Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How To Stretch a Chicken - Part I

I'm back on my "leftovers" theme again. What can I say? I work and don't always have time to cook when I get home at night.

I bought an organic chicken and decided to do something simple for a change. I had some lemons from a friend's tree, and some tarragon in my garden, so it was going to be roast lemon-tarragon chicken.

I washed the chicken thoroughly, patted it dry, and rubbed about a tablespoon of kosher salt inside and out. I then ground some fresh pepper. After squeezing one half lemon (which gave me 1/4 cup of juice), I lifted the skin of the chicken and poured a little juice in there, put tarragon leaves and slices of lemon between the skin and the breast. Another whole lemon, poked many times with a toothpick went into the cavity of the bird along with the rest of the juice. I had the oven heated to 350, and I put the bird in after dotting the top with some Earth Balance. (Butter works, of course, but I only eat that on occasion.)

Meanwhile, I washed and quartered some red potatoes and added them along with some organic baby carrots - halved.

Dinner was ready in about an hour and fifteen minutes. My friend Jeff came over and we had that time to relax with a glass of Fat Cat Pinot Noir before enjoying this simple, delicious meal.

Tomorrow, we will go into Phase II of the Chicken Saga. Photos will be posted this eve. when I get home from work!

For more health news, visit Mission Valley Acupuncture

Monday, January 29, 2007

Birthday Dinners

Jeff, me, Kathye, Ellen, Jim

Yes, that's dinners. In the plural. I had dinner on my birthday itself with 4 friends at California Cuisine. Most of us started with the greens/hearts of palm salad. The hearts of palm were julienned, and pine nuts and feta added just the right balance. The sherry vinagrette dressing complimented, rather than overpowered the salad. For the main course, I ordered the venison loin with truffle-celery root puree, braised red cabbage, with black pepper-red currant pan sauce. Of all the dishes the 5 of us ordered, I think this was the best. The venison was not gamey at all. It was cooked medium rare, and the celery root puree was to die for! My friend Kathye ordered the crab cakes. Being from Maryland originally, she's got a very discerning palate for crab cakes, and her assessment was that they didn't quite measure up to her standards. She did enjoy them, though, as did Ellen. Jim ordered the Nieman Ranch pork chops with sweet potato gratin, vegetable medly, apple compote and bourbon glace. He really enjoyed them - especially the sweet potatoes. (Of course, he's from Ohio and enjoys anything that includes meat and potatoes!)

Jeff picked the wine, and it was a perfect compliment for both his Kurobuta pork short ribs with ancho-port sauce. We had a Deloach cabernet, 2000. If I had to be stranded on a desert island for the rest of my life with only one kind of red wine, this would be it. Rich, jammy, fruit forward with a smoooooth finish. Ahhhhhh............

Two desserts for the 5 of us were sufficient, as they were both rich and decadent. One was their chocolate truffle torte with raspberry coulis and pistachio dust. Delicious, but nothing that made it stand above all the other versions of this. The other was their warm chocolate amaretto tart, which left us all melting in our seats. Fortunately, we ate this one second. I'm not sure anyone spoke for about 3 minutes by the clock!!!

Jeff and me.

The next day I drove up to LA to have dinner with some friends I met on my trip to Vietnam last fall. Jack and Jan are foodies, and they both love to cook. We started with 3 appetizers - fresh spring rolls with shrimp, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and cilantro. Also had their chicken and shrimp squares as well as sweet potato balls encrused with sesame seeds. 4 different sauces for dipping made each bite special. Jack gave us the details of his search through half of LA county looking for kaffir lime leaves. So many places which usually carry them were out! I don't remember where he finally found them, but clearly it was a great victory to have produced them. And well worth the effort. Jan made a fantastic aubergine with coconut milk and lime leaves. Melt me! Jack made an equally fabulous rice noodle dish with shrimp and mint. Together, these 2 dishes complimented each other with subtle flavors and just the right amount of spice. Jan promised me that she would send me the recipes, and when she does, I will pass them along. I HIGHLY recommend them. We could have been in one of the better restaurants in Saigon eating this outstanding meal.

For more health news, visit Mission Valley Acupuncture

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Birthday greetings

Today's my birthday, so instead of posting something about food and containing a recipe, I thought I'd just say that I'm grateful for my health, my family and friends, for the incredible abundance I have in my life thanks to the wonderful people who are part of it, and for all the good wishes I've gotten today. It's an absolutely gorgeous day here in San Diego, so I'm going to go for a walk. Tonite I'm having dinner with some friends at California Cuisine - yummm! I'll report back with our meal tomorrow. Meanwhile, I wish every one of you health, happiness and prosperity.

Oh - and the photos are my latest attempt at upgrading my photo skills. Here are just a few of the "munchies" I'm having today including Chuao chocolate with hazelnuts and cherries (STOP ME!!) and some beautiful roses sent to me by my brother David. Feedback on the photos welcome!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

In Chinese medicine, each season of the year is related to an organ in the body, a color, a flavor, a meat, a grain, an emotion etc. We are now in winter (here in the northern hemisphere), and the color is black. The organ is the kidneys, the flavor is salty, the element associated with it is water, the wild "meat" associated with it is fish, the domestic meat is pork, the "grain" in this case is beans. The emotion associated with the kidneys is fear or fright.

How can so many things be associated with a season? It has to do with the idea that all of life is governed by energetic principles. Those energetic principles are present in your body, in the environment, in everything on earth and in the heavens. They are what governs and orders our world. For example, color is vibration. We know that colors exist because light particles vibrate at certain frequencies. In the human body, each organ also has a frequency, and there is a correspondence between the frequencies of each organ with the associations I mentioned above.

So how do we incorporate this knowledge into our eating and our desire to stay healthy? The idea here is that incorporating the proper amounts of the associated colors, tastes, meats, grains etc. in the appropriate season, will help to strengthen the associated organ. So if your kidneys are weak, for instance, eating modest amounts of pork (or fish) and beans in the winter will help to strengthen them. What kind of beans? Well, black ones are best. But kidney beans or pintos work well, too. Other foods which help to strengthen the kidneys would include mushrooms (the browner ones, especially with dark underneath), eggplant and brown rice. Soups work well in the winter, because they contain a lot of water. And, of course, dark chocolate for dessert!

This is also the season of the year for rest. This is not the time of year to be staying up late, text messaging your friends, checking out YouTube or MySpace. The reason the nights are longer at this time of the year is because you're supposed to get more sleep. Being healthy means living in harmony with the season we are in. Spring is just around the corner. There'll be plenty of time for a change of flavors, colors and activities.

For more health news visit Mission Valley Acupuncture
p.s. If my parents were still alive, today would have been their 76th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Basic Principles

I was 21 years old and in my first apartment. I decided to make a stew since it was winter and that seemed like a cozy idea. I got all the ingredients that the word "stew" conjured up in me - onions and garlic (of course!), plus meat and vegetables. I came home and began preparing my stew, without benefit of a recipe (of course!) I had the pot sizzling on the stove when it dawned on me that stews had some kind of liquid in them. I didn't have a clue what that might be, so I called a friend of mine who was a good cook and asked him what I should use. He asked me if I had any kind of broth. No. Boullion cubes? Nope. What about wine? I had had some friends over the night before, and that was all gone. Well then, it looked like water was my option.

That seemed so.........plain. Uninteresting. I scoured my fridge and found a couple of bottles of beer that someone had left from the night before. Oh well....I didn't particularly like beer, but since it was the only liquid I had other than water, I decided to give it a try.

Incredible! I loved the result! I called my friend back and told him of my ingenious solution. He was pleased with it, and told me that stews were based on a principle. You have some sort of meat, some kind of vegetables, whatever herbs and spices you like, and a liquid. Any of those ingredients can change from one recipe to the next, but the principle remains the same.

So the next time you look at a recipe that intrigues you, and perhaps it's snowing out or raining furiously, or you're just feeling too lazy to head to the market to get all the necessary ingredients, try experimenting. If the recipe calls for wine and you only have beer, don't let that stop you. You won't get the exact same results, but you'll probably wind up with something delilcious. Recipes are great starting places, and sometimes they're worth following to the letter. (I do that when I bake.) But lots of times you can create a fantastic meal without having to be so precise in your approach. Remember, it's supposed to be fun!
For more health news, visit Mission Valley Acupuncture

Monday, January 22, 2007

Baked Apples

I was reading the 28 cooks recent post "Behind The Apron Roundup", suggesting that we post our photos on our blogs so that others will see whose wonderful recipes we are enjoying. So if I can figure out the technical part of this, my photo will appear at the bottom of this post. If not, I'll have to do another posting just for that.

But today's blog is about baked apples, one of my favorite winter comfort foods. Baked apples take me back to my childhood on Long Island, where the winters were cold and the kitchen was warm. Baked apples make me think of dragging my sled up the little hill on our front lawn and coasting down it, or "bellywhoppin'" down the street with our sleds. Baked apples meant mom's in the kitchen, all's right with the world.

So here is my own variation on baked apples, which is a cross between my mom's recipe, my friend Lisa's, and my own inability to follow anyone else's recipe. Abysmally simple, and absolutely scrumptious.

4 large rome apples
4 TBS butter or substitute (Smart Balance, Earth Balance etc.)
2 heaping TBS brown sugar
dash of cinnamon
3/4 tsp orange extract or orange liqueur

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. When thoroughly blended, add the extract.

Wash apples thoroughly and core. (That's the biggest job.) Place them in a shallow baking dish. Place equal amounts of the butter/brown sugar mixture in the center of each apple. Bake for 50 minutes, or until apple skins start to split.

Note: I don't like to peel my apples for this dish. I love eating the baked skins. They're delicious and add fibre to the food.

I like serving this dish with plain yogurt in the center. You can substitute anything else that appeals to you - vanilla flavored yogurt, sour cream - whatever.
Hey! This worked! OK, so you already know that I grew up on Long Island. I've migrated west since then. I lived for 12 years in New Mexico (future posts on my love affair with chili) and worked as a potter. Now I live in San Diego and am an acupuncturist and herbalist. Food and photography are my hobbies, though obviously food photography isn't my strongest suit. (I'm a people photographer primarily). But I'm learning!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rx: Chocolate

I confess I love chocolate. Especially dark chocolate. I love it plain and with dried fruit in it. From chocolate liqueur poured over ice cream to mole sauce, I will find a way to incorporate it into my eating life.

Is this anything a legitimate health care professional should confess in public? Well, as it turns out yes. For a couple of reasons. First of all, it seems that dark chocolate can actually be good for you. Well, in "modest" amounts, anyway. It used to be said that an apple a day kept the doctor away, but recent studies have shown that a square of dark chocolate a day can actually cut in half your risk of heart disease . So from a health care perspective, you can say you're in it for the medicinal purposes. (Just don't tell that to anyone but the cat.)

And then there's another, and perhaps more important medical reason why eating chocolate can be good for you. I spoke with a friend recently whose sister-in-law died of cancer at a young age. She had been following a very strict, raw-foods diet in her attempt to combat her disease. Apparently, when she was on her deathbed, she told her husband, "I wish I had eaten more McDonald's french fries."

What a sad thing to be looking back, wishing you had eaten something "sinful"! Not that I counsel my patients to chow down on donuts or pork rinds. But it's so clear to me that living a healthy life is much, much more than always doing what's "right". The food that is good for your body is fine to eat as a basic diet . But let's not forget the spirit. Sometimes when you get those cravings for something "bad", it's a sign that your spirit needs nourishing.

In his introduction to MFK Fisher's "The Art of Eating", Clifton Fadiman writes that "the palate persists in glory almost to the very end." So let's not forget to celebrate our daily lives in ways that honor our bodies and ways that honor our spirit. Yes, it's important to eat a healthy diet. And it's equally important to enjoy those fries.

Or that chocolate.


For more health news, visit
Mission Valley Acupuncture

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Leftovers revisited

In my last post, I created a stew out of leftovers. But what if the last 3 times you had leftovers, you made a stew, and you'd like something else for a change of pace? There are 2 other directions you can go in: a soup or a pasta dish. I'll give you the principles here, and if you need help with any of them, just post a comment and I'll respond.

The basic principle is that leftovers get a real lift if you add something new to them. Onion is always a good starting place. In my world, garlic rules. So even if I had onions and garlic in the original recipe, unless there were LOTS of them, I'd start with these 2. Anytime I cook, if I start with onions and garlic and someone comes over, they always say "Wow! That smells good! What are you making?" At this point it's up to you what else to add. If it's winter, you might want to steam some winter vegetables and add them - turnips or parsnips, for instance. Or green beans or broccoli or whatever looks good at the market that day. In the summer, you've got lots and lots of choices, and any of them would be good. Sometimes all you need to add is a few herbs - remembering that you need less of the dried kind than the fresh. Thyme is a good addition to most things. If you've got tomatoes in your original dish and the recipe called for basil, you can add Oregano. Sometimes you might want to add certain vegetables for their color. I love adding carrots, for instance. They always brighten up any dish.

If you're going in the soup direction, then all you need to do is sautee or steam any new veggies, add your leftovers and broth. Remember, soup will be better the next day, so don't just make enough for one day. It will keep nicely in the fridge for several days.

If you're going in the pasta direction (CARBS! OMG!), then cook your pasta, add your leftovers and some low fat ricotta cheese. To really perk it up some more, you can add some grated sharp cheddar as well. Mix it up, put it in a 350 degree oven and let it heat for about 30-40 minutes. When it's bubbly, it's ready.


Sunday, January 14, 2007


I have a friend who always throws all the leftover food away at the end of dinner. Whaaaaat? I look at that chicken and those veggies and rice, and I see days of food being tossed. As a busy single woman with a career, I know that I don't have time to cook every night. I thrive on leftovers, and find that you can create fabulous dishes out of leftovers. More evidence that one man's trash is another woman's treasure!

So here's what I did recently with some leftover steak that my neighbor gave to me. (He knows I deal in leftovers!) This is just one option. Next time I'll discuss another direction you could take.

Cubed remains of steak. (Or chicken. Or pork.)
1 onion
1 TBS garlic
2 tomatoes, or small can of diced tomatoes. (It's OK if they're flavored!)
2 red potatoes, cubed and microwaved for a minute.
1 C fresh mushrooms (Portabellos are great. If not, choose brown ones over white
1/2 lb. green beans
1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/2 bottle of red wine
1 1/2 C beef broth (or chicken). Preferably low sodium.
1 TBS brown sugar
pinch of Kosher salt
1 TBS (or more to taste) Hungarian Paprika. (It has more bite!)

Sautee onion on medium heat till it starts to turn carmel colored. Add garlic and meat, lower heat and continue to sautee for about another 5 minutes, stirring. Add potatoes, tomatoes (if using fresh) and mushrooms, stir for another 2-3 minutes. Add wine, broth, sugar, salt, paprika and thyme, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered. If you're using canned tomatoes, then add them with this last batch of ingredients.

Set a timer for 45 minutes, and relax. All you need to do is adjust the seasonings at the end.

Remember that this is about leftovers. So if you don't have any green beans, but you've got leftover broccoli, then use it! No potatoes, but winter squash instead? Great! Not a wine drinker, but a beer lover instead? Use the leftover beer in the cans or bottles that your friends had last night. It doesn't matter that it's flat. It's liquid. And it doesn't matter if you don't like beer. If that's the liquid you've got, use it. It won't taste like beer when you're done.

For more health news visit
Mission Valley Acupuncture

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Daily Bread Revisited

Yesterday I mentioned that if you look back through history, you will see that people did not gain weight by eating bread. Today I want to explore that idea a little more, as it is not a simple one.

While it's true that people didn't gain weight by eating bread, it's also true that what they considered to be "work" was usually hard physical labor. Work meant getting up early, heading out to the fields or factory, and pushing, pulling, chopping, dragging, lifting, carrying etc. More people used their muscles when they worked in the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries (as well as before) than they do now. Today, most work is performed at a desk, on the phone, in the car, or in a store or a shop. There is less physical labor involved in work. The muscles most of us use today in this country are the jaw muscles, the tongue, and the muscles of the hands and arms while working on our computers.

So it's important to look at your occupation before you decide what will or will not cause you to gain weight. Once you realize that your desk job doesn't require as many calories as a construction worker's job, then you can consider your eating options. No matter what you do for a living, though, you needn't eliminate bread from your diet. You can enjoy bread with soup or stew and not pay the price on the scale. I'll go into that further in a future post, but right now, I want to give you a simple recipe, given to me by a friend, for the first bread I ever made. It's a French baguette, based on the one found in "The Joy of Cooking", and it's foolproof.

Makes 2 long loaves

1/2 C milk
Add to it
1/2 C boiling water

While this liquid cools to 85 degrees (almost same as your body), dissolve:
1 package yeast

1/4 C in 85 degree water

After the yeast rests for 10 minutes, add it to the milk mixture with:
1 1/2TBS melted shortening
1 TBS sugar

Measure into a large mixing bowl:
4 C sifted unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar

With your hands, mix the last 3 ingredients together. Make a hole in the center of them and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir thoroughly, but do not knead. The dough will be soft. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise. (You can always partially fill your sink with warm water and set the bowl in it, if you live in a particularly cold place.)

Take your fist and punch down the dough. Divide dough in half, and place half on a lightly floured board. With the heel of your hand, push the dough until it forms an oblong shape. Now roll the dough towards you, pushing outward gently and tapering the ends as you go. You will get a long, thin loaf this way. Repeat with the other half.

Place the 2 loaves on a greased baking sheet, cut diagonal slits in the top with a sharp knife, and set in a warm place to rise until somewhat less than double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You may place a pie tin of boiling water in the bottom of the oven at this point, or do as I do and use a spray bottle and spray the loaves 2-3 times during the baking process. The point is that there should be some moisture in the oven while the loaves bake. Place the cookie sheet in the oven, spray loaves 3-4 times then close the door.

Bake bread for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350, spray again and bake for 30 minutes more. Check after 15 minutes to see if you want to spray again. Loaves should be developing a nice tan color.

Cool on a rack until you can't stand it anymore. Then pull apart and eat.

For more health news visit Mission Valley Acupuncture

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Daily Bread

We are all familiar with the phrase. We've heard it recited and perhaps have recited it ourselves regularly. "Give us this day our daily bread..."

Think about it.

Daily bread. Not daily protein and vegetables. Daily bread. In today's carbophobic world, that phrase is threatened with extinction. Bread has become the enemy. Bread is the whole reason we are fat. Bread makes us sleepy. Bread is the source of all that is unwanted.

But is it? Most of us are familiar with what is commonly referred to as the "French Paradox". The fact that the French, whose diet includes lots of bread, a higher fat content butter than we use here in the U.S., wine, fatty meat etc. - those French people have a lower rate of heart disease than we do. How is this possible?

I'm not sure if anyone has come up with a definitive answer, but one theory says that it just might be the bread in their diet. Or, at least that bread is one contributing factor.

The food which has sustained humans since biblical times, the food which has always been thought of as synonamous with food itself is bread. And when you look back into history, you will see that people did not gain weight by eating bread.

There is much to be explored in this topic. I will go into it more in tomorrows post, and it is a theme I intend to return to periodically.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Winter eating, Part II

I've given some thought to yesterday's posting. As an acupuncturist, I get patients who are amazed that I eat meat. "But I thought you would eat healthy food!"

I do.

I want to clarify a few points here. First of all, when I say "meat", I mean either chicken, beef, pork or lamb. Some people seem to feel that chicken isn't meat. That's OK. If you view chicken as something other than meat, I have no issues with that. My use of that word is to differentiate it from fish, vegetables or a starch. So you may substitute any word you wish for "meat", if that helps you to understand my point.

The second point, and probably the more important one, is the question of whether or not meat is healthy for you. The answer, I think, is not a simple "yes" or "no". Both of my parents lived to age 90, and they ate meat at LEAST 4 times a week. My mom didn't buy organic meat, but she did buy high quality food. So perhaps in my case, there can be a genetic factor which allows me to eat meat without some of the harsher consequences? I can't say for sure. But when you think about the days when most people used to farm, they ate meat. What they called "work" was hard, physical labor. They ate hearty meals which contained meat and fat and they worked hard. Infections or accidents accounted for a large percentage of illnesses and deaths in those days.

So if you do not get much exercise, if you do not use your body, if you spend most of your time on the phone and at the computer, then perhaps you should go more lightly on the meat. If, on the other hand, you enjoy physical activities such as sports, hiking, running, swimming, etc., then I believe that your body can handle more meat.

Besides, in the winter time, when the weather is cold, meat will help warm you up!

Happy eating!

p.s. When I gave the amount of meat in yesterday's recipe, that was not meant to be written in stone, any more than anything else I write! If you've got more than that, use more! If you've got less, then add more veggies!

p.p.s. For those of you who live in Salem, Mass., my dear friend Jeanie Marie Kraft has been keeping people and their pets healthy for many years. If you're not familiar with her, visit one of her websites, for dogs or for humans. Jeanie has been working with dogs and their owners to increase the health and well-being of both through acupuncture, herbs, supplements and, of course, diet and nutrition!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Winter eating

When I was an acupuncture student, I had a patient come to me complaining of feeling very cold. Even in the summertime, she couldn't get warm. She went to bed wearing socks, a hat, long underwear and a down vest. She slept under a down comforter. Her husband tried to keep a window open on those hot August nights so that he could get some air, but it made her too cold. She complained that her hair had begun to fall out.

In the course of my intake, I asked her what her diet consisted of. She told me that about 8 years prior she had learned that when you cook food, you kill all the vitamins. So her diet consisted entirely of raw foods. She hadn't eaten anything cooked in 8 years!

I told her that according to the principles of Oriental medicine, raw foods are very cooling, while cooked foods can warm. In the summertime, raw foods will help you cool down, while in the winter time, it's important to eat more cooked foods to help you stay warm. In eating nothing but raw foods winter and summer, she had managed to cool her digestive system down sufficiently so that it was no longer able to supply her body with the energy to keep her warm. As I spoke with her, her eyes got wider and she said "That makes sense!"

Even though her first visit was in early September, I told her I thought it would benefit her to start eating cooked foods. I treated her with acupuncture needles and moxibustion (a heat therapy) and told her I wanted to see her the following week. When she returned the following week, she had a big smile on her face. She had begun to feel warmer! She needed no further acupuncture treatments once she learned how to eat in harmony with the seasons.

Here's a simple winter stew recipe. I'm never exact about my amounts because....well, because I never really think about it when I cook. But I'll give you the basics. If you have any leftovers, this is a wonderful way to use them. Don't feel you have to use the veggies I list here. Start with what you have in the refrigerator. It will taste just fine! The recipe will serve 2-3 people easily. If you wind up with leftovers - Great! Don't throw them away. You'll have the beginning of a great soup!!

Winter Stew:

3/4 onion - yellow or red, chopped
2-3 tsp. garlic to taste, chopped*
large handful of peeled baby carrots
1/2 head of broccoli, or a large handful of green beans
2 red potatoes (yes, it's OK to eat carbs!), cut into cubes. The size of the cubes isn't important, but know that the bigger they are, the longer they'll take to cook.
1 Tbs. tomato paste. (you may freeze the rest of the can and slice chunks of it as needed in the future.)
1 1/2 Tbs. Hungarian paprika. If you're like me, you'll want to also add
1 Tbs. red chili powder (optional)
pinch of salt, preferably Kosher
dash of pepper.
Broth - low salt chicken or beef or vegetable. Enough to cover with about an inch more.

Meat. This can either be cut up boneless chicken breast, beef or pork. Meat should be cut into cubes or strips, whatever works. How much meat? If you're starting from scratch, use about 1/2 chicken, or the equivalent amount of other meat. If you're using leftovers, use what you've got, and that's the right amount. You can combine different meats if you have a little pork and a little chicken left over.

If you are vegetarian, you may substitute lentils for meat. Use about 3/4 cup. Lentils are preferable to tofu, as tofu is made with gypsum, one of the coldest substances in the Chinese Materia Medica. If you're using lentils, you can add a little more garlic, and some cut up tomatoes added at the end. Makes for great color!

Place potatoes on a plate, cover with paper towels (Never use plastic wrap!) microwave for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of your cubes. You may peel them or leave the skins on.

Meanwhile, in a large pan sautee the onions and garlic in a little olive or canola oil over medium heat. Add the chicken when the onions are cooked to a light carmel color - about 3 minutes. Sautee using a spatula to turn the chicken often. Add the potatoes and continue to cook, stirring often, about 3 mintes. Add carrots and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the broccoli or green beans, salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes.

Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat, put the lid on the pot, set the table, light the candles and turn on some soothing music. By the time you get done doing that, the stew is ready to eat.

Note: If you are using lentils, you will want to cook them in a separate pot. You may use some broth, or a combo of broth and water to cook them. When the lentils are done, add the vegetables to them, stir and serve.

* I use chopped garlic out of a jar. It saves time and tastes great!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Recovering ourselves

We have been through the holidays, the sugar saturation, the alchohol and fat frenzy, and now we think "Whew! Glad that's over!" Especially when we look in the mirror. But it's more than our outer bodies that have been over indulged. Our inner bodies, our energetic selves, have been subjected to extraordinary changes over the last month. So many of us stock up on energy bars and hit the gym. The same frenzy that drove us while we partied through the holidays drives us to straighten up and start "getting healthy". In the long run, we do further damage to this energetic body by pushing it, pulling it, squeezing and forcing it into our habits du jour.

After all, is this frenzy any more healthy than the last? What do we mean when we say "healthy", anyway? Is it the absence of symptoms? A thinner body? The ability to do 300 crunches at the gym? Or is it, as the ancient sages used to say, to live a life in balance?

I think my cat has a handle on what healthy means. She eats when she's hungry, and only when she's hungry, even though her food is available to her 24/7. She sleeps when she's tired. She plays when she's in the mood, avoids me when she's not in the mood, and cuddles and "kisses" when she needs to. She avoids expectations and lives in the moment.

So I have decided to take a lesson from her. I love food, love to cook and eat. But I also love to move - to walk fast, to dance, to swim, etc. In other words, I enjoy my senses, and I try to live with the body I have and enjoy it. In the long run, I believe that this is far healthier than screeching on the food brakes and amping up the treadmill. Besides, it tastes better!

Future posts will contain some healthy, tasty, working person friendly food tips and recipes!