. Ta Da greens., nothing more needed.

This is a phase 3 dinner, 2 cups equal one serving.

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Lamb, Winter Squash and Chickpea Soup/Stew

Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

4 servings – 8 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin or cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamon, or cardamon seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander or coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper plus more to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more as needed for taste
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons grape seed oil
  • 1 medium red onion, half diced and half sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large delicata squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 3/4 inch cubes; or other winter squash – about 4 cups
  • 1 can of garbanzo (chickpea) beans drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, low sodium
  • optional – handful of golden raisins or roughly chopped dried apricots
  • For garnish – chopped cilantro, flat leaf parsley, mint, or chives…or combination of all

Directions:

  1. Combine the cumin, cardamon and coriander in a small heavy skillet and toast until slightly brown. This will happen quickly if using ground spices. Watch carefully. If whole spices, cool and grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. IMG_7099
  2. Heat the grape seed oil in a large skillet or pot on medium heat, add the ground lamb and brown (drain if there is a lot of fat and return to the skillet or pot).
  3. Add the onion, garlic, and spices. Stir until blended and smelling aromatic, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the bell pepper, squash, garbanzo beans and stock.
  5. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and flavors blended. Add the optional dried fruit, taste for salt, and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  6. If not on the Fast Metabolism Diet, I would recommend the optional dried fruit.

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    Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

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Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

This recipe is adapted and modified from one in the NY Times.

January – Winter Coconut Curry

January – Winter Coconut Curry

This simple curry dish is perfect for cold winter evenings, and quick enough for a mid-week dinner. Add chickpeas for a vegetarian version and leave out the chicken. I used leftover roast turkey breast and it was delicious.

Winter Vegetable Coconut Curry

Winter Vegetable Coconut Curry

Serves 3 – 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 – 3 tsp. Thai red curry paste (depending on how how you like your curry)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 sweet potato, about 1/2 lb. (250 g), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) chunks
  • 1 celery root, about 1/2 lb. (250 g), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) chunks
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk – do not use lite coconut milk
  • 1 delicata squash (or other winter squash), about 1/2 lb. (250 g), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) chunks
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 limes
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 chopped scallions, optional

Directions

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tamari, sweet potato and celery root and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, pour in the coconut milk and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the delicata squash plus the cubed chicken breast and cook until the vegetables are just tender but not falling apart, another 10 to 15 minutes. If using leftover turkey, add at the last minute just to warm through.

2. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest from the limes, then cut each lime into wedges. Stir the lime zest into the vegetables.

3. Serve the vegetables immediately, sprinkled with the cilantro and scallions, topped with the lime wedges.

Serve with brown rice, brown rice noodles or just by itself…delicious, easy and satisfying.

This can be a phase 3 dinner.

Garlic, ginger, sweet potato (or yam), celery root, delicata squash

Are you familiar with celery root, sometimes called celeriac? It has a mild celery taste and is often pureed and mixed with mashed potatoes for a wonderful side dish in French cooking.

Celery Root or Celeriac

Sweet Potato and Celery Root with Garlic, Ginger, and Curry Paste

Winter Vegetable Coconut Curry

This recipe is adapted from on published on-line by Williams Sonoma.