Monday, January 21, 2013

The Agony of Lunchtime

Another day my husband is home for lunch. I'm glad he's no longer eating those turkey hot dogs or cheese sandwiches, but he looks for a bit more than the veggies and rice I usually make for lunch when I'm by myself. I also need something quick enough to make so we can be busy doing things all morning and when lunch time rolls around I can whip something up fast.

Pasta is pretty good for that, especially if I put a pot of water on the stove on low a half hour or more before under the guise of humidifying the apartment.

I'll be trying a new to me recipe today, Chef AJ's Spicy Peanut Noodles with Broccoli from her book, Unprocessed:

Chef A.J.'s Spicy Peanut Noodles with Broccoli
1 pound brown rice noodles (spaghetti or linguine)
1 pound broccoli florets
3/4 cup peanut butter, unsweetened and unsalted
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp low sodium tamari
2 Tbsp date syrup
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4-1/2 ounce piece of fresh ginger, pressed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Sesame seeds or chopped unsalted peanuts for garnish (optional)

To make the date paste: soak 1/4 pound of dates in 1/4 cup of water for several hours until much of the liquid is absorbed (you can do this overnight). In a food processor fitted with the s blade (I used my mini Cuisinart), process dates and liquid until completely smooth. Store extra date paste in the refrigerator.
Cook pasta according to directions on package. Run under cold water when done. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Blanch broccoli and run under cold water when done. Drain and add to pasta bowl along with the scallions.
To make the sauce, combine peanut butter, water, rice vinegar, tamari, date syrup, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk until smooth and cook for about 10 minutes until thickened, turning heat down to low if necessary to prevent overheating. Pour dressing over noodles and broccoli and thoroughly combine. Chill until it becomes cold.

While looking around for the recipe on-line to link to, I noticed that this recipe is also out there by the name of Thai Noodles, and she and Julianna Hever demonstrate its making in this "live" episode of the Chef and the Dietitian Show:

Then I started to look over the recipe a bit more closely and popped the peanut butter into one of those nutrition calculators. Wanna see what I got for JUST the peanut butter?
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 878
Calories 1138
% Daily Values*
Total Fat 97.5g 150%
Saturated Fat 19.915g 100%
Polyunsaturated Fat 26.833g
Monounsaturated Fat 45.885g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 888mg 37%
Potassium 1256mg
Total Carbohydrate 37.85g 13%
Dietary Fiber 11.6g 46%
Sugars 17.84g
Protein 48.55g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 8% Iron 20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Nutrition Values are based on USDA Nutrient Database SR18      
Yikes! I didn't specify no salt, but that wouldn't affect the fat and protein counts, anyway. And this isn't counting the optional garnish of chopped nuts or sesame seeds!

Now you see why Doctor McDougall is so anti-nuts and why Chef AJ herself lost a good chunk of weight as soon as she greatly reduced the amount of nuts she ate.

Maybe I'll just skip this recipe.

Perhaps it's kismet that the grocery store had a great sale on russet potatoes yesterday - 2 5-pound bags for $3.50. I wasn't going to buy any, because none of the meals I had planned for the upcoming week required more of that type of potato than I already had in the house, and I hate to stock up because this place is so hot potatoes go bad rapidly, but my husband said for that price we can afford to lose a few to the heat, to grab them anyway.

A new item the produce department got in was cleaned and packaged shiitake and cremini mushrooms. Once in a blue moon that had those varieties, but only loose and lousy looking and pretty expensive. These were in the same weight packages as the buttons and for the same price, so I grabbed 2 of each. I only needed one package of mushrooms for this week's menus, but I could always cook them up in a skillet and freeze them. 

So why did I mention kismet above? Because now instead of the fatty (but delicious looking) noodle dish I can make some mashed or baked potatoes with mushroom gravy for today's lunch.

There's been a lot of discussions on the official McDougall forums the past few days about the McDougall Made Easy DVD, and kismet again, my favorite mushroom gravy recipe comes from that disc in Lesson 13

Lesson 13: Mashed Potatoes & Gravy and Baked Potatoes
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Servings: Makes 2 ½ cups
1 onion, finely chopped
½ pound mushrooms, sliced
2 ¼ cups cold water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Place the onions and mushrooms in a pan with ¼ cup water. Cook and stir until very soft, about 5 minutes. Mix the remaining water with the soy sauce and cornstarch. Add to the pan and cook, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens.
RECIPE HINT: Seasonings may also be added, such as parsley flakes, oregano, thyme or basil.
And of course, the potato recipe, too: 
Russet potatoes make fluffier mashed potatoes, while Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn and other golden potatoes have a buttery flavor when mashed. Thin-skinned red or white potatoes are denser and heavier in texture, and I usually mash these with the skins on. 
Three pounds of potatoes will yield approximately 6-8 servings. Peel, simmer over low heat until tender, and mash, blending with warmed soy milk. (Or save some of the cooking water and use that to moisten the potatoes.) Add salt and pepper to taste. I like to mash my potatoes using a hand-held electric mixer. Don’t use a food processor to mash potatoes - the potatoes turn into a starchy paste within seconds.
Variations on basic mashed potatoes:
1) For garlic mashed potatoes, cook six peeled cloves of garlic with the potatoes.
2) For roasted garlic mashed potatoes, cut the top off one head of garlic, drizzle 1 tablespoon vegetable broth over cut portion, wrap in parchment paper, then tightly wrap in aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool. Remove from wrapping, invert over bowl, and squeeze garlic out of the cloves. Add to potatoes while mashing.
3) For colorful mashed potatoes, add cooked vegetables while mashing. Try carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, kale or spinach (well drained), broccoli, or celery root.
4) For herbed mashed potatoes, add fresh chopped herbs after the potatoes are mashed.
Try parsley, dill, chives, cilantro, basil, or another of your favorites.
5) For green onion mashed potatoes, add one cup of chopped green onions to soy milk while heating, then add to potatoes while mashing.
6) For spicier potatoes, add one to two tablespoons of spicy brown mustard while mashing, or try two tablespoons of prepared wasabi.
 Mashed and gravy sounds like a good January lunch and will be quick enough to make after we get in from the little bit of shopping we have to do this morning. And I'll have the leftovers for my lunches for the rest of the week, too. So it'll take a little longer than the noodle dish - it won't kill him to wait a little longer, but it may kill him (and me) if I made what I originally planned!

(Edited to add: Hubby wound up eating leftover Lazy Sunday Stew and I ate a salad.)

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