Preparing to travel

I spent Monday getting ready to travel for the next 5 weeks. Getting ready for my travels involves going through the food in my refrigerator to see what can be eaten before I leave, what can be taken with me for eating on the plane, and what needs to be processed to be used later. As I chopped fresh fruit to be frozen for smoothies when I return in a month, I found myself thinking about something I’ve heard from people who are starting to incorporate more fresh produce into their diets. What I hear goes like this: “I buy all these lovely fruits and vegetables, but then I don’t eat them fast enough and end up throwing so much away because it’s gone bad.”

I do not throw very much fresh produce away because it has spoiled. Other than some leaves of spinach or baby greens or lettuce that go before the rest of the bunch, I find it easy to use up everything I buy. This is partly because my style of cooking involves last minute checking in the refrigerator for what needs to be used next and planning my meal based on that.

If I find something that needs to be used and can’t manage to use it right away, it’s not that hard to freeze it and then have it available for later use. For most fruits, it’s just a matter of chopping it to the size I can use and putting it in a freezable container. Many vegetables freeze better when they are blanched first – drop briefly in simmering water, then remove and drain, cool, and freeze.

By the time I left Tuesday morning, I had cooked up a frittata (I’ll include the recipe tomorrow, since I didn’t actually eat it until today – they are quite good room temperature or even cold) and a large salad (you can see it in the July 5th collage below) to take with me, created several leftover meals for my husband Rene’ to eat while I am gone, and set myself up for smoothies with frozen bananas, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots (and apriums and pluots!), and cherries when I return.

I am now in the San Diego area, assisting Stephen Gilligan with his annual Trance Camp, at which I will be teaching Awakening the Body (Tuesday, July 12th). My food collages for the next two weeks will be a mix of what I prepare to take with me from where I’m staying (without my own kitchen, and the various staples I usually have access to) and my restaurant meal choices.

Planned indulgences

I’m a believer in moderation and balance when it comes to eating. Most of what I put in my body is fairly healthy – and then I enjoy the planned indulgences (PIs) I intersperse between the meals that are supportive of good health. I aim for about 90% healthy, supportive eating. Some people plan their “planned indulgences” very carefully, in advance. I’m a bit looser about how I manage them.

I allow myself to have pretty much anything I really want to have, but in moderation, every once in awhile. Knowing I can have it when I REALLY want it, I actually don’t need to have it very often. I can put it off, saying “I can have that tomorrow if I still really want it” and then check in with myself that next day to see if that is really what I want (in which case I plan to have it) – or perhaps I’ll wait a bit longer before I eat it. The main thing is not to get stuck in all or nothing thinking, which is often the basis of eating binges – the idea that “I’ll start tomorrow on a really clean and pure diet, so for now I’ll eat as much of this as I can manage, because I won’t be able to eat it again on the clean and pure diet.”

My planned indulgences are often chocolate, which I would feel very deprived if I couldn’t have! But I also do “tastings” – knowing I’ll be somewhere there are tastes of things I don’t usually eat. So, for example, I might have a planned indulgence at the local natural food store’s bakery counter where they have little bites of treats. One day there were tastes of pumpkin spice bundt cake, oatmeal raisin cookies, and a croissant-like sort of thing. Yummy! Without eating very much of any of them, I got to have delicious tastes! So when I know I’ll be shopping where they have that sort of thing, I’ll often plan an indulgence for that day. If they don’t have them, I can have my usual chocolate indulgence.

Another way I do planned indulgences is if I’m going out to dinner and don’t want to have to worry about whether they used more butter than I would have, or cream in the soup. I usually choose fairly supportive meals, but there might be something extra that is not so supportive – white flour pasta, for example, or dessert. I may or may not know exactly what I will have, just that this will be a meal or a time for a planned indulgence.

Over the course of a week, it all balances out.

Friday I had a small PI of 1 oz. of dark chocolate and a small bit of a Gianna’s sugar cookie at New Leaf market, along with a taste of their broccoli cheddar egg souffle. Saturday, I was out for lunch at Chocolate, in Santa Cruz, and had a wonderful Chicken Mole with Polenta Pie, and some of their Italian Sofia dark hot chocolate. Yum!

I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago, and liked it enough that I made it again.

Carrot & Beet Salad with Sunflower Seeds

200 grams    beets, raw

220 grams    carrots, raw

200 grams    celery, raw

30 grams    sunflower seeds

70 grams    raisins (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup    reduced-fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons    lemon juice

1 tablespoon    agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon    ginger, ground

1/2 teaspoon    coriander seed, ground

1/4 teaspoon    cardamom, ground

1 teaspoon    fennel seed, whole

Servings: 5 (1 cup serving=160grams )

Nutrition (per serving): 161.3 calories; 31% calories from fat; 5.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 155.8mg sodium; 541.2mg potassium; 26.5g carbohydrates; 4.4g fiber; 17.2g sugar; 22.0g net carbs; 3.3g protein.

Summer fruit

I’m noticing that I’m eating more fruit – apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches, cherries. There’s hardly room for apples on my daily menu anymore! At the farmer’s market, I just can’t resist the juicy, wonderful, colorful yumminess of summer fruit, and then there it is, needing to be eaten. Of course, if I really can’t get to it all, I can always freeze it for smoothies later. My last few days of eating – you’ll see I did manage to get some vegetables in amongst the fruits!

A note for those who would like to see even more of my daily food collages, all on one page together: I have an album of them on Facebook.

Selene’s Food Collages



I promised a recipe this time. The Scallops with Red Cabbage is one recipe that I’ve made a few times now, without changing much (unusual for my cooking style!).

Spiced Scallops with Balsamic-Braised Red Cabbage

1 tablespoons    olive oil

1 lb    red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

1    California bay leaf

3/4 cup    water, divided

3 tablespoons    balsamic vinegar, divided

1/2 teaspoon    ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon    ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon    ground nutmeg

2 pinches    ground cloves

12 oz.    large sea scallops


1 Warm 2 teaspoons olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage, bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat.

2 Stir in 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoon vinegar and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm, covered.

3 Stir together spices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pat scallops dry and season both sides with spice mixture.

4 Wipe out skillet, then heat remaining teaspoon oil over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Sauté scallops, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Add to cabbage.

5 Add remaining 1/4 cup water and tablespoon vinegar to skillet and boil, stirring, until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour over scallops and cabbage.

Servings: 2

Nutrition (per serving): 293.5 calories; 26% calories from fat; 9.0g total fat; 56.1mg cholesterol; 343.0mg sodium; 1167.0mg potassium; 23.9g carbohydrates; 5.6g fiber; 9.0g sugar; 18.4g net carbs; 32.0g protein.

original recipe from Andrea Albin in Gourmet  | December 2008


Gluten-free feast

Just finished cleaning up from a wonderful group of women who came for a day of singing and yoga Saturday at our Skyote Mountain retreat. Heather Houston asked me to cook a gluten-free dinner for us all, so I put this menu together:

Enchiladas Negras (with vinegared onions and cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes)
Quinoa with Latin Flavors
Mixed baby greens salad
Gluten-free Multigrain Miracle Bread

For dessert:

Flourless Poppy Seed Cake with sliced strawberries, peaches, & nectarines

It’s such a joy to feed people delicious and healthy food!

This is how the dinner fit into my own day of eating:



The choices we make about food

Just read Scott Tousignant’s blog, discussing his very reasoned and moderate approach to food choices. Definitely worth reading and thinking about! I gave a response expanding on my own thoughts about belief and values driven food choices (as opposed to fear driven nutrition), and thought I’d include it here:

I just want to point out a piece that I think is worth considering in our choices about what to buy, and that’s the health of the planet as well as my own body. When I look for grass-fed or organic dairy products, I am attempting to support farming practices that make for reasonable and healthy lives for the creatures whose milk I’ll be consuming, and for sustainability. So GMO is very high on my list of what to avoid, not just because I don’t think it’s good for me, but because I think the consequences of doing that are devastating for the planet. And although I am not completely vegetarian, I do care that the animal products I eat do not come from animals who were not cared for in a humane way.

You are right on when you say this is belief and values driven, I’m just suggesting that we look at our larger scale beliefs and values in making these decisions, not just the ones about the health of our own bodies.

Thanks again for bringing these issues up and encouraging everyone to look at them clearly and consciously!

I’ve been posting my daily food collages here as well as on Facebook, and got a question over on FB about why I am doing this. My friend Bill asked: “How does this help you? To take pictures of everything you eat I mean??? A curious mind wants to know.”

And my answer was: I started doing it as an accountability tool. Knowing I would take a photo of what I eat keeps me from mindlessly grabbing something and gobbling it down before I think about whether it’s a good choice or a reasonable amount. My food choices are generally very healthy, but I can easily eat more nuts and dried fruit than my body knows what to do with, or an extra piece or two of bread with nut butter or cheese or … you get the picture. This helps me make very conscious choices about what and how much I am eating. I’m delighted to discover that it is helping other people as well, by giving a visual aid for what healthy eating can look like, and some new inspiration about food combinations.

With that said, here are the past week or so of my daily food collages, several of which were during my long drive with my husband Rene’ up to Oregon and back and eating at the Faerieworlds festival in Eugene.

More Food Collages

I’ve been posting my daily food collages on FaceBook, and have received quite a bit of positive response, but have hesitated to put them here. My fear is that I could easily turn this blog into a food-oriented adventure, and much as I enjoy food adventures, it’s just one small part of what I think about and how I want to interact with the world. I must admit, though, it is one I enjoy very much! I have a grand time cooking up healthy, supportive, nurturing food for folks who attend workshops and gatherings at Skyote (our place in the Santa Cruz mountains). I’m always pleased and somewhat amazed by the excitement. I have been doing my photo collages daily without missing a day. For now, I will indeed post these daily, so that those who are not on FaceBook have an opportunity to see them. Here is this past week:



Food for the day

I’ve been documenting my daily food consumption, as an awareness and accountability exercise. Thought I would post them here occasionally, and perhaps that will inspire some blog writing. I generally eat lots of protein and produce, with some whole grains in some of my meals, but today was a high grain day – and a planned indulgence snack at the end of the day. I only do that a few times a week!