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When I was in nutrition school, there was one instructor on whom all my friends and I had a bit of a “girl crush” (let’s call her “Rawxy”). Rawxy seemed to glide, rather than walk, into a room; there was something slightly ethereal about her, with her thin, translucent skin; long, elegant arms and narrow fingers; even, calming voice; and batik tops that fluttered behind her like curtains billowing in a summer breeze. Rawxy’s fine, shoulder-length hair would sway this way and that as she crossed the room during lectures, and she’d smile serenely while edifying us on topics like raw foods, spirituality, or meditation.
Rawxy was herself a raw foodist (or “living foodist” in more contemporary parlance), and she practiced what she preached; whenever her classes spanned across our lunch hour, she’d pull out an environmentally friendly glass container that held her lunch, usually a salad or, on occasion, fruit. One day, as she slurped on her third consecutive mango, she explained the concept of “monomeals”: consuming large quantities of a single food or single dish, either at one meal or for the entire day. While I could understand the theory behind it, the notion of eating a single food in massive quantities seemed unspeakably boring.
I recall a friend of mine in grad school telling me that her normally ne’er do-well husband had finally decided to make amends and cook dinner for her. Searching the kitchen, he’d found only one item he knew how to cook, so when she arrived home that evening, the house infused with a familiar enticing aroma, her husband proudly presented her with a full, steaming cast iron frypan filled with caramelized onions. And nothing else. Ah, yes: the unintentional mono-dinner.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my mom was
a lousy a mediocre a talkative an uninspired cook. Although she never used many processed foods (thank goodness, or I’m sure my health woes would be even worse than they are), her repertoire of from-scratch meals was pretty limited. Every now and again, she’d come across a new recipe in a magazine or via my aunt, and she’d then cook that again and again for the following few weeks, until we began to feel as if we were living in a Sci-Fi movie, on the planet where they had no real food and had to eat the same slop over and over, day in and day out.
When I was in high school, my mom re-joined Weight Watchers for the seventh or eighth time. At one point, she discovered Weight Watchers “Cheesecake”: a mixture of cottage cheese, artificial sweetener and canned crushed pineapple baked in a pie pan, then sprinkled with cinnamon. Because it was sweet, she ate it. I think she once ate an entire pie in one day–her own version of “monomeal” (though I guess that kind of defeated the purpose of making a Weight Watchers cheesecake in the first place, didn’t it?).
Since Mom was determined to make the diet work, but since she was also perpetually hungry, she sought out all of the “free” foods (usually vegetables). In her WW pamphlet was a recipe for “Green Bean Casserole.” It consisted of “French Style” canned green beans, baked in a huge lasagna pan with canned button mushrooms, all blanketed with a layer of shredded diet cheese. The recipe was supposed to serve around a dozen people as I recall, but we usually polished off an entire pan in one sitting since it was “free.” For a while there, we ate Green Bean Casserole for dinners, lunches, snacks and probably the odd breakfast as well. It turned me off green beans for a very long time.
Well, about a week ago, a reader on Facebook asked if I had any green bean salads on my blog. What do you know–I didn’t! (In fact, the only recipe with beans on this blog is mock chopped liver, and Emily’s version definitely helped to turn me around on those beans). So I went out that night, bought a bunch, and concocted this salad. The beans are roasted, but only enough to soften them (nothing like those gray, limp “French style” beans of old!). Then they’re tossed with a fresh orange-balsamic dressing, orange wedges and sunflower seeds. Super simple; super delicious.
I never thought I’d warm up to the concept of monomeals. . . but with this salad, I’d say I’ve come pretty close.
Four Years Ago: Grain-Free Hazelnut-Cilantro (or Parsley) Crackers(gluten free; ACD All Stages)
Roasted Green Bean Salad with Citrus Balsamic Reduction (with Candida Diet Variation)
This is an über-easy salad to prepare: while the beans roast, prepare the other ingredients and the dressing, toss and serve. In 20 minutes from start to finish, you’ll have a delicious, elegant side dish for almost any meal. If you’re on the early stages of the anti-candida diet, you can sub the orange with grapefruit and balsamic with apple cider vinegar and a splash of stevia–equally good!
1 pound (about 500 g) fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
2 oranges (juice one and divide the other into sections; see ACD variation below)
6-10 drops orange flavored pure stevia liquid, to your taste
pinch fine sea salt
2-4 cups (480 ml-960 ml) baby arugula, optional, for serving
1/3-1/2 cup (45-70 g) lightly toasted sunflower seeds, to your taste
Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Trim and wash the beans; pat dry with a clean towel and place in a large bowl. Toss the beans with the oil until well coated. Divide beans evenly between the two baking sheets (they should be in a single layer). Bake for 15 minutes, just until they begin to wrinkle but before they are browned.
While the beans bake, combine the juice of one orange and balsamic vinegar in a small, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Bring to boil, then simmer until the liquid is reduce by about 1/3 (or up to 1/2 for a thicker reduction). Remove from heat, stir in the stevia and salt and taste; adjust the seasonings if necessary. Pour into a small bowl or glass measuring cup to allow the liquid to cool somewhat before using on the beans.
Peel the remaining orange and cut into segments (for a fancier presentation, you can peel away the thin membrane between slices, but I don’t bother most of the time). Arrange the arugula on separate plates or a large platter, and top with the beans. Sprinkle with the orange segments and sunflower seeds, then drizzle the reduction over all. Serve. Makes 4-6 servings.
Variation for ACD Stage 2: use one large grapefruit instead of the orange; juice one half and section the other. Use apple cider vinegar instead of the balsamic, and add more stevia, to taste.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan, low glycemic.
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