Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sneaky Snacks and Indian Cauliflower Stew


PART ONE-SNEAKY SNACKS


I have this theory that if you cook your kids healthy food and you give them no other options they will eat the food. Call me crazy but as the adult in charge (at this stage of their lives) they don't have a lot of choices on what to eat. We  do that on purpose. Limit choices. Like between stuff that's good for them and stuff that is great for them. Its not to say that they won't get ice cream and cake on their birthdays, but the other 364 days a year they eat pretty damn well. They really don't have much choice. We don't force feed them. If they are not interested in eating what is prepared for them then they don't eat until the next meal is served. No snacks, no juice. Just the food we prepare.

My wife is out of town for a week so I am solo parenting (with some M-F daytime help from our live-in child-therapist-Reiki-practitioner-miracle worker Michelle who we trade room and board for 15 hrs a week of her services). I decided to take the kids to the movies this afternoon and thinking ahead to the requests for greasy popcorn, soda, and candy I made the decision to sneak in our own movie snacks. So we popped oil and salt-free popcorn (dressed with braggs, almond "parmesan", and Valle de sol Chile powder), an apple, fruit leather, a pouch of fruit puree, and a small container of raw almonds and dried cranberries.  We also packed a bottle of water. We stuffed all our organic contraband in my older sons back pack just to play it cool. IT WAS GREAT! nobody even complained. I know I am blessed with the best kids. The reason I am telling you all of this though is that they don't think to question it. The snacks were satisfying and very movie going friendly. It felt great. I hope someone out there is reading this and thinking yeah! WTF? I don't have to shovel garbage into my kids mouths just because they are selling garbage at the theater, or the farmer's market, or the grocery store. Just cause whole foods always has mac and cheese on the hot bar doesn't make it the best choice for your lunch or your kids Friday night dinner. Just sayin'.

PART TWO-INDIAN CAULIFLOWER STEW

When we got home it was getting time for dinner and this kinda ratty looking head of cauliflower is staring at me from the veggie drawer (as it had been for the last week and a half). I knew tonight was the night. I had nought a spice packet of Gobi Aloo in hopes of saving this once-beautiful head of veg from the compost. This recipe was totally thrown together and it really turned out tasty. In fact when I served it to the kids, Omarian, my older one said,"can we eat this every night this week?". He looked like he was gonna cry when I said no. God Love him! I want to point out that there have been nights where he has exclaimed his hatred for cauliflower. I didn't get a peep from him tonight. I also didn't give him a choice between frozen veggies or salad or the stew. It was just THE STEW. I think it really helps the younger kids to not have to make these kinds of choices. He dug right it. His little sister picked through it and ate nothing BUT the cauliflower until I spooned a bunch of rice in her mouth and finally explained that the grindstone gluten-free seeded toast that we were getting as a reward for finishing our bowls of stew would not be made available to her until she finished the stew. That was the end of that stand off.

Alright, well I've preached enough and your probably sick of my parenting theories by now so let's get top that recipe!

Indian Cauliflower Stew

1 head of cauliflower but into smallish pieces
1 carrot diced
1 small onion diced
1 celery rib diced
1 packet of Gobi Aloo spice mix
2 cups of vegetable broth (I use no-chix)
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
2-3 cups of water
4 med/small red/white potatoes (partially cooked-boiled, microwaved, roasted)
2 TBLS of tahini
black pepper
Cooked wild/brown rice blend
Sriracha or other hot sauce for garnish (optional)

heat a dutch oven or other cast iron type soup pot on high heat.
Add onions cook with the lid on to trap the moisture for about 2 minutes.
Stir add carrots and celery. Place lid back on and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add spice mix, cauliflower, broth, tahini, diced tomatoes, and enough water to just about cover the veggies.
Bring to a boil then then lower heat to simmer partially cover with lid and cook for 30 minutes.
Check the spice level and add black pepper and any more spice that you desire to taste.
Recommended spices-chili powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, garam masala.

I only added black pepper and a little Valle de sol chili powder.

Serve over rice and garnish with hot sauce if you like.

It was delicious. Hope you try it soon.

Enjoy!

-benjamin

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Can you eat real food for one month? Of course you can!

I am super excited to have stumbled across this challenge on FB today. The basic premise is to not eat any foods that you could not reasonably recreate in your own kitchen for one month. I guess the main reason it spoke to me is I have been trying to identify where convenience foods are creeping into my diet. For me its stuff like pretzel/snack mixes, weird beverages trying not to be soft drinks (but they really are), or protein isolate foods (beyond meat, protein shakes, fake deli meats, etc.)

The reason I am concerned about these foods specifically is that the mindless snacking that I do is generally with foods like these. I usually don't mindlessly snack on steamed collard greens and brown rice while I am driving home from work. :) I generally eat very healthy meals when I cook. Its those in between times that seem to get me into trouble.

I recently saw the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and got really inspired by the story. If you haven't seen it the movie follows an obese guy with an auto-immune disease. He goes on a 60 day juice fast and loses a ton of weight and just abpout reverses the disease. The really inspiring part is about a second man who happens to have the same type of disease but is an extremely obese truck driver. Maybe one of the last people on earth that you would think would be interested in going on a juice fast. Being the impulsive type that I am I went out that night and bought a juicer. The next day I started a 5 day juice fast. It was a truly amazing experience for me! It really taught me a lot about my eating habits. It took about 2.5 days before I really lost my appetite altogether. The "hooks" where no longer in me when it came to food seduction. What I mean by this is even when I was serving my kids some vegan pizza and tater tots the smell of the food had zero appeal to me. Remember this is after not eating any food for almost 3 days. The day before almost any food smell was driving me bonkers.

At any rate I have discovered that I really like how I feel when I am drinking my greens and start the day off with some hot lemon water and a ginger carrot apple rather than coffee. To be completely frank I get high on the green juice. My head gets a warm fuzzy feeling and my skin around my forehead often times is tingling. Its great! I am essentially incorporating my juicing into my regular eating habits. The bulk of the liquid is cutting down on how much cooked food I am eating but I am not sacrificing satiety at all. Additionally I lost 10 pounds and so far have kept them off and according to some coworkers my skin is now glowing! OK...if you guys say so.

If you are interested in the juicing fast at all check the Reboot logo below. Below that is a link to take you to the October Unprocessed challenge. Last but not least I added an email subscription to the blog above and to the right. Enter your email and you will get a blast whenever I write a new entry...which is not that often so I promise not to fill up your inbox!

To your health!

-benjamin

                      
                                          click the reboot logo above for the juice fast info

October Unprocessed 2012

Click on the logo above to be redirected and join the challenge!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oil-Free Baked Falafel and Tahini sauce





double batch pictured above

My first real falafel experience was growing up in San Jose, Ca. I went to a performing arts magnet in high school for a few years to develop my inner DIVA on stage. My friends and I would often leave campus at lunchtime and hit one of the best falafel joints in the WORLD! The Falafel's Drive-In. It still rocks to this day. They still serve the same "special" everyday. A large Falafel sandwich and a banana milkshake. Fast forward to today and I can live without the milkshake but not the falafel! Of course traditional falafel is deep-fried in oil which is not how I like to get my eat on these days. When my love of falafel met head on with my desire to cook oil-free many would cringe with sad mushy balls that you may remember from college dorm cooking with dry powdered falafel mixes from the bulk bin of the Arcata Co-op. 

Well homey don't play that! 


The resulting recipe is delicious and much lower in calorie while not giving up the texture and flavor I love. I like to serve them on a green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions with tahini dressing. Of course there is the more traditional route in pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, tahini sauce and chili sauce. You can also make these into large burger sized patties if you desire. Recently we made falafel pizza which rocked! We use the tahini sauce as a base then added red onions, tomatoes, and falafel balls. After it came out of the oven we topped with slices of cucumber and more tahini sauce.

Oil-Free Baked Falafel 

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Cooking Time:  25-30 minutes
Servings:  4

2 cans/3 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1 small red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
4 Tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (if needed)

Preheat oven to 350.
Roughly puree beans in food processor, add onions and garlic and pulse a few more times. If you have a lot of chunks and the processor is not moving at all add the optional lemon juice. I find this happens when working with dried beans rather than the canned.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix with your hands or a spoon until it forms a cookie dough type consistency.
Shape into small balls about ping-pong sized and place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes and carefully using a spatula turn them. Return to oven for an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Hint:  I use a small disher (ice cream scoop) to keep the balls a uniform size and it seems to go quicker as well.

Tahini Sauce

1/2 cup tahini paste
1/8 cup plus more, if necessary, lemon juice
1 small cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 cup water, as needed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the tahini paste, lemon juice, and garlic in a bowl and stir. Slowly add the water a little as needed to form a smooth, creamy sauce. If separation occurs keep adding more water bit by bit and stirring until the sauce comes together. Season to taste with salt and more lemon juice, if necessary.

Hint: I like to use the immersion blender with the whisk attachment for this. You can easily double this recipe and use as a base for salad dressings or other dips.

Enjoy!

-benjamin
falafel pizza


falafel sandwich with tahini and chili sauce



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