Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Easy Fresh Cranberry Compote

This is really easy to whip up, and it's great with pork, as well as traditional poultry holiday fare.

- 2 c. fresh cranberries

- 1/2 c water or chicken broth

- 1/4 c SF orange marmalade (I like Polaner's w/fiber, it has lots of zest in it) or SF apricot or peach jam

- 1 tsp dijon mustard (you can add a little horseradish too, if you like a little zing)

- sweetener to taste.

Over medium-high heat, bring all ingredients except sweetener to a slow boil until the berries 'pop', then lower the heat to low, smashing the berries and combining ingredients well. Simmer for 5 mins. or so until thickened, but still 'chunky', sweeten to taste, if desired. Serve warm or cold.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Manifesto - 'What I Believe'

Just so you know, as a chef, I consider it my job to help people find a way to live better thru food. I don't judge what they choose to eat, I try to help them find better ways to get what they want/need from their food, while trying to improve that food nutritionally.

I believe in low carb/high fat living, and am passionate about sharing this healthy lifestyle with as many people as possible, in whatever way I can.

I pride myself on giving people back their relationship with food. Often, when people have an illness or disease (mental or physical) that is caused by, or exasperated by, food and food choices, they lose that relationship that is often such a large part of our lives. To many of us, food is not just nourishment, but also love, family, nurturing, and so many other things.

That said, I know that everyone has a different threshhold for sacrifice and compromise. Living healthfully means something different for each one of us, and I respect that. I consider it my calling to help anyone who asks, to meet their individual goals by doing the best they can with what their working with at that time. We all have to prioritize, or you'd go crazy with every bit of information and research that's out there, and I don't believe I have the right to tell anyone else what their priorities should be. I'm just here to help them with whatever they believe might get them that much closer to achieving what's important to them.

I will never criticize anyone else's choices, whether or not they agree with me, and I will never single anyone out because they simply don't know any better...every one of us was in that same place once. I believe that honey gets you more than vinegar, and that kindness and compassion should lead me if I am truly to be considered a 'caregiver'. I will always try to live by example to the best of my ability, and hope that others follow...and I'll always be first to offer my help when they're ready.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Solving the Stuffing Dilemma...

One of my favorites at Thanksgiving is stuffing...carby stuff for sure, but I've done it a couple of years in a row for myself and clients the low carb way. I've included some ideas here for using lower carb breads, or to eliminate the grains alltogether.

The key is to make a stuffing that starts or combines with some low carb ‘bread crumbs’ for base texture. Toast your favorite low carb slices, then tear or cut it up into cubes, (I like King Sooper's Carb Helper or Orowheat Light 100% Whole Wheat), or make a delicious grain-free flax ‘faux-coccia’ bread that has a texture like cornbread (recipe here). Alternatively, you can do a stuffing with just roast cauliflower as a base, if you like. Add your melted butter, chicken broth, pan drippings (whatever you use to moisten your regular recipe), and season well. I like a combo of fresh and dried poultry seasoning blend, as it’s got a lot of sage, thyme, savory and other seasonings you traditionally find in bread-based stuffing, fresh herbs are lovely!

Now add a 'kitchen sink' full of good low carb stuff to fill it out. Here are some of my favorite things to 'fill out' the stuffing: sauteed mushrooms (the wilder, the better), artichoke hearts, sliced/chopped olives, hearts of palm, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, diced chayote, celery, carmelized onions or leeks, diced sautéed zucchini/cabbage/fennel/eggplant/ bell pepper, or chopped roasted cauliflower, celeriac or lc winter squash in get the idea. I sauté my vegetables first before adding for three reasons: 1) sautéing adds flavor that the veg wouldn’t have if it just ‘steambaked’ in the stuffing, 2) cooking prior releases a lot of the water from veg like mushrooms or zuke that would otherwise leech into the stuffing and could make it too mushy (although you may want to reserve and add back some more flavorful liquids from veg like wild mushrooms and onions), and 3) you want to make sure your veg is cooked thoroughly, without overcooking and drying out your stuffing.

Don’t forget you can add meat! Breakfast sausage, ham, bacon, pancetta…all make a meaty stuffing that can double as a standalone meal. Some traditional cornbread stuffing recipes with diced apple and sausage would be lovely with some shredded sautéed cabbage and flax bread…grate some white cheddar on top…yum! Cook your meats before adding to stuffing, and use the pan drippings to further moisten your mix.

Speaking of cheese, grated or shredded cheese mixed in, and/or browned on top, is one of the best ways to bind your stuffing, as is using a couple of lightly beaten eggs (one or two, depending on how much you’re using, otherwise you’ll end up with quiche).

The idea is to pick a flavor profile you like, and add accordingly. For example, Italian stuffing might have artichoke hearts, red bell pepper, sweet onions, mushroom, olives, cooked diced pancetta or Italian sausage, and fresh thyme and basil, with grated parmesan browned on top. An Asian twist would include sautéed wild mushrooms, spring onion, water chestnut, bamboo shoot, hearts of palm, bell pepper, and some soy sauce, lemongrass, ginger or a little sf terryaki in the broth mix. Traditional stuffing flavor profile would be lovely with breakfast sausage (watch for sugar), fresh poultry spices, caramelized onion, leek, celery or water chestnut for crunch, and sautéed button mushrooms and pearl onions, with a little worcestershire or sherry in the broth mix…maybe a little gruyere shredded on top. The sky’s the limit, be creative! Remember, you can try to re-create a traditional stuffing, or whip up something completely unique as a side, or main meal. Also great for leftovers, day two, add shredded leftover turkey and some of your gravy to your stuffing for the next day’s casserole.

This is really too good to save just for Thanksgiving...bake some up and freeze it for whenever!