Posts Tagged tomatoes

VeganMoFo: The Great American Detox Diet

Alex Jamieson, author of The Great American Detox Diet, was Morgan Spurlock’s girlfriend at the time he filmed Super Size Me (now his wife).  She allowed him to eat nothing but McDonald’s for thirty days straight on the condition that she could put him on a detox afterward, and this was the basis for her book.

I bought The Great American Detox Diet hoping that it would have lots of healthy recipes to try, and it partially delivered.  The first two thirds of the book explain why we need to detox and how to do it, and the last hundred pages are full of recipes.  The how is broken down into an eight week plan, each week focusing on something like swapping out healthy sweeteners for sugar, kicking the caffeine habit, or choosing healthy fats.  I read the plan with interest, but I think everything in moderation is okay, so I’m not planning on cutting out sugar or coffee completely any time soon.

The first recipe I tried was Spicy Red Beans and Savory Rice.  You start by simmering cooked kidney beans with kombu, then cook them again in a spicy broth.  Cooking the already cooked beans for an hour made them pretty soft, and while I like spicy food, I thought the spice in the beans wasn’t balanced by anything; it was just spice for spice’s sake.  The rice, on the other hand, was great.  I loved the crunchy veggies interspersed with the rice.  I was surprised that a recipe which was supposed to be for a detox called for four Tablespoons of oil; I reduced that amount greatly.

These are Sang Choy Bow, or Chinese Mushroom Rice “Burritos”.  This recipe was great; the combination of rice, finely chopped mushrooms, garlic, bell pepper, celery and ginger was really tasty.  You’re supposed to put the filling in lettuce leaves to make “burritos”, but honestly I liked the mixture more just on its own.  For a side dish, I sauteed green beans and broccoli in peanut oil and topped it with chopped walnuts.

Next, I tried the Sweet and Sour Sauce with buckwheat, veggies, tempeh and microgreens.  I didn’t love the sauce.  The sweet and sour flavors come from maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and I don’t know if it was the ingredients or the ratios, but I just didn’t like it very much.

Lastly, this is Milanese Tomato Soup, which I really liked.  It’s a chunky tomato soup with other fun stuff like shredded carrot and chopped spinach.  I’m not a big fan of creamy tomato soup, so this was perfect for me.  The only change I would make next time would be to add the carrot and spinach a little earlier, since they were still a little raw at the end of cooking time.  And because tomato soup loves grilled cheese, I made the Gooey Grilled Cheese from The Uncheese Cookbook, which is always a winner.

I’m not sure what I think of The Great American Detox Diet overall.  I like the idea of cleaning up our food, and I like the idea of a detox versus a diet, but I don’t feel like the recipes were always the cleanest they could have been.  For instance, some call for canned items or use more oil than I would expect a “healthy” recipe to.  Some recipes were great, while some just weren’t my cup of tea.  Maybe it’s just a different cooking style than I’m used to.

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Tasty Tailgating

We didn’t do anything grand or fun for the Fourth of July this year, but we did go to an A’s game that weekend.  Weekend games are for tailgating!

In a patriotic bid, Dave made Philly cheesesteaks for the boys, so I made my version with portobello and a vegan cheese slice.  The cheese wasn’t my favorite brand for slices (Tofutti) and didn’t melt at all, but this was still a very tasty sandwich.

I had two lovely CSA tomatoes waiting to be used, so I whipped up a chickpea tuna salad and stuffed ’em.

Stuffed tomato with grilled corn; patriotic plate and napkin presumably left over from last year.

Last weekend we had a biiiiig tailgate.  Normally it’s just the four of us – myself, Dave and two friends.  This time we were expecting a sister, a friend of Dave’s, his wife, their two friends and their four collective children.  Then, as we were cooking, another friend of Dave’s called to see if we were there.  He was on the way with his pre-bachelor party group, and we ended up having at least twenty five people!  Luckily, we had plenty of food.

Dave’s friend’s wife has celiac disease, so we wanted to make everything gluten free.  In discussing with Dave what we could and couldn’t make, I mentioned that corn tortillas are usually gluten free, so we went with Mexican food.

We started with chips and salsa made from a Rick Bayless recipe.

Dave made carne asada tacos for everyone else, so I grilled up some portobello.  Topped with salsa and cilantro, with a spot of guac on the side.

I wanted a substantial side dish as well, to avoid eating a bajillion tortilla chips, so I made this Mexican Bean and Rice Salad.  I was skeptical that the recipe didn’t include any oil, but the salad didn’t really need it.  If I made it again though, I would use less onion.  I’m just not big into lots of raw onion.

Since we were expecting a crowd, I wanted to make a dessert, and I do love the challenge of vegan, gluten free baking.  These White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies were adapted from this recipe.  I substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour plus 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum for the flour, and used kosher white chocolate chips that I picked up at Food Fight in June.  The first batch spread too much in the oven, so I mixed in 2 Tablespoons of chickpea flour which seemed to do the trick.  The recipe says it should make three dozen, but I ended up with about sixty cookies!

I’m off to Portland for Vida Vegan Con tomorrow!  I will be attempting to live blog throughout the entire event, so check back here regularly for updates!

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Two Amazing Potlucks: Dumplings and Rainbows

My friend Amey has the BEST potlucks.  Whenever Amey hosts, I’m happy to make the drive down to Santa Cruz because I wouldn’t want to miss it!

Back in July, the Santa Cruz PPKers had the brilliant idea for a Dumpling Potluck.  Anything was fair game, as long as it was in dumpling form.  The turnout was smaller than usual, but the food was great.

My contribution was “chicken” and dumplings, a reinvention of a dish I used to enjoy every year at Thanksgiving with my very southern family.

I based the soup on this recipe, and used a baked chicken seitan recipe for the chicken part.  I wasn’t thrilled with how the seitan came out, but the dumplings and broth were dead on.  Fantastic.

Mini Empanadas

Chinese Barbecue Seitan Buns with a Spicy Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Some sort of tasty, doughy dumpling with a German name and delicious tomato herb gravy.

Mini Farmer’s Market Tamales with Pico de Gallo

Savory plate.  I liked that everything was mini-sized.

With some chicken and dumplings and blood orange soda.

Mini Cherry Pies with Marzipan

Mochi Daifuku with Red Bean Paste

Lavender Berry Cream Pie.  The crust on this pie was so good!

Dessert plate, with vanilla ice cream.

For a more timely and detailed account, check out Amey’s post here.  While all of the food was supremely delicious, we quickly realized that it was all very beige and didn’t exactly leave us feeling light in our loafers.  Someone came up with the idea of a rainbow theme for our next potluck, with the goal of more colorful and less carby food in mind.

So, a few weeks ago we got together at Amey’s house again to taste the rainbow.  We tried to go for a double rainbow of both savory and sweet, in tribute to the double rainbow video.  I came to the color-claiming party late, and accepted a challenge by choosing a blue savory dish.  I wasn’t really sure what blue foods I could use other than blue cornmeal, and then I learned that you can dye foods blue with red cabbage water.  Red cabbage basically acts as a pH indicator, and turns colors depending on its pH.  Fun with science!

I decided to make blue pupusas, with hopefully blue curtido.  First, I cooked some small white beans in the red cabbage water.

Then I refried the beans with onion, garlic, cumin and coriander.

Then I used cabbage water for the liquid in making the pupusa dough.  I tried to make the curtido blue as well by cooking red cabbage in baking soda water, and it turned the cabbage a beautiful teal color.  Unfortunately, when I added the vinegar-based dressing the acidity turned the cabbage back to purple.  It was actually kind of fortunate, as the violet portion of our rainbow would have been lacking otherwise.

Amey decorated the table with construction paper and color-matched beverages.  From left to right:

Red – Borscht and berries
Orange – Annato-coconut soup

Yellow – Mini Corn Muffins with Maple Frosting, Mac n’ Cheese, Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes

Green – Green Tomato Bruschetta (on a snail plate!) and Basil-Coconut-Lime Ice Cream

Blue – my Pupusas, which actually turned out kind of blue, and Blueberry Cocoa Cupcakes

Violet – Red Cabbage Curtido and Lavender Simple Syrup hiding in the back.

Gorgeous Rainbow Salad to finish things off.

All together now, with rainbow steamer.

I made less pupusas than there were people, so I cut them in half to reveal the pretty blue insides.

Savory plate, with both soups.  Everything was so fresh and tasty!  We definitely had more veggies than usual due to the color requirements.  The mac n cheese was based on the VegNews recipe, and it was one of the best I’ve ever had.

Dessert plate, upon which everything was awesome!  The standout was the basil-coconut-lime ice cream, which was outrageously good.  The lemon bundt was also intensely lemony and wonderful.

Sadly, I don’t have any people pictures from either party, because once I sat down with all the delicious food I just wanted to eat and enjoy the company.  Amey has more details and some people pictures on her blog post here.  Can’t wait for another Santa Cruz potluck!

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August Cleanse: Days 8-10

Day 8

Saturday was a day of much repeated food, finishing up leftovers before cooking some more.  I started the morning with a smoothie of kale, banana, strawberries, peanut butter and udo’s oil, along with my coQ10 and multivitamin.  I love the cute little bubbles on top of this smoothie!  I also had some chai tea to wake me up before a big grocery shopping trip.  I tend to sleep in on weekends when possible, so no morning snack was required.

Upon my return from the grocery store and unloading what felt like a massive amount of groceries, I had a salad with leaf lettuce, shredded carrot, red pepper, sauteed cajun tofu and non-honey honey mustard, and brewed some cinnamony coffee then added almond milk, cause the tea just didn’t do it for me.  My afternoon snack was two apricots, half a cantaloupe and some pistachios, and I also had a few beers because Dave and our friend Tom were brewing in the kitchen, and how could I NOT have beer while the whole house smelled of it?  For dinner I ate the last of the brown rice ‘n’ beans jumble-aya and steamed green beans.  Due to getting up later on the weekends I also tend to stay up later, and I became ravenous a few hours after dinner so I popped some no-oil-added popcorn in the microwave.  I tried to stick some seasoned salt and nutritional yeast on the popcorn with a new olive oil sprayer I got, but it still didn’t work!  Most of the seasoning ended up in the bottom of the bowl.  Anyone have a trick for getting seasoning to stick to popcorn other than dousing it in Earth Balance?

Day 9

This nice purple smoothie contained kale, a whole container of blackberries, a peach, udo’s, almond milk, mixed berry rice protein powder and agave nectar.  The taste was good, but I put in the whole packet of rice protein powder which I shouldn’t have done since it made it kind of powdery.  I normally use only half a packet in each smoothie.

My lunch salad was inspired by trying to figure out what to do with the cherry tomatoes provided by my CSA.  I reeeally don’t like cherry tomatoes raw, either whole or halved.  There’s something about the taut nature of the skin, with the juicy inside and how they pop and all the raw tomato flavor.  Blech.  I remembered reading somewhere that you could slow-roast tomatoes, so I found this instructional online.  With as much as the author raved about them, I figured I couldn’t lose.

before…

…and after…

…and a close up.

Boy, do these tomatoes deliver!  All the weird texture that I dislike disappears and leaves a chewy, tasty little tomato.  I went for simple and left out the garlic and herbs called for, spraying the baking sheet and tomatoes with olive oil and seasoning simply with a little kosher salt and fresh black pepper.  These guys really don’t need a lot of help to taste good.  I took the smaller ones out of the oven after 2 hours but left most of them in for 2 1/2.  This will probably be what I do with any more small tomatoes I get from my CSA this summer!

To use my tasty tomatoes, I made what I am calling a Greekish salad.

This lovely plate has leaf and romaine lettuces, cucumbers, chickpeas, red onion, artichoke hearts, slow-roasted tomatoes, Sunflower Feta from Yellow Rose Recipes and an herb vinaigrette.  I’m not a huge fan of this feta.  The texture is feta-like and worked in the salad, but the taste alone just kind of tastes like tofu, lemon juice and sunflower seeds.  I think I’d like it better with cubed tofu that marinates or brines for a longer time.  Along with lunch, I took a spirulina tablet that I bought on Saturday to start taking a few times a week.  My afternoon snack was a pear and half a cantaloupe.

For dinner I made Tofu Vindaloo from Vegan Planet.  In the spirit of trying new grains, I cooked up some buckwheat.  Good news – I like buckwheat!  It has no actual relation to wheat, is ready in 15-20 minutes, and is quite good for you nutritionally.  I think I overcooked the buckwheat just a tad, so I’m looking forward to trying it again soon.  The vindaloo was just okay.  I liked the large amount of fresh ginger and spicy kick but hoped that there would be more of a sauce.  This was more like well flavored tofu and veggies with some juice in the bottom of the bowl.  After dinner I had two beers, to kind of say goodbye to the weekend.

Day 10

This was a great smoothie that I couldn’t get a good picture of:  spinach, banana, mango, strawberries, udo’s, almond milk and amazing meal powder (original flavor).  Using spinach as my green resulted in a MUCH smoother consistency than using kale gave me.  I also took coQ10 and my multi.

I was so excited about my morning snack that I took a picture while packing it up – figs and cherries.  Yum!  To perk me up, I drank some darjeeling tea.

For lunch I had the same exact Greekish salad as above, with some added capers and a probiotic supplement on the side.  I wanted to include capers the first time but couldn’t find them in the fridge!  My afternoon snack was an apple with peanut butter, and dinner was tofu vindaloo with buckwheat and chilled camomile tea.  It was much, much too hot for hot tea.

Well, that’s days 8-10.  I’m not hungry all the time any more, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m unwittingly eating more calories or if I’m getting used to lightening up my diet.  Jessy told me she wasn’t hungry all the time after her first week on ACT, so perhaps it’s psychological!  I haven’t seen any more weight loss, in fact I think I may have jumped up just a bit, but it’s only part way through the week so we shall see.

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W.I.P. Wednesday

A quick post (in stark contrast to yesterday’s massive gigantoid post) to show you a few recipes I’m working on.  Works in progress, if you will.

I got a bunch of little peppers in a CSA delivery and decided I wanted to make a take on pepper steak.  Never mind that I’m not sure I’ve ever had pepper steak in my life, that’s what the internet is for!  Although most pepper steak recipes are Chinese and that wasn’t what I wanted at all, so I made up what I consider an Americanized version of pepper steak, with tempeh instead of meat.

The flavors were really good, but the doneness of the veggies and tempeh was a little off, so I’m hopefully going to make this again tonight and get it right.  I really like this dish.

Not a WIP, but to go along with the pepper steak I made some soup from corn and squash that needed to be used up.

I cubed four pattypan squashes, simmered them in a thin layer of water just until tender, put half the squash and water in the food processor with half the kernels from three ears of corn and blended, added the mixture back in with the squash and remaining corn kernels, heated through and served with paprika, basil and green onions.  Simple and satisfying, it tasted like Summer.

I also received a whole bunch of zucchini in a recent CSA box, and for whatever reason I decided I wanted to bake it in a casserole, scalloped potato-style.

The flavor was fantastic, but the technique not so much.  Next time I can get my hands on a bunch of zucchini you can be sure I will attempt this again, because I think it will turn out really well!

To go along with the zucchini and use some pretty purple basil, I made a pressed basil-tomato-mozzarella sandwich.  The mozzarella is Follow Your Heart brand.

So yummy!  I’m really getting into summer produce lately.  Bring on the squash!

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VeganMoFo: Welcome To My New Kitchen!

Well, it’s not so much “new” as it’s new to me.  This house was built in 1970, and I’m fairly certain that everything in it is original.  Here be the kitchen:

The stove is vented through the counter.  It’s so small and weird.

There’s a double oven, which could be cool.  I haven’t tested it yet, but I did get an oven thermometer just in case.

This is where the dining table will be eventually.

My mom says the front looks like an old man, with a chimney for a nose and a bushy mustache.

My first meal in the house was a quickie, since we were busy unpacking.  I knew I could get some ready to cook food from Trader Joe’s.  I simmered their green curry sauce and chickenless strips with steamed cauliflower and carrots, and wilted in spinach at the end.  Served over precooked brown rice.

The next day I reaped the benefits of some presents I found in the backyard.

These poor plants had been neglected for months, so I turned them into a delicious chunky marinara.  Served over whole wheat rotini and topped with lots of nutritional yeast that I had just unpacked.

On the side, mixed greens cooked with worcestershire, boullion and a little bit of ketchup.  I didn’t have any tomato paste.  It worked, okay?

More bonuses from the yard:  I believe this to be a blackberry bush that sadly went unpicked for the whole season.

And what’s this hanging over the fence from my neighbor’s house?  I thought they were limes, but when I stole one for guacamole last night, it turned out they were sorely under ripe lemons.  But soon they will be ripe lemons, and I will claim what’s on my side!

I unpacked my cookbooks today, so I will delve back into them very soon.  In conclusion, I am so happy to have a kitchen again!

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Divine Intervention

Yesterday while I was perusing blogland I came across this recipe for Bulgur Pilaf at Chocolate Covered Vegan, and I think it was divine intervention because I had bulgur in the pantry to use up, and was wanting something healthy, tasty  and low-fat for dinner.  Or it was a case of “great minds think alike”.  I stopped at the grocery store after work and purchased the necessary ingredients, then walked home in the rain.

Then I did a pilates video!  I sold my elliptical machine, which I was using nearly every day (when I was being good).  I had picked up a Windsor Pilates “Fat Burn” DVD a long time ago for $2.99, and finally unwrapped it and gave it a try.  I really like it!  I like aerobics and dancersize type workouts, and this one includes a bit of toning and core work as well.  I’m hoping wherever we end up living has a room I can do videos like this one, cause I really like ’em.  Also, I’m hoping that my downstairs neighbor who looked like she was moving out last week is actually gone, because I’m quite sure from downstairs I sound like one of those hippos with tutus from Fantasia bouncing around.  Old building = squeaky floors and not so good soundproofing.

Afterwards I made dinner.  The bulgur pilaf turned out really well, except mine was pretty wet, which I don’t think it is supposed to be.  The bulgur still had some water in it from cooking and I tried to let it cook off, but I didn’t want an overcooked, squishy pilaf.  The flavor was very good, it tasted healthy in a good way, if you know what I mean.  The fresh ginger gave it that extra something.  Thanks for the recipe, Katie!

(I could NOT get a decent picture without flash last night, no matter what I did!)

To go with the pilaf and use more of dad’s tomatoes, I made a tomato cucumber salad, with red onion, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, parsley, s&p.

This was a nice, light summertime meal, and almost fat-free!

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