Some of you may know that I recently had a pretty extensive oral surgery, the extent to which I won’t go into here, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. I have an incurable disease called periodontal disease. For me the risk factor is genetic, meaning despite my most tenacious and stringent efforts to keep a squeaky clean mouth, harmful and diligent bacteria strike back. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful support system and a fantastic periodontal and dental team.
The reason I mention this here is not to discuss oral hygiene–I’ve covered this before here and here–but because I feel it imperative to chat with you all about how much we take for granted simple actions like chewing, salivating, and digestion (it starts in your mouth). Anticipating this surgery for months, I knew what kind of diet was on the horizon for me, and by pure accident I planned this surgery at an ideal time of the year; summer or a warm weather month. Warm weather months are ideal for beginning extensive oral care because your body isn’t anticipating caloric storage and warmth due to declining temperatures in the environment and your body.
Too often, the ‘liquid diet’ is associated with cleansing, fad dieting, and a quick, temporary fix to what could be a larger underlying problem you may have. I thought I’d turn the direction of this liquid meal conversation in a different direction; maybe it’s just nice to mix it up a bit, give your digestion a rest, and in my case, eat the only thing I could. I’ve talked before about having comfort foods, eating habits while menstruating, and approaching your food choices with mindfulness, but today I want to talk about how a scary dietary change can actually shake your apple tree up just enough that you may find a few ripe, tasty bites you wouldn’t have found or looked for otherwise.
Here are a few recipes to help guide you through your own possible liquid diet:
Liquid Diet Tips:
I’ve healed since the surgery and I’m happy to say that despite the necessity to drink only liquid, I’m continuing to partake in lovely liquid noms. What are some of your favorite recipes for juices, smoothies, teas, and soups? Have any tips or thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments (below) or under the hashtag #kitchenletters and take a look at previous Kitchen Letters. And remember…bite responsibly!
Healthy and Sunny Regards,
My experience with preparing and cooking the assorted dishes for Cinema Cuisine, Italy, was that much more care, devotion, patience and love had to go into each dish. What do I mean? Oftentimes in the kitchen, as much as possible, I try to be efficient and quick in my approach to making a meal. I embrace delicate measures when necessary, but otherwise, I’m multitasking and moving from one dish to the next, incorporating one spice or ingredient after the next. After much sweat and heart, the meal is complete. Shortly after, I either feel one of two things: a strong sense of accomplishment and elation or a mild sense of disappointment and anxiety. These feelings are common because I’m either pleased with my creations or I’m displeased with–by my standards–an unsatisfactory outcome. Either way, I’m able to enjoy my creations with a loved one and, being the critic that I am, dissect the many facets of the meal. With this in mind, for my Italian meal I allowed self and outside critique, but I channeled a level of love into the process of making the dishes that I rarely do. It was one of my most enjoyable cooking experiences yet.
Before the big meal, my love and I knew we needed to begin the process of making the homemade pasta for a few reasons, but mostly because we had never used a pasta maker before. For the winter holiday of 2012, we received an authentic, Italian press (with some extra attachments) and a bamboo wooden drying rack for the pasta. Up until the end of June, we had yet to crack open the box, and this lack of attention to this thoughtful pasta making gift set in motion my idea of choosing Italy as our next film and cuisine exploration.
Below you’ll find many recipes and my FIRST VIDEO that you too could incorporate into a day or days of Italian themed dishes. Most of them are my own creations and ideas, but some are inspired by wonderful chefs I’ve discovered. I hope you enjoy every bite and appreciate the process of making this meal or meals as much as I did. What is more, as the Italians do, enjoy this meal with a group of people and even encourage a potluck. Making all of these delicious recipes and more could turn into an all day affair. For me, there’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying.
A quick note on L’eclisse. Why–before the viewing of this film–I had yet to see an Antonioni film, escapes me, but I can say these dishes couple consummately as their simplicity matches the contemplative and confident manner of this movie. Please, enjoy every bite and every frame.
Keep a look out for our podcast where you’ll hear much more depth into L’eclisse. I’ll post it in a few days! Please let me know what you think of the recipes and the tweaks you made to your own creations. And remember…bite responsibly!
Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee
- 2 ripe medium avocados
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 to 3 tbsp unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk to taste
- 1 to 2 tbsp pure maple syrup to taste
- 1 or 2 drops of liquid stevia to taste (slightly more liberal w/ powder version)
- 6 tbsp raw cacao
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 large apple of your choice (pear)
- fresh coffee beans
- coffee press
- Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
- Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
- Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is reached (note: Add remaining tbsp of milk if mixture is too dry. Additionally if not sweet enough, add in stevia–take care to not add too much initially as excessive amounts could make the pudding/spread too bitter.)
- Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding
For Coffee Press
- Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
- Begin to heat water, don’t boil
- Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
- Pour VERY hot water (not boiling) over beans and immediately cover with coffee press lid, but do NOT press down filtration piece yet; let sit for 3-5 minutes
- Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
This dish could also be made with soft and soaked medjool dates (6 to 8). I happened to not have any on hand. Raisins would also be a nice substitute.
Also, Italians often enjoy their chocolate spread with bread or toast.
For a more dense protein treat, add some pre-soaked raw pecans (you’ll get a flavor closer to Nutella but without the hazlenuts).
Should store, refrigerated for up to two days. After two days I’d smell it/taste it.
Italian Summer Salad
INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions)
- 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
- 1/2 large cucumber (sliced thinly into half moons)
- colorful sweet peppers of your choices (I chose: 1 purple, 1 red, 1 green, 1 banana; thinly sliced rings)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (if you’re watching alkalinity, nix this and add an extra 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
- salt to taste
- course, freshly ground pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp & 1 tsp dried Italian herb mixture (my mixture is: thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram; if you have fresh herbs available, curve the amount; also, the dressing cannot be kept as long)
- After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
- Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
- Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed
- Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
- Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
- Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
- Enjoy salad soon, or lettuce will wilt. If only enjoying in single portions, plate salad portion and drizzle dressing over individually. Secure remaining dressing with lid, store at room temperature
- Please see my previous post for the beet ball recipe HERE.
- Some tweaks: I adjusted the herb mixture, type of mushroom and nut when I made these recently, and unlike my old post, I find that golden beets do bring out a more savory nature to these balls.
Sauteed Summer Squash
- 3 summer squash (yellow & zucchini, mixture of your choosing; thinly sliced into half strips)
- 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil/coconut oil
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
- Once oil is hot–should move like water in the pan–gently place squash slices into skillet and gently toss until every piece is covered with oil
- After beginning to brown, add garlic
- Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^
Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)
Recipe by: Cassie
- 2 tbsp flax (ground)
- 6 tbsp warm water
- 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)
Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!
- I made farfalle and fettuccine noodles (both of which fell apart to some degree). I’ll need to do my own personal tweaking to the recipe for the future. Don’t overcook!
- SALT the water!
- Make sure you have plenty of flour for rolling out and putting dough through pasta press, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess.
- I also recommend keeping a small bowl of cool water nearby wherever your hands are when rolling out the dough. This works much better with moist hands (the dough will not cling to your fingers in such large clumps with a little water).
- Have a partner! Though you could make this pasta alone, I think it would be more fun and easier with a buddy.
- Give yourself plenty of time and space. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you, this recipe is relatively time consuming, especially if you’re in a moderately cramped space.
- Please do not get discouraged if you are in a one butt kitchen or don’t have a pasta press, this is completely doable without both, but it will be more challenging. Respect your space and the amount of time it will take to make.
- Kick back and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll botch the recipe and process and find yourself very frustrated.
- Stick to the instructions in the video. Although I’m an advocate of going with the flow in recipes, skipping or rushing a step could lead to problems.
Walnut Basil Pesto
- 1/2 to 1 cup raw walnuts–depending on how ‘nutty’ you want your pesto (soaked w/ apple cider vinegar for 6 hours, rinsed)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups loosely pressed basil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to your desired consistency)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your desired consistency, taste)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
- Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
- Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
- Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
- Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap
- This will make a sizable amount. Try freezing the remainder in ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap. Later, you have a quick meal as all you’ll have to do is pop a pesto cube onto your dish and heat it up or thaw it out.
Italian Creamy White Sauce w/ Parsley and Grape Tomatoes
Follow directions HERE for dressing then do the following:
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 garlic clove (yes, more garlic)
- 3 tsp dried Italian herb mixture
- water to desired consistency (unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency)
- 6 grape tomatoes (quartered)
- handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (gently minced; lucky me, this go round I had some from my herb garden!)
- Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
- Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
- Blend once more
- Serve mixed into pasta (add in parsley and quartered grape tomatoes), or over your favorite, homemade gluten-free pizza crust (without the added parsley, just the tomatoes)!
- Italians typically serve a plain or ‘pasta blanco’ for ease of digestion as a more minimal dish. I dressed up the idea but created a vegan, high protein/omega-3 cream sauce, free of soy and other additives.
Good Evening Everyone,
Oh, how I’ve missed writing so very much! There have been many new occurrences and happenings lately in my life that have swept me away, but they are all good changes. A good shake-up is something I always welcome because as much as we all like to resist and avoid change, I understand it is necessary and wonderful for all of us.
I thought it best to keep up with the ever-changing mood of my life lately in today’s post, which is all about braces and food. Oddly enough, the mouth–from my observations–is mainly focused on, in the media, as a point of sexual attraction and stimulation, but rarely is the mouth, or the teeth within a mouth, focused on as a utilitarian device for, well, consumption. There are of course numerous ads for teeth cleaning devices and aesthetic improvement tools for ones lips and teeth, but rarely are these ads aimed at why having clean, less crowded teeth is important. When they are aimed at this topic, the scientific tip is second to the exquisite design of the ad and the beautiful person displaying said product. My point? Today I would like to talk about what it means to have those chompers all bracketed up with metals or ceramics and how this act impacts our eating habits which in turn impacts our oral health. Yes, it’s all connected!
Digestion begins in the mouth as a mechanical process wherein we chew our food, break it down into small particles and then our saliva, which contains the enzyme ptyalin, begins the digestion of starch from food into maltose (a sugar/disaccharide). Knowing this process is important because having a device like braces in your mouth could potentially hinder you from chewing properly or at all. The mouth is where all physical consumption begins and that’s why braces can become a true nuisance if you’re not careful.
Here are a few thoughts and recommendations to those of you out there braced up.
I hope this post was helpful and gave some of you a better perspective on the many aspects of the eating world.
Sending all of my braced and non-braced friends out there love and un-gunked teeth thoughts! And remember… bite responsibly (especially with those bracket buddies). :p
Hello gentle readers. Happy Free Comic Book Day!!!
A note that’s ever so off topic, yes, it’s free comic book day and I got some fun loot. It’s always okay to nurture the nerd in you, and what a great way to do it.
Lately, as film is a very important and fun aspect of my life, I’ve made a point to check out at least one new film a week in theaters. What’s on my mind today? The Five Year Engagement. Props to Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller for pulling off one of the few non-vomit worthy romcoms I have seen. Though there were a couple of schmaltzy moments, I feel like this film truly stayed away from a lot of the maxims that are tossed around like a dinner salad in most films of its genre. But that’s not exactly why I am bring up this film, not entirely. What I’m here to reflect on is two things: animals as a metaphor for change and the use of (oh and SPOILER ALERT) a food trailer. Within the film’s most gripping moment, we see Tom (Segel) bevel himself into a Michigan hunter who lives off of his forage and more than peruses becoming one with nature and the animals. Dear fur-lined mugs with hove handles, drinkable honey (Tom become somewhat of a bee keeper), to an entire meal centered around the ‘game’ he’s hunted, Tom has created what could be perceived as both eccentric and weird to grotesque and appalling to some. Now That I’ve created this lovely visual for you all, let me get down to the brass tacks (plz excuse my cliché). My initial and most immediate reaction after viewing these parts of the film was disgust and irritation. ‘Oh, spectacular. Another Hollywood film that blatantly uses non-human animals as just another prop, comedic relief, amusement factor. Exploitation, yuck!’ However, while digesting the film I was brought to the conclusion that though it seems harsh to create a type of metamorphosis for a man by him turning into his nature creatures, this could also be seen as something more natural. I began thinking about how estranged Tom’s character had become by this point in the film, and how we as human beings are more capable of adapting to our surroundings than we truly realize. Our lives are more circumstantial than we realize and we’re going to flourish in some way no matter where we reside. The use of faux animal in TFYE no longer disturbs me. No actual animals were harmed and I have come to understand that I feel Segel and Stoller could be making a bigger commentary about how we abuse our surroundings.
Likewise, these two writers tied in the trendy food trailer as a way for Tom to find another way to exist as a creator of enjoyment by means of food, yet in a much more approachable and feasible way. However it seems meat consumption is oddly belabored, which I wasn’t a fan of, but I suppose you can’t win them all. The point of me mentioning all of this? Connectedness to your food and the environment cannot just stop with a grocery store or market visit. I feel it needs to be a notion that you carry with you. Some may find this to be a very heavy chip to have on your shoulders, but I find it invigorating and enlightening to enrich my life with analytical thinking. Somehow, it makes the asinine more understandable.
See this film, let me know your views. I would like to hear from you.
Have a killer Comic Book Saturday!
And remember…bite responsibly.
Mistakes. We all make them, in fact I can’t imagine a life without them, yet at what point are we not avoiding them like a bad romcom? So much of our life revolves around eating, eating and more eating. I mean, the one major legally obliged break a person gets at any place of work–in America–is a ‘lunch’ break. It’s often touted that breakfast is the most important meal of the day–again a comment of the routine of the day beginning with food, eating! What are most people looking forward to or for some dreading when they go home after a typical 8-5 job? Dinner. Eating, eating, eating! I shall save my food traditions and habits bit for another post and bring it back around to…shudder, mistakes.
Considering our magnetism to making them, shh (whispers) mistakes, how could we possibly avoid making them when it comes to eating and our food habits? More importantly, are they necessarily a bad thing?
It is my understanding–and a nice helping of wisdom from my paternal grandmother–that we have the ability to learn from those situations in life where we place error, but it is our choice to make the change. I think our life in relationship to food very much follows this rule.
Whether you’re following a strict regimented diet or you are the type of person who eats ‘whatever, whenever’, food can weigh on our minds with a heavy cloud of guilt. I’m of the opinion that there are enough stressors in life, food should not be one of them. Eating and sharing sweet nourishment with your loved ones is something we should all cherish and give thanks for, not fret, nitpick and gobble down without a thought. That being said, awareness is not handed to us with a pretty bow wrapped around it and an encouraging note. Awareness is something we have to work toward and strive for with honesty and trust in who we are and our ability to make thoughtful decisions.
This is where things can get a little rough. Sometimes when making those thoughtful, and what one thinks are altruistic choices, there is unsightly, hidden suffering that lingers. That suffering can lend to stressors and self-doubt about one’s food choices and decisions. Would you consider this a mistake?
Maybe I’m still being too ambiguous, yes? Let me give you an example. I’ve been eating quinoa since 2008 at least and lately it’s a staple of my diet. I buy it with thought trying to pick it up in bulk so as to waste less. I buy organic –which I’ve discovered most quinoa is organic even if not labeled as so–to avoid pesticides and chemicals that can easily creep into the chenophod ‘s exterior. I take care in preparing it properly by soaking it first, and I dine in appreciation of its incredible nutritive properties. But like with so many foods, I am discovering a dark side. Yesterday I read this article on the Times website that made me throw my hands into the air and sigh with defeat. My consumption of quinoa is both helping and hurting many people and creatures in a horrendous way. And to add insult to injury it’s being turned into a commodity–quinoa vodka, cola, etc… (See article for more details). Could my acquirement of quinoa from yesterday forward be classified as a mistake? Am I consciously going to be contributing to myriad of negative situations so I can enjoy a bite of complete healthy protein? I’ve been wracking my brain about this situation since yesterday afternoon.
This brings up my next point, what truly is cruelty free, vegan? Can we not, each of us, try to do the best that we can to cause as little harm as possible? Is everything rooted in hedonism?
Sorry for the excessive hypotheticals, but there are a lot of questions to be answered. Do I have all the answers? No. I’m stuck. The truth is, living in American society, in a city nonetheless, it’s next to impossible to live a life where your purchases and choices won’t potentially harm some being.
Simply put, do the best that you can. I don’t mean try to do the best you can, but really make the consorted effort to choose a life of connectedness and awareness. Then, you can’t look back on your life’s resolutions wondering what you could have done better. Personally, I don’t think anyone wears regret well, I say avoid it. Own the choices you make, move forward and understand you will make mistakes. Life will feel much simpler knowing you aren’t perfect.
And remember…bite as responsibly as you possibly can.
We as human beings do not feel SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS—as the late Robert B. Sherman said and his brother Richard M. Sherman—100% of the time. Rather our body’s many functioning properties are more like that of a statistical sine wave, but maybe with frequency increasing, so those waves occur more and more frequently until we cannot remember the last time we felt ‘normal’. In fact for many, ‘normal’ is not as ‘normal’ does—to play off of the ever-popular Forest Gump. What is recognized as a normal state-of-being for many people has become so mangled and botched that societies’ vision has acquired cataracts, and we are forced to surgically diminish the cloudy covering over our collective eyes. Yes, our bodies are like fantastic warm-blooded machines and yes we’re capable of feeling better than we do! REALLY!
An associate said something to me this morning that inspired me to write today’s post. But first, a modicum of back-story is in order. The typical office environment has the tendency to lend itself to rolling spouts of sickness. Sickness of all types, but sickness nonetheless. My office is no exception, and thus I will continue with the commentary. The aforementioned individual stated—she has a cold presently—(and I paraphrase) that “it’s astounding that humans have discovered how to split the most itsy-bitsy (does that even cover it?) particle called an atom, yet we’ve yet to truly discover a ‘cure’ to the common cold,” and then my mind was racing. I started to envision what she meant. I think maybe I had an Ally McBeal moment or something similar because I could see the germs attacking people at Starship Troopers size proportions, and these very stoic calm scientists and engineers huddled to indeed split the atom…I digress.
When I began to think of any person—with all of our many resources—resigning her or himself to the notion that a cold could overtake their life, it bugged me. Not that this is what my coworker was doing, but many do. The reason there is no direct ‘cure’ is because we have the power to avoid getting a cold a great majority of the time. Then I started to realize that I too feel a little crummy sometimes, perhaps not in relation to an ‘illness’ per-say, but we all become downtrodden occasionally for an assortment of reasons. Next I thought, if all of the above is true, then why add to the misery by stuffing our bodies full of toxic to semi-toxic and gangly foods and over-the-counter drugs?!
Answer: We do not!
Thereby, I have decided to use what could be taken as a negative chain of thoughts and turn them positive. I have brewd up a list of some happy foods, that can make you feel great, potentially cleanse and even enable a dash of indulgence because let’s be straight, when we’re feeling blue, we all need a little sugar in our bowls…both types :p —thank you Nina Simone.
I would like to call this list (note I often create new words/names) my…
-If you’re feeling a sweet tooth coming on, try adding a bit of Stevia, it’s herbal and for those watching their
waistline it’s calorie free.
-Also, I like to drink lemon water first thing in the morning to boost my body’s happy cleansing properties.
-If you are feeling especially yucktastic, try peeling about an inch or so of fresh ginger root and cutting it into
chunks add a few sprinkles of cayenne and stevia to sweeten.
-Choose gf to minimize clogging your body’s intestines with sticky gluten paste.
-The coconut oil works wonders for reducing stress, and boosting our thyroid along with many other wonderful
benefits all thanks to lauric acid.
-If making them yourself is not an option, though I highly recommend trying Hail Merry treats.
-You have probably heard it before, but it never hurts to hear it again, chocolate contains magnificent party
down antioxidants that are ever-present to help rescue our body from the oxidizing invaders that age us and
make us feel lumpy. Yep, lumpy—I’m not talking Lumpy Princess either. The part most forget is the cacao
must be raw in order to reap its full benefits; again, too many wonderful aspects of this product to list them all.
-For those who question protein in a vegetable-based diet, question no more.
-Quinoa is in fact a complete protein all on its own.
-Avocado is a lustrous fat that will plump your skin and make your hair sheen.
-Garlic loves fighting bacteria and charges your immunal functions. Delicious too!
-If you’re native to TX, try raw pecan butter.
-Celery acts as a diuretic (water retention issues anyone?) and adds that crunch you crave.
-Try adding cayenne for the extra immune body charge
-Oxygen and alkalizing!
All right, of course this list is not exhaustive, but it’s a beginning for everyone, and I hope it is helpful and doable. I will post recipes and explanations soon.
Keep a few more things in mind:
I hope today’s post helps everyone, and you’re able to kick that ick!
And remember…bite responsibly.
Healthy & Happy Regards,