Amoxil women

Hello there! Long time no talk. When I last posted, there was still snow on the ground. It’s 81 degrees in Michigan today. So, you get the point.

Since my last post, a lot has happened. Gennaro and I finally found a house and moved out of my parents’ house. We searched, we found, we went into contract. And then about a month later, the house was ours. That’s the good news.

Then, there’s the other part of the story. The part I debated about posting for fear of, I don’t know…calling too much attention to myself? Being whiny? Making too big of a deal out of something that might seem like nothing to a lot of people?

Those thoughts all ran through my head. But then there was another side of me. The side that thought maybe someone could benefit from my story. So, here it is:

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may remember me posting a few times about chronic muscle spasms and stiff necks. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for the last few years, and something I had carelessly attributed to stress from law school, as it was certainly a new and unwelcome phenomenon for me. Not that I didn’t deal with it in every way I thought I could — yoga, heat therapy, massages, acupuncture, muscle rubs, countless chiropractic visits and even the occasional muscle relaxer were just a few of my go-to remedies. These have been a staple in my life for the last three years.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may also know that early last year, I left New York to move back to Michigan for work. Between then and our recent move into a new home, Gennaro and I were living with my parents. While being in your late twenties and moving back in with your parents is certainly not always an ideal situation, in my case, it had its benefits. For one thing, my mom noticed that I seemed fatigued and “out of it” a lot, and insisted that I see a doctor about it. She also insisted that my neck pain and muscle spasms were somehow related. Of course, my natural inclination as a child was to ignore her and insist I was fine. But that only lasted for so long before the idea of finally getting to the bottom of whatever was going on with me became too enticing. So I began seeing a wonderful doctor in Michigan who specializes in chronic disease.

Initial testing revealed less-than-surprising results: chronic candidiasis (I had known this was an issue for me), Epstein Barr, HV6, etc. If you’ve suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia in your lifetime, you’ve probably tested positive for some of these as well. But then my doctor asked me if I had tested positive for Lyme before, because there was a Western Blot strain that came back positive.

In fact, I had. Same Western Blot, about two years ago in New York. My primary care doctor there had ordered it because of complaints of fatigue back then, too. But when they told me I had an “equivocal” (i.e. “maybe positive”) test, I was told it was really nothing to worry about for the time being and that I should just wait to see how I feel. I was told, instead, that I might just be “depressed.” No follow-up testing was ordered. Naturally, I was suspicious and concerned. So I followed-up with an infectious disease specialist, who basically told me, in as nice of a way as you can say this, that I was wasting his time and he had really sick patients to deal with (alright, he didn’t sue those exact words, but his were surprisingly close). He appeased me, though, by ordering a follow-up test, which came back negative (I now know that this was a much less sensitive test and can often yield negative results even when someone is infected with Lyme). Plus, even though I had been in areas where Ticks were present, I did not develop the typical “bullseye rash” (which I now know is not always present), so I had nothing to worry about. OK, I thought. And I went on with my life without giving it a second thought.

Until it happened again. This time, I thought, it can’t be just a coincidence, right? So my doctor recommended that in addition to testing for other tick-borne diseases, that I send out my lab work to California to a facility for an IGENEX test and (hopefully) definitive results. That test came back clearly positive.

Now would be a good time to point out that there is a rift in the medical community about which tests should be used and whether the IGENEX testing  (or any testing, for that matter) is reliable. I’m also aware that a lot of people who are suspicious that they have Lyme get an  eye-roll from conventional medical doctors, and are instead offered a possible alternative cause of their symptoms. Like, for example, my “depression,” for which I was prescribed Wellbutrin (which I never took because I knew I was not depressed). A great documentary called Under Our Skin really exposes this controversy and casts a much-needed light on such practices.

Anyways, in addition to the positive IGENEX test, I also tested positive for a number of other tick-borne diseases — Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesia and Rickettsia, to name a few.

Suddenly, with all of this new information, things started making sense to me. Like why, two years ago, I felt like I was on my death bed with what turned out to be a nasty parasite called Cryptosporidiosis. My research on this parasite revealed that individuals with healthy immune systems can contract it and fight it off fairly easily, while others with HIV or AIDS (or Lyme, it turns out!) will have symptoms. And symptoms I had. Like, worst case of food poisoning you could ever imagine symptoms. Like, 94 degree temperature shortly followed by 102 degree temperature symptoms (that is not a joke). So, yeah. Apparently my immune system was not the healthiest.

I promise I am trying to get to the point here. But I also think it’s important that I be somewhat vocal about the fact that I went to countless doctors with my symptoms and was, basically, shrugged off. And even though I had classic Lyme symptoms (stiff necks, muscle pain, fatigue) and an equivocal test, I was told I was just depressed. So imagine my relief when I found a doctor who not only believed me and aggressively tested me, but who also is willing to aggressively treat me for what is actually wrong.

Unfortunately, the problem with aggressive treatment is the fact that it can be long and hard on your body. Since beginning antibiotics, I’ve experienced waves of nausea, chills, vomiting, fatigue and an increase in my muscle pains. This, I’m told, is the reaction to the toxins dying off and being released into your system. I’m not a fan. But it’s worth it because I know I need to get better. And while I try to get better, I need to remind myself to take it easy and not feel guilty about not responding to emails, comments, voicemails, etc. (I still feel guilty, but I’m working on it). I need to remind myself that even though there are still boxes piled up in our new home, there’s no timeline for getting everything done. I need to remind myself to leave work early when I need to, because otherwise I will just make myself worse.

Finally, I need to remind myself that even though I haven’t posted in three months, it’s not the end of the world! The blog can wait, as much as I love it so. Hopefully, it won’t have to wait too long.

But in the meantime, I did manage to make a dessert for our family Easter gathering last weekend. This avocado-lime pie turned out to be quite the hit. No one even guessed it was made with avocado. Plus, the lemon and lime juice kept it from discoloring, even though I made this two days ahead of time. The kiwi is optional, but I think it made for a nice presentation. You can make this in a traditional tart pan or in a springform pan as I did. Or if you’re looking to cut down on calories, carbs and sugar, simply make the filling and eat it as a pudding. It is very good on its own as well! I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Avocado-Lime Tart:

Crust:

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup raw coconut crystals

2/3 cup soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread

½ teaspoon sea salt

Filling:

2 ripe hass avocados (room temperature)

1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed

½ cup fresh lime juice

zest of one lime

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon NuNaturals liquid stevia

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional:

2 medium kiwis, thinly sliced and patted dry with a paper towel to remove excess water

Directions:

1. For crust: combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until loose crumbles form. Press into a 9″ springform pan or tart pan, using the bottom of a measuring cup to even out the bottom. If using a tart pan, use fingers to push crust to edges and to even out the edges as well. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

2. For filling: combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender (I used the Vitamix) and blend on high until very smooth.

3. Transfer filling to completely cooled crust. Let chill in refrigerator for a few hours. If desired, top with sliced kiwi. This recipe can chill for up to two days in the refrigerator if covered directly with cling wrap.

Share

Levitra tablet

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Vegucated giveaway contest! The winners were lucky commenters #7 and 8, which were chosen at random, funnily enough. I hope Melanie and Ashley enjoy Vegucated as much as I did and share their newfound knowledge with many others.

I also so much appreciated everyone’s comments. I considered responding to a few individually, but decided to hold off and address a multitude of your thoughts, stories and concerns in this post.

I would first like to say that in reading many of the comments, I recognized so many of my own thoughts when I was first considering a vegan diet — words like “scary,” “life changing” and “restrictive” floated around in my head on a constant basis. For awhile it was all I thought about. I would jealously ogle meat-eating restaurant patrons as I gazed into crowded restaurant dining rooms, street after street. I imagined I would  never get to be “one of them” again. I watched Top Chef on repeat just to get it “out of my system” (or is that just because Bravo happened to always run Top Chef marathons when there was never anything else on?) I passed the cheese section at Whole Foods for weeks on end, guiltily taking whiffs of the delicious Parmesano-Reggiano air. If I told people I was going vegan, there was no turning back, I thought. I would get called out for simply being found in the cheese section, let alone eating the stuff. I would be crucified if one night I “slipped” and caved to my seemingly endless sushi cravings. If I go vegan, I thought, it’s all or nothing.

Levitra tablet

Share

Brand cialis online canada

Oh, the holidays. For some reason, my mind (and body) can’t decide whether they’re a welcome escape from the everyday grind — a time to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends — or whether the holiday season is an energy-sapping grind in itself, leaving me longing to return to the monotony of my 9-5 (more like 9-7) routine. Whatever the verdict, there’s no denying that my body could use a return to something at least resembling monotony. Between the Christmas-in-California jet lag to the New Years Eve late night to the endless holiday parties, I can slowly feel the energy draining from my bodily cells. Tonight, with a few hours of unclaimed time available for relaxation, there are hopes of much-needed blogging catch-up and some quality reading, but I’ll be lucky to stay awake past 10 p.m. at the rate I’m going.

In a similar way, I am also eager to reset my eating habits to the pre-holiday status quo. As much as I got a little tired of the morning power smoothie routine, nothing is sounding better than a cleansing drink after weeks of breakfast randomness. My California vacation breakfasts consisted often of leftovers from the previous night’s carry out dinner, while just this morning I preceded yet another trip to the airport with a breakfast consisting of brownies and pizza (albeit gluten-free, vegan pizza, of course).

Brand cialis online canada

Share

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

I know I said I would lay off the brownie recipes for awhile.  Well, I lied.

I am choosing this recipe to be my inaugural submission over at Ricki’s Blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs for her Wellness Weekend. I always get such amazing ideas and find new blogs though her Wellness Weekend but have not submitted anything of my own. Mostly because….I always forget! I am ending that trend today.

Yield: approximately 12 brownies

Ingredients:

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup hot water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup coconut nectar

1/4 cup coconut oil (liquefied)

2 packets stevia

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 medium banana (no brown spots)

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon instant coffee or coffee substitute

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons coconut flour

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a high-powered blender, blend together black beans, hot water, vanilla extract, coconut nectar, coconut oil, stevia and banana.

3. Add remaining ingredients and blend until just combined, stirring if necessary.Pour batter into a pre-greased 8×8″ pan. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40minutes, or until middle bounces back when pressed. Brownies will harden more as they cool. Allow to cool nearly completely before cutting.

Share

Lexapro overdose

Recently I noticed that Indian recipes are curiously absent from this sight. I say “curiously” because, as my husband will attest, we are big Indian food fans around here. When I met Gennaro, he didn’t think he liked Indian food. The few times we brought him out to try it, we paraded the naan breads and simple tandoori dishes in front of him, hoping to lure him into more adventurous fare eventually. I’m not sure when, exactly, it happened, but there came a point when my husband starting opting for Indian take-out on his own accord, without being dragged by his wife or members of her immediate family. If there were ever any doubts that he was the one, they all subsided when I learned that I had snagged a guy who could hold his own in the Indian department.

My mom just bought me a copy of The Vegan Indian Kitchen, and let me just say: this cookbook is awesome. We’ve sampled a handful of recipes from the book, from Indian okra to the spicy, stewed aduki beans, and every recipe is truly amazing. There has not been a shortage of Indian fare in our kitchen lately. Thankfully, my husband came around to liking Indian food when he did, or he would have been in biiig trouble now that I’m armed with my very own vegan Indian recipe book.

The other day, I was looking to cook up something quick, and didn’t feel like pulling out any cookbooks or following any recipes. I chopped up some potato, onion and pepper and threw in some spices, inspired by by newfound Indian cooking knowledge. As it turned out, I had come up with a pretty darn good Indian-style dish of my own. It reminds me of the Hugarian paprika potatoes my grandma used to make, with an Indian twist.

Serves: 5-6 as a side

Indian-Spiced Potatoes:
Inspired by: The Vegan Indian Kitchen

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 small russet potatoes, washed and chopped (about 2 large potatoes)

1 large onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups water, divided

Spice Mix:

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet and add potatoes, onion, bell pepper and salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until juices begin to release. Add 1 cup water, cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until water reduces by half. Uncover and let simmer until water is almost all evaporated.

2. Meanwhile, mix spices in a small bowl and add to potatoes after step 1 is complete. Add remaining water and continue to simmer, uncovered, until liquid is gone and potatoes are soft. Add salt to taste and serve.

Share

Bactrim online deals

Lately, I’ve been involved in a head-on battle with what I’ve now dubbed my Achilles heel of baking: muffins. Truth be told, I’ve always considered myself more of a “cook” than a baker, but I’ve had my fair share of successes, of which I’ve posted on this site. But muffins have always brought me some difficulty. Issues with texture, dryness, sweetness and flavor plague my muffin endeavors more often than not. Occasionally I get it right. Usually I don’t. For some reason, though, I decided that this week would be the week I mastered muffins. Judging from this post, I think you can guess that muffins, it turns out, “mastered” me. Well, let’s just say we’re currently at an impasse, and I’m contemplating my next move. Just to give you an idea of how many muffins I’ve made in the past week, take a look at the collage of muffin photos I’ve taken:

…and that’s just a sampling.

In the meantime, I decided to go a different route. With fall permeating the air (the cool breezes, the shorter days, the Cicadas chirping in the evening…) my muffin-weary mind naturally turned to pumpkin. My intention was to create a cake-like bar, and was thus disappointed upon realizing these bars turned out far from cakey. I was not in the mood for another baking failure. But upon reconsideration, I opened my mind to the notion of a chewier bar. My mind was even more open to this idea when I tasted one bite. Then another. Then another…until I realized I was slightly addicted to these enigmatically chewy little bars.

My trusty taste testers (who had mixed reviews on many of my muffin attempts) were all unanimously fans of these as well. Phew. I couldn’t take another recipe “failure.” Though shouldn’t say the word “fail”… In my state of muffin frustration, my dad shared with me Thomas Edison’s view on the concept of failure: “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I appreciate Mr. Edison’s sentiment, but there’s a fundamental flaw in applying his logic to baking: testing light bulbs, as far as I know, won’t make you fat.

Gluten-Free Chewy, Gooey Pumpkin Bars:

2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups canned (unsweetened) pumpkin

1 cup coconut nectar

1 cup hot water

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

Frosting:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 1 hour

1/4 cup coconut nectar

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

water as needed

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum, salt and spices. Add wet ingredients (in no particular order) and whisk until everything is incorporated. Pour batter into a greased, 9×13″ and bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, or until center bounces back when pressed. Let cool on a wire rack.

3. To make frosting, blend all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth, adding water as needed until frosting reaches desired consistency. Spread frosting over pumpkin bars as they cool. Let cool completely before slicing. I actually like chilling these in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, as the flavor tends to intensify and texture improves, though this is optional.

Share

Prozac for anxiety

I realize that in the world of Celiacs and those who are gluten intolerant, “oats” can often be a controversial subject. Between the cross-contamination issues and gluten-like properties, oats have a reputation for bringing on many of the symptoms that we in the allergy-free world try to avoid. Still, there are very few things I can think of that are quite so comforting as a warm, chewy oatmeal cookie. And I’ve been craving them recently. My craving for oats brought on some experimentation with what I thought might be a passable substitute: quinoa flakes. But when I made my first batch of quinoa cookies, I realized that I had thought wrong. Quinoa flakes were more than just passable; they might even be better.

Rich and chewy, with the slightest amount of crispness around the edges, these cookies have the unmistakable nuttiness of quinoa. My dad — ever the Top Chef judge at heart, even if he doesn’t know it —  referred to their flavor as “subtle yet complex.” I, for one, love the flavor, but also don’t mind the fact that quinoa packs a punch of protein in a way oats never could. It’s a great excuse to sneak these as a mid-afternoon snack.

Oh, and my apologies to anyone who has a coconut allergy. I realize I’ve been on a bit of a coconut streak lately — I’m admittedly craving it in pretty much everything I make. I will concentrate next week’s baking efforts on something that is coconut free.

Yield: 20-24 cookies per batch

Quinoa Cookies:

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour

1 cup quinoa flakes*

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/3 cup coconut oil, liquified

1/2 cup coconut nectar**

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup fruit-sweetened dried cranberries or raisins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, quinoa flakes, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, xanthan gum and coconut. Add coconut oil, coconut nectar, applesauce and vanilla and stir gently to incorporate, then use hands to form ingredients into a cookie dough. Dough should be slightly sticky but workable. Add cranberries/raisins and fold in with hands.

3. Taking large tablespoonfuls of dough at a time, work dough with hands to form evenly-sized balls. Place on parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheet a few inches apart and slightly flatten with palm of your hand, creating evenly-shaped round cookies. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes (longer for a crispier edge), or until bottom of cookies are golden brown.

4. Gently remove cookies immediately to a wire rack to cool. Cookies will harden more as they cool, but should still remain soft and chewy. Enjoy!

* For those who can tolerate oats, 1 cup instant oats can be substituted for the quinoa flakes

** If you can’t find coconut nectar, you can TRY experimenting with other sweeteners. In my experience, substituting agave, at least, yields a drastically different texture. So experiment at your own risk! Lately, I have been finding coconut nectar at just about all of my local health food stores. I know it’s quite pricey, but it’s definitely the best choice for these cookies.

Share

Buy accutane online without prescription

When I started this site, I set out to make dishes that were not just “good….for being gluten-free/vegan/sugar-free,” but also good in their own right. However clear this mission was, it was never so imperative as it was on Friday night, when I set out to bake a cake that was to be auctioned off for charity among a group of church members I would have to face again. The perfectionist in me (or should I say the perfectionist that I am) could never live with someone having purchased a mediocre cake. Which meant I spent a little bit longer than usual conceptualizing, writing, and ultimately executing this recipe, my show-offiest of cake recipes to date.

By the time the final layer was set — the coconut-pecan mixture lightly pressed on top — I had spent a good portion of my night and the next morning baking. I baked off a small cupcake-sized amount to taste-test, which confirmed that it was worth the extra effort. I decided it was.

That said, the lucky winner of this oh-so painstakingly created cake ended up being none other than my mom. Something about the “gluten-free,” “vegan,” “sugar-free” description just didn’t get the crowd too eager with their bids. Which is just as well, because really, nothing excites me more than shaking people of their notions that this type of eating is synonymous with deprivation. So when I started doling out slices to the diabetic at one table, the newfound celiac at another, I was delighted to watch their expressions shift from aprehension to pleasant surprise. I began to imagine this cake as not just a cake, but as a glimpse into a delicious world of possibilities, even  without the gluten, sugar, dairy or eggs.

Of course, this is a special occassion type of production, as it is a bit of an ordeal to make. This is the kind of dessert you look to when you want to be a show-off (and show your friends that you’re not missing out in the dessert world). But that doesn’t mean a modified version can’t be tackled on a smaller scale. German chocolate cupcakes, anyone?

The cake itself is quite moist; the frosting light and fluffly. It doesn’t have the exact makeup of a traditional German chocolate cake (not like you haven’t probably figured that out already), but the spirit is most definitely there.

Serves: 10-15

Chocolate Cake:

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat flour

6 tablespoons coconut flour

1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (non-alkalized)

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer

2 1/4 cups light agave nectar

3/4 cup coconut oil (liquified)

1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups light coconut milk

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

Agave-Sweetened, Vegan “Buttercream”

1/2 cup soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread

5 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Shortening

6 tablespoons agave nectar

3 tablespoons liquified coconut oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 tablespoons coconut flour

5 tablespoons cocoa powder

Toasted Pecan-Coconut Mixture:

1 1/2 cups pecans, finely chopped

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

4 tablespoons agave nectar, divided

2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread, melted

Directions:

1. For Cake: Lightly grease three 8-inch, round cake pans with some melted coconut oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and egg replacer until combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together coconut oil, agave and vanilla extract until smooth. Slowly, on low speed, add in dry ingredients until incorporated. Beat in coconut milk and applesauce until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix. Pour equal amount of batter into each pre-greased pan, using a spatula to spread evenly and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for about 1/2 hour. Gently flip to remove from pan and allow to cool completely on rack.

2. For frosting: Beat together first 5 ingredients with electric mixer fitted with a wire beater on high speed until smooth. Add in remaining ingredients and beat until incorporated. Refrigerate to set for about an hour, or until a bit more firm but still spreadable.

3. For coconut-pecan mixture: toss coconut and pecan with melted buttery spread and 2 tablespoons of agave. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake in preheated, 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden. Let cool to crisp, then toss with remaining agave.

4. To assemble: Place bottom layer of cake on a large plate or tray. Spread about 1/3 of frosting (doens’t need to be a very thick layer) evenly over top. Sprinkle with coconut-pecan mixture, leaving some frosting showing so that the next layer will stick. Repeat with the second layer. To top: spread with remaining frosting just enought coconut and pecan so that the top is evenly covered, pressing down lightly into the top. If frosting seems a little loose, return cake to refrigerator so that the frosting can reset, about 30 minutes (it shouldn’t melt after this).

Share

Next day provigil

When I began transitioning to a vegan diet — almost a year ago now — I knew there would be moments of concession. I was always one of those people who said things like “I could easily go vegan if I had to…except for…” and that’s where I decided it didn’t matter, because no one’s putting a gun to my head and making me go vegan. But then I learned a few things about where my, say, chicken was coming from, and someone might as well have put a gun to my head. Because that was it. Suddenly, after all of those hypotheticals, I had found myself in as close as I would ever come to a “had to” moment. As in, I felt I had no choice.

While I’m no longer pining for things like sushi and roasted chicken like I used to, I am finding that there are moments where concessions still are made. At times — a small fraction of the time, really — I find myself having to make a choice to stay on course, even when it’s not entirely easy. Usually, it is.

But now — and is it just me? — it seems like the whole low-carb/no-carb phase has gotten it’s second wind, and I can’t help but feel annoyed by the whole thing. Like, “didn’t we go over this already?” Bacon and eggs for breakfast might make you skinny, but it isn’t going to win you any brownie points with your cardiologist.

It seems we’re often prone to conflating the notion of “dieting” with healthy eating, when the two are often incompatible at best.  So when I saw an article in Reader’s Digestthis weekend that reinforced the notion that carbs are our enemy and thrice-daily servings of meat, dairy and eggs will solve all of one’s problems with weight, I was simultanously annoyed yet eager to one-up the consulting Reader’s Digest Dr. with my own, healthier version of a low-carb meal plan.

Ok, confession time. There have been a few times in my life when I’ve succommed to the whole no-carb thing, which has always lasted for maybe a day. That is, once I remember that not having at least some sort of grain or starch during the day makes me feel rather nauseated, which is not a feeling I particularly enjoy. To be fair, though, I am equally affected by carb overload, which usually has the effect of making me extremely tired and unusually hungry during the day, no matter how much I eat.

I admit to having a tendency toward the latter when I’m going on instinct. I prefer tortilla chips to nuts as a snack, and cereal to a protein shake for breakfast. Adding the vegan element only further challenges me to think a little harder about how to get enough protein and vegetables into my diet without overdoing it on the carb front. I know, I know. I’m reading The China Study as we speak. Our requisite protein intake is, indeed, often overstated. But I nevertheless feel more energized and healthy when I’m swapping out at least some starch for protein-packed foods. I’ve decided, then, that this is not one of those areas where I’m going to make a concession just because animal protein isn’t on my grocery list.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to challenge myself to come up with as many low-carb, vegan dishes as I can think of. I find that when I have a good amount of recipes and ideas in my arsenal (and on this site) I’m never at a loss when it comes to my meals.

I started with a simple, mushroom-based dish, atop a bed of mashed cauliflower (a low-carb classic). You can serve this as a side dish, or as a hearty main course along with some green beans and almonds, or with some soy tempeh for protein. There’s something very nostalgic to me about anything in gravy, which is why I imagine this is a great dish for anyone longing for a “classic” American dinner, veganized (and low-carbized), of course!

Protobellos in Gravy:

6 portobello caps (stems removed), dirt removed with a damp cloth, sliced

2 tablespoons soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread, divided

2 tablespoons brown rice flour

2 cups vegetable stock

parsley for serving

Directions:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon buttery spread in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and saute for 1 minute, until they just begin to moisten and soften. Remove from pan.

2. Melt remaining butter and add flour to the pan. Stir with butter until a crumbly paste forms, then add the broth. Whisk or stir constantly to prevent clumps until the broth begins to thicken and boil.

3. Add back mushrooms and heat for another minute, or until mushrooms are softened. Remove from heat and serve over mashed cauliflower or potatoes or with wide noodles for a Stroganoff knock-off.

Share

Acyclovir dosage

I’m one of those people who likes Valentine’s Day more than I should admit. While feigning apathy and even disdain for this so-called Hallmark Holiday, I secretly love the idea that there is one random night every year where you are justified in splurging on a date night dinner, even when the remaning 364(ish) days of the year are spent with dinner plates on your lap while watching T.V. on the couch (not that I’m thinking of any particular couple here…)

Gennaro has always had a knack for the sweet but not gushy or sentimental. He has also, at times (ok, only once), had a knack for shooting himself in the foot when it comes to V-day plans. A fews years ago — my first Valentine’s Day living out in New York — he made reservations at a new “it” spot in the West Village. It was overpriced and underportioned, and we both left hungry and one of us left a few hundred dollars poorer. All in the name of love!

The following year was more successful, to say the least, and illustrated what has always been quite clear about the man I married: he gets me. Around 11 p.m. on February 13th, I was presented with a “menu” for the following day, complete with breakfast, lunch and dinner plans at my favorite spots around NYC. Curly’s Vegetarian vegan pancakes for breakfast, Caracas for lunch, and a new Mexican spot I’d been dying to try for dinner. Gennaro also threw in “snack” plans for a trip to Babycakes for some gluten-free cupcakes and brownies, but needless to say we were so stuffed after lunch (which was a stretch after our hearty breakfast as it was) that we nixed those plans in favor of a nice stroll around the East Village on that unusually warm February day. Did I land an awesome guy or what?

As you may have guessed, I made these brownie bites as a nod to Valentine’s Day — a day that it not entirely complete without a little chocolate. Ironically, these were inspired by those served at Babycakes, the one spot we never made it to on our February 14th NYC eating tour a few years ago.

Photo Courtesy of Linda Wan Photography

Raspberry Brownie Bites:

Yield: 24

Brownies are a contentious subject among many. I like mine super chocolately and not super sweet, kind of like a morsel of good, dark chocolate. If you refrigerate these they get even more fudgy, so feel free to do so. Note: for best results, use silicone muffin cups, which allow you to pop the brownie bites easily out of each cup after baking. 

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup liquified coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut nectar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 hot water

1/4 cup brewed coffee

a few tablespoons raspberry fruit spread

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add remaining ingredients except for fruit spread and whisk until just incorporated.

3. Spoon tablespoon-sized scoops of batter into mini muffin cups (I used silicone cups, as the brownies pop out really easily this way). Using a 1/4 teaspoon rounded measure, scoop out raspberry fruit spread and place on top of each brownie, pressing in gently.

4. Bake in preheated oven until tops begin to crack and bounce back slightly when pressed, about 10-15 minutes (brownies, I find, can vary greatly depending on preference and oven). Set on a wire rack to cool, about 10 minutes, before removing from cups.

Share