Follow the principles of calorie density with this no oil Italian dressing

Eating  a giant low calorie high volume salad is the best way to start each meal (yes greens for breakfast before you dive into that oatmeal). But what to put on your giant bowl of nutrition?

You can navigate over to the big list of no oil dressings or try one of my go-to's. 

No oil Italian (play around until it tastes good to you)

  • 2 c. no salt vegetable stock, homemade if you have it
  • 1/2 tsp glucomannan (thickening agent that won't lose body over time)/konjac powder
  • 2 tsp no-salt Italian seasoning
  • fresh or paste basil if desired, to taste
  • 6-10 cloves fresh raw garlic, peeled and chopped or put through a garlic press
  • 1/3-1/2 c. good red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped kalamata olives (optional)
  • 2 tsp sweetener of your choice to taste

Put the broth and dried herbs in a small saucepan and add in the glucomannan.  Allow to come to a slow simmer over medium heat to bloom the spices.  The thickener works without heat but I like to add it while cooking. After 5-7 minutes remove from heat and add in remaining ingredients. I put it in the Vitamix to chop up the garlic, olives, and basil. Add black pepper if desired and more garlic and thickener if desired.

The last batch I made was further enhanced by a Neopolitan flavored balsamic vinegar from  VSOP Taproom.

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Cook's Country needs a host. A flavorsome one.

I long wanted to see Christoper Kimball off of Cooks Country. Someone who eats so WHITE (ie only likes white meat chicken and god forbid anything be spicy) shouldn't be hosting a show with such a comprehensive mix of food preparations.  The jury is still out on Milk Street Television. I've seen two episodes. After 5 I will render a verdict.

Now he's off the show (hooray) and while I really enjoy Julia and Bridget as test cooks themselves they don't cut it as a host replacement.  It screams "filling in for now" and that's cool but after this season let's get it together.

 

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That said these shows aren't about the host like say, a food network show is. It's about the food, the process of making it, history, product testing etc and for that a generic milk toast segment host is perfect. Host-wise, we need a little charisma to keep us engaged between segments, add additional punch and keep us wanting more. It's a tough call indeed but those people are out there.  Much like a talk show has an engaging host what brings the show together is the segments.  

Dare I say without an engaging host they are losing me as a viewer.  It would be  a tragedy for this show concept to disappear because they perfect food, truly teach (not just entertain) and provide science.  It's a winning combination it's just not enough.

Pure Taqueria. A review.

The Chamblee-Brookhaven area is really coming along nicely.

Pure has clean sleek lines, first level, and rooftop outdoor seating and a nice menu to make selections from.   The main floor patio isn't large, 4 tables (two large and two small) that look out on the road but there are enough small trees around to keep it from dampening your appetite.

Chips and thin and crisp, fresh bright salsa for the table and big smiles from our server. I am a bit of a fundido afficiando and like a beacon of light in the dark skies there it was calling out to be put on my table. And so it was.  A mix of cheeses laid in thick and melted in a skillet then topped with chorizo and poblano pepper strips.  Utterly delicious and decadent. 

Camarones a la Parrilla, a grilled shrimp over corn cakes dish is SPICY. So tasty though. The corn cakes are sweet and corn-y and lots of vibrant colored veg gives both flavor and curb appeal.  This dish will have me coming back with a fundido starter. 

Regrettably, I came for lunch so no cocktails were had. Shame really as tequila is my jam.   Good food and nice ambiance get a 4 out of 5 from me.

 

Pure Taqueria BrookHaven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Indoor Gardening

If you’re reading this I will go out on a limb and assume you may also be a rather voracious consumer of produce like myself, namely vegetables and non-sweet fruits. I mean, if I am going to write this I am going to be technical here. Zucchini is a fruit. So are tomatoes. I have been an avid home cook, professional chef and food writer for over a decade. The lack of safe food to eat is very troubling to me personally and professionally. This was the impetus for wanting to grow what I can myself and when my thoughts turned from fancy pants city slicker to farmer. Don’t worry I didn’t abandon my fine dining table manners and polished shoes.  

There simply is not enough space for each and every adult to have a farm sized piece of land. If you are a city lover like I am then you know property is scarce and quite frankly while I would enjoy a yard I could farm I don’t want the downsides of having a house. Like property taxes, expensive repairs when something breaks, disgruntled neighbors and wildlife nibbling on the fruits of my labor, literally. The other benefit of indoor container gardening is that it allows you to control disease, pests, moisture and other conditions more easily than planting in the ground. While container gardening isn’t an option for all fruits and vegetables, it’s perfectly good for some.

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Let’s examine a few foodstuffs you can grow in that cracker box of a living space you and I call home.  Downsized living doesn’t have to just have the perks of less stuff to stress about and the joy of lower utility bills but you won’t be robbed of the thrill of something living and growing inside your space besides you and maybe your cat.

Note: if you have pets you will have to take extra caution with some of these.  They like to nibble green things too.

 

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Tomatoes

These red gems are so easy to grow I am quite frankly surprised that I don’t see them sprouting up in the driveway cracks of homes in real housewife suburbia. Maybe they do and the uber guy just ran over them.  To safeguard your tomatoes from the rogue driver-for-hire grow them inside the privacy of your pied-à-terre. There are some great tips for indoor tomato growing here. Take note you will need a large container so they can take root.

Potatoes, those fancy designer ones

Just two garden boxes 12” deep will yield you an apartment sized crop of these little gems.  To be perfectly honest I am going to say one of the most horrifying thing to many diet conscious eaters. I eat potatoes almost every day.  They are satisfying, tasty, and nutritious, perfectly fuel my runs and are budget friendly. They became a 4 letter world in the diet world but they are my constant companion and my waistline does not suffer.  I often cannot find the size and quantity I want without going to multiple stores so growing my own is the perfect solution.  See how to here.

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Mushrooms

If you’re not growing your own mushrooms you are really missing out. Sure you can buy them at the market but a real mushroom lover will appreciate the deeper flavor that comes from using a better way to grow that commercial grower’s use.  You can grow your fungi in coffee grounds, sawdust or the more flavorful (and less messy) way, which is an inoculated log which you can buy and start growing just a few days. If you treat your log right, oyster mushrooms will grow quickly after the log is safely inside your door. Keep them in a shady place and to maintain moisture level a tent of plastic is advised. Some varieties do better with a balcony climate variation. Once they start fruiting like wildfire just know this: shiitake bacon is a possibility.

 

Salad greens

Let’s be real, I mean who wants to bring home a bag of outrageously priced baby greens only to find them morphed into to slime 2 days later when you decide you feel like eating them? You do? Ok you do that but I don’t.  I would love to be able to go snip a fresh bowlful, toss in a fresh homemade vinaigrette, kick my feet up and show a bunny rabbit how chewing is REALLY done.  I spent all that money on matching salad bowls from you know where. I may as well deck them out in salad worthy of the glossy catalog pages they first caught my eye with.  Check out how to grow those sexy salad greens here.

 

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Radishes

Many root vegetables need much deeper soil but not petite radishes. Instant gratification enthusiasts will get a reward in about a month. They will grow from seeds. You want to keep the swells covered with soil while they grow (that’s right radish, no peeking). The smaller the spicier so pull them to suit your taste. A milder radish is a larger size.  I once left a radish bunch soaking in water for a few days and they doubled in size and lost nearly all their flavor.  Loss of flavor was a gain in texture. They had a great crunch much like a water chestnut. I’m giving you options here. You can get the kids in on this.

 

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And now for something completely different

I don’t know how to say this.  Are you sitting down?  Good because this idea is a game changer for condo and apartment dwellers. May I introduce you to an edible wall known as vertical gardening? In these planters you can artfully grow produce without taking up a single inch of your floor space. You can vertically grow edibles like herbs, bell peppers, endive, sorrel, blueberries, strawberries, lettuces and cherry tomatoes.

 

I realize you may feel motivated to start a full-on garden in your petite living room/windowsill/second bedroom now but if you’re a home of one or two think practically. Come up with a game plan and set yourself up for success. Start with one item on the list. The one you most favor. See how much of your time it’s taking, how much room it’s taking and how much the plant is producing. Herbs and tomatoes can be almost a burden when they are begging to be harvested faster than you can consume them. Keep in mind, aside from the greens all the items can either be dried, frozen, pickled, etc. all without nasty chemical preservatives.

High five for us indoor farmers!

Singha Thai. A review

I go to this Thai spot out of convenience. We all have neighborhood Thai, Mexican and Italian places don't we?  

I order a custom spicy tuna roll because this staple is not on their menu. Fresh and delicious tasting but the sauce they put with it is unbelievably salty.  Stick to low sodium soy sauce and pass on the liquid salt that comes with it.

The Thai sweet and sour is not deep fried and the sauce is quite light versus a thickened stickly sweet drizzle you may be expecting depending on your frame of reference. 

The staff is always warm and welcoming and the dining room is clean. 

I prefer to drive just a bit further to Erawan Organic Thai but in a pinch Singha Thai will do.

Singha Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato