Seafood Avocado Salad

I’m back on the blog after a while of only posting on the Facebook page. If you haven’t caught up with me on Facebook, come over to Katy Whole Foodie. Facebook has its advantages over the blog but for new recipes, it’s good to get it down in a proper post.

I’m taking part in a two-week detox programme to help me kick sugar again. Because yes, my friends, I slipped. I thought I could do moderation but sugar is a drug and I am an addict. Let me say that again. Sugar is a drug and I am an addict.

We’ve cut out all sugar, as well as known allergens like wheat, dairy, corn, peanut. Grains or beans (carbs) are down to a half-cup a day and only for dinner. I’ve only had carbs three times in eight days. Coffee is also restricted to give the adrenals a rest. I’ve managed to go three days now without coffee but I’m probably having it again on Monday! And there’s no sweeteners, not even stevia.

The focus is on protein, veg and good fats which is how I used to eat. Although I’m missing cheese and other things like brown rice and some not so good things too! But I’ve been eating well.

Tonight’s Seafood Avocado Salad was two avocados, (toasted and salted) sunflower seeds, a new cashew nut pesto that I bought from a health food shop, chilli furikake, olive oil and lemon juice. Topped with tiny scallops and prawns (shrimp), both found in the freezer and fried in olive oil.

A Week Of Protein Bowls

I’m on a protein bowl kick. I’ve found during the week that this is a convenient, fun and healthy way of eating. It was also a comforting way of eating in a pretty shocking week. You don’t have to plan. You just pull out the veggie drawer from the fridge and start assembling.

First, choose your bowl. And there’s a ritual element to this. CHOOSE your bowl. Make a big deal out of the choosing! I have an old-fashioned glass bowl at the office and a beautiful ceramic bowl at home. We’re talking BIG bowls here.

A protein bowl is mainly veggies or salad with some grains and protein, topped with nuts, seeds and sprouts. Total mix and match. Anything goes. Just chop the greens roughly with scissors and put them in the mighty bowl. I’ve played around this week with combinations from the following:

Protein: spicy sausage, organic beef burgers, blue cheese (fourme d’Ambert), quinoa, spelt, eggs, tuna

Veggies: watercress, rocket, carrot, fresh seaweed, seaweed salad, sautéed shiitakes, sweetcorn, avocado

Toppings: sprouted lentils, sprouted seeds, nuts, toasted sunflower seeds, sesame seeds

Dressings: olive oil, balsamic vinegar 

  

  

  

  

 

Easy Dal

I had a comfort food craving on a bright winter’s day and this was the answer. I took some serious shortcuts but still got a good result.

In a saucepan, I put a little oil and fried gently a big spoon of grated ginger (from a jar) and two big spoons of curry paste for a couple of minutes. I used madras curry paste but anything would do.

Once the pastes were combined and fragrant, I added a 500g/1lb bag of mung dal. These are tiny split lentils that do not need to be pre-soaked. A kettle of boiling water went in and I simmered gently with a lid on for an hour or so, adding more water and stirring as needed.

Delicious as is and easily spruced up more with some coriander (cilantro), a dollop of butter or ghee or some thick Greek yoghurt with salt and cucumber. I can eat this morning, noon and night. The ultimate comfort food… 

   

One Month Off The Sugar Drug

IMG_2230I made it through the Christmas holidays without cracking for sugar.  It was a pretty quiet time and I ate a LOT of cheese. It’s now been over a month since I gave sugar the boot for the third – and hopefully the last – time.

First time around, I quit for two years, losing 25 kilos in the first year. Then I tried moderation which failed horribly. Five kilos crept back on. I’m not that bothered about the extra weight as it stabilised at five kilos. But I don’t like that I’m not getting exercise, sleeping enough or getting enough whole foodie nutrients. I feel tired.

I looked back over the blog and I’m inspired by some of the dishes I created in the last years. My Vegan Protein Box, the Oh-be-joyful platter, named after a Colorado mountain, and my Creamy Kale Salad are all meals I would be happy to eat again.

Looking back, I saw how important it used to be for me to eat breakfast and the many versions of rice porridge with seeds I would munch my way through. Breakfast is a distant memory these days. There was also lots and lots of green juice, kale, chard, salads and seeds. As well as fats – Greek yoghurt, almonds and cheese.

So where to start? How do I get back on track? Quitting sugar in December was the first step but I’m still feeling hooked on carbs.  My immediate next step is to slow down for a few days and focus on eating the right food. I’ll be working from home next week and taking time out in my day to rest, walk and eat well.

I am heading to the farm this weekend to pick some veggies (and get muddy!) and I need to unpack more boxes since my recent move to find my good knives, spices and my juicer.

Start as you mean to go on, they say. I’ve started today already with marinating pressed tofu in a new mixture (white miso, sesame oil, lemon juice and chilli paste). I’ve been making coconut oil-based chocolates filled with seeds. I need to increase the whole foods nutrient and ditch the carbs.

I know what to do. I know how good it feels when I do it. More energy, better sleep, clear eyes and springy skin… energy to start running and doing more walks… and being able to kick carbs to the kerb instead of them having power over me and my state of mind.

If you’re interested in following my journey, stick with the blog. I’ll be back. It’s a promise I’m making to myself. To be a happier, healthier person once more.

Celebrating Ten Years Sober

I didn’t post this in January for some reason but better late than never.

It’s New Year and I’m taking stock. I’m happy to see friends doing Dry January, where they stay off alcohol for the month.

Ten years ago, I decided to stop drinking for six months. It actually wasn’t a conscious decision from one day to the next.

I had the flu and was laid up for a week and then I went to the mountains for a couple of weeks. I generally didn’t drink at altitude.

By the time I came home from Colorado, I realised that I hadn’t had alcohol in three weeks. At that point, I decided to quit for six months.

I didn’t have a drinking problem but like most Brits, I did drink heavily on occasion. I had recently discovered my fructose (fruit sugar) intolerance which meant I had to stop fruit-based drinks like wine and champagne.

Spirits do not have enough fruit sugar left in them to be a problem but I didn’t want to become a hard liquor drinker. That feels like a pretty unhealthy slippery slope.

My friends thought I wouldn’t be able to stop drinking for six months. That’s ten years ago. I liked not drinking so much that I decided to stick with it.

And what can I say but stopping drinking is the best decision I ever made?

I have lots of fun at parties and I can still remember what happened the next morning. I don’t make bad decisions under the influence. I don’t have to worry about driving home. I’m a responsible host.

I try to live healthily but I don’t always manage. I travel too much and don’t sleep enough. I don’t always eat as well as I would like. Not drinking is an easy healthy choice that I don’t even have to think about. It’s just how I live.

When I tell people I don’t drink, they often jump to conclusions or ask intrusive personal questions. I would prefer it if they did not. I choose not to drink. It’s a healthy choice and it’s no-one else’s business but my own.

I Quit Sugar. Again.

I fell off the wagon.  Hard.

At first, I tried moderation.  But I’m an addict and moderation doesn’t work.

After two years of sugar-free clean living, I decided I was “so over” sugar that I could handle it in small doses.

Small doses became big doses became buying ice cream at the gas station. This went on for months.

I quit a second time.  It didn’t last.

This week, I was in Italy.  If anyone knows how to make sugary deliciousness, it’s the Italians. I indulged. Throughout this dance with glucose I’ve been trying to mask tiredness. Why take time off work when you can eat sugar?! Why ask for help when you can have cake?! Why handle your emotions when you can shove chocolate down on top of them?!

After a week-long binge starting at home in Brussels (thank you, Pain Quotidien, your Merveilleux cake was indeed merveilleux) and ending in Italy, I decided enough is enough.

I quit sugar.  Again.  Let’s hope it’s the last time.

Life is good.

 

Smother It On Everything Japanese Dressing

Japanese food feels so clean and healthy.  I can’t get enough of it.  I used to go out of my way to buy double portions of the (incredibly expensive) seaweed salad in sushi restaurants because the combination of flavours in the dressing is so addictive.  Finally, I figured out how to make my own so now I keep a big jar of Japanese dressing in the fridge.  It keeps for weeks (and weeks) if you don’t add the fresh ginger to the basic mix.

Japanese dressing
Add these four star players to a screwtop jar:
1/ Toasted sesame oil
2/ Chilli sauce or chilli flakes
3/ Soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free peeps)
4/ Rice wine vinegar

When you serve or marinade, you may want to add:
5/ Grated root ginger
6/ Sesame seeds or furikake*

Play around with the quantities until you have something that works for your taste.

Keep it in a jar and shake before using as the oil will separate out.  This is my basic marinade for oh-so-delicious baked tofu and seaweed salad.  It also works on plain rice, any kind of salad (see my Transforming Salad post) or vegetable and as the name suggests, you can smother it on everything!

* Furikake is a Japanese seasoning based on sesame, often with seaweed and chilli or more exotic ingredients like dried mandarine peel.  I’ve seen basic furikake in the supermarket.  For the more elaborate versions, check out your Asian supermarket.  I am a bit obsessed and have several different furikakes in my kitchen.  It livens up any dish and does wonders to rice.