Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Back on track and a tasty vegetarian meal

Have I mentioned I can totally do this? Because I can. When I keep a positive attitude and don't let a bad day or three throw me off, I'm alright. I know what to do; it's just a matter of keeping it up.

I've been considering making videos of how to make some of the easier meals that I make. Would that help any of you be more committed to cooking meals full of healthy foods? For those of you who don't cook or do cook but are scared to experiment, what would help you be more comfortable and adventurous? You'd get to watch me lose weight in the course of videos. . . . That could be interesting for me, anyway! One of my friends mentioned this weekend she panics, basically, when she sees words she does not know in a recipe and just does not use that recipe. I wish everyone could enjoy cooking like I usually do--it can be such a centering pleasure--and I want to help people with that however I can.

I just finished pumping up my ball, so I'm going to do some exercises this morning with that and my resistance bands. I should stop typing for a minute and go take some meds for cramps. . . . Okay, let's hope I feel better now in a few minutes.

After I try out my various exercises with the ball and resistance bands, I'll post what I'm doing since some of you asked about that.

Oh, interestingly, I have noticed in the past couple of days that I am able to stretch a lot further than when I started stretching before running six weeks ago. (Can you believe it's been six weeks now? That's crazy!)

Another bonus is that I am developing crazy ab muscles! I keep making my husband feel them. (He always obliges me.) They are still under a layer of fat for the most part, but it's nice to feel how different I am becoming. Lifting your legs to run is a great core work-out, I've learned.

I found a picture of me from the fall that demonstrates how I looked at my recent highest weight. It's a physical picture, not a digital one, but I'm going to scan it soon to keep a record, I think. I don't think I still have any photos of me at my truly highest weight, which was about 40 pounds higher than I am now. (40 pounds!)

As I stayed home from work yesterday, I had plenty of time to make dinner last night. I made a much more elaborate meal than I would usually consider making on weeknights. I set stuff up to marinate, went for my run, came home and bathed, and finished the meal.

This is what I made (nearly every ingredient was organic, and the produce was local):

I peeled, chopped, and blanched (boiled and then plunged into ice-cold water) a couple of golden beets for about 8 minutes, adding a couple of peeled, chopped turnips the last four minutes.

I peeled and chopped several carrots. I tossed the carrots and the cooled-off beet/turnip mixture into a big plastic bag. I added some herbes de provence, garlic-and-herbs Mrs. Dash, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and a couple of grinds of salt and pepper. I sealed the bag and spread the marinade around by lightly pressing together and shaking the contents of the bag. i stuck it in the fridge to marinate.

I chopped up a block of tempeh and put it in a smaller plastic bag. Then I stirred together some molasses, Bragg's amino acids (a soy sauce substitute), a bit of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, some grated peel of a tangelo, and the juice of the tangelo. I poured that mixture into the tempeh bag and squished it all together. I stuck it in the fridge to marinate.

I sliced the ends off of fennel (I should have cut off a bit more and left just the bulbs--this was my first time cooking fennel, which has a mild licorice-like taste, delicious though I don't like licorice), doused it in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and stuck it in another plastic bag in the fridge.

I put some rainbow chard in a big bowl of water to soak some of the dirt off.

I went for my run--Day 2 of Week 5 (I'm repeating Week 5's days for a while). It was a really hard day for running. But running 8 minutes at a time rocks to be able to do!

When I got home, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. Then I took a quick bath.

While I was in the bath, my husband chopped a yellow onion for me and put it in a bit of olive oil on low heat in a non-stick pan.

I sprayed two cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. I dumped the turnip/beet/carrot mix on one and put the fennel bulbs on the other. I put the turnip mix in the oven for about 40 minutes; ten minutes later, I added the fennel.

I stirred and covered the onions. Then I rinsed the chard off and tore it into bite-size pieces, dropping it into a bowl as I went.

I added about a tablespoon of brown sugar to the onions and stirred that in. The onions were caramelizing at this point.

With ten minutes before the veggies were going to be done roasting, I put water on to boil in a non-stick pan to make enough grits for two people.

When the water was boiling, I added a dash of salt and the grits to it. I stirred the grits in well.

I threw the chard into the onion mix, turned the heat up to medium, stirred the onions and chard together, and put a lid on that pan.

I heated another eye on the stove to med-high heat and, when it was hot, tossed in the tempeh, which cooked quickly.

I stirred the grits, grated a bit of sharp cheese, and added the cheese and a teaspoon of butter to the grits. I added a dash of my ever-present Lawry's seasoning salt (ooh, a recipe to make your own here) and a few grinds of pepper. (Grits--a Southern US staple which are a whole-grain version of corn meal, basically--are ready to eat in 5-7 minutes, depending on how thick you want them.)

I pulled the roasted veggies out of the oven to finish the prep.

To serve, I put the grits in two bowls, topped them with the roasted vegetables, put the chard/onion mix on that, and topped that with the tempeh.

Then I drizzled a very small amount of truffle oil around the edges of the bowls. I have eaten truffle oil in restaurants but never cooked with it before. It is amazingly rich and wonderful. If you are trying to be careful of your fat consumption, I encourage you to use a small amount of truffle oil in savory foods that you want to be rich. It made a huge difference in the meal.

The end result was rather pretty.

I loved the grits, roasted veggies, fennel, and chard/onion mix; the grits were rich and creamy, the roasted veggies were earthy and slightly bitter, and the chard/onion mix was earthy but sweet from the caramelized onions. I thought the tempeh was a little too sweet. I also had given myself way too much food in my bowl, so I only ate about half of it. My husband really liked it all, including the tempeh; he ate part of what I had left in my bowl.

This recipe used a good bit of oil but did not have much fat otherwise, and nearly all of the ingredients were healthy, so I consider the meal a success. It was beautiful and delicious--just what you want from a healthy meal.


csmc said...

Hell ya you can do this! :D

metamorphose said...

I think videos of you cooking would be so. freakin'. awesome!

This sounds so exotic and delicious and nutritious! And it sure did look wonderful as well!

Robyn said...

That looks SOOOOO GOOD - you're making me rethink the whole meat-eating thing...hehe

Abba said...

Videos would be cool. The food you make looks so yummy. I would love to see how you put it all together.

Grumpy Chair said...

Great idea to video your cooking lessons!

I love to cook also. On Monday afternoon, after hearing about VA, I turned off the TV, turned on the stereo, and cooked meals for the rest of the week. So soothing.