Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bistro Broccoli Chowder - Hold the Parsnips...

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Another fine and hearty soup from Appetite for Reduction, using one of my favorite vegetables of all time, BROCCOLI.  For anyone who does not have the pleasure of owning this fantastic cookbook, I found the recipe online here, at

Here in new England, the only "chowda" in most folks' bowls is clam.  For this recipe, however, we swap out our shelled friends for some broccoli, and leave behind the heavy cream and butter for some luscious potatoes and unsweetened almond milk.  Besides potatoes, the recipe calls for a parsnip, which is not one of my usual pantry staples.  Apparently, it is not Stop and Shop's either, which made me sad because I really wanted to try one in this recipe.  No parsnips to be found.

So, in steps a turnip, and we call it a day.  Turnip can be subbed in some recipes that call for parsnip.  It is described as having a "celery-like" flavor, which I thought would be perfect for a soup such as this one.

And, I was right!  This soup rocked.  Although the directions instruct you to puree HALF the soup and leave the rest a little chunky and thick.  I submerged my immersion blender in the soup pot, and literally  tapped the button, and within 6 seconds, the entire pot was pureed. So much for that... and so much for my Job Lot $15.00 immersion blender been cheap and crappy.

So, since the soup was now silky smooth, and a delightful shade of green. I decided to chop up a bunch of RAW broccoli to add some texture back.  Good call. The crunch of the raw broccoli added just the right body to the soup, and at 150 calories a serving, you can't go wrong.  Thank you, Isa.  This was a fabulous, low-cal lunch for a week. ^_^

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Trattoria Pasta Salad

New Year, New Resolutions 

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"Forget that tired old pasta salad Aunt Gertrude brings to family reunions - this salad is where it's at! NO mayo required" ~from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbook, Appetite for Reduction.  

With the dawn of the New Year, L and I have made a pact to eat more sensibly and healthy. We have both downloaded calorie counter apps for our phones, and are faithfully keeping track of our daily calorie intake and portion sizes.  I'm using MyFitnessPal, which I really like because they have a TON of vegan ingredients already in their database. If your particular brand or ingredient is not there, the app has a handy barcode symbol, which allows you to scan almost any ingredient with a barcode for complete nutritional information. And, as an added bonus, MyFitnessPal has almost ALL of the recipes from Appetite for Reduction already listed, which has made it really easy for us to have quick, easy and healthy, whole food meals at our fingertips.

So, I just so happened to have two red peppers and some kalamata olives hanging around in my fridge. I also happened to have an open bag of sun dried tomatoes, not packed in oil, as well. And, thanks to my co-worker, Thu, I had just gotten some wonderful Vietnamese rice spiral macaroni from the Vietnamese Market (VMart) here in Providence.

Now if you don't happen to have Appetite for Reduction, Isa has posted the complete recipe for this pasta salad on the PPK website here.  Please check it out, and give the recipe a try.

The only change I made was that I kept the red bell peppers RAW instead of roasting, and added just a tiny touch of agave nectar to the dressing, just to take a bit of the edge out.  Results:  Rave reviews, and it tastes even better the next day.  Perfect for work lunches too.  The tangy bite of the sun dried tomato and balsamic dressing, (made with no oil, but rather a few TBSP of toasted walnuts blended well), goes perfect with the peppers, olives, creamy beans and peppery bite of the fresh baby arugula.  I decided to splurge and added to optional half-cup of toasted walnuts into the mix.  Why not, right? ^_^

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Xtra Walnuts and Arugula, please
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Does Beet Juice Make you Gag? Add More Pineapple

The sight of a fresh glass of juice makes me swoon, but I do admit, I sometimes hesitate when I juice beets.  The crimson juice of a fresh beet is quite potent, and can completely dominate the flavor of anything you mix with it, so I try to mix wisely.

Now, my vegan palate is quite adventurous when it comes to drinking the fresh juice of any vegetable. However, my omnivorous better-half has an involuntary beet gag-reflex.  SHE HATES THEM.

The other day, we wanted juice, and all I had in the fridge was... you guessed it, BEETS.  (I also had two lonely carrots, one (1) green apple, and about one-third of a sliced, fresh pineapple).  

I wonder how much pineapple juice would it take to get L to drink a glass of beet juice?
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L's tiny glass. The pineapple worked!

This recipe came about as close as I will ever get:

Pineapple Beet Surprise (for even the worst Beet- Haters)
1 beet, scrubbed and peeled
1 carrots
1 green apple
one-third (1/3) fresh pineapple, peeled but not cored
1" piece fresh ginger

Cut fruits and vegetables into manageable size pieces for your juicer and juice away!  As always, I alternate the pieces of beet and carrot with the pineapple, which is much softer and tends to clog the juicing screen.  The strong fiber of the beet and carrot help to clear that out.

Serve over ice and enjoy the crimson goodness.  The picture does not do it justice!

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So, why gag down the beet juice? You can read some facts here, but let's start with the simple fact that beet juice is highly nutritious.  Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium and Copper are only some of the vitamins and minerals it contains.  Beet juice is also a powerful cleanser of the blood, improves your blood flow, and can lower blood pressure.  Not too shabby ^_^