Archive for August, 2010

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”

The title was the premise for Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food.  I just read through his little hand guide Food Rules which is written with the same basic theme.  Food Rules is a well written book for those who just want a simple synopsis of all his other books.  It’s simply a list of rules to live by when eating.  These rules as based on common sense and eating like our great grandmothers did.

I loved the fact that this is a quick read.  It’s not just for vegetarians but it does state that a vegetarian diet is healthier and that people who eat far less meat than that of a typical westernized diet are healthier. Rule 22 is eat mostly plants especially leaves which is exactly what most food science is stating.  When I cook broccoli I make sure to eat the leaves it’s considered the most nutritious part.

Another rule is to eat only foods that will eventually rot.  This one  made me laugh.  Has anyone else noticed how long a packaged loaf of bread will last these days?  When I was a kid a loaf of bread was meant to last a few days and then it turned green.  I’ve thrown out bread that’s over 2 weeks old and still looks fine.  That scares me.  Bread is not supposed to last.

The book is too short to give away too many of the “rules” but you really should read it.  Personally I’m glad I read it  but am also glad I borrowed it from the library.  It was a fun read full of information that I mostly already knew but put in simple terms.  Much of this I probably knew from reading his other books but I enjoyed this regardless.

Peace, love, & greens, Lin
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Cold Sesame Noodles

Yesterday I was good and planned ahead.  I made this recipe for cold sesame noodles in preparation for my work day lunches this week.  This is the first time I’ve made this dish in ages and I’m not sure why.  Sometimes we simply forget out old time favorites.  Today’s recipe is both gluten-free and vegan.  While I’ve given up the G-free diet I’m still trying to cut down on my consumption of gluten.  Much easier said than done.  Today I used rice noodles which is appropriate for a dish like this.  If you have regular semolina pasta go for it, it’s fine.  One of the best things about this besides the taste is that it’s served cold so I don’t have to waste time standing around the microwave waiting for it to cook.

My Sunday work day is 9:30am-8pm which pretty much covers breakfast lunch and dinner.  The cafeteria is closed on Sunday’s which isn’t much of an issue for me.  I rarely purchase anything there, although one day next week they’re going to serve rice with black beans and plantains.  That sounds pretty tempting.  Of course the true main dish is some kind of pork sandwich.  I really can’t fathom why anyone would want that when the side dish is so much healthier than the main dish.  I’m grateful that for the simple fact that there is a small salad bar that I can always take advantage of if need be.  For the most part I prefer to pack my lunch bag and know exactly what I’m eating.  What is your typical work or school day lunch?  Are cafeteria’s getting any better with their selections?

  • 1/2 pound rice pasta cooked according to directions
  • 1/4 cup Tamari dark soy, perhaps a little more to thin sauce
  • 1/4 rounded cup smooth peanut butter, soften it in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (cider vinegar if you don’t have rice)
  • 1-2  tablespoon dark sesame oil, more or less depending on consistency
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I use Sriracha)
  • 2 cups shredded veggies such as carrots and cabbage
  • 3 scallions, chopped on an angle
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts or cashews for topping (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions or personal taste and drain well

Whisk together soy, warm peanut butter, vinegar, oil, sesame oil,pepper flakes, and hot sauce in a large bowl

Add noodles and veggies and toss well to combine and coat them evenly with sauce

Allow to cool for awhile and sprinkle scallions and sesame seeds throughout the salad saving a little of the scallion greens to top the dish

Peace, love, & greens, Lin
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Greek Frittata

If you’ve never had a frittata before it is  kind of a cross between an omelette and a quiche.  Ultimately, it’s flatter than a quiche and lacks the fatty crust.  It’s also super easy to make.  This morning I realized that I am lacking many basic ingredients to do anything to creative but did not want a boring bowl of cereal.  Thankfully I always have some frozen spinach on hand so I used that as my starting point.

The unique thing about a frittata is that it’s cooked both on top of the stove and in the oven.  You pretty much let the bottom set while cooking on top of the stove and then you place it under the broiler until the top is cooked and lightly browned.  It’s much quicker to put together and cook than a quiche and stores just as well in the fridge for several days.  I’ll be taking a piece of it to work for breakfast tomorrow.

Ingredients

8 large eggs or 2 cups egg substitute (or a mixture of each totaling 2 cups)

1/4 cup half and half (milk will do)

1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach drained very well

1/4 cup grated mozzarella

1/4 cup feta

1 medium onion chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic minced

1 roma tomato chopped

Salt pepper to taste

Oil for pan

Directions

Pre-heat a pan that can be used both on stove top and inside oven on medium high heat and lightly oil it

Add onion to pan and saute until translucent about 5 minutes, then add in tomato and garlic for 1 minute

In a bowl whisk together, egg product, spinach, cheeses, and half and half, season with salt and pepper, stir in onion and tomato mixture

Add more oil to pan if needed and pour mixture into pan, do not heat above medium high or the bottom will burn!!

Do not stir while cooking but as it starts to set pull away from the edge of the pan so that the liquid gets closer to the bottom

Once it seems about 1/2 way set place in oven under the broiler and check every couple of minutes, I more the pan a bit to make sure all parts of the frittata get directly under the heat

When the top is nicely browned remove from the heat, let sit for a couple of minutes and then slice and serve

Peace, love, & greens, Lin
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Grilled Acorn Squash

It’s a sunny day and I can use my grill!  All  is good!  Yesterday I used the butternut squash that’s been sitting on my counter and today I’m grilling the acorn squash.  I love produce that can sit on the counter for some time without spoiling.  I have the tendency to purchase beautiful produce and not use it quickly enough.  It’s a bad habit I’m working on.

This morning I had a dentist appointment.  The kind where I had to open wide for over an hour while they started a crown.  My dentist is amazing but 1 hour of that with even a mildly arthritic jaw is just too much.  For the rest of the day I’m sticking to a soft  food diet.  I’m not loving the fact that I’m slowly morphing into an old decrepit version of myself.

Dinner tonight is an old favorite Fettucini Alfredo paired with the grilled squash.  While the alfredo is anything but vegan the squash recipe is easily adaptable.  It’s also gluten-free.  The one thing I don’t like about squash is cutting into it so I pierced it a few times and microwaved it for 3 minutes to soften it before slicing for the grill.  That made the whole thing super easy.

Before I get to the recipe I have to mention baby Alyssa who I got to meet today.  She belong’s to my friend Kathy and is just the cutest sweetest baby I’ve seen in ages.  Alyssa let me hold her and feed her and she slept on my shoulder for a bit.  My babies are now adults so I’ve been missing out on the enjoyment of a newborn for quite awhile!  Isn’t she a cutie!

Ingredients

1 medium sized acorn squash

2 tablespoons vegan margarine or butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon of rum (brandy or bourbon will do, even OJ will work)

Just a smidge (scientific term) of cinnamon nutmeg, & cardamon

Salt to taste (optional)

Directions

Pierce the squash with a knife in a few places going with the ridges and microwave for 3 minutes, cool, slice into 1-2 inch slices

Let margarine or butter get to room temperature and whisk in other ingredients

Rub mixture over each slice of squash

Place on medium high grill and cook on each side about 5-7 minutes per side or until you see nice grill marks, after turning the first time brush the remaining sugar butter mixture on top

Since it was just us with no company we ended up picking it up with our hands and eating it right out of the skin.  It was really sweet, tender and delicious.  The dogs very happily inhaled the leftovers that I placed in their bowls.

Have a peaceful day,

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Tofu Korma

Early in the day: Summer in Florida is getting old quickly.  It’s hot humid and our rainy season.  Typically the term “rainy season” means a few brief rain storms often in the afternoon or evening with lots of thunder and lightning.  The last several days it’s been raining so much it’s incredible.  Yesterday around noon the darkest cloud came over my office and made midday look more like midnight!  It lasted over an hour with incredibly heavy rain.  It was incredible, I thought for sure a tornado or some crazy weather phenomenon was going to attack us.  Luckily just the rain  did.

With this weather in mind I’m in a bit of a cooking quandary.  It’s finally my day off and I want to cook but I don’t trust the weather enough to grill something and I don’t want to turn on the oven.  I”m trying to come up with a good summer dinner that is cooked using the stove top only.

Later on: So I’ve decided to try something totally new and create my own veg version of an Indian chicken korma, substituting tofu and butternut squash for the chicken.  Being the wonderful wife that I am, I will actually make a small pot with chicken for my husband.  Korma is a creamy curry sauce made with many rich, fragrant spices.  From my online research there seems to be many variations, some made with heavy cream, coconut milk, or yogurt.  I’ve also seen many different vegetables incorporated.

Today I’m going with butternut squash which works very well with cream sauce, peas and tofu.  I’m not a fan of seitan but if you are feel free to use that in place of tofu.  I noticed several recipes had a little tomato in them but I don’t think I’d like that with a creamy sauce.  I had about 1 cup of wild rice uncooked so I decided to use that instead of a plain white rice.

Even Later: First let me apologize for my lack of photo.  It seems the aging camera I’ve been using has decided to die on me.  While it took the pics they were grainy and unfocused.  It might be a couple of weeks until I can purchase a reasonably priced new one.

The end result was a really rich and tasty dinner.  Both my husband and son really enjoyed it.  At the last minute I decided to add a little sriracha.  The recipe had a nice warm flavor without it but we like a little more heat.  It’s totally optional.  I had all the spices prepared, prior to cooking so they all were ready to toss in at the right time.  This made it very easy.  Cooking the 2 pots of it at the same time was quite easy although I think my husband would have enjoyed the tofu version.  Either way this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 12 oz block tofu
  • 1 butternut squash peeled, cubed and either roasted or microwaved
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger ( I freeze mine and it grates super easy!)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, cumin, and coriander
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, or to taste
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • Sriracha (optional hot sauce) to taste, about 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews for topping

Directions

Heat oil in a  pan and add onions and saute for 4 to 5 minutes on a medium heat until the onions are starting to brown

Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the spices except the garam masala mix well so the seasoning is well mixed.

Turn the heat up to medium high and cook for another 1 minute adding the tofu and squash

Stir well so that the tofu gets mixed well with all the seasoning, this is where it gets all the flavor.

Add water and turn down the heat slightly, then stir in the garam masala and cream , yogurt, and peas cooking for another 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with cashews.  Enjoy!

Have a peaceful day, Lin

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Veg Updates

Here’s an interesting post on Bovine Growth Hormones in a favorite treat, ice cream: http://www.consumethisfirst.com/2010/08/23/a-good-ice-cream-is-hard-to-find/

This isn’t veg related but I enjoyed this article on positive thinking.  As part of my quest to follow a more positive path, I’ve given up the word “hate.”  It seems like a really basic step but it’s made me see many things in a more positive light.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/137643-health-effects-positive-thinking/

A review of one of the first vegetarian cookbooks that actually looks interesting to me.  Am I the only that thinks veg cookbooks all look the same?  http://www.jacksonnjonline.com/2010/08/23/the-ethnic-vegetarian-traditional-and-modern-recipes-from-africa-america-and-the-caribbean/

Last, famous chef Mario Batali is now jumping on the veg bandwagon, at least long enough to write a veg cookbook: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/2010/08/13/2010-08-13_pass_the_veggies_chef_mario_batali_confirms_that_hes_writing_a_meatless_cookbook.html

Chocolate Tofu Pie

If you remember the other day I had my family over for dinner but was determined not to turn on my stove.  This was made easy by making simple appetizers including Tirosalata and ordering pizza which was great.  I topped off the dinner with a no bake tofu chocolate pie that’s as rich and creamy as any typical chocolate pie.

When making it this time I added about 1/4 cup of regular granulated white sugar to sweeten the obvious tofu flavor.  I have made it before without the sugar and it’s fine but tends to have that “healthy” dessert taste.  Really I don’t think that little bit of sugar is going to change the caloric count by all that much per slice but feel free to omit or lessen the amount if you like.

Today I will be back to my favorite Indian Buffet with my brother and I’m really looking forward to spending time with him.  Also, I’ll be very happy to eat Indian food while off my gluten-free trial.  I can and will eat all the naan I want!  Yum!

Ingredients

1 12 oz block of soft tofu

1 12 oz back of chocolate chips

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg whites

1/4 cup white sugar

1 prepared chocolate cookie crust

1 chocolate bar to shave over top (optional  & I only had expensive chocolate so it’s a bit sparse!)

Directions

Melt the chocolate and butter until smooth and creamy

Place tofu in food processor and mix until creamy, add vanilla and pulse to blend

Add slightly cooled melted chocolate to the tofu and beat until smooth, then add sugar, let mixture sit

In a separate bowl using a mixer blend egg whites until stiff, soft peaks form

Add the chocolate tofu mixture to egg whites and fold gently until all ingredients are incorporated and the color is even

Place tofu in food processor and mix until smooth and creamy, add vanilla and pulse, add the chocolate mixuter

Scoop mixture into the prepared pie crust and top with chocolate shavings

Allow to set in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving

Have a peaceful day, Lin