Monday, August 26, 2013

Three Yummy Recipes

OK here is the long awaited recipe for the Black Bean Soup.  It is stupidly simple and lends itself to modifications.

Stupidly Simple Black Bean Soup

Ingredients for 4 Servings:

2 cans of black beans (drained) or 3 cups of scratch made black beans.
Vegetable stock (you decide how much, more for thinner soup.)
3 bay leaves
Cumin (how much depends on how much you like cumin)
Oregano (to taste)
Garlic (depends on how much you like garlic)
2 Avocados

Combine the black beans and broth and blend (in a blender of course).
Add soup and the spices to a large sauce pan and heat until boiling and turn off.
Meanwhile slice up the Avocados.  Pour soup into a bowl and place avocados on top.
Eat and enjoy.  I told you it was stupidly simple.

Enchilada Beans

Tonight we had Enchilada Beans.  We used Rattlesnake Beans but you can use pintos.
Below is a picture.  Yes, I did spike mine with Sriracha......and it was goooooood!

Ingredients for several people:

3 cups of dried Pinto Beans
Lots of water
36 oz of Vegetable Broth
Two 14 oz cans of Hatch (or any other) enchilada sauce.
One large onion diced.
1-2 tbsp of cumin
Oregano (if you like it)
Salt (as little as you can get away with as it is bad for you)

Soak the beans overnight in lots of water (say three inches over the top of the beans)
Drain and rinse beans.  Place beans, broth, onions, enchilada sauce and spices in large pot and simmer low for several hrs, (heck I don't know 3 or 4 I guess) until soft.
Serve over rice.  If you get an endorphin rush from hot sauce or salsa add some to your bowl.  This is a really yummy meal.

Arugula and Pepito Salad with Sun Dried Tomato and Italian Sweet Tomato Dressing

Arugula and Pepito Salad (as seen above) serves four:

One large package of baby arugula
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds raw or toasted.
6 oz jar of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
4 oz of sweet Italian red peppers (these usually come in a 12 oz jar).
Vegetable broth 
2 tsp of fresh garlic
Salt and pepper to taste.

Blend the Sun dried tomatoes (and the olive oil), peppers, garlic and broth (more broth for a thinner dressing) I used about 1/4 cup.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan on the stove for about 3-4 minutes or until they start to pop.  Use a spatula to turn them.

Toss about 2-3 tbsp of the dressing with the Arugula (yes you will have most of the dressing left over)
Toss in the pumpkin seeds.

This is wonderful salad.  I absolutely love arugula, It has a super nutty taste and the pumpkin seeds just bring out that flavor.  If you are not a vegan you can add a few tbsp of blue cheese or Gorgonzola to this salad. You can also substitute toasted sunflower seeds, walnuts or even slivered almonds.

Please enjoy and do not sweat the details.  Vegetarian, vegan and healthy eating should be simple and fun!

One last thing.  These recipes are self created.  I have been super inspired to eat healthy and tasty food.  I have really enjoyed creating these dishes.  Most of them have been super yummy, but a few have been dismal failures, like the Veggie Pad Thai that we had yesterday for lunch.  We threw it out.....all of it.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kung Pao Tofu

Kung Pao Tofu 

Several people have asked me for some recipes so I'm going to share tonight's dinner.  I swear I will share the bean soup recipe soon.

Kung Pao Tofu

So, before you look at this recipe, it is important to know that I don't ever make a recipe from a cookbook exactly as specified.  Also, I rarely measure and therefore I never make something exactly the same way twice.

Five and a half years ago when Carrie and I went to China to get Grace I fell in love with real Chinese food. I say REAL because Chinese food in China compared to here in the states is like comparing Taco Bell to a real Mexican food restaurant.  The exception being the restaurants in a big city Chinatown, like San Francisco, N.Y. or even Houston.  We ate Chinese food three times a day for three weeks and I never got tired of it.  I also never saw General Tso Chicken or Kung Pao Chicken on any menu.  With that said I decided to make a vegetarian version of the classic American style Kung Pao Chicken without the meat and most of the oil.  The oil in tonight's version could easily be cut in half.  Here I am going to give you the low fat, vegan version, as I will make it next time.

Ingredients to feed four adults:

1 pkg of firm or extra firm tofu.
2 cups of each of the following:
     white onions
     thin sliced carrots
     bell pepper (I prefer red, and they were cheap this week)
1 cup of low salt or unsalted dry roasted peanuts
soy sauce
fresh garlic
fresh ginger (finely minced)
vegetable broth
cooking spray
Kung Pao sauce ( I used a store bought version this time but it had too much sugar, next time I will look up a low calorie version on line and make it myself)

Step 1:
Remove the tofu from it's package and press it.  Below is a video link to show you how to do it.  Please do a better job than she did in cutting it.  Also, a large pot full of water makes a better weight. 

Step 2: 
Dice the tofu into 3/4 inch cubes
Flavor the tofu by soaking it in a solution of :
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1-2 Tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger

This solution should be mostly absorbed in less than an hour.

Cook on a shallow baking sheet at 350 for 15 minutes.

Steps one and two can be done days ahead.

Step 3:
Normally I use a wok and a cajun cooker when I make stir fry. It is the only way I know to get large amounts of watery vegetables to sear and caramelize, which is how you get an authentic Chinese flavor.  If you don't have a wok make sure you cook in a nonstick pan and cook in much smaller batches.  As it is, I make this recipe in two batches, one mild for the kids and one spicy for Carrie and me.

Dice the vegetables ahead of time and have them ready when you start to cook.

Coat the wok with cooking spray.  
Heat wok until it starts to smoke.
Add the onions, stir for 20 seconds.
Add the carrots, stir for 20 seconds.
Add the peppers, stir for 20 seconds.
Add the celery, stir for 20 seconds.
Add the Kung Pao Sauce and cook down until it becomes thick, usually two minutes.
Sprinkle and stir in the peanuts.
Turn off the heat.

Serve over rice.

As made, this recipe cuts out more than 95% of the oil.


Kitty Kat loved it, especially the Tofu!

PS: Is anyone in my neck of the woods interested in taking a vegan cooking class from me?  Please let me know. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

10 Observations on Day 19

After 18 days of eating a new diet I have a few observations:

1. I weigh 201 lbs. which means I have lost 11 pounds.This is not water weight.

2. I seem to be taking in on average 1800 calories per day.  This is not  a target or goal, just an observation. I am counting for now just to see what I average in caloric intake.

3. I am not hungry. If I am I eat. I don't feel deprived. I do still crave certain foods like ribs, bacon,    sausage and Mexican food.

4.  For the most part the food I am eating is good. It's good, but not great. It is good enough though and   the fact that I am feeling better makes up the difference.

5.  I am getting used to not eating meat and dairy. I think that I will like this diet even more after 30 days.

6.  My kids like most of the food and are eating much better. They are eating a better variety of foods.       They do not complain about the fact that they are not eating candy, ice cream, cookies etc. They are      enjoying the fruit and smoothies I serve them instead.

7. I am getting plenty of protein (more about that later).

8.  I don't spend as much time obsessing about what I'm going to eat. Food for me is an addiction for sure.

9.  Carrie is losing weight too. She looks great.

10.  The more I feel better the more I want other people to know about this.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: Tacos with Green Chili Quinoa

Vegetarian Tacos with Green Chili Quinoa and Kidney Beans



1 package of Morningstar Farms Crumbles
1 medium onion
Lettuce to top the tacos
jarred salsa--tonight it was Sadie's Hot
Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix:
       2 Tbs of Chili Powder
       2 tsp of Cumin
       1 tsp salt
       1/2 tsp of sugar
       1/2 cup of water

Sweat the onions, add the crumbles and saute until it begins to turn brown.  Meanwhile, add together the dry seasoning ingredients in a separate bowl and add the water.  Pour the seasoning mix over the crumbles and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.


For this recipe I used Rainbow Quinoa purchased at Whole Foods.  Any Quinoa would do.  I also used a rice cooker for this and it came out perfect, but you don't have to use one.

1 cup Quinoa
1/2 cup of chopped green chilies
1 1/2 cups of broth of your choice--I used organic vegetable broth found on the soup aisle
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 can of kidney beans

Cook as directed or until the rice cooker goes ding.  Drain and rinse the kidney beans and heat for one minute in the microwave.  Combine and toss.
Next time I make this I will increase the cumin and I will pour a can of green chili enchilada sauce over it. Carrie said she prefers it without the kidney beans.

Pears rounded out the meal.

It was totally yummy.

I will post the recipes for the Black Bean Soup and the Tomato Avocado Salad later.


Monday, August 12, 2013

A Saturday Dinner

Saturday night we had hamburgers, corn, salad and fruit for dinner.  The hamburgers were Morning Star Farms Grillers.  The Buns were Ezekiel Buns and the salad was Romaine, Avocado and Tomato.
Note to my family and friends who are concerned about protein:  The patty alone supplied 75% of my children's daily need.  The pistachios that they had for a snack earlier supplied another 25%.  When you add in breakfast and lunch, the kids went way over on their protein requirements for the day.  Oops, I had better be careful not to give them too much protein on this vegetarian diet!  I don't want them to stress their kidneys at such an early age (snicker)!    Between the burger and bun Carrie and I received over 50% of our daily need of protein. I think I will do a post later about the whole "vegetarians don't get enough protein" fallacy.

Here is a closeup of the salad

Here is our new Mayonnaise. 
It is fat free and about 10 calories when used on a sandwich or burger.

Here is a closer closeup of the salad with the dressing.
Anyone want the recipe for this?
It was yummy.

All in all the dinner was fantastic, filling, yummy and the kids loved it too.  Looking forward to hearing more feedback or questions from you guys.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 10 (Already?)

Well, Carrie and I are 10 days into the 28 Days to changing our health program so I thought I should post a before pic.

Ain't He A Beauty?  When I saw this picture taken just a few days before we started the 28 Days, I knew I just had to include it as my before picture.

Below, is a picture of the haul from our first trip to the grocery store.  Note, it is almost all fruits and vegetables and very little processed food.  60% of the food we purchase is located in the produce section. 30% is found in the beans, rice and grains section (preferably bulk and preferably from Whole Foods store). Finally about 10% of what we eat is found in the freezer section, frozen fruit for smoothies and Morning Star Burgers and ground meatless.

Below is a picture of a whip-together Black Bean Soup that we had for lunch the other day. It turned out really well.  Just so I can see who is reading this I will only give the recipe to you if you comment either here or on my Facebook page.

Carrie and I both weighed in on day eight.  I was down 8 lbs and Carrie was down 4 lbs.  Last week I came down with a cold and I braced myself for the usual week of misery, except that the cold was completely gone in 48 hrs.  That never happens.  Overall, I would say that I am beginning to feel better.  I have had heart burn only once.  I don't think I am snoring as much, but I should check with Carrie.  I will recheck my blood work and blood pressure in early September to see how that side of it is going.  

Looking forward to hearing from some of you.  Encouragement, snickers, recipe requests and questions are all welcome.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Engine 2: I Love You

What I really love (besides my kids) are ribs, bacon, get the idea. It's my love affair with these foods that got me where I am now, fat, sick and tired.  I am a food addict.  What does that mean?  It means put a slab of ribs or a plate of sausage in front of me and I will eat it until I am sick or very bloated and uncomfortable.  A plate of home made chocolate chip cookies or a carton of ice cream has about as much chance of surviving the night as a six pack of beer at a biker rally.  So now that I recognize that I have a problem, what do I do?  Food addicts have a unique problem.  Unlike other addictions, going cold turkey is not an option.  It is this reality that makes dieting so likely to fail. Hunger and deprivation generally end in failure of the diet.  After researching this issue I came across another way.  Don't go on a diet, change your diet.  Don't go hungry, eat something more nutritious.  Enter the Engine 2 Diet.

If you are interested, take a few minutes to visit the website or read a sample of the book by clicking on the image above.

Friday, August 2, 2013

28 Days to a Healthy Family

Yesterday I explained that I have begun to make changes to my lifestyle that I hope will lower my blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol and of course my weight.  Here is why:

I have tried many diets and the only one that worked was Quick Weight Loss, and it only worked as long as I was willing to take their expensive pills and eat grilled chicken!  I think I will discuss that diet later.  I don't want to be on another diet but rather I want to change my diet.  There is a difference. Going on a diet is something temporary in order to lose weight. On the other hand one's diet consists of what he or she eats on a regular basis.  For example, the Chinese (in general) have their diet, it consists of lots of vegetables and rice or noodles and very little meat.  The Japanese have their diet and so do the Mediterraneans, Indians and we Americans.  Up until yesterday my diet was aptly called the Standard American Diet or SAD, which is quite appropriate as we Americans are among the fattest people on earth.  We also lead the world in heart disease and cancer, and I just love the people in that picture above too much to leave them behind.

So What Is Your New Diet Called
Well, I'm glad you asked.  For the next 28 days (and hopefully forever)  I will give up foods that are nutrient poor and high in empty calories.  I will give up. processed foods. I will give up foods that are high in fats, sugars and yes I am going to give up all forms of meat.   I will give up, beef, chicken, pork, fish, milk, cheese and yogurt.  What I will eat are nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables and other nutrient rich foods. I will give up a dozen foods but I will gain hundreds of foods that I rarely or never ate before, foods that are super nutritious, like quinoa, spelt, buckwheat, kale, watercress and hundreds of other foods.  So, though you might call my diet Vegeterian or Vegan, that would not be entirely accurate.  A more proper title for my new eating lifestyle would be Plant Strong Nutrient Rich.

So there you have it.  For the next 28 Days (and hopefully longer) I will eat a Plant Strong Nutrient Rich diet.
At the end of those 28 Days, I will report to you the changes to my weight, blood pressure etc.  I can't weight (get it?) to see how it turns out!  So join me on this journey as I will try to blog every day.

Tomorrow:  Engine 2 I love You.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I'm Back and Bigger Than Ever (just ask my scale)

It's true I am back and I am bigger than ever....well almost.  I am six pounds short of my all time high of 218 lbs.  Oh, yeah and my family is bigger than ever too.  Now there are six children running around here, and I do mean running.  Just ask the two who went to bed early because they ran into the parking lot at the store. But I digress.  So much running around in fact that I haven't really had the energy to chase them around and then sit down to keep up with a blog.  I think Carrie and I have gained just enough traction in order for me to resume blogging.

So what to write about.  Well there certainly is no shortage of comedy and drama to record around here, so there will be plenty of that.  I have plenty of strong opinions (you know what they say about opinions) concerning religion, politics and of course adoption, but for the next 28 days at least I will be blogging about a major change in our lifestyle regarding our health.  So let's begin with that.

The Statistics (yikes)
Weight - 212 lbs. (Don't know for sure what I should weigh but I was 130 lbs. when I graduated high school)

L.D.L. - 177 (should be under 130 and preferably under 100)

Total Cholesterol - 287 (should be under 200 and preferably under 150)

Triglycerides - 296 (should be under 150)

That's Pretty Bad Brian, But How Do You Feel?
Well I'm glad you asked.  I feel like crap actually.  As I have gained weight I have begun to snore again and my sleep apnea has returned.  I have heartburn most nights, and it is uncomfortable for me to sit here and type because my stomach is pinched between my ribs and pelvis.  My back hurts, I am stiff.  I have much less energy.  I want to sleep all the time.  I am always hot.  Being fat really sucks to be perfectly honest.

Well, What Are You Going To Do About It Fatty?
Well I'll tell you what I'm going to do about it, over the next 28 days and beyond.  You will just have to read this blog to find out.  Lets just say that we are taking radical steps around here to make some permanent changes that I hope will mean better health and better quality of life for me, for Carrie, and most importantly for our six little minions.  The adventure begins today, Thursday, August 1st.

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