Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Freshly Baked Seeded Light Rye Bread


I'm a fan of rye bread, but most of it contains white flour. Since I try to avoid simple carbs, I always bake my own. Rye bread can be a little tricky, especially when you use whole grain flour instead of all purpose. I've found that making a sponge with white whole wheat flour really creates a wonderful foundation for the loaf. Coupled with vital wheat gluten, the texture of the bread is nice and soft, so you can slice it super thin to keep the calories at bay.




Many of you expressed disgust when you found out that fish and eggs were added to microwave popcorn. The brand I bought was Act Movie Theater Popcorn. My kids wanted it, so that's what I got. It's kind of funny, because whenever their friends come over, they push popcorn on them so we can use it up.



Saturday, February 24, 2007

Far East Spicy Tofu and Green Beans, gross popcorn



Far East Spicy Tofu and Green Beans

We had this for dinner last night and it was so good! I forgot to take a picture of it when it was fresh, so I snapped one today when I had leftovers for lunch. Last night, the beans were vibrant green, so the presentation was much prettier. The leftovers tasted better though, as does most Chinese food the next day.

I bought some microwave popcorn for my kids and husband. It was the butter flavor and I read the ingredients out of curiosity.. I was shocked to find that it contained EGG and FISH! How gross is that? Fortunately, both of my children refuse to eat it now and my husband said it was gross. Just WHY is it necessary to use egg and fish in popcorn? I don't get it. Nasty.
I much prefer to make my own microwave popcorn. I just use normal dried corn, a paper bag and some olive oil spray. From now on, I'm sure my kids will prefer that as well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Clean out the fridge spicy noodles

Sometimes, the best dishes happen by accident. I had some veggies I needed to use up, so I threw together this quick clean out the fridge meal. It is a cross between PadThai, Lo-Mein and Mooshi as I used 5 spice powder, lemongrass, kafir lime leaves, lots of garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lime juice and tomato paste to create a delicious sauce. The veggies and tofu were quickly stir fried in my cast iron in batches while the water was boiling for the pasta. This meal took less than 30 minutes and I didn't even say YUMO or FANTABULOUS once! The veggies included red and yellow peppers, daikon, red cabbage, onion, scallions, bean sprouts and cilantro. I topped my portion with a lot of siracha as you can see. I only used 2 tbsp of spicy, toasted sesame oil for the entire dish. I served it over brown rice pasta.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Enchilada Bake and recipe testing..


Enchilada Bake
This is one of my "go to" meals. My family loves it and the leftovers freeze well. I made a quick filling out of veggies, spices and TVP and added a can of drained kidney beans. In a 9 inch pie pan, I used 4 corn tortillas per layer and complimented it all with homemade salsa. the top layer had low fat cheddar cheese covering 3/4 of it. My portion had no cheese. I added 1/4 cup of guacamole to my serving. Much better than cheese in my opinion.

Many of you expressed interest in recipe testing....to make this simple, please send an email to

melomeals@yahoo.com

I will add your email to my list and send the recipes through there...


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just like grandma made.. lightlife review: Bologna

My paternal grandmother was not a cook. In fact, the only things I remember here making were Kraft macaroni and cheese, canned green beans, iceberg lettuce salads, instant mashed potatoes, white bread american cheese sandwiches and bologna sandwiches, again on white bread. She had a wicked sweet tooth, and ate a packaged Dolly Madison sweet roll at least 3 times a day long with coffee. Amazingly, she wasn't overweight, but I digress.
Back to the bologna sandwiches. As many of you know, I was raised a vegetarian, but my grandparents snuck as much meat into my diet as they could. I had no idea that bologna was meat, so I ate it until I was around 8 or so. I liked it too. I used some of my Lightlife Bologna today to re-create an old favorirte. All that was missing was the iceberg lettuce. (the bread is a light italian white bread, 40 calories per slice). I topped the bread with nayonaise, yellow mustard, romaine and a dill pickle. Delicious! I wanted to eat another one, but had soup as well, so I didn't. Lightlife Bologna was better than I remember real bologna beings. The serving size said 4 slices per serving, but I used two because I thought it would be too much with 4. 2 slices contained 35 calories, 7 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fat. My entire sandwich only had 175 calories and 2 weight watcher points! Perfect for someone watching their weight. I imagine this will be delicious is a chef's style salad as well. I will definitely buy this product again. My husband and younger son loved it as well. My older son didn't try it.
To compliment the sandwich, I made a big pot of Chipotle Split Pea soup. It is impossible to do this soup justice with a photograph. I used the entire can of chipoltes and 2 heads of roasted garlic to make up for the oil. 2 cups of this soup was 6 points.




I have been writing my own recipes for years now and have been organizing them into a cookbook. I would eventually love to get it published. This week I am planning on testing some new ones and I'm excited about that! Of course, I'll write and photograph them. If anyone wants to test some recipes, let me know. I have a bunch.... both vegan and non-vegan. My non-vegan recipes don't use eggs.



Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lentils, Pizza, 5 Things

My husband's grandmother lives alone and is close to 90. He visits her every Thursday, so today, I sent along some of the Lentil Soup I made. This soup was a little milder than I usually make, because she doesn't like spicy foods, but it was still delicious and a nice change of pace for us. Mine is usually full of dried red peppers and a lot of black pepper. Here's how I made this batch:

Lentil Soup
4-6 servings

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 /2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp coriander
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 lb lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 cups tomato puree
6 cups water or veg stock (more if needed)
2 veggie cubes
1/2 capful liquid smoke
splash dry sherry (optional) or splash balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce or dark soy sauce
2 oz soup pasta or barley
1 tbsp fresh thyme
salt/pepper to taste

Method:
In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot add olive oil, spices and garlic. Slowly, bring up to a medium heat, making sure you don't burn the garlic. When the garlic is very fragrant, add the onion and carrots and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat with the garlic/spice mixture, then add either a splash of sherry, or balsamic vinegar (or water or stock). Cook the onion/carrot mixture for several minutes, then turn the heat up to medium high and add the lentils, liquid smoke and stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to med-low, and cover. Simmer until the lentils are tender (around 30 minutes), then add the tomato puree and more water if needed. Turn heat back up, uncover and when it is boiling, add the soup pasta. Turn off heat, cover for 20 minutes. Add the hoisin or soy sauce, taste for seasoning and add fresh thyme before serving. It would also be very good with an extra tbsp of extra virgin olive oil drizzed on top.



We finally got some snow up here in New Hampshire! It is still bitterly cold, which drives me nuts. I reminds me of my winters growing up in Iowa. brrrrr..


I decided pizza was in order, so I made the dough the night before and let it rise slowly in the fridge for 18 hours or so. The crust was made with a mixture of white whole wheat flour and all purpose flour. My pizza was made soycheese (containing caesin) and the rest of the pizza had dairy cheese. The pictures pizza is the dairy pizza. My batteries were dying, so my pizza was too blurry to post. My pizza was topped with peppers, mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, spinach, artichokes and fresh garlic. The entire medium pizza only had 20 WW points. I ate 1/2 of it along with a salad with low fat balsamic dressing.
I've been tagged by Vanessa and Dori to answer the 5 Things About Me:
1. One of my best friends had her baby in my car. It was around 1am on a cold, November night in Iowa. I was driving her to the hospital and we didn't make it. I have always wanted to be a midwife (I've even gone to Midwifery School, but didn't finish).. When he was born into my hands in the pitch black, I KNEW that I had done this before and it was my calling. It felt 100% natural and normal and just RIGHT. I am a firm believer in Natural Childbirth, Homebirth and Breastfeeding.
2. I had my first child at 19 and my second at 21. I have definitely "grown up" with my children.
3. As a young teen, I was in foster care. I lived on a turkey farm. When the baby turkeys were delivered, I used to go into the huge houses and sing to them. They would all stop chirping when I would sing. It made me sick to see the conditions they were living in as they grew. They literally were on top of each other and dead turkeys were all around. I never got used to the sight of dead turkeys hanging upside down in our basement after my foster mom butchered them.
4. I grew up in an Eastern Indian "cult". Transcendental Meditation. Many people have heard of it, and know of it because the Beatles were into it briefly. It is a total cult and I have nothing good to say about it. We lived on campus in a dorm like setting and I was schooled for many years within their cult system. I always questioned it, while everyone around me was totally brainwashed.
5. Martin Luther King Jr is my hero. When I was a little girl, I spent years reading everything possible about him and his family.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

breakfast, burgers, dogs and patriotic

Yesterday, for breakfast, we were out of milk.. (oh , the tragedy for my milk loving children and husband!).. my youngest son had a very important basketball game at 9 am and I knew that a healthy breakfast was in order. I decided to make it very simple, and go with smoothies and muffins. I whipped up a Blueberry Bran Muffin and Orange Julius Smoothie.. all from vegan ingredients. I have not bought eggs for over a month. When I do buy them, they are from a local farmer. I know for a fact that his chickens are treated more humanely than most... I don't eat eggs, but my family does. The cool thing about his farmer, is that you can get his eggs on the roadside, on the honor system. He keeps them in a cooler and you deposit the money into a lock box. I will take a picture of it sometime... not that I am an egg fan.. I have always hated them... but I do buy them for my family and I feel just a little better doing so after being to his farm and seeing his chickens. They are not debeaked....OK.. enough of the rationalizations for the eggs...

My muffins and smoothie contain NO EGGS or dairy..


My dog is a total beggar. This is what she does whenever we eat. She sits there so quietly, that it is hard to fault her.. Can you say.. TOTAL FOCUS?
Here is the contents of my Lightlife container.. I am focusing on creating recipes that will utilize the products..

almost vegan veggie burger
The burger is vegan, as is the bun and condiments. The soy cheese contains casein. I will not be buying any more of this "cheese"... but I have 3 packages, so I will be using them instead of throwing them away.
The burger is made from black soybeans, sunflower seeds, onions, garlic, oats, soymilk and spices. They are delicious. I topped this one with 1/4 of an avocado, red onion, tomato, spinach, mustard and ketchup with one of my lower calorie buns. 400 calories total. Great lunch! I added a large bowl of veggie soup and 1 tsp of olive oil to this meal. Very satisfying.

My spoiled little girl... in my bed.. I am such a pushover!

Save Our Country


Friday, February 09, 2007

Glazed Seitan and Snow Peas


Glazed Seitan and Snow peas

This is such a simple, yet tasty dish. It can be make in around 15 minutes. I sprayed my beloved cast iron with cooking spray and used 1 tsp of spicy sesame oil and seared the seitan, then added some homemade teriyaki, gomasio and 4 tbsp of Newman's Own Light Sesame Ginger dressing, lots of garlic, ginger, dried hot peppers and a pound of frozen sugar snap peas. I used 6 oz of the chicken style seitan I made several days ago. When it looked a little dry, I just added water and reduced it down until it glazed the seitan and veggies nicely. This made 4 small servings or two huge servings. I ate my serving above with a cup of brown rice and am very full.

I have received a cooler full of Lightlife products to review. I will include my own personal review as well as my my husbands and kids.

Melomeals.com


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jerk Seitan and Pineapple Habanero Relish

What a great dish.. I am not a big fan of seitan, but this was really good. I took my chicken style seitan (based on a recipe from Real Food Daily) and allowed it to chill for several days in Jerk Marinade. I was lazy, so I baked it instead of grilled it. I imagine that grilling would be even more delicious and would definitely make a prettier plate presentation. I only added 1 tbsp of sesame oil to the marinade and no fat to the rest of the meal, but if you don't count fat grams, extra olive oil would make this dish amazing, I think.

The marinade was made from: cilantro, green onions, lots of garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, lime juice, lime zest, orange juice, orange zest, braggs, toasted sesame oil and a tbsp of sucanat.

I served it with Green Chile Brown Rice, half a sweet potato, Pineapple relish and green beans...
The relish consisted of crushed pineapple, cilantro, scallions, red pepper, habanero pepper, lime juice, sucanat and sea salt. Delish..

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tempeh Sandwich

I have been cooking up a storm, but again, not taking a lot of pics. Yesterday, I made some awesome Thai Green Chile paste that I used in a tofu and broccoli dish, as well as to flavor some brown rice. We at it all for dinner, I had planned to getting a pic of the leftovers, but we had none. I only used 1.5 tbsp of toasted sesame oil for the entire dish, tofu, rice and paste included. Success! I have the leftover paste in the freezer.

I also made around 4 lbs of seitan, based on the recipe from Real Foods Daily. I omitted the oil and used bean cooking liquid instead. I have 1.5 lbs of it marinating in some jerk marinade. I will either bake it or grill it later on for dinner, depending on how lazy I am. Grilling is much messier, but would probably taste better. I promise to take a pic of that. I will be serving it with green beans, brown rice, sweet potatoes and a pineapple-habanero relish. I used 1 tbsp of sesame oil in the Jerk marinade.

I've been trying to bake lower calorie bread/buns for myself. It's a challenge to do so with whole grains, but I think I've found a winner. I have morphed several recipes and come up with this one. I've also used sprouted wheat instead of the oats with great success.

I make a sponge out of 2 cups of white whole wheat flour, 2 cups water and 1 tbsp yeast.. I let it sit overnight, then use 2 cups of freshly ground whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten and 1/2 cup oats or sprout wheat, 1 tsp kosher salt and hand knead for 10 minutes, let rest, covered until doubled, fold down (I read somewhere that punching a dough is actually not as effective as folding it over on top of each other), let rise again for 1 hour, then I pat it out into a large sheet pan, like I was making a thick foccacia, and cut into 18 squares.. then cover the squares and let rise again and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. It sounds long and drawn out, but it really is simple. I like making them and they only contain around 100 calories per "bun".

I also marinated some tempeh in Braggs, liquid smoke, garlic, pepper and ginger and baked it until it absorbed the marinade (I also used a cup or two of water, so it wouldn't be too salty. I cut an 8 oz portion of tempeh in half, then cut them in half, lengthwise. The tempeh pieces fit perfectly on my little buns, and 2 oz of tempeh seems like a lot when you cut it this way.

Here's my breakfast sandwich, consisting of the tempeh, homemade sprouts, homemade vegan mayo, ketchup, mustard, onions and tomato. 300 calories.

I am going to commit to blogging here at least 3 times a week. I miss it.

I have made some changes to my personal business website and I would love some feedback if you all wouldn't mind looking.

www.melomeals.com