Saturday, April 23, 2011

Recipes - Foolin'

Last weekend we harvested our first rhubarb of the season. I had mixed feelings about this because, while I love rhubarb, I love rhubarb with lots of sugar. Super-tart is just not my thing. What's a sugar-free girl to do? Agave to the rescue! I also added about a teaspoon of honey, but it would be fine without.

But once the better-without-sugar rhubarb sauce is made, what to do? You can just eat it. It's really very good. But I was craving rhubarb ice-cream (darn you, Mallard's!), so I needed sweet, tart and creamy without sugar or an abundance of fat. While I usually avoid processed foods whenever possible, this was a time when only one thing would do: Sugar-Free Cool Whip. I present to you:


2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/4 orange juice
agave nectar (or other sweetener) to taste
Sugar Free Cool Whip

Cook rhubarb and orange juice over medium heat, stirring frequently, until rhubarb breaks down and you have a sauce (apple-sauce consistency). Sweeten to taste. Let cool.

Fold desired amount of rhubarb sauce into desired amount of Cool Whip. Freeze for at least an hour. Enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Recipes - Pasta w/ Smokey Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pancetta

Had this for dinner tonight and I am a very, very happy camper. This recipe is from Mark Bittman's Food Matters cookbook (see the Really Good Resources link above).

Pasta with Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pancetta
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 bacon slices or 4 ounces of pancetta, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons pimenton (smoked paprika)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces any cut whole-wheat pasta (I used fusilli)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (didn't use)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (didn't use)
Heat the oven to 400.  Put the sweet potatoes, pancetta and oil in a large roasting pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.  Roast, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, dust with the paprika, add the onion to the pan, stir and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.
Cook pasta in boiling, salted water.  Drain and reserve some of the cooking water.  Remove the roasting pan from the oven and stir in a bout 1/2 cup of the cooking water, scraping up any browned bits.  Add  pasta, chives and cheese to the pan and toss to combine.  Serve hot or at room temperature. 
Serves 4

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recipes - Space Invaders

I find it essential to have go-to foods in times of cravings. It's not possible to just give up sweets, and no matter what any diet book says, when you want candy, fruit won't cut it. The first recipe I found and embraced for a "healthy" sweet is a variation on Christina Pirello's Asteroids recipe from her awesome website I have found a lot of variations on this recipe and have adapted it to my tastes. If the general idea of the recipe appeals to you, I suggest you do the same.

Jen's Space Invaders

1/2 cup nut butter (I usually use almond with a little bit of natural peanut)
1 T agave nectar plus brown rice syrup to make 1/2 cup
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla
small handful of grain-sweetened chocolate chips

small handful of chopped nuts (optional)
scant 2 cups crispy brown rice cereal (I like Nature's Path)

Combine first 5 ingredients in saucepan over med-low heat. Stir until chocolate chips melt. Remove from heat and mix in nuts and brown rice cereal. Spoon onto Saran Wrap, roll into a log and refrigerate until firm. Slice and eat to satisfy sweet cravings and minor hunger pains.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oh, to the French fry

I love French fries. Crispy and greasy on the outside, soft and moist in the middle, a good French fry is one of my all time favorite foods (second only to pasta). I'm a connoisseur of the fry - once I dreamed of having a French fry website, where I would list the best fries to be had (alas, I may have been too busy eating the fries to write about them.) I love fries dipped in ranch, tartar, thousand island, gravy. I love the soggy, fresh potato fries at Dick's Drive In and the garlic-y, overpriced fries at Safeco Field. Red Robin has excellent French fries, as did Wendy's (they've since changed their recipe and I've not tried them.) A good fry is a work of art.

I'm pretty much a fan of fried potatoes. Fries are my favorite, but I like potato chips, too. Kettle chips are the best - crunchy (but not too thick-cut) and greasy and just salty enough. Crispy hashbrowns and home fries are pretty amazing, too. Yeah, you get the point.

So, when I decided to cut simple carbs from my diet, I chose to eliminate the potato as well. I don't think potatoes are necessarily bad for you. They aren't refined sugar, by any means. But my fondness for them, especially in fried form, was not a good thing. There was more to my decision to stop eating potatoes, but essentially it boiled down to the fact that I couldn't see that they did me any good, so they had to go.

A funny thing happened within the first month of being white-carb-free. I was eating some roasted brussel sprouts, which were quickly becoming one of my favorite foods, and it occurred to me that what I really loved was greasy, salty and crunchy - not necessarily potato-y. Brussel sprouts (or carrots or asparagus) tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted in the oven until soft in the middle and crispy and caramelized on the outside fit the bill perfectly. Kale chips are pretty good when I want the crispness of a chip. And when I really want to dip a fry, I'll splurge and have sweet potato fries. In the last seven months, I've had a total of five French fries. I've had hundreds of brussel sprouts. And while I miss the fried potatoes from time to time, and occasionally even indulge (hence the five fries), it's not as much of a sacrifice when I find some filler in healthier snacks. Yummy.