Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whatcha Eatin'?

Some things I am enjoying lately:

Trader Joe's Chili and Cumin Chickpeas These used to come in a can and I have been mourning them-welcome back delicious friends! I mix some with a little tofu and veganaise and make a ridiculously good sandwich spread. That may sound like a weird combo to you, but it is DELISH!
Z Best Italian Bread After my beloved soy flour low carb awesome bread changed it's formula to inlude eggs, thus breaking my heart, I needed a new bread in my life. While this one isn't low carb, it toasts so beautifully and I've made several killer light and healthy paninis with it. Seriously, best-toast-ever. At 50 calories a slice, it's loaf to be reckoned with it! There are Z Best bakeries in a few different cities. Chicago Whole Foods stores buy from a shop in Evanston.
What are YOU eating lately?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Yumminess

I know I sound like a broken record when I report over and over again about my seemingly unavoidable tendency to run myself into the ground. My lifestyle has been taking a toll on me more than ever lately and Saturday it reared it's ugly head full force. Mr. BB30 and I headed to a family event (a Christening for one of the cutest babies I have ever seen). I woke up with a head ache and thought, "Oh no, I must be overdoing it with caffeine and am having withdrawals." So, although I knew I needed to address this issue since caffeine dependency is definitely not healthy, I also knew I needed to make it through the day. So we stopped for caffeine. Nothing. Head still hurt. Not good. Riding in a car for for over an hour on bumpy roads. Super not good. Incense. Mega not good. After the ceremony at the luncheon, I found someone with ibuprofen, drank water and tried a little cranberry juice. Uber not good. I was instantly nauseous. My head was splitting. I was so warm. I couldn't focus. My neck ached. I tried some bites of salad. More nausea. My only choice was to make my way to the car and lie down. Mr. BB30 and my sister-in-law made their way to the car and we went to a store to get more headache medicine. Mr. BB30 found an amazing patch for migraines that we stuck to my forehead, and I slept all the way back to to city. How embarrassed am I? SO EMBARRASSED. We are so busy we don't get to make it to many family gatherings and then when we do, this happens. Ugh. Luckily I snoozed off most of the headache and was able to function for my show on Saturday night.

I realized that although I have still been eating relatively low cal for the most part, my diet of the fast go-to-foods cereal, tofu "egg" salad, sandwiches, hummus, and popcorn is not well balanced at all. My body was crying out for the vegetables and nutrients it is used to. It was crying out for rest. I wasn't giving it what it needed so it rebelled and took me out!

Saturday night I got some much needed sleep and Sunday my husband and I headed to The Chicago Diner where I got big beautiful salad and a side of scrambled tofu for protein. According to our nice server it was a bit larger than the standard Chicago Diner Garden Salad. I felt rewarded for my good choice. This salad was so good. I ate every last bite and felt so nourished. Look at this beauty!

The beets were so sweet and earthy. The greens were so fresh. Bliss.

We stopped by the produce store on the way home and I picked up some veggies to create a big pot of soup goodness for lunches the week.

I chopped up:
1 small sweet potato
1 medium zucchini
1/2 of a large purple onion
1 small parsnip
1 giant carrot
1 large red bell pepper
1 medium tomato
3 stalks of celery
7 large cloves of garlic
This carrot was as big as my dog. Please pardon his privates.
I sauteed my veggies.

For the broth I added 4 cups of vegetable boullion and seasoned with salt, pepper, dried thyme, cumin, garlic powder, and cajun seasoning for kick. Then I added in about 1/4 cup homemade tomato sauce dilluted in a cup of water.

Of course this recipe (if you can call it that) is nothing genius, but a great basic veggie soup . This batch made six substantial servings that I've already separated into individual containers. Each day I'll add something to it to make it a little different and bulk it up. Today I added soy crumbles and fresh basil and sage that I picked from my garden this morning. I may add cilantro and tofu one day, noodles the next, possibly a scoop of instant cous cous or black beans. This soup will give me lunch all week long and cost about $6 to make (and I still have a full red bell pepper, half an onion, and lots of celery left). Can't beat that!
Tonight after Bikram I sauteed up some veggies and spinach and kept riding the vitamin train! I feel better already! Now for some sleep!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bob Harper Is On My Team

Today my pretend friend Alicia Silverstone posted a link on The Kind Life to the adorable Bob Harper discussing Farm Sanctuary and his transition to a plant based diet. I wanted to share this, because he is more articulate than I could ever be (as in-he won't break into tears).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Test Kitchen

First of all, last night I had a triumphant return to Bikram after several days away. Thanks to the holiday for some (not for me-boo), class wasn't as jammed as it usually is. I am glad that I will have more time to devote to class. I only have about a month until my beachy vacation, so I have to tone all I can! It's great motivation not to sink my weary self into the couch never to return. I've also licked my nasty cold! Triumph!

A week ago, with only a little time to spare I knew I had to get a grab-n-go lunch soup made for the week, and I needed to use up a beautiful butternut squash I had. I decided it was the perfect time to test out the Thanksgiving Contender of Ina Garten's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Curry Condiments.

The Recipe:
For the Soup:
3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (I used Knorr Vegetable Boullion)
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

For the Condiments:
Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally
Flaked sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
Roasted salted cashews, toasted and chopped
Diced banana

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash, onions and apples in 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread it in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until very tender. I tried peeling the squash to cube it per Ina's instructions, but I am pretty sure peeling hard squash is one of the most tedious, dangerous, and awful tasks ever, so I roasted it the standard way. Split down the middle, seeds scooped, face down. I also just used one sheet pan.

Meanwhile, heat the stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done, put them through a food mill fitted with the medium blade. (Alternatively, you can place the roasted vegetables in batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add some of the stock and coarsely puree.)
When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there's enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor. Reheat and serve hot with condiments either on the side or on top of each serving.
I couldn't wait until the next day to taste it! I made a baby bowl in one of my favorite sauce dishes and garnished with green onion and banana. I didn't have cashews or coconut, but I am certain they are delicious as well. (Seriously, I use these Crate & Barrel sauce dishes all the time for food prep, making flavored Earth Balance butters and to control portions with snacks.)
As with most recipes I try, I would have preferred some garlic, but overall, this soup was a sweet and savory delight. The next time I dished up a bowl, I added some cumin for extra spice and even more green onion. In true soup fashion this was even yummier the next day.

*Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Unavoidable and Another Thanksgiving Contender

What's unavoidable when you work yourself silly and people around you are irresponsible? GETTING A COLD FOR YOUR OPENING NIGHT. I am so exhausted that my immune system is shot. Other than not getting enough sleep, I pack healthy food for the day and take care of myself, but alas, no ZZZZs=open door for germs. On I trudge with my quest for work/work/life balance. Thank you for bearing with me! I will get this down yet! I have been downing hot tea to sooth my throat and have plenty of my favorite cold medicine, but alas, I'm sick. All went well and the powers of adrenaline powered me through. One secret weapon when my voice gets worn out from drainage is gargling several times with an apple cider vinegar/warm water solution. Apple cider vinegar is magical. Seriously. Google it. There are websites devoted to its many uses. So, if you ever lose your voice, gargle with an apple cider solution-you'll get your voice back for a least I do.
I call this stuff Liquid Magic!

Awesome husband alert: On his way home Mr. BB30 ordered me some healing spicy brothy thai soup for dinner last night and had it waiting for me! Huzzah!

Enough about my snot. Let's talk Thanksgiving!
Meet another contender:
Vanilla and Cardamom Glazed Acorn Squash Rings

A salty squash with a syrupy vanilla glaze. *Drools* This recipe is from page 51 of Fast, Fresh and Green by Susie Middleton and looks so simple and so flavorful!  

It supposedly serves 2 to 3 (but mostly likely 1 if you are me- hahahaha)

1 small acorn squash (1 to 1.25 lbs)
2 T. unsalted butter, plus 2 t. more if needed (I will use Earth Balance.)
2 t. pure maple syrup
1.5 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. ground cardamom
Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a large (18x13x1-inch) heavy-duty rimmed sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.

2. With a sharp chef's knife, cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise (though both the stem end and the pointy end). Scrape out the seeds and fibers with a spoon. Put each half, cut side down, on a cutting board. Slice off about 3/4-inch from each end, and discard. Slice the squash crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick half-rings. If you want, you can trim away any remaining fibers from the rings by running a paring knife around the inside of each. Pout the half-rings on the parchment paper.

3. In a small sauce pan, melt the 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the maple syrup, vanilla, and cardamom. Stir well. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the squash pieces with a little less than half of the mixture. Season the pieces very lightly with salt and turn them over. Brush this side with more of the mixture, but reserve about 1 tablespoon for brushing on after cooking. (If using a larger squash and you wind up with less than 1 tablespoon of liquid, add 1 to 2 teaspoons more butter to the saucepan). Season the tops very lightly with salt.

4. Roast the squash for 12 minutes. Use tongs to flip the pieces over. Continue to roast until they are nicely browned (the bottoms with be browner than the tops) and tender when pierced with a paring knife, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip the piecces over again when they come out of the oven so that the browner side is up.

5. Reheat the butter mixture briefly over low heat if necessary (or to melt the additional butter). Brush the butter mixture over the squash slices and serve.

YUM!!!!!!! Look at that color! They look like fall leaves! Sweet and savory fall leaves!