Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Post for 2013 - Jeff Novick's Curried Potato Stew

With a big snowstorm on the way and temps already dropping into the 20's, it feels like a curry kind of day. Here's one from Jeff's Facebook page, posted before he even released his first Fast Food DVD:

Curried Potato Stew

4 large Russet Potatoes
2 Lb Frozen Mixed Vegetables
4 oz Frozen Collards
...Minced Garlic
Curry Powder

-Dice potatoes into chunks and place them in a large pot.
-Cover with water and bring to a boil
-Let simmer to potatoes are soft
-Add in Vegetables and seasoning and cook 5 more minutes.

I don't know how Jeff got his to look so green and creamy, because mine doesn't resemble the photo on his page.

Maybe if it cooks a bit longer it'll get greener and creamier. Already it's been in the pot for about an hour since I added the frozen veggies and kale. I squished up some of the potatoes, too, trying to make it creamier. I'll either make some rice or just toss a handful of Minute Rice into the pot.

Have a safe and healthy New Year's Eve.

This Year I Will . . .

Thanks, Jeanette, for the video.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dee's Christmas Soup

A few years ago, McDougaller "landog" posted this recipe he called "Dee's Christmas Soup," so-named because he likened the red and green veggies in it to Christmas colors. In going with my Christmas-colored food theme this week, I decided to make up a batch for yesterday's Christmas lunch. Here's how he shared the recipe:

Dee's Christmas soup
Can of diced tomatoes (no added salt)
can of tomato sauce (no added salt)
2 cans of water (rinse out the cans of tomato)
kale (lots)
chopped onions
sliced carrots
1/2 - 1 lb. frozen corn
black pepper

Bring to boil, then simmer 20 minutes.

Here's how I made it:

Tomatoes - I used a box of Pomi chopped.
Sauce - 2 8-ounce cans of Hunt's no-salt added tomato sauce
Kale - About a cup of frozen chopped kale
Onions - Half a bag of frozen diced
Carrots - a cup of shredded carrots. The rest of thebag went into the lasagna for dinner.
Corn - a whole bag of frozen sweet white corn
Spices - I just went by feel and even though I added some early in the cooking, I added more near the end. I used maybe a tablespoon total of oregano, a teaspoon each of paprika and basil, then another half teaspoon of smoked paprika. Pepper I added at the table.

It went together nice and quick, perfect for a lazy holiday lolling about watching A Christmas Story for the 5th time in one day while opening gifts. Served with a slice of hearty home-made multi-grain bread and it filled our tummies nicely.

When my husband is finally able to tolerate beans again after his gout finally settles down (Dr. Fuhrman says in a few months to a year, in some posts on his forums, before reintroducing higher-oxilate foods), I'll toss a can of either kidney or cannelini beans in the pot and make this hearty enough for a dinner soup meal.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, 

especially to all the McDougall potato lovers out there!

Courtesy of The Argyle Sweater comic strip

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Colorful Rice

It's Christmas week, and I had planned holiday themed dinners to celebrate the season.

On Sunday I made a dish from Dr. Esselstyn's book called Colorful Rice:

Colorful Rice
Makes 6-8 servings

1 very large or 2 smaller portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons Bragg's Aminos, or lower sodium soy sauce
16 ounce package frozen peas, or mixed vegetables
4 cups cooked brown rice (about 2 cups uncooked)
chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped pimentos

Combine mushrooms and onions in a non-stick skillet or wok and stir-fry about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the Bragg's plus water, if needed.

Add frozen vegetable and continue to stir-fry until heated through.

Add rice and cook a few more minutes. Add parsley and another teaspoon of Bragg's according to taste and top with pimentos.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
Caldwell Esselstyn and Ann Crile Esselstyn
page 235

My changes:

Because I'vw been slowly adding different foods back to my husband's diet that are known to aggravate gout, instead of a full cup of portobella mushrooms I used 2 small cremini mushrooms, a.k.a. baby bellas.

I swore I bought a bag of frozen petite peas at the grocery store in the morning, but when I reached into the freezer for them when preparing dinner they were nowhere to be found. My husband found the receipt and nope, no peas. I had an open bag with a cup of peas taken out of it in the freezer, so used that plus some country style frozen veggies to make up the lost volume. It would have looked much more festive with just the peas and pimientos - red and green - but it wasn't to be. If only I had leftover green beans, instead.

I did my usual 2 1/2 rice cooker cups of rice and mixed grains for this, just as I did in a few previous recipes.

No fresh parsley at the store that looked decent enough to buy so I used about 2 tablespoons of dried parsley flakes. I should have used way more.

Last, but not least, I used a whole 4-ounce jar of sliced pimientos. Two tablespoons just got lost in the mix and I wanted the red and green color combo to pop.

See why I preferred all peas?

It tasted okay, but a little on the bland side, even with those 2 sodium-heavy tablespoons of Bragg's. Next time I'll sauté the onions (minus mushrooms) in just a bit of water or broth and we can add any soy sauce or Bragg's at the table for more flavor at a fraction the cost in sodium.

My husband and I each had 2 fairly large bowls of this and finished the whole recipe's worth of food. We're both big eaters, especially my husband, now that he's fully recuperated from his CABG and his body wants to return to its pre-op weight. Maybe if it had more mushrooms it would be more substantial.

But no more mushrooms for this family. After almost 3 weeks of being symptom-free and a uric acid level down to 5.9, well into the low part of the normal range, a few hours after eating this meal my husband's toe started throbbing again. It's not red and swollen, so my son and I are wondering if it was just the power of suggestion, knowing that the dish contained a microscopic amount of mushrooms, but he said it was still hurting him this morning, even after taking a colchicine tablet last night, as the doc directed him to do at the first twinge of pain. So much for the doc's instructions to add those foods back in to his diet. The same day he saw the doc I put a wee bit of nutritional yeast in the dish without his knowledge and there was no complaint. I added a quarter cup of beans to a gigantic pot of tomato soup, and no complaint. I find it hard to believe that the ingestion of one mushroom triggered another flare 2 hours after knowingly eating it. Most likely it was either the yeast or the beans finally making their way through his system and causing a reaction, but to be safe, it's back to none of the known gout-triggering vegetable foods. Good thing I didn't stock up on any of them and only bought a total of 6 mushrooms. The rest I'll cook up and toss in my own lunches.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spicy Tomato Couscous

What do you do with three bags of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat couscous? You search through all your recipe file programs for couscous recipes. Unfortunately, I don't have too many of them. I've done the Esselstyn Pea, Potato and Couscous Hash meal a few times already, but otherwise I found less than 10 recipes total. One was a breakfast recipe so sweet from the McDougall's it would not only raise my trigs but rot my teeth. A few more were salads, where any small pasta would be just fine. A few times I found couscous in the search results it was mentioned as an alternative to rice and other grains under which to serve the food in the recipe.

This one I found in the McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook:

Spicy Tomato Couscous
Servings: 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

  1 3/4           cups  vegetable broth
  1                cup  couscous
  1                     onion -- chopped
  1              bunch  green onions -- chopped
  1           teaspoon  minced fresh garlic
  1                can  Tomatoes -- (28 ounce) chopped
  2          teaspoons  basil
  1           teaspoon  thyme
     1/4      teaspoon  crushed red pepper
     1/4      teaspoon  Tabasco sauce
                        freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place 1 1/2 cups of the vegetable broth into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the couscous. Mix well, cover, and remove from heat. Set aside.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup broth in another saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients, except for 1/4 cup of the green onions. Mix well and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix the 1/4 cup green onions into the cooked couscous and serve the tomato sauce over the couscous.

McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook
page 144

Minus the green onions, since I forgot to buy any. Oops!

It was good, but a little bland. Next time I'll double up on the thyme and basil. Maybe even use 2 cans of stewed tomatoes instead of plain canned. And hopefully I'll remember to buy the scallions!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Alphabet Soup from Isa

"Isa Does It" is a great name for the new cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and this time she really does it great with this Alphabet Soup from her blog and the book.

Since she prefers we not go spreading her recipes around will-nilly on our personal blogs instead of linking to her pages, I'll leave it at that. Besides, her web pages usually have dozens of comments by PPKers who've already made the dish and they have some fantastic tips.

As for my changes:
I used the whole 2 quarts of broth. I'm glad I did, because on the second day there was hardly any liquid left because it was all absorbed into the pasta.

Naturally, I sauteed in a bit of broth, not oil.

I used about half a bag of baby carrots, which came out to almost 2 cups when chopped.

I couldn't find any whole grain alphabet pasta so used the regular Ronzoni semolina kind. In fact, I couldn't find any small pasta in whole grain in either of 4 grocery stores or the local HFS. Next time I make this I'll either use some of the Bob's Red Mill whole wheat couscous I have or find a mail-order source for some whole grain alphabet pasta. Anybody have a source?

Since Jeff Novick is against agave, I used honey. Next time I may skip it all together.

My son takes better photos with his phone than I get with my camera :(

I had a small bowl the first day for my own late lunch, just to taste it; hubby and I each had 2 big bowls for lunch the next day, and we still have enough for another lunch, so we'll finish that up over the weekend with some red pepper & onion sandwiches.

A delicious soup, better tasting than the stuff in a can I grew up with, but a bit labor intensive. Isa says the recipes in her book are perfect for busy weeknight dinners. Well, maybe if all the chopping and dicing was done ahead of time. Then it's easy to just toss together and cook. When I make this again, and I will, I'll do what I did this time - make it up the day before I plan on eating it so all I have to do is heat and eat.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Jan Tz - 3-ingredient Genius - Tomato Zucchini Pilaf

Star McDougaller Jan Tz has been developing 3 (4 or 5) ingredient recipes as long as there has been a McDougall presence on-line. She was one of the most prolific posters on the original McDougall forums on VegSource, and for a long time she did the same on the current McDougall forums. Life may take her away from the boards for long stretches of time, but when she comes back, a few new recipes usually herald her return.

A few days ago she made a Christmas appearance and brought this pilaf recipe as her present:

Pilaf with Tomato and Zucchini

2 cups COOKED whole grain, like brown rice or bulgur
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 or 3 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
1 teaspoon dried or frozen basil
Black pepper, to taste

Cook the vegetables and seasonings in the tomato juice until onion is translucent. Mix in the cooked grain.

My lazy-gal changes:

I used a bit more than 2 cups of rice. I used my cheapo rice cooker and used 2 1/2 of the little plastic cups that came with it, 2 of plain brown rice, and the 1/2 was a multi-grain mix from a local Asian grocery store, just to add a little variety.

I used half a bag of frozen diced onions, and 4 cubes of Dorot frozen minced garlic.

Besides the giant can of whole tomatoes I added an additional 15 oz can of diced.

Used a whole bag of frozen zucchini, because it was already in the freezer from another meal I planned on but never made.

I added almost a tablespoon of dried basil because of the extra rice. I added almost as much black pepper, too.

I popped the grains in the rice cooker, the zuke in the nuker, and after the rice was finished and the cooker clicked to the keep warm setting, started the pot with the onions, garlic, spices and tomato juice. In 5 minutes I added the tomatoes and broke them up into thirds and stirred that around a bit to mix. When all that was warmed, about 5 minutes, I dumped all the rest of the ingredients in and mixed it up, adjusted the spices as mentioned above, and dishes it out.

Another relatively quick and easy winner! The only way this would have been quicker would be to use instant rice, either Success or Minute brands, while the zucchini was cooking and onions and tomatoes were warming. A great meal for a busy weeknight. My husband now wants this on added to the regular rotation of recipes. He's got so many "favorites" I never have to buy a new cookbook for the rest of my life!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Soup Weather - Warm Winter Soup

While looking for my old favorite sewing shows on PBS yesterday I discovered that they've all been moved to a new PBS station called Create TV. My poor DVR! Thanks to all those Hallmark Channel Christmas movies it's already hovering in the low 90% range, and all these sewing shows will quickly bring it over the top. Luckily the cable company is tripling the drive space come January 1, so I have to watch as much as I can and delete the old to make room for the next 3 weeks worth of stuff I'm finding. I finally finished the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade this morning, so that freed up three hours.

Along with those sewing shows, I noticed they're also running The Jazzy Vegetarian, a show I only heard about before but searches on our cable provider's web site always said "not found." So that's another show to DVR, and already it recorded something, her show on her favorite soups.

I already had another meal scheduled for dinner, but luckily I was depending on leftovers for my lunch, and there were none in the fridge today (I know, a rarity!), so I had a good excuse to make this one, called Winter Warming Soup, perfect for the 22 degree weather out there and the half foot of snow predicted for this weekend.

Winter Warming Soup

6 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
8 cups vegetable broth
1 to 2 teaspoons organic tamari
3 cups water, more as needed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 medium red potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 carrots, chopped
2 cups chopped green beans
6 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 can (15 ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed
Sea salt 
Freshly ground pepper

Put the celery, onion, Italian seasoning, and 1/3 cup of the broth in a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes, adding more broth as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the mixture becomes dry. Stir in the tamari and cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery and onion are tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the remaining broth, the water, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, carrots, green beans, and mushrooms. Decrease the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Stir in the white beans and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes longer, adding more water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot.

The directions on the page are slightly different than the ones on the show, but the soup is just as delicious.

I had to revise it a bit to accommodate my husband's gout diet, so no beans or mushrooms. I added double the amount of seasonings and used the Italian Herbs from my Penzey's stash.

I had a small bowl at lunchtime, and both my husband and myself had some before dinner.

It took about an hour to get all those veggies chopped, because I first had to peel them all then cut, and then my son wanted to help so he snapped all the green beans to size. Bored adult children get underfoot as much as younger ones! LOL

Delicious! She was right - the bits of sweet potatoes do add a nice, hearty touch to this otherwise light soup. A keeper.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ann and Jane Essestyn Cooking Demonstrations

My son, the computer/electrical engineer, informed me that if a video is posted to a public site and is not behind a firewall such as a password, and there are some other Engine 2 Extra videos are behind such a firewall, then it's public and shareable, to go ahead and post them. I went to Vimeo and searched "Engine 2 Diet" and all the videos I shared this past weekend are there for public use, starting on page 5 of the search.

So, here are the last 2, but unlike the others, the Engine 2 Extra coaches aren't involved. 

Dressing from engine 2 diet on Vimeo.

From August 2013 Plantstock - Jane and Ann Esselstyn on the big screen making the 3-2-1 Dressing

Hummus from engine 2 diet on Vimeo.

Here we have mother and daughter making hummus together.

These were displayed to the throngs at the Esselstyn farm in upstate New York on these giant screens under a tent. As I mentioned before, all Plantstock activities are held outdoors. In August. During the hot, humid dog days.

If Plantstock was held in the Spring or Fall, or even indoors, I would consider attending, since it's only (?) a 6 hour drive, but I can't even leave the house most days, the air is unbreathable, thanks to NY/NJ air pollution and my asthma and allergies. Hopefully next time the Essesltyns will record the entire weekend and sell DVD's at a reasonable price. But for now, we take these little snippets when we can.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sorry About That

First, Debbie, thanks for the reply. I agree about the amount of rice.

Next order of business, the Engine 2 coaches requested that none of the Vimeo videos - meaning everything I had already posted and I know others had, too - be posted to the general public, only the YouTube ones. Since the only YouTube one shared this weekend is this 10 year old Dr. Esselstyn one, I guess I won't be sharing any other ones with you. Sorry.


More Engine 2 Extra Videos - Curry and Iron Chef

Coaches Ami and Natala making curry.

Curry from engine 2 diet on Vimeo.

Another quick dump and heat recipe that looks like one of Jeff's SNAP recipes but with a twist. Mango in curry? Hmmm. I still don't know why the tortillas were mentioned. I thought they may try to serve the curry in them, but no.

Now for Iron Chef 1:

Iron Chef 1 from engine 2 diet on Vimeo.

This is the one I wrote about yesterday, with the kale, sweet potatoes, black beans and mango. I plan on making it not this coming week but the week after - IF the doc says my husband can eat beans again. If not, I'll make it but leave them out. It looks hearty enough to be a meal without them.

The next one is called "Iron Chef 2"
Iron Chef 2 from engine 2 diet on Vimeo.

This one starts off with leftover potato, quinoa, some beans, canned tomatoes, spices and tortillas. Looks like a lot of leftover-over meals I've made over the decades. LOL

And it's not your eyes - the focus does go out now and then and the video gets blurry.

Can someone tell me what's added at the 5:55 mark? Natala says "Add some ___" and Ami dumps in something from a bag. I have no idea what is said or what's being dumped in. It looks a bit like rice or some other grain. Oh, how I wish these videos were captioned for semi-deaf people like me! :(

Coach Ami's Roasted RosemaryPotato Pockets

Here's one I missed yesterday because it was posted during one of the times I was off-line. It's her rosemary potatoes that was shared a while ago:

Find more videos like this on Engine 2 Extra

Tonight I planned on making herb roasted potatoes already, the type that takes quartered Yukon Gold potatoes, pearl onions, chunks of carrots, and today I'm adding baby-sized sweet potatoes and butternut squash and tofu cut into largish chunks. I'll distribute all of these among 4 or 5 roasting pans and casserole dishes, sprinkle each one with a different no-salt spice combination, and roasting until everything is tender. I usually pre-cook the carrots a bit in the microwave first, because they take so long to soften. I might take some of the tiniest potatoes and make these pockets with them for quick lunches during the week.

I'm loving this Holiday Workshop weekend on Engine 2 Extra! The video I've been most anticipating is running this afternoon - a new one by Dr. Esselstyn himself entitled "Make Yourself Heart Attack Proof." At least I hope it's a new one. I already have 2 by him with the same title that he's done over the years at various gatherings.

Cooking with the Coaches - Iron Chef, Morning Breakfast Blend, and Syuffed Cucumbers

The Engine 2 Extra site finished off the second day of the Holiday Workshop with these videos of 2 of their coaches in the kitchen.

First is what they called Iron Chef, because they had some ingredients but wasn't sure what to make with them. A very simple, one-pot kale, sweet potato, mango stir-fry meal:

Nevermind. For some reason Natala pulled this video from the site while people were watching it! I hope it returns in the future.

The second was was this one, called Morning Breakfast Blend.

Morning Breakfast from engine 2 diet on Vimeo.

And they sneaked a third one in when the top one vanished. This one is with Coach Char:

Cucumbers! from engine 2 diet on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Not AGAIN?!?

Friday night/Saturday morning, a little after midnight, I get awakened by a light in the kitchen, a mere 8 feet from my face. Since my husband was no longer asleep next to me I assumed he went there to fetch a glass of water. Then I heard talking - our son, whose bedroom abuts the kitchen, has joined him in conversation. The voices start to sound a little frantic (I'm partially deaf and can't make out what's being said, just the tone of the words) so I jump up and head into the room, and the first thing I see is my son rifling through the pile of papers on my side of the table.

What's wrong?

My husband then tells me his gout is acting up again and he's looking for the written prescription for the colchicine so he can get it filled as soon as the pharmacy opens in the morning.

I tell my son to go back to bed, walk into the bathroom, open the drawer in a storage box in the bathroom closet, pull out a bottle of colchicine, toss it at my husband, and head back to bed. He forgot we got the prescription for the bottle filled the same day he got it 2 weeks ago, the same day his gout started up the last time and he started taking the pills from the last refill on the old prescription. The doc had said to fill it ASAP and to have a full round (only 12 pills) on hand at all times for these flare-ups, because the sooner he starts treating it, the less pain and swelling the flare will be.

He took his pill and crawled sheepishly back to bed. By the time he got in I had already gotten the extra pillow down to the bottom of the bed so he could elevate that foot, fixed his covers so he could easily slip back into bed and cover all but that foot up again, and started making a mental list of everything he had eaten that day and tried to identify the one food item that broke the camel's back and started the flare again. He kept moaning and groaning, tossing and turning in his sleep that it kept me awake until after 3 am and around 5am one of his snores woke me again so I just stayed up after that. Oh, that wasn't gout related - he does that most nights, even before his CABG. It's just a thing he does. He also talks in his sleep now and then.

I made the mistake once again of believing Dr. McDougall instead of Dr. Fuhrman and fed him vegetable products that are not high but moderate in purines. Dr. McD feels that vegetable sources are benign, whereas Dr. Fuhrman says to avoid them, at least for a while during and after a flare-up. While he didn't have any spinach or mushrooms, he did have plenty of beans the past few days in the shape of bean burgers, hummus and tofu. He had broccoli as well as that tofu cheese in the lasagna. He had split peas in soup. He had artichokes on his pizza. He had roasted Brussels Sprouts, which is on some lists of foods to avoid, other lists of foods to eat during a flare. He eats bread daily. If I go back through my menus or his night time snacks for the past 2 weeks I'm sure I'll find he ate something every single day that some sites say to avoid if you have gout. 

It all has to stop. He can't go on having a flare a week after his last one finished. He has to start eating an entirely different way. He can't take sandwiches of seitan in to work - he has to start taking in containers of safe foods because the yeast in the bread may be a trigger. He can't say, "I ate this before with no problem," and think he can get away with it. He can't fall back on familiar, comfortable foods and think he's immune from their effects.

I know this is all so hard on the guy. He had to change once already this year because of the CABG and his cardiovascular disease. Now the foods that are protecting his heart are killing his joints and he has to change all over again. 

I now have to go through all my menus and eliminate all the recipes that include all known gout trigger foods, and believe me, there are a LOT of them in the vegetable kingdom. I have to scour all my cookbooks and recipe files, whether they're McDougall, Fuhrman, Voisin, Moskowitz, or just a forum member, and find some that I can make that he can eat with enjoyment and satiation. I have to find something he'll actually want to take to work to eat. And I have to keep it all heart-healthy, too, so those nut-filled sauces and salad dressings on otherwise veggie-filled E2L recipes are out, also. HELP!

I'll finish off the rest of the batch of bean burgers I made the other day. I already froze all the chickpea cutlets and will work on those as time goes on, too. The pea soup has also been packed away for my future lunches, 2-cup servings poured into quart-sized freezer bags, frozen flat, then the quart bags put into a 2-gallon bag so they're all together. I left one serving unfrozen that I had for yesterday's lunch with the burger. 

Tonight I'll be making Potatohead's SNAP recipe from the McDougall forums - all safe ingredients and leftovers should cover another dinner or a few lunches. That's about as far as I got in planning so far. At least he's going to be home all week so lunches will be easy enough to do with those leftovers or various soup recipes. I have a recipe in mind for tomorrow's dinner from the McDougall Q&E Cookbook. If I do make it I'll be back with the recipe and photo. I have to double and triple check it to make sure it's gout-safe and that I have all the ingredients necessary for it. Then I just have the rest of the week to worry about.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know, it's not until tomorrow, but I really don't plan on getting near this computer after my guys wake up. There's the parade, there's cooking, there's going for a walk as long as the sun is shining. There are books to be read and movies to be watched when we tire of all that.

And of course, there's always the eating of the lasagna. 

We were never turkey eaters, not since my mom died 37 years ago. She was the only one willing to go all out and "do" Thanksgiving with all the trimmings. My first step-mom didn't, my m-i-l didn't, I usually worked the holiday so I didn't, and by the time my dad married my second step-mom, the good one, they had moved to Florida and we didn't see them on holidays. Well, the year we lived in Florida we were there for Thanksgiving, but my step-mom decided to go visit one of her kids instead of making Thanksgiving dinner for my dad. We were already a McDougalling family (Well, hubby was 75%, I was 100%, and the kid - I swear he has lived on mac and cheese for most of his 30 years on this planet) and there was no way *I* was going to make a turkey and I told that to my dad. "No problem," he said, "We'll go to Cracker Barrel."

Alright. I agreed to go. I had gotten a veggie meal there before by putting together a bunch of side dishes and requesting no-oil, our son could grab his usual mac & cheese and my husband could get whatever he wanted. A great plan, except on Thanksgiving, ALL they served was turkey dinners. No menu, no extra sides, no special orders. Everybody got the same thing. I was so glad to get home that evening after dropping my dad off back at his house. We were all starving! It's a good thing we hit the early-bird special, because we had plenty of time for me to make a pasta meal for the three of us. That was the first and last time we ever ate anywhere but home for any holiday.

I did a lot of cooking today, but the only thing for tomorrow's dinner that I made wasn't even cooked, just put together and refrigerated - tofu ricotta. The rest of my cooking was for lunches for the next week. You see, even though my husband is only back to work for 6 weeks (edited to correct - it's only 4 weeks, not 6), he still had 9 "pool days" left when he went in. One was taken for his cardiologist appointment a few weeks ago, so 8 more to "use or lose" before the end of the year. He had put in for the first week of December way back in January, and although his boss isn't happy about it, she knows he has to take it. The other days he'll take the next 2 Wednesdays then Monday December 30th. Again, she isn't happy, but when he reminded her he could have put in for all three days in a row next to a weekend, she was thankful he did what he's going to do.

So, in my refrigerator right now is a giant container of Split Pea and Yam soup from the Forks Over Knives blog, a ziplock of Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon from the PPK web site, and another ziplock with even more of them, because I doubled the "double batch" recipe, and a plateful of 8 Mexican Burgers from Jeff Novick's Fast Food 2 - Burgers and Fries DVD. I have a loaf of Ezekial bread and a package of Ezekial English muffins on hand for dunking and sandwich making. Dinners are all going to be quick and/or easy, starting with tomorrow's lasagna (A hybrid of Rip's Raise the Roof recipe), pizza on Friday, plain old pasta and spaghetti sauce on Saturday, and I'll decide which of Jeff's SNAP meals to make Sunday, depending on which veggies I have in the freezer at the time. 

And today? My bags of Success Rice are waiting for the water to boil, my peas and carrots are cooking in the microwave, my Soy Curls are soaking, awaiting draining, pressing and a quick crisping in the skillet, something I'll do after my husband gets home and while he's doing his hour of exercise. Toss it all together with a bit of greens and low sodium teriyaki sauce and another simple meal.

Enjoy the holiday, and keep your fingers crossed that the wind isn't so bad they cancel the balloons in the parade.

Moby Potato

This beauty was in the middle of a bag of russets I bought the other day. On Sunday I cooked up 3 of the potatoes at the top of the bag, each one a bit over a pound in weight. This baby (Look at the SIZE of it!!) weighs in at 3 pounds, 2 ounces.

Once it was washed, chopped and herb-sprinkled it took up a whole baking pan by itself. 

For dinner I washed a whole 5-pound bag of Yukon Golds, but in the 3 days since I bought them, a few started growing eyes already, a few green ones were discovered, and a few had such deep gouges packed with dirt that by the time I cut out all the bad parts I had just a bit more than half the bag left. This monster filled in nicely for the missing YG's.

Along with a bag of Brussels sprouts, 3 pounds of carrots and a bag of pearl onions, these veggies covered a lasagna dish, 2 baking sheets and a large casserole dish. Each got a different no-salt herbal spice on them - Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle for my husband, McCormick Garlic & Herb for my son, Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic for me, and the three of us share the pan with McCormick Sicilian. I also have a jar of McCormick Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper but won't be using it and I won't be buying it again. When my husband read off the ingredients he saw "natural flavoring" but didn't mention to me that the label says that flavoring is milk. (sigh)

This is a great, simple meal, and leftovers, if any, can be eaten as lunches or snacks for the next few days. 

All hail the mighty spud!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper/Pizza Mac and Cheese Update

The flash on the camera washed out the color. It's a deep, dark orange, almost like pumpkin.

Here is yesterday's cheese sauce in the blender after I doubled the recipe. I blended and blended and blended and even after 15 minutes it still had a bit of grit to it. Maybe if I had the Breville Isa used or the VitaMix others swear by instead of my Ninja, but I've used this for cashew-based sauces before and they didn't seem as gritty as this one when done. I soaked the cashews for 2 hours, as the recipe directed, even started with boiling water, adding more boiling water as the nuts swelled above the level of the water. It's possible this happened because the nuts were old. They were purchased back in June and kept in the freezer. Remember, I hadn't used any of them since the week before my husband's surgery in July.

At this point, the sauce is very watery in texture, more so than all the other non-cheese sauces I've made this past year.

And here it is in the pot. This is a 2-quart non-stick pan, and you can see some of the grittiness clinging to the sides of it at the top.

Because of the non-stick nature of the pot, I didn't raise the heat about medium-high, and with nearly constant stirring it took close to a half hour before the sauce thickened. And it did thicken up nice and clingy, just as Isa showed in the video.

Because it made so much when I doubled it, I first poured about 2 cups of it into a wide-mouthed Mason jar to use on my lunchtime rice and veggies or tonight's roasted taters and veggies meal. I only made so much because Isa used only half a pound of pasta with her recipe and I wanted to make a whole pound. Man, does this make a LOT of sauce! 

When I first combined my cooked pasta and this sauce there was a lot of sauce sloshing around in the pot. Then my husband decided he would do his workout on Monday instead of Tuesday this week. Cardiac rehab class may be over and he's back to work, but he still has to get in his hour three times a week. If he had told me on the phone, or even as soon as he walked in the door before I combined the two, it would have been fine, because even if the sauce got cold I can always reheat it. But no, he waited until I started to dish it out to tell me. Back into the pot his bowlful went. When he was ready to sit down to dinner close to 90 minutes later, not only was the meal cold, but solidified. All the sauce had been absorbed by the pasta so it was a solid pile of gooey cheesy elbow macaroni that had to be sliced out, put into the bowls, then reheated in the microwave. 

All that affected the texture but not the taste. It was still gritty, and to be honest, a bit underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, it tasted good, but I think I still prefer the Mac and Oaty Cheese recipe. That one may not be as rich and creamy as this one from Isa, but the sauce has a little more bite to it from the lemon juice and because it has no nuts, not even a trace of grittiness.

Will I ever make this recipe again? Well, maybe, when I need the freezer room and have to get rid of the last of the cashews, but not before that, I'm afraid.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper/Pizza Mac & Cheese

My husband wants me to make the same meals week after week, and mac and cheese is one of them. You probably got that when I posted 3 (?) mac and cheese recipes during VeganMoFo this past year.

Prior to my husband's CABG in July, I was making my mac and cheese with recipes from either Mary McDougall or Rip Esselstyn that included cashews, but since then I dropped all nuts and usually used the Mac and Oaty Cheese recipe. During my husband's last cardiologist visit a few weeks ago I asked about certain foods, what he can and can't have, and he seems to side with Dr. Fuhrman that nuts are good for heart patients, not detrimental as per Dr. Esselstyn. I still hadn't used any since then, but did leap for joy when I found those recipes from Isa yesterday, especially the Roasted Red Pepper Mac and Cheese one.

So this is what I'll be making tonight. Of course, I'll saute the onions and garlic in water instead of oil, and I plan on doubling this and use and a whole pound of Tinkyada elbows because we love leftovers in this family.

I did buy a bag of Brussel sprouts to go with this, but may opt to finish the half bag of Bird's Eye Normandy Vegetables that's been taking up a big chunk of freezer space the past few weeks.

This recipe uses cooked onion and garlic instead of the powdered versions, less nutritional yeast but adds turmeric for color, broth instead of water, and a few other small changes. But the sauce in this video? OMG, that looks fantastically creamy! I hope it tastes as good as it looks!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Isa's Been Busy

Is there anyone who reads this blog who doesn't know Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of a slew of vegan cookbooks and owner of the Post Punk Kitchen web site and blog?

Her latest book, Isa Does It, was recently released. I haven't bought it yet and may not get it at all, even though I own all her other books except Vegan Pie in the Sky. I skipped that one because I could never make a decent pie crust when eating SAD, and with all added fats now out of the picture, I doubt I could make a decent fat-free vegan crust, too. Besides, with the triglycerides as high as they are, I don't dare eat anything sugary, even if they are fruity! I didn't buy the new one and may not buy anyone else's cookbooks in the future because I'm really trying to simplify our meals. But more of that in a future post.

Back to Isa.

I just discovered that she did a series of videos and a free Kindle ebook titled  Breville presents Make It Vegan: Recipes from the Yiddish-speaking, Nebraska-living, post-punk vegan, Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Yes, FREE!!

All 10 recipes and videos are included in the ebook, so it does take a while to download and install to your Kindle, so have patience.

If you don't have a Kindle and don't want to bother putting the Kindle app on your computer, pad or phone, you can still see all the videos here on YouTube.

As with all of Isa's other recipes and books, not everything will be McDougall-safe as-is and may require some tweaking to make them compliant. But I sure do love looking at these foods and dreaming of the day I might be able to indulge in them all once again.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Almost forgot - Forks Over Knives Site Holiday Recipes

The Forks Over Knives blog also has a slew of holiday recipes that are WFPB and low in fat, most from Chef Del Sroufe. They're all taken from the Forks Over Knives cookbook and include everything you need to cook, from salads to dessert.

Winter is Coming - That Means the Holidays Are Also Coming!

It's the holiday season again. In our family, it started back in October with my birthday and extends to January First. In-between are birthdays for the rest of our family, as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve.

All the vegan stars are sharing their holiday recipes again. Mary McDougall and her posting from 2005; Susan Voisin is working on some new recipes on Fat Free Vegan, Chef AJ reminded us of her Chef and the Dietician holiday video from last year:

and the Engine 2 people did a post on the Daily Beet blog about getting along with people who don't approve of your food choices.

And now Dr. Fuhrman is in on the act. Instead of the holiday challenge he had the past few years on his web site, this year he has a contest that anyone who uses Facebook can enter. Paying members of his site are understandably annoyed, especially those without a Facebook account or they do but don't wish to share their Friends list. Not only do you have to "Like" Dr. Fuhrman's Facebook site but to enter the contest you ALSO have to enroll in it at the official entry form on the Facebook site, the far right link at the top of the page. You can enter with a name and email address or via Facebook, and again there you'll be told you're giving Dr. Fuhrman access to your Friends list. People from his office say that further down the line on the entry form links you'll be asked which of your Friends you want to share and you have the option to choose none of them, but others are saying that option never appears. You can still see all the information Dr. Fuhrman posts on Facebook without being a Facebook member or entering the contest, you just can't win any prize if not registered.

As for holiday recipes, Dr. Fuhrman shared his Thanksgiving Non-Meat Loaf from his Eat to Live Cookbook with a YouTube video:

Well, after a testimonial from a woman named Susan.

The recipe itself, shared on-line a few years ago:

Thanksgiving Non-Meat Loaf
Serves: 6
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 box soft tofu, drained and patted dry with paper towel
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/4 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest or other n-salt-seasoning blend, adjusted to taste
2 teaspoons Spike (no salt)
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano or Dr. Fuhrman's MatoZest
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1/2 teaspoon sage
3/4 cup whole grain bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix arrowroot powder, water, aminos, and tofu together in a high-powered blender. Add walnuts & blend until smooth.

Saute onions, celery, and mushrooms in water with seasonings and herbs until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.

In a bowl, mix together tofu mixture, vegetables, bread crumbs and cooked rice.

With a paper towel, spread a small amount of olive oil in a loaf pan. Add mixture to pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes. Turn loaf out and slice.

Note: May be served with low sodium ketchup and thinly sliced raw onion.  

I haven't attempted to make this particular one yet. I usually don't have good luck with loaf recipes and they always fall apart, either when I attempt to remove them from the loaf pan or when I cut them. And my husband has a sensitivity to walnuts. With three gout flares in less than 3 months, I'm hesitant to tempt fate and feed him those nuts right now. But the loaf does look good and I may attempt it in the future, but with a different nut.

So, with Hanukkah starting Wednesday as the official holiday season kick off, I wish everyone and their families a happy and healthy time!