Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kale + polenta = green polenta

Even though this blog is about green polenta, I have to get something off of my chest. I have some issues with the Food Network. For instance, I can't understand how some of their stars even have a show on the network, much less two shows. Case in point: Sandra Lee. What in the world is this woman doing with 2 shows on the Food Network? She belongs on some other network, such as DIY or House and Home-type networks or possibly even the Fox Network. Right up there with Glenn Beck. Get her off of the Food Network, please. Then there is the issue with the multitude of obese chefs. I think it's about time the Food Network started offering up some more programs with vegetarian meals and healthy-type menus, etc.
So imagine my surprise recently when I tuned into Guy's Big Bite, a program and personality that I for the most part abhor, to hear him proclaim that he was about to prepare green polenta. Green polenta, in case you haven't caught on, is polenta with pureed wilted kale added to it. I was intrigued and impressed. I watched his program, found the recipe, and prepared green polenta. Here's the recipe. In trying to keep to a certain limit regarding fat content, I decided not to use heavy cream or butter. I actually followed the recipe on the polenta package for making plain old polenta. I did, however, add a small touch of shredded Parmesan to the finished product. Topped with a nice helping of marinara sauce, this was absolute comfort food. Kudos to Guy - sometimes the ol' Guy can come up with something that even I approve of. Sorry that I don't have a picture - we ate it up too fast. After I made it, I realized that maybe having the heavy cream option makes your polenta more smooth and creamy with a consistency similar to oatmeal. Mine came out in the solid form, so that you have to slice it and pan fry it before you eat it. But it's so good that way! Try this recipe - it's easy and delicious.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Soup is good for the Soul

I am over one month into my New Year's resolution to prepare and serve at least one meatless meal per week and so far, so good. For the most part, I have been serving up meals that I have already posted about in previous blogs. As a result, I didn't feel the need to re-post about these meals. Last week, I made Curried Red Lentil Soup. I got this recipe from the Eating Well website. This recipe was easy to prepare and the soup was delicious and really flavorful. Even the old man raved about it. Sorry I don't have a picture of it - by the time I remembered to take the picture, we were in the process of finishing it up. We actually consumed the whole soup this time - I didn't have to throw anything out due to lack of interest. Give it a try. It definitely helps to spoon a dollop of yogurt (non-dairy works too) on the top of the soup before serving.
I'm not too sure what this week's meatless meal will be, but I might do something with polenta again. I prepared polenta with black beans and tomatoes last week and my husband really liked it. So I need to come up with something new. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year and a new promise

Happy 2010! Yikes, I can't believe it's been more than two months since anyone last posted anything on this blog! I have actually had some ideas, and some pictures, but life just moves too fast sometimes; and it seems like there is so little time to just sit down at the computer and compose anything that is not work-related. Bah! That is clearly not a good way to look at life.
So I hope to get back to blogging as I originally intended, that is to say, as a means of sharing ideas and recipes about vegetable-based, hopefully vegetarian, meals.
To start, sometime back in the Fall of 2009, I found a recipe for Pumpkin Turkey Chili. Now, of course, I know that Turkey Chili is not a vegetarian meal; however, the point of interest on this recipe is the addition of pumpkin puree to the chili. One could easily adapt this recipe to a veggie chili meal. I found this delicious recipe on the Whole Foods Market website, somehow, by accident I suppose. I highly recommend the recipe and the website.
Since this is a new year and the air is replete with New Year's resolutions and all that good (or bad?) stuff, I have decided that I want to incorporate meatless meals into my weekly dietary plan. I don't necessarily want to become a vegetarian, but I sure could use less meat in my diet. And my husband, too. For one thing, we could all stand to shave a little cholesterol out of our diets. We don't eat that much red meat, but it would just be nice to have a nice, filling, and healthful meatless meal at least once or twice a week. Last night, I started off by fixing myself a sweet potato filled with black beans and chopped tomato. This one I don't have a picture of, so you will just have to imagine a luscious baked sweet potato topped with black beans, tomatoes, and a dollop of Greek yogurt (which could easily be Tofutti sour cream if necessary). The beans and tomatoes were tossed with olive oil, cumin, coriander, and black pepper. This recipe came from the Eating Well website which is a website I check almost daily for recipes. The nice thing about Eating Well is that they include nutritional information with their recipes.
I have several new ideas that I intend to try beginning this week, so check back for more excitement! Haha. And Happy New Year again!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If only, if only I were creative, if only

A long time ago now I posted about dairy- and soy-free. I think y'all know that's an ongoing deal; we actually tested Luke and he is very strongly allergic to both food types. I was assured that infants typically outgrow these allergies once they get to be about 1 year old, and really they're not supposed to have much dairy prior to that age anyway.

But yeah, it's not easy for me. Whine whine. ;) Here are some things I have learned:

- Even "Hershey's Special Dark" chocolate has dairy in it.
- Even true dark chocolate chips, sans dairy, have soy lecithin in them. So no chocolate chip cookies for me.
- Earth Balance soy-free margarine is actually very good and I have no complaints.
- You cannot buy store-bought cookies that have no soy in them. You can buy wheat-free, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free cookies but you can't buy any freakin' soy-free.
- You can easily make soy-free cookies but they might be kinda bland, particularly because you cannot have chocolate chips in them.
- Carob sucks. (I didn't just learn that. I've always hated carob.)
- You will resent the hell out of Halloween, and Thanksgiving as well, if you have to give up soy and dairy and aren't sure of other ingredients right before these holidays.
- After two weeks of your only grain/starch side dish being quinoa, a baked potato is a culinary work of art. And it remains that way for a month or more.

Additionally, although Luke is generally a happy kid, he still has reflux and still spits up a great deal. So far he doesn't have bleeding reactions to eggs, mushrooms, potatoes, and today I'm trying wheat bread; unfortunately I think these things make him gassy instead. Poor kid.

Well. Why is this post titled about my being creative? Because I feel like, with the foods I know I *can* eat, if I had more time and more imagination I could probably make some really intereting meals. I mean, I'm nearly at a point where I have the basics for everything. Instead I just usually take those basics and make basics out of them. Meats get broiled or pan-fried, grains get boiled, and vegetables get steamed. Everything I eat is one-ingredient, with the exception now of Whole Foods wheat bread. Oh, and the afore-mentioned non-soy margarine. I guess some of that is because I really don't have the time to cook, but not a lot; a few times now I've made dinner for Dan and Dorothy, rather involved dinners in fact: turkey meatloaf, pancakes (technically not dinner, but shut up), and breaded chicken fingers. But I can't improvise to save my life, so for myself, it's just smack it in a pan and heat it up, then eat it later.

I'm going to be bringing a large portion of my Thanksgiving dinner for myself, just to be sure I can eat it (and so as not to put everyone else out), which is also what I'll be doing with my office's annual Thanksgiving potluck - even more so, in fact, since I'll have to provide my own bread, dessert, and quite possibly appetizers. (The dessert table at this potluck is intensely amazing every year so I am considering calling out sick that day.) It's not just the soy/dairy, it's that I'm only eating new foods one at a time to be sure Luke doesn't have a reaction, so I can actually write down a list of hte foods I can eat on a piece of paper and only fill about two lines. Honestly, I think it's under 20 total.

I DO have a delicious recipe for brown-sugar glazed carrots that I'll be bringing. You will all love it, guaranteed. Beyond that, I don't want to limit anyone, so I guess I'll just eat turkey and salad and bring my own dessert. Maybe something with apples.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dairy- and soy-free life for me

Due to babies with sensitive tummies, I am completely off dairy for the next seven months or perhaps longer. And for the next week or so I'm told to avoid soy as well - then I can reintroduce it and see what happens. The end result here is that I'm at a loss as to what to eat most of the time! I mean , whole foods obviously - but that's such a lot of work that I'd love to find good snackie things that are soy and dairy free... and man, there is pretty much nothing. All-wheat crackers are about it... ohand Clif nectar bars which are all friut and nuts.

The big benefit of this is, WOW to healthy eating! Talk about being forced into eating your fruit and veggie requirements. ;) But I hope I get soy back. I don't even get many options for margerine. Anyone who knows of good soy-free options, pls let me know!

The downside is that if Luke's tummy troubles don't clear up soon, I may have to stop breastfeeding. :P But we're being optimistic!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Veggie Burgers From Scratch

Happy Labor Day, everybody! A day late.

We didn't do anything special in the Phil-Charlotte household- Phil's been working everyday, so when he got from work we decided to just relax together. We did, of course, get some beer and movies and make a lot of food.

I bought Happy Herbivore's Backyard Vegan E-Cookbook a few months ago and still haven't made anything, so I thought Labor Day (what I always think of as the last weekend in summer) might be a good opportunity to try out some recipes. I made the mushroom burgers and the potato salad. We loved both!

Here's Phil's:
His has mustard, sprouts, avocado, tomato (that's the thick green thing-- they were heirlooms) and onion.

And mine:
Same as Phil's but with lettuce instead of sprouts and the addition of ketchup.

I baked ours, then panfried them (without oil-- still frying?). They turned out well for the most part, but next time I might reduce the amount of water in the recipe. I had to bake them for a really long time for them to firm up enough to not fall apart, and even then only the outside was firm. Biting into them was sort of like biting into a casing full of mush ... that tasted good. The whole thing was really satisfying, however, and we have leftovers shaped up in the freezer for another night.

I really liked the potato salad. It was incredibly simple, but great. I also made garlicky sauteed kale. Here's my whole plate:

We devoured our food while watching the first disc of season 3 of Dexter, our new favorite show. All in all, a good night.

BTW, the buns we used are made by Ultimate Grains, and are 100% whole grain and "all natural". For a product review, check out my blog!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lightlife Foods Lemon Flavored Tempehtations

I tried something new this past weekend. While shopping at Whole Foods recently, I noticed this little package of lemon flavored tempeh made by Lightlife Foods. I like tempeh but I wasn't exactly sure what to do with this stuff. So I let it sit for a few days until I got some inspiration. What I ended up doing was making the usual, a rice salad full of vegetables from my refrigerator and pantry that I thought would go well with the lemon-flavored tempeh. Since the tempeh was already flavored, I felt that there was not much need for me to add much in the way of seasonings. Basically, I started by making 2 servings of rice in the way I usually cook rice, that is, by sauteeing onion, adding the rice and then cooking the rice in vegetable broth for 15-20 minutes. While the rice was cooking, I chopped some garlic and sauteed that in a saucepan or skillet with enough spinach to serve 2 people. I added quartered artichoke hearts and some cherry tomatoes which I had heated in a pan with some olive oil until the tomatoes got a little bursted looking. I added everything to the spinach mixture, rice and all and then gave it a big tossing so that all was combined and then I ate half of it since it was essentially 2 servings. Personally, I have to say that the rice salad itself was delicious, but the tempeh with the lemon flavoring was so strong that I don't think I could have eaten it without the rice or artichokes or spinach. The tempeh was good in combination with those foods, but by itself I think it would almost have been unpleasant. But then I guess that's the way it is with tempeh. I ate the second half a couple of days later for lunch and it was a bit better. Very satisfying and very filling! Plus, I was surprised to find that it was not very high in sodium. That's always a good thing!