Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Eating Caterpillars... (not really but you'll really love the story)
When I was young, I so loved to eat and I didn't know I should be embarrassed to eat that much in front of people. I was quite the piglet. Food was just my favorite thing. And then, of course, I had my favorite foods.
I can still remember the day I discovered guacamole. Omigod. It's been a lifelong love affair. But it's so fattening... You can imagine my joy now that research is starting to show just how healthy those little avocados are. I love being told I'm supposed to eat avocado, and that good fats like the ones found in avocados are good for me. But for fat girls like me, calories are still calories, and if I've got lots of calories coming in and not enough going out--no matter how healthy those calories are--I'm still going to stay fat. Sigh. So I had a dilemma before me: how to get skinny eating guacamole.
Let me digress for a moment and tell you a story. My very first date ever was with a boy named Tony whose little sister Vicki was one of my best friends. Vicki and her entire family were with me and Tony on our first date, and we went to a Mexican restaurant before heading to a Cowboys game. What a date. They brought three platters of guacamole to our large table, and you can guess what happened. I ate almost the whole platter that was set at my end of the table, without thinking, until Vicki elbowed me and I looked up from my food. Everybody was staring at me with half smiles on their faces.
Now, I was a semi-athletic teenager and I'd lost most of my baby fat. Their amusement wasn't mean. I'd had experiences with people laughing at me when I was a fat fourth-grader who wore cat eye glasses and had frizzy hair. This was not that. These were nice people and they liked me. But they did find my little episode of guacamole-gluttony rather amusing.
Vicki, though, had a mean streak. "Gee, you really like that stuff, don't you?" she asked. I nodded. She grimaced then added: "Do you know what it's made of?" Believe it or not, I didn't. My family wasn't big into cooking Mexican food and I didn't know how you would possibly go about making something like that or I would have made it everyday. Vicki smiled and said: "I've never been fond of green caterpillars myself."
I stopped chewing.
Tony, who was sitting across from me, scowled at Vicki while everyone howled with laughter. "It's not made of caterpillars, Donna, it's made of avocados," he told me,
Still, the question of what goes into guacamole has always puzzled me. I tried making it over and over throughout my life and never could get it to taste like the really good Mexican restaurants. Until this year. I was experimenting, trying to make a healthy guacamole that wouldn't kill me if I ate the whole platter, and it came out so amazing, better than any guacamole I'd ever tasted--and it was good for me and I could eat the whole bowl.
Sorry but I've got to run for a minute. I'll be back with the tricks I figured out. Check back to find out how you too can eat as much guacamole as you want.
I promise tonight or tomorrow I'll continue this post...
Okay, I'm back so let's get back to guacamole. Some places serve guacamole made with nothing more than ripe avocados and salt. But really good guacamole is about alot more than the avocado. That's what you've got to remember. The only fattening thing in guacamole is the avocado (unless you do something really stupid and unnecessary like add sour cream or mayonnaise). Yes, I admit it, my first dozen attempts at it 20 years ago had either sour cream or mayonnaise in it. I couldn't imagine that wasn't how they got it so creamy. In fact, the basic ingredients are all healthy.
In all the research I've been doing about health, there are certain super-superfoods that take your health-meter off the charts. I was enchanted to discover how many of these rock-star superfoods are supposed to be included in good guacamole:
(1) Lemon Juice: We all know lemon juice is good for us and we probably should have some daily, but I've never been able to figure out how to incorporate it into my life. Lemonade means added sugar (to make it good) and I only allow that treat a couple times a year. I find I can incorporate it into homemade salad dressings, but how often do I make those (though it's one of my goals and will be a post soon). They say put some in warm water and drink it first thing when you wake up, but I'm sorry. I'm drinking coffee when I wake up. That won't ever change. Of course, you can put lemon juice in cold water, which I try to do, but truth be told, I like my water plain. But fresh lemon (or lime) juice is essential to making good guacamole. Yeah, buddy. Addendum: My daughter read this post and said, "Mom, everybody knows it's LIME that goes in guacamole." It may well be, but I prefer lemon. Now, we're going to do a guacamole cookoff where we both make our respective versions and the entire family votes on Guac1 or Guac2. I'll let you know the results.
(2) Raw onion. Most people don't realize just how good onion is for you. If you like it, eat it with every meal. Put it in everything. If you don't like it, then puree it and put it in everything and pretend it's not there. Go read the nutritional profile and the research studies. This stuff is amazing for everything that ails you. But most people have no idea it's like 10 times better for you if you eat it raw. Unless I'm eating a hamburger, I usually stay away from raw onion. Sorry. And I usually pull it off the burger anyway. I keep trying to figure out how to eat more raw onion without suffering. Then I realized...it might not be in every guacamole recipe you come across, but the really good guacamole I always liked best HAD RAW ONION IN IT. They did a study and raw onion reduced women's risk of heart attack by 70%.
(3) Raw garlic is even harder for me to stomach than raw onion usually. I love to put garlic in everything I cook, but some of garlic's fabled superpowers only can be experienced if you eat it raw. I have a salad dressing I put raw garlic into but it's made with mayonnaise and I'm trying to stay away from mayonnaise (though I'm figuring out how to do that salad dressing in a healthy way and I'll get back to you when I figure it out). So what I've been doing is smushing raw garlic, chopping it into tiny pieces, putting it in a mug of warm water and chugging it down without chewing. I hate doing that. Now I don't have to. I'll just eat guacamole a few times a week. I never knew raw garlic was one of the ingredients that made the best guacamoles even better.
(4) Cayenne Pepper. Now I'm Cajun, so cayenne isn't a problem for me. I know it's good for me and I put it in everything. If you like your guac hot, put as much of this in it as you can stand. Did you know cayenne pepper can heal an ulcer? I just found that out.
(5) Chili powder is another one of those foods people don't realize are good for them. It is an essential taste ingredient in good guacamole.
(6) To-may-to, to-mah-to we all know why the licopense and everything else in tomatoes is amazing. In fact, one of my calorie-saving tricks with my guacamole is that I don't eat it with chips. I surround it with cherry tomatoes and dip my cherry tomatoes in the guacamole. Or if I don't have cherry tomatoes, I eat it with a spoon.
I would say THERE YOU HAVE IT but you'll learn: I never leave well enough alone.
You see, even with all those healthy ingredients, avocado still has too many calories. The main ingredient, by weight, in guacamole is avocado. The rest is garnishment--albeit super-healthy garnishment. So if I want to eat a big bowl of it, what could I put in there that would make lots of it without having too much avocado. This is what I figured out. I add two things to my guacamole now that give it more bulk (and more nutrition).
First, I add nutritional yeast which is something I'm always trying to use more of because it's so good for you and is a great source of B-12. It is a salty and savory superfood in powder form. It's salty without having salt in it, so it doesn't have the downside of salt. It's a great way to season your food.. The nutritional yeast powder stiffens up your guacamole and adds bulk so you're not just eating avocado.
Second, I add some pureed raw or lightly steamed asparagus. Play with it and see how much asparagus you can tolerate before it changes the taste too much for you and see whether you like adding it raw or slightly steamed. You've got to really puree the hell out of it.
There's a third thing you can use to add more substance to the guac as well as more vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, and protein: ground flax seed. I try to squeeze that stuff into every cold or raw dish I make. I buy whole organic flax seeds and grind them in a $5 coffee grinder reserved just for my seeds and nuts. Most people put flax in things they cook, but I prefer to eat my flax raw and not risk destroying those nutrients.
Oh, and here's a thought most of you aren't going to like and I don't do it very often myself. I've been reading alot about the nutritional value of raw eggs. I'm not advising it, but Dr. Mercola says he puts two in his smoothies every morning. Body builders do it all the time. I can't stomach it in a smoothie, and I worry about the bacteria. But with all that raw garlic in my guac, I know that'll probably kill any salmonella that wants to show up. I've tried adding one top-quality organic raw pastured egg to my guac and I didn't even notice it was there. It just added protein and nutrition. It's just something for you to think about. If you're a body builder and you've been putting eggs in your smoothies, it might be safer to add them to my guacamole.
That 's it. That's my recipe:
1 small or 1/2 large avocado
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp dried cilantro (2 tbsp of fresh)
1 tsp chili powder (raw chili pepper is even better)
1/3 cup raw onion
1 clove (or 2 if you like garlic) raw garlic
sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 stalks asparagus (raw or lightly steamed)
6 grape tomatoes
Puree asparagus then add all of the ingredients except the nutritional yeast into a food processor or ninja until mostly pureed but with some small chunky pieces. If you completely puree it, the tomatoes will change the color. If you don't like chunks, leave the tomato out or put less tomato and go ahead and puree it. Then add small chopped pieces of tomato when you take it out of the food processor. Now, it's going to be a little runny and not salty at all, so add 1 tbsp of your nutritional yeast and see if that stiffens it up enough and adds enough of a salty taste. Stir it in there really good and let it sit a bit before you taste it. You might need another tablespoon if it's not stiff enough and you think it can handle the taste of more nutritional yeast. I always need some sea salt to make it taste good to me. Then you add your cayenne pepper and stir it in really good and taste and keep adding and tasting til you get it right. You'll have a pretty good sized bowl of guac, so don't be afraid to taste test as you make it. (Add the ground flax seed if it's too runny, and add the raw pastured egg if you're feeling adventurous and will eat it right away).
Let it sit in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes before serving.
Now you can eat the whole thing like I do, or you can share it with a friend or serve it at a dinner party, but either way, this guacamole has superpowers and eaten regularly, it will add years to your lifespan. BUT REMEMBER, RAW GARLIC LOSES LOTS OF ITS MIRACULOUS POWERS WITHIN THE FIRST HOUR OF BEING CRUSHED SO IF YOU ARE EATING THIS FOR HEALTH REASONS, CONSUME IT WITHIN THE HOUR.
And if you're preparing it for others and need to make your guacamole ahead of time, don't put raw egg in it (you should never serve raw eggs to a crowd of unsuspecting people--yikes!). If you want them to experience all the ultimate health benefits of garlic, leave out the garlic when you first make it.and puree the garlic and stir it in a half-hour before serving your guacamole so you'll preserve the health benefits.
Let me know how this recipe works for you and try to eat it with kale chips. Less fattening.