Tuesday, February 28, 2012

As requested.. a little note about oil and why we're not using any!

Facing a major health cross roads, we weren't a cute couple looking for a new faddy diet to try. By way of introduction, we were ready for a major change to save his life.

For the in-depth specifics on why oil is such a no-no for people with heart disease I recommend reading Dr Caldwell Esselstyn's book, "prevent and reverse heart disease", or check out his website www.heartattackproof.com

To paraphrase, he believes oils are extremely low in nutritive value, containing no fibre, no minerals and are 100% fat calories. (1 Tablespoon of olive oil alone contains 14 g fat!) Above all they contain saturated fat which immediately injures the endothelial lining of the arteries when eaten. It doesn't matter what kind of oil. In other words, if you have heart disease oil is a really bad idea! French fries or tempura battered vegetables just cannot be on the menu if you want to save your life.

Being very health conscience before starting this diet i would have sworn black and blue that i didn't use much oil compared to most. I never deep fried things. I always used extra virgin olive oil or fancy pant oils like walnut or avocado! I never used corn oil. However, it's only when you cut it out altogether that you realize just how much you were actually consuming. I think the no oil thing has been crucial in his losing so much weight.

Instead of using oil i cook with either broth or a little wine, or water. For sautéing onions or garlic you just have to watch they don't burn by stirring them more often, or putting the lid on to create a little steam to prevent sticking, or adding that broth or wine or water.

Eradicating oil cuts out things like making pancakes (although you can easily come up with an oil free pancake batter, frying them in the fry pan without oil just does not work - i've tried a variety of non stick pans and even things like putting baking paper inside the pan with the pancake on top... but alas, nothing worked! Cakes similarly are no longer on the menu. However, with all the amazing health changes going on, these major benefits have completely dwarfed issues like, "oh wouldn't it be lovely to have a pancake?"

As well as no longer cooking with oil, i am now vigilant to check the ingredient panels, as oil creeps into many things you wouldn't expect, like bread and certain types of soy and rice milks.

Ok, i think that's enough on the subject of oil... I will post an oil free hummus recipe and the yummiest eggplant recipe i've made up so far, as making eggplant delicious without the aid of some oil was a bit tricky.

over and out for now :)

Porridge w flax, blueberries and agave

We often cook a little late night "podge" instead of dessert. What with the oatmeal's cholesterol lowering properties, the flaxseed meal's high fibre and high omega 3s, and then the blueberries' antioxidants, it's super good for you and also delicious, particularly with a little kiss of agave syrup! Make sure just to serve the flaxseed meal on top, not to cook with it, as it loses it's omega 3 benefits when heated.

Serves 2-3

1 C traditional oats
2 C water
1/2 C almond milk
1 T brown sugar
pinch salt
To serve:
1 Punnet blueberries
2 T flaxseed meal

Combine all the ingredients in a microwave proof bowl and nuke for 10 - 15 minutes, adding a little more water if necessary. Alternatively you can cook it on the stove top. For a creamier consistency, soak the oats over -night before cooking them.
Serve with blueberries, flaxseed meal and a drizzle of agave.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tri-colored rice salad with tomatillo salsa and golden beets.

1 bunch arugula
1/2 cos lettuce, roughly chopped
1 tomato, diced
6 stems cooked asparagus
a few handfuls of edamame beans
sesame seeds

1-2 T tahini (to taste)
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

1 1/2 C cooked tri-colored rice, served warm
2 finely diced scallion
salt and pepper to taste

Tomatillo salsa

1 bunch of golden beets, peeled and quartered
1 C freshly squeezed orange juice
salt and pepper
2-3 T honey (to taste)
1 small splash balsamic vinegar (to taste)

Preheat oven to 410 degrees F.
Put beets into oven pan sprinkled well with salt and pepper, drizzled with honey, juiced with oranges and splashed with balsamic. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for approximately 30 min (until you can pierce a beet with a knife easily).

For salad, combine everything and mix gently. Whisk the dressing together and then toss through the salad well.

Stir the diced scallions through the warm rice and add a little salt and pepper to taste.

Serve a good portion of dressed salad onto a plate, topped with a dollop of rice and then a couple of spoonfuls of store-bought tomatillo salsa and a few beets on the side.

Yes.. the store bought tomatillo salsa sounds like cheating... i'm researching it as we speak, as i want to make one from scratch.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunflower choke, baby squash, springtime risotto.
I love risotto.. and one of the first signs that the new oil-free, plant-based thing might just work out, was the fact that i could still cook risotto! Oil-less and cheese-less.. but magical none the less. This was the dish served last night before the avocado chocolate mousse that led to the blog!

Sunflower choke, baby squash, springtime risotto.

Serves 4 (pigmen and up to 6 civilized eaters)

2-3 Eschalots, finely diced
1 clove minced garlic
3-4 carrots, finely diced
3 celery stalks, finely diced
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine
1 punnet button mushrooms/portabella mushrooms sliced thickly
8 cups vegetable broth
2 c water (a little less, a little more depending on the quality of the arborio, the heat of the stove etc.,)
1 handful of sunflower chokes, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 c baby squash (kept whole if they are tiny)
1 small bunch asparagus, finely sliced on the diagonal 
To serve:
zest of 1 lemon and a squeeze or two of juice
finely chopped parsley

Turn stove on to high heat. To a barely warmed large cast iron pot add the eschallot, garlic, carrot and celery with a good pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover briefly with the lid to create a little steam to help prevent sticking, then stir vigorously and add the arborio rice.
Stir to coat the grains with the oil-less vegetables and add the wine. 
Stir again and keep stirring. (Pull up a bar stool. Pour yourself a glass of wine.)
Once the wine is almost absorbed, but the mixture is still smooth and silky, add 2 cups of broth and stir.
And then add the mushrooms.
Another 1 1/2 cups of broth.
More stirring, more absorption.
Another 1 1/2 cups of broth.
More stirring, more absorption.
Add sunflower chokes and another cup of broth.
Once that's absorbed, add the baby squash and add the final 2 cups broth.
Start to test the arborio around this point to see how much more cooking and extra water you'll need. 
Always keep it smooth with enough liquid and easy to stir, don't let it stick.
Risotto is not meant to be mushy and overcooked rice goop - so go carefully, tasting and adjusting as necessary. Remember it keeps cooking in the cast iron pot once you've turned the stove off, so turn the heat off when it's still a little al dente (but god forbid not still raw).
Once you've turned off the heat, add the finely sliced asparagus and stir it through thoroughly, as it will cook through the heat of the risotto and once it's a vibrant green serve immediately with a little lemon zest, juice and a sprinkling of parsley!

This dish works well with a finely chopped crisp kale salad..

But enough for tonight. 

Cheers :)

The avocado chocolate mousse made me do it!

The chocolate mousse made me do it.. and a little encouragement from a rather lovely friend...

So here i am, officially blogging and trying not to hear a "Julie and Julia" voice-over in my head.

I am a foodie. Where food is concerned I am obsessed! I am a pigman! I can't quit ... eating it, cooking it, reading about it.. food, glorious food.

And here i must confess, i have had a slight advantage.. which has enabled me to maintain disgustingly perfect weight and cholesterol throughout my love affair with baking cheesecakes, dishing up pavlovas and putting an extra drizzle of white truffle oil through the homemade pasta.. yes, rare to be sure, i was disemboweled as a small child!

Not something my parents had signed me up for (like piano lessons) knowing that i was going to become so obsessed with food.. In an unfortunate fight with a swimming pool filter, the pool filter won, and i was left disemboweled and unable to absorb fat. Yes, that's the brief version.. there were some years of trauma, maybe more so for my family than me, as i can't remember much other than a few dim memories.. one of which involved tottering up a hospital corridor with my grandma to ironically visit the kitchen.. for a square of cheese! However, this is not a pity party blog.. the point of my disclosure.. i was "re-designed" to be able to cook and eat and entertain like a MoFo!

However, for a mere mortal, i.e. my other half.. after many years of being held hostage to my lavish culinary creations.. his doctor informed him that he had reached a cross roads. After catching a CNN Sanjay Gupta special on the diet that saved Bill Clinton's life, featuring the remarkable Dr Esselstyn, we had a light bulb moment. This was followed by watching the doco "forks over knives" (www.forksoverknives.com) .. and after a few more crucial signs from the universe that the time was now or never, a new way of life began in our household.. a purely plant based diet, with no animal proteins, and (the kicker) no oil.

The dog remains unimpressed :) Hence the blog name. (She is still fed meat along with her rice and vegetables, rest assured.. however the only things that fall off the dinner table now are things like edamame beans and sugar snap peas, which dutifully she has still managed to show appreciation for! Good dog!

After experiencing the most amazing results (scientifically backed up by blood tests every 5 weeks!) and watching my newly svelte-figured man transformed in every which way .. and held up as a bit of a poster boy by his doctor.. i have been trying to document the journey in photos and recipes, up until now on Facebook.. and feeling a little bit of a douche, surely my non foodie friends must be thinking "oh god, ANOTHER photo of a bunch of vegetables .. what's WITH her? Be gone your lentils and your beans.." So a blogspot seems to make perfect sense. For anyone that DOES want to see pictures of vegetable food porn... ta-da! And this way i can post recipes one time and not be the crazy person with texting-recipe-thumb-strain!

For the most part i'm making everything up as I go (the foodie past has helped HUGELY in this),  however for my very first recipe - the dessert that inspired me to blog - this is an adaption from the extremely talented and legend chef Sarah Britton - who I admire greatly and recommend you check out her beautiful and amazing blog - mynewroots.blogspot.com

Chocolate avocado mousse tarts!

This recipe makes 12 mini tarts.

For tart shells:
1 1/2 c walnuts or pistachio (walnuts are better for you, pistachio way more wicked)
2 T raw agave syrup
1 good pinch salt (to taste)

For Mousse:
1 large hass avocado
good pinch salt
8 large medjool dates pitted and finely chopped
3 - 4 T cocoa (to taste)
4 T agave syrup
3 tsp vanilla extract
juice from 2 small blood oranges

For serving:
1 pk raspberries

For tart shells, grind up nuts in a food processor and then add agave and salt till combined.
Spoon a heaped tsp of mixture into mini muffin tins and use your fingers to press the crumbles to conform into tart cases - they look a little rustic!
Place in the fridge for at least 30 min.

For Mousse: In cleaned food processor combine all the mousse ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust to taste as necessary by adding either more cocoa or agave syrup.
Dollop into tart cases, top with a raspberry and carefully pop them out of the tray using a knife and very gentle fingers.


Over and out :)