Comfort and Pasta

My workplace had a Halloween potluck earlier this week and were planning a chili competition.  I thought I’d bring something different and decided to make a corn chowder.  An added inducement to the corn chowder was that I could make it with ingredients I had on hand and any time I can avoid the grocery store I will choose to do so.

I used the recipe in The Part Time Vegan as a template, adding a few tweaks of my own, and ended up with a chowder that wasn’t bad.  Wasn’t bad isn’t usually what I go for so my corn chowder recipe needs work before it can be posted.  Having a recipe not turn out as I’d hoped is always a little bit of a downer so I decided to drown my sorrows in comfort food.  Enter pasta and, fortunately, the McDougall diet allows me to eat as much as I like.

With both comfort and temperance in mind, I decided to try a new pasta.  I got sucked into one of those sample stands at Costco which introduced me to Explore Cuisine’s Chickpea Pasta (which is not on the website but other tasty products are).  The woman at the sample stand assured me the pasta kept a chewy texture despite re-heating and I was persuaded to buy a box.

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I have tried other gluten-free pastas.  I like quinoa pasta but have found brown rice pasta ends up too mushy.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I boiled water and measured out the pasta.  I was concerned with taste as the pasta smelled well, beany, as it cooked but all my worries were for naught.  The pasta has a slight flavor that didn’t remind me too much of chickpeas and kept a perfect al dente texture.  My family liked it as well.  Though I don’t know this will replace quinoa pasta for me, I’m definitely interested in trying more of Enjoy Cuisine’s products.

Wondering what to eat with the pasta?  Here’s my Mom’s recipe for chunky vegan pasta sauce.  Neither she nor my step-father are vegan and they both choose this one over sauces laden with meat.  Let me know if you give it a try.

Sue’s Spaghetti Sauce

1 cup minced onion

1 TBSP minced garlic

1 jar Classico Traditional Favorites Pasta Sauce, Tomato & Basil

1 jar Prego Light Smart Traditional Italian Sauce

2 TBSP Hunts Tomato Paste

1 14oz can Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes, Diced, No Salt Added

1 15 oz can Tomato Sauce

1 15 oz can Simple Truth Organic Tri-Bean Blend beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can Organic Canned Black Beans, drained and rinsed

6 oz Boca Veggie Ground Crumbles

Cook onions and garlic until onions begin to sweat.  All all other ingredients except beans and crumbles.  Cook 1 hour.  Add beans and crumbles and cook 15 minutes.  Pour over cooked spaghetti.

Prep and Cook time = 75 min

Serving Size = 2 cups

Serves = 8

Back at Bad Daddy’s

It’s another birthday dinner for my nephew and another visit to Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar.  I visited Bad Daddy’s for the same nephew’s birthday last year and had the veggie burger.  A helpful reader pointed out the burger is not vegan (thanks, vegan community!) so, even if I still weren’t off veggie burgers, the black bean burger at Bad Daddy’s is off the table.  Ha Ha.  I’d have to avoid it anyway, as I’m avoiding fried foods, so what is there for me to eat?  I perused the menu online and saw Bad Daddy’s has a create-your-own salad option.  My entire family thought that sounded good and so we braved the cold and drove to the Southlands’ Mall.

I claimed a tiny pencil and menu and began ticking boxes.  I chuckled a little to find black beans and chickpeas as options for the salad but they were NOT listed under the add-a-protein section.  Five years as a vegan and it still amazes me that no one seems to realize how protein packed beans are.  However, I didn’t have to pay an extra $3.00 to add my black beans so I kept my mouth shut and ticked my box.

With the ability to check seven boxes plus the choice of greens, I thought I could build a filling salad.  The options at the top of the menu are Small and Giant and, while I winced at the thought of paying close to $9.00 for a salad, I figured a giant salad would fill me up and maybe even have some left over to take home.

Salad Menu
The Create-Your-Own Menu

Let me preface my next statements by saying I have no complaints about Bad Daddy’s service.  The staff are friendly and willing to answer questions.  I asked our waitress about the Greek Orange-Oregano Vinaigrette and was told it contains feta cheese.  I thanked her and chose a different dressing.  Midway through our meal, a manager visited our table and asked how everything was.  So, no complaints about the staff.  Everything else about my visit was disappointing.

The first disappointment was the size of the salad.  I paid $9.00 for a bowl of greens.  I had to poke through them in order to find my seven ingredients and I discovered my definition of “giant” and Bad Daddy’s differed.  Second, my mother got the wrong salad.  She’d ordered strawberries and avocado on hers and added chicken (she’s not vegan) none of which she received.  The waitress was apologetic and kind and hurried off to make the order right.  I was tired or I would have realized my order was wrong as well.  As you can see from the above photo, I checked the box next to avocado.  My salad arrived avocado-less.  Like I said, I was tired and halfway through my salad before I noticed and even then couldn’t be sure I’d really ordered it.  Perhaps I’d only meant to and hadn’t checked the box.  My receipt arrived with my salad ingredients listed and, sure enough, I was supposed to have avocado.  Should I return a third time to this restaurant, I’ll make a note of what I ordered, or fill out two menus, so I can be sure I get all my ingredients.

A weird happening was the gnats.  Us salad eaters were all grouped at the end of the table and were forced to wave away these tiny light brown bugs.  I couldn’t see anyone else at the table with a bug problem.  This amused me a bit.  Why? Because I cannot recommend anyone eat at Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, even if they aren’t vegan.  My nephew and his mother ordered 10oz burgers that were piled with buttermilk dipped and fried bacon.  The whole thing looked like a heart attack on a plate.  The rest of the meal choices weren’t any healthier.  I suppose no one goes to a place named Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar looking for health food but I was horrified and then amused as I saw none of those plates seemed to attract the gnats.  It’s not that I enjoy fighting off gnats but not even minuscule bugs will eat that stuff.

Ultimately, I found this visit disappointing.  And expensive.  My $9.00 salad wasn’t accurate or filling: I had to eat a supplementary dinner when I got home.  Fortunately, it isn’t a favorite with my family and I only have to go when my nephew has his birthday dinner.

Salad Photo
My “giant” salad. $9.00.

Did the salad tick my diet boxes?  Let me see:

Vegan?  Yes.

Macrobiotic?  This is up in the air.  I’m not sure how balanced my salad ingredients were and I was a little leery of the bowl.  Was it aluminum or stainless steel?  I just wanted a glass bowl.  Or to be eating at home.  Or both.

Raw?  Again, yes and no.  Raw greens and unprocessed nuts but the oranges were canned and the beans necessarily cooked.

McDougall Approved?  Yes and No.  The dressing contained oil.  I should have asked for it on the side because my greens got a little slimy.

Vegiterranean?  Again, the oil is a problem.  Instead of the dressing, I should have asked for half a lemon.

My disappointing experience was mostly my fault.  How do people know something is wrong unless I tell them?  Also, I considered rounding out my salad with a side dish order of fresh fruit but the side dish menu I saw online wasn’t printed on the restaurant menu.  I didn’t ask about the fruit so, again, can’t really complain that I left the restaurant hungry.  Maybe I’ll do better next year.  Or, maybe my nephew will choose to go somewhere else.

 

Filè Like Soup?

I eat a great deal of soups although; since I like big chunks of veggies in my soup they’re more like stews.  Soups are perfect as they’re something I can make from scratch and have ready for dinner in about a half an hour, depending on prep time, of course.  All my soups start the same: onion and garlic left together in a pan for about five minutes, then the addition of vegetables, broth, beans, and a grain.  It’s one pot cooking at it’s best and, if I plan ahead by soaking and cooking my beans and grains, the entire meal is from scratch and no can or package goes into the recycle bin.  Eating veggie, grain, and bean soups never get boring as there are a great many combinations of grains and beans and I have to cook a great deal before I repeat myself.  To ensure my family doesn’t find my meals boring, I also experiment with spice blends.

I don’t care for pre-made spice blends.  They’re easy to use, certainly, but using a blend means someone else has decided on how much salt and/or spice I’m going to use and rarely does his or her taste correspond with mine.  I like playing in my spice cabinet and feel a little spurt of creativity when one of my spice blends proves to be wonderfully tasty.  To that end, I’m always interested when I come across something new and, recently, that something new was filè powder.

I read about filè powder in my 1,000 Vegan Recipes cookbook by Robin Robertson.  She suggested its use in a gumbo recipe but, as I’d never heard of it and had no idea where I might find it, I made her gumbo without it; making a mental resolution to acquire some and try it when the opportunity presented itself.  I did acquire some but haven’t had a chance to try it until last week.  I’d soaked kidney beans and wanted to taste what filè was like but needed to say away from spicy foods so gumbo was off the table.  What then?  I wanted to try filè so decided to come up with my own hot pepper-free soup/stew and opened my spice cabinet.

I create my spice blends based on what smells like it should go together.  Since the majority of taste is smell, I figure if it smells good it will taste good.  I may look a little crazy smelling the contents of jars but this process has served me well and kept me from adding a citrus smelling herb from a smoky blend I’m creating.  I hauled out several jars, lined them up on the counter, and started smelling; beginning with the filè powder as that was the star of the evening.  I ended up with smoked paprika, cumin, tumeric, basil, ground mustard, and the merest pinch of red pepper flakes: not enough to make my meal spicy but enough to add that special layer of flavor.  I was ready to cook.

Both the McDougall and Vegiterranean diets stress cutting back on oils, if not going completely oil free.  To that end, I don’t cook my onion and garlic in oil.  How do I keep it from sticking to my stainless steel pots?  Medium-low to low heat.  Try it.  Spread the onion and garlic in a single layer in the pot over medium-low to low heat and then DON’T TOUCH it for about five minutes.  I like to agitate my veggies so this was difficult for me.  Now, I have no problem leaving my onion to cook while I chop the rest of my veggies.  If the onion and garlic should stick a bit, toss some water or veggie broth into the pan after the onion has turned translucent and the pieces lift right off.

Once I’ve cooked the onion and garlic, I toss in the rest of my veggies with the spices and let them cook another couple of minutes.  I think adding the spices before the veggie broth brings out their flavor a bit more.  Then, I add the veggie broth, bring the whole thing to a boil, and clap a lid on it.  Once the veggies are finished, I add my pre-cooked beans and grains, heat the entire thing through, and dinner is served.

This particular experiment was a big hit.  My entire family enjoyed it the first night I made it and, since I have a tendency to cook for a horde, enjoyed it for a few more days.  This was one case where the leftovers are better: the spices have a change to meld with each other if left in the fridge over night.  Should you make this, it’s excellent the same night but I do recommend making it one to two days before.

Want to try it?

Kate’s Excuse to Use Filè Stew

Early Prep:

In separate pots; rinse and soak 1 cup hulled barley and 2 cups dried red kidney beans.

Step Two:

Discard soaking water from both barley and kidney beans.  Cover kidney beans with clean water and cook until soft, about 2 hours.  Add 2 cups water and 1 not-chicken bullion cube to the barley pot and cook until barley is soft but still chewy.  Do not discard excess liquid from barley.

Bringing it all together-you will need:

1 white onion, chopped

1 tsp garlic, minced

3 carrots, sliced I used rainbow carrots; one yellow, one orange, and one purple

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 sweet potato, cut into medium sized chunks

1 green pepper, cut into medium sized chunks

1 tsp each smoked paprika, cumin, turmeric, filè powder, basil, and ground mustard

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

4 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 cup frozen broccoli florets

Prepared kidney beans and barley

cracked pepper, to taste

  1.  Add onion and garlic in a single layer to a large stainless steel stock pot.  Turn heat to low or medium-low (depending on the heat of the burner) and leave to cook until onion is translucent; about five minutes.
  2. Add remaining vegetables and all spices except the salt.  Stir together and let cook another two minutes.
  3. If necessary, add a bit of the water to the pot and scrape spices and any stuck vegetables from the bottom of the pot.  Add remaining water and bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until vegetables are soft but not mushy; about 20 minutes.
  4. Taste, adding more spices if desired.  Add kidney beans, barley (along with any remaining liquid), broccoli, and salt.  Cook until heated through, about another 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and discard bay leaves.
  6. Serve with crusty bread.

As I said, the leftovers are very good on their own but can be spiced up with a can of diced, fire-roasted tomatoes or topped with cubes of savory baked tofu.  Try to eat all leftovers within two days or the broccoli gets too soft.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Turning Over a New Leafy Green

It’s the first day of 2016 and I’m making a New Year Resolution; one I have to keep.  2015 wasn’t the healthiest year for me.  I’d intended for it to be as I’d had my fibroids diagnosis late in 2014 and knew I needed to make more dietary changes to avoid surgery.  Not all of them happened in 2015.  The main reason…or excuse?  The job I worked at got steadily more stressful as third quarter 2014 became 2015 and 2015 progressed: the more stressed out I got, the more junk food I ate.  Stress eating doesn’t mean carrots and celery for me: more like potato chips and various forms of sugar.  I may be in worse health now than I was at the beginning of 2015.

All that changes for 2016.  2015 wasn’t a total loss as it did prepare me for the commitment I have to make.  I did research on what I ought to be eating, I just didn’t eat it.  I took another look at The McDougall Diet and read Julianna Hever’s The Vegiterranean Diet, Virginia Messina and JL Fields’ Vegan for Her, and Jessica Porter’s The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics.  I gleaned a great deal of information from all of these books and, combined with recipes I found in Rawsomely Vegan, have built a diet I am certain I can commit to in 2016.  I call it Vegemacrawdougarranean.  Sounds tasty, right?!  Who’s with me?

I did make an important change in 2015.  I gave up coffee and I don’t have words to describe how difficult that was for me.  I still dream of coffee but haven’t yet resorted to lurking around coffee shops merely to inhale the coffee fumes.  Giving up coffee was a process: I’d give it up one month and pick it up the next so it took most of 2015 to wean myself off caffeine.  I’ve done it and it’s a big step towards reclaiming my health.

I’ve run out of time and excuses.  I admitted I couldn’t manage the stress of my job and resigned: I’m now looking for something challenging rather than stressful and I know my body will thank me.  My resolutions from previous years still stand.  I don’t want to have to resort to surgery.  I believe it’s possible to heal myself with food and that is my goal for 2016.

A new resolution has prompted changes to the blog.  I plan to add more recipes in 2016 as the dietary changes will mean less eating out.  Eating out will be more of a challenge and I look forward to including those adventures on my blog.

I thank you all for following me these past few years and I hope you’ll join me for my new adventures in 2016.

Happy New Year!

My first recipe?  Kale Pizza!

Kale Pizza

Kate’s Kale Pizza

2 pieces flatbread, any kind

4 TBSP tomato sauce

2 TBSP Italian Seasoning

1/4 cup onion, minced

1 tsp garlic, minced

2 cups chopped kale, I like curly kale for this recipe

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes

2 artichoke hearts, chopped

1 cup Daiya Mozzarella Cheese shreds, if desired

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Place flatbread on a baking sheet and brush each piece with 2 TBSP tomato sauce.  Sprinkle each piece with 1 TBSP Italian Seasoning and divide the onion and garlic mix among each piece.

Divide the rest of the ingredients in half and top each piece of flatbread with the sundried tomatoes, olives, and artichoke hearts.  Sprinkle each pizza with the cheese shreds, if using, and top with the kale*.

Bake until cheese has melted and kale has wilted, about 20 minutes.

This pizza is messy but extremely tasty.  The kale bakes crispy so it’s a bit like having a kale chip topping for pizza.  It’s a nice contrast with the melted cheese and rich sundried tomatoes.

Enjoy!

*placing the shreds between layers on ingredients allows it to melt a little easier; a tip I learned from Vegan Coach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Made A Hash of Dinner

Or rather, for dinner.

I don’t always buy my dinner at the grocery store whenever I have errands to run.  Every once in a while, I plan ahead.  I will say the planning process is easier when I don’t have to work but I am endeavoring to change all my bad habits.  Yesterday (being Sunday) I prepared dinner ahead of time and thus was able to avoid the tasty pre-made options in the grocery store’s freezer section.  I knew I was making hash for dinner so scrubbed potatoes, pierced them with a fork, and popped them in the oven so they’d cook while I did other things.

I was excited to try hash because, before my becoming vegan, I used to eat a great deal of corned beef hash.  Worse, I ate the canned hash.  I shudder when I think of the amount of salt in that stuff but the fact remains I still like hash.  It is possible to have vegan versions of old favorites and I was looking forward to coming up with a go-to hash recipe.  As all hashes must, in my opinion; mine started with the a fore mentioned potatoes.

With the onset of cold weather, I am less inclined to have a smoothie for breakfast and desire things like hot oatmeal and miso soup.  I like my miso soup with a little diced tofu so I had the remnant of a block of tofu in the fridge.  A little soy sauce and turmeric and I had “egg” for my hash.

My last hash component was a Tofurky Italian Sausage link.  The links had made an appearance in a dirty rice recipe a few days ago and I still had one I needed to use.  I am following a modified McDougall diet-I say modified because I’m eating an English muffin with almond butter and fig jam as I write this-and so do not cook with oil.  With no oil in the pan, I was concerned my hash would either stick to the pan or turn out too dry but, since I wouldn’t know until I tried, I set to work.

I cooked the Tofurky link first, thinking it had enough oil in the marinade to glaze the pan.  While that cooked, I chopped my potato. I read somewhere that a potato has most of its nutrients directly under the skin.  I have also read that this isn’t true but I figure it’s best to eat a vegetable in its entirety whenever possible so I left the skin on.  When my sausage link was done, I transferred it to the cutting board to cool and crumbled my tofu into the same pan.  A splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of turmeric and my “eggs” were officially cooking.  I let that heat through then added the potato to the pan along with a little fresh cracked pepper, fresh ground sea salt (not too much because of the soy sauce), and some red pepper flakes.  While that heated through I diced the sausage link and added then added the pieces to the pan.  I moved my hash around with a wooden spatula and, when I thought it was cooked through enough, I scooped the lot onto a plate.

Now, the verdict.  Was it too dry?  Did I need to use a little oil in order to make things edible?  The answer?  No! Part of my concern stemmed from the fact that I’d used a russet potato and I find those are always a little dry.  Not this time.  My hash had no sauce but it wasn’t dry at all and I’m finding the lack of oil in my food refreshing.  The taste is lighter and my tongue can distinguish more spices when the food isn’t drenched in oil.  There wasn’t a great deal of subtle spice in this recipe but my red pepper flakes made it tongue-tingling.  My sausage and tofu eggs rounded out the hash, making it a satisfying and filling meal.  Best of all, it was quick.  The potatoes baked themselves requiring only my looking in on them from time to time.  The hash itself was done in ten minutes.  Healthy fast food!

Another Quick Meal
Another Quick Meal

Forgive my photos: I’m working on getting different lights.  The yellow overhead lights in the kitchen aren’t the best choice for photos.

Soup’s On!

It’s Autumn in Colorado.  There’s a crisp feel in the air and snow in the high country.  It’s my favorite time of year; when I dig out my sweaters and flip my cookbooks from Salads & Sandwiches to Soups & Stews.  In my opinion, cooler weather makes for the best vegan food.  Grains and beans cooked with veggies and whatever spices tickle my fancy that particular day, all cooked in one pot for easy clean-up; served with a slice of crusty bread it’s the best comfort food.  I’m going into this Autumn educating myself on the McDougall Diet and figuring out how to eat.  There are aspects of the diet that concern me, like limiting avocados, nuts, and seeds, but a hellish week has convinced me I need to make dedicated changes.  Staying surgery free depends on it.  So, what change can I make immediately that won’t make me have to learn an entirely new way of eating?  The answer?  Cooking without oil.

That sounded counter-intuitive when I first heard.  I use all stainless steel cookware so was concerned my veggies would stick.  Not so.  I use a lower heat setting and ignore them for a full five minutes.  That isn’t easy for me:  I’m used to poking and prodding my onions and garlic so I have to entertain myself by chopping other ingredients in order to resist the urge to stir.  After five minutes, I add a little liquid to the pan to de-glaze it and the onions lift right off.  No oil necessary.

All those lovely veggies cooking without oil
All those lovely veggies cooking without oil

Last night’s meal was very loosely based on Robin Robertson’s White Bean, Farro, and Italian Parsley Soup from her 1000 Vegan Recipes cookbook.  I chose that particular recipe because I had Italian Parsley to use.  It’s my favorite parsley: the smell and the taste are an incredible addition to soups.  Instead of white beans I defrosted some chickpeas I had in the freezer and instead of shallots (which I didn’t have) I used red onion (which I did).  I stuck to the recipe for everything else: farro, carrots, celery, garlic, and veggie broth.  I have Not-Chicken bouillon cubes but decided against using them: chickpeas have such a strong flavor I went with no salt added veggie bouillon cubes (Dr. McDougall would be proud).  The result was incredible.  Full of flavor, satisfying on a cold and stormy night, and filling.  Or, it was filling at the time.

I found myself getting hungry a few hours later and I wonder if it’s because I skipped the crusty bread.  I wasn’t starving, the soup just didn’t stay with me.  I read that, if I’m finding my meals aren’t staying with me, to add umami.  Perhaps I should have added black salt instead of sea salt.  I’ll try it next time and see how it tastes.

Happy Autumn and here’s to a season full of yummy soup!

Tuck In!
Tuck In!

 

A Freak Storm and Taco Salads

Colorado lived up to its reputation for crazy weather today.  A beautiful sunny morning turned black mid-afternoon and the wind, rain, and hail started.  When the storm died down, the parking lot at work looked like a snow storm had hit it.  Trees were stripped of leaves and I can only be grateful I didn’t lose the windshield to my car nor was my house damaged.  The temperature dropped at least 15 degrees and, by the time I was driving home in the rain, I was ready for some comfort food.  Tonight, that meant taco salads.

My mother is the true taco salad lover but I’ll admit to being a fan.  Mixed greens were topped with black and kidney beans cooked with cumin and chili spice, then I added black olives, heirloom tomatoes, and a sprinkling of Daiya cheese.  Added to all this was crushed baked organic blue corn chips and a sprinkling of Annie’s papaya dressing.  (I may have to rethink Annie’s after the purchase that happened: I’ll see what’s done with the brand).

Yum-oh.  The mix of crunchy, sweet, salty, and creamy satisfies on so many levels.  And, the meal comes together fast which is always a bonus.  My days only seem to get busier and I’m thrilled when I can have something healthy and tasty in less than 30 minutes.

Day 29!  I’ll have to come up with an amazing dinner tomorrow, or maybe just something fast.  I’ve got an evening class on Tuesdays so will need another less-than-30 minutes-meal.  Hmm…the possibilities are almost endless.  Happy second to last day!  I look forward to the other posts.

It took me longer to eat it than it did to make it:)
It took me longer to eat it than it did to make it:)

An Addition to the Kitchen

I did it.  I finally bought a Dutch Oven.  I’ve wanted one since I first became vegan but I wasn’t familiar enough with the cooking involved in the lifestyle and, since I had a stainless steel stock pot, it wasn’t a need.  As I’ve become more familiar with vegan cooking, there have been many a time I’ve wished I had a Dutch Oven but I was making do with what I had.  Even when one of our stock pots could no longer be used and a Dutch Oven was on its way to becoming a need, I still waited.  They can be expensive and I wanted enamel coated cast iron.  Today, I found a deal I couldn’t pass up and finally bought my Dutch Oven.  It’s enamel coated cast iron, it was less than $40.00, and it’s purple.  The purple bit is a bonus and I am thrilled.  With cold weather fast approaching, this little oven is going to get a workout.

My New Toy
My New Toy

I know this is a celebration of vegan food rather than kitchen essentials, but think of all the vegan goodies I can make in it.  The vegan meals that have gone over the best with my omnivore family have been the hearty stews, filling soups, and familiar casseroles.  No one minds joining me in veganism when the food is amazing.  I’ve become a fan of one pot meals for easy clean up and I can’t wait to use my Dutch Oven.  I can start on the stove top cooking onions and garlic, then add my broth, grains, beans, and veggies, then the Dutch Oven will transfer directly to the oven to slow cook a scrumptious dinner.  The enamel coating means I can do all of my cooking with no oil and my food isn’t going to stick.  I was doing okay with oil-free cooking in the stainless steel pot but having the Dutch Oven means I don’t need to save the pot for cooking: I can use it to soak and cook dried beans.  I see less canned beans being used in the future which is also thrilling.  I’ve been trying to focus on Reduce and Reuse instead of just Recycle.

Beautiful Enamel
Beautiful Enamel

Now, I just have to decide what recipe to make first.  Kale and White Bean Stew?  Curried Cauliflower Soup?  Three Bean Chili?  Bean and Sweet Potato Stew with Rainbow Chard?  There are so many possibilities it will be difficult to narrow them down.  I’m up for the challenge.  First, I need to season my new pot so it will be a couple of days.  A fabulous recipe in a gorgeous pot is just the way to usher in October.  Any suggestions for a christening recipe?

Another Photo, Because It's Purple
Another Photo, Because It’s Purple

Eating Out-The McDougall Way

I’m in the process of researching the McDougall Diet and am specifically looking for negative reviews.  Why?  Because it is a good idea to see what the other side of a story is.  What are people saying about the diet?  Can people stay on it long term?  Is it too restrictive?  One person said the diet couldn’t be maintained because of a lack of satiety.  I haven’t experienced this: quite the opposite.  I have less of a desire to snack after 8pm because my meals are staying with me.  I know I’ve been feeling great during my challenge and don’t see any problem with keeping the changes I’ve already made.  I find my body is especially pleased with me for cutting back on fried foods.  That being so, what do I do when it’s time for take-out?

Tonight was one such night.  I didn’t get back to the house until early evening so my family and I decided to order in.  I perused the menus I had in the house and kept eliminating one after the other because everything was fried.  At last, I found the curry section in Thai Panda’s menu.  The description stated “oil-free” and I was in.

I like Thai Panda.  Their curries are perfectly spicy and I can re-use the take out dishes.  Also, Thai Panda offers steamed brown rice.  I ordered a Red Tofu Curry with brown rice and that was all.  All of the vegan side dish options were fried so no spring rolls for me.  I didn’t need them.  I have enough remaining curry for an entire meal tomorrow and I am satisfied.  It’s closing in on three hours since dinner and I’m not hungry.  And, most important of all, my meal tasted great.

I’m not ready to give up on the McDougall Diet: plus my challenge still has 3 days in it.  27 days does isn’t sufficient time to proclaim the diet lives up to its promises but I’ve seen a positive response in my body: the diet is doing what I wished it to.  And, research so far finds far more positive experiences with Dr. McDougall’s diet than negative.

Anyone out there have any experience with the McDougall Diet?  I’d love to hear about it.

Red Tofu Curry...yum
Red Tofu Curry…yum

Breakfast? For Dinner?

Absolutely.  Especially when it’s National Pancake Day.  To celebrate, I talked my family into Banana Buckwheat Pancakes and sausage for dinner: Field Roast Apple and Maple sausage for me.  Of course, I didn’t have all the ingredients the recipe in Susan O’Brien’s Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food cookbook called for but dinner was rescued from the shoals of disaster and the result was, well, awesome.  Since there was enough substitutions, I’ll share my recipe with you.  I didn’t have gluten free flour so this recipe is vegan, extremely tasty, but not gluten-free.

3 tsp Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 TBSP warm water

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk

2 TBSP agave nectar

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup Kasha

1/2 cup Kamut flakes

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 2 – 3 TBSP if batter is too runny

1 tsp cinnamon

1 banana, mashed

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix the Ener-G and water and set aside.  Mix all wet ingredients and add the kasha and kamut so they soften a little.  Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Add the egg replacer to the wet ingredients and mix well.  Add dry ingredients to wet and mix, adding a bit more flour if necessary.

I heated my cast iron griddle and oiled it with a touch of cooking spray.  I then used a 3/4 cup scoop to pour the batter on the griddle but didn’t fill the whole thing so a smaller one would work as well.  I wouldn’t recommend going larger or the pancakes will be mushy on the inside.  I watched the pancakes until they looked ready to flip: I didn’t time it.  It’s that look when the tops aren’t bubbling and the edges are starting to brown…you can also check the pancake and, if it sticks to the griddle, it isn’t ready to flip.  Then, when ready, flip the pancakes and cook on the other side.

I served this with sliced peaches and organic maple syrup.  They are amazing.  They’re hearty and filling with a nutty, rich taste.  Not a fluffy pancake but I didn’t mind that at all.  I’m noting my substitutions in the cookbook for future reference.   This recipe made 10 pancakes, enough for dinner and leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.  Tomorrow morning, I’m going to pop them in the toaster and then spread them with almond butter and fig jam.  I can hardly wait.

These McDougall Diet friendly pancakes don’t taste like health food but they are: no oil in the batter and they’re cooked on a hot, well-seasoned griddle with a light spray of cooking oil.  I love it when healthy tastes naughty.

Happy National Pancake Day!

Breakfast for Dinner!
Breakfast for Dinner!