Wednesday, November 30, 2011

3-day Detox Sugar Cleanse before the holidays: Live Primal

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Loosen your belts and clear your fridge for leftovers; here come the sugar and carb onslaught of the holidays. I definitely believe in guilt-free indulgence (I never count calories- click here for more info on my food philosophy) and never count calories, but I also hate that slogging gross feeling you get after ingesting too much sugar and crashing from the high. As someone who has the world's biggest sweet tooth, I have experience in that aspect.
So join me as I cut out all sugars, artificially refined foods, and factory-processed foods for the next 3 days starting tomorrow! I promise you'll feel so much better afterwards and I hope this might even inspire you to live a healthier lifestyle with fewer processed foods when the cleanse is done.
It's hard, and I can't say it'll be pain free, but at least you'll feel better about indulging when the holidays hit and you accidentally have too many cookies.

RULES: (Inspired by the book Fat Cat by Robin Brande, with a few of my own adjustments)
1.) May only eat foods that prehistoric people ate; no yeast, sugar, or factory-processed foods such as saltines, diet pop, or coffee
2.) May eat the KINDS of foods prehistoric people ate, fresh fruits, nuts, veggies, unprocessed meat (they actually ate carrion occasionally before the discovery of how to use fire, but I'd rather not go there...) home-baked yeast-free whole wheat bread/pasta/pizza. Milk and honey are okay even though cows and honeybees weren't domesticated until many, many years later. Spices are fine to make your food palatable.
3.) May NOT count calories - but must make sure you have all the necessary nutrients your body needs, see below.
4.) I will be drinking organic green tea made from freshly brewed tea leaves, as to keep my sanity throughout my classes.

Totally into intense cardio intervals and jump rope right now, squeezing in long walk/jogs with my dog when I can.
Intense cardio workouts 4 times a week with the less intense workouts the other 3 days including dance and tennis. When I have time, 30 minutes of strength-building yoga and a light three mile run makes for a nice weekend stress-releaser.

*I am not a certified health professional and if you have any specific needs regarding your body then please check with your doctor to make sure you're getting the iron, zinc, calcium, and other nutrients your body needs.
*Your body actually suffers physical/mental withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly cut back on artificial foods and go from a junk food diet to a healthy one devoid of sugar. I did a sugar cleanse once and god I'm telling you it was hell the first couple days. However; push through the first two days and you'll start feeling really energized and kinda like that annoying yoga-addicted friend who keeps preaching about the evils of sugar and somehow has boundless energy. (A.K.A. me on some days... only I love sugar too much to be an unbiased speaker on the topic.)

Thanks for your support and I hope y'all join me on these three sugar-free days before the holidays!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

This is another one of my treats I make for Synergy, a recycling and volunteering club that meets once a week. The club flyer proclaims that there is food at the meetings, but when I went, there wasn't! So I did my best to remedy that by promptly bringing in pumpkin chocolate chip muffins to the next meeting.

These cookies were born from the mixed occurence of a craving for dark chocolate brownie batter and seeing my dog lick up peanut butter from her toy (one of those rubber thingies you put treats in and your dog tries to lick out.)
The chocolate cookies are absolutely divine on their own and if you're just going to make those, then only bake for 8-9 minutes (these overbake easily); if you're making sandwich cookies you're going to want them a bit drier and more biscuity so bake for 9-10 minutes.

Chocolate. Peanut butter. Heaven. ;p

RECIPE: (from; makes about 36 cookies)
*1 1/4 cups butter or margarine
*2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup)
*2 large eggs
*2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*2 cups flour
*3/4 cup unsweeted cocoa powder
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*About 1 cup peanut butter
*If you're making these on their own, add nuts or chocolate chips or whatever you want. Have fun with it!

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.) Mix together butter, eggs, sugar, and vanilla
3.) Mix in the dry ingredients
4.) Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet
5.) Bake for 8-9 minutes being very careful not to overbake; 9-10 minutes if you want them hard and biscuity.
6.) Set cookies out to cool on a wire rack
7.) After cookies are completely cool, place a dollop of peanut butter on the center of a cookie, top with another cookie and press down lightly to form an oreo-like sandwich!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

Felt like doing another pumpkin recipe today, as a test run for my new camera and pretty much also because I feel like I'm the only food blogger on the entire blogosphere to not have done a post on pumpkin bread yet. Just telling y'all ahead of time: this bread is seriously addictive. I found myself consuming about half a loaf today, no joke. The taste of pumpkin is nicely rounded out with spices and sweetness.
This classic pumpkin bread can be made even better with cream cheese filling; will definitely add that next time!

RECIPE: (from yields 3 loaves
*3 cups pumpkin puree
*1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
*4 cups sugar (I usually only use 2-3 cups)
*6 eggs
*4 3/4 cups flour
*1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
*1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1 1/2 teaspoons salt
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnammon
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit
2.) Mix together vegetable oil, pumpkin, eggs, and sugar
3.) In a seperate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnammon, nutmeg, and cloves. Combine with wet ingredients
4.) Bake in 3 greased and lightly floured pans for 45 minutes to 1 hour; the bread should lightly spring back when pressed

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Detox Breakfast (a.k.a. the omelette that fell apart)

I have a feeling we're all going to be bloated and overstuffed by the end of the holidays.
It's inevitable- it takes superhuman control to resist another slice of your aunt's award-winning black forest cake or cream-stuffed strudel. As for me, I'll be gone on a cruise exploring the carribean during Christmas, where I shall regain my tan and my sanity after weeks of cramming for semester finals.
Anyways, it's always nice to start your Monday off right, so here's a super healthy omlette I made myself for breakfast while playing with my new camera. It always feels really nice to do something that you know is good and healthy for yourself, and it was a great start to my day even if it fell apart :(
Just looking at the un-greasy, brightly colored vegetables make me feel cleaner and less guilty for all the sugar and carbs I consumed during thanksgiving.

RECIPE: You can pretty much throw in whatever you've got at hand; cranberries, apples, tomatoes, onions, leftover turkey etc. I kept it simple and light and just used
*2 eggs, beaten
*1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
*1/2 a carrot, finely diced
*1/2 a stick of celery, finely diced
*A pinch or two of shredded low-fat skim mozzarella
*A pinch of oregano
*Pinch of salt and pepper

PREPERATION: (Come on guys, I'm sure you know how to make an omelette! But if you don't...)
1.) Beat eggs and fry in vegetable oil or use cooking spray
2.) Sprinkle in veggies and cheese on one side of omelette
3.) Sprinkle salt, pepper, and oregano
3.) Fold and flip.

I'm going to be honest with you guys- I've been shrinking the pictures I post due to the fact I had been using a really crappy camera which produced grainy shots. Now that I've got a new and much better camera, I can make all the pictures larger and let y'all get to enjoy seeing way better quality and bigger pictures! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Going the untraditional route: Pumpkin Cheesecake

If there are two things that are abundant in my house right now, it's pumpkin and cream cheese. Seriously, I've got half a pureed pumpkin in my freezer and blocks of cream cheese in the fridge. So that said, you're probably going to be seeing a hell of a lot of pumpkin posts coming. I know most of you are probably as sick of pumpkin by now as I'm sick of Thanksgiving posts (tiring but necessary; that's why this post is focused towards the big T-day as well) , but I guess this is an experience that will make me reconsider butchering a gigantic pumpkin next time with only four people to feed.

Now let the Pie Rant commence: (NOTE: This whole commentary on pie will only lead to why I chose to make cheesecake instead of pie for Thanksgiving. Just warning you.)

Growing up in a family where no one really ate sweets, much less pie, my pie experiences were limited to having it at my friend's houses or at random adult parties where someone would bring a pie fresh from Costco or Target's bakery. Needless to be told, greasy, overbaked crusts and artificially sweet filling was generally the norm. I could tell you horror stories about a few run-ins with pumpkin pie I've had before, but I won't elaborate- let's just say I stayed far away from the stuff.
It all changed on a very special day...
Just kidding. But my opinion of pumpkin pie did change drastically when I had a slice of absolutely divine pie made by my friend's aunt, who was in fact a restauraunt baker. The crust was buttery, flaky, and it melted on the tip of my tougue, and for the first time in my life I had a filling that actually tasted like pumpkin without being overpowering.
However, though I now joined the enlightened side, I highly doubt the people at the Thanksgiving Party I'm having T-Day dinner at tonight will be as ardent an admirer of pie as I am, being that typically Chinese people don't eat a lot of baked goods.
So I decided to try my hand at making cheesecake. Don't worry- I'll still post a pie recipe at some point, maybe this weekend- but the Thanksgiving Dessert I'm making this year will in fact be the slightly more unconventional Pumpkin Cheesecake rather than Pumpkin Pie.
And so, with all that being said, here's how you create this not-too-sweet, deliciously light pumpkin cheesecake.

*1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
*5 tablespoons butter, melted
*1 cup sugar (I only used 1/2 cup but that's just because my family doesn't like sweet stuff), plus
*1 tablespoon sugar
*3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
*1 teaspoon vanilla
*1 cup canned pumpkin
*3 eggs
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/4 teaspoon allspice

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2.) Make the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and 1 T sugar in a medium bowl

3.) Stir well enough to coat all of the crumbs with the butter, but not so much as to turn the mixture into paste. Keep it crumbly.
4.) Put foil partway up the outside part of an 8-inch springform pan.
5.) Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the springform pan.You don't want the crust to form all of the way up the back of each slice of cheesecake
Bake the crust for 5 minutes, then set aside until you are ready to fill it.
6.) In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar and mix well

7.) Add in the pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, and allspice and beat until smooth and creamy
8.) Pour filling into the pan
9.) Bake for 60-70 minutes; the top will turn a bit darker, but when it is done the center should still be wobbly
10.) Remove from oven and allow to cool
11.) When it has come to room temperature, put it into the refridgerator
12.) When cheesecake has chilled, take it out of the pan (or take off the side if you're using a springform pan)
13.) Cut and serve with whipped cream if desired, or garnish with walnuts and almonds.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quick, Easy and Delicious Avocado Pasta

What to do with a ripe avocado?

This is a question I'm sure many of us have answered in different ways. Avocado goes great in salads, sandwiches, dips, facials... and pasta. Yup, that's right. Is it strange at all that I've never thought about using avocado in pasta before? The creaminess of it is almost like alfredo; it's a wonderfully healthy way to replace a cream or butter based sauce.
Of course, me being me, obviously the simple process of selecting the correctly ripened fruit has to go wrong due to some stupid mistake on my part. I'd left an avocado out on the counter to ripen a few days ago, and was going to make use of it today, but accidentally mixed it up with several other not totally ripe avocadoes and had already cut into it before I realized my blunder.

But since the damage was already done and the avocado wasn't too green, I went ahead anyways and used it to make this pasta, with fabulous results (the only drawback being that my sauce wasn't really creamy since the avocado wasn't soft enough.)
Let's just say I'll be making this dish again and again and again... etc.

RECIPE: (from
*1 medium-sized avocado, pitted
*Juice of 1/2 a lemon and lemon zest (once again I demonstrate my prowess for blundering and I chucked the peel before I could grate off some zest, so I didn't add this. I'm sure it would've looked pretty, though.)
*2-3 cloves garlic (I used 2 and it was definitely strong, so I would recommend using 3 only if you really like garlic)
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*2 servings/6 oz pasta of your choice; I used angelhair pasta
*Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.) Boil pasta, about 8-10 minutes
2.) While the pasta is boiling, make the sauce by putting the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in food processor
3.) Add in the avocado and salt
4.) When pasta is done, drain and add sauce on top

5.) Mix well and garnish with black pepper and lemon zest

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Family dinner: Healthy Fried Rice

I made some very healthy fried rice for my family today, as I'm trying to eat healthier and amp up my workouts in preperation for the carb onslaught that is the holidays- I live a mostly hedonistic lifestyle and diet, but since I have an great affection for fresh produce and work out pretty much every day of the week (4 super-intense workouts a week and 3 less intense toning ones), the damage isn't too bad. I also happen to live in a family where I didn't even know what butter, hot dogs, donuts, or graham crackers were until I was seven or eight. However, I do try to keep to a mostly unprocessed diet when I'm not craving sugary carbs too much, so here's a healthy recipe for delicious restauraunt-style fried rice!

RECIPE: (Serves 6)
*2 cups of brown rice
*1 cup of shrimp, roughly chopped
*2 cups of broccoli, steamed
*2 teaspoons soy sauce
*1 teaspoon salt
*Pinch of black pepper, to taste
*1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely diced
*1/2 an onion, roughly chopped
*1/2 a tomato, roughly chopped
*3 cloves garlic, finely diced
*1 teaspoon lime juice
*1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1.) Prepare rice according to instructions on bag or cooker
2.) Steam broccoli, prepare and chop all the vegetables
3.) Bring water to a boil and cook shrimp

4.) Stir fry rice, vegetables, shrimp, and other ingredients in the vegetable oil for about 3-4 minutes or until nicely mixed
5.) Turn the heat to low, put lid on, and let steam for another 10-15 minutes, occasionally stirring to
make sure it doesn't stick or burn

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Treats from China!

I've revved up my workouts these last couple weeks and now am barely coherent from the pain... yet strangely addicted to doing interval training and with a new appreciation for both my treadmill and my (newly toned!) biceps. Thought I'd make note of that since I am now hanging on to my sanity by a thread as I write this post...

Dad arrived home safely today after almost two weeks in China for a business trip, and brought many goodies with him! Though he only went to Shanghai and Hangzhou, Mom told him to make sure to bring back some Beijing pastries, and I'm consuming them without an ounce of guilt, though probably worth more than an ounce on the scale.

A whole huge bag of famous beijing pastries! You can't get these anywhere but in Beijing, so my dad had a friend bring him some. He also got a bunch of candy from Shanghai, which is famous for it's treats as well as for it's delicious White Bunny milk candies. He visited many specialty candy stores in search of yummy satisfaction for our family.

More delightful soveneirs...

Cute bracelets made from the same kind of wood they make buddhist prayer beads out of.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

And... More Pumpkin! Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

With Thanksgiving so near, I'm feeling bombarded by all these pumpkin recipes. And with pounds of frozen pureed pumpkin in the freezer, what can I do but cave to the peer pressure?
These little muffins are not only delicious but made a great snack for me to bring to my after school activities. Sub applesauce for the vegetable oil and half a cup of flour for a few tablespoons of wheat germ, and it's practically healthy. (Not usually the direction I go with my baking, but it's always nice to cut calories if you're not sacrificing taste.)

*4 eggs
*2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup)
*1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (yes, 1 1/4 cups)
*3 cups flour
*2 teaspoons baking soda
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*2 teaspoons cinnamon
*1 teaspoon salt
*12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.) In large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and oil until smooth.

2.) Mix dry ingredients together and mix into pumpkin mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
3.) Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full
4.) Bake at 400 F for 16-20 minutes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photo of the day #8: Hot soup on a Chilly day

"The weather outside is frightful, but inside, it's so delightful..."

It snowed today! Just a few virgin flakes of melting, icy blankness, but I really am happy about this since it gives me an excuse to pull out all the cold-weather comfort foods that are such familiar old friends.

I came home shivering today to this delicious soup, actually just a really chunky vegetable broth, which satisfied both my immediate need for warmth and my craving for soup.

Even though I'm generally sick of winter after the first two weeks and the pretty frosted ground has turned into two feet of gray, slogging, frozen snow, there are definitely times I appreciate having a warm beverage and relaxing with my family in the warm kitchen while a blizzard is raging outside.
I also feel like I'm getting a bit ahead of myself right now, seeing that it's only November and there's not even any legitament snow on the ground yet, but the holiday season is really starting to get to me.
I predict plenty of pumpkin and Thanksgiving recipes to come!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The beloved food of many, this simple and wonderful dish never fails to please even the pickiest of eaters. Only one person I've ever met has disliked pizza, but she hates tomatoes and hates cheese, so what to do?
(Of course, the most traditional of pizzas, which calls for only herbs and bread, would probably make her a lifelong devotee.) The powers of pizza are many, and is always a great way to get your whole family sitting together at the dinner table.

(before baking)

I used a yeast-free dough recipe, which is great if you don't have time to wait for the dough to rise, and a super simple marinara sauce made from scratch. The crust turned out super crunchy and delicious, and this being the first time EVER I've made marinara sauce (for pizza) from scratch, I was quite proud of myself with the result.
Sadly, I had to omit a key ingredient- basil - because we were out.
There's always next time, I guess!

RECIPE: from
*2 cups all purpose flour
*2 tsp. baking powder
*1/2 tsp. salt (I used 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt)
*2/3 cup milk
*6 tbsp. olive oil

1.) Preheat oven to 425°F.
2.) In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well until the dough begins to form a ball and pull away from sides of bowl.
3.) Knead dough by hand, while still in bowl, until smooth; then form a ball.
4.) Press dough into an oiled baking sheet or pizza pan using your fingertips, leaving a thicker edge to hold fillings in.
5.) Sprinkle with favorite toppings (sauce flavored with garlic, basil and oregano, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, anchovies, black olives, onions, peppers, etc.).
6.) Bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and edges are golden brown.

*1 -2 tablespoon olive oil 
*1 -2 crushed garlic clove 
*16 ounces Italian stewed tomatoes, -pureed if desired (unless you like your sauce chunky, I would r
recommend pureeing it)
*1 tablespoon sugar
*1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
*1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1.) Add olive oil to hot sauce pan
2.) Add garlic, being careful not to let it burn
3.) Add tomatoes, sugar, oregano, and basil
4.) If desired, add meatballs
5.) Bring sauce to a boil.
6.) Cover and let sauce simmer for 20-30 minutes or until desired thickness. If you added meatballs for pasta, simmer for almost an hour

Monday, November 7, 2011

Photo of the day #7: Japanese tea cakes

One of my dad's business associates gave him these; mini cream-filled puffs that are supposed to be for "tea time". Delish, and super light and fluffy. Barely any sugar taste at all but quite good with a cup of heavy coffee.

And... More pumpkin! Pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins

With Thanksgiving so near, I'm feeling bombarded by all these pumpkin recipes. And with pounds of frozen pureed pumpkin in the freezer, what can I do but cave to the peer pressure?
These little muffins are not only delicious but made a great snack for me to bring to my after school activities. Sub applesauce for the vegetable oil and half a cup of flour for a few tablespoons of wheat germ, and it's practically healthy. (Not usually the direction I go with my baking, but it's always nice to cut calories if you're not sacrificing taste.)

*4 eggs
*2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup)
*1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (yes, 1 1/4 cups)
*3 cups flour
*2 teaspoons baking soda
*2 teaspoons baking powder 
*2 teaspoons cinnamon
*1 teaspoon salt
*12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.) In large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and oil until smooth.

2.) Mix dry ingredients together and mix into pumpkin mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
3.) Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full
4.) Bake at 400 F for 16-20 minutes.