Monday, February 23, 2015

Chef AJ on Foody TV Web Site

Remember back when the weather was warm and sunshine actually existed Chef AJ made the announcement that she was making a few episodes of a web tv show that were going to "air" in Spring 2015? Well, they're already on-line.

The series is called "Healthy Living With Chef AJ", and the episodes are as follows:

Episode 1) Guest: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn; Recipes: Sweet Potato Chili, Beet Soup and Banana Strawberry Soft Serve

Episode 2) Dr. T. Colin Campbell; Recipes: Yellow Split Pea Soup, Quinoa Salad, Peanut Butter Fudge Truffles

Episode 3) Both Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell; Recipes: Breakfast Oats, Red Lentil Chili, Hail to the Kale Salad

Episode 4) Rebecca Martinez-Rocha (Chef AJ's sous-chef); Recipes: Hearty Lentil Tostadas, Mockacamole, Black Bean Brownies

Episode 5) John Joseph (front man for Cro-Mags and Ironman participant); Recipes: Clafouti, Cole's Cauliflower Soup, Caramel Apples

Episode 6) Classic Diner Food; Recipes: Mushroom Chili, Chipotle Burgers, Almond Milk and Chocolate Milkshake Smoothie

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nutrient Rich Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup. For almost 20 years now I've been using Mary McDougall's recipe that I wrote about here. Then I kept seeing Chef AJ demonstrating this soup in almost all her presentations, including just a few weeks ago in Hawaii in a speech titled Are You Ready to go Unprocessed?

I found this version of it online, a half-batch that uses "only" 2 pounds of greens:

Nutrient Rich Black Bean Soup
This soup contains over 4 pounds of veggies!!!

6 cups no-sodium broth or water
1 red onion, peeled
3 cans no-salt added black beans
4 cloves garlic
1 pound mushrooms
1 pound baby bok choy (apx 3)
1 large sweet potato, peeled if not organic (apx 1 pound)
1 pound bag frozen corn, defrosted
1 1/2 ounce sun-dried tomatoes, not oil-packed
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder, or more to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup lime juice with zest

Place water or broth and one bag of the corn in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add half of the beans, garlic, sundried tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes and greens in a large soup pot. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. There is no need to cut anything up as the soup will be blended. If you are using salt-free beans it is not even necessary to rinse or drain them. Remove from heat and blend soup with an immersion blender. 

Stir in cumin, oregano, Chipotle Paste, lime juice and remaining beans and corn. Garnish with Pepitas and cilantro or scallions, if desired. 

Another place where it was written, either she or the blogger (I forget who) said if bok choy isn't available, celery can be used, so since that's all I had access to, celery it was. I made this up before the first snow storm, so I still had access to decent mushrooms and sweet potatoes, but that store never has baby bok choy.

When she does the demonstrations, the pot is usually whisked off to a kitchen somewhere and behind the scenes people finish the blending portion so we never see the end results. Here's what mine looked like:

 This stuff was so thick the spoon could stand straight up in it! My husband, like most grown men who still have the adolescent mind-set, made a few gross jokes about its appearance, but stopped laughing after tasting the first mouthful. This stuff was good!

Was it better than Mary's recipe? Well, they're both so completely different that I could make one version one day, the other the next, and each will seem unique, unlike the other.

Will I make it again? I already have. Even making just the half batch size we had enough for 1 large bowl each for dinner, and it was so thick and filling that neither of us wanted seconds, so we had plenty left over for another dinner, so this was another of those recipes perfect for these snowed-in weeks we're having. The last time I made it I was reduced to using freeze dried sweet potatoes. I added another 2 cups of water and a cup of the dried potatoes. Not as tasty as using fresh potatoes, but good enough.

I have one more recipe to post to catch up with my backlog of food photos, and then I can start fresh again.

And once I can get the car out of the ice and drive to the grocery store, be prepared for even more newly tried recipes.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Orange is the New Black Potato

My husband cringed at the name of this recipe. "Who wants to eat a black potato?"

No, dear, it's just a take off of the name of the tv show, "Orange is the New Black."

"But the potato is orange, not black!"

"Shut up and eat your food!"

IIRC, the first time this recipe appeared was in Chef AJ's video, Easy Meals to Make You Thin"

It's one of those recipes that really isn't a "recipe" recipe, just a list of ingredients for you to toss together. Those are the best kinds of recipes. Every now and then on the McDougall forums or Engine 2 Extra web site various links are mentioned to things like "easy meals" and "3-ingredient recipes" and this recipe would fit right in. Heck, just about all the recipes in that video do!

The potatoes in the local grocery store I recently mentioned are horrible. They're greener than their greens and look worse than the mushrooms I whined about. All they have are russets, anyway. No whites, no reds, and I doubt they would know a Yukon Gold if someone hit them in the head with a 10 pound bag of them. But the sweet potatoes the day I was looking at them looked good, so I grabbed 6. 4 I used for dinner that night, but by morning one of the remaining 2 was moldy and when I cut into the last one it was black inside. (sigh) 

But that day, those 4 potatoes were perfect. 

This was my husband's bowl before he dived into it. There's the cut up sweet potato, topped by cooked kale, black beans, the Chipotle Corn Salsa from the previous post, and crowned with low-salt sauerkraut. He added a small squirt of sriracha after I snapped this shot, but that was all he added. His second potato he even left that off.

The sweet potatoes in that store have been hit and miss since then, and the last 2 I bought I used the same day as purchase for Jeff Novick's Indian Potato Curry Stew. Tomorrow morning, before the next snow storm hits, my son and I plan on taking another hike to the grocery store. If they have good sweets, I'll be picking a few up to make this meal again. My husband doesn't usually like sweet potatoes, but these 2 meals (AJ's and Jeff's) are the only 2 he enjoyed and asks for again, so I don't want to disappoint him.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chipotle Corn Salsa

This is another one I've already made multiple times but hadn't written about yet. First it was a Chef and the Dietitian episode:

and then I remember seeing this recipe a few years back on the Forks Over Knives web site and asked myself why should I make salsa when there are plenty of tasty ones in the grocery store. Well, as my stash of jars got low this winter I decided I better try my hand at making some salsa, and since I had already been making a lot of AJ recipes, said what the heck and pulled up this one.

Chipotle Corn Salsa


•    1 – one pound bag of frozen corn, defrosted
•    2 – 15 ounce cans of Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
•    One pound of Roma Tomatoes (approximately 4), seeded and diced
•    One bunch of Cilantro, chopped
•    4 scallions (or more, to taste) finely chopped
•    1 tbsp Chipotle Paste (or ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder) or more to taste
•    Juice and zest from 4 limes


Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Flavors will improve on sitting.  Stir well before serving.

Let's see, I already had corn, pintos, diced tomatoes, chipotle powder, a jar of lemon juice, even scallions. The only thing I didn't have was cilantro, and I always use parsley when a recipe calls for cilantro, and had plenty of jarred dried parsley. A few tablespoons did the trick. The Chef and the Dietitian video also used one can of sliced black olives, so I added them, too.

The whole thing went together in just minutes. But I do have a confession to make: I mis-read the recipe I thought it said 4 bunches of scallions, so that's what I chopped up and used. My husband liked it so much as it is, every time I make it now I use that much. No harm, no foul. :)

I made it up in the morning to use in a recipe that evening, but when my husband saw it in the refrigerator when he took his lunch break, he grabbed a few spoonfuls to accompany his sandwich. Even though it had sat maybe an hour, he declared it Fantastic! and Perfect! That was good, because this made up so much that the container you see in the photo is 12 cups, and this was snapped after he took almost 2 cups with lunch. The recipe makes about 8 cups making it my way.

I'e made this twice more since the photo batch, but instead of leaving it all in that gigantic Pyrex I split it up. In the refrigerator I put a quart canning jar full, and in the freezer I put 2 to 3 pint sized jars, and when the fridge jar is empty I just pull out the next.

One time I made His and Hers jars, putting even more chipotle powder in his. Hubby liked it, but said to just leave it alone and not do that anymore, that he prefers it a bit blander, the way I like it, because that way he can mix it with a lot more foods and the spiciness won't overpower it. Just now for lunch he ate his usual seitan sandwich on one whole wheat roll, and between 2 slices of ww bread he made himself a salsa sandwich. I was eating leftover rice for my lunch and just added a few tablespoons to it for a tasty meal for myself, too. Many times at dinner he'll been pulling a jar out and adding a few spoons to whatever we're eating, too. At least doing this he's getting plenty of fiber and phytonutrients and not getting all the sodium he was getting when pouring on a few ounces of sriracha sauce, like he use to do.

Next post I'll be making the meal I originally made this salsa for. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mushroom Chili

I started to write the next few entries back in late January, but life interfered with them getting fully written and posted.

(initiate whine sequence - can easily be skipped)

We had my husband's busy, stressful job, doctors' appointments, emergency eye surgery (hubby) for a retinal tear, blizzards, ice storms, and today an inspection of the multi-family house we live in by the city's health & safety inspectors. While preparing for that, the landlord has been in and out doing minor repairs, getting ready. Then the hot water heater burst within 24 hours of the inspection. Then I start showing symptoms of the same retina problems my husband did (Mine first started 10 years ago) but it turned out to be another false alarm. Good, because a few days before my husband needed him, our opthalmologist slipped on on the ice and broke his arm and we had to see another doctor an hour's cab ride away. Why a cab? Because during all this, our cars are trapped in the ice, above, below, front and back, thanks to multiple storms, multiple passes of the plows (pushing snow behind, under and over the top at the rear) and snow blowers (pushing snow above, below and on top at the front) and the owners of the cars to either side of ours shoveling and tossing their snow all around our cars because there just isn't any other place to put it.

The home inspection is in 2 hours, hubby's follow up appointment with the eye surgeon is in one week (and he's panicking because his vision didn't magically go back to normal although the surgeon told him it'll take months), and we're slated for 2 more snow storms before this week is out, and temps will remain in the upper teens and low 20's for at least the next 10 days, so the cars will remain in the icebergs until Spring thaw.


I have a few minutes to kill before the next panic-inducing event, so let me get get this post done, at least.

I've been making a lot of Chef AJ's recipes lately. One batch makes multiple meals, which is good when we have to walk a half mile and back to a local mom & pop grocery store. Less meals to cook mean less groceries to carry at one time. The first one I'll talk about is the Mushroom Chili.

Mushroom Chili

Recipe from The Low Fat Herbivore
Jocelyn Graef

2 pounds mushrooms (cremini is nice)
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves garlic
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can each pinto, black, kidney - salt-free (use the liquid, too, or add 1 1/2 cups water)
1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano  (not listed in 30 Day booklet)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (not listed in original recipe but IS in 30 Day booklet)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 pound bag frozen corn
(Bragg's and marjoram in original recipe by Jocelyn - skipped here)

Place all ingredients in an electric pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Release pressure. Stir in 1 lb. organic frozen corn. Delicious over brown rice or baked Yukon gold potato.

Notice I mentioned the "30 Day" booklet. This is in reference to the recipe booklet that accompanies the 30 Day Unprocessed Challenge DVD set that she and John Pierre have out. Most of the recipes in that handout had already made their way on-line, either as Chef and the Dietician shows or in the video Easy Meals to Make You Thin.

This set is well worth the money, unlike the new set, Ultimate Weight Loss, which even refers back to this set a number of times. At least the 30 Day set has recipes and demonstrates not only them but JP's exercises.

The first time I made it I was still out driving and had access to the chain grocery store I usually shop. I've complained about their produce in the past, but after the past month I made a vow to never bad-mouth them again! That store is nirvana compared to the local mom & pop store within walking distance of our house! The first time I had nice cremini/baby bella mushrooms that were fresh and tasty. The second time I was stuck with what the other store had, which was a choice between limp creminis or discolored getting-old buttons. I told my husband I'll find something else to make, that the mushrooms didn't look too swift, but he insisted they looked fine and tossed 2 boxes of each into the wagon.

Like Chef AJ in the videos of her making this, I used frozen diced onions.

Nobody here sells low/no-salt fire roasted tomatoes, but I have a load of diced, Pomi chopped, and diced petite, all low salt, in my pantry. I knew winter weather was coming and loaded up on these and other staples before the first storm hit.

The garlic I've been using in recent years has been the Dorot frozen minced. I used 8 cubes of it in this dish. It could have used a few more.

Although I have a Fagor pressure cooker and not an Instant Pot electric one (yet), I chose to make this on the stove, first bringing it to a boil then letting it simmer a few hours for the rest of the afternoon, nice and slow.

The first time, this photo, it tasted fantastic! We each had a big bowl with rice and still had so much leftover it almost filled a 12-cup Pyrex container!

The second time, not so hot. I do NOT blame the recipe, just the mushrooms. In fact, I hated those mushrooms so much that the very next day when my husband first started seeing blobs in his vision I feared some weird parasite was ingested from those mushrooms! Of course, once he spoke to our opthalmologist on the phone and he sent us to the retina specialist who made the correct diagnosis I still wasn't convinced it wasn't the mushrooms that brought it on somehow, especially since my own eyes did a few flashes and I got a few new floaters in my own left eye the same day. I've been living with flashes and floater for 10 years now and knew what I had was normal, unlike what hubby had.

As soon as I can get one of the cars out of the ice (Maybe this weekend - Sunday is supposed to hit 45 degrees before it goes back into the teens that night) and I can get to a real grocery store again, I'll be grabbing another 2 pounds of cremini mushrooms and will be making this that night.

There are still a lot of recipes from Chef AJ I would like to try, like the Enchilada Strata and Lentil Tostadas with Chili Lime Slaw, but they have to wait until I can do real shopping. You'll have to be satisfied with the upcoming handful of recipes.

Monday, February 16, 2015

How to Sauté Spinach

Just omit the oil, for us healthy cooking folk.

The February 12, 2015 Sheldon comic strip.

Even Chef AJ reminds people that 2 pounds of cooked greens can fit into the palm of one hand, so this isn't stretching the truth all that much.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Slippin' On the Ice

Our life for the past 3 weeks, and probably upcoming 2 more:

Is it any wonder why my husband really regrets moving back to NJ from Florida 15 years ago and has now decided that when he retires we're going back there? I already started checking out condos and apartment complexes and our doc said he can easily transfer our files back to his BIL's practice in Kissimmee again.

Think warm thoughts for all of us in the Northeast, okay?

And somebody lock up that groundhog!

Monday, February 2, 2015

School Is Closed Video

I wish we had snow day alerts - or a principal - like this when I was a kid. All I had throughout the 1960's was an air raid siren blasting literally 100 feet from by bedroom window from the top of the school a block away (The ENT I saw back when I was 12 years old said that the siren greatly contributed to my partial deafness).

Here's what I got:

Be sure to turn down the volume on your computer if you dare click this video! The sound was so loud I could feel the waves of sound washing over me each time it twirled in my direction.