Lemongrass Chicken & A “Wish it was Summer” Cocktail

Ginger Lemongrass Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs marinated in coconut milk, ginger and lemongrass.

I almost titled this “Mother Nature is a bitch” but I didn’t want to get on her bad side.

See, I’m a summer person; I tend to daydream about sunshine from October all way until June. So it’s no surprise that last week my mind was on white sandy beaches when Portland got buried under 7 inches of snow.

Within the first hour of “Snowmageddon,” most of Portland was in a panic. People left work in droves, restaurants closed and the roads were flooded with cars as everyone tried to make it home before the worst of the storm hit.

I, on the other hand, was simply mad.

Sure snow can be pretty, but come on — I got through all of December and January marveling at how mild the weather was only to let my guard down in February. It was just cruel, and the cruelness continued for three days, ending with a stint of freezing rain that coated the streets in a layer of ice.

And even as the days finally warmed up and the snow began to melt, I continued to give in to thoughts of tropical beaches, palm trees and fancy umbrella drinks. It was not a good mental path to go down when the city you live in is covered in dirty slush.

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Things I learned from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse!

Banana, Almond and Spinach Smoothie = YUM!

Banana, Almond and Spinach Smoothie = YUM!

I’m officially done with the Food Lover’s Cleanse. It was two weeks of post-holiday diet detox and it did my body good. And hey, I even learned a few things about myself:

1. I really do like quinoa. Sometimes I forget how much I like it so I never buy it. But then I eat it and remember it’s delicious. I now have a five-pound bag of red quinoa in my cupboard.

2. That my cravings for Mexican food actually rivaled my cravings for Italian food. As a lifelong pasta addict, this totally surprised me. My first post-cleanse meal involved tacos, a tamale and queso fundido. And soooo many tortillas. And a few margaritas. It was fabulous.

Smoked Brisket Tamale at La Taq

Smoked Brisket Tamale at La Taq

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Butter beans and pomegranate form an unlikely friendship

Butter bean salad with pomegranate seeds

Butter bean salad with pomegranate seeds and scallions

While I have been eating in accordance to the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse for the last 2 weeks, I admit I did not follow their day-by-day menu plans. Instead I did a lot of mixing and matching depending upon what was on hand at any given time. This is sad only because it means it took me an extra week to discover the unexpectedly delicious coupling of butter beans and pomegranate seeds.

In fact, to be honest, I saw a picture of the salad (made with white cannellini beans) and immediately thought, “Oh hell no. That’s one to skip.” Even though I love a good bean salad, for some reason my brain could just not accept the combination of beans and fruit.

But then I saw reviews for the recipe — both online and on Instagram — and was surprised. People seemed to love it. And almost everyone praised the pomegranates for making the salad a success. After all, take them away and the salad is very, very basic — lemon, parsley, olive oil and green onions. Good, no doubt, but nothing to write home about.

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A tropical breakfast to warm up the chilliest of winter mornings

10-grain cereal with pineapple, coconut and cashews

10-grain cereal with pineapple, coconut and cashews

I’m still going strong on the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse and I have to say that the best part has been breaking out of my breakfast rut. For the past year my weekday breakfast has involved the same routine: a whole grain English muffin, toasted, slathered with peanut butter and a bit of honey. And it’s done me well — it’s a nice mix of protein, carbs and sweetness to get my day started.

But over the last 10 days, not being able to indulge in refined flours, I’ve had to mix things up.

My first experience with a breakfast from the cleanse resulted in the awesome discovery of quinoatmeal. After I polished off the last of that, I moved onto a new porridge in the form of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal. This is a blend of everything from millet and barley to brown rice and oat bran. It all cooks happily together in a matter of ten minutes or so.

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Sticking to a cleanse is easier when you’re eating steak!

Seared Striploin, Orange-Parsley Chimichurri with Roasted Beets and Carrots.

Seared Striploin, Orange-Parsley Chimichurri with Roasted Beets and Carrots.

As you all may know, I’ve been participating in the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse. The refined-sugar-and flour-free eating plan has resulted in several dreams involving fudge and bread but so far I’ve managed to make it through without a single cheat. Of course, it’s fairly easy to stick to a cleanse that involves (at least a little) red meat.

Yes, this beautiful steak dinner was still part of the 2014 FLC and it was so satisfying it nearly made me forget about wanting a beer. Nearly.

The recipe was Hanger steak with Orange Oregano Chimichurri but I made a few substitutions. The first issue was that I hadn’t bought hanger steaks from work and trying to find them at the nearest grocery store was totally unsuccessful. I turned instead to another steak known for its leanness, the striploin. In the chimichurri, I used some home-dried thyme instead of dried oregano because that’s what I had on hand. I also added a bit of mint because I live on the edge.

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Quinoatmeal: A protein powerhouse of a breakfast

Apple Pecan Quinoatmeal

Apple Pecan Quinoatmeal with Almond Milk and Cinnamon

As far as cleanses go, the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse is an easy one for me to follow. They know their audience well — the 14-day eating plan allows for four cocktails a week and gives the exception for a morning cup of coffee. Which is good news for me because two weeks without caffeine would lead me into a deep dark place that even sprouted lentils couldn’t save me from.

I’m also very thankful that the recipes that Bon Appetit included in the cleanse are (so far) very good. I made this lovely and filling quinoa-oatmeal for Day 4 and was incredibly happy with how it turned out.

The quinoa is rinsed and left to soak overnight with steel-cut oats, reducing the morning cooking time. The next day, the mixture is brought to a boil. Add in some almond milk, cinnamon and salt and after 10 minutes, breakfast is ready! I topped my bowl (as recommended) with toasted pecans and half a cup of shredded apple for sweetness.

Apple Pecan Quinoatmeal with Almond Milk

Apple Pecan Quinoatmeal with Almond Milk

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