Being Mrs. Pierce

Life as a wife, hiker, wanna-be chef, book-lover, traveler, and now, mom

VB6 Chronicles: Week 1 March 29, 2015

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 3:29 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

I have eaten more vegetables in the past week than I ate for all of January and February.

 

Kidding. But still – my greatest takeaway from one week of VB6 is that vegetables come first. This, of course, is Mark Bittman’s main point throughout VB6, and the advice that I dutifully followed this week. Among the veggies that I ate:

kale in Greens and Beans Soup
Carrot Candy
Spicy Wilted Spinach
green leaf lettuce with assorted raw veggies in salads
carrot, celery, and jicama sticks
Tofu Scramble with Spinach
roasted zucchini and onion
Napa cabbage in the delicious Chinese Chicken Salad at Mason’s Square Plate restaurant
Garden Vegetable Soup

My favorite from the above list? Spicy Wilted Spinach, a basic recipe for preparing baby spinach on the stove. I first made the WeightWatchers recipe over two years ago, but then I promptly forgot about it. It was a happy (re)discovery a couple of weeks ago when I felt stuck in a vegetable rut and began looking back over previous blog posts for inspiration.

 

The Carrot Candy was good with potential for being great. I took the carrot slices out of the oven after 2.5 hours, but I wish I had given them another 30 minutes. It was late on a weeknight, however, and I was wanting to go to bed. This means that I also packaged them up and put them in the fridge before they were completely cool. When I opened the container the next day at work for my after-school snack, the carrots were chewy but not at all crisp. Beads of moisture clung to the insides of their plastic container. I ended up eating the “candy” with a spoon, as some of the slices had shrunk down into minuscule bits:

 

001

 

It was hard to believe that I had barely been able to see the bottom of the cookie sheet when I first put the carrot slices into the oven.

 

In addition to being tiny the carrots also were a little greasy, and I didn’t want to get olive oil all over my keyboard as I multitasked at work. They were tasty, though, and I look forward to trying them again when I have more time to cook and cool them.

 

Mark Bittman’s Tofu Scramble with Spinach was my most daring meal of the week, by far. While I have eaten tofu at Asian restaurants and my sister-in-law’s house a time or two, until this week I had never purchased nor prepared it myself. I made the scramble for my breakfast on Saturday morning, and I have to admit that I told myself “it’s just like scrambled eggs” more than once throughout the cooking process:

 

002

 

The scramble was VERY spicy, even when tempered with the plain, cooked wheat berries that I served on the side. But I rather liked it! The consistency of firm tofu will take some getting used to, but eating the scramble for leftovers over the next few days will help with that, I imagine. I was impressed that my husband, who is decidedly NOT doing VB6 with me, gave the scramble a try. He ate his serving with flour tortillas smeared with grape jelly. His final verdict on the tofu scramble: “It’s not my favorite.” Fair enough.

 

I rounded out all of my breakfast and lunch meals this week with lots of beans and whole grains. The chickpeas I cooked last Sunday came in handy for both salad toppings and for the batch of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus that I made later in the week (which was the tastiest it’s ever been thanks to the home-cooked chickpeas). On Thursday night I made a batch of lentils to use in Bittman’s Lentil Salad, which I took to work on Friday for a lunch potluck, and his Bean Burgers, which I served for lunch today. The salad was good, but the lentil burgers were my favorite recipe of the week. They were absolutely delicious–5 stars in my book! They also were huge; next time I may make 6 patties out of the bean mixture. I did have some issues with the patties wanting to fall apart, but I only gave the mixture a little time in the refrigerator both before and after forming the patties. Next time, I’ll give them more time to stick together before pan-frying them. Here they are, at full sizzle:

 

003

 

Grain-wise, I relied mostly on rolled oats and wheat berries this week. The adjustments to the John’s Daily Oatmeal recipe on Penzeys that I mentioned in my Day 1 post were perfect: using almond milk instead of water and just 1 TB of the flax chia blend made for much tastier oatmeal. I tried dried cranberries instead of raisins one morning, but I will stick with raisins in the future when preparing this recipe.

 

Wheat berries were something new to me, but I discovered that I like their soft-but-chewy texture and how they become porridge-like when warmed with almond milk and sweetened with ripe mashed banana — a new morning favorite.

 

I am happy to report that I not only survived week 1 of VB6, but that I also flourished! It’s been fun making so many new recipes at once and doing something good for my health and weight that doesn’t involve weighing and measuring every morsel of food that I eat. I also like how flexible the program can be. When eating a lunch out with family yesterday, I had chicken on my salad. No problem — I just had a vegan dinner last night.

 

Week 2, here we go!

 

Garden Tuna Melt (New Recipe #59) August 2, 2013

561

 

A friend gave me a copy of Ellie Krieger’s Comfort Food Fix cookbook a while back. Despite being an enthusiastic fan of Ellie Krieger, the cookbook sat on my bookshelf, unused, for months. Last week, I spontaneously added it to my stack of books to take to Menard with the hope that I would finally sit down with it and give it the attention it deserved. Luckily, I did just that during my visit with my in-laws, and I find myself fired up to try a host of new Ellie Krieger recipes now that I am back home.

 

First on the list: the Garden Tuna Melt. I must thank my husband, John, for getting me interested in tuna melts. He occasionally orders them in restaurants, and every time he does I find them surprisingly appetizing. Ellie Krieger’s tuna melt recipe was interesting to me because of the addition of vegetables to the tuna mixture. It also was a relatively simple recipe, which I decided last night would be an ideal one to try after a day of car travel.

 

The recipe calls for very little mayonnaise (and an even smaller amount of Dijon mustard), so the tuna mixture was not very creamy, as seen below. Next time, I plan to up the mayo/mustard slightly in order to achieve a creamier texture.

560

 

For my tuna melt, I followed the recipe exactly. For John’s, I doubled the amount of cheese and added a top slice of toast, making his a true sandwich. We both liked the tuna melts; I gave mine 3 stars and John gave his 3.5 stars (the more cheese, the better, apparently). The fresh parsley is a must in the recipe, as it provided a burst of fresh flavor in each bite.

 

Garden Tuna Melt

Two 6-oz cans or pouches light tuna in water, drained
2 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, finely chopped (2 oz)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, shredded (about 1 cup)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 TB mayonnaise
1 TB Dijon mustard
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 slices whole-wheat bread
4 thin slices extra-sharp cheddar cheese (2 oz total)

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, spinach, bell pepper, carrot, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, and black pepper. Place the bread on a baking sheet, divide the tuna mixture among the 4 pieces of bread, and top each with a slice of cheese.

3. Bake until the cheese melts and the edges of the bread are toasted, 6 to 8 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings. Per serving, 7 PointsPlus.