14 August 2013

Gluten-free “tabbouleh”

I get these ideas. Sometimes, they work out – other times, they’re not perfect, but there is a fraction of an idea that’ll be even better on a second try. This gluten-free “tabbouleh” recipe is one of the latter!

For several months, I've been trying to stick to a gluten-free diet. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say my stomach is happier than it’s been it’s whole life. (I should also preface the rest of this post by saying I’m really gluten intolerant – not full-blown celiac. So the following recipe/guidance and anything I ever post on the GF topic should be taken in that vein… Listen to your body and adjust accordingly!)
Rather than focus on what I can’t eat, I’m exploring options of how to adapt my favorite foods to meet my new lifestyle. This is how I approached vegetarianism for years, too – it just works better for me, and this approach as proven especially helpful as a gluten-free eater… I can’t tell you how many blogs and articles I’ve read that encourage a potential gluten-freer to buy a food scale, weigh and convert everything from cups and tablespoons to pounds and grams…It’s like one giant math story-problem. Personally, I want nothing to do with math in the kitchen. To me, cooking is more art than science (I know someone - ahem, mom! - might disagree with me!). Instead of fussing over these calculations, I said screw it and began baking and cooking with gluten free ingredients as though they were “regular” ingredients. And in all honesty, I hardly notice a difference…

Today, I made a gluten free “tabbouleh” salad. I am using quote marks because this is not traditional tabbouleh using bulgur as a base. Instead, I swapped in some leftover mejadra – a spicy lentils and rice mixture from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. (To be fair, it took nearly two hours to make that dish initially, and honestly I’m not sure it was worth it. I think any lentils & rice mixture would work – I just happened to use what was in my fridge.) Then I proceeded to make a tabbouleh as I always would – a base of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and flat-leaf parsley  to fleck the grain/legume mixture. I also finely chopped some fresh spinach with the parsley, for extra greens. Because why not? Then I tossed the whole thing with a good dousing of freshly squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

It’s easy, it’s tasty, it’s healthy, and it’s gluten free. Best of all, I barely thought about it – and I definitely didn’t think about what I was missing.

Life shouldn’t be lived in a deficit, but full and wholeheartedly (thanks, Brene Brown, for Daring Greatly - an excellent book on this subject.

So carry on. Cook what you like.  Swap what you need to. Just enjoy!

13 January 2013

Cleanses and clean eating

It's January. A time of renewal and cleaning out the old. At least in Los Angeles, this often includes the digestive system. I am squeamish to even give that too much thought (I'm not one for bathroom humor), but it is a fact that in nearly every conversation I've had with friends in LA recently, the word "cleanse" or "juicing" or "clean eating" has come up.

I'm still working out exactly what that means for myself. In addition to bathroom humor, I also don't like dieting - the word nor the act. I'm of the mentality that I can eat mostly what I want (within reason) so long as I workout to counteract it. And workout I do, hard, at least 4 times per week. (Last year I was averaging 5 days a week, but my body just couldn't handle it. Too many nagging injuries and lingering sicknesses... my sweet spot is 4.)

So my immediate reaction to cleansing - a practice very commonly consisting of a liquid/juice-only diet, for a few days or even a couple weeks - is to bristle.

However, the notion of drinking my veggies, as a complement to solid foods, is appealing. It's where I am right now, trying to add a few juices to my routine once or twice a week.

I'm also integrating more super foods and "clean eating" items to the diet. Today's lunch was a bed of lettuce topped with warm red quinoa, steamed (but cold) broccoli, a handful of cashews, and a drizzle of Annie's Goddess dressing. For a snack, I'm currently waiting on a pot of fresh banana chia pudding to come out of the fridge (almond milk, smashed banana, and chia seed); I may top it with some walnuts.

In 2013, I will try to avoid as much wheat as possible - not for trendiness or resolutions' sakes, but for health. I was diagnosed a few years ago as wheat-intolerant, so I'm going to try it. In its place, I am subbing in almond meal wherever possible. It's alot like flour and has more protein - something my body will surely enjoy.

How do you "cleanse" or eat "clean"?