Posts tagged: winter recipes
January 11, 2012

Detox Recipes That Taste Really Good

After my usual holiday over-doing it, It feels good to board the healthy eating bandwagon. And while it’s probably not the best habit to bounce from extremes (steak, bourbon, gravy to kale, green tea, soup), it does make me very eager for the change. I was stuffed with cookies and cheese; it felt good to alter course.

And perhaps a little surprisingly, it tasted delicious. After my brother-in-law sent me a link to My New Roots, I started seeing this vibrant Danish blog mentioned everywhere. She designed the recipes below, and they’re wonderful.

One of the recurring questions among my friends is, “Why is it so hard to do what’s good for you?” Cause lord knows it usually is. But there’s also a kind of snowball effect once you get going with decisions that affect your well-being. When you feel good, you want to keep feeling good. You begin to even crave the habits that make you feel bright, content, and fluid.

Here’s an example: I spent this past weekend in the first part of an Anusara yoga immersion. Going in, I was a bit terrified of what six hours of yoga two days in a row would feel like. I should have been more concerned about returning to my desk Monday morning and sitting in a chair for eight hours. Come evening, I’d usually rather watch another rerun of Roseanne than put on yoga pants right before bed. But on Monday evening a few pre-bedtime twists was the right choice for me.

The ultimate challenge, I think, is getting from feeling bad, mired in habits, depressed, whatever the current stuckness may be, to finding a spark that can spur a new kind of decision. Many of us tend to force ourselves out of it, but a friend of mine takes a more gentle approach. A change can start with the smallest choice, she says, and we’ll bring it on when we’re ready. I find that comforting. We don’t need to strong arm ourselves into new habits or new eras; it’s not a matter of force, it’s a matter of ease. And when we’re ready we’ll know it. I read a section in a book last night on receptivity that seems fitting:

Receptivity is a practice many people find difficult, because we live in a culture that says things are accomplished primarily through doing. This attitude creates a bias toward knowing, planning, taking action, a kind of predatory attitude toward life––where we decide what we want, focus on it, and go for it at all costs. But how many of us have done this only to be dissatisfied with what we get?  ––The Practice of Wholeness

Being receptive seems to fit beautifully with back to basics and leaning into the life we have now: being open to ourselves, our thoughts, our sense of whimsy, being open to the world around us and the people and obstacles we meet each day, and being open to every joy, quirk, and marvel in the moment to moment moment of the everyday. “We may experience a sense of magic or serendipity––wherein events happen which fit our needs perfectly. Seemingly remarkable coincidences […] are the result of our receptivity.”

And so back to feeling good, and specifically these recipes. Please, dear heavens, don’t see these dishes or this post as an admonition. If anything, it’s an invitation to be receptive to where you are, wherever you are, right now. If they recipes appeal to your senses at this moment in time, I promise they’re both really lovely. And no one’s saying you can’t eat a little kale slaw before a nice steak, either.

Continue reading “Detox Recipes That Taste Really Good” »

November 17, 2011

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Lamb, and Kasseri

We have not been cooking much lately. In the new age of Choose Two, a home-cooked dinner seems to be getting the short end of the stick. And, as always, I have my plans about how I will overcome: saved online shopping lists, visual inspiration of quick weeknight meals. I’m still feeling my way. But a benefit of the Choose Two era is that I’m learning to let go of any associated guilt.

So with minimal cooking going on, coming back to the same recipe twice in two weeks feels all the more meaningful. This dinner was an out-of-the park triumph.

It’s a recipe that’s familiar in its bolognese-like construction, but with unique ingredient substitutes: lamb for ground beef, kasseri (a Greek sheep’s milk cheese) for Parmesan, cilantro for parsley. (And then there’s cumin and cinnamon, oh my!) The result is heaven: an unexpected, utterly surprising explosion of flavor. On a weeknight!

Is there a weeknight recipe you’ve stumbled upon lately that’s knocked your socks off? I need additions to my inspiration file!

Continue reading “Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Lamb, and Kasseri” »

April 8, 2011

French Friday: Mustard Pork with Carrots and Lentils

Initially, I didn’t know if I should tell you about this recipe. But the truth is my complaints are a little akin to those Epicurious reviewers who give a recipe one star and then explain why: “I didn’t have duck confit, so I substituted tofu, skipped the tarragon and used dried thyme, and since I’m not a fan of onions or garlic I left those out, too. This recipe was so bland!” I really, really don’t want to be one of those people.

So I’m passing this recipe on because I have real faith that is good, and that I was the one to muck it up by wandering too far astray. The bones are solid, the preparation simple, the result the sort of homey French farmhouse food I can never turn down. But I do think the difference between this being simple or sublime lays in the ingredients, and this is where I went all wrong. If you use a high-quality, hormone-free pork tenderloin, fresh organic carrots, and green French lentils, you’ll be in business. Breaded pork, rich, mustardy lentils, and carrots just beginning to caramelize––really, what’s not to love?

And so we’ve finally reached Friday, and I can’t tell you quite how exuberant I feel about it! I’m off to my first yoga retreat this weekend, which I will hopefully have many interesting things to say about next week. How do you plan to replenish, recharge, and reboot in these next two blissful days? Whatever you do, I hope it’s filled with fine food, friendship and fun.

Continue reading “French Friday: Mustard Pork with Carrots and Lentils” »

March 11, 2011

French Friday: Vegetarian Cassoulet (and My New Approach to Bad Moods)

We’re on day two of no sunshine in my part of the world, and I am very much feeling the effects. Despite the neon daffodils in the bedroom and the fragrant pink hyacinths on the dinner table perfuming the entire apartment, these are dark days. The snow has melted and the cozy hot chocolate evenings are behind us, but the warm bright days of spring still not yet here; this is not what I would call seasonal easy street. It’s a tough transition. And you know how I am with transitions.

Here’s an idea for any of you struggling with a dark patch, seasonally or emotionally. Someone offered me a bit of radical advice last night that I found liberating, empowering: what if we didn’t pathologize our bad moods and dark days? What if we just gave them space to be and, in time, to pass? Accepted them for what they are, and then let them run their course––no judgments.

We live in such a happy face culture that a bad day can feel downright dangerous, threatening to our efforts at happiness and sense of progress. No matter how many times it happens, I worry that a bad mood marks the beginning of The New State of Things: the first day in a long life of misery. But our paths in work, in love, and in life, as I have to learn time and again, are not on a funicular-like course of continuous, rising ascension. We take two steps forward, two steps back. And then four steps forward. And then a little step back. And on and on.

Another aspect of happy face culture? We love to see things in black and white. Happy=good. Blue=bad. In meditation, I am trying to imagine my thoughts as if they were passing images on a dim, black and white movie screen. What if we approached our moods with the same sort of detachment? What if we let them play out, not worrying that any bad feeling is tightly knotted to our core sense of ourselves and what it means to be us?

And what has this to do with cassoulet? Perhaps not all that much, except I can’t imagine a better recipe for these cold, gray days of March. Whereas by the end of winter I am growing weary of tomato-based soups, the pale color palette of this cassoulet feels like a harbinger of spring, while the richness of it wards against the cold edge of dreary days. I liked this so cassoulet so much, and it so affordable compared to stocking up on duck confit, that I’m not sure I feel a reason to ever make the traditional version. It’s all about the garlicky, homemade breadcrumbs.

Happy––or unhappy––weekend, friends. No judgment.

Continue reading “French Friday: Vegetarian Cassoulet (and My New Approach to Bad Moods)” »