Nicci Morris

Posts Tagged ‘Food’

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.

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.


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.

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.



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!


Prepping for Thanksgiving

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

Photo by Evgeni Dinev /

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 /

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.

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.



Recipe inspired by this version of the recipe on AllRecipes.

A pom addiction…

In Entertaining, Nic's Picks, Recipes on November 11, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Pomegranate arils

It happens every year. Brisk mornings come, the leaves change, and I wait… And then the day comes: Pomegranates arrive at the market. When the poms came in this year, I loaded the conveyor belt with them, salivating at the joy to come. The cashier picked one of them up as if it was coated in slime and asked, “What in the world can you do with these?!” Plenty.

I am an unabashed pomegranate addict. From the shape of the fruit to the glistening rubies nestled within, I adore everything about poms. The sweet-tart flavor and the brightly-colored juice lure me in each fall and winter. The taste and texture is unlike any other fruit I’ve had the pleasure of devouring. At about 230 calories for an entire pomegranate, it’s a wonderfully nutrient-dense vitamin C-packed superfood.  Pomegranates contain polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins, all beneficial antioxidants. Studies show it contains more antioxidants than most other fruit juices, red wine or tea. There is also some evidence that drinking pomegranate juice can reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

While I am perfectly happy to eat a big bowl of arils (the proper name of the fleshy covering of the pomegranate seeds), my foodie brain won’t always let me keep it that simple. So yesterday I decided to make a “bruschetta” using a sourdough baguette, pomegranate arils, fresh mint, gorgonzola cheese and honey. The result is something beautiful, fragrant and delicious. Interesting to look at and a perfectly-portioned mouthful of flavor, these would be great for a cocktail party, a wine tasting or as a starter.

Pomegranate Bruschetta 1 - By Nicci Morris

Photo By Nicci Morris

Pomegranate “Bruschetta”

Sourdough baguette

4 ounce container of Gorgonzola cheese

1 1/2 cups pomegranate arils

Fresh mint


Preheat broiler and line baking sheet with foil. Cut bread on the bias into ½ thick slices. (The bias cut will give you a bit more surface area for the goodies.) Layer slices on baking sheet and place under broiler until lightly toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sheet and flip slices before returning them to the broiler until lightly toasted. Remove and add gorgonzola to each piece of toasted bread (about ½ teaspoon of cheese to each, more or less if desired). Top with pomegranate arils. Return to oven and broil until cheese has just melted, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven. Tear mint leaves and top each baguette slice. Drizzle lightly with honey.



Salts to taste…

In Food on November 6, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I love food. I love the holidays. Combine the two and I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve. It’s just a week after Halloween and I’ve already heard holiday music in the stores. Time to get shopping!

One of the cooler food-related gifts I’ve seen is this salt sampler in a beautiful bamboo box. It’s a collection of 24 salts from around the world. It’s a bit pricey at $114 (recession!), but the experience of all those different flavors could be worth it for the fervent foodie in your life.

I love trying salt from all over the world. The difference in texture, salinity, color etc… all add to the cooking and dining experience. Salt is a vital part of your diet and necessary for proper metabolism. I find that using better quality salt results in the need to use less salt. So you get more flavor and less salt, which translates to more delicious food and less water retention, bloating and fewer issues with blood pressure…

My favorite salt yet? HimalaSalt, a brand of salt from (you guessed it) the Himalayas. It has an incredibly pure taste and a pretty pink hue. I also like that particular brand because the company supports sustainable sourcing. My advice: Keep an eye out next time you’re trying to get the max for the minimum at TJ Maxx. I often find HimalaSalt there and it’s far cheaper there than anywhere else I’ve seen it. Try it and give your palate a brand new taste experience!

Smarter snacking…

In Food, Recipes on October 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Given the choice between sweet and savory, I’ll go with the latter every single time. So when I’m in the mood to snack, I often reach for something crunchy, salty and packed with umami.

How about baked garbanzo beans? I think of it as super-portable and poppable hummus. They’re perfect for on-the-run snacking or eating during a movie or a game. They’re delicious, simple and a more healthful way to satisfy your craving. So put down the potato chips and the pretzels and grab a handful of these instead. Oh, and I challenge you to eat just one handful…

Hummus Crunch
2 (16 oz.) cans garbanzo beans
Non-stick cooking spray (or you can use olive oil, just enough to coat)
Garlic powder to taste
Lemon pepper seasoning (regular or salt-free) to taste
Chili powder to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Rinse and drain beans. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the beans on the baking sheet. Give the beans a quick spritz. While the beans are still moist, sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, stirring every ten minutes or so for even browning.

What’s for dinner? Pork Chops with White Wine-Caper Sauce

In Food, Recipes on October 2, 2009 at 2:46 am

When it comes to cooking, I am all about ROI. I love to create simple recipes that taste as if they took lots of work. And if a recipe is labor-intensive, it better be well-worth the toil and trouble. Today I made something that tastes like it took lots of time and work, but it actually requires little effort.

Whenever I’m short on inspiration, I head directly for the refrigerator, the freezer and the pantry and pretend I’m competing on “Iron Chef.” What do I have on hand that I can make look, feel, smell and, of course, taste amazing? What will be the perfect foil of the day? That’s what led me to make this dish for the first time years ago. I adore tart, bright and briny flavors so I always have a jar of capers on hand.

I know an incredibly gifted chef who taught me his concept of “the perfect bite.” It’s an exacting balance of flavor and texture, a miniature representation of everything on the plate… and proof positive that you have created a perfect and delicious meal. And that is what I strive to attain each time I fire up the stove: The Perfect Bite. Tonight that consisted of pork chops served with a sauce of white wine and capers. I served it with garlicky roasted red potatoes and asparagus.

Nicci Morris

By Nicci Morris

Pork Chops with White Wine and Caper Sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

2 pounds pork chops, fat trimmed (chicken breast cutlets would also work well)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (plus more for seasoning meat)

3/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning (plus more for seasoning meat)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. While oil heats, combine flour, garlic powder, lemon pepper seasoning and thyme. Season each pork chop with garlic powder and lemon pepper seasoning. Dredge seasoned chops in flour, lightly coating each. Place chops in hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer chops to a foil-lined baking sheet and place in oven to finish cooking through, 15-20 minutes.

While chops finish in the oven, put butter in a small saucepan. When butter has melted, add onion and garlic. Saute over medium-high heat until onions have just started to caramelize and garlic is fragrant. Add capers, pepper and wine. Let the sauce come to a gentle boil to help the sauce reduce and thicken, about 8 minutes. Serve sauce over pork chops.


What’s your manna?

In Food, Lifestyle, Recipes on September 25, 2009 at 2:57 pm
Main Entry: man·na
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Greek, from Hebrew mān
Date: before 12th century
1 a: food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness b: divinely supplied spiritual nourishment c: a usually sudden and unexpected source of gratification, pleasure, or gain (
from was talking to a friend recently about manna, not in the literal sense, but the concept. I have been in search of it (literally and figuratively) for sometime now. I was hoping to discover it in a new restaurant, but I ended up going where I knew for a fact that I would find it: Empress Taytu, an Ethiopian Restaurant in Cleveland.

What’s my manna when it comes to eating? Soul food. Injera (seen above) wrapped around just about anything edible (and spicy) in an Ethiopian restaurant. Thai food. Indian food. And (wait for it) sauerkraut mixed with mashed potatoes. What can I say… This is what happens when you love food and your family is a hodgepodge.

I am still in search of that spiritual nourishment and the unexpected pleasure, but I’m working on it.

What foods (cuisines or specific dishes) bring you pure pleasure? If you haven’t tried Ethiopian, see if it brings you joy. Here are two fundamental parts of Ethiopian cuisine: Injera, the bread that also serves as a utensil in this communal dining experience, and niter kebbeh, a clarified butter, rich with spice and flavor.  Don’t be scared of the injera recipe. It’s just like making pancakes. And teff is more widely available than ever before. Try Bob’s Red Mill which is carried by many major retailers.


3/4 cup teff, ground

3 1/2 cups water


sunflower or other vegetable oil

Mix teff with water and let stand in a bowl covered with a dish towel, at room temperature unti it sours. This may take 2-3 days. Once fermented, the teff mixture be the consistency of pancake batter.

Stir in salt. Lightly oil a griddle or a large skillet. Using medium-high heat, proceed as you would with a normal pancake or crepe. Pour in just enough batter to cover the bottom of the skillet. Use more batter than you would for a crepe, less than you would for a pancake. Cook until holes form in the injera and the edges lift from the pan. Remove and let cool. Makes 10 to 12 8-inch pieces of injera.

Niter Kibbeh

2 cups butter
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 whole cardamom seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried basil

Melt butter in a small saucepan over very low heat until bubbling. Add onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and basil, and simmer for 45 minutes. Butter will be translucent and solids will be at the bottom of the pan. Strain through cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container. Discard spices and butter solids.

Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2-3 months. Use this spiced butter as you would cooking oil to saute and season vegetables and meat.