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Archive for the ‘Rice’ 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.

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It’s Almost Bikini Season (?)

In Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Vegetables on December 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

A line I’ve heard far too many cliched times.  I’ll be in a fitness class, performing some G-d awful maneuver, and the instructor will chime in with the motivational “C’mon, it’s almost bikini season.”  Have you been there, too?  This usually starts sometime in the Spring, but I’ve heard it all year long.  The most surprising time was a few years ago in a late November or early December yoga class.  I remember thinking I wanted to Warrior 3 back-kick that teacher in the face.  Seriously?  This was smack in the middle of the season of eating (Halloween-New Years).  But you know what?  I always remember that class, and that message is so very clear and meaningful to me now.

It’s always bikini season, or at least that’s what your eating/fitness routine should reflect.  Don’t starve yourself a month before summer, or spend 3 hours at the gym everyday, then turn around and subsist on fast food and couch potato-ing the other 9 months of the year.  Balance and healthy habits are a 365 day-a-year prescription for what you seek.  Something important to remember during this current season, or any time in your life.  Which brings me to a topic I’ve been toying with discussing on this blog.  Another 9(+) month period that opens you up to the advice and opinions of even the faintest stranger.

I’m talking about pregnancy, and specifically how it affects “bikini season.”

I know this topic can strike a nerve in a lot of people, which is why I’ve been procrastinating addressing the topic.  Several people have asked me to give tips for losing the baby weight and getting back in shape.  I could have wrote a post about this over a year ago.  Honestly, if I wrote some of the things I’d been thinking in my head, I’m sure I’d get a lot of backlash.  I have lots of stories and anecdotes to add to this topic, but really the common theme is this: treat everyday like you’re prepping for bikini season.  Before, during, and after pregnancy.  What does that mean?  Eating healthfully and exercising, plain and simple.  There’s no secret or mystery plan behind it.

Okay, so that may seem like a pretty generic piece of advice.  Plus, not everyone has the same criteria for what constitutes healthful eating and physical fitness routines.  For reference, I’ll talk about some of my healthy habits, but really the bottom line is to find what works best for your body and lifestyle.  I may have been able to run 3-5 miles into my 8th month of pregnancy, but somebody else could benefit just as much from walking their dog for 30 minutes.  It doesn’t make me better, it is just what suits me best.

Recovering from pregnancy weight gain for me really started before even trying to conceive.  I had a healthy lifestyle before becoming pregnant, which set a good foundation for prenatal and postpartum maintenance.  Mind you, I was no skinny super model with “naturally fast metabolism”, nor a fanatic celebrity with a nutritionist/chef/personal trainer at my disposal.  Through trial and error, I found what worked best for me and incorporated these changes into my lifestyle.  I found exercises that I liked (running, full body dvds, yoga, bike riding) and scheduled appointments in my calendar to make sure I didn’t cancel on myself and fitness goals.  I didn’t treat my nutrition in a diet-focused manner, but rather with a holistic approach.  Basically, how do certain foods make me feel?  Do they give me energy or do they make me sluggish?  Are the ingredients naturally occurring or are they frankenfoods?  Do I need a whole plate of an indulgent food, or will just 2-3 bites satisfy my cravings?  You get the idea, but here are some of the food habits I developed and have remained unchanged:

  • Drink 10+ cups of water a day.  No soda or juice.
  • Breakfast is the biggest meal of the day, with no added sugar
  • Eating lots of vegetables, especially leafy greens
  • Maxing out at 2-3 fruits/day
  • Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats, whole wheat, etc)
  • Organic when possible (although when I prepared the foods it was 98% likely to include organic ingredients)
  • No sweets in the house (hardest by far, and not always kept)
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Avoiding GMOs, hydrogenated oils, and chemical additives, such as high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, and MSG
  • Minimizing convenience and processed foods (pre-made sauces, crackers, snacky type foods, etc)
  • No eating after dinner

Those are my eating guidelines.  They didn’t change when I became pregnant or after giving birth.  I’ll share one little anecdote about how important that is.  When Rocco was 6 weeks old, I was wearing him in a baby carrier while walking the dog, and I was stopped by a woman who had a 6 month old baby.  She was just being friendly and wanted to chat with another mom.  She expressed interest in walking/exercising to lose her baby weight – which was 80 pounds.  You know how that happened?  She told me that before the baby she worked out like crazy and “dieted” so much, that when she became pregnant she just wanted to eat ice cream every day.  Where did she think that ice cream was going?  What goes up must come down, and it doesn’t exit in the L&D ward.  I think that example really drives home the point about healthy habits, not dieting.  I don’t mean to point fingers at this woman, but I think it’s more common than others admit.  Before pregnancy, I wouldn’t keep ice cream in the house and would only have desserts on special occasions.  The same rules applied during pregnancy.  Okay, so one time I sent Nick out for ice cream, but it was a rare occurrence.

Maintaining my habits during pregnancy was not hard at all.  In fact, it was more motivation than fitting into a bikini, because my nutritional intake went directly into my baby’s growing body.  I was especially more careful about chemicals/gmos, etc, and while that’s all fine and hippy dippy, the positive side effect is I ended up eating a lot less junk.  That junk just goes straight in the trunk, and we all know the baby is in the front.  I also maintained my fitness routine, but just modified for pregnancy.  I biked and did personal training through the first trimester, I ran 2-3 times a week until the 8th month, and then adjusted by going for longer walks with the dog in the last few weeks.  I also increased the frequency of my yoga practice, just avoiding poses not suitable for a growing belly.  Up until 2 days before I went into labor, I was going to the yoga studio 6 days in a row that last week, which was when my monthly pass expired.  The day I went into labor, I took my dog for a 4 mile walk.  That same day was my 39 week appointment, and my weight gain was 24.5 lbs.  My healthy habits carried me through a healthy pregnancy with minimal side effects.

Then the smoking mirrors of pregnancy shattered as reality set-in.  Or so I thought.  This is specific to my experience, so I can only speak to what I know.  The next day when I gave birth, I had 15 minutes of pushing (which I like to think is all thanks to yoga).  Shortly after delivery, I had to take a shower and noticed how flat my stomach was, compared to my expectations based on what everyone was telling me to see (a 6-month-pregnant looking belly).  9 days later I was down 16.5 pounds, and I had one pair of regular size 28 jeans that I could zip and button.  3 months postpartum I was wearing 26/27 again and only 3 pounds from pre-pregnancy weight (I’d like to think those 3 pounds are lactation related).  I’m not saying I looked like the aforementioned super model/celebrity, but I looked like me, not a new mom version of me.  I’ve also definitely improved my shape since then, but having that solid foundation both physically and mentally enabled me to improve myself instead of trying to “bounce back.”

I continued with those nutritional habits in the trying weeks as a new mom, despite the exhaustion and every other excuse in the book.  The foods were the same, just more as I needed them, and also DEFINITELY more water for lactation.  I exercised as my body allowed and was safe for a postpartum recovery.  I started walking 3 days after delivery.  It started out as 15-20 minutes, but within a week I was running errands, walking the dog twice a day for 2-3 miles each time.  It was that simple.  At my 5 week checkup, I was cleared for exercise, and the next day I went to baby and me yoga.  I returned back to running, training for the NYC marathon, but only lasted a month and 14 miles.  Pregnancy taught me to know my physical and mental limits, and clocking in 30-50 miles a week on a collection of 2 hour naps throughout the day was not something I was prepared to continue.  Once the baby was sleeping for longer stretches, and finally through the night, that’s when I would wake up early to run or go to a 7 am class.  Until then, I just tried to keep moving.  I’d wear Rocco around the house as I did chores.  I’d keep going to baby and me yoga, despite time after time dealing with a screaming infant hanging from my boob.  Eventually, I’d catch a break and he’d sleep, allowing me to get in an hour of vigorous practice without paying for a baby sitter.  All of those small efforts, combined with healthful food, strongly contributed to returning to my post-baby measurements.

Like I said before, these accounts are of my personal stories.  I’m not trying to say that if somebody hasn’t accomplished those results there is something wrong with them or what they’ve done.  A healthful life can be challenging, and motherhood is even more so.  My hope is that by sharing my experience, the tips I incorporated into my life could help others to achieve a year-round healthy body, instead of struggling towards some fleeting and unrealistic goal.  Just remember that you don’t need to “diet” or hardcore exercise to achieve those results.  It’s about the journey, not the destination.  Simple, small, and lasting changes will put you on the path to 4 seasons of bikini wearing.  Even if it is still December.

Finding New Ways to Cook

In Fruit, Lentils, Quick Meal, Rice, Vegan, Vegetables on September 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm

My baby loves to be held and walked around, and won’t shut up until I pick him up.  All advice I’ve ever read about getting things done with an infant suggests wearing your baby.  While this works for folding laundry, cleaning the counters/floors, and even loading/unloading the dishwasher (can you say squats like whoa?), this method does not avail itself in the food prep department.

The biggest challenge I’ve had in the kitchen as a new mom is the ability to actually use a flame to cook food.  My best bet is to wear the baby when he’s awake to do the washing, chopping, and take out all the pots/pans I need.  Then, as soon as he’s napping (or if time doesn’t allow for that, I put him down to scream), I’ll turn on the stove and get to the actual cooking part.  However, three times a day of piecemeal preparation is exhausting and super time consuming.  Sometimes I’ll just make a smoothie because it’s easy (and he like the sound of the blender), but I mean how many liquid meals can I consume daily?

Today I really wanted a cooked lunch.  I had come back from baby and me yoga starving.  I had no leftovers, and I’m sick of eating a plain old sandwich.  So I looked in the pantry and pulled out a few things to put in the rice cooker.  I have a small one, which is perfect for 2-4 servings of grains.  It also has a steamer insert so you can cook veggies on top.  Just plop the grains/lentils in, add 2.5 times the amount of water, any spices you like, and bam.  It does the work for you and stays warm even after it’s done cooking.

Lentils and Brown Rice with Beans, Dried Cherries, and Sunflower Seeds

Makes 2-4 Servings

1/2 cup short grain brown rice
1/2 cup French Lentils
2.5 cups water (you could also use broth)
Salt, pepper, sage, marjoram, thyme, and turmeric – all to taste
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 lb mixed green and broad beans, chopped
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

I threw in the rice, lentils, water and spices in the pot insert, then covered with the lid and pushed the on button.  This takes about 35-40 minutes to cook, so about 5 minutes before it’s ready I added the cherries inside the pot.  After mixing, I put the steamer attachment on top, added the chopped beans, and covered until it was done.

photo 1

 

I mixed the beans with the rest, then sprinkled in some fresh cilantro and sunflower seeds.  Very tasty.

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You can see that the rice is yellow.  That’s from the turmeric.  It doesn’t really have a strong flavor, but it makes things look pretty.  It’s also anti-inflamatory.

That’s my newest tidbit in the kitchen department.  Even if you don’t have a screaming baby, I’d try it.

This was not taken today, but on another occasion where Rocco insisted on helping in the kitchen.  As I look at the photo, I realize I'm wearing the same top, so we must have also gone to baby and me yoga that day.

This was not taken today, but on another occasion where Rocco insisted on helping in the kitchen. As I look at the photo, I realize I’m wearing the same top, so we must have also gone to baby and me yoga that day.

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.

An Ode to Candle 79

In American, Beans, Indian, Moroccan, Rice, Vegan, Vegetables on July 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

To some people, the word “vegan” conjures up feelings of hate, resentment, or misunderstanding.  Or as friends have said to me “being vegan is just weird.”  And you know what?  I was probably guilty of harboring those sentiments myself before adapting a vegan diet 2ish years ago.  I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon it, but back in September of 2010 I came across some of Alicia Silverstone’s recipes from her book The Kind Diet.  Peaking my interest, I checked the book out of the library, and read it cover-to-cover in one day.  Not sequentially, mind you; the pictures and recipes were scanned first.  However, reading all the information about health, environment, animal humanity, and overall well-being that can be attained through a plant-based diet, I just decided to go cold turkey.  Mid-day, Tuesday, October 5th (isn’t it weird that I remember that?).  At the time, I was still dating Nick, and he had been away on a business trip back when he was traveling a lot as a consultant.  I remember being so afraid to tell him my decision, and approached him like I was about to tell him I’m dying of some incurable disease.  To my surprise, he didn’t make fun of me or tell me I was crazy (although I’m sure he thought it).  He was happy to support me in every way, as long as he could still eat his meat and cheese.

Within days, I felt great!  I had tons of energy, no stomach issues, and kept my weight pretty low – eating mostly carbs mind you! (Spoiler alert – none of this is true anymore, as I developed soy intolerance and had to reintroduce dairy back into my life).  I was following a lot of the recipes in The Kind Diet, as well as checking out some other vegan cook books from the library.  However, as even the most seasoned chef knows, cooking every meal for yourself is hard.  And exhausting.  And sometimes boring.  Eating out is challenging enough if you have any dietary restrictions, but I swear if you say to a server “I’m vegan” there will probably be twice as much butter on your sandwich.  On the flip side, I would search high and low for vegan restaurants that had something for my meat-eating husband to enjoy, and he found himself eating the only non-seitan or tofu dish available.  He’d go because he loves me, but he never truly enjoyed it (the same way I’ll go to a steak house to please him and be left to eat mushrooms and steamed broccoli).  But I think I’ve finally find the one:  Candle 79.  I went there with a friend, and I ordered the Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake.  As soon as I tasted it, I said, “OMG, Nick would love this.”

My friend had ordered some special with seitan in it, which I would try a different time.

There was even chocolate molten cake.  Our favorite.

Those all look like dishes you could order at any gourmet restaurant.  I have yet to bring Nick there, as it’s all the way on the Upper East side, and he generally doesn’t go above 14th street.  In order to convince him, I decided to try and recreate the chickpea cake.  My brother-in-law got me the Candle 79 Cookbook for xmas this past year, and I finally put it to good use last night!  I’m not sure if the recipe in the book is 100% like the one used in the restaurant, but it was pretty darn close!  That orange sauce is an apricot chutney.  I’m not sure what the green sauce is, but the recipe in the book called for a roasted red pepper curry.  I didn’t have red peppers on hand, so I decided to adapt a recipe from The Kind Diet called Eggplant Chana Masala.  Basically, just like chana masala, but with eggplant in it (duh).  My version deconstructs the masala by placing the Candle Cake on the eggplant.

Some of the ingredients and both cook books.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake

Adapted from Candle 79 Cookbook

1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 tsp EVOO
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 can)
1/4 cup reserved chickpea liquid, or vegetable broth
2 tbsp flour (I used chickpea flour)
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Nonstick olive oil spray

Apricot Chutney

Adapted from Candle 79 Cookbook

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp EVOO
1.5 cups fresh apricots, chopped (about 4)
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 cup water

Eggplant Masala

Adapted from The Kind Diet

2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp EVOO
1 tbsp each cumin, curry powder, garam masala, and amchor powder (or lemon juice)
1 small eggplant (about 1.5 lbs), chopped into 1/4″ cubes
1 28-oz can tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt to taste

I didn’t cook these components in the order listed;  I started with chutney, then eggplant, and then cakes.  The chutney was really simple!  I sauteed the onion for a few minutes, and then added the apricots and garam masala (the recipe calls for fresh ginger, which I didn’t have).

Another minute later, I added everything else to simmer while everything else cooked.  In the end, it turned into this amazing jam-like syrup.

Next was the eggplant.  I like eggplant really well done, hence the tiny chop.  I sauteed the onion (both white and the green ones from my share) with all the spices.  I had actually only started with about 1 tsp each (as the recipe said), but it needed more flavor as I kept adding the other ingredients.  The onions took about 5 minutes

I added the eggplant, sauteing another 5 or so minutes until it was more tender and I could scrape off most of the brown bits.

I then added the tomatoes, broth, and salt.  After reaching a boil, I covered the pot and lowered to medium heat.  The dish needed about 40 minutes to reach the consistency I liked.

While the chutney and masala simmered, I worked on the cakes.  The recipe starts with dry peas, but you could use canned peas if you like.  I had planned on cooking a bunch of chickpeas anyway, so I had started that pot before the chutney.  I used about 1 3/4 cups worth for the patties.  I also sauteed the onion and celery for 5 minutes with a tsp of EVOO. I blended the peas in the food processor, and then combined the veggies, peas, and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Using a spoon, I mixed everything up to create the batter.

I divided the batter into 4 patties, and sauteed in a nonstick pan with EVOO spray for 4 minutes each side.  I probably could have used the several tbsps of oil the recipe called for, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

My spatula was running through the dishwasher, so the patties kind of fell apart while flipping.

I served Nick his chickpea cake over the eggplant and some brown rice.

Mine was sans rice.

Even with my adaptations, I thought the cake was spot on.  Nick really liked the cake and chutney, but wasn’t a huge fan of the eggplant.  Next time I’ll try to make that red pepper sauce.  Or I could make a reservation at Candle 79.

How to Tickle Your Pickle, and Some Single-Entendre Ideas

In American, CSA, Meat and Pultry, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Pickling is all the rage in the CSA lovers’ world (as you can see from this link party).  Two weeks ago, I got some kohlrabi in my share, so I opted to try my first pickling experiment.  Here’s the before.

And here’s the after.  Pinkish water.  Garlicky goodness.  Perfect to perk up a sandwich or pair with something more rich, say a bacon cheeseburger.

Speaking of burgers, I did a good job last week keeping Nick away from meat to make up for all the grilling last weekend.  Lots of salads, beans, and chicken breast.  One night, I went out to dinner with a friend visiting from out of town, so I left him to his own devices.  What did he make: TJs shepherd’s pie.  He brought up how he missed the days when I’d made my mom’s recipe, and it sort of broke my heart.  I know he likes all the foods I make, but he truly enjoys meat and more indulgent recipes.  Last night, I surprised him with some ground sirloin and decided to make him some burgers (the rest of the meat will be saved for the shepherd’s pie).  Luckily, I had lots of fresh veggies from Saturday to balance the meat out.

I decided to make two “salads” – grilled corn and heirloom tomato, and dill cucumber salad.  Only this time, I had extra cucumbers to make the latter.  I figured some for tonight, the rest will “pickle” and be enjoyed throughout the week.  I used a lot of vinegar this time (about 2 cups), and doubled all the other ingredients.  They marinated for 2 hrs or so before dinner.

Since this was the first distribution with corn, I was careful to inspect each cob before I dropped it in my bag.  The reason being worms.  Last year, I would get so many worms in the corn, which is symptomatic of organic corn.  The farmer explained the only way to minimize worms is to drop oil into each one, which would take him 3 staff members 2 full days.  Needless to say, this practice is not utilized.  Anyway, when I do get to enjoy sweet corn, I generally eat it raw.  It is so crunchy, sweet, and fresh.  Other times, I grill the corn (although usually these recipes are developed from leftover grilled corn) and combine it with cilantro, lime, black beans, tomato, and avocado.  This time, I put together a version I saw on “The Biggest Loser”.  That show is definitely another one of my guilty pleasures.  One particular episode, Bob (one of the trainers) invited his team to his house, announcing he is Vegan and had some foods for them to try.  He posted the recipe on his blog:

http://www.mytrainerbob.com/blog/the-rest-of-the-vegan-recipes-from-this-weeks-biggest-loser

I saw some beautiful small heirloom tomatoes at the health food store, so I figured they were perfect for this recipe.

Here’s my version:

Grilled Corn and Heirloom Tomato SaladAdapted from Brooke Larson

3 ears sweet corn, grilled
1 pint heirloom tomatoes (or 2-3 medium sized ones)
2 tsp EVOO
1 tbsp aged balsamic
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp salt
5-10 fresh basil leaves

I don’t have access to my grill this summer, due to construction on the roof forcing all items inside.  Thus, I “grilled” this corn directly on my stove top range.

I don’t like them too well done, just with a little bit of blackenedness.

When they’re cool enough to handle, I slice off the kernels, and reserve them in a bowl to be mixed with the tomatoes.

I saw a really efficient way to slice cherry/grape tomatoes on Rachael Ray.  You use two circular lids from pint containers, wedge the fruit in between, and then slice your knife through.  It worked really well.

After slicing.

I let the tomatoes chill in the fridge with the corn, oil, salt, and fennel.  I topped the salad with the balsamic and basil when it was time to serve.  Nick had his ground sirloin burger on a potato bun with wild mushroom brie, tomato, and red onion.  Corn salad and tons of cucumbers on the side.

I was lazy for myself, so I took the easy road and made a Dr. Praeger’s Bombay style veggie burger with some lowfat cheese “protein style”, a.k.a. wrapped in lettuce.

I generally prefer to make my own veggies burgers, but sometimes you gotta take the easy way out.  These patties are pretty tasty and you can see the veggies chunks in there.  I am not really a fan of the other varieties, especially after having stayed at a Fire Island house last summer where the “house mother” was the Doctor’s real life daughter.  The freezer was stuffed to the brim with boxed veggie creations.  I’d add more about that, but you know that saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”

Nick and I both really enjoyed our dinner.  I had leftovers for lunch today with some brown rice, beets, and some lentils.

Rice/lentils buried under cukes.

Nick went back for thirds of the pickled cucumbers after eating 2 burgers; he wasn’t as big of a fan of the corn, preferring the Mexican version more.  But when you’re in a pickle, you do what you gotta do.

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.

Don’t Throw That Out!

In Beans, CSA, Flexitarian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Mexican, Rice, Saving Money, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on July 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I hate to waste, especially with food.  Maybe it’s from years of hearing my Great-Depression era grandmother say “eat everything on your plate.”  Or perhaps it’s from watching the starving children in those commercials you can feed for 25 cents a day.  Along with  several other motivators,  I strive to use every inch of food I buy.  I’m not perfect, but I’ve definitely found some ways to get creative.  Especially with my CSA produce.  I was able to stretch out the “scraps” from three items this past week and turn them into delicious meals!  This includes pods from peas, stems from broccoli, and greens from beets.  Let’s take a look.

I got about a quart worth of peas in a pod last week.  One doesn’t normally find these too often.  Usually people use frozen or canned peas, but the fresh kind are the best!  You can eat them raw as a snack or in a salad.  After I spent a good 15 or so minutes shelling the peas, I reserved the pods to potentially use in a stir fry (like I would use snow peas).  When the day came that I planed to make said stir fry, I found out Nick had Thai food for lunch, so I wanted to make something completely different.  That’s how this recipe was invented.  It still has an East Asian flair, but it’s a soup instead of a stir fry.

Ginger Lime Pea Pod Soup

Makes about 8 cups (4-6 servings)

1 quart peas in pod, shelled and separated
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp EVOO
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp chickpea miso paste (or miso of your choice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 lime, zest and fruit

I had shelled the peas in advance, so I was able to start chopping the pods right away.  I also chopped the celery, onion, and ginger.

In a large pot, I added the EVOO and chopped veggies, allowing them to saute for 3 or 4 minutes just to get a little bit of the raw bite out of them.

I added the broth and water, and brought to a boil.  Then I added the chickpeas.  I combined 2 tbsp of the hot broth with the miso paste so that I could easily incorporate the latter.  I also added the sea salt.

I lowered the soup to medium-low to simmer for 20 minutes.  Then I added the zest of the lime to the pot.  Then I peeled the skin so I could use the fruit.  I know that sounds weird, but trust me you get a lot of flavor that way.  Plus, you don’t have to juice several limes, which helps to stretch out what you have some more!

I added those wedges to the pot.

After cooking another 2 minutes, I turned off the heat so I could use my immersion blender.  Once everything was smooth and incorporated, I added the fresh peas to gently cook for 5 minutes.

Then it was time to serve!

The soup had a really nice bite to it!  Tart from the lime, spicy from the ginger, and crunchy from the peas.  It was great both hot and chilled.  I even added a dollop of soft goat cheese to it later on, which was an amazing addition.

Now let’s move on to the other ingredients I mentioned:  Broccoli stems and beet greens.  I’ve used the stems before in slaw, and the greens for a salad.  Both occurrences were raw, which render a truer taste and texture.  Nick isn’t a fan of certain tastes and textures.  This is when I have to get really creative (i.e. sneaky).  The best trick I’ve learned is to chop any less-desired veggies into tiny pieces and mix them with other veggies.  That way it’s really hard to pick out the ones you don’t like, and you end up eating everything.  Case in point, enchiladas.  I had leftover pumpkin seed mole sauce, so this was a perfect way to use up the leftovers.  You can refer back to the original enchilada post for details, but here are the ingredients I used:

Veggies:

1 cup zucchini
1 yellow pepper
1 small green pepper
1/2 large onion
Stems of 2 bunches broccoli, cut into match sticks
1/2 bunch beet greens (about 3 cups chopped)

Seasoning:

I didn’t measure them out, but I’d guess about 1/2 tsp of each (except Cayenne).

Cumin
Ancho chili powder
Oregano
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Coriander
Cayenne
Salt
Pepper

I sauteed all the veggies (except greens) for 5 minutes, and then added all the spices.  Then I folded in the greens.

I added about 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth to deglaze.  I used a similar method with chicken breast (to add to Nick’s enchiladas).

I rolled up the enchiladas, topped with mole and low fat cheddar, and baked for 20 minutes at 350.  I served the enchiladas with some black beans and leftover brown rice.  I try to make a bunch of rice at a time, and then stretch it out by reheating with some broth.  You can do the same with leftover rice from Chinese take-out.  Money and time saver!

I just had the veggies and beans with some mole sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.  Without the cheese, this is a really good vegan dish!  Look at how the stems from the beet greens turned the veggies a lovely ruby hue.

Not only was I able to use all the veggie scraps, I was also able to use up all the mole, rice, and a lot of the tortillas I had on hand.  Next time you think of throwing out any of those, don’t.  Make one of these recipes instead!

Give Beets a Chance

In Challenge, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I think beets are one of the most underrated vegetables.  That’s probably because people are reminded of the Del Monte canned variety, and shudder at its preservedness.  However, beets can not only be delicious, but also super good for you.  There’s a reason juice bars include beets as a main base in most juices.  Beets have an incredible detoxifying affect on both your liver and urinary tract.  But enough hippy hullabaloo, let’s move on to delishifying these babies.

There are many ways to prepare beats, but most people are familiar with the roasted version.  The flavor is sweet and concentrated this way, which pairs perfectly with goat cheese, nuts, and fruit in a salad.

Another common method is boiling.  I’ve never tried that myself, but if I were to make some borscht I’d certainly have to.

Perusing through other food blogs, I came across a post of mixed root vegetable chips that included beets.  I can’t seem to locate it now, but I thought that was an excellent beet preparation method!  Hey, they sell Kale chips for 8 bux a pop and I can make those at home, why not create my own beet chips?  I tried some out this week, and I think they came out pretty tasty (0r at least the ones that didn’t burn).

I think I need to invest in a mandolin to perfect these chips.  Here’s what I did….

Baked Curry Beet Chip

1 bunch red beets (about 5-6)
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

I had to do this in batches.  My first batch I tried at 350º.  I sliced up the roots as uniformly as I could, but to no avail.  I added them to a resealable bag with the oil, and shook them up til all the chips were coated.  Then I lined a roasting tray with the chips.

I baked them for about 30 minutes until most of them were crispy.  While they baked I mixed the curry powder with the other spices.

This was the first batch outcome.

The more orangy colored ones are crispier.

I sprinkled them right away with the seasoning.

Then I transferred the chips to a paper towel lined plate to cool off.  Let’s say I ate only half of them.

Hard to tell, but that was one of the winners!

Some of the pieces were crispy; others were soft.  I decided to raise the temp to 400º and set my timer for 20 minutes.  At that point, they looked almost ready.  Five minutes later, they were burnt to a crisp.  No photo because I am so embarrassed :(.

The ones that were crispy and not burned were really tasty!  I great alternative to potato chips.

Surprisingly, my new favorite way to enjoy beets is raw in a slaw!  I’ve made one before, and I am constantly experimenting with new recipes.  On July 4th, I used half a bunch of raw beets, some broccoli stems, and red onion for a slaw.

I had a little bit of dill mayo left from making potato salad, so I added that plus some extra mustard and vinegar.  I served the slaw with some grilled zucchini blossoms, and copped out with a veggie burger and salad.

Raw zucchini blossoms cut in half lengthwise.

Grilled to perfection!

Slaw, grilled veggies, can’t go wrong.

I love using the left over slaw for breakfast!  I know that sounds weird, but it’s nice to have on the side with an omelet.  Plus, you get in an extra serving of veggies early in the AM.  Woot woot!

I’ve also mentioned before that beet leaves are edible.  Don’t throw them away!  I eat them raw in salad, but you can easily saute them with garlic and olive oil.

Beet greens with French radish, red onion, avocado, and orange. Paired with cheesy brown rice and leftover grilled squash blossoms.

Any of these ideas peak your interest?  I certainly hope so!  If not, I’ve seen baking with beets (think red velvet cupcakes).  Now that’s one I’ve never tried, but who am I to keep someone from enjoying beets anyway seen fit?

Carroll Gardens Farmer’s Market

In American, Challenge, Chinese, Flexitarian, Italian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Pasta, Potato, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

This past weekend was another by-week for my CSA share.  I still had a few things left (snap peas, bok choy, escarole, and a lil’ chard), but knew I’d have no time during the week to pick up more veggies once I ran out.  I spent all day Saturday shopping at the local boutiques (hooray for summer sales!) and ended with dinner and a movie.  Then came Sunday, and I made me way over to my neighborhood farmer’s market.  It’s funny how rarely I go there, even though it is only a 5 minute walk away.  After breakfast, I went with Nick at about 11:00 AM.  I love when he comes with me, because I get direct feedback from my primary consumer!  It was so hot, though, that it felt like being in a green house every time we went under one of the tents.  His feedback ended up being short and to the point.

I really need a better camera, because my flash is either super bright or non-existent.

There were so many options, it was hard to edit myself!  I bought veggies from 4 different vendors, as well as honey to help with Nick’s allergies.  I’ve heard that having a little bit really helps with outdoor allergies, so when I saw it was from Red Hook, I jumped on it!  The joke was on me, though, because Red Hook is also a town upstate, not just in Brooklyn.  Doh!

Here’s the list of veggies:

2 bunches beets (they were on sale 2/$5)
1 head green leafy lettuce ($3)
3 lbs small potatoes ($6)
4 small eggplant (About 1/5th of a lb – wish there were more, but they sold out!) ($1)
1 bunch French radishes (only $1.50)
6 green house tomatoes ($4.10)
3 zucchini
1 striped zucchini
4 small bunches broccoli ($4.80 for all the zucchini and broccoli)
1 box zucchini blossoms ($7)

About $32.50 for all of that!  Much more than I’d normally spend, but I intended using the potatoes for a BBQ, and the zucchini blossoms are a treat.  I am determined to make them without breading and/or deep frying, but we will see…

I got home and washed everything up, fit in a workout, and then headed out to a friend’s birthday brunch.  It was so hot in there!  Their AC was non-existent, and the thermostat read 95 degrees!  We were all ready to leave once the plates were cleared.  Nick and I went to visit some friends after, and they were making some zucchini for their dinner.  I decided when we got home to do the same, so I sauteed 3 zucchini with sundried tomato, the rest of the swiss chard, some garlic, and sprinkled in some truffled pecorino.

I added it to some whole wheat penne.

I had also made a salad with the lettuce from the market, some tomato, chopped olives, feta, and balsamic vinegar (no picture).  Super yummy as well!

The next day was nice and cool, so I decided to get a lot of cooking in!  I made Ina Garten’s Dill Potato salad for an upcoming BBQ.  It’s really delicious, but I only make it to bring out to other places, lest my hubby and I eat 3 whole lbs of potatoes in one sitting!

Dill Potato Salad

Adapted from Ina Garten

3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 tsp vinegar with 1/4 cup-3/4 tsp of skim milk)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery (I used 1 full cup)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I used 1 full cup)

I cut up the potatoes before boiling, although the recipe says to cut them after cooking.  I brought the pot to a boil, then simmered for 10 minutes.  While boiling, I combined everything else except the celery and onion for the dressing.

After 10 minutes, I drained the potatoes into a colander, then placed the colander over the hot pot and covered with a kitchen towel to steam for 20 minutes.  I also chopped up the onion and celery.

I combined the potatoes, dressing, and celery/onion.  They are currently marinating in my fridge, so I don’t have a photo yet.

Later for dinner, I made a salad with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and carrot ginger dressing.

 

I also made a stir fry.  I used Bok Choy, striped zucchini, baby eggplant, snow peas, broccoli, scallion, onion, and ginger.

I made my own sauce using low sodium soy, mirin, red chili paste, vegetable broth, and corn starch.

I made some brown rice and mirin chicken to go with it.

I wanted to make myself seitan, but mine had expired.  Boo!!!!

I still have a bunch of stuff left for the week, but I’m glad I do because all my stuff from last week is gone (except the escarole, which I may end up throwing out)!  So far I used half the broccoli, all the zucchini, eggplant and potatoes, and almost all of the tomatoes and lettuce.  Very excited with all my beets, and those zucchini blossoms will be an exciting challenge.  Hope you all have a great Independence Day!  I plan on celebrating by making anything BUT American food.