Thursday, March 10, 2011

Polenta with Tomatoes and Capers

Tonight we had a bunch for leftovers for dinner. I found a single serving of polenta (ok, actually corn grits, since the name "polenta" implies butter and cheese whereas my corn grits have neither of those additions) and decided I should dress it up for my dinner.

It was only a 1/2 cup, so I mashed it up with a fork, heated it up in the microwave, then topped it with a teaspoon of olive oil, about 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes (the larger ones cut in half lengthwise), and a couple teaspoons of caper. Topped with a bit of salt and pepper, this was a delicious, filling treat of a side dish! Conveniently quick, low in points, and tasty.

Corn Grits:
3 cups boiling water
1 cup corn grits
salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Whisk grits into boiling water. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir while protecting yourself with the lid of the pot you are cooking this in--those spatters (and there will be spatters!) are hot!
Makes approximately 4 cups. I pour the corn grits into ramekins and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before turning them out onto the plate when serving dinner. We do not eat all 4 servings, so I often refrigerate one or two servings for later.

1/2 cup corn grits is 2 WW points plus, so my dish is 2 points plus + 1 points plus for oil (zero for tomatoes and capers) for a total of 3 WW points plus.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

I used to buy (organic, whole grain) frozen waffles and put them in the toaster oven in the morning for my son but they are rather expensive, so I started a new habit, which is fun for us both, much cheaper, and still produces good food. I make pancakes about one morning a week--he eats one serving for breakfast and I freeze the rest (that's right: I do not eat any myself). This way he gets to have the fun of making pancakes with me and I get to have the convenience of the frozen pancakes to put in the toaster oven on the other mornings.

Here is the batter:

Here are the blueberries, washed and ready to be placed carefully in the cooking pancakes:

Here is a pancake cooking:

Here are the pancakes cooling on racks before I freeze them.

Here is his plate. Oh, whoops, looks like he ate them all up while I was cooking the rest of the batter!

Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil (I use evoo)
1 and 1/4 cups milk or buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey
butter for frying

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat the egg and oil together and then add the milk and honey and mix thoroughly. Add wet to dry and mix gently, leaving lumps. Put a little butter in a hot pan and add batter (I make 2 pancakes with 1/4 cup batter). Place blueberries or strawberries or banana or apple or chocolate chips while batter is still liquid. You will know the pancakes are ready to turn when little bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook for another minute or so.

If you are going to freeze the pancakes, allow them to cool completely on wire racks before wrapping them in wax paper, placing in a plastic freezer bag (or other freezer container). I've never kept them longer than a week, so not sure how long they would last. To reheat I put them in the toaster oven on the toast setting for the same amount of time I'd put in a piece of bread. They do get a little stiffer than when fresh, but this just means they are better able to soak up maple syrup!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Black Bean Soup With Roasted Tomatoes

The dreary rainy day outside made me think of creamy soup for dinner. I wanted a soup that combined the protein, fiber, and anthrocyanins in black beans with the taste and nutritional benefits of tomatoes. The end result disappeared so fast I was not able to take a photo! My husband said that means I have to make it again so I can take a picture next time (oh, and he thought it was delicious). My FIL seemed to dig it too and my four year old son ate the first serving he was given (shocking enough already since he doesn't really like soup) and then asked for, and ate, seconds! This soup can be tailored to any taste, but I will tell you exactly how I made it tonight.

Black Bean Soup With Roasted Tomatoes
16 ounces plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and then cut into several wedges
6-8 garlic cloves, peeled but whole
1 medium carrot, cut into quarters
3 and 2/3 cup cooked black beans (if you use canned beans, rinse them first)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon oil (I used macadamia nut oil infused with hot pepper called Pele's Fire)
2 cups vegetable stock

Bake the vegetables in the oven at 350 for 55-60 minutes, stirring about every 20 minutes or so. Once baked, remove the carrots and set aside. Combine the remaining veggies, beans (except for 2/3 cup), cilantro (except for 1/4 cup), cumin, salt, oil, and stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Puree the soup (either in batches in food processor or blender, or with an immersion blender in the pot). Dice the baked carrot. Add the reserved beans, cilantro, and diced carrots. Serve hot!

Six servings at 5 WW points plus each.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Savory and Sweet Fruits

Aren't they gorgeous? Such beautiful red grape tomatoes: sweet and fabulous, they are the perfect size to fit in my mouth so when they can burst between my teeth and not squirt anywhere! Today for lunch I started my recently oft-repeated tomato and zucchini salad, but this time with the beauties above instead of slicing tomatoes. Of course both tomatoes and zucchini are fruit, so these are my savory fruits for this post.

Grape Tomato and Zuchini Salad
1 cup grape tomatoes
2 cups baby zuchini, cut into small pieces
1 ounce crumbled feta
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
I topped the salad with an ounce of crumbled feta, teaspoon of evoo, a couple teaspoons full of white wine vinegar (thought about balsamic but didn't want to color the feta), and some freshly ground salt and pepper. A delicious, filling lunch for only 3 WW points plus (the feta and the oil--I did not plug all these ingredients into the recipe builder). Full of flavor, vitamins, and fiber. Plus, fun to eat!

For dinner (a very casual affair with for two: my son and I), I decided to make a sweet fruit smoothie for the child. He will eat vegetables, but I have to bribe him more often than not. He needs the vitamins from the fruit, the fat and calcium from the 2% milk, and everybody needs fiber! All ingredients are organic: 1 cup 2% milk, 1/2 mango, 1 very ripe banana, 4 strawberries, in the vita-mix for 30 seconds. Here are before and after photos! (Sorry I was not able to take a photo of the glass when it was full!)

This made 2 cups , which I called 2 servings. 5 WW points plus for each serving. I had only 1/2 serving (would have had more but he wanted the rest of mine when I asked if he wanted me to pour it into his glass). P.S. I tried to get him to let me put a carrot in also and he protested that adding the carrot would make for too many ingredients. He insisted on, "only 4 ingredients, not 5!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baked Purple Fries

Those beautiful purple potatoes (by the way I read that the color gives these potatoes the same anthocyanins (phytonutrients) as are found in blueberries!) I bought a couple of weeks ago were still sitting in the cupboard, waiting for me to do something delicious to them. I decided to cut them up and bake them as fries. Here they are in the bowl.

Here they are on my plate. I also had stir fry tofu and steamed broccoli.

Baked Purple Potato Fries
Preheat oven to 400 fahrenheit.
16 ounces purple potatoes, scrubbed, eyes removed, and cut into 1/4 inch fries
In a bowl, combine with:
1 tablespoon evoo
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
and stir.
Bake, spread in a single layer, for 25-30 minutes. (Mine were baked for 30 minutes and I think that was a little long, but I did use my convection oven.)
This recipe makes 3 servings of 2.2 ounces each (see my plate, above, for the size of that serving) and each serving is 4 WW points plus (and 2 teaspoons of oil per serving!).

Monday, February 28, 2011

Millet Muffins and Spinach Soup

My new quest is to make a healthy, tasty, portable snack that my son will enjoy. I am trying to save money by making these things instead of buying them--it is significantly cheaper this way, and sometimes fun because we have an excuse to cook together. Today the project was Millet Muffins, which I cooked by myself because my son was too busy playing knights. His initial response was that he did not like the crunch of the millet, but I think he warmed up to them because he decided to like them with blackberry jelly on them. They are 6 WW points plus each, so I might have one but not one a day. ;) I got the recipe from the free sampler over at 101 Cookbooks.

Later, for dinner, I made a fantastic spinach soup for myself. The vita-mix was again the vital piece of equipment. So tasty! Here's the spinach in the pan with 1 teaspoon evoo, 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon minced ginger. Lightly wilted to make it tasty but not destroy the nutritional content.

And here, the finished soup in the bowl. Here's the list of ingredients I put in: 1/2 cup 1% milk, 1/2 water, 1/4 teaspoon Vegetable Better-Than-Bouillon, 3 ounces left over stir fry tofu, and the wilted spinach (about 2 cups when raw). Mmmm soup.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I love my Vita-Mix because it makes it to easy to make beautiful fresh soup and I Love Soup. Unfortunately I am the only one in my family, I think. :( Oh well, tonight we all ate different things (leftovers) at different times and I chose to make a beautiful (light but incredibly creamy and rich) broccoli cheese soup. I ate it with a piece of garlic toast.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 cup 1% milk
2 cups steamed broccoli
1.6 ounces cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon Vegetable Better-Than-Bouillon
The recipe says this is two servings but I say it is one!

Garlic Toast for One
1 piece whole wheat bread (honey wheat, to be exact), toasted to just the point of turning golden brown
1 small clove garlic, cut so that there is one piece big enough to hold with your fingers
rub garlic on toast
top with 1/2 or 1 teaspoon evoo.

Delicious and quite filling!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pasta With Dolled-Up Sauce

I was tired and ready to do something quick. I made whole wheat spaghetti with pasta sauce. Yes, the pasta sauce was organic and had no sugar or preservatives and all that. I also dolled it up. I sauteed minced onions and garlic in EVOO and added a couple of baby zucchinis (we're almost done with the batch). It was delicious and quick and really pretty healthy (considering). Here's dinner, on the stove and on my plate. :D

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Black Sesame Seeds

I've never been much of a sweet potato fan. I know most people get into the whole marshamallow/brown sugar thing but I don't like stuff that sweet. (Plus marshmallows are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian.) However, a couple of years ago I discovered baked sweet potato fries and loved them from the first bite. The recipe I was using was delicious but accompanied by a garlic mayonaise, which was delicious but not really in the healthy category I am now trying to reach. I know that sweet potatoes are wonderful food and that sesame seeds are nutrition powerhouses, and I wondered if there was a good way to combine them. I searched around online and found several recipes, but none that I really liked, so I made it my way and it was delicious! Even my little guy ate his serving. Here's my recipe:

Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Black Sesame Seeds
3 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into fries (about 28 ounces total weight)
2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Combine the everything except the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and let it sit while you wash, dry, and cut the potatoes. Add potatoes to bowl and stir to completely cover the fries in the oil and spices. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread sweet potatoes out in single layer. Bake at 350 (I used a convection oven) for 35-40 minutes. This recipe serves 3 at 7 WW points plus per serving (these are big servings).

Also had standard stiry fry tofu...

...and a tomato and zucchini salad with capers, minced sun dried tomato and one teaspoon olive oil.

Here's my plate.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tomatoes For Lunch and Dinner

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene in addition to being tasty! I recently snagged a bag of firm and delicious, red ripe tomatoes at a local grocery so today I had them for breakfast and dinner!

My breakfast was red-and white. I had an egg white omelet (3 egg whites and half an ounce of parmesan cheese, cooked with 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter) with a side of sliced tomatoes and sliced beets. I love my little cast iron omelet pan so much--perfect for cooking omelets with small amount of fat.

Here's my colorful dinner.

I was feeling lazy so I made a soup from the leftover Curried Cauliflower and Purple Potatoes, a serving of leftover Garlic Soup (which I made last night and did not post about since I cooked it too long and it broke: not photogenic), and about 2 cups of organic baby spinach. Just put all that in my trusty Vita-Mix and hey presto! Super green soup! I also made a tomato and baby zucchini salad and dressed it with lemon juice and a kiss of salt. Couldn't resist garnishing my soup with the salad. Once the soup was done I helped myself to more of that fresh, toothsome salad. Note the glass of red wine! A nice shiraz was a great complement to the sweet spinach garlic soup (and of course both garlic and red wine help blood pressure stay normal).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Purple Potatoes

At the grocery store on Thursday there were purple potatoes. Of course I had to buy them! I bought them last year and tried to make mashed potatoes from them but that did not turn out so well. This time I knew I had the perfect dish for them: Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes.

On the outside the potatoes are dark brownish with a hint beautiful purple iridescence. Once cut, you can really see the amazing color.

The contrast of deep purple potatoes and white cauliflower was gorgeous.

Of course, the baking and the turmeric and other spices muted contrast, and the color of the potatoes, but the dish was delicious. Here's my plate.

As was the meal. We also had baked tofu and a tomato and baby zucchini salad dressed with lemon juice and salt. The tofu was 5 WW points plus, the cauliflowers and potato dish was 8 WW points plus, and the salad was zero, for a total of 13 WW points plus for the while dinner.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Curried Bananas

About 11 or 12 years ago I bought a copy of The Unabridged Vegetable Cookbook by Nika Hazelton (I have the 1976 version) in a used bookstore (which has since closed) in Worcester, Massachusetts. I've used it like a reference book, looking for information on various vegetables, but until tonight I never tried any of the actual recipes. A few days ago I saw a recipe for a savory banana dish and just had to try it out. Of course, as with most recipes, I ended up modifying it by cutting at least half the fat called for out completely. I think next time I will try this recipe with olive oil instead of butter and I might add some cayenne!

Curried Bananas
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
4 large bananas, peeled and cut in half length wise
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup yogurt

Heat the butter in a 12" pan over medium heat. Stir in the turmeric and curry powder and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the bananas, lower the heat, and sprinkle on the salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until heated through. Shake the pan frequently to prevent sticking. Turn over once using two wooden spoons to prevent breakage. Spoon the yogurt onto the bananas. Continue to cook until the yogurt is heated, shaking frequently to prevent sticking. This recipe serves four at 5 WW points plus value per serving.

My meal encompassed the taste spectrum from sour to salty to sweet. I had Tofurky, steamed cauliflower, the curried bananas, and sliced cucumber topped with lemon juice and salt. Here's my plate.
So in addition to making a tasty sweet-savory dinner dish, banana is good for you! According to Organic Facts banana is rich in potassium. It also contains other minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus in large quantities. It is also rich in fiber.  

My husband grilled hamburgers for himself and our son tonight. They had the same meal as me except for the protein substitution.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beet and Feta Salad for Lunch

As I covered yesterday, I love beets. :) Here's what I had for lunch (leftovers from dinner last night).

That's 1 or 1 and 1/2 cup of thinly cut organic beet greens, topped with a grated organic beet, 1.25 ounces of (vegetarian) feta (so fun to crumble it between your fingers!), a teaspoon of organic cold pressed olive oil, and several teaspoons of feta brine (I considered a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, but I opted for the extra feta flavor punch from the brine!). Mmmmmm feta.

This meal was 0 points plus for the beet and for the beet greens, 4 points plus for the feta and 1 point plus for the olive oil, for a total of 5 points plus. Delicious, full of nutrients and also beautiful. The contrast between the white feta and the dark green of the greens and the deep purple red of the beet--a feast for the eyes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beans and Beets

With the husband away on travel for work I always get a little experimental with dinner. I don't have to cater to his taste. I can meander down the path of whatever I am interested in eating. Sometimes I might just want to have beets, for instance...of course, these days I have to also make something that hte boy is interested in eating. Usually when his father is away he requests pasta but tonight he suggested burritos, so I cooked up some black beans, thinking he'd have beans, cheese, salsa, and sour cream in a tortilla. (He did, but only ate about half since he was stuffed full of ABC bread I gave him for an afternoon snack.) While poking around in the refrigerator, looking for the cilantro my son requested (there was none), I rediscovered those beautiful beets I bought last grocery day and suddenly my dinner was on a completely different track!

I love beets. I love beet greens. This past summer I discovered raw beet and raw carrot salad served on beet greens. I ate it and ate it and ate it (travels well, tastes good, looks good) until I got totally sick of the I guess it has been long enough and my beet love is back. The beet greens were a little wilted and sad but sure enough a nice soak in a sink full of freezing cold water put them to rights. I washed them, soaked them, dried them off and cut them fine to eat raw.

The beets themselves I quickly scrubbed and put in a saucepan to be simmered till tender (about 15-20 minutes). This pic is before cooking.

Once tender they go into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and can then be peeled with your fingers beneath running water. I had a tortilla with cheese, beet greens, black beans, salsa, and hot sauce. Here's my plate.
I know, not a dish you'd cook for yourself. But I enjoyed it! :) I am looking forward to a beet and feta salad for lunch tomorrow.

Beets greens are a great source of vitamin A and iron, but also provide vitamin C, protein, calcium, and carbohydrates. Beets are a great source of folic acid, managanese, potassium, and fiber.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Many Colors On The Plate

My mama always told me that the more colorful a food the more nutrients it imparts. I love eating colorful food because it is also tasty and pretty in addition to being nutritious.

Breakfast. 1/2 cup organic strawberries and 1/4 cup organic blueberries on top of 1 cup of organic non-fat yogurt. These fruits, tasting so much like summer, were a fabulous way to start the day!

Afternoon Project. Gorgeous green ABC Bread. Avocado, Banana, and Chocolate Bread: golden brown on the outside, light green with dark brown splotches of chocolate chips. Full of good fats and nutrients plus enough chocolate to ensure the child eats it--a hearty piece is an excellent afternoon snack/treat for the child!

Dinner by request: Spinach-Broccoli Ricotta Pie. Organic veggies in the saute pan.
Organic beaten eggs just added to the organic part-skim ricotta. Ready to be combined. Still need to add 3 tablespoons of flour and a dash of nutmeg.

About to add the veggies to the cheese-egg mixture.

Now I just have to pop it in the oven and wait for 40-45 minutes. :) I've planned for two pieces on my plate this evening!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Red Lentil Dahl and Leftovers

Tonight we had red lentil dahl again. It was better this time, probably because I put in the entire 1/4 cup of oil the original recipe calls for, sigh. Last time I made it with only 2 tablespoons of oil (1/4 cup is 4 tablespoons) but that amount was a little scant. Next time I plan to try 3 tablespoons--maybe the middle ground will work for taste without making them so fattening. We also had steamed broccoli, which I have to say was the perfect accompaniment. My husband had leftover baked butternut squash and red potatoes and the child had leftover mashed potatoes (much to his delight). He refused to taste the dahl, so his dinner was just mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli with lots of butter added on the plate.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hand Pies

I have been looking for a tasty tomato pie/lasagna recipe that is low carb/low calorie. I have not found anything that looked good enough to try until this afternoon. I found a recipe for Roasted Tomato Hand Pies with Black Olives and Feta. I had only one and a half pounds of tomatoes on hand (recipe calls for two and half pounds of tomatoes) so I substituted a pound of baby zucchini for the missing pound of tomatoes. I left out the black olives and oregano because I didn't have them. I substituted basil for the oregano.

I did not use all the pastry dough recommended in the recipe either. In fact I had quite a bit of extra and made a little treat for my dudes with the extra, some chocolate chips, and a couple spoons of sugar. (I did not have any but the two men in my life were practically fighting each other over next piece. SO I guess it was pretty good.) :)

I calculated the WW points plus value at 7 per little tomato-zucchini pie, but I think that is incorrect. This recipe was DELICIOUS but needs tweaking before I can confidently post the proper ingredients and points plus value. At least I know my husband will have a tasty lunch on Monday!

I'm thinking capers and perhaps no muffin tin (baked empanadas?)...I will post about this idea again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Brussels Sprouts United Us

Yesterday I was informed we would be having bangers and mash for dinner tonight. Meaning sausages and mashed potatoes. Of course I would be having a Tofurky and something other than mashed potatoes, laden in delicious butter, excuse me while I drool, and I needed to figure out some type of vegetable. I settled on brussels sprouts.  Even as I child I liked these beautiful little things (baby cabbages, I called them) and my husband loves them too. My mother re-introduced them to our cooking repertoire and I am really happy she did so.

Here's my plate (I thought there was still a leftover polenta in the fridge but then there wasn't so I settled for the whole wheat pita.)

Here's my husband's plate.

The brussels sprouts were delicious! Even the child ate them (after being begged and bribed to take the first bite). About 10 ounces of sprouts were sauteed with 1 cup onion, garlic, dried basil, one tablespoon of olive oil, and one tablespoon of water to help the brussels sprouts steam (I call this 2 servings, with 2 WW points plus for the oil and 1 WW points plus for the onion, so a total of 3 per serving). At the table I sprinkled them with 1/2 ounce parmesan cheese (which I really didn't need, since the sprouts were mild and sweet) for 1 WW points plus. My dinner was 13 points plus: the brussels sprouts were a total of 4 points plus, my Tofurky was 6, and the whole wheat pita was 3 points plus (calculated with the nutrition info on the package).

Thinking of cooking brussels sprouts for your family? I LOVE Brussels Sprouts | 5 Fabulous and Tasty Recipes! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Beautiful Bright Butternut Squash

Mmmm the beautiful bright orange color, that soft flesh, that sweet buttery flavor: I love butternut squash. Of course it is full of beta carotene and fiber and other goodness, which is the other reason I love it and want to feed it to my family.

As you can see from the photo above, I decided to add some cut red potatoes to the dish and, after cleaning and chopping, tossed them together with olive oil, fresh rosemary, and salt. Bang 'em on a baking sheet and into a 350 degree convection oven for about 30 minutes. Here it is, in the serving dish, with steamed cauliflower in the background. We also had leftover tofu.
Here's my plate. We added butter and grated parmesan cheese to the cauliflower for my son.
Cauliflower and butternut squash are zero WW points plus. (I had seconds of the cauliflower.) There was about 2 teaspoons of olive oil on the portion of squash and potatoes I ate, which is 2 WW points plus. I had about 2-3 ounces of baked red skin potatoes, which is 3 WW points plus and my tofu was 6 points per serving, for a total of 11 WW points plus for this healthy, delicious, satisfying meal.