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December 2014
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Carbs, Carbs and more Carbs

It is interesting that I made lots of fun-looking salads and such this week….but all I remembered to take pictures of were carbs.  Must be my mindset as we count down to Passover…the things I’m really holding on to for prosperity are full of flour.

First off, with a vegetable I don’t buy often, was a leek-celery pasta dish with Almond White Sauce.

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You’re looking at whole wheat chiccole? pasta with sauteed leeks and celery, in a classic almond-milk white sauce, using oil instead of butter for the starting roux.   It was flavored up with some dried jalapeno, S+P, and nutmeg, since I believe some fresh nutmeg always belongs in a white sauce…..It was good…although nothing to write home about in the grand scheme of pasta dishes.  I may feel differently about such things in another 8 days though, when ANYTHING with carbohydrates in it will look like manna sent from heaven.

Then there was this rice dish I made because I had papaya in the fridge and no clue what to do with it.  I more or less followed the recipe found here, omitting the cilantro cause..ewww, and replacing the red bell with green, since it was what I had on hand.  I found this recipe seriously deficient in salt, even though I ignored its omission in the ingredients and added some regardless.

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I also used much less rice then called for, choosing to up the papaya/bean/veggie content instead, and keep the grains to something of a minimum.  Still, if this is a recipe you are going to make, I would highly suggest integrating some salt, or perhaps cooking the rice in a stock base….with a decent amount of sodium.

Selah.

Sesame Orange Tempeh over Couscous

I’m still of the belief that if I combine couscous with Asian flavors, it is an Asian ingredient…as long as no one tells the Japanese or the Moroccans about it, I suppose I’m safe.  You may not want to tell the Chinese either, now that I think about it.  I was making a friend’s recipe for tempeh (which I’ll share momentarily, cause it’s delicious (or yumo! as Rachael Ray would say)) and since it involved some Asian flavors, I decided the base should as well, but I was craving couscous.  Actually I’ve been craving nothing but carbs all week,which has a lot to do with the fact that Passover is coming back, and it will seem like the blink of an eye before I am completely carbohydrate denied and miserable about it.

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The couscous was cooked in water with an added tablespoon of soy sauce and a bit of szechuan oil, and then sliced celery, mushrooms, peas, and pickled radish were added in.  I tossed everything together in a wok to heat through and make sure the soy sauce was distributed evenly.  This was also my first time using the wild rice tempeh, which my roommate picked out.  It looked cool….but pretty much tastes exactly the same as every other tempeh….I never could tell the difference between the various “flavors”.  The recipe, which I have to credit to my friend Liat, is as follows:

Ingredients
1 block tempeh
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp asian chili sauce
1 tsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1/8 cup orange juice and zest

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients except tempeh in a large casserole dish and whisk to combine. Slice tempeh into halves, then slice each piece down the center width-wise, and once more, into thin rectangles.
2. Marinate tempeh in the casserole for up to 3 hours in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 375F. Bake tempeh for 12 minutes on one side, flip, and bake for another 12 minutes. Remove and let cool briefly before eating. I like my tempeh still hot!

Serve it up over anything you’d like….I wouldn’t go with couscous if you fancy yourself traditional, but if you’re a rebel like me…do it up!  (I think the pickled radish is the best part, so if you can find some at your local Asian market, go for it!

Selah.

Fried Rice Filled Crepes

This is what happens when I cook things and don’t post about them for awhile….I forget what was in them…and with all the leftovers gone, I can’t exactly go look.  This is a bit of a misnomer, since I used non-stick cooking spray instead of oil, and the rice isn’t actually “fried” but I’m still doing that “diet thing”.  It is working though…I’ve been doing longer, more intense workouts and feeling good, and I’m down almost 7 pounds from about a month ago.  As that train wreck we’re pretty much all over would say, DUH WINNING.

I do remember there being a large assortment of veggies in this, and the crepes were made with almond milk…which I’ve decided is not a great choice from crepe making, since they ended up fairly soft and anemic looking.  Oh well.  They didn’t taste all that bad…but they weren’t going to win any beauty contests.

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I do remember putting lots of Sambal Olek in the rice, so it had a nice zing to it…otherwise you’d probably want some sort of sauce on top.  But this worked…who ever would have thunk to match together French and Asian cousine…although if you think about it, I guess it really is a lot like a mooshoo pancake….

I promise to post sooner next time, so that I actually remember what’s in the food and I can give out a recipe, but things have been crazy around here.  I’ve got some very exciting life news to share….although I don’t want to give away all the details yet.  Suffice it to say that me (and this blog) will be coming to you from a totally new locale at some point not so far in the future….think overseas!

Selah.

Sweet Potato Asparagus Tart with Asparagus Pesto

It’s been awhile since I entered the SOS (Sweet or Savory) challenge over at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs, but when I saw this month’s ingredient, I couldn’t resist.  Asparagus is just plain awesome, and I knew the hardest part would be doing something different and creative with it, because I’ve done lots of fancy things with asparagus….and I just don’t think there’s anything better than tossing it in soy sauce and oven-baking.  But I went creative, it WAS delicious (although perhaps a bit more work then it was worth) and it looks pretty…so check it out, and then I’ll share the recipe.

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First off, I need to admit that I’m not sure what the crust it is….every so often when I make dough for something and there is too much, I’ll wrap the remainder up in some plastic wrap and toss it in the freezer for another time….this was one of those dough balls in the freezer.  I have a feeling it is from knishes, but I’m not 100% on that.  You can use whatever quiche crust recipe you like, and it would work out great.  As for the filling, I wanted something with good nutritional punch and a nice shot of protein to give me some energy, and so this was a pretty solid tart, as tarts go.

Ingredients—makes 2 tarts in creme brulee ramekins
1 recipe dough of choice
8 asparagus spears, tips only
1 sweet potato, cubed and boiled until soft.
1 quarter block of extra firm tofu
Approx 1/4 cup sliced onion
3-4 strips roasted red pepper, packed in oil
1/8 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos
1/8 cup white wine
2 tbs lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
S+P
1 tsp olive oil

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Roll out dough, and press evenly into each ramekin, coming all the way up the sides. Bake for 5 minutes, just to get the dough started a bit, and pull out. Keep oven heated to 375F.
2. Add onions to a hot skillet with olive oil, and cook until caramelized, adding the minced garlic about halfway through. In the meantime, combine boiled sweet potatoes, tofu, wine, lemon juice, braggs, and salt and pepper to a blender. Blend until smooth.
3. It’s time to put together the “tarts”. Start each with two asparagus tips on the bottom, cover that with sundried pepper and a layer of caramelized onions. Cover with sweet potato mixture, pressing down to get into all the crevices. Fill up to the top, and press in another two asparagus tips.
4. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes, then pull out and let cool for at least 5 minutes before handling. Garnish with leftover caramelized onions if desired, or with asparagus pesto recipe to come…

It is difficult to see in the picture, but those three dots on the plate were a bit of the asparagus “pesto” I put together quickly to dip forkfuls of the main dish into.  I had to do something with the 8 “tipless” asparagus spears, and so this was what I came up with.  Each spear was given a rough chop, and then they were boiled for 4-5 minutes, until bright green, at which point I pulled out my mini-food processor.

Ingredients
Approx 8 asparagus spears, chopped, boiled and drained
1/8 cup cashews, given a rough chop
1/8 cup nooch (nutritional yeast)
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
S+P

directions
Combine everything in a small food processor and pulse into smooth and creamy. Ladle over anything and everything!

Now I’ll be totally honest, this was delicious and everything, but I had some soy sauce glazed, oven-baked spears on the side….because you can just never get enough of the simple stuff…

Selah.

Eggplant Dengaku and Quinoaaaaaa

We’re coming into quinoa season, I can tell.  Not that quinoa isn’t widely available year round and pretty much impervious to weather changes, but my quinoa season happens soon…real soon.  It’s called Passover, and as an Ashkenazi Jew and Vegetarian, it’s pretty much the only thing resembling a grain or protein that I can eat.  There are no beans (including soy) allowed, no wheat products (that includes gluten) no rice, no pasta…well you get it.  So I eat a WHOLE LOT of quinoa.  The recipe I made for dinner yesterday was a build-up I suppose to the passover season, as I check out new quinoa recipes and see what I like and what I don’t.  This one was ok, nothing to write home about, but filling and flavorful on the whole.  I started with a recipe I found on livestrong.com and messed with it a bit to create my own result.

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This is low calorie and filling, so great for the diet, but I was looking for something a bit….more…here.  I’ll share what I did, feel free to improve upon it.

Ingredients
1 15.5 ounce can garbanzo beans
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 cups water
1 cup qinoa
1 tsp salt
1 large zucchini
1 cup baby spinach, sliced

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Drain garbanzo beans and combine them in a bowl with olive oil and minced garlic. Place in the fridge to marinate while preparing the other ingredients.
2. Spray a medium skillet with non-stick oil, and then add cumin, turmeric, and paprika, giving them a few seconds to become fragrant. Add water, quinoa and salt, stirring to combine. Once water reaches a simmer, cover and turn heat down to low, cooking until all the liquid is absorbed.
3. Cut zucchini into ovals on a bias. Place in a glass casserole dish sprayed with oil. spray another coat of oil on top of the zucchini, and then add more cumin, turmeric and paprika. Toss to coat. Bake for 20 minutes, checking to make sure they aren’t burning.
4. Combine all ingredients, including garbanzos and spinach, putting in zucchini last so it doesn’t get torn up too much. Enjoy…the original recipe said to serve this cold, but I actually preferred it warm…so I guess that’s a person preference thing, do whatever floats your boat!

Another Appetite for Reduction recipe I tried was the Eggplant Dengaku, which I really loved, although I do have one technique  suggestion to make.  The recipe has you pour the sauce over the eggplant slices and then use a spoon to spread things out a little.  I had the forethought to pull out a pastry brush, and brush the glaze onto each slice evenly.  I simply continued until all the glaze was used up, which took about two coats on each peice of eggplant.  YUMMY!  Another winner….

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I’ve got one more thing for you today before I sign off.   As of yesterday, Ricki Heller’s e-book “Good Morning!  Breakfasts without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs or Dairy” finally became available!  If you remember, I was testing lots of recipes for the book a while back, including these delicious socca roll-ups with sweet potato spread, and now you can get the book and try all the awesome treats for yourself!!!  It’s available through Ricki’s website, Diet, Dessert and Dogs…and hey, why are you still here????  Get over there and get the book!  (You can thank me later…)

Selah.

Curry Laksa

So I’m still working my way through Appetite for Reduction, which is doing well for me..I’ve had lots of yummy food, and the pants I bought a little too small a couple weeks ago now fit rather nicely.  I’ve also been upping my workouts a bit…running farther and faster, not letting my mind tell me to give up on the 2 minute plank in yoga…and today I tried spinning for the first time.  LOVE IT!!!!!  (Any workout where I’m bummed because I’m a little too out of breath to sing along to “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” is a GREAT workout).

I decided to make the Curry Laksa from the book, the other night, but instead of including the tofu in the curry, I did something a little different and made a riff off the recipe for Red Thai Tofu in the book, and spooned that over the curry.  (Alright fine, I also replaced the box choy with baby spinach and red pepper with green…simply because that’s what I had on hand this week).  But check out the result:

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Yup, that was still steaming away when I snapped the picture, and it’s a good thing I did, because it didn’t last long after that.  Once I dug in, this bowl vanished fast, and boy was it filling.  Oh one more truth I need to come out with…I did use light coconut milk…I’m sure that made it less creamy then intended, but I still loved the flavor and saved myself a whole bunch of fat, so say what you will, I stand by my choice.

And now on to the tofu….

Ingredients
1/2 block of tofu, cubed
1 tsp shallot pepper (I get it at Penzey’s)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp red curry paste
1/4 cup water
1 tbs Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 squirt light agave
8-10 leaves genovese basil, shredded

Directions
1. Preheat a medium skillet over med/high heat, and spray with PAM. Add curry paste and spices, reserving just Braggs, Water, Agave, and basil. Toast for about 30 seconds before adding tofu.
2. Spread tofu into a single layer, and press with spatula while cooking to squeeze out excess liquid. Once one side is golden, flip and cook the other.
3. Add braggs, agave and water, tossing to coat. Basil goes in last, and everything cooks just long enough for the basil to wilt and all liquid to cook off/soak into tofu.
4. Do something wonderful with it, like topping your curry laksa!

There were lots of good things about this, but my absolute favorite was how it made my entire apartment smell like a good thai restaurant during the dinner rush….heady, aromatic, and mouth-watering, but not fill of loud obnoxious people whose culinary limits come to a screeching halt after pad thai and chicken satay.

Selah.

TLT!!!!

So….tempeh, lettuce and tomato hasn’t been in my life for awhile…I’m not sure why, since it’s such a classy combination of deliciousness…but we seem to have gone our separate ways, and yesterday I decided it was time for a reunion.  I had sandwiches on the mind, because the Foodbuzz publisher program that I’m a part of sent me a sample loaf of the new Nature’s Pride Hearty Wheat Bread with Flax.  FYI, they aren’t kidding!  This bread is seriously HEARTY…as soon as I opened the bag I could smell the heartyness…this is not like the fiber one commercials where no one believes it’s got fiber….I only had to LOOK at this bread to know it was fiber-happy.  I have to say that considering how good for you this bread was, it really does taste good.  Sometimes when breads go a bit grain happy, they end up with this bitter aftertaste I can’t stand, but this one wasn’t like that at all.  Also, my favorite thing?  I could pronounce every single ingredient in it.  As my favorite car wreck of the moment would say, DUH, WINNING.

So back to the TLT…

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The TLT recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, and I used the cashew “mayo” from Appetite for Reduction.  I also made this open faced, because I did eat a side salad, and one slice of this bread is practically a meal as it is!  While the recipe in VWAV calls for cooking the tempeh bacon in peanut oil, I skipped that this time around, and simply fried it up with a bit of non-stick spray.  All in all much lower fat with the switched out spread and oil, and still SUPER delicious.  Mmmmmm, TLT.  I’ve never had a BLT, but it can’t possibly be this good…And in the interest of honesty, I guess it’s actually a TLS….because I used baby spinach instead of lettuce, but SHHHHH, no one needs to know!

Selah.

Blackened Tofu and Kale over Saffron Rice

I’ve tried blackened tofu before, but found it rather dry and bland…so I’d thought perhaps you need to toast the spices first or something along those lines…turns out I was just using the wrong recipe.  I gave the blackened tofu from Appetite for Reduction last week, and was amazed at just how flavorful and delicious it was…not to mention how photogenic.

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I had this along side the leftover caulipots, so that there was a milder flavor to combine with each bite of tofu…which was seriously spicy.  I definitely recommend this recipe if you were eying it and haven’t given it a try yet…I would also recommend cutting nice thin slices of tofu that’ll crisp up, which is what I did, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice…I don’t know if I would have loved this quite enough if it wasn’t so chewy and succulent.

I also cooked up some kale over rice this week….kale is something I like to try and get into my diet as often as possible, just because it’s such a nutritional powerhouse!  Everything you could possible want seems to be in kale, so there’s really no bad here.  I always make my kale similiar to this recipe that I created some time ago, with slight deviations.  I’ve learned pre-boiling the kale isn’t at all neccesary if you cut it small enough, so I eliminate that step.  This time around, I also replaced the Bac-uns with sliced mushrooms, for a little extra savory flavor.  Yum!

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This was served up over some saffron brown rice (brown rice cooked with a pinch of saffron added to the water…primarily for color) and topped with a generous squirting of green dressing….pretty much the best stuff on earth.  As far as the oil break-up in the dressing, I generally go with 2/3 cup olive oil, and 1/3 cup sesame.  Yummy!!!  Oh man is this “diet” delicious!

Selah

Comfort Food Diet

Since with the first week of spring came snow (obviously) I figured I’d try some less salad-inspired dishes from Appetite for Reduction and see how I felt about some warming diet food.  First off was the orange scented broccoli with caulipots…although I didn’t have any OJ or oranges, and used granulated orange and orange blossom water instead.  This was yummy, but then it’s pretty hard to do something with broccoli that I don’t like.  I used the remainder of my purple cauliflower in the caulipots, making it a pretty lavender color…fun AND delicious.  I simply skipped the powdered stock, and really didn’t think it was needed…I may have used a bit more sea salt instead, but I’m ok with that, I’m convinced salt gets a bad rap.

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I also tried the tempeh helper this week, although hamburger helper wasn’t something I had growing up, so it’s not like I was trying to fill a void.  As pasta dishes go…this wasn’t a favorite of mine.  The tempeh still retained a pretty bitter  taste, and the pasta and cheeze sauce just wasn’t flavorful enough to get me past it.  Maybe I just don’t get the comparison having never had the original…but this combination of flavors and textures doesn’t do a whole lot for me.

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So one winner and one loser…those numbers aren’t too bad…And these were both nice and filling, I had a single serving of each on seperate nights and did feel satisfied for the rest of the night, so that was a win.

Selah.

Salads out of Appetite for Reduction

If I knew salads could taste this good, I probably would’ve been on a “diet” for the last 3 years.  The everyday quinoa salad (which I think might be the first recipe in Appetite for Reduction) was VERY good, and super filling, although I’m not sure I’d want to eat it EVERY DAY, the amount of balsamic might start to give my heart burn after one time too many.   It’s a quick, delicious dinner though…I was thinking in my normal salad mindset and spooned out a full bowl for myself, but this was so filling, I could barely get through half, and I stayed full until breakfast the next morning, even with a post dinner yoga class.  Win.

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The next night I decided to make the Sanctuary Salad from the book, with a couple changes.  I didn’t have eggplant so I simply skipped that step, replaced romaine lettuce with baby spinach, and red onion with white since that was what I had on hand.  I also got to use purple cauliflower instead of white, which just brought the look of this to a whole new level…so pretty!  I didn’t have any silken tofu so I simply skipped it in the dressing and added a bit of extra nayo instead.  It was really good and creamy as it was…I don’t know that I’d want to add an entire block of tofu to this, it doesn’t need it…

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Those look like croutons up on top of the salad, but that’s actually the tofu…I got it good and toasty, and it was amazing.  I had the last remaining serving wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla for lunch today, and it was still good…not many dressed salads pass the second day test in my opinion, but this one did.

Selah.