Friday, September 19, 2014

Considering the Morning Coffee Routine

dashi broth, miso, scallions, a touch of bonito and seaweed flakes
I suppose like winning at anything in life you need more than just a focus.  You need spirit and dedication, determination and grit.  Never forget grit.  While a morning run of two miles at the speed of a snail or possibly growing into a revving turtle is not much, it is the game I've got at present.  Time to think. What are items slowing me to more pace.  Thinking a lot about how my legs, lungs and heart feels as I run I start thinking about my morning coffee. I feel raspy and realize my hearts racing and its not just the conditioning.

I've spent a lot of  time owning restaurants and learning about coffee and tea, sourcing beans, blending, learning to roast, grind and care for excellent cups of coffee. But in running I see coffee is one of the first items I need to swap out for a better work out. While so much has been written about its properties, one that I do not like is the negative effect on my heart rate and lungs.  Part of that is the caffeine, part of it could be the sourcing, even organic have some pesticides considered organic.  But now what to do instead.

So suddenly MISO comes to mind.  Nothing exotic in combination.  Just simple Miso Soup, a little dashi broth poured over and stirred into miso, diced shiitake mushroom, scallions, touch of chopped ginger.  I skipped the tofu.  A flash from the past is now a morning habit.  Miso it is. The Vegetable Alchemist.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Seven Minute Mile Run_Day Two

soon to rethink Burgerdom

Lots to learn when you focus on training for a seven to ten minute run!  Besides the mechanics and the pacing, what do you eat?  Somehow habits return and I think about my  I am my pride knowing the calories I ran off,  instead of asking how I should eat to hit my correct running weight as I look for more endurance and speed.  Throwing Vegetable Alchemy to the wind, I head over to a spot and grab a notable Ramen Burger.  And notable it was. At the sensory level it had appearance, a touch of crispy crackle, felt kind of sexy when you picked it up with a great general aroma and tasty as all get out.  A good blend of beef, no salt, and spinach in the silver lining, with a secret sauce, all back up with cucumber chip pickles.  Where could I go wrong?

Well forget the evening run.  It was too much too digest and sat there in my stomach as a mass of dead energy. I have never been much or a meat eater but I suddenly realized this is how we and I have been eating for decades.  I have been thinking, protein, carbohydrates and fats and that burger fills that framework and satisfies. If I thought load up on calories for sure I was experiencing a touch of heaven.  But add living with bigger thoughts based on  nutritionally rich foods and that burger hit a low 70 on the ANDI scale, 1128 on calories.  To some the burger was a super enjoyable belly stuffer, a lot of tasty enjoyment.  To me it confirmed I have found a better way to eat and for sure will never do that seven minute mile or possibly even a ten minute mile with old thoughts on what to eat from the Standard American Diet based on old habits marketing what we eat.

On the other side of satisfy, while I get all the smart talk about smoothies, nuts and legumes, the raw or slightly cooked veggies and love the focus and connection to the body from this style of daily fare, morphing my mind and groceries to this lean way of eating is still a mental still unfulfilled challenge. Neither Rome nor my new recipe base was built in a day.  So back at it and will share more thoughts soon.  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Seven Minute Mile

kitchen gloves turns to challenging gauntlet!

The bet was on the table.  I had to pick up the gauntlet!  I am not sure if it was the idea of continuing my pursuit of  Transformation  or that fact that I was surrounded by faces laughing away at the thought of me, still slightly over weight and striving for my own lean sleek and fast frame, could run against a marathoner who was doing 7.5 minute miles.  The test comes in 30 days from today.

So I ask myself, how is the best way to run in the first place?  I consulted a mentor who asked how many consecutive miles had I been running and what was the most efficient stride.  Next I thought about something closer to mind.  What kind of food and fuel will power this surge for 'optimal performance in sports and life' to boost my energy and feel great, as Brendan Frazier puts it in THRIVE.  Good fun thinking for better body smart living.  More thoughts and recipes soon to follow. 

The Vegetable Alchemist.

Monday, September 15, 2014

False Sense of Good Everyday Food

sweet potato rolls with purple rice
I am in search of an everyday menu of tasty body smart foods.

Since working three weeks on combining nutritionally dense eating with a daily routine of exercise it was more than natural to me that I tested my work and results.  So I binged!  I had been feeling terrific the last weeks, had developed a few good dishes, kept to my discipline and worked along side my new focus with no challenges.  But a few events, a party or two, a little fun in the social circuit and I caved to beers and all kinds of nutritionally low,  carb, fat and protein quick dishes that are SAD (Standard American Diet) favorites: pizza, pasta, burgers and a few Japanese cooked veggie styled rice rolls.
warm red chili kale and cabbage salad

It was not like I sat down for days and ate at the table of Henry the Eighth.  I just went with the flow on evenings out and decided to see what would happen if I just ordered as others.  The results were exactly as expected.  I was lethargic, sleepy, slow and drowsy, and it was not the few beers over those days.  By Sunday morning I found myself with three added pounds in spite of half the work out, lethargy effects for sure.  And one should not have to work out or take pills to work off their food!  It over stresses the body and frankly the pills are a bad use of money, disregarding that you pay for food you want to work off because it makes you fat!. One should work out to keep limber with good muscle tone, blood flow and flexibility.  Completely different than how workouts are often suggested.

Thankfully, I finished the day with a no brainer a kale cabbage salad as lightly warmed classic.  Let the new week begin!  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Developing Tasty More Functional Food

When Nirvana sings, 'Just because your paranoid, don't mean they're not after you'.... it makes sense!

Yes, occasionally I did hear from someone he might have been on drugs.  But then there are times when so many of us feel when we are trying to develop an idea we too might be on drugs, without actually taking them.  When you come to an idea you think will make a difference or an idea you just want to bring to market, you realize to change or add something to the status quo is swimming against the tide of the system. But you have to forge ahead.  Those that do break through and make a significant impact.   Think light bulbs, and cars, computers, i phones, new tracking watches, biochemistry and digital technologies, things that make peoples' lives better. Being able to write this blog even though only a few people read it, helps me sort out ideas as I look for a break through, that point of significant change.

Mushroom Chile Taco with Goat Cheese
Creating a lifestyle cuisine based on form, function and nutrition in simple daily eating is the goal of Vegetable Alchemy. But it has to fit in the ways and times that people enjoy food. Transforming recipes, swapping ingredients, mapping nutritional information, finding significant ways to tie ingredients to smarter body health and putting taste into all of this is daunting, at least for me.  The commercial tide of the system starts with suggested taste preferences that are suppose to be healthy or fun, heads down the path of marketing, into home cooking, kids lunch rooms, and the manufacturing distribution food system. It has a large eyeglass to profit and holding on to control as well providing justifiability by all the taxes it generates.   Let the paranoia begin!
On the individual side, sure there are books out there on dieting and not dieting and eating nutritionally rich. They suggest a large divergence from traditional eating with drastic changes. After making a hundred or so recipes from those books, with flavor as king, I can easily say, I am not comfortable with the outcome. I am not looking give up flavor in drastic change.  As a result, I constantly think about how to alter each meal and the calendar of seasonal choices as I learn more about better body health.  Better is defined against the SOD, the Standard American Diet the commercially sold food system.  I want to be leaner, carry less weight, have more flexibility and just overall feel better than I did when I was simply eating suggested proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  Those ideas were justified according to Food Pyramids, ethnic recipes, fusion cuisines and magazine insights, that speak little to what the body actually needs in more important elements like phyto-chemicals, vitamins, and enzymes. In all this there is challenge but solution.

Adding nutritionally rich adjustments to easy, fun recognizable recipes like this simple taco is a perfect example.  Swapping lettuce for two hands of chopped, quickly warmed and seasoned kale adds 800 points of nutritional density, a lot of protein and vitamin I would never get from lettuce and the flavor is outstanding.  Suddenly I am not paranoid., and I look like any other diner so happy with the taste that I am hording my daily fare! 

Gently saute a pound of sliced mushrooms with a touch of chopped poblano pepper in a few drops of oil. Add a little tomato salsa with sliced serrano chiles to the pan.  Cook to warm.   Top to a tostada with lightly sauteed chopped and seasoned kale and a tablespoon of fresh goats cheese.  Don't eat it too fast as you will sure be wanting to make another.  Better yet, start with making two!  LOL!

 The Vegetable Alchemist.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What's the Style of Functional Food?

Noodles, Cabbage and Greens

" Beware the Devil Within! ", says the protagonist in, 'The Italian Job'.  Lots of snake oil out there selling goods and services.  Think about what you need. With that said I turn back to thinking about how to style more functional body smart food.  But how to sell this concept is still evolving.  What is it.  How is it showcased and explained.

It is not ethnic, it is not fusion.  It is not from 'The Modernist Cuisine'.  It is not linked to the seven volume series, 'ebulli, the evolutionary analysis, 2005-2011' of Feran Adria. And while all these have a purpose none of them are Cell2Cell, or cells in food designed to focus on a cells in the body.  This is the quest.....smarter food minded on more body function.  Showcased in a restaurant, maybe in a pop up eating spot,sited  in a food truck, and maybe a fast casual diner it is still Cell Cuisine.  And like all good ideas, it starts with the concept and incubates in the home as it grows understanding and traction. I  build from past cuisines and current trends adding substance in Cell2Cell.

The dish included is an updated pasta.  Toss a cup of cooked fettucine with double the amount of finely sliced fresh cabbage, shredded nutrient rich greens and a lemon-lime-ginger radish dressing.  Body smart, satisfying, and refreshingly functionally.  The New Vegetable Culture sensibly lies within each of us.
The Vegetable Alchemist.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's What You do that Counts

light Summer white baby eggplant stew
tomato, eggplant and mushrooms
While it is somewhat meaniful that French Chef Alain Ducasse took meat off his famed Paris restaurant, it is what you do for you and your family that really counts.  With billions of consumers, what we do is powerful.
Alain did it as a statement on conserving planet resources.

baby white eggplant
I suggest working with nutritionally more dense foods that offer sustainable growing opportunities as well as a low foot print to cost of production to market, THAT will conserve resources when it all catches on at a national, international level.  And, oh YEH!  you will feel the difference in eating more nutritionally dense food and your body will be marvelous!

While you are all reading the article and giving this a thought I put my time to making a super good baby white eggplant stew.

Wash and cut 3 cups of baby eggplant in half.  Peel and thinly slice and onion.  Slice a cup of mushrooms. Finely dice two cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of fresh ginger and 2 teaspoons of poblano or jalapeno chile.  Open a small 4.5 oz can of chunky tomatoes in juice and begin. Saute the eggplant and veggies in a large pan over medium heat.  Season lightly. Add the tomatoes and juice with 2 teaspoons low sodium soy, 1 generous tablespoon oyster sauce and almost cover all with water.  Simmer very slowly about 30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning. Serve with a touch of rice and a sprinkle of chopped green onion and cilantro or basil to soak up the sauce and enjoy.  If you want more heat, crushed red chili pepper flakes do the trick!

The Vegetable Alchemist.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cauliflower: a flower like no other!

oven roasted chickpea and cauliflower

Take anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular plus, phytochemical, body detox, vitamins C, K and folate and put them into one and you get Cauliflower.

I like it raw, pan seared or lightly roasted.  Here I combined, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, curry and chickpeas in foil in the oven til just past raw, about 30 minutes at 350 degrees and finished with a handful of slivered green onion and cilantro.  No mess, easy clean up and delicious.  Memorable for sure.  Good for a stew one day and cut into smaller pieces for a great sandwich or cold salad with drops of oil and touch of seasoning.

The Vegetable Alchemist.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Does Your Food Function for You ?

When you think of eating, what do you want your food to do?  To get right down to it, as a percentage of 100 how functional is it for your body?

Should it, offer enjoyment, fill the stomach, show a little flavor that sparks your day, help you to live healthy? I  believe it should do all with no side effects.  Side effects are not often sited as coming from food.  Side effects can be bloating, additional weight, poor skin, drowsiness, muscle tension, headaches and more.  Crazy, no?

Well not so crazy if you have any of those side effects and you and your food are at odds.

Think about it.  And while you are considering your choices make a simple Miso Soup with an upgrade of ginger and a touch of bonito flakes for flavor and body minded goodness.  Yes, you can buy a mix but generally they have way to much salt to preserve the ingredients which causes bloating and swelling. For a  simple fresh version take 4 cups of water and stir in a tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger. Bring to a simmer.  Add and dissolve 3 tablespoons of mild yellow miso, 2 tablespoons each of soaked dried seaweed and chopped green onion.  If you have it, a half teaspoon of bonito flakes rounds out with additional flavor.

Sometimes sipping a big bowl of tasty Miso Soup does a lot to help you think while your body enjoys the effect of this wonderfulness !  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

red and curly kale, green tea and apple cider vinegar
The kitchen refrigerator and cabinet has changed the last years to something of more substance than the routine groceries of cereal, pasta, rices, dairy, meats, poultry, and sweets.

My front and center weekly big purchases are now Apple Cider Vinegar, Green Tea and Green Leafy Vegetables.  The reason is simple, I have changed my focus from ethnic and regional dishes to developing new ones or adapting old recipes to those that benefit what my body needs to stay healthier and more fit!  Sure I can make a Pasta Carbonara or a Cog au Vin.  But once I saw that there are more efficient ways to eat and keep my weight in check, my body in better working order, and I just feel great....then time to upgrade reasoning and recipes.   Scads of new discoveries ahead.  But first,time for a run !

The Vegetable Alchemist.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Time for an Enterprise $

Eating is a billion dollar plus enterprise.
Where can I fit...with a low, low carbon footprint and a healthy following of great tasty nutrient rich edible body smart food? 

I just have to keep at it and figure it out and create my following.

Step by Step. 
As the movie says, if you want to find your nitche and succeed you have to 'go the distance.'

Have a good day.  Eat wisely, think sustainable food for a sustainable active life.

The Vegetable Alchemist.

Friday, September 5, 2014


two cabbage, kale and yellow pepper slaw

Sometimes I think SLAW is as awesome and versatile as Crazy Glue!

Dress it, blend it, layer it, salad it, sandwich it, stuff it, accessorize it.  Use it warm, hot or cold, but keep it crisp and fresh keeps it sexy.  Balancing stronger vegetable flavors with spices, herbs, mustards and fruits offers extensions enough for a lifetime of combinations.

Slaw, you almost can't have a great healthier body without it. The Vegetable Alchemist!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Quinoa Burgers

chili, pesto and arugula flavors......

Any way they stack up, respect the quinoa and you have a fabulous meal.

Easy to digest, loads of energy and just good food! 

the Vegetable Alchemist

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Testing in the Kitchen

a more sustainable burger

Simple thoughts on compounded vegetable burgers offer a lot of promise.  Too many are not gluten or dairy free, too many have gum pastes and all sorts of 'natural' but not so natural food products for flavorings.

using the mix for meatballs

These are the beginning of a series of tests on how legumes will work more effectively in many forms.  Step by step.  I have to check everything from basic quality of the legume, to method of cooking and binding.  It took Edison 1000 tests to make his light bulb. 

Cannot say for sure but these ideas on no soy, gluten free and no dairy are certainly a labor of patience in the name of more sustainable foods. But this guy is not counting......time for a toasted bun, a some homemade Chipotle mayo, shaved cabbage or spinach and tomato....YUM!

The Vegetable Alchemist. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

5 Minute Ramen

Kale simmering with the noodles
 5 minute Ramen

Why did I not think of it first!  The easy and convenience of using a dried ramen pack as a base for a meal.

Well here you have it.  I added an additionally one cup of vegetable stock and enhanced the nutrition with three cups of chopped curly kale simmered with my own spice blend as the one included was full of salt.  A five minute meal with easy clean up.  A good start to the month.  The Vegetable Alchemist.