Sunday, April 15, 2012

Feel the bur(ger)n.

A sound bean burger recipe that didn't fall apart in cooking. Could be a bit more moist, but that's adjustable. Flax seeds act as the glue, they are also really good for you (source of protein albeit incomplete, omega fatty acids, and fiber). Also, they are dirt-cheap.

Bean Burger Recipe:
- 3/4 cups beans, cooked or canned (e.g. white navy beans)
- 1/3 cup flax seeds, ground
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water (or more, as needed)
- 1 tsp lemon juice mixed with a couple of drops of rocoto paste (that stuff is potent, use with care. Alternatively use tabasco or any other hot sauce).
- smoked paprika, salt, pepper to taste.

Making of:
- Mash the beans with a fork
- Add everything else, mix
- Form into patties, pan fry on medium-low heat
- Blend all in food processor

They can theoretically be eaten raw, but I haven't tried it yet. Another good idea might be adding garlic and caramelized onions, but I was too hungry to think of that while making them.
The purple goo on the left is the red cabbage, mushroom, onion, zucchini, carrot and red pepper stew.
- 2 cups chopped red cabbage
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 grated zucchini
- 1/4 lbs (1/2 a pack) mushrooms, but could use more
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 1 large carrot
- 1 cup white navy beans, cooked or canned
- thyme, majoram, salt, pepper and bouillon cube dissolved in 2 cups of water, khmeli-suneli, if you got any
- 1 tbsp olive oil

- sauté the onions and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat in a large pot
- add all the rest of the vegetables, cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
- add all the rest, and water as needed (depends on how liquid you want it)
- blend half way with an immersion blender of food processor (optional)

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Road to World Domination

Once more, this blog is changing direction. I've been getting increasingly interested in athletic nutrition, thus started paying more attention to the nutritional value of things. I'm nowhere near the professional athlete level where nutrition is tuned to a milligram; it's more of an interest in general healthy eating. However at the level of exercising I'm at, I'm forced to think about nutrition to be able to recover quickly enough to keep up the training.
Last week's discovery - a "dense" meal is not necessarily as filling as a "light" one. I've been surprised at not being hungry 4 hours after eating a salad (lettuce + bell pepper + carrot + cucumber + daikon + walnuts + raisins, olive and sesame oils + balsamic vinegar as dressing). The problem is, being the phony vegetarian I am, I actually don't like lettuce or bell peppers... But that is another story entirely.

Anyhow, the pinnacle of sport nutrition - energy bars! That's right, for people who need gratuitous  amounts of energy. I've seen recipes for home-made granola bars before, but they included 20 different ingridients and fairly complex cooking procedures.
The Thrive Diet book I've mentioned in the last post contains a few energy bar recipes and an indisputable advantage of simplicity - cooking instructions come down to "blend everything in a food processor, shape into bars, wrap in plastic and freeze." While there is half a dozen recipes there, as long as you put hemp protein and ground flax seeds, you get the bragging rights of a thriver.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seven Days of Thriving

I've recently read the Thrive Diet by Brandan Brazier, a book about eating pattern of a vegan Ironman triathlete. He promotes highly alkaline and alkaline-forming diet and the concept of net-gain (the energy obtained from food VS the energy expended during digestion process). Even if one is not interested in veganism this book is definitely worth reading. The second half of the book is a 12-week meal plan, in case you actually decide to try it, and specific recipes. Ranging from the instructional material on sprouting beans and quinoa, to making energy bars and smoothies (with sprouted quinoa in them, yes. Well, in some of them) it gives plenty of room for experimentation.

So far I've discovered that...
...ginger in smoothies taste like arse (I love it in all other forms... ginger, not arse. Also no idea how the latter tastes, so will assume like ginger in smoothies), but lettuce blends into them just fine.
...during sprouting things quadruple in volume; a 2-litre jar of sprouts is the evidence.
...sprouted white navy beans can cause indigestion (tested on two people - myself and a co-worker). The word in town is that adzuki beans are the way to go. the face-off between the mix blueberry energy bars and the food processor bit of the immersion blender the bars win (my roommate is going to be mad, it was her blender). Truth to say the blender is fine, but the food processor container is kaput.
...sprouted quinoa is the bomb, just rinse well before eating it.

I'm happily eating yoghurt amidst this whole sprouting madness, since I'm not in a rush to go vegan (been there, done that). However shedding eggs and milk was not a problem, Thrive provides readily available alternatives.

So far I've lost 5lbs, which I'm rather unhappy about - my 5'9" x 145lbs constitution is not exactly where I want to be (I'm a very physically active guy, so building muscle mass is my current quest). However as long as my strength-to-weight ration improves I call it a win. That the Spartan Race on June 10th will show; but that is another story entirely...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saint Squash

Another imported recipe. By the will of fates I ended up with a bunch of swiss chard and a squash, in need for quick-and-easy. The original recipes are modified according to what was at hand, and thus the report is on the modifications, with links to originals:

Garlicky Baked Butternut Squash
- 1 medium size squash, cut into 1" cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves
- thyme

The works:
- peel and cube squash (by far the hardest step, unless I just haven't nailed the peeling technique yet)
- place in a large bowl, add everything else, toss to coat
- place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400F stirring occasionally, until desired tenderness. The time varies from oven to oven, but something around 20-25 minutes.

Whatever that means, it's tasty.

- 4 cups potatoes cut into 1" cubes
- 4 cups swiss chard
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3 shallots (what are they called, arrows, shoots?)
- thyme, salt, pepper

The works:
- boil potatoes until they can be pierced with a fork, but not falling apart, drain
- heat oil on medium heat in a large pot, add garlic, soy sauce and swiss chard and cook until chard wilts
- add drained potatoes and mash them
- add everything else and mix well

Resulting dish, with an à côté of the above-mentioned roasted squash, canned pinto beans in tomato sauce and sour cream (I'm not vegan, I'm allowed ;p):

Also there was an entrée of roasted asparagus with balsamic vinegar, but I ate it prior to remembering to take pictures, but here's the recipe:

- bunch of asparagus, with stems broken in half (use the upper part)
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar

The works:
- place asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet
- sprinkle with olive oil to coat more or less evenly
- roast at 400F for about 20 minutes tossing occasionally (the stems should be lightly browned)
- put on a plate and put a dash of balsamic vinegar on it

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Where Wild Things Are Cooked

Today's recipe is a share, a result of a little research for something else than hummus to do with chickpeas; the finding is too good and easy to keep to myself, despite being slightly overcooked:
My only addition was the lemon juice sprinkled on the chickpeas right before eating.

I had to improvise with spices, since I didn't have sambar powder and cumin seeds. Therefore my version had
- ground cumin
- chili powder
- cajun spice
- salt and pepper
Ok, it probably tastes nothing like the original, but nonetheless good. Go come up with your own mix!

The other recipe today is an improvised mushroom sauce to top the rice and veggies.
The mushrooms here are honey agaric, hand picked and home dried (disclaimer: if you never picked mushrooms, don't try going to a nearby forest and harvesting - you can get poisoned and die, or get high, or bears will eat you, etc., so stay safe!) This recipe will probably work with any other mushroom just as well, although using dry mushrooms has an indisputable bonus - they need to be pre-soaked, which means you are producing 4 cups of excellent mushroom broth as a by-product. I used 3 cups to cook the rice in, and the remaining cup for the sauce (albeit the sauce could have taken 3 cups at least, the version below).

Wild Mushroom Sauce:
- 2 cups dry mushrooms, rehydrated (soaked for a couple of hours)
- 1 medium onion, sliced into 1/2" pieces
- 3 cups broth or water
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium carrot
- 5-6 cloves, thyme, salt, pepper, khmeli-suneli (good luck finding that mix, but oh so worth it!)
- preheat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat
- saute onions and mushrooms until the former is soft and translucent
- transfer onions and mushrooms out of the pan, and make a roux: heat another 1 or 2 tbsp of olive oil, add flour until thick paste forms, cook while stirring frequently for a minute or two)
- add broth, by 1/2 cup portions, mixing and making sure there is no clumps of flour
- add mushrooms, onions, carrot, garlic and spices, cook uncovered until the sauce reduced to the desired thickness, about 15 minutes. If it's too thick, add water as needed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TNT (Timewarp North Toast)

My apartment reminds of a movie set - no two rooms look alike, they belong to different eras and places. As far as food-related spaces are concerned, the kitchen inevitably makes one think of Spain or Italy, of the photos of it in the middle of a Mediterranean cookbook my parents have. Mid-February snowbank in the courtyard undermines that daydream; but when warm wind is shuffling the curtains, some tapas and olive oil make you lose your space-time connection:
- 4 pieces of baguette toast (better yet parisien, it's wider)
- shallots, cut into circles
- 1-2 small tomatoes (Italian tomatoes are fine too), cut in half
- 1 garlic clove, peeled, cut in half
- cheese!
- olive oil (good quality, preferably unfiltered; the more taste - the better)
- FRESH basil leaves, minced
- toast the bread
- rub the toasts with first garlic, then tomato
- place cheese on top, sprinkle with shallots and basil
- pour a couple of drops of olive oil on top

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ad tuberosum tempore

The beauty of this recipe is timing. It takes about 40 minutes in the oven, thus allowing for other preparations and synchronizing the arrival of all the components of the meal onto the plate.

- 3 large potatoes, cut into 1/4" half-circles
- 1 1/2 cup water and 1/2 a bullion cube OR 1 1/2 cup broth
- thyme and cumin
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup salsa verde (spicy stuff, adjust amount accordingly)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)
- place potatoes into an oven-safe dish
- sprinkle with thyme, be generous - all pieces should have some
- mix broth, garlic, cumin, salsa and lemon juice together in a cup, then pour onto potatoes
- cover the dish with foil
- bake at 375F until potatoes are soft

Easy stuff, eh? I suggest serving it with shallots, sour cream or fresh cheese. Now, if you feel that dinner is not complete without some protein and greenery, here's a quick-and-easy trio:

Broccoli is just steamed, nothing special there. Some soy sauce or balsamic vinegar would have made it more festive, but this time I didn't bother. Tofu and mushrooms are stir-fried, with an Asian twist:

- 1 lbs tofu, cubed into 1/2" pieces
- 1 medium onion, diced also into 1/2"
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ginger, I'd say 1" cubic (it's a guess, just put as much as you want), minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil (strong tasting, use with caution)
- heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat
- start frying the tofu, occasionally stirring
- when tofu is golden on most sides, add onion and keep stir-frying until they are translucent
- add ginger, garlic and sesame oil, fry stirring often for 2 minutes
- add mushrooms, cover and cook until the desired tenderness is achieved