Posts made in September, 2011
Of course, as soon as food becomes “off-limits” I immediately desperately crave it. So what have I been doing? I’ve been pinning recipes for food to make as soon as we are out of crazy elimination land. Because I’m a glutton for punishment.
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Nutella Pudding
- Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
- Soft Baked Pretzel Bites
- Sweet and Salty Carmelized Pumpkin Seeds
- Lemon Garlic Spaghetti
- Peanut Butter and Nutella Swirl Cookies
- Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Chicken Bites
- Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
- Spinach and Cheese Strata
What have you been craving lately?
My general life philosophy is “do the things I want to do, and don’t do the things I don’t want to do.” Of course, as an adult, that isn’t always possible. Do I want to pay bills and go to the dentist? Not particularly, but I do those things because I’m a responsible, contributing member of society.
But when I do have a choice, I try not to feel guilty or ashamed for choosing the things that make me happy. But even with that life philosophy, there are certain times where adults are made to feel inferior or immature for their choices. We’re supposed to choose gray instead of hot pink and watch PBS instead of MTV. Often, when we go against those standards, it is labeled as a guilty pleasure.
I don’t love that concept. I believe that almost always, pleasure should never be guilty. Even if it is something that isn’t necessarily the social norm.
That being said, there isn’t really a better way to phrase today’s fun Friday question. “What are the things that make you happy that aren’t really socially accepted for adults?” just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. So…
What are your guilty pleasures?
I know as a well-educated person, I should despise everything about Jersey Shore, but I actually kind of love it. As idiotic and ridiculous as the cast members can be, I actually think they are genuinely decent human beings and kinda sweet. I find it fascinating that these young people have two very different sides. Old fashioned, caring, family focused. And crazy, out-of-control, and ditzy. They’ll get black-out drunk on a Saturday night, but then all come together on a Sunday afternoon to make dinner together. Plus, I think a few of them genuinely hilarious.
For the longest time, it feels like bright colors have been reserved for preschool classrooms and sports teams. Once you got past a certain age, you were relegated to the black, charcoal and beige section of Macys. You were supposed to have a black car, black coat, and black shoes. But bright colors make me happy! I love wearing bright and buying bright. Thankfully, it feels like color has made a return to acceptance, but I used to get comments almost daily on how “loud” or “vibrant” my clothes were. I guess it’s become part of my personal brand now because I drive an orange car and have purple hair.
I have more “guilty pleasures” than this, but there are the two that come to mind right now. Your turn! What are yours?
You all* know that I love butter and cream and sugar and all those other awesome ingredients that make life worth living. But as I’ve gone down this rocky path known as health, I’m starting to realize that sometimes, it is best to give up a little of the “real” stuff to save some calories. You’ll never see me buying fat free cheese (YUCK!) but you will see me sometimes subbing in some real food lower-cal ingredients for their high-calorie counterparts. A good example? Gingered Coconut and Carrot Bisque.
That recipe calls for almost 1-2/3 cups of lite coconut milk. Most bisques use heavy cream to make them smooth and…well…creamy. By using the coconut milk instead of heavy cream, you save approximately 330 calories per serving. That is nothing to scoff at it! That’s an hour of walking on the treadmill. Or half of a Zumba class. And I promise, it tastes just as delicious.
Want some more of my favorite recipe swaps to lower calories? Head on over to Anytime Health to check out my top five.
*I’ve had an uncontrollable urge to type “y’all” as of recent. Even if I do a have a (very minor) Southern accent, I promise you I don’t say “y’all”. So why do my fingers want to betray my speech so drastically? I actually always wished I said, “y’all”. I think it’s cute. But I live in Indiana. We’re considered Yankees. We can’t get away with that kinda stuff. </tangent>
What’s your favorite recipe swap to lower calories?
I’m kinda obsessed with nutritional yeast.
Or “Nut. Yeast” as Babyface so eloquently labeled the jar in our pantry.
I’ve seen nutritional yeast pop up on numerous vegan and vegetarian blogs for years and scoffed at the stuff. It felt like a ridiculous ingredient. Obscure. Weird. And seriously, who needs things to taste “cheezy” when you can use actual, honest-to-goodness cheese?
Plus, the stuff looks like fish food. And fish food is not good eats.
And then, just like my sudden desire to wear leggings as pants after years of mocking the trend, I came around. The elimination diet was in full swing. I needed something cheesy. And well, “cheezy” would just have to do.
The best way I can describe the flavor of nutritional yeast is like buttered popcorn. The texture is flakey and fragile. Which makes it a great candidate for adding to recipes where the flavor needs to stand out, but the texture shouldn’t. For example, we’ve been making vegan, gluten-free garlic “cheeze” bread by spreading soy-free vegan margarine on gluten-free bread and the sprinkling on some garlic powder and nutritional yeast. It tastes buttery and cheezy, but the texture is just like buttered toast.
As much as I’ve learned to like nutritional yeast, I don’t plan on making it a staple of our diet or of the recipes you see here. Even though I’ve learned to love it, I still think it is a weird and obscure ingredient (although, admittedly, it was not at all hard to find in my town). If you are feeling adventurous or curious, go ahead and grab some from your closest bulk bin. If you aren’t? Just sub in equal amounts of Parmesan cheese in this pesto and you’ll never have to venture into the world of “cheezy” fish food.
I was really hoping this pesto would look prettier. Bright red. Vibrant. But alas, green basil + red peppers = brown. You’d think I’d know that was going to be the result considering I have a fine arts degree, but I chose to ignore the expertise my expensive education gave me. I promise it tastes incredible! I’ve been slathering this stuff on and in everything that goes into my mouth. It is so full of flavor and is a great way to use up the last few bunches of basil from the farmer’s market. And it works incredibly well with some chickpea flaxseed pasta, if you were so inclined.
There are a million guides out there for how to roast red peppers. My favorite method is sticking them under a blistering (literally) hot broiler until the skin is charred and the meat of the peppers is soft. I know, I know, you are supposed to painstakingly peel every little bit of skin off the pepper once they cool, but I’m really impatient. I peel off the big chunks and leave the rest. If someone is looking over your shoulder and judging your method, just do what I do and tell them that you leave it in because it gives a smoky note to the otherwise brightly flavored pesto.
Or something else pretentious sounding.
Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
If you aren’t a fan of tracking down nutritional yeast and don’t care about the vegan-ness, go ahead and sub in Parmesan cheese in the same amount. Toss a few tablespoons of this pesto with your favorite pasta and you have a quick and delicious dinner.
Makes about 1 cup of pesto
- 2 medium red peppers, halved, seeded, and roasted
- 1-1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- In a food processor, combine the roasted red peppers, basil, garlic, pine nuts, walnuts, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Pulse until well chopped.
- With food processor running, stream in olive oil until just combined.
Do you like trying obscure ingredients? Or are you a fan of pantry staples?
One of the more fun parts about going gluten-free for the elimination diet has been discovering all the fun kinds of naturally occurring gluten-free foods there are out there. I am obviously very new to this, but I’ve already tried a pretty big breadth of grains from my local co-op’s bulk bin and I am amazed at how varied the grains are that are out there today. I thought I might shed a little light on the basics of gluten-free grains and my experience with them. Of course, there are a lot more than what I’m listing here, but is what we are currently using to stay on track.
Amaranth is a teeny-tiny little grain from the Amaranth herb. It’s popularity dates way back to the Aztecs, but almost became extinct after the Spanish banned the grain because Aztecs used it in human sacrifice rituals (!). It was resurrected (har, har, get it?) in the mid-70s and has become increasingly popular ever since.
Amaranth is high in protein, amino fatty acids, fiber, iron and calcium. It has a slightly nutty and sweet flavor. You can also pop amaranth like you do popcorn! I haven’t quite mastered the art without burning it yet.
Naturally, oats are gluten-free, but cross-contamination is so prevalent in oat growing and processing that almost all oats on today’s store shelves contain gluten. It is possible to find some brands of gluten-free oats (make sure to look for packages that explicitly say it).
Oats are best known for their role in breakfast, but oats can also be used in place of breadcrumbs to add texture to savory dishes. Oats are rich in fiber, protein and high in folate, magnesium and thiamin.
Quinoa has become a pretty trendy little grain over the past few years, and for good reason! The flavor of quinoa is really spectacular. I think it tastes buttery and nutty, without ever adding anything to it. When quinoa cooks, the germ of the seed separates and it looks like a little tiny planet with a ring around it. The end result is slightly chewy, but soft.
If you tend to suffer from headaches, try putting more quinoa in your diet! Quinoa is packed full of magnesium which helps restrict blood vessels in the body, which can help relieve headache symptoms. I can actually tell when I’m low on magnesium because I start getting daily headaches.
For some reason, I assumed that rice had gluten in it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong. I guess I always assumed that something as sticky as rice must have gluten in it. All kinds of rice are gluten-free, but the real nutritional star is brown rice. Brown rice is less processed than other kinds of rice and therefore retains the grain’s original nutritional profile. From WHfoods.com:
The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.
Buckwheat was a new one for us in the past few weeks, and admittedly, it wasn’t our favorite. Buckwheat takes quite a while to cook and even after cooking, it stays very chewy and solid. If you get roasted buckwheat the flavor is very, very nutty, but the unroasted variety is supposedly milder (we haven’t tried it yet). Buckwheat definitely has its benefits though! It has more fiber than both oats and brown rice.
If you are anything like me, whenever you hear “millet” you automatically think bird seed, but I promise it is human food, too. Once cooked, millet has a fluffy and creamy texture. A cup of cooked millet gives you 24% of your daily allowance of phosphorous. Phosphorous helps to structure almost every cell in the body.