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Just 8 Ingredients, To Your Satisfaction

19 Jul

I was watching an old episode of “True Life” on Mtv, and the subject happened to be extreme allergies.  There was this one teenage boy in particular who struck me because, basically, his food allergies were so severe that he was intolerant of all but something like 8 foods.  Of this entire wide world of foods, just 8!

Of course, he was suffering from a load of nutritional imbalances since his diet was so limited.  But it really started me thinking about how I eat foods with a million ingredients all the time, and that’s not very healthy either.  Anything processed, weird chemical dyes, etc.

chemistry in the kitchen

What if you had to limit yourself to eight, whole foods?

I posed the challenge to myself to create something healthy with 8 ingredients that I would be equally happy eating in the heat of the day or in the middle of the night.  My mission lately has been to incorporate as many vegetables into my diet as possible… so meet my salad!

pico de gallo, on the half shell

Just 8 Ingredient Salad

  • cucumber
  • bell pepper, multi-colored
  • tomato
  • onion, from my boyfriend’s nona’s garden
  • corn
  • lime juice
  • cilantro
  • tajín
1) Let the lime juice soften all the ingredients for a while in the refrigerator.  Come by every now and then to add more tajin & stir it around.
       1a. Or don’t wait, whatever!  I’m not your mother.  I just think it’s better cold.

Una knows healthy food when she sees it

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Intuitive Eating, To Your Satisfaction

17 Jul

Not to brag, but I actually lost weight on vacation.  While eating stuff like the chamomile creme brulee pictured above!  And it’s such a relief.

Writing down everything that you eat for two whole months makes you hyper-aware of the pervasive nature of food.  Exhausting hardly begins to cover it.  I’m grateful that I’ve learned how to eat in a healthier way, but I can’t go on being afraid of the things I love forever.

So I decided to just say, “fuck it,” and go on a real vacation from all the head games with food.   I was nervous about going off the wagon, but I think I knew intuitively that I could make good decisions.  Trusting myself in that way again felt foreign and very, very nice.

The craziest thing to say is that it was really easy.  I scavenged what I could from the continental breakfast, went outside and moved around a lot during the middle of every day, had fancy dinners with my sister, and everything turned out okay.

tree pose at the gravity garden in Carmel

I guess it’s all about striking a balance :]




Handmade Trail Mix, To Your Satisfaction

12 Jul

I’m so hungry for everything right now – food, views, life!  I was walking around the forest today, catching glimpses of pretty little bays and inlets through the trees, and thinking “I want to go to there.”  So, I used my legs and went to there!  Repeat as necessary, and chase with:

  • Teddy grahams
  • Cocoa almonds
  • Dehydrated blueberries


Point Lobos preserve, North Shore trail

Photo credit  1,2: personal

A Defense of Diet Coke, To Your Satisfaction

30 Jun

As far as I’m concerned, the only soda in the world (diet or otherwise) is Diet Coke.  I don’t drink it because it tastes like caloric Coke, I just purely love the way it tastes.  The flavor has got that je ne sais quoi, unnamable quality .  I mean, I certainly wouldn’t describe it as caramel, though I’ve sometimes heard that was the original prototype for the elixir’s flavor.  And the ingredients do include vanilla and cinnamon, but again, that’s definitely not what I would call it.

In any case, I don’t really care that I can’t name the flavor.  I feel like I’ve been catching so much flack for drinking Diet Coke lately, though!  I’ve been making appointments with a trainer/nutritionally minded person as of late, and part of what that entails is keeping records of everything I eat and drink.  Every time that diet soda plays part of the day’s log, the red pen comes out.

And I understand that from a nutrition standpoint, Diet Coke is an empty food.  It’d be better to drink water.  Duh.  But what I think is being discounted here is that – okay, let’s say it’s a given that at some mealtimes you want a beverage that isn’t water.  Now, on the spectrum of Non-Water Drink Choices, hasn’t Diet Coke got to be a lot smarter than many many other options?  Like Coke. Or a smoothie. Or beer.

So what I suppose I’m trying to say is, let me drink my diet soda in peace! Stop telling me that it will make me fat! I took Data Methodology classes in undergrad, and I know that there’s a difference between correlation & causation!

The afore-linked article references a study where people who drank diet sodas were shown to have bigger waistlines than those who didn’t. To that I say – so what! Just because you can prove that the kind of person who is drinking diet soda is more likely to be fat, you can’t prove that diet soda is the reason they’re fat.

Here’s a related example that draws on the same logic: My sociology professor told us in class once that people who read the newspaper report feeling safer & trusting the government more than people who watch the news on television. He asked us why that might be.

Lots of people sat there pontificating on how perhaps the newspaper doesn’t report as much violent crime, or television makes us jaded.  That’s looking for Causation, the same as saying that drinking Diet Coke causes you to be overweight.

The reason turned out to be that, on average the kind of person who reads the newspaper is older than people who get their news from television, and older generations report trusting the government more.  That’s Correlation.

The point is that Diet Coke can, but doesn’t have to, accompany bad eating choices.  If you eat an entire large movie popcorn and wash it down with diet soda, I can see how that would cause your waist to expand.  And plenty of people do exactly that.  But what if I want to eat broccoli with my Diet Coke, can you look me in the eye and tell me that’s wrong?

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The Perfect Glass of Champagne, To Your Satisfaction

21 Jun

life as it should be lived

I believe that champagne drunk is a special kind of drunk, like wedding drunk. And it’s such a delicate, effervescent experience that each glass should be a unique pleasure, you know? While I have definitely spent my fair share of time with a bottle of Andre brut, found at CVS for a cool $3.99 & served in a red plastic cup, when time and resources allow, I like to do any of the following things for a most satisfactory glass of champagne:

1. Move beyond the standard mimosa <orange juice + champagne> into exotic territory.  Cranberry juice is a great addition.  My personal favorites are probably a splash of grapefruit juice, which imparts a nice peachy color, or sparkling blueberry juice (the one from Trader Joe’s is perfect).  Besides, “Blue’mosa” just rolls so trippingly off the tongue.

for the discerning drinker on safari

2. Use the proper equipment.  A champagne flute is the infinitely preferable choice when it comes to glassware.  And that’s not just snobbery talking, it’s science.  The relatively narrow diameter of the glass rim is what keeps your bubbly, bubbly.  Too much open surface area allows the effervescence to escape quickly, which leaves you feeling flat and sad.

your cup will runneth over

3. Keep the faith.  Even if your champagne has gone flat and sad, there can be hope of rejuvenation.  I have had varying levels of success with re-carbonating day (or two)-old open bottles of champagne  by dropping in a raisin or other small, bumpy fruit.  I first read about the raisin trick in a book called Urawaza <> by Lisa Katayama.  Apparently, this can resurrect the life of flat champagne because the highly irregular surface of a raisin gives the carbonation something to bounce off of.

I have attempted this urawaza tip quite a few times, and I think its utility depends on the wine itself, mostly.  Sometimes it’s a complete dud and nothing happens.  But there have been a few occasions where I used blackberries in a half-full bottle of champagne and it literally bubbled over!

Wolf Blass Yellow Label - surprisingly affordable

4. You don’t have to break the budget.  I got a bottle of really great champagne for $5.99 this weekend at the San Diego Wine Company <>.  I went in looking for a Father’s Day gift, but this Wolf Blass Yellow Label Brut was positioned right near the register and in a testament to impulse shopping, I decided I had to try it.

It didn’t disappoint!  It made for an awesome strawberry bellini that comforted me greatly, as I was nursing a cold all weekend.  I would definitely recommend this champagne if you need to get a good, inexpensive bottle for a party or just for personal consumption – can’t go wrong!




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A (Relatively) Low-Carb Pancake, To Your Satisfaction

19 Jun

Who knew you could put 30g of protein into pancakes?

I’ve been doing the whole limited carbohydrate lifestyle lately. And while I feel healthier and more energized than ever before, it’s definitely a love/hate relationship. The hardest part for me? Finding satisfactory substitutes at breakfast time. I never used to be an “egg person” (unless part of French toast). And on its own, I find the blandness and texture of cottage cheese just offensive.


But in my quest to include lots of protein and healthy carbs in my diet, I’ve had to find creative ways to prepare and eat this stuff. I actually did grow to like eating eggs at breakfast, but I miss the sweet things. And with these cottage cheese pancakes, I think I really stumbled upon something that would make anyone happy to leave the old, flour-laden cakes behind forever!! It’s really hard to believe that a mixture of mostly eggs and cottage cheese would result in something that has the general, satisfying texture of pancakes, but I swear that it does. And they cook up beautifully just like “real” pancakes, as long as you keep them at medium heat.

Yes, Virginia, there really are 6 grams of protein in there

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

2 whole eggs, 1 egg white

1/2 c. cottage cheese (1% milkfat)



1/3 c. dry instant oats**

en route to being pancakes

1. Mix all eggs, cottage cheese, and assorted flavorings together with a fork. You could also add orange or lemon peel/extract if you happen to have that; I think that would be a nice addition.

2. After you beat the cottage cheese mixture, stir the oats in and let them absorb for a minute.

3. Drop batter onto heated skillet and cook pancakes until you can tell that the egg is cooked through.

4. Serve with syrup, sugar-free syrup if you’re feeling virtuous, or heated up orange marmalade if you’re feeling French.

I used blackberries and apricot jam because I was feeling... Croatian?

** I’m a big fan of steel cut oats, and I tried using them for this recipe, but they were terrible because all the non-processed resilience that makes them so healthy also makes them stay very crunchy in a pancake. Quakers instant or anything comparable works a lot better.

photo credit 1: personal

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photo credit 3: /a> also, a very instructive history of egg cups

photo credit 4: personal

photo credit 5: personal