Food Blog Dot Com

FoodBlogDotCom

Food Blog Dot Com is written
by Lin Ennis, a writer passionate
about good food, healthful
food and food as medicine.

( Food Lovers Only )

SANDWICHES TO FREEZE

The month or so of rotator cuff surgery preparation I’ve done is a blog in itself, but this post is strictly about preparing food to take to work for lunch, food that is easy to eat (I’ve been advised by previous shoulder surgery survivors that sandwiches are great!) and can be prepared ahead of time so at least my first week or two of recovery is lighter on duties. My inspiration for these sandwiches was Vegan in the Freezer. The idea of mixing pintos with garbanzos seemed interesting. While Ginny likes her sandwich filling a little crunchy so doesn’t mash the beans so much, I like my crunch to come from raw veggies, not from what I consider undercooked beans. The pintos were very soft…inspiring, I think, the chickpeas to lighten up!  I didn’t have the Knorr seasoning she mentioned, but after checking the ingredients, I figured I could make do by mincing veggies I had on hand and using herbs and spices. BASE RAW CONDIMENTS 1) 2-3 Tbsps of mayo–I use Kraft made with olive oil (sadly, the olive oil is not a major ingredient!) 2) salt 3) freshly ground pepper Rinse the beans! You don’t want that canned soup/bean water flavor in your dish! Use a mixer, handheld masher or a combination of both to chop and smooth the beans to your desired level. Whip in the mayo and raw veggies. Add some salt and pepper. VARIETY This was the genius of a large recipe! I divided the mixture into three lots and seasoned each separately. 1) Curry 2) Chili 3) Herb (parsley, dill, etc.) WRAP & FREEZE I used high-quality plastic wrap and included a scribbled slip of paper to identify my varieties. I put seven sandwiches (what this recipe made with thick, abundant filling in each) back into the bag the sandwich thins came in to add another layer of protection from the freezer. TAKE-AWAY The next time you mix a large batch of something—or contemplate whether to mix a large or smaller batch—consider dividing the basics and getting crazy with some of your favorite flavors!

CREAMIEST ASPARAGUS SOUP

My new favorite soup was inspired by a chef from whom I gathered the idea of bulking up hearty, traditionally creamed soups with compatible vegetables that will not overpower the flavor focus, thus eliminating the need for butter and heavy cream (delicious though they are!). When I got a coupon for asparagus at $2.49, while the produce department price was $6.59, I bought two large bunches—enough to experiment with and still have some steamed as a side dish. The experiment was a success, so here’s how to make the creamiest, heartiest “cream of asparagus” soup with no cream at all. 1 pound of Lima beans, cooked (I used frozen baby limas, pressure cooked for 8 minutes) 1 pound of asparagus trimmed and steamed Saute together in water or olive oil:* salt—about 2 teaspoons (add some to the beans, some to the onions, some to the asparagus) cracked black pepper to taste In batches, filling the blender no more than half full, and holding a kitchen towel over the lid for safety, puree all ingredients together, reserving a few asparagus spears to be cut into 1/2 inch lengths and stirred into the finished puree. * TIPS: Because of olive oil’s sensitivity to heat, I prefer to saute in water, then add oil after cooking is complete. You can add the saute veggies in descending order of the list, because onions and celery need longer to cook, garlic less, and the peas really just enough to thaw. Gremolata: I am in love with Gremolata, an extra virgin olive oil subtly flavored with garlic, Italian parsley, lemon zest and a hint of mint. For this dish, instead of putting oil in the soup, I drizzled a heart shape of gremolata onto the ladled serving. Delicious! photo credit stu_spivack, Asparagus soup with crème fraîche and pink peppercorn, chosen for this post because the green color is similar to my recipe.

VEGGIE WRAPS

haven’t been a big fan of making wraps at home; though, wraps are often one of the most healthful choices when eating out. The main reason I didn’t stick with buying the huge flour tortillas and wrapping food in them is their calorie load often compared to that of bread while their ingredient content (white flour base) was inferior to good bread. La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Soft Wraps have been all the buzz in our local Weight Watchers group. I chose the Multi-Grain variety. At 3.5 fat grams, this flavor barely squeaks in at the 1 WW point the wraps are famous for – and that’s if you have a very steady hand when using the points value slide rule. The wrap is 100 calories with 12 grams of fiber! The multigrain has contributions from wheat, oats, flax, millet, rice, soy, corn and sunflower seeds. (Other varieties have less fat.) Men love it! It made the top 125 Best Foods for Men in the 2009 Men’s Health Nutrition Awards, selected by Men’s Health Magazine. The wrap pictured contains a combination of lightly steamed vegetables (yellow squash, mushrooms, spinach) and diced raw veggies (cucumber, red bell pepper, scallions). I wanted to add tomato, but obviously, my eyes were bigger than my wrap! Radish and broccoli sprouts added a little spice and crunch. It rolled up like a giant taquito. I was unable to fold the ends in…possibly because it cooled too much while I added the ingredients. I drizzled a little balsamic vinaigrette in it, and held on for dear life to keep the innards from becoming outtards as I ate it. My recommendation to improve this would be to marinate the veggies, then drain well before wrapping. And use less filling. Or use all cooked veggies which would keep the wrap warm and stretchier (I think). Again, I recommend eating a wide range of colors and varieties. Don’t stick to what you know and love all of the time. If you eat spinach, for example, try Swiss chard, too (which itself comes in three colors). Besides, color makes a pretty lunch. All trademarks used belong to their owners. This website is not affiliated with any brands or programs in any financially remunerated way. The opinions expressed are mine…but you knew that, right?

FOODIES UNITE

When my friend Kate and I scheduled a meeting over lunch at my house, she said, “Let me bring lunch. I’m a real foodie.” Knowing I am a vegetarian, she brought quinoa-stuffed acorn squash and an elegant salad. As she laid things out, I learned she was a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. (That means she’s achieved and maintained a rational weight according to Weight Watchers International charts). Having never seen Kate overweight, I was shocked she’d ever been “fluffy.” What really struck me though was how lovingly she talked about food. As we munched on salad and seasoned Ry-Krisp, she revealed more about the amount of time she spends cooking (for the week), the quality she reveres, and nourishing her body. I’d never thought a thin person could claim to be a foodie — and why would a fat person? isn’t their problem obvious? I was 80 pounds overweight and probably didn’t like mentioning food out of fear people would think, “Duh; it’s so obvious you dream about food!” I joined Weight Watchers soon after that (the exact how and why are another story). It took a few months, but eventually I realized I was becoming a foodie. I was focused on food, wanted the best-tasting food I could get for my calorie expenditure and wanted the food to make me healthy and fit, not just thin(ner). I started cooking more-elaborate dishes, cooking for one, cooking for one every day, and trying new ingredients: new-to-me vegetables, different varieties of apples and oranges. New seasonings. More seasoning, learning that packing in flavors – like onions and garlic – can make a dish much more satisfying. Something I feared would make me fatter – thinking and talking about food, a lot – has supported me in achieving my Weight Watchers goal and lifetime membership. Sure, I’m still 30 pounds heavier than I need to be to be healthy, but I am in a healthy range (ok, at the very top of a healthy weight range. To stay on track, I focus on food. I intend to eat food I like. Like a lot. For example the pre-made frozen Indian platter I have in the freezer right now. And veggies–always veggies. I love peas, but not just any peas–they must be petite peas (about $3/pound frozen). I intend to take more time to prepare food, to think of different seasonings instead of my former trio of onion powder, garlic powder and crushed dried sweet basil leaves. I’m testing out Thai and Indian and yellow versus red curry. Steamed versus sauteed. Roasted versus steamed or baked. Spinach with onions or plain…or with nutmeg? I love plain food, veggies that taste like the earth from which they came. It’s hard for me to add seasonings and lose that fresh, earthy flavor. But so much color and pizazz await becoming a foodie and experimenting, listening to others, asking questions, ordering something interesting sounding at a restaurant you would usually not visit. If you’re a foodie, too, dab some vanilla behind your ear or leave a little vinaigrette on your fingertips–somehow identify yourself to the rest of us. Here’s one: write comments on this blog, and send the link to others you know who cherish their bodies and their gustatory delights! Weight Watchers and other brands mentioned are trademark names for the companies that trademarked those names. They have not yet reviewed and decided to endorse this Food Blog. Nor do I receive any compensation or punishment for any brands I mention. Kate is a psychic healer totally nuts about health in a fun-loving way. Here’s her PsychicSedona website.

SKINNY BUNS

Almost everyone who talks with me about the dietary aspects of their health regimen mentions cutting back on or eliminating bread. They offer various reasons such as celiac disease, gluten intolerance, carb addiction, etc. In most cases, their reasons affect body weight, or what I’m calling here today a desire for skinny buns. Years ago, someone taught me the best way to enjoy a hamburger – especially if trying to appear normal, was to remove the bun, and use your four fingers clinched together to scoop out most of the bready part, leaving the crust, and thus the appearance of a bun. Do this to both top and bottom pieces and you have a thin bun, about half the bread, and something to keep the mustard and catsup off your hands as you eat your burger. If you’ve participated in burger eating while reducing or eliminating bread, you’ve probably also done the lettuce wrap. Realizing the best part of a burger – especially a veggie (vege) burger – is the condiments, pickles and mustard wrapped in lettuce around a burger make a pretty good meal, albeit a bit light. Oroweat was first on the scene with a skinny bun for your skinny buns. Their Sandwich Thins come in multigrain, whole wheat and honey wheat. I prefer the flavor of multi-grain anything to whole wheat, and appreciate the additional micronutrients variety adds to my health. Sandwich Thins were so popular when they arrived in Sedona, most stores sold out before the entire Weight Watchers membership could buy them! Oroweat Sandwich Thins Calories 100 Fat 1 gram Fiber 5 grams WW pts* 1 One slice of the bun is a bit thin, usually tearing in half before the burger is consumed. And of course they’re better lightly toasted. I found this ingredient listing on kaboodle.com: Whole wheat flour, unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid], water, cellulose fiber, wheat gluten, yeast, sugar, cracked wheat rye, polydextrose, salt, ground corn, canola and/or soybean oil, preservatives (calcium propionate, sorbic acid), grain vinegar, guar gum, cultured wheat flour, brown rice, oats, mono-glycerides, soybeans, triticale , barley, flaxseed, millet, citric acid, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sucralose, soy lecithin. A newcomer to the skinny buns category is by Earth Grains, a proud supporter of The Nature Conservancy. You can probably see where I’m going with this. EarthGrains Thin Buns Calories 100 Fat 1.5 gram Fiber 4 grams WW pts* 1 I made my decision rather hastily when I picked up the Earth Grains. First of all, they’re a little bigger, at 4.25-4.38 inches across. (I don’t have a Sandwich Thin in the house to measure; do you? If so, post below.) Secondly, there’s no white flour. Third, the ingredient list is 18 instead of 28 (plus the 6 ingredients added to the white flour after the bran and germ were removed – at least they left out the bleach!). EarthGrains ingredients: Whole wheat flour, water, sugar, wheat gluten, oat fiber, yeast, soybean oil, cultured wheat flour, salt, distilled vinegar, guar gum, enzymes, enzyme-modified soy lecithin, Raisin juice concentrate, Wheat bran, Milk, Soy flour, Sesame seeds. Note: there is milk in the EarthGrains. And not as many different grains. But it appears to my unscientific eye there are fewer chemicals. No artificial preservatives, so refrigerate or freeze them! Plus, if you’re going to believe the EarthGrains website, they support individual farmers rather than mega conglomerates–but I haven’t found my way back to that page to recheck their statements. Anyway, enough time on skinny buns! I love them, though I still limit myself to only one or two a week. You have to know your body and what it can handle as well as what makes it thrive. All trademarks are owned by their respective registrants. *Weight Watchers Points Value was obtained by using my official Weight Watchers Points Finder and the nutritional information given by the manufacturers.

GREENS

These might be turnip greens. Or mustard greens. I’ve forgotten since I took the picture last week and didn’t have time to post it till today. I found a turnip in the fridge later–that would have been a reasonable pairing: turnip and turnip greens! But the day I fixed this for lunch, I was all out of ideas, so I Googled for a recipe. I quickly found one posted by a person who loves beans and greens. She pictured white beans, like Great Northerns, in her recipe. That looked nurturing for a winter lunch. Staring at the wall of canned beans in my pantry, I said aloud, “Why not Garbanzos?” I can’t call this a recipe, because all I did was steam the greens in salted water and toss in a couple spoonfuls of garbanzos to cook long enough to reduce that canned-bean crunch garbanzos usually have. Enough protein to be satisfying, and enough greens to be light and healthful. It would have been prettier had I ladled the beans on top of a mound of greens, but this way, I had only one pot to wash! One reason I don’t remember whether they were turnip or mustard greens is because I’ve been buying both, along with spinach. In our post on eating color, I recommended following Dr. Michael Gregor’s advice to eat across the spectrum. Each plant food has a different composition. You’ll get different nutrients from broccoli than from apples, and different nutrients from turnip greens than from mustard greens. So eat them both. Eat them all. I haven’t had collard greens since I lived in the South where it was customary to boil them all day. But I will try them. I also enjoy red Swiss chard. Sunday night I made fresh spinach with sliced button mushrooms and diced onions. That was a family hit. (Whatever it takes to get people to eat spinach!) What are your favorites and how do you prepare them?