Saturday, November 20, 2010

BAKED leek, swiss chard and mushroom risotto

When I found out in Nava Atlas' The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet cookbook that I could BAKE risotto rather than stirring it for 45 minutes straight I am almost cried out of joy. You just mix rice, broth, and garlic together and bake for an hour - stirring every 20 minutes. Holy crap. What a miracle.

For this recipe I used short grain brown rice (rather than traditional arborio) - and my Le Cruset 1/2 quart cast iron bakeware to first brown the veggies on the stovetop before popping into teh over with the rice. It was marvelous.

Baked leek, swiss chard and mushroom risotto:
1.5 cup short grain brown rice
2 miced garlic cloves
2 cups boiling water
1 cup plain old water
2 tsp "better than boullion" - vegetable obviously
2 leeks - white parts only, chopped
1/2 bunch swiss chard, chopped
1 package sliced mushrooms
Parmesan or soy parmesan

Brown veggies in some oil. Add rice and stir. Add better than boullion to water and add to pot. Add 1 cup water and get ready to bake at 375 for 60 minutes. Set timer every 15 so that you may stir 4 times over the course of baking. When the timer goes off, stir in some parmesan if you wish- and add some for topping. Great stuff I tell you. I had this with my favorite mixed greens/goat cheese/roasted beet/pecan salad.

Life is good.

Post-Workout Smoothie

Check it out in my cute, little magic bullet mug!

This was so delicious and thick.

3oz. silken tofu
1/2 frozen banana
1 heaping Tbsp freshly ground peanut butter
1 Tbsp dark cocoa powder
2 packets splenda (I am always using packets because I steal them from work)
2 Tbsp coconut creamer
water to thin

Blend and you're done. It tasted like a thick chocolate milkshake for barely any calories! :-D

Friday, November 19, 2010

4Loko - dropping some science

Four Loko has been ALL OVER THE NEWS LATELY - due to the danger of mixing alcohol plus caffeine. Pressure from the FDA has prompted the company to remove caffeine (and taurine) from the product - which contains as much alcohol as a bottle of wine.

This is of course not before many states and universities have banned the beverage altogether.

How are caffeinated beverages mixed with alcohol so unsafe? Well, the short story is that at some point we all recognize that we are intoxicated - and stop drinking. Alcohol is a drug unique in its ability to be both stimulating and sedating - properties referred to as the "biphasic effects of alcohol." At first- you have a few drinks and you feel pretty great! You are talking to people, feel less inhibited socially, and maybe dance a bit. As alcohol intake becomes excessive, we begin to feel sedated. Usually, individuals recognize this and stop drinking - or at least pass out.

When mixed with large amounts of caffeine - alcohol no longer seems to sedating at high doses- meaning individuals continue to drink well past the point of intoxication while maintaining a perception of minimal impairment. You essentially have a "wide awake drunk" who can effectively make more money for the alcohol companies by consuming more alcohol than they normally could - who also puts others in danger by not perceiving their own intoxication - and puts their own selves at risk by drinking to levels of toxicity. And doing really STUPID THINGS.

Since I am an alcohol researcher - I felt it was only fair that I sample this beverage while it is still legal in NC to experience for myself what all the hype was about - kind of Albert Hoffman style.

Well let me tell you- the drink is cheap - only about $2.99! It came in some tasty sounding flavors- I chose fruit punch because it sounded the least puke-inducing. I felt GREAT while I was drinking it. The Polish in me came out right away by changing my cheeks to BRIGHT red.

I was giggly and generally happy.... then I just crashed. I was so tired I could barely stand it. This is probably because of the high alcohol content and my sensitivity to the sedating properties of alcohol.

So please, don't attempt at home! Unless you like drinking cough-syrup-ish flavors. Mmmm.

RIP Four Loko - though I hope though shalt provide me with a wealth of post doc opportunities if the science swings this way!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Seitan and Polenta Skillet with Fresh Greens

A super quickie post- I was on Nava Atlas' web site yesterday getting inspiration for week-night dinners, and happened upon this recipe featured as the recipe of the week, originally from Vegan Express. I never made this particular dish because it sounded plain- but trust me, it is anything but. I won't repost the recipe- just follow the link. The only difference with my version is that I used a HUGE bunch of swiss chard in place of the bok choy and spinach. It was DELICIOUS - and only 332 calories. WIN!!!!

Lazy and Productive Sunday = Snacks, Lunch and Breakfast

Today the husband and I woke up late (9:30 is the equivalent of 11:00 to my husband) and we headed out for a lazy breakfast before hitting up the the grocery store. While at breakfast, I checked my schedule to find it ridiculously light. Mind you, I do have FINAL edits of a manuscript I have been working on for months as long as the task of finishing up a lecture on opiates (yay!). For the past few weeks I have been SWAMPED- doing all of these things amongst running a study for 10-15 hours/day. For whatever reason I am never prepared for the busy weeks, so as a consolation, I decided to be overly prepared for the coming week by preparing breakfast, lunch and snacks! HOLY CRAP!

Too bad I won't be busy - but perhaps I can spend a ton of time at the gym to create the illusion of business. I am in a weight gain/loss competition with my husband to see who can gain/lose the most amount of weight before Xmas. He is trying to gain (tough life) and I am trying to lose. The most amount of poundage gain/lost entitles the winner to a free dinner. I am all over this.

Chocolate-Covered Katie has been whipping up some mini baked oatmeals ("boatmeals") this week - and I figured I had to be able to make these minis into a full pan (I also wanted to use my new cute little Le Cruset pan.) This will be 6 servings for me because of our friendly competition (I may resort to using Ex-Lax in his meals as we get down to the wire).

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal:
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 Tbsp Maple syrup
1 Tbsp splenda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup coconut milk creamer

Mix it all together and bake 15 minutes at 375. I dusted the top with cinnamon to be fancy. I tasted a spoonful already and it was GREAT. I am excited about breakfast this week. Add a light smoothie and I am good to go (and not gain).

My mom calls this "garbage soup" because you are essentially cleaning out all the veggies in your fridge.

Garbage soup: There is nothing to this: chop up all of your veggies, add it to some veggie stock (I had just made some) or broth, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 Tbsp chiles in adobo (is you like spicy things like me) and some seasonings. Simmer and that's it. Divide into little lunch-sized containers.

This batch contained: broccoli, summer squash, beet greens ( I was roasting beets for salads), onion, bell pepper, garlic, thai chile peppers, basil, herbs de provence, salt, pepper.... and I guess that's it. I will be eating this with salad all this week (I want to WIN)!!!


I recently happened upon Oh She Glows which is a cute little blog with gorgeous food/great pictures/a story of abandoning academia and opening a bakery (sigh). I was reading some past posts and saw these cookie bites - which were described as not sugary at all- PERFECT for me and my weight loss glory title. They came together in 5 minutes flat, baked for 14 and tasted great right out of the oven. A few of these after lunch will help my sweet tooth a TON.

I also bought a ton of summer squash for hummus dipping, some apples to slather with peanut butter for my 5PM pre-yoga/spinning/swimmming/pilates/metabolic effect sustenance, and those cheater bags of 94% fat free popcorn that we all learned in weight watchers is only 1 point for the entire 3 cups! Sign me up.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pasta with Greens and Tomatoes

I saw this post on my sister in law's blog, Fried Ice and Donut Holes and knew that I wanted it right away. The recipe is a breeze, and came together in no time - it's from the awesome cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers. We added asparagus (since I haven't had time to cook the veggies I bought at the farmer's market have just been sitting there in my fridge waiting for Dave to stop eating Papa John's pizza and chicken breasts with no sides). Dave saw some Tofurkey in the fridge and requested I add that as well, so I added two links and it was a nice protein addition.

12 ounces Whole Wheat Pasta ( I used brown rice pasta which wasn't bad at all)
1 medium head Escarole or Curly Endive ( I used Kale)
1/2 bunch asparagus
2 links Tofurkey Sausage - cut into cute little coins
5 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 can (28 ounces) Diced Tomatoes (I used two chopped tomatoes)
1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Dried Rosemary
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Chopped Olives, optional ( I didn't have any)

Saute garlic in oil, add greens and asparagus and cook until wilted/soft. Add Sausage and brown. Add tomatoes and cook- add herbs and saute until fragrant. Garnish with cheese and olives if you have them.

Ginger baked tofu and Asian mashed potatoes

I bought the Kind Diet book on Amazon after I saw some awesome recipe's on the book's community site, the Kind Life. Some things turn out pretty good- but I've had some pretty big flops, and some things I just couldn't eat because of their sheer saltiness. This tofu is an example of that - it was so salty I couldn't finish one slab - and I LOVE tofu! Especially when it is marinated and baked. Dave liked this - but I did not.

Ginger-Baked Tofu

1 container extra firm tofu
1/3 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup H2O
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
2 Tbsp umeboshi vinegar (omitted)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (increased!)
1 tsp brown rice syrup
scallions for garnish (optional)

Whisk all wet ingredients. Cut tofu into 4 "steaks" - marinate for at least an hour (I marinated overnight which may be responsible for the overwhelming flavor) Bake at 375 on foil-lined baking sheet for 15-20 minutes. Baste with some remaining marinade and flip. Bake 15-20 minutes longer. Garnish with scallions if you feel so inclined.

Served alongside I made some Asian mashed potatoes - since I had boiled potatoes days earlier and never used them - and soba noodles with spinach (an old favorite). We usually don't usually even have one starch, but Dave was off to play in his Adult League hockey game, and I figured he could use the extra energy.

Asian mashed potatoes
5 red skinned potatoes
coconut milk creamer to assist in the mashing
1 Tsp red curry paste
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp chopped ginger
Sprinkle yellow curry
Na++ and pepper to taste

I just threw these together and they were very tasty!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Grilled Portobellos

Another Portobello recipe.

Yesterday was my first day home after a weekend jaunt to the Chautauqua Valley wine trail in NY. As a 60th birthday present we booked a limo to take some family members around to local wineries and stay over at a Bed and Breakfast. It was a great time, and I was really impressed at the wines- especially Johnson Estate. Their port was great! It was a great but tiring weekend.

So anyway, I returned home to an empty fridge and a house that stunk of urine thanks to the new puppy. She, like my other dog, is especially cute - and also has an affinity for peeing on rugs. So we remedied that latter problem by hoisting all of our throw rugs out of the house, as they were completely ruined. DON'T BUY RUGS THAT CAN'T BE MACHINE WASHED!!!!!!

The problem of the empty fridge was solved by a quick jaunt to Whole Foods - where my husband spied some portobellos stuffed with cheddar cheese, red bell pepper and jalapenos. They were $6.40 for 2! Well, of course I refused to let him buy the ready-made ones, so we bought the ingredients and assembled them at home - where he threw them on the grill. I served them alongside some BBQ Tofu and roasted asparagus.

Take stem off of mushroom
Fill with cheese (I used Daiya)
Top with some chopped red pepper
Add jalapeno or cerrano pepper
Garnish with cilantro and avocado


I need to improve my pictures- they always look like crap!