Saturday, January 28, 2012

Make Me a Samich!

If you're from the Chamberlain family, you know exactly where the title of this post comes from.  It is a famous quote from the worlds biggest food critic, George Chamberlain.  The reason for honoring him as I write this is that his grandson, my lovely husband, has inherited some of his critique skills.  Why, just tonight he meandered into the kitchen, poked at the chopped tomatoes and basil in a bowl, stuck up his nose, and said "What IS this?"  When I introduced him to Garbanzo beans, he said, "Garbanzo bean?  It tastes like garbanzo!"  So you see, as I share a couple of yummy sandwich recipes, it seemed appropriate to quote good old George.

The first sandwich is an extension of my previous post about trying tofu.  I have become very fond of tofu over the last few weeks, and have gotten MUCH better at cooking it.  You may remember that my tofu sloppy joes were extra sloppy form excess moisture.  An old friend of mine read that post and shared some very helpful advise.  She told me to try a tofu press to express the moisture before marinating.  Bingo!  This made the tofu much easier to work with and a lot more edible.

Tofu & Sprouts Wrap with Peanut Sauce
1. Press tofu over night. Cut tofu into strips and marinate in 2 Tbps sesame oil, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, & pepper.
2.  Preheat oven to 350.  In small bowl combine 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp lime juice, 2 tsp peanut butter, pinch sugar, and a dash of ginger and garlic.  Blend until smooth to make a yummy peanut sauce.
3. Bake tofu for 14 minutes.
4. Spread peanut sauce on sandwich wrap.  Layer in the tofu, lettuce, and sprouts.  Feel free to add any other fixings that you love.  Roll it up and enjoy.

Eggplant Subs from Rachael Ray (2 servings)
crusty sub rolls
1 large eggplant
6 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
ricotta cheese
salt and pepper
garlic powder

1. Preheat grilling pan or grill on medium high heat. Preheat broiler on low setting.
2. Chop tomatoes and basil and place in a bowl.  Slice off skin of eggplant lengthwise to make a rectangle. Cut the eggplant lengthwise to make 1/2 inch steaks.
3. Brush eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill for 3 minutes on each side. Remove eggplant from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Toast rolls in broiler for a few minutes. 
4. Pour remaining oil on tomato and basil and toss with a bit of salt and pepper.  Cut eggplant into thirds and layer into sub roll with tomato mixture.  Top with ricotta.

This was an especially delicious sandwich.  In fact it was so yummy that I went back and scarfed up the remaining tomato and basil.  I can't get enough of that!  Josh enjoyed his sandwich too, except for the chunk of fresh garlic that burned his mouth.  Oooops!  I guess I lost a few points from the food critic.  As you can see I've adapted the recipe by using powder to prevent further mouth burning.  After all, I have to respect the critiquing genetics.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Trying Tofu and a Few More Treats

Eating vegetarian pretty much goes against my entire upbringing, so I've had to search high and low for recipes that would satisfy my appetite.  Soy is also new.  Other than popping edamame for snack, I needed to find ways to incorporate soy for meals.  Although a little skeptical, I decided that it was time to try cooking with tofu.  I found a site called the Savvy Vegetarian that offers cooking tips and recipes for tofu.  That's where I found the recipe for tofu sloppy joes.  I figured there was enough added flavors that it might trick me into thinking that I wasn't eating mush.  Anyway, here are our dinner selections from this week, including a pretty yummy recipe for trying tofu. 

Tofu Sloppy Joes (From
1 lb firm tofu
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp minced green pepper
1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic OR 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp minced onion OR 1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp minced jalapeƱo pepper
Pinch dried cayenne or chipotle pepper
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup water
1/4 cup catsup
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Mash tofu and mince the veggies.  In small bowl, combine tofu, jalapeno, and green pepper.  In a separate bowl, whisk together catsup, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, and parsley.  Heat oil on medium in a large frying pan.  Add onion and garlic and fry for 5 minutes.  Add mashed tofu and pepper mixture and fry on high for 5 minutes.  Add cayenne pepper and fry for 2 more minutes.  Finally, add catsup mixture and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has absorbed. 
If tofu mixture seems too dry, you may add more catsup and water.  Serve on bread or bun with tomatoes, lettuce, or other toppings. We needed forks as the mixture was so moist that is soaked through the bread. 

Zucchini and Eggs (From
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
salt and pepper

In a medium sized bowl mix egg and soy sauce.  Heat oil in frying pan on medium heat.   Add zucchini in a single layer.  Cook until tender.  Dump zucchini into the egg mixture and coat evenly.  Then dump all back into the frying pan.  Heat until egg is well cooked.  Serve over fried rice.

Fried Rice (From
2 cups cooked rice (regular or minute rice)
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 egg, beaten

Heat onions in oil on medium heat until they appear clear.  Stir in cooked rice, soy sauce and egg.  Heat until egg is cooked.

 Spinach Enchiladas (From Christy Vega Fowler on the Today Show)
*I had to alter the recipe since Tomatillos aren't in season and I could not find them.  Rather than making the salsa verde fresh, I purchased a jar of salsa.  I will include her salsa recipe so we can make our own when the tomatillos are in season again. 

1 package of corn tortillas (I used whole wheat tortillas)
1 jar salsa verde
12 ounces fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 ounce sour cream
3/4 cup shredded cheese (Monterey Jack or Asadero)
1/2 avocado

To make tomatillo sauce, combine salsa, avocado, sour cream, and tablespoon of cilantro in a blender. Blend until creamy.

In a large fry pan, heat oil, tablespoon chopped onion, shredded cheese and a 1/4 cup of the tomatillo sauce from blender. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and stir until it is dark green.  Remove from heat.

First warm the tortillas by placing a moist paper towel over them and microwaving them for 1 minute on a medium power setting.   Lay the warmed tortilla flat and spoon spinach mixture down the middle. Roll the tortilla and place in a casserole dish.  After rolling all tortillas, cover them with the tomatillo sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in preheated oven (350 degrees F) for several minutes until cheese is melted. You may also microwave on a medium power setting for 4-5 minutes (Great option if pizza drippings in your oven catch on fire, like we had here Thursday night).  Serve with yellow rice, sliced avocado, and sour cream. 

Salsa Verde
1/2 sliced white onion
8 large green tomatillos
2 cups of water
1 bushel of cilantro
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon of salt

In a deep pan add the water, tomatillos, onion, cilantro, salt and garlic. Cook until it boils for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Pour everything into a blender and blend well.

Baja Bean Salad (From
*This tastes a little more Greek than the title conveys. 

1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup cucumber - peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons diced onion
1 (6 ounce) container guacamole (see recipe below for my fresh guacamole)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
shredded lettuce
corn tortilla chips

Combine kidney beans, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion in large bowl.  In a separate small bowl, mix together guacamole, yogurt, and salt.  You may thin the dressing a bit with milk if it appears to be to thick.  Add dressing to the  bean mixture and chill. Serve with the shredded lettuce and tortilla chips.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's for breakfast?

I always try to load up on good stuff first thing in the morning.  It's my way of setting eating habits straight for the day.   Today I had oatmeal, a smoothie, and my daily cocktail.  No, I'm not drinking alcohol at 8AM.  It's a concoction I learned about from my Aunt Lisa.  I was also eager to try my mother's oatmeal and flaxseed idea, as flaxseed is a new ingredient to me.

Hearty Healthy Oatmeal
1 cup water
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 flaxseed meal
1 tbsp raw honey
soy milk

Mix water, oatmeal, and flaxseed meal in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir in honey and a splash of soy milk.  You can use Vanilla Silk for extra flavor.  Top with fresh fruit if you like.

Fruit and Spinach Smoothie
1 package (16oz) frozen mixed fruit (your choice)
1 package (9oz) frozen spinach
1 cup of vanilla flavored yogurt

Poor into a blender and puree.  This will make two drinks.  You can save one for the next day.

Anti-Inflammatory Cocktail
1 tbsp raw organic honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
glass of water

Mix it all together in a glass and drink up. 

I hope you enjoy these quick breakfast recipes.  The little man just woke up from a morning snooze, so it's back to mommy land for me. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

More Than Just a New Year Goal

We all have our regrets after the holidays.  We eat too many cookies, stuff ourselves with ham and potatoes, and graze through counter tops covered in decadent sweets.  My indulgences, however, won me a world of pain this year, and I'm determined to get my drug free, pain free life back on track with a healthy diet of veggies, soy, fish, and whole grains. 

For  moment, lets rewind about 12 years.  When I was fourteen-years-old, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  As if a fourteen-year-old doesn't have enough to deal with, right?  To treat it, doctors prescribed increasingly powerful doses of DMARDs and NSAIDs, until I was on three to four medications at a time.  Being on all these anti-rhuematic drugs, my immune system took a dive and I was always sick.  These medications also made it very difficult to start a family.  Finally, I began to control my RA with diet and weened myself off of this powerful stuff.  I took out the meat and added a ton of veggies.  Fish became my favorite source of protein and omega-3s.  I wrote down everything I ate for five months and quickly learned what made my pain better or worse.  In February 2011, I was only on a low dose anti-inflammatory, and we were happy to find out that our little Everett was on the way.  Because RA goes into remission during pregnancy, I went back to my old eating habits.  Lets just say that I missed meat... a lot.  Unfortunately, it was tough to jump right back into healthy eating habits with a newborn, and now I'm right back where I started. 

Just as the doctors warned me, the RA is back with vengeance at 7 weeks postpartum.   If I want to keep nursing my sweet little boy, I'll have to control it with as little medication as possible again.  I did some searching again, and found a helpful visual to guide the new diet.  Check out the link below to see Dr. Weil's food pyramid for an anti-inflammatory diet.

This is basically the same diet that I was on in 2010 with a few extras such as soy and flax seed. I'll be searching for yummy recipes that satisfy my taste buds as well as my husband's.  Here's one that I tried this week.

1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch slices
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 16 oz can of spaghetti sauce
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
whole grain pasta, cooked

Dip eggplant slices in beaten egg and coat with bread crumbs.  Saute the slices in olive oil until tender and browned on each side.  (about 3 minutes per side)  Sprinkle with mozzarella for the last minute of cooking.  Place eggplant on top off cooked pasta and cover with sauce.  Enjoy!