Saturday, March 28, 2009

guest blogger Mike talks about living near hypoglycemia

Introducing Filthy Sucre's second-ever guest husband, Mike! He's been mentioned on the blog many times as guinea-pig-in-chief, so today he's going to weigh in on what it's like dealing with someone else's high-maintenance blood sugar!

Living Near Hypoglycemia

Mike here, the Filthy Sucre husband and photographer, with my take on living near hypoglycemia.

I don't have to eat 5 times a day. I could eat a white bread, gummy bear, and chocolate fudge sandwich if I wanted to, and it wouldn't bother me - except for the taste, the stomach ache, and he eventual berating from my dentist. I can eat any and all Thanksgiving food without a thought, including all the cookies, brownies and snowball cherries.

I am not a hypoglycemic.

I know someone who is...and she lives with me and writes this delicious blog. Though she has her hypoglycemia largely under control now, she was much like Dr. Jekell/Mr. Hyde, only it was more like "Ms. I've Eaten/Ms. FEED ME NOW!" And very occasionally, she's still that way. Seriously...sometimes we have to drop everything so she can eat. There's the cranky impatience, the irritated mumbling, and the vicious grumbling. Sometimes I get exasperated about the situation, but I know that Addie can't help it and I try to be supportive by cooking dinner immediately. After all, low blood sugar - really, really low blood sugar - can cause migraine level headaches and nausea that can take a couple of days to work through. I don't want that for her.

I've never experienced hypoglycemia on that level, but I have had episodes.

The first time that I experiened a hypoglycemic reaction and knew what to call it was in college. I grew up on Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew, but gave up soda when I got to college - the carbonation made it hard to play French horn comfortably at all those rehearsals. One night I didn't have a rehearsal and somehow found myself with a Dr. Pepper in hand once more. Wow, did I notice the sugar! My heart was pounding, and I felt vaguely nauseous. And it was soooo sweet - unnaturally sweet. The kind of sickly sweet that only high fructose corn syrup can deliver. I had no idea what I'd been drinking all those years. It was a revelation. I've had nothing but diet cola since then.

Not all of us are hypoglycemics, but I'd imagine that nearly all of us have had the odd hypoglycemic moment even if you didn't realize it. If I have to, I can make it until 3 pm before eating lunch and be nothing but really hungry. Almost all the time. I can start a meal with dessert. Almost all the time. I can drink wine at a cocktail party on an empty stomach to be polite. Almost all the time.

But now I find that I don't really want to. Addie's diet-of-necessity has clearly affected my sensitivity to sugar. Not that I can't handle it in a larger sense, but I notice the effect it has on my body. And there are a lot of other good side effects to following a hypoglycemic diet: less sugar means fewer calories and the ability to keep weight down pretty easily; avoiding processed flour means more whole grains; fewer gummy animals and more real fruit means more vitamins and more fiber...the list goes on. I'm just plain healthier than I would be if my wife didn't have hypoglycemia.

When Addie decided to change her diet in earnest, it wasn't easy for me at first. She had to cut everything out and add things back in slowly to see what affected her and how. I grumbled and complained about losing my sourdough bread and potatoes and...well, the list goes on a second time. There was another option for me: I could get my own stash of food, but I decided that I wasn't going to pay for two loaves of bread and try to cook two different meals. I'm a lazy cheapskate that way. So I lived and learned...and now I like it.

I think the lesson here is that there is a sugary subset of food that no human - whatever the level of thier health - should consume: high fructose corn syrup, white flour that has all the nutrients stripped out, too many starcy foods, Thanksgiving and Christmas food...for the final time, the list goes on.

I feel better. And for that I have to thank Addie - the hypoglycemia monster that I love.

Monday, March 23, 2009

spaghetti in rosemary cream sauce with Indian eggplants, snap peas & prosciutto

Now that it is officially spring, it's time to look for ways to add all the new ingredients appearing at the Farmer's Market into our cooking plans! Sugar snap peas (a kind of "sugar" I can have) add a fresh crispiness and delightful green brightness to this adaptation of the basic cream sauce used in an earlier, more wintry post, "Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Ricotta and Meyer Lemon Zest."

I was also eager to do something with the cute little baby eggplants that I've been seeing at the Encino Farmer's Market. Can you tell that I'm in love with miniature vegetables lately? I know eggplants are generally in season in the summer, but sometimes veggies have a longer growing season in California, and sometimes the baby veggies appear sooner than the full-sized ones. I'm not sure if that's the case with these eggplants, so if anyone out there knows, please share!

In fact, according to the sign at the market, what I bought were Indian eggplants. There are lots of different kinds of eggplants, and crazily enough, they are technically considered a berry - kind of in the same way that tomatoes are considered a fruit. Whatever they are, these little eggplants were yummy to use in this dish because the spongy texture of the eggplant allows it to soak up the flavor of the cream sauce.


3-4 baby eggplants (or Indian eggplants)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper
2 cups sugar snap peas, cut into bite sized pieces
1 clove minced garlic
2 Tbsps. white balsamic vinegar
3 slices prosciutto
2 stalks green onion, chopped
2 Tbsps. butter
1 long stalk fresh rosemary, leaves separated from stem and chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
salt & pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
whole wheat spaghetti noodles (enough for 2 people)

1. Slice the eggplant into long, thin strips, leaving the skin on. Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the eggplant strips. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or so. Add the snap pea pieces and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the white balsamic vinegar.

2. Roll up each slice of prosciutto and slice the rolls so that you make bite-sized strips. Mix the prosciutto into the veggies and cook for a few more minutes. Add the green onions and cook briefly so that the green doesn't darken too much.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in another pan, then add the rosemary - the herbal oil will infuse the butter. After heating the rosemary for a few minutes, pour in the heavy cream. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for 3 minutes before adding the ricotta. Stir over low heat to melt and blend the cheese into the cream, then remove from heat.

4. While the noodles are boiling, stir the Parmesan into the cream sauce mixture until it melts and disappears. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Serve the noodles in a bowl with the cream sauce and veggies spooned on top.

Eggplant on Foodista

Saturday, March 14, 2009

baby artichoke & fried egg tartine

OK - this is basically an egg sandwich. I have no problem admitting that. I like egg sandwiches. My sister, Anna, and I used to make them for lunch all the time when we were kids and our Mom was at work. Anna makes a mean fried egg over medium, too. For whatever reason, this is what I came up with when trying to figure out what to do with a basket of cute baby artichokes from the Farmers Market.

"Tartine" is what we left coast elites (and possibly the French?) call a fancy open-faced sandwich. I happened to look this up on Wikipedia to confirm, and I found this sweet quote, "Legally in the United States, the ruling in the case of Panera Bread Co. v. Qdoba Mexican Grill established that a true sandwich (from a legal perspective) must include at least two slices of bread. An open-faced sandwich does not satisfy this condition." So there. (I can't help put picture a sourdough loaf battling a tortilla when I read this.) Be sure to get a high quality loaf of whole grain bread that you can cut big (1+ inch) slices from. You will need a substantial foundation for everything that goes on top of the bread in this recipe. Also, you will probably need to eat this with a fork and knife.

Technically, the artichokes I bought at the market were tulip artichokes, also known as baby Eurochokes or Fiesoles - deep purple little things. Apparently, people use them in flower arrangements, too. I had to do some research to learn how to work with them. Fortunately, the California Artichoke Advisory Board has a very detailed website with pictures and instructions for cooking artichokes. This veggie is in season twice a year, in the spring and the fall, so it's worth getting to know. Soon I will try something with full-sized artichokes. In fact, the babies are just artichokes that grow lower down on the plant than the big guys, but the babies are a good training-wheels artichoke because they are easier to use and require less prep. They smelled amazingly buttery when I steamed them, which I did very quickly in the microwave in a Ziploc Zip 'n Steam bag. This was the first time I'd used the Ziploc steamer bags, and it worked well - shortcuts that make dinner happen faster are good because I'm always so hungry by the time I'm cooking. (Stupid hypoglycemia!) You can also steam them on the stovetop for about 15 minutes.

I had still had some asparagus in the fridge after making the last recipe I posted here, so I used that to add a nice crunch to this dish. With the spongy bread, creamy avocado and tangy vinegar...I'm getting hungry all over again just typing this up. Mike likes his eggs well done, which was no problem, but I intended my egg to be fried over-medium so the yolk could run into the bread...but, alas, I overcooked it just slightly. Next time it will be heavenly!


8-10 baby artichokes (tulip or other variety)
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
5-6 asparagus spears, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp. tarragon (I didn't have fresh, so I used dried.)
1 1/2 Tbsps. fresh chives, chopped
1 tsp. butter (for the frying pan)
1-2 eggs per person
salt & pepper
1 thick slice whole grain bread per person
olive oil & balsamic vinegar for drizzling
1/2 avocado, sliced

1. Steam the whole artichokes, either in a microwave bag for 3 minutes or on the stove top for 15 minutes. Set the steamed artichokes on a cutting board and allow them to cool enough for handling.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the sliced mushrooms for a few minutes, then add the garlic.

3. Peel the outer leaves off of the artichokes until you get to the tender part of the vegetable. With the tulip artichokes, I found that the leaves with some yellow coloring were softer and more edible than the purplest ones. Discard the leaves you've peeled off. Slice the artichokes in half length-wise and cut off the tough purple tips.

4. Add the artichokes and chopped asparagus to the pan to saute with the mushrooms. Add the balsamic vinegar, some salt and pepper and the tarragon. Add the chives after a few minutes.

5. Melt the butter in a small frying pan. Crack the eggs into the pan. Be careful not to break the yolks if you want your eggs over medium! Shake some salt and pepper onto the eggs. Once the white part of the egg is set and is looking about 80% cooked, flip the eggs. For medium, count to 20 and remove the egg from the pan. For well done eggs, leave them in a little bit longer or break the yolk before flipping.

6. While the eggs are cooking, toast the bread. Place a slice on each plate, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When the eggs are ready, place them on the bread, then spoon the veggies on top and maybe place a few around the plate to make it pretty. Garnish with avocado slices and more chives.

Artichoke on Foodista

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

quick polenta bowl with tomato sauce and seasonal veggies

Here's a quick dinner I whipped up one night last week when I didn't have the energy to cook, or much in the fridge. I try to keep a can of tomatoes in the cabinet, and I almost always have a tube of Trader Joe's heat-and-serve polenta, that and some asparagus I had from the Farmer's Market = dinner in 20 minutes flat!

Asparagus is just starting to appear at the Farmer's Markets here in LA, since it's early spring. There are also hot house tomatoes, but they're not that great (and I didn't have any), so I went for canned. In the summer, it's not that hard to make a sauce from fresh tomatoes, and I might use green beans instead of the asparagus. I also just used the fresh herbs I happened to have, plus some of the Italian seasonings in my cabinet. What I'm getting at here is that you should feel free to use: a) whatever is in season and sounds good, b) whatever you've got. This is a pretty hearty meal for two, and maybe more, depending on your appetite - especially if you add a green salad.


2 tsps. butter or olive oil (for the polenta)
1 18 oz. tube of polenta
1 tsp. olive oil (for the sauce)
1 cup chopped mushrooms (I used crimini, but whatever you have is fine.)
1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
7 or 8 asparagus stalks, cut into 1 inch bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
app. 3/4 of a large (28 oz.) can of tomatoes
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 Tbsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme
salt & pepper
goat cheese (optional)

1. Slice the polenta log into circles about 1/2 inch thick. Melt the butter or heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the polenta slices. Once they start warming, they are easier to mash up and stir together - at first, just be sure to stir so that the same ones aren't always on the bottom hogging all the butter or oil. While you cook your tomato sauce, check on the polenta periodically, and mash/stir it until it's a thick, uniform texture. Remove from heat if this consistency is acheived before the sauce is ready. (Note: I believe Whole Foods and other stores have thier own ready-made polenta tubes, not just TJ's. And it is, of course, possible to make it yourself, but the point of this recipe is quickness and ease!)

2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large pan, then add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, and add the asparagus once the mushrooms are starting to brown. Cook until the asparagus turns bright green and retains some of its crispiness. (Soggy, overcooked asparagus is gross.) Add a tablespoon (or just a generous splash) of balsamic vinegar and cook for a minute.

3. Add the canned tomatoes to the veggie mixture. I didn't use the whole can, but just eyeball it according to your desired ratio of veggies:tomatoes. Add the herbs and simmer for several minutes, adjusting the seasonings (a little more of this, a lot more of that...) and salt & pepper to taste.

4. After you've perfected your tomato sauce, spoon the polenta into individual bowls, smashing it up against the sides to make a polenta bowl-inside-a-bowl. Spoon the tomato sauce into the polenta-lined bowls, and serve with some crumbled or grated cheese on top, if you like. We happened to have goat cheese, which melted just a little, resulting in extreme creamy goodness.

Polenta on Foodista

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

whole-grain Mexican(ish) casserole

I am so proud to post this recipe, because Mike and I created it ourselves this past weekend. True, it is based on the principles and quantities of this yummy recipe for mushroom casserole from 101 Cookbooks, which we have also made twice in the past three weeks - you should try it. But, the Mexican(ish) twist is all ours, and it turned out brag-to-your-friends delicious on the first draft. Both recipes are filthy sucre friendly because of their innate whole-grain goodness.

The reason I am referring to it as "Mexican(ish)" is because we used quinoa in our version in place of the brown rice. Quinoa was the staple grain of the Incas, arguably the key to their empire's success. (No really: read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, and I promise you'll have a new appreciation for the role of natural food resources in the course of human history. It's kind of mind blowing.) Anyway, the Incas and their descendants hail from the Andes, not Mexico, and I strive to be accurate in my recipe designations. Quinoa was great for the empire, and is great for hypoglycemics because it is the highest source of protien of any grain. It's easy to find at the grocery store, so you should give it a try if you haven't already. The other ingredients are pretty much inspired by our love for Mexican food.


3 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
3 stalks green onions, chopped
1 1/2 roasted red peppers, diced (The kind that comes in a jar is fine - or you can roast your own. This would be about 3/4 of a jar.)
1/2 cup corn (I used frozen, but would love to use fresh in the summer.)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves minced garlic
2 large eggs
16 oz. fat free cottage cheese
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon epazote (a green herb used in Mexico, omit if you can't obtain it)
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
salsa verde and guacamole to serve as toppings

1. Prepare the quinoa per the instructions on the box. The recipe calls for 3 cups of the grain - I had some left over when I made 1 1/2 cups of dry quinoa and 3 cups of water. Set the quinoa aside.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 and oil a 13x9 inch pan.

3. Saute the mushrooms and green onions in a large skillet. Add the roasted red peppers and corn after a few minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder and garlic. Let the mixture cook for a few more minutes so the flavors start to blend, while you begin the next step.

4. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the cottage cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, cilantro and epazote. Set aside.

5. Add the quinoa to the skillet with the veggies and stir to combine.

6. Thickly shred the cheese if you haven't already.

7. Add the quinoa/veggie mixture to the egg/cheese/sour cream bowl, and stir well. Pour the mixture evenly into the casserole dish. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the pepper jack cheese on top, cover in aluminum foil, and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

8. Remove foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until golden edges are acheived. Garnish with the remaining cheese and some more fresh cilantro, then serve with salsa (preferably green) and guacamole.

Quinoa on Foodista