Food! And a new Recipe

So, as I said before, I’m changing my diet again to be gluten free.  As the elimination of soy, gluten, meat and dairy from my diet leaves not a heck of a lot I can eat,  I’m relaxing my standards a bit, out of necessity.  Gluten and soy seem to be major problems in thyroid disease, so those are non-negotiable.  Eliminating dairy has helped me loose a lot of weight and my digestive system seems better, so dairy goes to the “very rare cheat” list.  Which leaves meat as the most flexible “cheat” area.  So last night we had hot dogs and potato salad, and I must say, boy, did they taste GOOD!

That said, I still want to stay mostly with a plant based diet.  So protein sources are mostly beans and quinoa.  Yesterday I came up with a salad  that’s high in protein, cool for those hot days, and actually yummy!

Jicama Quinoa Salad

  •  1 cup Quinoa
  • 2 tbl sesame oil
  • 1 cup grated Jicama
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  • ½ lemon, Juiced
  • ½ c Peas ( use frozen peas, thawed)
  • ¼ c dried cranberries

 Soak quinoa in water to cover for 15 minutes.  Simmer on low, covered, in enough water to cover about 30 minutes. Drain, and allow to cool.

 Open can of mandarin oranges and drain, reserving about half of juice.  Fold into quinoa. Add Jicama, onion, peas, cranberries, sesame oil, and toss lightly.  Season to taste.

 I served on a bed of raw spinach.  I flirted with the idea of making rolls with the spinach leaves, but I was too hungry!

 This recipe lends itself well to experimentation and substitution. I plan to try cooking the quinoa in broth rather than water, trying with other fresh fruits (sliced strawberries, blueberries perhaps) keeping with the savory/sweet theme.

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Cauliflower Poppers!

Okay, so this isn’t the newest street drug or a New Year’s Eve noisemaker.  This is my new favorite snack!

I love cauliflower in almost any form. It’s one of the few veggies I love both cooked and raw.  I have never, however thought about eating it for a snack, like potato chips.  I have now!

I got the original recipe from VegWeb.com, but I tweaked it a little.  Here’s how you can make your own!

Cauliflower Poppers

1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Clean the cauliflower, and break it into bite sized pieces.  In my family, some of us like it less cooked, some like it more, so if you leave some in bigger chunks, they’ll stay more firm.  I like it best almost burnt, so I get the tiny pieces.

Measure all of the ingredients into a gallon sized zipper type bag.  Moosh them around to mix them well.  If you don’t like nutritional yeast, you could try just adding extra tahini.  I’m not a huge fan of nooch, but in this recipe it works. Give it a try!

Now comes the fun part.  Dump all of the cauliflower into the zipper bag. Shake. Massage.  Work the sauce into all the little spaces in the cauliflower.  Keep working until most of the sauce has been worked off the side of the bag.

Please note that I’m actually doubling the recipe here, so yes, there are TWO heads of cauliflower in my bag.  Also note the joy on the face of the child, who made a deal with the Mom to pose for the picture if he wasn’t forced to eat it.

Now pour the coated cauliflower into a large pan or cake pain that you’ve greased or sprayed.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes to half an hour, stir well, then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or til fork tender.

Voila! Salt to taste and enjoy!

Back to Cooking!

Soccer practice night in our house is always hectic.  Back and forth to school, homework, lunch, the trip back to school because someone forgot to bring their guitar home… you know what it’s like if you’re a parent.  Then comes soccer practice, right at the time you want to collapse and have dinner. So what do you do?

In our house, sloppy joes were reserved for practice nights.  All that energy expended running around deserves something yummy and filling, and they did the trick.  Hold the phone though, how do you make sloppy joes vegan?  Vegan, but still yummy to the anti-vegetable, picky children you really want to reward for all that activity?  Here’s my method for vegan sloppy joes, or as we call them, Sloppy Steves.  The beauty part is you can hide a ton of veggies in them, and the kids never know!

The first order of business is to find a substitute for the ground beef.  TVP works beautifully. I used two cups, soaked in two cups of hot water, with a tablespoon of Kitchen Bouquet added to the water.  This gives the TVP a meaty flavor and color, and makes it even more like ground beef.  Soak for about ten minutes or longer, while you prepare the veggies.

I start with onion; one medium onion, chopped fine.  Then the fun part begins.  You can add any kind of veggies you want; the secret is to chop them really really fine.  You might want to use a food processor.  I’m lazy, and would rather chop them by hand than wash the processor.  I used a couple of big handfuls of spinach.

 

I heated some oil in a huge pan, then added the spinach and onion.  If you’re using other hard veggies, such as broccoli, add them in now too.   Then I added my liquid ingredients – one can of tomato sauce and one bottle of chili sauce.

Next, I grated some carrots. Again, I used the fine side of my box grater; I used about eight baby carrots.

Next, drain any extra liquid from the TVP (I didn’t have any, but you might, depending on your conditions) and add the TVP to the pan.

Next comes the seasonings, about a tablespoon each of chili powder and Worcestershire sauce.

 

 

You’re done!  Put the heat on low, and let it simmer for a while.  The longer it simmers, the better.

 

Now comes the fun part; the eating!  Grab a bun of your choice, load up the Sloppy Steves, and eat. YUM!!

 

Then, in less time than it took the chop the onions:

We can haz Eggroll!

After taking a nap this afternoon, I was feeling a bit better, so I decided to try to make dinner.  I was feeling uh, creative (that’s when Murphy starts asking for a pot pie…)  I had a package of rice mixture that Eric gave me a while ago, and I decided to start with that.  It was a blend of white, red, and  black rice, along with whole oats.  Really pretty in the package, it cooked up entirely lavender.    Tasted fine, but it was a little strange to eat purple rice.  Then I had a package of korma sauce that didn’t really make enough for the family, so I knew I’d need more than just that for the main dish.  I heated the sauce with a bit of fake crab and kale, and let it simmer down.

I’ve always wanted to make spring rolls but have always been a little afraid.  I figured this was a good time to give it a shot.  So I pan-fried some tofu crispy, added some spinach, nori, carrots, avocado, and rice noodles, and rolled them all up in a spring roll shell.  Awesome.  They were really delicious. And much easier than I expected; I will be making them again.  They’ll make great lunch fare.

I’m exhausted now, and sore, but it was worth it.  YUM!

Pain as a friend

My TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner told me today that I should think of pain as a friend.  My initial thought was “friends like this I don’t need.”  But I get his point, sort of.   Pain is a message from your body that something is amiss.  It is telling you to pay attention, learn, nourish, listen to the pain.  I said that I could manage thinking of it as a teacher.  I’m not sure I’ll ever get to friend status.

So today’s session was long, almost two hours.  We discussed old symptoms, prior to treatment, how they’ve changed and evolved, and discussed some newer symptoms I’ve had.  Not specifically diagnosing, he said that my symptoms presented similarly to chronic fatigue syndrome, and said this bears out my “deficiency in heart and lung blood.”  He reformulated my herbs, which I am about to go cook, and told me to relax a little about the diet issues.  I tend to be all black and white; if he says limit onion I try to eliminate it completely, and therefore get frustrated with cooking.  It seems that moving in the right direction is enough; if I was eating onion at almost every meal before, then cutting down to once a day is a huge step.  This seems reasonable.

I’d forgotten the purpose of the blog.  Madhyatmika; the Middle Way.  Balance.  Moderation.  Can’t say as I’ve ever been very good at it, but it’s time to learn.

Tonight we had sesame peanut noodles, which I had batch cooked last night; they were pretty yummy.  Along with that I made a huge salad with romaine, spinach, craisins, chia seeds, avocado, cucumber, and I made a dressing with Yoshida sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and peanut butter.  Proportions were a little off, and I should have used a blender for better emulsification, but it was pretty decent.  I had homemade hummus for lunch, and a little peanut butter on rice cakes for breakfast. Now it’s off to cook the herbs!

Finally – Pot Stickers!

I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking; it’s been HOT here, over a hundred degrees every day.    A lot of  salads, leftovers,  hummus and veggie meals, and a quick stir fry or two.   But the other day, I did make something I’ve been dying to make for ages; POT STICKERS!

I used a recipe originally written by Alton Brown (my hero!) but had been veganized; I had to make further changes to adapt to my bizarro diet.  Basically, I finely chopped some extra firm tofu, kale, carrots, and napa cabbage; added tamari sauce, grated ginger, sesame oil. My willing slaves then did the stuffing.  I didn’t have dumpling wraps, so I used a vegan brand of wonton wrappers and folded them diagonally.  I served them with some leftover General Tsao’s sauce and the dipping sauce that came with the recipe (soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, a touch of siracha), but I actually liked them best plain. Everyone LOVED these.  A lot of fun to make, and more fun to eat!  I did learn a lot from this first attempt. I need to measure the water added to the pan (too much is not good) and have just the right amount of oil for frying (too much is greasy; too little is too dry).  We froze the leftovers for another meal.  It makes quite a number of pot stickers.  After we ran out of wrappers I used the remainder of the  filling in the next day’s stir fry.  Simple, delicious.  The children were upset that we weren’t having the actual pot stickers for dinner though!

I’m looking for work, which is never a fun task.  My hours have been reduced, so I need to find something, anything, to keep the special diet coming (not to mention the herbs and acupuncture treatments!)  It’s been very discouraging; I sent out 20+ resumes on Craig’s List; one half got no response whatsoever, the other half got scam replies.  I have one person who has promised to call me today for an interview; keep your fingers crossed.  It’s office work, which I was hoping to get away from, but it’s a non-profit with a cause close to my heart, so it will still feel like socially responsible work.  Everyone in my house is searching for work, so if you have ANYTHING you want done, give us a yell.

My plants are coming along well.  It looked touch and go for a while.  The mint, which everyone tells me is so easy to grow, wilted terribly as soon as I put it in the new pot.  Neither watering nor sun seemed to help for a couple of days.  Yesterday, however, it perked up.  I did some rapid damage control, pruning back the dead leaves, pinching off stuff that looked too far gone, and it looks like it may survive!  WooT!  Ortiz Nursery is having a bulb demo on Saturday; I may attend, just for the giggles.  I so love growing things, and I’ve always been so desperately bad at it.  I’m really hoping this time will be different.  I really would like to get to the point where I can grow a significant portion of our food, and I want to compost.  Ambitious, for someone with bad knees, constant pain and fatigue, no?  I’m told I don’t do things halfway; which means when I fail, I fail SPECTACULARLY.  Pictures of the garden soon.  (Don’t you love how a few small pots becomes a “garden?”)

Oh, and for those who care; we finally uploaded pictures from the camera. Ok, so some are almost a year old.  I’ll be updating the family blog (Homespun Dreamings) with them soon.   I’m also going to be moving the family blog eventually; my aim is to have three blogs.  This one, for the journey I’m on now, Homespun Dreamings, which will become a retail shop for various and sundry items I make to sell, and a third blog, yet to be named, for family.   Oh, and my beloved will also soon have a blog for his musical undertakings; it’s under construction at present.   I’ll update as info becomes available.

Chocolate Mousse

Work was trying today but at least it’s Friday.  Two whole days off!  Was feeling a bit better pain wise today, but rude customers at work and a minor run in with the Boss left me in a less than cheerful state.  Probably PMSing too.  So don’t really have much to say today – oh wait, I have a recipe!

I was hungry late night, didn’t want chips or salty food. Probably due to the PMS I was craving chocolate.  So I decided to whip up some chocolate mousse.  Didn’t have a recipe, but remember that Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie I made for Father’s Day?  I took a hint from that and made just the chocolate layer, as pudding.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

1 package silken tofu
1 package vegan chocolate chips
approx 1/4 cup agave nectar (or to taste)

Melt chocolate chips in microwave; about 2 1/2 minutes; stir to liquify.  Place tofu, drained and agave in blender.  Add melted chocolate; Blend like crazy.  Presto! So easy and SOOOO delicious.  If our freezer wasn’t iffy, I’d have put some into our popsicle molds for a yummy ice-cold treat.  I might  use the leftovers as frosting, or ooooo a creamy middle for cupcakes. The mind boggles….

B – tofu scramble with potato, spinach
S – green drink
L – leftover  veggie burger with veggie slices cheese on half a “thin” bun, cucumber
S – Veggie Straws snack, lavash bread, nectarine
D – Tofu scramble with potato soyrizo, and kale; corn on the cob
S – Chocolate Mousse

Typing these daily menus reminded me that some question eating soy for those taking thyroid replacements.  I’m eating a LOT of soy. I’m thinking about perhaps next week trying to avoid soy, trying some seitan instead.  My first attempt at making seitan didn’t go as well as I’d have liked; but I’ve looked at a lot of recipes and videos and I think maybe I’m up for another try.  On the other hand, if I start treatment with Nathan Monday, I won’t know which thing did it if I feel better; so maybe I’ll talk to Nathan about it and see what he thinks.  I will probably make the seitan anyway to get a little variety into my diet.  I think this will be a batch cooking weekend; though I have to be careful since Sears can’t come out to look at our freezer (again) until the 12th.

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