Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vegetables - Beach Boys,and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2

Thanks to Joe Cross and his Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2

for refreshing my memory of this fantastic Beach Boys song from my youth. Here are 2 different recordings of it. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

McDougall versus Fuhrman Plan Video

I found this while roaming YouTube yesterday. The voices are electronically generated and sometimes hard to make out, but still an interesting dicussion.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Tomato and Tortilla Soup

This soup comes form Chef AJ's book, Unprocessed. I was playing around with some of her recipes before her new book comes out and decided to try this one.

Tomato and Tortilla Soup

4 cups red onions, finely diced (about 3)
6 cloves garlic, minced or through a garlic press
4 14.5-ounce cans salt-free diced tomatoes
4 cups water
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
12 small corn tortillas, oil and salt-free, cut into sixths (one 12-ounce package)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (approximately 2 limes)
avocado and cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a large pot, water saute the onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and water and bring the pot to a boil. 
Stir in the tomato powder and mix until dissolved, then add the chili powder and stir.
Reduce the heat, stir in the tortillas, cover, and let simmer about 15 minutes, until the soup is hot and tortillas soft and broken down.
Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice.
Garnish with sliced avocado and cilantro, if desired.

Chef AJ's note:
Normally to thicken a soup you use a Roux made from butter, flour and cream. The corn tortillas do the same thing as they break down, giving the soup a creamy texture and mouth feel but in a more healthful way.

Now, let's see, what changes did I make?

No changes with the onion; used Dorot garlic cubes; 2 boxes Pomi chopped instead of canned diced; again used that Mato Zest from Dr. Fuhrman (I told you the jar is neverending!); nothing special about the chili, corn tortillas or the lime juice.

I just didn't like it. We've had other tortilla soups and enjoyed them, but something was just "off" about this one. I think it's the lime juice. I'm just not a citrus person, and recipes form both AJ and Ann Esselstyn that have all this lemon and lime stuff just makes me feel ick.

But my husband loved it. He said he wouldn't mind if I made it again and he had to eat the whole potful by himself. Isn't he sweet, willing to sacrifice himself like this? LOL 

I probably won't make this recipe again, but will stick with one of my McDougall or other ones, but if you don't mind lime juice in your tomato soup, you'll probably enjoy it as much as my husband did.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cannelini Bean Meatballs

One of the good things about the Engine 2 Extra website is the recipes that are shared by its members. There hasn't been much forthcoming from the site itself lately except some teleconferences that aren't even saved like they used to be so members who couldn't participate can see what was said. There wasn't even anything special for the holiday season this year that I noticed except an "Iron Chef" type contest, which seems to have been going on in various forms for a year now.

Anyway, a member named Kirsten shared this recipe for bean balls made from cannelini beans that she revised from a recipe on the Cookin' Canuck website a year or so back:


1 ½ cans (15 oz. each) Bush’s Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed  (I added half can black bean)

2 roasted red bell pepper (2 halves), roughly chopped
½ medium yellow onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley (I used Italian seasoning...forgot the parsley!)
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
Crushed fennel (tsp or so)
Tomato powder (tsp or so)
Paprika (dash)
 1 tbs flx/3tbs water
Nutritional yeast (1/4 cup or less)
½ cup dried breadcrumbs (see note)
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce (your favorite kind)
Cooked spaghetti (whole wheat)

I topped with my 'parmasan cheese' which is nutritional yeast ground up with some sesame seeds...stored in fridge...makes a great 'cheesy' topping for pizza and Italian dishes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and roasted red peppers. Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in grated onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, flaxmeal/water combination, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper until well combined.
Using a rounded 2 tablespoon portion of the bean mixture, form “meatballs” by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and have developed a light golden brown coating, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a large saucepan, heat you favorite marinara sauce over medium heat until simmering. Add “meatballs” and stir to coat. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve over spaghetti .

The amount of breadcrumbs required can change depending on the climate (dry vs. humid). If you find that the "meatballs" are not holding together firmly as you are shaping the first few, add more breadcrumbs, then reshape.

My variations:
Instead of 2 cannelini or cannelini and black beans, I used a can of cannelini and 3/4 cup of pinto beans.

The roasted red peppers I used came from a jar. The recipe says 2 peppers, I'll assume she herself revised this to 2 halves. I used 2 peppers, as written.

Instead of grating half an onion, I tossed about 3/4 cup of frozen diced onions into the food processor with the beans and peppers.

I never have parsley or cilantro around the house except in dried form, so like Kirsten I used dried Italian seasoning, a heaping tablespoon of the Pasta Sprinkles from Penzey Spices. It has the same ingredients as their regular Italian seasoning, and that was just what I filled my jar with the last time it emptied.

The tomato powder I used was once again Dr. Fuhrman's Mato Zest. I really should hit the HFS or order from Just Tomatoes and get plain old tomato powder, but this jar just seems neverending!

For breadcrumbs I used Ian's whole wheat panko. That's all I have in the house right now.

Here they are right out of the oven:

I had to put them in an additional 10 minutes, because after the first 20 they were still very soft and moist, and when I tried to turn them over to let the bottoms air out and dry, they stuck to the parchment paper. After the additional 10 they turned right around with no sticking.

They taste delicious, and probably would have made a tastier burger than the McVeggie burgers and would make excellent meatball sandwiches, especially topped with a nooch sauce, but as far as bean balls to add to pasta, no. Even after a half hour they just fell right apart on the plate when a fork is stuck into it. I'll be sticking with the Mediterranean Lentil Meatballs from Sarah Matheny when I want something to go with spaghetti: 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

McVeggie Burgers

Mary McDougall's McVeggie Burgers have been around since the early days of the McDougall program, with variations of the recipe appearing in a number of newsletter and books. The Starch Solution is the latest place it appears, and there are a few small changes between that recipe and the one I used.

McVeggie Burgers

Preparation Time:  30 minutes

Baking Time:  30 minutes
Servings:  makes 16 burgers

20 ounces firm water-packed tofu, drained well

12.3 ounces silken tofu
10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
½ cup water
1 large onion, chopped
½ pound mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3 cups quick oats
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place both kinds of the tofu in a food processor and process until fairly smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the bowl.  Transfer processed tofu to a large bowl and set aside.

Drain the spinach well and press any excess water out with your hands. (Spinach should be very dry.)  Set aside.

Place the water, onion, mushrooms and garlic in a large non-stick frying pan.  Cook, stirring frequently until onion has softened and all liquid has been absorbed, about 10-12 minutes.  Set aside.

Add the oats and the seasonings to the tofu mixture and mix well.  Add the spinach and mix in well, using your hands.  Add the onion mixture and continue to mix with your hands until all ingredients are well combined.  Take a small amount and form into a ball shape (a bit larger than a golf ball), then flatten into a burger-sized patty about ¼ inch thick and place on a non-stick baking sheet.  (If you do not have a good non-stick baking sheet, then lightly oil your baking sheet first.)  Repeat this process until all the mixture is used.  (It will help to lightly moisten your hands several times during this process.)  Bake for 20 minutes, then flip over and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Cool on racks after removing from the oven.  Serve in a whole wheat bun with your favorite condiments.

The tofu - In the McDougall Made Irresistible video, Mary says to use 2 1-pound blocks of firm tofu, squeezed dry. The written recipe says 20 ounces. I used 2 blocks of 14 ounces each. Next time I'll definitely use only 20 ounces.

The silken tofu - Nowhere on the recipe I used or the video did it was to let this drain dry in a mesh strainer, as it does in the Starch Solution version of the recipe.

Cooking time - Every incarnation except one says to bake 20 minutes then flip and cook an additional 10. The Starch Solution version has you baking them 20 minutes on each side.

How I did it:
I did squeeze my firm tofu a bit then blot with towels. Along with dropping down to 20 ounces I'll also squeeze each block in my TofuXpress tofu press for a while first.

I towel blotted the silken firm tofu. Next time I'll let this sit in the strainer for a while.

Spinach - I forgot to defrost mine earlier in the day so about a half hour before this I nuked up the package, then put it into my tofu press. A recipe like this one I'll wish I had more than one of these presses, if I ever make it again.

No problems frying up the onions, garlic and mushrooms. The house smelled heavenly during this phase. My son locked himself in his room and opened his window (his bedroom adjoins the kitchen) because he's not a fan of onions cooking, but my husband kept asking why I didn't have those ready when he was eating his lunch, he would have heaped a pile onto his sandwich. That's why I waited until after his lunch break! Sometimes having a work-at-home spouse can be a bad thing! LOL

Now comes the time to put everything together. The tofu mixture seemed to be a bit wetter than expected. Hmm, I guess I'll add more oats if I have to. Drain the spinach - that's a lot of liquid! Now to pick it out by hand piece by piece. This is getting sloppy!

Wash up then grab the spices. Oops, instead of a half teaspoon black pepper I put in a whole one. Oh, well, we like pepper.

Add the oats and start squishing by hand. Now I really wish I put gloves on first!

Ack! I still have to add the mushrooms and onions and my hands are full of tofu and oatmeal glop! Good thing my son's room is on the other side of that door! He came to my rescue and dumped the veggies into the bowl for me and I continued to squish away. I had him sprinkle a few more teaspoons of oatmeal, too, as long as he was there.

Time to start making the burgers. I'm glad I got a  bowl of water ready by the mixing bowl. Be sure to remember this when making your own burgers, because you'll be rewetting your hands after almost every burger.

Time to call for the kid again. There is no way the 2 pans I have ready with parchment paper will be enough for this batch and he prepares a third baking sheet for me. I just made it, fitting 24 burgers between three pans. I wished I could make these burgers larger, but they're so wet and flimsy they sometimes fell apart in my hands and had to be reshaped. If they were any larger I would never be able to get them off my hand and onto the pan, especially when they're only 1/4 inch in height.

Here's a picture of them in the oven:

After the 30 minutes of baking time most of them were getting a little browned. Well, beige. Tofu doesn't really get too brown. They did firm up quite nicely.

How do they taste? To be honest, very bland. Tofu doesn't have much of a taste, oatmeal doesn't have much of a taste, spinch tastes like, well, spinach.

Luckily I put that extra pepper in there so at least they had some taste besides the onions.

I packed up 12 of them with bits of plastic cut from container tops separating them into a freezer bag and popped them into the freezer. The other 11 were similarly packed and put into the refrigerator, but I may pop them into the freezer later today if I can make the room. I just read on the page the recipe is on in The Starch Solution that these keep only 2 days in the refrigerator. Even if all three of us eat them there's no way these will be finished in just 2 days.

Those dividers? They were based on those divider discs that come with hamburger presses, like these:
Why pay for them when I can just cut them out of the tops of oatmeal or raisin containers! They're just as non-stick and food safe.

They were just okay, good enough as something to put on a roll and cover with onions, pickles and ketchup. It's healthy food in the tummy. I will make them one more time using the correct amount of tofu, maybe using extra firm instead of firm, and I'll drain the silken tofu, too. I'll also add some salt or a salt-free seasoning blend from Mrs. Dash, too, for some flavoring. If all that doesn't really help, it's back to Jeff Novick's Fast Food burgers. Much tastier and much easier to make.