Friday, October 29, 2010

Earth Diet Nine Day Challenge

During my lunch meeting the other day, my co-worker turned to me, looking incredulously at my empty container and said, "Did you actually just eat ALL of that?" She was referring to the ginormous salad which included, among many other things, an entire avocado, that had just moments. Yes, I had eaten all of that. But, I needed to fill up on lots of greens and veggies, because the scope of what I can eat at the moment is pretty limited. My friend, Lauri, and I decided to take the Earth Diet 9 Day Challenge. The premise of this diet is eating things from the earth. Nothing processed. You should eat raw as much as possible. No wheat gluten, no soy, no dairy. No alcohol. No caffeine. (It's partly a detox too. On a longer version of the diet coffee is acceptable. There's also a focus on eating mostly alkaline (vs. acidic) foods.
This last concept is most interesting to me. I've read a little about this, but will continue to explore it. There are those who believe your body won't get sick in an alkaline state, only if it's in an acidic state. I by "sick" they mean cancer, diabetes, things like that. Of course, many things I love (vinegar, condiments) fall into the acidic category. So, I've replaced vinegar with lemon juice to dress my salads (I know, lemon juice seems like it would be acidic, but it's not).
Anyway, I'm on day 5 and I was doing ok up until the little Halloween gathering put on in my division today. I walked in the room and it almost seemed like some sort of cruel joke being played on me. There must have been at least 50 dishes of different kinds of treats, both salty and sweet. Trifle, chips and dip, homemade cookies, bowls of candy bars, chips and salsa - you name it. It was like the office version of Willy Wonka's factory. I daydreamed about floating in the Wonka chocolate river, but in my rendition there tortilla chip plants growing along the river bank and little bowls of salsa floating by on lily pads. I came back to reality and ate my apple.
To try to make myself feel better on my way home I stopped, for the second night in a row, at a raw food cafe that opened last year in Newton. When I was there last night, I noticed they had chocolate pudding (in a raw vegan form) and raw "chips" and salsa. That was what I wanted for my dinner. As it turns out, they only do the chips for lunch, so I got a raw pizza instead. They do a nice job and the presentation is lovely, but let's just say that raw pizza is not for me.
In fact, eating mostly raw is not for me. I have a salad most every day and I think I could get into juicing if I decide to drop $300 on a juicer, but beyond that I think I feel better eating warmed food and cooked grains. I see the benefits of eating raw, keeping all of the nutrients. However, I think especially in the cold weather my body wants warm food. And life without hot soup? No thank you. A couple winters ago, I found myself suffering from acid reflux. When I told my doctor about this and he asked me some questions about what I was eating. I told him I ate a big salad every day for lunch. He said certain Asian food practices say that in the winter when your body is trying to keep warm, eating cold foods can be upsetting. So eating lightly steamed veggies, etc is preferable. I tried that and the acid reflux went away.
Eating raw also makes eating in season difficult. Raw butternut squash? I didn't see that on the menu tonight. The zucchini lasagne I had last night (see photo) was tasty and I could eat that in the summer, no problem. But for now I'd like a steaming bowl of stew.
I had originally planned to post some decadent thing that I can't eat just to show how strong I am, but I just can't do it. Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tofu Balls with Red Sauce

While I'm very much enjoying the cooler days and nights, I feel a bit anxious knowing what comes next - lots of darkness. The days are getting shorter and soon we will turn the clocks back, so it's nightfall by 5 p.m. Every year I have a tough time with this. When, at the beginning of November, it's time to get motivated for my evening run or yoga class, I often find it hard to muster up the energy to do so. I eventually settle in and get with some kind of routine, but it's rarely with the same enthusiasm as on a warm summer evening or sunshiney day . And, of course your body does need a little down time to transition into the new season, so I want to honor that too.
This year I'm trying a new tactic. I'm going to try to do the morning thing. My goal is to do some sort of physical activity four mornings a week. So far this week, I've attended two 6:30 a.m. yoga classes and done one short yoga session at home with a run that evening. I know for hard core morning people 6:30 is late - a good portion of the day has already passed by. But for me, being alert, active and social at this hour is a little bit of an effort. I don't mind being awake at that time, it's being out of my comfy bed and out of the house doing something that creates a challenge. Getting to bed early enough to feel rested when getting up before 6:00 is another hurdle. I asked my yoga instructor how many times I have to do this before I'm considered a morning person. She said it's when I no longer think about it. This could take a while.
Someone recently asked if I had a recipe I like for tofu "meat" balls. I haven't made them in a while, but I've used this recipe out of Everday Tofu. I don't really like to refer to veg items as the meat in quotation mark fashion, so I'm trying to think of something else to call them. Tofu balls just isn't right. Tofu spheres isn't necessarily accurate. Todd suggested "medallions", but I'm not sure about that. So for the moment I've landed on "orbs", but I'm open to another suggestion if you have one. Scratch that- I tried "orbs" for a while, but it both looks weird and sounds unappealing, so "balls" it is.

Tofu Balls with Red Sauce
1 lb firm tofu mashed with a fork (soft tofu is easier to mash but I found the orbs to be mushy using the soft)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
2 tsp beef-flavored bouillon (I think I just used veg bouillon)
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning or 1/4 tsp each dried oregano and basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs dehydrated onion flakes
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 olive or canola oil
your favorite red sauce

1. Mix all ingredients except for red sauce and oil in a large mixing bowl.
2. Form 1-inch balls.
3. In deep sautee pan, heat the oil on medium high heat and brown the balls.
4. Place the balls in a medium sized baking dish, cover halfway with your favorite red sauce and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. (It'd probably be ok to skip the baking part and just add the orbs to whatever you're eating and cover them with sauce.)