A quiet mind is a beautiful thing

I made a promise to get more and more healthy this year.  But bigger than that, I made a promise to say yes to my heart and inner wisdom.  I am finding that the more I say yes, the easier it becomes.  It’s like starting a new exercise program.  Incredibly difficult to begin moving on that first day … so much resistance and so many reasons not to show up.  I’ve got a million of them!  The mind is a powerful adversary some days.

HOWEVER, I have been saying yes since January 10th and it is now January 26th.  I have over two weeks under my belt and it gets easier every day.  Tonight I decided to turn off the TV.  Yikes, what an addiction it can be.  I felt myself desperately trying to come up with an excuse to turn it on.  OK, so I checked and there was nothing interesting in tonight’s line up ON ANY CHANNEL, but even so, my mind said ‘go to On Demand and rent a movie.  You’re tired, you didn’t sleep well last night, you should rest.’  The call was worse than that almond croissant beckoning me to eat it.

UGH!  So I just turned it off.  Just like that.  Forget the grasping onto habit!  I’m saying yes to myself.  I cleaned the kitchen, watered the plants and now taking some time to write in my blog.

The best part of saying yes is that I find I can rest easier at night.  I am keeping my word to myself and that makes me very, very happy.  A little more every day.  Bit by bit.  Step by step.  As one of my dear friends says ‘left foot, right foot.’  There is a huge sense of relief.  I don’t have to keep making excuses inside my head for the things left undone.  And a quiet mind is a beautiful thing.

So turn off your TV and listen to your Self instead.  I’ve been wanting to clean out some drawers for weeks now.  I think tonight is the night.

PS  I am now at Day 16 of my detox program.  I am starting to feel great.  I am losing weight.  My second chin is diminishing.  I asked Christopher to set my bike up in the basement so that I can start getting some aerobic exercise going.  More later!

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Vegan Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Sun Dried Tomatoes

OK … so a lot of people would like to see some recipes!  I’ll start with the Risotto.  It is amazing and I can’t believe that there is no dairy in the recipe.  I’d love to get your feedback about how the it turned out for you.  Was it easy to follow?  What would make it better?

Vegan Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Sun Dried Tomatoes

2 cups carnaroli/arborio rice (I have been using carnaroli)
1 large yellow onion, cut into large dice
1 1/2 cups butternut squash, cut into 3/4″ cubes
1/4 cup diced, hydrated, sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup white wine (I used gewurtztraminer)
Kosher salt
about 5 cups vegetable broth/stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil – EVOO

1.  PREPARE THE SQUASH.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Toss the squash with about 1 tablespoon EVOO and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt.  Arrange the squash on the cookie sheet so that the pieces are not touching.  Roast the squash 10-15 minutes, until tender and the side touching the pan becomes caramelized.

2.  PREPARE THE SUN DRIED TOMATOES.  Drop them into boiling water.  Turn off the water and let them sit for 10 minutes.  Drain, cool and chop into dice.  (I buy the kind that are already re-hydrated in olive oil, so all I have to do is chop them.)

3.  HEAT THE BROTH/STOCK.  In a separate pan, heat the vegetable broth to a low simmer and keep hot while making the risotto.  Once it is hot, a low flame will do the trick.

NOTE:  I use a heavy, LeCreuset type pan/dutch oven to prepare the risotto.  I am not sure how it will turn out if you use a lighter pan.  Probably OK, but I think it could tend to burn/scorch more easily.

4.  PREPARE THE ONIONS & GARLIC.  Heat the dutch oven over medium/medium high heat.  Put 2 tablespoons EVOO in pan and when the oil is hot (about 10 seconds), add the onions.  Put a little (approx. 1/2 teaspoon) Kosher salt on the onions.  You want them to become soft and translucent, but not brown and caramelized.  When the onions are just about there, add the garlic and cook another minute or so.

5.  PRE-COOK THE RICE.  Add the rice to the onions and EVOO.  Stir the rice so that it is coated with the oil and pre-cooks a bit.  Do not brown the rice.  Keep stirring until the color changes a bit.  It gets a little less translucent.  This takes about 2 minutes.  This is an important step and adds to the creaminess of the risotto.  Do not skip this step.

6.  START MAKING THE RISOTTO WITH THE WINE.  Turn the heat up and add the entire cup of wine and stir constantly until all the wine is incorporated into the risotto.  Once a strong boil is achieved, you can turn the heat back down to medium/medium high.

7.  CONTINUE THE RISOTTO WITH THE BROTH/STOCK.  Add 3 soup ladles of the hot stock (about 1 1/2 cups) and stir, stir, stir it into the risotto.  Keep stirring until the liquid is absorbed by the rice, then add 3 more ladles of stock and so on until you use up most or all of the stock.  I find that the amount varies every time I make this dish, so you have to taste the rice when you think you are getting close to done.  The rice will have an ‘al dente’ feel to it when it is ready.  Make it to your taste.  The more stock you incorporate, the softer the rice will become.

8.  ADD THE VEGETABLES AND FINISH.  TASTE the dish to check rice tenderness and seasoning.  Add salt if needed. Stir in the squash and sun dried tomatoes.  Serve immediately.  Drizzle a little EVOO on top.

This dish reheats well, but the texture is not exactly the same as when it is first made.

You can vary the recipe by adding any vegetables you like.  I tried crimini mushrooms sauteed with garlic and wine, and also spinach and sun dried tomatoes.  Both were fantastic.  I like to add a little fresh ground black pepper before eating.  You can also add fresh herbs when serving.

All recipes are the intellectual property of Terry Mueller and copyright laws apply.

Diet without a face

I decided to prepare really rockin’ vegan food that would make my honey want to stay the course for the detox program we started last week.  I love to create art in the kitchen and have been wondering how I could apply my skills to a diet without a face.

I achieved my desire!  Some of the fantastic dishes I prepared include:

  • a roasted butternut squash and sun dried tomato risotto (no dairy)
  • a combination raw and cooked salad in a vinaigrette with capers and kalamata olives
  • orange curry with sweet potatoes, squash and red bell peppers
  • a cornmeal and spinach soup.

I’ve been recording my recipes and taking photos.  There may be a book in the making here.  This would make my friends very happy since they have been asking me to do this for many years. Here are some photos.  Let me know if you’d like to see some recipes here.

Orange Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Squash and Red Bell Peppers

Orange Curry close up

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Risotto with Sauteed Mushrooms