I think I already mentioned that I’d taken a blood test to finally figure out what my food sensitivities are. It turns out that all grains are off the menu, as are soy, beans, legumes and dairy. Well, we knew about dairy already, so no surprises there.
But it made me think seriously about my diet. Beans, legumes (i.e. lentils, my absolute FAVES) and soy are some of the first things I reach for when I’m going for a vegetarian or vegan alternative. Er, those are out the window. Basically I’ve found out that my diet falls under the “Paleo” title, which makes it easier as there’s some cookbooks out there to inspire me.
Now, please don’t think that I’ve fallen for this whole “pre-agriculture everyone was healthy and that’s how we should eat now to avoid every ailment” theory. I know it’s not scientifically accurate, but that’s not what was bothering me. It was reintroducing meat into my diet.
I’m seriously unhappy with how the livestock is treated in this country, the industrialization of our feedlots. The idea of “animal husbandry” seems to have been well and truly thrown right under a bus, except for a small but determined band of farmers out there across our fair nation.
When I lived in the U.K., I didn’t realize that the distance between farm to table was so short and simple. Not until I returned to the States. In fact, it was out there that I found out that the U.S. had been farming genetically modified crops for years, only because the Britons were up in arms about it happening in Europe. Even the freaking Prince of Wales was against it, and get this: Prince Charles is actually an organic farmer. (That said, I don’t know how dirty his hands get, if you get my meaning. But lord knows he owns enough land to farm on.)
So eating more meat for me is tricky. I know how many lies are out there, and I promise you: My stomach can tell if beef is truly grass fed and free range, or just labeled that way because the poor animal got to eat grass for the last 30 days of its life. I’m so grateful and happy that I found this Da-Le Ranch that I keep going on about. Not only do they have happy animals on their websites, pigs rolling in the proverbial mud and all that, but they actually give tours of their property. I’m sure it’s not feasible to let the cows out roaming for one day a month just so some suburbanites like myself can ooh and aah over their rangey-ness. I do intend to take a tour, and I’ll share some photos when I do. Besides, I’ve met Dave on a few occasions, and this guy seems like the real deal. And the meat truly does taste decidedly different than that muck you get in the supermarkets—and yes, I include Whole Foods in that.
So thanks to Da-Le Ranch, I’ll integrate more meat into my diet, but in small amounts. But in the grain department, I’m going to have to do some fancy footwork. And that’s where this latest post comes in—I know, I know, FINALLY, you’re saying, she’s getting to the point!
And my point is: Please, for the love of all things holy, ever buy the shirataki noodles from House Foods. Yes, I know that they are “Hungry-Girl Approved” and all that, but just….don’t. You’ll thank me for this, I promise.
I bought them thinking that, being made with yam flour, they would fit into my new Paleo diet. Plus, they were 0 calories. ZERO? There’s got to be a catch here, for sure. And yes there was, my friends. Yes, there was.
The instructions say to wash the noodles and then boil for 2-3 minutes to “eliminate the distinctive smell”. Okay, so I dump these bad boys into a colander to rinse, and all of a sudden my nostrils are assaulted with an ungodly odor. I swear if you went up to a New York construction worker on a July day, pulled his arm over his head and took a whiff of his armpit, it would smell like these noodles. I can’t make any promises, of course, and I don’t condone this action, but what I’m trying to tell you is that these noodles’ smell almost made me vomit.
I admit, the smell vanished from the noodles after cooking, but the odor really never left my memory. Plus the noodles are slimy in texture, and I just can’t be doing that. It almost ruined the dish, to be honest, and I ended up throwing this batch out without finishing it.
Stick with the tried and true zucchini noodles, that kick some serious culinary butt. You just run the outside of a zucchini (or a courgette for my mates in the U.K. and Australia) through a mandoline on a julienne blade, and BAM! You’ve got pasta! They’re perfect just to pour hot sauce on, just as they are, or sauté them with a little oil and garlic just for two minutes to soften them up a bit.
Then coat them in this broccoli pesto and you’ll be in vegan, almost raw heaven. And a little halo will light up over your head because you’re not eating processed noodles and you’re digging all this veggie goodness on your plate.
One zucchini per person, per serving
Using the julienne blade of a mandoline, very carefully slice each side of the zucchini until you get to the seeds. Turn zucchini over and repeat on all three remaining sides.
Broccoli and Arugula Pesto
1 head broccoli, florets and sliced stems
6 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds
1/4 cup fresh arugula
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil—get this started before you start chopping the broccoli. Cook all broccoli until bright green and just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl and let cool slightly. Reserve the water, especially if you are going to cook regular pasta, but keep a bit to help toss with the pesto later.
Roughly chop 1 cup cooked florets and set aside for garnish. In a food processor or blender, puree remaining broccoli, almonds, arugula, garlic, and lemon juice. Add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add one clove of minced garlic per serving. Cook garlic for one minute before adding the zucchini. Toss over the heat for two minutes; add heaping spoonful of pesto for each serving and stir well, adding some of the reserved broccoli water to loosen the pesto. Top with halved heirloom cherry tomatoes and reserved broccoli and serve immediately!