Monday, March 17, 2014

Hello Craftyland!

It's been so long since we spoke. How are you? I hope you have been well. I've been busy!

As many of you know, I work
full time at Cuisine en Locale. We're an all-local catering and meal delivery service. Recently, we opened up a full-service event hall which is awesome! We took over the old Anthony's Function Hall at 156 Highland Ave in Somerville. We are now officially fully open, and we're cooking up some really exciting new projects that I think you might be interested in!

First, the Vegetarian Share is back! If you have thought you might be interested in our ONCE a Week meal delivery service, but you don't eat meat, this might be just the ticket. We do all the cooking and bring you a nice big bag of awesome food, any Tuesday you like! I am so excited to share that we've revived the Vegetarian version! It now sits in a place of honor, right next to the Omnivore version. It is not entirely gluten free, nor entirely vegan, but we are careful about cross-contact and there will be some items that fit each bill. If there are some folks in your household who are vegan and some who are ovo-lacto or omni, this could work. If there are some folks who eat gluten free and others who don't, this could also be a great choice. If even being cooked in a kitchen where gluten is present gives you difficulty, then unfortunately it might not be the right fit. It's not like the old days when I had a fully gluten free environment to work with, but it is amazing and wonderful food, different every week, and always made from scratch using all local ingredients. If you're interested, email We actually still may have a share left for delivery tomorrow, but please move quickly before it sells out!

Second, we're offering weekly Saturday brunch! We use gorgeous, farm-fresh, local ingredients to make all kinds of brunch favorites. Most items are or can easily be vegetarian, and there are a few great vegan items too. Many menu items are free of gluten ingredients too, or can be made so easily. Again, we do use gluten in some dishes in our kitchen here, but we are careful about cross-contact. My favorite vegetarian and gluten free dishes include the P.O.P. (Pile o' Potatoes) - roasted potatoes, sauteed spinach, cheddar or bleu cheese, and poached eggs (great with a dash of Alex's Ugly Sauce), the Fratine (crustless quiche) of the Week; and the Mess in a Cup - flourless Taza chocolate cake with vanilla marscapone whip and chocolate ganache drizzle. (Just ask to skip the oat biscuit that often garnishes it if you're GF - the cookie isn't GF but the rest of the dessert is.) Vegan sides which can make a great meal all together include roasted potatoes, spinach, kale salad, and most of the tasty beverages. There is definitely a whole lot for omnivores too! If you do eat gluten and dairy, the reviews on our sticky buns have been off the charts. Did I mention we have a full bar? We actually have two full bars. We serve brunch every Saturday from 10 - 3, and there's live music from 11 - 2.

Third, we have some great events coming up, including a monthly comedy show, regular movie nights, and a lot of GREAT rock shows and other concerts. If you want to stay posted about these sorts of events, please email me back and I can add you to our weekly newsletter mailing list. You can also check our newsletters and blog posts at our website.

Finally, I'm teaching a bunch of classes! I've been teaching at the Boston Center for Adult Education and at Brookline Adult and Community Education. I'm teaching a basic vegetarian cooking skills class next Tuesday evening, 3/25. I have a few more baking classes coming up too, both gluten and GF. In Brookline, I'm planning a GF cooking and baking series over the summer. This spring and summer, you'll find me hosting locavore events at Anthony's, teaching classes in Boston and Brookline, and also at lots of farmers markets, both selling and shopping.

Thanks for reading, and have a fantastic afternoon!

Much love,

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cranberry-lemon oven pancake

Hello lovelies!

We're snowed in here today, and you might be too. Today I offer a recipe that is easy, flexible, and you probably have everything you need on hand already.

It may seem that all I eat these days is egg-based dishes, and while that's not entirely accurate, I do love me some eggs. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner - eggs are easy, fast, and if you buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens from a farmer you trust, they couldn't be better for you. Plus, some days you just can't get to the farmers market or grocery store, and you want something easy you can make out of what you have on hand.

One problem with egg-based dishes is they don't photograph very well, so I don't have pictures today but I promise, in real life, my dinner is gorgeous and delicious.

I've posted about similar easy oven pancakes before, but I just can't say enough about how yummy and easy this is. Enjoy!

Preheat your oven to 385 with your cast iron skillet inside. (I know, it's a weird temperature. You can go a little bit in either direction, but I have found I get the best results right here. It's not rocket science; play with it.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 or 4 eggs, a splash of water, a couple spoons of arrowroot starch (feel free to use all-purpose flour if you tolerate gluten), a pinch of salt, and seasoning of choice - I used a shake of nutmeg and a splash of vanilla extract today. (If I'd had an organic lemon on hand, I'd have zested it in, but I had to settle for getting my lemon fix from a jar of lemon curd. One day I'll show you how to make lemon curd, but really, bought curd is pretty delicious too.) You can add cooked vegetables and herbs, or raw or cooked fruit. Today I added about a cup and a half of raw cranberries from the freezer.

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add a good spoonful of coconut oil or whatever high heat fat you like. Swirl it around the pan, then pour in the batter. Pop it back in the oven and set the timer for twenty minutes.

If it looks about done, then it's done. Not a precise science over here. If it's too jiggly, give it another 2 - 5 minutes. Denser veggies take longer. Light fruits are faster. Heat your fillings up and it will be even faster. Keep a super close eye if you use really sweet fruits like ripe bananas.

Let it rest for a couple minutes, then flip out onto your plate. Remember, the handle of your skillet is HOT! Don't lick it.

Eat as is, or add some honey, maple, jam, or whatever you like. Today I've got a light sprinkle of maple sugar and a spoonful of lemon curd. Hey, I ate lots of veggies earlier! Sometimes it's okay to have fruits for dinner. Savory breakfast, sweet dinner - it's all good. If you didn't have enough veggies earlier in your day, throw some in a savory pancake, or start your meal with a crunchy green salad.

So good, so easy, and cleanup is next to nothing. It's the perfect meal!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Teaching classes at the BCAE

Hello Crafty Land!
It's been a long time since I wrote to you. I hope you are all doing well!
I've been working on many, many different projects since we last spoke. One of those projects is teaching cooking and baking classes. This weekend I will be teaching a class at the Boston Center for Adult Education. It's a class in chocolate treats, this Sunday, from 10 - 1. Everything will be gluten free and customizably allergy friendly.

The info is here:
The description is from when I taught a similar class in February. This time around, I'm planning more Halloween-appropriate fare including those awesome pumpkin almond butter brownies, mint filled frogs, and a couple more surprises.
I'm also teaching a bunch more classes over the next few months, including gluten free holiday sweet treats and another class in savory sides.
Hope to see some of you there!

Much love,

Chef Mary

Friday, July 26, 2013

Corn and GMOs, part 2

Remember not long ago when I posted about how to avoid GMOs?

Well, it seems harder than ever to avoid corn, and most of the corn out there is genetically modified.

I just read a very interesting article about one woman's experience trying to avoid corn completely. I knew corn was in a lot of things, but even I didn't realize how many non-food products it is in!

Check out the article below:

The author had a lot of weird symptoms that seemed allergic and autoimmune, but were very hard to pin down. She went to doctor after doctor searching for answers. Finally, one doctor helped her figure it out. Research is still sparse on the condition, but she seems to have an allergy to the GMO corn itself.

The second page of the article lists off a few of the scary unexpected places we all may still be getting exposed to corn. It can be found in a lot of wacky places, like tea bags, paper cup linings, the coating on store bought apples, and additives you wouldn’t expect, like vitamin E, citric acid, and ascorbic acid! I have found that I am sensitive to corn, so I avoid it both for my digestion's sake and because Roundup isn't a food additive I prefer to consume.

I make almost all my own food from scratch. But I'm probably getting exposed to corn from places I didn't realize! I eat fruit nearly every day. Most is local, but some of it is from grocery stores because we don’t grow everything here all year round. Is there corn on my fruit? Every now and then I use tea from a bag rather than loose. Is there corn in my tea? Compostable plastic bags and utensils are made from corn. Am I consuming corn through the produce I buy in degradable bags? This makes me wonder if corn’s ubiquity might be part of why even though my symptoms have managed to improve, they haven’t gone away entirely.

Scary stuff, and very much worth investigating further!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Where have I been all this time?

Hi peeps! This post is long. It's a lot of venting. I apologize in advance.

It's been so long I don't remember how to do one of those breaks where you hide the rest of the text and people only have to read it if they click. Why can't I remember how to do that?

Anyway, here's where I'm at these days. I've got a bunch of injuries, arthritis, and general stuff going on. This weekend, I can't walk particularly well. Earnest is a massage therapist, but we haven't had mutual free time for a massage in about a month. He taped my knee with Kinesiotape last night and I was able to stand up and walk to the market about two blocks away, but the back of my knee was super angry on the walk back. I want nothing more than to go to the gym and lift heavy, and I've been sidelined for absolutely ages. I'm in workout clothes now. I'm going to go and I'm going to see what I can do. I am going to try to be satisfied with what I can do gently, safely, and with good alignment. If that's just a few chest presses, then at least I'm showing up. I'm going to gently work mostly upper body and stretch a lot.

I've had recurrent injuries and problems for a while (most notably, a dislocated knee 20 years ago, and a  bike accident causing limited mobility in my neck about 10 years ago.) A year ago, I got heat stroke. Leading up to that, I was working out a lot and restricting pretty hard core. I was almost 100% raw vegan, and eating an average of 1200 - 1300 calories a day. I was taking boxing classes, playing capoeira, doing hot yoga, running, lifting fairly heavy on the machines in the gym (I have SO MANY QUESTIONS about how to get started safely with free weights, but that's a different post for when my knee stabilizes.) Working out almost every day, often twice. If I didn't work out, I usually walked to work to make up for it. That's 4.5 miles each way to one job, and 2.5 miles each way to the other. Yes, really.

I was tracking religiously. Some days I'd eat 800 - 900 calories. Some days I was up around 1400-1500, but most days I was between 1200 and 1300. You guys, that's below my BMR. That's just dumb.

I'd been doing this for nearly two years at this point. The first six months high raw vegan I had felt great and hadn't intentionally restricted calories or macros, and was still eating a little more cooked food. Then serious restriction slowly snuck in. Somehow, I started gaining weight. It fluctuated wildly. I often had swings of 6, 8, or more pounds in the space of 24 hours. There were tons of dramatic swings up after especially long work days, and an overall gaining trend. Also, I was orange. All over. Bright. Orange.

Everything pointed to just a whole lot of chronic inflammation, but I couldn't figure out how to make it stop. After all, I reasoned that a raw vegan diet should be 100% anti-inflammatory, right? I would blame the fact that I tasted some of the foods I cooked for seasoning - even though I would usually spit out the taste. I reasoned that I must have been absorbing some tiny amount from the cooked food, and that must have been triggering inflammation. (Did it occur to me that I needed rest days, and I ought to eat more than a banana to fuel my long workouts? Not usually.)

It was July. It was hot. We had had over a week of 90+ temps, and really high humidity. We had no AC in our 4th floor walk-up apartment. I'm a chef. When I'm not home or at the gym, I'm in a hot hot kitchen. I had not taken a rest day, or taken the time to cool off properly, in ages. I was hot.

I kept up my usual workout routine, despite the heat. In boxing class one night, I realized I was bright red, way overheated, and not sweating. I drank water and kept going, just a lot less intensely. A half hour later, I nearly fainted. Still red, still not sweating. Someone got me more water, and someone else got me a cold wet towel. I didn't go to the hospital because I'm a stubborn moron when I'm sick. When I got home I took electrolyte tablets and more water.

For the next week, the edema was so bad it was painful. My ankles were so wide I couldn't wear socks. I couldn't bend my knees. It was really hard to climb stairs. (Fourth floor walk-up apartment, remember.)

I kept going to work, though. Because I am crazy, and because I have so many bills that a couple of missed days of work will invariably mean that I'm late on student loan or credit card payments. Work means 10 to 14 hours of standing. No, I didn't walk to work that week. I may be crazy, but at least I knew I couldn't do that.

I started pulling muscles all the time. I had a pulled hamstring for two months. I had knots in my calves all the time. My butt and low back hurt all the time, because my piriformis muscles seized up. My upper back, shoulders, and neck hurt. The muscles wouldn't relax, even with massage. My elbows hurt. I lost grip strength, and couldn't cut straight. The soreness in my toes and hips and shoulder blossomed into serious arthritis. My digestion went from finicky to downright failing. I started eating more cooked foods, a few animal foods, a little more food overall. I became less orange, despite eating a least the same amount of carotenoids, often more. The anxiety and some of the neuromuscular symptoms started to improve as I ate more, but the arthritis slowly started to get worse.

The GI doc found not a whole lot. Primary care found some slightly wacky numbers, but nothing crazy. Finally got the feet looked at, and I have a whole bunch of things going wrong including at least two different forms of arthritis. Then my health insurance paperwork got lost and I'm temporarily not covered because the forms are completely overwhelming. So I haven't seen the rheumatologist in a couple months.

Over that time period, I tried a bunch of fads - I did a Whole30 in January, or was it February? I tried low carb for a little while. I actually gained while eating low carb. How is that even possible?  That didn't last long for me, thank goodness, because I felt like shit and I LOVE FRUIT AND SWEET POTATOES! Any diet that says I can't have fruit or sweet potatoes is straight up lame.

I found Intuitive Eating, then Matt Stone, then Go Kaleo, and Eating the Food. Not sure how long I've been ETF, but it is helping a lot. Three months? Longer? The principle is simple: Eat the correct amount of food to support a healthy metabolism, move your body as appropriate for you, and stop all the restrictive dieting. I have a lot of allergies and sensitivities, which is a challenging balance to strike. But not impossible.

At first, I got belly bloat. That's normal, coming out of a restrictive eating disorder, or excessive dieting, or whatever you want to call it. I got that tummy overhang thing everyone talks about. They both went away. The more I eat, the more I can digest. It's amazing. My intestines mostly usually remember how to work again!

I stayed off the scale and the tracking sites for a while, because they just make me crazy. But I finally stepped back on the scale recently, and I've lost several pounds! Like, not just the initial ETF puffiness, but I'm a few pounds lower than my immediately pre-EFT weight! Not as low as I was before the gain started, but I hadn't had my period in six months then so perhaps I was a little too thin. My metabolism is getting back on track. My libido is starting to return. Things in general are improving. I still have joint pain and migraines, but my feet especially are SO much better!

Interestingly, my scale has a function where it measures body fat and muscle. I have not been able to work out often over the last few months, but even so, I'm experiencing a slight recomp in the positive direction. That was a surprise! More carbs, more rest, and more sitting around watching anime have actually led to more lean mass, and a little lower fat percentage. Hooray!

Also interestingly, when I have been able to work out, I'm lifting as heavy as I was when I was dieting and working out consistently. Dieting makes you weak! Eating food makes you strong. Who knew?

I've been getting acupuncture, and that has helped a lot with everything. I have a whole bunch of things going on. In the western terms that I understand, I've got chronic inflammation, autoimmune weirdness, exhaustion, overwork, stress, migraines, fatigue, the works. All those symptoms of starvation (a.k.a. what the internet calls "adrenal fatigue") and then some. According to my acupuncturist, I'm like a tangled ball of yarn and we need to tease out problems in layers. One of the underlying things is what TCM calls spleen qi deficiency. That is roughly equivalent to a depressed metabolism, in western terms. It has a lot of potential root causes/symptoms, but anorexia, too much cold raw food, overwork, and excess stress are pretty common ones. So, basically, my acupuncturist, my experience, and the ETF philosophy are right in line here.

I'm to eat more, especially more carbs from rice and GF oats. I love rice and oats so much! I'm to eat lots and lots of veggies, especially cooked. I'm happy to live almost entirely off veggies, so that's cool. No more living entirely off of salads though, as much as I absolutely adore salads. Raw vegan was convenient for me. I'd cook for others all day, and be so exhausted that green smoothies and salads were all I wanted to make for myself anyway. 

There are a few other recommendations too - I don't have to feel obligated to eat all that protein. My acupuncturist recommends less or no meat. Thank goodness. I am allergic to legumes, so I have found I do need to eat some animal foods, but I don't have to feel obligated to meet some kind of protein target like I did on or after Whole30. A little fish or egg is plenty.

I am to avoid dairy, which I've found recently makes me feel slow and gives me acne. I'm to avoid gluten, which I already do because I am seriously intolerant and it makes me feel horrible for days. I'm to avoid very spicy food, which makes me sad, but it's temporary. Also caffeine which I gave up years ago, alcohol which makes me feel tired and shitty lately, and chocolate which I had mysteriously stopped craving anyway.

As much as I am upset and inconvenienced by the knee prohibiting much movement this weekend, things are generally improving. As long as I use eight or twelve months ago as the starting point, when all the fallout from heat stroke and malnutrition were at their peak, I'm definitely improving overall.

Three and a half years ago I was feeling great. I was eating, getting plenty of sunshine, and working only five days a week.

I choose to look at that as more of an inspiration of how I can feel again, not to measure how far I've fallen. Three and a half years ago I ate so much and stayed so slim that my co-worker said I must have a tapeworm. I was thin, strong, not feeling the old injuries so often. I was enjoying movement and food. I was doing a lot of creative work - knitting, sewing, and/or drawing just about every day. I danced, I ate, I walked on the beach because we lived near one then. Life wasn't perfect, certainly, but I was doing OK.

Getting back in balance, resting, and eating are all journeys.

Now I'm heading down to the gym. The knee and hip don't allow pushups or planks when they're acting up, but I just checked, and today I can do a few sloooooow careful squats to just above 90 degrees. Huge improvement over yesterday!

Time to stop typing and start moving!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Delicious Cherry Smoothie for Joint Support, Immune Support, and Arthritis

Good morning!

Time to yawn, stretch, and prepare for the day.

But what if that morning stretch is hard? What if arthritis means your morning is full of achy soreness, stiffness, and pain?

There are many ways to approach arthritis and other kinds of body pain. Yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices can help a lot. Moderate exercise has been shown to help manage the stiffness. I can't currently do some of the things I used to, but I hope to do them all again soon. Even on really tough days, I try to do at least a half hour of yoga. There's a lot of creaking, but it helps.

Acupuntcure is helpful for a lot of people. There are herbs and other supplements you can take to help keep your body moving. There are lots of foods that help. Many people find NSAIDs and steroids helpful, but there are potential side effects to consider, especially with long term use.

I'm not your doctor. I'm not here to judge the combination of treatments you choose. What I do have is a delicious recipe to start your day off well. The ingredients in this smoothie work together to support your joint health, and they're delicious!


Cashew milk  or other milk or yogurt of choice
Lemon, peeled with a knife or juiced
Cherries, pitted (frozen or fresh)
Blueberries (frozen or fresh)
Ripe banana (frozen or fresh) or a spoonful or raw, local honey to taste
Romaine or spinach

First, make your cashew milk. It's easy - blend cashews with a little water until smooth. That's it! Save some in a jar for other uses if you like. Using only a tiny bit of water makes a thick creme. More water makes a thin milk. You don't have to strain cashew milk; just blend and go.

Blend your fruits with your cashew milk. Add a little water as necessary. Add greens and blend until completely smooth. If you're not feeling the greens this morning, it's actually okay to skip them. There are no smoothie police to make sure every single one is green. Yes, the leafy veggies are oh-so-good for you, but even without greens, this smoothie will be super nourishing.

Optional but recommended: stir in a spoonful of fish oil, or take some on the side. Alternatively, you may choose to take a vitamin D supplement, preferably D3 suspended in olive oil.

So why these ingredients? Well, cashews are super creamy and delicious, and lend body and good fat to help you absorb all the other good stuff in the smoothie. Cashews make it taste a little more like cherry cheesecake, but you can use coconut milk or a bit of avocado instead if you prefer. Cherries and blueberries are both rich in phytochemicals that decrease inflammation. Blueberries are incredibly rich in antioxidants. Cherries have been shown to help with many kinds of arthritis and pain, especially gouty arthritis. Lemon boosts the smoothie's vitamin C content even higher. Vitamin C supports the health of connective tissue in and around joints, as well as the fascia surrounding muscles. It also helps you absorb the iron and other minerals in the greens.

Spinach and romaine are both excellent greens for overall health, especially for decreasing inflammation. Bananas are delicious and sweeten up your smoothie, countering the tartness of the berries and the bitterness of the greens. They're also rich in vitamins and minerals. Raw local honey is  great for immune support, allergies, and inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in fish oil have been shown to support joint health and overall health. And again, that little dose of good fat will help you absorb all the goodness that's locked away in the fruits and veggies.

So sip that smoothie, relax, and enjoy. Then go for a walk in the sunshine, take a yoga class, and stretch it out! It may be hard to get started, but your body will thank you afterward.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Simple mustard and honey sauce

Happy May, everyone!

Very soon, I will post an awesome recipe for a grain free carrot cake that is perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a snack. I finally got some pictures today before it was completely devoured! But first, a super simple dressing, dip, or sauce. Tonight I had this on gorgeous baby greens as a salad and it made me so happy! Feel free to dress or sauce up anything you like, from salads to wraps to noodles. Would also pair as well with meat as it does with veggies, if that's how you roll.


Raw honey
Dijon-style mustard (grainy or smooth, both will be delicious)
Sunflower seed butter (or other seed or nut butter)


Put as much as you like of the three ingredients in a bowl. Play with proportions - I used about equal quantities of honey and mustard, and more of the sunflower seed butter. Stir with a fork to combine. Season to taste - depending on your mustard, you may want more vinegar, more salt, or any other seasoning you desire - ginger or turmeric would be great, as would coconut aminos, or chopped chilis.

Now dip, dress, and enjoy!