Friday, March 27, 2015

Sweet Potato Chili (minus the Kale)

Another of Chef AJ's recipes. You can see her demonstrate this with Dr. Esselstyn on one of her Foody TV videos:

The recipe appeared on the Forks Over Knives web site back in January 2013, but I never bothered to make it because of my husband's dislike of most things with sweet potatoes in them. But lately he's been more open, and since he likes all the Chef AJ chilis I've tried so far I assumed he would like this one, too.

I was right.

It's me who isn't that crazy about it. I think. He loved it at first taste. It's one of those meals that hits you a number of ways, excites all different types of tastebuds, so I'm really unsure if I like it or not. We're having the leftovers today, so I guess I'll know for sure after dinner.

Sweet Potato Chili with Kale
Serves 6 

2 medium sweet potatoes, diced (approximately 2 pounds)
1 large red onion (approximately 10 ounces), finely chopped
2 15 ounce cans salt-free kidney beans
2 red bell peppers, seeded and finely diced
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, diced (or 2 14.5 ounce cans of salt-free tomatoes)
1 tablespoon salt-free chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (makes a difference when it’s smoked)
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste)
2 cups of Lacinato Kale, finely shredded like cabbage for coleslaw (or 8 ounces of Lacinato Kale)
3 cups of orange juice

In large pot, sauté onion and bell pepper in half of the orange juice for 8-10 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the kale.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft, but not mushy.

Turn off heat and stir in kale so it wilts, then serve.

To make in an electric pressure cooker, place all ingredients in the cooker and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes and release pressure.

How I did it:

Sweet potatoes. I cried the first day I went to make this. As I mentioned previously, our cars have only been free of the snow and ice for about 2 weeks now, and last weekend was only the second chance I had to hit a bunch of stores. Not only did I go to a different chain grocery store than my regular one for fresh produce, I hit the local Asian grocery store. Some of the things purchased in the chain were some delicious looking sweet potatoes. The day we bought them I had one for lunch and another that night for a snack. I needed at least 2 for this recipe so put them on the shelf where I always store sweet potatoes. The Asian store had not only purple sweet potatoes but the yellow ones, too, and I grabbed a few of those. I had 2 of these for the next morning's breakfast and put the rest with the other sweet potatoes.

Fast forward 2 days. I'm gathering ingredients for this chili. I reach for the sweet potatoes. Every single potato was either moldy on the surface, so moldy it was soft and leaky, or eyes 4 inches long had already sprouted. In just 2 days!! WHY??

It's been a bad winter, and I was so happy to have good looking, tasty fresh produce again, and then this happened. Yes, I wept a few minutes in frustration. I tossed them all in the garbage, got dressed, and grabbed the car keys. I didn't even tell my husband where I was going, I just left. I hit a different store and bought myself 3 sweet potatoes and drove back home, satisfied. There was no way these suckers were going to go bad between the time I put them in a bag and the time I chop them up in 5 minutes to toss into a pot! AHA! Gotcha!

Red onion - Our main grocery store is constantly undergoing changes, especially in the produce department. My first day back I had a long talk with the produce manager about this and he shared my frustrations. They used to have a lot of prepared, already-chopped or sliced vegetables. I used to go through 2 containers of sliced sweet onions every week until they dropped them. They dropped all of them except carrot and celery strips, shredded carrots, and finely diced red onions. For this I am truly grateful. Whenever they're out and I have to chop my own red onions, I cringe. If I don't wear the disposable gloves, my hands are dyed purple for a few days. I have a hard time getting the smell of those onions off them, too. But these containers of pre-chopped red onions, already measured out to the 10 ounces needed for this recipe? Priceless! Watch, they'll be done away with, discontinued, next time I need them.

Red bell peppers - I already had an open jar of fire-roasted red peppers in the refrigerator from some hummus I made the day before and used that.

Tomatoes - I used the cans of petite diced, no salt added.

OJ - I used a wee bit more than the 3 cups. My husband drank the rest of the quart I bought to keep me away from the temptation of drinking it myself.

Kale - No decent fresh kale in 2 different stores, both having very limp curly kale that looked like a bad perm gone through a thunderstorm. Bad analogy, but tough. I had bought a bag of frozen kale, but after my husband nearly chipped another tooth on a big piece of wood mixed in with the kale the night before, he insisted I toss the whole bag and never buy frozen kale from that store again. This wasn't the first time their kale had hunks of really hard stuff in it. So I used frozen spinach. I've never had a problem with that and we both prefer its taste over kale, too.

Even with all that liquid you can see those tiny specks of chili powder.
Dish it out over rice, take a forkful, and . . .

I'm not sure. With each mouthful you get both the sweetness from the sweet potatoes and orange juice, but there's SO much chili powder in there, too, that you also get a mouthful of spicy. It confused my tastebuds.

As I said, my husband loved it and has requested it be added to the new rotation, the one that consists of mostly Chef AJ recipes, specifically her chili dishes. If after the second time eating it I'm still not a fan, that's okay, because it's still tasty enough to put up with a few times a month.

As long as I can get good sweet potatoes, that is. I really wish we had access to frozen ones like Jeff Novick can for his Fast Food 4 DVD. That would solve a lot of my problems.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Our Current Menu

I should have said in that last post that those were the meals I *used* to make on a steady basis. From October (after VeganMoFo ended) through the beginning of January, that was the menu I followed, those were the meals I made, aside from lasagna on the holidays and a tater tot casserole on my birthday and our 37th anniversary.

Since mid-January I've been concentrating less on McDougall recipes and more on those of Chef AJ, mainly the ones she demonstrates in her Easy Meals to Make You Thin video and some of those she does in her Foody TV videos. If you look through past blog posts here you'll find a number of them that I've made, and in future blog posts I'll talk about some of the others that have become staples in this household. Some cannot be shared, either because they were part of a bonus PDF file for those who preordered her Ultimate Weight Loss DVD's (No longer listed on her web site's store page, for some reason, but Healthy Girl's Kitchen owner Wendy does a good write-up of it) or because they're from her soon to be published new cookbook and came right out and told us not to share them yet, not even the other people on her "secret" Facebook group.

Why those meals instead of the McDougall ones? Well, following the menus posted yesterday, I lost absolutely no weight. I didn't lose any weight at all for all of 2014, and in 2013 lost a few pounds only because my husband had his CABG surgery and for over a month neither of us ate much of anything. I've mentioned many times here how hard it is for me to lose any weight at all, even if I kept all my meals MWLP. I'm one of those who gain weight just looking at pictures of food, and that's only a slight exaggeration.

Following Chef AJ's (and Dr. Goldhamer's) rule of eating a pound of non-starchy vegetables before breakfast and at least another pound during the day, along with filling up on Chef AJ's chilis and soups, I've managed to easily and without hunger lose 7 1/2 pounds since mid-January. For the past week and a half I ate meals from the menus posted yesterday to finally start getting my cabinets and emergency storm stash cleared out, and in 10 days I gained 3 pounds, my husband gained 2. The rest of this week I still have McDougall meals planned, all MWLP except Saturday's pasta. Starting Sunday it's back to Chef AJ's soups and chili meals. 

Back in January I made the same old (empty) promise to my doctor that the next time he sees me I'll be down 50 pounds. I've said that at the end of every visit since 1983. While I may not be able to go that far between January and July, I'll certainly be able to show him a loss instead of a gain or no change this time around.

I'll always consider myself a McDougalling Starchivore, but at least for now I have to add a lot more veggies and legumes than Dr. McD recommends to make myself a lighter weight one.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Our Monthly Menu

Back in February, someone asked a question that had been asked dozens of times before on the McDougall forums - What recipes do you make regularly? Here's how I answered (edited slightly below to update or correct the information). Most of these recipes have already been posted to this blog, even if the link I provide is to the written recipe in a newsletter or someone else's blog post or a video. I'll have to pay attention next month as each recipe comes around again and if it hasn't been shared yet and *can* be (some authors don't allow it, saying their publisher doesn't allow it), I'll write up a post about it with some more grainy photos.

I have a 4 week menu I wrote up and use with very few changes month after month. We had lasagna for Thanksgiving and Christmas, homemade pizza for our son's birthday, and lately, being snowed in (from late January until just a week ago) and unable to get to stores, made a lot of soups, stir-fries and chili using what's in my stash. 

Week 1
Sunday - Unchicken Dinner with Mary's Golden Gravy (This just baked potatoes, homemade stuffing, canned cranberries, a big bowl of veggies, and the McDougall gravy)
Monday - Festive Dal Soup
Tuesday - Mac & Cheese 
Wednesday - Chef AJ’s Pea Soup or Hearty Split Pea Soup
Thursday - Veggies, Beans & Rice 
Friday – Mexican Rice Soup (This is so thick it's more a chili than a soup or even stew)
Saturday – Pasta with Jeff’s Marinara Sauce 

Week 2
Sunday - Unchicken Dinner with Jan Tz's Garbanzo Gravy & Chef AJ’s Maple Mustard Glazed Brussels Sprouts 
Monday - Quinoa Chowder 
Tuesday - Jeff's Simple Everyday Dinner or Tortilla Soup (minus the avocado) 
Wednesday - Your Kids Will Love This Soup 
Thursday - Chinese Rice (rice with frozen Asian veggies, sprouts, water chestnuts) 
Friday – Knock Out Chili (from The McDougall Program for A Healthy Heart
Saturday - Pasta with … (jarred sauce, loads of veggies, maybe some lentil meatballs

Week 3
Sunday - Unchicken Dinner with Mary's Rich Brown Gravy 
Monday - Fast Chili Topping (from The McDougall Program for A Healthy Heart)
Tuesday – Enchiladas 
Wednesday – Potato Chowder 
Thursday - Rice, Beans & Veggies 
Friday - Speedy International Stew (a.k.a. Quick Vegetable Topping)
Saturday - Pasta with Chef AJ's Quick Sun-Dried Tomato Marinara 

Week 4
Sunday - Unchicken Dinner with Happy Herbivore's Sage Gravy or Right Cups Casserole 
Monday - Mexi Soup 
Tuesday - Lori’s Sausage Chowder (minus the Gimmelean) 
Wednesday - Black Bean Soup 
Thursday - Chinese Rice 
Friday - Chunky Chili 
Saturday – Polenta Bake

Some months have a fifth week, like this one. I forgot to include this in my forum post. These are the recipes I use on those rare occasions:

Sunday - Sloppy Lentil Joes (over baked potatoes, rice, or on a whole wheat burger roll)
Monday - Mexican Casserole
Tuesday - Baked Beans
Wednesday - Chili/Cheese/Potato Casserole
Thursday - Rice, Beans and Veggies
Friday - Hominy Casserole
Saturday - Pasta with Chili Sauce (From the McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jeff Novick Says: Leafy Greens and You: How Much Is Enough

From the McDougall forums:

Non-Starchy Veggies, Leafy Greens & You: How Much Is Enough

Postby JeffN » Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:47 am
Non-Starchy Vegetables, Leafy Greens & You: How Much Is Enough?

How many non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens should you eat in a day? A few servings? A few pounds? or Six times per day? Should we eat them at every meal? What about for breakfast? Should they be a side dish or a main meal? And, when we discuss amounts, are we talking about servings, visual volume or calories? Someone could go "kale crazy" trying to figure it all out.

Here are a few articles and discussions to help you cut through the confusion. Take the time to read through them all to help put this issue in proper perspective & context. In addition, I have added a few posts below that have actually broken out the math.

How Many Non-Starchy Veggies Should We Eat?

How Much Kale Does It Really Take To Reach Nutrient Nirvana?

Eating Greens & Nitric Oxide Production

Leafy Greens 6x/day

Clarifying the Confusion: Dr Esselstyn Responds

McDougall’s Moments: The All-Vegetable Diet?

The Healthy Eating Placemat:A Visual Guide To Healthy Eating

A Day In The Life

Better to eat many different foods or a limited variety?

When Low Risk Means High Risk & Hi Benefit Means No Benefit

The Calorie Paradox: Is Your Plant Based Diet A Vegetable Based, Nut Based or Starch Based Diet?

In Health

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pizza Hummus

I have a new favorite food - Pizza Hummus!

I pre-ordered Chef AJ/John Pierre's latest program, Ultimate Weight Loss, and with the pre-order came a few bonuses, like a refrigerator magnet that looks very similar in content to Jeff Novick's Caloric Density chart:

a red rubber bracelet that reminds us to eat to the left of the red line (the left of the green arrow on Jeff's chart, if you move the arrow over one to the right to include legumes), and membership in their Ultimate Weight Loss private Facebook page. Sorry I can't link to the DVD itself right now - it seems to have vanished form Chef AJ's web site store.

Because it's private, we're not supposed to share things we see posted there, so I can't share the exact recipe for this hummus as it was posted by member Sharon. But I guess I *can* share the ingredients, because a list of foods can't be copyrighted:

2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
garlic cloves (I used 4 cubes of Dorot frozen minced garlic)
sun-dried tomatoes (I put about a cup in a measuring cup and let them soak in some boiling water for a half hour first)
red onion (I don't usually have this in the house so used the equivalent, about half a cup, of frozen diced yellow onion)
nutritional yeast (I used 1/4 cup)
dried oregano (1/4 teaspoon was enough for me
dried basil (A heaping tablespoon looked good)

I tossed all this in my food processor and let it whirl a few minutes, scraped it all down with my silicone spatula, and gave it a few more minutes to make sure the Dorot was defrosted and mixed in and those half-tomatoes were all broken down.

You can find other pizza hummus recipes on-line, but they usually contain oil, tahini, dairy cheese, and/or salt.

Here's what it looked like in the end in the storage container:

Little flecks of tomato and basil, a nice hint of garlic and cheese - it's fantastic! My husband now eats this as a snack at night, spread on a warm corn tortilla and rolled up. He says it tastes as close to one of those greasy frozen pizza rolls as he ever wants to get any more.

I'e already made up a second batch and it's as tasty as the first. Thanks, Sharon M.