Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Food for thought

There are so many delicious vegetables that people miss out on because they just don't know what to do with them. I feel very fortunate that I was raised eating a lot of veggies and healthy, vegetarian food. One of my favorite foods as a child was artichokes. My mom would just steam them and we'd eat them with melted butter. As an calorie counting person and vegan, butter is not an option, so I made a yummy dip low calorie dip to enjoy with mine.

Artichokes are very good for you. 1 medium choke contains 60 calories, 0 g fat, 7 g fiber and 4 g protein as well as 9% iron, 25% vitamin C and 6% calcium.
Many people go through a lot of fuss in order to enjoy an artichoke, but I find that unnecessary. I soak mine in a bowl of water to clean it and then just steam it for 20-30 minutes. That's it. No trimming with scissors, no peeling the leaves.
They are done when the stem feels tender and their color has darkened.
To eat, just pull off a leaf and dip it in your sauce of choice. Let your teeth scrape the end of the leaf and get some of the "meat" off. The closer you get to the heart, the more "meat" is on the artichoke. You will encounter the choke which is not edible, so just remove it with a spoon and the heart and stem will be there for the taking. I made a salad dressing/dip out of 1 T Vegenaise, juice of 1 lemon, dijon mustard, garlic, salt/pepper, 1 t extra virgin olive oil and a tiny bit of stevia. I used around 2 T per artichoke. They are a perfect snack because they take a while to eat.... so the next time you want a snack, reach for an artichoke with some healthy sauce instead of chips and dip!
This was such a disappointing meal. I'm sad to say that I am probably one of the only people alive who can't stand the Chickpea Cutlets from VCON. The first time I made them, I didn't follow the recipe exactly and ended up throwing away the whole batch. This time, I forced myself to measure everything and follow it exactly. The ONLY thing I did differently after making the test cutlet with 1/4 of the dough/batter was to make much smaller ones for portion control. I ended up with 9 smaller cutlets and 1 normal sized one. I thought they were bland, dry and the texture was just not to my liking. I ended up throwing away the entire batch again.
Oh well, no recipe can please everyone.... and I have to face the fact that I really don't enjoy seitan in almost any form.

After the failed recipe,I still wanted to do something along those lines, plus I had chickpeas leftover from making hummus the other day. I am working on developing a chicken like, wheat free burger/patty for some people that uses everyday ingredients. No nutritional yeast or other things that the "average meat eater" would not have on hand. I looked around my kitchen and threw these together. I loosely measured everything and will tweak it a bit and measure everything so I can give this recipe to those who requested it.
Cooking in the pan. This was also a fat free recipe and cooked with just spray of cooking spray. Each patty is very thin and only contains 90 calories.

All dressed up with BBQ sauce and leftover artichoke sauce.

I wanted to talk a little bit about the bread you see here. I know that white bread is not good for you, but this is not your average white bread. It is a light italian loaf, vegan and only has 40 calories per slice. It also contains 3 g fiber per slice and 3 g protein.
Yummy salad. I have to have a BIG salad everyday or I feel like crap. This is 4 cups of veggies along with 3 T of the dressing I mentioned above. I ate this for a snack yesterday.
Here's some delicious soup I named Happy Chicken Soup. Made with calories in mind, I modified my normal tofu noodle soup into this. It is definitely better the next day, but is still delicious straight out of the pan. I used a pressure cooker.

Happy Chicken Soup
yield: 6 cups

cooking spray
1 onion (1 cup)
2/3 c carrots
2/3 c celery
1 c mushrooms
5 cloves garlic
1 t rosemary
1 t thyme
1 bay leaf
1 t coriander
pinch salt
7 oz Firm LITE tofu
6 c water
1 veg bouillon cube
2 oz whole wheat angel hair broken into pieces
1 t toasted sesame oil
3 T nutritional yeast
1 t umeboshi vinegar
lots of black pepper/salt to taste
1 T fresh parsley (or 1 t dried)
1 T fresh dill (or 1 t dried)
Soy sauce to taste

Pressure cooker method:
Mist the pressure cooker with cooking spray and add the veggies, dried spices, pinch salt and several ground of black pepper. Sauté for several minutes over medium heat. Add the water and bouillon cube and seal the pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure for 2 minutes then allow the pressure to release naturally. Now, add the noodles and bring the soup back to a boil UNCOVERED. Simmer the noodles for 3 minutes, stir in the toasted sesame oil, nutritional yeast, vinegar, pepper and fresh herbs.
Season with salt and pepper

Stovetop method:
Spray a heavy bottomed soup pan with cooking spray and add the veggies dried spices, pinch salt and some pepper. Sauté over medium heat for several minutes, then add the water, tofu and bouillon cube. Bring soup to a boil, the turn heat down to simmer and cover. Cook until veggies are tender, around 20 minutes. Now, add the angel hard and bring back to a boil, uncovered. Cook for 3 minutes, turn off heat and stir in the sesame oil, nutritional yeast, vinegar and fresh herbs. Add salt/pepper to taste.

This soup tastes MUCH better when made in the pressure cooker. It will still be good off the stove, but better the next day.

Nutritional Information Per 2 Cup Serving:
170 calories
3 g fat
28 g carbs
4 g fiber
10 g protein


  1. I like your Artichoke method - keeping it simple and easy. No fuss.

  2. Mmm. I love artichokes, in any way shape or form. I like how you cook them. It's nice and simple, and I bet it tastes delicious. People overcomplicate food sometimes.

    I found that the chickpea cutlets were a bit bland too, so I added more spices and herbs. I found it makes a real difference.

  3. i LOVE artichokes. i eat mine with lemoned mayo. calories schmalories...i don't care...

  4. Looks like a lot of really tasty and healthy food, and I am glad to see you are able to use this blog as a sort of food journal.

    I have only ever had artichokes in a can (I am from Canada after all) and I don't care for them much. Maybe one day I will try them like you said.

    Damn, you take the most colourful pics.

  5. You make prepping artichokes sound too easy not to do. What a great snack. The Vcon cutlet recipe didn't appeal to me either. I made the cutlets from ED&BV and we enjoyed those - fyi.

    I take 4 cups of salad to work for my lunch every day. I also eat it on the weekends. I'm with you - I don't feel right without it!

  6. I love artichokea. Even DH enjoys them. I read from someone that they to made the chickpea patties and disliked the textures. They tried tham again adding more spices, more bread crumbs and less kneading. (does this sound like anyone reading this post) Anyway they enjoyed them and the texture the next time. I will have to give your soup a try. I such a soup person.

  7. Melody,

    Thanks for the artichoke reminder! I don't think I've ever steamed them whole myself, (although I've enjoyed them in that form,) and Dan's been begging for veggies lately . . . artichokes will have to be on the menu!

    Also, congratulations on your commitment to healthy food, exercise, and weight loss! Way to set a realistic goal. Can't wait to hear about your progress!

  8. Another delicious looking post Melody. I love steamed artichokes, especially with a little dipping sauce or dressing.

    The bread that you were referring too, is that homemade or store-bought? It looks good.

    I also didn't have good luck with the chickpea cutlets. I really wanted to like them, but didn't. I thought that maybe it was the gluten I used that made the difference. Oh well.

  9. I like all your pictures, but the burger looks so great! Now I'm hungry....

  10. What a coincidence-- I was *just* talking with my mom about how I'd never had artichokes (or turnips) and I wanted to try them! You read my mind!

  11. I am drooling...I LOVE artichokes! And the way you describe eating and cooking them is exactly the way we had them growing up and the way I still eat them today. Artichokes were always my birthday meal growing up, because we always got to pick our favorite foods on our bdays--they are still my "favorite" food to this day!


  12. I've never cooked artichokes because I have no idea what to do with them! They always intimidated me a little with all those spiky leaves, but you make it sound pretty simple so I may need to get over my artichoke phobia!

    Have you tried the seitan cutlets in Yellow Rose Recipes? They're my favorite right now, very simple to make and delicious.

  13. I absolutely love artichokes but I've never cooked them. Normally I get them packed in olive oil but you make me want to try them like this.

  14. I havent made artichokes in years! thanks for reminding me how much I really like them. I have never tried your method of cooking them -but I will now thanks

  15. So happy to read that you too don't like the chickpea cutlets! I too have made 2 attempts and they just don't work for me. Artichokes are a real treat and I want to consider them more often. maybe now I will! Thanks for a great post.