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.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Raw to Perfectly Cooked

I love vegetables. I love the way they taste. I love the crunch between my teeth. I love the nutrients and the fiber and the way those things affect my body. The key, for me anyhow, is to not cook them too much! Tonight I decided to make steamed broccoli and carrots with garlic and olive oil. I would have added lemon juice also but well, there weren't any lemons in the house! Boo!

Here's a photo of some beautiful organic broccoli and carrots on my handy kitchen scale. (Love my scale, btw! I use it every day.)

Here are the same veggies as a complete dish. I washed, cleaned, and cut them; then kept them in the pan till the colors became really bright/intense. Then I removed them from the pan and rinsed in cold water (to stop the cooking and preserve the nutrients). Then in the empty, dry pan, I heated one tablespoon of olive oil and gently sauteed some garlic, mashing it with a spoon while it was cooking, then put the veggies back in the pan and heated them up a bit. Here's a photo of them just before being served.

I also made quinoa and of course, tofu.

Here's my plate:

 I had 2/3 cup quinoa at 4 points (5 WW points plus for one cup). Broccoli and carrots are 0 WW points plus, with 1 WW points plus for the one teaspoon of olive theoretically on my 1/3 of the veggie dish. My tofu dish is 6 WW points plus per serving. A total of 12 points plus for dinner.

Afternoon Snack

Approximately six ounces of carrots sticks + four tablespoons of Cava Mezze hummus. Delicious and filling afternoon snack for only 1 WW points plus! Often my son has some too.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Roast Chicken Was The Star

We had some friends over for dinner on Sunday night and my husband decided to work his grill skills. He grilled hotdogs for the children and a whole chicken for the adults (except me of course). The recipe is from Steven Raichlen's book The Barbecue Bible.

Here's the chicken which, I am told, was incredibly tender and juicy and tasty.

I made fruit salad (it was my son's idea and he helped a lot with cutting up the fruit). All the fruit was organic. A Pink Lady apple, a Gala apple, a tangerine, a pumelo, and some blueberries (took the photo before adding those, sorry).

...and olive oil crackers to go with the amazingly delicious (yet surprisingly healthy) layered dip my friend brought over. It was made of hummus, yogurt, tomatoes and cucumbers, topped with crumbled feta (all with no added oil!). Here is a photo of the crackers on the left is a plain one, then one topped with dried rosemary and grated parmesan, and on the right one topped with parmesan only). Too bad I have no photos of the dip! :(

Monday Night

Tonight we all had organic gold potatoes baked with olive oil and rosemary, and steamed organic broccoli. I had a Tofurky and my husband and son had leftover chicken. Here's my plate.
The Tofurky (kielbasa) is 6 WW points plus. I had 4 ounces of baked potato (3 WW Points plus) topped with 2 teaspoons of olive oil per serving (2 WW points plus), for a total of 11 WW points plus.

Friday, February 4, 2011

From Dry to Edible

Dry pinto bean, a bean after the first "cook," and an edible bean. Aren't they amazing?

Last year my New Year's resolution was to stop using canned beans. Why would I choose to give up the convenience of just opening a can? Three reasons: 1) dry beans are much cheaper, 2) canned foods contain BPA, which I want to avoid, and 3) the taste of dry beans is so much better (plus you can add whatever flavors you like!). I also discovered that there is a way of cooking beans that is much faster than the old soak for hours method my mom used to do.

You put your dry (picked over and rinsed) beans in a pot with about an inch of water over them (so, water up to the top of the beans and then an inch more). In a covered pot, bring them to a boil, then remove them from the heat and let them sit, still covered, for an hour. Then drain them, rinse them, rinse the pot (this helps to cut down on flatulence), then put them back in, again with an inch of water on top and bring to a boil again. Simmer for an hour and voila! Delicious cooked beans! Some beans take an hour and a half of simmering (like garbanzos). Do not add salt till the cooking is complete (I use a teaspoonful for each pound of dried beans that I started with), but you can add garlic or cumin or onion or a combination of all three (or anything else you might like) on the second time in the pot.

We had burritos for dinner last night. The whole family had a hand in cooking! I was in charge of the pinto beans, romaine lettuce, and onions. My son sliced the black olives. My husband grated cheddar and colby and heated the (store bought) whole wheat tortillas in a 12" pan. We also had (storebought) reduced-fat sour cream, (fat free) salsa, and hot sauce. When setting the table for burrito night we don't bother with forks or spoons--we just put a napkin at each plate (normally we do forks but don't bother with napkins). Everyone fills her/his tortilla with whatever combination of fillings desired and we all enjoy our messy meal.

I had two whole-wheat tortillas, about 6 black olives, 2/3 cup of beans, and one ounce of grated cheese. I topped off with lettuce, onions, 2 tablespoons of sour cream, salsa, and hot sauce! According to my calculations, this meal was worth 14 WW points plus.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Popcorn Cauliflower, Polenta, and Tofu

I wanted to make a dinner that was not too fussy. I decided on Popcorn Cauliflower because all you do is cut it up and stick it in the oven. When it comes out you sprinkle cheese on it and eat! Also polenta--which I cheat on because what I call polenta is actually just corn grits cooked a little long--is really easy. (And I do not add fat of any kind to the corn grits--my family can do that to their own taste on their own plates. I prefer to keep my fat intake streamlined.)

And of course, the stir fry tofu (as mentioned in last night's post) is my standard protein offering. I could almost make it in my sleep. Here's tofu just added to the pan (with 1 tablespoon oil and one teaspoon butter hot and ready to sizzle the cubed tofu).

Here's the tofu about half way done.

My version of polenta cooling in the ramekins I use as molds.

Here's my plate. (Tofu has been browned on all sides and then tamari added once it is good and hot!)

The Popcorn Cauliflower recipe comes from Kids Cook 1-2-3 by Rozanne Gold. I do not think I will make it again--it was not that tasty, especially considering the amount of fat (in the form of olive oil and cheese) in the dish.