Friday, May 29, 2015

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Happy Friday, everyone! We are coming off a terrible heatwave here and experiencing some interesting spring weather just in time for the weekend. Last night, I had the idea to make pancakes for breakfast and seeing as I had carrots that needed to be used, these Carrot Cake Pancakes from Isa Does It seemed like a fitting candidate. They turned out beautifully. The grated carrots really lend their color to the pancakes as well as their mildly sweet flavor and the spices come through as well.                           I made a few changes based on what I had on hand. I was initially bummed that I didn't have flaxseeds on hand. Flaxseeds take the place of the eggs and are pretty critical. I decided to be brave and soldier on with out them, subbing instead unsweetened applesauce for them and for the oil. I also used whole wheat flour as I don't keep all-purpose on hand. They turned out just perfectly. I didn't have fresh allspice, so that didn't make it in either. They turned out lovely and light despite all of the changes I made. The pancakes are sweetened with maple syrup and it would be appropriate to drizzle these with some maple syrup but I didn't feel like gilding that lily this morning.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Meal Plan: May 24th- May 28th- Tofu and Broccoli with Pantry BBQ Sauce

So this week's post is a bit late... The holidays took us until Sunday and I made due with what I had until last night because I figured the supermarkets wouldn't be stocked up. And wouldn't you know- they were all out of the less expensive broccoli and cauliflower. This week I chose to make the Seitan and Broccoli with Pantry BBQ Sauce except as you'll notice by the title, I chose to use tofu instead of seitan. And it's not because I didn't make seitan. I did. A little while ago I made the beany sausages and the chicky seitan. I wanted to love it. I tried to love it. But in the end, I just don't like seitan. Maybe I did something wrong, but I can't seem to get past the spongy texture and funny flavor. I'll take the tofu any day. 
Speaking of tofu, I recently bought a bunch of it and decided to freeze it. I had heard that freezing it changes its texture, making it firmer and more absorbent. So, this is indeed true but I'm not sure I like it this way. It too becomes spongier rather than smooth and firm and I miss the flavor and texture of it. I think it would be good for a tofu scramble because it does have a heartier texture but for next time I'm gonna stick with regular, unfrozen tofu. 
Sorry for the ramble!

In terms of the supermarket this week, I spent quite a bit again-- about 150 on sweet potatoes, more rice, and frozen broccoli and spinach pretty much. I got some applesauce also, but the frozen stuff ate up my whole budget and half of next week's too. :(

In any case, I made this BBQ sauce ahead so I wouldn't have to spend more time in the kitchen. This isn't exactly what I think of when I think BBQ sauce as it's not so tomato-ey and it has strong notes of peanut butter and mustard. And while my picture looks NOTHING like hers, it still turned out yummy, especially served over quinoa. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Coconut No Bake Cookies

So, it's erev another Jewish holiday, Shavuot. My whole facebook has gone and filled itself up with very decadent looking cheesecakes. Vegan, you ask? Not a chance. While I did find some pretty great looking vegan cheesecakes, I really haven't been in the mood to fiddle around too much. So when I saw this recipe for Coconut No Bake Cookies by Minimalist Baker on my Instagram, I was there. Easy peasy, chocolate, peanut butter, coconut and oats. Nothing could be bad. And in fact, they are delicious. I usually don't eat sugar and desserts even of the relatively unprocessed, raw kind, but I figured that it's the holidays and why the heck not. YOLO, right? You can find the recipe here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Meal Plan: May17th- May 21st: Bistro Beet Burgers

Spring has finally sprung! The weather is really really beautiful now which means that cooking soups and stews is pretty much out until the fall. Which is fine by me because I'm good and ready for some light and colorful fare. Like these beet burgers from Isa Does It. You can't beat the bright red color of the beets and they're delicious too.This week's supermarket run was a bit on the pricier side, because I did get some needed household things and I stocked up on some sale items. I spent 200 shekels on oats (my fourth box!), rice, quinoa, hand soap, frozen broccoli, dried ginger, curry powder, applesauce and pita breads. That's right--- no salad vegetables on the list. I'm trying to change it up a little bit and I think instead of having salad and sweet potatoes for lunch, I'm going to have sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli instead. I need to get some more green in my diet somehow and I looooooove broccoli.In any case, these beet burgers are really yummy. In fact so yummy that they feature as my first post on Instagram. (Yes, I am new to Instagram and enjoying seeing all the beautiful food out there. You can follow me @chavisamet.)I can't really find real hamburger buns in this country so the ubiquitous pita took its place. As I had just steamed some broccoli I stuck some in there with tahini. I looove tahini. And pita. And broccoli. And  beets. Don't be turned off by the color or by beets if you don't like their earthy flavor. It barely comes through.The only issue I had with the burgers was that they were very crumbly. Like falling apart. Which isn't an issue when you're sticking it into a pita and you can't tell. It was my fault, really. I didn't process the mixture enough. My bad. Next time, I make these, I'll make sure to process them longer so that they hold together. I adopted Isa's technique of forming the patties with a large biscuit/cookie cutter. I baked them also. You can find the recipe here.   

Monday, May 11, 2015

Meal Plan: May 10th- May 14th: Cozy Hummus Bowl

This week I bring to you another bowl. Looking at this picture of my bowl, you're probably thinking, well, doesn't that look blah. Aside for the beige tones (there are lots of greens and sprouts underneath, I promise!) this Cozy Hummus Bowl is anything but blah. Made up of greens, sprouts, brown rice, tofu and Kalamata olive hummus, this bowl is hearty, filling and delicious.

This week, I decided to skip the supermarket and pick up everything I needed at the shuk. In total, I spent about 70 shekels on greens, sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets for a different recipe. I already had the tofu on hand (I need to get more) as well as the chickpeas, of which I used half canned and half frozen. I also purchased the olives in advance so that didn't factor into this week's shopping. 

Back to the bowl. Isa is a master of bowls and I really hope to make all of the bowls in the chapter at some point. The peanut curry sauce is a definite repeat. This does have a few elements that need to be made but if you plan ahead you'll be fine. I actually totally forgot about the tofu element but I was still able to get it together by [drastically] shortening the marinade time. The tofu recipe is the basic baked tofu recipe from the proteins chapter and it is good. Gotta make it again with a longer bath time. The rice cooked in the pressure cooker while I whipped up the hummus. With my food processor it came together in a snap. I opted to double the recipe but I used only half the amount of tahini and used water for the rest to cut some calories. Truthfully, to me the olives turned the hummus into the closest thing to tuna fish that I've tasted in months. That's definitely not a bad thing.

To sum up, it's good. Keeps you full for a nice long while. You can find the recipe here 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vitacost Haul!

Ok, Vitacost. I am seriously loving on you! Not only do you carry a wonderful selection of products, your international shipping is super speedy and reliable! As with the last one, this latest order arrived in just about two weeks. You can't really beat that. I seriously am addicted to buying from them and have already started compiling a list for what to order in advance of my trip to the states in August. (Okay, okay, I started ordering already!) What can I say? Oh yea, they're customer service can't be beat either.

Recently, Vitacost had a sale, I think ten percent off? I can't quite recall. In any case, I took advantage of it to order some things that I'll need for recipes that are coming up in the meal plans that either I haven't seen here or that are more expensive here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meal Plan: May 3-May 7th- Down Home Curry with Broccoli and Chickpeas

April is finally behind us! It felt to me like the longest month ever! The weather is still a tad bit unsure of itself but all this sun is really doing great things for me. Life and work have been busy lately and while I'm grateful for it, it's exhausting! In any case, there are lots of things to look forward to this spring and summer (including a trip to the states in August!!) so I'm hoping for a fun May.

This week's recipe is the Down Home Curry with Broccoli and Tofu from the stew/soup/curry chapter. I pretty much had all of the ingredients on hand already so grocery shopping wasn't too expensive this week. All in all, I spent 67 shekels on groceries this week which included carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, corn, a bag of rice (I returned the five pounds of rice-- it just wasn't tasty!), cucumbers, and mushrooms. I've stopped getting as peppers as I think nightshades don't agree with me. Sad but true.

Before I share my thoughts on this recipe, I should say that I do not like things that are creamy. Even in my SAD days, I hated the texture of whipped cream, or anything too mayonnaise-y, and if the coldness of ice cream didn't dull my senses, I wouldn't have liked that either. So it stands to reason that even on this WOE, I wouldn't like creamy, coconut-y sauces and things and I steer clear of anything that fits that bill. In my recent exploits that called for coconut milk, I made some homemade milk, which was thinner than store bought, but still, I just wasn't a fan. I decided that I'd leave out the coconut milk in my future curries (even though that lowers the fat, it's kind of blasphemous, isn't it?!) and that's what I did in this recipe. Consequently, it turned out less of a curry/stew and more of a nice vegetable mixture with which to top rice. I'm not complaining about that, I actually enjoyed that and find that it worked. That said, this is the first recipe that I made that while totally acceptable is just "good" to me and not something fantastic, like the previous recipes were. I will happily devour this until the last stalk of broccoli but it's not something I'd run to make over again.

I did make a number of changes to the recipe.. I used chickpeas instead of tofu, omitted the oil and coconut milk, used frozen broccoli, and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes (those darn nightshades again!). I also chose to make this in the IP, obviously, just using the saute feature. You can find the recipe here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

UP4 Women Probiotics Review

In recent weeks, I've been suffering from lots of bloating and flatulence (not the harmless kind!). Although I've been eating the McDougall way for about nine months, this was pretty new to me. I was able to pinpoint the discomfort to beginning after lunch, which usually consisted of baked potatoes. My first instinct was to start taking a probiotic in the hopes that it would balance my gut flora and help with the after effects of digestion. I knew potatoes were the guilty party but I really couldn't bear the thought of giving them up! Everything here in Israel is significantly more expensive so I did what anyone would do if their parents were coming to visit on holiday- I ordered some to the states to be brought here.

I searched on Vitacost for a kosher and vegan probiotic and UP4 turned up. UP4 is a company founded in 1979 that focuses on probiotics. They have a few different products that are tailored to your specific needs, including one for children, one for women (the one I tried), one for seniors, etc, so they get points for having a nice selection.

All of the supplements aid in digestion, some just have some extra perks thrown in to the mix. The women's supplement has organic cranberry in it to help with urinary tract infections. I personally don't suffer from these and thought I made a mistake by ordering this one first but after emailing the company, I was reassured that this would serve my digestive needs just as well. I think the packaging is well designed-- I like the color they chose, and while this might seem strange to say about a bottle of pills, I felt like it was kind of down-to-earth and inviting, not like the typical blah, sterile looking bottle of pills. I also think the tagline they chose (A Happier Inside) is spot on!

A box of this probiotic contains a jar with a one month supply of capsules, meant to be taken twice a day, before meals or with food. Once opened, it needs to be refrigerated. Thankfully, the pills aren't horse pills (in my opinion), and I had no problem getting them down with food.

On the very first day of taking them, I had the slightest, barely even detectable discomfort, so perhaps that's just me. But the effects of the probiotics were immediate. Not almost immediate but immediate. Even after eating potatoes, the amount of flatulence and the nature of it was much different. A lot more tolerable, I'd say. I was pretty much sold on these right off the bat and continued to enjoy their benefits throughout the month. I haven't gone through the whole bottle yet, but I made sure to order another bottle to have around when it's finished so that I don't get stuck without. A I mentioned above, their tagline is pretty on the nose-- these really do make for a happier inside! That said, I think I have pinpointed the nightshades to be problematic for me so I am trying to cut back.

In any case, I highly highly recommend this company/brand of probiotics. If you're looking for one, this might be the way to go for you and they are often on sale, at the Vitacost site at least.