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Pinterest:Impossible – CrockPot Vietnamese Pho Soup

pinterestimpossiblelogoI love pho.

Really I love all Vietnamese food, and I’ll devour a plate of spring rolls and fried rice and grilled meat quite happily if it is put in front of me.

But I love pho the best.

When I first started really trying to learn how to cook Asian dishes I bought myself a Vietnamese cookbook and I made chicken pho once.

Only once.

beefpho2While the soup I made turned out warm and delicious and filling, it was also incredibly time consuming and complicated to make. I found the whole process rather stressful as I was sure I was going to miss one of the dozens (at least it seemed like dozens) of ingredients or one of the hundreds (it seemed like hundreds) of important steps necessary to making the pho correctly.

I never tried making it again. I’ve been quite satisfied with going to restaurants where professional chefs make the pho for me, and I get to just sit and enjoy it.

And then I found a recipe for pho that you make in the Crockpot. Suddenly it didn’t seem like such a chore to make delicious Vietnamese soup at home by myself.

Yay! Seriously, yay!

The recipe I found called for using already made beef broth or stock, which cut at least half of the process out right off of the bat.

Once again, yay!

I do understand why stock is important and why it makes things taste so great BUT it is a pain to make and I don’t usually have the patience to do it. So I made the recipe with the pre-existing beef broth because I’m lazy and it was easy and I figured it would be almost just as nearly as good.

The only substitution I made to the recipe was using a tablespoon of ground ginger instead of a chunk of ginger. I don’t have a lot of experience using fresh ginger so I didn’t want to attempt it and possibly mess up the soup.

Of course, the difference between ground and fresh ginger is not the only thing that can mess up a recipe. On the instructions I had it used ‘t’ for amounts of spices. I’m not used to just a ‘t’ as a measurement. I tend to expect either a ‘tsp’ for teaspoon or a ‘T’ for tablespoon.

Needless to say, I got confused. I took a risk that the ‘t’ meant tablespoon since there was so much soup in the Crockpot.

It may have been the wrong choice. The first time I taste-tested the pho about an hour later it was INCREDIBLY salty. The salt and fish sauce were so very prevalent that I gagged a little bit. And then I got mad and yelled at myself a little bit because that’s the kind of person I am.

beefphoEventually, when I was done beating myself up over the salty affair, I went ahead and added two more cups of water to the broth and a little bit of mirin cooking sake because that’s what seems to soften the saltiness of soy sauce when making fried rice. I figured it couldn’t make the soup any worse, at least, so was worth a shot.

Being a grumpy coward, I had someone else try the pho when it was finally done cooking. They gave the broth a good sip or two, claimed that it really wasn’t that bad – and in fact was actually quite tasty – and so I dumped in the noodles, let them soften for about fifteen minutes, and called the whole thing done.

And it really did turn out more than edible. I had a couple of bowls of beef pho, while my friend had pretty much all the rest. It was even good as reheated leftovers the next day, which was impressive considering rice noodles get weird in soup over time.

I am definitely going to have to try this recipe again in the future, and this time use teaspoons instead of tablespoons to see how it works out. Maybe I wasn’t wrong, and the person who created the recipe just LOVES their salt.

Though I can admit that isn’t very likely.

– Mia V.

 

*Be sure to check out all the great recipes we have on our Recipes! and Pinterest:Impossible boards!

SOURCE – Crockpot Vietnamese Pho Soup

My Nutritarian Diary: Quinoa and Green Bean Salad

QuinoaGreenBeanHeader
If you’re not sick of salads yet, this Quinoa and Green Bean Salad is for you. It can be eaten on its own as a meal, or it makes an excellent side.

The original recipe calls for a lot more olive oil than I’m comfortable using, so my recipe significantly reduces that ingredient. The original also called for a cup of flat leaf parsley leaves, and while I like parsley, I thought that flavor was too strong for this salad when I made this the first time. Instead, I used a half a cup of fresh, hand-torn basil leaves. (I don’t recommend cutting basil with a knife, as the leaves will turn brown too quickly!)

I love how quick this recipe is to make and how nutritious it is. Not only that, as the picture shows, it is beautiful! One of my nutritarian travelers mentioned that this salad would look holiday festive if diced red bell peppers were added. I thought that was a great suggestion, so I passed that along to you, too. You’re welcome.

Really skies the limit as to seasonings and options for this gem of a salad. If you discover a particular combo that really tickles your palate, please share!

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Quinoa and Green Bean Salad
(Slightly adapted from Meatless, a Martha Stewart Living cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • low sodium vegetable broth for sautéing
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup tri-color quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • ½ cup fresh basil, hand torn in small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, optional
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar (red-wine, white-wine, brown rice, apple cider, or a combination)
  • ⅓ cup almond slivers
  • DIRECTIONS:
    Place onions and garlic 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable broth in a saucepan. Lightly salt and pepper onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent. Stir in quinoa and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. According to the original recipe directions, “Remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes; fluff with fork. Let cool completely.”

    While the quinoa mixture is cooling or as you cook the quinoa, blanch green beans in a pot of boiling salted water for about four minutes. You don’t want to cook the beans much longer than that, as they lose their crispness quickly. Drain and rinse the beans in cold water to stop the cooking.

    In a large bowl, combine the quinoa mixture, green beans, olive oil, if using, vinegar and almond slivers. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Cool salad completely in refrigerator. Then, enjoy!

    My Nutritarian Diary: Loaded Veggie Wheat Berry Salad

    Veggie Wheat Berry Salad Header
    This Loaded Veggie Wheat Berry Salad (or as my husband likes to call it, “A vegan salad so good even your hunter husband will like it”) is as nutritious as it is delicious. It is very similar to another wheat berry salad I’ve featured on my blog but with more veggies and an easier dressing option.

    Most of the veggies in this salad can be found at your local farmer’s market, too, but not for much longer now that fall is around the corner. Take a look at some of the health benefits this salad is packed with:

    • Carrots-Improves Vision, Promotes Healthy Skin, and Fights Cancer
    • Zucchini-Lowers Cholesterol, Maintains Low Blood Sugar, and is an Anti-Inflammatory
    • Tomatoes-Builds Strong Bones, Makes Hair Strong and Shiny, and Prevents Kidney Stones
    • Artichoke Hearts-Promotes Heart Health, Aids Digestion, and Supports Muscle Health
    • Basil-Protects Cells from Damage, Fights Bacteria, and Improves Blood Flow

    And that’s just a handful of the ingredients!

    I hope I have convinced you to give it a try. Remember, even my hunter husband said it was a hit.

    IMG_4456
    Loaded Veggie Wheat Berry Salad

    SALAD INGREDIENTS:
    • 5 cups of water
    • 1 cup of wheat berries
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 ½ cups carrots, finely chopped
    • 1 ½ cups raw zucchini, chopped
    • 1 ½ cups cucumber, seeded and chopped
    • 1 ½ cups green pepper, chopped
    • 1 ½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
    • 1 (14-ounce) can of artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered
    • 4 ounces of baby spinach
    • Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn in small pieces
    • 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano
    • ¼ to ½ cup onions of choice, finely chopped, optional
    • ½ cup kalamata olives, chopped
    • 1 ½ cups of cooked black beans or 1 (15.5-ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
    • ¼ to ½ cup of favorite low-fat Italian dressing*
    • 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice, if desired for taste
    • Salt and pepper, if needed
    • Lettuce leaves, to plate salad, optional

    *I used Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian Dressing with Balsamic Vinegar

    DIRECTIONS:
    Place the water, wheat berries, and ½ teaspoon of salt into a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer. Cooking time varies depending on the desired texture and the brand you are cooking. Generally, I prefer to cook mine for 45 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat, drain, and set aside to cool.

    In a large bowl, while wheat berries are cooking, place the carrots, zucchini, cucumber, green pepper, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, baby spinach, basil, oregano, onion (if using), olives, and black beans, and mix well.

    Add the wheat berries and the dressing to the veggies and combine. Adjust taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, if desired.

    Place desired amount on a plate of lettuce leaves, and serve.

    (You could easily replace wheat berries with quinoa. Just cook 1 cup of quinoa according to its directions and use it instead.)

    My Nutritarian Diary: Sunny Bean Burgers and Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Spread

    Bean Burger Header2This last weekend, I did not want to cook. At all. I was so desperate for something quick and something that tasted “junk-food” yummy, but I wasn’t desperate enough to cave into the full monty by going to a fast food restaurant.

    I practiced some restraint and settled for store-bought, low-fat, vegan Boca Burgers and some Alexia 98% Fat Free Roasted Straight Cut Fries with Sea Salt. I found some small 100% whole wheat buns in the discounted baked goods section, and all told, I spent less than $10. Not bad for a weekend craving.

    It’s one of those compromises that I often make because it’s 7 p.m., I still don’t have dinner made, and I am going to the store anyway. Thus, packaged “healthy” junk food.

    But, what I had really wanted was to make a homemade bean burger that was nutritious and delicious. All was not lost. I did make that the next evening this time serving it with carrot sticks instead of fries. My husband even had a pickle.

    Two things that made this weekend junk food so yummy and healthy was I used a Tosca Reno Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Spread (on the Boca Burger, too!). And I found a very nutritious Joel Fuhrman bean burger recipe that was quick to make and tasty.

    If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are those recipes.

     IMG_4439 (1024x683)

    Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Spread
    (Slightly adapted from “The Eat-Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook” by Tosca Reno)

    INGREDIENTS:
    ½ cup vegan mayo
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, not in oil, rehydrated in hot water and drained
    1 handful fresh basil leaves (a must!)
    1 clove garlic
    ¼ teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    DIRECTIONS:
    “Place all Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Spread ingredients in a food processor and whirl until thoroughly blended. Spread will be a little chunky. Scrape in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use” (Tosca Reno).

    Sunny Bean Burgers
    (Slightly adapted from “Eat to Live Cookbook” by Joel Fuhrman)

    INGREDIENTS:
    ¼ cup sunflower seeds
    1 (15.5 ounce can) kidney or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
    ½ cup minced green onions
    2 tablespoons ketchup
    1 tablespoon old fashioned rolled oats
    ½ teaspoon chili powder
    ¼ teaspoon sea salt, optional

    DIRECTIONS:
    Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.

    “Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Chop the sunflower seeds in a food processor or with a hand chopper. Mash the beans in the food processor or with a potato masher and mix with the sunflower seeds. Mix in the remaining ingredients and form into six patties.

    Place the patties on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, until you can pick up each patty and compress it firmly in your hands to re-form the burger. Return the patties to the baking sheet, bottom side up, and bake for another 10 minutes” (Joel Fuhrman).

    MY NOTES:
    You can eat these patties served on a whole-wheat bun with Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Spread (see recipe above) or wrapped in lettuce leaves. Excellent sides are carrot sticks or Alexia 98% Fat Free Roasted Straight Cut Fries with Sea Salt.

    My Nutritarian Diary: BBQ Soy Curl Salad in a Jar

    BBQ Soy Curls Header

    The web for all its glory and grandeur can be a very confusing place especially in the arena of diet advice. Today, to help lessen some of that Internet confusion, I want to talk fat with you as well as share my new favorite salad recipe.

    Let’s start with general consensus out there that the percentage of calories we need in our daily intake from fat is 20-35% (some doctors and nutritionists who advocate a low-fat, plant-based diet even take that figure down to 10-15%). In addition, the general consensus out there is that we shouldn’t consume more than 10% of our calories a day from saturated fat, to help prevent cardiovascular disease and perhaps Type 2 diabetes.

    To start breaking this down for you, I am going to examine the fat make-up of several foods and base my nutrition percentages on a 2,000-calorie diet, since that’s what our labels use. You would lesson or increase that figure depending on whether you wanted to lose weight or if you were more active.

    First, let’s look at the fat make-up of several plant-based foods in no particular order. (I used caloriecount.about.com and the nutrition labels of the items I had on hand for these numbers.)

    Food Total Fat Saturated Fat
    24 Almonds (1 oz.) 22% 5%
    1 TBSP Safflower Oil 22% 5%
    ½ Medium Avocado 20% 12%
    12 Large Pitted Olives 12% 0%
    1 TBSP Ground Flaxseed 3.5% 1.5%
    1 TBSP Peanut Butter, Natural 12.5% 8%
    Trader Joe’s High Protein Super Firm Organic Tofu (84g/1 Serving) 11% 5%
    Butler Soy Curls (3/4 cup/1 Serving) 7% 0%

    It’s easy to see that the saturated fats in this category of foods is significantly less than the total fat. Also, nuts, oil, and avocados are higher in fat, and probably should be eaten in smaller portions than I’ve listed above in order to prevent weight gain. And as much as many of us love peanut butter, it’s probably best to eat in teaspoon portions rather than tablespoon ones.

    Next, let’s look up the fat make-up of several animal-based foods that are low in fat. (I used caloriecount.about.com for these numbers.)

    Food Total Fat Saturated Fat
    Egg (Cooked, Hard-Boiled) 7% 8%
    Chicken Leg (Meat Only, No Skin) 4% 3%
    ½ Chicken Breast (Meat Only, No Skin) 5% 0%
    4 oz. Lean Ground Turkey (93% Lean) 12% 12%
    3 oz. Lean Hamburger (85% Lean) 20% 25%
    1 oz. 2% Milk Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese 8% 15%
    ½ Fillet Salmon Atlantic, Wild 19% 10%
    3 oz. Beef, Top Sirloin (Trimmed to ¼” Fat) 8% 10%

    In general, this category of food has a higher saturated fat ratio than the plant-based category (white chicken breast and salmon the exceptions in this list), and that’s even when eating these foods in very small portions. While this family of foods may not be high in total fat, their saturated fat make-up along with the realization that in general portion sizes of these foods are rarely as small as listed above, you can see why limiting this source of food may be beneficial to your health.

    To sum it up, at least for me, I have cut out of my diet most animal-based foods due to their saturated fat and cholesterol content. This choice has significantly lowered my cholesterol for the good.

    In addition, I follow a lower-fat diet, only because I think I generally eat too much fat if I don’t watch it. With that said, I also believe I should eat good fats from plant-based sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados and so on. I think limiting vegetable oil intake is a must for me, as well, since I can reach the low end of my daily caloric intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet in one tablespoon of oil.

    So, while it may not be 100% accurate to say we need to eat a strictly low-fat diet, it’s probably best if we eat a lower-fat diet than most of us currently do, since fat calories add up quickly.

    If that speaks to you and you want to start eating less fat, here’s a great recipe I’ve incorporated into my diet recently that helps with that goal.

    (Please understand I’m not a nutritionist and do realize everybody has different nutritional needs. Also, higher fat diets are good for those who are very active, so I would definitely encourage you to do your own research based on your own genetics and lifestyle.)

     IMG_4424 (667x1024)
    BBQ Soy Curl Salad in a Jar

    INGREDIENTS:
    1½ cup of Butler Soy Curls*, reconstituted in warm water per package directions
    ¼ cup of BBQ Sauce
    1 cup of sweet corn, defrosted if frozen
    1 cup of cherry tomatoes
    3 cups of salad greens
    1 32-oz. mason jar
    *You can buy these online at www.butlerfoods.com

    DIRECTIONS:
    In a medium pan, pour BBQ sauce over the soy curls, mix together and cook them over medium heat until lightly browned and pan-fried. Set aside to cool.

    Soy Curls Collage

    Layer the corn, cherry tomatoes, BBQ soy curls, and salad greens compactly (but not too compactly) in a 32-ounce mason jar, and place in refrigerator until ready to eat. (Probably should eat in a day or two.)

    When ready to eat, pour salad fixings in a large bowl, dig in, and enjoy!

    I find this salad tastes fine without a dressing, but feel free to add a dressing of your choice to it (keeping in mind the recommended fat calorie intake if you don’t use a fat-free dressing). If you are packing a mason jar, place the dressing at the very bottom.

    IMG_4433 (1024x683)

    My Nutritarian Diary: Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

    chocbanpbic2
    It’s hot out. Really hot out. And it isn’t going to let up for at least another week here in Spokane, WA, as far as I know. So, today I chose a recipe that is hot-weather worthy: Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream. It’s a variant of the Chocolate Banana Ice Cream recipe I posted on my blog about four and a half months ago. I made this delightful version this week and was so amazed at how yummy it was, I had to share it.

    First, in the spirit of blogger full disclosure, I need to be honest with you all. I have not been as diligent eating nutrient-dense foods (especially desserts) over the last month, and I believe I paid for this in gaining five pounds. Now, if those five pounds were the result of working out, I would not even bring it up. But they are not. And that’s the other item I need to share with you. I have not been very diligent in working out, either, which is as good for me as eating well. There are three main reasons why. One, it’s hot out. Two, I am so busy, and I just can’t seem to fit it into my schedule. And three, it just hasn’t been as much of a priority to me as eating cleaner, whole foods.

    This week, though, I took small steps to improve my after-dinner sweets, this recipe being one of them, as well as to incorporate more exercise into my week.

    In his Eat to Live Cookbook, Joel Fuhrman recommends eating dessert. He writes, “One trick to prevent overeating is to have a delicious dessert at the conclusion of dinner—before you’ve overeaten. Let dessert mark the end of your day’s eating experience and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning.” What great advice! And so, I don’t deny myself sweets, I just make ones that are nutrient dense (ones that are fruit-centric and made with no sugar, except the sugar found in fruits).

    And as far as exercising, I get bored very easily. Because of that, I believe doing a variety of activities during the week is what will work best for me. This week, I did some yoga, took walks, and did some cellulite-busting exercises that I linked to on myfoxspokane.com’s facebook page this #wellnesswednesday. My husband and I also purchased a bike trailer for our daughter, which will allow me to add bicycle riding into the week. And when it’s this hot out, the wind on your face as you’re biking is a great relief.

    It is in the small steps that we make significant changes. I try to be kind to myself when I veer off the path now and then. I just make a course correction, and get back on track. So, without further ado, here’s one of those course corrections.

    IMG_4331 (683x1024) (2)
    Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
    Recipe slightly adapted from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean by Lindsay S. Nixon. (I halved her recipe for one serving.)

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1 frozen banana
    • 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup unsweetened, vanilla-flavored almond milk, depending on desired consistency
    • 3 teaspoons of natural peanut butter
    • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

    DIRECTIONS:
    “Place all ingredients together in a food processor and allow the motor to run until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stop and break up large clumps with a spatula as needed.” (Lindsay S. Nixon)

    Taste and adjust ingredient amounts as preferred.

    Pinterest:Impossible – Gyoza and Teriyaki Chicken

    pinterestimpossiblelogonobackgroundThere’s just something about having family in town that makes me want to cook. Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first) but feeding a large group (at least half a dozen adults and two kids going through a picky phase) of people whose opinions actually matter to me seems like an excellent challenge. AND an excellent opportunity to try out some more recipes from Pinterest!

    Last week for Family Dinner I made gyoza, Teriyaki chicken, and chicken fried rice. I pulled gyoza (or potstickers if that name works better for you) and Teriyaki chicken recipes from Pinterest and used my own tried and true fried rice recipe. I’ve spent YEARS perfecting that one and am quite proud of it.

    And to be completely honest here, I’ve made gyoza before so they weren’t a huge challenge for me. The recipe I found was not exactly the same as the one I’ve used in the past, however, and two times out of every five that I make gyoza I burn them a bit, so there is still some work involved for me in making them.

    chinesefood

    Before you ask, yes, of course, I made substitutions and changes to the recipes. I can’t seem to help it. I like stuff the way I like it and that is that. The gyoza called for cabbage to be included in the filling along with the pork, but I’ve never thought it was necessary. The pork is so flavorful by itself (well with all the spices and seasonings mixed in) that cabbage seems superfluous to me. PLUS it always seems that if I buy cabbage I don’t use enough in the gyoza and there is tons left over and I don’t know what to do with it. I’m cool with cabbage but I don’t love it and I don’t want to be eating it for weeks just because it comes in giant quantities.

    I also took out the shiitake mushrooms and I’m not sorry. I don’t like mushrooms and I don’t want them in my gyoza. So there.

    Gyoza are wonderful and delicious and addictive, but they also take awhile to make as you have to individually fill the little wrappers and then fold them properly so they don’t fall open while cooking. THEN you have to fry them a bit til the bottoms are a light brown and then steam them a bit so the sides are nice and chewy. It is an involved process that takes more than a few minutes and so I needed the dishes that I was making along with the gyoza to be a bit simpler. That’s why I was very happy to find a Teriyaki chicken recipe that was made in the slow cooker. I set up the chicken and sauce before I left for work and by the time I got home it smelled amazing and tasted even better. The only change I made to that recipe was cutting up the chicken before adding to the slow cooker. I thought it would be easier to deal with once it was cooked if it was cut into small chunks.

    The fried rice turned out to be the most complicated (and messy) dish I made, and that was mainly because I was making it in my dad’s kitchen without the use of my giant rice cooker and electric wok. Juggling different mix-ins between frying pans and big pots was not the easiest thing to do but I managed as well as I could. And the rice turned out pretty tasty, if I do say so myself (and I do!).

    Between the gyoza, Teriyaki chicken, and fried rice, I’d have to say everything turned out well. My family ate lots of food and my picky five-year-old nephew even ate two gyoza, so I’m counting this Pinterest:Impossible a success!

    – Mia V.

     

    *Be sure to check out all the great recipes we have on our Fox 28 Foodies Unite! and Pinterest:Impossible boards!

    **Interested in my fried rice recipe? Just let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to share!

    SOURCE – gyoza
    SOURCE – crock pot teriyaki chicken

     

     

    Pinterest:Impossible – Stuffed Hot Dogs

    pinterestimpossiblelogonobackgroundIt’s National Hot Dog Month and what better way to celebrate than by making (and eating) hot dogs! I scoured the Pinterest boards trying to find the tastiest looking hot dog recipes out there. I’ve always been a ketchup-onions-relish kind of girl myself, but I’m pretty open-minded and it was fun seeing just how many dozens of recipes for hot dogs exist.

    I actually picked two that looked interesting and delicious, but only ended up making one. Hey, it was the Fourth of July and I was drinking fun ‘lady’ beers (Mike’s Hard Lemonade) and watching RoboCop 3 (yes, seriously, I sat all the way through it and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about that) and it was hot and cooking sounded less than fun, so I only made one recipe and that’s that.

    Stuffed Hot Dogs were what I went with. They included fun toppings like crushed Doritos, cheese, ketchup, onions, and Worchestshire sauce, but instead of being placed on top of the dog, the dog was split open and had everything stuffed inside. They were not too difficult to make, though I was a little concerned while splitting the hot dogs open as I wanted to make room for all the filling but didn’t want to split the dog so far it would fall apart.

    stuffedhotdogs

    In the grand tradition of Being Me, I did change up the recipe somewhat from the listed instructions. I got Doritos instead of potato chips and sandwich rolls instead of hot dog buns. Nothing too big, but I think the Doritos added an extra flavor kick to the filling mix. The sandwich rolls were tasty but too big, so I’m thinking in the future I need to pay closer attention to how things match up size-wise.

    The first hot dog I ate without any additional condiments. I figured with all the stuff squashed inside of the meat it wouldn’t need anymore flavor. While it was tasty, it was also a little dry, so for my second hot dot I added a generous dollop of honey mustard.

    I love honey mustard. It’s the best condiment ever invented. I could eat it (and have eaten it) on almost anything. (Bit of friendly advice though, don’t try honey mustard on chocolate cake. It will not work out.)

    Stuffed Hot Dogs are a fun twist on a classic food and this recipe was nice and easy to make. I’d definitely call this Pinterest:Impossible a WIN, even if I had to cut off the end of the sandwich rolls to make the hot dogs fit.

    – Mia V.

     

    *Be sure to check out all the great recipes we have on our Fox 28 Foodies Unite! and Pinterest:Impossible boards!

    (SOURCE – stuffed hot dogs)

    My Nutritarian Diary: Vegan Eggplant Meatballs

    Vegan Eggplant Meatballs Header
    In my opinion, great plant-based recipes taste great, are nutritious, and feature vegetables prominently. Well, this Vegan Eggplant Meatballs recipe does that and more. One of the things I like most about these little guys is that they can be eaten in a variety of ways.

    These “meatballs” are great served hot out of the oven on noodles (zucchini, wheat, or gluten free) and topped with a homemade veggie marinara sauce. They would make an excellent warmed appetizer dipped in your favorite store-bought, plant-based spaghetti sauce. And as leftovers, they taste excellent cold served on top of a large salad.

    IMG_4317 Small
    So whatever your eating style or mood, these eggplant delights are an excellent treat!

    And if you decide to eat the leftovers on a plate of lettuce, why not whip up some of Dreena Burton’s “Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette to go with it.

    Or if you are in the mood for another delicious eggplant-centric meal, I recommend giving my Baked Eggplant Spaghetti recipe a try!

    IMG_4312 Small
    Vegan Eggplant Meatballs
    (Slighty adapted from skinnytaste.com, which slightly adapted it from Mark Bittman’s VB6 Cookbook)

    INGREDIENTS:
    • ¼ cup (or more) of low sodium vegetable broth, for sautéing
    • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubed pieces
    • 1 teaspoon (or to taste) sea salt, mixed
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves of garlic (or more depending on taste)
    • 1 cup cooked white beans (or drained and rinsed canned beans)
    • ¼ cup fresh parsley (or a ¼ cup mix of fresh parsley, fresh oregano, etc.)
    • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs or panko
    • ¼ cup of nutritional yeast, optional
    • pinch of red chili flakes, optional

    DIRECTIONS:
    “Heat the oven to 375°. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray [or line sheet with parchment paper].

    Place [vegetable broth] in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot add the eggplant …. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. [Add more vegetable broth if necessary to keep from sticking.] Transfer to the bowl of a food processor.

    Add [more vegetable broth] to the skillet with the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add to the food processor along with the drained beans and parsley [or other fresh seasoning blend] and pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed.

    Combine the mixture with the breadcrumbs, [nutritional yeast if using] and red chili flakes if using. Taste for salt then roll into 12 meatballs, about 2-inches in diameter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake until firm and browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, warm the marinara sauce and serve with the meatballs over pasta, zucchini noodles or on a whole wheat roll” (skinnytaste.com).

    My Nutritarian Diary: Savory ‘Herb d’Vour’ Pasta Salad

    Savory Pasta Salad Fireworks Header
    Sometimes simple is best. Sometimes ingredients that don’t call for a lot of work, are just what the weary cook needs. And sometimes a great, wholesome meal can include foods that are somewhat processed. I am still a huge advocate of not buying processed food, and if I do, I want to make sure it has the fewest ingredients possible. But from time to time, I need the added assistance of something already made.

    That is definitely the case with this salad. I had a couple of Trader Joe’s items I thought would mix well with fresh veggies and pasta, and in about the time it took to cook the pasta, I had a wonderful pasta salad with flavors that delighted my palate.

    Ingredients Collage
    The two ingredients I totally recommend not changing for this salad are the Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian Dressing with Balsamic Vinegar and the Savory-Flavored Organic Baked Tofu (pictured above).

    However, use the rest of the recipe below as a guide and adjust where your inner chef takes you.

    IMG_4295
    Savory ‘Herb d’Vour’ Pasta Salad

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 10-12 ounces whole wheat spiral pasta
    • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 medium zucchini, chopped (about 2 cups)
    • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 green onions, diced (about ⅓ to ½ cup)
    • 7 ounces Trader Joe’s organic, savory-seasoned and baked tofu, cut into small cubes
    • ¼ cup fresh basil, finely diced
    • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely diced
    • 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely diced
    • ⅓ cup to ½ cup Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian Dressing with Balsamic Vinegar, or another Italian dressing of your choice
    • Salt and pepper, to taste, optional*
    • Salad greens to plate, optional

    *The savory-flavored tofu along with the dressing was sufficient seasoning for me, so I did not add salt or pepper to mine.

    DIRECTIONS:
    Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, combine the cherry tomatoes, zucchini, green bell pepper, green onions, baked tofu, basil, parsley, and oregano in a large bowl. Toss together. Add cooked pasta and dressing and toss to combine. Taste and adjust amount of dressing and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow seasonings to get more defined. Serve on a plate of greens, if using.

    My Nutritarian Diary: Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato “Alfredo”

    Sun-Dried Alfredo Header
    This Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato “Alfredo” is a wonderful recipe for a few reasons. First, it’s absolutely delicious. The sun-dried tomato flavoring gives this sauce one of the best flavors I’ve tasted since going mostly plant-based in my eating.

    Second, it’s so easy to make! I mean the only thing you have to “cook” is the pasta. Really, that’s it. Isn’t that great?

    Third, this “alfredo” is better for you than its fat-laden (and yes, I’ll add delicious!) cousins. Using lite silken tofu and cashews helps provide the creamy texture that wonderfully coats the pasta. Cashews are a great alternative to using heavy dairy creams in recipes, and the tofu makes the sauce go further.

    Add the sun-dried tomatoes, and you have a dish that packs a nutritional punch of fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and more! And the artichoke hearts are worth a mention, too. They are full of health benefits including aiding digestion, lowering cholesterol, and possessing a high amount of the antioxidant vitamin C.

    So, what are you waiting for? Why don’t you give it a try and let me know what you think!

    IMG_4267 Large
    Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato “Alfredo”
    (Adapted from Tosca Reno’s “Penne with No-Cook Sun-Dried Tomato Tofu Cream, Artichoke Hearts and Basil” recipe in The Eat-Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook.)

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 12-16 ounces of pasta of your choice (I used 12-ounces of tri-colored penne pasta)
    • 1 (12.3 ounce) package firm lite silken tofu, drained, at room temperature
    • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews
    • ½ cup hot water
    • 1 cup rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), drained
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
    • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or more, to taste)
    • 1 (12 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
    • ¼ teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    DIRECTIONS:
    “Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and cook the pasta according to package directions until ‘al dente’. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Do not rinse the pasta. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl.

    In a blender (or food processor), blend the tofu, cashews and hot water until very smooth. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, [nutritional yeast], salt and pepper, and blend until combined, but you can still see little chunks of tomatoes. Pour over the pasta, add the artichoke hearts, and toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta cooking liquid a bit at a time until you reach the desired consistency” (Tosca Reno).

    MY NOTES:
    The original recipe called for one tablespoon of chopped marjoram, which I didn’t have on hand. Also, I added nutritional yeast to my version for more of a “cheesy” flavor. And Tosca’s name for this recipe was just entirely too long for my blog post title, so that is why I’ve renamed it.

    Pinterest:Impossible – Chicken Gyros and Thai Chicken Soup

    pinterestimpossiblelogonobackgroundI went a little crazy with the chicken last weekend. I can see that now. But it all turned out so good, you won’t see me complaining.

    I picked two slow cooker recipes to try off Pinterest this time aroundChicken Gyros with Tzatziki and Thai Chicken Soup. I love gyros and I love Thai food so they seemed like no brainers. PLUS they were slightly more complicated than most slow cooker recipes I make. It seemed like it might be time to push myself a bit

    chickengyros

    First up were the Chicken Gyros. The chicken part was actually pretty simple. I just mixed the meat with onions and herbs (dill and oregano) and a bunch of lemon juice. The recipe called for “the juice of two large lemons” but I had the little lemon-shaped squeeze bottle of juice so I had to guess on how much was equal to “two large lemons.” The chicken was edible so I must have guessed right.

    There were very few alterations I made to the recipe this time around. I skipped lemon wedges, lettuce, and tomatoes ‘for serving,’ and I used regular salt instead of sea salt. But otherwise I followed the instructions exactly (well okay, there was that lemon juice thing, but whatever).

    About a half an hour before the chicken was done cooking (and boy did that smell good in the slow cooker for three hours) I made the Tzatziki, which is basically the yogurt sauce stuff that goes in the gyro with the meat. The recipe included Greek yogurt and sour cream so I had a feeling it would be amazing.

    The Tzatziki was the complicated bit of this recipe.  I combined yogurt and sour cream and garlic and olive oil and mixed them up. Then I had to include grated cucumber. I have never used grated cucumber before and actually watched a few YouTube videos to make sure I was doing it right. I’m glad they mentioned scooping out the seeds beforehand to keep the Tzatziki from being too runny.

    The gyros came out almost a total WIN. The chicken was a little dry and I’m not sure if that was because I cooked it too long or my slow cooker just cooks too hot. I’m still learning how to use it properly so it was probably user error in this case. The next time I try this recipe I’ll do it on Low and check more often to catch it at the perfect stage of done-ness.

    thaichickensoup

    My second recipe was Thai Chicken Soup. It included red curry, peanut butter, coconut milk, and fish sauce. Basically a bit of every good Thai recipe EVER. I was also very particular about following the instructions on this one. I included everything in the ingredient list except cilantro (because I don’t need to garnish my soup) and cooked brown rice, because later it says to serve with white rice instead and I found that all kind of confusing. Also, I love long grain white rice so I went with it instead.

    Getting everything into the pot for the soup was pretty easy. About halfway through cooking, however, I noticed that it looked like the coconut milk was separating from the rest of the broth and clumping up. In fact it looked a bit like I had dumped cottage cheese in the soup. I mixed it up thoroughly but it never completely smoothed out. I went online to see if broth separation was common with this kind of soup but wasn’t able to find anything explaining it.

    Obviously I was a bit concerned with how the soup would turn out. But luckily, though it looked kind of strange, it tasted wonderful. The peanut butter was obvious in the aroma wafting off the slow cooker, but the taste in the soup itself was quite light. Overall it was a little bit sweet, a tiny bit spicy, and a tad nutty. I thoroughly enjoyed it (especially with rice), which is a good thing as the recipe made about enough for at least six people.

    – Mia V.

    *Be sure to check out all of the great recipes we’ve got on our Fox28 Foodies Unite and Pinterest:Impossible boards!

    SOURCE – chicken gyros
    SOURCE – thai chicken soup

    My Nutritarian Diary: “Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette

    Magical No-oil vin HeaderThis week marked the first week of #wellnesswednesday on our station’s Facebook page, and I talked a little about why I have chosen to go oil-free or nearly oil-free in my eating, which is contrary to a lot of what we read about oils in the media. While various oils may have some health benefits, they are high in calories and are actually a processed food, with no fiber, which means the “bang” for the nutritional “buck” is not there for many of us (some individuals and some illnesses are better served by high-fat diets, so I don’t mean to discount oils’ benefits for them).

    I remember reading the no-oil theory for the first time in Pamela Popper’s book, Food Over Medicine: A Conversation That Could Save Your Life, and I thought, no … that can’t be. Everywhere I read, authorities say oil is good for you. Really, I shouldn’t eat oil? I have my doubts here, but okay, I’ll gave that theory a whirl. And what do you know, there was a great benefit to me, not only in shedding some extra weight (about 10 pounds!), but also in the knowledge that I’m taking another step away from my dependence on processed and fatty foods.

    So, over the last several months, I have chosen to go oil free in my dressings, my sautéing, and in most of my baking. That’s not to say I don’t eat fat. I do! But the fats I eat are from whole food plant sources, such as nuts, seeds, and avocadoes. And I do so in small amounts every day.

    What better way to sum up that theme than to provide you with a magnificent no-oil vinaigrette I found on the web this week, Dreena Burton’s “Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette.

    And if you haven’t liked our Facebook page, yet, you should! Every Wednesday, we celebrate #wellnesswednesday, where many of our posts are focused on better health, and where every Friday, I post a link to a new My Nutritarian Diary blog post.

    SaladwithMagicalDressing“Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette
    (From Dreena Burton’s “Plant-Powered Kitchen” Blog)

    INGREDIENTS

    • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon mild miso (ex: brown rice miso)*
    • ¾ – 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • ¼ teaspoon cumin
    • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1½ tablespoon pure maple syrup (or more to sweeten to taste if desired)
    • ¼ teaspoon (rounded) sea salt (or more to taste)
    • freshly ground black pepper to taste

    *I used a light soy miso that I purchased at a local Asian grocery store.

    DIRECTIONS
    “Using an immersion blender and deep cup (if using a blender, you may need to double the batch for enough blending volume), combine all ingredients, whizzing through until very smooth. Taste, and if you’d like a little sweeter add another teaspoon or so of maple syrup. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as well. If you’d like a thinner dressing, simply add a couple of teaspoons of water and blend through again” (Dreena Burton).

    Pinterest:Impossible – Slow Cooker Tikka Masala

    tikkamarsalaI love my Crockpot.

    It just makes things so very easy sometimes.

    I throw some ingredients in the bowl, turn the pot on, and go off to do other stuff for a few hours while it simmers and cooks and makes a tasty dinner for me.

    Lovely, lovely invention.

    So this weekeend I tried a new Crockpot recipeChicken Tikka Masala. Confession, I have only had real Indian food once in my life, which is sad because once I tasted it I realized just how much I had been missing out. The first time I had Chicken Tikka Masala with warm naan bread and fragrant rice I was a fan for life.

    Because of this I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was to find a Slow Cooker Tikka Masala recipe to try at home. It included quite a few more ingredients than I was used to cooking with – and at least one that I was totally unfamiliar with – but I was determined to try it anyway.

    How bad could it turn out, after all?

    I did make a few alterations to the recipes (of course). I didn’t include paprika because I forgot to see if I had any at home already and didn’t pick any up at the store. I didn’t top with cilantro because I’m not super fond of cilantro, and I skipped the cayenne pepper because I’m not used to making spicy foods and wasn’t sure I’d make it too spicy for me to eat.

    It also had slightly less Greek yogurt than it was supposed to, but that was only because I’m bad at math.

    Even with the intentional (and not so intentional) changes to the recipe I think my Tikka Masala turned out pretty dang tasty. It was a bit sweeter than I expected, but still had a nice spicy undertone. And it smelled AMAZING. All the cinnamon and cumin and Garam Masala (which is a blend of cinnamon and cumin among other things) combined to make an aromatic masterpiece.

    My kitchen STILL smells of Indian food a day later and I’m totally okay with that.

    I did find myself with a bunch of the sauce part left over, so when I try this recipe again I’ll add more chicken (or perhaps chicken in small pieces instead of large chunks). I will also be looking into either making or buying naan bread.

    Tikka Masala with rice is delicious. Tikka Masala with warm naan bread is amazing.

    – Mia V.

    *Be sure to check out all of the great recipes we’ve got on our Fox28 Foodies Unite and Pinterest:Impossible boards!

     

    (SOURCE – recipe)

    My Nutritarian Diary: Lebenese Spinach Triangles

    Lebanese Spinach Triangles Header
    These Lebanese Spinach Triangles are the next best thing to pizza in my book, and boy, do I need an alternative to pizza for when that craving hits my family. Every week or two, I’ll commit to spending several minutes mining one of my cookbooks for recipes I want to make in the coming days, and this was one of those recipes. It lifted itself off the page and said to me, “Make me.” Last night, I obeyed that command, and it did not disappoint.

    Many studies show that dark, leafy greens are one of the most (if not the most) nutrient dense foods we can eat. Joel Fuhrman, who I quote often on this blog, says in his Eat to Live Cookbook that “Vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, win the nutrient density prize. The concentration of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants per calorie in vegetables is the highest, by far, of any food.” Spinach also has a high amount of calcium, but because of it also having a substance called oxalate in it, spinach’s calcium is less available for absorption in our bodies. However, cooking spinach removes this substance and increases the amount of calcium and other minerals available to our bodies.

    Prior to making this, I had recently watched a cooking show on PBS and witnessed the awesome technique of squeezing cooked, frozen spinach dry by putting it a thin kitchen towel and using that towel to squeeze it dry. That technique worked well for these lovelies as they were dry and not dripping with spinach juices when finished cooking.

    This combination of ethnic flavoring, pizza dough covering, and green, leafy vegetable nutrient providing makes these little guys one of my favorite discoveries on my nutritarian journey so far.

    IMG_4258 (1024x683) 

    Lebanese Spinach Triangles
    (Slightly adapted from The Eat Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook by Tosca Reno.)

    INGREDIENTS:
    • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained with all the water squeezed out*
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
    • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
    • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • ½ teaspoon sea salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 pound store-bought whole wheat raw pizza dough, cut into 10 equal portions

    *To make sure the spinach is as dray as possible, you can squeeze it in some cheesecloth (or a thin kitchen drying towel) or press it in a colander.

    DIRECTIONS:
    Place rack in lower third of oven, and preheat to 425 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large baking sheet and set aside.

    Heat a little water in a skillet on medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent but not brown, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl. Add drained spinach, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, parsley, lemon pepper, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

    Roll out each portion of the dough into a ball, and then using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a 5-inch circle. Place about 3 tablespoons of the spinach filling in the middle of the dough. Bring 3 edges up and pinch them together at the top, and then continue pinching the edges together, making a triangle, until the pie is sealed. Place the spinach triangle on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the rest of the dough balls and spinach filling. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and heated through. Remove from oven and serve.

    MY NOTES:
    The lemon pepper and smoked paprika seasoning was Tosca Reno’s method of making the Middle Eastern spice sumac. Of course, if you have sumac on hand, you would just use 2 teaspoons of that spice and omit both the lemon pepper and smoked paprika from the above ingredients.

    Pinterest:Impossible – Breakfast Bites

    Today was Birthday Breakfast in the local sales department here at Fox 28. Within a two week span four team members were celebrating birthdays and to we celebrated with dozens of donuts, fresh baked cinnamon bread, orange cranberry scones, and (the only savory dish in a pile of carb and sugar loaded goodness) Breakfast Bites.

    I brought the Breakfast Bites. Hence this whole blog post.

    Yesterday when I was trying to figure out what to bring, and it was sounding like the majority of people were bringing sweet treats, I floated on to Pinterest to find some ideas. These tasty egg/muffin/mini frittata things popped up immediately.

    Now I have made mini frittatas before so choosing this recipe wasn’t exactly a giant risk for me. BUT I have had issues in the past with getting my mini frittats to not only retain shape when removed from the muffin pans, but also not stick with egg-y zeal to the muffin pans. Because this recipe called for starting off with hash browns instead of eggs, I thought it might work out better than normal.

    In the grand tradition of me making alterations to existing recipes, I changed a few things up in this one. After a particularly painful and gruesome experience with my cheese grater (this is a food blog so I will not go further into detail) I didn’t want to make hashbrowns from scratch. I bought frozen instead and thawed them out before using. I also added in ham, cause my fellows and I like breakfast meat and ham is dang tasty in eggs.

    breakfastbitesPI

    I also made a few unintended alterations to the recipe later on. It called for cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper to be added in a several points. I completely forgot any of those things were in the recipe, got into my cooking with the mindset that I pretty much had it all figured out, and didn’t realize I’d missed anything until the Breakfast Bites were done.

    Oh well. They were delicious even without the extra spice and pizazz.

    They were also really easy to make. I lined the bottom of the muffin openings with hashbrowns, poured the egg/veggie/cheese/ham mixture on top, baked the requisite time, and ta-da! Excellent looking little Breakfast Bites! They popped out of the muffin pan without sticking at all and retained their great muffin shapes.

    The Bites were a big hit at the Birthday Breakfast and I already have plans to make them again in the (very) near future. As I’ll be cooking them for brunch at home, mimosas will probably be served alongside them. Because MIMOSAS.

    – Mia V.

    *Be sure to check out all the other great recipes we’ve got on Pinterest in our Fox Foodies Unite board!

    (Source – recipe)

    My Nutritarian Diary: Tuscan White Bean Dip

    Tuscan Bean Dip Header Merged
    We all know we are supposed to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. Even the United States Department of Agriculture recommends a significant portion of both on its now three-year-old MyPlate nutritional info graphic.

    However, most of us, including me prior to going mostly plant-based in my own eating, actually eat a very small portion of fruits and vegetables as part of our daily diet. Our consumption probably looks something like this: a small cup of juice during breakfast, maybe an apple as part of lunch, and a side salad with our dinner. Instead, we get calories from less than desirable sources and we suffer as a result. We not only deplete our bodies of its nutrients, we don’t even replenish them.

    In the plant-based community, there are many suggestions as to how to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption. There are also many ideas about what a plant-based diet should look like.1 But all agree. We should eat more fruits and vegetables and we should all start now.

    The best advice I’ve read so far, for myself, has been Joel Fuhrman’s suggestion to try and eat at least one pound of raw vegetables and one pound of cooked vegetables daily, as well as try to eat three fresh fruits a day.

    That is not as easy as it may seem, which is why I wanted to give you a recipe this week that will help assist you in eating vegetables—the incredibly healthy and nutrient dense Tuscan White Bean Dip, from Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Cookbook.

    1For an excellent comparison of different plant-based diet philosophy’s, I recommend Dr. John McDougall’s August 2012 McDougall Newsletter article, “The Diet Wars: The Time for Unification is Now.” The comparison chart is on the second page of this link. (Accessed online: 6-6-14)

    IMG_4130 small cropped

    Tuscan White Bean Dip
    (Adapted from Eat to Live Cookbook by Joel Fuhrman / with low-sodium references removed)

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1½ cups cooked great northern beans or 1 (15-ounce) can of great northern beans, drained
    • ¼ cup pine nuts (I used cashews)
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • seasonings, to taste (could be a no-salt seasoning blend or other seasoning blend of your choice)
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon fresh, minced rosemary
    • ¼ cup rehydrated dried tomatoes, minced

    Makes 2½ cups.

    DIRECTIONS:
    “Place all ingredients, except the dried tomatoes, in a high-powered blender or food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in the dried tomatoes. Chill for 1 hour before serving” (Fuhrman).

    MY NOTES:
    Fuhrman says to soak the dried tomatoes in lukewarm water until soft (about 1 to 2 hours). I rehydrated mine with boiling water for 10-15 minutes. His way probably leaves more nutrients in the tomatoes, but I didn’t have that time. I also added some of the tomato soaking water in my dip to help achieve my desired consistency.

    My Nutritarian Diary: Fruity Quinoa Salad

    Fruity Quinoa Header

    For today’s post, I decided to throw out into the world-wide web my very own recipe: Fruity Quinoa Salad. I haven’t done that yet on my blog, mainly because I still feel like a novice when it comes to making plant-based food. I love reading recipes and gleaning new ideas. I love making them and eating them, too, sometimes even adapting them to my own tastes. But to create a recipe from scratch? How do I know when it’s ready for the public? Does it taste good? Will people like it? Am I missing a key ingredient? And the worrisome questions go on and on.

    But today, I stopped the questions and began a different dialogue. This Fruity Quinoa Salad may not be perfect. But it is beautiful-looking and very delicious. I, personally, love the way the Kalamata olives compliment the overall fruity taste of the salad (my husband does not and is why I made them optional), and I think you can add the raisins or not, depending on how sweet you want the salad to taste. And if you’re not entirely plant-based in your eating, I think a ¼ cup of feta cheese mixed in would taste absolutely delicious.

    What I did do on purpose for me was keep this recipe oil free. But even that is flexible and up to you.

    In the end, what this recipe lacks in absolutes, it certainly does not lack in flavor, flexibility, and health.

    So, if you are feeling adventurous, why not give it a try!

    IMG_4238 small

    Fruity Quinoa Salad

    SALAD INGREDIENTS:
    • 1½ cups cooked tri-colored quinoa
    • 1 cup Granny Smith apples, chopped in ½-inch cubes*
    • ½ cup dried apricots, finely diced
    • ⅓ cup toasted almond slivers
    • ¼ cup raisins, optional
    • ⅓ cup Greek Kalamata olives, chopped, optional
    • salad greens for plating

    *Lightly coat cubes with fresh squeezed lemon juice (or other preferred method) to prevent browning.

    DRESSING INGREDIENTS:
    • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon grade B maple syrup*
    • Up to 1 tablespoon of water (in case dressing needs to be diluted to your taste)

    *Grade B maple syrup has more healthful minerals than its Grade A variety and is why I use it.

    DIRECTIONS:
    Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.

    In a separate bowl, combine the treated Granny Smith apple cubes, apricots, almonds, raisins (if using), and Greek Kalamata olives (if using). Add the quinoa and mix all the ingredients together.

    In another small bowl, whisk together the Balsamic vinegar, mustard, ground ginger, and maple syrup. Taste, and dilute with a little water if necessary.

    Poor dressing over the quinoa mix and coat evenly. Adjust seasonings to your desired taste.

    Put salad greens on plates and top with the Fruity Quinoa Salad. And enjoy!

    My Nutritarian Diary: Spaghetti Squash Primavera

    SpaghettiSquashPrimavera-Header

    Something happened this week along my way to writing this blog post that I have to share with you. I had my annual physical and received some wonderful results in my blood work. As of this week, my total cholesterol was 162 (six years ago, it was 199 with a lot of dietary effort—but still eating chicken, eggs, cheese, and dairy) and my LDL was 107 (down from 146 six years ago).

    As a little background, I went to an excellent nutritionist around the time of these higher cholesterol numbers. He helped me lose weight and get my cholesterol numbers in check (but still in a highish range). I learned a lot from him and was inspired to keep learning about nutrition. But over the last several years, my total cholesterol numbers have remained around 200, with and without dietary effort.

    Six months ago, I was convinced that going mostly plant-based in my eating habits was the right path for me. And this week’s blood work results prove to me that I was correct. While my health is the main focus of this dietary change, an added bonus was that I have also lost about 10 pounds.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still eat an occasional pizza or another indulgent meal or dessert, but those are treats now and not my way of life. I also know I need to add more exercise into my life, as well as lose about 10 or so more pounds. Perfection is not the goal for me, though. Improvement is. And this week’s encouragement did not come from the scale but from the results of my blood work.

    We all have different aha moments when it comes to changes we should make in our lives. My hope for you is that with this little insight into my story, you may be inspired to make changes that will make you not only healthier, but feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    This wonderful recipe below is a great start toward that goal!

    As shown in this image above, Spaghetti Squash Primavera can be served in a variety of ways.

    As shown in this image above, Spaghetti Squash Primavera can be served in a variety of ways.

    Spaghetti Squash Primavera
    (From Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Cookbook. Alterations I made are in italics below. I also removed the low-salt references that were in the original.)

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1 medium spaghetti squash
    • 1 ½ carrots, diagonally sliced
    • ½ cup diagonally sliced celery
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I added 1 more)
    • 1 ½ cups shredded cabbage
    • 1 small zucchini, chopped into small pieces
    • 1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans or 1 (15-ounce) can of pinto beans (I used chickpeas)
    • 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes (I used a can of organic diced tomatoes)
    • ⅓ cup vegetable broth
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used a little over 1 teaspoon of dried parsley)
    • 1 cup pasta sauce
    Salt, to taste
    • Nutritarian “Parmesan”

    DIRECTIONS:
    “Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place both halves upside down on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

    Meanwhile, cook carrots and celery in 2 tablespoons of water (or vegetable broth) in a covered pan over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water (or vegetable broth) if needed. Add garlic, cabbage, and zucchini and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, except for pasta sauce and ‘Parmesan’. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

    When squash is done, remove from oven and using a fork, scrape spaghetti-like strands from squash into a bowl. Add pasta sauce and combine by mixing thoroughly.

    Mix the vegetables, beans and herbs with the squash/pasta sauce mixture and serve on a bed of shredded romaine lettuce, if desired, or place back in the hollowed out squash bowls.

    Sprinkle with nutritarian ‘Parmesan’ (recipe below)” (Joel Fuhrman).

    Fuhrman’s nutritarian “Parmesan” is ½ cup nuts (pine, almonds, or cashews) and ½ cup nutritional yeast ground in a food processor. It stores in an airtight container in refrigerator indefinitely.

    MY NOTES:
    This meal is so versatile. You can eat it warmed in a bowl by itself. You can lightly heat it and serve it over a bed of lettuce with a ¼ cup of your favorite vegan sausage. Or you can eat it cold. Because the recipe uses squash “noodles” instead of pasta, they never bloat, which means it keeps well in the refrigerator.

    My Nutritarian Diary: Chickpea “Tuno” Salad

    Chickpea Tuno Salad Header

    What I enjoy most about Chickpea “Tuno” Salad, apart from its deliciousness, is that I feel full and very satisfied after eating a serving of it. Whether I plate it on a bed of greens or spread it across a piece of whole-wheat toast, this salad is good anytime for any meal—okay, it may be a stretch for breakfast.

    Chickpeas have the distinction of being a bean that is extremely high in insoluble fiber (which is the good fiber we need to eat for a healthy digestive system), the mineral manganese (which protects our cells’ energy systems), and protein. They also lower LDL-cholesterol and help with weight loss. You can find out more about them on the World’s Healthiest Foods website.

    Also found in this unique recipe are kelp granules (I used a few seaweed snack sheets) and lite silken tofu. The former adds the “sea” flavor to the salad, and the latter provides the perfect creamy texture you would get from mayonnaise with less fat, as well as provides the nutrients from soybeans.

    Some bites reminded me of eating a wonderful potato salad, and some bites reminded me of the ever-popular egg salad. But all bites had me hooked and inspired me to share it with you.

     

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    Chickpea “Tuno” Salad
    (Chef Jame Rohrbacher’s recipe in Eat to Live Cookbook. Alterations I made are in italics below)

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt added or low-sodium chickpeas, drained
    • 1 cup raw almonds, preferably blanched
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
    • 1 teaspoon kelp granules*
    • 1 (12.3-ounce) package of firm lite silken tofu
    • 3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
    • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
    • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (I used ½ teaspoon more)
    • 3 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
    • 2 medium celery stalks, diced
    • ⅓ cup red bell pepper, minced
    • ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    Salt, to taste

    *I was not able to locate this ingredient so I just added a few small sheets of a salted seaweed snack I purchased for a dollar.

    DIRECTIONS:
    “In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas and almonds until coarsely chopped. Add the lemon juice and kelp powder and pulse a few more times. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

    Place the tofu, vinegar, dry mustard, yeast, and mustard in a high-powered blender and blend until very smooth. Add to the mixing bowl with the chickpea mixture, along with the celery, green onions, red pepper, peas, and black pepper (and salt). Mix thoroughly.

    Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle before serving” (Chef James Rohrbacher).

    MY NOTES:
    The Eat to Live Cookbook recipes are purposely low in salt. I personally do not follow a low-sodium diet, so I do add some salt to the recipes in this book.

    When I make this again, I am going to add about ¼ cup of diced dill pickles. I think that would be a wonderful addition to this recipe.

    My Nutritarian Diary: Japanese Vegetable Curry

    Japanese Vegetable Curry Header

    My journey into plant-based eating started out rather slowly. I remember sitting at a meal I had made after two weeks of trying to eat better thinking, I’m not going to make it if all I eat is a variation of flavorless rice and beans and vegetables. I was totally depressed and lacked any creative idea when it came to making plant-based meals. What I needed was inspiration in order to find my “voice” in cooking this way for me and my family.

    So to the library I went to check out books, books, and more books on vegan, vegetarian, nutritarian, and plant-based eating. All of a sudden, I went from no inspiration to too much inspiration, which was a bit overwhelming. After a time, though, I began to gravitate to certain cookbooks, and those were the ones I chose to buy so that I could reference and learn from them at my leisure. You can see the results of my current plant-based cookbook library pictured below. The one-dish vegan book on the right by Robin Robertson contains the recipe I feature today.

    Cookbook Collage

    Any step you make toward plant-based eating is a good one. Through my research so far, what I’ve learned the most is that we all need to start somewhere. I started cold-turkey and was quickly depressed by how much I didn’t know about how to cook this way. Instead of quitting, I did what I do best, I began to research. And this blog is a way for me to share with you what I’m learning along the way.

    Now, onto today’s recipe.

    Japanese Vegetable Curry

    Japanese Vegetable Curry (Gluten-Free)
    (From Robin Robertson’s book one-dish vegan)

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ¼ cup of water (I used vegetable broth)
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch thick slices
    • 1½ to 2 tbsp yellow curry powder
    • 1½ tbsp tomato paste
    • 1 tbsp wheat-free tamari
    • 1 to 2 tsp of agave nectar
    • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
    • ⅓ cup applesauce
    • 3 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 tbsp mellow miso paste*
    • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, well drained, blotted dry, and diced
    • ¾ cup fresh or thawed frozen peas

    *You can find miso paste at your local oriental food markets.

    DIRECTIONS:
    “Heat the oil or water/vegetable broth in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, then stir in the curry powder, tomato paste, tamari, agave, cayenne (if using), applesauce, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the potato and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

    Transfer about 2 cups of the mixture to a high-speed blender or food-processor. Add the miso paste, and puree until smooth. Stir the vegetable puree back into the curry along with the tofu and peas, and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve hot” (Robin Robertson).

    MY NOTES:
    I love the way this stove-top simmer is thickened with the use of applesauce and a russet potato. The stew comes out very creamy without any dairy or fat added to it. For the meat eaters in the family, you could easily pan fry some chicken breast, lightly seasoned with curry powder and salt, to add to their curry.

    I also used a hand blender, instead of a food processor or blender, to make my puree.

    This curry would go well on top of some brown rice, any variety, garnished with a small serving of coconut flakes.

    My Nutritarian Diary: Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones

    Banana-Choc Chip Header

    This Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones recipe is my third Lindsey S. Nixon, a.k.a. Happy Herbivore, recipe featured on my blog so far. The other two are Harvest Salad and Maple Vinaigrette and Chocolate Banana Ice Cream.

    One reason she is one of my go-to gals for plant-based eating is that I love the simplicity of her recipes. She really uses minimal ingredients to get maximum flavor. This is such a timely characteristic in our land of processed foods where ingredient lists are as long as biblical genealogies. Another reason is because her recipes are generally quickly made, an added benefit for our “stuffed-with-too-many-things-to-do” schedules. But the main reason for me is that she knows how to make tasty low-fat, with minimally added sugar, plant-based treats! I think you can all agree that in our world of over-stimulated taste buds, this is a great quality.

    While maybe not as nutrient dense as other recipes I’ve featured so far, these Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones are healthy enough for me to give to my daughter for breakfast. They are also about as easy to make as putting a Pop Tart in a toaster.

    Go ahead. Give them a try. I think you will like them just as much as we do.

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    Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones
    (Recipe from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean by Lindsay S. Nixon)

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1 c white whole-wheat flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour)
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • ¼ – ½ c of nondairy milk (I used unsweetened, vanilla-flavored almond milk)
    • 1 spotted banana
    • ¼ vegan chocolate chips

    DIRECTIONS:
    “Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Break banana in half and add both halves to the flour, and then start mixing it together with your hands, squishing the banana into the flour until you have a bowl of flour balls. Add ¼ cup of nondairy milk and chocolate chips, and stir to combine, adding more milk if necessary (when in doubt, wetter is better). Drop similar-sized spoonfuls on prepared cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, until the scones are firm and golden at the edges.” (Lindsay S. Nixon)

    Makes about six.

    MY NOTES:
    You may be surprised to know that many brands of chocolate chips are vegan, using soy lecithin instead of milk lecithin in their ingredients. My preferred brand at the moment is Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips. The package says there may be traces of milk, and that does not bother me personally. So I don’t mind incorporating them (very frugally, mind you!) into my low-fat, plant-based cooking.

    And, for those who don’t like to get their hands “too” dirty cooking, you can easily use a pastry blender to combine the banana into your flour mixture in much the same way you would combine butter or shortening to any biscuit recipe.

    My Nutritarian Diary: Baked Eggplant Spaghetti

    Eggplant Header MergedThis recipe was a very pleasant surprise to my taste buds this week. In an effort to diversify my fruit and vegetable eating (which is what plant-based doctors and nutritionists recommend), I like to purchase an occasional eggplant and make it the main ingredient of a recipe. Before going mostly plant-based in my eating, I can honestly say, I never used it in a meal as a main ingredient.

    Since cooking with eggplant, I have discovered that there is something about its taste that is perfectly complimented by spaghetti sauce.  So, after purchasing one this week, I had it in my mind that I wanted to make a lasagna-like casserole out of it.

    What resulted was amazing, if I do say so myself.

    Eggplants are a great source of antioxidants that have the ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and fight cancer-causing free radicals. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin A, and folate—all of which are great immune system boosters. And if you choose to leave the skin on when you cook with it, you would be getting Nasunin, which is another cancer-fighting antioxidant found only in eggplants (source).

    I’ll leave you now with the recipe, while I go and reheat my yummy leftovers!

    Eggplant Spaghett 005

    Baked Eggplant Spaghetti

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into quarter-inch circles
    • 1 jar of organic spaghetti sauce (I used Trader Joe’s 25-ounce Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms)
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1-2 tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable broth for sautéing
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 2 teaspoons of dried basil
    • 12 ounces of meatless ground “beef” (I used Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef (pic below))
    • 1-3 teaspoons of dried Italian seasoning blend
    • 2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast (or a 1:2 blend of nutritional yeast and ground nuts), separated
    • cooked whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta, optional

    This meat substitute is made from textured wheat and soy protein and has almost no fat, it tastes great, and has a wonderful meat-like texture. I highly recommend it!

    This meat substitute is made from textured wheat and soy protein. It has almost no fat, it tastes great, and it has a wonderful meat-like texture. I highly recommend it!

    DIRECTIONS:
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8 x 11 glass casserole dish with Pam-like oil, and set aside. In a separate pan on the stove, cook onion for about 5 minutes in vegetable broth. Add the garlic and basil to the onions and cook another couple of minutes, adding more broth, if necessary, to the pan to prevent sticking. Add meat substitute of your choice to the pan, break it up, and cook it until heated through. Remove from heat.

    Put a third of the jar of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Place half of the sliced eggplant on top of the sauce (the slices may over lap). Sprinkle the desired amount of dried Italian seasoning on the eggplant (I used about a teaspoon). Place half of the “meat” blend on top of that and sprinkle the “meat” with about a teaspoon of nutritional yeast.

    Repeat this process one more time. Finally add the rest of the spaghetti sauce on top of the second layer, and sprinkle about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast or nutritional yeast and nut blend on top. Cover with foil and place in oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook uncovered for 15 more minutes.

    Take out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving it on top of some pasta or on a plate by itself.

    Now, when I make this again, I am going to add fresh mushrooms to the layers. You could also fit in some fresh spinach, kale, or chard greens in the layers as well.

    My Nutritarian Diary: Wheat Berry and Black Bean Salad

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    Wheat berries meet my readers. Readers meet wheat berries.

    Now that the introductions are over, let me tell you about this wonderful grain. I have discovered that its chewy texture and nutty flavor to be a perfect substitute for pasta in my cold salads and almost as easy to cook with just a longer cooking time. I have fallen head over heels in love with these little guys, and I am so excited to share one of my new favorite recipes that feature this grain prominently.

    Let’s dig in a little about what makes this whole grain so special, aside from the fact it’s the source of our wheat flour. First, one serving (½ cup of cooked wheat berries) contains 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, which is about the same amount of protein and fiber as the now popular quinoa. With that said, the nutritional profile does vary some depending on type of wheat berries you use. For example, Lentz Spelt’s whole grain berries, a locally-grown brand I recently discovered at Rocket Market in Spokane, WA, has 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.

    But that’s not it. They are also loaded with vitamins B1 or Thiamin, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy and is good for a healthy brain, nerve cells, and heart function; and B3 or Niacin, which keeps our skin and our nervous and digestive systems healthy (Source).

    But where do you find them? As I mentioned above, I found mine at Rocket Market locally, but you can buy them in many varieties in the bulk sections of most health food stores or in mainstream grocery stores that sell healthy bulk items.

    There’s of course more to be said, but let them “speak” for themselves as you give them a try in this wonderful recipe!

    WheatBerrySalad1

    Wheat Berry and Black Bean Salad
    (Adapted from Robin Robertson’s One-Dish Vegan’s “Quinoa and Black Bean Salad” recipe)

    SALAD INGREDIENTS:
    • 3 cups of water
    • 1 cup of wheat berries*
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 3 scallions, chopped
    • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
    • 1 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped
    • 1½ cups of cooked black beans or 1 (15.5-ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
    • ½ cup kalamata olives, chopped
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, basil, or cilantro
    • ½ cup toasted walnuts, optional
    • Romaine lettuce leaves, to plate salad

    *You could easily replace wheat berries with quinoa. Just cook 1 cup of quinoa according to its directions and use it instead.

    DRESSING INGREDIENTS:
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1-2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (or a citrus-flavored vinegar), use less if you like a subtler lemon/citrus flavor
    • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • ⅛ teaspoon dried oregano
    • ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    DIRECTIONS:
    Place the water, wheat berries, and ½ teaspoon of salt into a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer. Cooking time varies depending on the desired texture and the brand you are cooking. Generally, I prefer to cook mine for 45 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat, drain, and set aside to cool.

    In a large bowl, place the scallions, carrot, black beans, tomatoes, olives, and parsley. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together.

    Add the wheat berries and the dressing to the large bowl and mix well. Add the walnuts, if using. Also adjust the seasonings if needed.

    Place desired amount on a plate of romaine lettuce, and serve.

    Pinterest:Impossible – Thai Chicken and Omu Raisu

    If you are like me (and hopefully you really aren’t cause one of me is probably enough for this world) you are addicted to Pinterest. All those craft ideas and recipes and bucket list items and words of inspiration are just so hard to resist. I can spend hours pinning things, looking through other people’s pins, re-pinning things, moving my pins around, deleting pins, bringing pins back, organizing pins, re-organizing pins, and so on.

    But up until recently I haven’t been super good about actually trying to MAKE any of the delightful food or craft ideas I’ve been pinning like crazy. I’ve seen a whole bunch of memes based around epic Pinterest failures and it has made me a little wary.

    Ok, a lot wary. Whatever.

    But I’ve decided all of that is behind me and it is time to gather my courage and start making the things I’ve been staring at on my Pinterest boards. For sanities sake, I’m starting with recipes because I know I’m not a terrible cook but I’m fairly certain I’m terrible at crafting.

    I’ve got a box of half-made models, broken ceramics, and never-completed cross stitch to prove it.

    First up I chose two recipes from my Tasty Tasty Business board (I’m sure you can see what kind of stuff is pinned in there) – Slow Cooker Thai Chicken in Peanut-Curry Sauce and Omu Raisu. One of these looked way simpler than the other. And of course one of them turned out way better than the other.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    I got a Crockpot for Christmas and was excited to test it out so the Thai Chicken went first. I like chicken, curry, and peanut butter, so it sounded like a win. I did make some substitutions right off the bat, however, though most were because they were items I could find when I went shopping. Like I needed “quick cook” tapioca but had no idea what that meant. After staring at the pudding display for about six minutes I got fed up and just grabbed the quickest looking tapioca. The recipe also called for chicken thighs but I prefer breast meat so I got skinless chicken breasts instead. The hardest part for me when procuring ingredients was that the recipe listed “Thai curry paste” but did not specify whether it meant red or green or something else altogether. I initially grabbed red (because honestly I liked the color better) but when I wandered down the aisle with Indian food they had a packet of “chicken curry paste” and I went with that instead. It said chicken right on it, after all!

    Cooking with the Crockpot isn’t exactly rocket science. I mixed all my lovely ingredients in the cooker and turned it on and set about watching movies for a few hours while my apartment began to smell of lovely chicken and curry. At about the three hour mark I went to check on it and thought the chicken was beginning to look a little over done. When I re-read the instructions to make sure everything was as it should be I realized an important point. I had read “cook 4-6 hours” and totally missed the part where it said “cook on LOW 4-6 hours.” So yes, my chicken was a little dry. But nothing was burnt and I eventually got the sauce unglued from the bottom of the pot.

    Unfortunately for all of you reading this, I can’t share the Thai Chicken in Curry-Peanut sauce with you, cause it turned out AWESOME. The sauce was all creamy and peanut-y and a little bit spicy, the chicken was a bit dry but still quite tasty, and I served it all over rice which was wonderful as always (I use a rice cooker; I LOVE that thing ya’ll, the rice is perfect every time).

    I’m calling this recipe a WIN.

    And here are pics of what the recipe was supposed to look like, and a little collage of what I came up with. I obviously still need to work on presentation.

    thai chicken curry peanut sauce  thai chicken curry peanut sauce

    Moving on to the second recipe – Omu Raisu. This is basically a Japanese omelet with rice, chicken, and veggies as the filling. And everything is liberally doused in ketchup. I know it might sound odd, but there are some really tasty rice recipes from Japan and Thailand that integrate ketchup. Look up Thai Fried Rice with Ketchup recipes sometime. But not right now cause we’re busy.

    So omelets are one of my favorite things to make, but mainly because I cheat at making them. I have this lovely large George Foreman grill with five interchangeable plates that cooks things on the top and bottom at the same time. As I’m sure you can guess, this makes omelets extra easy to make as there is no flipping of eggs required (but it does some weird things to pancakes, let me tell ya).

    This recipe called for rice, ketchup, chicken, veggies, and onions. Everything was all cooked up and mixed together to be used as the filling in the omelet. I found myself eating the rice, chicken, veggie mixture while I was cooking the eggs. It was tasty and smelled good and I just couldn’t help myself. Luckily there was tons of it. I made a four egg omelet and there was still way too much filling (rice takes up a lot of space apparently).

    This recipe wasn’t terribly difficult to make, but I found myself less impressed with the results than the Thai Chicken. I think it was the eggs that threw me off. Normally I add milk to eggs when making an omelet but this recipe didn’t call for it so I didn’t use it. I think it would have been better if I’d gone with my normal routine. The density of the eggs just wasn’t palatable for me. But dang was that filling good. I have extra so I’ll be reheating it and possibly trying again with better eggs. Or I’ll just eat it from the bowl. Whatever, I do what I want.

    So I’m calling this recipe not-quite-a-win-but-it-has-potential.

    Pics below.

    omu raisu  omu raisu

    Interested in making either of these recipes yourself? Head to MyFoxSpokane’s Pinterest board “Fox Foodies Unite” and you’ll find them!

     

    Source Thai Chicken

    Source Omu Raisu