Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chili Sin Carne

If you haven't noticed, up until now I haven't had a classic chili recipe in my collection. I just hadn't found one that I liked yet. I've tried tons out on my crew, but they (and I) were left dissatisfied. I challenged my Bro to find a good recipe - since he lives near Kansas City, the capital of BBQ, maybe there is some great recipe that minus the meat would surely satisfy. He out did my expectations. And for this I will ever be grateful. He brought the excitement back into vegan chili for me.

There are a few key "secret ingredients" that I'm sure you will find interesting, including my latest obsession: wheat berries. In my previous post I wrote about pilaf and it's many uses - well, wheat berries by themselves, have a variety of uses as well. I cook them in a rice cooker the same way as the pilaf. You can freeze them as well (infact, they separate easily when frozen, so you can pull out a cup at a time) The addition of wheat berries to this chili gives a chewy texture that resembles meat - and quite frankly has fooled some meat-eaters already. That's the fun part for me!


Chili Sin Carne

2 onions chopped (1 1/4 Cup cooked in at beginning. ¾ cup added for crunch at end)

4 cloves garlic minced

2 cans pinto or chili beans, drained

2 cans black beans, drained

2 small cans tomato paste

1 can diced tomatoes (I pulsed mine in processor, you decide)

¾ cup fresh cilantro

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 tsp cumin

1 Tablespoon cocoa

1 teaspoon cayenne (I had to omit this, too spicy for me)

1 teaspoon coriander

1 cup strong decaf coffee (I used Postum or Pero - just add 1 Tablespoon per cup of water)

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups cooked wheat berries

Saute the onion in a medium pan until lightly browned. Then add the garlic for a few minutes. Add all other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Serve and Enjoy!

This chili is so rich in flavor, you will not notice anything missing.

I left the cilantro out because I didn't have any on hand. My bro told me not to leave it out, as cilantro is a main player, and should always be invited to the party. Next time I will put it in.


I just have to end by telling you how I ate my chili. I made a batch of fries using my favorite method from Susan Voisin. Then I put this chili over the fries and garnished with some homemade lower fat hummus. It was so yummy!! I got the idea from eating out at the Native Foods restaurant, this is how they serve their chili fries. (But theirs are way higher in fat with actual fried potatoes!) This was a close second and very satisfying. What's your favorite way to enjoy your chili?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

5 Whole Grain Pilaf


My big bro has a new favorite love and her name is Kashi. She makes his favorite cereal, and now his favorite grain pilaf. Called: 7 Whole Grain Pilaf. Which my bro had to buy online after discovering his store no longer carried it. (They live in the boonies...) He payed $27 for about 36 cups of cooked grains. That's 75 cents a cup. I ran out to the store last night and picked me up some to try ( I can't resist a recommendation.) My verdict is that it was tasty, but for the price, I could make my own. I love a challenge, so when I woke up this morning, after a night of dreaming about pilaf, I threw a bunch of grains into the rice cooker, and Voila! 5 Whole Grain Pilaf....or Six, or Seven, depending on how many varieties you have laying around. Here is the basic recipe:



5 Whole Grain Pilaf

3 parts short grain brown rice (short grain is chewy, long is not - use short!)
1 part quinoa
1 part spelt berries
1/2 part wild rice
1/2 part bulgher wheat
For my "part" I use the little clear cup that came with my rice cooker, it's almost 1 cup.

Place grains in rice cooker. Fill water to the top of your middle knuckle (called Mt. Fugi- I learned this on a cooking show) when you lay your hand on top of the rice. Makes about 8 cups. Store in fridge or divide up and store in freezer until needed. Reheat by adding a few tablespoons of water, if needed.

The result was a chewy consistency, nutty flavor, and overall yummy mouth sensation! I am going to do some experimenting using this pilaf in place of meat substitutes (cheaper and healthier) - because the chewiness mimics meat. I estimate it cost me maybe $1.oo to make 8 cups, which is about 13 cents a cup.

Some ideas for uses are: Top with soups or stews, add to salads, use as a meat substitute in tacos or enchiladas, top with Marinara sauce, the list goes on. Tell me your favorite use!

Use your imagination, you don't have to use the same grains I did. I can't wait to try: lentils, kamut, Israeli couscous etc. I'll probably make it different every time.

Oh, and thanks big bro for getting my brain going...


Nearly Instant Thai Coconut Corn Soup


So my brother has been "McDougalling" for 5 weeks now, and has lost 19 lbs! He has basically been eating brown rice & beans, cereal, more rice topped with assorted soups/sauces and some limited amounts of fruits and veggies (he's not a big produce fan.) All in all he LOVES this way of eating over his traditional "Atkins-type" plan of loosing weight he always resorted to. He says he feels great eating like this. Improved energy, digestion and satisfying meals are amongst his list of pros. Problem is, he is staring to get a little bored. (Which can happen if you don't get creative in the kitchen) So my brother enlisted the help of his sweet wife (who started McDougalling yesterday) and the two of them created their very first (although I'm sure the first of many) "Big Bro Modification" recipes. They took this recipe for Nearly Instant Thai Coconut Soup, from my website, that I took from Nava Atlas' cookbook Vegan Express - and made a few delicious changes.

Morgan Modification to Nearly Instant Thai Coconut Corn Soup - mmm...this is sooo good!!

First off, only add 2 cups of rice milk (I used soy) - this makes it thicker, more chowder-like, then add 1 large or 2 small diced pre-cooked potatoes (I put mine in the micro, removed the skins, then diced), and garnish with chopped jalapenos (and cilantro as noted in original recipe)
Serve over Kashi 7-grain Pilaf, or your favorite grains.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kale. It's what's for dinner.


Almost.


My poor kids. Tonight I made baked whole yams & sweet potatoes, rice, homemade wheat bread - made earlier in the day...

and kale.

They've eaten it before, but it's been awhile. Oh, I told them how good it was for them...
how it is quite possibly the most nutritious food in whole galaxy
how Superman was probably fed it as a child
how it would fight off all the germs trying to fester in their body from school today
and how after all THAT it doesn't even really taste THAT bad...

They didn't buy it.

But they all ate it.

Except the youngest, who truly gagged and was almost crying with the green stuff hanging out of her mouth.

I told her fine go and spit it out.

Oh, the untold truths of the dinner table.

McDougall's Maximum Weightloss Program

...and how I made it work for me.

I have several friends and family members who have used the MWL Program with great success to lose unwanted body fat. There is more than one way to make it work for you, but since I get asked so often, I decided to outline how I did it without spending lots of money -and while still feeding the rest of my family.

(For a full explanation of the MWL, go here - recommended, as this post is NOT comprehensive)

Here is a quick overview of McDougall's MWL Program. Nothing faddish. Still eating a starch based diet, just limiting flour products and processed sugar - until you loose the desired body fat, then you can go back to the Regular Program.

Warning: It takes a few weeks for your taste buds to get used to not eating added fat.

So give yourself some time.

I promise, you will start to really enjoy the flavors of simply prepared meals. But it is really important to make sure you are eating enough starches (potatoes, rice, corn) so you are feeling satisfied and not starving!

If you are a beginning cook, or just don’t enjoy it or have the time, here are some ways to still practice the McDougall guidelines while minimizing your time in the kitchen.

All of these ideas are things you can pack up and take to work too!

  1. Go to the grocery store and read labels, finding fat free (no more than 10% of calories from fat) & animal product free:

Soups - For example: split pea, minestrone, lentil, chili etc. Or make a big pot of your own for the week.

Sauces - Ketchup, BBQ sauce, sweet chili sauce, teriyaki sauce, hot sauces, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, packaged fat-free gravy mixes.

Rice - brown short grain, brown basmati, white sticky (asian kind), any other ones that you like

Potatoes - all varieties: russet, red, sweet, fingerling etc. , Frozen hash brown style (fat free)

Veggies - Lettuce & other ingredients to make salads (including frozen corn, canned beans etc.), bagged spinach, bagged coleslaw, bags of frozen mixed veggies, or stir-fry type or if you prefer, other fresh veggies

Cereals - oatmeal, high fiber cold cereal

Rice/Soy Milk- for use on puffed whole grain cereals


  1. Cook a big batch of brown rice in a rice cooker or a lot of baked potatoes in the oven, or boiled potatoes on the stove top at the beginning of the week.


  1. For lunches first eat a big salad. Dress it with your favorite fat-free dressing or (my favorite) plain balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar with a little salt and pepper. Then choose a soup, pour it over your rice or baked potato and viola! instant lunch that will fill you up (make sure and eat as much as you want).


For lunches on the run, or in the car, I often packed a plain baked potato cut in half sprinkled with salt & pepper and raw veggies. Sounds super plain - but I got used to it and it was so satisfying - for when I just needed a quick meal on the go.


  1. For dinner, start with another salad. Then for your main dish, heat up frozen or fresh veggies by sauteing them in a non-stick pan with a little water. Adding any fat-free sauce: sweet chili sauce, teriyaki, soy sauce, or crushed ginger & garlic. Eat the veggies over rice for a quick stir-fry. Or, brown hash browns in a non-stick skillet (you can use a little non-stick oil spray, to prevent sticking if you don’t have a good pan). Top hash browns with ketchup, BBQ sauce, or your own seasonings.


  1. Snacks & Desserts: *eat flourless toast (Ezekiel brand) with jam,*Chocolate Love Pudding (a super easy dessert, you can make ahead and eat whenever) - it is high in sugar, but hits the craving and a modest “cheat”, fruit (no more than 2 per day on MWL) - but I ate 3 if I wanted to, and still lost weight consistently. *Raw veggies with fat-free dips/hummus. *Toasted tortilla chips (put corn tortillas in toaster) and salsa. * Popcorn sprayed with Bragg's Liquid Aminos (you can pop popcorn in a plain brown lunch sack in the microwave - put in 1/4 cup kernels micro for 2 1/2 minutes - depends on micro).* Puffed Grain Cereals with low fat rice or soy milk.


  1. Other meal ideas: No-cheese bean burritos, with or without rice. (Can get them at mexican fast food places) , Bean n' Rice Bowls topped with salsa, Whole wheat pasta w/ marinara (not too often on the MWL -maybe once a week) Gnoucchi (pre-made potato dumplings available at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere) w/ fat-free marinara, Baked Potatoes, Yams or Sweet Potatoes with rice and other veggies on the side.


Once you get tired of these meals, then you can start experimenting with different recipes - but this can get you started and keep you going for quite some time - and remain your back up meals for nights/days when you don’t have time to cook.

Of course I cook a great variety of meals, because I love to cook. But if you don't, just find 7 meals you can eat over and over and add new ones when you get bored. You don't have to be a gourmet chef to make healthy food taste good.

Oh, and if you have little carnivores in your house too (still trying to win them over with your healthy ways) it's easy to have butter for breads (I at least try to sneak in Earth Balance - a vegan margarine) or grated cheese for topping soups and tacos, or throw a chicken breast in the George Forman for them. My kids did well very well transitioning to a plant-based diet by doing these few things. I still have a few of their favorites available - and will cook them up a burger once in a while so I'm still their favorite cook.

Items I can't live without...

Potatoes - All kinds!! Hashbrowns (the shredded kind with no oil added), baked, boiled or mashed, they are filling, comforting and a super healthy food staple.


Corn - Fresh is my favorite, but frozen comes in handy for everyday use. I add corn to salads, tacos, corn bread, and use as a side dish with plenty of thyme, lemon and a dash of sugar.


Bragg's Liquid Aminos - I use this seasoning in soups, on top of rice or potatoes, or my favorite, sprayed on popcorn sprinkled with cayenne pepper.

Rice, Soy, Almond milks - for use in cereal, or to whip up mashed potatoes instead of butter, can be used in any recipe that calls for milk.

Ener-G-Egg Replacer - (It's just potato starch - like corn starch) Use in baked goods to substitute eggs. Available in natural food stores, 112 eggs for about $5 !! Great for food storage. Lately I have been subbing the potato starch for cornstarch and haven't seen a difference in baked goods!!


Gnoucchi - Italian potato dumplings usually found shelf stable or in the freezer section. Top with your favorite marinara sauce, or your own low-fat creation.


Applesauce - Also used alot in baking to substitute fat. I use in my muffin and quickbread recipes alot! I buy huge jars as Costco and never run out.


Puffed Grain Cereals - The healthiest cereal you can buy - cheapest too! I ate this alot when I was on the MWL Program, topped with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of sugar. I like the puffed wheat and puffed kamut the best. Choose whole grain cereals when you can.


Oats/Oatmeal - My breakfast standard. I just vary the toppings on my oatmeal for variety. I could eat it every day! Some of my favorite toppings are: Fresh or frozen berries, bananas, Grape-Nuts cereal, and of course a bit of your favorite sweetener - I just use brown sugar.


Fresh/Canned Soups: If you have the time, make a yummy soup once a week and eat it for lunch on top of brown/white rice or potatoes (all kinds). If you don't have time, then find some healthy low-fat (less than 10% of calories from fat) soups to heat up on the go.


Cocoa - I love chocolate!! When I need a fix, I either make some Chocolate Love Pudding, or some chocolate cookies made with cocoa. I've even sprinkled it in my oatmeal (with brown sugar of coarse) !! I like the brand called "Wonder Cocoa" it has a richer flavor than other brands.


Flourless Bread - Ezekiel's Sesame is my favorite! Great on the MWL Program, if you are cutting back on flours for some quicker weightloss.

Veggie Broth - Available in cubes or powders, essential for soup bases, making gravy, and jsut general all-purpose seasoning.

Seasoned Rice Vinegar /A Good Aged Balsamic - I use as salad dressings with salt and pepper. The easiest way to go!

Homemade Salsa - I love my recipe, but use your favorite one. I make a double batch once a week and we use it on everything. I put it on my salads with rice vinegar, brown rice, corn and beans for a hearty lunch.

Corn Tortillas - Pop a few in the toaster for quick "chips" to dip in salsa - or if you have a little more time, sprinkle with a little water and salt, and broil on top rack for 7 minutes - delicious!!


Spices - Depending on how much you cook from scratch, you will just buy them as needed, you'll find the ones you use most. I have found turmeric (for color) , garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and a good quality curry to be essentials in my cupboard. Smoked Paprika is on my wish list...

Nutritional Yeast - I mostly use this in Susan Voisin's Mac n' Cheez recipe, it's lovely!! But I'm experimenting with other uses as well.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Moist and Sweet Bran Muffins with Peanut Butter Surprise

A long time ago in a household far, far, away...there lived four hungry children. When these children came home from school,
they wanted to eat.
eat. eat. eat.
The poor mother was weary from their unsatiable hunger. Until she remembered that what they wanted was sugar. And what she wanted was nutrients. And so they settled on these. And everyone was happy. And satisfied. At least for an hour.



click here for recipe

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Honey Whole Wheat (almost) Bread

I'm reading this book right now called "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt. It is a memoir about his life growing up in Ireland: very poor. It's a heart wrenchingly sad book and I'm not sure why I'm compelled to keep reading. Maybe it's to broaden my horizons about what life is like for others, to have more compassion for the world outside of my small view of things in happyville.

The reason I bring this book up is that this family struggles daily for food, coal to boil water, and every necessity in life. (Partly because his father likes to drink the pints.) Anyways, Little Franky was given a few pennies and bought a "sweet" for himself and he savored every moment it was in his mouth. What would that be like?

We have ease and luxury at every fingertip. Even as I type this post. I have in my view a digital camera, a cell phone, a cordless phone, and a computer. And I think we are broke!! We have gotten SO used to the easiness of life that we think it's actually HARD!

I'm just as guilty. I raised my kids on chicken dinos, mac n cheese, and fishey crackers. And now I balk at them when they turn their noses up at a kidney bean. In an attempt to make life "easier" we have actually made it harder. Our kids aren't satisfied with simple these days. They want physodellic fruity puffs, chocolatey gramwacked squares, and IPODS, PDAS and IMACS. Believe me, I do too.

But I can't help but think, what if we ever have to go through a real depression? I guess we will learn all too quickly what REAL problems are.

But there are times, especially lately, that I want my life, my cooking, my happyville to be simpler. Like on Little House, when the kids would jump for joy if their Pa brought home a piece of honey candy, one for each. I think that's why I bake bread. I feel connected to the past. Connected to Ma and Pa and to the simple times when you went to bed at sundown and you rose with the crow of the rooster.

I love it when the kids come home from school and get excited about the loaves of homemade bread on the counter, hot from the oven. I feel like I'm nourishing their souls.

...just somethings I think about when I'm baking bread. (click for my recipe)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Are you in a baking mood? Man, I am. It must be the cooler days teasing us - fall is here, even though in California it is a mild change, those of us that live her definitely feel the subtleties in the weather. So I have this Sweet Yeast Bread Dough recipe from a cookbook by Bryanna Clark Grogan (who is by the way an amazing culinary genius) and I decide to whip up a batch of her FAT FREE Cinnamon roll dough.

What's that you say? FAT FREE Cinnamon roll dough? Sounds disgusting?
Well, my friend it is indeed not. But you be the judge.
I dare you to try it.

So the first day I made the rolls for the kids
with earth balance, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

They ate. They yummed. I watched.

It wasn't fair.

So here comes day #2. I decide to stop sitting on the sidelines and make some I can enjoy as well. But what could I put inside them that would be moist, flavorful, yet not sickeningly sweet (as sometimes happens when you don't use fat in baking)

TADAA!!!
My hero. Pumpkin Butter. You have been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks now, patiently being spread on toasted Ezekiel bread. It's not glamorous - but it was a divine thing we shared everyday at 3pm. I loved you even then - in your simpler days - but now your day in the hot sun has come at last!



After making the dough, follow the directions for rising in the fridge overnight. Don't skip this part - the dough does need to be cold to work with.


Next, divide the dough into 2 equal parts. And roll out about yay big.

Next spread on luscious topping of choice. (Enter Pumpkin Butter stage left)
I also sprinkled a little brown sugar and cinnamon. But wouldn't a bit of pecans or walnuts be good? mmm...


Or, for the kids, hubby (or you) the traditional: butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. I used Earth Balance for the butter.


Next, roll up and cut into pretty generous rolls. Mine were almost 2 inches. I got 11 rolls per roll of dough - making 22 rolls total.

Carefully place them on a baking sheet about this close together. You want them to be kissing each other by the time they get out of the oven. The cozier the better.

The ones in the front look better because they aren't slippery with the pumpkin butter. But they still turned out rockin' and rollin'.

When they came out of the oven, I drizzled more pumpkin butter on the tops (of mine) and made a simple icing (EB, powdered sugar, vanilla & rice milk) for the kids'.


Here they are. Little bundles of gooey sweetness. They were awesome, and I loved the savory/ sweet combo the pumpkin added - it was a nice balance.

So, really, come on, can you believe this little fellow is actually harmless? Neither could I (or my neighbor or friends for that matter) It isn't right that more people don't know that you can have your Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and eat 'em too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

French Toast Frenzy



I am continually amazed at the fact that you don't HAVE to cook with eggs, butter and milk in order for something to taste delicious. I think it's the old fashioned way of thinking (not that I have anything against old-fashionedness) I personally think we have so much to learn from those simpler days, but we're talking about food here, and in the olden days they had farms and they used what was available. (Plus they worked in them farms and worked off all the fat they were consuming or else the winter cold stripped it off their bodies like butter off a warm plate).

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Cooking without dairy products. It can prove to be a challenge - unless you learn a few tricks. Here is one of them: nuts. They are so darn useful I could just shout a big THANK YOU from my roof top to the person who created them. (and we all know who that is).

So I had this loaf of Sunflour Bakery's Cinnamon Bread that my sweet neighbor gave me (the day old bread her dad picks up for the Senior Center - gets handed down to me when there is a surplus) and I was thinking it would make terrific french toast. Problem? We don't do eggs. But I remembered a trick I saw in a McDougall Cookbook about making cashew milk. Well I didn't have any cashews but I had walnuts. So this is what I did: click here for recipe

VIOLA! A super yummy coating for french toast - that is SUPER good for you too!

ALL of my kids AND my sister-in-law (who lives with us) were pounding it! They LOVED it! They said it was better than "regular old-fashioned" french toast. It even browned a beautiful color with a crispy outside and soft inside. They used powdered sugar to top it off. But you could also slice bananas on top or use syrup if you wish.

Happy Breakfast!

How it all began...

It all started about 11 months ago, when I wanted to shed a few pounds. I decided to go the healthiest route: the very best nutrition and a bit o' exercise. A few months later, my website passthepotatoes.com was born. I wanted a way to share what I had learned along with all the recipes I had been trying on my family. You see I believe that nutritious food that is GREAT for you doesn't have to taste like cardboard! Those who know me know that I love to cook, and I love to eat and I love to bake for my family and friends - and I WILL find a way to make it healthy or I will cease to enjoy life. Because one of the greatest pleasures in life is delicious food and great people to enjoy it with - for many years to come. I can help you with the first part -but your on your own with the second!

So I hope you enjoy the ramblings of a mom about what goes into the mouths of her family on a daily, weekly or maybe monthly basis. (We'll see how much time this takes.) Here goes nothin'...
 

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