Monthly Archives: November 2008

On Vacation (sort of)

New CameraHi readers! Great new – my dad is in London!

Not only that, but Tim got me a sweet Christmas present to enjoy during my dad’s visit (and beyond) – a Panasonic Lumix Lx3!

I’m going to be busy taking loads of pictures with my dad this week – pictures of my dad, pictures of the sites, and of course, pictures of food! But while I’m busy, my posts may be a bit erratic. Hang in there… it’s for a good cause!

Dad in London - Fresh off the Plane

Food Diary: A Freezer Full of Dal

Dal with Roasted CauliflowerToday’s food tip is something most of you have probably heard before, but it is the food tip that makes most of my Indian feasts possible.

Food Tip #12: Cook in bulk and store leftovers in the freezer.


My favorite food to keep on hand in the freezer is lentil dal. So to make up for this somewhat boring food tip, here is the recipe for lentil dal that made Thursday’s meal possible, adapted from The Essential Madhur Jaffrey. It looks like a long list of ingredients, but it’s actually very easy, as most of the ingredients just get thrown into the same pot as the dal.



Red Lentil Dal with Tomato and Greens



Serves 4.


285g (10 oz) red lentils
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch square piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
6 stalks kale, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced into large chunks
3 Tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
a pinch of ground asafetida
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
lemon or lime wedges (optional)




Put dal in a large pot, add 1.1 liters of water and bring to a boil. Remove the froth that collects at the top. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Lower heat and simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes, until dal is cooked and soupy. Add salt, lemon juice, greens and tomato. Continue to simmer, letting the greens cook thoroughly.



While the greens cook, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the asafetida and cumin seeds. As son as the cumin seeds darken, pour the oil and spices over the dal and serve, garnished with lemon or lime wedges.






Thursday Food Diary




  • Morning Tea: Lemon and Honey

  • Breakfast: Bircher Muesli with Rooibos Tea.

  • Lunch: Scrambled eggs on toast.

  • Dinner: Lentil dal with roasted cauliflower.



Bircher Muesli



Scrambled Eggs on Toast



Dal with Roasted Cauliflower

Food Diary: Surviving the Silly Season

Pint of Black Sheep AleI am really not good at the whole late night thing. But as Christmas approaches, more opportunities than ever are cropping up to stay up past my bedtime. Add to that my trip home to Chicago in a little over a week, and my social calendar has been wonderfully full of last chances to get together with friends. As a result, I seem to be spending a lot of time at the pub.

Such was the case last night when I found myself at a really neat old pub in Covent Garden called The Harp. The Harp is the kind of small, cozy, hidden-down-an-alleyway pub that many people think of when they think “London pub”. The walls were covered in old paintings and beer coasters and they had about six different ales on tap.

I knew that this would be the kind of evening that necessitated at least one, if not two pints. Remembering the ill effects of last Monday’s single Hoegaarden, I decided to try something new.

Food Tip #11: Avoid a Hangover with Lower Alcohol Beer

That’s right, not all beers have the same alcohol content. My trusty Hoegaarden is 5% alcohol by volume (abv). At the Harp, I decided to go for a Black Sheep Ale, only 3.8% abv. It may seem like a small difference, but the Black Sheep affects me far less than a Hoegaarden. This is especially good when I’ve parked my bike at the tube station and need to safely ride home at the end of an evening!

Where Pints Are PulledSo how strong are other beers? Well, that depends. It’s a common misnomer that darker beers are more alcoholic than lighter beers, but this isn’t true. For example, Guinness is 4.1% abv while Budweiser is 4.7% abv. In fact, Guinness is generally a good choice if you’re a lightweight like me but still want to drink pints with the big boys.

Realbeer.com has a list of beers and their alcohol percentage. Check it out to find out how much alcohol is in your favorite beer.

One other thing. I personally wouldn’t opt for a particular beer just because it’s lower alcohol. I firmly believe that beer is good and meant to be enjoyed, and if that can be done with less alcohol, then bonus! It just so happens that Guinness and Black Sheep are excellent beers. Heineken Light, however, at just 3.5% abv, is hardly worth the sacrifice.

More on beer from the blogosphere:




Wednesday Food Diary




  • Morning Tea: Lemon and Honey

  • Breakfast: Bircher Muesli with Rooibos Tea.

  • Cycle. ~3mi to and from physio appointment. The doc gave me a new “butt blaster” workout to do every day. I wonder if I will get a bubble butt.

  • Swim. 30 minutes

  • Lunch: Leftover white bean soup with polenta and salad. Delicious.

  • Snack: Tea and toast. Had a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana, a few nuts and a cup of tea before going out to the pub (just to ensure that I would not become instantly drunk after a few sips of beer).

  • Pint @ The Harp. Meetup with former coworkers. Had two tasty pints of Black Sheep Ale.

  • Dinner at New Fook Lam Moon. After the pub, we went for dinner in Chinatown. The food was splendid. I never cared for chow mein noodles but these rocked my world. I also had some kind of veggie and tofu stir fry, seaweed, and fried rice. All delicious!



Bircher Muesli with Greek Yogurt and Black Tea



Salad



White Bean Soup with Polenta and Rocket



Tea and Toast with Banana and Mixed Nuts



Dinner at New Fook Lam Moon



Pint of Black Sheep Ale

Food Diary: The Poached Egg Perk-Me-Up

Poached Egg on Toasted No Knead BreadAfter Monday’s brief foray into savory breakfasts, Tuesday brought me back to Bircher. It was delicious, and the day off only made me love it more.

That’s not to say I don’t love poached eggs and polenta any less. In fact, my breakfast experiment really had me hankering for one of my favorite foods on earth: poached eggs on toasted whole wheat no knead bread.

Tip #10: Poached eggs are a tasty, nutritious way to
perk up grains and greens.


Poached Egg on SpinachPoached eggs on toast is the pretty classic egg/grain combo. But you can also add poached eggs to spinach, salads, and as we saw yesterday, polenta, for a rich, delicious protein power boost. You also get a nice, well-rounded meal that’s great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


Tuesday Food Diary



Note how lame I was on Tuesday: no yoga, caffeinated tea and a Coke Zero. My one pint on Monday evening was one pint too many. Ugh, the frustration of being a lightweight!


  • Breakfast: Bircher muesli with black tea. Plus a few ibuprofen!

  • Snack: Coke Zero. Oh how the mighty fall.

  • Lunch: Poached eggs on toast with steamed rainbow chard and grilled tomato. This cheered me up.

  • Dinner: Tomato and white bean soup with broccoli. This soup was SO good. Ingredients as follows: ~2 cups cooked cannelini beans, 1 tin chopped tomato, 1 liter veggie stock, 1 onion, 3 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 3 cloves of garlic, a bit of chard, a head of broccoli, a handful of fresh basil and parsley, and a parmesan rind (the magic ingredient!).





Bircher Muesli with Greek Yogurt



Poached Egg on Toast with Grilled Tomatoes and Rainbow Chard



Tomato and White Bean Soup with Broccoli

Food Diary: Sweet and Savory Breakfast Polenta

Poached Egg with PolentaBrace yourselves, people: I broke a major habit on Monday. In a strange turn of events, I did not have Bircher muesli for breakfast.

Instead, I decided to embark on an experiment. Enter: the savory breakfast.

I am not the first to foray into this territory. Savory breakfasts are popular in many cultures, such as Japan, where miso soup is a popular breakfast item, or China, where porridge-like congee is typically eaten with meat, vegetables and herbs. And let’s not forget the ever popular omelets, hash browns, and full english breakfasts.

Still, when it comes to breakfast at home, sweets seem to dominate the kitch table: sugar-frosted cereal, honey-sweetened oatmeal, syrupy waffles, sweetened breakfast bars, and my fruity Bircher muesli.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Bircher muesli. But I wonder – is it really a good idea to eat the same food day after day? According to Dr. Andrew Weil, eating the same foods won’t affect you adversely, but “it may be possible to develop intolerances to foods you eat often – you may find you are less able to digest them than you used to be or that you react badly to some of them.”

I also wonder if it’s necessarily good to start the day with such a carbo-loaded meal. Last September, a study published in the British Medical Journal showed that people who ate high-quality protein foods for breakfast had a greater sense of sustained fullness throughout the day compared to when more protein was eaten at lunch or dinner.

Food intolerances and fullness aside, the bottom line is that variety is the spice of life, so I decided to give something new a try. I took a little inspiration from Heidi’s breakfast polenta and enjoyed a simple breakfast of poached egg on polenta porridge.

Food Tip #9: Polenta is great alternative to oats for breakfast.


This is the first time I had polenta as a breakfast porridge and it did very well, both in ease of cooking and in taste and texture. It reminds me of grits, and I suspect that cheese would go down a treat with this meal. The beautiful thing about polenta porridge is that it’s totally open to variation. As Heidi suggests, you can add fruit, maple syrup, cream or, in my case, a poached egg and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

But was this savory breakfast better than Bircher muesli? Well, that depends.

One of the things I love about Bircher muesli is its variety of flavors and textures. One bite might be of crisp apple, the next, a crunchy almond, and after that, a hazelnut with a bit of apricot. So many taste sensations! With the egg and polenta, things got a bit “samey” after a while. In the future, I would definitely add some variety to the mix, such as sundried tomato, chopped chives or steamed spinach.

My other issue with this breakfast is that it didn’t really feel like breakfast. I think it would be terrific for lunch, but at the end of the meal I found myself missing my muesli. I wonder if the whole savory breakfast thing is simply a matter of taste adaptation. Maybe I just need practice.

Bonus Recipe: For those of you who do like your breakfasts sweet and in bar form, Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini just posted an enticing recipe for Wholesome Banana Chocolate Breakfast Bars. They are vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free and sound absolutely delicious.


Monday Food Diary




  • Lemon and honey tea

  • Yoga

  • Breakfast: Poached egg on polenta porridge with black tea.

  • Snack: Sliver of no knead bread with peanut butter, apple and peppermint tea. I baked a loaf of no knead bread and couldn’t resist a taste test.

  • Lunch: Leftovers. Scrambled tofu, tofu steak, savoy cabbage thoran, rocket, slice of no knead bread. Predictably, it was awesome.

  • Walk around the park

  • Beer: Pint at The Prince. Caught up with Tim and Henry for a pint before dinner. Very risque for a Monday night but that’s London for you.

  • Dinner: Big salad with balsamic vinaigrette and refried pinto beans. Did the Greek yogurt thing on the pinto beans again, with a pinch of smoked paprika. SO good. Also had a couple corn chips and a grapefruit (not shown).



Poached Egg with Polenta



No Knead Bread: Precious First Slice



Tea and an apple



Leftover Tofu with Cabbage, Rocket and No Knead Bread



Backlit Hoegaarden



Salad and Refried Pinto Beans with Greek Yogurt

Exercise Your Inner Rebel

Parlor Pizza SignI’m really excited about today’s guest post! It comes from Julie Riddle of Random Meanderings. I got in touch with Julie because I love her perspective, not just on health and fitness, but on all of life’s “random meanderings”. Julie is all about “moseying, observing, pondering… and finding little gems in the oddest ordinary places.” Here’s a BIG gem from Julie, and just in time, too – the silly season is upon us! Now’s the perfect time to rebel…

A night out with friends at the newest hot spot in town.

Your favorite all-out holiday feast.

Triple-layer fudge cake from an office party.


Just when you’ve decided to start eating more wisely (for whichever of the 110 reasons why we all should), your willpower is seriously being tested every time you turn around.

Yikes!

You may need an extra dose of resolve to join in the convivial fun. A few tricks under your plate, so to speak, could help. These tactics I use are as well-worn as your favorite oh-so-comfy bathrobe.


Adopt a different mindset



You’re not “on a diet” or “avoiding” or “eliminating” anything. What you are doing is learning to like doing things differently. Secretly, in your heart of hearts, didn’t you ever wonder what it’d feel like to be a rebel? Here’s your chance. Envision it: You’re an explorer, wandering off into new corners of your local grocery, experimenting with different foods, new tastes and textures. You’re finding and trying new things that make you say “Yum!” And you enjoy it so much that all the “old” food is just so, well, ordinary.


It’s time



Half-Clock and West India QuayIf it’s your habit to have lunch out with the crowd, and you always eat too much or there aren’t enough healthy options, remind yourself you want to try something new. Look at the time off for lunch as “time,” not “lunch.” See it as a gift of a few precious moments to yourself (who doesn’t need more time alone?), and then take your own mini-meal to the nearest park bench and fresh air. Apples and grapefruit are surprisingly filling choices. With these, you can easily just sit and enjoy watching the people and birds and goings-on. Enjoy your free time. Enjoy your fruit. Enjoy the fruits of your free time!


Stimulate your senses



Become very tactile. If you don’t normally roll down the windows as you drive, do so. (Bear with me on this one.) Stick your hand out the window and feel the wind. Walk barefoot in the grass. If you drive a regular route to work, start taking different ways. Shake things up a bit; do everything slightly differently. The more you start adding spice to little everyday things, the easier it is to approach bigger things differently—like your eating habits. When you begin to see yourself as more adventuresome, then change becomes fun.


See the inherent beauty



Blood OrangeNo matter the style, whether simple and unadorned or rich and elaborate, dive into the spirit of the individual dish. Revel in the freshness, juiciness, the crunch; feel yourself enjoying it all. Imagine, even, that you plucked the item out of the field or orchard yourself. That puts a very organic and personal spin on things. It gives you ownership. And what’s yours, you’re more likely to relish. If you relish, it, that means you’re taking your time to enjoy it. If you’re savoring, then you’re eating more slowly. See how wonderfully everything ties together, one thing leading to the next?


Notice the way you feel



You might feel a little hollow, in a good way, a little more open, receptive, flexible, limber, energetic… You surely feel some pride of accomplishment, of empowerment. Run with it! Celebrate the changes! This will help you continue wanting those results.


Indulge!



Blackberry and Lemon TartBut do it with class and flair. Remember that “dangerous” treats must be taken in tiny doses. Instead of the three-scoop bowl of ice cream for dessert, complete with topping and sprinkles (yes, I used to do that!), teach yourself to enjoy a bare sliver of unadorned ice cream. Serve it in a tiny dish, use a tiny spoon, and go slow. Close your eyes and savor each teensy taste. Ah! You’ll be amazed how much you enjoy this! (It even works for that office birthday cake. Your colleagues will just think this is your uniquely expressive way of complimenting the baker!)


Learn to become your own best friend



Realize there are three of you involved in this endeavor to improve your overall health: your mind, your body, and your self (that part of you that wants what’s best for you). Most of us tend to be ruled by our minds trying to run the show, while our bodies keep trying to say, “Please don’t make me eat that.” It can be a cacophony in there, so talk to your body, love it, and encourage it. Build it up. Watch it start to follow you instead of cow-towing to your mind’s clamoring. Before long, you’ll start to hear your body’s voice loud and clear, and then you’ll both be a lot happier—and more powerful. Your mind will finally quiet down and take a much needed rest. And the three of you will live happily ever after as one great big happy “you!”


Prepare



Prepare to be astounded by how much easier it will be than you might think. Expect, and believe in, your absolute enjoyment of your new dietary lifestyle—and it will happen!

Disclaimer: I make no claim of 100% success, however, when exposed to such temptations as the 85% cacao dark chocolate bar that flashes your name in neon lights. You need your own game plan for that one.

Food Diary: Tofu Tip from Ruth

untitled (RGB)



Sunday was a fabulous food day – our friend, Ruth, made us lunch. Despite what this girl says about not knowing how to cook, she did an awesome job and I am drawing on her tutelage for today’s food tip:

Tip #8: Add pan-fried tofu to salads for a filling meal.


Ruth Really CAN CookAs Ruth showed me, pan-fried tofu is as easy as it sounds. Simply slice the tofu into patties, heat some olive oil in a pan, and cook the tofu on both sides until it is brown.

The beauty with tofu in salads is that there’s no need for pesky marinades because the salad dressing adds enough flavor on its own. And when it comes to dressing, anything goes. Ruth surprised us with a bottle of Nando’s medium-spicy “Peri-Peri Sauce”. This stuff is usually used on chicken, but Ruth ingeniously used it on the finished tofu, which she then added to a salad of rocket, tomatoes, mint and spring onion. The mint, by the way, was bad-ass.

I can see other dressings working well with this: hoisin sauce, balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard dressing… the sky’s the limit here.

Rocket, Mint, Spring Onion, Tomato Tofu SaladRuth also noted that she usually adds quinoa to the salad, but for some reason our quinoa turned out a bit creamy rather than fluffy, so we ate it on the side which worked just as well.

Lightroom Catalog.lrcat - Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - Library-1.jpgThe tofu/quinoa salad lunch was pretty light, leaving us with plenty of room for after-lunch tea and biscuits. Ruth rolled out some weird savory biscuit things called “Dorset Knobs” which were like a small, dry bread roll. They are typically eaten with blue cheese, but we made do with butter. I don’t think these “knobs” are really my thing. I think they’d be better crumbled in soup.

We also had some chocolate Cantuccini (basically Italian biscotti) made by The Organic Collection. These were delicious. As I always say, why bother with knobs when you can have biscotti and tea?

Organic Chocolate Cantuccini




Sunday Food Diary




  • Breakfast: Bircher muesli with Greek yogurt and rooibos tea.

  • Swim. 30-minutes freestyle and backstroke.

  • Coffee (decaf) @ Cafe Z

  • Cycle. Not sure how far it is to Ruth’s but it only takes about 15 minutes.

  • Lunch @ Ruth’s. Rocket salad with mint, tomatoes, spring onions, tofu, and Nando’s peri-peri sauce. Plus quinoa on the side. Dorset knobs and chocolate cantuccini for dessert. To drink, green earl gray tea and black tea with milk.

  • Cycle. Another 15-minutes home from Ruth’s.

  • Dinner: Scrambled tofu with greens and corn. Really good tofu scramble today – I had some fresh basil and parsley which I added to the tofu, along with a diced red chili, diced carrot, red bell pepper, kale, onion and nutritional yeast flakes.





Breakfast: Bircher muesli and rooibos tea



Decaf Coffee at Cafe Z



My creation



Pan-Fried Tofu



Quinoa Porridge



Organic Chocolate Cantuccini



Tofu Scramble



Grapefruit


Food Diary: Avocado on Toast

Toasted Chive Bread with Avocado, Salt and PepperI’ve been so tired these past couple of days. Downright pooped. I can’t help but wonder if this has something to do with my recent intake of caffeine. After my month or so of going caffeine-free, I’ve let the stuff slowly creep back into my life again. This isn’t all bad – I do love a good cup of tea. But I am also feeling sluggish and I know my sleep hasn’t been as good as it’s been. Part of this may also relate to my recent nighttime reading: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. If you’ve read it, then you know how harrowing it is. Not exactly good happy thoughts to go to sleep on.

So in my Saturday lethargy, I was very happy when our friend Rory invited us over for breakfast. Herein lies the problem with being an early riser – I’m ready for lunch when everyone else is ready for breakfast. Rory was making scrambled eggs, but I was just getting ready for a big veggie lunch. Not wanting to miss out on good company (and good bread, coffee and carrot juice), I took along some greens and an avocado and had some awesome toast slathered with loads of avocado. Now here comes the tip…

Food tip #7: Avocado on toast is one of life’s simple pleasures.


This is one of my quick go-to lunches when I’m craving something fresh and simple. There’s nothing like rich, creamy avocado smeared on a nice bit of whole grain bread, sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper. It’s extremely satisfying, and healthy too. Check out some of these amazingly great things about avocado:


  • Avocado, like olive oil, is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol.

  • Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. (Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts.)

  • Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure.

  • One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate.

  • Avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels.



Of course, you also can treat avocado on toast as a base for a delicious sandwich. This is especially good if you’re looking for alternatives to butter or mayo. Here are a few things I like with avocado on toast:




skitched-20081116-170753.jpg




Saturday Food Diary




  • Lemon and honey tea.

  • Yoga

  • Breakfast: Bircher muesli with rooibos tea.

  • Cycle. ~2 miles to Rory’s

  • Lunch: Good food and drink @ Rory’s. Coffee, carrot juice, toast, veggies, avocado. Happy.

  • Cycle. ~2 miles home from Rory’s

  • Snack: Leftover tagine. Mind the blurry photo!

  • Dinner: Home-cooked Indian extravaganza. Leftover cumin-spiked tofu, grilled peppers and onion, dal, basmati rice, savoy cabbage thoran. And a grapefruit!



IMG_8196.jpg



Salad



Carrot Juice



Coffee




Toast and Avocado



Blurry Leftover Tagine



Yummy Indian Dinner



Grapefruit



Food Diary: Always Carry An “Emergency Snack”

Emergency FoodI do most of my work from home, but Friday was one of the rare days when I planned to be out all day. I had an appointment with a podiatrist in the morning, and then I was going straight to my client’s office for an afternoon of social media measurement and brainstorming. These folks tend to do lunch a little later then me, so I brought along a little something I call “emergency nuts.”

Tip #6: Always carry a healthy, satisfying “emergency snack” in case life throws you the munchies.


My “emergency nuts” consists of a small tupperware container full of raw mixed nuts and raisins. It basically lives in my backpack and I refill it whenever necessary. At one point in my life, I used to instead carry an “emergency bar”, usually of the LaraBar variety. And although Cocoa Mole LaraBars are delicious, the mixed nuts are far more economical and just as nourishing.

On Friday, I was very glad I had my mixed nuts on hand, plus a bonus banana. After cycling to work I was famished, and I still had a 2-hour meeting to sit through. The banana and nuts got me through it.

In addition to my emergency snack, work afforded me the rare opportunity to pack a lunch. I somewhat enjoy the packed-lunch food challenge, so I was a little disappointed when my afternoon meeting was cancelled and I didn’t need the lunch anymore. Instead, I cycled home, hungry but happy that I had packed my puncture repair kit – my bike tire was flat when I left the office!

Bonus recipe: If you like your emergency snacks in bar form, check out this recipe for homemade lara type bars.


  • Lemon and honey tea

  • Yoga

  • Swim

  • Breakfast: Bircher muesli with Greek yogurt and rooibos tea.

  • Cycle: 6 miles (in a headwind!) from home to meeting in south London via a trip to the podiatrist

  • Snack: Banana and a handful of mixed nuts. Plus a cup of hot black tea with milk which really revived me – I was knackered after my bike ride!

  • Cycle: 6 miles from meeting to home. Tire was flat when I left the office so had to fix it first. Yay, had my puncture repair kit. Boo, bent my thumbnail back while working the tire lever around the tire. I was too hungry to care.

  • Lunch: Couscous, chickpeas, salad and an apple. I dressed the salad with lemon and ate it with chunks of salted avocado. Simple but tasty! Again, I was famished, but managed not to eat everything in three gulps.

  • Friday Beer: Hoegaarden at The Prince (our local), one of my favorite Friday traditions.

  • Dinner: Pizza, tomato and onion salad, and more beer at Il Bacio. Another Friday tradition. Pizza tasted much better than it looks in the photo. Eggplant, mushrooms, onion and rocket. Sans cheese. They were a little stingy with the eggplant, but otherwise a tasty meal. Had two small bottles of beer, then went home and drank lots of water and ate a grapefruit (not shown).



Bircher Muesli with Yogurt



Emergency Food



Packed Lunch



Hoegaarden @ The Prince



Il Bacio

Food Diary: Greek Yogurt Makes Life Good

skitched-20081114-170704.jpgI used to be a yogurt fiend, but this has sort of died down since I’ve drifted towards a mostly animal-free diet. During my yogurt phase, I was still under the impression that I needed less fat in my diet, so my yogurt consumption was restricted to the fat-free kind. Not anymore. I recently purchased a container of Greek yogurt so I could make Heidi’s awesome-sounding Cumin-Spiked Tofu (I was not disappointed – it was awesome-tasting!).

After cooking the tofu, I was left with half a container of Greek yogurt to finish, so I’ve been adding it to a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory, to see how it works. Dude. This stuff is phenomenal. I know lots of you already enjoy your fair share of yogurt with fruit and honey but there are SO many more ways to enjoy Greek yogurt.

Food Tip #5: Greek yogurt makes all kinds of foods yummier.


Bircher Muesli with YogurtGreek yogurt with muesli is obvious – I’ve been enjoying this the past couple days on my Bircher Muesli. Fan-freakin’-tastic. Especially with apricots.

Less obvious is Greek yogurt with savory dishes. Here’s an example: for lunch I heated up a tin of refried beans, adding a little pan-fried onion and green chili, then topped it with some Greek yogurt and a pinch of smoked paprika. Holy wow was this good. Just a spoonful of Greek yogurt turned plain refried beans into something quite decadent. And it took less than 10 minutes to make!

skitched-20081114-172324.jpg



Here are some other suggestions for Greek yogurt:


  • Add a dollop of Greek yogurt to soups, especially lentil and split pea soups.

  • Use it as a dip for fruit

  • Add it to a smoothie

  • Combine it with lemon and herbs for a delicious vegetable dip



“But Monica, Greek yogurt is a fat bomb.”

To that I say: so? Fatty food can be healthy too. Don’t believe me? What about Dr. Perricone, doctor, author and best friend of Oprah? On her website, he calls yogurt a “superfood” and explains how yogurt may actually help people maintain lean muscle mass and lose fat from their waistlines (again with the waistlines!):


Research shows that calcium helps reduce weight gain. Even small changes in the calcium levels of fat cells can change signals within the cell that control the making and burning of fat.

The authors of a 2003 study at the University of Tennessee placed 34 obese people on a low-calorie diet. Sixteen of them were given 400 to 500 mg of calcium in the form of a daily supplement. The other 18 people ate a diet higher in calcium— 1,100 mg per day—in the form of yogurt. After 12 weeks, both groups lost fat. The supplement-taking group had six pounds less fat, but the yogurt group lost about 10 pounds of fat. And, those who ate yogurt discovered that their waists shrank by more than an inch and a half. In comparison, the supplement-taking subjects lost only about a quarter of an inch in waist size. Finally, a whopping 60 percent of the yogurt eaters’ weight loss was belly fat, while only 26 percent of the supplement group’s loss was belly fat.

This is very exciting news as belly fat—which doctors call visceral or intra-abdominal fat—is linked to high cholesterol, high insulin, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and other problems. Visceral fat may also secrete more disease-linked inflammatory molecules than other types of fat.

The study also reported that in addition to helping the participants lose more weight, the group that ate yogurt was about twice as effective at maintaining lean muscle mass.



Any other Greek yogurt fans out there? How do you eat it?

Speaking of eating, here’s what I ate on Thursday:


  • Morning Tea: Lemon and Honey

  • Yoga

  • Breakfast: Bircher Muesli with Greek Yogurt and Rooibos Tea.

  • Lunch: Refried Pinto Beans with Greek Yogurt, Corn on the Cob and Salad. Corn was a little dry and unsweet. The season for corn has passed. Boo.

  • Snack: Kiwi fruit.

  • Dinner: Vegetable tagine with chickpea couscous and cucumber salad. I bet Greek yogurt would have been great with this, but the tagine was filling enough, maybe too filling. I can only take so much stodgy food in one sitting!



Bircher Muesli with Greek Yogurt



Refried Pinto Beans with Salad and Corn



Kiwi



Vegetable Tagine with Couscous and Cucumber Salad