Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Changing My Diet - 5 Recipes

When we recognize that something is out of balance with our bodies, it is logical to start by looking to our diet for the answer.  Often, we find that something needs to change.  Changing our eating habits is no simple task, and I talk to a lot of people who find the prospect utterly intimidating or even impossible.  It is very difficult to accomplish anything if I am feeling overwhelmed.  One of my goals with this blog is to look for simple steps towards larger goals, be they physical, psychological or emotional.  Today I would like to post five recipes that are working for me, as I attempt to move away from wheat, dairy and sugar, while living in a household with others who have different dietary requirements.

When I met my husband, he was a strict vegan.  Over the years, as we have been able to exert more control over the sources of our food, he has added back eggs, cheese, yogurt and fish.  With a B+ blood type, he thrives on cultivated foods and does not suffer from an absence of meat.  I, on the other hand, have type O+ blood, and would likely be healthiest on a paleo diet, rich in meat and vegetables and devoid of grains and dairy.  I don't know my children's blood types; one of them seems to thrive on ice cream and grapefruits, and the other loves hot dogs and kimchee. 

The aggressive steps I took to modify my diet during my cancer clearly made a difference, and I was able to tune into my body's responses to food.  There are a number of good recipes in The Lentil Challenge and 10 Simple Ideas for Modifying Your Diet, but I have five more that are working for me.  I plan to occasionally share meal ideas, be they complicated or simple, traditional or Nouvelle, to which my body (and maybe yours, I hope) responds well. 

Before I post them, let me point out that I don't intend to eliminate dairy, wheat or sugar.  If it happens, great.  Just as I quoted in my friend's comments about turning a deaf ear to the urgency of a new diagnosis and seeking for a path that fits without panic, I remind myself that indulging in these foods didn't kill me before, and it won't kill me now.  In fact, I can listen more attentively to my physical and psychological reactions to these foods because I am aware of them, and if I choose not to eat them it is a choice that feels right. There's nothing fancy about these recipes, and that's the point.  A lot of the foods that work for our bodies are simple and available, when we view the task as basic meal preparation rather than total diet overhaul!

Fish Salad

1 5oz can Alaskan Salmon
1 stalk organic celery
1 T chopped red onion or 2 scallions, optional
1/2 C fresh sprouts, such as daikon radish
Handful fresh greens, such as lettuce or spinach

Miso Dressing
2T brown rice miso
2T soy sauce
1/4C olive oil or sesame oil
2T rice vinegar or ume plum vinegar
1T grated ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic, optional
1t chile paste, optional

Blend in food processor, keeps well for weeks in refrigerator

Oil and Lemon
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t sea salt
few grindings black pepper
1 t Madras curry powder
1 T capers

Either of these dressings blends well with the salad; if using the oil and lemon dressing, the salad is also good with a mix of salmon and canned kippered herring (check the label to make sure you are getting kippers preserved in only olive oil and salt; some brands have chemical preservatives).

I eat this salad on a bed of greens, or roll it up like a tamale in collard leaves.  To do this, cut the woody part of the stem out of the collard leaf, put a few T of salad on the whole part of the leaf, fold up the tails and roll.  Secure with toothpicks.  I eat this for breakfast often.

Egg Salad

Okay, you don't need me to tell you how to make egg salad.  Make it how ever you like it.  But, the key with my egg salad, is I make the mayonnaise.  This is so easy, once you know how to do it I'll bet you never buy mayonnaise again.  Here's the recipe that I swear by, from the one and only Julia Child, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".  Read this so you know the science behind the process, first.  It helps. This recipe always works; I use a spicy chipotle oil which is excellent with eggs.

These are the ratios (from the above site, which is a verbatim reprint of the original text):
Number Yolks Cups Of Oil Vinegar Or Lemon Juice Finished Sauce
2 1 to 1½ cups 2 to 3 tablespoons 1¼ to 1¾ cups
3 1½ to 2¼ cups 3 to 5 tablespoons 2 to 2¾ cups
4 2 to 3 cups 4 to 6 tablespoons 2½ to 3-2/3 cups
6 3 to 4½ cups 6 to 10 tablespoons 3¾ to 5½ cups

  • Round-bottomed, 2½ to 3-quart glazed pottery, glass or stainless steel mixing bowl. Set it in a heavy casserole or saucepan to keep it from slipping.
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Large wire whisk
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar or lemon juice (more drops as needed)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dry or prepared mustard
  • 1½ to 2¼ cups of olive oil, salad oil or a mixture of each. If the oil is cold, heat it to tepid; and if you are a novice, use the minimum amount
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  1. Warm the bowl in hot water; dry it. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and sticky.
  2. Add the vinegar or lemon juice, salt and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more.
  3. The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. While it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough. You can switch hands or switch directions, as long as you beat constantly.
  4. Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil.
  5. After 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis of potential curdling is over. The beating arm may rest a moment. Then, beat in the remaining oil by 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops, blending it thoroughly after each addition.
  6. When the sauce becomes too thick and stiff, beat in drops of vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil.
  7. Beat the boiling water into the sauce. This is an anti-curdling insurance. Season to taste.
  8. If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it tightly so a skin will not form on its surface.
I store it in a Mason Jar, and I have had it separate eventually, but I have NEVER had it go bad.  Just use a clean utensil every time.

Miso Ginger Scallops with Soba Noodles
This is a modified version of this recipe, which was very popular with my little people.


  • 8 ounces soba noodles.  There are two kinds, at least: 30% buckwheat and 100% buckwheat.  The latter are more expensive, but I think you can eat them if you are gluten sensitive.  Correct me if this isn't true.
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons mirin, or orange juice
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound dry bay scallops
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced scallions


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions (about 4-5 minutes.  Use a large pot; the starch is really bubbly.)  Rinse in cold water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk miso, mirin, vinegar, canola oil, ginger and garlic in a medium bowl. Add scallops and stir gently to coat. Let marinate for 5 minutes (scallops will begin to break down if marinated longer). Using a slotted spoon, remove the scallops, reserving the marinade for the sauce.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook until golden brown, tossing, about 4 minutes for bay scallops and 3 minutes per side for sea scallops. 
  4. Reduce the cooking liquid in the pan to a paste consistency.
  5. Heat the remaining marinade separately, but DO NOT BOIL!  That destroys the active organisms in the miso.  Mix with the glaze and pour the sauce over the noodles, add scallions and toss to coat. Top with scallops and serve immediately.

This is a dish made from fermented chick pea flour.  If you have a Vitamix you can grind the chickpeas yourself.  If you don't, you can purchase chick pea flour (besan) from Indian markets, and there are good organic sources online.


3  1/2 ounces chick pea flour
1 C warm water
4 T olive oil
1 t fresh lemon juice or organic apple cider vinegar
1 t salt
Roasted or braised vegetables of your choice
1 T chopped basil (or 1 t dried)
salt and pepper to taste


Whisk the flour into the water until smooth; add salt and lemon juice or vinegar.  Cover bowl with cloth and leave in warm place overnight.
Preheat oven to 425.
Roast or braise vegetables to serve on farinata.
Add 2 1/2T olive oil to batter.  Put the remaining olive oil in a cast iron skillet and heat in oven until just before smoking.
Pour the batter into the pan, add herb and vegetables and pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until crispy.  Remove from pan promptly.

Beef Stew

Stocks made from slow-simmered bones are an important source of many minerals, gelatin, and other joint- and bone-strengthening agents.  They are also very cheap to make.  Beef stock is especially inexpensive, as it is often possible to get soup bones from organic farms for between 0-$2/Lbs.  Some bones can be purchased with meat on them sufficient to make a stew.  Otherwise the stew beef can be purchased separately, but a little will go a long way in a good stock.

I start with a modified version of Julia Child's Brown Stock.


3-4Lbs. soup bones
2 onions, halved
2 carrots, scrubbed and quartered
2 t salt
2 celery stalks, with leaves
bouquet garni: 1/4 tsp. thyme, 1 bay leaf, 6 parsley sprigs, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, 2 whole cloves


Roast the bones, carrots and onions for 30-40 minutes in a 450 degree oven, turning the bones occasionally so that they brown.  Roasting the bones gives the stock a richer flavor and removes some of the sourness of beef stock.

Remove from oven and transfer to a crock pot or large kettle.  Pour out fat and return pan to oven with a bit of water to simmer; scrape up brown bits and add to pot.  Cover the ingredients in the pot with water and turn the stove or crockpot on to high just until the water begins to boil.  Skim the scum that rises to the surface and reduce the heat.  Add the salt, celery and herbs and keep at a very low simmer for at least four hours (I do mine overnight).  Beef stock should NOT BOIL, or be covered tightly.  It will cloud the broth and make it sour.  I keep my crock pot on warm, so that a single bubble rises to the surface every few seconds.  You can also prop the lid with a chopstick.  Add more water as necessary.  Strain through cheesecloth.  If you like to eat the marrow, go for it.  The stock freezes well.


1 Lbs stew beef, marinated overnight in dry red wine.  Julia always said never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink.  As I have mentioned before, the box can be great for this purpose.
2 onions, diced
3 T butter
I lbs cleaned, diced potatoes
1 1/2 T flour (if you are avoiding flour, I think you can just leave this out.  If you need a little starch in the recipe, arrowroot powder will probably work)
1 t salt
4 peppercorns
1/2 bay leaf
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t thyme or majoram
brown stock


Preheat oven to 300.
Saute onions in butter.  You can saute them with 1/2lb chopped bacon or salt pork, if you eat pork. Remove from pan.
Brown meat in fat.  Dust with flour.
Place in ovenproof dish with the potatoes, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic and herbs.
Cover with hot wine and stock. 
Cover dish and cook for 2 hours.
Add onions and optional pork and continue to cook, covered, until meat is tender.
I tend to do all of this in the crock pot; it's cheaper and I can ignore it.  I usually add all the stock, either during cooking or at the end, and adjust the vegetables to stretch it.

Since I am the only adult meat-eater in the house, I make a large batch of stew and freeze most of it, and then eat it for lunch during the week.

As I said before, there is nothing fancy here.  My guess is that you will read this and then, if you want to make beef stew, use your own recipe.  The point is to develop a repertoire (and a freezer full) of recipes that work for your diet as you envision it.  Sometimes the nourishing path is specifically about nourishment!


  1. The little person who likes hot dogs and kimchee will also eat stickers and rocks, so I wouldn't consider his palate very discriminating yet.

  2. Sarah, I was wondering if you pour off the liquid from canned fish?

  3. But he's so cute doing it! Phoebe, I do. I usually lift the fish out of the can with a fork, so the liquid is left.

  4. Very excited to try these! Thanks for taking the time to write them all up.