Is this about going gluten-free?

January 11, 2012

Moroccan Lentil Soup from our Spring Reset

Remember when I referenced “confusion”…

Before I get going into a bit more of the fun stuff, you know, like all the delicious food you can eat during your reset, I wanted to chat quickly about a seriously important distinction. As with so many hot topics, you can find article after article with just a few key terms as tags. Celiac, gluten-free, whole wheat, whole grains, and more have taken over our eating lives…and I’m not sure anyone can say anything with 100% certainty.

Except for maybe two things: (1) Celiac Disease is a REAL but relatively rare intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other certain grains. Those with this serious intolerance should avoid gluten in their diet at all costs. (2) This reset is not about going gluten-free.

Rather, the avoidance of wheat products during the reset, for those not suffering from Celiac, is all about inflammation and a term we have all heard at some point in the past: the Glycemic Index. Sounds scary, but it’s actually quite simple. High glycemic index foods are those that break down easily into sugar causing glucose spikes, which we all know prompts a quick trigger release of insulin. When insulin levels are high, there occurs an imbalance of pro-inflammatory compounds. Unfortunately, despite how straight forward this seems, the Glycemic Index was used to tout the well marketed diets of the past (Atkins, South Beach, etc) so I think it’s mention triggers a cautious response.

But the reset is enough proof for me. Removing wheat from your diet (including whole wheat), in large part reduces a huge chunk of high glycemic index foods, right off the bat. Replacing those wheat based foods with brown rice, beans, and let’s say lentils for example automatically reduces inflammation like crazy. And I promise you, you’ll feel it. So much so, you might be inclined to reduce these foods on a regular basis. It’s tough, but it works!

Okay, glad we got that clear…on with the reset!


Canigeta Guide to Reset?

January 10, 2012

As I mentioned last week, Em and I are in the middle (actually now towards the very end) of a little health reset. We did a similar ten day regiment with eye-opening success back in April and felt like it was time for another go around. I hadn’t planned on going into much detail because in large part, I didn’t think everyone would be that interested. But over the last two weeks, I have had more interesting conversations and more inquiries all surrounding two fundamental questions: What the hell is a reset? And why should I do it?

Look, if you want to read scientific literature and/or breaking news findings on the health benefits of this, that, or the other, this is not the place. It’s not that Science can’t teach us a ton, but rather, that Science hasn’t caught up with all of us in terms of communication. Right now people are being bombarded with information, and the net result is not education, but rather confusion. Even still, the notion of removing wheat, meat, dairy, eggs, caffeine, and added sugar from your diet is no random collection of denials.

I plan to focus on the day to day health factors here to avoid getting into a crazy debate on heart disease, diabetes, and more. Those are topics that I won’t claim to be an expert on. So, for now, I’m asking one simple question: How do you feel today?

Plate of BBQ Sides from This Reset

Ironically, this time of year, people are flocking to the gyms, surviving only on juice, and vowing to lose those few pounds. If you focus on weight, you’re doomed. If you starve yourself, you will fail. But if you pay attention to one key component of your daily health, this reset is where it all begins. Your ENERGY is a huge indicator of how healthy you are at any given time. Which is why I’ve always thought the expression “you are what you eat” makes no sense. Although sometimes I do wish I was an Italian Hoagie. But in reality, we should be saying “You feel what you eat”.

This notion really became apparent a few years back when a friend of mine started an anti-inflammatory diet to aid in his recovery from a broken back. I decided to go along for the ride as a curious supporter and within days I was feeling different. In large part, I had removed wheat from my diet completely. It was a challenge. A huge challenge to go away from bread, pasta, and so many more of my favorite foods. But the end result was pretty drastic.

Since then, I’ve done by best to live by the general guidelines of eating to feel good. I’ve reduced the amount of meat I eat, I cut back substantially on bread and pasta (although I go in waves here for sure), and in large part, I eat a ton of vegetables. But as a young and pretty healthy individual, I still eat what I want, when I want it. I shouldn’t have to mention that Italian Hoagie again, should I? The beauty however, is that my experience with the anti-inflammatory diet put the effects of my food front and center. I know what foods make me feel good, and I know what foods make me feel lethargic and stiff.

This is why the reset works so great. For ten days, the reset attempts to remove any and all sources of inflammation/allergens while providing tons of fiber, vitamins, and balance. By the third day it’s hard not to feel fantastic. People have asked, about this effect, and wonder how much of it could be mental? The irony, is that this question is posed as a bad thing, or even as a means to dispute the value of making changes in your eating habits. I’m more than happy to chalk up 20% of that added energy and overall good feeling to a mental effect. Why wouldn’t you?

But if you aren’t eating meat, wheat, dairy, eggs, caffeine, and added sugar, what the hell are you eating you might ask? Well that’s why I’m here to help!

Ramen from the Last Reset

One of the other re-occurring topics from my last few weeks of conversations is that the premise of the reset sounded worthwhile but the actually preparation of meals seemed daunting. And I get that. Particularly if you aren’t in love with your kitchen, preparing meals to keep the ten days interesting and worthwhile can be a huge hurdle. So over the next two weeks or so, I’m hoping to provide a really good blueprint for success. Breakfasts, lunch, and dinner (and a few damn good snacks) will be much easier after going through this little guide and should be a great starting point if you are interested.

The last thing I’ll say is that the guidelines I’ll propose are in large part a combination of previously existing diets, advice, and personal experience. I won’t take credit for any of this and most importantly, I won’t say you are wrong if you choose to do something differently. Choosing to reset your system, and to become more in tuned with your food, is all about you. Do what makes you feel right and you can’t go wrong. All I know is I see value. I feel leaner. I have more energy. And this second time around has been a breeze!

Pass on the link to anyone you feel might be interested and I hope you enjoy!

Screw you Guy Fieri!

January 4, 2012

Plate of Delicious Sides

Em and I are in the midst of another reset and I’ve got to be honest, I’m already feeling great. Our last 10 day experience had been making this one feel pretty easy thus far. That is until I sat in front of the tv and watched a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives marathon. Without going too much into the details again, these resets, I think are completely worth trying. Eliminating wheat, meat, dairy, added sugar, caffeine, and liquor (I made this exception for the sake of the Nobler!), opens your eyes to exactly how food can make you feel, for better or for worse. But I wouldn’t do it, or suggest it if it felt like torture. Drinking only juice for 3 days, or surviving off of rice cakes is not the way I would ever want to start a new year. But even still, smoked meats and BBQ sauce were consuming my brain thanks to that a-hole Guy Fieri…

But then I remembered, one of my favorite parts of good BBQ grub: the sides! The meats are delicious but it’s the sides that keep the meal interesting. So I thought it would be fun and delicious to put together a plate of these guys, inspired by my favorites in BBQ. This proved to be a damn good idea.

Roasted sweet potato wedges tossed in a homemade chili powder are both sweet and savory and almost act as the main attraction here. Paired with an avocado dressed coleslaw with dried cranberries, along with sliced cucumbers with apple cider vinegar acting as the palette awakening pickles on this plate, all we needed was a few simply roasted brussel sprouts tossed with a little bit more of that chili powder to squash that BBQ craving. Awesome meal!

Need a New Year’s Resolution?

January 3, 2012

…braise with red wine…and often.

Red Wine Braised and Blue Cheese Shepherd's Pie

I’ve made shepherd’s pie plenty of times before. Except they’ve never, ever passed the test. Em is a Shepherd’s pie fanatic and no matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to master the key criteria. No matter my meat, my veg, or my potatoes, things have never come together as a cohesive comfort classic. That is until a few weeks ago, where the perfume of beef braising in red wine took over the area of my brain storing short-term food memories…and has not left.

Our friend Kelly, who has now made a few posts (maybe she should write the blog) cooked us up some of her ridiculous meat sauce and I haven’t stopped thinking about red wine since. She uses some absurd amount of the stuff to cook down the beef creating amazing flavor and richness. It’s a technique I have not used much in the past, but as referenced by the title of this post, that’s all about to change.

Fast forward to the Third Nobler Gathering where the Noblers were getting down on some Middleton Irish Whiskey. Shepherd’s pie only seemed fitting and with my red wine braise resolution in tow, the thing came out absurdly good! My version ended up being a bit more complicated than I had made it in the past, but obviously it was worth it.

I cooked up the carrots, peas, and mushrooms separately from the braise to keep their texture and flavor only to combine them with a little dijon and sour cream just before topping it all with some blue cheese studded mashed potatoes. The blue cheese is a perfect addition acting as a background flavor to make this shepherd’s pie one of the best savory bites I’ve ever made.

It passed the Nobler’s test, just one more to go! Happy New Year everyone!

Christmas Pork

December 28, 2011

2 Day Roasted Adobo Pork

Pork shoulder has become the most amazing Christmas tradition. In years past we’ve slow roasted the pork until it simply falls apart and marry it with a sweet and sour bbq style sauce. But this year I thought it would be fun to push the envelope on the flavors. I had this vision of rich and intense Mexican chilis bringing a subtle spiciness to the fatty pork. Enter dried peppers…

If you haven’t used dried peppers before, make it a new years resolution. In the past I’ve re-constituted guajillo and ancho chilis and then pureed them into pepper packed sauces. This time I added a few smoked chipotles for heat and the outcome was really delicious. But having seen a recent blog posting about homemade chili powder, I took the pepper punch to a whole new level for this one. Throwing a few of each pepper type into an oven for 20 minutes to dry them out even more, followed by a quick spin in the spice grinder produces the most delicious homemade chili powder. You can easily do this with a number of chilis and vary the percentages of each to make your very own blend. But regardless of your preferences, the result is really wonderful. Roasting the pork with the chili powder and brown sugar made sure the pork itself was studded with flavor. I loved the stuff so much I even a caramelized some onions for the stew in the pork fat and some more of that chili powder.

One of the three dried chilis

We could not get enough of this pork, which is good considering I made enough for 3 dinners. Paired with some cheddar cheese corn-bread, some seasoned rice and a bit of avocado, it was my favorite Christmas pork yet!

Time to start thinking about next years…

More Comfort!

December 21, 2011

Coconut Green Curry

You’d think I’d need a hug with the recent trend of posting these days but I can’t get enough of these comfort dishes. And at this rate, I’m finally getting back in the kitchen, which is comforting in it’s own right.

This, coconut green curry dish is the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness, and heat; like all good thai style dishes!

A Comfort Classic

December 13, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks! And with the Holidays around the corner, it’s looking like it’s better to keep on spinning. But with all the good stuff going on, Vacation, the Juice Bar, etc., I’ve been limited once again in my cooking time. That is with the exception of our amazing and massive Thanksgiving Feast! A side note: this make ahead turkey recipe will not only blow your mind, it will change your day of Thanksgiving cooking forever. So delicious!

But this past weekend, when soup felt like the perfect Sunday Supper, I was taken back to one of my originals. No, this chicken tortilla soup does not have a recipe. Not because I didn’t write one down, but because it never ends up being the same. Yet, in one way, it remains a constant. This was one of the first meals I fell in love with making. A big batch of this should have lasted me and my college roommates at least a week, but loading our bowls and topping with cheese, sour cream, and some good conversation, we ate more tortilla soup than seemingly possible. Sure it’s delicious: chicken, peppers, tomatoes, corn, black beans, etc. But for me, this soup goes beyond taste. It is comfort at it’s finest!


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