Living in a Decaffeinated World

Here’s the story. My doctor, I call him alterna-doc as he practices holistic medicine, wants me to eliminate a “few” things from my diet and follow this special plan for 1 month (28 days). Partly this is to determine if I have any food sensitivies (which I doubt) and partly this is to detox my body and eliminate some of the junk that’s probably clogging up the ole’ digestive system.

Today was day 1 of Week 1. During this week, I am to eliminate all gluten-containing starches and the products made from them. I can eat rice, quinoa, amaranth and spelt (I think). I am also not to eat any artificial sweetners- only brown rice syrup, stevia and molasses, oddly. No dairy. Only poultry, fish and legumes for protein. No soda- no diet coke- no caffeine.

Now, this is the real world, not the one in the little booklet so I didn’t go cold turkey today. I’ve cut back on the diet coke for the last few days but I still had a little today. It was either make it through the work day or turn postal (in my case it would be justal, judicial, justified?) And my lunch was a sandwich although not a bread-heavy sandwich. But other than that, I’m right on track. Which means I’m seriously caffeine deprived. Fortunately, I have little worry of falling asleep due to my altered state as I’ve had so much water today I need to run to the restroom every 20 minutes.

I’ve had this altered state song stuck in my head since about 10 AM

Living in a decaffeinated world
And I am a decaffeinated girl
You know that we are living in a decaffeinated world
And I am a decaffeinated girl

And don’t forget the backup vocals: Decaffeinated Decaffeinated Decaffeinated

I’m hoping this program won’t be too tough on me since I don’t eat that much junk anyway. I do however like me the cheese and the bread and the cream sometimes. I’m quite concerned the next two weeks will be quite tough on Chris as he prepares for exams. I’m trying to make sure that dinners are things he can eat or if I go vegetarian, he can add a little meat. Next week, its all vegetarian for me- only fruits, vegetables and rice (plus spices and oil for fat) supplemented with a protein-like shake.

On to tonight’s recipe

Veggielicious Ginger Stir-Fry


1/2 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1/2 can sliced water chestnuts
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
3 green onions, sliced in 2 inch pieces, tops reserved for garnish
2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped roughly
2 chicken breasts halves, pounded thin and sliced on the diagonal, seasoned with S&P
garlic,3 cloves mashed, chopped fine, etc
ginger, about 2 tsp mashed
sesame oil
tamari soy sauce
fish sauce, oyster sauce or Worchestershire sauce
rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
salt & pepper
1/2 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 1/2 cup cold water
Rice or noodles for serving


Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil over medium-high heat in either a wok or large pan. I use an Everyday Pan from Calphalon although I do have a wok, somewhere. The everyday pan rocks:

Okay, heat the oil and then add the onions and bell peppers. Toss in about a clove of garlic, mashed. Then add the mushrooms and keep tossing everything around. Finally, add the water chestnuts and bean sprouts. Cook to your desired stir-fryness then remove to a bowl and keep warm. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the chicken. Its probably going to stick at first, unelss you have the pan really hot. That’s okay, just let it cook until the pan lets go. After the chicken is completely cooked through, add it to the vegetables in that bowl.

Return your pan to the heat and add 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to get all the good bits scraped up off the bottom. Add 2 cloves of garlic, the ginger, 1 tsp sesame oil, a tablespoon of soy sauce and a splash or two of the fish sauce. You could add a hot pepper in here too, now would be the time.

Cook to a light sauce then add 1/2 cup broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook 1-2 minutes. This should be enough sauce (after thickening) for the ingredients above but you can always add more broth to stretch it out. Add the water-corn starch slurry and stir to combine. Return your vegetables and chicken to the pan. The sauce will thicken up and coat everything nicely.

I served our stir-fry over vermicelli rice noodles- very thing clear noodles that you often see in Thai soups. These are nice because you just soak them in very hot water for 10 minutes, drain and serve.


I use tamari soy sauce, the Japanese style, as I don’t think its overly salty and its low in wheat (sometimes wheat free, depending on the brand). Please, please, please don’t use soy sauce made from hydrolyzed soy protein. I don’t even really know what that is but you’ve ever had soy sauce that is watery and salty with no other taste profile, that’s probably the problem.

Obviously, this recipe could be made with any number of vegetables and protein choices. The multiple steps of cooking the vegetables then the meat and finally doing the sauce may seem a bit tedious but its worth it in the end. You get a nice sauce using leftover bits of meat and vegetables; it coats everything without overcooking the vegetables. Bear in mind, stir-fry veggies should still be crisp and have a nice bright color.

Caribbean Grill Stir Fry

In a perfect example of fusion cooking, I made a Caribbean Grill- Stir Fry dinner tonight.

First, we had some turkey marinating in Caribbean Jerk sauce.  It had been marinating since Sunday so it was definitely time to use it.

Second, I needed to use some of my bok choy and water spinach from the Farmer’s Market last week.

I convinced myself that this would work perfectly.  And it almost did.

To refresh, the turkey had been marinating in Caribbean Jerk sauce since Sunday. As it turns out, this is just a little too long. We’ve used this marinade before and its pretty good on grilled meats. However, like many marinades, it has acids in it to tenderize the meat. Know what happens when the acid works overtime? You end up with ceviche of a sorts.

the citric acid causes the proteins in to become denatured, which pickles or “cooks” the meat/fish without heat.

Ceviche made with shrimp is quite good- I’ve made it before. Chicken “acid-cooked” then under the broiler for 10 minutes is a little tougher to swallow- literally. Fortunately, the red bell pepper and onion slices I also put under the broiler came out quite tasty.  Isn’t this beautiful?

Perfect Grilled Onion
Perfect Grilled Onion


Now for the stir-fry part of the meal! I researched recipes using water spinach but didn’t find much beyond “stir fry with garlic.” So, that is what I did.


1 bunch water spinach, bottom of stalks removed (the thicker parts
1 head of baby bok choy, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, sliced or chopped, your choice
garlic & ginger, mashed together
cooking oil (peanut, canola, vegetable, olive- whatever’s handy)
sesame oil
tamari soy sauce


Heat 1-2 teaspoons of the cooking oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan.  Add the garlic-ginger mash and saute about 30 seconds then add the onoin.  Continue to cook 2-3 minutes more before adding the bok choy.  Sprinkle some sesame oil over the vegetables, add more garlic and ginger if you want.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the water spinach to the pan.  Keep the leaves moving in the pan, tossing with the bok choy and onions.  When the spinach is wilted but still a nice bright green, toss with a teaspoon of soy sauce and garnish with Gomasio.


Notice no salt? Gomasio is a Japanese condiment made with salt.  I use the garlic version but you can get it plain, with seaweed added and other varietes from Eden Foods.  A quick and simple lunch I like is 1/2 an avocado, mashed and mixed with canned tuna, chopped tomatoes and Gomasio then served on crackers or rice cakes.


Caribbean Grill Stir Fry
Caribbean Grill Stir Fry