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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.

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Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.

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Homework…

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner
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Porridge

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Lunch

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Pasta.

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My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle
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Pancake with a hot sauce smile.

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Yogurt parfait.

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  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
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Finished smoothie.

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Sautéing veggies for the soup.

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Soups on!

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Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2.html

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine
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Breakfast.

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Leftovers. Again.

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Slaw.

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BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water
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Another take on Breakfast.

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  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed
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More savory oats.

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VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?

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And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.

Going Green: Breakfast Edition

In Breakfast, Oats, Quick Meal, Quinoa, Salad, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm
Part of ANY well-balanced meal.

Part of ANY well-balanced meal.

We all know the importance of filling that 5-a-day veggie quota.  However, many a day may come and go without coming even close.  Even with a fridge full of produce, I’ve found myself on some busy mornings running out the door eating a rice cake for breakfast, followed by a sandwich for lunch.  By the time dinner rolls around, I’ve realized I haven’t eaten any veggies, let alone some leafy greens.  As a result, I’ve been making an effort at breakfast time to include leafy greens and other green vegetables.  With a little preparation, ingenuity, and thinking outside of the box, here are 10 of my tips and tricks for incorporating a healthy start to the day.

  1. Smoothies

    More of a trick than a tip.  Make your favorite fruit smoothie.  After everything is combined, add 1-2 cups of greens – kale, spinach, chard, beet greens, even lettuce – and blend until combined.  I also like to add mint and/or raw cacao to cover up any bitter taste.  You can also try my protein-packed green smoothie.

  2. Pancakes
    Apple, Pumpkin, and Kale Oat Pancakes

    Apple, Pumpkin, and Kale Oat Pancakes

    Make your favorite pancake batter.  Then blend in a cup or two of leafy greens.  My new fave for fall: 1/2 cup oats, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin, 1/2 chopped apple, vanilla/cinnamon to taste, 1 cup kale.  Blend all except kale.  Once combined, add kale and blend for a few seconds.  There’s the batter, cook like normal pancakes.  You won’t even taste the kale, trust me.  Great for kids and kids at heart.

  3. Pesto/creamed greens

    Using your favorite pesto recipe, substitute some or all of the basil for spinach, broccoli, broccoli robe, kale, you name it.  Get creative.  I’ve made one with spinach, garlic, chickpeas, and nutmeg.  Use on toast, in an omelet, or to make savory oatmeal (think risotto).  Same applies to creamed spinach.  When you’re making dinner, double up so you have some leftovers for breakfast.  You can also use Indian-style spinach (saag) to spice things up.

    Leftover creamed spinach is great the next morning.

    Leftover creamed spinach is great the next morning.

  4. Soup

    This is a new one for me.  A couple times a week I start the morning with a miso-based soup.  I boil some water with whatever greens I have – raw or leftover sautéd (I really like bok choy).  Once warmed up, I add chickpea miso (since I have some soy intolerance) and stir for another minute.  To make it a complete meal, I’ll add some leftover grains and/or beans.  Maybe even some poached eggs.

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  5. Salad/Slaw

    Not just for a light lunch.  Have a side salad with your eggs.  This can be as simple as arugula and lemon juice.  Add an avocado or nuts.  Really easy.  Same with coleslaw.  If you make some for dinner or over the weekend for a bbq/tailgate, just add a big scoop to your plate.  It may be weird at first, but you’ll feel much better later in the day for being 20-40% done with your veggie requirements.

    Arugula with avocado and lemon juice.  Paired with a quinoa omelet.

    Arugula with avocado and lemon juice. Paired with a quinoa omelet.

  6. Quiche/egg cups

    A little more obvious/traditional.  Make a crustless quiche with lots of sautéed greens.  This will last 3-ish days in the fridge.  You can also pour the batter into muffin tins and freeze for pre-portioned future meals.

    Spinach, mushroom, goat cheese.

    Spinach, mushroom, goat cheese.

  7. Omelets

    A stand-by.  Use any kind of fresh greens.  Ever try an arugula omelet?  It’s really good.  You can also shave some broccoli florets and save the stems to roast for another meal.

  8. Breakfast grilled cheese

    On toast or a bagel.  Add greens to your cheesy sammie.

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  9. Side of sautéed veggies.

    You can make them fresh in the morning, or you can take leftovers from the day before.  Some mornings I sauté 3-4 big leaves of kale and share them with Rocco while I prepare the rest of breakfast.  It can be as simple as some water/olive oil, or you can add garlic and herbs.  You can also finish with a miso sauce – 1 tbsp miso paste added to a cup of water, add to pan once veggies are cooked.

    Munching on some greens.

    Munching on some greens.

  10. Leftover roasted veggies

    Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, you name it.  If I have leftovers, they are sides or appetizers for breakfast.  Same principal as the sautéed greens.  While I prepare the rest of the meal, I unload 1-2 cups of roasted veggies on Rocco’s tray, and I nibble while I’m cooking.  Broccoli stems are a particular favorite.

    Roasted cabbage.

    Roasted cabbage.

Those are some of my go-tos.  I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.  Who doesn’t want to be more more Green?  Especially first thing in the morning.

Everyone’s Got a Sunday

In Breakfast, CSA, Fruit, Potato, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on October 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm

No matter how busy somebody may be, there’s usually one day of the week that affords a little extra downtime.  This day may be used to run errands, get chores done, or sit on the couch and basque in the wonders of reality TV.  For the “traditional” Monday-through-Friday-9-to-5 adult, this tends to be Sunday.  It’s the day for grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, spending time with family, watching football, and nursing a hangover with bloody Marys.  While I participate in some of said activities on most Sundays (not all, and not every), I find these days to be just as busy as Saturdays.  They are simply one of the 8 days a month to squeeze in a social rendezvous or attend the obligatory celebration.  At this point in my life, I don’t get any chores or errands done on the weekends.  Instead, Wednesday is my new Sunday.

While everyone is complaining about Hump Day and looking forward to the weekend, Wednesday is the culmination of my weekly routine.  It’s my day to stay home, and with the exception of a barre class at 5:45 in the morning, the only appointments made are with my to-do lists.  When Rocco naps, I get more done in those 2-3 hours than all Sundays of the month combined.  On a good day, I can wash/fold 2 loads of laundry, load/set/unload the dishwasher, roast veggies, prep for dinner, bake something, and watch an episode of Real Housewives or the Chew.  On a great day, I can shower and take a nap.  CSA distributions are on Thursday, so my biggest food priority is prepping the kitchen for the next day’s bounty.

Wednesday is for cleaning out the fridge.
Roasted carrots and broccoli stems

Roasted carrots and broccoli stems

While I prepare lunch, I pull out all the veggies that are left from last week.  This gives me a chance to think about how to use them so that when the clock strikes one, I hit the ground running.  Leafy greens turn into salads or smoothies.  Roastable veggies are great little somethings for Rocco to munch on after his nap.   However, sometimes there are some odd ones at the bottom of the crisper drawers.  Yesterday, it was celeriac.

The culprit.

The culprit.

When I performed my weekly ritual yesterday, I was left with a small head of lettuce (lunch for Thursday), a bunch of carrots (roasted), some broccoli stems(roasted), 2 leeks, and 2 celeriac bulbs.  I was also still slowly chipping away at 6 lbs of apples, but that’s an issue for an entirely different post.  While I knew what to do with the rest of the produce, this ugly root vegetable staring me in the face was one I knew about but never actually prepared.  I figured I could use it for a soup, along with the remaining leeks and potatoes from Thursday.  I quickly googled celeriac so I know how to clean/cut it, and I actually came across a recipe on the NYT website for a pureed soup using celeriac, potato, leek, and apples.  What a coincidence – all the ingredients I wanted to use, plus another way to incorporate some apples.  With the addition of a carrot, it was time to attack this ugly beast.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but it was a good guideline for my first attempt with an unfamiliar food.

 

Celeriac, Potato, Leek and Apple Soup

Adapted from The New York Times

3 tbsp EVOO
2 bulbs celeriac, peeled and sliced
2 leeks, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into half moons
3/4 lb potatoes
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 apples, cored and diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 quart vegetable broth
1 quart water
~10 leaves fresh sage

Leeks soaking in water.

Leeks soaking in water.

First thing’s first – I had to get those leeks cleaned.  I find the most effective way is to slice the leek in half lengthwise, then cross slice into half moons.  Place the leeks in a bowl of water and prepare the other ingredients.  When the other veggies are prepped, transfer the leeks to a towel (I use an old beach towel) and rub off any excess dirt. Then it was time to clean and slice the celeriac.  I cut off the ends, sliced in half, then into quarters.  I used my knife to cut off the skin instead of peeling with a vegetable peeler.  Then I rinsed the flesh to remove the little bits of dirt left. IMG_0646 Then I peeled the potatoes.  I forgot that this variety was a really pretty red fleshed spud.  I also forget it had a slightly spiced taste to it.  This actually worked in my favor for the soup. IMG_0647 Next came carrots and apples.  I peeled the former, but not the latter.  All the veggies went into the pot with some olive oil, ready to be sautéed for 5 minutes with some salt and pepper. IMG_0648   Once the vegetables were soft and the leeks reduced in size, I folded in some fresh sage, sautéed another minute, then added the liquids.  I also added some more salt, because potatoes absorb a lot of salt. IMG_0650 Once it came to a boil, I reduced to a simmer, and covered the pot with a lid, leaving 1/2 inch gap from edge of the lid and the pot.  The soup would probably have been done in 30 minutes, but I let it cook for about an hour.  Then I pureed it with an immersion blender. IMG_0652   I was debating whether or not to strain the soup through a mesh sieve, but I opted to serve the soup as is.  I realized half way through I had forgotten to take a picture, so here’s my ugly picture of half eaten soup.  Seems appropriate.   IMG_0655 Grilled cheese accompanied Nick’s bowl, but I opted to just have the soup with a side glass of white wine.  The soup as really delicious and had a lot of complex flavors and textures.  Nick said it had an Indian flavor to it, which makes no sense to me because the only seasoning was salt, pepper, and sage.  Perhaps because it was spicy?  The consistency was good, but a little stringy.  I don’t know if the cause was the celeriac, or maybe the skins from the apples, but next time I think I would use my Vitamix to really pulverize the pulp. I had the soup again this morning, and it was equally delicious.  For Rocco, I poured some into a straw-style sippy cup, and he loved it!  However, after 5 or so instances of having to unclog the straw, I strained the remainder of his portion through a sieve.  He gulped the rest up and mommy got to drink her coffee in peace.  Just what I needed to start off my week.

A Little Sumpin Pumpkin

In American, Breakfast, Fruit, Nuts, Oats, Quick Meal, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm

The past month or so has been super busy.  We’ve been prepping to sell our place, and needless to say I never want to step foot into Lowes, Target, or Ikea ever again.  Aside from the obviously dos during this process, there were some unexpected don’ts.  I won’t bore you with those details, but basically I’ve been living in a beautiful showroom and not allowed to use or touch anything for fear of making dirt or imperfections, especially in the kitchen.  With the process having moved along, I am finally getting back into some normalcy.

This past weekend I finally made it to the farmers market to do a pretty decent shopping.  Prior weekends I either couldn’t make it because of household duties, or I would just pick up a few necessities if I happen to be passing by.  I was happy with my bounty, but not happy with the crowds of people.  I don’t know if it’s just the time of year, or if my neighborhood is really overpopulated, but it was so frustrating to navigate through the half block stretch.  But I digress.

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Although the majority were green, I managed to diversify the rainbow of produce.  Clockwise from top left:

  • Red (really purple) cabbage
  • Yellow and purple beans
  • Chocolate mint (my new best thing!)
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Some new leafy green I forgot the name of
  • Heirloom cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
  • Honey crisp apples
  • Fennel
  • Broccoli
  • Rainbow chard
  • Sweet potatoes (not pictured)

I originally wanted a butternut squash, but every one was huge, like 5+ lbs.  Hence, my newest squash – the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.

photo 2

So named for it’s skin’s resemblance to cheese rinds, this pumpkin is grown to make pies.   I’m not really a pie baking kind of gal, but I wanted to do something with this thing.  Before deciding what to make, I figured I should at least go through the process of roasting and pureeing.  Hey, at least this is good practice for making baby food.

Cut in half, before scooping out the seeds.

Cut in half, before scooping out the seeds.

It was pretty easy.  I preheated the oven to 400.  Then cut the pumpkin in half, scooped out the seeds, and placed the flesh in a roasting pan with an inch of water.  An hour later it was done.

After roasting and scooping out the flesh.

After roasting and scooping out the flesh.

Once it was cool enough to handle, I scooped out the flesh into my blender, then blended for a minute.  This 3.5ish lb pumpkin yielded 3.5ish cups puree.

photo 1

photo 2

It took me 2 days to decide what to make first.  I was inspired by my local bakery to make muffins, only not the kind that are essentially un-iced cakes the size of a human head.  Now that it’s Fall, they have been in full pumpkin mode, and pumpkin muffins are no exception.  After many trips to this cafe for breakfast (just to avoid making a mess in the kitchen), I have to admit there were a couple of times I purchased such muffins and tried to only eat half, knowing very well the damage heading my way – white flour, white sugar, butter and/or oil, etc.  Hence, my attempt to remedy myself with some whole grain breakfast appropriate muffins.

I searched the interwebs for some recipes, and finally settled on one with some substitutions and additions.  You could easily make these vegan by using banana instead of egg, and nondairy milk/yogurt instead of buttermilk.  I happened to have Greek yogurt, so that’s what I used.  You can check out the original recipe here, but just to clarify anything in bold was not the original recipe/ingredient.

Whole Wheat and Oat Maple Walnut Pumpkin Muffins

Adapted from Kitchen Treaty

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats + 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 oz nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
 It’s pretty simple.  Oven at 400.  Mix wet and dry separately.
Dry

Dry

Wet

Wet

Add wet to dry just to incorporate.  Then mix in the nuts (that was my own little addition).

photo 5

Spoon the mixture into some 3 oz muffin tins with some paper muffin cups in there.  This recipe makes 12 of them.  Sprinkle the top with some oats, then bake for 15-20 minutes.  The original recipe said 15, but mine were still wet.

 photo 1
Let them cool for 10-20 minutes, and then enjoy with a cup of joe or tea.
photo 2
These were pretty good.  Not as moist as a cake version, but what do you expect from something made from whole wheat, oats, and mashed fruit/veggies?  Normally, I have no issues subbing in apple sauce for oil.  However, if I make these again I might try to follow the original recipe’s oil suggestion.  I will say though that I totally dig my addition of walnuts, and the caramelization produced by the maple syrup was a nice touch.  Overall, these are a much better quick option than anything I’d find at a bakery.
I still have 2 and 1/2(ish) cups left of puree, so I either need to make something in the next day, or freeze it for a rainy day.  While I’d love me some pumpkin ravioli, there’s also about 6 weeks until Rocco starts solids, so I may just save a lil sumpin pumpkin for my little pumpkin.

Slow as Molasses

In American, Breakfast, Fruit, Nuts, Oats, Saving Money, Vegan on April 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm

When I posted last time about all my new recipes, I emptily promised to reveal and detail the winner the following week.  Well, let’s just say a week is apparently equal to nearly 2 months in the energy level of a pregnant lady.  It takes me a lot longer to do simple tasks, such as walk to the subway or go grocery shopping, so please bare with me.

The recipe with the highest votes was unsurprisingly the truffled mac ‘n cheese.  I have to say I am slightly disappointed, only because that is the least wholesome dish I offered in the poll.  Regardless, I will at least give you a snapshot of the story behind the glory.

Maybe 5 or so years ago, I was watching Barefoot Contessa, which you may or may not know features Ina Garten, the poster child for Hamptons culinary indulgences.  Don’t believe me?  She is basically the Yankee version of Paul Dean.  I’m surprised she hasn’t announced any critical medical problems herself.  Anyway, on that particular episode she had whipped up some of said truffled mac ‘n cheese.  I was mesmerized, and of course made it for my hubby (then bf).  It was a winner.  Since then, I only make it for special occasions.  Most recently, this included a potluck Superbowl party.  I’m not going to go into too many details, so here’s a link to the recipe.  I followed it to a T.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/truffled-mac-and-cheese-recipe/index.html

Here are some pictures.

Shredded Cheddar and Gruyer

Shredded Cheddar and Gruyer

Sauteed Mushrooms

Sauteed Mushrooms

Truffle Butter

Truffle Butter

Bechamel

Bechamel

Pasta, Sauce, Cheese, and Mushrooms

Pasta, Sauce, Cheese, and Mushrooms

Breadcrumb ingredients

Breadcrumb ingredients

Assembled

Assembled

In other news, I’ve been refining my diet even more since switching from an OB to a Birthing Center midwifery practice.  The former gave me no nutritional information other than avoiding undercooked animal products.  The latter sat with me for 30 minutes reviewing my diet, and suggesting what nutrients to increase.  The biggie was iron.  There’s a big misconception that as a vegetarian you are at an iron disadvantage.  When we went over a list of foods to eat, I would say 90% on the print out were plant based.  These foods include leafy greens, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils), nuts, dried fruits, and blackstrap molasses.  She said that molasses is great to use in baking instead of brown sugar (which I’ve done in the past), but also to add to cereal, yogurt, beans, you name it.  One tbsp has 20% daily value of both iron and calcium.  Mind you, pregnant women need double the iron, but still.  Even 10% from switching a tbsp of sweetener for the molasses goes a long way.

There was one recipe I had in my archives that I found a few years ago on a blog for granola bars.  Oats, dried fruit, almond butter, almonds, seeds.  All tons of iron.  I decided to swap out the brown sugar and replace it with molasses to boost the iron factor even more.  I had intended on making these for 2 straight weeks, but I either was missing an ingredient, or once I bought it was too tired to assemble and prepare.  Let me tell you, once I finally got my act together I was happy to have them lying around when I was in a pinch for a snack.

Almond Fig Granola Bars
Adapted from In Praise of Leftovers

1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c. chopped raw almonds
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1 Tb. flaxseeds
1 Tb. sesame seeds
1 c. unsweetened crisped brown rice cereal
1/3 c. dried tart cherries
2/3 c. dried figs, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. creamy almond butter
1/4 c. blackstrap molasses
3 Tb. brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

I followed the directions accordingly, just with my substitutions: brown rice cereal instead of kashi, cherries instead of cranberries, blackstrap molasses for brown sugar, and brown rice syrup for honey.  The last bit makes this recipe vegan, for all my vegan friends.

Oven preheating to 350, I spread the oats, almonds, and all the seeds on a tray for toasting for 8 minutes.

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While toasting, I combined the rice cereal in fruits in a bowl.

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Once the toasting items were done, I combined all the dry ingredients and prepped wet to simmer in a saucepan for 5 minutes: almond butter, molasses, brown rice syrup, vanilla, and salt.

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Then when the goop was done, I poured it over all the dry ingredients, and pressed the mixture into a pan.

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After 30ish minutes in the fridge, I cut mixture into 12 bars, and placed each one into an individual ziplock.  Those packages were placed in an airtight container.

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And voila!  Protein, fiber, calcium, and iron.  I may be slow as molasses, but my metabolism sure isn’t thanks to these bars.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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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!

Why I’m the Worst Photographer. Ever.

In American, Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Chinese, CSA, Dessert, Fish, Greek, Italian, Meat and Pultry, Oats, Pasta, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I’m a pretty awful photographer, both in skill and frequency.  Until I started this blog, my camera was used maybe 1-2 times a year on a vacation or for a grandparent’s birthday.  Even when I do take some photos of my food, I never edit them, nor organize them, because I just get too frustrated trying to learn the programs on my Mac Book.  I just don’t have it in me to constantly snap photos, which is really such a shame.    There have been plenty of missed opportunities to capture both amazing and ordinary moments in my life.  I’m not talking about kissy faces, popping bottles, or a circle of friends’ shoes.  Just the simple pleasures, like walking around my neighborhood or documenting my restaurant experiences.  A whole fun-filled weekend will pass, and I’ll have nothing to show for it.  That’s how I feel about this past weekend.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so looks like I have a lot of writing ahead of me….

Filling in the gaps with some CSA goodies.

Saturday was CSA distribution.  It was also my volunteer week.  There are two options: man the stand from 9-12ish during distribution, or drive the leftovers to a local church.  Since I have a car, this was definitely the better option.  I had planned on getting there at 10 to pick up my share to bring home, clean up, etc. before the drive.  However, my morning run took longer than anticipated.  Turns out, I didn’t have enough time, so I quickly made an oatmeal pancake when I got home, showered, and shoved my produce in the fridge.

As somewhat of a reward for volunteering, you can take a few extra items.  I grabbed some extra zucchini, cucumbers, and berries.  The original share included:

  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 huge stalks dill
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 5 small or 1 large zucchini
  • 3 sweet corn
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 1 quart sugar plums
  • 12 peaches

This is the first time all season I felt a real value in the fruit share.  Don’t get me wrong, I love 3 pints of blueberries, but it’s nice to have some variety.    Since I had a fun filled weekend, I neglected my “put everything right away” rule and got around to cleaning up on Monday.

From left: Lettuce packed and washed, beets and greens separated, fruit in a bowl to ripen, cucumbers sliced and “pickling”, zucchini and cucumber cleaned, onions sliced, leftover dill cleaned

I froze most of the blueberries for smoothies, and half the peaches and plums as well.

But this was on Monday.  All weekend I had so much fun, mostly with my husband.  It was nice to have a summer weekend without appointments, social obligations, trips, or chores.  Like I said, reflecting back in my head I wish I had more photos to show you.  Perhaps I can borrow some from restaurant and shopping sites to give you a better picture.   Pun intended.

Friday

A newish restaurant opened in Park Slope near my office.  I’ve passed by it a couple of times on the rare occasions I take the subway to/from work and never thought anything of it.  Whenever I’d catch a glimpse of food, it was usually noodles or dumplings, so I just assumed it was East Asian, although the name was Talde.  Turns out, it was opened by former Top Cheftestant Dale Talde and is super popular.  I mentioned the place to my husband and in-laws, and we decided to get there at 5 on Friday to give it a try.  We sat at the bar for a few minutes to have a drink; I shared an Obama Punch with my F-I-L, and it was super yummy.  Then 15 minutes later we sat to eat.  The vacancy gap between 5:15 and 5:30 PM is non-existent.

Photo of Hawaiian Bread Buns from http://taldebrooklyn.com/food-photos/

I had heard a lot about the Hawaiian bread buns, so I got an order of the market veggie version (it was marinated shitaki mushroom).  It was so flavorful, even my meat-eating companions loved it.  They shared a wonton soup.  For my main, I got some chilled soba noodles and a side of green beans.  Both really full of umami.  Everyone else got the fried chicken, ribs, and shrimp fried rice to share.

For dessert, we shared Halo Halo, which was a mixture of ice, bubble tea, fruit, coconut milk, and captain crunch.  It was good, but I think I prefer chocolate cake more :).

Overall, I really great dining experience.  It was a nice change from our typical repertoire of Mexican, Italian, or bar appetizers.

Saturday

When my husband suggests a day of shopping, I never turn it down.  Hence my household negligence this Saturday.  After dropping off the veggies to charity, I went with Nick to get bagels for lunch, and then we were off to SoHo.  Nick’s initial goal was to get some new casual sneakers.  What he ended up getting was 3 pairs of work pants, 2 pairs of jeans, and a partridge in a pear tree.  I got 2 new dresses to wear for weddings and special occasions, one of which is for an upcoming event this Saturday.  It is super bodycon and has cutouts, so I haven’t eaten since Sunday.  Just kidding.

The next thing we knew, it was 7:30 and we were starving.  I mentioned another restaurant I’d been meaning to try in Chinatown called The Fat Radish, and figured it may be plausable to get a seat on a Summer Saturday.  Luckily, we were able to sit at the bar, which was actually kind of nice and intimate.  I say that because the seating there is comprised of a few long communal tables, whereas the bar has 6 seats.  Also, our bartender made awesome drinks and was really friendly.  I got seared tuna and the fat radish plate, which is basically a bed of rice topped with whatever veggies are at the markets that week and prepared in super flavorful ways.  Way up my alley.  Nick got crab gratin and the burger with truffle duck fat fries.  Way up his alley.

The mirror “board” where specials and fat radish plate are listed. From their site: http://snapwidget.com/view/?id=220874731547124849_54018704#.UA7Ga6Ahgeo

From there, we walked over to Little Italy to get some gelato from this placed called La Cremeria.  It’s the closest, most authentic Italian style gelato I’ve had this side of the Atlantic.  Mind you, I live in a heavily Italian neighborhood.  I got pistacchio and delirium, which was butter cookie flavor with chocolate chunks.  Nick got his usual combo of cioccolato and nocciola (chocolate and hazelnut).  And then we waddled to the subway to head home.

Sunday

I rose bright and early to bike over to TriBeCa to support a newly certified yoga teacher married to a childhood friend of Nick.  It was an intimate class, and I felt great all day after.  I only had 2 anxiety attacks on the bike ride back over the Brooklyn Bridge.  Next time, I’ll go out of my way to take the Manhattan Bridge.  When I got back, I showered and got all purty looking to get brunch.  I went with Nick to one of our usual spots, Prime Meats.  This is comical for 2 reasons: 1) a vegetarian loving brunch at a place with “meats” in the title, and 2) it is owned by the same people as Frankies 457, a restaurant I despise.  I know I digress, but I will take this one small opportunity to vent.  I don’t know why Frankies gets so much hype.  There is always a wait, and the food is AWFUL.  All these Manhattanites swear by it, saying how it’s better than all the other authentic Italian joints in the hood.  BS.  And the people who work there are so rude and elitist.  Now, I generally have a 3-strikes-you’re-out rule with restaurants; Frankies definitely struck out looking.  Backwards K style.  The pasta and gnocchi are watery with little bits of low-flavor sauce, the drinks are overpriced and weak, and the waitstaff refuses to acknowledge any complaints.  It’s really such a shame, because they’d be getting a lot more of my business.

Anyway, back to Prime Meats.  When they first opened, I was skeptical about going, primarily because of my Frankies experiences.  I was also slightly turned off by the forced dress code of suspenders and mandatory mustachery for all male staff.  However, their brunch is excellent.  They make excellent coffee, never burn their eggs, and their bread products are to die for (that’s coming from someone who usually has oats for breakfast).  They used to be a little bit more flexible with their menu, but the chef has made some stricter rules for substitutions.  You’d think that would keep me away, but I’ve found my new love:  Their avocado sandwich.  Multigrain bread with avocado, lettuce, sprouts, shallots, and spicy mayo.  They will happily keep the mayo on the side for me, and I can also add an egg to the sandwich.  Perfect.  And again, another example of the missing shutterbug gene.

The rest of the day, we just relaxed.  I took a nap and watched Game Change on cable.  Nick got busy cleaning up his mancave.  Then I made a simple dinner of dill pasta salad and a garden salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pepper, avocado, and chickpeas.  A simple end to a wonderfully eventful weekend.

Super long post.  Next time, I’ll save a few thousand words by using my camera.

Oat Say-What-A?

In American, Breakfast, Fruit, Oats, Saving Money, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I have oats for breakfast at least 5 times a week (hopefully 7 if I’m a good girl).  Whether it’s a quick bowl of rolled oats, muesli with yogurt, or the slow cooked steel cut variety, my days always go way better when I start off with these grains.  Paired with some eggs [whites] or milk, the complex carb/protein combo keeps me fullest the longest without feeling sickly stuffed or greasy (as I would with an egg/cheese sammie or breakfast burrito).  When I’m in a real pinch for time, I’ll blend some oats with egg whites, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and make some pancakes.  However, I ideally like to eat the grain as minimally processed as possible.  Hence, the oat frittata.

That’s right, a frittata.  You know, the omelet’s fancy cousin.  I first saw this idea on a daytime talk show, and I’ve been hooked since.  The basic recipe is 1/2 cup oats, 2-4 egg whites, 1/2 cup berries.  This is exactly what I had been eating, only it required one pan and 1 plate.  Genius.

Berry Oat Frittata

Serves 1

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
3 egg whites
2 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries OR 1 cup strawberries, OR  half and half

I use a nonstick pan and nonstick canola oil spray, but you could use a griddle if you have one.  I combine all the ingredients in a bowl just to mix everything together, and then pour everything into the pan on medium high heat.

I cover the pan with a lid so that the steam can cook through the mixture.  After about 2 minutes, I flip it over to cook on the other side.

Just another minute, and this baby is done.  How simple is that?  It’s also extremely nutritious, and a great way to introduce oats into your diet if you fear the usual goopy suspect served to you as a child.  If you can tolerate more sugar in the morning, top with some maple syrup or jam, but you don’t really need it.  If I’m really craving a little extra kick, I spread a teaspoon of raw almond butter on top.  Yum.  But the fun doesn’t end there.

Did you know oats can be prepared and enjoyed with savory flavors instead of sweet?  Take the basic oat frittata recipe I just explained for example.  Egg frittatas are generally filled with veggies, cheeses, and savory meats, so why not translate those flavors to the oat version?

Cumin Spiced Kale, Zucchini, and Oat Frittata

Serves 1

2-3 kale leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
Non-stick olive oil spray
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 egg whites
2 tbsp 1% milk
Cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste

First, chop up all those veggies so you can begin to sauté them with the nonstick spray.

While they sauté, combine all the other ingredients in a bowl.

After the veggies have cooked for about 2 minutes, top them off with a couple more sprays and then the egg/oat mixture.

The rest of the process is the same as the berry version.  I actually made this for lunch last week and topped it with salsa.  It was super good.

You could add any fillings you like really!  Let’s say you want an Italian version – tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella would be perfect!  Go Greek with Feta, dill, and sun dried tomato.  Or make it American with bacon and American cheese[like product].  Any way you serve it, you’re doing your body and heart good by increasing your oat consumption.  Who knows, the cholesterol lowering properties may even wipe out all that extra bacon and cheese.

One Huge Zucchini; 2 [Healthy] Ways to Use It

In American, Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Challenge, Dessert, Quick Meal, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on June 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Zucchini next to a marker for size comparison.

I usually don’t complain about getting too much zucchini.  It’s one of those veggies my hubby will always eat, and that’s definitely a bonus.  For those who know me, I tend to enjoy my veggies as close to natural as possible.  I don’t usually fry/bread them, nor do I smother in butter or stuff them in puff pastry.  This week, however, I made a slight exception.  In our share this week, we got 2 kinds of zucchini: 2 smaller yellow kind (yes, there is a difference between yellow summer squash and yellow zucchini), and either 1 HUGE green zucchini or large patty cake squash.  Of course, I chose the zucchini.  This guy in front of me in line said his family is not really into zucchini, so he chose the patty cake squash.  We got into a bit of a conversion about how we were going to prepare each of our choices, and I said “this is going into a zucchini bread!”

For some magical reason, I thought you needed a lot of zucchini for a zucchini bread.  I also thought the larger and juicier, the better.  I didn’t have a recipe, so before searching the web I messaged my mother-in-law for hers, knowing that it was Nick-approved.  When she sent it over, she did warn me that it is basically a cake.  I made a few adjustments to lower both the sugar and fat, and also bumped up the fiber by using some whole wheat pastry flour.  Here’s my version.  P.S. this is also a vegan recipe!

Low-Fat [Mostly] Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

Makes 2 loaves, or 24 muffins

1.5 ripe bananas, smashed or thinly sliced
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup oil (I used unrefined extra virgin coconut oil)
2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini (less than half of my huge one!)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup blackstrap molases (or just double the agave)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fine sea salt
t tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
Zest and Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Just as an FYI, the first 2 ingredients are swaps.  The original recipe calls for 1 cup oil and 3 eggs, but you can replace half the oil for apple sauce, and half a banana for every egg.

In a large bowl, I mixed the bananas, apple sauce and oil with a hand mixer.  For coconut oil, it needs to be warmed to liquify, so just heat on a stovetop or microwave for a few seconds.

Once everything is blended, it’s time to add all the other ingredients, and then you can just mix by hand with a spoon for a minute until everything is incorporated.

The batter! Since there are no eggs, very easy to lick the bowl :).

I divided the mixture as best as a cold between two loaf pans; they probably weren’t 100% even.  Then I set them in the oven to bake, up to 60 minutes.  I started checking at 45, and took mine out at 55 (although there was such a marginal difference in those 10 minutes).

These loaves didn’t rise as high as I expected; but then again, I admit I am not a baker.  They were, however, moist and delicious.  Not too sweet, and perfect for a snack or breakfast.

I had mine with a lil peanut butter; Nick liked his with chocolate peanut butter.

I took the liberty of calculating the nutrition for both the original and my low-fat version.

Original Zucchini Bread 
(Includes 1 cup oil, 2.5 cups sugar, eggs, and bleached flour)

Per slice (1/24th of recipe):

Calories: 231.61
Fat: 9.91
Carb: 33.86
Fiber: 1
Sugar: 21.22
Protein: 2.73

Not awful; but my version is a bit more figure-friendly.

Low-Fat [Mostly] Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread 
(Uses half the oil, subs banana and apple sauce, and uses only 2/3 cup sweetener)

Per slice (1/24th of recipe):

Calories: 132.92
Fat: 5.08
Carb:  21.12
Fiber: 2.34
Sugar: 7.66
Protein: 2.08

My version is 100 calories less, and has about half the fat.  It also skims off nearly 14 grams of sugar, and doubles the fiber!  Now I don’t feel so bad about having a second slice :).

I baked these loaves while making dinner one night (that recipe will follow in another post).  I still had more than half of that huge zucchini left!  I decided the next night I’d make a soup out of the remains.  It was also a great vessel for using up all that extra cilantro.  It’s a really simple recipe, and it packs a lot of flavor!  I haven’t tried yet, but I’d assume it would be great served chilled as well!

Pureed Zucchini and Cilantro Soup

Makes about 11-12 cups (just guestimating based on what was served and leftover)

1 quart low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
4 cups chopped zucchini (I’d say 3-4 normal sized ones)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1.5 cups)
1 bunch cilantro leaves (about 1 cup packed tightly)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the broth and water over high heat until they boil.  While waiting to boil, chop up he zucchini and onion.

Add the veggies and chickpeas to the pot with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to a rolling boil, and cover slightly to cook for 15 minutes.  While that’s happening, remove all the stems from the cilantro; you just want to use the leaves.  If you’re making this recipe just to use up the cilantro you have from another recipe, don’t worry about needing the whole bunch.  If you use half or 3/4 I’m sure it will still taste great!  Make sure to reserve a couple of stems with leaves for garnish.

Super Green! That’s what happens when you wash and prep properly.

All the stems removed.  Took about 8-10 minutes to do, but well worth it!

After 15 minutes, add the cilantro.

 

Then, if you have it, whip out your emersion blender and get to work!  If you don’t, just ladle   the soup in batches into a regular blender.

 

Let the newly mixed soup cook for 5 minutes more, then it’s time to serve!
At first, I was nervous about using so much cilantro, but it was surprisingly really
complementary to the zucchini.  It gave the soup a fresh layer, as well as some zing and spice.  It also helped me to use up all my cilantro!  Hooray!
There you have it: two healthy ways to use zucchini.  Both required some innovation, but were certainly worth it.  I’m sure if you have a garden and your zucchini is overflowing, you’ll want to add these recipes to your repertoire.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

It’s Not Easy Being Green

In Breakfast, Challenge, CSA, Fruit, Italian, Pasta, Quick Meal, Salad, Vegetables on June 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

Even though greens are good for you, it’s also important to diversify your plate with a rainbow of colors.  Saturday was my second CSA pickup of the season, and of course there were still tons of green veggies!  I tried my best to pick colors when possible, but I still had SIX fully green items (and one mostly green with some yellow).

Here’s what I came home with.  Let’s start with all the Greens:

  • Escarole
  • Bok Choy
  • Mixed peas (snow and snap)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 HUMONGOUS zucchini
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch swiss chard (yellow, but mostly green)

As for other colors:

  • Red leafy lettuce
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 3 pints blueberries!!!!!

Before I continue on any other topic, I have to go on a blueberry tangent.  I love blueberries.  They are by far my favorite fruit.  In oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, or just straight up, I can’t get enough.  When I was a wee young’n, I was the blueberry connoisseur.  I would sit on a lounge chair at my grandparents pool club, individually inspecting every berry by hand, and determined whether it reached my high standards of edibility.  Needless to say, I was very happy about the 3 pints worth this week.  I froze half for smoothies, and kept the other half to eat with oatmeal and yogurt.

Back to everything else…I got home and made some breakfast while starting to clean, prep, and store this week’s bounty.  I still had a squash from the farmer’s market, so I diced that up with some red scallions for an omelet.   I also had blueberries with my oatmeal :).

While preparing the new items, I thought about what was left from my market trips.  I still had some kale left, which is great for smoothies, so that wasn’t a big deal.  However, I also had a whole bunch of cilantro and half a bunch of dill!  The dill is fine to work with, but now I had TWO bunches of cilantro.  I made sure to label both with dates, that way I use up the older batch first.  I also kept the older items in the front of the veggie drawer.

I was also very excited about this HUGE zucchini.  It was perfect for some zucchini bread, which I have yet to make because I tend to have so few pieces that I ration them off for Nick-approved dinners.  Trust me, this zucchini could make 12 loaves of bread.

Zucchini next to a marker for size comparison.

We had a wedding out of town on Saturday, so we packed the car and left shortly after finishing veggie prep.  When we came home on Sunday, I was pretty exhausted, so I made a quick dinner!  I made a salad using the red leafy lettuce, the single cucumber, a red scallion, and some dill with balsamic vinegar (I guess I forgot to take a photo).  I also made a pasta dish – Whole wheat penne with yellow squash and swiss chard.  I cheated by using jarred tomato sauce (Rao’s Marinara – amazing).  I heated the sauce up in a pan with half of the chard and both small squash from Saturday, and let them steam up covered while the pasta cooked.  Then I added the cooked pasta and a smidge pasta water.

Of course, there was parm for topping!  It was pretty fast, delish, and we already got 1/3 lettuce, 1/2 chard, and all yellow squash out of the way.  My biggest challenges this week are 1) using all the cilantro and 2) finding a use for escarole.  I know I’ve said there’s no veggie I hate, but let’s just say escarole isn’t exactly my fave.  Wish me luck!