Friday, January 27, 2012

Vegetables with breakfast

For some of you reading this, you just did a mental double-take.  That's OK, I did too at first.

But in talking with folks at work who come from other cultures, I found that it's quite common.  Sweet sugary things are an alien concept to them first thing in the morning, so I started experimenting a few months ago with throwing some frozen chopped spinach in a pan and then scrambling eggs with it.

It's fantastic.

After recently watching the movie "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" I was reminded about micronutrients (vitamins) coming primarily from produce, and the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, etc.) coming from animal products.  I know this is a generality and that you can find some in either grouping, and that vegans get enough protein, so simmer down.  It's just a generality.

What I've discovered through my own personal experimentation is that eating vegetables in the morning gives me more energy throughout the day.  Sometimes I'll juice fruits/veggies, sometimes I'll cook and eat them (see below), but I'm definitely finding a lift in my energy levels when I eat veggies in the morning versus when I don't.

Try it yourself, start out easy like adding sauteed mushrooms and peppers to your omelette.  Work your way up to broccoli and spinach, and note the difference in how you feel.  After all, if your morning meal makes you feel great, it sets a lovely tone for the start of the day!

Because my body needs protein in the morning, I do what I call a "healthier compromise", so here was this morning's breakfast.


1 chipotle tortilla (from Trader Joe's, but you could use whole wheat)
2 slices lean bacon
1 egg
2 mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach
1 slice of sharp cheddar cheese, diced


Put the bacon in a non-stick skillet, and cook til crisp.  You're going to eat it on the side.

Put the mushrooms and frozen chopped spinach in the bacon fat (there should be about 2 tbsp left in the pan), and sautee til it is defrosted and the mushrooms start to release their liquid.

Crack the egg into the pan, and stir until it's mixed well with the veggies and cooked.  Put the cheese on the tortilla, then the veggie/egg scramble on top of that, and the tortilla in the pan for about 2 minutes.  It will heat up and slightly crisp, then roll up and enjoy.

Because my tortilla had a nice kick to it already, I didn't feel the need to add salsa.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Alan's Greenlafels

A green what?!?  Greenlafel, you say?  Well, yes.  I wanted falafel, but I'm trying to come up with non-meat alternatives to add to my vast repertoire, and this seemed like a good idea.  Happily, "good" was an understatement.

I was inspired by Aarti Sequeira's Pea-lafel idea on her bellydance episode of "Aarti Party", but I didn't like the flavor combinations she used, so I didn't even look at her recipe to be honest.

Greenlafel “dough”

16 oz bag of frozen edamame, thawed
1 cup frozen peas & carrots, thawed
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cup cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp fennel seeds, ground
½ cup chickpea flour (or whole wheat flour would work)
2 tablespoons olive oil


1 cup plain yogurt (I like greek yogurt best)
½ cup chopped cilantro
Garlic salt
Lemon pepper


1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Thinly sliced onion (be creative)
Cucumber, sliced about 1/8 inch
Pita bread
Bowl for yogurt sauce
Food processor for making dough
Pan with ½” to 1” of oil for frying.  (Use a deep pan like a dutch oven to reduce the splattering on your stove)
Tongs for turning balls in hot oil


Mix the yogurt with the chopped cilantro, and add garlic salt and lemon pepper to taste.  Set aside in the fridge, covered.

Take the greenlafel ingredients and put them in the food processor, blend until smooth.  It won’t get totally smooth, but it will reach a wet doughy consistency.  If still too wet to form into balls that you can handle, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it’s right.
Form some dough into 4-5 small balls, a tablespoon should make something about the size of ping-pong balls while the oil heats in your pan for frying.
When the oil starts to shimmer in the pan, carefully place 4-5 balls in it being careful not to drop them and splash hot oil on yourself.  They’re ready to turn when you notice the edge turning a dark caramel color.  They cook fast, so don’t walk away!   As you remove from heat and replace with uncooked greenlafel balls, if they start to crumble as you’re turning or removing from the oil, they didn’t cook long enough to hold together, or the dough was too wet.  You can add some flour to the remaining dough to stiffen it up a bit more if needed for the next batch.  They’ll still taste great, so don’t fret if they fall apart on you, just hide them from guests.

When you’ve cooked all you need, or all the dough, you can turn the heat off under the oil and start assembling pitas.

With the pita cut in half, you’ll have 2 pockets.  Figure that each guest might want to eat two because they taste so good and it’s really just vegetables, after all.

Open one pocket up, put 2-3 greenlafels in (whatever fits depending on how big you made them), followed by a spoonful or two of the yogurt sauce, and whatever veggies you want in it.  You can use lettuce, or spinach, or small dice tomatoes in addition to what I listed above, it’s really up to you.  Radish sprouts might even be interesting and lend a little kick to things.

And as for that dough – feel free to experiment with spices.  What I listed came out pretty mild (by my standards), but the flavor was still great.  It was so good I would consider spreading it on bread as part of a sandwich!   The leftover dough I have is going in a container in the fridge to use again in a couple of days, it ought to hold up pretty well.

And in case your inner carnivore is asking where the meat is… chill out.  I still like meat too, but there’s a LOT of protein in this meal, PLUS lots of fiber and veggies, which means vitamins!  Parents might find this a good vehicle for sneaking veggies in on your kids (or spouse, or roommate).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Green Juice #2

I actually like this one better than the one yesterday...

Again, in order of going into the juicer:

1 orange
1 small lemon
1 apple
1 cup of broccoli
1 cup of (adult, not baby) spinach
3 ribs of celery

The reason I put the citrus in first, is because I want the apple juice to not turn the whole thing brownish when it oxidizes.  I just think drinking brown juice would be unappetizing.  The spinach turns it a beautiful green color, though.  This one was better than the one yesterday, I think, and I made enough for 2 12 oz glasses of juice, one for me and one for my roommate.  

The reason I'm leaving the kale out of future recipes is because after cleaning the juicer out yesterday I discovered that the kale leaves merely shredded and went into the pulp catcher, for the most part.  Kale is such a great source of nutrition that I won't waste it that way again.   Different juicer machines will behave differently, though, so don't let my experience stop you from trying it  :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The foray back into juicing

After watching the film "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" yesterday while I was home ill from work, it occurred to me that my juicer has been dusty for far too long.

Before you start worrying that I'm giving up food and won't blog about anything but juicing - fear not.  I still plan on eating solid food  :)

I am, however, going to start posting recipes for my experiments in juicing.

This one was approved by both me and my roommate, who is notoriously picky.

I'm going to list the ingredients in the order they went into the juicer, because with this there really are no cooking instructions.  Make sure you've washed everything first, of course, and cut things down to a size that will fit through the tube for your juicer.

1 small lemon, peeled
1 cup of spinach (including stems)
4 leaves of kale
3 ribs of celery
1 green onion
1 honey crisp apple (similar to a Gala, it's just what I happened to have)

That was it, it made a little under 2 cups of juice, and the flavor of the green onion and the lemon worked nicely together.  And, like all juicing experiments, my skin is flushed and my heartbeat is up after drinking it because I haven't juiced in so many months.  But heck, it's all good for me, right?

I won't post all of the nutritional information, but here are the highlights:

Calories - 258
Total fat - 3g  (4% RDA)
Sodium - 247mg  (10% RDA)
Potassium - 1994mg (57% RDA)
Calcium - 475 mg (48% RDA)
Vitamin C - 380 mg (633% RDA)
Vitamin A (IU) - 26176 (524% RDA)
Vitamin A (RE) - 2617 (262% RDA)
Vitamin B6 - 1 mg  (49% RDA)

That's a lot of nutrition in one glass of juice.  I'm not sure if the numbers are totally accurate without the fiber from the fruit/veg, but it's got to be kind of close on the vitamins.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lemony Chicken with Spinach

It's that time of year again, when everyone's focused on weight loss or healthier eating or something like that.  I'm no exception this year, with a LOT of motivation to create a healthier life (and slimmer waist) for myself, since I'm not getting any younger and I'd like to date someone some time.


2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1 Bunch Spinach Leaves, Whole
1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons Lemon Pepper
4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup White Wine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Directions are simple:

1.    Heat olive oil in pan
2.    sprinkle chicken breasts with garlic salt and lemon pepper, place in pan and cover
3.    Turn when browned on one side, cover (to prevent splattering mostly)
4.    when browned on both sides, add wine and lemon juice and quickly cover pan
5.    after 5 minutes check for doneness
6.    When done, remove chicken from pan, place spinach in immediately
7.    Turn spinach with tongs until wilted, no other seasoning required
8.    One breast per plate, spinach divided evenly, and serve.

That's it, it serves two people and it's pretty quick.

Assumptions:  You know enough to wash the spinach first, the chicken breast is thawed and trimmed of excess fat, and you don't have your face in the way of the huge cloud of steam when the wine hits the pan.