Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Using Up Veggies and Creamy Polenta

I went a little crazy at the farmer's market in the last couple of weeks and ended up with a fridge stuffed full of fresh produce that needed to be used up.  So I threw a bunch of it together in a wok and the result was pretty darn tasty:

1 c. yogurt whey or skim milk plus 1 c. water
1/2 c. polenta
1/4 c. parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 t. olive oil
1/2 onion, medium sized slices
2 garlic cloves sliced thin
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 bunch of beet greens, washed and chopped into large pieces
1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped into large pieces
1/4 c. vegetable stock
3 tomatoes, large dice

Start by boiling the water and yogurt whey in a medium sized pot.  Whole the water is coming up to a boil, chop up your veggies and begin sautéing the onion on the olive oil on medium-high heat.  When the onions are translucent, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant then deglaze with the veggie stock.  Add in the beet greens and kale and cover with a lid.  Turn heat to low and simmer for ten minutes.

When the water/whey liquid starts boiling, add in the polenta and whisk constantly for 3 mins.  After 3 minutes, reduce heat to low and cover with a lid.  Allow the polenta to simmer on low (stirring occasionally) for 30 mins until thick and creamy.  Stir in parsley and parmesan just before serving.

Once the greens are softened, remove lid, add in tomatoes, and allow any liquid to cook out.

Based on 4 servings
Serve the sauteed greens over the polenta.

A couple of notes:

  • I saved the stems of the parsley, kale, and beet greens to use in a green monster smoothie later.  A great way to use the whole veggie.
  • Quinoa would also be a great with the sauteed greens if polenta isn't your thing or if you want more protein in your starch.
  • This is a great use for the leftover yogurt whey that you get when you make greek yogurt.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Whole Wheat Multigrain Bread using Yogurt Whey

I made this week's bread with yogurt whey from my yogurt recipe, all whole wheat flour, and substituting olive oil for the butter.  It turned out great!  Here is the updated ingredient ratios if you have some yogurt whey to use (the process is the same as in the original multigrain bread recipe):

Based on 22 slices per loaf
1 1/4 c. seven-grain hot cereal mix 
1 1/2 c. boiling water plus 1 c. yogurt whey
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. olive oil
2 1/2 t. instant yeast
4 1/2 c. whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 T. table salt

There you have it.  The calories are the same as the original recipe, but you get a little more bang for your buck with added protein from the yogurt whey, harder for your body to break down because of the whole wheat, and a better kind of fat from the olive oil.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pineapple Fried Quinoa

I basically have been hanging out with the same crowd of people since high school.  Our lives have certainly become more busy and hectic over the years and girlfriends/boyfriends and spouses have been added into the family, but we still manage to meet up every Monday for "wing" night.

Wing night started in high school where we would basically go out to this one wing place and eat wings, simple.  Well we finally got sick of going to the same place all the time, so we started changing it up.  Wing night at Thai, wing night at Mexican, wing night at Greek...... for some reason we never thought/wanted to change the name.  So wherever we go or eat, it is still wing night regardless.  

This week, wing night was at Chez Blackham and we had Chinese-ish.  One of the dishes I made was pineapple fried quinoa and it was delicious.

1 carrot, diced small
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 T. sesame oil
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and dried
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. vegetable broth, plus 1/2 c. water (can omit the veggie broth for all water)
1-2 T. low-sodium tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
Siracha to taste
2-3 egg whites scrambled (or more if you are crazy into eggs)
1/2 c. pineapple, large dice
1 green onion, sliced small
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Get Cookin':
Heat sesame oil in a pot over med-high heat.  Add in the carrots and onions and saute until onions are translucent.  Add in the quinoa and garlic and toast until you can smell the garlic, stirring constantly.  

Deglaze the pan with the veggie broth/water and allow the concoction to come up to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15-18 minutes until cooked through.  While you are waiting for the quinoa to cook, place the egg whites in a microwave safe bowl and cook for one and half to two minutes.  

ooooo look at that dietary fiber!
When the quinoa is done cooking, fluff with a fork and add in the rest of the ingredients (tamari, siracha, egg, pineapple, green onion, and sesame seeds).  

Lastly, and most important, enjoy the yummy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homemade Greek Yogurt

CDN Thermo Probe
I really like greek yogurt.  It is a great way for me to incorporate non-meat protein into my diet.  It is also incredibly versatile and tasty and keeps me from eating a lot of otherwise super fatty creamy alternatives (like mayo, sour cream, and cream cheese).  What I don't love about greek yogurt is how much it costs.  I recently purchased some organic greek yogurt from Whole Foods for a whopping eight bucks.  That is two dollars a cup!

"Riiiiiiiidiculous!" I said to myself.  "I bet it wouldn't be that hard to make it myself."  This thought prompted me to do a web search into the process of making greek yogurt and guess what, I found out that it is actually incredibly easy and inexpensive to make.  So I headed on down to the market, bought a gallon of organic skim milk and got started.

6-8 cups of organic skim milk (depending on the size of your yogurt maker)

Euro Cuisine yogurt maker
Don't forget to use the lid :)
1 T. of fresh plain yogurt with active cultures

So here's what you do.....
Place the milk in a pyrex bowl and microwave on high for 16 minutes (stirring every 4 minutes) until the milk reaches a temperature of 175-200 degrees.  Then let the milk cool down to 110 degrees (about half an hour).  I use a thermometer that has an alert built in so it just yells at me when the yogurt has dropped down to the right temperature.  If any skin has formed on the top of the batch, make sure to skim it off at this time this will make sure that your final product is nice and creamy.  Whisk in the fresh plain yogurt and place the mixture into a yogurt maker for 8-12 hours.

While I highly recommend owning a yogurt maker, some people don't, so you can also put the yogurt in an oven at 100 degrees (covered) or just outside (also covered) if it is a hot day.  The main goal is to keep the yogurt at a steady temperature of about 100 degrees.  If your oven doesn't go down to a hundred degrees or it is the middle of the winter, you can use the technique on this blog.

The way I test to see if the yogurt is done is to take a scoop out with a spoon.  If it holds up on the spoon pretty good then it is done.  It will kind of have the consistency of flan.  You can let the yogurt ferment longer if you like it to be a little more sour.

When the yogurt is done, line a mesh strainer with a thick blanket of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Then scoop the yogurt into the strainer and allow to drain for about 20-30 minutes depending on how thick you like your yogurt.

Once your yogurt has reached the desired consistency, scoop it back into the original bowl and whisk until smooth.  There you have it, greek yogurt at a fraction of the cost :)

Note: If you let the yogurt drain overnight, the next morning you will have yogurt cheese which you can use to replace cream cheese in just about any recipe.  Do I hear a low-fat cheesecake experiment coming on?

Double Note: Make sure to save the liquid (whey) that strains out.  It is full of wonderful nutrients and lots of protein and also has many other uses such as:

  • Substitute for buttermilk
  • Substitute for water or milk in baking and cooking (I am going to use this instead of water the next time I make multigrain bread)
  • Stir it back into the yogurt to thin up the consistency and add tang
  • Instead of protein powder, use yogurt whey to make protein shakes
  • Boil it down to make ricotta (best if you are making whole milk yogurt)
  • Use it to soak your beans or steel cut oats before cooking
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Quinoa Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Skins

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I may or may not have developed a slight obsession with Pinterest lately.  I recently stumbled across two recipes in my pinning adventures that I felt would go together very well and it turns out they did.  The original recipes didn't really fit in with my current dietary restrictions, so I did a little bit if an overhaul:

Quinoa Burgers (10 servings/patties)

First, cook the quinoa:
1 c. quinoa, rinsed well (I get it in bulk from Costco.  They carry a good organic brand.)
2 c. water
1/4 t. salt

Bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat, then add in the quinoa and turn the heat to low and cover.  Let the quinoa simmer for 18-20 mins.

Now for the burgers:
Cooked quinoa (above)
1/2 c. fat free organic cottage cheese (blended smooth)
1/4 c. parmesan cheese (optional)
1 large carrot shredded fine (or 1 c. zucchini, lightly salted and drained then squeezed)
1/2 c. egg whites (I am imagine you might be able to use flax a water instead of eggs here)
3 T. whole wheat flour
2 green onions sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic minced fine
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
oil with high smoke point

Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat with oil.  I use grape seed or avocado oil spritzed on with a misto.  Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Scoop out 1/2 c. servings of the mixture into the skillet and form them into patties with a spatula.  It is best to treat these kind of like pancakes, you want them to be pretty well set before you try to flip them or you will just have a big mess.  Also, it is a good idea to mist some more oil on the uncooked side before flipping.  Cook until they are golden brown and crispy on each side.

Serve them with any normal burger toppings you like.  I ate mine with sliced tomatoes, avocado, and a little geek yogurt with dill mixed it.  It was super duper good :)

Baked Sweet Potato Skins (4 servings)
It is great to get this started as you are waiting for your quinoa to cook.

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 t. Italian Seasoning blend
1 T. avocado, grapeseed, or olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat over to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil.  Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and place them cut side down on the baking sheet.  Bake for 30 mins. until tender.  Set potatoes aside to cool.

While potatoes are cooling, set the oven rack so that it is 6 inches from the top of the oven and preheat the broiler.  Combine the Italian seasonings, oil, and salt and pepper in a small bowl.

When potatoes are cool enough, scrape out about half of the flesh from each potato half (keep scooped out flesh for a sweet potato mash at another date).  Cut the sweet potato skins lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips.  Place the strips on the baking sheet.  Brush the skins with the oil/herb mixture and place them in the oven. Broil the potatoes until they are well-browned.

Nutrition Facts: Quinoa Burger                                                             Nutrition Facts: Sweet Potato Skins

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