Sunday, January 30, 2011

Delicious Dinner

I made a New Year's "intention" (I don't make resolutions...I'll post about that one day...) to cook more simply.  Hopefully this will encourage me to eat more vegetable-based meals for dinner after a long day at work, when it becomes really easy to just eat a cheese sandwich.  I have a love of peanut butter so I was intrigued with Emily's healthy peanut sauce.  Although we don't have Trader Joe's here in Houston (boo!) I did visit one in Charlotte, NC  while in the area visiting my parents for Christmas.  While there, I bought some peanut flour.  Since I love Asian food I decided Emily's recipe would be my first test of the product. See her website for how to make the sauce (link above).   I used it on tofu and served with broccoli.  What a great dinner, something green with some protein, all in about 25 minutes and with ingredients I usually have on hand. It was delicious!

Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Broccoli

Emily's healthy peanut sauce, 1 1/2 portions
1 package of extra firm tofu
Coconut oil
2 big stalks of broccoli, washed and trimmed into small florets, stems sliced into chunks.

1.  Take tofu out of the package  Drain the water.  Wrap several times in a large dish towel and place it under a heavy skillet or other heavy item.  Set aside.
2.  Make the peanut sauce.
3.  Remove tofu from the towel and cut it into about 1 inch cube.  (Slice in half lengthwise and then cross ways into 4 sections.)
4. Heat coconut oil in a non-stick skillet.  When hot, place tofu in a single layer in the pan.  Leave it to brown while you prepare the broccoli.
5. Place the broccoli into a steamer and cook until tender, not mushy, about 10 minutes.
6.  As the tofu browns, turn it onto each side, so that it is well browned on all side.
7.  When desired doneness reached, add the peanut sauce to the pan and stir like crazy.  It will get amazingly thick.
8.  Serve in a bowl side by side with the broccoli.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What to eat for breakfast....

A couple of years ago I went to see an Ayurvedic medicine specialist.  I wanted to see what my dosha was and how I could eat better for my constitution.  (More info on Ayureda is here  Turns out I am a pitta/vata and my vata was out of balance.  Yes, it is all a little confusing and I left with a list of foods to eat (cooling foods like salad) and things to avoid (cabbage?!.) At any rate, one of my big take home messages was I eat a lot of wheat.  She analyzed a daily sample of food I eat and it was clear that I was eating wheat at almost every meal and in many snacks.  Easy to do! My wheat was mostly whole wheat but there are so many more grains and choices besides wheat!   Based on her recommendations and what I have learned in my Integrative Nutrition class, I have changed my diet considerably since then,  eating mostly vegetables, fruits, eggs, a little seafood and legumes.  I have focused on limiting wheat and and adding in other grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley, and millet.  Unfortunately I can overdo it on the cheese and dark chocolate!

Fast forward to January 2011.  I gained some weight over the last year first while training for a marathon (yes it is commonly happens) then when I had an injury and had to quit running, and lastly when I had knee surgery to fix the injury and had to stop all exercise for about 6 weeks.  So now I am trying to get back to a happy place where all my pants fit.  The last few weeks I have eaten mostly vegan (except some milk in my decaf coffee) and really focused on eating mostly vegetables, some fruits, legumes, nuts, tofu and tempeh.  I have stopped all refined sugar and most natural sugar, just for a while to see what happens.  Believe it or not, after the headache for a couple of days, I feel great, don't crave sugar or chocolate anymore, and don't get very hungry.  Three cheers!  But trying not to eat wheat and eating mostly vegan left me with what to eat for breakfast? Not toast, not GRANOLA was a good answer.  I have made granola a number of times and have tons of recipes.  This time I tried a hybrid of a bunch of recipes and came up with a delicious batch. I eat a small amount (1/3 cup?) with almond milk and some added almonds, pecans, or hemp seeds for some added protein and goodness.  Today I added blueberries and blackberries.  Yes I know they are not in season but they were inexpensive and actually delicious.  A nice splurge from locavore eating!

Granola with Nuts and Coconut
4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 pecans
1 1/2 cup coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup flax meal
1 Tbsp cinnamon
big pinch of salt

1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup coconut oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix together all dry ingredients in a big bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients in a small bowl, then mix into the oats mixture. Stir together until well mixed.  Pour onto a large jelly roll/sheet pan (large sheet pan with sides) and spread out evenly.  Bake in he over for about an hour, stirring every 20 minutes, until golden brown. Add dried or fresh fruits of your choice when you serve.

Note: It will get crunchy as it cools.  If you want it to stick together in clumps you'll need to increase the agave.  You can change the type of nuts to add whatever you like best. If you add dried fruits before you bake it I find they get very dried out and not very good!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Well today is the day I am finally going to start the blog I have been thinking about for so long.  Hopefully someone will eventually read it!  I am a 47 year old nurse who works as a hospital administrator. I run a large cancer clinic and spend much of my time in personnel management and operational issues associated with having 78 employees and 200+ patients per day that rely on me!  Despite the rewards of being a nurse and all the passion and reward that implies, somehow I have lost the real zest for the work. To manage the stress I have a long time love for running...okay really just jogging... yoga, and cooking.

Through yoga I met someone who introduced me to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
a wonderful school in New York City.  The timing was perfect and I enrolled in their distance learning program, and am almost finished -  soon to be a full-fledged Holistic Health Counselor.  I have found a new passion!  I started my business, Catherine Craig Health Counseling.  You can find my website at I work with women, who like me, have spent years confused about what to eat to be healthy and find a happy weight. I have always latched on to whatever the latest news blurb was protein, eat low fat, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Atkins, Schwartzbein, China Study, Belly Fat Cure....yes the list goes on and on. Clearly that latest thing had to be the answer! Little did I know/realize that the media and the hype is about making money and selling books or special products.   I am finally figuring it all out....

Eat real food!  Eat when you're hungry.  Figure out when and why you are eating if you aren't hungry. Sleep enough. Be active.  Find an exercise you like and do it! Find love with your family, your friends, your job...
Yes it all sounds easy, and it can be hard or it can be second nature.  I am working on the second, and although I am not perfect I am doing pretty well.  I am starting this blog so I can not only support my clients, but to reach other women in the same boat or struggling to get on board.  Together we will work it through so we can all live a happy and long life!  So please join me in this journey, to eat well and live fully!