laurenlikestocook

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Pseudo Sufganiyot

In Bread, Breakfast, Fruit, Holiday, Jewish, Quick Meal, Vegetarian on December 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Happy Chanukah everyone!  For those who don’t know, it’s a big tradition to eat foods fried in oil.  This custom serves to commemorate the miracle of 1 day’s worth of oil burning for 8 nights in the Temple.  Last year, I spun this tradition by baking a commonly fried falafel ball, although falafel isn’t really thought of as a Chanukah food.  The two most common fried foods for this holiday are potato latkas (pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts).  Both are delicious, but definitely not figure or digestion friendly.

Last week, I wasn’t in the mood for my usual oatmeal breakfast, so I decided to make some healthy french toast using sprouted grain bread, a mixture of whole egg and whites, and a schmear of pb&j.

IMG_0377

As I ate it, I thought “this kinda (barely) reminds me of jelly donuts.”  Then it occurred to me to try it again for Chanukah, only as a stuffed french toast instead.  This is by no means a dessert substitute, but it still gives you that hint of jelly donut flavor.

PB&J Stuffed French Toast

1 whole egg + 2 whites, beaten (you could cut the fat even more by using 4 whites instead)
1 capful vanilla extract (about 1/2 tsp)
Ground cinnamon to taste
Orange zest, optional
2 slices whole grain bread (I used Ezekial 4:09 Sprouted Grain)
2 tsp natural peanut butter
1 tbsp fruit preserves (I used strawberry)
Nonstick cooking spray

The first step is to prepare the egg batter.  My general rule of thumb is 1 egg (or whites equivalent) per slice of bread.  However, for this stuffed version there was a smidge left over.  To the beaten eggs add vanilla, cinnamon, and orange zest if you have it.

IMG_0389

Then you prepare the sandwich part.  If you wanted to make it more jelly donut-like, just use jelly/preserves.  I really dig the pb&j combo.  If you wanted to be even healthier, you could use fresh sliced strawberries instead.

IMG_0390

After sandwiching the two pieces together, I let the bread soak in the egg batter for at least one minute each side.  You really want to wait as long as possible so that all the egg is absorbed.

IMG_0391

Then comes the “frying” part.  Usually french toast is fried in tons of butter, but I just use non-stick spray.

You can see some of the extra egg batter.

You can see some of the extra egg batter.

I just scrambled the excess and ate it plain.

I just scrambled the excess and ate it plain.

After 3 or 4 minutes, it was time to flip.

IMG_0394

2 or 3 minutes more, and the stuffed toast was done.  I cut a little bit of the corners to make a rounded donut shape (don’t worry, I ate the corners, too).

IMG_0395

Here’s how the stuffing looks.  Not too shabby, huh?

IMG_0396

This breakfast treat is really filling, and doesn’t give you the traditional sugar headache of either donuts or syrup doused french toast.

A typical jelly donut (such as one from DD) can run you high in bad nutrition:

Calories: 290
Calories from fat: 130 (almost 45% of the calories!)
Total fat: 14 grams
Saturated fat: 7 grams
Total carbohydrates: 36 grams (~50%)
Fiber: 1 gram
Sugar: 6 grams
Protein: 3 grams (~5%)

Basically super high in fat, barely any protein.  There is some sugar, but not awful.  And that is just for a snack or non-filling breakfast.  Here’s how my recipe stacks up:

Calories: 354
Calories from fat: 90 (~25%)
Total Fat: 10 grams
Saturated fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 39.5 (~45%)
Fiber: 7 grams
Sugar: 8 grams
Protein: 25 grams (~30%)

Seems pretty well balanced, don’t you think?  Healthy fat mostly from peanut butter (instead of hydrogenated oils), tons of fiber from whole grain bread, and the same amount of protein you’d find in a 4 oz piece of chicken breast.  It may be 65 calories more, but you’ll feel satiated for hours without the sugar crash of processed refined grains.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me a fried donut or latka.  But with this recipe, I don’t feel like I’m missing much, other than the fat deposits on my ass and thighs.   Freilachin Chanukah!

Thanksgiving 2012

In American, Beans, Dessert, Fruit, Holiday, Vegan, Vegetables on December 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Although I haven’t been cooking as much lately, I managed to conjure up a few new dishes for Thanksgiving week.  To contribute to the family meal, I made both a main dish and a dessert.  I find it’s always challenging as a vegetarian to eat during this holiday (unless you are fortunate enough to attend a non-turkey table).  As a result, I try to bring a dish that will not only supply me with protein and/or veggies and/or whole grains, but will also provide the other guests with a new delicious combination of flavors and textures.

The past couple of year the New York Times has posted a gallery of vegetarian and vegan recipes to make for Thanksgiving.  Aside from a tofu/tempeh concoction, or a huge lentil soup, there were mostly veggie and grain sides.  I found one recipe for a Cajun cornbread casserole that had a filling of red beans and veggies, and is topped with a ground cornmeal crust.  Back when I ate meat, I would make something similar using chicken instead of beans, but either way they are both delicious and hearty.

Cajun Cornbread Casserole

Adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (commercial blend, or make your own)
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons raw sugar (optional)
3/4 cup nondairy milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

Since I was making this at my in-laws, I had to pre-measure the cornbread ingredients.  The other ingredients were prepared on site.  First I chopped all the veggies.  Then I sauteed in a pan with water and the juice of the canned tomatoes.

IMG_0373

After a few minutes, I turned off the heat, added the tomatoes, beans, and seasoning.  Then I layered the filling into a pie dish.

IMG_0374

Just before hitting the oven, I mixed wet and dry cornbread ingredients.  Then I baked at 400 for 35-40 minutes.

IMG_0375

Leftovers, since I forgot to take pics day of.

I thought the casserole was really delicious.  The only qualm I had with it was that it didn’t really match the traditional flavors of stuffing, mash, and turkey/gravy.  It did, however, taste amazing with cranberry sauce.

For dessert, I made the pumpkin brownie from last year.  Earlier in the week, I made some amazing blueberry brownies from Veganomicon, but I didn’t bring those to dinner.  Half were in my belly, the other half pawned off on my coworkers.  I didn’t eat the entire half at once, just a brownie or two (or 4) each day.  It was a nice treat to have lying around.  I’ve been better lately about the quality of ingredients I’m consuming, so I actually eat fewer treats, sweets, and packaged products.  Especially with chocolate, since the majority of products not certified organic contain GMO soy (in soy lecithin), as well as HFCS, hydrogenated oils, or “natural flavors and colors”.

This recipe is also a great use-up for extra blueberries in the summer.  Although if you’re like me, you couldn’t bare to spare a single berry!  I made a slight variation by subbing unsweetened applesauce for half the oil.  I didn’t notice a difference, so hooray!

Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies

Adapted from Veganomicon

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 ounces blueberry preserves (spreadable fruit, smooth, no whole blueberries)
1/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberriesIMG_0364

I combined the blueberry preserves, almond milk, sugar, canola oil and extracts with my handheld mixer.

IMG_0365
IMG_0366
Then I sifted in the flour, sugar, baking power/soda and salt.
IMG_0367
After feverishly mixing the wet and dry, the batter was ready for some melted chocolate chips.

IMG_0368

Mmmm, fudgy batter.  But oh wait, I still had to add more choc chips and blueberries.
IMG_0369
I spread the batter out in a 9 x 13 tin.
IMG_0370
While I let these babies bake at 325 for 45 mins, I had plenty of time to lick the bowl.  Bonus, no raw eggs so no problem!  Then it was time to take them out, and set to cool.
IMG_0371
Here’s one lonely brownie on a plate.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t lonely for long :).
IMG_0372
They were so moist and decadent.  I’d definitely recommend whipping up a batch if you want to impress someone.  Or just stuff your face with fudgy goodness.  Just another great thing for which to be thankful.

Where is Lauren, and What Have You DONE with Her????

In CSA, Italian, Nuts, Pasta, Quick Meal, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on December 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.  It’s been 3 months since my last post, and some changes have been brewing since then.  This past summer, I was traveling at least every other week, and my home cooking was lacking to say the least.  Whenever I actually was home, we’d either order delivery or I’d make some standbys (like pitzas, pastas, or soups).  With two trips left in September (including a surprise anniversary trip to Paris :)), I’d promised myself I’d get back in the swing of things once October rolled around.  I know that going on vacations are supposed to be fun and enjoyable, but to be honest I was so sick of being away I’d have nervous breakdowns about not having time to even clean my bathroom.  I know, poor me (you may begin to slap me across the face).

There were so many opportunities to relax on the beach or spend time with friends and family, we just couldn’t pass them up.  Besides, we thought, now is the time in our life when we are only responsible to ourselves.  We know that soon enough we’d start to have a family and we couldn’t just dredge our suitcases across half a mile of Fire Island sand.  This is what we kept telling ourselves as we unpacked and repacked our suitcases week after week.

Our final summer trip was to LA for our niece’s first birthday party.  And you know what happens at those parties?  Everyone keeps asking “when are you going to start popping out those babies?”  I laughed it off as I kept drinking Pinot Grigio and said “obviously not tonight.”  Boy was I surprised when I got home 2 days later.  I had been feeling awfully crampy and fatigued, and even though I was expecting my monthly bill it never came.   I peed on a stick,  saw that blue plus sign, and was in utter disbelief.  Even Nick couldn’t believe it (he thought I was crazy for even suspecting).  We were both excited, but all I could think about was the copious amounts of alcohol I’d consumed in the past 4 days.  When I mentioned it to my doctor, he said not to worry and that plenty of crackwhore alcoholics have beautiful healthy babies.  Great.

And then there’s this wonderful condition called “morning sickness” that kicked in later that week.  Some of you may not know this, but I believe it’s called that because as soon as you wake up in the morning you feel sick and it lasts all day.  I had aversions to every taste and smell.  I’d think “oh, pizza looks really good” and then I’d feel worse.  So my game plan was to force feed myself healthy foods, since everything made me feel sick anyway.  My first attempt was a golden cauliflower soup w/ collard greens from the book Eat to Live.

IMG_0340

Cooking some cauliflower in fresh carrots juice with onion and garlic, I blended the soup with some cashews (for creaminess).

IMG_0345

And then I topped with collard greens.

IMG_0348

Looks delicious, right? WRONG.  Since making this soup I cannot ingest cauliflower, collards, or cashews without a gag reflex.  I thought “oh, maybe it’s just the creaminess of the recipe.  Let me try other veggie dishes.”  A few days later I made some whole wheat pasta with eggplant, broccoli, and shallots.

IMG_0352

IMG_0355

For some reason the picture editor will not let me rotate this photo.

IMG_0357

Or this one. Turn your heads 90 degrees to the right :).

That dish was slightly more palatable, but the thought of eating the leftovers made me want to hurl.  I felt so defeated, all the veggies I loved to eat were revolting.  It was ever harder to swallow after reading all those pregnancy books with dietary guidelines.  I’ve always been one to get tons of vitamins via veggies, and protein from dairy and plant based sources.  I’ve even had more than my daily allotment of fiber from beans, oats, and cruciferous plants.  However, my last few precious CSA distributions pretty much went to waste as they rotted in my fridge and I was lucky to get some vitamin C from the daily orange I’d have with breakfast.  I blamed it on my fetus’s father who only eats pork and cheese products.  Luckily they make those prenatal vitamins to fill in the gaps.

I tried my best to eat as healthfully as possible, having fruit and oatmeal w/ either eggs or milk for bkfst, but the rest of the day was wacky.  Some days I’d bring a bean burrito and some broccoli for lunch, only to end up rushing to the bagel shop or Thai takeout instead.  Other days I knew myself better and didn’t even attempt to bring food from home.  I wasn’t eating anything bad per se, but I definitely did not reach my 5 veggie a day goal.  When I’d go out for dinner,  I was fine to eat a raw kale salad, probably because somebody else prepared it.  Yet, when I tried to wash and chop kale at home I wanted to faint and vomit at the same time.  Other veggies like raw peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and celery seemed to jive a bit more, so I’d try to slice some up to snack on throughout the day.  That’s when I actually had the energy to do so.  Same with sneaking greens into a Green Smoothie.  Other tricks include melting cheddar on broccoli or hiding spinach in a cheese omelet.  I’ve also given in to buying a green juice from the healthfood store once or twice a week.

Meanwhile, this was all happening for the past 2ish months, and nobody knew aside from my husband, doctor, and the occasional Yoga instructor.  I’d be bailing on happy hours, or going with the excuse of antibiotics or getting over a cold.  Of course everyone suspects you’re preggers, but nobody really pushed me.  However, people don’t suspect being tired or averse to certain foods as any red flags.  I felt miserable and couldn’t even explain to my friends why.  Recently we started telling a select few friends and family, so I’ve been much more relieved.  When I would tell friends I haven’t really been cooking, they were like “what???? what is wrong with you.”  Then the explanations ensued and the mysteries revealed.

I’m just beginning the second trimester now, and they say that those horrible symptoms begin to subside.  I’m slowly feeling less tired and nauseated, so hopefully I’ll be back on track with the cooking and posts.  In the meantime, eat your veggies and drink some wine for me.