Friday, April 30, 2010

The sore throat adventure

We got up this morning and Dan was still not feeling great. While we waited to hear back from the doctor I started to wonder what to give him for breakfast since he throat was sore and raw. I decided to make a quick peanut butter and banana smoothie. I processed ½ cup of oats into flour in the Vitamix. Next I added a frozen banana, 2 tablespoons of reduced fat peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of brown rice protein powder, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds, and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon. Next I added water until it is the consistency I wanted. If you need extra sweetness add a little stevia or a pitted date. This is nothing fancy but if you throat is sore it does provide nourishment.


To go with this we had our usual clove of minced garlic for its antibacterial and anticancer properties. That is even more important now with the “potential strep throat”. We also had another green juice (spinach, carrot, celery, apple, lemon and ginger) before we left for the doctor. I wanted him to have some nutrition before we went out.

Dan’s doc was quick order an antibiotic, and lab work. We also wanted to get it cultured to confirm it. So off we went to the doctor. How do doctor appointments and lab work turn into an all day affair? They always do though don’t they? We didn’t leave the doctor’s office until 4:05pm. Since we were near Marshalls I wanted to run in and grab a pair of jeans. Mine are getting big so I knew I would need a smaller size soon and I hate to pay full price. Fortunately they had Liz Claiborne jeans for $19.99 and I grabbed them along with a pair of khakis, and two more pair of yoga pants. Is it no wonder I have over a dozen pairs of workout pants. I buy them every time I go out, or at least is seems that way. ;-)

Next I went to the kitchen department. This is where I get into trouble every time. They had quite a few things that I NEEDED. So in the cart they went.

I found some detox green tea.


And some white tea.


Then some more white tea.


Who could resist 6 tasting spoons for $3.00? Not me obviously.


I also picked up a small container of trail mix. By now we were both starving and this was the best thing I could find. It was surprisingly low in sugar and l loved that the nuts and seeds were mostly raw. We ate half of it in the car on the way to the health food store.


Finally, I found the more adorable eco to go cups. They are ceramic with silicon sleeves and a silicon lid and look just like the paper version. Not that we needed these but they were so cute I had to buy them.


After Marshalls we stopped at the health food store. By now we were famished. Once again we got the California wrap with hummus and lentil burger.


To go with that we ordered the blood regenerator. The juice made of carrot, beet and romaine is so good we can’t seem to resist it.


There is one item from the health food store I am holding back on. It will be a topic of post tomorrow. You will all be as amazed as I was, or at least I hope you will. ;-)

Finally, we stopped at Wegman’s since I needed some organic potatoes. Laloofah mentioned mashed potatoes and with Dan’s sore throat that sounded like something great to have on hand. There was no way I could buy only potatoes. While I was there I also grabbed some beets for our juice, eggplant for caponata (recipe to follow this weekend), and Tuscan melon for cold soup. However, my favorite grocery purchase this evening was sea beans. I love sea beans and they had them again tonight. I bought them all. Those will be on the menu this weekend since Dan and I both love them.

Dan is so cute he insisted that I try on the jeans once we got home. I resisted since I didn’t think they would fit yet but he persisted and I gave in. Here is the best part, they fit! I was quite pleased with this. I know it is a girl thing but buying smaller clothes (and having them fit) always puts a huge smile on my face. I was practically doing the happy dance.

Since we had “lunch” at 5:30pm dinner is bound to be quite late tonight. But I wanted to give you a quick update on what is happening. Dan is very content in the other room watching sci-fi that he had DVR’d previously. All the cats are keeping him company while I write this post.

Next on my to do list is beginning the process of detoxifying the house. I opened the windows as soon as we got home and started airing things out. Thanks for the reminder to do this Brandi.

I will try to write up our dinner tonight but realistically it probably won’t be posted until tomorrow. Dinner tonight is probably going to be something over polenta so that it doesn’t bother Dan’s throat. I hope you are all having a great Friday. I will talk to you tomorrow if not sooner.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not the post I had planned to write


Tonight I should be writing about our dinner of small plates complete with the red wine marinated mushrooms that I made late this afternoon. Instead of mushrooms I am writing about strep throat. My husband came home from work tonight telling me he was having trouble swallowing and didn’t want crudités. Sure enough his throat has lovely white spots, coupled with swollen glands and a low grade fever. Tomorrow we will be going to the doctor (hopefully), and getting treatment started. I don’t expect to be around much tomorrow. But if I have any time in the kitchen I will post something.

For dinner tonight I made a quick soup in the Vitamix of:  4 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 bell pepper, ½ garlic clove, 1 tablespoon yellow onion, and a little wine vinegar. I processed this just until it was completely smooth and approximately room temperature so that the vitamin C did not deteriorate. I topped the soup with diced cherry tomatoes, crispy balsamic leeks and freshly ground black pepper. We followed this up with our usual fresh green juice (6 cups spinach, 5 carrots, 3 stalks celery, 1 apple, 1/2 lemon and 1 inch ginger) and our powdered green drink.  I also made Dan a chocolate banana smoothie (1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup oat flour, 2 T cocoa powder, 1 T ground flaxseed, 1 pitted date, cinnamon, water and ice) for the calories. Not a terribly inspiring dinner. However, we got a lot of nutrition without making a sore throat feel worse.

So much for the peace and calm of a day ago. As I said a few posts ago, there is always something going on here that keeps me on my toes. I will be back with another post as soon as I can. I hope you are having a more peaceful day at your house than I am. Good night and talk to you soon.

Spring has sprung in my yard!

On my walk to the store I was noticing that the neighborhood azaleas are just about at their peak. Spring in our neighborhood is so beautiful. Everyone seems to have some sort of flowering tree or bush. I planted some very unusual ones in our yard. People always stop me when I am gardening to ask what they are because of the colors.

Once I got home I grabbed my camera and went out into my yard to see if I could snap a few pictures. I even managed to capture the bees that were busy pollinating. Here are a few shots of the beautiful spring blossoms in my yard. They are all azaleas, and as you can see I have many of them and each one is a little different. I have planted them all very close to each other so the blossoms seem to intertwine. I hope the beautiful colors make you smile. They always do that for me.




 






 
 
I am going to make myself some lunch but I will be back later with a dinner post at a minimum.  I hope you are all having a great day.

When Selecting Produce Variety is Important

(pictured:  baby bok choy with fermented black bean sauce and cashews)

I have written about this subject before but this article caused me to think about the topic again this morning. It basically says that the foods we don’t normally buy may be more nutritious than what we do purchase.

In this particular study they show that in the typical western “carrots were the most common source of beta-carotene, oranges and orange juice the most common source of beta-cryptoxanthin, spinach the most common source of lutein/zeaxanthin, strawberries the most common source of ellagic acid and mustard the biggest provider of isothiocyanates.” However there are other foods that are greater sources of all of these. “Switching from carrots to sweet potatoes would nearly double beta-carotene intake, say the researchers. Similarly papaya contains 15 times more beta-cryptoxanthin than oranges, while kale has three times more lutein/zeaxanthin than spinach. Raspberries have three times more ellagic acid than strawberries and one cup of watercress contains as much isothiocyanate as four teaspoonfuls of mustard.”

This more recent study agrees with the other study I have been fascinated with recently that looked at the raw produce that can inhibit cancer cell growth in the lab. Those vegetables were again the less commonly consumed ones.  The list of those veggies is found in the link above.  Eating a variety of vegetables seems to be key to getting all the nutrition that we all need for good health.

A few years ago I was a on a quest to buy at least one different food each time I went to the grocery store. The reason I did this was to push us to consume produce we wouldn’t normally. My hope was that we would learn to enjoy new things. Surprisingly my plan worked and our palates stretched to meet the goal. Kale is still not my favorite raw green, but I buy it and we eat it and it is growing on us. ;-)

Eating a variety of foods makes certain that we are getting a broader spectrum of micronutrients. The next time you are going to the grocery store to pick up the “usual produce subjects” pick up one thing that you don’t normally buy. You may find out you like it and variety is always good. :-)

I have found that there are many recipes on the web no matter what you buy. Type the name of the veggie or fruit into google and many recipes will be there for you to choose from. I have found some interesting recipes that way.

The sun is out and the skies are blue today. I am going to walk to the grocery store to pick up a few things. I will be looking for something out the ordinary in the produce section. I hope you do the same the next time you are at the store. Talk to you all again soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Deconstructed Vegetable Sushi Salad


Today has been a reasonably calm day. I love warmish spring days like today when I can putter around and do whatever I want. A little additional sun would have been nice, but no rain so I am not complaining. All is well with my parents, knock on wood. I was actually able to accomplish some of the things on my to-do list. I love crossing items off my to-do list, which I realize is a little crazy. Honestly I am one of those people that will put something on my to-do just to cross it off. If any mental health professionals are reading I can imagine they are cringing now. ;-)

With my extra time I was able to begin reading the second of the two RAVE books that arrived about a week ago. There was also time to get through the second DVD that came with the books. As soon as I finish the second of the two books I will tell you a little about them and give you my review.

For some reason I have not been inspired to cook much lately. Dinners recently have been really easy fare. Today is no exception. Tonight I wanted sushi but I wasn’t in the mood to fiddle with rolling it, which was just more effort than I was prepared to give dinner today. Enter the brown rice vegetable sushi salad, which is destined to become a favorite at our house. If you love sushi but do not love making it this is the salad for you. It hits all the flavors of sushi without the trouble. When Dan came home he said, “Oh deconstructed sushi salad, good idea”. As soon as he said that I knew we had the name. It is much better than the truth, which was “I didn’t feel like making sushi salad.” You can call it whichever name you prefer. ;-) But I am going to stick with Dan’s idea, it sounds more appealing.

Of course I used brown rice since it is healthier than white. Then I seasoned it as though I was making sushi. Next I thought about what goes into my favorite sushi (nori, cucumber, avocado and asparagus) and added those to the salad. Spinach, savoy cabbage, celery and green onion were added for their cancer fighting properties and overall good nutrition. I included red bell pepper for a little sweetness and color. Edamame were added for protein and because we always order them when we get sushi so it made sense to me. The dressing in made of things that say Asian food to me. A little wasabi would also be good in the dressing but my hubby is not a fan. Here is what I did.

Deconstructed Vegetable Sushi Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

¾ cup brown rice (I used Brown Basmati)
1 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons mirin (or substitute rice wine vinegar and a little stevia)
6 cups baby spinach, julienned
1 cucumber, thinly sliced (quick pickled or plain)
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 savoy cabbage leaves, julienned
½ cup edamame, steamed and chilled
6 stalks asparagus, thinly sliced on the diagonal
½ bell pepper, julienned
1 tablespoon miso, or to taste
2 tablespoons pickled ginger, or to taste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or mirin, or to taste
½ avocado, cut into small cubes
2 sheets nori, julienned into bite sized strips

Directions:

Cook brown rice according to package directions. While the rice is still hot add the mirin and fluff the rice with a fork to distribute the flavors. Refrigerate the rice until needed.

Combine the vegetables (except the avocado and nori) .

Combine the dressing ingredients (miso, ginger and vinegar) in your blender and process until smooth.  Taste the dressing and adjust to your palate.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Add the avocado at the end so it does not get smashed.

To serve, top the salad with rice and then the sushi strips. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 485.34
Calories From Fat (19%) - 92.22

Total Fat - 12.05g
Saturated Fat - 1.84g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 456.1mg
Potassium - 1812.48mg
Total Carbohydrates - 92.72g
Fiber - 14.04g
Sugar - 8.2g
Protein - 17.79g

Comments:

Would I make this again? Absolutely! In fact I am wondering how often I will make sushi now that I know I can turn it into a salad in less time and get more nutrition. If you like vegetable sushi I think you will like this. It hits the flavor profile with less work. As I said earlier is destined to become a family favorite since we both really liked it. Expect to read about us eating this quite often. It is definitely a great one dish meal. I also think it will be perfect for the summer when I am not in the mood to eat hot food or cook. One of the best things about this salad is that it uses cold rice. I am quite happy I made extra sushi rice today. We will be enjoying this for a few days for lunch.

The nutrition stats are where this salad really shines. Each serving contains approximately 10, 275IU of vitamin A, 85mg of vitamin C, 215mg of calcium, 7.5mg of iron, 410mcg of folate, 512mcg of vitamin K, 455mg of phosphorus, 250mg of magnesium, and 19 mcg of selenium. When you also take into account the potassium, fiber and protein this is great salad nutritionally speaking. Move over taco salad there is a new player in town. ;-)

Unrelated note:

It was so nice to have a day with no unexpected events. I thoroughly enjoyed my low stress day. I was able to focus on things for myself like exercising, reading health books and watching health DVDs. Seriously this is my idea of nirvana.

As usual my hubby worked late. In this economy I realize that it is wonderful that he has a good job, but it would be nice to spend more time with him. There is nothing I like more than spending time with my husband. He is my best friend and we have fun no matter what we do even if it something mind numbing like grocery shopping. I hope some of you are lucky enough to be married to your best friend too.

Since I have received quite few emails asking what we eat on a daily basis I am going to summarize our food day here:

Breakfast: rolled oats cooked in water, topped with cinnamon, frozen wild blueberries, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed and a few walnuts with ½ serving of green drink powder

Lunch: Dinner leftovers from yesterday (the lentil and brown rice over spinach)

Dinner: Brown Rice Sushi Salad above

Snack: Fresh juice (spinach, wheat grass, carrot, apple, celery, lemon and ginger) and a ½ serving of green drink powder

As you can see nothing exciting just healthy food at our house. I try to make certain that we get enough calories and veggies each day while minimizing our fat intake. One thing that I continue to find as I read more about nutrition and health is that the closer your food intake gets to being 100% whole food plant based the better off you are going to be. We have also discovered that whole grains and beans are important in terms of getting adequate calories. When we aren’t consuming enough grains keeping weight on is difficult. If you are trying to lose weight I suggest cutting back on grains.

That is going to be it for me today. I am off to make some fresh juice and clean up the kitchen and enjoy a little time with my hubby. I hope you are having a good evening.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Indian Spiced Red Lentils and Brown Rice




First I want to thank everyone that commented or read my earlier post. Your words really touched me and I am so happy that some of you commented for the first time. I always wanted to believe that there were many more people out there that wanted to eat healthy food. Thank you for letting me know that I was correct.

As you may have guessed, all your wonderful comments started my day off on a high note. Then I spent a while talking about nutrition with my friend Sheila. It is always my favorite subject and I love her questions. She really makes me think through my position on things and helps me to focus and clarify the things that I now do without thinking. She has given me a great idea for a post that I need to start working on tonight before I forget her great question. Sheila thanks for keeping me honest!

While Sheila and I were on the phone the call waiting was beeping through and I was ignoring it because I was on the corded phone. I am using that more and more to avoid cordless phones of all types when possible. After the third beep in 10 minutes I knew I needed to find out what was going in. It was my parents. They had just discovered that the refrigerator had stopped working. Only child to the rescue! I immediately helped them to get everything into coolers and on ice. Dan came home and off we went to buy a refrigerator and bring it back and install it.

A side note for those of you in the market for appliances. Check out the Sears Appliance Outlets. We have picked up a few items there and have always been thrilled with the price. Today they had a couple gorgeous Jenn-Air Ranges I was coveting, along with a Subzero frig and Fischer Paykel dishwasher. They also had quite a few treadmills, elipticals and nice outdoor grills. The prices are great, and they will deliver.

After our unplanned appliance adventure my day was all thrown off. We didn’t finish with the process until after 6pm. At that time all I wanted was a mug of green tea and to put my feet up. At 7pm I realized I had done nothing to get dinner going. I hate it when that happens.

This is dish I used to make when we sailed. It can be made entirely from things in the pantry, although fresh items are great to have. When your kitchen is being remodeled you can make the dish in your rice cooker, I know this because I have done that too. If you are a college student this is great easy dish to have in your back pocket. Without further delay, here is what I made tonight for dinner:

Indian Spiced Red Lentils and Brown Rice
Serves 6 - very generously

Ingredients:

1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cups brown basmati rice
14 ounce can of tomatoes, liquid drained into a measuring cup
Enough water (with tomato liquid) to make 5 cups
¼ cup dried minced onions, or 1 onion, finely minced
½ teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cardamom powder, or 4 green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon crushed red peppers
Salt and pepper as desired
1 lime, zested and juiced – optional but strongly recommended

Optional ingredients not included in nutrition information below:

A few cherry tomatoes, halved, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Dehydrated leeks, for garnish
A few cashews, for garnish
Baby spinach for the bed, or any green

Directions:

Combine everything but the cilantro and lime and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and cook as you would brown rice. The exact time will depend on the type of pot you use. I tend to use enameled cast iron and the rice cooks in 35 minutes in that pan.

When it is time to serve remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves and fluff with a fork. Add the cilantro and lime zest and juice. You can use it as a base for seitan, or put in on top of greens. I have also added seitan sausage to this or baked tofu. There are many options. Tonight I served this on a bed of julienned baby spinach and topped it with cherry tomato halves, dehydrated leeks and a few cashews.

Nutritional Information (for beans and rice only):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 362.68
Calories From Fat (6%) - 23.5

Total Fat - 2.83g
Saturated Fat - 0.53g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 108.51mg
Potassium - 477.79mg
Total Carbohydrates - 72.39g
Fiber - 7.9g
Sugar - 2.45g
Protein - 13.73g

Comments:

This is an easy and flavorful dish but it not so flavorful that children won’t enjoy it. If you like a lot of flavor you can safely double the spices and tomatoes. In fact if you know you like Indian food I would suggest you start with double the spices. I have served the recipe, as written, to people that claim to not like Indian food, and they have liked it. Sometimes I double and sometimes I don’t, it all depends on my mood. Nothing like consistency right?

This dish came about because I needed things I could make on a sailboat when fresh produce was limited. If any of you sail you know the galley is small and confined and food storage is even tougher. I have many of these recipes from our years of sailing. It didn’t occur to me until today those recipes for be great for college students or anyone that doesn’t have a kitchen or hasn't been to the grocery store (this would have been wonderful during the blizzard if I had thought of it, LOL). Please let me know if these sorts of recipes interest any of you. I can put them into the rotation occasionally.

Unrelated note:

Do you feel like you know too much about my day? Was it TMI? I never really know where to draw the line.

I am going to clean up the kitchen and relax for a little while. I hope you all had a great day. I will chat with you tomorrow. Thank you again for all you wonderful comments earlier. They mean more to me than you know. :-)

First Blog Anniversary: 870 posts and 139 followers later

What a great year!

How did this happen? When I started this blog a year ago I had no idea what to write or if anyone would care to read it. The first three months of blogging were rough. I frequently felt as though I was talking to myself and considered shutting down the blog. Now I am very happy that I stuck it out and kept writing. I have “met” so many wonderful people through blogging. I appreciate every email and comment you send. Thank you all for your kindness and concern. It means more than you know.

Over the past year I have struggled to find my voice. As time has gone on I have moved to writing more like I speak. Early on my friends would tell me that I should write as I would talk to them so things weren’t so impersonal. Since my writing experience until the blog was confined to financial reports about monthly performance you can imagine that warm and fuzzy wasn’t exactly my writing style. Even after a year I still feel as though I am changing how and what I write and expect that will continue.

The reason I started this blog was two-fold. First, I knew that most vegan blogs weren’t healthy as I had tried to find healthy recipes to make and there weren’t many to be found. I started the blog because I assumed we couldn’t be the only family that wanted healthy vegan food. Second, I wanted to be able to share links to articles about health. When we were first faced with cancer I spent hundreds of hours looking for information and went to many different places for research. Even now that I have logged thousands of hours on the topic I still find the information to be in many disparate places and also be contradictory (that is so comforting, NOT). I thought others would find it useful to read about the current health studies as they are published which is why I write those quick health posts from time to time.

My husband and I decided to make our diet as healthy as we could tolerate. We have given up almost everything, meat, dairy, sugar, oil, and most flour in the hope of eating the most healthful diet that still tastes good. You will see many nutritionists and/or doctors that tell you that whole grain pasta and olive oil are healthy. If you aren’t currently staring cancer in the face they may not be a big deal. But I have read enough books and articles written by oncologists that I feel they are best eliminated or at a minimum very severely limited. Additionally, I worked in health care for many years as a hospital controller so I have had the opportunity to discuss nutrition with clinicians. When I ask them questions about diet and nutrition their responses were almost always the same. They acknowledge that consuming a healthy vegan diet is a good thing but in the next breath would tell me that most patients aren’t going to do it because they themselves could not eat that way for life. I have always thought that they shouldn’t be so quick to assume people can’t do something because it is difficult. They should give their patients all the information and let them decide what changes they can make. I try to do that same thing with my blog. I know that most Americans will find my cooking to be too restrictive, but for those that want to eat the healthiest diet possible (that still tastes good) I wanted to share what we eat. I think that the traffic that my blog has proven that there are many people that want to eat an extremely healthy diet. At least I choose to believe that and really hope that I am right.

On a very bright note the last appointment with our internist a few weeks had something almost miraculous occur. The doc knows that we eat a vegan diet and mentioned that his PSA was high and that he was trying to reduce his meat consumption and add more soy to his diet. I assume this came up since he knew we would be supportive and have suggestions. We chatted about nutrition and food for a while during the visit. It was very encouraging to us that a doctor would show interest in nutrition. Maybe there is reason to hope that the medical profession is making a connection between diet and health. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?

There is one thing that we have not completely given up yet, but we may one day. Both my husband and I love good Italian red wine. Those of you that know us know this is no exaggeration. Our wine cellar is stocked with good Brunello and Super Tuscans just begging to be opened. We both love the taste of red wine so I use a little in my cooking every now and then (maybe five or six times a year). Red wine has both good and bad aspects. The resveratrol it contains is good, but the alcohol is not. Since I don’t use it much, or often, I don’t get hung up on the small amount of alcohol in my dishes. This is one place where we are going to allow a little of something in our diet that I acknowledge would be better to eliminate. After all we could get the resveratrol from eating grapes but that isn't the same. Good wine adds such depth of flavor to food it will be difficult for me to completely eliminate it. Maybe one day this occasional luxury will also go, but not now.

On the topic of nutrition as many of you know I have started the plant based nutrition certification at Cornell since starting the blog. I hope that it fills in the gaps in my nutrition knowledge. I am excited to learn if there is any way to tweak our diet and take it to the next level. My other half is convinced there is little I will learn, but I am hopeful. Even if everything is a rehash it is always helpful to hear things from different people and in a different way. I will definitely let you all know if it is something you should consider as soon as it has finished in about a month.

One thing to keep in mind as you go back to my earlier recipes is that my cooking style has continued to change and evolve as I learn more about nutrition. My early recipes used a little oil, which is now off the table. If you find a recipe in my archives that you would like me to make an oil free version of let me know. I would be happy to modify the recipe to make it healthier for all of us.

I have a few questions for all of you that I hope you will have time to answer. Your answers will help me to write more posts that you may find useful or interesting. Here goes:

1) What medical conditions are you concerned about? Is is cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight loss, or something else? Is this something that you would like to see the current science when it turns up?


2) Do you have a favorite cuisine? It is Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Irish, Spanish or something else.


3) Do you have any favorite recipes that need a healthy make over? If you do go to my profile page, where you will find a link to my email, and send it to me. I would love to try to make it something that you can enjoy again.


4) Are there any other topics you would like to see me cover? If so, please let me know. If I know something about the topic I will be happy to share. It may take me a while to research but I will try to come up with a well researched answer.  BTW, I still have a few more difficult questions that I need to finish researching so I can post the answers.  You guys ask the best questions. I love your difficult questions that make me stretch to research and develop answers.

As always, thank you so much for reading. I am looking forward to reading your responses.

It is a beautiful sunny day here, finally. I am going to head outside to enjoy the sun and get some exercise. Talk to you all again later today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quick and Easy Red Bean Chili


Today has been one of those gray days where it looks as though it is going to rain any time but doesn’t, or at least not yet. Days like this make me want to take a nap more than anything else although I didn’t. Somehow I managed to get a few things accomplished in spite of my mood. I exercised, cleaned up the house a bit, wrote a couple posts, read some of my Rave Diet book, and sent some email. Not too bad for a lazy day when I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

However I was not been much in the mood to cook today. Saturday I cooked a pound of red kidney beans to use on salad or in stew this week. With the gray weather I decided that a quick chili would be good to have on hand. We can always use the chili as is, on a taco salad, over a grain topped with tofu tahini sauce, topped with salsa fresca, combined with vegan queso and used to top nachos, mixed with a grain and stuffed into a tortilla shell and baked, or stuffed into a baked sweet potato. Chili has so many uses I like to make it for just that reason alone. Any recipe that has that many uses is a friend of mine. Tonight we had the chili as taco salad with spinach, raw broccoli, avocado, tomatoes and green onions and a few chips on the side. Here is what I did:

Quick and Easy Red Bean Chili
Serves 6 generously (approximately 2 cup servings)

Ingredients:

1 red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup water to sauté the onions and garlic
6 cups red kidney beans, cooked without salt
3 – 10 ounce cans rotel tomatoes
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
Black pepper, to taste
Crushed red peppers or cayenne, to taste

Directions:

Water sauté the onions and garlic until tender.  Then add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes so the flavor can marry. Taste and add black pepper and/or crushed red peppers as desired.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 262.36
Calories From Fat (6%) - 16.45

Total Fat - 1.97g
Saturated Fat-  0.35g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1258.43mg
Potassium - 902.89mg
Total Carbohydrates - 49.57g
Fiber - 15.36g
Sugar - 5.02g
Protein - 15.47g

Comments:

This is one of those quick recipes for nights when you need something filling but don’t feel like fussing in the kitchen. I make this when I want leftovers to use in different ways. In fact I have been known to make a double batch of this and freeze the leftovers in two cup portions to use later for lunch or a quick no fuss meal.

As you above this is a little high in sodium. That is due to the canned tomatoes and the portion size. If we had anything high in sodium earlier in the day I would reduce the portion size for dinner. But since we use very little salt and processed food I don’t worry about the sodium here. Our sodium target is 1,800mg per day and we normally stay under that target. Canned tomatoes sometimes push us over. I wanted to mention this since it is something I watch in our diet.

Unrelated note:

Today has been one blah day. It started off well but went downhill quickly. I swear I think I need sunlight to be in a good mood. When I feel like this I do a little extra exercise to boost my endorphins. I have a funny visual for you all. I have an exercise step in the family room so that I can get a little exercise in whenever the mood strikes me. I also use it to do crunches on. Today I was watching TV and doing crunches and the white cat (Nicco) decided I needed extra resistance. He decided to jump on me and stand a few inches from my head and lick my forehead. Having a cat stand on your chest while you crunch does add resistance more resistance than you think. My stomach muscles ache more than usual from crunches. If you want a better ab workout, get a cat. LOL!  Here is a picture of my little exercise partner.


Tomorrow we are supposed to start the day with more rain. Yay? However, we are supposed to get a little sun in the afternoon. Fingers crossed that the weather men are right about that. Not seeing the sun since Thursday I can feel the effects of sunlight deprivation setting in.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Monday. Well, as fabulous a day as is possible for a Monday. Talk to all tomorrow.

Crispy Salty and/or Sweet Leeks


It was two months ago that I read a study abstracted here about the impact raw produce can have to slow down or stop the growth of many cancer cell lines in the lab. Needless to say I read this article more than once and made a list of the foods that we should be including in our diet. There were 7 raw vegetables that had chemopreventive properties against all the cancer cell lines they were tested against.

These foods were:

Brussels sprouts
cabbage
curly cabbage (which I interpret as savoy)
garlic
green onion
kale
leek
spinach

Since whole raw food can’t hurt us I have been trying to incorporate these foods into our diet whenever and wherever I can.

Last week I decided to make some crispy raw leeks to use to top our food. I wanted to make two different flavors, one salty and one slightly sweet. I used the same method I posted about here with my crispy onions. I sliced two leeks into very thin rings. Placed the leek rings in a colander and put that in a larger bowl and filled it with water. I used my fingers to separate the slices into individual rings. By swishing the leeks in the water the sand will dislodge and you will have clean leeks. I do rinse the leeks once more just to be certain. There is nothing worse than gritty food.

Next I drained the leeks well and placed them on a towel lined sheet pan to dry. I combined half the dry leeks with a squirt of liquid aminos (or low sodium soy sauce) and tossed them to coat. Place the coated leeks on a teflex sheet in a single layer in your dehydrator and set the temperature to 105 degrees. In the same bowl add the other half of the leeks but add some good balsamic vinegar and toss the leeks to coat. Place them on a separate teflex sheet. Dehydrate the leeks until they are the texture you like. I checked mine in 8 hours and they were done. The exact time they will take will depend on how thick you sliced the leeks. That is all there to it. You will have crispy salty and sweet leeks to use on sandwiches or salads. They are also good to top cooked dishes with, particularly soup.

The picture with this post shows the salt leeks on top of a quick carrot and roasted yellow pepper soup we had for dinner one night last week.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Italian Food Sunday: Sicilian Salad and Risotto Primavera


Good Evening. I hope you are all having a great weekend. Ours has been a little slow and lazy, but in a very restorative way. We both feel like we are rested enough to start another week. Not that we wouldn’t prefer a much longer weekend. ;-)

We have decided to change dinner with my parents into more of a late lunch, early dinner for a while and see how that works. Why do people like to eat so early once they get old? Anybody know the answer?

For supper today we had a little Italian food since it is our comfort food of choice. Given that it is spring I was in the mood for pasta primavera. But I wanted to make a healthy version so I made barley in the risotto style and added in fresh veggies at the end so that they would retain both color and nutrition. To go with the risotto we had a quick Sicilian salad of fennel, red onions, citrus and a little sliced olive. Both dishes disappeared fairly quickly so I know they were enjoyed by both the omnis and vegans at the table. Here is how I made the salad:

Sicilian Orange and Fennel Salad
serves 4

Ingredients:

1 small red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 fennel bulb, sliced in half top to bottom and thinly sliced into half moons (reserve stems for risotto recipe below, reserve a few fronds for garnish)
2 large oranges, or 4 small ones, peeled and sliced into rounds, seeds removed
4 olives, pitted and slivered
Salt and pepper, if desired

Directions:

Combine the onion and vinegar and toss to coat. Add the fennel and refrigerate until needed. To serve, place the onion and fennel on the base of the plate and top with the orange slices and one olive thinly slivered. Top with fennel fronds for garnish. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 79.71
Calories From Fat (8%) - 6.26

Total Fat - 0.74g
Saturated Fat - 0.08g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 70.79mg
Potassium - 414.87mg
Total Carbohydrates - 17.75g
Fiber - 4.65g
Sugar - 8.6g
Protein - 1.94g

Comments:

This is a classic Sicilian salad combination. Normally it contains quite a bit of olive oil, but we think it tastes great with just a touch of sliced olive. It is one of my favorite salads. The sweetness of the oranges plays well with the saltiness of the olives. I also like the tenderness of the oranges against the crispness of the fennel. This is a very nice salad. I hope you give it a try.

Next recipe:



To go with our salad we had a simple risotto primavera made with barley since that is healthier. Here is what I did:

Barley Risotto Primavera
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
4 stalks celery, finely diced
½ cup fennel stems, thinly sliced (optional but a good addition if you have them from making the salad)
¼ cup water to sauté the aromatics
2 cups barley
Water or light veg stock to cook the barley (heat 4 quarts to start)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 cup frozen peas
¾ pound asparagus, woody ends removed, remaining veg thinly sliced in 1/16 inch circles, tips reserved for garnish
4 cups spinach, julienned
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Water sauté the aromatics (water, garlic and celery) until tender. Then add the barley and about 1 cup of water and bring the heat to medium high and begin stirring. When the water has mostly evaporated add another cup of water. The first few additions of water will be quickly absorbed. You do not need to stir constantly, only every few minutes. You are stirring for two reasons: to keep the barley from sticking, and to create a thick starchy sauce. When you stir you are rubbing the grains of barely together and starch is being released into the cooking liquid. This is how you end up with a creamy risotto without cream.

Continue to add water, a cup or so at time until the barley is the texture you desire. I cooked mine for 45 minutes over fairly high heat. When you like the texture of the barley add the remaining ingredients (except the asparagus tips) and turn off the heat and put the lid on the pan. You want the warmth of the risotto to heat the veggies but not cook them. A little crunch from the veggies is good to add textural variation to the dish. Taste for salt and pepper and serve with a few asparagus tips on top.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 347.83
Calories From Fat (4%) - 14.29

Total Fat - 1.6g
Saturated Fat 0.3g 2%
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 182.8mg
Potassium - 699.7mg
Total Carbohydrates - 69.66g
Fiber - 15.19g
Sugar - 3.41g
Protein - 11.51g

Comments:

If you like risotto made with rice but you want something that is healthier this is good choice. It has a lot of flavor, more than you would expect. One of the nice parts of this dish is that it reheats exceptionally well. Dan loves when I make barley risotto so he has leftovers for lunch. This dish would also be good with a little almond feta on top if you like

Unrelated note:

There is something about a gray day that just doesn’t inspire me to be very productive. We have had another very relaxing day at our house, unless you count housework that is. How two adults make so much laundry is completely beyond me.

Tomorrow I have a few things I want to accomplish so I may not be around until the afternoon. But overall this coming week should be a good one and you should expect many posts from me.

I am actually going to try to develop a menu for the week. This is something I have tried to do for years but somehow it never seems to stick. But I am going to try it again and see if I can make it work this time. I will keep you posted on my progress. This leads to a question. How many of you stick to a weekly menu? If this is something that you manage to make work do you have any tips for sticking to the plan?

For now I am going to do a few things around the house and relax with a mug of green tea. I hope you are having a relaxing weekend too. Talk to you tomorrow.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Indian Inspired Dinner: Soup and Curried Veg


Today has been one of those lazy Saturdays that we seem to have so often at our house. We got a few things accomplished but mostly we just took it easy and relaxed. Weekends seem to be made for relaxing at our house.

The weather service has been predicting a storm will come through since yesterday, but so far no rain here, although it is very gray outside now. Because we were expecting rain and a cold front I decided to make something that would warm us from the inside.

Dan and love Indian food, and my parents will also eat it, as long as it isn’t too spicy. So I decided to make a pot of yellow split pea soup flavored with Indian spices. Knowing that wouldn’t be enough food I thought a quick vegetable curry over rice would round out the meal. Normally I use coconut milk but decided to make a tomato based dish and finish that with a few cashews instead. Neither of these dishes is traditional. They are my Americanized version of quick Indian food. Here is what I did:

Indian Spiced Yellow Split Pea Soup
serves 6
Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 carrots, finely minced
3 stalks celery, finely minced
¼ cup water
2 cups channa dahl (or substitute yellow split peas)
8 cups water
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon canola oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 pinches crushed red pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Directions:

Water sauté the onions, garlic, carrot and celery until tender. Add the split peas and water and bring the pot to a simmer. Mix the turmeric, oil and black pepper together to form a paste. I do this because turmeric is fat soluble and is better absorbed with black pepper. Since giving up oil I now only use it with turmeric. I want to make sure we absorb as much of this as we can. Add the spice paste to the soup along with the other ingredients. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour and check to see if the split peas are tender. Adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

Serve hot with a wedge of lime to be squeezed into the soup at the table.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 159.99
Calories From Fat (9%) - 14.65

Total Fat - 1.71g
Saturated Fat - 0.23g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 61.98mg
Potassium - 582.61mg
Total Carbohydrates - 28.25g
Fiber - 10.78g
Sugar - 6g
Protein - 9.44g

Comments:

This would be the perfect soup for a rainy evening. It is filling and lightly spiced. If you want to make it more of a main dish it would be great served with some brown rice.

Next Recipe:


This is the vegetable dish I made to round out our dinner tonight. Here is what I made:

Curried Vegetables in a Tomato Base
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water
28 ounces diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
¾ teaspoon canola oil
2 carrots, cut into bite sized chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into bite sized chunks
1 large zucchini, cut into bite sized chunks (approximately 4 cups)
4 cups broccoli, cut into bite sized chunks
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup cashews, for garnish
1 cup brown basmati rice cooked in 2 cups water

Directions:

Water sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Add the tomatoes, carrot, celery and spices (mixing the turmeric and oil as in the recipe above) and bring to a simmer. Add the broccoli and zucchini 15 minutes before serving so they do not overcook.

Serve the curried vegetables over brown basmati rice and top with a few cashews.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 230.63
Calories From Fat (18%) - 42.1

Total Fat - 5g
Saturated Fat - 0.88g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 65.03mg
Potassium - 961.85mg
Total Carbohydrates - 42.15g
Fiber - 5.29g
Sugar - 7.94g
Protein - 7.77g

Comments:

If you are feeding people that are new to Indian flavors and/or they don’t like a lot of spice this is a good option. I intentionally made this meal mild since my mother isn’t tolerant of spice. For the rest of us I would recommend adding some crushed red pepper flakes or even cayenne. Also, if you like creamy sauces adding some low fat coconut milk to this sauce would be very good. Dan and I talked about it before dinner and he wanted cashews on top tonight.

Unrelated note:

We picked up our tray of wheat grass this afternoon and spent about 30 minutes processing wheat grass into juice for the freezer. It was a little work, but getting it all out of the way at once will make things easier to making juice in the mornings.  I am going to do a wheat grass post in the next few days.

Dan and I are going to watch a movie tonight and relax with a few mugs of green tea and maybe some popcorn. I hope you are all having a great Saturday. Talk to you all tomorrow.

Reduced Fat Natural Peanut Butter


I was chatting with my friend Laloofah about a month ago and she mentioned a technique she learned at McDougall that involved reducing the fat in natural peanut butter. Needless to say I was all ears when she mentioned this. The technique involved pouring the fat off the top of the jar of nut butter. Then placing the remaining thick nut butter in your food processor and adding water and processing until the nut butter becomes creamy again.

The 28 ounce jar of peanut butter I purchased contained 7 tablespoons of oil floating on the top (yes I measured it, no OCD here). I started by adding 7 tablespoons of water to the food processor. The nut butter was still like sludge and was not as creamy as I wanted it. I continued to add water until I had added about a cup of water total. The nut butter did finally get nice and creamy. The only difference was that the nut butter was lighter color, probably due to the air that was whipped into the nut. Also, the nut butter was now more voluminous and would not fit back in the jar. I had started with 24 servings and ended up with 28 due to adding more water.

What did this do to the nutritional numbers? This is where the magic happened. The nut butter started at 200 calories for 2 tablespoons and ended at 140 for the same 2 tablespoons. Can you believe how much of a difference this made? I was stunned when I ran the numbers.

I immediately had my husband taste the reduced fat nut butter to see what he thought. His reaction, “It tastes like peanut butter should, rich and flavorful but not fatty.” Score! Can you tell I am excited about this technique? This will definitely be happening at my house from now on. Now I just need to add the nutrition stats into my cookbook program.

Thank you Laloofah for sharing this technique on how to reduce the fat in our natural butter. I know there are many people that will be using this now that they know about it. I can safely say this would not have occurred to me without you. Thanks again!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chocolate Mousse Pie




My husband has been craving a rich decadent dessert something fierce these last few weeks. There have been many hints of this that have come my way. As a surprise I decided to take a variation of his favorite tofu chocolate mousse recipe and turn it into a pie. I assumed if I doubled the chocolate that would make the dessert thick enough to slice . Did it work? You will need to read on to find out (muahaha). Here is what I did:

Chocolate Mousse Pie
Serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ cup almonds
6 dates
5 ounces dark chocolate, melted
12.3 ounces silken tofu, firm or extra firm
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
Cinnamon, to taste
Vanilla, to taste
Sweetener, if necessary

Directions:

Place the almonds in your food processor and process until they are finely ground. Now add the pitted dates and process until everything is incorporated. Place the crust (almonds and dates) into an 8 inch tart pan and press to evenly cover the bottom and sides of the pan. It helps to use the bottom of flat measuring cup to flatten the crust. The crust will try to stick to the cup. You can either wet the cup with a little water of spray it with canola non stick spray.

Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on 30% power until it has melted. Place the tofu and melted chocolate in your food processor and process until it is thoroughly combined. Add the flavorings that you desire (I used bourbon, cinnamon and vanilla). Process again to combine. Taste the filling for sweetness; add stevia or agave if necessary. Pour the filling into your crust and refrigerate for at least two hours so the chocolate can set. Serve chilled.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 282.52
Calories From Fat (52%) - 147.31

Total Fat - 17.81g
Saturated Fat - 5.13g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 23.94mg
Potassium - 297.38mg
Total Carbohydrates - 26.15g
Fiber - 4.27g
Sugar - 6.89g
Protein - 9.02g

Comments:

My poor husband is still suffering through his second piece of pie. He had his first one last night but it was too late to post the recipe, and I couldn’t seem to get a good picture. Tonight’s picture wasn’t much better but I wanted to get this posted. Sorry about the pic.

How does this taste? According my husband it is “Smooth, creamy, and rich with a deep chocolate taste.” Yes, he seems to like it. The texture reminds me of a cross between chocolate ganache and chocolate mousse. Would I make this again? Absolutely! I will keep this recipe tucked away for when my hubby “needs” dessert.

Unrelated note:

Sorry for disappearing again today on you guys. It was one of those days that I have been having a lot of lately. But my schedule is reasonably open for the next week and a half.

Tomorrow we pick up our first tray of wheat grass. I can’t wait to get that home. It will be nice to not have to rely on the frozen wheat grass juice.

It is getting a little late tonight so this will be my only post today. I will check in with you all tomorrow. I hope you are all having a great Friday. TGIF!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Japanese Inspired Dinner


I was chatting with Brandi yesterday and we were discussing my favorite topic, food. When we got to our favorite cuisines Japanese was on both of our lists. Of course this meant that I need to make Japanese food tonight. I love it so, I really don’t know why I don’t cook it more. It is naturally healthy so it is great for anyone that is concerned about health.

For dinner tonight I made three easy quick and dishes, a soba noodle soup, wilted spinach with peanut sauce and a crab and vinegar salad that I made with jackfruit. Here is what I did:

Japanese Inspired Noodle Soup
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 onion, peeled, sliced in half and then thinly sliced into half moons
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 inch ginger, finely julienned
6 cups water
½ zucchini, thinly julienned
4 inch square kombu cut into ¼ to ½ inch squares
3 tablespoons liquid aminos
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 bundle soba noodles
3 spring onions, thinly sliced (whites and greens)

Directions:

Combine the onions, garlic, ginger, water, zucchini kombu, liquid aminos, rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes and cook until the onions are tender. Now add the soba noodles and cook for 6 minutes.

To served top with green onions.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 167.14
Calories From Fat (5%) - 8.94

Total Fat - 1.31g
Saturated Fat - 0.08g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 987.37mg
Potassium - 580.19mg
Total Carbohydrates - 45.24g
Fiber - 2.56g
Sugar - 4.28g
Protein - 7.31g

Comments:

This is a filling soup. The flavor is sour from the vinegar and a little salty from the liquid aminos. If you like sweet and sour soup I think you will enjoy this one.

Next Recipe:


To go with the soup we had a vegan variation of crab and bell pepper in vinegar. I used jack fruit instead of crab and added additional dressing to make up for the blandness of the jackfruit. Here is what I did:

“Crab” and Red Bell Pepper in Vinegar
Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ red bell pepper, very finely slivered
1 cup of jackfruit, finely slivered
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ tablespoon liquid aminos
Stevia, to taste
1 tablespoon quick cucumber pickles for garnish

Directions:

Combine the bell pepper and jackfruit. Add the rice wine vinegar and liquid aminos and toss to coat. Add stevia to taste. I probably used 1/16 of a scoop. Toss the salad to coat with dressing.  Refrigerate until needed.

To serve plate the salad and top with julienned cucumber pickles.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 92.41
Calories From Fat (3%) - 2.82

Total Fat - 0.37g
Saturated Fat - 0.07g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 245.08mg
Potassium - 404.83mg
Total Carbohydrates - 25.9g
Fiber - 2.16g
Sugar-  1.74g
Protein - 1.66g

Comments:

I am still getting used to jackfruit as a stand in for crab. This recipe was very light but had nice flavor from the dressing and pickles. The flavor of this salad was overshadowed by the next dish I am about to post. In the future I will not serve them today. I think this would have been good on top of greens as a main dish salad. Some sesame seeds would have been wonderful on this.

Next recipe:

This may not seem like a Japanese recipe but I found a variation of this in one of my Japanese cookbooks. This was probably the best dish of the evening. We both loved the warm spinach dressed with the peanut sauce. Here is what I did:

Wilted Spinach with Peanut Sauce
Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ pound baby spinach
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon liquid aminos
Stevia, to taste
2 teaspoons of warm water, or enough to create a sauce

Directions:

Wash and spin the spinach. Add the spinach to a hot pan and wilt.

While the spinach is wilted combine the dressing ingredients.

To serve, top the warm wilted spinach with the sauce.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 168.26
Calories From Fat (63%) - 105.5

Total Fat - 12.63g
Saturated Fat - 2.61g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 680.75mg
Potassium - 789.75mg
Total Carbohydrates - 8.88g
Fiber - 3.95g
Sugar - 2.71g
Protein - 9.31g

Comments:

If you were going to make dish from our dinner tonight make it this spinach dish. The flavor is rich and the dish is very satisfying. I can definitely see this showing up on our table again. Next time I may add few chopped peanuts for texture. But overall this was very good.

Unrelated notes:

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day for me. I need to run my usual Friday errands and check on my parents. I also have a little e-Cornell coursework to do. I will be around later in the day with an update. Until then I hope you are all having a great Thursday. Talk to you soon.

Almond Feta - No Added Oil


I used the end of our macadamia and pumpkin seed cheese in Dan’s lunch today so I knew I needed to make more. About a year ago I posted a recipe for almond feta which I loved. However, it contained olive oil and I didn’t want to use that any more. Today I decided to make it without oil and it turned out really well. I think this may be a function of my how much my taste buds have changed in only a year. Whatever the reason I am happy I made this today. Here is what I did:

Almond Feta - No Added Oil
Makes approximately 1 cup or 16 tablespoons

Ingredients:
1 cup almonds, soaked for 8 hours and blanched
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 small clove garlic, peeled and smashed
¾ teaspoon sea salt
Approximately 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Blanch almonds by simmering them quickly in water (5 minutes is more than enough). You are trying to loosen the skins. Move the almonds to a bowl and cover them with cold water. Using your fingers rub the nuts together to loosen the skin. Separate the nuts from their skins and drain the nuts.

Place the nuts in your food processer with lemon zest, lemon juice and sea salt. Process the nuts until you have a fine meal. Ultimately you want the nut cheese to begin to form a ball in your food processor. If this doesn’t happen add a little water a teaspoon at a time until the ball forms. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Refrigerate until need. Nut cheese seems to last for a week or more in the refrigerator for me.

Nutritional Information per tablespoon:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 54.22
Calories From Fat (71%)-  38.46

Total Fat - 4.59g
Saturated Fat - 0.35g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 66.73mg
Potassium - 68.2mg
Total Carbohydrates - 2.28g
Fiber - 1.01g
Sugar - 0.56g
Protein - 2.02g

Comments:

This healthier version of almond feta exceeded my expectations. I can honestly say now I won’t miss the prior version with oil. Yay! If I hadn’t promised to make Japanese tonight this would be turning up in dinner. But I guess Greek food can wait until tomorrow.

I would describe this nut cheese as a little salty and definitely lemony. If you aren’t a huge fan of lemon I do suggest you leave out the zest or add much less of it. I happen to adore lemon so that never happens here. The texture of the cheese is like a well drained ricotta. The garlic is so mild I couldn’t detect it in the cheese, which was good. If you still eat dairy cheese, or use oil in your cooking you may want to try the original recipe first. For everyone that follows an oil free diet this is really good. I hope you give it a try.

Unrelated note:

Today the sun is out and I am one happy camper. The rain yesterday had me in a bit of a blah mood. But today is completely different. The sun is shining and we are supposed to reach the mid 70’s. Sounds like a perfect spring day to me. I am going to spend some time outside and enjoy the weather.

The mint in my garden is really coming up now. I may need to harvest some today and make myself a nice mint green tea. I have been trying to use mint in more dishes. Do you have any favorite recipes that use mint that you would like to share?

I am going to make myself a little lunch now and head outside to enjoy the sunshine. I will be back later with a Japanese inspired dinner. I hope you are all having a great day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yet Another Reason to Eat Your Green Leafy Veggies


According to this article at the Mayo Clinic website those with the highest intake of vitamin K reduce their risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma by 45%. My first thought was what foods contain the most vitamin K? Here they are according to Nutrition data:

Amaranth leaves (not to likely to find those locally)
Parsley
Chard
Kale
Watercress
Spinach
Mustard Greens
Turnip Greens
Beet Greens

Except for the amaranth greens which I have never seen for sale in the US, we eat all of these, particularly spinach. After reading this article I may plant a little more parsley this year. ;-) You can never have too much nutrition from plants in my book.

Sadly I have not always been a fan of vegetables. In fact you could say I didn’t really like them. My mother has always hating cooking. If you liked veggies with texture my childhood home was not the place to be. Thankfully I taught myself to cook and now I love veggies, so there is hope for everyone, even your child. I truly believe one of the most important things we can give our children are healthy lifestyle habits. Experts say you have to introduce a new food at least a dozen times before children are likely to enjoy it. I say do whatever you need to get those veggies into your kids, especially the green leafy ones. ;-) Why am I mentioning that I have not always like veggies? It is very simple actually. Many people are under the impression that my diet has always been uber healthy. That is so far from the truth you probably would be shocked. I want everyone to realize that even a veggie hating meat eater can change their ways. I know I did. I will talk more about this in future posts.

Back to the article, which goes on to suggest that this data agrees with other studies which have shown that a diet high in green leafy vegetables is protective in terms of both additional cancer cell lines and other diseases. In my book this is just another reason to keep eating those greens. As I have said before, the more I read about nutrition the more convinced I am that a whole foods plant based diet is the way to go in terms of health.

One Crazy Idea that Actually Worked – Quick Vegan BBQ


For the last month or so I have been craving barbecue. It isn’t like this was something we ate more than once a year when we were omni so I have no idea where this craving came from. But I have had barbecue on the brain. My initial thought was to make it with seitan but since we are trying to keep that to a minimum too I wanted to use a veggie. Then the thought came to me sauerkraut has a shredded texture like pulled pork. No, I am not feverish or delusional, although I can see why you would think that. Stay with me, this is better than you think. ;-)

Our entrée for dinner tonight was sauerkraut tossed with barbecue sauce served over brown basmati rice with cilantro. When I asked my husband what he thought he said, “It is oddly like pulled pork, a little softer but the flavor is really good.” And that comment is coming from a man that isn’t crazy about sauerkraut. So there you have it, vegan pulled pork in minutes. Drain the kraut, toss with barbecue sauce of your choice and warm it up (I used the microwave). This is going to make regular appearances at my house. It is so simple and easy I hope you give it a try.

Southwest Quinoa and Black Beans


Since Dan was home today I needed to whip something together for lunch. If I had been home alone I would have made a salad or quick soup in the Vitamix. Somehow that doesn’t seem to me to be an adequate meal for my hubby. When I want something quick that has a nice amount of protein I frequently turn to quinoa. This is what we had for lunch today with a little leftover for Dan’s lunch tomorrow:

Southwest Quinoa and Black Beans
Serves 3

Ingredients:

1 red onion, peeled and finely minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water to sauté aromatics
1 chipotle in adobo, finely minced (2 if you like heat)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
1 teaspoon paprika
(chili powder, to taste, see note in comments section)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup black beans, cooked without salt
1 lemon, zested and juiced (or lime if you have one)
8 cups raw baby spinach, julienned
6 olives, pitted and slivered
3 tablespoons macadamia and pumpkin seed cheese
3 sun dried Roma tomato halves, julienned (not the ones in oil)

Directions:

Water sauté the onions and garlic until tender. Add to the pan the ingredient through beans and cook until the quinoa is tender (about 15 minutes). If you don’t want the quinoa to take on color from the beans you can add them after the quinoa is cooked. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add a little more heat (wet hots) or spice to taste.

To serve, top the raw spinach with quinoa (or stir it into the quinoa if you prefer it to wilt more). Top the quinoa with lemon zest, lemon juice, olives, nut cheese and tomatoes. This dish is good hot or cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 405.58
Calories From Fat (22%) - 88.54

Total Fat - 10.31g
Saturated Fat - 1.5g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 224.98mg
Potassium - 1276.57mg
Total Carbohydrates - 64.91g
Fiber - 13.96g
Sugar - 3.22g
Protein - 18.02g

Comments:

This turned out a little milder than I had anticipated. Next time I will use two chipotles and maybe a teaspoon of chili powder. But overall the flavor was good and the nutritional stats were nice for a one dish meal in less than 20 minutes. Fresh cilantro, corn and jalapeno would also be good in here if you have them on hand.

Each serving of this dish contains approximately 8,550IU of vitamin A, 50mg of vitamin C, 180mg of calcium, 7.9mg of iron, 360mcg of folate, 395mcg of vitamin K, 440mg of phosphorus, 250mg of magnesium, and 7mcg of selenium. Not too bad for under 20 minutes of work. I also like the fiber and protein content of this meal.

Unrelated Note:

My day is not going at all as I had originally planned. Having my hubby home until 2pm disrupted my schedule. ;-) Fortunately Dan’s head started feeling better and he has gone downtown to his office. We will see if I can get back on schedule. I am not hopeful. But tomorrow is another day.

For now I need to run so that I can get a few things accomplished before dinner. I hope you are all having a fabulous Wednesday. We are halfway to the weekend! Talk to you all again soon.

Strawberry and Banana Sorbet


I hope you all had a great evening and your Wednesday is starting out fairly well. I wanted to post a quick recipe before I started my day since it is going to be a busy one.

Last night after dinner we were still a little hungry. After realizing how few calories we had eaten I decided to make a quick frozen dessert. Both Dan and I like strawberries and bananas so I decided to combine the two to make a quick healthy dessert. Here is what I did:

Strawberry and Banana Sorbet
Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen banana pieces (this is approximate)
1 cup water, or what is necessary to process the frozen fruit
Cinnamon, to taste
Stevia, to taste, if extra sweetness is desired

Directions:

Place everything in your high powered blender and process until smooth. It does help to place the bananas in the base of the blender. Taste and adjust the sweetness and flavorings as you like. In the past we would have added a sweetener to this but we don’t find that necessary now. Serve immediately, preferably in chilled bowls.

If you don’ t have a high powered blender try allowing the fruit to defrost a little before blending so you don’t burn up your blender. I burned up the motor of at least 5 blenders with frozen fruit smoothies before I bought my Vitamix so I do know these types of recipes are hard on blenders. You may also want to consider starting this in the food processor and finishing it in the blender to be kinder to your blender.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 164.03
Calories From Fat (6%) - 9.62

Total Fat - 1.16g
Saturated Fat - 0.13g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 7.35mg
Potassium - 734.81mg
Total Carbohydrates - 40.48g
Fiber - 8.03g
Sugar - 24.04g
Protein - 2.85g

Comments:

If you like fruit you will enjoy this dessert. It is fresh and light and tastes great to us. It reminds me of strawberry banana yogurt which used to be a favorite of mine.

Each serving of this dessert contains approximately 185mg of vitamin C and 55 mg of calcium.

Unrelated Notes:

Today I had planned on trying to get things accomplished around the house. However my hubby has had a horrible headache since last night and will be staying home at least part of the day. The world at our house stops when my husband doesn’t feel well. He isn’t accustomed to feeling sick and he likes attention when he is ill. Something tells me some of you can relate to this. Since he is generally very low maintenance I don’t mind that he likes the attention. It is actually sort of cute, but don’t tell him that, I don’t want to encourage bad behavior. ;-) 

I will be back later with a dinner update.  As the weather gets warmer I seem to gravitate more toward raw food. It is a safe bet that dinner may be something raw again tonight. I don’t have any particular recipe in mind, just a general desire for raw food.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Raw Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Marinara, Nut Cheeze and Olives


This is one of those dishes that really doesn’t need a recipe. I am going to post one but believe me it isn’t necessary. Have any of noticed that many raw cookbooks make eating raw seem so time consuming or difficult? That really turned me off from raw food for a long time. Then I realized that raw food is as easy or difficult as you want to make it. This is one of those really fast dishes you can make when you are dog tired. The sun-dried tomato marinara will last for days in the refrigerator. The same can be said for the nut cheeze. The zucchini pasta is very fast. It takes longer to set up my mandoline that it does to cut the pasta. Here is what I did:

Raw Spaghetti
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 large zucchini, well scrubbed
1 recipe sun-dried tomato marinara
6 olives, pitted and finely slivered
Nut cheese, as much as you want (we used about 2 tablespoons)

Directions:

Using your mandoline or spiral slicer cut the zucchini into thin threads. Top the zucchini spaghetti with as much sun-dried tomato marinara as you like. We tend to like ours lightly dressed. Top the sauce with olives and nut cheese. Serve cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 166.08
Calories From Fat (43%) - 70.78

Total Fat - 8.48g
Saturated Fat - 1.24g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 231.51mg
Potassium - 1146.66mg
Total Carbohydrates - 22.4g
Fiber - 5.94g
Sugar - 6.49g
Protein - 5.57g

Comments:

This dish, including making the marinara (but not the nut cheese) took under 10 minutes to prepare. It is one of the faster that I make for dinner. Raw food doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. This was made from ordinary ingredients and without a dehydrator. This is a great dish to make when the weather gets warm and you don’t want to eat anything hot.

Even though this was low in calories this has a reasonable amount of nutrition. Each serving contains approximately 1,600IU of vitamin A, 80mg of vitamin C, 65mg of calcium, 90mcg of folate, 130mcg of phosphorus, and 65mg of magnesium.

Unrelated notes:

Today has been a little unstructured at our house with me not focusing on any one thing for too long. Tomorrow I am going to try getting a few things crossed off my to-do list. There may not be as many posts as usual, but I will definitely post at least once.

I hope you are all having a great day. I will chat with you tomorrow.
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