Saturday, August 25, 2012

Refreshing Gazpacho

Let's make the summer last a little bit longer, why don't we? After all, here in New England the gardens are still spitting out lots of summer veggies and the sun is still shining. Here is a cool and flavorful dish packed with raw vegetables... and fruit, although tomatoes so desperately want to fit in with the vegetable crowd. Tomatoes often get a lot of attention as a chameleon food, acting like a vegetable but scientifically defined as fruit, but many familiar vegetables act this way. Fruits, by scientific definition, form out of the base of the plant's flower and contain the plant's seeds. True vegetables are the 'other' edible parts of our garden plants such as bulbs (as in onions), stalks (as in celery and rhubarb), roots (as in beets and carrots), and leaves (as in cabbage and kale). So that makes peppers, cucumbers, and eggplant all fruits too. Now you know the rules. But there is no scientific reason to segregate your produce in cooking. 

I have to thank my former student SLP for the inspiration for this dish. Aside from being one smart cookie and a really gifted and motivated budding SLP, turns out she was a great cooking muse.
One day, about a week before our work potluck, I wondered aloud: "what's a good summery dish to share?"
Lindsay said "how about gazpacho?"
"Brilliant!" I said. And it was so.

6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 purple onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper seeded and chopped
1 green pepper seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
6 or more drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
4 cups tomato juice (you may add more slowly while blending to get the desired consistency)
***Optional: 2 Tbsp each of chopped chives and parsley

Use a food processor to blend vegetables to a smooth/chunky consistency. You may need to blend vegetables separately depending on the size of your food processor and veggies. Stir all ingredients together. Refrigerate overnight in a glass or plastic container. Flavors blend even more beautifully if you wait to serve it on the third day.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

It's Hot! Hydrate!

Have you noticed? It's hot out!
Now more than ever it's crucial to hydrate. We have all heard that water makes up as much as 60% of our body. So staying in a constant state of under-hydration is really depriving your body of essential ingredients and can have really significant effects on our health and wellness.
  • Have a headache? Try drinking water, you may be dehydrated.
  • Feel weak or fatigued? Try drinking water. Many of my clients feel that they need less coffee and other caffeinated or sugary pick-me-ups when they start their days with water.
  • Voice tired or sore? I always ask my voice patients to really focus on getting hydrated to get the most out of their voices. The vocal folds are mucous membranes and respond especially dramatically to being under-hydrated.
  • Want to lose weight? Yep. You guessed it, drink water. It helps us feel full and boosts our metabolism. Drinking water helps us crowd out high calorie sweetened beverages too.
When I ask my patients and clients how much water they drink, the almost invariably say "Not enough." Usually upon further probing we determine that, yes, it's true, they are not drinking enough water. But many are mystified about how much is enough. There are a few techniques and formulas for determining how much is 'just right.' My favorite is just tuning into your body. How do you feel? Try sipping on water throughout the day and then check in. How do you feel now? It can be hard to pay attention to our bodies signs at first, it takes practice, because we spend so much time ignoring the warning bells and signals that come from within. Another technique is to look in the toilet. What color is your urine? You want to strive to "Pee Pale," with urine the color of pale straw. Finally, for those mathematically minded folks, try this formula: Drink half your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 120 lbs, try to get about 60 oz per day (about 8 8-oz glasses). If you weigh 200, you'll need 100 oz, or about 13 8-oz glasses. You might need more or less though, depending on the weather, any medical conditions, or just how you feel.

Many people have good reasons for why it's hard to prioritize drinking water in their daily life. They don't like the taste. They are too busy. It makes them have to pee too much. But the fact of the matter is it is so important for your health, and it feels better too. If you would like some support around how to prioritize hydration in your busy life, contact me for a consultation and lets figure out a solution together.

Agua Fresca!

Enjoy this refreshing twist on water. This beverage is very cooling and hydrating, great with breakfast or as a substitute for ice cream. Plus, watermelon is rich with lycopene (an anti-oxidant), lots of minerals, and vitamins like folic acid, vitamins C and B, and beta carotene.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

2-3 cups watermelon roughly chopped
1.5 cups of ice
1.5 cup of water
a few mint leaves
tsp of agave or honey (optional)

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend. Pour. Enjoy. Garnish with a mint sprig if you are feeling fancy. Try adding other fruits like strawberries or lime.