Friday, November 25, 2011

Monthly Weight Loss Stats

 ©Melody Pokaow 2011

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you!  I hope you had a lovely day with family and friends.  We are actually celebrating today, but I wanted to come and update my weight loss stats.

I lost 9 pounds last month, for a total of 20 since moving to  Boston two months ago!  In last months post, I touched on some of the issues that have contributed to my weight gain and I feel like I am beginning to really get a handle on my emotions/triggers and everything that goes with releasing the weight that I've allowed to hold me back!

I absolutely LOVE living here.  I feel like I'm 18 again and every day I learn something new, connect with great people and all in all I feel like I am HOME.

Food-wise, I am eating better than ever!  Volunteering with Fair Foods and taking advantage of their $2 produce bag is such a blessing.. both in food, but more importantly in spirit.  I am going to be going into people's kitchens and they are going to share their recipes with me for the Fair Foods Blog.

Just a note, not all the recipes will be vegan on that blog.  I will link to the posts for those who are interested, but I will NOT tolerate any bashing of the recipes that people share with me.  (I won't be eating animals, don't worry!)..  we are about making produce accessible.  Any produce is better than no produce.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Method: Making great Indian Food out of leftovers.

Very Non-Traditional Indian Food

I don't cook from recipes.  I never have and probably never will, but I know that many of YOU do which is why I write them down for ya. 

But, in this post and some upcoming posts, I want to talk more about the methods.  In the early days of this blog, I was all about the methods and rarely posted any recipes. Since I use leftovers in most of my dishes, it's not always easy to be specific. 

So, the above dish was a knock off of Saag Panir.  A while back, I received a baby arugula in my Fair Foods Produce Bag along with a bunch of other greens.  I realized I needed to eat the arugula right away, but I already had dinner cooked for the night and due to space in the fridge (Sharing with my roommate) I would have to either make pesto or cook the greens for later use.  

I went into clean out the fridge mode and saw that I had garlic, ginger, onion, chipotle hummus, and salsa and I knew immediately I would be making a version of Saag Panir.  This is where the METHOD comes in.
  •  I blanched the arugula (7 ounces)
  •  While the water was boiling, I added several cloves of garlic,  1 small onion and about 3 tablespoons fresh ginger along with a good pinch of chunky sea salt into my food processor and turned it into a paste.
  • When the arugula was cooked, I added it along with about 2/3 cup of hummus, a big scoop of curry powder and some cinnamon and a couple spoon fulls of salsa
  • I froze this mixture with the intention of using it at a later date. 
So, the other day, I was gone all day long and skipped lunch.  I was super hungry and resisted the temptation (I AM working hard my weight!) to stop at Lucy Ethiopian Cafe because I had taken the mixture along with some frozen tofu (7 ounces) out of the fridge that morning before I left. 

So, to create my actual meal, I put some millet on to cook and squeezed the water out of the tofu.  In my cast iron skillet, over medium high heat, I used a spoonful of coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander and a bunch of red pepper flakes for heat.  I sauteed a small onion and a couple cloves of garlic along with the drained tofu which I cut into chunks.  When the tofu and onions were nice and brown, I added the arugula mixture, turned the heat down to medium and popped a lid on the pan.  It cooked for around 20 minutes.  I tasted and adjusted seasoning (for me that meant putting soy sauce, black pepper, lime juice and a lot of Siracha) in it.  I served it over millet with raw tomatoes, onions and cilantro. 

This provided me with a great dinner and a good sized breakfast the next day and the taste was outstanding! 

If you are looking for an actual RECIPE to create Indian food out of leftovers, feel free to check out this post with more specific instructions. 

Do you have a favorite dish you make with leftovers?  I'd love to hear all about it here or on Facebook! 

Finally, look at these leaves...  I was out walking the other day and was so fascinated by them!

Have you guys seen leaves like these? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Simple yet delicious chili and gluten free cornbread!

Chili and cornbread is one of my all-time favorite fall/winter meals.  This is a simple chili to make, but it has a wonderful depth of flavor thanks to the chipotle, cocoa and balsamic vinegar.  Feel free to substitute quinoa or millet for the bulgur if you are gluten free.
  • 14 oz tofu, frozen, defrosted, squeezed dry and cubed
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, small chop
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • ½ t cumin seeds
  • 1 t oregano
  • 4 T chili powder
  • 1 T chipotle
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 c kidney beans
  • 1 T dark cocoa powder
  • ½ c bulgur
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes and their liquid
  • 2-4 cups water as needed
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Garnish with sour cream, guacamole, onions and limes
  1. In a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat sauté the onion, garlic, peppers and spices (including the salt/pepper) for 10 minutes or so
  2. Deglaze with the vinegar, add the tofu, kidney beans, cocoa, tomatoes and 2 cups of the water.
  3. Bring to a boil; stir a couple time, turn heat down to a simmer and cover.
  4. Cook for 1 hour, adding more water if needed.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings
  6. Serve with you your favorite garnish

My Gluten Free Cornbread recipe can be found here.

I will be posting another, healthier gluten free cornbread recipe soon! This one with beans and veggies in it.

What are YOUR favorite Fall/Winter soups?

Finally, I am having a lot of trouble with the fonts in blogger lately.  They seem to constantly be changing while I write and even when I go into HTML mode, I am having trouble fixing them.  Is anyone else having this issue?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fat Free Smoky 'Cheese' Spread

Yesterday I cooked up a pound of dried large lima beans in my pressure cooker.  I was originally going to use some of them to make some of my Lower Fat Vegenaise Substitute, but I had small orange pepper that needed to be used and I ended up making this delicious spicy, smoky 'cheese' spread instead.

Now, I do have to clarify.  This really doesn't taste like cheese. I would never serve it to people who eat cheese and expect them to sing its praises.  What this spread does is hit many of the same flavor notes as cheese (especially when used as a mayo like spread or stirred into soups).  If you want a richer spread, feel free to add a couple tablespoons of melted earth balance or oil to this.

You can use any well cooked white bean.  I love large lima beans.  They get really soft and buttery.  Please DO NOT use frozen lima beans.  They will not work.  If you use canned beans, a 29 ounce can should suffice, just make sure to drain and rinse the beans well.  The miso should be a light colored. Miso also varies in sodium content and pungency, so I am including a range of 2-4 tablespoons.  Start with 2, then add more to suit your taste.  Finally, if you do not like heat, you can substitute the chiopotle powder with smoked paprika or regular paprika and 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke.

Fat Free Smoky Cheese Spread

  • 2 cups (preferably warm) large lima beans 
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red or orange pepper
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained of liquid (reserve liquid)
  • 2-4 tablespoons light miso 
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle powder
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2-4 tablespoons brine from green olives (or sauerkraut liquid) as needed to thin mixture
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  1. In a food processor, process garlic first, then add the pepper. 
  2. Puree completely, then add the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Let mixture sit for an hour or so, then taste and adjust seasonings.
I divided the mixture into 3 equal parts. In one of the jars, I stirred in cumin, coriander, chili powder and lime juice for a southwestern sauce.

My breakfast this morning was super yummy.. I ran this under the broiler and had some collard greens and grapefruit along with it. 

You'll be seeing how I use the remaining spread in the next week or so.  I think it will keep for around 5 days. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ethiopian Split Pea Stew

I live across the street from Lucy Ethiopian Cafe so every single day I am reminded of their yummy food!  Fortunately, I can usually create the flavors I love in my own kitchen for a fraction of the price!

Traditionally, Atar Alecha is a very mild, split pea puree with just a hint of ginger, but as you all know, I don't do anything mild and I scored a ton of ginger the last time I went to Chinatown!

I looked around at the spices I had on hand and used what I had.  I encourage you all to use what you have too and not get too concerned about following recipes. I am quite away that this is a long list of ingredients as are most of my recipes... but that's how I cook..

I also used a pressure cooker, but will include instructions on how to cook this in a heavy bottomed soup pot as well.

Ethiopian Yellow Split Pea Stew
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dry rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (less if you don’t like spicy food)
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (less if you don’t like spicy food)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Tony’s Creole Seasoning
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 large zucchini, diced and 4 cups greens of choice 
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Siracha if desired

  1. In a pressure cooker over medium heat, sauté heat the oil and spices for a minute or so.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and carrots along with the Tony’s. Cook for 5 minutes
  3. Now add the split peas and water.
  4. Cover and bring to high pressure for 3 minutes.
  5. Let pressure come down naturally and stir in the salsa, veggies you are using and let the heat cook the veggies. Add lime juice,  taste and adjust seasonings.

You can make this on the stove with these modifications:
  • Use a heavy bottomed soup pot
  • Omit Tony’s Seasoning until after the peas are cooked
  • Instead of bringing to high pressure, bring mixture to a boil for several minutes then cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for an hour.

I served my stew over millet.   It was even better when I enjoyed it for breakfast the next day.  

What are you favorite Ethiopian Dishes?  If you're looking for a great Vegan and Gluten free Ethiopian recipes, check out Kittee's Awsome ZINE!!! 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Gingered Tofu and Zucchini & Savory Breakfast

More Savory Breakfast! 

I really love eating leftovers or savory foods for breakfast.  I notice I feel best when I get lots of veggies and some good quality protein and just a bit of fat for breakfast.. so this salad with zucchini, tofu and hummus was just the right thing!  I scored 11 ounces of Organic Baby Spinach for $2 at Haymarket last week! How cool is that?

I used a ton of ginger in this recipe, so if you try it and you aren't in love with ginger like I am, you might want to decrease it by half.  

Gingered Zucchini and Tofu
  • Cooking spray or 1 teaspoon oil
  • 7 oz extra firm tofu cut into small cubes
  • 1 large zucchini,  medium chop
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • ¾ cup water
  • Smoked Sea Salt to taste
  • Soy Sauce to taste
  • Black Pepper  to taste
  • Siracha if desired, to taste
  1. In a screaming hot cast iron (medium high heat) add the tofu, onion and zucchini. Let it stay there until the tofu starts to come away from the pan. This will give it a nice caramelization.
  2. Now add the garlic and ginger along with the water and a pinch of salt. 
  3. Stir well and cover for 5 minutes, add soy sauce, more smoked sea salt, pepper and siracha to taste
I topped it with my Chipotle Hummus

Do you prefer traditional breakfast or savory?  

What are your favorite things to eat in the morning?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Roasted Tofu and Asparagus & Chinatown Score!

Last week, I went to Chinatown and scored some great deals!  I have a post coming up that will explain how I'm finding it EASIER to eat for $3.33 in Boston!  I was initially worried it wouldn't be possible, but I am eating better than ever thanks to Fairfoods (, Haymarket, Trader Joes and Chinatown! 
3 lbs 6 oz firm tofu 3.59
Ginger 1.28
Noodles 1.00
Daikon .76
Miso 4.99
63 oz soy sauce 2.99

BTW, I am keeping track of my shopping list and prices for the month HERE.  You can find Octobers list and prices HERE. 

While my favorite tofu ever is Trader Joes Extra Firm, I couldn't pass up this deal and I'm glad I did.  This tofu was super fresh (although not firm at all.. but roasting it firmed it up and kept it nice a juicy at the same time!

No need to dirty a bowl, just drizzle some toasted sesame oil on a sheet pan, place the tofu on top and drizzle with soy sauce, garlic powder and black pepper.  Flip the tofu and roast for 30 minutes and 400.  Halfway through, flip the tofu and season the other side with soy sauce, garlic powder and pepper.  Lemon Pepper would be really good if you have it!.. and some cumin would be lovely as well. 
Before Roasting

I also scored asparagus in my $2 Produce Bag, so I roasted it up ..  super simple. Same method: Coat with a bit of oil, soy sauce, garlic powder and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes.

I made this amazing Kale Salad and topped it with the tofu, asparagus and my Chipotle Hummus (I made it with white beans this time!)  
This may have been one of the best things I've eating in a long, long time! 

What are your favorite meals?

Monday, November 07, 2011

30 Minute Spicy Lentils, Quinoa and Collards

I seem to eat the same sort of food over and over. Spicy ethnic variations of legumes, grains and veggies are my mainstay it seems, so it feels a little pointless to keep posting recipes that are pretty much the same...   but when did that stop me? 

I had cooked lentils on hand and a gorgeous bunch of organic collards (Market Basekt $1.99!.. I was in NH for the weekend).  I originally was going to make another version of my 20 minute lentil soup, which I had yesterday

.. but I noticed some ginger and Indian flavors started calling me!

Spicy Lentils, Collards and Quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (much less if you don't like heat)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (less if you don't like heat)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 4 cups chopped collards
  • 1 cup water and more as needed
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • Siracha to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Soy Sauce or Braggs to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Siracha to taste for if desired
  1. Saute spices , onions, garlic in the oil
  2. Add the lentils, collards, quinoa and water. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the collards and quinoa are cooked

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Simple Eggplant and Vegetable Stew

I made this simple eggplant stew a couple weeks ago, but never blogged about it.  I have just started doing some Social Media for Fairfoods ( and this is the first recipe I put on on their blog!  I am going to revise that recipe just a tiny bit because I actually added a lot more spice to my stew, but since I know most people don't have the same love heat and intense flavor, I toned it down over there.  Please go check out the Fair Foods Blog and like them on Facebook! Tell everyone you know about it because even though we are in Boston, YOU and YOU and YOU can get some GREAT ideas on how to start something like this in your community!  It's truly amazing to me that this resource exists and was starting by people just like you and me! One person can really make a difference.

So, go check them out. I'll wait.

OK.. so you're back.  The recipe is linked up there.. but the changes I made:
I used 10 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon chipotle powder and lots of fresh basil (because I had it on hand.  my roomie has a big plant)..  I also used marjoram, added a bit of cumin and rosemary.. and of course, added some beans and ate it as a stew.