Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Cheesy" Macaroni

Ok, if you're looking for something that tastes exactly like Mac 'n' Cheese without using cheese, I don't think it exists.  However, if you're looking for a healthier, lower points, non-dairy macaroni dish that has the texture and mouth feel of mac 'n' cheese and is super yummy, try this!  It's fast to whip up, and I had all the ingredients in my pantry!  I'll bet you only have to purchase 1 or 2 items if you cook on a regular basis.

I started with a recipe I found here Easy Macaroni and Cheeze and added to suit my own tastes.  By the way, this website is awesome for vegan recipes!

1 pound pasta, cooked according to directions

For the sauce
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup Silk original milk
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 TBSP Tahini
1 tsp miso
2 TBSP Vegan Worchestershire sauce
black pepper to taste

Put the sauce ingredients in the blender and give it a whiz.  Drain the cooked pasta, return it to the pot and pour in the sauce.  Heat for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens. 

Seriously, that's it.  It takes 15 minutes or less and it is Yummo!  It makes 6 cups.  The whole dish is 57 WWPP.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hummus and Sun-dried Tomato Panini

This one is so simple and only 7 WWPP.

Hummus and Sun-dried Tomato Panini

Take 2 slices of your favorite bread, I used plain old whole wheat sandwich bread. Spread each slice with 1 TBSP of hummus.  Chop up some sun-dried tomatoes and add to one slice of bread.  Top with the other slice.  Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a skillet.  Grill both sides until they are a nice, crispy, golden brown.  Or use your Panini maker if you have one.  Devour!

Pumpkin Oatmeal

I know, it's not really pumpkin season, but it sure was good this morning after a cool and drizzly Manhattan commute.  Almost like eating pumpkin pie for breakfast.  Omar said all the guys at his office came over to smell it.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

3 cups old-fashioned oats
5 cups water
1 can of pumpkin
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Combine all ingredients in saucepan.
2. Cook over medium heat until liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring occasionally.

The whole pot is 43 WWPP.  I got 5 generous servings. (about 1.5 cups each)

You won't believe they aren't eggs!

The first time I made this Omar kept saying, "There's really no egg in here?"  Seriously, this is good! 

Sunday night I made some, sauteed some mushrooms with tarragon and put it all in a whole wheat wrap for Monday morning breakfast.  Just refrigerate and re-heat in the microwave for 30 seconds in the morning for a hot, delicious breakfast on the go.

Breakfast Scramble

8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 Yukon Gold potato, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Crumble the tofu in a mixing bowl with a whisk or by hand. Steam the potato for about 5 minutes. (I did this in the microwave) While it is steaming, heat a saute pan up to medium heat and spray with cooking spray or add a little oil (count extra points if you add oil). Add the tofu and salt.  Gently and slowly stir it cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir the turmeric and potato into the scramble, cooking for 1 more minute.

The whole batch is 12 WWPP. 

Black Bean Chipotle Burgers

Black Bean Chipotle Burger

Makes 4 burgers

1/4 red onion, minced
1 cup cooked black beans
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves roasted garlic
2 tablespoons A1 Steak Sauce
1/2 cup cooked oats (cooked in water)
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
Nonstick cooking spray, for sautéing

Sauté the red onion over medium-high heat until it just starts to turn brown. Mash the beans, chipotle, onion, cilantro, cumin, black pepper, garlic, and steak sauce together until you have a rough paste (there should still be some texture to the beans, but the mixture should mostly be smashed). Add the oats. Stir the bread crumbs into the black bean mix and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Press everything together and add more bread crumbs, if necessary, until you have a tight dough. Lightly oil your hands so the dough doesn’t stick when you form it into patties. Create palm-size patties. Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Sauté the burgers over medium-high heat until slightly browned on both sides.

Notes/Alterations for next time:
-This was too spicy for Omar. Next time I will leave out the chipotle peppers. I also added a dolop of the adobo sauce, which the recipe doesn't call for. I thought they were great, but not for those who like their food on the mild side.
-I am going to try adding more onion and omitting the pre-cooking step.  I like raw onion and think it will be fine, but I'll let you know.
-I'm going to start with slightly less bread crumbs next time adding more as needed instead of adding the entire 1 1/2 cups at the start.

6 WWPP per burger. Serve with your favorite condiments. I ate mine with avodado and olive tapenade. Make sure to count points for your bun and extras!

Enjoy!

Day 4........

I'm on Day 4 of no meat and no dairy and it's going amazingly well.  I feel terrific, my energy level has doubled, maybe tripled, and I'm eating the most delicious, healthy food.  As I write this, I'm having my lunch of a left-over Black Bean Chipotle Burger topped with Avocado and baby carrots on the side.  It is delicious!  The burger recipe will be posted soon along with some other great recipes I've made the past couple of days.

Day 2 and 3 I had pretty bad headaches and was a little tired and grumpy so I'm definitely going through withdrawal from something (most likely dairy), but I'm not craving meat at all.  Even better, I'm not craving cheese.  I have discovered that avocado is a great cheese substitute on a sandwich.  It's like adding cheese AND butter, but with less fat and calories and so much better for me!  Try it sometime.

I'll keep you posted on my progress and update you on the recipes I find.  Stay Tuned!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Better than Tuna Salad

I am always looking for healthy alternatives to the foods I enjoy.  Recently, I've been reading a lot about the benefits of a plant based diet.  A diet free of animal products boasts a lowered risk of every disease imaginable including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, allergies, inflammation, and pretty much anything that ails and/or ages you.  AND it's better for the planet.

For me, getting healthy is a must.  I am closing in on 42 years in this body and some days, particularly days I eat poorly, I feel significantly older.  Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer run in my family.  I've recently added blood pressure medication to my daily regime, Omar is on meds for high cholesterol, and we both need to drop some significant weight and raise our energy levels if we want to live a long and happy life together doing things we enjoy.

Thursday night I came home and asked Omar if he would mind if we started reducing the amount of meat and animal products we consume with the intention of eventually completely cutting these things out of our diets. (maybe)  I was prepared for a bit of a fight.  This is a man who loves his food!  I briefly explained the health benefits and ( I love my husband so much)  his immediate response was, "Ok, great! When do we start?"  Seriously, no arm twisting at all.  I'm a lucky girl.  So I got together a few recipes I wanted to try and today we did our usual shopping, only we didn't purchase ANY meat.  (don't worry, our freezer is still stocked with plenty of chicken, ground beef and ground turkey.  I said gradually)

My first recipe was a success!  If you like Tuna Salad you will love this VEGAN version.  Yes, I said vegan!  Absolutely NO animal product.  AND it's super low in points!  Try it out.  I promise you will love it. Omar said it tasted a lot like tuna salad and was surprised when I told him there were no eggs in it.  He didn't even miss the mayo! 

Better than Tuna Salad

4 teaspoons Tahini*
2 teaspoons plain non-dairy milk (use regular milk for a non-vegan version if it's what you have)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce (recipe calls for tamari, but I didn't have any)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kelp granules (I didn't have these so I left them out)
1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
pinch of sea salt (I used Kosher salt)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 stalk diced celery
1/2 apple, diced (I used a Fuji apple)
**The recipe called for the these 3 items, but I guess I was hungry and totally forgot to put them in.  I will add them next time, but the salad was delicious as I made it.
     2-4 tablespoons diced green or red bell pepper
     2 teaspoons capers
     1-2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a bowl, whisk together the tahini with the milk, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, tamari, mustard, kelp granules, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.  Add the chickpeas to the bowl and mash slightly with a fork or potato masher leaving some of them intact.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.

I served it on whole wheat bread with baby carrots and the rest of the apple.

I made 2 large sandwiches with enough left over for a 3rd smaller, but still generous sandwich.  The entire batch has only 10 WWPP.  It was very filling, but not heavy.

*Tahini is sesame paste.  You can usually find it with the olives, with other Mediterranean foods, or sometimes in the produce section.  It is used to make hummus and other Mediterranean foods.

Try it and let me know what you think!