Monday, January 23, 2006

healthier squash gnocchi

Last week I tried a two day fast. Definitely a first since I'm not a believer in denying my body things it really wants and generally when my belly feels at all weird I assume it's because it's hungry and offer it food. So although this was not a complete fast, it was a rude shock to my coddled spoiled belly. The plan was to eat only raw veggies and water the first day then only fresh squeezed fruit juice the second. My first inkling that this might be tough was when I woke up famished on the first morning. Hmmm... And my belly didn't want veggies. It grudgingly accepted the nibbles of carrots but screamed out for melted cheese! flour tortillas! fish! pasta! It scoffed at the sight of salad and guffawed at the offering of green beans. I helpfully passed the morning reading through a food magazine and looking through recipes on the internet. The belly was not amused.

Food makes me happy. Especially when I'm already having fun, a good taste in my mouth makes my eyes dance and my lips work into a blissful pose. Or so I imagine. To others, I probably appear to have a sappy smile fronting the IQ of a sponge.

Happily, if there is anything happy about depriving oneself of free access to food, I never got any hungrier than the slightly belly achy ravenous moment I woke up on the first morning. And the fresh juice the second morning was delicious. The worst part was waking up on the third day, the fast over, and being entirely unhungry. Where was the excitement? Did someone forget to notify the belly that the torment was over? It was sulking, "fine, if you're not going to give me everything I want, then I will just sit here and not want anything and see how you like that."

Slowly, I think my belly is starting to forgive me, but it's still not back to normal. It's started having cravings again, but now if they are not immediately satisfied, it gives up, much unlike the cravings of old that lasted for days on end. Sort of sad. What would have happened to poor belly if I'd done a more normal length longer fast?

Trying to eke some good out of this, I've been trying to eat healthier since I've been told that some of my favorite fuels may not be the best. So in that light, I altered a favorite squash gnocchi dish on Saturday. Usually it's replete with white flour, parmesan cheese and butter. In the spirit of good health, I offer the healthier version:

Better Squash Gnocchi
Cut squash into sections (removing seeds) and bake cut side down in a pan with a centimeter of water at 400F for as long as it takes to get soft. Scoop out soft flesh and mash. Add nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 c buckwheat flour and as much whole wheat flour as it takes to make a nonsticky dough. Knead. Cut into small sections however large you'd like your gnocchi. Roll, squash with fork, boil in batches for 5 minutes after they float. Serve with garlic and sage cooked in healthier oils than butter if you're being good (olive oil, grapeseed oil). Very tasty with a touch of sesame oil too. And pumpkin or squash seeds are good toppers; you can roast the squash seeds if they're not as pitiful as the seeds of the butternut that I used. Shiso (beefsteak plant), sesame seeds and salt is good on top, as is nutritional yeast.

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