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!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jeff Novick Coaching Again in 2014

Did everyone see the announcement from Jeff Novick entitled Nutritional Services? Yes! Jeff is going to start nutritional counselling again in 2014!

From the email announcement:

Staring in January 2014, I will once again offer personal nutrition services, which will include Medical Nutrition Therapy, Health & Wellness Coaching & Fast Fixes.  You can find out more about these services here. The Fast Fixes, which are 20 minutes phone appointments to answer a specific question or two, are currently available on a limited basis.  The other two services will start in January 2014.

If I can get my doctor to write out the referral and dietary prescription, I just may apply for this. Problem is, the only dietary prescription my doctors - primary care and cardiologist - give me is to eat 1000 calories. Neither doctor believes a WFPB, no S-O-S diet is necessary or effective, whether it's for weight loss or cardiac health. In fact, just yesterday the cardiologist told me not to bother giving my husband ground flax seed, that it's "just voodoo" and ineffective in lowering triglycerides or inflammation. Yes, he knows about Dr. Esselstyn but no, he doesn't like the diet and feels it's just another fad diet, and an unhealthy one at that. (sigh)

There's always the regular Health and Wellness Coaching if I can't get the doc's approval.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Printable McDougall Recipe Cards

As you all know, I had a busy summer with my husband being home recuperating and all. Then 3 of my favorite web sites do overhauls of their software, including the McDougall web site's forums. The Engine 2 Extra site is still as disorganized as ever and I'm still tearing hair out over Yahoogroups.

While looking for the McDougall newsletter's recipe archives this morning, I stumbled upon a new-to-me feature at the site - a whole page of Printable Recipe Cards, featuring about 50 McDougall recipes.

When you click on a recipe, like this one for Breakfast Grains, for example, you get a page with this on it:

and depending on your printer's settings, you can print the recipe out either on paper or recipe cards to file away.

Nice! Too bad they don't have this for more recipes, like the newsletters or (hint, hint) all the recipes from various books. Too bad the size isn't consistent, though. This particular one is short enough that it would fit on a 3" x 5" index card, but this one for Apple Torte, isn't:

Notice how tiny the font looks now. It's actually the same size as the one above, but I had to change my screen's resolution to make the box small enough for my capture program to get it all into one screen. This probably wouldn't even fit on those larger 4" x 6" index cards. If the sizes were consistent for the standard index card, then the font would still be large enough to read, even if a recipe had to use 3 cards to print it all. So print them out on standard sized paper and put them into a binder to keep in the kitchen, instead. The extra space on the paper can be used to keep notes or just doodle on.

Thanks, Dr. McDougall and staff, for this nifty new feature.


Edited to add . . .
I think someone from the McDougall web site should take a closer look at these recipe cards. There's one for soup that describes how to make a taco out of the ingredient list, another that mentions ingredients that aren't listed. Hmmm. Maybe this isn't ready for primetime yet. It's still a nice idea.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Disorderly Lentils

Finally, a new recipe post!

It's Disorderly Lentils from the McDougall Quick and Easy cookbook. I know I never made this in the past because for a long time red lentils were hard to come by. Now that our grocery store is carrying the Goya ones, I have no problem buying as many bags of these beauties as I want. It's so much nicer to pay under $2 instead of the almost $5 a pound that the HFS charges for organic red lentils.

Disorderly Lentils

Serving Size: 6    
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minues

2 cups red lentils
4 cups water
1 onion -- chopped
1 green bell pepper -- chopped
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 cups low sodium tomato sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon basil

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. 

Recipe Hint: This recipe could also be served over baked potatoes or grains. This recipe freezes well and reheats well.

McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook
Mary McDougall
page 116

First of all, unless you're also serving a salad, soup and/or cooked veggies with this, don't believe the "serves 6" unless all you serve is a measured cup of this to each person. In this family of big eaters, this makes a comfortable 4 servings when served over large baked potatoes or large (2 cups or so) servings of rice, couscous or quinoa.

Now that that's settled, on to my changes.

Not many, really. I used the whole bag of Goya red lentils, and instead of water, cooked them up in a pot with veggie broth. 

I used half a bag of frozen diced onions and green peppers instead of fresh.

And I skipped the bay leaf. I'm not crazy about the taste of them, and I always forget to remove the leaf before serving, a real no-no unless the cook is trying to purposely injure one of the people she's cooking for.

I've been having bad luck with potatoes again, and just yesterday tossed out an entire 5 pound bag of red potatoes because each and every one was green under the skin. And I'm still re-introducing foods after hubby's gout flare so I wanted to avoid high protein quinoa for now, so I served this over plain old brown rice.  
Half a serving

Yes, I'm calling what's in the picture half a serving, because after I snapped the shot my husband insisted I add at least twice as many lentils to the bowl, completely covering the rice, and then some. After eating that, he asked for more, and still ate a bit more than what's pictured for his seconds but with less rice.

I'm glad his gout flare is over, because so far every food I've re-introduced he's tolerated well with no twinges to the toe.

This was a good tasting meal, but very gassy for some reason. Maybe because it was cooked in broth? Maybe too many onions? Maybe we're just not used to all the legumes and have to start our gut flora from scratch again? My poor husband said he was in agony waiting for his train to pull into the station the next morning so he could sneak off into an isolated area and let 'er rip. After that, he said, the rest of the morning was back to normal. Poor guy! LOL

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gout and a New Cookbook Purchase

On top of all his other dietary restrictions, my husband now has an official diagnosis of gout, and for the past few weeks I had another whole long list of foods he's not allowed to eat. Unfortunately, we had eaten something from that list every single day prior to him being put on the gout diet. Beans, spinach, cruciferous veggies, nightshades, whole grains, yeast products - either in baked goods or of the "nooch" variety - the list goes on.

For a few days, all we had were some of the veggies on the "safe" list. As his foot pain subsided when the cortisone injection and colchicine he was prescribed started working its magic, he added back some foods, like the seitan and whole wheat roll that he insisted on taking to work as lunch every day. (Yes, during the worst of his latest flare he finished his disability leave and returned to his job) No reaction to those, so each day now I'm adding one more food from the list. Sunday was beans, yesterday was broccoli. So far, so good.

All of these restrictions may even be unnecessary, because Dr. McDougall wrote in the June 2006 newsletter that it's only the animal sources of purines one has to worry about, and I read the same info on-line in an article from Johns Hopkins. But the podiatrist said it's better to be safe than sorry, and for the duration of the flare-up - current and future ones - it's best to hold off on things, especially the high purine foods like beans and spinach. 

He had 2 flares in a 6-week period, which is why he had the blood test and got the official diagnosis. It's unknown what caused them - was it the rapid post-op weight loss, the food (Extra spinach and beans after the CABG operation for his post-op anemia), or all the exercise associated with cardiac rehab. The pain first started on day 1 of the exercise program, and the second flare happened after the last day of rehab, when he went 3 days in a row instead of alternate days, then went on an hour-long walk along the Hudson River waterfront the afternoon of his last session. Because it's unknown, the podiatrist warned him this will probably happen again in the future, but if he gets the primary care doc to order long-term allourinol, it may lessen the frequency, duration and amount of pain each time they do come.

Needless to say, I've tried no new recipes in this time. But I did get a new cookbook, Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live Cookbook. Many of the recipes had already been posted to his web site in the members' only section, or all his other books. Some have said they hadn't come across any new recipes at all while taking a quick glance through the book. It's still nice to have them all in one place, even if there isn't anything new. The Healthy Girl's Kitchen blog is currently doing a series of posts using recipes in this book, and her photos are of professional quality, so go, take a look at her comments on the recipes. Don't forget to read the replies, too. It's there where you'll usually find out where else the recipe was before and other people's experiences with them.