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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Making Matcha

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE | DETOX-FRIENDLY


Green tea is good for detoxification, and matcha is especially good.

All true teas — white, green, oolong, and black — come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. They contain powerful antioxidants, including epigallocatechin gallate-3 or EGCG, which has been shown to stimulate detoxification pathways in the liver and increase elimination of chemicals associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. EGCG has also been shown to protect the brain from heavy metals, increase metabolism, improve cholesterol ratios, and reduce the risk of cancer.

White tea comes from young leaves that are steamed immediately after harvest and not fermented at all. It contains the highest concentration of EGCG.

Green tea has undergone minimal fermentation and is also high in EGCG, especially Japanese varieties like matcha, sencha, and gyokuro.

Oolong tea is partially fermented and black tea is fully fermented. The process of fermentation changes some of the antioxidants in tea leaves, transforming them into new compounds (like theaflavins and thearubigins) that have other benefits, like reducing the risk of diabetes.

To maximize the health benefits of tea, drink it unsweetened and avoid adding dairy products like cream, which inactivate beneficial compounds. Choose loose or powdered tea leaves over tea bags and use about one teaspoon for each cup of water.

To prepare matcha:

Making matcha can be a meditative ritual or a daily habit. This tea is not for sipping. It should be consumed soon after it's made, in several swallows until gone.

1.  Boil water and pour it into a bowl. Swish the whisk in the water and swirl the water around the bowl. Let it stand for one minute. Discard the water. (Some people dry the bowl but I find it unnecessary.)

2.  Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl (or cup) large enough to easily accommodate one cup of tea. Add a scoop of matcha and pass it through the sieve, breaking up any clumps.

3.  Pour a small amount of water over the matcha. Use a bamboo whisk to mix vigorously until the matcha is fully dissolved, moving your wrist, not your arm, in a back-and-forth or zigzag pattern for a frothy matcha or in a circular motion for a non-frothy one.

4.  Add more water until you have about 1 cup of tea.

5.  Drink the prepared matcha as soon as it's cool enough to do so.


That being the proper way to make matcha, I do take a few short cuts.

To start, I pour a bit of boiling water in the bottom and swirl it around to warm the bowl and cool the water, since water at a full boil can burn the tea leaves. Instead of discarding the water, which is now at the right temperature, I whisk in a scoop of matcha, without using the sieve, since my matcha doesn't clump. When one minute has passed since the water came to a boil, I add the rest of the water.

Swirl. Mix. Fill. Drink.



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Homemade Veggie Burgers

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY OPTIONAL | DETOX-FRIENDLY


Veggie burgers are easy to make at home and much healthier than store-bought patties full of processed soy and additives like maltodextrin, caramel color, hydrolyzed protein, modified vegetable gum, guar gum, and xanthan gum.

These burgers are full of everything a good meal should contain: protein, healthy fat, fiber, and lots of flavor.  They're made from raw walnuts, cooked chickpeas, aromatic vegetables, and spices. Unlike other recipes, this one doesn't contain any grains, bread crumbs, flour, or starchy binders, which makes them detox-friendly.

In a pinch you could use cooked chickpeas, but I like to make them from scratch. I soak dried chickpeas overnight, cook them in bone broth, season them with sea salt, then allow them to sit in the seasoned cooking liquid overnight for maximum flavor. This recipe only calls for a cup but I always make more. I like to have them on hand to add to salads and soups (along with the cooking liquid) or serve them as a side dish, whole or puréed with some of the cooking liquid for an alternative to mashed potatoes.

Veggie burgers are very versatile so feel free to make substitutions and use different kinds of beans, nuts, vegetables, or herbs. For example, I used oregano but basil, thyme, cilantro or parsley would also work well. 

2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking the patties
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped crimini mushrooms
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground peppercorn
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes (or substitute a pinch of cayenne)
1¼ cup cooked chickpeas 
1¼ cup raw walnuts
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup shredded Asiago cheese (optional)

Warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, mushrooms, and bell pepper. Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes depending on how finely you chopped the vegetables.

Grate the garlic into the pan. Stir in the salt, peppercorn, oregano, cumin, paprika, and Aleppo pepper. Cook for one more minute, until the spices become aromatic. Turn off the heat.

Add the vegetable mixture to a food processor along with the chickpeas and walnuts. Pulse to combine. Add the egg and cheese, then continue pulsing until the mixture is homogenous.

Form a small patty and cook it in a small amount of olive oil until browned on both sides. Taste for seasoning and make any necessary adjustments.

Divide the mixture into quarters and form 4 patties. Cook them in a little bit of olive oil until browned on both sides.

Serve the veggie burgers on a bun or a bed of lettuce leaves (detox-friendly). Garnish them with your favorite fixings like garlic aoli, tomato, avocado, and/or sprouts.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Meatball Shop Cookbook


Making meatballs is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the cheapest cuts of grass-fed and pasture-raised meats. While steaks and roasts from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals can be prohibitively expensive, ground meat is much more affordable. Made into fun and flavorful balls served with delicious sauces, they'll be the highlight of any meal or party.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Baked Stuffed Clams

GLTUEN-FREE | DAIRY OPTIONAL | DETOX-FRIENDLY


Clams are one of the best bargains at the seafood market: inexpensive, widely available, low on the toxicity scale, and very versatile.

This elegant appetizer is an easy way to prepare them. There are a few steps involved - cooking the clams, making the stuffing, and then baking them - but none are difficult and the first two can be done in advance so you can pop them in the oven whenever you want.

I used local Mahogany Neck clams, but you can use any clams that are fresh and local for you.


The fresh herb I chose for this dish is thyme. Feel free to substitute because others would work well too, especially dill, tarragon, or parsley. I also added some dried Herbes de Provence, a mixture of herbs common in the south of France. I store them in a pepper grinder and grind them to order for maximum flavor. If you don't have Herbes de Provence, substitute dried oregano or another dried herb of your choice.

I spiced up this appetizer with a pinch of Aleppo pepper flakes. You could substitute crushed red pepper flakes or a fresh chili pepper, thinly sliced, or omit it completely if you don't like your clams spicy.

Ground almonds and heavy cream help the stuffing stay together. For a dairy-free dish, in place of cream you could use white wine or some of the liquid leftover from steaming the clams. For a nut-free dish, substitute ground Parmesan cheese for the almonds.

This recipe makes about 18 stuffed clams on the half shell. You can stretch it out by adding extra vegetables or seafood -- like fish, shrimp, or calamari -- but be sure to add extra seasoning as well. You'll have 48 half shells available.

24 medium to large clams, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence
Sea salt to taste
Ground peppercorn to taste
Pinch Aleppo pepper flakes
1/2 cup ground raw almonds
1/4 cup heavy cream or clam broth

Fill a large, covered soup pot with an inch of water.

Scrub the clams well, discarding any that don't close.  Drop them into the pot, filling it no more than half full so the shells have room to open up.  If need be, cook the clams in two pots or two batches.

Cover the clams and turn the heat up to medium-high. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium-low. Steam the clams until they open up, about 5 minutes depending on their size. Keep a close eye on them so they don't overcook and the pot doesn't boil over.




Once the clams have opened, transfer them to a platter to cool. Discard any clams that haven't opened. Pour almost all of the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, leaving behind the sandy bit at the end. Save the clam stock for seafood soups or chowder, stored in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.

Once the clams have cooled, separate the meat from the shells and set the shells aside.


If the clams are sandy, rinse them well. If they aren't, do not rinse them. Cut each cooked clam into about 6 pieces and set them aside in a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter in a large skillet and cook the onion, celery, and bell pepper until softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.

While the vegetables cook, select 20 of the largest and most attractive half shells. Rinse each one well, using your fingers to make sure that any sand is removed completely, inside and out. Set them aside to drain.

Once the vegetables have softened and started to brown, grate in the garlic and stir in the herbs, salt, peppercorn, and pepper flakes. Continue cooking for another minute, then transfer the mixture to the bowl with the chopped clams.

Add the ground almonds and cream to the bowl as well. (If you are using Parmesan instead of ground almonds, allow the vegetable mixture to cool first.) Toss everything together until well-combined. The mixture should be thick, sticky, and chunky. Taste it for seasoning and make any necessary adjustments.

Fill the half shells with the stuffing. If you're making them ahead, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge.




When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the stuffed clams on a baking sheet. Bake them for 30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve immediately.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stuffed Calamari with Artichokes and Capers

GLUTEN-FREE | GRAIN-FREE | DAIRY OPTIONAL | DETOX-FRIENDLY


When I made this for dinner recently, my husband thought it was stuffed pasta. It did have a similar texture - soft and tender but sturdy enough to hold the filling. Other cooking methods can render squid tough and rubbery, but simmering it slowly in tomato sauce makes it turn out succulent every time.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Greatest American Healers

http://mondowell.com/

I’ll speaking about prediabetes and detoxification at the upcoming Mondo Well event, “Greatest American Healers,” on March 30th at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan.

This event "highlights the very best integrative physicians from around New York City and introduces them and their inspirational message to those who value their life and understand the importance of laying the foundations for extreme wellness."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Slow-Braised Pork Butt With Ancho Orange Sauce

GLUTEN-FREE | GRAIN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE


This braised, pulled pork is succulent and flavorful. It's also full of aromatic and anti-inflammatory spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, and chili peppers.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Wild Salmon Chowder

GLUTEN-FREE | GRAIN-FREE | DETOX-FRIENDLY


This salmon chowder is detox-friendly and full of flavor. It contains some of the usual suspects, like onion, celery, thyme, and cream. But instead of starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn, I used veggies high in fiber like red bell pepper and mushrooms.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Wild Salmon Poached with Lemon and Herbs

GLUTEN-FREE | GRAIN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE | DETOX-FRIENDLY


Because fish is so delicate, it's well-suited to gentle cooking methods like poaching. Other cooking methods like grilling or roasting can make fish dry, but slowly simmering it in a flavorful liquid produces tender, juicy, succulent results every time.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

DIY Fire Cider Winter Tonic

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE



Fire cider* is a spicy vinegar-based tonic used to promote good health during winter months. This folk remedy has a long tradition of varied uses which include
  • Clearing congestion
  • Fighting infections
  • Improving digestion
  • Curing hangovers
  • Increasing circulation