Nicci Morris

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Your Mind, Body And Spirit Know When It’s Time For A 21-Day Detox

In Food, Lifestyle, Love/Relationships, Spirituality on May 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

We all have things that we feel are necessary for our existence. Beyond water, oxygen and food, we have physical and spiritual needs. It is important to meet them in healthful ways and on a consistent basis. When that does not happen, disorder can easily settle into your mind, body and spirit. I recently did a 21-day detox (no animal products, alcohol, yeast breads or any processed food) and I felt wonderful. There is a direct correlation between contentment and perceived success and the level of connection you have with what keeps you grounded.

There are three major things that ground me and keep me focused.

Exercise
Walking with Bella does more than get my heart rate up and my blood flowing. It also gives me an opportunity to clear my mind and to commune a bit with my furry baby, the trees and the grass. There is something very zen-like about the rhythmic sound of my shoes hitting the ground… Bella’s leash jingling occasionally. On those walks, the sun and wind feel like old friends and I love to reconnect with them.

But my true exercise love is Bikram – or “hot” – yoga. This practice consists of 26 yoga postures done in a humid room heated to between 105-115 degrees. If that sounds like torture to you, please trust me when I say it is just the opposite. I use each 90-minute class to sweat out toxins, to increase strength of every muscle in my body (including my heart) and to release stress. For me, it is akin to a full-body massage in terms of how relaxed and balanced I feel after each practice. With each drop of sweat that hits my mat, I feel stress and worry leave my body. At times, the classes are so intensely cathartic that I weep as I move through the postures, grateful my face is already flushed and wet so not even I can tell the tears from the sweat.

I also do traditional gym workouts to mix things up a bit. Plus, there are times when I enjoy the buzz of working out with other people amid the whir of 50 treadmills and elliptical machines. But I am gentle with myself in the gym during a detox program.

(Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Nutrition
This is now far more simple for me than I ever realized. The reality is I feel, look and generally live, act, react and think better when I eliminate all animal products (including eggs and dairy) and processed foods (soda, yeast breads, etc…) from my diet. When I explain that, people often say, “If I did that, what could I eat?” The answer is plenty. Did you know spinach contains protein? Quinoa, legumes (for those who can properly metabolize them – I, unfortunately, cannot), avocados and nut butters are rich sources of protein, just to name a few. Note that I didn’t mention tofu. While it is a great source of nutrition for those who choose meat-free nutrition, I avoid soy for my breast health as a result of my family history.

On my detox days, I remove coffee and tea (yes, even herbal and decaffeinated tea). The only thing I drink other than spring or distilled water is coconut water and vegetable and fruit juices and smoothies I prepare at home. I eat oatmeal, rice milk, fresh and cooked fruit and vegetables, lots of simple salads (like cucumber and tomato with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper) and homemade soups. The first couple of days can be a little trying, but after that I feel so good that it’s easy to keep going.

Meditation/Prayer
As I have mentioned before, these two practices are unique yet I feel they are symbiotic. For me, both are necessary for clarity and a balanced mind. It is not about praying to or for anything in particular. The most powerful changes come into my life when I use meditation and prayer to turn the focus inward, not up to the heavens. The miracles multiply in my life when I focus on gratitude for what I have, not on asking for what I think I or someone else needs.

This time around, I am also cutting out television and social networking for 21 days. I would rather use the evenings during my fast to meditate, pray and catch up on my reading.

Toxins come in many forms if you consider it. They are ingested into us through food and drink, but they are also introduced into our minds and spirits through what we hear and what we see. If your mind, body and spirit are telling you (as mine is telling me right now) that it is time for a detox, do it. It’s only 21 days and it will fly by. I start today and I will do my best to track what I eat, drink and do these days in case it inspires you to do a detox when you are ready. As always, you should definitely check with your doctor before making any drastic lifestyle changes.

Give up the common things so you can focus on what you truly need most and be amazed by what uncommon goodness comes into your life.

Love,

Mmm… Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins

In Food, Recipes on March 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm

My family loves my Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins and they never miss the eggs or the dairy. I don’t think you will either when you dive into these golden, tender morsels of deliciousness. The bananas make them beyond moist and the oats lend an addictive element of chewiness. The rich, complex flavor of dark chocolate adds a subtle and unexpected layer of sophistication. They’re perfect for any occasion or (the way I prefer them) no occasion at all.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup oats (I use The Silver Palate Oatmeal, Thick and Rough)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened

1/3 cup vegan margarine, melted (I use soy-free Earth Balance)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (anything over 70 percent is non-dairy)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.

In another medium bowl, whisk together bananas, almond milk, Earth Balance and vanilla. Combine with the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate.

Fill each cup of muffin tin 2/3 of the way with your batter. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins. Enjoy!

Love,

Life (and cooking) is all about trial, error…

In Food, Recipes on March 11, 2011 at 2:34 am

It must be a great day if I break out the measuring cups...

My cookbook will be a beautiful combination of plant-based recipes, beautiful photography and useful information. But before I can present the finished product to you, I have to test recipes. Argh… I cook and I write, therefore I test. It’s lots of work, but it is a true labor of love. I relish the chance to blend familiar and unique flavor and texture combinations. My goal is always the same: to prepare food that makes the people eating it furrow their brows, nod and mumble. All at the same time. Raised or furrowed brows signal pleasure. The nods affirms that, yes, this is one of the best things ever. And the mumbling? Well, that just means the food is so good that Miss Manners’ advice is out the window. Cooking is fun, exciting, a bit unpredictable, and I’m great at it.

Baking, on the other hand, ranks right up there with physics for me. I get it, but I don’t get it all the time. Far more exacting and about l,000 times less forgiving than cooking, baking simply is not natural for me. I almost always forget something. Or I inadvertently grab the baking soda when I really want baking powder. Cooking is an art, but baking is a science. Although I am accomplished in some realms of science (shout out to cellular biology, anatomy and chemistry…), I am far more comfortable doing something artsy and free-flowing my way to deliciousness.

So on days when I decide to pull out my measuring cups, teaspoons and preheat the oven, I’m in pretty good darn mood. Today was one of those days. I went to bed last night with a recipe idea on my mind: Vegan Grapefruit Muffins. I turned over, nuzzled into my pillow and thought, “It just… might… work…”  before I drifted off to sleep.

I went to work on the idea today. I’ve had good luck with vegan baking in the past, so I was hopeful. I started by sectioning juicy, ruby red Texas grapefruit.

I put my dry mixture together, combining whole wheat pastry flour, unbleached all-purpose flour, oats, brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.

For the wet, I used vanilla extract, vanilla almond milk and melted soy-free Earth Balance.

With a gentle hand, I folded the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. I tasted the batter and it was divine. I had to exercise control just to keep from snacking on it. I was elated! My vision was coming together… I could almost see the perfect little muffins that were in my near future. I popped the muffin tin into the oven and waited.

This is what I got:

In a word? Awful! Hahahaha!

I did my best to salvage what I could. It ended up looking like an exotic, citrusy twist on bread pudding. It was ugly, but “belicious” (as my 2-year-old niece would say, meaning delicious) all the same.

Why am I sharing my failure with you? I wouldn’t want to take advice from someone who never made a mistake. So just as I share some of the fabulous recipes I create for my cookbook, I will also post about the occasional flop. Afterall, cooking (and baking) is just like life. There is no progress without some setbacks.

Here’s to licking the bowl any damn way, regardless of what life throws at you…

Love,

Prepping for Thanksgiving

In Fashion/Style, Food, Holiday on November 19, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Photo by Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The road from October 31 to January 1 can be tough for those of us who have to work a bit harder to maintain a healthy BMI. During this period, Smarties and minature candy bars beckon, egg nog and hot apple cider find their way into your glass, Grandma’s turkey and dressing magically appear on your plate, and pies haunt your dreams…

Hey… This is me. I get it. But we can make it through this and we can do so with grace and deliciousness.

You don’t have to give up all of your favorites during the holidays. And although it’s a fun low-calorie novelty, ThinkGeek’s Thanksgiving Dinner Gumballs (left) probably won’t take the place of dinner next Thursday.

I’m down four pounds putting me at 175, still ten away from my preferred weight. I’ve gone back to cutting way back on “white foods,” decreasing portions overall, and I’ve increased cardio and weight training. Nothing else works for me. I’m hosting Thanksgiving so it’s basically planning two dinners: One for everyone else and what I’m going to allow myself to eat. I’ll likely have a plate of turkey breast, baked sweet potato, and greens…

Here are some great ways to cope with the holiday season and avoid holiday heft. Stick with me and you’ll be able fit into your clothes when you’re standing in your closet to figure out what to where to a New Year’s Eve party next month.

Avoid office snack traps

Work can be a minefield of fat-, sugar- and calorie-laden treats during the holidays. Whether it’s the homemade cookies or the sinfully delicious rum balls your colleague brings in every year, it can be tough to resist all of the goodies that crop up in cubicles and office kitchens this time of year.

Instead of being a double-fisted eater, be sure you have a pen or a book with you when you go survey the goodies. That will make it a little bit easier to resist puttng a cookie in each hand. If you do indulge, make it worth every calorie and only do it once. Have the wedding cookie, but not five. Enjoy a slice of pie, but make sure it’s not two or three servings.

Get creative with your workout

I know you’re busy and there are days when it doesn’t seem to be any time to juggle it all. But you can sneak in workouts throughout the day, even if you can’t make it to the gym. Do squats in your office while you’re on a conference call. (Yes, I’ve done that. Yes, people might stare. They’ll get over it and your rump will be fab.) Take an exercise ball into work and sit on that throughout the day. Doing so will engage your core, burn calories and even help you improve your posture.  When you go to the mall, park as far away from the store and powerwalk your way across the lot. Every step counts.

On the weekends or to prep for guests, crank up your favorite playlist and get moving while you clean. I think I burn more calories when I clean than I do when I hit the gym. If you weight 150 lbs, you can burn 238 calories mopping the floors in your home. Not too shabby.

Don’t overdo the drinks

Many people forget about all of the calories they consume in beverages. It’s as if they don’t think it counts if you don’t have to chew. One serving of egg nog can have 343 calories, 19 grams of fat and 34 grams of carbs (with 21 of those being sugars).

Go easy on the creamy, chocolatey drinks and stick to low-calorie options like wine spritzers, vodka (or gin) and diet cranberry ginger ale, or red wine.

Spoil your appetite

That’s right. I’m suggesting that you eat before you go to a holiday party or dinner party. Low-fat, low-calories options such as vegetable soups, crudite or whole grains can fill you up keep you from rushing the antipasti and dessert trays when you get to the party. (Avoid anything that will make you bloated though. You still want to look nice and feel comfortable.) Plan ahead and it will be easier to make healthy choices when you get to the party. It’s kind of like having the Debbie Downer with you when you go out with your girlfriends. Debbie is handy because she doesn’t mind watching your purse while you dance and she keeps the creepy guys at bay. A healthy, filling snack before you head out does the same thing for your waistline.

Do you have more tips to stay svelte this season? Comment and tell us what works for you!

Photo by Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And… we’re back!

In Entertaining, Food, Lifestyle, Recipes on May 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm

First things first: I dropped the blog ball. I know better. While I don’t believe in excuses, there is an explanation… I’ve been busy (with a cross-country move and a great new job, just to name a couple of things), but I still should have made time to tend to The Zaftig Life. But my commitment to building “The Zaftig Life” brand remains. I’ve missed blogging, snapping photos and interacting with all of you. So… let’s get back into it, shall we? This weekend is a great time to do it. Tomorrow I’m hosting a poolside brunch for a bunch of girlfriends. I’m preparing two savory dishes and mango mimosas. My girls are bringing fruit, bagels, crudités, etc… to round out the menu.

Brunch has always been my favorite meal of the day. I love the blend of sweet and savory, and I adore that it lends itself to an easy-going, lazy mood. You don’t have to wake up early for brunch, and there is no end to the options when it comes to dishes you can serve. I’m still deciding on what I’m going to make, but I will post recipes as soon as I test a few more things… I’ll also post pictures of the food and the brunch tomorrow!

Make it a fabulous Saturday…

Fitting in fitness

In Food on January 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Happy New Year, everyone! How did you ring in the new year? If it involved resolutions, I wish you well but also sort of wish you hadn’t…

Instead of resolutions, I push REal SOLUTIONS! Rather than peg changes to the day of the week, season or any other external thing, make changes from the inside out. That is the key to significant and lasting results! I want you to succeed, be fit and be healthy. To that end, I’ll be sharing lots of Zaftig-Approved Tips with you in 2010. I know time is precious and I am here to help you fit fitness into your busy schedule

Also, the guide and the cookbook are on schedule for release in early 2010, so I will of course keep you posted on that and let you know when it is available. There will be some free copies for my most loyal followers!

Zaftig-Approved Cooking Tip

We all know tofu is a great source for lean protein, right? But we also know it can get boring and fast! Here is a great way to keep things a bit more interesting while you tone up and trim down… What you’ll need:

Tofu (extra-firm, drained)
Freezer bags
A George Foreman grill
Any of the following:
Vinegar of your choice (balsamic, apple cider, raspberry, etc…)
Mustard (spicy, brown, or just plain yellow, whatever you have on hand – no need for added salt really)
Olive oil (you can omit for even fewer calories)
Fresh sliced garlic cloves
Spices/fresh and dried herbs (like bay leaves, black pepper, tarragon, basil, cayenne, cumin, curry, etc…)
Hot sauce (no need for salt if you use this)
Sliced habañero or jalapeno peppers
Soy Sauce (no need for salt if you use this)
Agave nectar (omit for fewer calories/carbs)

Some of my favorite combinations:
Soy sauce + honey + fresh garlic + habañero
Mustard + fresh garlic + dried or fresh tarragon
Balsamic vinegar + olive oil + fresh or dried basil + fresh garlic

Put the tofu and your flavors of choice in the bag. Burp the bag, getting all the air out, seal tightly and massage the goodies you added into the tofu. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, put the bag in the freezer. Now you have marinated tofu in the freezer, ready to throw on the Foreman grill whenever you need a quick meal! FYI, tofu gets an even meatier texture when you freeze it.

Let’s make it a wonderful 2010!

Love,

Photo by Giovanni Sades

2009 Zaftig-Approved Gift Guide (pt. 7)

In Entertaining, Fashion/Style, Food, Holiday, Lifestyle, Zaftig-Approved on December 16, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Custom Energy Bars,$37.57-$41.47

Mother-son founders, Ava Bise and Anthony Flynn, created YouBar in a small commercial kitchen in Los Angeles in 2006. Their goal? To offer their homemade  protein bars to the health-conscious masses. The company creates made-to-order energy bars, catering to customers’ preferences and nutritional needs.

You choose the ingredients and the bar size, viewing the nutrition facts (fat, calories, carbs, sodium, vitamins, etc…). Each bar comes with the nutrition facts based on what you add and you get to choose the name printed on the packaging of each bar.

The company also makes custom protein shakes, trail mix and cookies. How cool is that?

Click here for more information and to order.

__________

Monogrammed Carafe, $39

I love bedside carafes with matching tumblers. I adore the way they look and the purpose they serve, a delicious blend of pretty and practicality.

Simple, beautiful and thoughtful touches to any nightstand, be it in a master suite or a guest room, a bedside carafe is an ideal gift for someone who has just about everything. This beautiful one from Williams-Sonoma is no exception. The sleek, subtle glass design is hand-blown and features a weighted base. And an extra special touch comes into play when you add an engraved single- or triple-initial monogram.

Click here for more information.

__________

Vegetable Storage System, $8.95-$11.95

I know lots of people who simply don’t know how or where to put vegetables when they bring them home from the market. Orka by Mastrad, the innovative company behind some of my favorite kitchen gadgets, has created a system that simplifies the storage and preservation of food.

The Orka Vegetables Keep Sack gives you a place to store onions, garlic, and potatoes, protecting them from light and delaying sprouting and rotting. The double-drawstring design lets you add new vegetables from the top and remove older ones from the bottom, making it easier to use your stash before it goes bad.

I love the way the Keep Sacks look in this picture. Hanging them keeps air circulating around your produce to reduce spoilage, and it’s a great way to make the most of the coveted space in your pantry.

Click here for more information and to order.

2009 Zaftig-Approved Gift Guide (pt. 6)

In Fashion/Style, Food, Lifestyle, Travel, Zaftig-Approved on December 8, 2009 at 6:27 pm

While many people agree breakfast is the most important meal of the day, no Zaftig woman should go without lunch. Without healthful mid-afternoon fuel, blood sugar can dip resulting in headaches, mood swings, fuzzy thinking and raging cravings.

But midday is often a difficult time to choose healthy options, especially if you are eating at your desk, chasing after little ones at home, or in the car and on-the-g0. Planning ahead is an essential step toward healthful lunch.

Go green and get creative with these boxes and bags that make for cool gifts and help people on your list make better lunch choices.

Stainless-Steel Tiffin with Insulated Bag, $52.99-$59.99

Function meets fashion when food-grade stainless steel and a beautiful insulated cover are juxtaposed in this reusable lunch box from Happy Tiffin. The “tiffin” is an age-old system of metal pans and latches that keeps food at the right temperature and separated, allowing food to be enjoyed as it was meant to be even hours after it is cooked and packed up.

This particular system features three separate levels and an integrated plate. Side latch handles keep the container secured, ensuring sauces stay where they should and not in your work bag, on your clothes or the upholstery in your car. This item is very sturdy and manufactured from food grade stainless-steel. Century-old design can’t be wrong. Ingenious…

Click here for more information.

__________

Neoprene Lunch Totes, $21.95

There is a chance these bags might look better than the lunch inside tastes. Bold colors and interesting designs from Built NY are sure to make you stand out from rest of the lunch bunch.

Made of neoprene, the bags keep food insulated for several hours, making them perfect for busy execs, teachers, or moms who are on the run.

Cute and practical…

Click here for more information.

__________

Zaftig-approved Goodies Bag, $9.95-$25.95

While we’re talking about going green, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the eco-friendly bags in The Zaftig Life collection. Keep it near your keys and come morning, all you have to do is toss in a few pieces of fresh fruit, your homemade salad or sandwich, and your thermos as you head out the door. Choose from a variety of styles.

Click here and order a Zaftig-Approved Goodies bag today!

A once-a-year kind of treat…

In Entertaining, Food, Recipes on November 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Happy Holidays, all! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

I’ve talked with many of you who feel that gaining weight is inevitable this time of year. But I am here to encourage you to not buy into that lie. I have managed to not only keep holiday heft at bay but to even lose a pound or two the last two years. It is feasible and you can do it too. If you implement The Zaftig Life mantra of “Moderation. Balance. Health.,” I know that you, too, can maintain or even lose a few pounds this season.

The Zaftig Life is not about restriction. It is, however, about moderation. Instead of throwing in the towel from November to December and vowing to eat better in 2010, start today. Enjoy some holiday treats, but only in small amounts. You simply cannot indulge in cake, cookies, alcohol or turkey sandwiches every day (or even every other day) for a month and a half and not expect your pants to get tight. (Don’t even try to blame it on the dryer!) But you can make smart choices when it comes to food, beverages and exercise and still have delicious goodies while maintaining a healthy weight or even shedding extra pounds. And the good thing about the occasional treat is that you are less likely to go off on a fat and sugar bender when your cravings are out of control.

Yesterday I made a pecan pie with chocolate and bourbon. I know what you might be thinking… “That does NOT sound figure-friendly.” That’s because it’s not. It is well over 600 calories per serving. That is insane. But it’s also insanely delicious… I can (and I did) indulge yesterday. It’s full of butter, sugar, 90 proof bourbon, and has a ridiculous calorie count, but it’s a once a year treat. If you decide to indulge in this pie, I recommend you make it a once a year treat, too.

Photo by Nicci Morris

By Nicci Morris

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

1 store-bought pie shell (I use and highly recommend Marie Callender’s deep-dish pastry shells)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup salted butter

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup bourbon (I used Ezra Brooks 90 proof)

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract (never use imitation)

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cup pecan halves

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

In a saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter or margarine melts and sugar is completely dissolved. Cool slightly (you don’t want to scramble the eggs in the filling).

In a large bowl combine eggs, bourbon, and vanilla and mix well. Pour cooled sugar mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in chocolate and pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until set and crust is golden. If the crust starts to brown too much before the filling sets, fold pieces of foil over the crust while it finishes.

Enjoy…

Love,

Recipe inspired by this version of the recipe on AllRecipes.

The Zaftig Life featured on Soapbox Media!

In Food on November 17, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Take a look at this awesome article about The Zaftig Life. I’m so excited and honored to have the site featured. It’s amazing to see things taking shape. I believe in this lifestyle and in every Zaftig woman out there. There is power in knowing who and what you are. Self-acceptance and a willingness to grow — a resolve to evolve — is the key to achieving any and every single thing you ever want to do.

The Zaftig Life is gaining momentum and I could not be more excited. This is a movement… and I am so glad to be on this amazing journey through life with you!

Love,