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Archive for September, 2010

Nothing Better

“I feel like it’s time to clean out,” I say.

“You mean like a cleanse?” He says.

“No.  I mean like closets,” I say.

That’s what started it all.  About six weeks ago at Mountain Dove Chiropractic I was on the table; Dr. Marc Viafora was adjusting me.

“A cleanse could be good.  Change the chemistry in your body. Three days.  Do juices.  And if you need to eat, eat fruit and veggies,” he says.

I certainly wasn’t going to do a cleanse.  Didn’t need it.  Didn’t want to interrupt the love affair I was having with cooking and eating great food.  So, I didn’t.  The thing was that I had been eating red meat, potatoes, sweets, raw tomatoes, peppers–all things that I usually avoid because they exacerbate the arthritis I have in several places.  But, I was having such fun!  Until…

A month later, with pains and aches in my neck, shoulders, low back, left knee and right elbow, I decided to give the cleanse a try.  My partner was going away for a week, so on departure day I started: two days, I said to myself, two days will be good.  The first day was hard: I drank delicious organic Apricot Nectar, ate sweet and juicy Utah peaches, figs, and watermelon, but by noon I was dying for tortilla chips and white bean hummus!  More juice and a green salad.  Dinner: dying for a dish of pasta with Marinara sauce!  Nope, cooked haricots verts, skinny green beans that I love, dressed with oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and salt & pepper (maybe I wasn’t supposed to have that, but I did) and they were delicious!  I made it through the first day, and I had energy to spare.  Slept like a baby, long and deeply.  Woke up the second day so hungry.  I’m eating today, I said to myself.

But I got up and felt so incredibly good physically and mentally that I decided to give it a go for a second day.   I had cleaned out several times the day before and could really feel the difference: unclogged.  So, I resumed my cleanse.  It was easier this day.  Not thinking about other food much at all.  Made a smoothie of pineapple and peaches with a little water for breakfast, cooked some beautiful red beets to add to my haricots verts and zipped through the day.  Felt great, had tons of energy, and, again, slept like a baby.

Third day:  okay, I can do this three-day thing, I said to myself.  And I did!  Same regimen of food and juice.

By the fourth morning I had lost 3 1/2 pounds, had NO aches and pains anywhere, and felt better mentally and emotionally than maybe EVER.  Holy moley!  This was a miracle!

I introduced grains into my diet gingerly for the next few days: polenta first, then couscous, then rice.  Kept on the fruit and veggies.  Added some rice chips and eventually beans.  It’s been two weeks now, and I still feel great in all ways!  I tried to eat a chicken breast without skin and got a little indigestion from it.  Might have ruined myself for meats!  Oh, well.  For my A+ blood type, I should really be a vegetarian in order for my system to function best.  I read that a year or so ago but refused it.  Now, I feel the truth of that from the inside out and am going with the flow because there is NOTHING BETTER than feeling this good!!

Rock on with your glorious selves!

Love,

Susan

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Pasta PuttanescaInsalata PanzanellaI really do love to cook.  For others, for myself, for the joy of watching a delicious meal come together.  There are those times when I want to spend half the day preparing a succulent feast, and I do.  But lately, I have been more drawn to simpler preparation.  Maybe it’s the heat of summer in the high-desert, which changes the kind of food I want to eat and the time I want to spend getting it all together. Whatever the reason, the result is a flurry of quick, easy, and delicious one, or two-dish meals that satisfy every bit as much as the more complex and elaborate servings.  Here are two selections that satisfy me completely with only a tossed green salad to complement and refresh.

Now, remember to put on some music to cook by.  I have just discovered Renee Fleming, so am cooking to her CD’s: Renee Fleming, a selection of gorgeous arias from Puccini, Massenet, Bizet, and more; Renee & Bryn, Fleming and Baritone Bryn Terfel singing great songs from hit Broadway shows: Sweeney Todd, Woman of the Year, Phantom of the Opera, The King & I, and more.  Pour yourself a glass of something, even bubbly crisp Pellegrino with a lemon twist, and enjoy yourself!

PASTA PUTTANESCA (In the red plate above)

This is a fairly well-known dish that can take as long as you want it to for preparation.  I have done the longer, making the sauce fresh in the pan, letting it simmer for an hour or more, but this is the short version, which depends totally on finding a pre-made pasta sauce that I really like.  I hadn’t found one until I tried Cost-Plus World Market’s line of sauces.  They are quite good and the texture is closer to what I want in a red sauce than others I have tried.  So, first off, go to World Market and get a jar of their Marinara Sauce.  If you don’t have World Market where you are, find a jarred Marinara Sauce that you like a lot and substitute that.

Again, this recipe serves one.  For more, make the appropriate additions.

Into a medium-sized non-stick frying pan, pour one-third of the jar of sauce.  Add a tablespoon of chopped capers, a handful of pitted Kalamata olives roughly cut in half, and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper (to your taste).  On low heat simmer it for as long as it takes to cook your pasta, stirring regularly.

This is typically made with Capellini (Angel Hair) or Spaghetti.  This time I wanted something different so I used De Lallo Tortiglioni #20, which is a bigger version of Rigatoni, so if you can’t find Tortiglioni, use Barilla Rigatoni.  Bring a good sized pot of water to rolling boil, add a dose of kosher salt and cook the pasta according to package directions.

Drain the pasta and put into pan with sauce, tossing until fully blended.  Then, pour it into a lovely bowl, or plate, and sit down and feast!  A good red wine that you like is a wonderful taste to incorporate into this meal!  I like Antinori Santa Cristina, a Tuscan Sangiovese, mmmm.

INSALATA PANZANELLA  (In the blue & white bowl above)

This dish was born of La Cucina Povera, The Poor Kitchen.  I love it because I have always, even as a kid, mopped up the salad dressing in the bottom of the bowl with French bread!  This dish is a great way to use bread that has gotten a bit hard but that you don’t want to throw away.

In a large wooden salad bowl pour three tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (good green oil!), one tablespoon of good Balsamic Vinegar (I have used flavored: pear, orange, raspberry, as well as the real stuff from Modena), 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of pressed fresh garlic, two dashes of Worcestershire sauce, a good pinch of sea salt.  Whisk it all together until it’s well-blended.  This is the famous salad dressing of my longtime dear friend Faith Winthrop.  Thank you, cara mia! (dear one!)

Cut or break up the leftover bread: a crusty loaf of some kind-French baguette, Italian batard, sourdough dinner rolls. CRUSTY is the key.  Place the pieces of bread in the bowl and toss with the dressing, making sure all are coated well.  Add sliced tomatoes and/or avocado if you wish.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at least an hour.  The longer the better.  Garnish with fresh Basil leaves or Italian Parsley.  Eat it right out of the bowl and sip a glass of whatever pleases you.  I enjoy a glass of white: the French Vouvray, or a good Sauvignon Blanc that isn’t so dry it makes my throat hurt afterwards!!

Bon Appetito, Amici! (Friends!)

Love,

Susan

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