Friday, April 29, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
El Hombre returns with a guest post after some crazy schedules the last two weeks!
Tonight's Scallion Pancakes were definitely a big hit with kids and adults alike. The recipe is very straight forward, easy to execute, and just plain delicious. As Isa states, the pancakes are very delicate before baking and should be handled with care. After trying to gently coat the first pancake in panko breadcrumbs, I found it best to use a thin spatula from the start and forgo hands altogether. After coating, it was off to the oven to bake. One adjustment I would try next time is to reduce the temperature from 425 to 400 or 375 degrees to let the middle firm up more and not over-crisp the outside. I served the pancakes with some sautéed cabbage, broccoli, green beans, edamame, and toasted sesame seeds in a little soy sauce and presto - a great family feast!
Side note - La Mujer helped out with the sautéed veggies and the toasted sesame seeds. There might have been a slight over-toasting mishap with the first batch of sesame seeds. Let's not delve into the frivolous details and just say after some broken glass dinner still turned out great. :)
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
(Oops! I forgot the green onion garnish. Still delish.)
I think the "Full-On Salads" chapter is my favorite part of Appetite for Reduction. Seriously: who knew salads could be this delicious and fun?!? I've always enjoyed a good salad, but Isa is a master at making the salad interesting, full of flavor, and just plain fun to eat. The Sushi Roll Edamame Salad is no exception.
My usual routine is to eliminate any added oils in these recipes, but I think the small amount of toasted sesame oil is essential to the flavor of the dressing here. Even with the sesame oil, the fat clocks in at only 2.5 grams per 1/4 cup. I think that's okay.
Really, every single dressing I've made so far has been phenomenal. Do you have your own copy of this cookbook yet? It's worth every penny for the dressings alone, I swear.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Taco filling: Buffalo Tempeh (page 161), Cool Slaw (page 38), and diced tomatoes
This was an excellent dinner tonight.
The Buffalo Tempeh rocked. After the last tempeh fiasco (thanks, y'all, for the insight!), I decided to play it safe by simmering the tempeh wedges in a little water for about 10 minutes before marinating; this method seems to not only "open up" the tempeh to soak in the marinade, but I think it draws out most of the bitterness as well. Also, my tempeh sat in the marinade all afternoon, not just for one hour.
I couldn't find the large whole-wheat wraps in my grocery store, only soft taco-size tortillas, so I'm calling these Buffalo Tacos instead of Wraps. Topped off with the Cool Slaw and some diced tomatoes, El Hombre and I were in taco heaven. Because of the coleslaw, they were reminiscent of baja fish tacos... so let's just call them Buffalo Baja Tacos, shall we? Next time, I'll even include some lime wedges for squeezing fresh juice over them just before devouring. Ooh, and some avocado, too. And cilantro.
And the Cool Slaw: this recipe is pure genius. Those raw cashews are amazing tricksters, turning this slaw dressing into a cool, creamy, dreamy concoction. Even the kids were crazy about this one.
So, all-in-all, a very good dinner. And a pretty good day. I got a run in, I ate well and within my personal eating plan, and the scale told me this morning that there is no real lasting damage from my indulgences in wine and desserts over the last week. No losses, but no gains, either. Whew! Moving onward and up!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
The Goddess Nicoise Salad has been one of my favorite AFR recipes, by far, so far. I decided to bring it back for Easter to share with the rest of the family, since they weren't around the first time I enjoyed it.
We chose to spend our Easter afternoon lounging poolside in this glorious Austin spring weather. As I whipped around the kitchen beforehand, steaming baby potatoes and green beans and buzzing up some goddess dressing in the blender, I suddenly realized that I had no chickpeas for the salad. Ack! Then, inspiration struck as I considered SweetPea's suggestion from earlier that day that we eat some egg-less (tofu) salad sandwiches (I guess veggie salads don't excite her like they do me): why not use some diced extra firm silken tofu in place of the chickpeas? I think the result was lovely; it was light yet still sophisticated.
This marks the third time I've made a batch of the Green Goddess Garlic Dressing. The first time was with my friend Anne, when we made it with young green garlic, and it was positively divine. The second time, I used the full amount of regular garlic; it was still delicious and pleasing, but it had a much stronger bite from the raw garlic that was too spicy for the girls. This time, I made a double batch of the dressing (to use throughout the rest of the week), and I only put in half the amount of garlic. It is again an excellent dressing, but the raw garlic still gives it a fairly spicy kick that makes it hard for the girls to enjoy as much as El Hombre and I do. I am thinking that the next time I make this dressing (because I will - I love it!), I'll try using lots of roasted garlic instead. I'm imagining that it will give the dressing a deep and rich, yet mellow and sweet garlicky taste, rather than the sharp zing of raw garlic.
I haven't been very diligent during the last week or so about sticking to my personal exercise and eating plan... tomorrow morning I will step on the scale to see what kind of damage I need to deal with. Sigh. I have no real excuses; I just need to realize that it's important to stick to the plan even when I'm feeling busy and overwhelmed with all the little details of life. Maybe even more important during those times. Anyway. Moving on...
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Brown rice, steamed kale, steamed sweet potato, Red Velvet Mole (page 134), and cilantro
Wijic the cat wonders if he'd like it, too.
Greens and sweet potatoes are a favorite combination of mine; adding some black beans and a smoky mole sauce makes it a tasty and nutritious full meal that I would happily eat again and again.
This is not my first mole sauce, but this is a good one to add to the repertoire. It's easy to make with mostly common ingredients, and it has nice smoky undertones from the smoked paprika. I deviated only slightly from the ingredient list, using a broken up tortilla in place of the tortilla chips while simmering the sauce, since that was what I had available.
El Hombre suggested it would be better to chop the greens more finely, and I agree. The greens tonight were a little unwieldy, and it would have been nice to be able to mix them in more with the rice, beans, and mole sauce.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I'm bummed that this one turned out to be a disappointment for us tonight. However, I'm not willing to completely write it off; I think I might try this again, but with a minor but essential adjustment. The girls had high hopes for the Tempeh Helper, and I did, too - it seemed like such an easy peasy kid-pleaser after a long day out, when it's just me to cook and clean-up since El Hombre is out of town for work.
The problem was the tempeh. There were no instructions to pre-steam or boil the tempeh before crumbling it into the pan for browning, like most tempeh recipes, which I believe removes some of the bitterness that tempeh sometimes has. I kinda wondered about this... was it assumed that I would already know to do this step, and therefore it was not written into the recipe? Or was this step unnecessary for this recipe? I went with the theory that maybe it wasn't necessary; the recipe was, after all, billed as a quick-dump-in-the-pot kind of dish. So, I didn't steam the tempeh before cooking, and I ended up regretting that decision. The tempeh had a fairly bitter bite to it, and neither of the girls even finished their serving. Sad. They suggested maybe "Tofu Helper" would be a better idea.
Someday I might give this another go, with the extra step of pre-steaming the tempeh. Maybe.
Has anyone else tried this recipe? What did you think?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Anyone else use Twitter? Any tips or advice? Obviously, I don't know what I'm doing!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Mmmmm... this was comfort in a bowl. With every bite I took, I liked it more and more. I had kind of a stressful day today, involving an emergency tooth extraction for SweetPotato, so this was just what I needed for dinner. Food that's good for the soul and body.
My southern-style beans and greens are usually made with red beans, and my black-eyed peas usually go into some hoppin' john, so this dish was a slightly different take on my usual. It was satisfying and hearty, without being heavy.
Isa calls for kale or collards; I chose collards, if only for the sake of tradition. The only variation I made from the recipe (besides the usual no-oil routine) was to splash on a little more Cholula sauce before eating. Then, it was perfect.
Monday, April 18, 2011
I'm going to say right up front that these onion rings were a p-i-t-a to make; it's messy work to dip each ring into the batter and then dredge in the crumbs, and I'm not entirely sure it was worth it. Don't get me wrong: these were good onion rings. Despite being oversalty (totally my fault), they were tasty, and they had the crispy texture you want in an onion ring. They are definitely waaaaaay better than Hungry Girl's Fiber One onion rings. But truthfully, I got more gastronomic pleasure from my veggie burger on a whole-wheat bun, topped with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and Dijon mustard, mmmm....
As an aside, look who showed up to the photo shoot - isn't he cute???
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Last night, El Hombre worked late, so the girls and I grabbed a bite to eat while we were out at the farmer's market. We joyfully noshed on some garlic sourdough bread, babaganoush, tabouleh, and strawberries while listening to local artist Karen Chisholm, in glorious spring weather. Ah, I love this time of year.
But tonight, it was back to the kitchen. I love it that most of the recipes in Appetite for Reduction are so easy, yet the results are so flavorful. As long as the pantry is kept stocked with a variety of spices (which doesn't have to cost a fortune - shop the bulk section!), it's simple to toss together these exotic tasting dishes.
I love, love, love Indian food, so it's nice to be able to make some of these delicious dishes at home, like this Curried Chickpeas and Greens, or Chana Saag. The first thing you do in this recipe is pop whole mustard seeds in a hot pot, which was a new experience for me. Hey! That was fun! I was a little worried they might burn, but it all turned out fine.
This is a good staple dish to keep in the rotation. Easy, yummy, and a powerhouse of nutrition. I'd like to try it Saag Paneer-style sometime, with cubed tofu in place of the garbanzo beans.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
This was one of those really easy throw-stuff-in-a-pot-and-call-it-soup recipes. I love those kinds of recipes. Especially when they turn out yummy.
Now, I've made my fair share of lentil soup before. Who hasn't? But this recipe is different from my standard lentil soup fare for a couple of reasons. First, it calls for French, or du Puy lentils, which I had never cooked with before until I made the Upside-Down Lentil Shepherd's Pie. These lentils are different from regular ol' lentils; they are a bit firmer, and they don't cook down to mush quite as quickly. The texture is good and hearty. Also, Isa calls for tarragon in this soup recipe, which is an ingredient I don't normally keep stocked in my pantry. The tarragon is nice, though; it adds a different dimension to lentil soup that I haven't quite had before this recipe.
While the soup simmered away on top of the stove, I had time to whip up some whole-wheat Carrot Spice Muffins from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen, which were the perfect complement to the soup.
I also loved all the veggies in the "Lotsa Veggies Lentil Soup." In addition to the amount of zucchini called for, I used an extra zucchini squash that was hanging out in my refrigerator. The more the merrier, as they say!
All-in-all, a superb soup, and a recipe worth hanging on to for another day.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Well, we finally have a dud.
Isa says up front that this is "simple food," but frankly, it was just boring and bland. I even used twice as much minced garlic as what the recipe called for. To be fair, I did leave out the red pepper flakes during the cooking process, for the girls, and didn't add them in until my serving was on my plate. So I suppose it's possible that cooking the red pepper along with the garlic, thyme, and brothy-wine (or is it winey-broth?) would have lent better depth to this dish.
Speaking of the girls, they thought it was okay, so perhaps it's not fair to call this a complete flop. At least it appealed somewhat to the kid-palate.
See that sprig of basil up there? That's what saved this dinner for El Hombre and me. I added it to the dish purely for photogenic purposes at first, but ended up shredding a few leaves and adding it to the pasta on my plate. That helped tremendously.
I probably wouldn't bother making this again, but if I did, I would certainly bang it up by adding about ten times as much garlic and a handful of the shredded fresh basil.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
This was... okay. Not bad, certainly, but not terribly exciting, either. We ate it tonight as a main dish, along with some saag (spinach) and gobi aloo (potatoes and cauliflower).
The seasonings were fine; El Hombre remarked that he would have preferred it to be more "saucy." The girls, however, loved it, so I suppose that means it is probably kid-friendly, depending on the kid. The seasonings were mild enough to not scare them off. I think I would have like a more bold flavor, but then, the kids might not like it.
Again, like the Basic Baked Tofu, this would be a fine choice for a sandwich, or wrap, or to top a salad. But as a star attraction on the dinner plate, it just didn't have enough ooomph on its own.
However, having said all that: I am totally stuffed after tonight's dinner, but I think it's because I ate too much saag. "Too much" surely doesn't apply to spinach, does it?
"Food really is an artistic medium to restore the body to its original design and function. A well-nourished body truly is a work of art! May we all fully embrace the incredible journey to getting our health and lives back!" ~ Emily Boller
Transformation: an art exhibit by Emily Boller
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Also, I wanted to give a little update on my progress in the weight-loss department. I'm down about 3 more pounds over the last two weeks. Yay me! Since the end of January, however, I've lost a total of about 13 pounds, so there's definitely a downward trend here.
I've been getting better at getting regular exercise and workouts in. I think I'm feeling a little more muscle tone here and there, and it's not my imagination. The dog and I are getting in some good walks together. I've been kicking my own butt doing cardio-strength drills with the Nike Training Club app. But food-wise, I need to focus a little more on Fuhrman's "basic skeleton plan" (fruit for breakfast, salad topped with beans for lunch, and more salad plus cooked vegetables along with the cup of whole grains/starchy vegetable for dinner), and make sure I'm fitting the AFR recipes into that framework, as much as possible. And I just need to remember to be patient with myself. It'll happen; I'll reach my goals.
But now, onto the recipe of the day:
Isa, you win: I ate the mushrooms, and I liked it.
I mentioned already that I'm not really a fan of mushrooms, but somehow this worked for me. Was it the variety (shitake - not cheap, by the way)? Was it the way they were chopped up (pretty small - I was scared of ending up with big chunks)? Or was it the delicious combination of the other vegetables, spices, and seasonings (the Worcestershire here definitely gave it that "somethin' somethin'"), lusciously ladled over the cauliflower mashed potatoes?
I don't know. But I liked it, and I'd eat this again. Even with the mushrooms. Who am I?!??
Friday, April 8, 2011
First, the obvious. Those are not blue potatoes up there. I had no luck finding blue potatoes, so I went with baby reds, instead. The other minor substitution I made was shallots for red onions, because I used up all my red onion in last night's korma. Oh, and I took a lazy shortcut and used about a cup and a half of thawed, frozen sweet corn, instead of slicing the kernels from 3 ears of steamed corn on the cob.
Now, I don't want to seem disingenuous by gushing about practically every single recipe in this book, but seriously, again, this was super, duper good. The amount of chipotle called for gave immense flavor with just the right amount of heat. The pinto beans rounded everything out to make it a filling salad. When tasting the finished dish to determine if I wanted to add any more salt (no) or smoked paprika (yes), I found myself going back for more than one test bite. Maybe two, or three. Possibly four. Okay, maybe five. You know, to get it right.
For this recipe, Isa gives instructions to steam the potatoes, which I had never done before. I had always boiled potatoes before, when making a potato salad. The steaming technique turned out to be brilliant, however; the potatoes were tender while still firm, never mushy or falling apart.
This would be a great potluck dish; it's sure to impress folks.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Another delicious dish from AFR - and this one was so easy, too! Quick and simple to make at the end of a busy day, with flavorful and satisfying results. The most difficult part of the entire recipe was chopping up the vegetables, and that wasn't hard at all. I swapped out half of the cauliflower for some broccoli, and added some chickpeas to bulk this up for a main dish.
Vegetable korma is a type of Indian stew of vegetables in a mild, creamy curry sauce. This sauce had just the right balance of creaminess, spice, and sweetness. For me, there was just enough heat to warm things up without overpowering all the fab flavor. El Hombre went ahead and christened his plate with some extra red chili flakes and cumin, but he has asbestos mouth and likes to sweat when he eats.
There are leftovers in the refrigerator - I look forward to having more of this with lunch tomorrow!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
El Hombre guest-posts!
Today is Wednesday and the beginning of my appearance as your Wednesday guest chef. Maybe chef is a stretch, but I can definitely cook up some good food for the family. The oldest has dance practice on Wednesdays, so it’s up to me to have dinner ready when everyone gets home.
On the menu tonight was Jerk Asparagus with black beans and rice. So, the first comment from SweetPotato upon entering the house was, “What’s that funny smell?" SweetPea just had a puzzled look on her face. Fortunately, Jules’ first comment was, “It smells amazing!" I guess jerk seasoning just has that type of effect on people. I also thought it smelled amazing. Overall, a very simple and quick recipe to fix. The key is definitely the jerk spices, bold and in-your-face with goodness. The foundation consists of ginger and garlic, with a good mix of spices to add heat and sweetness. The squeeze of a lime wedge to finish it off was the perfect touch to bring it all together. Combine that with my special refried (no oil, just water) black beans and some good sticky brown rice, and there you have it.
Definitely a hit with the adults, while the girls had to ease into such a robust spice pallet. The asparagus was sautéed in the jerk spices long enough to achieve a good tenderness without losing its crispiness. I usually like my rice spiced up as well, but the plain brown rice served as a good balance to the wonderfully intense asparagus. I love the jerk seasonings, and I'm already thinking of incorporating them in future dishes.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Whole -wheat English muffin, tofu scramble with wilted spinach, Eggplant Bacon, and Caesar Chavez Dressing
El Hombre started his weekly golf league playing tonight, so the girls and I are on our own for Tuesday night dinner now, for several weeks. The plan tonight was to try Isa's suggestion for a breakfast-type sandwich, something we could take with us as we headed out for the evening for SweetPotato's ballet folklorico class and a few errands. I'm talking about a whole-wheat English muffin stuffed with scrambled tofu, wilted spinach, eggplant bacon (!) from the chapter "Full-On Salads," and that ahhhh-mazing Caesar Chavez Dressing.
This was really good. Tasty, easy, and convenient. I did not do the Curry Scrambled Tofu with Wilted Arugula suggested in AFR; instead, I just whipped up a simple tofu scramble with our family's favorite scramble seasonings, something I knew the girls would like - nutritional yeast, garlic and onion granules, and salt, with a couple handfuls of spinach wilted into the mix.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Chickpea Piccata, Cauliflower Mashed Pototoes (Caulipots), and Romaine Lettuce with Caesar Chavez Dressing
on top of a bed of arugula and baby spinach leaves
In the left-side background - romaine lettuce leaves with Caesar Chavez Dressing (pg 43)
After a long, busy weekend during which I fell off the wagon a bit, diet-wise, I made up for it tonight with a dinner using three, count 'em: three!, recipes from AFR. And let me tell you - this was a FANTASTIC meal, with rave reviews all around!
But first, a bit about life since dinner last Wednesday night...
On Thursday, the girls and I went to our weekly homeschool co-op meeting, during which we had our end-of-the-month potluck lunch. My dear friend Paula made these amazing Lebanese stuffed grape leaves, and I could. not. stop. eating them. Also, one of the other moms made cupcakes to celebrate March birthdays, which were very thoughtfully vegan (for our family) and gluten-free (for another family). How could I turn down one of these cupcakes?
On Friday, our family attended another potluck, this one hosted by Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet. While all the food there was plant-strong and oil-free, it was also quite delicious, and I'm sure I ate too much. In addition, someone brought these gigantic chocolate-chip banana muffins, and I ate one of those, too. The whole thing. It was really good. But, beyond the food, it was a really fun event, and we got to meet lots of new people. A highlight was meeting Natala from Vegan Hope. She is such an inspiration!
On Saturday, El Hombre and SweetPotato got up early to make chocolate-chip banana muffins for breakfast, inspired, obviously, by the delicious muffins at the previous night's potluck. Saturday's breakfast muffins were smaller than those at the potluck, but ultra-delicious, and of course, I ate more than one.
And finally, on Sunday, we spent the day adventuring around town and thrift-store treasure hunting. We stopped for lunch at Counter Culture, on Natala's recommendation, and thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate. I had the Jackfruit BBQ sandwich, El Hombre had the Tempeh Reuben, SweetPea had the Philly Seitan sandwich (a big sandwich, for her!), and SweetPotato had the Almond Butter & Apple sandwich. And then, because obviously we had been food-deprived all weekend (um, not really), we sampled the desserts - the raw brownie bites, the donut holes, and the lime-basil cheezecake. Wow!
But back to tonight's dinner...
First, the Chickpea Piccata: I've been trying to make this dish for almost a week now, but someone kept drinking the cooking wine I purchased especially for this recipe! More than one bottle mysteriously emptied while I wasn't looking. I'm not naming names, but I have my suspicions. El Hombre claims it must be the cat's fault, but that doesn't sound right to me. Anyway. One of SweetPea's all-time favorite dishes is seitan piccata, which, while delicious, is not exactly low-fat or plant-strong. So, we were both excited to try this dish. She decided the chickpea piccata is equally as delicious as the seitan version, and even went back for a second helping, along with the cauliflower mashed potatoes.
Which brings me to the Caulipots, or cauliflower mashed potatoes: I was a little wary of this recipe, since I've made mashed cauliflower before and didn't really enjoy it very much. I suppose, then, I was expecting mashed cauliflower to be like mashed potatoes. It's not. But! When you combine mashed cauliflower WITH mashed potatoes, it's like magic! I couldn't really tell the cauliflower was there; it was pretty much like eating just mashed potatoes. And who doesn't love mashed potatoes?!?
And finally, the Caesar Chavez Dressing: Holymoly!!! Amazing! Devine! SO GOOD!!!! Words are not adequate to describe how delicious this salad dressing is. I wished my tongue was long enough to lick the inside of the blender jar. I'm so excited to have more of this on my salad at lunch time tomorrow.
All-in-all, this whole dinner was a winner. Raves all around, from every member of the family. Date-dinner- or dinner-party-worthy. I will be making this again, and again, and again, for sure!
Want the recipe for the Chickpea Piccata? You can get it here, but why not just get your own copy of the book with all 125 rocking recipes, while you're at it? You won't regret it.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Although I am a born-and-bred Oregonian, I now live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two daughters. I never thought I'd ever live in Texas (you know, because of stereotypes and preconceived notions and the like), but we LOVE it here in Austin.
In this space, I will refer to family members with nicknames, and I probably won't post pictures of faces. My husband's native language is Spanish, so here, he will be know as El Hombre. He's awesome. We have two daughters: SweetPea, a nine-year-old, and SweetPotato, a seven-year-old. They're awesome, too.
As a matter of fact, our girls are the very reason our family has become vegan. Just a little more than a year ago, they both decided to stop eating meat for ethical reasons (first, SweetPea, and then SweetPotato shortly thereafter). We had also just previously learned the reason for SweetPotato's chronic belly-aches: dairy. We weren't huge carnivores anyway, but the thought of no meat and no dairy for growing kids put me in a sort of panic. After all, WHERE would they get their PROTEIN? Their CALCIUM? You know, the usual concerns of the uneducated.
So I began to research. This is something I'm good at. And the more research I did, the more I realized that transitioning to a plant-based diet was good for ALL of us. And it was good for the planet. And its good for the animals. Duh. I mean, I already knew this all this. But the more I learned, the more I realized that I couldn't come up with one good reason NOT to go vegan. I cooked vegan at home, and then one day El Hombre surprised me by announcing at dinner that he was ready to go full-board, too. Soon, we begun to apply this philosophy to other areas of our life as well, beyond the food we eat: the clothes and personal-care products we buy, etc.
So that's us, in a nutshell.
But before I go, a word about how I cook: unless I've said otherwise, I will modify these recipes so that there are no added oils. I'm not trying to go "fat-free," but I do want my dietary fat in it's whole-food form, not processed and extracted. Like from, say, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados. (Here is a good list with plenty of reasons to avoid oil, and here is an excellent commentary on the topic.) For example, instead of pouring cooking oil into the pan to saute onions or whatever, I'll will saute without the oil, using a technique similar to this.
And that's all I can think of for now...