Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wild Mushroom and Corn Lasagna and Miscellaneous Stuff


Since it is the weekend that means a mid-day meal with my elderly parents today. I have noticed that they seem to prefer cooked food to raw. Dan loves lasagna and because the weather was somewhat cool today I decided we could crank the oven up. Lasagna is a meal that everyone enjoys. I wanted to make a different version of lasagna for the one Dan loves which is posted here. I decided a simple mushroom and corn version would be good today.  I wish I had taken the time to let this cool longer before I sliced it. I am not happy with the photo above. But the taste is good which is more important.  I am working on not being so much of a perfectionist. ;-) Here is what I made this afternoon:


Wild Mushroom and Corn Lasagna
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed dried mushrooms
3 cups water
1 red onion, thinly sliced (allow to stand 10 minutes before cooking)
6 cloves garlic, finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before cooking)
6 whole wheat pasta noodles
14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons brown rice flour (any flour will do)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ tablespoon dehydrated minced onions
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
½ cup oats, ground into flour
strained mushroom soaking liquid from above
½ teaspoon thyme, dried
black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Combine the mushrooms and water and microwave until the water is hot. Allow the mushrooms to soak for 30 minutes. Then strain the mushrooms and cooking liquid. You want to make certain to capture any sediment from the dried mushrooms. You can use a strainer lined with two of three layers or cheesecloth, or damp paper towel. You can also use a chinois. Make certain the mushrooms are bite-sized pieces.

Cook the onions and garlic in a little mushroom cooking liquid (start with ¼ cup) until they are soft and starting to get brown. You may need to add a tablespoon of liquid while they cook if the water evaporates.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a slice of aluminum foil across the longest sides of the loaf pan and bottom. You will use this foil as a sling to lift the lasagna out of the pan. The aluminum foil is optional but will make things easier. 

Cook the pasta noodles until they are approximately 75% done. You want them underdone so they absorb some of the mushroom sauce and provide additional structure to the lasagna.

In the food processor combine the tofu, flour, nutritional yeast and minced onions and process until mostly smooth. You will still have little bits of onions in the tofu filling. Stir the corn into the filling by hand so it remains whole.

In your blender grind the oats into flour, add the raw cashews and half of the mushroom cooking liquid. Process until everything is completely smooth. Pour this into the pot with the onions. Place the rest of the mushroom liquid in your blender to clean out the remaining ingredients. Pour this into the pot with the onions and simmer until you have a thick sauce. It should look like a thick béchamel, like you would use to make croquettes (the consistency of mayonnaise). It needs to be this thick so the lasagna will have some structure.

To assemble start with a little of the mushroom sauce about a ¼ cup spread across the base of a loaf pan. Layer in noodles, tofu with corn, mushrooms, sauce, noodles …… etc. I ended with tofu filling topped with mushrooms. Cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Test the lasagna with a paring knife inserted in the center to confirm the noodles are fully cooked.

Cool for at least 15-20 minutes to make it easier to serve. Otherwise it will slide apart like mine did. My timing today wasn’t good so there wasn’t sufficient time to cool the lasagna before I needed to plate. But it still tasted good. ;-)

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 302.05
Calories From Fat (30%) - 92.07

Total Fat - 10.07g
Saturated Fat - 1.3g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 18.87mg
Potassium - 393.04mg
Total Carbohydrates - 37.75g
Fiber - 4.99g
Sugar - 1.35g
Protein - 15.78g

Comments:

I intentionally kept the components of this on the light side (flavor wise) so that the mushrooms would be the star of the dish. This lasagna has a big mushroom flavor. If you like mushrooms you should enjoy this lasagna. My father really seemed to like this and didn’t even grab for the salt shaker. I would say this was a success. Dan and I would absolutely have this again.

Mexican Zucchini Salad:


To start the meal I made a quick salad as follows: Spiralized zucchini, thinly sliced red bell peppers, diced tomatoes, defrosted sweet corn, salsa, avocado, parsley and cashew crème fraiche. This was a start to our meal.

My spiral slicer:


I get a lot of questions about my spiral slicer. I don’t have a separate slicer mine is an attachment to my mandoline. I bought this a few years ago at Williams Sonoma. But have not seen it there since. It is a DeBuyer mandoline with a spiral cutting attachment if you want to look for one.

Breakfast this morning:


We had a bowl of tropical fruit salad this morning for breakfast which included fresh pineapple, kiwi and dragon fruit. Dan also had a bowl of oatmeal with wild blueberries, flaxseeds and walnuts.


I am posting the dragon fruit separately because I got an email asking how to open the dragon fruit. I cut the fruit in half top to bottom,pictured above.


Then you can peel the skin from the fruit and cut it into chunks. It has a very mild flavor. I buy it more for the color; I like the white flesh with black seeds. The tastes reminds me of a kiwi with the flesh being more firm

Dinner tonight:

Dan and I were just chatting about dinner. At the moment we have no idea what we are going to do. The weather is gorgeous and we are considering a little al fresco dining but with such a late lunch we won’t be hungry for hours.

Unrelated notes:

The weather has been so beautiful the last few days. We have been enjoying the fresh air in the house. It is such a treat to have the windows open in July. Typically the weather this time of the year is hot and humid.

Since I doubt you read the comments on the blog, I wanted to point out what great success Lolly is having with E2L. I am so thrilled for her. You can read her comments here. She is going to be updating her blog with results soon. I for one can’t wait to read the details. However having her blood pressure drop significantly and quickly is fantastic news. Go Lolly! I am so thrilled for you! For those of you on the fence on the health benefits of E2L Lolly is regaining her health and fast.  I am so impressed with her results so far and wanted to share the great news. 

Time for me to get a few things done around here and figure out what we are doing for dinner. I also need to make a list for the farmers’ market tomorrow. Talk to you all again soon.

Friday, July 30, 2010

TGIF and a Mushroom Goulash


We have not had mushrooms in at least two days, can you imagine. What am I thinking? Clearly this mushroom deficiency needed to be corrected. I came across a recipe in my new book German Culinaria for beef and mushrooms. The recipe sounded very simple but also tasty. I knew I could make it with either tempeh or seitan. I opted to go with seitan sausage because I just happen to have two seitan bratwurst in the freezer. Here is what I did:

Mushroom and Seitan Goulash (Gulasch mit Pilzen)
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large onions, finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
12 ounce bottle of beer, preferably lager
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
2 cups water
2 tablespoons mustard (I used Dijon)
½ pound mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 seitan sausages cut into bite-sized pieces (bratwurst or kielbasa would be best here)
black pepper, to taste
¼ cup cashew crème fraiche, for garnish
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced. for garnish
1 pound potatoes, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces (Spätzle or another grain would also work)

Directions:

Combine the onion, tomato paste, beer, paprika, and thyme and simmer until the onions are soft and the beer has mostly evaporated. Add the water, mustard, mushrooms, and seitan and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked. You may need to add water so that you have enough “sauce” to serve. Stir occasionally to make certain it doesn’t stick.

To plate, top the potatoes with the mushroom and seitan sauce, parsley and a dollop of cashew crème fraiche.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 335.59
Calories From Fat (23%) - 75.72

Total Fat - 8.37g
Saturated Fat - 0.93g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 458.85mg
Potassium - 1009.04mg
Total Carbohydrates - 40.14g
Fiber - 8.45g
Sugar - 3.3g
Protein - 20.96g

The calories are overstated by the alcohol that burned off when I evaporated 90% of the liquid during cooking. But since I can’t measure the amount that is missing I thought it was better to overstate the calories by keeping 100% of the beer in the calculations.

Comments:

Dan was shocked to see potatoes with dinner since I very rarely make them. His first words were, “what did I want”. Nice, right? Well once he tasted it he changed his tune. He gave this recipe a very enthusiastic two thumbs up and Dan is my biggest critic. We both think this would be a great meal to serve to omnis. Yes it turned out that well. I will say it is definitely better on a cooler day like today. We would not have enjoyed this as much in the heat yesterday.

Unrelated note:

I have had the most glorious day today. The weather was in the upper 70’s this morning until almost lunch time. I was able to turn off the AC and open the windows for the first time in weeks. It is so nice to have fresh air in the house. I had forgotten how lovely it is to have the windows open. Funny how a little thing like that can make such a big difference. A few different types of birds are in one of the big oak trees near my house and are very busy chirping to each other. I love the breeze that is blowing in the window on the back of my neck. It is just a perfect day.


I managed to get another picture of Masi with his eyes open. It looks like I was not the only one enjoying the fresh air. ;-)


After checking on my parents and going to the store I had the afternoon to myself. I made a quick collard wrap for lunch with red cabbage, lentil walnut pate, Dijon and tomatoes. It was quite tasty, but a little messy. Next time I will slice the red cabbage into threads to make it a little easier to eat. But overall I was happy with the nutrition and flavor of this wrap. I followed the collard with a fresh mango. This exactly how I like to eat in the summer. Nothing heavy just fresh food.


A few hours later I hungry. Undoubtedly because I had eaten a small lunch. To keep my tummy full until dinner I made myself a quick dish. I grated a medium zucchini on a box grater added salsa, ground flaxseed and nutritional yeast. The flax was for omega 3 and the nutritional yeast provided a cheesy flavor. It was a filling dish just to keep my satisfied until we have dinner.


Then I decided a tomato with a drizzle of good balsamico would be nice. I know Dr. Fuhrman discourages snacking but I don’t like to eat a large volume of food at one time and without snacking I don’t get enough calories. Funny, that was never a problem in my life before adopting this very healthy eating style. ;-) I am always fascinated by just how much food I need to eat to get adequate calories since I don’t rely on grains, oil and sugar. The other thing that strikes me about eating this way is that I never feel bloated or that uncomfortable fullness in your stomach that you get from eating heavy food. I always feel “light” even after eating a huge salad or bowl of soup.

The health benefits from eating this way have been nothing short of amazing. My unmedicated blood pressure was 94/56 this afternoon. I find that remarkable for a woman of 48. It feels so good to know that I everything that I put into my body is adding to my health and not detracting from it.

Nutrition conversation from last night I wanted to share:

Last night at dinner we got into a discussion about cooking and nutrition, and I didn’t start the conversation. Shocked right? I know, so was I. ;-) The conversation centered around two ideas. How long it takes to prepare healthy food and how to know what to cook since there is so much nutrition information that seems to be contradictory.

I will admit I spend a good bit of time making healthy food but that I because I make 99% of what we eat from scratch to avoid chemicals and preservatives. Any food that seems to be resistant to rot worries me. I don’t feel comfortable putting “frankenfood” into our bodies. However, even using only fresh food I can make a healthy meal in less than 15 minutes. It may get boring after a while, but healthy cooking doesn’t have to take a long time. Much of the time I spend cooking is coming up with new recipe ideas.

As far as what to believe regarding nutrition I try to make that easy on myself as well. If it is a whole natural plant based food we eat it. If it has been processed in some way I start to think twice about consuming it. I have no problem with frozen fruit and veggies provided there is no added “mystery chemical”. After that I become a little more wary. If the product has an ingredient list that is more than three lines long I am probably not going to buy it. Also if the ingredient list reads more like a science experiment it is also not going into my cart. I firmly believe that food that contains chemicals (which is most processed food) is not healthy.

So now you are probably wondering what I buy. Typically it is whole natural produce, seeds, nuts, beans, quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, and millet. I also have a lot of spices, vinegars, and sea vegetables. These are the things that I use to make our meals and I can make hundreds of interesting healthy vegan meals with those ingredients. I will occasionally throw in a little seitan sausage here and there because my hubby really enjoys them. But seitan is not required and could be easily omitted. Of course I do make my own sausage and store them in the freezer to use later.

Time for me to clean up the kitchen and make dinner a little after dinner soft serve. I think I may try to convince him to try a different flavor tonight. If I am successful and he liked it I will share the recipe tomorrow. I hope you are having a good evening.

Dinner Out 29 July 2010 and Fun Facts Friday

Last night we had dinner out with friends. My buddy Phil was in town from Missouri so we “had to” go out to eat. Troy and Alexandra also joined us. Of course Ian made dinner, but you probably guessed that by now. ;-) Since the five of us eat differently it always makes sense to go out to eat so that those that want meat don’t have to eat vegan food with Dan and me. Going out just seems to work better for everyone. Luckily Phil was in town on a night Aimee was working. We all love seeing Aimee and will be getting together with her soon for a little outlet shopping before she heads back to college. As you probably guessed the restaurant is a bit like Cheers for us. We are very fortunate to have such a great place right in the neighborhood.

Fortunately Ian was back from his trip to South America. We always enjoy spending a little time with Ian. I always stop in the kitchen when I arrive before it gets busy to say hello and get a hug. Poor Ian, I know we are so difficult for him to cook for us these days. He now has me tell him what I want and then he makes it happen. I think our style of eating is so foreign to Ian he has trouble thinking of things to make for us that he considers “good enough”. Being a classically trained chef and relying on things like demi glace and beurre blanc I can imagine how hard it is for him to think outside the box. I understand since it wasn’t easy for me to cook for us at the beginning either. ;-) We are very fortunate that he is willing to make whatever I can dream up.


I decide what we are eating by looking at the menu and specials and then combine ingredients I know are in the kitchen based on those menus. Last night for our entrée we had a whole wheat pizza with red onion marmalade topped with roasted veggies (eggplant, onions, roasted red pepper, carrots, portobello, sweet potato and artichokes) and topped with pine nuts. Alexandra was shocked that we were having “flour”. She is the most familiar with how we eat. However when we go out it is tough to avoid flour products unless we are willing to just have salad for dinner. While Dan and I don’t mind that it seems to make other people uneasy. Having whole wheat pizza makes it easier to “fit in”. Also since we don’t eat flour often we think it is fine to have occasionally.


We also ordered a salad with orange, avocado, cucumber, mesclun and red onion topped with a little black olive vinaigrette.


For the table we ordered the Middle Eastern plate with hummus, caponata, pickled peppers, house-made pickles, and olives.

The entire evening was full of conversation. There were one or two conversations going on all evening. Alexandra brought her laptop and shared pictures from Peru. Being the foodie that she is there were plenty of pictures of food which I loved seeing and hearing about. On a side note Alex has not had eaten any meat or dairy in two weeks, until last night. Additionally her fiancé Andrew is eating more mushrooms and much less meat. We were very happy to hear about their progress. Yay Alex and Andrew keep up the great work!

Overall it was wonderful evening and just what I needed. Spending a pleasant evening with friends is always great for my mood. We are planning to get together for dinner with Alex when she gets back from Alabama as well as outlet shopping with Aimee when she comes back from Florida. I think having close young friends helps to keep us young, if only at heart. ;-)

Fun Facts Friday:

Since today is Friday and that means I have errands to run I wanted to get the fun facts into this post just to be certain I don’t run out of time later.

1. When you are having a meal with people that aren’t vegan how do you tend to handle it? As you make have guessed we go out to eat. We have trying having people over but it seems to work better in general to go out to eat. Luckily we have Ian and everyone can get what they want. How do you handle these situations?

2. Would you ever feel comfortable foraging for food? When I picked the purslane yesterday it was literally the first time I have foraged for food and it wasn’t planned. I don’t think I would have done it had I not been so familiar with purslane having purchased it from the farmers’ market for the last few years. The idea of foraging for mushrooms scares me, though our chef friend Ian does it for his family. I don’t feel comfortable with doing that. I guess I don’t feel like I know enough about mushrooms. Would you ever feel comfortable foraging for wild food?

3. Are you friends like you or are they different? This question came about after dinner last night. I realized how different everyone was at the table last night. Alex is in her 20’s, Troy his 30’s, me in my 40’s, Dan his 50’s and Phil his 60’s. Additionally our education and work backgrounds and not very similar. Troy and Dan work together in lending and Phil is a consulting architect. Alex has a background in polymer and fiber engineering. My background is in hospital finance. Somehow we all manage to find plenty to talk about and there was not one quiet moment all evening. Are you friends all of similar ages and backgrounds or are they more like ours?

Okay your turn. I can’t wait to read your answers.

Unrelated note:

Today is Friday so that means I have my normal errands to run. I will be back later after I check on my folks and run to the grocery store. Talk to you all again soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fresh Mangosteen and Gratuitous Cat Pic




I cracked into the fresh mangosteen a few days ago. I am sorry to report that they are just not worth the price. The skin is very thick and the fruit is small to begin with so you don’t get much from each piece. The taste is good, very reminiscent of a combination of peach, orange and cream.  The only problem is that there is very little fruit to eat.   Each mangsteen is two bites max.

Overall I would say they aren’t worth the price. Very depressing as I was looking forward to these. =(

If you decide to buy them you need a very sharp chef knife to get through the outer shell of the fruit.  It is much touger than anything else I have tried to "open".  I cut mine at the equator and tried going around the ouside so I could pop the shell off. That didn't work well since I didn't know how thick the shell was.

Unrelated note:

A fierce little summer thunderstorm rolled through about 30 minutes ago. The rain was so heavy the forecasters posted flash flood warnings. Only a few hours earlier today they were predicting a 40% chance of precipitation. Why is that whenever I listen to the forecast (and water the garden) it is always wrong? *rolls eyes*


Here is a rare picture of Massimo (aka Masi) with eyes open, in the window watching the storm (until I disturbed him that is). ;-)  My cats are saints for putting up with me, LOL.

Talk to you later.

Red Lentil and Walnut Pate in the Style of French Mousseline Forcemeat


We ran out of beans so I wanted to make a different version of the lentil pate I made recently. This time I decided to stick with more traditional pate seasonings to see how that worked since the texture on the last batch was so close to forcemeat. I don’t always want to recreate omni food closely but that was the mood I was in yesterday. The flavors I used were classic to pate and resulted in something that is similar to braunschweiger in terms of taste.

There are four basic styles of pate with country pate and mousseline being the ones I see most often. Country pate has a more coarse somewhat grainy texture and is easier to make at home. The meat for country pate is ground but not pureed. Country pate is a humble dish that is typically served with a crusty baguette and Dijon mustard. Mousseline forcemeat is a very smooth silky pate that is very similar to the texture of this lentil pate due to being pureed after it has been ground. Traditionally pate will include heavy cream and brandy for which I substituted walnuts (for richness) and apple cider vinegar for acidity.  Here is what I did:

Red Lentil and Walnut Pate in the Style of French Mousseline Forcemeat
Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup red lentils
2 – 2 ½ cups water
1 bay leaf
¼ cup red onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup walnuts
¼ teaspoons nutmeg
3 whole cloves, pregrind in a spice grinder if not using a Vitamix
2 whole allspice berries, pregrind in a spice grinder if not using a Vitamix
6 whole tellicherry peppercorns, pregrind in a spice grinder if not using a Vitamix
¾ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Combine the lentils, 2 cups of water and bay leaf and simmer on low for 30 minutes stirring occasionally to make certain they aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. You may or may not need the extra ½ cup of water. After 30 minutes add the onion and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes. The lentils should be thick and the water mostly evaporated. The texture will be similar to mashed potatoes only a bit thinner. Remove the bay leaf.

Place the lentils in your blender. Add the walnuts, spices and apple cider vinegar and process until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you desire. The consistency will resemble thin mashed potatoes but will thicken in the refrigerator as it cools.  The seasonings will become more pronouced as the pate sits in the refrigerator.

Store the pate in the refrigerator in a covered container until needed. Best served cold with Dijon mustard or pickles. I normally spread this on cucumber rounds or place it in hollowed out cherry tomatoes.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 121.88
Calories From Fat (46%) - 56.51

Total Fat - 6.76g
Saturated Fat - 0.68g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 3.04mg
Potassium - 140.99mg
Total Carbohydrates - 11.39g
Fiber - 2.52g
Sugar - 0.28g
Protein - 5.56g

Comments:

This turned out much more like traditional pate than I expected. Both the taste and texture are eerily similar. I think this recipe was quite the success. It will definitely be turning up at our house again.

Unrelated notes:

Somehow we managed to consume all five pounds of carrots I purchased earlier this week. This meant I was back to the store again this morning. Although I did walk it wasn’t the most pleasant trip this morning since the humidity is up as well as the temperature. On the way to the store I happened to notice purslane growing almost everywhere. Why isn’t it in my yard? Since the farmer that has it at the market charges $9 a pound, for what my husband calls “sidewalk weeds”, I decided to pick some on the way home. When I got home and got it into my big measuring cup to soak I realized I have picked 8 cups worth in probably less than a minute. Not bad for just a few moments of work.


For those of you that don’t know purslane it is a plant source of omega 3. You can add it to salad or sauté it with other greens. It has a very mild flavor and a fleshy leaf. I enjoy the taste and the texture. Dan likes to joke about eating weeds but he doesn’t complain about the taste. If you make spanakopita add purslane to the spinach it works well there too.

I am going to go make myself some lunch. I think a big salad with some purslane is in my future. I hope everyone is having a great Thursday.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce


Much to my surprise Dan actually left work earlier than usual today, before 6:30pm if you can imagine. This meant I didn’t have dinner ready since he has been working late this week. When I need a quick meal zucchini pasta always works.

The sauce I made today is a raw version of a creamy tomato sauce that typically has vodka. I used raw cashews in place of cream and added wine vinegar for the vodka. Both Dan and I liked the way this turned out. Here is what we had tonight:

Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 zucchini, spiralized
14 ounce can artichokes hearts, quartered
2 large tomatoes, rough chopped
½ cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 30 minutes and drained if not using a high speed blender)
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 medjool date, pitted
½ tablespoon wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 basil leaves, julienned
2 sprigs oregano, for garnish

Directions:

Combine the tomatoes, cashews, garlic, date and wine vinegar in your blender and process until smooth. If you are using a high speed blender it is not necessary to soak the cashews. Taste the sauce once it is smooth and add black pepper and/or adjust seasonings to your taste.

To plate, place the zucchini pasta on the base of the plate, top with sauce, artichokes and herbs. Serve cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 342.51
Calories From Fat (28%)-  97.36

Total Fat - 11.67g
Saturated Fat - 2.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 222.92mg
Potassium - 2031.13mg
Total Carbohydrates - 55.28g
Fiber - 18.31g
Sugar - 17.78g
Protein - 16.16g

Comments:

Both Dan and I enjoyed this dish. The sauce is rich (from the cashews) yet still light and with a hint of sweetness from the date. I will definitely be making this again since we both enjoyed it and it was quick.

Unrelated note:

I wanted to let you know why there have been fewer posts recently. I seem to have lost my blogging voice temporarily. Over the last week or so I haven’t felt like I have much to say. Additionally I haven’t felt much like cooking. I assume this will pass but at the moment I am riding it out while I wait for things to return to normal.

The raw cracker experiment from yesterday turned out different from other raw crackers I have made. It isn’t exactly what I wanted but they are thinner and very crisp. I am moving in the right direction with the crackers but we aren’t there yet. But given the results on the latest recipe I am fairly sure I will come up with a raw version of Mary’s crackers at some point. I think it is only a matter of time.

I made another version of lentil pate late this afternoon. It is still chilling so I am not ready to post the recipe yet. I hope to be able to sample it early tomorrow so I can share the recipe. This version is seasoned like traditional pate.

For now I need to run. A certain husband “needs” strawberry banana soft serve while he watches sci fi. Talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Nutrition in Clinical Practice


Sorry for the delay in writing this review. As you may have guessed I tend to be reading 5 or 6 books at one time almost always. I like to switch between authors to keep myself from getting bored. It is also useful to go between them so I can see where they agree and disagree. Enough about me here is my review.

This book (mine is the 2nd edition) was written by David L. Katz MD from Yale. His is probably a name you are familiar with if you follow nutrition. He developed the NuVal system and turns up on television periodically. The intended audience for this book was clinicians to be used when interacting with patients.

The book is divided as follows:

Section One: Clinically relevant nutrient metabolism

1. Carbohydrate metabolism
2. Fat metabolism
3. Protein metabolism
4. Micronutrient metabolism

Section Two: Nutritional management in clinical practice: diet, in sickness and in health

5. Diet weight regulation and obesity
6. Diet diabetes mellitus, and insulin resistance
7. Diet atherosclerosis, and ischemic heart disease
8. Diet and hypertension
9. Diet and hemostatis
10. Diet and cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular disease
11. Diet and immunity
12. Diet and cancer
13. Diet and hematopoiesis: nutritional anemias
14. Diet, Bone metabolism and osteoporosis
15. Diet and respiratory diseases
16. Diet and renal disease
17. Diet and hepatobiliary disease
18. Diet and common gastrointestinal disorders
19. Diet, dyspepsia and peptic ulcer disease
20. Diet and rheumatologic disease
21. Diet and neurologic disorders
22. Diet and dermatoses
23. Diet and wound healing
24. Food allergies and intolerance
25. Eating disorders
26. Malnutrition and cachexia

Section Three: Special topics in clinical nutrition

27. Diet pregnancy and lactation
28. Diet and menstrual cycle
29. Diet and early development: pediatric nutrition
30. Diet and adolescence
31. Diet and senescence
32. Ergogenic effects of food and nutrients: diet and athletic performance
33. Endocrine effects of diet: phytoestrogens
34. Diet, sleep-wake cycles and mood
35. Diet and cognitive function
36. Diet and vision
37. Diet and dentition
38. Hunger, appetite, taste and satiety
39. Health effects of chocolate
40. Health effects of ethanol
41. Health effects of coffee
42. Macronutrient food substitutes
43. Vegetarianism, veganism and macrobiotic diets

Section Four: Diet and health promotion: establishing the theme of prudent nutrition

44. Culture, evolutionary biology and the determinants of dietary preference
45. Dietary recommendations for health promotion and disease prevention

Section Five: Principles of effective dietary counseling

46. Models of behavior modification for diet and activity patterns and weight management
47. Dietary counseling in clinical practice

I need to start this review by telling you that I worked in health care for almost two decades as a hospital controller so I understand more medical terminology than most people. Had it not been for my lengthy exposure to medical terminology the book would have been a tough read to me. It was written by a doctor for doctors and uses that language. I found the book to very well researched. Those you that know me know how much I love my end notes. I always find that I want to read many of the studies that are reference. I suppose that is the sign of a true nutrition geek.  ;-)

The doctor did a great job of distilling a mountain of research into a cohesive book. I have been enjoying the suggested reading list he also includes by chapter. I like that he comes the conclusion at the end of the book that the same basic dietary pattern “is appropriate for the prevention of most disease”. I think the science on that is very clear. He appears to be an omnivore but promotes a diet that “shifts from animal and other saturated fats to unsaturated plant oils”. He also promotes the consumption of beans, lentil and other plant sources of protein. I always appreciate when clinicians are open to the science and don’t assume that patients won’t make the tough changes. Normally I don’t make it a point to get nutrition advice from doctors since that is not their field. However I do make an exception for a few docs that have gone out of their way to actually learn and understand nutrition and Dr. Katz is one of those.

Overall I would say this is a very good book and I can see myself referring to often in the future. I clearly don’t think it was written for the general audience. However if you have a keen interest in nutrition, which I assume you do since you read my blog, I say get a copy of the book and Stedman’s medical dictionary to help you translate some of the medical terminology.  I am quite sure you will learn a few things, I know I did.

If any of the chapter titles bring a quick question to mind let me know. I will see if it is covered in the book.

Unrelated note:

The flax cracker experience is in the dehydrator and I think I am getting closer to the texture of Mary’s crackers. My prior attempts have been too thick so I didn’t share them with you. This time they may be too thin, but that will be good information. I can tell that I am getting closer to the “secret”. Since I love those crackers and wt to know how to make them on my own I am going to keep experimenting until I get them right. ;-)

Today I was cleaning out my pantry and came across a bag of Dixie Diner Club's Not Chicken Strips. Even though the ingredient list only indicates soy flour I have a suspicion this is another product that is actually soy protein isolate. I have asked my nutritionist friend her opinion. As soon as she gets back to me I will let you all know. For now I am not using the Not Chicken Strips and suspect these are also destined for the trash like the TVP was a week or so ago.

Dinner tonight will be another salad and fruit bowl. Dan is working on getting another project off his desk so his late night mean a light dinner at our place later this evening.

Have a great evening and I will talk to you all tomorrow.

Tea May Help Reduce Blood Sugar in Diabetics and Hot vs. Cold Brewing


As you know I love my tea. I drink it all day long; in fact I am drinking an iced green and white tea now. It is good for so many things I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t drink it whenever possible.

This latest in vitro (in the lab) study published in Food Chemistry suggests that the EGCG in tea (more is found in white and green) may reduce antiglycative action (reduce blood sugar) and have lipoprotein binding (prevent the oxidation of cholesterol) activity. Obviously these results need to be replicated in vivo but the preliminary study is interesting. Since green and white tea is so good for so many things I say why not drink it whenever you can, we do.

I had mentioned before about an article that looked at the antioxidant level of hot versus cold brewed tea. Since reading the article in Food Chemistry I have been cold brewing our tea. The study looked at whether the antioxidant activity, total phenolic content and metal-chelating activity of different teas could be affected by steeping leaves in hot or cold water. The results:

• Total Phenol Content was typically a little higher in hot tea than cold tea. However white tea, whether prepared cold was higher than the other teas and even when hot was higher than all the teas except the Lyon brand (an African and Indian black tea blend).

• Metal Chelating Activity was higher in hot tea. White tea showed the highest chelating power. Chelating activity of the tea infusions measures how effective the compounds in them can compete with ferrozine for ferrous ion.

• Antioxidant Activity in general was a little higher in hot tea than cold. The white tea was highest and higher yet when cold brewed.

• The effects of the different tea infusions in suppressing the oxidation of LDL, i.e. a test of antioxidant functionality, were also evaluated. Cold tea performed best overall in this assay with cold white tea doubling the lag time compared to hot white tea.

What does all that mean? Hot and cold teas performed similarly but there were some differences. The thing that stood out to me is that cold white tea scored extremely well on all measures. Also the charts showed that green tea also fared well. I also want to find some of this Lyons tea which did very well in the testing.

My take away message from this article is add more cold brewed white tea to our intake which is what we have done. You can find white tea at Asian markets, Whole Foods, or Wegman’s. We combine green and white tea together in our brew.

Unrelated note:

It is amazing how busy I can be yet seem to get little accomplished. Does that happen to any of you? I have exercised, watered and weeded the garden and walked to the grocery store but that is it.

The weather is much milder today so it was a very pleasant walk to the store. We used the end of the carrots and celery in juice this morning so I needed replenish our stock. One of the things I love about where we live is the ability to walk to the grocery store. It is so nice and reminds me of my time in Firenze where everyone grocery shops every day. It is so nice to have that option and not need to get into my car. ;-)

I wanted to mention my favorite snack before I forget. I have told some of you by email but never think to mention it on the blog. If you have a sweet tooth, like I do, take a medjool date and cut it in half and remove the pit. Place a little reduced fat peanut butter in the cavity where the pit was. The richness of the nut butter is a great contrast with the sweetness of the date. It makes a really good snack.


I am going to start the next flax cracker experiment before I get distracted by something else. Then I am going to read my new women’s weight lifting book. Talk to you all again soon. ;-)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Raw Nori Wraps and a Busy Monday


Monday and Friday tend to be busy for me and this week is started out the same way. I will share more details later in the post but let’s start with the food. ;-)

Have you ever had one of those days where you stare at a full refrigerator and draw a complete blank on what to make? If so, then welcome to my day. We have plenty of produce to choose from and I could not think of anything to make for dinner until after 5:30 this evening. *rolls eyes* I was considering Asian food but I didn’t want rice again. That bought nori to mind which is how this recipe started. I decided why not make a little nut spread/pate instead of rice and use that to anchor the veggies into the wraps. Here is what I did:

Raw Nori Wraps
Serves 4

Nut pate Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least an hour, then thoroughly drained
1 tablespoon white miso
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
approximately 1/3 cup water

Vegetable ingredients:

8 sheets nori
1 cup snow pea shoots
4 cups mixed greens
1 bell pepper thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated

Directions:

In your food processor (or blender) combine the drained cashews, miso, garlic, and onions flakes and process. Slowly drizzle in water until you have a thick but spreadable consistency.

To make the rolls place a sheet of nori on your sushi nori mat and spread with the shiny side down. Spread 1/8 of the nut pate on the nori leaving a wide border to seal the nori after you roll it. Add 1/8 of the lettuce, bell pepper, carrot and pea shoots to the end closest to you. If you use different fillings always place the largest ones first and end with the smallest.


Roll the nori using the mat to help you wrap the nori firmly. When you reach bare nori moisten it with water (to seal the roll) and continue rolling. Use the mat to help you compact the rolls.  Only make as many rolls as you are going to eat right away these do not store well, they get soggy.

Slice into 8 pieces using a very sharp knife. Two whole rolls, or 16 pieces is a serving.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 188.66
Calories From Fat (49%) - 91.51

Total Fat - 10.93g
Saturated Fat - 1.92g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 192.26mg
Potassium - 434.85mg
Total Carbohydrates - 16.06g
Fiber - 5.13g
Sugar - 4.16g
Protein - 8.1g

Comments:

Not your traditional sushi but less work and still quite tasty. I really like how quickly this comes together, particularly if you have soaked raw cashews in the refrigerator waiting to become “something”.

This isn’t particularly Asian in flavor but I like that. It would work well as a starter for any type of cuisine. Sometimes I add capers, olives or sun dried tomatoes to similar verions of these rolls and all those work well.

Other Food to report:

Last night we ended up having a big salad at about 8:30pm. Nothing exciting just romaine, tomato, avocado, cucumber, salsa and walnut parmesan.


This morning we had a bowl of watermelon, blackberries and kiwi. Dan had oatmeal to go along with the fruit bowl.


Lunch was leftover ratatouille from yesterday. Of course there was a big bottle of fresh vegetable and fruit juice and trail mix.

Monday’s are always busy:

I normally try to spend as much time with Dan as possible on the weekend when he doesn’t need to work. Since Dan took the entire weekend off I did very little around the house other than cook this past weekend. By Monday tasks have piled up around here. There is always a lot to do at our house with three little cat fuzz makers. I will leave the specifics to your imagination. ;-)

I also decided to take everything out of my refrigerator to see what was in there. It is so full of produce it is a bit embarrassing. I decided if I had list of perishables inside it would make it easier for me to come up with recipe ideas. Yes, I know I should plan my meals ahead of time but I just don’t work well with “constraints”. Instead I buy things that look good or appeal to me at the moment. I always try to vary the produce we eat to maximize our consumption of micronutrients.

Here is what I have in the refrigerator or on the counter currently: beets, beet greens, zucchini, cucumbers, collards, carrots, celery, mesclun, romaine, spring onions, fava beans, Italian flat beans, red bell peppers, red cabbage, avocadoes, shitake mushrooms, king trumpet mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, apples, lemons, mangoes, kiwi, dragon fruit, mangosteen, lemon, banana and ginger. Since I imagine you are wondering that is for the two of us and we will eat it all. Dan and I both eat and/or drink a lot of fresh produce every day. It is all for us and we will manage to eat it all by the end of the week.   

I still marvel at the fact that the average American eats three vegetable servings a day. Sadly I don't think many vegans eat a lot more veggie servings based on some blogs I have seen. *shakes head*  I wish more people understood the importance of eating fresh produce, and as much as possible.  Had we known that sooner we would have changed our habits much earlier in life.

Twitter update:

I also have been spending more time trying to learn Twitter. It is still not intuitive but is starting to make more sense. I will say that it baffles me how people keep up with blogs, twitter and facebook. There must be some secret I haven’t figured out yet. At the moment it appears to be a big time drain. I am hoping it gets easier and quicker. Clearly I will need to use more of the capabilities of the fancy phone my hubby bought me this past January.

Tomorrow:

If all goes according to plan tomorrow I should be a little more relaxing. I want to read “The New Rules for Lifting” which arrived last week. I have only had a chance to skim it but what I did see I liked. I also want to work on a new raw cracker tomorrow. I haven’t made any flax crackers in a while so I think it is time for another batch and I am going to play around with the thickness, or I should say thinness to see how that changes things.

For now I need to go and spend some time with my hubby. I will “chat” with you tomorrow.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ratatouille with Mushroom and Improved Walnut Parmesan


For the mid-day meal with the omnis I decided a cooked dish would be better received. Since we bought groceries yesterday and went to the farmers’ market today our refrigerator is jammed with produce. Every week after the farmers’ market I think we will never eat all the produce, and yet we always do. Go figure how that happens. In order to make some space in the refrigerator I decided to make ratatouille but with a few dried mushrooms for their antiproliferative effects.

One of the tricks to making ratatouille is to stir it as little as possible. When you do stir be careful not to break up the vegetables. You also want to cook the veggies low and slow. I use a heavy enamel cast iron pan and simmer the dish for about an hour and a half. Here is what I did:

Ratatouille with Mushroom
Serves 6 as a meal

Ratatouille Ingredients:

1 cup dried mushrooms soaked in 2 cups hot water until softened then cut into bite-sized pieces, strain the soaking liquid to add to the pot (about 30 minutes)
4 large tomatoes, peeled and diced or 2 – 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 large red onion, finely diced
10 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 bell peppers, flesh only, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon dulse granules (found in your health food store, tastes salty and provided iodine)
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parsley, minced,  for garnish
24 fresh basil leaves, julienned, for garnish
walnut parmesan, for garnish

Rice Ingredients:

2 cups brown basmati rice
4 cups water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (adds a buttery flavor to the rice)

Directions:

Combine everything, except the parsley, basil and walnut parmesan in a large pot with a lid. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about an hour and half, gently stirring occasionally just to make certain nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After the ratatouille has cooked for 45 minutes start the rice cooking.

Serve the ratatouille warm or room temperature for the best flavor. Tonight we had the ratatouille over brown rice but you could also use quinoa, millet, polenta or garlic toast. I added a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt to my parents servings. However, Dan and I had ours as written and though it had plenty of flavor.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 350.8
Calories From Fat (7%) - 23.81

Total Fat - 2.74g
Saturated Fat - 0.51g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 38.65mg
Potassium - 1164.84mg
Total Carbohydrates - 72.52g
Fiber - 10.28g
Sugar - 9.86g
Protein - 9.87g

Comments:

The verdict: shockingly, even the omnis enjoyed this. They didn’t even ask what the walnut parmesan was. Will miracles never cease?

If Dan and I were eating this without my parents I would have added red pepper flakes, but we like heat. More garlic would not have been a bad thing but it doesn’t “need it”. The garlic suggestion is just my Italian DNA talking. Overall I thought it was good and that I should have made more since it will be gone by lunch tomorrow. Bummer. ;-)

Next recipe:

We ran out of walnut parmesan because I have been putting it on just about anything savory. It is really good on salad. Today I needed to make another batch so I wanted to tweak the recipe a bit and see if I could make the flavor a little bit more complex. Here is what I did:

Walnut Parmesan – improved
Makes 24 servings of about a fat ½ tablespoon each

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup walnuts
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dulse granules (for saltiness and iodine)

Directions:

Combine the ingredients in your food processor and pulse until you have a fine meal. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your taste.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 56.86
Calories From Fat (83%) - 47.17

Total Fat - 4.77g
Saturated Fat - 0.45g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 0.87mg
Potassium - 35.81mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.08g
Fiber - 0.5g
Sugar - 0.2g
Protein - 1.12g

Comments:

This version has more depth of flavor. The first version is good but I think I prefer this one. The only other item I thought I might add was a pinch of dry mustard. However since that can be overwhelming (and Dan isn’t a huge fan) I left that out this time. It may make it into the next batch though. ;-)

Unrelated notes:

For dessert I whipped up a batch of strawberry banana soft serve (similar to what I made here) and they both enjoyed it and suggested that I make it again soon. What, who are this people and what have they done with my unhealthy parents? I was absolutely speechless and that does not happen often I can assure you. ;-)

As you guys know I don’t really measure the soft serve since I make it almost every night for Dan. If you have a Vitamix it is really easy. Add about an inch of walnuts to the base of the blender container, then two frozen bananas, about 4 cups of frozen strawberries, enough water to come up the sides of the container about 1 ½ inches (with the other items in the blender), about ¼ teaspoon of powdered ginger and cinnamon and stevia to taste. Blend until thick and creamy. That is all there is to it. Everyone that has tried it so far has loved it and it couldn’t be easier. If you want to make this a full meal (my hubby will have this for breakfast) add ½ cup of dry oats you processed into flour before you add the nuts. The oatmeal adds protein and calories, if you are light on either. ;-)

A lovely little storm just rolled through here. Please note the heavy sarcasm in my prior statement. ;-) I heard we had tornado warnings but thankfully I don’t see any damage out our windows and the power is still on. Apparently we dodged a bullet. ;-) I thought I left tornadoes in my rear view mirror when I left Indiana, but NO. *shakes head*

I need to clean up my kitchen and decide what I am going to make Dan and me for dinner. Since we eat lunch/supper with my parents at 3pm on the weekend dinner for us will be late. I will try to post it tonight but no promises. You may not see that until tomorrow. I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Zucchini Lo Mein with Eggplant, Mushroom, Cabbage and Onions


Today has been a busy one for us. Dan didn’t work today, which was great. We took the opportunity to run a few errands and had a very fun and productive day. I will tell you more about today in a bit. For now let’s talk about dinner tonight.

After our day of errands we couldn’t decide between going out for dinner and staying home. When we got home and realized our refrigerator was completely stuffed with produce we thought staying home made the most sense. I was in the mood for Asian food but didn’t know what I wanted. Since Asian is always high in sodium I checked the sodium content on all my sauces and the vegetarian oyster sauce was the lowest. Here is what I made tonight but any veggies would work:

Zucchini Lo Mein with Eggplant, Mushroom, Cabbage and Onions
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 cups onion, thinly sliced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
2 large cloves, garlic finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
1 zucchini, spiral cut
1 tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce
3 tablespoons mirin or rice wine vinegar
1/2 pound mushrooms, any type (used fresh oyster mushrooms)
1 eggplant, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons water, if necessary
1 tablespoon pine nuts for garnish

Directions:

Slice the onions and garlic and allow to stand 10 minutes before heating. Then cook the onions and garlic in the oyster sauce and rice vinegar until they just begin to soften. Add the eggplant, mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Add the cabbage just two to three minutes before you are ready to serve. You want it warmed through but not cooked.   Cruciferous veggies (like cabbage) are more nutritious if very lightly cooked. You may need to add a little water to make a sauce depending on the temperature of your burner.

Lightly heat the spiral zucchini in the microwave or toss it into the veggies and heat for a few minutes. To serve, top with pine nuts.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 251.65
Calories From Fat (13%) - 31.89

Total Fat - 4.31g
Saturated Fat - 0.44g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 283.22mg
Potassium - 1867.04mg
Total Carbohydrates - 56.59g
Fiber - 16.39g
Sugar - 17.82g
Protein - 11.39g

Comment:

This was a mountain of food. The picture doesn’t do it justice. I was stuffed after we ate. It never ceases to amaze me how much food you can eat for so few calories when you aren’t using oil.

If you have given up sodium you will enjoy this. However if you still use salt you may want to double or triple the oyster sauce. The brand I used contained 450mg per tablespoon. WE have gotten so accustomed to food without sodium that this had plenty of flavor for me.

Twitter:

As promised I am trying to learn more about using Twitter. For now I am muddling my way through. It is definitely not intuitive. But I think I will get the hang of it in short order. I have put the most recent tweets on the blog (top left corner) if you are interested.

Today’s events:


We started the afternoon with a little clothes shopping. Can a girl ever have too many outfits? I don’t think so. Dan doesn’t mind shopping with me because I shop quickly so he doesn’t get bored. After clothes shopping we went to lunch at the Flying Avocado and ordered two things to share. We had a green salad with blackberries, blueberries, oranges, carrots, cucumber, walnuts, flaxseeds and dried cranberries.


To go with that we got a smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, pineapple, wheat germ, flaxseeds and hempmilk.


Both items were very good. Our only complaint was that the salad came out in a warm bowl. That is one of my pet peeves. Salads should be served on cold dishes. Other than that we were very pleased and will go back.

Then we stopped at J’s produce on Reisterstown Road and bough fresh mangosteens,


lychees,


and dragon fruit.


I did not buy the eddo root because I had no idea what it was or what to do with it. Anyone have any experience with eddo root?


For those of you in the area it was an interesting store and had good prices. They did also carry standard produce not just the exotic stuff.

After the produce store we stopped at H-Mart (an Asian grocer) to pick up a few things. They had frozen jackfruit which I picked up. We also stocked up on dried shitakes, organic black beans, organic tofu (with no soy protein isolate) and spices.

Overall it was a fun day and very productive. I love finding new restaurants and stores. Tomorrow I will be breaking into the fresh mangosteen. Since this is a first for us I will definitely let you know what we think of the flavor.

It is getting late here and we need to get moving early tomorrow for the farmers’ market. Talk to you all tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zucchini Pasta Dressed in Spicy Peanut Sauce and Topped with Tofu and Fun Facts Friday


Yesterday was a bit busy at our place. We had a late dinner and needed to get moving early this morning which is why this post didn’t make it up last night. Other than documenting the ingredients I didn’t have time to write the directions and the remainder of the post.

In the past I would have made used this sauce on soba or whole wheat noodles. However since zucchini pasta provides vitamins and minerals it is a better nutritional choice. It is also nice that it is faster to make. Since this is a cold dish it came together in about 10 minutes. This is always welcome when you are having dinner at 9pm. Here is what I made:

Zucchini Pasta Dressed in Spicy Peanut Sauce and Topped with Tofu
Serves 2

Vegetable Ingredients:

1 zucchini, spiralized
2 carrots, julienned
1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks

Sauce Ingredients:

3 tablespoons reduced fat peanut butter
1 clove garlic, peeled
½ inch fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh citrus juice (either 1 lime or 1/2 lemon)
sriracha, to taste (start with a teaspoon)
water, to achieve the consistency you like (I used about 2 tablespoons)

Garnish:

6 slices of sweet and spicy baked tofu

Directions:

Place the veggies in a large bowl.

Combine the sauce ingredients in your blender and process until smooth. Add as much water as is necessary to achieve a sauce consistency. You want the sauce thicken enough that it will cling to the sauce and not too liquid. Mine was approximately the consistency of sour cream.

Toss the sauce with the veggies and serve. Top with sweet and spicy baked tofu.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 398.86
Calories From Fat (41%) - 162.8

Total Fat - 18.87g
Saturated Fat - 2.31g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 214.24mg
Potassium - 1027.05mg
Total Carbohydrates - 41.28g
Fiber-  6.65g
Sugar - 23.15g
Protein - 23.68g

Comments:

I documented the recipe in my cookbook program before I made it. I reduced the peanut butter so the fat grams were in a range I was looking for. However if you are more concerned about taste I would suggest you add another tablespoon of peanut butter to provide a more intense peanut flavor. Though I will say that we thought it was good the way it was.

If you are eating earlier than we did and want to spend more time on the dish I think that chopped peanuts and cilantro would be great as a garnish. I would also like red bell pepper added to the veggies.

Fun Facts Friday:

Since Fridays tend to be hectic at our house I thought I would get the Fun Facts into this post just in case I don’t have time for another post today.

1. What is the one thing about yourself that you are most proud of? I am one of those extremely honest people. You know the ones that you never want to ask how an outfit looks on you because they will tell you. Everyone that knows me knows what I think. I absolutely will not lie. This has gotten me into trouble in life. When I don’t have something nice to say I tend to keep my mouth shut but sometimes people ask me what I think. That is normally when I get into trouble. But I wouldn’t have things any other way. In a world where lying happens every minute of every day I prefer honesty and can say that I don’t contribute to the BS that goes around.

2. What is one habit you have that you would like to change but don’t know where to start? I cannot leave my cuticles alone. When I get nervous or upset I have to clip them or tear them. Where does that come from? If I had any idea how to stop that I would. *shakes head*

3. Do you have an embarrassing moment that is now funny? I actually have quite a few embarrassing moments to select from. What does that say about me I wonder? I decided to go with the one my husband thinks is so funny.

It happened about 15 years ago. We were spending a week at the Outer Banks in NC. I had on a cute black bathing suit with a bandeau top that had removable straps. Dan and I had gone into the water waist high to cool off. Foolishly I had worn my contact lenses into the water. You didn’t expect me to wear my glasses did you? No way! Wearing my contacts meant I needed to close my eyes when the waves came. This also meant that I didn’t immediately realize a wave pushed my suit down causing me to expose myself. All Dan could do was laugh. You can imagine the rest. I can’t open my eyes or lose my contacts so I am trying to stay mostly underwater, hold my suit up, getting knocked over my waves that I don’t know are coming, and Dan is laughing his ass off. I finally get him to help me ashore and he keeps saying to me, “When will we see these people again.” This is where it gets even funnier.

We go out to breakfast the next morning. Who is sitting at the table next to us? You guessed it a couple that was close to us on the beach the prior day. It is funny now, but I was not laughing then. Now when my husband says, “When we will see these people again,"  I always respond, "Tomorrow morning at breakfast” and we both laugh.

Okay your turn. I can’t wait to hear some of your stories.

Unrelated notes:

Since it is Friday that means it is errand day in my life. I will try to come back later with a post but I can’t guarantee it. I have too much on my agenda today.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Talk to you again soon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Healthy Eggplant and Tahini Dip


Since I had the oven on yesterday for the sweet and spicy tofu I decided to also bake an eggplant for baba ganoush, or my version of it I should say. As you all know I never follow a recipe, mine or those of others. I think recipes are simply suggestions unless we are talking about baking, and I don’t do that any longer for health reasons. I also suggest you don’t follow recipes but use them as ideas to change to your own tastes. Much of the fun of cooking is taking a recipe and making it your own.

Over the years my cooking has changed dramatically. In prior decades my cooking more closely resembled what you would find in a restaurant. Many evenings dinner was a celebration at our house. I am not talking about national holidays but just some random weeknight. Before the cancer we would eat for taste assuming we had plenty of time to make healthy changes later before we were old. Little did we know the universe had other plans. I mention this because I want you to think about what you are consuming. Eating is a chance to refuel your body and provide much needed macro and micro nutrients. When you look at food as fuel rather than an indulgence it is much easier to make healthy choices. Well at least that works for us. Climbing down off my soapbox now. ;-)

Okay, back to the dip. I say this is my version of baba ganoush because it doesn’t contain olive oil and certainly not in the ridiculous quantities that most recipes call for. I think it still tastes great it just isn’t causing inflammation or coating the inside of our arteries with crud. Here is how I make a healthier eggplant dip:

Eggplant and Tahini Dip
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant, well scrubbed
½ cup raw sesame seeds (tahini if not using a high speed blender like a Vitamix)
½ lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (ground if not using a high speed blender)
¼ - ½ teaspoon sumac, add to taste
6 tablespoons of water, or whatever is necessary to achieve the creamy texture you desire

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a pan with parchment or silpat.

Prick the eggplant with the tip of a paring knife and bake until the eggplant slumps, about 30 minutes. You want it to be completely soft and easy to pierce with a fork. Allow the eggplant to cool a little so that you can remove all the skin. You want to be sure to get all the skin because it can impart a bitter flavor to the dip if you leave it on the eggplant.

Place the peeled eggplant, sesame seeds (or tahini), lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and sumac into your blender. Start with a couple of tablespoons water and turn on the blender. Add more water a tablespoon at a time until the blender is processing easily and the texture is creamy.

Refrigerate in a closed container until needed. I like to serve this with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and a few pine nuts which is how it is pictured above.

Nutritional Information (for 1/6th of the recipe):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 90.94
Calories From Fat (57%) - 51.88

Total Fat - 6.21g
Saturated Fat - 0.87g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 4.23mg
Potassium - 253.19mg
Total Carbohydrates - 8.45g
Fiber - 4.48g
Sugar - 1.84g
Protein - 3.1g

Comment:

This dip is very much like hummus but with a base of eggplant. It is creamy, rich and very flavorful. Since the base is eggplant and not garbanzo beans it is lower in fiber, starch, and protein. I really like eggplant dip but Dan is not a big fan of eggplant so he actually prefers hummus. However the sesame paste smoothes out both the texture and flavor of this dip enough that even Dan likes this in moderation.

I use this on wrap sandwiches, with collard leaves as the wrapper of course. This is also good on a salad in place of dressing. We also like to dip raw veggies in it.

Today’s lunch:

I had a late lunch today because I have been out of the house for a while with a friend. When I got home I wanted something quick but nutritious. So I decided to make a veggie sandwich in a collard wrap. I stuffed the collard leaf with green cabbage, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers and eggplant dip. Here it is unwrapped,


and then wrapped and cut.


It was a nice light little lunch. Perfect for this hot weather we are having.

Unrelated note:

Today I spent some time with my friend Sheila who is trying to make more healthy food for her family. Now that is a project I can completely get behind. ;-) She is new to vegan cooking and wanted to know how to make nut cheese. I showed her how to make my almond feta spread. We also made cinnamon walnut butter. We had a productive late morning/early afternoon. It went so well I think we may have to do this again soon. Hopefully her husband and son enjoy our efforts as much as we did.

I need to do a few things around here and then work on dinner. I will chat with you all again later. My plan is to make an Asian salad with the quick tofu I made yesterday. I hope everyone is having a great Thursday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Easy Sweet and Spicy Baked Tofu


Both Dan and I like Asian salads. I don’t know exactly why we like them, but we do. I wanted to try to make one that didn’t include a lot of sodium. Since I normally use liquid aminos and/or miso I know keeping the sodium down was going to tough.

While liquid aminos is lower in sodium than soy sauce it still contains a good bit of sodium. According to the nutrition label on the bottle it has 160mg of sodium per ½ teaspoon. Seriously? How many of us consider ½ teaspoon a serving of liquid aminos. I used to use one, two or three tablespoons depending on what I was making. I am only pointing out the sodium in liquid aminos so that you are all aware that each tablespoon contains 960mg of sodium.

I decided that we would start with tofu for the salad and then work on a dressing that wouldn’t add too much sodium. Here is the tofu I baked today:

Easy Sweet and Spicy Baked Tofu
Makes 7 slices

Ingredients:

14 ounce block extra firm tofu, well pressed and cut into seven slices (frozen and defrosted if you want a more chewy texture)
1 ½ tablespoons apricot preserves or orange marmalade
Sriracha, to taste
quatre epices, or Chinese 5 spice powder, or cardamom and powdered ginger, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment. Place the tofu slices on the prepared pan.

Heat the apricot preserves in your microwave until it just starts to melt. Twenty seconds was enough in my microwave. Add a little sriracha, stir and taste. Continue to add sriracha until you like the heat level.


Use a spoon to apply a little of the spicy sweet sauce to your tofu. Sprinkle the top of the tofu with quatre epices, Chinese 5 spice powder, or cardamom and ginger. Any of those would work fine.

Bake the tofu until you like the texture. We tend to like ours more firm so I bake it for at least 45 minutes, sometimes longer.

Store in a covered container in your refrigerator until needed. This would be great cold on an Oriental style salad with edamame.

Nutritional Information (for 1/7th of the recipe):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 62.94
Calories From Fat (44%) - 27.68

Total Fat - 3.32g
Saturated Fat - 0.31g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 20.54mg
Potassium - 78.21mg
Total Carbohydrates - 4.1g
Fiber - 0.26g
Sugar - 2.29g
Protein - 5.65g

Comments:

This tofu is a little too good if you know what I mean. I did taste it in the interest of quality control of course. I may have to keep this on the rarely list or risk eating too much of it. Something tells me the hubby will love this one.

I will be working on a low sodium Oriental salad dressing tomorrow. After I get that taken care of I will post it and the salad that accompanies this tofu.

Unrelated notes:

Somehow I ended up spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen today. It appears I am making up for the last few days. I also made an eggplant dip this afternoon. That recipe will get posted tomorrow. I am running out of the time to write that post tonight.

Talk to you all again tomorrow. I hope everyone is having a good Wednesday. We are more than half way to the weekend!
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