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Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

Pizza and Chinese Food

In Chinese, Flexitarian, Italian, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Seitan, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on September 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Those were my only two delivery options when I lived in my first apartment after college.  My street was a quiet crescent shape, there were lots of trees and families, and I was only a 5 minute walk to the subway.  I also had no roommates and lived on the top floor.  However, not much else made me happy to live there.  The neighborhood had about a 2 block stretch of the necessary businesses – bank, coffee shop, bodega, grocery store, 99 cent store, cleaners, shoe repair, and the aforementioned eateries.  There was also a 24 hour diner, but they didn’t deliver.  Thus, when I came home from a hard day of work (which was every day), I’d crack open a beer and 2 or 3 times a week I’d order either pizza/pasta or Chinese food.  I wasn’t as experienced with cooking as I am now, so I hadn’t had enough in my repertoire to mix things up in my own kitchen.  Then I met Nick, who had a big beautiful kitchen, perfect for improving my skills (while winning his heart at the same time).

Times have changed, and so have my skills and appetite.  While I still crave the pizza and Chinese of bachelorettehood’s past, I seldom order delivery to avoid the extra fat, calories, and salt that is packed inside the cardboard containers.  Instead, I’ll make my own versions at home: a whole wheat pitza, or a splurge on TJ’s whole wheat pizza dough helps with the carb cravings, and stirfries with brown rice replace MSG.  With the bounty of veggies I purchased during my Eat to Live inspired market trip, both cuisines avail themselves to being infused with said produce.

For Nick, I made a pitza using pesto and fresh tomatoes instead of marinara sauce.

I topped them with all those veggies, and added some cheese.  I made a side salad of cucumber, tomato, and chives.

For myself, I attempted my first cauliflower pizza crust!  It comes out more like an omelet, but it’s pretty tasty.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Serves 2

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 egg whites
1/2 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
sprinkle each of garlic powder, salt, and oregano

After steaming the cauliflower for 5ish minutes, I drained the florets and used a ricer to squeeze out extra fluid.  I couldn’t fully rice it with the gadget, so I pulsed the cauliflower in the food processor.

Then I combined the cauliflower with the other ingredients, spread the mixture on a toaster oven baking sheet, and baked for 15 minutes at 400º.

Before baking…

After baking.

Then it was time to top the crust.  Since there was already cheese in there, I left that out for my version.  I just used pesto, tomatoes, zucchini, mushroom, peppers, and chives.

Before broiling…

With the toaster oven on broil, The toppings just needed 5 minutes.

Here’s a slice….

The ends were really crispy, which was most pizza-crust like.  However, the middle was similar to an omelet, only tastier.  I’d definitely recommend it!

Now let’s move further east.

Vegetables – taste the rainbow.

I don’t think I really need to go over a recipe for this.  All you need is a Wok, some veggies, preferable an onion or scallion, some garlic, and at least some soy sauce.  Other ingredients like toasted sesame oil, mirin, or chili paste are also welcome additions.  Using corn starch with broth helps create a nice thick sauce, as well.

Serve with some protein (like 5 spice seitan or chicken), brown rice, and a nice salad (I used red cabbage as my base and dressed with carrot ginger dressing).

Counter clockwise from top left: Mirin chicken, brown rice, veggie stir fry, salad (cabbage, cucumber, tomato, avocado, ginger dressing)

Lots of veggies, lots of salad, and a smidge seitan in garlic sauce.

My salad was really big (like 1/4 of a huge cabbage), and the greenish dressing is that chive based version I talked about in my last post.  Had I only had some berries on there, I’d be the [G] Bomb[s].

I know what you may be thinking: that’s a lot of veggies.  However, combined with the essences of take out food, it’s a good balance of naughty and nice.  It’s not even THAT naughty.  I should know; I used to be a take-out-a-holic.

Eat to Live vs. Live to Eat

In American, Challenge, Fruit, Nuts, Quick Meal, Salad, Shopping, Vegan, Vegetables on September 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Having a summer full of vacations has pulled me in polar opposite directions with my diet.  It seems that every vacation activity is planned around feedings, and the highlights of the trip are the bleu cheese stuffed olives or truffled mashed potatoes.  A whole afternoon can be spent chopping fruit for sangria, and this is considered quality relaxation time spent with my family.  Then reality hits upon crossing the threshold of my apartment:  I can’t continue to have martinis, beer, and sangria everyday, nor end every meal with a bowl of molten chocolate cake.  I do begin to crave my normal routine of salads, veggies, and the like, but I also suffer from indulgence withdrawal.  Yes, enjoying delicacies are some of the most precious moments in life, but living to a healthy old age is more of a priority in my book.  So what am I to do to achieve a balance between the two?  Eating to live, instead of living to eat.  Easier said than done, especially for this foodie.

Farmer’s market taters and tomaters.

Does anybody else every have an experience where they learn something new, and then all of the sudden that new thing is everywhere?  That’s how I feel about Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live.  I remember coming across his diet philosophy on another food blog (I can’t remember which, since I tend to read 30 posts in a row on a new blog I discover), and then many times after seeing him on talk shows and PBS.  According to Dr. Fuhrman, the key to living a long, healthy, and disease-free life is to adapt a plant-based diet (ideally vegan) that focuses on 6 required food groups a day.  He created an acronym to remember these categories: “G-BOMBS”

  • Greens (Kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, etc) – 1 lb raw and 1 lb steamed
  • Berries – 1 cup
  • Onions (red, white, scallion, garlic, etc) – 1/2 cup
  • Mushrooms – 1 tbsp
  • Beans (beans, lentils, peas) – 1 cup
  • Seeds (seeds and nuts – chia, flax, almond, cashew, etc) – 1 oz

Additionally, you can eat other non-starch veggies, and should have about a cup a day of whole grains (oats, quinoa, rice, etc).  Mind you, all of this information I’ve gathered without reading the book, but it’s on my to-read list for sure.  Regardless, I really like his philosophy.  I basically eat this way anyway, but I really had to up my veggie intake to meet the greens requirement.  Do you know how much a lb of greens is?  A lot.  Basically, 2 huge salads a day.  And that’s just the raw requirement.

Inspired by this eat to live mentality, I made a trip to the farmer’s market a few weeks ago in between 2 vacations.  I kid you not when I tell you I spent 60 dollars.  The mushrooms were pricy, and cukes/tomatoes/zucchini were on major sale, so I really took advantage of the plethora of options.  Besides, 60 bux for 2 people’s grocery budget is pretty low, especially for organics.

Not even half of my bounty.

About 20% of the zucchini.

Not included in the pictures above are chives, shallots, mushrooms, lettuce, kale, cauliflower, basil, and cucumbers.  I made lots of salads and had veggies juithies every day.  I made a really delicious dressing, but didn’t take any pictures.  Kind of a take of Green Goddess dressing, only non-dairy.

Green Tahini Dressing

1/2 bunch chives
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot
2 tbsp tahini paste
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
salt and pepper to taste

I blended everything in my Vitamix, which was really quick.   This dressing lasted me about 5-6 salads worth, and sometimes I squeezed a lil lemon juice to freshen it up.  It’s REALLY oniony and garlicky, so just be forewarned, but it’s super delicious.

With all the zucchini and tomatoes (including heirloom!) I opted to do a raw dinner one night.  I had this huge bunch of basil, so what else to make with it except pesto? It wasn’t a traditional version with tons of oil or parm.  Just basil, pine nuts, and 1 tbsp evoo.

Instead of wheat pasta, I used my veggie peeler to peel some zucchini ribbons, and topped the dish with sliced heirloom tomato, salt, and pepper.

Those are some of the raw veggie ideas.  I’ll talk about some cooked ideas in my next post.  In the meantime, I am still readjusting to this new philosophy, so I’ll be coming up with some new kinds of recipes.  Pretty soon, by eating to live, living to eat will be in pursuit of the former.  That’s what I call a win-win.