Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beet Carpaccio and Savory Oatmeal


We woke up to the most beautiful fall morning. The air was crisp, and there was a gentle breeze and not a cloud to be seen. I love a cloudless blue sky day. There is just something about waking up to the perfect weather to put me in a great mood.

Since it was Saturday (our only day to sleep in) we didn’t get up until 8 which is what happens when you are completely involved in a conversation at midnight. It seems like my husband and I could talk for hours. Whoever said men don’t have much to say should see us in action. ;-)

We started the morning with a nice mug of hot green tea with a little ascorbate C powder to keep the EGCG bioavailable longer. While we sipped tea I preheated the oven and started beets roasting for a salad with my parents at mid-day. I thought today would be a good day to make my version of Ian’s beet carpaccio. I am going to add a few things and take others away. Hopefully I don’t change the entire feel of the dish because we both enjoyed the original but I want to make a version that is my own.

Food thoughts:

Last night I was doing little research on a product I have not had before. Any guesses what this is? The only hint I will give you is that it is sold for human consumption and it is vegan.

INGREDIENTS:  Soy protein concentrate, dehydrated onion, soy sauce granules (soy sauce [water, wheat, soybeans, salt], maltodextrin, salt), yellow cornmeal, spices, dehydrated garlic, tomato powder, masa harina (ground corn treated with lime), sea salt, less than 2% of brown rice syrup solids, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, onion powder, maltodextrin, caramel color, salt, yeast extract, natural flavors, torula yeast, modified food starch, vinegar solids, celery powder, jalapeno powder, hydolized soy protein, lactic acid, silicon dioxide (anticaking). Contains wheat, soy.

Would I eat this? Not if I knew what I was eating. I wanted to highlight the ingredient list because when I read it to my husband last night (the less health concerned half of this family) even he said it sounded like a science project. This is why it is so important to read labels. Just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it is fit for human (or animal) consumption.

When I first became vegan I foolish thought that vegan food was healthier than omni food. That is so far from true it is sad. It is just as easy to be an unhealthy vegan in America as it is an unhealthy omnivore.

So what is wrong with this product? The first problem is the main ingredient is soy protein concentrate. First we know it isn’t organic which means it is undoubtedly “Roundup ready technology soy”. Nothing like knowing which pesticide is in your food. *rolls eyes* Additionally it is processed soy protein which elevates IGF-1 and you don't want that. The third ingredient listed is sodium. It contains two forms of sugar, brown rice syrup and maltodextrin. I am always suspicious of products that use more than one type of sugar.

I am not naming the product because I don’t want to hear from any corporate lawyers and I don’t think the specific product is important. The reason I listed the ingredients was to show you what is actually in a product that claims to be “natural”. This product doesn’t sound overly natural to me.

This is why the vast majority (probably over 95%) of what we eat is whole food in the form of produce, whole unprocessed grains, beans, nuts or seeds. When you eat a diet like that you don’t need to read the fine print on a box or bag.

I hope looking at the ingredient list of the “natural” vegan product above resonates with some of you. Just because a food is vegan doesn’t mean it is good for you. As you can guess this is a serious hot button issue for me. A vegan diet can be the healthiest diet on the planet, or it can be garbage and only you can decide what happens at your house.


Dan was busy logged into to work from home because there is a computer upgrade is going on. Our phone rang early (it was the office) and a 20 minute task turned in to multiple hours. How my husband gets stuck with miscellaneous computer tasks since he isn’t IT is beyond me. It isn’t like he has all the free time in the world. *rolls eyes*

Dan had planned to run to the plumbing supply house this morning for an unusual part he needed for our old (okay over 100 year old) house. Of course it closed at noon so by the time he was finished with work he needed a smoothie to go and had to run out the door.

For breakfast I made Dan a green smoothie of: 4 kale leaves/stems roughly chopped, 2 frozen bananas, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, 1 handful of walnuts, water to process and a little stevia. I poured this into a mason jar and he ran out the door to the plumbing supply house. Thankfully he made to the store on time and all the plumbing is now functioning as intended. It is so nice to have a handy husband.

For my breakfast I had something similar but with a twist. Friday on Twitter Ricki (Diet, Dessert and Dogs) mentioned adding cranberries to smoothies and that sounded interesting to me. I always find banana smoothies to be a little too sweet so I wanted to try it. My smoothie this morning contained: 4 kales leaves/stems roughly chopped, 1 frozen banana, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and water to process. Once this was completely smooth I added two small handfuls (somewhere between ¼ and ½ cup) and processed until they were just broken up because I didn’t want the smoothie to be the color of mud. ;-) I really liked the tartness they added to the smoothie.


We had my parents over for lunch and I served the lentil and barley soup from the other day and both of my parents liked it. The fact that they liked the soup was a minor miracle considering their typical unhealthy omni diet.

To accompany the soup I made my version of Ian’s beet carpaccio. Since I wasn’t certain if he cooked the beets or not I roasted mine just to be safe. Looking at color difference I am fairly certain Ian’s were raw. Next time I will change that. This is going to be a method rather than a recipe.

You can either roast the beets or slice them thinly raw (use a mandoline). Lay the very sliced beets on the base of a plate by slightly overlapping so the entire plate is covered. To dress the beets I combined the juice of ½ half and orange with a fat tablespoon of pomegranate molasses and whisked until it was smooth. Next I thinly sliced a fennel bulb (also on the mandoline) and added that and baby arugula to the dressing and tossed to coat. I placed this salad on top of the beets. Now zest the orange and set that aside. Peel the orange and cut it into bit sized pieces. I stopped supreming oranges after reading of the health benefits of the orange membrane in the oncologist’s office. Finish the salad with the orange pieces, sliced almonds, a few slivers of olive and the orange zest. I also sprinkled a little sumac on top the salad but that is optional.

Everyone enjoyed this salad and unlike usual I didn’t add any olive oil to my parent’s servings and they still liked it. I guess that means this is an omni approved dish. ;-)


Our snack today was a simple appetizer plate of cucumber slices, carrot sticks, fat free hummus and a few walnuts. This is the picture of my plate Dan had more walnuts since he seems to need extra calories to keep weight on.


What a shock this will be, we had a big salad for dinner. This one contained: shredded romaine, thinly sliced cucumber, thinly sliced carrot, avocado, fat free hummus, salsa, walnut parmesan and dehydrated leeks. We both loved this salad though I don’t really know what made this salad so special, but it was a good flavor and texture combination.

Sunday morning:

Brrrr, it was cold this morning. It was another one of those days where I thought I dressed warmly enough but no go. Jeans, one of Dan’s heavy cotton oxford shirts and flats without socks was not warm enough this morning. I found myself holding the empty canvas bags in front of me to keep me warm. Since it was 51 degrees when we got home it was no surprise this outfit was not enough to keep my warm. Fall is here without a doubt.

We left for the farmers’ market at 6:17 this morning and were there long before the official start time of 7 am. When we arrived Rudy (Cat’s Paw Organic) hadn’t unloaded the truck yet. He was delayed by road construction this morning. Dan jumped into the truck and we had things unloaded in well under 5 minutes.

From Rudy this morning we picked up acorn squash, cucumbers, kale, red bell peppers, beets and cauliflower. I was so happy to see the cauliflower, I love that stuff. ;-)

Next we went over to Calvert Farm to see Pam and Paul and get our Fall CSA goodies. There we picked up: carrots, shitakes, more kale, eggplants, the most gorgeous green celery with beautiful dark leaves, and green onions.

Then we needed to pick up another 25 pound box of tomatoes to dehydrate. Hard to imagine I am still doing that isn’t it? I have 8 quarts (started as 100 pounds) of them so far but that won’t last all winter. We talked to the farmer and they will have boxes of Romas until the first frost which I hope is still a few weeks away. *fingers crossed*


About a month ago my vegan dietitian buddy Courtney mentioned savory oatmeal. Since it was hot and I was having smoothies most mornings I didn’t get around to trying it until this morning. Savory oatmeal is absolute genius! Thank you so much for sharing that Courtney, I LOVE IT! I tried to talk Dan into the savory oatmeal this morning but he wanted his usual wild blueberry and walnut oatmeal. Can you tell Dan is not the most culinary adventurous half of this marriage? LOL

My oatmeal this morning contained: ½ cup oats, 1 cup water, about a cup chopped broccoli (I used frozen that I defrosted), nutritional yeast to taste, and 1 clove garlic finely minced. I cooked this until the oats were soft. Next I stirred in 1 tablespoons of ground flaxseed and topped the dish with salsa and walnut parmesan. This was so good there were no words to describe it. I absolutely loved it! I hope some of you give this a try.

Signing out:

I need to get moving and figure how what I am making for the 3pm meal with my parents. I will be back soon to let you know what I came up with.


  1. I've often thought about putting a savory spin on oatmeal, but never actually tried it. Why not, right? When you think about it, jook and okayu (different variations of rice porridge) are similar in concept, and are also delicious. Anyway, your oatmeal looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it, Ali.

  2. Tiffany,

    The savory oatmeal seriously exceeded my expectations. This will definitely be happening often at our house. It is like jook only much quicker which is always good. I hope you like it as much as I did.


  3. From the color of photo, I had thought that the orange sections were grapefruit, lol. Both would be good, I am sure, but the orange sounds lovely as well. I am glad it was a hit with your parents!

    I am so happy you liked the savory oats idea! It is good, right?!? Maybe your enthusiasm about it will be enough to get Dan to try it next time :-) He likes veggies in his smoothies and juice, so why not his oatmeal? Even if he never tries it, I am glad you did :-)

    I hope your day is going well,

  4. Courtney,

    Grapefruit would have been wonderful in the salad but it interacts with too many meds so I tend to avoid it for others. The flavor combo would be fantastic.

    I raved enough about the savory oats that Dan has agreed to try it tomorrow. We will see what he thinks. I can't imagine why it wouldn't love it as much as I do, LOL. No pressure Dan. ;-)

    My day is going well, I hope yours is too,

  5. Your savory oatmeal looks wonderful. Also, I tried your vinegar, dijon, stevia dressing last night over a greek salad and it was great!!! Have nice meal with your parents:)))

  6. Hi Ali! Love what you wrote about the ingredient list (can I guess what it is? vegan bologna slices? first thing that came to my mind...not that it makes me want to eat it!). Isn't it great knowing that most of what you consume comes from plants and whole foods and from scratch so we don't have to rely on those products? That's what I love the most about cutting out sugar and pretty much eliminates most of my weird scientific sounding choices : )

  7. Aimee,

    I hope you try the savory oatmeal it blew me away it was so good. I mentioned it to father and he looked at me very suspiciously. Clearly it isn't for everyone. LOL

    Thank you SO much for letting me know you tried my impromptu honey mustard, no honey! I love how easy that is and I think it tastes good too.

    Thanks we had a nice meal with my dad. He likes it when I make "cream" of tomato soup with rice which I did today.

    enjoy what is left of your weekend,

  8. Stephanie,

    Great guess but that isn't it. Now I am curious what that product ingredient list looks like though, LOL.

    I like traditional soy food, but the processed soy protein stuff scares the heck out of me which I am sure you guessed by now. It is nice knowing the food I make is not a science project. When did we stop eating "food" in this country?

    I made a rule a couple years ago that if I didn't know what an ingredient was I wouldn't buy the product. Having two degrees in finance means my science knowledge is a bit lacking. My rule cut out most processed food and that is a good thing from everything I have read since I made that rule.

    hope you are having a good weekend,

  9. I've never made a savory oatmeal. I keep wanting to but then start to question what I'd add to it. And you are so right about people just assuming all vegetarian/vegan foods are healthy. I say it all the time that you can be just as unhealthy as a veg/vegan as a meat-eater.

  10. Heather,

    If my first attempt at savory oatmeal is any indication anything you want to add will be amazing. This was total comfort food in a bowl.

    It is odd that most omnivores think vegetarians and vegans must be healthy but not so much. I could tell you stories of the vegetarian I used to work with who was obviously the most unhealthy person in the department. It was very sad and caused me to think twice about vegetarianism as a possible lifestyle until I learned how to go about it and be healthy.

    hope you are enjoying your weekend,

  11. walter was watching that show on netflix where they talk about the round up ready corn. he was pretty sickened by that. yay for staying up late and talking:) there is no topic walter wont talk with me for hours over. he can sometimes out-talk me!

  12. Michelle,

    The "Roundup Ready Technology Food" is SO wrong on many levels. Good to hear Walter is getting on board too. Which movie are you referring to? I want to make sure I didn't miss it. LOL

    Dan can out talk me when he wants to as well and that isn't easy. But he has to be in the mood to chat. ;-)

    hope you are having a nice weekend,

  13. Uh-oh, that ingredient list is probably from something in my fridge right now. (or freezer? or pantry?) I'm improving, though, and my homemade, whole-food soysages are better (and cheaper) than what I can buy. Alex eats more of that convenience stuff than I do, but we both do from time to time. Right now I'm just tickled to keep meat out of the house and keep him happy. I guess it's worse to know something is bad and eat it anyway.

    The beet dish looks good; I've only ever had pickled beets. I actually have some now that I need to use, so I might try your method.

  14. Jessica,

    I hope that ingredient list isn't in your house. But we are all a work in process on everything, including nutrition. Dan and I were not always this healthy, just go back a year and look at my recipes and you will see that it is true. ;-)

    Convenience food tends to be a bit of trap. Once you start buying it somehow it keeps showing up, like a bad penny.

    Have fun with beet idea. I hope you like the way it works.


  15. Ali, the beet carpaccio is very similar to a salad I had at a fine French restaurant in Pittsburgh for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. Mine was thin slices of red and white and variegated beet decorated with tiny herbs and all with a bit of lemon oil, which is a very interesting flavor (no tartness). I know you don't "do" oil when you can help it, but perhaps that might give you an inspirational thought . . . :-)


  16. The nutritionist here at work mentioned savory oatmeal. I've been meaning to try it!

  17. Very cool that you simulated Ian's beet carpaccio, looks good! That's pretty interesting that he likely used raw beets. I haven't had raw beets aside from the shredded variety.

    I'm not too sure about that oatmeal. I love broccoli, nutritional yeast and all that good stuff, but.. :)

  18. Cindy,

    The variegated beets are called chiogga or candy stripe beets. I looked for organic ones at the farmers market yesterday and couldn't find any. =( I thought they would be gorgoeous, great minds think a like. LOL

    The funny thing about oil is that as much as I used to covet unfiltered extra virgin olive oil I not only don't miss oil now I don't like it when I do have it. Food with oil just tastes greasy to me now. Never thought I would say that! It is crazy how much my taste buds have changed. Honestly I never expected them to change as much as they have. I was a hard core foodie.

    Thanks sharing your birthday dish, the salad sounds beautiful. I would have loved to see it. Happy belated birthday!


  19. Neca,

    I had never considered savory oatmeal until Courtney suggested it. Honestly my first reaction was "What?". However I am glad I tried it because I loved it. Any time I can find a yummy way to add more veggies to breakfast I am thrilled, LOL. I swear I am not right. ;-)

    Lucky you having a nutritionist at work. I would be spending lots of time chatting with her at lunch. ;-)

    hope you are having a good Monday,

  20. Sarah,

    Thanks, I was happy with my version of Ian's dish. I know what he put in his if you are interested let me know. Mine is healthier, but I think just as delicious.

    I wasn't too sure about savory oatmeal either. However the first bite was enough to convince me I was wrong. I hope you try it, I think you will be very surprised.


  21. I'm eating savory oatmeal right now. Wow! It's so delicious. I'll admit I was skeptical about the idea, but I'm so glad I tried it. At first I didn't add the salsa but after 2 bites I went back and added it -- I think it added quite a lot. I will be making this often. THANKS!

  22. Elizabeth,

    Yay, I am so glad you liked it too! :-) Thank you for leting me know. I was skeptical too but I loved it.


  23. im more like Dan:) i dont like changing up my food that much.

  24. I'm maltodextrin intolerant (severe GI symptoms) and found a whole host of others online reporting similar symptoms, many more severe than mine. I started a Facebook page to educate the public, not only in case they are having the mysterious symptoms which doctors refuse to accept as a maltodextrin intolerance, but also to teach what and how to eat. It's working. My Facebook page is called Maltodextrin Intolerance Awareness. Pretty much I am posting links to articles on maltodextrin that my RSS feed is showing.

  25. Michelle,

    You are far more adventurous than Dan. I remember when you tried the maca and peanut butter powder. ;-)

    I think you may be surprised by how good the savory oats actually are, especially given how much you like broccoli and nooch. LOL


  26. Susan,

    I had never heard of a maltodextrin intolerance thanks for sharing that it exists.

    We gave up processed food for overal health (no intolerances). We both feel so much better not eating "science projects" I can't imagine going back to them for any reason.



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