Archives for the month of: March, 2011

My earliest childhood memories of food include pressure cooked chicken, overcooked pot roast with mushy gray veggies, pot pies, fish sticks, meatloaf and TV dinners in aluminum trays.  TV dinners back in the 60’s were so cool, they were futuristic and compartmentalized. The entrée was front and center (usually fried chicken or Salisbury steak), to the upper right was the mixed veggies and contained in the upper left compartment was referred to as dessert but in reality was a molten blob of artificially colored sugary goo.

What was my relationship with food back then?  Or was there a conscious one?  I never thought about my relationship with food until I was much older.  I believe most people are either too busy or just haven’t been educated on the benefits and importance of having a positive connection with what they eat.

As you read this article, consider your relationship with food.  What I want to accomplish through this article is either a reinforcement of a healthy relationship that you already have with food, or an identification of changes that need to be made in order to begin to enjoy a healthy relationship with food. I have realized that our relationship with food is much like our relationship with other people, it can be a loving, nurturing relationship or a toxic one.

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is, “What am I hungry for?”  Is it your body that needs nourishing or is it your spirit that needs attention?  Are you eating for hunger or appetite?”  Hunger is the body expressing a need for fuel.  Appetite is a desire or need for spiritual fulfillment.  Would a hug, recognition, reassurance that you’re loved, or time spent meditating satisfy the real appetite that is calling?  If hunger is in fact what you are feeling, filling your need in a healthy, satisfying way may be easier than you think.

Initially, identifying a bad relationship with food is absolutely crucial.  This includes consuming inorganic foods, fast foods and processed foods which are, in my opinion, all dead foods.  Food cannot retain vital life energy and nutrients after being in an airtight can or vacuum packed, hermetically sealed and frozen.  Furthermore, these dead foods are generally microwaved and/or eaten while driving, talking on a cell phone, and steering with your knee.  Besides the danger of crashing after you dropped your cheeseburger, have you ever read the nutritional information on a cheeseburger and fries?  These foods aren’t capable of fulfilling your hunger or your appetite.

Ultimately, a healthy relationship with food starts with an intention to nurture the body, mind and spirit.  Selecting healthful foods and preparing them conscientiously are equally as vital. Choosing fresh, local, seasonal, and organic foods defines the benchmark of a great relationship with food.  Buying fresh retains all the vital nutrients and life force energy.  And remember that there’s a reason for the season.  Spring and summer foods are lighter and cooling, while fall and winter foods are hearty and warming.  Eating as much organic food as possible eliminates disease-causing pesticides, which will make you live longer and healthier.  Eating slowly and with purpose helps the digestion process.  A simple prayer of thanks or just a moment of silence before enjoying your meal is a way of gratifying the mind and spirit as well as calming the body so it can utilize its fuel more effectively.

Finally, food should also be the centerpiece of ritual.  At nearly every ritualistic gathering, food is involved. That is because throughout time, rituals and food have dually served the purpose of feeding the trilogy of body, mind and spirit.  Rituals give meaning to events and are a very important part of human existence.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with food takes planning and discipline, but is very achievable.  Try to always have nutritious options on hand.  You can prepare healthful foods in advance or have a private chef do this for you.  And if you must eat out or on the run, make health-conscious choices.

Identifying a need and filling it in positive ways are the beginnings of any healthy relationship.  When you are hungry, preparing foods that nourish your body and eating them in a way that nourishes your spirit will help you live a longer, more fulfilled life.

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

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Was the theme for last weekend’s successful retreat catering.  (Rolling R’s on your tongue acceptable here)  I love cooking for themes and this one came about because of logistical restrictions I had to maneuver around.  The retreat was in a private residence where the meeting space was directly next to the open kitchen and couldn’t be disturbed with the exception of an hour before meals to set up.  The prep area was in the basement which worked out quite well and had access to both upstairs and outside in case we needed to make a quick run to the grocery store (which we did several times).  Other than a few dietary restrictions such as gluten and dairy free and total vegan and vegetarian, I needed to come up with a menu that not only included the above but required little or no cooking.  The only heat source I had in the prep area was a small table side burner.  I immediately thought of raw foods.  Not only are they healthy and will retain all of their nutritional value, there is no cooking required.  Salads are raw and so is the Raw Avocado Chocolate Mousse I have made for them before that was very well received.  Just a Raw theme seemed a bit too racy and adding Wild and Fresh toned it down a bit but still gave it plenty of sex appeal and stuck with my philosophy of cooking sustainably.  One of the participants even commented that I make vegetables very appealing!  Mission accomplished!

Here’s the highlights of the menu followed by a few recipes:

Lunches:

Pita, Hummus (3 kinds) w/ assorted veggies (Tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dill) sauce)
Fennel and Orange Salad
Wild, Fresh and Raw Salad w/Oil-less Dressing
Fresh Juiced Veggie Bar
Crust-less Vegetarian Quiche

Snacks:

Fresh Fruit and Nuts
Assorted Gluten Free Pastries

Dinners:

Raw Veggie Platter with Wild & Brown Rice and
3 Dipping sauces (Hot, Savory & Sweet)
Assorted artisan breads and gluten free crackers
Risotto with Wild Asparagus and Lemon
Colored Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Edamame and Wild Mushroom

Desserts:

Flour-less Chocolate Torte soufflé
Raw Mixed Berry Pie in Vanilla-Honey Cream (thank you Lisa Turner!)
Raw (Vegan) Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Wild Asparagus and Lemon Risotto
by:
Trusan
Serves 6

Ingredients:

3    TBS    Olive Oil
1    LG    Shallot (finely diced)
3    Cups    Risotto (Arborio rice)
1    Cup    Dry White Wine
2    Qts.    Veggie Stock (hot)
1     Lb.    Fresh Asparagus bunch (woody bottoms trimmed and cut into 1” lengths)
3 Lemons (zest of 3 and juice of 1)
1/3    Stick    Unsalted Butter
3/4    Cup    Fresh Grated Parmesan
1    Bowl    Ice Bath
to taste    Salt and Pepper (S&P)
Garnish with:    Whole Basil leaves, lemon twists, parsley sprigs, etc.

Procedure:

Coat bottom of casserole pan with 2 TBS. Olive oil and heat to medium high.  Add shallots and sauté till clear.  Add risotto and roast in pan for approx. 2-3 min.  Deglaze with wine.  Add hot stock a ladle full at a time when all the liquid is absorbed by the risotto.  Stir frequently with wooden spoon.  Repeat this till the risotto still has a slight crunch in the middle of the grains (Al Dente).

While the risotto is cooking:

ASPARAGUS – Blanch the asparagus lengths in the chicken stock.  With a slotted spoon remove from stock, place and hold in ice bath when al dente.

When risotto is al dente:

Add the butter, asparagus, lemon zest & juice and parmesan.  Stir just till mixed and creamy.  Add S&P to taste remembering that the parmesan is salty already.

Garnish and serve.

Quinoa & Edamame Stuffed Colored Peppers
with Roasted Portabello and Goat Cheese
by
Trusan
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4    LG    Colored Peppers (use a variety of colors except for the green bell peppers)
1    Cup    Edamame
1    Cup    Cooked Quinoa
2    LG    Portabello Mushrooms
1    Cup    Crumbled Goat Cheese (I also used some Mozzarella for it’s melting quality)
4    Oz.    Grated Parmesan (1/2 for inside the pepper mixture and 1/2 to sprinkle on top)
1    24oz.    Jar of Organic Tomato Sauce     (see: May 2010 blog “The Journey is the Reward!”
for recipe)

Procedure:
Pre-heat oven to 375f.  Lay peppers on side and cut of what is now the top leaving the stem intact.  Scoop out seeds and veins and hold the top.  Place peppers in boiling salted water for 15 min.  Remove and let drain and dry.  Cook the edamame in boiling salted water till tender (about 3 – 5 min.).  Run under cold water, drain and hold.  Soak quinoa in cooking pot for about 15 min. then cook per directions (approx. 15 – 20 min.).  Hold.  Slice and roast the portabellos and pepper top with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cut into small dice when cooled off a bit.

Mix cooked ingredients, cheese(s) and sauce together, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary and liberally stuff in the peppers.  Sprinkle tops with some mozzarella and parmesan.

Put in oven for 20 min, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serve while piping hot!

Oil-less Dressing

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

1 Whole     Eggs
2 Yolks
1 Oz. each:
Tarragon
Spearmint
Dijon Mustard
Garlic (minced)
To Taste: Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1    Cup    Apple Juice
1    Cup    Apple Cider

Directions:

Combine eggs, yolks, spearmint, tarragon, mustard and garlic.  Blend in apple juice and cider.  Add S&P to taste.

Let’s keep food SEXY!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com