Monday, January 30, 2017

Cacao Nib Mexican Chocolate Pudding

This Cacao Nib Mexican Chocolate Pudding is easy and tastes so much better than store bought pudding. It has a great kick to it with cacao nibs, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper - one way to spice up Valentine's Day and impress your better half.
Cacao Nib Mexican Chocolate Pudding | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
When I first saw the word cacao, I assumed someone had made a typo and swapped the a's and o's, meaning to say cocoa instead. Cocoa powder is actually cacao roasted at high temperatures. Supposedly, cacao powder has more fiber and calories than cocoa powder because the nutrients from the whole bean are still intact.
Cacao Nib Mexican Chocolate Pudding | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Cacao nibs have a chocolatey taste, but they're definitely much less sweet. The nibs contain theobromine, the bitter alkaloid part of the plant. This is found in tea and the component is similar to coffee. Theobromine means "food (broma) of the gods (theo)", which is a pretty apt description for chocolate, tea, and coffee. (source).
Cacao Nib Mexican Chocolate Pudding | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Cacao's impact on cognitive function, blood pressure, heart health, and mood has been published in Circulation, the New England Journal of MedicineJAMA Internal MedicineNature.

For my non-scientist/doctor readers, those journals are super prestigious - if you publish here, it's a huge career win. So clearly chocolate is important to us (and I'd happily volunteer to be a subject in their studies).
B feels like eating cacao nibs is like eating chocolate dirt, and the bitterness is somewhat of an acquired taste. If you love dark chocolate over sugary chocolates, then you'll enjoy cacao's flavors. I do eat occasionally cacao nibs straight up, but prefer to eat cacao as a topping, especially with chocolate items since the flavors go excellently. 

Cacao Nib Mexican Chocolate Pudding

3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 cup Dutch cocoa powder
3/5 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cacao nibs

In a medium bowl, beat your egg yolks and set aside.

In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the cocoa, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and 2 cups of the milk. Stir constantly as it boils and thickens, about 8-10 min to avoid lumps. Reduce the heat to low.

Pour some of the hot mixture into another bowl with your egg yolks, then stir the egg yolks back into the hot mixture to temper it (slowly cook it without scrambling). Stir constantly until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding. Add the remaining 1-2 cups of milk to reach your desired thickness. Mix in the cinnamon, cayenne pepper and vanilla extract. Remove from the heat.

Place plastic wrap over the saucepan to prevent a skin from forming, and then cool (I chilled mine in the fridge overnight). To serve, spoon into ramekins and top with cacao nibs. Enjoy!
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Almond Banana Smoothie Bowl

In residency, a "while cloud" is someone who brings good luck to work - patients always get better, call days are never capped, and workflow goes smoothly. A "black cloud" is one who meets angry nurses, has terrible call days, patients keep crashing, and has general bad luck all around. These are all self perceived of course, but residents are superstitious folk.

I was a white cloud on MICU. No code blues for the whole team and no deaths on my side for my whole month ...  except for one, on my very last day.
Almond Banana Smoothie Bowl | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Mr. M was the first patient I pre-rounded in my first day of MICU, and he passed on my very last day.

A young man in his late 40s with the bad luck of progressing heart and lung failure by genetics, his mind was completely untouched as he was dying. Right up to the end, he could sketch in his art book, surf on his iphone, and stroll about the unit, hooked up to life sustaining machines and medications.
Almond Banana Smoothie Bowl | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
He "felt great" despite his illness - asymptomatic, except for occasional shortness of breath. Over the month, I got to know him and his lovely family, who were full of hope he'd get out despite many dismal goals of care discussions. 

He looked astonishingly well, but his oxygen support requirements and heart tests told us otherwise; he was tied to the ICU with 3 pressors to maintain his shock and fully depending on his oxygen mask, unable to be off more than 30 seconds without fainting. He could never leave the ICU. 

And there comes a point where 'life' is no life at all, but how do you tell a dying young man who doesn't feel like he's dying at all that it's his time? 
Almond Banana Smoothie Bowl | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Normally I talk to the family of dying patients about letting the patient pass away; but it's rare to talk to those dying themselves that it's time for you to let go. I can't imagine more stressful decision in one's life - when are you ready for death? - with your family waiting for your answer. 

Several hours later, while I was in another patient's family meeting discussing hospice care, I was paged multiple times in a row by Mr. M's nurse requesting me to come urgently. After our discussion on his life that morning, Mr. M had chosen "it was time,"; his family and friends had come and gathered around him. His father insisted the we take a photo together on his ipad, and I stood next to his bed smiling in one of his last pictures. 

Once the oxygen was off, he quickly passed peacefully.

And while it was truly for the best, it was a poignant feeling to pronounce my first death as a doctor on someone whom I had grown so attached to. Through her own tears, his sister joked, "Doctors aren't supposed to cry," but I couldn't help it. It was so final to sign the official death certificate, when I had just sketched his in artbook with him a few days prior.
Almond Banana Smoothie Bowl | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
While I did enjoy MICU and matured a lot as a doctor, it was a demanding rotation - mentally, physically, and emotionally - and I'm relieved to be done and have some time to recharge. I'm sharing this Almond Banana Smoothie Bowl recipe - something quick, easy, and beautiful to prepare when you (or someone else) needs a quick pick me up.

Almond Banana Smoothie Bowl

2 small ripe bananas, frozen
2 cups almond milk
1 cup ice
1/2 cup roasted almonds
toppings: blueberries, cacao nibs, banana slices, almonds

Cut the frozen bananas into thirds to make blending easier. In a blender, blend the bananas, almond milk, ice, and almonds until smooth. Adjust ingredient ratio to desired consistency.

Pour your almond banana smoothie into a small bowl. Top with blueberries, cacao nibs, banana slices, almonds. Enjoy!
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Monday, January 16, 2017

Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, and Goat Cheese

My new year resolution is to lose the 10 pounds that I unfortunately gained the last year of med school (too many interview dinners!) and which has stubbornly remained during intern year so far.
Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, and Goat Cheese I Obsessive Cooking Disorder
I confess, I haven't really cooked in a month because I've been eating almost every meal at our hospital cafeteria while in the medical ICU.

Most people are unimpressed by hospital food, but our cafeteria is pretty good actually. My go to lunch choice is the make-your-own salad bar. Salads always seem to taste better when made by someone else, plus they have so many ingredients. 

I've stopped exercising because when you come home super late everyday, and have to wake up early the next day, the last thing that I want to do is running / lifting / doing push ups. 

Also, because, sleeping and eating ice cream sounds more appealing when you come home after a 28 hour call with no sleep.
Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, and Goat Cheese I Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Cutting back on calories is much easier than burning them, so that's been my plan for those tough rotations. Luckily, I've finally finished MICU and have a little bit more time now as I'll be starting elective! 

While it was a great experience, and I learned a ton (and I really do believe you need the long hours to gain the clinical acumen to be a proficient doctor in residency), I definitely look forward to having time to make more of my own meals :)Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, and Goat Cheese I Obsessive Cooking Disorder
This Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, and Goat Cheese is inspired by Ambitious Kitchen, who came up with the amazing combination of fun ingredients. Pomegranate, roasted butternut squash, and goat cheese, make this a hearty fall or winter salad to keep you going through those long workdays (and maybe just a step up fancier than those cafeteria salads).

Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, and Goat Cheese 

1/2 pound butternut squash, cubed
1 teaspoon olive oil
cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper, to taste
1 large bunch of kale, stemmed and finely chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
3 tablespoons goat cheese
1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoons honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine butternut squash cubes, olive oil, and spices, and roast for 20 min until soft.

Pour your kale into a bowl. Stir all your dressing ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Pour dressing all over the chopped kale and toss. When you are about to serve, arrange your salad on a plate, and top with your roast butternut squash, pomogranate, goat cheese, and almonds. Enjoy!

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Persimmon Panna Cotta

Happy New Year everyone! I've been quiet on the blog since I'm in the medical ICU this month and it's been busy.

Also, my family came to visit me on the East coast for the holidays! Although our time together was brief because I'd get home late and wake up early, I'm grateful for any time together during the holiday (I had to work Christmas eve and day and it would have been depressing to spend it alone as B was on call and thus stuck in New York)
Persimmon Panna Cotta | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
My family came during Christmas time as dad's clinic was closed for a few days and my siblings were off school. When mom was planning the schedule, I told her that I was going to be in the MICU and my hours would be bad. Mom booked it anyway, and when dad found out afterwards that I was on MICU, the conversation went like this:

Dad: What's the point of visiting Natalie when she's on the ICU? We'll never see her! We should visit another time.
Mom: Nah, I'm sure she'll get off early.
Dad: You don't ever get off early in the ICU. You only get off late.

Clearly, you can tell who's the doctor and who's not lol.
Persimmon Panna Cotta | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Wherever my family goes, we eat. A lot. Mostly bad, unhealthy foods because we're all sweet tooths. New Haven has a lot of great eats, and everyday we ate out New Haven pizza, local ice cream parlors, apple cider doughnuts, lots of chocolates, and more. On my one day off, we headed down to NYC and ate even more delicious as B took us on a food tour.
Persimmon Panna Cotta | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Now it's New Year, and I've gained a pound or few (or many), but what's one more dessert? Panna Cotta is a chilled Italian sweet cream dessert and often paired with fruit. It's quite easy to make and can be made ahead of time so it's perfect for parties and hosting.
Persimmon Panna Cotta | Obsessive Cooking Disorder
I had a lot of persimmons around because I discovered Costco was selling them. I pureed my esxtra ripe persimmons to top the panna cotta (recipe adapted from Gourmet). Looking forward to a great 2017 everyone - now it's time to diet afterwards.

Persimmon Panna Cotta

1/2 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoons cold water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup half and half
1/8 to 1/4 cup sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 persimmons
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water (adjust to desired thickness)
mint, to garnish

In a small saucepan, mix gelatin with the water for 1 minute, then heat gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Remove pan from heat.

In a large saucepan bring cream, half and half, and sugar just to a boil while stirring. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla. Divide your panna cotta amongst glasses or ramekins and let cool to room temp. Chill your panna cotta, covered, at least 4 hours.

For the fruit coulis, puree/blend your persimmon with lemon juice, honey, and water. Carefully pour your persimmon coulis over your chilled panna cotta. Garnish with mint and serve immediately. Enjoy!
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