Chili Sin Carne

I love this time of year and making warm soups! I haven’t had much experience making completely vegan soups, however, because I have always made a lot of “cream of…” style soups. So far this fall, I have made Chili, Panang Curry with Tofu and Thai Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup*.

 

 

This Chili is my go-to recipe; I have made it so many times I think I could do it in my sleep. Sometimes I like to split the prep over a few days, so I roast tomatoes and any roasted peppers I am using first, up to a day or two ahead of time. The Chili is actually bette the next day, and Chili Cheese Burritos is nice to make with the leftovers, too. Or “Biddi” loves it on pasta noodles, like Skyline Chili from Cincinatti.

Vegan Chili

To replace the “meat” of Chili Sin Carne (“Chili Without Meat”) I used to toss in frozen fake meat crumbles, and briefly used TVP, but we have moved away from processed foods and now I prefer shredded carrots and cooked bulgur wheat. I got the idea from an Epicurious Recipe, but I have changed it over time. Roasting poblanos gives a nice heat, but it isn’t too hot for the toddler, which is nice. I add a tablespoon of chili powder in the bulgur when it is cooking to add more flavor to the wheat. Since Biddi loves corn, I usually throw half a bag of frozen corn in, but somehow forgot this time! I use whatever beans I have on hand, this time it was rosado (“pink”) beans and black beans–garbanzo beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and cannellini beans are all great. I have even used frozen edamame or lima beans in a pinch.

 

 

 

Chile Sin Carne Ingredients

  • Olive oil (1 tbspn for tomatoes, 1 for chili)
  • 4 lb Tomatoes
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 3 small Onions, or 2 medium Onions
  • 1 Yellow or Red or Orange bell pepper
  • 2 Poblano peppers
  • 1 lb mushrooms ( I used 8 oz each button and portobello)
  • 1 cup Red Bulgur
  • 10 oz bag shredded Carrots (or a bunch of Carrtos, shredded in food processor)
  • Chili powder(1 Tbspn for Bulgur, 1 for chili)
  • Fine pink Himalayan Salt (1/2 tspn for tomatoes and 1/8 tspn for chili)
  • 2 cups veg stock or water
  • 30 oz can Black beans
  • 15 oz can Rosado beans

Chili Sin Carne Cooking Method (Serves at least 6)

  1. Cut tomatoes and toss in 1 Tbspn Olive Oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  2. Convection Roast tomatoes on parchment paper at 375-400 for 30-45 minutes, turning once
  3. Roast Poblanos over open flame, cover to steam blackened skin off for 5 minutes, wash in cold water to remove char
  4. Cook Bulgur wheat according to package instructions with an added tablespoon of chili powder
  5. Cook Onions and Garlic for 5 minutes
  6. Add Carrots, Bell peppers and Poblano peppers, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook for 10 minutes (the salt will draw out some water from the veggies)
  7. Add Mushrooms and cook for 5-10 minutes
  8. Add roasted tomatoes, cooked bulgur, beans, and 2 cups liquid (stock or water) and cook for 30 minutes
  9. Serve with Avocado, salt, and hot sauce

The one problem with chili at this time of year is that I try to avoid using canned tomatoes, which leaves me at the mercy of grocery stores and their red-but-underripe tomatoes. These Romas were ok, they were from Canada and I had to cut some tops off because they were looking like mold was imminent.

We have a decently big greenhouse that produces local tomatoes, but since Amazon took over Whole Foods, they have been impossible to find–tragic! I am pretty underwhelmed by the changes since Amazon took over WF. Among my running tally of small changes that are disappointing, Amazon replaced the old produce bags with super shiny ones that I am sure have some BPA or similar chemicals in them. Since I have a pituitary adenoma (prolactinoma) I try to avoid BPA whenever possible, since BPA is probably the cause. I am hopeful the 365 brand canned goods remain BPA free. I also haven’t seen any real cost savings, but I will hold off a final judgement for a while longer.

Whatever, these tomatoes were organic, from Kroger, and 75% ripe. They weren’t packed in a can with tomato paste and sugar so for December I guess it is a win! Using home-roasted tomatoes adds a nice depth of flavor and eliminates not only added salts and sugars, but also BPAs!

* I followed Nerds With Knives’ recipe exactly, but my Squash was closer to 4 lbs, I skipped the Agave and Candied nuts, went heavier on the curry paste, and just dumped the whole can of coconut milk at once, rather than drizzling at the end.

80 Healthiest Foods

In the Spring, I bought a special issue of Time magazine entitled the 100 Healthiest Foods. There is more meat than I would consider “healthy,” including chicken, pork, turkey, halibut, scallops, cod, oysters, “grass-fed” hamburger and steak; salmon and tuna are on the list, but I would consider letting those slide. Other non-plant or processed foods on the list are: whole wheat pasta and wheat bread, eggs, parmesan cheese, goat cheese, full fat milk, cottage cheese, mozzarella, whole fat greek yogurt.

The remainder of the list, about 80 items, are plants and whole grains that I consider nutritious and healthful. I routinely reference the magazine and inventory our dinner or lunch and cross my fingers that we are eating 5-10 of the items from the list. While Swiss chard is not on the list, mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach are, so I feel like I am really deserving of 11, instead of 10! I have no doubt that Swiss Chard is better for human health- than cheese or meat! The following are the ingredients in this Buddha Bowl which are included 100 80 Healthiest Foods, in alphabetical order

  1. Almonds
  2. Avocado
  3. Black Pepper
  4. Broccoli
  5. Brown Rice
  6. Chickpeas
  7. Garlic
  8. Jalepeño Peppers
  9. Peanut Butter
  10. Sesame Seeds

 

Chickpea Buddha Bowl- strained wild rice

I recently watched an episode of Dr. Oz* about inorganic arsenic in brown rice, and potentially other heavy metals I assume. “Biddi” is only 2 and she has been eating wild rice and brown rice weekly for a year and young children are especially susceptible to the poison. I guess those “healthy” varieties of rice are especially high in arsenic compared to white rice because the husk stores the arsenic.

According to the Consumer Reports data, Lundburg Farms brown rice is lower than other brown rices, but the wild rice variety I regularly buy was not tested; their levels of arsenic in the short grain brown rice was higher than some brands of white rice. Their recommendation, based on arsenic being a known carcinogen, is that children should have only 1 serving of rice OR 1 serving of rice cereal per week. I had just bought Biddi some new cereal to cut the monotony of Shredded Wheat and Cheerios when I learned all of this, and I now realize that Rice Chex cereal tested higher than most brown rices! And she was loving it…I sense a tantrum in the near future.

I am now cooking brown rice completely differently, per recommendations by BBC and the Huffington Post; it is actually easier and faster.

Rice Cooking Method:

  1. I first soak the rice overnight in a 5:1 ratio of water to rice, this reduces the arsenic levels 80%. If I decide to prepare rice for dinner at the last minute, I soak it in water as long as possible, changing the water every 30 minutes or so.
  2. To reduce arsenic levels further, I cook the rice more like pasta, with a 6:1 of water–at a full boil instead of a simmer–which reduces the arsenic 60% in and of itself
  3. Then I drain it in a colander, rather than following the instructions which recommend evaporating all the water.

The texture is a little different with this cooking method; the husks sometimes split slightly, but it isn’t worse per se, just different. It usually cooks in about 15 minutes instead of 45-60 so that is an improvement as far as I am concerned.

I am making an effort to try a wider variety of grains, with varied success. I bought and tried amaranth–in the 100 80 Healthiest Foods list–but it was gummy. I won’t go so far as to say it was a total fail, just that I haven’t perfected it yet. Bulgur is my go-to “meat” in chili, it has the best texture! Quinoa also has higher levels of arsenic than other grains, albeit not as high as rice’s levels. Buckwheat is a great alternative, but it dries out quickly in the fridge so it is not ideal to store for a few days, the same way rice and quinoa save. Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Red Chard

 

Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Red chard and garlic

Sauttée chard in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add 3 cloves chopped garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

 

Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Chopped Broccoli
Finely Chop a bunch of broccoli
Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Cilantro
Rough chop 1/2-1 bunch cilantro

Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Swiss chard and broccoli

Chickpea Buddha Bowl-Sliced Jalepenos
I like to use a mandolin to slice spicy peppers, to save my fingers from a capsaicin burn

Chickpea buddha bowl- with jalepenosChickpea Buddha Bowl- with almondsChickpea Buddha Bowl

Chickpea Buddha Bowl Recipe

  • Layer 1/2 cup rice in bowl
  • Arrange the next ingredients in individual “pockets,” not combining as a salad
  • Add 1/3 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup broccoli, and 1/2 bunch red chard, sautéed in olive oil and garlic
  • Add 1 tomato, seeded and quartered
  • Add 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced,
  • Top with 1/2 jalepeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • Top with 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Top with 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Top with 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and washed
  • Dress with Sriracha to taste and Peanut Dressing
  • Top with avocado rosette

Peanut Dressing (serves 2)

  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil or Peanut Oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons Peanut Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1/8 teaspoon each: ground ginger and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves Garlic, grated
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Combine all ingredients and whisk together

Chickpea Buddha Bowl with Avocado

*I will omit any discussion of Dr. Oz as a health expert, because my husband is in the John Oliver/Last Week Tonight camp in regards to Dr. Oz, and I credit him with completely opening my eyes to the right way to eat and what real food actually is! I did further research on arsenic in rice, to make sure this wasn’t a Chicken Little scenario, and what I learned was concerning that I have modified the way I cook rice.

Untitled Buddha Bowl #1

This summer, we took a family trip to North Carolina. Asheville has so many delicious vegetarian options, and totally veg-restaurants and we ate at them all, here are our top 3:

  1. Laughing Seed Cafe, Asheville, NC
  2. Rosetta’s Kitchen, Asheville, NC
  3. Guadalupe Cafe, Sylva, NC

Buddha BowlAsheville is amazing and we saw cool bands and drank great sour beers–which I currently prefer to super-hoppy IPAs–but I am in awe of the Buddha Bowls at Guadalupe Cafe. They were great, the ingredients were really fresh, and they took all of our leftovers to feed to pigs. Yes, those pigs are on the menu, so it isn’t quite as vegetarian as the other two restaurants in my top 3! However, I have been making and remaking Buddha Bowls on the hunt to capture the amazing lunch we had there.

Instagram is full of Buddha Bowl pics, but no recipes. I thought I was late to the party, but most of my friends have not heard of them either. As far as I can discern it is a salad, but the ingredients are sequestered for each person to “toss” themselves, as it were. It is kinda interesting because it doesn’t have the monotonous quality of each bit being the same–one bite is ginger and Swiss chard, the next raw carrots and jalepeños.

Avocado Rosette And of course, it must be topped with an obligatory avocado “rosette.”

I have really become obsessed with cooked Swiss chard in these bowls, and fresh peppers are always a nice crisp addition. The best thing is that when I cook an entire bag of frozen edamame or a whole bunch of fresh broccoli, I can save the leftovers and I am halfway done cooking lunch for tomorrow! I can just mix up the flavors but topping it with a peanut butter ginger dressing or adding corn and chipotle to make it Mexican instead of Asian.

Untitled Buddha Bowl Recipe #1 (serves 1):

  • 1/4 cup cooked Quinoa
  • 1/4 cup raw spinach
  • 1/3 cupe grated carrots
  • 1/4 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons Sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 avocado, halved, peeled, sliced, fanned, and twisted into a rosette
  • 1/3 cup frozen edamame, heated in olive oil
  • Black and White sesame seeds, to taste
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Ginger Sesame Dressing

Ginger DressingGinger Sesame Dressing (serves 2-4)

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginder
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Sesame Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more to taste

So this is the last hurrah of these bright summer flavors. It was 40 degrees here today and our summer is officially over! I am excited to make some bowls with winter squash and dark, leafy winter greens.

 

 

Summer Resolution. And on to Fall.

Top Five best things about fall, in no particular order

  1. Apples

  2. Sweet Potatoes
  3. Autumn Leaves
  4. Halloween
  5. Layering Clothes: Sweaters, Scarves, Hats, Over-the-Knee Socks, and Boots

This summer has been an exciting mix of family travel and developmental growth for Biddi, complemented and punctuated by produce and new recipes.

The wild finale of hurricane season made for some unseasonably warm weather up North and even some record-breaking heat; Indian Summer provides closure and I am really looking forward to some cooler evenings soon.

I have a massive backlog of summer recipes and pictures but I was having so much fun that I never pulled myself together long enough to post them! Better late than never, and if I actually try to type out recipes, these pictures will sit, gathering virtual cobwebs in the cloud. They are pretty self-explanatory even without recipes.

The weather can’t decide if it is summer or fall, but since school is back in session, summer must be over.  Another clue: we have been eating fresh apples again. After mealy old ones during the spring and summer months, I always look forward to nice crisp ones that haven’t been in storage for months.

Eclipse ShadowsMy latest obsession is making Buddha Bowls with avocado rosettes plopped right on top, inspired by all the amazing vegetarian food the family enjoyed in Asheville and Sylva, NC when we visited for the Eclipse in August. I am still perfecting the rosette technique, but now that I have cleared my phone of old food pictures, I can start taking new ones again!

Frozen Blueberries in Record-Breaking Heat, Common Ground Fair, MEWe also just returned from Maine and found a couple of vegetarian spots that offered a respite from the lobster rolls. And visiting farmers’ markets in new cities is always fun, especially the enormous one at the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine. The frozen wild blueberries were amazing, since we missed the end of berry season by about a month and it was almost 90 degrees. That may become an annual stop for our family, it was really fun. I wanted to find something wool as a souvenir but I couldn’t even look at the blankets and sweaters without breaking into a sweat–the poor sheep!

And “the baby” is now calling herself a Big Girl, it’s bittersweet but she really is growing up! We are potty training now after reading a few books and blogs we are making progress…except she is trying to not have bowel movements. She runs and grabs diapers when she needs to do #2. And runs around yelling “rainbows,” when she really has to go–referring to her rainbow underpants–which may be the funniest thing anyone could say to signal a poo is coming. In the Trolls movie, they fart glitter and poop cupcakes so it is almost like she is a little troll, and that very well may be her Halloween costume this year if I can get her hair to stand up straight like the dolls’ hair.

We made homemade Play Dough one day and it is amazingly soft and easy for her to manipulate. We added a few drops of essential oils so the dough is scented, which is a nice bonus sensory experience. She made up a way to decorate the hearts with polka dots, then said, “mommy and baby.” How cute? Too cute.

Biddi’s main interest these days is art projects. She made some sponge painted fish this summer in her summer camp, which are now framed in her room. She even found burnt charcoal on the shore in Maine and drew all over a boulder! Coloring with markers is her new go-to activity and now she is getting in to painting. There is no going back now! Paper Bag PuppetsShe had leftover non-toxic paint from the wooden car and train we bought and decorated about a year ago. The black paint is finally off my floor, so I figured we were good to go make another mess today. We made puppets from paper bags! I even managed to let her paint them herself (for the most part) instead of hovering over her and telling her what color to put where. She was really focused and stayed in the lines I sketched remarkably well!

Hot Yoga Re-Up

I went back to my yoga practice after a few weeks away today. My intention for practice was to get stuff done, so getting more sewing during Biddi’s naps and complete the backlog of garments (and the corresponding blog posts).

I recently took the toddler on a cross-country road trip; sitting in a car for so 10 hours at a time has wreaked havoc on my entire musculoskeletal system. We are happily back at home and getting back in to the routine of things. I am all caught up on laundry, the pantry is stocked with produce, and the sunburn on the driver’s side of my face has receded. And so I celebrated with long-overdue yoga–I think it must have been over a month since the last time I attended hot yoga. Today, I moved away from my former favorite spot directly underneath the heater so that I could spare myself the embarrassment of passing out, but surprisingly the heat was fine and I retained most of my arm strength. However I did skip almost every “optional” chaturanga and so I proceeded directly to downward dog without passing go or collecting $200. Hopefully next week I can be under the heater and resume floating to plank with a little less effort than it took today. I would love to get back to a tripod headstand again, too. Scorpion is still on the horizon, or bucket list perhaps.

This past weekend we took some family bike excursions and it felt really nice to get moving. I didn’t have any muscle fatigue, which was great but my spine started to feel totally out-of-whack. I think a two-fold attack will remedy the situation: reducing inflammation with more plant-based foods and building some strength back after my lazy summer with more yoga.

We visited 2 different farmers’ markets and had a blast. I made Gumbo and Ratatouille and have great leftovers!

Vegan Gumbo.jpgThe only modification I made for the Vegetarian Times’ Gumbo recipe was to use Cubanelle pepper in the gumbo and omit the cayenne because Baby B has become very averse to anything remotely spicy and specifically black pepper.

Ratatouille.jpgFor Martha’s Ratatouille, I roasted 15 cored, seeded, diced tomatoes for about 45 minutes on 375 degrees instead of canned tomatoes, using the same roasting method as my marinara recipe. I also fire roasted a red pepper and an Anaheim pepper instead of the raw bell peppers in the original recipe. I like the flavor and texture of roasted red peppers better than raw green peppers added to a recipe. I started using this method because pepper skins gave me terrible indigestion when I was pregnant. Pepper skins no longer upsets my system but the memory has made me completely averse to them so I roast by default. I think I may make it again this wee–while eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onions are still in their peak–with the Jaques Pepin Recipe that I first loved with the skins on and a splash of red wine instead of water…or the red wine vinegar that Martha suggests.

It seems odd to eat so much soup at this hot, humid time of the year, I suppose, but so does doing hot yoga inside a heated room, inside of an air-conditioned building when the temperature outside is exactly the right temperature…

Farmers’ Market Haul

We have been over scheduled and having tons of fun, but Biddi may be done with naps. At just 24 months, it seems early from everything that I have read on the subject. This seems very unfair, but she won’t sleep anymore during the day. It is probably karma because I only slept 6 hours a night from age 12 until I was 30 and I think she inherited my aversion for sleep. My coping mechanism in reaction to my loss of quiet time in the afternoon has been to eat a cracker whenever I hear her not sleeping when she should be. This morning I woke up feeling like I haven’t had real food in days!

We made an emergency trip to the Farmers’ Market and practically bought one–or ten–of everything. My haul includes: raspberries, golden raspberries, black raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, portobello mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, broccoli, garlic, zucchini, squash blossoms, spring onions, heirloom tomatoes. Sunny days plus rain make real food. And since I am paying a premium for the good organic stuff, I leave on a little bit of that expensive soil with its premium microbacteria whenever possible.

*Speaking of sunny days, we had a wonderful time yesterday learning about food and edible plants at Biddi’s first day of summer camp. The theme was gardening and the kitchen. We planted a cherry tomato plant, watered zucchini and watermelons, and she learned to cut up fruit, which was her absolute favorite thing ever! I might have to copy this idea so she can prepare her own snacks from now on. It was so cute and she is so intense learning new things–she has been dying to use a knife for months, after watching me in the kitchen her whole life; we might never be able to unring that bell!

 

 

Back to my produce haul, buying the food is easy. My challenge is, of course, to prepare and eat all this great food. The fruit is never hard to eat at this time of the year, and if it starts to seem too soft, the freezer is attached right to the fridge! In my opinion, trying new foods is vital for Biddi to have the best nutrition possible and a healthy relationship with food. I have been thinking and rethinking my options…and I have a plan of attack that encompasses a few different styles/ethniticies of food and utilizes most of the produce I splurged on this morning:

Since I have a few orange peppers already at home, tonight we will have mushroom-squash blossom-stuffed peppers and a side salad. Tomorrow I need to use a couple of avocados and soem poblano peppers I just roasted because they were on the verge of going bad, so probably some mexican food for lunch. Dinner will be bruschetta I plan to make tonight so it can sit overnight to let the flavors meld. We have friends in from out of town, so that can be a late night snack. The zucchini might become noodles with pesto probably, although that almost seems like a waste–the zucchini is so delicious looking and fresh I might just eat it raw as a snack!

This weekend I made a delicious Vegan Pesto based on a New York Times recipe, but used garlic scapes instead of boring old garlic. And my daughter “Biddi” and I harvested our Basil plant. Three cups of basil and it did not even put a dent in those plants! We toasted the pine nuts together, but I made the mistake of letting her try one while they were still too hot and she lost interest in helping me in the kitchen altogether. Since I did not use cheese, the flavor was a little bland so I added 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated pink Himalayan salt. So there is a downside to not having cheese, but also a benefit: without the cheese, it can also be stored in the freezer if it isn’t all gone within a week.

Vegan Pesto (makes about 2 cups)

  • 3 cups Basil
  • 4-5 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste

Cooking Method

  1. Add the first 3 Ingredients to a food Processor
  2. Pulse 5 times and then turn it on, streaming in the olive oil until it is the right consistency.
  3. Add salt to taste
  4. I leave my pesto slightly thick and then thin it with olive oil for various recipes, if needed.

The pesto has been great and we are using it on everything from pasta to tofu and even the fingerling potatoes I bought at the market for lunch today. I haven’t had potatoes in ages, they were a nice treat. I just tossed them with about 1/4 cup pesto and a tablespoon of olive oil and a few cloves of extra garlic and cooked on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, turning once halfway through.  I also tossed some chopped broccoli–with their stems–and garlic scapes and a tablespoon of pesto in a small skillet and served that along side the potatoes. It was really filling and since we had been eating fruit all morning it was definitely enough food.

 

Hot Yoga on an Empty Stomach

I have been reading about the health benefits of exercising on an empty stomach and decided to try it out. The new scientific consensus seems to be that one burns fewer calories on an empty stomach, but those calories are higher percentage of fat. While eating a balanced breakfast before working out results in a higher calorie burn, but those calories are mostly from the breakfast itself, rather than fat stores.

I used to flip out if I didn’t get a bagel once a week…and my poached eggs. Since pregnancy, I don’t like bagels and eggs make me sick all day.  Without those two items, I am no longer a fan of breakfast, really. I have spent years forcing myself to eat OJ and breakfast cereal  “because breakfast is healthy,” and it gets me is so hungry by 11:30. So this research supports my preferences and it’s the classic self-confirmation bias at work.

I had previously attempted fasting exercise a few weeks ago, in a Hot Yoga class. I had never attended that particular class before–it was so crowded, it must have been 115 degrees. I was about 2 inches from butts in my face in every direction at one point. As a result of the overcrowding, there is no word for how hot it was in that room. It was also an instructor whom I had never before met, so it was a new style of yoga; we spent most of the time coming up from the floor with no “flow”–very challenging simply because of the novelty. It did not go well. I was in child’s pose for 25 minutes. I was so embarrassed! I wanted to steal the Jolly Rancher off my neighbor’s yoga mat. I really, really wanted to leave but I was so nauseated I really thought that I might not be able to make it out of the room without puking or fainting.

So I decided to try it again today…well it wasn’t a conscious decision. I usually abstain from food for at least an hour before class, but I do usually have a banana before yoga. However, the grocery store didn’t have any bananas yesterday–how is that possible? The grocery trucks couldn’t make deliveries because the streets in our neighborhood were shut down for “Pride Fest” this weekend. So no banana for me!

Just as class begins I realize all that is in mystomach is coffee. At least it was my regular class and so I was at least mentally prepared for the style of the practice. And I’m telling myself that the class isn’t super hot, but then I notice it is significantly hotter than normal today! Probably because the only open spot in the part of the room I prefer was right in front of the heater.  And I forgot my water. And so my intention for today was to survive.

The instructor always asks if there are any requests and usually there is no response. Today: “Inversions” and “Abs” come from my cohorts. Seriously?!? So an hour of plank and chair pose! LOL..that is what the instructor usually threatens if we don’t offer up any suggestions but today my nightmare was real.

I was just relieved that I didn’t crap out halfway through. I tried a new inversion. I had no intention of actually doing it, per se, but the instructor saw my feeble attempts and came to “spot” me. Which means that she held my legs while I made a super-weird, scared noise. Now I know why it’s called Dolphin, I guess. The stransition to peacock was very challenging and rewarding, and here is a nice explaination of how to try it. I am feeling a plateau in my practice so the new inversion was a great chance to try and break through the next wall and maybe work towards scorpion pose in the future.

All things considered, it was a great pratice and I was sweating much more than usual. I’m not sure if that was because it was actually hotter than normal or if I was just perceiving it that way because of the added stress of the fasting. At one point I really got lightheaded and wondered if I was going to need to take a child’s pose, but that was at the last moment before corpse pose, after all the inversions. Best corpse pose ever today.  The empty stomach did change the experience of the class in a good way, but I was very conscious of the fasting aspect during my practice. I wonder if after a couple more times it might just be less notable.

I think I will make no-breakfast my status quo for basic and heated yoga casses, but not Hot Yoga. I will definitely stick to my banana or oatmeal before that class because if the intensity and the heat.

The nausea I experienced in my class a few weeks ago was akin to torture, so I picked up a cucumber-spinach juice right after class and added double ginger to calm my stomach, just in case I was going to get nauseaus. The juice served to make me very hungry, while normally that would be my lunch. I also noticed I was especially thirsty today. Sometimes it is easy to confuse thirst and hunger, so it I think the fasting exercise helped me to be more mindful as I went about my day.

I made healthy choices all day (cauliflower tacos above) so I think it was a very positive experience.

Cauliflower Tacos Reicpe (serves 4)

Toss 2 heads Caluflower in 2 Tbspn olive oil and 1 Tbspn chili powder for 25 minutes; add 5 cloves chopped garlic roast 15 minutes more

Heat 1 Tbspn olive oil on mediu heat and crumble 1 brick pressed tofu for 15 minutes, letting it brown before tossing. Add 1/4 cup salsa or tomatoes and heat for 5 minutes

Assemble Tacos with preferred items: peppers, lettuce, cilantro, tofu, rice, beans, refried beans, carrots, tomatillos, tomatoes, jalepenos, salsa, etc—especially whatever is about to go bad, like the avocado in the picture above

Farmers’ Market Soup

I went nuts at the farmers’ market this week. I bought asparagus from 3 different vendors. And strawberries from everyone who had them! I bought a few pounds of mushrooms, a few early tomatoes, spring onions, a ton of spinach and arugula–I adore arugula and I can’t wait to eat that next!

We have been enjoying the return of local food to the midwest and eating salads from the planters on our deck as accompaniments.

Two days ago for dinner I served crimini mushrooms, asparagus and spinach with garlic and thyme over a bed of rice. It was simple and clean and so filling!

Last night I made a really beautiful “cream” of asparagus soup with tons of veggies. I referenced a few recipes and I got the idea for adding barley to make it creamier from a Vegetarian Times recipe. They used basmati rice, but we only eat white rice if we are eating out a Thai or Indian or Mexican restaurant. I find the only way to actually choose wild rice is to not keep white rice in the house, and I thought brown rice sounded pretty gross in this recipe. I used Barley instead but still needed to add some Non-Dairy milk to thin the consistency. It was perfect for B to practice eating with a spoon because it was pretty thick. The vegetarian times recipe called for 8 cups of liquid and I used only 6, so it could be thinned further to feed 4-6 people. At first, I used a food processor to blend it, but found it was still thick, so I went to the immersion blender which worked great.

The baby loved it, the husband loved it, I loved it. It was so filling and fresh and of the moment. The soup was ephemeral and evanescent and all those other things that food should be! Except the broccoli, which isn’t in season yet, but I really only used the stems to add more depth to the flavor of the stock and it was on the verge of going bad.

As a main course, this served our family of 2 adults and a toddler, with a small portion of leftovers. If the soup were served with a side salad, appetizers, or along side steamed veggies and rice, it would probably serve 6 easily.

Farmers' Market Soup- IngredientsAsparagus Soup Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 Tbspn Olive Oil
  • 2 lbs asparagus
  • 1 bunch spring onions(about 6), whites and greens spearated and chopped
  • 5 cups water or homemade veggie stock (I used the boiling water from cooking corn because I was cooking for Biddi’s lunch at the same time)
  • 3-4 celery stalks, diced
  • stems of 1 head of broccoli, peeled and rough chop
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach (washed and stems removed) roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tspn coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tspn thyme
  • 1/2 tspn italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grain, such as barley
  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (such as almond milk)

Asparagus Soup Cooking Method

  1. Heat Oil in stock pot over medium heat and add leeks; sauté for 5 minutes
  2. Chop asparagus, removing tough ends and reserving 2″ fronds/tips for garnish
  3. Add asparagus stems to leeks and sauté for 5 minutes
  4. Add Water, herbs and sea salt
  5. Add celery, spinach and broccoli stems and simmer on medium low for 5 minutes
  6. Add barley and simmer for 30 minutes
  7. Add non-dairy milk
  8. Use immersion blender to get soup to smooth consistency
  9. Add reserved asparagus tips and allow to cook for about 5 minutes before serving
  10. Serve with salt and pepper and a drizzle of chili oil or tabasco sauce for an extra kick.

 

Spring Dinner: Black Bean Quinoa Burger with Asparagus and Fava Beans

As I mentioned in my Daily Prompt-inspired post today, my intention for the week is to take more risks. I bought fava beans and green garlic at the store today to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Once I was cooking, I realized I have already cooked with green garlic probably around this time last year. I just bought everything that looked good in the produce department today and then looked up recipes. I found a great explanation about how to prepare fava beans from Martha Stewart and also ideas about what flavors pair well together: asparagus and almonds. Since I was trying such new ingredients together, I paired that recipe with an old favorite that I am really comfortable making: Vegetarian Times‘ Black bean Quinoa Burgers.

I followed the Vegetarian Times recipe exactly, but I added an extra 3/4 cup black beans or so because I was using a 23 oz can instead of a 15 oz can. I added it with the beans and quinoa(after the food processing step). Also I cooked the finished patties on parchment paper not a cookie sheet with oil. Usually I use my own oven dried tomatoes, so I have to add some oil, but today I had an open jar of sun-dried tomatoes to use. I don’t have steak seasoning–what vegetarian does?–so I used a medley of seasonings I had on hand. I served the burgers with a quick avocado-poblano guacamole. Corn and/or tomatoes are also a good addition to the guacamole.

My husband and I ate 3 patties each and Biddi (23 months old) ate 2 patties! That is definitely a lot of food, but we didn’t have any bread with the meal so I feel like it was the right portion for dinner. I would eat it again tomorrow it was so good!

The myfitnesspal app from UnderArmour says the Asparagus is 324 calories, the guac is 134 calories, and the burgers are 171 calories each, for a grand total of almost 1,000 calories. But the best calories ever-monounsaturated fats in the avocado and olive oils. 43 grams of protein(72% RDA), 42 grams of fiber (170% of daily minimum according to MyFitnessPal)! I have been consuming mass quantities of veggies like this for 18 months and I have lost 40 pounds as a result, and so has my husband. So I don’t buy in to the “calorie is a calorie” thinking.

I spent my first 6 months post-partum eating 1200 calories a day of granola, diet coke, OJ, and yogurt and ended up hungry all the time and gaining 5 pounds! I now literally eat fruits, nuts, and unlimited olive oil and veggies some days…and other days I don’t eat until lunchtime if I had an especially filling dinner the night before.

It took about an hour and a half or two hours to cook this entire meal, but I am really familiar with the quinoa-black bean burger recipe, having made it about 5-6 times. My husband made it once and it took him a little longer. I think the investment of time pays off in the long run, real food tastes so good and is so filling. Every night when we have dinner I express gratitude that I am able to take care of my family and myself by providing a healthful, nutritious, plant-based meal…Namaste

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers (makes 8 patties)

  • 23 oz can black beans drained and washed- separated into 3/4 cup and the remainder
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion–Vidalias are in season right now!!!
  • about 10 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup quinoa(or 365 Whole Foods “Supergrains” blend)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning

Cooking Method

Spring Dinner- Burger Patties

  1. Preheat oven to 375 on Convection roast, or about 400 on regular Baking setting
  2. Add quinoa to 1 1/2 cup water and boil; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After it is done, remove the lid and let the quinoa dry out some–I measure out 3/4 cup quinoa for the food processor right away and leave the remainder of quinoa in the pot on the stove while the stove is preheating to help evaporate some water.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onion and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Add herbs and garlic and 3/4 cup black beans and 1 1/2 cup water
  5. simmer 10-15 minutes until water evaporates (I think this will vary based on the size and shape of the skillet)
  6. Add onion-bean-tomato-herb mixture to the 3/4 cup cooked quinoa in the food processor, blend until smooth about 30-60 seconds on pulse mode
  7. Add mixture to remaining quinoa and add remaining black beans (about 2 cups)
  8. Use 1/4 cup measure cup to measure out patties. They will be sticky and messy!
  9. Place patties on parchment-lined sheet pan in oven for 20 minute
  10. Flip patties–carefully so as to not split them open–and cook an additional 10 minutes

Poblano Guac (Serves 2)

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic

Methodspring-dinner-roasting-poblanos-e1495593517356.jpg

  1. Mash garlic using molcajete or chop/mince with knife
  2. Add avocado and continue to mash
  3. Fire-roast poblano peppers over open flam eor in oven
  4. Peel and seed poblanos
  5. Chop poblanos
  6. fold poblanos in to the avocado and mix until smooth

Asparagus and Fava Beans with Almonds (serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled
  • 1 bunch green garlic
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup almonds (slivered or sliced or chopped)

    Cooking Method

  1. Shell Fava Beans and add to boiling water for 3 minutes

  2. Drain and move to ice bath to shock them and cool them for peeling
  3. Peel each bean of the thick skin–they will go from a lima bean light-green color to an edamame bright-green color
  4. Remove roots of green garlic and slice the whites: bulb/stems
  5. Separate that bulb/stems from greens/shoots and chop those separately
  6. Heat the olive oil and add garlic whites for about 3-5 minutes
  7. Add asparagus and cook for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally
  8. Add cooked fava beans and garlic greens and cook another 3 minutes

Spring Dinner- Black Bean Burger with Poblano Guac and ApsaragusThe meal was great but I was hustling more than usual so I didn’t get to take a ton of pictures. The picture above is pretty sloppy but it was an amazing meal.

 

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