Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Tasty, Fast and Nourishing Breakfast Idea

Chico summers bring temps in the 100's. Global warming has changed all that. Now we have spring weather in the 100 degree range. I've come up with a refreshing breakfast for hot, busy days. It provides protein, fiber, calcium, antioxidants and will keep me satisfied until lunchtime. The recipe contains raw oats, a great source for soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as, beta-glucan for blood sugar control. Read more about oat's benefits here. Eating enough protein is reputed to help with weight loss by creating a sustained sense of fullness. Cottage cheese is an easy, meatless way to up protein intake. I enjoy eating Nancy's organic cultured cottage cheese. The texture is creamy, but firm. My recipe's optional, furikake, is for the seaweed lovers out there. It's a Japanese rice topping I use on many foods to add a burst of flavor along with seaweed's many valuable nutrients. Many brands have sugar and msg. The Urashima brand is sugar and msg free. Most health food stores carry it. Try this surprisingly quick, tasty and satisfying recipe. And stay cool.

Complex Cottage Cheese
1/2 c cottage cheese (see note above)
1/4 c rolled oats
1-2 T ground flax seeds
1T pepitas or sunflower seeds
2T diced dried apricots
1/2 c frozen wild blueberries
a few shakes of toasted sesame & nori Furikake (optional)

Mix all ingredients except furikake. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and the moisture in the cheese and blueberries will soften the oats. Sprinkle with furikake if desired.
Accompany with a cooled cup of jasmine green tea.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Heidi's Grain'ola

I began last Saturday in my favorite way. After my morning coffee I headed off to the Chico Farmer's Market. I stopped by a plant stall where I picked up basil, melon and three varieties of hot peppers. I purchased 3 bunches of beets which I will roast and combine with walnut oil and feta cheese. The beet greens will go into my morning smoothies along with a banana, frozen acai puree, 1/4 cup oats, 1 cup of keifer and 1& 1/2 cups of water. I bought a dozen fresh eggs, a 10 lb bag of navel oranges (the last of the season), cabbage, chard. I was glad to see butter lettuce back from it's winter hiatus. Farmer's market butter lettuce is the type that's too delicate to ship. Its creaminess is complemented by a tangy blue cheese dressing and offset by sweet pear slices and candied walnuts or pecans.
When I got home I made a variation of Heidi Swanson's Grain-ola from her Super Natural Cooking. I love this recipe because it's fast to put together and has very little fat. This orange flavored granola is refreshing and satisfying. I added sesame seeds, pepitas and ground flax. For dried fruit I chose marionberries, papaya and goji berries, which I mixed in after baking the granola.
After ballet class I picked up my soil amendments and a few more vegetable starts. I'm picturing a row of shiny purple Japanese eggplants in among my sage and white alyssum. The melons will cascade down the hill, beside the stone steps leading to our lake. Garden dreams are beautiful.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

San Francisco and Frozen Yogurt

A friend of mine who lives in SF took me to her favorite "froyo" spot. I had to be forced to go in the place, as I'm not a fan of froyo. She dropped me off at the door of Jubili, in Hayes Valley with instructions to get her a "my original". I walked into Jubili with a confused look on my face and placed her order. It turns out 'my' is the size and 'original' is the flavor, a plain, tart yogurt. While I was waiting for her yogurt I spied some colorful and healthy looking toppings in the case. Previous to this occasion the only way I'd eat frozen yogurt was topped with plenty of chocolate caramel cups or any other chocolaty distraction from the yogurt taste. What really intrigued me at Jubili were the white chunks of mochi offered along with kiwi, mango, pineapple and other brightly colored fresh fruits. I ordered a peach mi (small) yogurt topped with mochi, pineapple and mango. Despite my original misgivings the yogurt was delicious! I found myself wanting to go back the next day. I had previously read Amy's post about tuttimelon in the Marina, and I was staying in the Marina so I decided to compare. Before I headed off to tuttimelon I checked out yelp and chow to see what people were saying about these two places. It turns out my choice of mango and mochi is one of the most popular combinations. Go figure. One suggestion I found on yelp was to add gasp! Captain Crunch cereal to said combination. Yes, the Captain Crunch that my mother refused to let me eat because it had BHT, yes, the Captain Crunch which has no part in a healthy diet. I threw caution to the wind and tried the green tea yogurt with mango, mochi and Captain Crunch at tuttimelon on Chestnut st. Oh my word!!!! The Captain Crunch added just the right amount of salty crunchy texture to the mix. It's the best.

My restaurant choices on this trip were limited by budgetary constraints. Of course, we ate at Yuzu's (a treat from my brother-in-law),where we had the fusion roll, (my favorite), great sashimi and a few other rolls which weren't tasty enough for me to remember this time. We also dined at Pasta Pomodoro (not fancy but very tasty and priced right) our faves are the cappelini pomodoro, the pumpkin ravioli with sage butter, fried sage leaves and amaretti. We also shared a verdure which has brussel sprouts and other veggies in olive oil and garlic. Isa was our one splurge and all the food was impecable. I love the Spicy Tuna Tartare and the scallops. We order them every time. Their creme brulee is the best I've had anywhere. We dined on Greens take-out which was nothing to write home about, although we ate on a bench facing the water. The setting was gorgeous. Of course after eating I had to peruse the Fort Mason Center Book Bay bookstore, which supports the Friends of the Library. It was my second visit in two days and I did not leave empty handed.We never made it to Golden Gate Park or do the Dipsea trail this time around. We'll be back in July and I hope to do that beautiful hike from Mill Valley to Stinsen Beach then. I'm in training for it now.

Two nights ago I made this very simple recipe of stuffed zucchini, made with feta, shitakes, organic ketchup and bread crumbs. It was delicious. I used ketchup because I didn't want to open a can of tomato sauce and not use it all up.

2 zucchini sliced lengthwise
4 fresh shitakes diced
3 tablespoons organic ketchup
1/2 cup water or broth
1/2 crumbled feta
1/2 cup bread crumbs
olive oil
Scoop out insides of zucchini with a melon baller, being careful not to make a hole in the bottom.
Place the scooped out zucchini in a saute pan with olive oil, water or broth, ketchup and shitakes.
Saute until zucchini flesh is tender.
Mash zucchini down with a fork or potato masher, add bread crumbs and feta.
Fill hollowed out zucchinis with the mixture.
Bake at 350° for ­20 minutes.