Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Green Salad With Pineapple and Dried Tomato

Today I got home late for lunch and had been dreaming up a nice salad along the way, inspired by a visit to a Harry and David store.

Makes one nutritarian-sized lunch or up to four small side salads :-)

Six cups mixed greens (I had leaf lettuce, spinach, and confetti slaw)
1/4 cup red onion, sliced into rings
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cut into tidbits
1/2 small yellow (or other color) bell pepper, chopped
2 Tablespoons crumbled dried tomatoes
1-2 Tablespoons juice from fresh pineapple
1 Tablespoon Harry and David Charred Pineapple Relish (or a pineapple salsa)
3/4 cup canned white beans, rinsed (optional)

Combine greens, onion, pineapple, and pepper. In a small dish combine dried tomato and pineapple juice and microwave, adding water if needed, to soften tomato. Top salad with white beans, then tomatoes and relish, and toss to combine.

Verdict--Very good. I enjoyed this thoroughly, and I am sure it would be good with fresh tomatoes and canned pineapple if necessary, or rinsed black beans instead of the white. The relish was leftover from Christmas and had just a nice zing of heat to intensify the salad.  A more nutritarian version could substitute a bit more pineapple and a hot pepper for the relish. In any case, the relish was only 25 calories for that amount, similar to what a low- or non-fat dressing might be, and the salad was lovely without any additional dressing.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Just wanted to note for those who read here that I'm going great guns with the Six-Week Holiday Challenge at .  I'm spending a lot of time posting there, especially my daily food lists, and though I'm trying some recipes, I just have too much else going on to put them in here.  Progress so far--in eight weeks of pretty dedicated nutritarian principles, I've lost 19 pounds, and that's a boost over Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas! 

Last night I made a good salad dressing with a big over-ripe pear, 1/2 cup cashews, 1/3 cup Riesling vinegar, and a half a kumquat I threw in at the last second (a bit of lemon would do the trick, too, with rind).  It was very nice! And one quarter of the recipe is a good amount of dressing for less than an ounce of nuts.

In general I have the following:

Breakfast--green smoothie with about two fruits and a handful of kale or spinach OR a half cup of oatmeal with fruit and a few nuts

Lunch--big salad (six cups of greens and such) with  tahini-based dressing or a lowfat Italian or salsa for a Mexican bent, and with beans, or with bean soup on the side, and a piece of fruit

Snack--fruit with nuts

Supper--cooked veggies (usually two different ones, a cup or so each), more beans if needed, a couple of times a week a couple of ounces of fish or  chicken or even beef, and any fruit or nut or grain left for the day

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Doctors Discuss "Best Weight"

Arya M. Sharma, M.D., and Yoni Freedhof, M.D. both deal extensively with weight management in their medical practices, and both blog on these topics in intelligent, compassionate, science-based, reality-based ways.  They've now come out with a publication for physicians to be used in advising patients about weight management.  Dr. Sharma is going to be sharing excerpts on his blog, and here is the first.  Highlights in my own words:

  • A patient's "best weight" is that weight he can maintain while still enjoying his life.
  • Exercise should be encouraged but not to the point of exhaustion, injury, obsession, or neglect of other important things in life.
  • If there is no room for celebrations, for resting, for comfort, for pleasure, then any weight management strategy is too restrictive and cannot be maintained.

It seems to me on the one hand that these ideas make sense, and on the other hand that some of us need stricter life guidelines for weight management.  For me, eating nutritarian feels good, tastes good, and IS good for me nutritionally. And I know I have to be very careful with celebratory foods--had just a bite or two of most Thanksgiving treats last week, for example.  But I don't want to come to the dangerous place of calling foods "forbidden."  A little here and there of meat, oil, sweets, even chips is not deadly. However, it can be dangerous to me, since indulging even a little CAN trigger me into losing control.

It's always balance, isn't it, and knowing ourselves, and applying wisdom?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Copyright Law/Ethics and Recipes?

I have been posting cookbook recipes to this blog when I have found them, or their near-equivalents, already posted online.  But today when I was looking up a couple I started to have a qualm about it.  I'd appreciate your thoughts about what to do in such a case.

For example, you can Google the names of the two recipes I made today from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals book I bought several weeks ago, and you'll find the exact recipes (one even seems to be a pdf from another version of this book!).

For now I'll just name the recipes, mention the main and interesting ingredients, and give a review. That should encourage you to buy the book, and then I'm doing the publishers a favor, right?

First up is SOUTHEAST ASIAN COCONUT ZUCCHINI, which is a sauteed mixture of cubed zucchini, garlic, turmeric, a hot pepper, and coconut milk, with accents of fresh basil, mint, and lime juice.  It was very pretty and very good (if spicy) over brown rice for my supper. And it used up one of our many remaining zucchini from the summer.

Then I tried JAPANESE SESAME SPINACH, but with Swiss chard, a very simple dish of the steamed green dressed with a paste of toasted and ground sesame seed, sugar, and soy sauce. Excellent.

Third in my veggie trio was my own concoction and something to get in part of my bean allowance for the day:


6-8 ounces quartered mushrooms (I used baby Bella)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 12-oz bag frozen peas
2 "ice cubes" of frozen stock

Dry saute the quartered mushrooms and garlic, then add the frozen peas and the stock and simmer until the peas are done. Or overcook and have the family say that slightly-charred peas aren't so bad after all!

Verdict: Very Good.  What a simple, filling staple

Supper tonight was hearty servings of all these items with a half cup of brown basmati rice. Very nice.

Just for the sake of recording it, I'll provide the rest of my food for today:

Breakfast--half cup of oatmeal cooked with pear, a banana, and 1/2 oz. toasted almond slivers

Lunch--can of Amy's organic minestrone soup (180 calories, 6 g. fiber, 6 g. protein) fortified with extra water, 1 cup of home-cooked pinto beans and about three ounces of fresh spinach, with a little garlic powder, dehydrated onion, and marjoram.  I intended to eat all of this but stopped at about 3/4. Also had an orange.

Snack--big Jonagold apple

And that makes a nutritarian day:
At least 1 cup beans
At least 1 lb. cooked veggies (had more like 1.5 pounds)
At least 1 lb. fresh veggies (skimpy on that today! But I had giant six-cup spring mix salads every day for most of the last week.)
At least 4 fruits (I've had about 3.5 today, so if I quit being full before bedtime I'll have a bit more)
No more than 1 cup grain/starch (was a little over today, which can make up for the calories but not the nutrition of that bit of extra fruit)
No more than 1 oz. nuts

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thai Curry With Bok Choy

Participants in Dr. Fuhrman's "Six-Week Holiday Challenge" receive daily recipes via email, and today's is for Thai Vegetable Curry. As I glanced over the ingredients I realized I had most of what the recipe calls for, but I'm never willing to just let things alone, so I created my own version.

Dr. F's recipe calls for basically boiling all the veggies in carrot juice for a while, then stirring in peanut butter, coconut milk, and so forth.  That just didn't inspire me, and I don't have any carrot juice nor any firm tofu (which the family wouldn't want anyway), so I made this variation:


1 T. peanut oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. grated fresh ginger
2 T. each, chopped fresh: mint, Thai basil, and cilantro
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 large eggplant, cubed
2-3 cups green beans, in pieces
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 head bok choy, chopped
1-1/2 t. red curry powder (for a spicier dish, or yellow for milder)
2 T. natural peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk (didn't have the light called for in the original recipe)
1/3 cup peanuts
2 T. chopped dried mango

Heat oil in a wok or very large skillet and stir fry carrot and onion. When those begin to go tender, add peppers and green beans, then mushrooms, then bok choy, allowing five minutes or so between additions.  Cook until crisp-tender, adding garlic, ginger, chopped herbs, and curry powder between stirrings. Then add peanut butter, coconut milk, peanuts, and mango, plus up to a half cup or so of water if needed, covering pan to simmer a bit and combine flavors.  Serve alone or over brown basmati rice.  Serves 8 (or 4 very hungry nutritarians).

Verdict: Excellent. I don't know about the boiled carrot-juice original, but mine is wonderful! :-)  I had 1/4 of the recipe over a half cup of the recommended rice.  I think fresh bok choy is definitely superior to canned bamboo shoots and lots of watercress (though the watercress is nutritionally superior to bok choy, no doubt).  It's more fat than I'm used to having in a dish, but I cut back from the recommended amount of nuts while using full-fat coconut milk and that tablespoon of oil. I could have cut the oil back to 2 teaspoons easily, but I think it was a good first try. I estimate that my version is 150 calories per 1/8 of the recipe while the original is 200 calories for the same amount.  So my 1/4 of the recipe was 300 calories, plus the rice.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Personal Pumpkin Tart

Oh boy, was I happy with this experiment I tried yesterday!  It all started here, with Lilibeth. She linked to a recipe for a crust made with just almonds and oats. I noted the proportions and then lit out on my own, and with a filling of my own, too.

Part of what makes a traditional pumpkin pie so creamy and nice is the evaporated milk in most recipes. I learned years ago that if I simmered my own fresh milk, even letting it scald a bit, reducing it by half or more, I had a better product. So that explains the bit of milk in this recipe.


1/4 cup oats chopped very fine with 2 T. raw almonds
1/2 t. tahini (can’t find my almond butter or I’d have used that)
1/8 t. each nutmeg and powdered ginger
Combine these ingredients with just enough water to make the mixture stick together to press into a large custard dish, then bake at 425 until toasty brown. Meanwhile, prepare filling:
1/4 c. low-fat milk (soy might work)
1/2 cup fresh baked pumpkin, mashed or pureed (canned would be okay)
2 dates, snipped very fine
1/4 t. cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
In a small saucepan simmer milk until reduced by half--scalding it is fine. Stir in pumpkin, dates, and spices and cook gently, stirring as needed, until thickened. Spoon into crust and bake at 350 until further firmed up and slightly browned on top.
Verdict: Excellent and Amazing, and it uses only half a day’s nuts and grain (ala drfuhrman), then the additional calories of the milk (25) and the two dates.
For Thanksgiving at my sister's tomorrow (about a dozen people) I'm taking the following:
Baba Ganouj (or Dr. Fuhrman's Eggplant Hummus--same thing) with carrot and cucumber and blanched fine green beans and peppers as dippers
Ambrosia--just Valencia and Cara-Cara oranges with coconut, though I'm going to throw in some pomegranate arils I splurged on at Costco the other day
Winter Squash Soup I made the other day (see previous post)
Lower-Fat Yogurt Pound Cake (Joy of Cooking) with a tipsy elderberry sauce I made up.  No, this is not really healthy, but I was assigned a dessert. :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Warm and Creamy Winter Squash Soup and a Method for Broth

Another two down of our butternut squash inventory, but I'm adjusting the recipe to one squash, for normal people. :-)  The warmth in this comes from the fresh ginger and a little chile.


1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 small chile pepper, minced
1 pint high-quality broth (see below)
1 sprig rosemary (optional--I just floated a stem sprig in the pot at the last minute)

Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion, stirring occasionally to brown evenly while you're preparing the squash.   Use a potato peeler to take off the outer skin, then cube the squash with a heavy knife, removing seeds. Add squash cubes to onions and continue browning with occasional stirring while you prep and add the other ingredients.  Add water as needed to cover squash cubes. Simmer all for about thirty minutes, until squash is soft, then puree in batches and serve.

Verdict: Excellent.  Smooth and satisfying, with sweet body and a kick from the pepper. I didn't even notice the lack of salt (though my broth may have had some) I had two small bowls of this to start off my lunch, being willing to use up a significant portion of my starch allowance on it today.  The only disappointment about this squash is that it doesn't have any fiber!  But I get plenty of fiber elsewhere. :-)

I think I'm taking this to my sister's for Thanksgiving, with some fresh rosemary to decorate the top of custard-size bowls of soup.  

Inspiration for this recipe comes from my friend Renee and from The Joy of Cooking.


This is a method I am initiating this week, and I thought I'd record what I'm doing.  Beginning several days ago I started freezing a gallon zip-loc bag with vegetable trimmings (onion skins with some adhering onion, garlic peel, the rind of a lemon, several brussels sprouts bottoms, some bell and pimiento pepper stems, butternut squash peel and fiber and a few seeds, the butt of a bunch of celery, etc.), and today with a full bag I dumped the contents into a pot with some water and boiled it for about an hour, then drained it and had a beautiful brown broth which tastes a bit weak only because it doesn't have any salt.  I am freezing it in ice cube trays to then keep in a bag so I can pop a few cubes into a dish as I'm cooking later.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Challenge and Apple-Carrot Salad is having a Six-Week Holiday Challenge to help people maintain and even increase their health during the holidays. You can join for free and get six weeks' membership in the Member Center and a Vook (video-enhanced e-book) of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss.  There's a new version of this book coming out in January, I believe.

In joining the challenge you're pledging to eat every day a big salad, a plate of steamed greens (though I'm sure having them in soup or otherwise is fine, too), three fruits, and a cup of beans, and to avoid white flour and sugar (as well as sugar substitutes).  With that much fruit every day, you should find your sweet tooth diminished, actually.  Dr. Fuhrman is a kind and reasonable man, and he believes you CAN have a little splurge on the holiDAY, but most of us take that way too far and make it a holiMONTH or similar.

If you decide to join the challenge, look for my thread there and join me for daily accountability! I've been doing this with focus for a bit under a month and have lost over ten pounds already.

Below is a recipe I submitted to the Member Center Recipe Guide, and it was accepted today. I have others on this blog--please search by the tag.

1 large apple, in chunks
1/2 cup matchstick or shredded carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 ounce chopped nuts, toasted if desired (optional)
1/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt or non dairy substitute
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
a few drops vanilla

Combine apple, veggies, and nuts in a bowl. In a separate dish combine yogurt with spices and vanilla, then toss with the apple mixture. Verdict: Excellent! The day's flax seed meal works nicely with this as well.  I think the cinnamon and vanilla help cut the need for any other sweetening, but if it's too tart for you, try adding in some clementine or pear.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two Wobblies and a Winner

The other day I tried a couple of recipes from my new Moosewood Lowfat Favorites book, and I'm sorry to say they're not that great, though I will make use of the leftovers of one when I'm hungry and need to fill up with "beans and greens," and the other was definitely better the next day.  I tend to find that with some of these nutritarian recipes--I don't enjoy them a lot the first day, but the leftovers are fine.  Maybe it's overexposure to all the ingredients while preparing the food, maybe it's a need for the flavors to meld . . .

Black-Eyed Peas 'N' Greens <--The discussion on the page where this recipe is linked pretty much explain the problem--dry and kind of bland.  Scallions on top and the malt vinegar I tried help somewhat.  But I think the real thing to do with the leftovers is to make this:  Black-Eyed Peas and Greens Soup.  In a nutshell, add water, tomatoes, and oregano and see where to go from there.

Baked Sweet Potato Salad  except that I used butternut squash, which has half the calories and none of the fiber of sweet potatoes--so pick your poison/magic. :-)  This is a beautiful salad and definitely better the next day, and the book suggests either the dressing on this link or a curried mango yogurt dressing, which would be sweeter but I'm not sure better.  It was just not too inspiring. The Cilantro Lime Yogurt Dressing is very promising for other purposes, too--I look forward to using it later.

But here's a real winner, thanks to my friend Marci:

McDougall's Curried Swiss Chard Soup
This quick soup of leek (or onion), broth, tomatoes, white beans, fresh ginger and curry powder (I used McCormick's red), and fresh Swiss chard (I used red) is really wonderful. Half the recipe is a BIG bowlful for a nutritarian lunch, including two cups of chard and 3/4 cup beans. EXCELLENT.

Dr. McDougall has a lot of the same approach as Dr. Fuhrman, except McDougall emphasizes using grains central to the diet and eliminating nuts and not allowing any animal products, if I've got that straight (and am not mixed up with Esselstyn) . So stricter in some ways, easier in some ways, but with a lot of overlap, so the recipes work well both ways.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marinated Mushroom Dressing

I have many favorite recipes from Traditions: A Taste of the Good Life, a 1983 cookbook by the Junior League of Little Rock, Arkansas--received as a wedding gift in 1986. I once saw this cookbook reviewed as a classic in perhaps a San Francisco newspaper. I agree.  The carrot cake is fought over by two of the May birthday people in my family.

One favorite recipe in that book is for a fairly simple mushroom salad, in which a mustard vinaigrette ("garden dressing") is poured over a salad of mixed greens and sliced mushrooms.  Really simple.  But I discovered years ago that marinating the mushrooms in the dressing first made it really luscious.  Today I made a variation on that recipe to make it more nutritarian-friendly:

Marinated Mushroom Dressing

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup good vinegar (I used a homemade tarragon-red-wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon olive oil (the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons minced red or green bell pepper (I used fresh red pimiento pepper, which is "meaty")
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons good dijon-type mustard
2 teaspoons dried herb (I used marjoram) or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. cayenne

Combine all ingredients and let marinate in a shakeable container for at least an hour, then serve over mixed greens. Even better the next day.

Verdict:  Very Good. I started with less honey and just felt I had to increase it to cut the harshness of the vinegar. Anyone have suggestions on how to do that more successfully?  I had half of this on a very large salad of red leaf lettuce, spinach, and romaine, with some red cabbage shreds and yellow bell pepper, plus diced beets (that helped sweeten it up a bit) and a cup of rinsed canned navy beans.

My New Cookbook

Yesterday I had a lovely outing in a community about 25 miles away for supper and book-browsing with a group of lady friends. You see, we live in and on the outskirts of small towns and have to do without Target, Starbucks, interesting and healthy restaurants, and even Super WalMart!  So a trip to the exurb of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania is quite a tame little adventure for us. And of course the company makes the outing--seven in an assortment of married, single, and widowed, with children ranging from toddlers to one about forty. Thanks, ladies!

We gathered at Aladdin's Eatery and had a wide range of things from hummus and falafel through soup and salads and lamb entrees to some take-home desserts (for those who were too stuffed to eat cake there).  I had V-9 soup, a clear-broth veggie soup in which we identified peas, celery, onion, pepper, yellow squash, tomato, parsley, and I've forgotten what else. I also got the almond salad--a bed of romaine, mostly, with mushrooms and cucumbers and some slivered toasted almonds, with a dressing of buttermilk, sour cream, almond paste, and sauteed almonds I just had to try. I had about half my dressing and brought the rest home to enjoy on something another day. It was very interesting, and creamy was good, but only in small doses for a nutritarian, don't you know!  I had a pita, two, which I wrapped up and brought home for a family member (whoever gets to it first). And since hubby was home alone for the evening, I brought him a little pastry I thought they called a baba, which is a sticky-sweet hard shell of phyllo-like dough around a filling of Turkish pistachios. I had a tiny fragment of this to taste, and it was very nice.

Anyway, when we got to Barnes and Noble, supposedly for coffee, though I skipped it after three mugs of herbal mint tea at Aladdin's, I headed back to the healthy/vegetarian cookbooks section and browsed through a few. I'm not into fake meat things like seitan and too much tofu, so some things didn't appeal at all because of heavy use of these ingredients. Others use a lot of syrups and other sweet things--nope, didn't want that, either. Nor too much of grains. I was not really wowed by the famous Veganomicon, but then I spied a winner: Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.

I have loved the original Moosewood Cookbook since I think my sister gave it to me a decade or two ago, and, as a friend says, there's nothing bad in it--everything is delicious.

So I browsed through the Low-Fat Favorites book and saw some potential winners, though I was surprised at a fish section.  For Sunday dinner I'm going to make Fish Tagine with Chermoulla (this link is exactly the same recipe except  for the swordfish or halibut in the Internet recipe), white fish baked on top of a bed of carrots and onions, with a sauce of blended cilantro, garlic, ginger, cumin, lemon juice, chile, and tomato, then served on couscous, which I just happened to buy the other day.

Since we have a lot of peppers around, still, I think I'm going to try soon Middle Eastern Tofu-Stuffed Peppers, which include carrot, tomato, tofu, soy sauce, dill, lemon, couscous, and currants. Maybe I'll even skip the tofu. A Mexican stuffed pepper recipe uses corn and black beans. How about Garlicky Black-Eyed Peas 'N' Greens? To use some nice cauliflower in the fridge I might try Lentil Sambar, which includes some exotic spices like coriander (just harvested from our garden) and fenugreek (never used it--might look for a substitute).

I'm looking forward to this!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Asian Cabbage and Sweet and Simple Squash

Today I made a couple of experiments that turned out very nicely, and they're now part of the Member Center Recipe Guide. :-)

Asian Cabbage

1/2 oz sesame seeds
1 cup baby carrots
1 small head of napa cabbage, cut crosswise into shreds
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 cup sugar snap peas
a few drops of soy sauce, to taste

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet on a medium burner until browned, then set aside.  In the same skillet add some water to mostly cover the carrots and cover, simmering until they're nearly tender. Then add the cabbage, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, uncovered, until cabbage is tender and water has mostly cooked off. Add sugar snap peas and cover again until those are tender. To serve, toss hot vegetables with sesame seeds and sprinkle on a few drops of soy sauce.

Verdict: Excellent.  I confess I added 1/8 of a package of ramen noodles to the sesame seeds to toast, because I wanted the crunchiness, and I even reserved the seasoning packet in case I needed it.  But in the end I hardly noticed the noodles and won't make it that way again.  And I left the seasoning package untouched--it was really lovely just like it was.

Sweet and Simple Squash

2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1/2 cup raw cranberries
a few big chunks of fresh pineapple (about 3/4 cup?)

Simmer squash cubes in 1/2 inch of water in a small covered saucepan. When almost tender add  the cranberries and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until they pop, adding water if needed. Then break the pineapple chunks into smaller pieces over the pot, simmering until the pineapple is warm and melded into the squash.  Enjoy!

Verdict: Excellent. I just had a little bowl of this (half the "recipe") and loved every bite. Good thing I like this, as we have about thirty remaining butternut squashes and a dozen pumpkins harvested from our garden!

Kitchen Work

When you're eating nutritarian, you have a lot of food prep to do, unless you're into an ascetic minimalist approach (apple and banana for breakfast, can of beans poured over bagged salad for lunch, boiled zucchini and a baked acorn squash for supper).  I'm really loving my Vita-Mix, but I'm beginning to lament my knives.

I have a pretty knife block with red-handled knives I got on clearance at Wal-Mart, and I have a single high-carbon knife that I use for "strong" things, as it has a heavy long blade. I have another ancient cleaver-type high-carbon knife that we inherited with our first home, built in 1958. But I don't sharpen these. And then I like those little colored-handle paring knives that come in a set of three for $1 - $3 and break easily, though they are sharp while they last. My favorite cutting tool lately is my julienne peeler from Pampered Chef--it's perfect for making zucchini "spaghetti" that can be tossed in a pot (sometimes with just a few noodles) to create a satisfying nutritarian base for a veggie sauce.

My usual experience is that I suffer through dull or wrongly-shaped knives for most of my chopping and paring.

I think I need a knife makeover.  With a busy household of careless people, I dare not buy several great knives and toss all the mediocre ones. The good ones will be misplaced, misused . . . I just don't trust those folks.  But after seeing this blog and watching the embedded Jamie Oliver video, . . . I think I need a real chef's knife. At least to start with, and a good sharpener--is that sword-thing he used sufficient? My dad used to have a sword ritual with one of those before cutting roast beef or turkey, but it was only occasional and, I think, superstitious rather than effectual. But it's an indelible and pleasant memory. :-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Improving Canned Soup

Today I wanted a quick lunch and thought I'd just pop open a can of Progresso split pea soup. The can has two servings, each totaling something like 160 calories, 2 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber--fine so far--but almost 700 grams of sodium!  I've gotten used to very little salt added to things, and when I tasted this soup I decided it was just too much for me.  So here's what I did to improve it, in the form of a recipe:

Super Split Pea Soup

1/2 cup shredded or matchstick carrots
1 small white potato, shredded
tablespoon dehydrated onion flakes
2 large kale leaves, snipped into shreds
water to cover veggies
1 can Progresso Green Split Pea Soup With Bacon

In a medium saucepan, combine veggies and water to cover and simmer for about ten minutes, until soft or tender-crisp (my choice). Then add the can of soup and heat to desired temperature.  Makes two large bowls (one sufficient for my lunch).

Verdict: Very Good.  This is a great improvement over the soup by itself.  And I'm not tempted to eat the whole can. And I have a nice lunch waiting for me in the fridge on another day. Instead of having a bowl of soup with almost 1400 mg sodium, I have a bigger bowl of much more interesting and healthy soup with less than 700 mg sodium. Yes, it's more than I want, but it's better than what I was going to do, and much better than a lot of other things I could have had for lunch. Win win all around. 

I use mostly fresh items, but there are times when the canned and frozen are a blessing. Now I'll be restocking my shelves with low-sodium versions of canned goods!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nutritarianism Explained

Thanks to Darryl McCullough, a math professor at University of Oklahoma and a nutritarian, I would like to present a big one-page summary of nutritarian principles:

How to Eat

Darryl does a good job explaining the basics for those who want to understand the science of the nutrition. In my own "best practice,"* I have a few differences:

  • occasional alcohol and the equivalent of one mug of caffeinated coffee per day
  • use of 1% cow's milk or yogurt instead of soy or nut milks and soft tofu in small amounts in recipes
  • use of "regular" vitamins (Costco Kirkland brand multi-vitamin/mineral) with a 2:1 calcium/magnesium supplement (Kirkland) for heart palpitations and a single D3 (Kirkland again) bead each day
  • occasional tiny amounts of regular sugar (in amounts like a spice) and salt, though I'm getting away from any additional salt in my recipes
  • with just a couple of animal product servings per week, I plan to make use of the grass-fed beef we're buying from friends soon, but for no more than one serving per week, carefully planned

I just don't see a need to be so ultimately purist. For example, this week I had some grapefruit in a smoothie and someone suggested that it's been associated with higher estrogen levels and strongly associated with breast cancer in post-menopausal women. I'm not there yet :-), but I passed on the article/study to hubby, who is a biophysicist who has studied some of these toxicology/metabolism issues. I take his counsel on things like this. Handy to have around!

*Note that "best practice" does not mean "what I do every day, without exception." It means what I do when I'm doing what I know I should be doing. :-)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lemon-Tahini Dressing

I saw a message board mention of a great salad dressing someone had had, and the idea just sounded great to me, too, so I made it. I looked at one or two online, and then I did this:

Lemon-Tahini Dressing

2 tablespoons tahini
grated rind of one lemon (or a lazy attempt at getting most of it)
juice of one lemon
minced garlic clove
shake of coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar (of course a date would do fine if you were blending it)
1/3 cup hot water

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake, or blend in a blender (I'd hate to mess up the blender for such a small amount)

Verdict: Excellent!  I put about 1/3 of this recipe on a seriously-huge salad (2 quart serving bowl) of spring mix, sliced canned beets, green onion, matchstick carrots, defrosted green peas, and sliced almonds. Yum.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ongoing Review : "Aggressive Weight Loss Plan (non-vegetarian)" Part Two

Go here for Part One.

The one-week plan is stretching out to about ten days for me, and I will not get to all the recipes, since the groceries I have on hand don't match and/or the remaining recipes don't look too great.  So I need to make a menu and a grocery list and start over today or tomorrow, and in the meantime I'm having a lot of leftover this and that.  What's great about the nutritarian recipes is that I know I can grab this or that and be confident that it's "on plan" for the most part. If it has a starch in it I'll skip it today, since I had oatmeal for breakfast. If it has nuts I'll consider how that fits with the other nut/seed things I have had for the day.  And after about nine days I've lost about seven pounds, so that's a nice aggressive start! :-)

I read somewhere recently that the new books (Eat for Health) have better recipes than the old one (Eat to Live).  But for those who are serious, ETL has the quick start and the more science-oriented discussions.  I really look forward to working through the recipes site at in the Member Center and getting great new ideas from others.

I'm definitely enjoying the leftovers, though I'm often "tired" enough of a recipe by the time I serve it that it doesn't appeal too much the first time around.

So, without further ado, here are my impressions of several more recipes from the "Aggressive Weight Loss Plan (non-vegetarian)" :

  • Roasted Mixed Vegetables (photo here, and it does look a lot like mine) (very tasty mix of cruciferous veggies and carrots and asparagus, with garlic, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce roasted at 450 and finished at 350 to keep them from getting too dry -- and I added the asparagus late for just that reason. I even skipped the brown rice in the original recipe, because I was having butternut squash seasoned with pineapple tidbits and dates, plus a bit of plain potato with my Great Greens -- see below.)
  • Tasty Hummus (went VERY simple on this one -- the recipe in the plan calls for the addition of soy sauce and horseradish, but no thanks -- mine is garbanzos, tahini [less than you might think], lemon juice, and garlic, and it is fabulous -- I'm craving it)

Pretty Good
  • Great Greens (simple steamed mix of kale, chard, and spinach, dressed with garlic, wine vinegar or balsamic or similar, fresh dill, and basil)
  • Rolled Eggplant or "Roulade" (eggplant slices marinated in balsamic vinegar and water, then rolled around a filling of red and green bell pepper., onion, garlic, tomato sauce and tomatoes, and herbs that have been simmered together for a while, with more of the sauce on top -- the whole thing baked for a while)
  • Bean Enchiladas (I made this a layered casserole of corn tortillas with a simmered mixture of green pepper, onion, salsa verde [though the original called for regular salsa], black and white and pinto beans, frozen corn, cumin, and cilantro -- and I encouraged the family to melt cheese on top of theirs if they liked)
What I'm Not Making
  • Chard and Vegetable Medley (onion, garlic, yellow squash, chard, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar -- just too much like the other stuff I've been eating, and I'm out of greens) 
  • Cream of Asparagus Soup (steamed asparagus blended with soy milk [I'd use regular lowfat milk], soy sauce [or liquid aminos], raw cashews, cilantro for garnish, and -- really? -- four dates.  I may actually make this since I have the ingredients, but I'm not sure.)
  • Dijon Pistachio Dressing/Dip (may try it later but just haven't needed it -- pistachios, lemon juice, ground flax, mustard, soy sauce, garlic, and a date)
  • Lisa's Lovely Lentil Stew (just haven't gotten to it -- lentils, onion, basil, tomatoes, celery -- I'll probably be more adventurous)
  • Russian Fig Dressing/Dip (blecch! pasta sauce, almond butter, sunflower seeds, fig vinegar)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Reformation Day!

I usually make a special meal for Sunday afternoons, a great time of rest and fellowship between church services and usually unencumbered by the typical rush of all those six work days. What a great idea God had at Creation! :-) 

Today is a really special Sunday, because we celebrate Reformation Day, this evening with a combined gathering of several local churches in our area--churches that share a common appreciation of the men (and women) who have served the Lord by preserving and preaching and suffering for the truth of the Gospel found in the Bible. Because Luther got the whole thing started, we tend to like to have German, fall-ish foods, too.  So I'm making for the family a pork roast with sauerkraut and red cabbage (from the garden!) and lots of nice herbs (from the garden!) and beer, and for myself a nutritarian version of Braised Red Cabbage with Apple

I found two versions of this recipe online, both of which say they come from Joy of Cooking.  But my ancient 1997 version uses caraway instead of fennel, and red wine vinegar (I used Riesling wine vinegar) instead of balsamic.   I tweaked it down to a teaspoon of olive oil instead of bacon drippings, and just a teaspoon or two of honey. (My 1997 version calls for a tablespoon or more, I think.)

To go with this fare I'm making some mashed potatoes from our garden. (I'll have a bit, and probably some braised kale or other deep green, and I think I'm going to bake a butternut squash with some toppings.)  I know people will want dessert, but that will have to be an afterthought.

For breakfast I made myself a wonderful


1 rib chopped celery (about 1/3-1/2 cup)
1/3 - 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
1 apple, coarsely chopped (I prefer a golden)
1 clementine (mine was tiny), broken into sections and then each section torn in two to release juice
1/2 - 1 small pear (mine was canned)
1-2 tablespoons plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (well, I just sprinkled it, but that's how I do things)
several pecan halves, lightly toasted

Combine all the ingredients except nuts, which go on top. I let my salad sit for a half hour or so before eating, and I think it helped meld the flavors.

Verdict:  Excellent!  I was really craving this as I constructed it, and it was lovely. I could use more. :-)  I'm not into non-traditional breakfasts (well, a green smoothie is pretty breakfast-y), but I could see having this on shredded romaine or even spinach.  It's a legacy from the excellent pear-walnut salad I had earlier this week (mentioned in my last post).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ongoing Review: "Aggressive Weight Loss (non-vegetarian)"

In an effort to jump back into nutritarian eating more fully, with some quick jump-start results, I decided to try the "Aggressive Weight Loss (non-vegetarian)" plan available within the members' area at . This plan offers a week's menus with recipes, and I thought I'd review a few of the recipes, because they're definitely a mixed bag!  Where possible, I'm providing links to the recipes available outside the members' center.

The plan follows the six-week entry into nutritarian eating outlined in the Eat to Live books, here:

Some of the recipes are repeated for later meals, and I've mostly been following the recipes pretty closely (especially for me!). I haven't finished up my week yet, so perhaps I'll post a follow-up later.  But here's the deal so far . . .

  • Broccoli Oriental (sauce of a touch of sesame oil, garlic, soy  sauce [or liquid aminos], tiny amount of sugar and cornstarch)
  • Walnut-Pear Green Salad
  • Banana-Walnut "Ice Cream" (simple smoothie of frozen banana, a few walnuts [I confess I toasted mine], and a bit of milk to combine--I added nutmeg)

Pretty Good
  • Black Bean Mango Salad (blogging friend Ali has a a fancy twist on this recipe, but the original is a nice combo of the named ingredients with red bell pepper, lime, cilantro, garlic, corn, green onions, cumin, and chili powder marinated together and then served over romaine)
  • Black Bean Lettuce Bundles (I just used the ingredients to top a salad, subbing the orange-avocado dressing below for the avocado in the original recipe. A similar recipe is here, but leave out the oil.)
  • Blueberry Orange Smoothie  (no need for the dates--plenty sweet)  

Not Bad
  • Quick and Creamy Vegetable-Bean Soup (includes canned tomato soup, broccoli, spinach, carrot juice, white beans, onions, tomatoes, basil, garlic powder, and then blended cashews and pine nuts for creaminess)
  • Special Oatmeal (too much fruit!  But I liked the coriander. This link also has a reference to and photo of the anti-cancer soup below.)
  • Spaghetti Squash Primavera (squash served separately from the rest, and I tossed mine with some pesto instead of the pasta sauce)

  • Dr. Fuhrman's Famous Anti-Cancer Soup  (not very inspiring, but the mushroom addition at the end is nice, and I'm glad to have plenty frozen for quick meals later)
  • Eat Your Greens Fruit Smoothie  (boy is this green, and muddy green, too -- I'm better at making these myself, and I'd rather have the extra greens content in my salad, so it doesn't overwhelm the drink)
  • Avocado Orange Dressing (maybe it's better with the papaya, but I used some canned apricots as a sub--just a blend of avocado, orange, papaya, and a sweet vinegar)
  • Scrambled Veggies and Eggs (again, I'd rather have some of the veggies on the side and taste the egg more, especially since it's a rare inclusion on this menu--only two animal product meals this week)

Emily Boller mentions a number of these items in her review of Dr. Fuhrman's Health Getaway. I look forward to trying some of her favorites in that listing, as they're in the Eat for Health book, I believe.

Footnote on Surviving This Menu Out in the World

At a ladies' retreat at church today I took a peek at the offered lunch and had to duck out and walk six blocks to a convenience store / gas station and scan the shelves--I'd been hoping for a lentil soup or something.  The closest working thing there was pork and beans (not bad--140 calories a serving, 15 from fat). But then I noticed they had a sub station with wraps, and I saw I could get a veggie wrap (whole wheat) with some good ingredients in it. But I stood in line for about ten minutes behind a single person ordering a LOT of deli meat (odd store) from a slow clerk. I finally gave up and grabbed the beans, took them back to church and heated half the can in the microwave and grabbed some banana chunks from the continental breakfast spread (which also had o.j. and donuts I left alone). It was enough--and the whole focus of the retreat was on contentment, so that works, doesn't it?!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crock Pot Chuck Chili

I just have too much fun with titles, sometimes. Forgive me.  "Chuck" refers to method, not to meat. However, my version did have some leftover roast beef people didn't eat in their sandwiches earlier. I am convinced this would be perfectly wonderful without any of it, so I'm writing the "recipe" that way.  I just "chucked" things into the crock pot and let it bubble all afternoon. I made this a couple of days ago, so I hope I remember it well enough:


Into a large crock pot set on high, "chuck" the following:

2 large onions, chopped (ours are very strong, from the garden)
A dozen roughly-chopped roma tomatoes or smaller quantity of others
About 3 ribs of celery, chopped
Some leftover cooked-down tomato puree or paste (see previous entries) -- I think I had a cup or so
About 3 tablespoons chili seasoning (I had the last of a container of this to use up) or larger quantities of the following I also added
About 2 teaspoons each chili powder and cumin
About 1 teaspoon garlic powder (mellower flavor than fresh garlic)

Let this simmer for a few hours, and then in the last hour or two, add the following:

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped/smashed/minced
3 assorted fresh bell peppers, chopped (I used red and yellow)
2-3 16-oz. cans red kidney beans, mostly drained but not rinsed (One husband around here is only tolerant of kidney beans, so I kept the quantity smaller.)

Adjust seasonings and serve as is or over rice, or cook down further and use as a burrito filling. I provided for the family shredded taco cheese and a mixture of sour cream and yogurt to dollop on top, but these are certainly not necessary.

Verdict:  Excellent, and especially nice for a hardly-think-about it meal with lots of leftovers for later.  Of course you could do all sorts of additions--corn, black beans, fresh cilantro (Would you believe I was too lazy/tired to get any cilantro from the garden? But if I told you what I do all week, you'd understand.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Amazing Eggplant Enchiladas

I just served Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Mole Sauce via Ali, the Vegan Epicurean.  Although I was forced to use ricotta instead of tofu for my family :-) , I followed the recipe pretty closely otherwise.  Hubby's verdict?  "Those are great!  That one's a winner!"  He will tell you that he likes vegetarian things when they're done right, which of course I try to do!  Still, they make fun of me if I do tofu for much of anything, unless I don't tell them. :-)  I doubled the recipe for five of us (including three men, essentially, since the 12yo is growing like a weed) and have about 40% of it left for another day. Yay!

Small details: I used some of the homegrown tomatoes that I'd cooked way down in recent weeks, so I didn't have to cook the sauce as long, and since I had no sesame seeds nor pumpkin seeds, I used some sunflower seeds and a bit of tahini for the sauce. My garnish was simply chopped tomatoes, and mostly just for me.  (I caught two of the guys melting some cheddar cheese on top of their second servings.) I think the idea of cooking the enchiladas on top of sliced fresh tomatoes is brilliant--thanks, Ali!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"A Quiet Soup" from Orangette

A very pretty but mostly-retired blog, Orangette, had a post the other day for a "quiet soup" I had just the ingredients to do myself.

The link above will take you there. It features red lentils (really orange), lemon, tomato paste, chicken broth, onions and garlic, a bit of heat, and cilantro.  It can probably take further nutritarian adjustments (like veggie broth instead of chicken, and dry or wet sauteing of the onions instead of with oil), but I increased the lentil content a bit to use up the amount I had on hand, and I used only two tablespoons of olive oil instead of the four called for. It is very nice, excellent, even, and I think it will be even better tomorrow.

To the left is the cookbook it comes from.

In other news, I haven't posted much lately, but I've been doing a lot of nutritarian-friendly things in the kitchen, mostly dehydrating tomatoes, with this:

The romas are the prettiest. I peel them by plunging them into boiling water for about two minutes, then into cold water, then slipping the skins off. I then slice them into pretty rounds and arrange them on the trays. They take a good 18 or more hours to dry.

Beefsteak tomatoes work, too, but they need a good squeezing after peeling to get out the excess liquid and seeds before arranging the pieces on the dehydrator trays.  A better technique with the beefsteaks is just cooking them down for hours on a low burner in a big pot, stirring occasionally so they don't stick to the bottom.  The result is something between a puree and tomato paste, intensely flavored and sweet, with a kind of smokiness, perhaps from caramelization in the long, slow cooking.  I used some of this "reduced puree" in place of the tomato paste in the lentil soup recipe, and it is lovely.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vroom Vroom Vitamix!

I guess I've entered the ranks of the crazy folks -- I bought a Vitamix! I didn't get exactly the one in this ad, but similar, and I paid less (remanufactured) at the Vitamix site.  For $400 I was expecting a lot, so I couldn't help but be a bit concerned at the plastic container, after the nice glass one on my Oster Fusion (RIP). But I've decided to give it a chance and so far I'm getting more optimistic.


In the instruction booklet they advise that you start with their recipes and branch out after that.  So I made their version of salsa, which consists of only tomatoes, a bit of tomato paste I omitted, cilantro, jalapenos, and some salt.  It was okay for what it was, but the machine didn't process the slightly leathery peppers I dropped in without getting to the point of liquefying the tomatoes, so I just picked out the big hunks of pepper afterwards.  I then used the chopping feature to do some onion and garlic since we like that in our salsa, then I did another batch (2 cups) of their recipe. Mixed all together, it's very nice.


This morning I tried my first smoothie, with a frozen banana, about 1/3 cup frozen peaches from a local farm (our trees didn't bear this year), an orange, and about one medium windfall apple (Gala type) from down the road. I added a bit of water to get the right consistency, and then I added flax seed meal to my glass afteward. That was nice, too, and I saved about a third of it as a smoothie starter for another time. This was not their recipe, but quantities as in the Vitamix booklet recommendation.

After following the instructions for cleaning the container with warm water and a couple of drops of dish liquid, then running it on high for 30 seconds, I could still detect some apple residue (I'm guessing) on the sides of the container, so I'm a little concerned about getting it really clean between uses.

(My reduced-fat variation)

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan, grated
3 cloves garlic
2-3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons toasted walnuts

We have a big crop of basil and I was looking forward to making some pesto once I had some kind of workable machine in the house. (My wedding-gift Sunbeam food processor has only the shredding/slicing attachments functional now, so it's limited, and the Oster Fusion blender died, so I was READY for a Vitamix!)  Of course I discovered that I didn't have any pine nuts left, but I did have walnuts, and they work just fine.  I reduced the oil and parmesan in the Vitamix booklet recipe by 30% or so and increased the basil, and the result was EXCELLENT, with no need for the salt and pepper in the recipe.  The texture is very smooth, which is fine with me, and the flavor is nicely balanced.  Now, to increase the nutritional value, I want to cut back even more severely on the oil and cheese and see how little I can get away with.  I have in the past frozen a basil puree that I use as I would pesto in some applications. 

I saved about a quart (four batches) of the Vitamix (but reduced-fat) pesto in four snack-size Ziploc bags in a quart-size Ziploc bag in the freezer. I hope to use it in those quantities or even clip the corner of the bag and squeeze out what I need--I expect that's going to be messy.  I even saved a little in the fridge so we can use it in the next few days.

I was concerned that I couldn't get all the pesto out of the container beneath the blades, and the Vitamix people want me to remove the blade assembly only if absolutely necessary (and they'll then sell me a tool to do it with). To be fair, since I used less oil I created a bit more of a problem for myself. But I solved it in part by adding water to the container at the end and swishing it around by hand, then dumping it into a bean/pasta soup I was making for my lunch. It was perfect!  After the soapy cleaning routine I thought I could feel a bit of oil residue, so I'm not crazy about that.

This afternoon I need to start processing some other produce--mostly tomatoes and green beans. I'll report back if I decide to use my Vitamix for any of it. :-)  I also had fun browsing through the 3-ring recipe book they included--some good things in there!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Moosewood Eggplant Scallopini Marsala (or Sherried)

This afternoon I kept pretty close to the recipe for Mollie Katzen's "Eggplant Scallopini Marsala" from this cookbook.


Someone has posted a pretty close list of the ingredients here. Katzen offers the substitution of sherry for marsala, so I did that, not having any marsala around the house. However, this list reads "2 teaspoons" of oil while the original calls for 2-3 tablespoons of oil. I might have skimped except I was making it for a church potluck and felt that 2 tablespoons of oil (plus another tossed in the pasta) was not too much for a good dozen servings.  The recipe says it's for six, but those are giant servings, a one-bowl meal each.

It was a joy to work with the gorgeous small, shiny, firm eggplants my husband has grown this summer, plus his peppers, onions, tomatoes, and basil. I did use canned mushrooms--alas. This is a delicious meal--recommended!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Healthy Foods Myths?

Here is a good, sane article on the health effects of Raw Food Vegan Diets.  Too often I see folks in a vegan-type health lifestyle who fall prey to superstitions and pursue (usually expensive) purist paths of one sort or another.  In that light, I have a few questions. (Caveat: I am setting aside the "ethical vegetarian" concern about avoiding animal foods. That's a discussion of another sort--I'm thinking mostly about health.)

How are liquid aminos nutritionally superior to traditional soy sauce? I realize the sodium content is lower, but equivalent to lower-sodium soy sauce. Where do these aminos come from, besides the high-priced health-food store?

The article discusses raw food enzymes, but I wonder about how the process of long dehydration (even at low temperatures) really preserves any nutritional content better than other methods of cooking.

Are the fats in nuts and avocado SO superior to the fats in oils that a free hand with nut purees and such is really better for us than a bit of olive oil or other oil (or even butter!)?

The same goes for cheeses--recently I've seen on at least one blog that folks are excited about a new vegan cheez (great spelling!) that will make their meals look and taste just as cheesy as the SAD meals, but with nutritional superiority (I assume).  I wonder whether the intensive processing that goes into making such a product results in something that is inherently nutritionally superior to regular old cheese (or a lower-fat version)?

It seems to me that creating vegan versions of omni foods sometimes goes to the point of ridiculousness, especially for those vegans who aren't really watching the calories. It reminds me of the tradition I once heard of whereby strictly-vegetarian Buddhists create mostly tofu-based foods that mimic animal foods to the point of looking just like a fish on the plate, for example.

Is it REALLY that important to substitute stevia or a pureed date for a tiny half-teaspoon of sugar in my fresh-picked blackberries from the garden?

How much of the "current practice" of many vegans and vegetarians is powered by the marketing power of product manufacturers?

I won't even get into the "organic" thing, but that's a particular interest of those who really focus on whole foods. Seems like some marketing gets in there, too! My husband the scientist (with work in toxicology and DNA damage and repair) is not impressed with the superiority of organics in many cases, though he's happy to avoid treating things in our garden when possible!

I'm trying to eat nutritarian for health reasons, so my recipes often include small amounts of things many purists eschew (what a great word!) when I don't see a real advantage to the vegan alternative, though it's certainly others' prerogative to make those substitutions.  And I feel like a bit of a slacker when I post those ingredients, too! :-)

Monday, August 2, 2010


My husband estimates he's picked about 200 pounds so far of summer squashes, mostly zucchini, with more to come, so I'm trying to find various ways to use it.  A couple of weeks ago I dehydrated some thin longitudinal slices to emulate lasagna noodles, hoping to create something that would not have the wateriness that regular zucchini would lend to such a dish. My thought was that if the dry slices could absorb flavored moisture from the sauce, the whole thing would turn out nicely.

I was right!

Because I had some cheeses for traditional lasagna, this recipe is not as "clean" as I would like to try later, but it's a good start for the experiment. Try it with tofu filling, non-dairy cheeses, etc., if you like.


Makes a 9x13 and a 7x11 dish

5-6 cups marinara sauce (I used the 43-oz. jar of Ragu from Costco)
Dehydrated longitudinal slices of zucchini to make two layers in each dish (I didn't count!)
48-oz. carton lowfat ricotta cheese
48-oz. carton lowfat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder
handful of freshly-picked basil, oregano, and rosemary (or smaller amounts of dried--about 2 tablespoons)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups mozzarella shreds

Spread enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of each dish, then arrange dried zucchini in a single layer. Combine ricotta and cottage cheese with parmesan, garlic powder, and herbs and divide between the two dishes. Sprinkle with about 1/3 of the mozzarella (divided between the dishes). Arrange another layer of zucchini slices in each dish and top with the remaining sauce.  Seal with foil and bake at 360 for about 30-40 minutes (large dish), then remove foil, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella, and bake until bubbly, about ten minutes.

Verdict: Excellent! Everybody liked this, and now I think I can dial back the dairy and try some other variations. The zucchini was chewy and satisfying, with a sweet flavor that I think would lend itself to some Middle Eastern variations.

Now I'm dehydrating another load of zucchini with a lot more to go after that!

Customizing Curry

Last fall I posted "Craving Curry" to share a great healthy meal. We have curry of some sort about once a month, and the perennial favorite is a casserole of broccoli topped with chicken breast and then a sauce of cream-of-mushroom soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, curry powder, lemon juice, and cheddar cheese. You get the picture. So yesterday I wasn't sure how a new recipe would be received, but they loved it!

I started with this recipe for Spicy Thai Chicken, using half the coconut milk called for, and chicken breast chunks instead of thighs. I made some other tweaks, but mine is basically what is here. Having the chicken breast in chunks allows for each serving to incorporate the quantity of chicken that person desires. For Sunday dinner I served this to the family over brown basmati rice with fresh broccoli from our garden on the side, and condiments of diced tomato, shredded coconut, raisins, and chopped onion.  I chopped up my broccoli into a small amount of rice and used only a couple of ounces of the chicken in my serving. (I had some other leftover veggies on the side.) Everybody enjoyed it, especially customizing the condiments.

Today for lunch I picked out about an ounce of the chicken and a bunch of carrots from the leftovers, with the only fat being the coconut milk floating on top that clung to the carrots as I fished them out. I steamed some fresh broccoli again and added about a third of a cup of the rice and mixed it all together with a tablespoon of raisins and some chopped tomato and onion leftovers from yesterday, with a squeeze of lemon and a few peanuts on top.  Excellent lunch!!

For breakfast today I had oatmeal with chopped fresh peaches from our tree, a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, and some roasted edamame. I realize how much I like having something a bit crunchy in something soft. With the rice yesterday and oatmeal this morning, I probably should have skipped the bit of rice in my lunch. I'll try to figure out something non-grain for supper . . .

Friday, July 30, 2010

Nutritarian Nirvana

I'm not into Eastern religions (nor even some of the Western ones!), but this post title just works.

Emily Boller has posted a great glimpse at the food served at a recent Health Getaway with Dr. Fuhrman.

Click here to see the whole thing.  Amazing--makes me want to pull out that book of recipes!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Lecture that Might Change Your Life

I found this ninety minutes or so from Dr. Fuhrman very motivational:  2010 Health Getaway Presentation on Food Addictions.

If you have the time to spend on this video, you will learn . . .

  • Why a "beans and greens" diet is optimal
  • What "toxic hunger" is and how to beat it
  • How diabetes really CAN be reversed, and who doesn't want you to know that
  • Why those of us who naturally gain weight easily can have the MOST optimal mature years--can you believe we actually have an advantage somewhere?
(This is one of our basil plants -- wonderful addition to many nutritarian dishes!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why Drugs Won't Work in the Long Run

Thanks to Yoni Freedhoff of Weighty Matters (7-24-10), here is a sensible article about the drug approach to weight loss: "Weight Loss and Wonder Drugs: Something is Fishy."   Dr. David Katz says that when we gain weight on the diet and inactivity of our modern life our bodies are not betraying us but doing exactly what they were meant to do--storing up in time of abundance for a time of want.  The problem is that we never really come to that famine time so we just keep adding to our stores. It's a natural survival mechanism of the body, betrayed by our prosperity.

And when we turn to drugs--to raise our metabolism, to block our hunger, to control our insulin--of necessity we have to introduce powerful pharmaceutical changes to counteract the way our bodies are designed by God (or "Nature" or evolution) to function. And those drugs have potentially and have demonstrated repeatedly to cause very serious side effects. An excerpt:

When one considers that the problem we are asking weight control drugs to fix -- a body turning surplus calories into an energy reserve -- is normal human physiology, the conclusion that they may prove to be elusive not just now, but forever, is hard to avoid. . . .

None of this is to deny the important insights that will doubtless derive from the scrupulous pursuit of scientific details relating to weight control. Rather, it is to note we miss the forest- the fundamentals of human metabolism in native context -- for the densely clustered hormonal, neurochemical, and genetic trees- at our evident peril.

In a word, the ease with which many of us gain weight in our culture (I've noted a lot more heavy brides  lately than when I married 24 years ago, and though I was "overweight" at the time I was slimmer than most of the current chubby brides I'm thinking of.) has a lot to do with our individual responses to our culture. Advertising and abundance can suggest that we really do "deserve a break today" and need to "indulge" and luxuriate in the foods that only kings and queens could have had in years gone by--ice cream, for one! But I think our amazing prosperity can be used to benefit our health if we take advantage of the opportunity and learn to really value the rainbow of produce available at even a modest modern grocery store. I'm learning not to look at the prices of the upscale salads in fast food restaurants because I know that a couple of dollars more will get me a really healthy choice. I deserve THAT break today! And that is part of my survival strategy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Funky Thai Salad

I made something for lunch today that I feared would be just TOO fusion cuisine. But I made it anyway and then looked up some of the ingredients and, lo and behold, I made something akin to this recipe for Thai summer rolls!

I started with the inspiration of the  Thai basil  in our garden. This herb is much like regular basil but has smaller leaves, purple stems, and an anise-type flavor note.


3 cups tender salad greens (we have butter lettuce from the garden)
1/2 cup cooked beet chunks (julienned would have been more Thai-summer-roll)
1/2 cup blanched broccoli (we have baby broccoli sprouts from the garden)
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
scattering of roasted edamame
(I also had a couple of tablespoons of green peas that escaped into the strainer in which I was blanching the broccoli, and they made a nice addition.)

THAI BASIL DRESSING (what I intended, anyway)

Tablespoon of tahini (peanut butter or crushed peanuts would be more authentic)
Tablespoon of fresh Thai basil, crushed or minced
Tablespoon of rice vinegar (either the sweetened kind or plain with a dash of sugar)

THAI BASIL DRESSING (what I made do with)

Tablespoon of tahini
Tablespoon of fresh Thai basil, crushed
Tablespoon of saki
Teaspoon of tarragon vinegar
Sprinkle of sugar

Verdict?  Very good.  I really like the way the beets, basil, and tahini meld together. It makes a beautiful salad, too, more composed and accented with the dressing than tossed and drenched.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Super Foods

How many Super Foods do you eat in a week's time?

Read more here, at Wise Bread

Wild Salmon
Tea (Green or Black)

This week I've had all the ones in bold. I usually have lots of dark leafy greens, but since we have so much fresh salad in the garden I haven't had spinach or kale or turnip/collard/mustard greens in the last couple of weeks. I've just finished a course of Cipro (antibiotic) and am having plain yogurt to try to build up my friendly organisms, but I don't usually have yogurt regularly.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sassy Salad

For lunch today I'm enjoying an intensely satisfying salad I want to share. It fills a small serving bowl and comes in under 350 calories.

3-4 cups tender butter lettuce and mesclun from the garden
1/2 cup carrot slices
half a can of beet chunks
half a package of Tasty Bite Chunky Chickpeas
2 teaspoons or so ranch dressing

This salad has a nice mix of earthy colors, sweetness, and spiciness.

I'll finish up with some watermelon, I think.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Zucchini Harvest Has Begun

Hubby brought in about 25 pounds of zucchini today from the garden, so I need to start using it creatively. I want to start with my new Excalibur Food Dehydrator, and this blog post from Walnut Spinney has some great ideas for that and for other uses.

Traditionally we use a recipe I once found in Farm Woman Magazine, which in the late 80s changed its name to Country Woman, and actually started out as Farm Wife! Here's where I figured that out.

These ladies knew what to do with a lot of extra zucchini. Though this recipe starts with sausage you could use something vegan if you wanted to, or otherwise add flavor as desired. The real bonus is that it uses up a LOT of zucchini:

In the biggest skillet you have, brown about one-half to one pound of sliced sausage (kielbasa, smoked sausage, Italian sausage, etc.) Add to the skillet a couple of chopped onions and a couple of cloves of garlic, smashed. When the onion has softened, add a huge pile of shredded zucchini and cook down until the zucchini has softened and some of the liquid has evaporated. Add a can of chopped tomatoes, or fresh, and just before serving add some oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and the secret ingredient, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You may add parmesan at the end if you like and eat like a stew in a bowl, with or without a side of crusty bread, or on top of pasta or our favorite, rice. Depending on how you steer the seasonings, you can go more Italian, Creole, Middle Eastern, Indian, or in another direction entirely.

Tonight I'm making a variation on this, starting with chunks from a giant zucchini, olive oil (not much), onion, garlic, a jarred roasted red pepper, a can of diced tomatoes, several marinated green olives, a dash of balsamic vinegar, fresh oregano and basil, and several turkey meatballs (the nutritarians can leave these behind in the skillet :-) ). I'm making whole-wheat spaghetti to serve it over.

And now to go start making some of those zucchini chips for the dehydrator!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thrifty-Wonderful Exotic Fruit Soda

Warning: non-nutritarian content below, though the main concept is pretty sound :-)

Being the miserly mom I am, it just kills me to "discard" valuable things in recipes. So I have a container of ten egg whites in the fridge right now, waiting to have something done with them, for instance. But even more valuable are the products of our garden, especially our fruits, which have uncertain yields from year to year and are usually available for only a short time.

So in the process of making Raspberry Ripple ice cream for Father's Day, using two to three cups of fresh-picked raspberries that grow wild by the old barn that adjoins our property, I wound up with a good cup or more of slightly sweetened raspberry seed pulp that wasn't going into the ice cream but should NOT have been wasted. So I grabbed a handy bottle of seltzer and slowly poured it over the pulp in the sieve, "rinsing" it through with additional seltzer a couple of times more. The resulting jeweled raspberry soda over ice was a kingly pre-Father's Day treat for the dad (and tasting family members). What a treat!

Now I have plans for the similar seedy-but-flavorful "discards" of our summer processing of elderberries and blackberries, when those are ripe. I think this technique could easily be adapted to ginger ale, tonic water, Sprite, club soda, and even plain/filtered/reverse-osmosis/certified-elite WATER. I'll let you know how it goes.

Exercise is Good, But Food Makes the Difference

Just read a post at "Weighty Matters" on an interesting study. Here's the relevant commentary:

The folks who reported a marked increase in exercise over a decade found themselves a whole 1.2lbs lighter ten years later than the folks who didn't and had waist circumferences half a centimetre (roughly a fifth of an inch) smaller.


This of course leads me to conclude that this study is in fact consistent with the bulk of the evidence which suggests that in the absence of dietary interventions exercise does not dramatically impact on weight over time. It also leads me once again to beg researchers to stop focusing on weight as an exercise study's primary endpoint and instead focus on those things more likely to demonstrate the incredible benefits of exercise - things such as high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, arthritis, cardiovascular fitness and overall quality of life.

This is a good reminder to me of what I (and Dr. Freedhoff) know by experience is true!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lentils and Leftovers Lunch

I visited a cultured grocery store, McGinnis Sisters, with friends on Saturday, and I got some treats, including red lentils. Today for lunch I wanted to start with those and add things as the inspiration (and inspection of the fridge and pantry) came to me. I post the ingredients first, but I really only added things as I went along.


1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes and their juice
1/3 cup dry red lentils
About 2/3 cup water
Tablespoon of dehydrated minced onion
Salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of Garam Masala
Tablespoon or two of raisins
2-3 big leaves of kale, snipped into ribbons with scissors

Put tomatoes, lentils, water, and onion into a small pot and bring to a boil, then a quiet simmer. Add seasonings and stir in raisins to soften. Top the simmering mixture with kale and cover to steam the kale on top. When the kale is done, stir all together and serve with a topping of your choice.


I think diced cucumber and mint or a full-fledged raita would be good on this.
Or sauteed zucchini and onion
Or chopped cooked green beans (cold) and walnuts with raspberry vinaigrette
Or any of a number of things
But I cubed up cold leftover potato and baby carrots from a pot roast last week

VERDICT? Very Good. I wanted something healthy and flavorful and filling, and this fit the bill all around. I have enough left that I can have a smaller serving tomorrow, maybe with the raita, or I can treat hubby with it when he comes home for lunch.

Speaking of hubby, he bravely and happily ate my leftover Emerald Tofu from Thai Place Restaurant. I had the vegetarian Tom Yum, Emerald Tofu, and brown rice. Delicious and very healthy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sweet Success

Last evening my 12yo son and I were the only ones at home after his school program, and he asked if I could make him some kind of dessert. (I think others may have been going to a local ice cream shop.) I considered what I had around the house and then asked if a smoothie sounded good, and he said yes!

So we discussed what kinds of fruits I had to make one--bananas, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, pineapple, oranges, pears, etc., and I suggested some of the more "treat-like" ingredients, like coconut and peanut butter, proposing some interesting combos. Finally he decided that banana, strawberry, and blueberry sounded the best, and no, he didn't want any milk or yogurt in it.

So I filled the blender with about two cups of frozen blueberries, one banana, and eight or so big frozen strawberries, adding water to get a good consistency. I asked him to taste it to see if he wanted me to add any sugar or Crystal Light, as I feared it might not seem enough like a dessert. But he tasted it, thought a moment, and said, "That's just right!" I smiled, handed him his, added some flax seed meal to mine, and we both lived happily ever after. :-)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Very Veggie Lasagne

Today I needed to clean out some items in the fridge, and I decided to make a lasagne, though without a ricotta-like filling I don't know whether it can be called that. Does the noodle make the difference? Anyway, here goes:


--The Filling--
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped (chunky, and the same below)
3-5 cloves garlic, sliced
4 medium zucchini, chopped
1 large eggplant, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup pesto (I used the jarred russo type from Aldi)
1/4 cup or so white wine (I used the last of a bottle of homemade mead)
a few shakes each Italian herbs and garlic powder, salt to taste

--The Other Stuff--
Large Costco-sized jar of Ragu
1/2-1 cup canned chopped tomatoes (what was leftover in my fridge)
1-1/2 boxes whole wheat lasagne noodles, not cooked (you need about 22 noodles)
1-pound bag shredded Italian cheeses (You're welcome to substitute "cheez" if desired, but my recipe yields about one ounce of cheese per generous serving.)

--The Method--
Heat the olive oil and add first the onions, then the garlic, then the other ingredients in the order listed, according to needed cooking time (you don't want the eggplant a complete mush), with the seasonings last and to taste. Total simmering time should be about a half hour.

In each of two 9x13 glass pans, pour enough Ragu or other sauce to just cover the bottoms, then arrange three DRY noodles lengthwise and break another to fill up the remaining space at the end of each pan. Top the noodles in each pan with a bit more than a quarter of the veggie filling, then sprinkle about three ounces of cheese into each pan.

Add a thin layer of Ragu over the cheese in each pan and top with another layer of noodles, pressing down to even the filling. Distribute the last of the veggie filling over the noodles and add three more ounces of cheese to each pan.

Finally, place another layer of noodles directly onto the last layer of cheese and press down lightly, then add the chopped tomatoes to the Ragu jar and shake it up, distributing the contents over the two pans to moisten the top noodles thoroughly.

Cover each pan with foil, oiled or sprayed with cooking spray if the filling will touch the foil. I baked one and refrigerated one for later.

To bake, put foil-covered pan (at room temperature) into a cold oven and bake at 375 for about ninety minutes. Near the end of baking time, remove the foil and test for softness of the noodles, then sprinkle with remaining two ounces of cheese (for each pan) and bake until melted.

Verdict? Excellent. We didn't miss the ricotta much at all--this was quite satisfying, though improved by a nice crusty roll on the side. :-) My lasagne sometimes fails with hard noodle bits on top, too-dry a result, or slight burning, especially of the top. But this was just right, and cuts up nicely, too, for neat leftovers in microwaved lunches.

Notes: This recipe is definitely a bit skimpy on the cheese, so be advised. The veggies can be water-sauteed, too, especially if you're adding pesto with oil/nuts. One eighth of a pan is a generous serving and includes an ounce of cheese, less than 1-1/2 noodles, half a cup of sauce and tomatoes, half a zucchini, an ounce of mushrooms, 1/16 of a big eggplant, and some onion and garlic as well. I have nothing against ricotta, or a mixture of ricotta and cottage cheese, or even a tofu replacement, but I just didn't have any on hand. The trick to baking lasagne with dry noodles is to make sure they're touching wet ingredients and that the casserole is baked closed for most of its time in the oven.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Vegan Epicurean: Our Favorite Foods

Vegan Epicurean: Our Favorite Foods

View the amazing inspirations of my blog-friend Alicia. Her creations take a special genius and the time and diligence my own life and inclination do not allow. :-)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nutritarianizing Supper: Burrito Burgers and Tropical Smoothie Fizz

I've been trying to eat more in the nutritarian way the last few days, and though I've not been as purist with it as I should, overall it does make me feel better even done modestly!

Today I had leftover steel-cut oatmeal with pears and apples mixed with some other steel-cut oatmeal I made another day with apples and sour cherries I preserved last summer in a bit of light syrup. I put leftover toasted pecans and a few cashews on top.

For lunch I had "beans and greens" at an Italian restaurant--a bowl of spinach (pretty sure about that) and white beans and chicken stock that didn't seem to be very fatty. I also had a couple of ounces of hubby's stromboli.

For supper I needed something quick for the family, and I had some Costco sirloin burgers, so I cooked them in the oven with some taco seasoning sprinkled on top. For the regular servings I made a "Burrito Burger" for each person, centering the cooked patty on a flour tortilla, topping the patty with a slice of good cheddar and then folded over the tortilla so just a bit of cheese peeked through the hole in the middle. I then flipped the package into a hot, dry skillet, open side down, and toasted it until I heard the cheese melt enough to sizzle, then I flipped it over and toasted the other side. I slid each of these onto a plate and people could dress them as they liked with the side items.

I modified mine as follows, and this recipe could easily be adapted to a veggie burger:


1/3 cup refried beans, heated
Hamburger patty, cooked and sliced crosswise into a thin patty
OR whole veggie burger, cooked
Whole wheat flour tortilla large enough to wrap around the sides of the patty and meet in the middle (or almost)
One third slice of cheddar cheese (or weird veggie "cheez" if you must)

Preheat a dry skillet. Spread the refried beans in the center of the tortilla, topping them with the burger and then the slice of cheese, then wrap the edges of the tortilla around to meet in the middle. Holding the package carefully, place it open side down in the hot skillet and toast until desired brownness, then flip and toast the other side. Transfer the package to a plate and surround with "fixings."

Verdict: Very Good. No, I should say Excellent since my 12yo said this new experiment (his was the full-burger version without beans, plus a full slice of cheese) should win the Nobel Prize of cooking. Well! :-) I topped my package with salsa and then built a salad to the side of shredded romaine, purple onion, chopped tomato, and a few dollops of guacamole. It was very satisfying to cut into the toasty package to get a bite followed by a bite of the salad.

On the side we had . . .


One frozen banana
One cup frozen strawberries (home grown from last year!)
One cup fresh pineapple and a bit of the juice from the container (Costco special)
Juice and flesh of one lime
Can of diet 7-Up or, for purists, perhaps some club soda?

Combine fruits and juice in the blender with water as needed, then pour enough into glasses to leave room to add the soda to the remainder, then top each glass with the soda/smoothie mixture. For adults, add a splash of Cointreau. :-)

This is a beautiful blush color and retains a fizzy top until each serving is gone. It makes enough for four LARGE servings or six medium ones.

Verdict: Very Good. It's a biting recipe, not terribly sweet (except for the addition of the soda), but celebratory and refreshing, which is what I was going for on a Saturday night with salsa in the main dish.