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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Corn Bread a la Fuhrman


This past week, I managed to catch some interesting programs on PBS -- we have three relatively local PBS stations -- 13, which is the NY station, 8, which is based in Central NJ and 21, which is based in Long Island. The last of the three is my favorite since they have a lot of Jewish themed programs. The first of the three made a mistake years ago when they aired a very anti-Israel piece, a Palestinian propaganda piece, but I digress. Because of the preceding, I prefer to support 21.

In any case, the PBS stations were having one of their money press weeks (I can't remember the term they use for it -- I'll probably remember while I'm drifting off the sleep) and they show some of the more popular programs. Some of my favorite (in addition to their Jews in Baseball program and several other Jewish themed programs) are the health/diet themed programs. They had a few Qi Gong classes that I liked and a couple of programs about diet. One was a program hosted by Dr. Mark Hyman (which I loved) and the other was a program hosted by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I have bought and read Eat to Live, though I should probably reread it.

This just happened to be aired the same day as I had seen Dr. Fuhrman on Dr. Oz's program and he talked about "G-BOMBS" -- which he referred to as "GOMBS" on the PBS program. "G-BOMBS" stands for:
  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries
  • Seeds
(in "GOMBS", the two "B" words are put together as one entry).

In any case, I'm trying to incorporate the "G-BOMBS" foods into my diet (I have been trying to lean toward vegetables and fruit as much as possible for several years now, but I digress). So, this morning, when I decided to make corn bread, I did it with this in mind.

I took two cups Gluten Free corn meal (I can eat wheat gluten but not the whole wheat grain, but the Gluten Free corn meal has no wheat in it) and added some cinnamon and cloves (1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon respectively). Then I added some organic baby food -- 1 jar (or squeeze package) each of sweet potato, winter squash and a fruit veggie mix (was it apple and winter squash?) and blended them in another bowl. Then I added them, along with 1/4 cup dried mung beans that I had cooked until they were soft (in 1/2-3/4 cup filtered water until the water was absorbed) and 1/4 cup sesame seeds and 1/2 cup unsweetened almond "milk" and mixed them together. I put them in a loaf pan and then baked them at 350 degrees for about an hour (check at that point and bake longer if needed).

The corn bread turned out to be delicious. I ate it with my sauteed veggies (mushrooms, scallions, garlic, carrots, zucchini, purple kale and home made veggie sausage -- the only one on the list I missed in this meal was the berries -- I hope to remedy this tomorrow by making blueberry preserves with 1 bag of frozen organic blueberries and a bit of stevia).

Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Soup


It's that time of year again; the soup time of year. During the summer, I eat a lot of salads. But during the winter (a bit of defining here -- to me, in the cooking sense anyway, Summer equals warmer weather and Winter equals colder weather), I try to make a soup of some sort. Both soups and salads offer one the opportunity to eat a filling, vegetable based dish before eating a more calorie dense course.

This soup is easy, particularly if you have an immersion blender (which I do). I take a large sweet potato and cut it into smaller pieces. I then put the sweet potato into a pot with 4 cups (1 quart) of water and my spices -- I like the curry spices -- so I use 1 teaspoon each turmeric, paprika (sweet), coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, chili powder and 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cloves (optional). Any other spices you like are nice too. I boil the sweet potato, covered (cover it after the water starts boiling), until the sweet potato is very soft. At this point, if you want, you can peel off the skin, but I prefer to leave the skin on.

While the water is still warm, mash the sweet potato a bit and add 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter of your choice (I like chunky). Stir the peanut butter in to soften it. At this point, if you like, add your choice of sauteed vegetables (mushrooms of all sorts, garlic and onion family veggies, zucchini, greens, etc.).

Get your immersion blender and blend the ingredients very well. If you don't have an immersion blender, use a blender or food processor to puree the ingredients.

This soup stays well (but not long, since it's so delicious, you can't help running to warm some up) in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Aw, Just Stuff it!


My friend Leora recently lost her father. I knew him and he was a very nice man. I'm going to miss seeing him walking down the street. I mention this because in our community (and most other Orthodox Jewish communities I know of), when someone is sitting Shiva (from the Hebrew work for the number "7" which is the number of days of the strictest mourning period), particularly the member of the family who does the food preparation, the members of the community cook meal for them.

One of the recipes that someone brought over was acorn squash stuffed with five grain pilaf & tempeh. I read the recipe and thought it sounded interesting but, of course, I never keep a recipe as is (well, to quote Gilbert and Sullivan, "hardly ever"), so I took the idea and ran with it.

I took 1/2 cup each dried chick peas, adzuki beans and pinto beans -- or black beans instead of one of the others -- and 1 cup of millet. I soaked the beans overnight, drained them, added the millet and 5 cups of filtered water, added a couple of squeezes spicy brown mustard, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons each turmeric, coriander, paprika, 3/4 teaspoon (or so) cumin and a bit of (1/4 teaspoon) cloves. I boiled this, then cooked for about 20 minutes (until most of the liquid is absorbed and all the beans are cooked to taste). While it was cooking, sauteed up some veggies -- scallions (2 bunches), garlic (about 4 cloves, chopped and allowed to sit for 1/2 hour), several kinds of mushrooms (got the fresh ones from H-Mart and the frozen ones from a bag of mixed mushrooms), 1 small sweet potato (diced) and 1-2 carrots (also diced), cauliflower (about 1/4 head chopped up), 1 zucchini (diced). I added the veggies to the bean/millet mixture and mixed it all up. (I've been making this recipe (the bean and millet one) for a few weeks and I love it).

Our town has a farmer's market every Friday from July to Thanksgiving. I go to the Organic table when I go there. Lately, they've been selling some small pumpkins (well, I've been buying the smaller ones -- I only cook for myself) and I had one from last week. I cut off the top (as close to the stem as I could), cleaned out the seeds (you can roast the seeds if you like -- they're delicious), sprayed it with olive oil (from a pump spray) and sprinkled it with pumpkin pie spice (my recipe, based on one I found on line -- 1 part coriander and cloves, 2 parts allspice and nutmeg, 4 parts ginger and 8 parts cinnamon), put it in a 350 degree oven until it was baked through.

After the pumpkin was baked (until it was soft), I added some of the bean/millet mixture to the cavity.

I also made a cake today. I sifted (through a plastic screen strainer) 1 cup teff flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 cup each almond flour and cocoa powder. I also added 1/4 cup cacao nibs. Then I added 1/4 teaspoon stevia powder (equivalent to 1 cup of sugar) and 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) baking powder. In another bowl, I blended together 1 can of pumpkin puree, 1 cup (unsweetened) almond "milk", 1/4 teaspoon maple extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I blended this all together, then mixed it into the dry ingredients. I put it in an 8" X 8" baking pan liked with aluminum foil. I baked it for about 2 hours at 245 degrees. It can bake longer if needed.

I haven't tasted it all yet, but I'll report back to everyone when I do.

Update 11/19/2012: I have tasted the cake and even made it twice more -- it's delicious. Update 12/9/2012: I've been making the chocolate cake now a few more times and I've been using 1 3/4 cups of teff flour with 1/4 cup cocoa. I reduced the maple extract to drops from a dropper -- 3-5 drops. This week, I also added 1/4 cup sesame seeds.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Very Versatile Vegetables


A while back, among the plethora of diet books I've read, I read a book about Okinawa and the diet the people there eat. According to the book, the best foods to eat for weight loss are foods that have a high water content. Or, put differently, the best foods for losing weight are those that have low calorie counts for high volume. Most of these foods are fruits and vegetables. This also is the theory behind "Volumetrics"

In case you haven't figured this out yet, I'm a big fan of Cauliflower. Cauliflower is very low in calories (only about 144 calories per Medium Head -- about 575 grams), high in fiber (14 grams per medium head), and 11 grams of protein per medium head. So I decided to make use of a head of cauliflower to help fill me up deliciously.

I took a head of cauliflower and steamed it until it was nice and soft. After it cooled, I pureed half the cauliflower with 1/2 cup of unsweetened Almond "milk". I put this puree in a pot, added another cup of the Almond "milk", spiced it up (I like curry spices, but choose your own). Then I sauteed a bunch of mushrooms with a bit of shallot and garlic (I let the garlic sit for 1/2 hour after I dice/mince it) -- I had frozen mixed mushrooms and a few other kinds of mushrooms that I get at our local H-Mart. When the mushrooms (and shallots and garlic) are soft, I put them in the puree plus "milk". I cooked them all through. This made a good "cream of mushroom" soup (I used it last week with Shirataki macaroni to make a casserole).

Now you may be wondering what I did with the other half of the cauliflower. Well, I'll tell you. I took a large can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes, added spices (I used 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, paprika, coriander, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and a squeeze of brown mustard) and added the second half of the cauliflower (pureed with nothing else). I also added one coarsely grated apple, one grated carrot, and veggies (to about 1/4 of the mushrooms from before, I added two sliced carrots, two mini sweet potatoes cut into chunks and one zucchini, quartered lengthwise and but into chunks. After this stewed together on a low flame for a while, I added two packages of shirataki macaroni
This came out great and is very filling (and low in calories and high in nutrition).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jimmy Crack Corn (Bread) and I Don't Care....


Over פסח (Pesah -- Passover), I get pretty creative. This is because 1) we can't eat "WROBS" (Wheat, Rye, Oats, Barley and Spelt) unless they are baked into matza and 2) I have the kitchen to myself.

This Pesah, I decided to try my hand at corn bread. I went out to find corn meal and could only find corn grits, so I tried making corn bread from grits. It was ok, but if I had had to do it again, I would have soaked the grits overnight. I then found gluten/wheat free corn meal (not, mind you, that there is wheat in corn meal, but regular corn meal is sometimes manufactured in the same facility as wheat) and I made some corn bread with cornmeal and almond "milk".

So last night, after I also finally found some soy yogurt without added sugar (I've been going through tons of it since I first found it), I decided to try making corn bagels. Yes, I know, it's after Pesah, but I had some time and freedom to "patchke" (from Shelly Posen's 'GLOSSARY of Hebrew and Yiddish' : patchke: fuss, bother) in the kitchen even though my parents are home. So, I took one cup of cornmeal, 1/2 cup soy yogurt, 1/2 cup almond "milk" in a bowl. I blended it together with some stevia and cinnamon (you can spice to taste, I like my corn bread with cinnamon). Then, to help it hold together, I added sorghum flour, 1/8 cup at a time (I needed 1/4 cup, but you might need more). Then I shaped the dough like a bagel (I started small and ended up big) and dropped into boiling water -- I boiled the bagels in water for a few minutes, removed with a slotted spoon and put it on a cookie pan lined with no-stick aluminum foil, sprayed with a bit of olive oil. I baked them in the 350 degree oven for an hour and 20 minutes.

I loved the way they came out -- I hope you do too.

Friday, February 3, 2012

If You Love Brownies like I Love Brownies, Oh, Oh, Oh What a Snack!


For some reason, I was in the mood for brownies this week (it might have had something to do with Dr. Oz having a brownie that I can't eat (it has whole wheat flour -- I can only eat sprouted wheat). So I decided to get a recipe that I could use as a guide. It was a pretty standard recipe, but I changed it (I don't even know where I got the recipe and I just jotted some notes down), and this is what I did:

I took 1/2 cup of organic natural (the only ingredients in this peanut butter are peanuts and salt -- if you, or someone you might give the brownies to, is allergic to peanuts, you can use almond or cashew butter) -- and put it in the top of a double boiler to soften a bit. In the meantime, I put 1/2 cup each of almond and sorghum flours, 2/3 cup of all natural cocoa powder, stevia equivalent to 1 cup of sugar, 1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice (I used pecans this time). Then I added the somewhat softened peanut butter (I use chunky organic from Shop-Rite) and then added 1 cup of almond "milk" (unsweetened Almond Breeze Vanilla) and 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla (all natural, alcohol free, optional). Stir until everything is blended.

Line an 8"x8" pan with non-stick aluminum foil or regular foil and parchment paper and pour the batter in and even it out. Put in the oven at 245 degrees for about 2 hours or under baked through. In the meantime, to make the frosting, take 3-6 Tablespoons peanut butter in the top of the double boiler, add stevia equivalent to 1/2 - 1 cup sugar (to taste) and 1-3 Tablespoons cocoa powder. Blend together while it's over the boiling water of the double boiler and add almond milk as needed (by the tablespoon or 1/8 cup) to make it spreadable. When you take the brownies out of the oven, before they cool, spread the frosting evenly on the brownies. When they cool, cut into 16 squares (4 x 4) and enjoy. (I put them in a container in the refrigerator so they wouldn't spoil).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not, Aw, heck, just Waste Not


I'm currently watching the Food Network (yeah, OK, sure, I'm getting hooked on the Food Network). I'm watching a show called "The Big Waste" in which four famous Food Network chefs (one I know from "The Chew", two I know from "Chopped" -- one is a judge and the other was a celebrity contestant, and the fourth I know from watching a Thanksgiving special of his) are given the challenge to create a meal for 100 guests only using food that was destined to be discarded -- in other words, it was heading for the trash heap.

While I've been watching this, besides being overwhelmed by how much perfectly good, edible, sometimes even healthy, food is ending up in the trash or in the compost heap. While the food that they are collecting includes meat (like beef tongues, hearts and kidneys), poultry (like Halal chickens with wings that are broken in their machines) and seafood (like oysters returned by a good customer and a huge fish that was bruised on the inside), it reminds me of why I became a vegan.

I have been raised as an Orthodox Jew. I was always taught that we shouldn't waste food. We were also taught that we need to care about everyone, not just ourselves or our family. So when I read that it takes way more land to grow food for vegetarians (and even more for omnivores) than it does for vegans, I decided that I didn't want to eat selfishly.

At the end of the show (which I'm sure will be re-aired) they showed a web site to go to ( and I found this article called 10 Tips to Waste Less Food. After watching this, I realize I've been on the right track, but I still need to do more.

I think we all need to do whatever we can to help cut down on the waste. I think from now on, I will try to look past "looks" -- bruises can be cut off, not all fruits or veggies are perfectly shaped. This doesn't mean they won't taste good or be nutritious.

We in the US have become spoiled. We want everyone we interact with to be thin, gorgeous and perfect; we want the same for our food. I think we need to realize that, for food as well as people, perfection is not necessary, in fact, it's not even possible. Would you reject your friends or pets because they weren't perfect? Don't reject your apples or tomatoes just because they aren't perfect. The food we waste could help feed people who are less fortunate. Think globally and act locally shouldn't be just a cliche.