Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Basic Baked Tofu

Basic Baked Tofu, page 144
and El Hombre's "Tater-Broc"

Indeed, the Basic Baked Tofu is basic. Which is a good thing. As the recipe indicates, this is the perfect tofu to have on hand for sandwiches, salads, and the like. I began marinating the tofu several hours ahead of time, and while it was good, I did find myself wishing the flavors of the marinade had permeated the tofu a bit more.

But I have to give props to El Hombre. Again, he was in charge of getting dinner on the table tonight, and I left him with minimal instructions - bake the tofu as directed in the cookbook, and fix up some potatoes and broccoli however he liked. Apparently, he had one of those mad-kitchen-genius moments, and created something wonderful. He sauteed up some chopped onions along with the broccoli and potatoes, and then decided to throw the rest of the tofu marinade into the mix. It turned out to be this super yummy, comforting chunky-mashed-potato-and-broccoli-with-onions dish, seasoned to perfection with the marinade. Really! Combined with the baked tofu, it was a perfect, simple yet comforting dinner to come home to after a long day. He called it "tater-broc." Baked tofu and tater-broc... yummy!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad, pg. 16

It was El Hombre's night to cook, so I did some of the prep work for him earlier in the day, and left the rest for him to finish and have on the table by the time the girls and I got home. We had the salad with some cooked greens, sliced cucumbers and carrot sticks, and some whole-grain bread.

The balsamic dressing was the key element to bring everything together for this salad. I've generally found that balsamic dressings are usually boring and predictable, but this recipe here was probably the best one I've ever had. It is a cashew-based dressing, which gave it a nice creamy, emulsified texture.

The main components of the salad are all some of my favorites - chickpeas, quinoa, romaine lettuce - but the dish would have been unremarkable if not for the dressing. Did I mention the balsamic dressing was really good?

We did not include any of the optional add-ins suggested by Isa this time, but next time I definitely would play around with it more. Shredded carrots, fresh basil, chopped tomatoes, and even a few kalamata olives would be great, I think.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fusilli Roasted Veggie Primavera

Fusilli (actually, Gemelli) Roasted Veggie Primavera, pg. 167
and mixed romaine salad with oranges and red onions

We all enjoyed this very much.

I couldn't fine whole wheat fusilli at my grocery store, so I substituted whole wheat gemelli. "Gemelli" is just as fun to say as "fusilli," anyway, right?

The roasted veggies were sweet and super delicious. I did bump up the oven temperature about 25 degrees during the last half of the roasting, because I wasn't sure they would get done otherwise. It probably would have been fine.

El Hombre commented that mushrooms would have been a nice addition here. Of course he did, the silly mushroom-lover that he is. I think the "optional" fresh basil garnish was just the right thing to finish it off, in term of taste. You can't beat fresh basil.

Overall, a very nice dish. It was a very easy and forgiving recipe (For example, I didn't a have pound each of zucchini and yellow squash - it was more zucchini and less yellow squash. Who cares, right?). I've never been very enthusiastic about pasta primavera dishes in the past - usually, they seem a little boring and bland to me. But this was definitely not boring, and I'd definitely make it again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale

Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale - page 89
with vegan frittata and mixed romaine salad

Let me be upfront: I am not a fan of mushrooms. But El Hombre is! And I made this tonight to show him some mushroom-y love. He would eat them every day for every meal if I would just cook the darn things. I've tried to like them, I really have. I wish I did. I think it would make my life a little easier, especially as a vegan.

But back to the Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale! El Hombre thought it was great. Kale, garlic, mushrooms... in his eyes, what's not to love? Especially when it's finished off with a hearty drizzle of Sriracha sauce.

In the spirit of being open-minded, I tried a few bites with the mushrooms. And it wasn't bad. The garlic and kale had enough flavor on their own to mask the flavor of the mushrooms for me. But the texture of the mushrooms.... again, not a fan. I ended up giving away my share of the mushrooms to El Hombre, who happily took them off my hands. He's happy, I'm happy, it's a win-win.

We eat cooked greens a lot. I've cooked them like this before, but maybe not with quite so much garlic. But it was delicious, and heck, next time, I'll probably use even more garlic.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Welcome to The Reduction Project!

Hello, and welcome to my new project! I need to lose a little - okay, more than a little - weight. I am a vegan and try to be as plant-strong as possible when it comes to food, but it seems that the baby fat (my babies are, ahem, seven- and nine-years old) along with the holiday-and-special-occasion binging has caught up with me. And the lack of exercise. Well, it's time to get serious and do something about it!

I love to cook. I love to eat (obviously, but who doesn't?!). I also love to collect cookbooks and try out new recipes. (Sorry, inter-webs, but you will never be able to replace my beloved collection of treasured cookbooks!) My newest addition to my collection is Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction. I thought it would be fun to cook my way through the book while journaling about my weight-loss trials and tribulations. Hence, the inspiration for the title of this new project and blog!

I'm also a fan of all those really smart, plant-strong doctor-types, like Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougall, Barnard... I think they have a really important message that everyone should at least consider. There seems to be a nutritional crisis in this country, and it's not getting any better. Currently, I'm re-reading Dr. Joels Fuhrman's book, Eat to Live, which advocates a "nutritarian" diet-lifestyle, i.e., focusing your eating efforts on food with a high nutrient density. It's not as complicated as it sounds, really. But the recipes in his Eat to Live book are, well... okay. Just okay. Some are pretty good. But some are boring. And some are kinda weird.

Enter Isa's new cookbook. All of her recipes in this book are low fat, and it looks like most, if not all, can be made without any added oils, if some slight modifications are made. (I'm not necessarily "fat-phobic" - I just prefer my fats to come in their whole, unprocessed form instead of from refined oils, especially if I'm trying to lose weight.) And most, if not all, of Isa's recipes look EXCITING and DELICIOUS! Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

I've already lost about ten pounds using the plant-strong, no-added-oils approach over the last couple of months, but I have more to lose until I get to my goal. I'd like to achieve this goal before my next birthday, which is about nine months away. Given that the amount I want to lose is about the same as the amount I gained over the course of my pregnancies, I think nine months is a reasonable time frame to take it off, too.

So, let's see where this goes!