Friday, September 19, 2008

chick peas and hearts

hearts of palm, that is... I was checking around my pantry for something to make and since I had not been home in several weeks, I didn't have much fresh, except what was in my garden. I came up with this quick, easy and delicious dish:

Chickpea and Hearts of Palm Salad
1 can whole chickpeas
1 can sliced hearts of palm
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh chives
salt and white pepper to taste

1. Rinse and strain chickpeas and hearts of palm and put in a medium bowl.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, chives, salt and pepper until the oil has emulsified.
3. Pour the dressing over the chick peas and hearts of palm and chill for about an hour.

I like to use the white pepper so that I don't have little black specs all over my salad. The other thing is that if I had some fresh tomatoes, I would have put them in there too, but I used them all in the salad I made yesterday. Other options - artichoke hearts and olives - it would be fun to be creative with this one.

enjoy :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

lentils... superfood?

I was feeling a longing for lentils lately and had some things on hand, so I whipped up this great lentil salad yesterday. I'd take a photo of it, but it didn't last that long ;)

Lentils are basically a superfood from everything I have read. Lots of protein, no fat, great for veg-heads. There are a lot of these recipes out there, so I'll humbly offer mine.

Lentil Salad
1/2 c. green whole lentils (I find the split ones get mushy)
enough water to cover the lentils by 1/2 inch
two garlic cloves, cut in half
bay leaf
1 tsp. curry powder
4 to 6 cherry tomatos
2 tbsp. lemon juice
salt to taste
few dashes of hot sauce

1. Bring water to boil (you can boil the lentils right in the water, but I have read that they are easier to digest if you put them in boiling water). Add lentils, garlic, bay leaf, curry powder.

2. After water begins to boil again, lower heat to simmering and simmer uncovered until all the water has been absorbed. If the lentils are still a little hard, add more water and simmer some more.

3. Remove from heat, salt and add lemon juice, and hot sauce to taste. Let the lentils come to room temperature and add the cherry tomatos.

4. You can either eat immediately, or chill for up to 2 to 3 days.

I usually eat this as my dinner, but it can also be a great side dish.


Monday, August 11, 2008

a long hiatus and chipotle salsa

and a much needed return... I can't promise blogging with the same vigor as my original entry into the blogging world, but I can try.

I whipped up some salsa for a bbq over the weekend. I didn't think much of it, except that I wanted to do something fun and I didn't want to show up empty handed. It was a big hit, so I'll post it here.

Chipotle Salsa
1/2 of 7 oz can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (about 3 peppers + some sauce)
1 can of low (or no) sodium diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 vidalia onion
1 jalepeno pepper

- in a food processor, puree the chipotles and the can of tomatoes
- roughly chop the onion and the jalepeno and put in food processor and pulse 3 to 4 times
- chill for 2 hrs and up to 2 days

Of course, salsa is always more fun if you have sometime to dip in it. I had some flour tortillas and thought it would be a good accutrement to the salsa.

Baked Chili Tortilla
Flour tortillas, cut into wedges
olive oil
chili powder
coarse sea salt (optional)

Set oven to broil. Arrange the wedges on a cookie sheet and brush each with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with chili powder and sea salt and broil for about 2 minutes or until crisp and golden(keep a watch on them so they don't burn!). Once the first side is browned, flip the wedges over and repeat on the second side. Cool completely and serve with the salsa.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

a bushel of apples

I went apple picking this weekend. Autumn is finally here, the leaves are changing and the temperatures are cooling and picking apples just seemed like it was the appropriate thing to do. Ok, who am I kidding... I've never gone apple picking, I never thought I would like apple picking, and most days I'd rather be doing something that seems a little more active than that. In the end, I really did have a great time. I can not even begin to explain how different and wonderful these apples taste right off the tree, as compared to in the supermarket. The entire ride home, I couldn't stop daydreaming about what I was going to make with these apples. An apple bread I remember from my childhood, an apple pie maybe, apple tartlets, caramel apples, mmmm.... and with each recipe idea, I thought about all those calories planting themselves right on my ass. And so, I decided some savory recipes might be a better idea. Here's what I came up with:
Cabbage Apple Slaw Recipe
1-16 oz package of tri-color ready slaw cabbage mix (or chop up a head of cabbage)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tart apple (I used a Winesap apple with the skin on, you can take the skin off if it doesn't appeal to you), chopped
1 english cucumber, chopped
3 tbsp. dijon nayonaise (it's a soy based low fat mayo alternative)
2 tbsp. spicy mustard of your choice
juice from 1 large lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up, chill for about an hour, enjoy.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

My first bad restaurant review

I really hate to do this, but it's warranted. I went to Tiffany's in Pine Brook today for football. If all you care about are the TVs, then this place is fine. There are tons of flat screen TVs, with all of the games and they are easy to see.

If you want service, this place is not for you. We sat down at a table in the bar area and went up to the bar for some drinks. I ordered a club soda with lemon. The club soda was flat. I let them know it was flat and asked if they could try again from a different drink machine. They oblidged, and it was slightly better. We sat there for about an hour and a half getting up each time for drinks - really no problem there at all, I mean the bar was only about 4 feet away. But then a waitress came over (who knew we had a waitress!). We decided to order some food, and I knew immediately she wasn't going to get it right. How, you may ask? Because she didn't write anything down. I don't care how good of a waiter or waitress you are or think you are, write it down for crying out loud. I'm sure that even if you don't make many mistakes, you make more than if you had written it down. I ordered a salad with grilled shrimp and with the dressing on the side. This happens to me all the time, of course it came with the dressing on it. Also, the shrimp were not grilled, they were sauteed. I know, it's kind of picky but when you're at least trying to be healthy, it's annoying to have your efforts thwarted. I should have said something but it was about another 10 minutes before she came back, so I just ate some of it.

The grand finale... since the club soda was obviously flat, I decided to try and get a water with lemon. I mean, how could that get messed up. She comes back, no lemon.

I give up. Don't go to Tiffany's unless you only want to watch the game.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Gridiron Grub Week 5: The Sandwich, Deconstructed

It's still too hot out to keep the oven on for hours and cook up something warm and autumn-like. So, you'll have to bear with me on this one. A few finishing touches turns a boring sandwich into something you would actually call dinner. Here, I break down the sandwich into five parts and show you how to spice up each one with fresh healthy options:

1. The Bread. Throw away that Wonder Bread already. Not only is it ridiculously processed, and full of "partially hydrogenated soybean oil," it doesn't taste nearly as good as fresh bread. Next time you're in the grocery store or neighborhood bakery, take a look at the artisan bread section and pick one that looks appetizing to you. Artisan bread is handcrafted by skilled bakers using water, flour, salt and yeast. Can't beat that - pure and simple. Personally, I like a good ciabatta with the crispy goodness on the outside and a chewy inside with large pores. If you can't find a good artisan bread, pick a nice hearty bread that suits you. A pita or flat bread also works very nicely. Trust me, it will be loads better than that plain old white (or green....) sandwich bread in your pantry. In fact, if you get really creative, it doesn't even need to be bread at all - it could be a big leaf of romaine lettuce.

2. The Condiments. Don't get me wrong, I love mustard but there are many more options out there. For an Italian flare, try pesto or a sun dried tomato paste. For Mediterranean, how about spreading a bit of hummus, olive tapenade, or baba ganouj on the bread. Asian? You can try a wasabi mixture.

3. The Greens. Sure, I could go to a deli and get some nice shredded iceberg lettuce on my sandwich. But that would be right next to the plain old white bread and we're talking about doing sandwiches right! There are many salad greens out there that can add a little zip to your sandwich. I like adding arugula. It has a peppery, slightly bitter taste and adds some zest. It works best paired with a something that will mellow it out such as some avocado slices or a balsamic reduction. Other choices are mesclun greens, field greens, watercress. Try a few and see which ones you like best.

4. The Filling. Grilled portabellas might be my favorite. But then there are other grilled veggies like squash, big chunks of vidalia onions, or a few slices of thinly sliced grilled eggplant. If you're a meat eater, try to stay away from the processed deli meats and steer more toward things like thinly sliced grilled chicken breast or steak. The filling is [at times] literally the meat of this whole project so don't forget to add some seasoning. You can sprinkle with an Italian spice mix and cook in some garlic and basil, or add a Mediterranean flare by adding a little tarragon. You could also take a trip to the east and cook in some soy and tamarind for an Asian taste, or a dash of curry powder or cumin seed to bring out those Indian flavors. Pick your poison.

5. The Extras. This is where it really gets fun. You can put some fire roasted red peppers (you can easily find these in a jar), maybe some pickled jalapenos or cool cucumbers. Instead of fresh tomatoes, try some sun dried tomatoes. If you're going with an Asian taste, maybe some bamboo shoots and bean sprouts. Instead of mayo, some sliced avocados will give a creamy taste to the sandwich without all the "bad" fats.

Let's put this all together now. You're having some folks over and want to have some sandwiches ready. Everyone has their own favorites and things they won't touch. Here are some ideas for a make-your-own sandwich assembly line that you can set up and your friends can make their own:

Breads - pick a variety of breads and have them pre-sliced. There's nothing worse than trying to find the knife, cut the bread and fill up your sandwich when there are 10 hungry guys standing behind you.

Condiments - Put out two or three out in separate bowls, each with it's own spreading knife. These should be lined up right after the bread because it's too hard to spread this on after the sandwich is full.

Greens - I suggest that you pick one or at the most two. Put them in a large bowl next to the bread with some long tongs.

Fillings - About two hours before your guests arrive, grill up some portabellas using a balsamic, garlic and Italian herb seasoning. Cook up your meats using some flavorful spices. Put the goods out, keeping the veggies separate from the meats.

Fixings - Gather a few bowls and line them up like you see in Subway. All the fixings, right there for your guests to pick and choose as they please.

When the time comes, you'll be totally prepared and your guests will be totally impressed.

*healthy foodie*

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bush finally facing in the right direction

I don't generally post too much about politics, mostly because I'm sure there are gobs of people out there who know way more than I do on the subject. But, in reading this article it seems like Bush has finally acknowledged that global warming exists and that the US will take steps to reduce emissions. Great news, and kudos from our UN counterparts.

The thing is, we should have been doing our part long ago - all of us. I'm not saying that we should all be granola crunching, vegan eating, non-leather wearing people. We have to live after all. But, we can be a little more cognisant of doing things that aren't wasteful.

Bottom line is I'm not sure where Bush is really going with this plan - is he for real or is it a stunt to bolster the republican party? Whatever the reason, at least we're moving in the right direction.


Montclair Ethiopian Restaurant

We have been wanting to try this restaurant for quite some time. It's called Mesob, which is a vibrantly colored woven basket upon which food is served. I've never had Ethiopian cuisine before, in fact, when I'm running down the list of food to try, Ethiopian food isn't on there. I chalk that up to the fact that it's not widely publicized and that there aren't that many restaurants of this type around. It's too bad actually, because the food was absolutely delightful.

We looked at the clock and it was about 7:15 pm, on a Saturday night. I immediately thought that we would not be able to get a seat. So we called over there and they said there was a 30 minute wait. I was disappointed but we went anyway. Three minutes later, when we got there, bottle of wine in hand, we were seated immediately. I'm not sure why we were told there would be a 30 minute wait... anyway, all was good. We were greeted with a strong, almost overwhelming, aroma of clove. It did not subside while we were there, but I think I ended up getting used to it.

They have a sampler platter for two on the menu, which seemed perfect because of course there were two of us and we had absolutely no idea what to order. They had a vegetarian sampler platter and a meat sampler platter. Given that I'm a [mostly] vegetarian and Rob isn't, we weren't sure how that was going to work out. They were very accommodating though, we were able to get the meat sampler and substitute some veggie dishes for the meat dishes so we could share most of the meal. Rob's meat dishes were a chicken, beef and lamb. The chicken dish was a little bit spicy and the other two were somewhat mild. On the veggie side, there was a portabella dish and lentil dish, both of which were very spicy; and a collard green dish and a chickpea dish, both of which were somewhat mild. All the veggie dishes were prepared vegan style, a healthful bonus.

As we waited for our order to come out, we talked about what we thought it was going to be like, while we looked around at the other tables, with seemingly experienced Ethiopian food eaters. A few minutes later, they bring out a giant plate with a spongy, pancake looking thing on it and a few other spongy pancake looking things on a plate - then they leave again. So Rob and I are looking at each other and the pancake and wondering what the heck we're supposed to do. Do we eat it now? Are we supposed to be waiting for something else? Was this an appetizer? We each took a small bit of the pancake and noted that it had a little bit of a sour taste and that it was somewhat chewy.

The waitress came back a few minutes later with our main dishes and proceeded to place each of the stew-like food on the big pancake. When she was done, I shyly let her know that we were novices and would like some help understanding the best way to eat the food. She let us know that the pancake was called "injera" and that it was both a utensil and a bread. We were to break a small bit of the injera and use it to scoop up the stew. When we ran out of the pieces of injera that she brought over, we were to eat the injera that was on the plate. Ok, that sounds easy enough, but we got forks just in case. Of course, we ate it all. I want to see if I can figure out how to make the lentil dish or the portabella dish. They were both so good, very spicy and flavorful.

We decided to split a halewa for dessert. This reminded me of Indian burfi. It was a sesame paste molded in the shape of a small slice of cake with pistachios on it. It was also very good, but very rich and sweet. A good dessert to split.

I'm very happy that we stepped outside of our comfort zone and tried this restaurant. I know we will be going back there.



I'm happy to announce that I have reached a few milestones in the past few days. Milestones that I never even imagined when I started on this blogging journey. I can thank my loyal readers, and occasional, but never enough commenters ;) for helping to keep this blog alive and vibrant. Here are the recent milestones:

- over 100 posts
- over 1,000 visitors
- 40 recipes

Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy the Healthy Foodie!


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pancakes and Eggs with a little flair

Sometimes we get in a rut and end up staying with the basics. With a little modification, you can turn a basic breakfast into something unique, and some may even call a little gourmet.

Pancakes and Eggs Recipe (with a little flair) - makes 1 serving
Enough of your favorite pancake mix + liquid to make one serving
1 tbsp. wheat germ
2 tbsp. rolled oats (also called old fashioned oats)
4 fresh figs
1 tsp. white sugar
cooking spray
1 tbsp. raspberry preserves (or jam / preserves of your choice)
2 eggs
1 tsp. herbs de provence
1 heaping tsp. white flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. milk (or soy milk)

1. Turn on your broiler to high. Put a griddle or a large saute pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Let it stand, dry, over the heat to pre-heat the pan.

2. Mix up the pancake mix as usual. Add the wheat germ and rolled oats and add a little more liquid, as needed to make a thick batter. Let stand for about 5 minutes.

3. Cut off the stem of each fig, and then cut an X in the top of each one. Do not cut all the way through. Place the figs, X side up, on a cookie sheet or other baking dish. Spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle a little bit of sugar atop each one. Put in the broiler and keep a watch on it. As the figs cook, they will open up like a flower. Make sure the sugar doesn't burn. It should be about 7 minutes.

4. Now start making your pancakes. Your pan should be hot and the batter should be a little bit thicker. Pour pancake batter onto your hot surface (pan or griddle), and once bubbles appear on the top, flip the pancakes. I like mine to be a little darker than traditional. If you like that too, then don't flip the pancakes until a minute or so after the bubbles appear. Continue cooking until you have used all of your pancake batter. If you are making a large batch and want to keep the pancakes warm, put them in some aluminum foil and put them on the bottom rack of your oven.

5. Next, in a small bowl, mix 2 eggs, herbs, milk, flour and salt and whisk until smooth. Using a medium non-stick saute pan (I use the same pan I did the pancakes in), take the pan off the heat, holding the pan in one hand and using the other hand gently pour about half of the mixture into the pan. It is extremely important to use a non-stick pan. Swirl the pan around to form a thin coat around the entire bottom of the pan and set back on the heat. Let the egg mixture cook for a minute until it is easily removed from the bottom of the pan and then flip it. Let it cook on the other side. Then remove from the pan and roll up. Do the same with the other half of the mixture.

6. By this time, I hope you took the figs out of the oven, otherwise they will be charred. Arrange the pancakes on a plate, put the rolled up eggs/crepes next to them, top the pancakes with the figs and raspberry preserves.

Serve hot and enjoy.

A few things to note about this recipe -

- I was lucky enough to find a high-protein, low calorie pancake mix in the Whole Foods. If you can locate something like that, you'll be better off in terms of a healthy choice. I added the wheat germ and rolled oats to add some more fiber to this dish. You could also sub oat bran, or other higher fiber grains and put a little bit in the pancake mix.

- Limit the white sugar, and rasperry preserves. Just use a bit to carmelize the top of the figs.

- If you use a non-stick pan, there's no need for any butter or oil. Another way to keep this healthier.

- Use fresh ingredients, substitute egg beaters if you like, you can also use soy milk in place of milk, etc. Feel free to substitute similar ingredients in order to suit your needs. Have fun with it!

*healthy foodie*