I’m Only Happy When It’s Grains

We dove back into grains on Wednesday, after having had our fill (literally and figuratively) of rice. Corn meal, polenta, amaranth, millet, and other grains were on the menu. All were whole grains, so we got the most protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber intrinsic within each grain.

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Below: Chef Alex demonstrates cooking polenta.

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Below: Lentil and bulgur wheat salad – sadly, this was one I couldn’t taste. Feta cheese on the side, so that vegans can try the dish without cheese.

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Below: Bulgur wheat tabbouleh (pronounced ta-BOO-lee). Minty, garlicky, creamy – a new favorite (I eat mine with millet, which is gluten free).

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Below: A video showing how the above presentation was executed.

Below: Quinoa salad with apricots and almonds. You can also use cranberries and pecans. Quinoa is amazingly flexible! I plated this dish – I especially love the celery across the top. :)

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Below: Another successful lab. :)

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Demo/Lecture Kitchen

Chef Rachel talked with us about intuition in the lecture portion of the day. She talked about using intuition in our cooking and in thinking about our wellness. She talked about ways to get more in touch with your intuitive nature. She also talked quite a bit about macrobiotics and ayurvedic principles. She said that we have an innate ability to maintain our own wellness, but we need to set up our lives to facilitate this awareness.

Below: Chef Rachel attempts a vulcan death grip on herself. :P Just kidding, she led us through a thoroughly relaxing impromptu Do-in self massage, a type of Shiatsu technique. So nice! 

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Polenta Quick Dinner

Grabbed some polenta out of the pantry for a quick dinner. I know – aspiring chef eating prepared polenta out of a package? I’m nothing if not a food realist, and when time is tight, you need to be healthy, but also quick.

Frankly, I’m still working on how to maximize my nutrients and fit it into my schedule. It takes planning and a bit of patience. I’d like to eat more brown rice as my primary grain – I have the pressure cooker to help speed the process.

I cooked up a can of Muir’s Glen diced tomatoes (America’s Test Kitchen once rated them as the best canned tomato) with some fresh garlic and olive oil as a topping. Oh, and some delicious capers on the bottom for more flavor. It smelled very fragrant – if you do not cook with fresh garlic let me tell you, it makes ALL the difference.

I would have added fresh basil but the last light freeze here in Central Texas killed her. :(

Nutrition Notes

Polenta is corn meal cooked with a liquid until it’s somewhere between liquid and solid. In this case, the packaged polenta is fortified with vitamins A and C (probably to help preserve it). It has a toothsome texture and I like to use it instead of pasta since I can’t eat wheat (or, should I say, I prefer healthy skin to eating wheat).

The tomatoes were packed with citric acid, providing more vitamin C.

The salt on this meal was far from ideal. The tomatoes packed in about 300 mg and the polenta chipped in another 600 or so. It goes to show how packaged foods are far saltier than fresh foods.

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More Nutrition News

In other news, the latest Nutrition Action Health Letter reports that calcium appears in the scientific research to be protective against colon cancer.

But Mike, you say, aren’t you avoiding dairy? Should we be concerned about you brittle bones and now your delightful colon there? Luckily for all of us, I’ve been supplementing calcium for some time now with my new friend, the chocolate calcium Adora disk. I’m also eating soy and coconut yogurt. (I put the yogurt on think-rolled oats…SO good!)

Incidentally, the 500 mg in the Adora disk is about half the calcium that most adults are recommended to eat. Luckily, there is more calcium to be had out there, and since I eat food, I am probably getting all the calcium I need.

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