Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Good White

Several years ago, I remember Oprah lambasting white foods. White flour, white sugar, white bread, white tortilla chips, pastas. White represented anything processed and too much was killing us. Yes, of course, when you eat a whole bag or bowl. And I agree, there is zero nutrition in these, and much better alternatives: whole wheat flour, pastas, multi-grain tortilla chips. But the gift of bariatric surgery is that I can eat so little at a time, I'm not fretting about overeating any of these bad whites; I'm just sampling them.

But onto the good whites.

I used to be a huge red wine and tomato fan. But since surgery, the acidity of these really bothers me, causing serious heart burn. I take omeprazole daily, which is typical for bariatric patients, but of course learning to eat the things that don't make me uncomfortable is part of the journey. So, I've been experimenting with turning red dishes into WHITE ones...

I'm trying pizza again. For many months, the crust was just too much space in my new stomach. Each time I make it, I try for thinner and thinner crust. But always homemade crust. I usually add garlic, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to the white flour dough. I cook just the dough on the pizza pan for about 15 minutes on 425. Then pull out, let cool a bit, and squeeze on some honey. For the sauce, I use an Aldi brand alfredo sauce. Chop some butter and garlic rotisserie chicken and sprinkle on. Top with sliced fresh mozzarella or shredded chunk mozz and some fresh parmesan. Put back in oven until cheese is melted. Top with fresh basil.

Next time around I'm making it myself. I'll use this recipe from the great Gimme Some Oven by Ali Ebright: Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo Ali is a friend of my sister's. She started a blog from scratch, and is now a powerhouse of food blogging and more. Get addicted to her site. Hers is one of my first stops if I need a fresh, easy recipe.

I'm a big chili fan. I make it differently every time. With red chili, I started using fire roasted tomatoes and three beans. Meat became superfluous. But the acidity thing led me to white chili. This photo is a bit thin; one day in the fridge melded the flavors and thickened it up. I started by sauteing a sweet yellow onion and some garlic in the bottom of a pot. Added a small can of green chillies. Added two cans of drained cannellini beans. Salt, cumin, and bit of cayenne for some heat. Add chopped butter and garlic rotisserie chicken. Stir carefully as to not bust the beans. Add chicken stock to just below coverage. Simmer for 45 minutes. Let cool a bit before adding greek yogurt and some heavy cream. Top with cilantro or basil and some corn chips.

Wine. Oh, cheap great wine. How I adore you. My intro to cheap was three buck chuck from Trader Joe's. I never liked it, even pre-surgery. Yellow-tail cabernet-shiraz blend was my standard everyday wine for years. Then surgery happened, and most red wine went out the window. But moscato, brilliant. Slightly sweet, light, goes with everything including my nightly popcorn snack. And 2.99 a bottle from Aldi's Winking Owl brand. 

I'm looking forward to trying some new white recipes; like white bean hummus or a bechamel sauce over ham and cheese crepes. Or white gazpacho. I already make a mean tzatziki. Cheers!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Canned Soup Experiment

So, I was exhausted this weekend. Did get a good casserole made for my boyfriend and I that we ate all weekend. But then Sunday came, my usual day to cook for the week, and I just couldn't do it. So as I was shopping for brushes, paint tray inserts, spray paint, glass scraper, etc. I got the idea to just get several soups for the week, some multi grain crackers, and some cheese. I have fresh basil on the counter, so was hoping to spruce up the soup with fresh herbs. I knew some of the soups would not have much protein, so I bought some pork chopped for stews to cook up and add if needed. Another way to add protein would be to add a dollup of plain greek yogurt. Each can has two servings. So I got 14 meals out of the following. At 1.68/can, that was only about 85 cents/meal. There is a ton of sodium in bought soups, but again, with as little as I eat, I'm not too concerned. But if there is a low-sodium option, I get that and just add my own salt if needed.

6 grams protein

The results? Thumbs DOWN on the beef pot roast. I don't mind that it's 'light', whatever that really means. Less fat? Less salt? It has zero seasoning, the meat was tough. Not good. I'm just not a fan of beef pot roast at all; my Mom fixed it occasionally on a Sunday with huge carrots and potatoes, and I just remember it being juicy and tender and almost caramelized. Yes, I dumped ketchup on it; I was a kid and even used ketchup with fish sticks. But this pot roast in this soup? Nope.

9 grams protein

Thumbs DOWN.  Lentil soup is tricky. This is one I haven't made myself; now I feel like I need to at least try. Lentil soup can taste too earthy, actually like dirt. This one tasted like dirt. And the broth was too thin. I like lentil soup that's almost as thick as chili. My favorite canned lentil soup to date is this from Aldi:

2 grams protein

Thumbs DOWN. I do make this one, and I love my version. The broth had no richness here, barely tasted of beef, and the onions were just slimy and translucent, not caramelized. They were too thick. I like mine more thin. And of course, if you don't top with toasted baguette and a creamy white cheese, it's just wrong.

5 grams protein

Thumbs UP! Noodles, chicken, and carrots are in perfect proportion, and are the right bite size. Broth is just seasoned enough. Found that I didn't need to add more salt. Good news. Sometimes I added some fresh basil or cilantro to give it a fresh push. Either way, super comforting and satisfying. 

4 grams protein

Also tasty. Thumbs UP. But I would always go for the previous since it has one more gram of protein.

4 grams protein

Thumbs sideways. Not quite creamy enough. But who doesn't want dumplings?!

3 grams protein

Thumbs DOWN. Tiny bits of potato and clams. Not chunky enough. If I remember correctly, Chunky soup's version is much better. But after having the real thing on the Oregon Coast (see below) this past summer, I can never do canned again. I'm in Missouri; that's how it goes.

Clam Chowder at Waves restaurant in Waldport, Oregon.
Had some at South's Fish Market in Newport, OR. Even better.