Saturday, September 29, 2007

Inn of the Seventh Ray

Inn of the Seventh Ray

So, we've been here numerous times throughout the past several years and it's one of our favorite places to go eat out. It's probably J's favorite place with Cilantro Live(Raw food restaurant in San Diego) coming in at a close second. The main reason why we like going is because of the food that is on the menu as well as the ambiance. The restaurant is up in the hills of Topanga Canyon, next to Malibu, off of Pacific Coast Highway. Most of everything on the menu is grown organically and local farms are sourced for product.

The last time we went was in July and there was a new head chef and a few new menu additions/subtractions as well. Even though we didn't have any this time, they also have naturally raised meat . For Holidays they have a special seven course menu with your choice of either vegan or meat. We came here last year for Thanksgiving, since J loved it so much when she went the previous year with her parents.
Here's the entrance to the Inn:



There's J fitting in seamlessly with the beautiful surroundings of the Topanga woodlands.



So, we ordered several appetizers and some a la carte items in order to taste different things we've never had here before since the new chef added some things to the menu.

-Cantaloupe Gazpacho: This is from the raw food menu. It was very light but good.


-Goat Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushroom with Red cabbage marmalade and apricot puree. Great flavors, sweet, savory all in one:


-Canapé of Macadamia "cheese" with hemp flax crackers. This also was from the raw food menu The "cheese" had great texture but not much flavor, the reduction was good:


Risotto with Chantrelle mushrooms and an infused balsamic reduction. This was so good- very creamy:


Hmm...what to get for dessert?



J loved the
Carob Ganache in cinnamon with a powdered almond coconut crust and fig fool. This was also from the raw food menu:

I went for the Florentino ice creams. Lavender Honey Vanilla, Espresso-Espresso and Marscapone in a pine nut filo basket with fresh berries. Sorry, but unfortunately, the filo wasn't gluten-free. You could order any of ice cream without the filo. They were all soo tasty.



Everything was really good, served in a timely matter and service was good. The only thing that would have made it better was if we actually had some rain once in a while so that the creek that's right next to the Inn was flowing. But, hey....that's So Cal for you. Also since J ate from the raw food menu she was starving still and had to eat as soon as she got home.

-W

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Target Goes Organic


Can you believe that I was never that big of a Target fan? People seem to love that store. I had to pick up some cleaning supplies this week and what I found made me more fond of Target.
They had all sorts of Earth friendly cleaning supplies- lots of Seventh Generation stuff and they have organic kitchen towels (as well as bath towels and organic sheets)

Candida diet

Before we found out about W's bad cholesterol I was planning on going on a candida cleansing diet. About 11 years ago- way before I went gluten free I found myself at a holistic doctor in the Bronx, NY, searching for some help with how I was feeling. Dr Ballentine was the best holistic doctor I've ever been to and probably came closest to diagnosing the whole celiac thing. He ran a test for Candida Albicans that turned out positive. (Warning- some regular dr's probably think the whole Candida thing is a load of crap)
Here are some symptoms of Candida
Some of the most frequent candida symptoms are:

abdominal gas
irritable bowel syndrome
headaches
migraines
excessive fatigue
anxiety
vaginitis
rectal itching
inability to think clearly
hyperactivity
mood swings
diarrhea
constipation
hyperactivity
itching
acne
eczema
depression
sinus inflammation
PMS
dizziness
poor memory
persistent cough
earaches
low sex drive
muscle weakness
irritability
learning difficulties
multiple chemical sensitivities
cognitive impairment
fibromyalgia
thrush
athletes foot


That is from this site
I am going to go on the candida diet for about a month and see how it goes. I am doing this because even though I never eat processed sugar I have been having too many natural sugary foods like dried fruits, fruits, maple syrup, honey and simple carbohydrates like rice that are causing an unbalance. I crave sweet things and am very sensitive to sugars, even the natural kind. For most people going on a Candida cleansing diet might be very challenging but since I am already gluten free and processed sugar free it won't be that big of a change.
So in addition to being gluten and dairy free this month I am going to leave out all fruit and vinegars and eat less white rice.
I plan on putting up a menu of the week also.
When I was trying to fin info about Candida SO many add websites came up. Argh but I did find one blog so far with some meal ideas. It's called the Cardboard- diet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Heart healthy, low cholesterol diet

So we just started this blog but already things are going to change a bit around here. I think it will be for the better. In general we eat pretty healthy- we never have fast food, white bread, cookies or cakes. We eat vegetables like kale and broccoli on a regular basis. We eat oatmeal or oat cereal for breakfast. We go for walks everyday.
So it was really surprising to me when we found out last week that W has really high cholesterol and triglycerides. He says that it runs in his family. Well I never knew it was that bad. In general I eat healthier then W, I eat no sugar, gluten, very limited meat and no dairy. Man and then there were those two trips to Ireland last year and all of those full irish breakfasts he took in every morning, with sausage bacon and the works.
When I found out about W's cholesterol I felt bad and I flashed to all the things I would give him, like cheese, bread, chocolates, whole milk yogurt, too much meat and sometimes butter.I was looking more for things that he would enjoy more than what would be healthiest. I think in some ways it is good that we found this out now because it will motivate him to be even healthier and maybe cut out the dairy and most of the meat, which would make me happy. I think it would be easier if we were on the same page as to what we want to eat. Also he is such a good cook that maybe this will get him creating more veggie and dairy free gluten free meals which would be awesome. I think this will be fun. I am excited to make our lives even healthier and feel great.

I know there is always the medicine option for lowering cholesterol, but I'd rather not take that route unless nothing at all seems to help. In general I don't believe in taking medicine if you can avoid it. No matter what, it always has some kind of side affect or adds some other health problem. It's too easy to take medicine for any problem and ignore what your body is telling you. I believe more in getting in touch with your body and figuring what is unbalanced and fixing it by changing diet or habits.

Ok, so the above picture looks way too healthy, I know. But we still enjoyed it, especially because we also had that sweet, buttery tasting pumpkin to eat with it.
I didn't eat the tofu because soy gives me migraines. W loves tofu though, which may or may not be great for lowering his cholesterol. Either way its a healthy food. I put a little sesame oil (less then a teaspoon uncooked) of sesame oil on W's plate because it adds such great flavor.

That green vegetable is called Gai Lan. It's also known as Chinese broccoli. We got it from the Alhambra farmer's market, this Gai lan must be young since they are so skinny. They have all kinds of chinese vegetables at the Alhambra farmer's market. The market is kind of hidden (the parking lot across from Mervyn's) but it's worth searching out. There is also some amazing (but not healthy) grilled parmesan corn, sorry for the temptation! In the future I'll have to take another picture of the Gai lan before its cooked. You can read more about Gai lan here.

To prepare it I just cut off a little of the ends and washed it. I put about two teaspoons of canola oil (one of the best for heart healthy diets) in a pan on medium high heat. Then I added a few chopped garlic cloves. I put in the Gai lan and covered it. I checked it after a few minutes and when it was wilted I took it out. Really easy.
You can find another recipe here at Jaden's Kitchen. Just be sure to substitute wheat free tamari for the oyster sauce.

I also used the short grain japanese brown rice we got from Mitsuwa that I like much better than regular brown rice.

Here's to be as healthy as you want to be!
Cheers
-J

Let the roasting begin!

What is that? It looks kind of spooky or like some strange artwork. Actually it's roasted pumpkin and it is soo delicious.
I am so excited for the fall and roasted veggies. I think it's the best way to eat many vegetables.
Truth be told though it's really not cold enough here in Los Angeles yet to be roasting. Today it's supposed to be near 90! A few days ago it was cooler and I really wanted to roast this pumpkin W got at the farmer's market. This wasn't your regular big round, smooth light orange pumpkin. I am not sure the variety but it was short, kind of bumpy and deep orange. After cutting it in half and scooping out the insides I put some olive oil on the halves and sprinkled it them with some sea salt. Then I put it in the toaster over at 400 degrees for 45-1 hour. So simple and so wonderful!
-J

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tasty gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and soy free cupcakes!!!




Not possible? But it is! I had one tasty cupcake at NYC's
Babycakes bakery last year. It was even tastier just because I knew it had none of my food culprits in it! It's a miracle! I can eat a cupcake out somewhere!
The owner has even been on Martha Stewart's show and featured in several magazines as you can see on her site.
You can also check out all of the ingredients online.
In place of sugar, Babycakes uses one of my sweeteners of choice- agave nectar. This nectar is sweet and light. It is great because of its low glycemic index, it doesn't cause a spike in your blood sugar.


Now I am so happy to have confirmation to the rumors I heard.. Babycakes is coming to Los Angeles!! Yay!
Here is the email I received regarding the L.A opening :

Thank you for contacting BabyCakes NYC! Yes, we are opening a location in
LA, on the corner of Beverly Blvd. and Spaulding. We do not have a set
date yet, but we hope to be open early this winter. For all of the latest
information, please feel free to join our mailing list by visiting our
website, www.babycakesnyc.com.

We look forward to seeing you in LA!

BabyCakes NYC"

View their NYC menu here and get excited! In addition to cupcakes there's cookies and scones and gingerbread and more !
Tell all your gluten free dairy free friends!!

-J

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Recipe: Chicken pasta and marinated zucchini

We had some remaining GF penne and fusilli made from brown rice. When I went to the FM this morning, I thought of the dish and bought a bunch of basil and some zucchinis(or courgettes if you're from NZ or the EU).

I had a massive headache when I woke up this morning and it didn't go away all day, so I had to resort to using a jar of Marinara sauce that I had in case of an emergency. I'll make the fresh sauce from scratch the next time.

This will feed at least 5-6 people. I made all of this so I could take it for lunch with me when I work on the other side of town.

Chicken pasta-

What you'll need:

-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I prefer buying bone in, skin on and doing the prep work myself, but J is afraid of any non-firm texture in the meat that I may leave. Cut into small cubes.

-1 large zucchini, chopped.
-half of an onion, diced.
-3 cloves of garlic, diced.
-1 bunch of basil, chiffonade the basil to use in the sauce as well as a garnish on top of the pasta when serving.
-2 tomatoes, diced.
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste
-(optional) oregano
-(optional) parmesano reggiano
-1 bag GF pasta

Do all of your prep work and get the zucchini, onion, garlic and half of the basil ready before the chicken. Cut your chicken up and then make sure to wash everything very well under hot water to make sure cross-contamination doesn't occur.

Start heating up your pasta water in a large pot and season the water with salt. When the water starts boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Remove from water and drain.

Heat up a large saucepan with med-high heat with the olive oil and put the chicken in. Once the chicken is cooked on one side, flip it over and then add the zucchini, onion and garlic. Wait to put the basil in. Cook ingredients in the pot until the zucchini start to get a bit tender. The onions should be starting to brown a bit at this point. Put your tomatoes in and the liquid from them will be released into the pot, slightly steaming everything inside. If there are any brown bits at this point, scrape them off of the bottom and mix everything around.

Add your sauce. Canned, jarred, homemade(preferred), whatever.

Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add basil after turning off the burner and stir to incorporate. During the simmering, chiffonade more basil to add on top as garnish when serving.

Plate pasta and then add sauce on top. If you have a large bowl that's laying around, put some pasta and sauce in there and incorporate before plating.



Don't combine the pasta with the sauce and refrigerate overnight. Keep them separate. That goes for any kind of pasta. The pasta will absorb the moisture in the sauce and when you eat it again, the pasta will be mush.

Not good.

Marinated zucchini(this is a take on a recipe that was created by Gordon Ramsay):

-1 zucchini
-olive oil
-salt
-baking sheet

With a peeler or mandolin, cut super-thin strips of the zucchini. Get a baking sheet or a large, flat tupperware and drizzle some oil and salt. Lay the strips down. If you have more than what can fit on one layer, repeat seasoning process and add more strips. J actually made a raw lasagna last year that was somewhat similar in the beginning stages. I then rolled the strips up and drizzled some balsamic vinegar on top.

Full version- You can stuff them (prior to rolling) with ricotta, pine nuts, lemon juice.



Serve with the chicken pasta or.....serve flat(not rolled) on top of the chicken pasta. It was very tasty like that as well.

-W

Both of these dishes were so good. The zucchini is even better this way then cooked zucchini, even with out the vinegar. It just has such a nice crisp.
-J

Farmers Market trip part 2

This is another Farmers Market trip, but this particular Farmers Market in Alhambra caters more to the Asian community in Alhambra and in the surrounding cities. You'll find Asian vegetables here that are staples in different Asian cuisines that you won't find anywhere else except for the Farmers Market in Chinatown(not counting the Asian markets).

I also took pictures of some of the other things that are starting to come into season that people might be more accustomed seeing.


Different varieties of grapes and pomegranates.










These enormous things next to the watermelons are called 'Winter melons' or 'dong gua' in Chinese. They are used primarily in soup and I've eaten my share when I was growing up.



These guys below are called 'Bitter melons'. They are really bitter and they aren't cooked with any other vegetable. They are usually paired with pork or they are used in soup.





I couldn't resist the freshly roasted peanuts, so I grabbed a bag on the way out.

-W

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Recipe: Red Beans and Rice

This dish can easily be vegetarian. You can adjust the amount of meat you want and the amount of spice you want. Just a thought about spicy food... If you've never tried any spicy food, you should give it a try. Better yet, you should give it a few tries. I never ate spicy food before I met W.

He loves spicy food so I would try it here and there. I really didn't like it much at first, but then one day after eating a spicy cheese tamale I realized the hotness and the spiciness of it left me feeling invigorated and energized. . I think that is when I started to feel more open to spicy food and started to eat it more. You really do become more used to it the more you have it. Here's how I made red beans and rice

Heat about 2 tbs of oil in a skillet

add
1 chopped onion
1 chopped red pepper
4-5 ribs of celery chopped

saute for a few minutes (about 3)
then add
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped

saute a few more minutes

If you are really into meat you could add some kind of ham here and sausages
we had 4 chicken sausages which I chopped up and put in (as always check the labels to make sure it is gluten free)

add 1 can of drained red beans (kidney beans)

Now add the spices to your liking, just go slowly.

I used:

cajun seasoning, salt, pepper (red or black), lots of cayenne, tabasco, a tiny bit of tamari, two bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. The only thing that makes it spicy is the cayenne and maybe the tabasco. You can just add a tiny bit if you aren't used to it.

Turn temperature down to low and cook it until you like it. I cooked mine about 4o minutes. I've seen recipes that say to cook it up to two hours. I guess the flavors come together more then.

I mashed some of the red beans while I was cooking it to get it more creamy.
I also added probably around 1 cup of broth as it cooked

Serve over hot rice.
I used Jasmine. I haven't had jasmine in a long time. I forgot how good it is! I even like it much better than basmati. It has so much flavor- even without oil or butter.

Perfect for a chilly day.

Enjoy!

-J

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dinner for one


W was working late last night. But I cooked anyways. I made this white wine, tomato, zuchinni and bacon pasta dish. It originated from Epicurious
I just used the gluten free pasta instead, used turkey bacon and my much loved uncheese.
It needed a little something more so I added some salt, pepper and garlic powder.
If you've been looking at this blog a bit you may notice I 'm not big on putting up my own recipes. I'd rather just give the idea and a link. Maybe that will change as I become more experienced. Maybe not. I don't know.

Anyways after I finished cooking I poured some wine and thought to myself how I don't think I've ever cooked a nice meal just for myself. Usually if W wasn't home I'd make some non -meal, like oatmeal, waffles or cereal. But this was nice, it felt luxurious or something.
You should try it sometime. That's all.
-J

Monday, September 17, 2007

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy free Mac and Cheese


I wanted to try a macaroni and cheese recipe using the Dairy free Dragonfly's Dry Uncheese again.
Actually this was so easy I just boiled the Trader Joe's brown rice pasta and in another pot heated up the "cheese" following the instructions.

I had already made gluten free crumbs. Every time I bake gf bread I crumble the unused portion and put it in the freezer. I threw some crumbs in a food processor with some oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper and a little oil. I processed then I took them out and put them in the toaster oven to toast. If you don't have left over bread you could do the same using gluten free waffles ( you can also find at Trader Joes) ( I learned that from the Gluten Free Goddess)

Cooking gluten free pasta may take a little getting used to. . I always put some salt in the water, about a teaspoon. I test it before the time is up and keep testing until it's a little bit al dente. If you cook it too long it can turn into mush. I always rinse it quick in cold water quickly after draining.

When the pasta was ready I put it in the pot with the "cheese" and made sure it was nice and hot. Then I served it up and sprinkled it with the crumbs. I really liked it
W thought it was good also, he just would of liked a sharper taste. When I made the Uncheese mix I didn't have all the seasonings and left some out. The flavor probably would be more intense with all the seasonings. I will definitely make this again.

-J

Recipe: Gluten free, Dairy free pizza


I made pizza the other night. The crust is from a recipe in The book
125 Best Gluten- Free Recipes.

This is the best crust recipe I've found so far. I used white rice flour instead of brown because that is what I had. You can make it either in a bread machine or with a mixer. It makes a very small amount- it fits perfectly into my toaster oven pan.
I've been staying away from dairy so I just sprinkled that bulk dry uncheese mix on it that I made last week. I also put chopped up artichokes, olives and heirloom tomatoes on it. I loved those cans of artichokes from Trader Joes, they are not packed in oil.
The pizza was so good.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Article on Celiac Disease in Newsweek Magazine

In case you haven't heard, there is an article on Celiac disease in the September 17th issue of Newsweek. Read it here.
It has a great explanation of Celiac Disease.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Photos: A morning at the Farmers Market

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. If you're not used to seeing the variety of fruit and vegetables here, it'll probably make your head spin.
































Here's a link to the Farmers Markets in the LA area:

http://farmernet.com/events/cfms

-W

Going to the farmer's market always makes me feel so lucky to live in Los Angeles. There are so many different fruits and vegetables, many of which I have never seen before, and it's is all so abundant and of great quality! Another great thing is that so much of it is organic and most seems to be pesticide and chemical free even if they aren't "officially"organic.
-J
This is from the above website

"Q: Why should I shop at the Farmers' Market?

A: There are many good reasons to shop at farmers' markets! You can purchase fresh produce directly from the farm, eliminating the middleman or the long transportation routes between the farm and the consumer. Farmers' Markets often offer quality produce at cheaper prices because the farmers can set their own prices and don't have to go through other people or grocery stores. You may be able to find specialty items that you wouldn't find at a regular grocery store, such as persimmons, lemon cucumbers, or Asian pears!

When you visit a Farmers' Market, you are helping to build community, because the markets are a hub of activity, providing a space for community members to interact. And finally, shopping at a Farmers' Market allows you to connect to your food much more personally than you can at a larger supermarket. At a Farmers' Market, you buy from people who have a personal commitment to the produce you consume. You become more aware of the growing process when you personally pay a farmer who has grown the tomatoes that he/she is selling you."