Dieting, overeating, binging and food blogging

photo courtesy of Sycamore Street

I have been pretty absent from my blog lately. Which is not to say that I haven’t been logging in, making sure things are in order and editing; that is constant and I kind of feel like my WordPress dashboard is like a second, virtual home; I feel good being logged in and get a sense of accomplishment looking at my stats and tweaking my work to make it better. But, I haven’t been posting as much as before.

I started a new job this month and kind of fell off the face of the internet since then because my brain was busy learning new things and felt pretty tired out at the end of the day. Hence, fewer posts. However, there has been more going on than just work and sleep (ok, and Netflix…and Game of Thrones season 4….) I don’t like to use the word diet in the form of a verb (“I’m diet-ing.”), but I have definitely been playing with and riding a roller coaster with what I have been eating this month. Before posting the ultimate coconut cream cake that I had all planned out, or the peanut butter eggs I was going to make for Easter, I have hesitated. In the past I have swung back and forth between “Well, if I want to help people, I should only post healthy recipes, right?” and “Cakes and decorated cupcakes and desserts based on books are SO FUN– I want to have fun and I want other people to have FUN!” I keep getting hit with the realization, however, that my body isn’t okay with consuming pounds of sugar and that, you know, I really do have a hard time eating moderately when there is an entire cake in our fridge and only two of us to eat it (plus my boyfriend has the most painfully modest and polite eating habits on the planet–painful because I feel like a stegosaurus by comparison whenever we sit down to eat.) I even try to pawn off desserts on our lovely roommates, but they always seem to have more self-control than I do.

So I’m at a crossroads: what items will you see on my recipes page in the future? Can I follow my passion for baking or do I need to take a break and change things up? I only know that I’m going to keep posting, that I’m going to keep cooking and that I’m dedicated to really taking care of myself and that will ultimately help others do the same when they find my articles. I’m at a crossroads with my personal life as well: can I forgo some of the many pleasurable things that are on offer in the short term in favor of my long-term well-being? 

These things have been at the forefront of my mind…

My mom has been off sugar for months now: absolutely incredible. I’m going sugar-free myself this week (small increments of time feel less panic inducing and are easier to stick to) and seeing her do it is definitely an inspiration.

This article has great information about what cravings indicate about your body’s deficiencies, for example, when you’re craving sweets, eat cheese, sweet potatoes or fresh fruit because your body is really craving chromium, carbon phosphorous, tryptophan and sulfur.

One Part Plant, Jessica Murnane’s blog for healthy eating. Really gorgeous recipes.

I’ve been engaging in EFT to clear away a lot of the childhood hangups I’m still carrying around about food, for example the concept of “comfort food,” the idea of eating ice-cream when you feel sad, or the basic idea that eating food is a reward or, even something to be rewarded (remember the ‘clean plate club?’) I first heard about EFT from reading Gala Darling.

I’m also engaging in conversations to clear out aforementioned hangups: talking to my boyfriend, family and even friends about it helps so much. I’d like to make a note that I’ve talked about my eating issues my whole life, but in a very different way. I would brag about how much I could eat without gaining weight, I would joke about how I had no control over myself and would talk endlessly about chocolate (girls are supposed to talk about chocolate, right? that’s like ‘our thing!’) I literally thought if my eating wasn’t disordered in the starving/purging side of things, then I had a healthy relationship with food (oh, teenaged brain….)

I’m reading more, writing more, learning more. I like to be challenged and I like to reward myself emotionally when I’ve done something difficult. Usually this reward comes in the form of food. I went and bought some new books this month. I’m reading them. I’m excited about reading them and look forward to reading them. It’s kind of simple and may seem feeble as far as a ‘defense’ goes, but having a part of every day to do something I like takes the edge off the day’s stressors and I truly believe it’s helping me with the panicked ‘stress eating’ that I experience.

photo courtesy of momastery

I will definitely post more on this subject and I hope that it doesn’t come across as too fragmented or negative in any way! I am in the midst of these changes, so it is hard to talk about them with the detachment that time and experience provide. (I also have no desire to overshadow anyone who has actually been diagnosed with an eating disorder and their trials. I also have no training or qualifications to advise from a medical or psychological standpoint, but these fine folks do.) This is where I’m at and I thought I’d share a little of what’s going on in my brain and in my kitchen lately. Please feel free to comment!

Mushroom ravioli with lemon, hazelnuts and browned butter

recipe, mushroom ravioli, baked, brown butter, hazelnuts, lemon, trumpet mushroomsI made this ravioli a couple years ago and it has become my go-to for ‘fancy’ dinners; if I don’t have a lot of time, but want to do something impressive, I make mousse for dessert and I make mushroom ravioli with lemon, hazelnuts and browned butter for dinner.recipe, mushroom ravioli, baked, brown butter, hazelnuts, lemon, trumpet mushrooms

I think that this is one of the prettier dishes I’ve made. It has color, which is unusual for a mushroom recipe, from the fresh parsley (yay, garden!) and lemon zest and it has thin slices of trumpet mushrooms, which add visual texture to the pasta. The hazelnuts are warmed in the browned butter, lending them a toasty flavor and bringing out the nuttiness in the butter. The best part? It takes about half an hour to assemble this dish and the techniques are all very easy. With the lemon and fresh herbs, this recipe is perfect for a Spring dinner, served with a side salad of endive, balsamic reduction and crumbled gorgonzola. Take dinner outside and enjoy the sunshine!recipe, mushroom ravioli, baked, brown butter, hazelnuts, lemon, trumpet mushrooms

Mushroom ravioli with lemon, hazelnuts and browned butter serves 4
good olive oil
1/2 lb cremini or button mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
2 fresh sage leaves, minced
kosher salt
cayenne pepper
2 Tbs flour
splash white wine
4-5 trumpet mushrooms
3 Tbs butter
handful hazelnuts, chopped in half
1 pkg small wonton wraps. I use nasoya
a few sprigs Italian parsley, chopped
freshly grated parmesan cheese – about 1/2 cup
zest from 1/2 a lemon

Dice the cremini mushrooms and warm 2-3 Tbs olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and sage and simmer. Add the diced mushrooms and a splash of white wine. Allow to simmer for a few minutes or until the mushrooms shrink slightly. Add the flour and stir to incorporate evenly. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a generous dash of cayenne. Stir, then set aside to cool completely on a plate. Start bringing a large pot of water to a boil.

Slice the trumpet mushrooms in long, thin slices: I can usually get about three slices out of one mushroom. Warm a pan with a couple Tbs olive oil and lay the sliced trumpets flat in the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and brown both sides. Set aside for later use. Place the butter and hazelnuts in a pan (I just wipe down and use the same, medium-sized saucepan) and set it on low. Stir occasionally until the butter browns. It will foam a bit at first (I think this is due to the hazelnuts), but then it will darken and the edges of the hazelnuts will toast. Take off the heat and reserve.

Now that your filling is cold, you’re ready to make your ravioli! In order for the edges of the wonton wrappers to adhere to one another, one edge of the dough has to be wet, so keep a small dish of water handy for this purpose. You have two options here: you can make 12-15 large ravioli or about 20-25 smaller ones: it’s up to you. For a larger ravioli, wet all four edges of a wrapper, place 1 Tbs filling in the center and place another wrapper on top. Pinch closed the edges and set aside. This option has more dough to filling. If you prefer, you can wet only two edges of a wrapper, place a scant 1/2 Tbs of filling in the center and pinch it closed into a triangle shape. Set ravioli aside on  dry plate until you are ready to boil them.

Lower each ravioli gently into the boiling water and turn halfway through the cooking cycle. They are very delicate and will burst open if you have not sealed the edges properly. You can test a few to start and reseal the remaining ravioli if they burst. The ravioli only need to boil for about 3 minutes and can then be lifted with a slitted spoon and placed on 1-2 lightly oiled, pyrex baking dishes. Once the ravioli are spread out on the baking dish(es), you can pile them up with the parsley, lemon, trumpet mushrooms, brown butter, hazelnuts and parmesan. Broil for a minute or two to melt the cheese and sprinkle lightly with salt and another dash of cayenne. Serve with great pomp and circumstance.

Starfruit, macadamia and gorgonzola salad

macadamia nuts, recipe, gorgonzola, salad, recipe, starfruit

I’ve been meaning to post a salad recipe for the past week– with the recent heatwave, a fresh, crisp salad is the perfect afternoon snack or even entrée. I don’t know about you, but when it gets really hot out, I lose my appetite almost entirely. If anything, I just want to chow down on fresh fruit and drink smoothies. I’ve been walking past stacks of starfruit at our local grocery store all week and finally caved in: today is the day of the starfruit salad. If you’ve never tried it before, starfruit has a delicate, citrusy, almost floral flavor, a slightly tart skin and crisp texture. With only a few basic ingredients, this flavorful and impressive-looking salad is composed of starfruit slices and curly endive, balsamic reduction, raw macadamia nuts and earthy gorgonzola.

macadamia nuts, recipe, gorgonzola, salad, recipe, starfruit macadamia nuts, recipe, gorgonzola, salad, recipe, starfruitStarfruit, macadamia and gorgonzola salad serves 2-4
1 starfruit, sliced
1 head organic frisée endive
1/4 c chopped raw macadamia nuts
1 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
1 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c brown sugar

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir the balsamic vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and reduce by half (about 20 minutes.) Allow to cool before dressing the salad. Wash the endive carefully and tear into bite-sized pieces, then spin. Toss the endive with gorgonzola and macadamia nuts, then drizzle with balsamic reduction. Plate with sliced starfruit.

Gluten~ and Sugar~free banana quick breads

sugar-free, gluten-free, recipe, banana bread, banana crêpes, easyThis has been the week of the banana  conundrum: my boyfriend, our two roommates and I all bought bananas and let them go brown before realizing we should eat them. I spent the whole week saying “I’m going to make banana bread!” then coming home exhausted from work, flopping into bed and losing consciousness while banana after banana made the transformation from delicately spotted to black and slimy beyond edibility. With three bananas left, I knew this was my last chance to make something happen, so I brought out the magic bullet and went to town.sugar-free, gluten-free, recipe, banana bread, banana crêpes, easy

You can easily replace both the sugar and half of the fat in any recipe with a fruit purée. While this sounds slightly sad (I love my sugar– granulated, brown, caster, maple, what-have-you…), I recognize how important it is to moderate my intake of sweet things. This recipe is gluten~free and completely sweetened with banana. It can be used to make crêpes, muffins or little tea cakes and be garnished with honey, nuts, cocoa nibs or dark chocolate. Half of the fat in the recipe is replaced with banana and the recipe is completely dairy-free, substituting coconut milk for dairy milk and using vegetable oil for the remaining fat.sugar-free, gluten-free, recipe, banana bread, banana crêpes, easysugar-free, gluten-free, recipe, banana bread, banana crêpes, easy

Experiment with this recipe! I’m sure there are uses for it that I haven’t thought of! It is not overtly sweet, but it has a mild, banana flavor and has a moist but light crumb. When baking, bake at 350F and remove when golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. My favorite incarnation was the crêpes, drizzled with honey and dusted with nuts and chocolate shavings.sugar-free, gluten-free, recipe, banana bread, banana crêpes, easy

Gluten- and sugar-free banana quick bread
2 brown-speckled bananas
3 Tbs water
6 oz coconut milk
2 large eggs
2 oz vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free flour
2 tsp baking soda
pinch kosher salt
dash of cinnamon

Puree the bananas with 3 Tbs water. In a medium bowl, whisk with the coconut milk and eggs. Stream in the oil while whisking and add the vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Bake in a lightly oiled pan at 350F or fry on a lightly oiled crêpe pan.

The Red Wedding

The Red Wedding Game of Thrones CocktailSo…GAME OF THRONES!!! yay! This drink takes an unexpected twist on the wedding tradition of drinking champagne by adding lots of red stuff and making everyone cry.

*ahem* Champagne rouge with a swirl of pomegranate molasses, garnished with a rhubarb twist.

The Red Wedding Game of Thrones Cocktail

The Red Wedding
1 bottle champagne rouge
pomegranate molasses
1 stalk rhubarb
Use a knife to peel curls from 1 stalk of rhubarb. Pour 1 Tbs pomegranate molasses per flute and fill with chilled red champagne. Gently stir with a swizzle stick. Garnish with a rhubarb curl and rim the glass with a little pomegranate molasses. Serve while watching the 4th season!The Red Wedding Game of Thrones Cocktail

Ginger garlic kale chips


Ginger garlic kale chips,recipe

Finally, some sunshine! Although we desperately need the rain here in California, I am happy to be out in our yard, taking photos and snacking on crunchy kale chips. I’ve been sending out my writing to various literary magazines the last few days and have adjusted to my new work schedule. Life is good. Share these addictively crunchy, flavorful crisps with a friend or hoard them for yourself while you lounge by the pool with the latest issue of Bust magazine. Completely vegan and gluten-free, they take only ten minutes to make!

Ginger garlic kale chips,recipeGinger garlic kale chips
1 bunch of curly kale
1/4 c olive oil
1 clove garlic
small thumb of ginger (same size as the clove of garlic)
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450F. Tear the leafy parts of the washed kale away from the stems and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and grate the ginger and garlic over the leaves. Toss with clean hands until the oil, ginger and garlic are evenly distributed and the kale leaves have a thin coating of olive oil. Spread out on two cookie sheets and bake until crisp, about 5-8 minutes (check periodically). Parts of the leaves will brown slightly. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt if desired, then allow to cool before serving.