Thursday, May 26, 2011

Veggie Might: Wild Rice Salad with Edamame (or Fresh Fava Beans and Three Hours)

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

I’ve been so bored by my lunches of late: repeat appearances of grain-bean-green bowls, salad after endless green salad, and I’ve been looking for something new and exciting, but simple enough to make quickly or ahead in bulk. I was seduced by the photograph accompanying this recipe Wild Rice and Edamame Salad at Chow.com.

Mmm...wild rice and edamame. So pretty! So healthy! So springy! But when I clicked through, the secondary and tertiary ingredients were woefully disappointing. Dried fruit and nuts? Five tablespoons of oil? Honey? So sweet! So oily! So blechy! (I probably hold the minority opinion here, but bear with me.)

But I was inspired. I tossed out the original recipe and recreated the dish based on what I wanted it to be: a savory and tangy, high-protein, high-fiber salad I can take to work for lunch or serve at a picnic. I replaced almost everything except the primary wild rice and edamame.

My first attempt was still a little oily (at 2 tablespoons), so I cut back even further and found success. I’d happened on fresh fava beans at my local market and thought they’d make a delicious alternative to the edamame for my second go. I was right, but here’s the thing. You really have to want fava beans.

It took me six episodes of the Big Bang Theory to shell two pounds of beans. Do you want to know the yield of my three-hour effort? One cup of fava beans and 10 pruney fingers. While the resulting salad was delicious, it was not better than the edamame version, and certainly not worth the toil if time is precious.

Third (and fourth) time was perfection. Back to edamame, I achieved the right balance of oil to lemon juice, dressing to salad, and bean to rice. And though I found my flavor grail, I think this recipe would be equally good with leeks or shallots, parsley or mint, and lemon juice or lime—whatever your taste buds desire. Maybe even dried cranberries and honey.


If this recipe tips your canoe, swim on over to:

Wild Rice Salad with Edamame (or Fresh Fava Beans and Three Hours)
inspired by Wild Rice and Edamame Salad at Chow.com
Serves 6

1 1/4 cup edamame, shelled (or fresh fava beans, shelled and hulls removed*)
1 cup uncooked wild rice
3 cups water
1/2 cup carrot, grated
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon leek, minced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

*Check out this informative slide show for easy, if labor-intensive, fava bean management.

1) Cook 1 cup of wild rice in 3 cups of boiling water for 40 minutes or until fluffy and tender.

2) Make dressing by whisking together 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, leeks, salt, pepper, and mint in a large mixing bowl. Allow to meld while thawing your edamame or shelling fava beans, if you’re going the martyr route.

2a) Remove fava beans from pods, and then hulls from beans. This can take a couple of hours if you're alone. Netflix helps.

3) Quick-sautee edamame or fava beans in garlic and 1 teaspoon olive oil for 1 to 2 minutes. In a mixing bowl, toss dressing, rice, and beans with carrots and celery.

4) Serve at room temperature or chilled as a side or over salad greens.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
Edamame-style: 176.5 calories, 5.4g fat, 2.5g fiber, 3.8g protein, $49
Fava Beany: 168 calories, 4g fat, 2.3g fiber, 2.4g protein, $.61

1 1/4 cup edamame: 236.3 calories, 10g fat, 10g fiber, 21.3g protein, $0.74
[1 cup fava beans: 187 calories, 1g fat, 9g fiber, 13g protein, $1.50]
1 cup uncooked wild rice: 571 calories, 2g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $1.33
1/2 cup carrot: 26 calories, 0g fat, 2g fiber, 0.5g protein, $0.16
1/2 cup celery: 6 calories, 0g fat, 1g fiber, 0g protein, $0.08
1 tablespoon olive oil: 159.6 calories, 18.6g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.11
1 tablespoon lemon juice: 6 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.12
1 tablespoon leek: 54 calories, 0g fat, 2g fiber, 1g protein, $0.25
1 tablespoon fresh mint: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.04
2 teaspoons sea salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 tablespoon black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
TOTALS (with edamame): 1059 calories, 32.6g fat, 15g fiber, 22.8g protein, $2.87
PER SERVING (TOTALS/6): 176.5 calories, 5.4g fat, 2.5g fiber, 3.8g protein, $49

TOTALS (with fava beans): 1010 calories, 23.6g fat, 14g fiber, 14.5g protein, $3.63
PER SERVING (TOTALS/6): 168 calories, 4g fat, 2.3g fiber, 2.4g protein, $.61

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dietary Restrictions 101, Part II: Macrobiotics, Locavorism, and More

For the first half of our quick guide to dietary restrictions, head to Dietary Restrictions 101, Part I: Allergies, Diabetes, and Beyond. This article was originally published in November 2009.

Being a LOCAVORE is an old concept with newfound popularity. It involves buying chow either grown or raised close to your geographic location. (A 100-mile radius is the most common parameter used.) Locavorism is better for the both the environment and your health, so you really can’t go wrong here. Call your CSA, man!
For more on locavorism, try: La Vida Locavore (Really, the title alone deserves a click.)

Do you know somebody on Atkins? Or Zone? Or, to a somewhat lesser extent, South Beach? Then you’ve encountered some of Earth’s most popular LOW-CARB diets. Folks on LCDs swap carbohydrates (breads, pasta, grains) out of their regimens, frequently for weight loss and/or health reasons. Some plans avoid carbs almost entirely. Others, like South Beach, are actually more like low-glycemic diets, meaning good carbs can be consumed in moderation.
For more on low-carb diets, try: About.com
Fun fact: I tried Atkins once. I lasted exactly five days. They were the best and worst five days of my life in that I ate a lot of bacon, but learned I could not subsist on bacon alone.

In recent years (decades, even), LOW-FAT plans have become pretty popular with dieters, since they’re a decent way to drop weight when followed correctly. They’ve been known to help gallbladder disease, gastroparesis, and fatty livers, as well. Fruit, veggies, legumes, whole grains, and lean meats are good options in low-fat diets, but beware of cutting too far back; fat is very necessary for maintaining good health.
For more on low-fat diets, try: Jackson Siegelmbaum Gastroenterology

A MACROBIOTIC diet actually sounds like a pretty good one: few processed foods, limited meat, not much fat, lots of produce, and a big emphasis on whole grains. Followers are supposed to chew slowly, eat only when hungry, and keep cooking areas clean. In a stunning twist, there’s a spiritual element to the macrobiotic diet, and adhering to the menu is apparently good for warding off disease, though some consider it a tad too restrictive.
For more on macrobiotic diets, try: Macrobiotic Guide
Fun fact: Madonna is a macrobiotic eater. Supposedly, it’s great for vogueing.

To be totally honest, I didn’t know MORMONS even had dietary restrictions until I began researching this article. But as it turns out, LDS don’t do coffee, tea, or alcohol. The Word of Wisdom also encourages grains and produce and moderation when it comes to meat. Individual adherence, as with every diet, varies.
For more on LDS diets, try: Mormon.org

MUSLIMS are forbidden from consuming pork, gelatin, booze, and blood. After that, many of the dietary restrictions relating to slaughter and certification vary on a person-by-person or region-by-region basis. The term Halaal is often associated with the Islamic diet, and simply means “lawful according to the Qur’an,” or “yes, this is okay to eat.”
For more on Muslim diets, try: The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (INFANCA)
Fun fact: I live near a Halaal Chinese food place. It is, without exaggeration, the cleanest Chinese joint I've ever seen. By a country mile.

Eating ORGANIC is tricky. Organic food can be pricey, tough to find, and there’s a ton of ambiguity in the term itself. Still, there are lots of apparent benefits to whole foods grown without pesticides or the specter of genetic modification. One is less poison. Another is tastier produce. A third is supporting local farms, where lots of organic produce still comes from. The list goes on.
For more on organic food, try: Organic.com
Fun fact: I (unintentionally) misspell “organic” as “orgasmic” every now and then. Good times, especially when you’re writing about eggplant.

PHENYLKETONURICS have phenylketonuria (PKY), meaning they can’t break down the amino acid phenylalanine. It’s genetic, and U.S. babies are screened for it a few days after being born. Untreated and/or ignored, it can have some pretty serious consequences (like mental retardation), but most folks keep it under control with a low-protein, lots-o-produce diet.
For more on Phenylketonuria, try: The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Fun fact: Now you know what "PHENYLKETONURICS: Contains phenylalanine" means on the side of soda cans.

If you’re attempting a RAW diet, I applaud you. (Go Dan!) Because avoiding foods heated over 116°F is hard. If you’re not, here’s the lowdown: believers in the raw movement feel that cooking kills important enzymes and reduces the quantities of vitamins and minerals in food. Subsequently, the majority of raw foodies are vegetarians. They tend to prefer organic produce, and believe their regimen will ward off disease, promote health, and increase energy.
Never, ever: take away a raw foodie’s blender. He will shiv you (with a carrot).
For more on raw diets, try: Living and Raw Foods

We all need salt, but too much of it can be bad news for people with hypertension and heart disease (and slugs). RESTRICTED SODIUM (or low-salt) diets help to lessen fluid retention and maintain a decent blood pressure. This means forgoing cured meats, salty cheeses, pickled veggies, and many, many processed foods in favor of fresher edibles. Fortunately, peeps can still season the crap out of food with a variety of herbs and spices.
For more on restricted sodium diets, try: Saltwatcher
Fun fact: My friend H used to carry a salt shaker everywhere she went. If she ever called something too salty, I'd drop dead on the spot

The SLOW FOOD movement was founded in direct response to the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’amness of fast food, to further the emotional, intellectual, and physical investment of individuals in what they eat. Pretty cool, yet vague, right? Well, Slow Food USA has more details on the agricultural, cooking, and cultural aspects of the movement. Ten bucks you’ll see Alice Waters’ name come up at least twice.
For more on slow food, try: Slow Food USA

There’s a subtle, but all-important difference between vegetarians and VEGANS. While the former is free to eat dairy and eggs, the latter doesn’t consume any animal product whatsoever. Some folks go vegan for health or ethical reasons, and the benefits are said to be wondrous.
Never, ever: fear vegan food. It can be quite delicious. QUITE.
For more on veganism, try: VeganYumYum, FatFree Vegan Kitchen, and any blog or cookbook involving Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Fun fact: Famous vegans include Ellen DeGeneres, Portia DeRossi, Alice Walker, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, and a lot of guys in indie bands from Williamsburg.

Odds are you know at least one VEGETARIAN, if not several dozen. While there are many kinds of veg-heads (lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescetarian, etc.), most agree that eating meat is a no-no.
Never, ever: argue that vegetarians are missing out/unhealthy/dirty hippies. It’s largely untrue, and seriously starting to sound a little cliché. (With apologies to Tony Bourdain.)
For more on vegetarianism, try: Whoa, boy. Where don’t you try? I know CHG's own Leigh is a big fan of Vegetarian Times magazine, though, so it couldn’t hurt start there.

And that’s it. Sweet readers, what did I forget that you’d like to see? Is there anything I might have skewed a bit? Fire away in the comments section.


If you liked this article, you might also like:

Dietary Restrictions 101, Part I: Allergies, Diabetes, and Beyond

This was originally published in November 2009. Part II to come later today.

Maybe you’ve prepared a lovely pot roast dinner, only to discover one of your guests is a lifelong vegan. Perhaps you accidentally ordered chicken parmesan for a lactose-intolerant friend with poultry allergies. Or mayhaps your 13-year-old just announced she’s now a Slow Food-oriented locavore with dreams of going completely raw by sophomore year.

At one point or another, we’ve all been confronted by dietary restrictions. Some, like vegetarianism, are commonplace enough that they don’t pose much of an obstacle anymore. But what do you feed someone on an elimination diet? Or a diabetic Mormon? Or a Muslim with Celiac Disease? What do these words even mean?

Whether they’re ethical, cultural, or medical, dietary restrictions pose certain hurdles. When confronted by one, you have three options: 1) order takeout, 2) get informed, or 3) ignore them and face the terrible consequences.

Today’s post is all about Option #2 (because #3 could get messy). It’s a quick rundown of the rules surrounding 25 common diets, coupled with resources for further investigation. Some you’ve probably heard of. Some will be totally new. Some are like, “Duh, of course a baby shouldn’t drink Bud Light.” But all should give you a basic understanding of eating Kosher, Ayurvedic, and more.

Obligatory yet exciting disclaimer: as always, I’m not a doctor, and nothing here should be interpreted as expert advice and/or the authority on the subject. If you’re concerned about feeding someone with a dietary restriction, the easiest way to gather information is to ask direct questions.


If a woman is ALLERGIC to a particular food, it means her immune system goes haywire when she ingests said edible. Reactions can be relatively minor, like a scratchy throat, or comparatively major, like anaphlyaxis and death. About 12 million Americans are allergic to some type of food, most commonly nuts, fish, eggs, soy, dairy, and wheat. Never, ever give an off-limits food to someone with an allergy.
For more on food allergies, try: The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
Fun fact: I am allergic to Entenmann’s donut holes, yet not the donuts themselves. I call it the Crumb Topped Paradox.

Originating in India, the AYURVEDIC diet revolves around an individual’s dosha, or constitution, which is comprised of three components: Vata (wind), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (water and earth). (It’s kind of spiritual, if you didn’t get that gist.) Menus tend to be produce-oriented, extremely focused on balance and moderation, and tailored to the individual. If you know someone practicing Ayurveda, they’re probably mind-bendingly healthy.
For more on Ayurvedic diets, try: The World’s Healthiest Foods

Are you a BABY? No? Well, you were once, and there were a gazillion schools of thought about how to feed you. The same holds true today, though there are some generally accepted no-nos like honey, nuts, fish, cow’s milk, egg whites, soft cheeses, soda pop, strawberries, and foods small enough to choke on, like grapes. Beyond that, it’s largely up to parents and doctors.
For more on baby diets, try: Parents
Fun fact: Once, I ate a screw and told my parents it was a nail. Apparently, toddlers should not eat either.

People with CELIAC DISEASE are sensitive to gluten, which very negatively affects their ability to digest. They must follow a gluten-free diet, meaning they shouldn’t eat barley, rye, triticale, and wheat (“including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn and faro”). An autoimmune disease, anyone can develop CD at any time, and the symptoms vary in severity and discomfort. Always check ingredient lists if you’re buying food for someone with Celiac.
For more on Celiac Disease diets, try: Celiac Disease Foundation

CROHN'S DISEASE is a chronic and incurable inflammation of the digestive tract resulting in diarrhea, cramping, and occasionally, malnutrition. Nobody quite knows what causes it, but it can be treated with drugs, surgery, and lifestyle changes, including a diet overhaul. Folks with Crohn’s might avoid dairy, alcohol, raw fruits, raw veggies, or gassy foods.
For more on Crohn’s Disease diets, try: the Mayo Clinic
Fun fact: I tried to write a fun fact here. It didn’t work that well.

Vegans, the lactose intolerant, and those with dairy allergies follow DAIRY-FREE diets. That means eggs are usually okay (except for vegans), but cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, milk solids, milk proteins, and milk sugars aren’t. Fortunately, the number of decent dairy substitutes (soy, rice, etc.) is growing everyday, so going sans milk isn’t quite the struggle it once was.
For more on dairy-free diets, try: Go Dairy Free

DIABETES is nothing to joke about, especially as U.S. obesity rates soar. Caused by an inability to regulate blood sugars, the most common forms of diabetes are Type 1 (juvenile diabetes), Type 2 (often related to obesity), and Gestational (found in pregnant women). Though serious consequences can arise when the disease is ignored, it can be mostly controlled with meds, constant vigilance, and the careful regulation of one’s culinary intake. Individual diabetic diets vary, so if you’re cooking for one, ask about her restrictions in advance.
For more on diabetes, try: the American Diabetes Association for information, the Mayo Clinic for recipes.

Doctors stick people on ELIMINATION DIETS to isolate foods that cause allergic reactions. Different edibles are phased out and reintroduced in hopes of finding the culprit, observing symptoms, and devising a plan of attack.
For more on elimination diets, try: WebMD

You have to go GLUTEN-FREE if you have Celiac Disease, but you don’t have to have Celiac Disease to go gluten-free. You could have Lyme Disease, dermatitis herpetiformis (a vicious skin rash), or a plain ol’ allergy to wheat, among other things. To re-iterate from a few blurbs ago, being gluten-free means eschewing wheat, rye, barley, triticale, and host of other grains on this list.
For more on gluten-free diets, try: Karina’s Kitchen or the Mayo Clinic

Spirituality plays a big role in HINDU diets. Hindus consider cows sacred and as such, don’t eat hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, or any other beef product. Many are practicing vegetarians, having been taught both nonviolence and respect for other forms of life.
For more on Hindu diets, try: Indian Foods Company
Fun fact: Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of cooking. If Indian cuisine is any indication, she totally knows what she’s doing.

There’s one gigantic difference between food allergies and food INTOLERANCE: the first affects the immune system, while the latter goes to town on your GI tract. For example, folks with lactose intolerance have a tough time breaking down and digesting milk products. Drinking a glass won’t cause anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction), but will be damn uncomfortable (nausea, cramps, diarrhea, etc.).
For more on food intolerance, try: WebMD. (See? It’s good for something besides diagnosing yourself with Ebola.)

Whether or not you’re Jewish, odds are you’ve eaten KOSHER food at some point, maybe in the form of a hot dog or matzoh ball. And while Kosher groceries are fairly straightforward (Go to supermarket. Look for indicative symbol. Buy mustard.), the dietary laws (or “Kashrut”) are pretty complicated. However, the big rules can be summed up as such: only consume meat that’s been properly slaughtered, always separate dairy and meat (meaning: bacon cheeseburgers are out), avoid pork and shellfish, and never cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk (perhaps not a problem for most of us). L’chaim!
For more on Kosher diets, try: Judaism 101
Fun fact: Kosher food isn’t blessed by rabbis. They are known to watch its production, however.
Funner fact:There is no such thing as ‘kosher-style’ food. Kosher is not a style of cooking.
Funnest fact: My grandmother never drank alcohol, except for Manischewitz. She thought it was tasty.

Part II, coming soon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ask the Internet: Dealing With Food Allergies?

Today's question is born of a full-body rash, and it's kinda many questions.

Q: How do you deal with your food allergies? Do you cook mostly at home? Do you buy special food products? (In which case, which are your favorites?) What happens when you go out to eat? Do you alert the server or the cook? Do you find managing your allergy is an expensive undertaking? Is having it a pain in the butt, or do you barely think about it anymore?

A: Still no idea about my own outbreak of hives, but I'm super curious to read how y'all cope, and I think I might turn responses into tomorrow's article. Fire away, and thank you!

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peanut Dipping Sauce: Allergies Unwelcome

Sweet readers! Thanks very much for being so patient with us last week while we got drunk on Jagermeister worked on work-stuff. It was fun doing the wayback recipe thing - I hadn't looked at some of those in quite awhile, and it made me want lassis.

I had a different post set up for today, but instead, my entire body has been possessed by a zombie demon a nasty case of hives. So, instead of going to work and bringing home the bacon (mmm...bacon) like a boss, I'm sitting at HOTUS' computer, awaiting a swift and merciful end to my pain callback from the doctor. It's very exciting, unbelievably itchy, and also kind of weird, because this has never happened before, and I don't have any allergies, as far as I know.

And now there's one on my face. ARG.

Considering the circumstances, I figured this was as good a time as any to broach the subject of allergic reactions, especially since today's dish, Peanut Dipping Sauce from Catherine Walthers' Soups + Sides, should not be eaten by those with an aversion to nuts (doy). For those without allergies, it's an easy, relatively inexpensive sauce that pairs well with satay, vegetables, and dumplings, and makes for a nice changeup to straightforward soy sauce. One batch lasted us three different meals, and I'd make it again right now if I wasn't furiously attempting to scratch my elbow off my body.

Anyway, back to that allergy thing. It's a topic we've covered only briefly here on CHG, but a very important one, since it affects the way some buy, prepare, bathe in, and consume food. I know several people with dairy issues, one or two with severe peanut allergies, and I grew up with a girl who was allergic to sugar. At the time, her condition seemed inconceivable and tragic (NOTE: I was eight), but now similar immune system reactions are pretty commonplace.

Happily, there are more foods and food products available for folks with allergies, though there can always be more. We'll hit that topic in tomorrow's Ask the Internet, but in the meantime: Do you have any food allergies yourself, or have loved ones with shellfish, nut, soy, or similar issues? How do you cope?

And with that, I'm off to find a spiky hairbrush, so I may vigorously remove my epidermis. Happy Monday!


If this looks dang tasty, you will also find mucho happiness with:

Peanut Dipping Sauce
Serves 6
Adapted from Catherine Walther's Soups + Sides

6 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
½ cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1-2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (optional)

Mix everything thoroughly in a small bowl until smooth. Add more of any ingredient to taste as needed.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
110 calories, 8.7 g fat, 1 g fiber, 3.9 g protein, $0.30

NOTE: These calculations are without sriracha.

6 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter: 540 calories, 48 g fat, 6 g fiber, 21 g protein, $0.62
½ cup light coconut milk: 75 calories, 7 g fat, 0 g fiber, 1.5 g protein, $0.85
1 tablespoon soy sauce: 8 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 1 g protein, $0.09
1 tablespoon brown sugar: 34 calories, 0 g fiat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.01
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice: 3 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.13
1-2 teaspoon grated ginger: 2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.10
TOTAL: 662 calories, 52 g fat, 6.1 g fiber, 23.4 g protein, $1.80
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 110 calories, 8.7 g fat, 1 g fiber, 3.9 g protein, $0.30

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wayback Machine: Chocolate Cherry "Ice Cream" Popsicles

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one, from Jaime, is from July 2010. Enjoy!

When you're in the midst of a week of high-90s days, as New York City is now, it is very easy and tempting to have all meals catered by The Messrs Ben and Jerry.

“There's no cooking,” you say. “I'm saving electricity and gas by not turning on my stove! And ice cream has dairy and protein and dark chocolate's antioxidants!”

I can't find it in my heart to counter any of those arguments, mostly because ice cream is so dang delicious. But what's one of the cardinal rules of eating green? Make it yourself!

Lucky for us, with our hotness, frugality, and environmental consciousness, there are plenty of frozen treats that can be made simply, cheaply, and to healthy and delicious effect. Even without a real ice cream maker.

I'd like to introduce you to my new favorite thing: my $1.74 clearance shelf popsicle mold.

In the last few weeks we've been through many adventures. Coconut milk and maple syrup. Arnold Palmers (that's lemonade and iced tea, my boyfriend's brilliant idea). Strong Earl Grey, coconut milk, and a little simple syrup. Pureed honeydew melon and mint. The possibilities for healthy, delicious, homemade pops are nearly endless, and I'm looking forward to a summer of popsicle experimentation.

(And yes, these are all entirely no-heating-up-your-kitchen, because you can make simple syrup in the microwave: 1 part water, 1 part sugar, microwaveable measuring cup; microwave until the sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often.)

But so far – my favorite – the biggest hands-down, most glorious success: Cherry Chocolate "Ice Cream" Popsicles.

Food processor “ice cream” recipes abound on the internet, usually featuring frozen fruit, heavy cream, and sugar. Lately, I've been sort of obsessed with substituting coconut milk – a rich, lactose-free stand-in full of healthy fats - which tastes good just about any way you can conceive to use it. I find you don’t need the extra sugar, either, since the frozen fruit provides enough sweetness.

Variations on the food processor/fruit/coconut milk idea are infinite. Try changing the fruit. If you're down with dairy, use regular cream. If your fruit is tart or your sweet tooth is strong, add a little simple syrup. A flavorful honey might bring some magic to, say, a peach variation.

This particular mixture's creaminess gives a great texture to the popsicles but also makes it a little trickier to remove. Leave pops out at room temp for five minutes, or run the molds under warm water. Pull the sticks *gently*. If they don't come out, give them some more time. If you’re not down with that, the recipe can be served like ice cream, either straight out of the food processor or after 20 minutes or so to firm up in the freezer.

Granted, the end product isn't quite ice cream, but it's delicious, healthy, cheap, and puts a little less strain on the planet. Which is important to keep in mind, even when that damn planet and her damn seasons are putting so much strain on us.


If you like the idea of this, you might also enjoy pondering:

Chocolate Cherry “Ice Cream” Popsicles
Serves 4, at least by my popsicle molds.

8oz frozen cherries
½ c canned coconut milk (a type with emulsifiers, like guar gum, will actually do you better)
1/3 c dark chocolate chips (vegan, if that's your style)

1) Put cherries and coconut milk into bowl of food processor. Process until smooth and ice creamy.

2) Add chocolate chips, and process until mostly broken up and dispersed. (A renegade full chip never hurt anyone.)

3) Pour into molds. Freeze at least 4 hours.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
132 calories, 7.2g fat, 1.7g fiber, 1.2g protein, $0.81

8oz frozen cherries: 147 calories, 0g fat, 2.7g fiber, 1.3g protein, $2.40
½ c coconut milk: 111 calories, 12.1g fat, 0.6g fiber, 1.1g protein, $0.50
1/3 c chocolate chips: 268 calories, 16.8g fat, 3.3g fiber, 2.4g protein, $0.37
TOTAL: 526 calories, 28.9g fat, 6.6g fiber, 4.8g protein $3.27
PER SERVING (total/4): 132 calories, 7.2g fat, 1.7g fiber, 1.2g protein, $0.81

Wayback Machine: Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one is from November 2007. Enjoy!

I’m turning 30 tomorrow. It’s the kind of age that brings up a lot of questions. Were my 20s spent wisely? Am I where I expected to be at this age? Why, after 90,000 days on this planet, do I still suck at buying bras? (Has Oprah taught me NOTHING?)

Being a food blogger/freak, I’ve also wondered (a LOT) how much my tastes will continue to change. Will my palate dull over time? Will I hate candy at 40? Love anise at 55? Will Werther’s Originals ever, ever appeal to me, even when I’m old enough to call Methuselah a punk kid? (“Get off mah lawn, old man!”)

My diet has become markedly different over the last decade alone, especially in the produce department. Man-oh-MAN, I did not like vegetables as a kid. But once I hit 20, they magically became somewhat appetizing. Except for spaghetti squash. That took a few more years, and here’s why...

When my brother, sister and I were growing up, Ma made us dinner nearly every night. On the rare evenings she was whisked away for work, Pa would sub in. Most of the time, he was pretty good at producing a meal for three ravenous kidlings. Burgers, pizza, pasta – the guy could handle it, no sweat.

Occasionally, he would get creative. And while most meals went over well (Chicken and Broccoli, sucka!), one blindsided us completely: Texas Chainsaw Chili and Spaghetti Squash, a.k.a. Two Terrible Tastes That Tasted Like Evil Together.

Being pale, spice-free, Swedish-Irish types, my siblings and I recoiled at the chili’s red pepper and obscene beanery. It looked like roadkill, and the flavor was about the same. The spaghetti squash was equally (and possibly actively) malevolent, possibly because we were tricked by the name into believing it would be real spaghetti. Alas, it was not. And as food was not wasted in our household, Pa made each of us sit at the dinner table until our plates were licked clean. Three hours later, I hadn’t eaten a bite, so I was sent to bed sans dinner.

Thanks to that comparatively-not-really-traumatic experience, I loathed spaghetti squash for nearly two decades. (Chili for only one.) Then, earlier this year a few friends and I traveled to Victoria BC, where we were served Spaghetti Squash Casserole. Not wanting to insult my hosts, I took a bite. And then another. And then had some wine. And then took 12 more bites. And then … you get the picture.

Was spaghetti squash always really good and I just didn’t know it, or have my tastes changed that wildly over the years? The reality of 30 is pushing me towards explanation #2, but I probably won’t be positive for another decade or so. I’ll continue to analyze and let y’all know in 2017. (Lucky you.)

Aaaaanyway, back to the food. I got this recipe from a friend, who got it from a friend, who may have read it in a cookbook. I do not know the name of the cookbook (if it exists), or I would type it right here. Instead (especially after the Jessica Seinfeld brouhaha), I will just say – THIS IS NOT MY RECIPE. But it IS good. And healthy. And cheap. And it will make you like spaghetti squash, no matter how old you are.

(SIDE NOTES: This is a good, filling main dish for company, and much tastier if you use a heavy hand with the herbs/spices. High reheat potential, too.)

Spaghetti Squash Casserole
5 servings
Adapted from a wonderful, albeit unknown source.

1 spaghetti squash (about 4 lbs.)
¼ - ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or a regular breadcrumbs and many dried herbs)
1/3 cup pignoli (pine) nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella

(Instructions provided by Rachel, the Cheap Healthy Gourmet)

1) Preheat oven to 400. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and cooking spray.

2) Take a paring knife, and poke a million holes in the exterior of the squash.

3) Bake the squash until the outside is beginning to brown, and hull gets mushy. This usually took about 45 minutes or so for me (90 minutes for me - Kris), and I'd flip the squash once or twice during the process. Depending on the thickness of the shell and the size of the bugger, it may take more or less time. I'd start keeping an intermittent eye on it after about 30 minutes.

4) When brownness has been achieved, take the squash out of the oven, and allow it to cool. When it's cool enough to touch, split the beast in two lengthwise, and de-seed it; toss seeds in the trash. Then, scrape the meat out of it with a fork, dragging your utensil down lengthwise. As you scrape down, the strands should separate from the shell, so that you're just left with the hull. Put the warm strands in a bowl, and the hull in the trash.

5) While the squash is baking, toast 1/3 cup of pignoli (pine) nuts, and measure out 1/4-1/2 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs. (If you don't-a-gotta da seasoned stuff, just throw in a lot of dried parsley, basil and oregano, or whatever you like that you've got lying around.)

6) Combine squash with the pignolis, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Put in a shallow 8"x8" (or approximate) baking dish that you've sprayed a little cooking spray on.

7) Take about 1 cup of marinara sauce, and spread like frosting across the top. Sprinkle mozzarella on top.

8) Cover with tin foil, and bake for about 10 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove tin foil, and bake for another 5. Serve and go yum.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
287 calories, 12 g fat, $1.38

1 spaghetti squash: 491 calories, 4.7 g fat, $2.84
¼ - ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs: 142 calories, 1.9 g fat, $0.18
1/3 cup pignoli (pine) nuts: 270 calories, 23.7 g fat, $2.09
Salt and pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1 cup marinara sauce: 172 calories, 10 g fat, $0.70
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella: 360 calories, 20 g fat, $1.09
TOTAL: 1435 calories, 60.3 g fat, $6.92
PER SERVING: 287 calories, 12 g fat, $1.38

Wayback Machine: Light Chicken and Mushroom Marsala

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one is from March 2008. Enjoy!

One of my least favorite words in the English language is “moist.” I don’t like the way it slides off the tongue, stabbing it at the end with a sinister, pointy “t.” The sound squicks me out, like the feel of cheap velvet or foam rubbing against itself. What's more, “moist” makes even the most harmless utterances seem a little dirty. Lewd, even. I actively refrain from using it on a casual basis, especially when describing people. Because, let's face it: there's nothing creepier than, “Hey Bob, you look moist today."

This aversion is unfortunate, partly because it’s a pretty common word, but mostly due to the food blogging thing. “Moist” depicts almost every kind of well-made meal, and there are few-to-no substitutes for it. “Wet" connotes a soaking, “soggy” is too negative, and “humid," well ... let's not even discuss. It’s got to be “moist.” “Moist” means a cake is well made. “Moist” means cookies are chewy, but firm. “Moist” means you might be eating Alex’s Slightly Altered Light Chicken and Mushroom Marsala.

I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from the June 1995 issue of Gourmet. And man oh man, is it ever moist. It’s moist-esque. It’s the hostess with the moistest. The chicken is basically braised in broth and marsala wine, which not only imparts a marvelous flavor to the mushrooms, but y’know … the moist thing.

The original recipe called for skin-on chicken breasts and more butter than I was comfortable with. So, to cut the fat, I:
  • Used boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
  • Only used oil to sauté the mushrooms and onions, instead of a butter/oil combination.
  • Reduced the olive oil by a third.
It came out beautifully and went really well with egg noodles. All told, it's a classy, earthy meal-for-four under eight bucks. Not too shabby. And most definitely moist. (*cringe*)

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala

Serves 4
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 28 oz), halved
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 onion, sliced thin
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
1/3 cup Marsala
2/3 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1) Gently pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown in two separate batches. When finished with each, transfer them to a plate so juices may redistribute throughout meat.

2) Add onion and mushrooms to skillet. Cook a few minutes, until "liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated," stirring occasionally. Add Marsala. Stir. Cook until Marsala is nearly gone. Add broth, chicken, and any chicken juices pooling on plate. Simmer until chicken is fully cooked, around 15 minutes, turning once halfway through. (I had very thick cuts, and this still timed out perfectly.) Move chicken back to plate.

3) Keep the sauce simmering until it reduces to around 1/3 cup. Kill heat. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste. Add butter. Stir sauce until butter is just melted. Serve chicken with sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Approximate Calories, Fat and Price Per Serving
352 calories, 9.75 g fat, $1.63

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 28 oz): 875 calories, 9.9 g fat, $3.48
2 teaspoons olive oil: 79 calories, 8.9 g fat, $0.06
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter: 153 calories, 17.3 g fat, $0.15
2/3 onion, sliced thin: 42 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.32
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced thin: 50 calories, 0.8 g fat, $1.50
1/3 cup Marsala: 142 calories, 0 g fat, $0.61
2/3 cup chicken broth: 64 calories, 2 g fat, $0.16
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves: 2 calories, 0 g fat, $0.25
TOTAL: 1407 calories, 39 g fat, $6.53
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 352 calories, 9.75 g fat, $1.63

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wayback Machine: Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one is from November 2007. Enjoy!

I realized recently, after four full months of blogging, that I’ve managed to make my Ma look like the culinary equivalent of the Miami Dolphins (painful to watch, drops the ball a lot, etc.). Really, she’s a pretty good cook. None of us were nutritionally deficient growing up, AND she managed to stay under budget, which was super-important for a young family of five in the lean times of 1981. (Stupid Reagan.) Somehow though, to the shock and awe of my friends and neighbors, she did this without ever cooking a casserole.

I’m not sure how it happened. The ‘80s were rife with casseroles. As is my understanding, every American mom with a can of Campbells and 8x8 Pyrex dish was Constitutionally required to make them. They decorated rec rooms and hung from ceilings like gooey chandeliers. I think my friends might have worn casseroles to school.

But, yeah - I never had one.

The Boyfriend looks at me funny when I mention my casserole deficiency, as if no child should grow up deprived of Congealed Cream of Mushroom Broccoli Bake. Subsequently, I’m working on developing a taste for them. Y'know, to expand my mind.

While I continue to be fairly weary of Green Bean Casserole and (*shudder*) Frito Pie, today's recipe, Bruschetta Chicken Bake, is pretty darn good. It hits the four major food groups (tomatoes, chicken, mozzarella, stuffing) and uses a pre-packaged Stove Top mix without being too preservative-laden. Plus, while I don’t think it’s an official Weight Watchers recipe, it’s a super-popular one on their message boards. Folks dig the flavor and the ease of preparation (15 minutes, tops, plus cooking time).

Since I’m still easing into Casserole World (veeeery different from Disney World), I’ll put the question out there: does anyone know of a healthy, relatively inexpensive casserole I could make, eat, and feature on this blog? Winner gets, um … something. Something awesome (which I will think of soon.)

Bruschetta Chicken Bake
6 good-sized servings
Adapted from Weight Watchers boards and/or Kraft Foods.

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1/2 cup water
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 cup KRAFT part-skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1) Preheat oven to 400°F.

2) In a medium mixing bowl, stir together tomatoes (with liquid), garlic, stuffing mix, and water until stuffing mix is juuuuuust moist. Set aside.

3) Arrange chicken in a single layer in a 13x9 baking dish. Top evenly with basil and cheese. Top again with stuffing mixture. Bake about 30 minutes, until stuffing is browned and chicken is fully cooked. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
310.5 calories, 7 g fat, $0.98

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained: 75 calories, 0 g fat, $0.89
2 cloves garlic: 10 calories, 0 g fat, $0.10
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken: 668 calories, 6.1 g fat, $1.99
1/2 cup water: negligible fat and calories, $0.00
1lb. boneless skinless chicken breast: 750 calories, 16.2 g fat, $1.79
1 tsp. dried basil leaves: negligible fat and calories, $0.02
1 cup KRAFT part-skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese: 360 calories, 20 g fat, $1.09
TOTAL: 1863 calories, 42.3 g fat, $5.88
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 310.5 calories, 7 g fat, $0.98

Wayback Machine: Baked Apples

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one is from March 2008. Enjoy!

WOW. These Baked Apples are good. Let’s just start right there. Imagine an apple pie without the annoying crust part, and you pretty much have the idea. Dairy-free, virtually fat-free, and shockingly low in calories, they could be the perfect dessert for dieters. They're DEFINITELY the perfect dessert for lactose-intolerant vegan dieters.

I made them twice in two days, and would have kept going if we didn’t run out of fruit. (Oh, cursedly weak upper arms, why can’t you hold more grocery bags?) In fact, I liked the recipe so much, I wanted to do a Letterman-esque Top Ten list in its honor. So, without further ado...

  1. They’re warm, tender, sweet, and generally tasty as all get out.
  2. Also, the smell. Woof. Very nice.
  3. The five-minute prep time doesn’t hurt, either.
  4. They’re WAY more filling than most other desserts. This is partly because they’re fargin’ gigantic and partly because apples are rich in fiber, which makes you feel sated longer.
  5. The recipe comes from Christopher Kimball’s The Cook’s Bible. Kimball is also the proprietor of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated, and can absolutely do no wrong in my book. Case in point: he regularly sports a bowtie/apron ensemble and manages to make it look like a stunning fashion statement. (Marc Jacobs, take notes.)
  6. They’re pretty with an interesting presentation, though you wouldn’t know it by my food photography. I’ve owned my camera for three years now, and I’m wondering if I should finally give in and read the directions.
  7. They will impress the pants off family members.
  8. They’re cheap! Mine came to about $0.60 per serving. That’s less than … half a load of laundry. And if it came down to it, which would you rather have, clean underwear or dessert?
  9. Don’t answer that last question.
  10. I’m running out of reasons here. This is usually the part where Letterman makes a bad Michael Jackson joke or something. I’ll settle for a bad regular joke:
    Q: How many kids with short attention spans does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: Wanna ride bikes?
One quick note if you decide to make these (and please do, before apples become scarce): Kimball mentions that Red Delicious, Granny Smith and MacIntosh varieties are bad ideas for Baked Apples, since they don’t hold their shape well. He suggests Northern Spy, Macoun, or Cortland as good options. I tried Idared, since the sign specifically said “GREAT FOR BAKED APPLES,” and they worked beautifully.

Now, go! Run! Make 'em! You won't be unhappy, I promise.

Baked Apples
Serves 4
Adapted from The Cook's Bible, by Christopher Kimball.

½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (Double it for powdered nutmeg. – Kris)
1-1/2 cups apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon zest
4 apples such as Northern Spy, Macoun, Cortland or Idared, washed and dried

1) Preheat oven to 350°F.

2) In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a different small bowl, combine cider, vanilla and lemon zest. Set aside.

3) With an apple corer, melon baller, or teaspoon, core apples "without cutting through the bottom." (This is key.) Then, peel the top inch of each apple. (See picture.)

4) Stand apples up in a baking dish. Split sugar mixture evenly among apples and pour into hollowed cores. Pour cider mixture into the dish itself, and then cover the whole shebang with tin foil.

2) Bake for 30 minutes, "basting with cider once or twice." Check tenderness by gently stabbing the biggest apple with a knife or toothpick. If it's not tender, keep baking for as long as it takes, which could be anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. (It depends on the general size of the apples.) Remove from oven and serve warm.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
214 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.61

½ cup sugar: 387 calories, 0 g fat, $0.16
½ teaspoon cinnamon: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1-1/2 cups apple cider or unfiltered apple juice: 180 calories, 0 g fat, $0.75
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract: 3 calories, 0 g fat, $0.03
½ teaspoon lemon zest: negligible fat and calories, $0.00 (you still get to use the lemon afterward)
4 apples such as Northern Spy, Macoun, Cortland or Idared, washed and dried: 287 calories, 0.9 g fat, $1.66
TOTAL: 857 calories, 0.9 g fat, $2.64
PER SERVING: 214 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.61

Wayback Machine: Spring Soup, So Many Ways

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one was written by Leigh last week. Blogger ate it during their 24-hour loss of service, so we're re-posting. Enjoy!

New Yorkers like their soup. Just how much was a phenomenon unfamiliar to me when I moved here in the mid-’90s and found myself serving it by the bucket to insatiable Upper West Siders. Diners based their lunch orders on the soup du jour and were often despondent if told their favorites were off-menu or, even worse, sold out.

It’s just soup, I would think, sometimes aloud to my fellow waitrons. But what did I know; I grew up eating soup from a can. Occasionally, my grandma would try to get me to eat her homemade vegetable or chicken noodle, but I rebuffed her advances. It wasn’t sodium-rich Campbell’s, and I would have none of it.

As a frugal eater-outer, soup never seemed like a good bargain. A bowl of soup can run upwards of $6 or $7 dollars in a New York restaurant. As a vegetarian, the “is there meat in it?” question is often difficult to nail. One chef/waiter’s meat-free soup is another’s fish stock surprise. A bowl of watery, mushy vegetables just didn't seem worth it.

But somewhere along my home-cooking journey, I discovered something: soup is amazing. It can be simple or complex, light or hearty, bland (in a good way) or rich. Soup is a fabulous way to get vegetables into the diet and, with few exceptions, is easy to make. I don't know what took me so long.

I stumbled on this simple, rich and light green pea soup on Chow.com a few weeks before Easter. The vibrant green color caught my eye; it looked like spring and tastes like spring: green peas, leeks, fresh mint, a squirt of lemon. The sun came out just to see if it could have a taste. With only a few ingredients, this brightly colored soup whips up quickly and makes an impressive starter or light lunch supplement.

Coincidentally, my colleague E supplied the optional crème fraîche when she whipped up a batch from scratch. It was lighter than I expected and added a delightful tanginess to the sweet peas.

Take Chow's advice to water down commercial broth, if you go that route. I didn't for my first batch, which made for a very oily soup when combined with the whole tablespoon of butter the original recipe suggests. I recommend halving the fat and using home-brewed broth (or watered down store-bought) for a less greasy mouthfeel (ew…I said mouthfeel).

Now for the variations. I've made this soup about five or six times since Easter when it made it's debut (to raves). After a couple of batches, I started changing up the veg and the herbs, and it just kept being fantastic, like changing the curtains when you want to freshen up the living room. The variations are listed below the recipe.

I finally get it. Soup is easy, delicious, and versatile, and except for the eating out part, 8 million New Yorkers can't be wrong.


If this recipe floats your boat, paddle on over to:

Green Pea Soup
Serves 4–6
adapted from Green Pea Soup from Chow.com

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1 medium leek, root trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
2 1/2 cups homemade vegetable broth or 1 cup low-sodium store-bought vegetable broth mixed with 1 1/2 cups water*
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
3 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 2 1/2 pounds of peas in their pods) or 16 ounces frozen peas, thawed**
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves***
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
Crème fraîche, optional

1) Heat olive oil or butter in heavy bottomed sauce pan. Saute leek in oil with pinch of salt. Add broth and bring to boil.

2) Add green peas, remaining salt, and black pepper. Return to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

3) Remove from heat, stir in mint (or parsley), and allow flavors to meld for 10 minutes or so.

4) Transfer soup to a blender and puree in batches until smooth. Add lemon juice to tasted.

5) Serve hot or cold with a dollop of crème fraîche or a sprinkle of finely chopped mint or parsley.

Broccoli Potato Variation
Makes 6 servings
* 4 cups vegetable broth
** 12 ounces broccoli, chopped + 8 ounces, red bliss potatoes, washed and chopped into 1/8" dice

At step 2, add broccoli and potatoes, remaining salt, black pepper. Return to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Cauliflower Variation
** 16 ounces frozen cauliflower, thawed
***1/4 cup parsley

At step 2, add cauliflower, remaining salt, and black pepper. Return to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
Green Pea (four servings): 131.8 calories, 1.9g fat, 5.5g fiber, 6.6g protein, $.78
Broccoli Potato (six servings): 85 calories, 1g fat, 4g fiber, 3.6g protein, $.59
Cauliflower (four servings): 71 calories, 1.9g fat, 3.8g fiber, 3.6g protein, $.73

1/2 tablespoon butter: 70 calories, 7.5g fat, 0g fiber, 0.5g protein, $0.08
1 medium leek: 54 calories, 0g fat, 2g fiber, 1g protein, $0.25
2 teaspoons kosher salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
2 1/2 cups homemade vegetable broth: 50 calories, 0.25g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.48
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
16 ounces frozen peas: 350 calories, 0g fat, 20g fiber, 25g protein, $2.19
[12 ounces broccoli: 164 calories, 0g fat, 20g fiber, 16g protein, $1.32]
[8 ounces red potato: 140 calories, 0g fat, 4g fiber, 4g protein, $1.00]
[16 ounces cauliflower: 108 calories, 0g fat, 9g fiber, 9g protein, $1.99]
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.08
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice: 3 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.00

Note: One teaspoon of crème fraîche per serving adds 7.7 calories and .7g fat.

Green Pea Soup
TOTALS: 527 calories, 7.75g fat, 22g fiber, 26.5g protein, $3.12
PER SERVING (TOTALS/4): 131.8 calories, 1.9g fat, 5.5g fiber, 6.6g protein, $.78

Broccoli Potato Soup
TOTALS: 511 calories, 8g fat, 26g fiber, 21.5g protein, $3.53
PER SERVING (TOTALS/6): 85 calories, 1g fat, 4g fiber, 3.6g protein, $.59

Cauliflower Soup
TOTALS: 285 calories, 7.75g fat, 15g fiber, 14.5g protein, $2.92
PER SERVING (TOTALS/4): 71 calories, 1.9g fat, 3.8g fiber, 3.6g protein, $.73

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wayback Machine: Oh, My Sweet Lassi

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one is from November 2007. Enjoy!

In the two years following college, I lived semi-large with three ladyfriends in a medium-sized Brooklyn apartment. We had starter jobs, very little money, and an unnatural obsession with singing Jock Jams in Ross Perot voices. (Try it! It's fun.) We were also not very interested in cooking, except for K.

Born in upstate New York, K was the only one who actually used our pots and pans. She bought things like “produce,” and dairy products.” A few times, she whipped up this Saltine-butter-chocolate dessert that I can’t even think of without salivating all over my desk. (Seriously, Saltines? Who knew they didn’t have to taste like drywall?) One of her favorite concoctions, which I had never heard of at the time, and now order/make at every opportunity, was the lassi.

Essentially a thick Indian yogurt drink, lassis are intended to calm taste buds during a spicy meal. But, much like its fruity cousin the mango lassi, the sweet lassi is also delicious on its own.

While there were a bazillion options online, the recipe attached below is adapted from the Whole Foods website. It seemed simple enough, and turned out well. Only changes: I used low-fat yogurt and cut out the rosewater, since, uh, I don’t know what it is or where to find it. (I will rectify this situation for next time.)

Nowadays, K is married to a wonderfully awesome dude, who I am sure is benefiting from her years of experience and experiments. I wish I had appreciated it more when we were roomies. (Besides the Saltine thing. I appreciated that constantly.)

P.S. Just to clarify - this is NOT a milkshake. It is a yogurt drink. If you do not like yogurt, you will vomit profusely.

Sweet Lassi
Serves 2 (12 oz each) or 3 (8 oz each)
Adapted from Whole Foods.

2 cups plain lowfat yogurt
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 ice cubes

1) Blend yogurt, water, sugar, and cardamom together until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend again, until mixture is smooth. Serve cold.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
2 servings: 248 calories, 3.8 g fat, $0.65
3 servings: 165 calories, 2.5 g fat, $0.43

2 cups plain lowfat yogurt: 309 calories, 7.6 g fat, $1.15
1/2 cup cold water: negligible fat and calories, $0.00
1/4 cup sugar: 186 calories, 0 g fat, $0.06
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom: negligible fat and calories, $0.08
6 ice cubes: negligible fat and calories, $0.00
TOTAL: 495 calories, 7.6 g fat, $1.29
PER SERVING (TOTAL/2): 248 calories, 3.8 g fat, $0.65
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 165 calories, 2.5 g fat, $0.43

Wayback Machine: Sublime Fruit Salad with Mint

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one was written by Leigh in June 2009. Enjoy!

Fruit salad always seems like a good idea for picnics and barbecues. It’s beautiful; it’s summery; and unless it’s overrun with marshmallows and bananas (barf), it’s yummy. However, one thing you can count on when you take fruit salad to a party: you’ll be taking it right back home.

You can be assured there will be no leftover cheese, no leftover guacamole. Crudités has slightly better odds if it is accompanied by a good dip, but fruit salad…unless there is just no other food, you’ll be eating it for breakfast the next few days.

Unless you make this fruit salad: based on Giada de Laurentiis’ Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Mint Vinaigrette. It is seriously the best fruit salad ever. And there is nary a marshmallow (or banana) in sight.

I’ve made this salad several times, with various fruit combinations, and it never fails to please. Last summer, I made it for my birthday beach party, and two summers ago for a bridal shower fiesta. My mother even borrowed the recipe and wowed her Bible study group.

But never has it received the laud it got at the BBQ baby shower on Saturday. (No babies were BBQ’d, only meat and veggie burgs.) This gorgeous bowl of fruit went as quickly as the cheese platter and almost as fast as the guacamole. People were begging (okay, two people asked nicely) for the leftovers, of which there were few.

Luckily, it’s so, so easy, and cheap if the fruit you choose is in season. I strayed from the recommended melons, because A) I couldn’t find a watermelon that looked good and 2) I dislike cantaloupe almost as much as bananas. You can make this with any fruit you like.

Berries are fabulously in season up NYC way. For fun and color contrast, I threw in a mango and a peach. (For the crowd, I also doubled the recipe you see below; it’s easy to scale.)

Now, Giada’s giant smile calls for 1/4 cup of simple syrup for 4 cups of fruit. Hold up, pretty lady. That’s too much sugar, and, if you ask me, why most people avoid fruit salad. I cut the amount of syrup in half, even though I upped the amount of fruit by about a cup.

Otherwise, I kept the proportions the same. I also subbed almond extract for amaretto, since I didn’t have the liqueur on hand. There is probably some reason I should not have made the substitution in equal amounts, but it worked.

It’s a truly sublime concoction. Be prepared to give out the recipe and if you want some for yourself at home, make extra. That way you can still have fruit salad for breakfast.

Sublime Fruit Salad with Mint

Adapted from Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Mint Vinaigrette by Giada de Laurentiis.
Yields approx 10 1/2-cup servings

1 pt strawberries, sliced
1 pt blueberries
1 mango, peeled and cubed
1 peach, peeled and cubed
1/8 cup simple syrup (see instructions)
1/4 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/8 tsp almond extract

1) Make simple syrup and chill while prepping fruit.

2) Simple syrup = 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Bring water to a boil, stir in sugar until dissolved completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3) Wash, peel, and chop fruit as desired.

4) In a blender, combine simple syrup, lime juice, chopped mint, and almond extract.

5) Toss syrup over fruit.

6) Chill (overnight is good) and serve. Practice saying, “thank you.” You’ll be getting lots of compliments.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
56.6 calories, .1g fat, $.60

1 pt strawberries: 98 calories, 0g fat, $1.99
1 pt blueberries: 168 calories, 0g fat, $2.50
1 mango: 87 calories, 0g fat, $.75
1 peach: 68 calories, 0g fat, $.19
1/8 cup simple syrup: 104.6 calories, 0g fat, $.07
1/4 cup lime juice: 28.5 calories, .1g fat, $.30
1/2 cup fresh mint: 40 calories, 1g fat, $.50
1/8 tsp almond extract: negligible calories and fat, $.04
Totals: 594 calories, 1.1g fat, $6.34
Per Serving (Totals/10): 59.4 calories, .11g fat, $.63

Wayback Machine: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp - A Multiple Choice Quiz

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one is from April 2010. Enjoy!

Please mark off the following questionnaire with a #2 pencil. Should that process begin to cause excessive damage to your computer, you may point to your answers onscreen.

This dish seems familiar because:

A) Déjà vu.
B) Leigh posted a similar Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble less than a year ago, and Kris (that’s me) forgot to double check when she was making the recipe. Doy.
C) It is your father.

Rhubarb and strawberries are/is:

A) Mellifluous.
B) Almost in season, and natural sweet/tart compliments for each other.
C) Peaches and Herb’s original name.

The difference between a crisp and a crumble is:

A) Inconsequential.
B) Nothing really, though crumble topping may be a bit more substantial than a crisp. Or maybe it’s the other way around? I forget.
C) Like the difference between Britney Spears and Beverly Sills! How dare you ask such a question, you culinary dilettante! Now abscond from my courtyard, and never use my bidet again!

The recipe comes from:

A) Yemen.
B) Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which we discussed at length last week, to discover that it’s okay to take baby steps when it comes to ethical eating.
C) “The darkest depths of Mordor / I met a girl so fair / But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her....yeah.”
D) None of the above, especially Answer C, which consisted entirely of semi-appropriate Led Zeppelin lyrics.
E) And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

The 1987 pilot of 21 Jump Street is:

A) Awesome.
B) Notable for launching the career of one John Depp, a dashing young actor who would remain impossibly attractive for the ensuing two-and-a-half decades.
C) Really awesome, because the cops regularly say things like, “It’s not against the law to be afraid.”
D) Really really awesome, because every “high school student” is at least 35-years-old and a dorky sophomore recovers from his heroin addiction and overdose in a single day.
E) Really really really awesome, because after a particularly harrowing police car chase, Mr. Depp breaks for a saxophone solo while the voice of his dead father is piped in over the smooth jazz stylings.
F) In my pants.

People who text and drive, especially on highways and major roads:

A) Duh.
B) Should be heavily fined and have their licenses revoked.
C) Should have their cars pelted with rotten oranges. This will A) teach a lesson and B) do less damage than the humans they will otherwise inevitably hit.

The best Golden Girl is:

A) Dorothy.
B) Sophia.
C) Rose.
D) Not Blanche.

Thank you for taking our quiz. The answer to every question was Z.


If you like this recipe, you might also be tantalized by:

Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps
Serves 4.
Adapted from Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

2 cups halved strawberries (or cut into thirds if it’s a big strawberry)
2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (NOT melted)

1) Preheat oven to 375ºF.

2) In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, rhubarb, and honey. Stir to coat. Even distribute among four 6-ounce ramekins.

3) In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Stir. Cut butter into smaller pieces. Add butter to flour mixture. Using a fork or pastry blender, mash butter and flour mixture until medium-sized crumbs are formed. Sprinkle crumbs evenly on top of the four ramekins.

4) Place ramekins on a baking sheet. (For easier portability!) Bake about 35 minutes, or until rhubarb can be easily pierced with a knife. Topping should be browned and mixture should be bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. (Trust on this one.) Serve!

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
234 calories, 6.6 g fat, 3.5 g fiber, 2.6 g protein, $0.96

2 cups halved strawberries: 97 calories, 0.9 g fat, 6.1 g fiber, 2 g protein, $1.33
2 cups rhubarb, chopped: 51 calories, 0.5 g fat, 4.4 g fiber, 2.2 g protein, $1.70
1/4 cup honey: 255 calories, 0 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, 0.3 g protein, $0.40
1/4 cup flour: 114 calories, 0.3 g fat, 0.8 g fiber, 3.2 g protein, $0.04
1/4 cup rolled oats: 74 calories, 1.5 g fat, 2 g fiber, 2.5 g protein, $0.14
1/4 cup light brown sugar: 137 calories, 0 g fat, fiber, or protein, $0.05
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon: 3 calories, 0 g fat, 0.6 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.01
1/4 teaspoon allspice: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.04
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened: 204 calories, 23 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0.2 g protein, $0.12
TOTAL: 935 calories, 26.2 g fat, 14.1 g fiber, 10.4 g protein, $3.83
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 234 calories, 6.6 g fat, 3.5 g fiber, 2.6 g protein, $0.96

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wayback Machine: Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili - A Play in Two Acts

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one is from November 2008. Enjoy!

When: Fall, 1986

Where: A small suburban kitchen in Long Island, New York.


  • Kris, a precocious, bespectacled eight-year-old who is already four feet taller than every single one of her peers.
  • L, a Barbie-loving, bespectacled seven-year-old who is already much, much better at sports than her sister Kris.
  • E, a somewhat adorable five-year-old who is already becoming the terror of his sisters and the neighborhood bullfrogs alike.
  • Pa, a bearded, loving 37-year-old who’s already running out of culinary options, having been left to feed his children while his wife is stuck at work.
The kids are scattered all over the house. Pa calls them to dinner.

PA: Kids! Dinner!

KRIS: Coming!

L: Coming!

E: *mmph*

PA: E, please get He-Man out of your mouth and come to dinner.

E: Okay.

The kids assume their regular seats at the table. Pa places the evening’s meal in front of them.

L: What is this?

PA: It’s spaghetti squash and Texas Chainsaw Chili. Try it. You’ll like it.

KRIS: Are there hot dogs in it?

PA: No.

KRIS: Macaroni and cheese?

PA: No.

KRIS: But it’s SPAGHETTI squash?

PA: Yes.


PA: It’s a vegetable, Kris. It’s not really … Okay. Let’s move on. Take a bite of the chili, everybody.

L: I don’t wanna. It looks like guts.

KRIS: Yeah. Bug guts.

E: I’m scared Daddy.


Each kid spoons a microscopic smattering of chili into their reluctant mouths. Each reacts with the same level of consummate revulsion.

KRIS: I want hot dogs.

L: I want Mommy.

E: I want He-Man.

PA: Okay, look. Nobody leaves the table until your plate is CLEARED.

L: What if we have to go to the bathroom?


E takes a few hesitant bites, then wolfs the remaining vittles. A similar plate-clearing takes L over an hour.

L: Done! Bye.

Three hours pass. Kris remains at the table, food untouched.

PA: Kris, it’s time for bed.

KRIS: But … but …

PA: It won’t kill you, my child. I promise. Eat it.

KRIS: Nooooooo.

PA: Okay then. Bedtime.

KRIS: (makes sure Pa’s back is turned, then whispers to still-full bowl) Never again, chili. Henceforth, you are my one true foe. Your evil shalt not pass these lips for the rest of time.

PA: Huh?

KRIS: Nothing. G’night, Pa!

Cut to 22 years later. Kris is sitting with The Boyfriend on their couch, watching The Biggest Loser
and hoping – nay, praying – that Vicky falls into a vat of 80-calorie Banana Fudge Sundae pudding, never to return. Both Kris and TB are eating Cook’s Illustrated’s Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili.

KRIS: You know, I used to hate this stuff.

TB: What, reality TV?

KRIS: Well, that too. But mostly chili.

TB: Really? It runs through my veins. Like chunky, delicious blood.

KRIS: Once, I sat at a table for an entire night because I wouldn’t touch it.

TB: You’re weird.

KRIS: Thanks.

They resume eating the chili, and Kris wonders how she could have ever been so thick. As if to punctuate her deep, dark thoughts, The Boyfriend lets out a long, low fart. They both smile happily, thankful that life can be so good.


Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili
Serves 4 – 6
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipe.

CI Note: A combination of beans is better in this (kidney, black, pinto, whatever). Also, don't sub in anything for the pureed diced tomatoes, as the consistency is vital.

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans beans (see note), rinsed
2-3 teaspoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1) Pour tomatoes and the accompanying juices in a food processor. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until it's kinda chunky.

2) In a large saucepan, combine tomatoes, beans, chipotles, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and cover. Heat over high until it starts boiling. Drop heat to medium-low and simmer for the time being.

3) In a different large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. When very hot, add onion, chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir. Saute until onions are soft and a little translucent, around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic. Stir. Saute until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. 

4) Pour tomato mixture into onion pot. Scrape browned bits with the back of your spoon, if you have 'em. Drop heat to medium-low and cook about 15 minutes, until chili has a more chili-like consistency. Stir occasionally.

5) After 15 minutes, add corn and cilantro. Stir. Heat until corn is warmed through. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
For five servings: 292 calories, 7.9 g fat, $1.08

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes: 163 calories, 0 g fat, $1.89
2 (15-ounce) cans beans (see note), rinsed: ~680 calories, ~6 g fat, $1.50
2-3 teaspoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce: 6 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.30
2 teaspoons sugar: 33 calories, 0 g fat, $0.02
salt and ground black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
2 tablespoons vegetable oil: 247 calories, 28 g fat, $0.18
1 onion, minced: 46 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.30
3 tablespoons chili powder: 71 calories, 3.8 g fat, $0.12
2 teaspoons ground cumin: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
3 garlic cloves, minced: 13 calories, 0 g fat, $0.12
1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed: 199 calories, 1.6 g fat, $0.60
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro: negligible calories and fat, $0.33
TOTAL: 1458 calories, 39.6 g fat, $5.39
PER SERVING (TOTAL/5): 292 calories, 7.9 g fat, $1.08

Wayback Machine: Roasted Chickpeas - Right Way, Wrong Way

Sweet readers, we're taking the week off to catch up on some real-life work. In the meantime, we're re-posting some of our favorite recipes and essays. This one is from April 2008. Enjoy!

Mornin’ everybody! Hope y’all had a lovely weekend, and that the weather was half as nice as it was here in Brooklyn: blooming trees, perfect skies, visible patch of grass – the whole nine. Even our neighborhood Incredibly Frightening Drunk Who Hangs Out 24-7 at the Last Remaining Pay Phone on Earth was suitably enchanted.

My weekend was fantastic, spoiled only briefly by a botched attempt at Roasted Chickpeas. I got ‘em right the second time around, but wanted to transcribe the wrong directions, just in case anyone ever attempts them. Here goes:

1) Comb Food Blog Search for acceptable Roasted Chickpea recipe.

2) Settle on Roasted Chickpeas at Anne’s Food. Revel in Scandinavian…ness, as she is fellow Swede.

3) Resolve to visit Sweden, see if everyone is really blonde/lithe.

4) Rinse and dry chickpeas. Place on cookie sheet. Place in preheated 425ºF oven.

5) As chickpeas roast, play Scrabulous with friend F. Watch in horror as F spells “EQUATES” and “SLUGGED” one after the other, scoring 86 and 79 points, respectively.

6) Retaliate with “NOOSE,” as F has just essentially hanged you.

7) Resolve to start socializing with dumber people.

8) Attempt to remove chickpeas from roasting vessel. Instead, spill entire pan in oven.

9) Gnash teeth. Traumatize backyard squirrel with volume of yelled obscenities.

10) One by one, painstakingly pick 150 chickpeas out of ancient, formerly scorching oven, taking care not to burn digits and/or face off by accidentally leaning on blazing surface.

11) Burn digit and/or face off by accidentally leaning on blazing surface.

12) Yell more obscenities. Resolve to enroll backyard squirrel in therapy.

13) Realize (with horror) oven has not been cleaned since the Paleozoic era.

14) Resolve to clean oven.

15) Realize you will never clean oven.

16) Resolve to get roommate to clean oven.

17) Realize roommate will never, ever clean oven, as roommate rarely cleans anything.

18) Ponder life.

19) Attempt recipe again, using correct directions (listed below).

20) Succeed!

21) Lose Scrabulous by record 4 billion points. Remain happy due to ultra-cheap, highly tasty chickpea recipe.

Roasted Chickpeas
4 servings
Adapted from Anne's Food.

1 14.5 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ - ½ teaspoon salt (1/2 will be very salty. - Kris)
5 dashes cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin

1) Preheat oven to 425°F.

2) Place chickpeas on baking/cookie sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Shake the pan. (Do not spill on kitchen floor.) Roast another 10 minutes.

3) In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, oil, salt, and spices. Stir well to combine.

4) Spread chickpeas back out on baking sheet. Roast between 5 and 15 more minutes, until they're browned and super crunchy. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
135 calories, 4.3 g fat, $0.15

1 14.5 oz can chickpeas: 500 calories, 4.8 g fat, $0.50
1 teaspoon olive oil: 39 calories, 4.5 g fat, $0.03
¼ - ½ teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
5 dashes cayenne pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1 teaspoon cumin: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
TOTAL: 539 calories, 9.3 g fat, $0.58
PER SERVING: 135 calories, 4.3 g fat, $0.15