quinoa with roasted vegetables & wine-glazed chicken

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I’m currently working three different jobs right now (two of them food-related), which along with other things, makes for a rather busy and energy-draining schedule. This brilliant dish, slightly adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, is something I’ve come to depend on for a much needed healthy meal, and it holds its own beautifully whether you’re eating it freshly made or re-heating it for lunch the next day.

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green lentil cakes with mustard vinaigrette

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I stumbled on this recipe while thumbing through How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, and commenced making it a number of times, making little variations each time. My husband loves lentils, and since the only other thing I’ve ever made with them is soup, I figured it would be worth a try. Lentils are high in protein, don’t require pre-soaking, cook in a short amount of time, and come in an interesting range of colors (red, brown, black, yellow, and green). As Bittman suggests, green or brown lentils are best for these cakes because they hold their shape fairly well after cooking. Although the original recipe bakes the cakes in the oven, I liked the texture I got when frying them in a cast-iron pan with a little olive oil, resulting in a nicely caramelized top and bottom, while still leaving a tender inner crumb.

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mini almond cakes with lemon ganache

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Technology, when it makes life simpler, is a very helpful thing. I’ve finally, at long last, gotten the latest version of that phone, the one that when first introduced proceeded to revolutionize the world’s mobile habits, and I’m so very happy with how much easier it is to organize my life with it. And because it is so much easier, that underlying frustration that comes with having to tolerate something that didn’t work well is gone, gone, gone; and good riddance to it.

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coffee crusted ahi tuna with curry cream sauce

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For several days last week, the overcast and drizzly weather created this sort of slow, relaxed atmosphere. While I worked in the kitchen, it felt like all my movements had this meditative quality, and I was exactly in that moment and nowhere else. Perhaps it’s the fall season beginning to sneak in, and that’s okay with me. When I was growing up, summer was my favorite time of year for obvious reasons; no school and endless days of swimming and playing. During those days, I was easily lost in moments without notice of time passing until the day’s end was signaled by the setting of the sun. But in the long years since then, fall, with its mellow feel has become the time of year I most enjoy, and maybe it echoes the time of life I’m in too. Dusk, when the sun begins to set, is my favorite time of day too, and a good meal is the best way to enjoy it.

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lemon rose granita

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When we lived in California, we used to regularly visit Second Street in Long Beach, located in the neighborhood of Belmont Shore. I’d forgotten how often we’d gone there, and how many great food memories I had from the small storefront or side street restaurants we loved to go to. One of our favorites was Cafe Gazelle, an Italian restaurant that despite its tiny dining space was big on atmosphere and authentic food and consistently packed out; another was a sweets shop called Grandma’s Sugarplums that was overflowing with an amazing variety of homemade desserts. After finding a parking spot, we would often start walking at one end of Second Street and just wander until we decided where to eat; sometimes we made it past the window of Sweet Jill’s Bakery while they were making fresh cinnamon rolls, and sometimes not.

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seafood paella

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Once, on a New Year’s Eve long passed, my husband’s father made paella for family and friends. Though it’s typically made in a paellera, a very wide, shallow pan with handles, instead my father-in-law used the large, deep steel pot he had available. The uppermost portions of paella were the best; underneath, the rice had become a bit too mushy due to the pan he used. Así es la vida. Despite the slightly mushy rice, there still was the socarrat, the savory caramelized rice crust that forms on the bottom of the pan. I remember the paella was excellent and I ate too much, but I still had room for the flan and turrón that was served for dessert. 

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2 for 1: cashew milk, cashew cream

As someone who loves to eat, it’s been exciting to get creative and try new things while following a healthier path. You might think that some of these things are more complicated, but with a little pre-planning and prep work, they have actually simplified the process of eating well. Once made, these foods are good to go, ready to be adapted with additional ingredients in whatever way you desire. Best of all, they taste great.

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got almond milk?

It’s nearing the end of week two of the 21-day detox diet, and in just this short period of time I’ve added quite a few things to my expanding food lexicon. What I used to think of as alternative is becoming a more varied way to eat, with many delicious discoveries. I’m also continuing to learn how to use whole food as a way to allow the body, as much as possible, to heal itself.

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