Tag Archives: Greens

Greenberg’s Food Combining Principles

The book Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford (North Atlantic 1993) offers advice on traditional, healthy food-pairing. Pitchford looks to ancient Chinese medicine and current nutrition research. He claims the only vegetables good to eat (combine) with fruit, for proper digestion, are lettuce and celery, and that beans are best eaten with green vegetables (such as kale).

But the movie Greenberg, starring Ben Stiller and directed/written by Noah Baumbach, offers alternative, intuition-based food combining principles. Here are the top three combinations from the movie, followed by one example that is not a food combination exactly but relevant nonetheless. See the movie for more.

1. Whiskey and Ice Cream Sandwiches
The movie’s plot revolves around Stiller’s character, Greenberg, watching his brother’s house while his brother is gone on business in Vietnam. When his brother’s assistant swings by to get her paycheck, she offers to pick up anything Greenberg needs from the store. “Make a list,” she says. Greenberg writes a list including, and limited to, whiskey and ice cream sandwiches. The most interesting thing about this food combination is that it is exactly the opposite of what anyone sincerely interested in food combining would choose if asked to plan ahead.

2. Whiskey and Raisins
Greenberg makes a habit of writing letters of complaint to companies that piss him off. His snack during one particularly eloquent letter-writing session (to Starbucks) is whiskey with raisins. The two most interesting things about this combination/scene are first, that Greenberg takes the opaque inner bag of raisins out of the box, so that the fact he is eating raisins is not explicit. Second, this combination is like a recipe for chocolate sorbetto (sorbet), made from cocoa powder sweetened with whiskey-soaked raisins.

3. Whiskey and Instant Noodles
There are a lot of eating scenes in Greenberg but Greenberg never cooks. His dinner one night is cup noodles and whiskey at the living room coffee table. Did you know that George Ohsawa, the founder of macrobiotics, is said to have enjoyed whiskey? The Japanese are also fond of noodles. And, the MSG in cup noodles is one thing that might stand up to the strength of pure whiskey when tasted together.

4. Whiskey and Inappropriate Behavior
All whiskey drinkers know about this classic combination. Actually it works best without any food at all! Greenberg gives several examples combining whiskey or another booze with inappropriate behavior; sexual and vulgar. See for yourself in the movie, as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone.


Home Cooking versus Restaurant Options in Colorado Springs

My recent food adventures have been limited to simple variations on the grains-beans-greens theme punctuated with occasional excursions into the Colorado Springs restaurant scene. While simple home-cooked meals are always satisfying, we don’t always have time for them. Too bad it is nearly impossible to get legitimate food in a restaurant!

The most satisfying meal is based on whole grains. Brown rice, quinoa, or even homemade bread are all good choices for the grain. Combined with soft, pressure-cooked, onion-and-cumin-spiked beans and simple steamed or seared greens or a sturdy orange vegetable (see my many posts on carrots and squash), grains make a fully satisfying meal.

Several restaurants in New York City (most notably Souen) serve spectacularly simple, cheap, satisfying meals of whole grains, beans and steamed vegetables. In Colorado Springs and Manitou, it is possible to get a good organic salad or a more-complicated–and not organic–approximation of grains-greens-beans, but anything more requires home cooking. Here are the places I go in a pinch:

Mountain Mama Natural Foods
This health food store is on Uintah street just West of downtown Colorado Springs. There is not an official place to sit and eat, but curbside picnics are fine in warm weather. The deli sandwiches are made on house-baked, whole grain bread (which is sweetened with honey, but otherwise vegan) and stacked with fresh, organic vegetables, including shredded carrots, sprouts, onions and avocado. The Italian-seasoned tofu sandwich, available wrapped in the produce cooler by the fruit, should be eaten with sesame blue chips and shared by two people. Whole wheat bread and blue corn provide satisfying, though ‘processed’, grain base, with fresh, organic raw vegetables a nice change from cooked greens and tofu a hearty replacement for whole beans. The sandwich is around $6, but you’ll probably spend a few more on chips, kombucha and maybe organic dark chocolate.

The Mate Factor
The Mate Factor, by Soda Springs Park in Manitou Springs, offers another variation on the raw-vegetable sandwich. Their tofu and vegetable wrap is made in a whole wheat tortilla, with lettuce, tomato, green olives, red onions and baked tofu. It comes with shredded cheese, which they are happy to omit for vegans. The vinaigrette dressing is vegan also. Who knows if this thing is organic?! It is, however, tasty and fresh. The Mate Factor also serves organic green Mate tea, hot and with re-fills. Though it doesn’t stick to your ribs like hot cooked grains-greens-beans, the tofu wrap is a good light lunch. Vegan carob-chip cookies make good dessert. The wrap is just over five dollars, with tea less than two and the cookie just under two also.

Adam’s Mountain Cafe
Adam’s, also in Manitou, is the only place I know of that serves organic, plain brown rice. Get it next to the garden salad with sesame-crusted tofu, and red lentil dal if you are extra hungry. The brown rice isn’t half as good as homemade, pressure-cooked brown rice. But, the salad is pretty amazing, with raw carrot spirals, red cabbage, cucumber slices and pea shoots and a creamy sesame-ginger dressing or a more oily lime-chipotle dressing. Adam’s is the only sit-down restaurant I believe really tries to use organic ingredients. They also offer cooked vegetable and grain dishes, such as Tibetan vegetables over brown rice with tamari, garlic and ginger. Meals get up to around fifteen dollars, or even more with added tofu, here, but the quality is dependable and worth the money.

King Chef Diner
Why am I even mentioning this place? They say the fake sausage is vegan, but I don’t believe it. Grains are limited to white-flour tortillas, or hash browns (those aren’t really a grain, they are made out of POTATOES). However, the green chile is spicy, vegan and very ‘green’. The walls will also blind you with their boldness, and the waitresses look like they just rolled out of bed after two hours of fitful, drunken half-slumber.

Rico’s/Poor Richards
This place is downtown Colorado Springs on Tejon Street. Here is the complicated and not-organic version of grains-greens-beans. Upon discovering their Seared Greens and White Beans, I became obsessed with them and ate them twice a week with corn chips on the side. They were less than five dollars, though now cost close to eight. After being hired in the kitchen and learning to make the greens and beans myself, I still consider it one of the more legitimate meals available in town, although the ingredients are not organic. The corn chips are not natural, which can be proved by simple inquiry of staff as to their ingredients. Brown rice is available, though microwaved. Elizabeth David wondered, in her English Bread and Yeast Cookery if it would be acceptable to bring one’s own bread to a restaurant. If it were, I would bring my own bread to eat with Rico’s beans and greens. Poor Richard’s offers part-whole-grain pizza crust (spelt), with hummus and a choice of vegetables (avocado pizza!).

Various Falafel Shops
The falafel shops I go to are Arabica Cafe and Taste of Jarusalem, both downtown Colorado Springs. They offer good hummus, raw vegetables, bean-flour falafel and white pita or rice. If only the grains were whole and the ingredients organic, these places would be ideal. Even so, they offer tahini sauce that provides a sesame fix, and satisfying beans in the hummus and falafel. Dolmas are wrapped in hearty green grape leaves. For less than ten dollars you can get a plateful. Arabica cafe specifies one meal as ‘vegan’ on the menu. The vegetable and falafel plates at Taste of Jarusalem are vegan as long as you don’t get the yogurt sauce (tzaziki).

El Tesoro
Located downtown Colorado Springs next to the library and Pike’s Peak Community College. Happy hour caters to students with cheap house margaritas. They offer cooked greens (spinach) in a burrito, but a better option is combining sides of the vegan pinto beans with blue-corn tortillas and fresh guacamole. Corn chips and salsa come with the table. The bean tacos, available without cheese, are filled with the same pinto beans, or black beans with lettuce and some zucchini on the side. But, they cost 8-10 dollars (lunch and dinner prices vary) plus more to add guacamole. The sides of beans and tortillas are just two dollars each, with guacamole ‘market price’ of around six dollars for a whopping bowl-ful.

Another taco shop, a few blocks north on Tejon Street near Colorado College. The tacos are good, with vegetables, beans, guacamole and corn or tomato salsa. The atmosphere sucks. Tacos are just a couple of dollars each. Get mini-bottles of Sol beer for the mood. Flour tortillas are made in-house, but of white flour. Corn tortillas and fried tortilla chips offer whole grain corn. The vegetables are a blend of onions, peppers, zucchinis; good but not organic.

Morning oatmeal with thawed frozen blueberries. Up on Tejon Street. The oatmeal is sweetened with something like brown sugar. The best part is the pile of blueberries. Thick mugs of coffee. All the drowsy CC kids go there for breakfast at noon on the weekends. They also have homemade wheat bread, though it obviously contains a good portion of refined white flour too. For a pseudo-vegan treat, get it toasted with no butter and soak it with honey. Oatmeal, toast and coffee for two will run you about 20 dollars.

Wooglin’s Deli
Rarely go here. They do have Wimburger’s sourdough rye toast and beany, vegan red chile. Odwalla carrot juice in the drinks case stands in for a vegetable. Chile, toast and carrot juice should be less than ten dollars. There are booths to lurk in and vats of hot coffee, too. Located a few doors up from Couture’s laundrette up on Tejon Street. Carrot juice while you wash your clothes? Then you will have a fantastic tan to go with all your favorite shirts!

So it is apparent the options in town are very limited when it comes to getting a balanced meal. The best choice is to cook food yourself, with fresh organic produce, dried beans and whole grains. But an occasional trip out to one of these places will provide entertainment and a reminder of just how good home cooking is.

Saeurkraut’s Ready

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Laura and Kraut

Dividing up the Week-old Sauerkraut

We tasted the fruits of last week’s laborious cabbage-boxing. The sauerkraut did get a few specks of mold on the top, which were easy enough to pick off. The top layers were lighter in color and tasted more salty than those below. The more or less salty sauerkraut was good for topping Whole Grain Crackers with Tofu Spread and snacking on while we cooked. Why would saltier kraut mold more than less salty kraut? Perhaps the ‘friendly bacteria’ (lactobacilli) are even better than salt at preventing spoilage. The four little cabbages we krauted made about 8 pints of dark magenta sauerkraut.

Autumn, Kim and Barry joined Laura, Ryan and Hilary to make the following cabbage accompaniments (all based on recipes from Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony and Peace):

Creamy Onion Miso Soup
Ms. Kushi slices her onions to delicate lotus effect and recommends cooking them until they are not yet falling apart. The onions are happily forgiving even if halved and cooked a good long while. The quart of water in this recipe will make enough broth for six small bowls of soup, with onions to spare. Should we increase the water for more broth next time?

7 onions
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 cups water plus 1 cup additional water
3 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
3-4 Tablespoons white miso or to taste
1-2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

-trim the ends of the onions, peel and halve them; dice half of one onion and set aside
-slice once vertically not-quite-through each half of onion (this will not produce the elusive lotus blossom onions but will make it easier to fit them on a soup spoon)
-heat half of the sesame oil in a soup pot and saute the diced onion until lightly browned; place the onion halves, cut-side-down on top of the browned onion and add three cups of water. Bring to boiling then reduce heat and simmer until soft or falling apart as you like.
-meanwhile, toast the flour in the remaining oil to brown it; it will smell toasty but be careful not to burn it. Allow to cool slightly before adding the reserved one cup of water and combining until smooth (I used a fork to mix it in a small soup bowl)
-add the flour mixture to the soup pot and keep it simmering to thicken
-soften the miso in a small bowl with some of the soup broth, and add it to the pot just before serving; garnish each bowl with chopped parsley

Whole Grain Crackers
The idea of homemade crackers makes people repeat or exclaim the title of this recipe out loud.

1 cup course bulgur/cracked wheat
water, as needed
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sesame seeds, toasted
zest of one orange
1 teaspoon salt

-soak the bulgur for an hour or more, adding a little more water if you don’t add enough at first
-mix the flour, sesame seeds, zest and salt with the bulgur and more water as needed to make a spreadable dough
-dust a jelly-roll type pan with cornmeal and overturn the dough bowl to deposit the entire wad of dough onto the pan. Our pan must have been about 9×13” or a little bigger.
-spread the dough into an even layer, dipping your hands into a bowl of water to prevent sticking
-use a butter knife to score the dough and punch holes into each cracker with the tines of a fork
-bake for 20 minutes or so at 450 degrees; check every five minutes after the first ten and bake them until they are browning and they seem crispy, remembering that they will get more crispy as they cool and they are good softish too

Tofu Spread
Sort of the consistency of ricotta. Ms. Kushi calls it ‘Dressing’ but I don’t think so.

2 cakes firm tofu
1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons tahini, or to taste
2 Tablespoons grated onion

-boil the tofu for around 5 minutes; it is supposed to float to the surface of the water when it is done but it may or may not
-grind the tofu in batches in the suribachi until it is very smooth. Be patient
-combine all of the ingredients, adding salt to taste. It is fairly salty. Sometimes we have added fresh dill

Boiled Collard Greens with Ginger-Tamari Sauce
We couldn’t find mustard greens but the collards were good this way too. It is a really simple sauce to pour over greens cooked how you like. The thing about greens is, they are just so good. You really don’t have to do much. This large batch served six.

3 bunches collard greens
½ cup tamari
½ cup water
1 -2 teaspoons grated ginger, or more to taste

-remove the stems from the greens; wash and slice the leaves
-cook the greens in a little boiling water until they are bright green and tender
-combine the tamari with the water and ginger and spoon this sauce over each serving of greens

Above dishes served with bancha, red wine and homemade red sauerkraut. We ate the flesh of that sweet orange while we cooked.

meeting number two:

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Laura, Ryan and Hilary joined by Barry, Kim, Emily and Miles.
The following, besides the red sauerkraut, served exactly seven with nothing left over

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
with plans to let it ripen a week and try it with caraway next time; directions taken from Sandor Katz’ Wild Fermentation

4 smallish organic red cabbages
sea salt

-remove the outer leaves from the cabbages and save them for a cooked dish; cut off the stem and chop or slice the cabbage fine, then repeat with remaining cabbages
-put the sliced or chopped cabbage into a bowl, some at a time, and sprinkle moderately with sea salt; punch and knead the cabbage until it gets softer and juicy
-pack the juicy cabbage into a clean gallon glass jar, as tightly as you can by hand
-once all the cabbage is packed into the jar, clean off the rim and push all the little bits of cabbage down into the jar. Fit a heavy (fill it with water to add weight) bottle or jar into the larger jar to weight down the cabbage, and cover the entire operation with a clean cloth secured at the mouth of the large jar with a rubber band or string
-allow to sit from 3 days to several weeks or more (longer in cold weather). If the juice from the cabbage is not covering the top of the cabbage by the next day, or if some evaporates over time, just supplement it with some salty water

Azuki Bean Soup
Beans simmering, Emily slicing carrots and all of us wondering how long until it’s done. We should have started sooner. A double batch of Aveline Kushi’s recipe. Try allowing 3 or more hours to make a really soft-beaned soup.

2 cups dry azuki beans
2 yellow sweet onions, sliced
3 carrots, sliced diagonally
2” piece of kombu seaweed, soaked 5 minutes and drained
sea salt
tamari soy sauce
fresh Italian parsley

-the beans soaked about an hour before we began; then, brought just to the boil, drained and rinsed in cold water and covered again by about an inch with cold water
-bring beans to boiling a second time, lower heat and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half; meanwhile preparing the other vegetables and the seaweed
-place the onions, carrots and partially cooked beans into the soup pot with the kombu and enough water to cover by about 2 inches; bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered for a half hour or more, adding sea salt (¾ teaspoon?) when the beans are getting soft
-when the beans are totally soft, add tamari (a teaspoon or two); serve garnished with chopped parsley

Quinoa, Kamut and Shiitake Mushrooms
Leftovers made remarkable with mushrooms

4 cups, approximately, leftover cooked grains (quinoa and kamut or others)
1-1 ½ cups chopped shiitake mushroom caps
olive oil
sea salt

-heat the olive oil in a small pot and saute the mushrooms, adding salt to taste, until browned
-add the leftover grain to the pot along with about a fourth cup of water and additional salt if needed and stir to distribute the mushrooms throughout; cover the pot and steam over lowest heat for 10-20 minutes, or until the grains are heated through
-allow the pot to sit, off the heat and covered until ready to serve

Steamed Garden Turnips
By Mother. We all secretly wanted the last one.

15-20 small fresh-pulled turnip roots
fresh Italian parsley
Earth Balance buttery spread

-clean and peel the turnips and cut into halves or quarters; place into steamer basket with cold water in the steamer pot below and cover
-bring to boiling over high heat, then reduce heat to low and steam 20-30+ minutes or until they are tender to your liking
-serve the turnips hot from the steamer with chopped fresh parsley and buttery spread

Above dishes served with Bancha, “Rainwater” Madeira and homemade white cabbage sauerkraut

Menu for Next Meeting (Tuesday, 3 November, 2009)

-Whole Grain Crackers
-Boiled Mustard Greens with Tamari Ginger Sauce
-Tofu Dressing
-Creamy Onion Miso Soup
-Homemade Red Sauerkraut

first meeting of the macrobiotics cooking club

Meetings will be every Tuesday, 6-9 pm. Cooking macrobiotic recipes from Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony and Peace and our heads.

Tuesday, 20 October, 2009
Attended by Laura, Ryan and Hilary, we made:

Inaugural Brown Rice
Without a pressure cooker, soaking the rice for a couple of hours before cooking will make a noticeable difference. Wash the rice and soak it directly in the cooking pot with the measured cooking water.

1 ½ cups organic short grain brown rice
2 cups cold water
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce

-rinse the rice in cold water several times and drain; place in small heavy pot (2 quart capacity?) and cover with the measured 2 cups cold water
-place the rice pot uncovered over high heat and bring to boiling; add tamari, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to lowest heat possible. I stack two burners to bring the pot farther from the flame; another option is a flame diffuser or just stick with the basic lowest heat possible
-cook rice 50 minutes to 1 hour without opening the lid (the timing depends on how low you can get the heat—lower heat means the rice can cook longer without scorching on the bottom and the texture is better). After 50 minutes open the lid and fluff rice, recover for 10 minutes off the heat before serving.

Roasted Buttercup Squash

½ a large buttercup squash
canola oil

An unspecific recipe: the oven was about 375 degrees, half a squash cut into 6 wedges and rubbed with a tiny amount of oil. Roasted skin-down on a baking tray until soft. I added some water to the tray near the end of roasting when the squash seemed to be drying out, but the ends of each wedge were still sort of sharp.
Use little enough oil that it is not noticeable when eating; no salt is necessary. They took half an hour or more to soften.

Charred Collard Greens
Ryan’s humble dish which satisfied our greens appetite.

1 bunch collard greens
olive oil, about 1 Tablespoon
sea salt, ¼ teaspoon or more to taste

-wash the greens and cut off the stems
-heat olive oil in small skillet and, when hot, add the greens all at once; cover and cook until bottom layer of greens are charred and top layers are wilting and bright green
-stir the greens, add salt and about ¼ cup water and continue stirring over high heat until all of the greens are soft and the water has evaporated (add more water if needed)

Braised Roots with Ginger
Laura chopped the roots and hid the salt.

3 carrots
2 golden beets
2” piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
½ cup apple cider
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce, more to taste
1 ½ teaspoons kuzu

-course chop the beets, chop the carrots into slightly larger pieces than the beets; place into large pot with grated ginger and pour the cider over, adding water to nearly cover the vegetables
-add sea salt to the pot and bring to boiling; cover, reduce heat to lowest possible and simmer until vegetables are just tender (check every 5 minutes after 20); remove lid and add tamari
-grind the kuzu and add cold water to dissolve; pour into the root pot and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens

Basic Miso Soup
From Aveline Kushi’s book; made with 3 year barley miso and addition of tofu

2 small onions, sliced
1 strip wakame, rinsed to soften and chopped
1 quart water
1/3 cup small cubes firm tofu
3-4 Tablespoons barley miso
2 scallions, sliced

-place onions and wakame with water in the soup pot; bring to boil, lower heat and simmer 20-30 minutes to soften onion. Add tofu at the end of cooking.
-add soup liquid to the miso in a small bowl to soften the miso; add softened miso to the soup, warm for a couple of minutes without boiling and off the heat. Garnish each bowl with the scallions. Makes 5-6 small bowls’ soup.

Above dishes served with homemade sauerkraut, roasted tea, lotus blossom green tea.