Monday, December 29, 2008

Dark Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Chocolate is one of those indulgences it would be hard to live without. Some individuals with stomach problems, such as mine, must do so or suffer the consequences. Fortunately for me, I can have chocolate on my own terms. That means only occasionally and without dairy, gluten or eggs, and seldom in the form of a dark chocolate bar. So to get my chocolate fix, I resort to blending it with tofu, sweetener and dark baking cocoa to make a delicious and simple dark chocolate pudding. I continue to follow a somewhat tweaked rotation diet so I would only eat something with soy, as this desert contains, every fourth day.
Dark Chocolate Tofu Pudding
Ingredients for one serving:
One fifth package of soft or silken tofu
1 T. of Wax Orchard's Fruit Sweet or 1 tsp. of Agave syrup (or to taste)
1/2-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-2 T. dark unsweetened baking cocoa powder (use more or less depending on preference)
1-3 T. alternative dairy beverage of choice (soy, rice or hemp milk)
Note: Ingredients may be doubled or tripled depending on servings desired.
Measure and place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into desert cup and enjoy! As an alternative, place the chocolate tofu pudding into the freezer and freezer until semi-frozen for a yummy frozen treat.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Spaghetti Squash with Hearty Turkey Sauce

I had to go on a marathon car trip this week. Seven hours in the car both ways in two days. Not a good thing for someone with stomach problems. First problem is the amount of sitting time with not much moving around, Exercise is essential for someone with digestive issues. You want to keep things moving so to speak. Second problem is the temptation to eat "bad" stuff for you when stopping in restaurants.
Here's my solution to the first problem. I knew the winter weather (temps in the teens or below with the wind chill) would prevent getting out of the car to take a few walks here and there along the route. With that in mind, I got up really early and did a sizeable chunk of my exercise before leaving. I did some additional exercise upon arrival. I followed the same plan for my return day. It wasn't perfect but it helped A LOT!
Food was a more formidable problem. Our travel route had mainly "Mom and Pop" cafes that offer typical American foods, such as hamburgers, chili, club sandwiches, etc. I would be lucky if I found anything that was "safe" for me to eat. My solution: pack my own food. I spent several days ahead of departure cooking extra food, such as soup, to take along in an ice chest. While my traveling companions chowed down on their burgers, etc, I pulled out some of my food and enjoyed a healthy, safe meal. Our servers were very agreeable when I explained the situation.
Again not perfect but better than being sick either on the trip or for days after returning.
I was definitely ready for something other than soup when I returned. One of my favorite recipes is Roasted Spaghetti Squash topped with Hearty Marinara Sauce. It replaces regular spaghetti noodles (which you can use instead because they are available gluten-free) with spaghetti squash, which is low-calorie and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. I also still have a plentiful supply of them from my summer garden. Here's the recipe:
Ingredients for 4 servings:
2 small/medium spaghetti squash halved (Use 1/2 per portion)
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
1 small can tomato paste
1 onion chopped
2-4 garlic cloves minced
3 peeled and chopped carrots
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 bottle red cooking wine
Dried or fresh oregano, basil, parsley
Olive oil
Halve spaghetti squash lengthwise. Scoop out seeds from centers. Place the squash halves on a sprayed baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place in a oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the chunky marinara sauce. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add in ground turkey and brown up with a little salt and pepper. Remove the cooked ground turkey. To the same skillet, add and heat a little more olive oil. Saute chopped onion and garlic. Add in other chopped veggies (carrots and mushrooms). Continue sauteeing until soft. Add in a 1/4 cup red wine and tomato paste. Sprinkle in desired herbs. Cook until heated through. You may need to add more cooking wine to get desired consistency. Keep in mind it's going to be thick and chunky.
Serve by placing a spaghetti squash halve on each plate and top with a generous portion of the sauce. Sprinkle the top with more herbs or parmessan cheese if you can eat it (I'll pass on the cheese and stick with lots of fresh basil). It's delicious!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Buckwheat Groats Pilaf

This picture looks exactly like last week's photo because it is. Last time, I posted the recipe for the spicy mustard-glazed veggies. This time, I will share the recipe for the other side dish on the plate: Buckwheat groats with mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and thyme. I served this dish with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It makes a great gluten-free substitute "stuffing." Here's the recipe:
Buckwheat Groats with Mushrooms, Balsamic Vinegar and Thyme
3 cups cooked buckwheat groats (also called kasha)
3 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced red onions
2-3 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 T. water
1 tsp. dried thyme
To prepare the buckwheat groats, heat 1 T. of the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add 1 cup uncooked buckwheat and toast by stirring in the pan for a few minutes. Then, add in 2 cups of boiling water. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Check the buckwheat after about 15 minutes so that it doesn't get overdone.
In the meantime, heat the remaining oil in a heavy skillet. Add in the onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add the sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and saute over medium heat until mushrooms are browned.
Stir in the vinegar mixed with water and the thyme. Cook until liquid is most evaporated. Add the cooked buckwheat and heat. Add a little water if needed and season with salt. Serve hot with turkey, chicken or fish.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Spicy mustard sauce for roasted veggies

This winter I feel like I've become like my cats, always seeking out the sun. In their case, they are looking for a warm spot to lounge in. For me, I'm after Vitamin D which has been linked to so many functions in our bodies. I've been taking Vitamin D supplements for almost a year now as well as getting as much outdoor sun as possible every day to see what affect it might have on my stomach problems. I also invested in a light box this fall which I try to use up to two hours a day. I have it on when I'm doing computer work or doing my daily yoga workouts.

The results have been amazing. The fall/winter months have always been my worse for bouts of stomach issues. I would say this year stomach problems have been consistent throughout all the seasons. I'm not saying I don't have any difficulty but on a bad to good scale of 1 to 10, I'm calling most days a 6-8 whereas last winter I labeled most days a 1, 2, or 3. I do have to really watch what I eat. For me, that means no cheating of any kind. I also exercise religiously because that has a positive effect as well. Right now, I'm giving the sunlight and Vitamin D a thumbs up.

Life's looking pretty sweet. As an added bonus, I found a recipe for a spicy-sweet mustard glaze that makes roasted veggies absolutely delicious. Here's the super, easy recipe.

Spicy Mustard Dressing
1/2 cup spicy mustard
3 T. olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 T. maple syrup

Mix all the ingredients together. Cut up veggies such as brussel sprouts, carrots, onions, cauliflower, zucchini or winter squash or potatoes. Toss with spicy mustard sauce and then roast in the oven until tender. Another version would be to roast the veggies first and then toss them in the dressing. Try it both ways and see which one you like best. This dressing will make you want to eat a whole plate of veggies.