Sunday, June 2, 2013

Vegetables for Breakfast? Why Not!!

I was at my doctor's last week, and among other things had a nice chat with him about my continuous battle with my weight… Yes, I've lost quite a bit, but when I decide to take a break from being fastidious about it I gain… Before you start "guessing" what I do wrong, everyone who knows me will tell you I don't overeat or indulge - and my doctor understands this.

So, we went over what I have & haven't been doing… and the only thing he would change is that I would get into a consistent exercise routine… yep, knew that… again please don't judge, I've been trying to find something that works…

Then my doctor mentioned something he and his wife started doing after a trip to Greece (long story), they started eating breakfasts that were mostly vegetables… he suggested I try it as a way to see if I could get my metabolism off to a good start without a lot of calories.  Well, I LOVE vegetables, so I thought I'd give it a try…

Here are the first two veggie breakfasts I had, and I'm loving them!

Veggie Breakfast #1:

Small fry pan, sprayed with Olive Oil.
1/2 cup Asparagus, diced
1/2 cup Cauliflower, diced
1/4 cup Bell Pepper, diced
<1/4 cup Onion, diced
1 Tbl Pine Nuts
Sprinkled with Penzey's "Rocky Mountain" (use whatever dry spice you like)

After being sautéd & before I ate (yes, that's a small plate)… So Yummy!!

Veggie Breakfast #2:

I didn't measure this time, but ingredients were: Asparagus, Onion, Bell Pepper, Cauliflower, Grated Crook Neck Squash.  Also I added 1/4 of a Chicken Juicy Lucy patty (my 1/2 veggie recipe), some dry spices (I used Penzy's "Parisien" & some sea salt)… after that was all sautéd I added….

Some fresh Spinach, stirred it in and cooked just long enough to wilt...

Oh My, was that Wonderful!!

I'm really liking this new approach to breakfast, not saying I'll do this every day (sometimes there's just not that much time in the mornings), but it's definitely something new to add to my "arsenal".

My doctor also suggested that if I needed I could add a slice of toast, but I haven't needed.  What I have done is follow up a couple hours later with a late morning snack of a Banana.


Update - I'm continuing to experiment, and have trued other variations of the types you've seen above… here are a couple other things I've done….

Veggie Breakfast #3:

This one started much like the previous… a small saucepan was used to sauté some vegetables, then...

I added in some Spinach Feta Pine Nut soup that was left over from dinner the night before, warmed it all up and got...

Another wonderful veggie breakfast!!

Veggie Breakfast #4:

Simplest one yet...

Warmed up African Peanut Stew… I could have added more spinach to lighten it up more for my breakfast, but I was out… perhaps another time :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wonderful Raisin Bread!

I'd had such good results with my latest sandwich bread recipe that I had to try a variation… and after a couple tries I got it right!!

  15 oz Bread Flour (by weight)
  1 1/2 tsp Salt
  6 oz very warm Water (hot as your tap will get it)
  3 oz very warm Milk (I use my tiny microwave for 55 seconds)
  1 1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  1 1/2 Tbl Honey
  1 1/2 tsp Olive Oil
  1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  1/4 cup Raisins
  1 1/2 tsp good quality Cinnamon (I like Penzey's Vietnamese)
  1/4 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
  1/8 tsp freshly grated Cloves
  1 Tbl Butter, divided

You will also need:
  Spray Olive Oil
  Large (7 cup) sealing plastic container (Ziploc ones work great)
  Additional Bread Flour for hand kneading & forming (after first rise)
  Loaf Pan
  Parchment Paper to line the loaf pan (use those Origami skills)

In the bowl of a stand mixer (instructions based on my Kitchenaid model, you can hand mix & knead if you're so inclined) place: Bread Flour and Salt - hand mix these together to combine, then create a bowl-shaped space in the middle for the wet ingredients.  

Put hot Water & Milk in the bowl-shaped space, sprinkle the surface of the liquid with the Yeast, allow Yeast to dissolve for about a minute and then stir it in to the milk/water.

Add Olive Oil & Honey, then mix all the ingredients together using the mixing paddle on the mixer on the slowest speed, for about 10-15 seconds.  Remove the mixing paddle & replace with the dough hook.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit for 30 minutes (autolyse).

Knead the dough using the stand mixer, I set my model to about 2-3 (a low setting) and let it knead for about 2-3 minutes.

Spray the plastic container & inside of lid with Olive Oil, remove the dough from the mixer and put it in the container, press down, spray the top of the dough with Olive Oil, close the container and wrap it in a tea towel.  Let the dough rise in the container in a warm area (I like 72F) for about 35 minutes, or until the dough is doubled in size - you may need to burp the container a couple times, you may also hear it "pop" if it burps itself.

While the dough is rising mix together the brown sugar & spices.

Turn out the dough onto a well floured board, knead lightly and flatten into a rectangle with the short sides being a little narrower than your loaf pan.  Spread 1/2 of the Tablespoon of Butter on the dough, top with the brown sugar/spice mixture, top with the raisins.

Starting at one of the short ends, roll the dough into a loaf.  Place the loaf in the parchment paper lined loaf pan, spray with Olive Oil, cover with a tea towel and let it proof for an hour.  At the start of the proofing set the oven to 350F, this will ensure the oven is at the proper temperature.

After the loaf is raised melt the other 1/2 Tablespoon of Butter, brush the top of the loaf (don't split the top for raisin bread).  Bake for 45 minutes at 350F.  When baking is complete remove the loaf from the oven, remove the parchment paper and allow to cool well before slicing (slightly warm is fine).

This type of loaf keeps best in the refrigerator, it is wonderful sliced and toasted for breakfast.

My first attempt had about twice the amount of sugar/spice/raisins & was wonderful but more like a cinnamon roll loaf than raisin bread… I think I see a cinnamon roll loaf in my future.  Until then, enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Moroccan Root Vegetable Stew

This is a book I LOVE… it's a vegetarian Soup Cookbook… And I've loved everything I've tried so far…  If you love soup you should get this book!!

My soup is an adaptation of the recipe in the book titled "Stewed Root Vegetables with Moroccan Spices" - the original is meant to be served over rice and isn't as much of a soup…. but I started making this as a soup & it's my personal favorite.

The ingredient list may look a bit daunting, trust me when I say it's worth the effort… and unless you have a big group to eat it you'll have leftovers.  You'll need a very large stock pot, and a very large crock pot - if you only have the typical sized ones I suggest cutting the recipe in half.  You'll also need a Mortar & Pestle or some other means of grinding whole spices.

Ingredients, in order of appearance:
  1 Tbl Cumin seeds
  1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  1 tsp ground Turmeric
  1 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  1/4 tsp ground Cayenne
  Spray Olive Oil
  2 large Yellow Onions, chopped
  3 cloves Garlic, crushed
  1 pound Turnips, peel on, cubed
  1/2 pound (8 oz) Parsnips, peel on, cubed
  1/2 pound Carrots, peel on, sliced
  1/2 pound Yellow or Red Potatoes, peel on, cubed
  1 1/2 pounds Butternut Squash, peeled & seeded, cubed
  2 medium Fennel Bulbs, chopped
  3/4 pounds (12 oz) Tomatillos, husked, quartered
  2/3 cup Raisins
  2 Jalapeño peppers, seeded, diced
  3 Tbl fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
  4 cups Vegetable Broth
    (I use 4 cups water + 4 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable)

Like with many of my recipes I sometimes vary the ingredients a little… so feel free to substitute...

In a small saucepan toast the Cumin seeds until they start releasing their fragrance… if it starts to smoke you've toasted more than needed but it will still be ok (I know, it's happened to me)…

Grind the Cumin seeds in a Mortar & Pestle, transfer to a small bowl.  Add the Sea Salt, Turmeric, Cinnamon, and Cayenne, mix together and keep to the side.

Spray a large Stock Pot with Olive Oil, add the Onions and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the garlic and sauté a couple minutes more.

Add the dry spices, stir in well & allow to warm for a minute.

Add in vegetables, everything from Turnips to Tomatillos in the list above, stir well so that the vegetables are coated with the spices.

Add in the remainder of the ingredients, stir.  Note: at this time it will seem that there is not enough broth, there is enough (trust me), the vegetables will release a bit of moisture as they cook.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then lower to a simmer & cover.  You may want to use a potato masher to push the vegetables down into the broth.  Allow to simmer for an extensive time, 45-60 minutes or so, stirring every 5-10 minutes (and pushing down as needed).

As soon as the vegetables are all tender it's ready to eat… but I like to let it "stew" even longer.  So at this point I transfer it into the Crock Pot, set to Low, and allow it to slow cook & continue to develop it's flavor until we're ready for dinner.  I'll typically start this at lunch time so we'll have a no-fuss dinner ready whenever we are.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Light French Toast… Yum!!

Since I now have a wonderful White Bread recipe - better than you can get at the store, by far - I decided to make myself some light French Toast this morning… and I hadn't had French Toast in a very long time!!

I sliced up some of my bread… mixed up a little Egg Beaters with some dry spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves)… dipped my bread… cooked in a non-stick skillet… topped with a little sugar-free syrup  & Voila!!  It was so yummy I forgot to take a picture until I'd already eaten the first piece :)

  Egg Beaters
  Spices - vanilla & cinnamon are traditional, I also like to add: nutmeg, ginger, cloves…
  Topping - light syrup or light whipped cream or ….

Stir Spices into Egg Beaters, dip bread in egg mixture, put in non-stick pan on medium heat… cook until golden on both sides.

I don't use milk, it's not needed, and the Egg Beaters are both easy (pre-"scrambled") & light (made from the whites only)...

Updated on 4/14… how in the world did I forget to mention Vanilla?!?

Spinach Feta Pine Nut Soup, light & extra light...

Yes, the weather is still cold here in Minnesota, so I'm still making soups… besides, they pair well with my latest bread recipe :)

This is another recipe that started it's life in the following book… I really do recommend this book for anyone who loves soup!!  I make changes to the original, some minor & some significant, in order to lighten things up based on my weight loss/maintenance goals.  But the original is where I start…

Light Version - Recommended

  Olive Oil Spray
  4 cloves Garlic, minced
  1 large Yellow Onion, chopped roughly
  3 ribs Celery, chopped roughly
  1 1/2 pounds Yellow/Gold Potatoes, cut into chunks
  6 cups Vegetable Broth
    (I use 6 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable + 6 cups water)
  1 cup white wine
  1/2 tsp ground Nutmeg (I like to grind mine fresh, but not necessary)
  2 pounds fresh Spinach (leaves & stems)
  2 cups Fat Free Half & Half
  12 oz Crumbled Feta
  1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  4 dashes Worcestershire
  Salt & Pepper to taste (I like to grind mine fresh)

( Directions below Picture )

Extra Light Version - still quite good, but I like the one above better, an option for those who feel they must lighten as much as possible.    Differences from the Light Version: This one removes the wine & a cup of the half & half, replacing them with vegetable broth.  Also, the feta used is fat-free & only half the quantity of feta is used.


  Olive Oil Spray
  4 cloves Garlic, minced
  1 large Yellow Onion, chopped roughly
  3 ribs Celery, chopped roughly
  1 1/2 pounds Yellow/Gold Potatoes, cut into chunks
  8 cups Vegetable Broth
    (I use 8 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable + 8 cups water)
  1/2 tsp ground Nutmeg (I like to grind mine fresh, but not necessary)
  2 pounds fresh Spinach (leaves & stems)
  1 cups Fat Free Half & Half
  6 oz Crumbled Fat Free Feta
  1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  4 dashes Worcestershire
  Salt & Pepper to taste (I like to grind mine fresh)

( Directions below Picture )

This is a picture of the extra light soup

Spray a stockpot with Olive Oil, place the following in the pot: Garlic, Onion, Celery.  Sauté about 5 minutes, add Potatoes & sauté another 5 minutes.

Add the Vegetable Broth (and Wine if doing the Light version), bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium & cover.  Cook for about a half hour - long enough for the potatoes to cook tender.

Remove from heat, stir in Nutmeg and Spinach, stir until Spinach has wilted.

Blend the soup using an Immersion Blender - or in batches using a regular blender.

Stir in the Half & Half, Feta, Pine Nuts, Worcestershire, Salt, and Pepper.

Return to the stove and simmer for at least another 5 minutes.  At this point the soup can be set on a very low flame to keep warm until everyone is ready for the meal, if you don't have a tiny-flame burner you can transfer to a crock pot set on Low.