Friday, January 27, 2017

How To Make Cauliflower and Tortillas for Dinner

When it's time to put a menu together for the week I also have to plot my shopping.

I had leftover cooked cauliflower, corn tortillas, salad, leftover vegetarian enchiladas, avocados, and tomatoes. That's it. Ever been there? Now, what am I going to do?

I made guacamole with lime and salt and pico de gallo with tomatoes, jalapeno, onion and cilantro, (a typical salsa I now make instead of buying it). There. That's should do it, for now, I thought.

Just know that when you start a plant-based regimen, this no longer a critical moment.  It's not, "omg! now what?" when all you have is cauliflower and tortillas.

It gets easy as we learn that cauliflower is a base. (More on that later.) 

What has helped me this week is having sauces. I'm getting used to buying them. Last week, I bought adobo sauce which is similar to mole, (you know, the kind in a jar), and chimichurri sauce that is also used as a spread.

I thought this was mole! What a great find though.

Some of these sauces may not be good for you, as far what’s in the ingredients, but when you’re transitioning, this is a good place to start. 

It’s always good to read the labels but when you're out shopping, pick up some sauces.  It's good to mix with vegetables and I was right. I didn’t know what chimichurri sauce tasted like but I thought I’d try it.
It was delicious and did the trick.

Looks like shrimp! Doesn't it?

Fresh Sauces

In the beginning, I used to use a lot more pre-made sauces and foods in cans but, now I’m getting used to making some of these fresh. The same might be true for you.  You’ll buy them pre-made in the beginning but after awhile, you might learn to make them fresh. Who knows? It’s good to start small if you can.
I poured the chimichurri sauce over the leftover cooked cauliflower and mixed it in a large silver bowl with a large gentle spatula. I then laid them out in a mini pan that goes right into the oven. 

PB Tacos
Before I knew it, I was heating tortillas and putting the chimichurri cauliflower in tortillas. We were supposed to eat the dips with the tortilla chips but decided it was better for everything to be put in tortillas.  

We topped the tacos with guacamole and pico de gallo and decided to ditch the salad, (once again). This was filling enough. 
We ended up putting away the salad. I thought we’d use the salad as a “filler,” but Richard said, “this is too much food!” (Really?)
To think, most Friday nights we just eat a large pizza with pepperoni and  mushrooms, (mushrooms being our only vegetable). Tonight it was nice to spruce things up, if you think having cauliflower tacos is anything special.
Pair these with a white wine and it's a piece ‘a cake! What do you think? 
Feel free to give a comment below. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Cooking With No Oil

As I cook more plant foods, my taste buds change. And as my taste buds change, I begin to open up to the idea of how how to cook with no oil. This is a big game changer for me because oil is also a staple in our cooking. 

However, here are some basic foods that I started to cook without oil. 


I'm talking about all kinds of greens. A lot of plants have water in them the way we are made up of water. (I know, I'm bringing you into how I think.) 

I'm talking about cabbage, kale, spinach, Brussel sprouts, etc. There is absolutely no need to saute these in oil unless you're doing it for flavor but honestly, these foods have such a great flavor already. 

A little salt and pepper and maybe garlic and you can taste the purity of the vegetable. 

Vegetable Medley:

When you need to cook a lot of different vegetables, which is often, there's no need to add oil.

Again, just a little water to loosen them up in a non-stick pan is all you need. The key is to use a good non-stick pan.  I saw this copper non-stick pan I think on QVC and I just wanted it!

Get a good non-stick pan and you're already there.

Fresh butter squash with a frozen corn and black bean medley

Onions, mushrooms and tomato - no need for oil.

Hash browns: I have tried adding water to this but honestly, they come out mushy.  

I need to research how to cook hash browns. From now on, I'm going to add these in the toaster. The lesson here is not to saute them in a pan.

These are the four dishes you can start eliminating the oil. Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Adobo Enchiladas

Another great favorite is enchiladas.  This would seem very easy as a vegetarian dish by substituting the meat with cheese or even spinach.

However, this recipe takes work! If you know how to make enchiladas, this one is for you. If you don't know how to make enchiladas, learn how to make them. There are many ways to make enchiladas - this is just one of them.

If you really know how to make enchiladas, then you know this dish comes with the conviction that oil is necessary to coat the tortilla before rolling it, except that oil can derail this recipe from being plant based. For example, my mom says that oil is an absolute must if the tortilla is going to stay together. Others say that enchiladas without cheese won't do either.

Well, I agreed with them until now.

I've learned that omitting some of the ingredients we're used to or even substituting the ingredients can turn enchiladas into a completely different dish. It's recreating the dish into a fabulous new one that you won't even remember the old one. Make sense?

First, let's start with the Adobe sauce that was supposed to be mole sauce  How I picked up the wrong type of sauce beats me except that it was in the same type of jar with the same brand of colors. Have you ever done this?

After I tried it, I loved it.

Second, I couldn't coat the tortillas with oil. Very little to no oil is more of a plant-based dish but I'm beginning to not like the taste of oil. So what am I supposed to do?

Well, I begin to cook the vegetables and move on with it. I figure it out as I go.

I cooked the zucchini in a saucepan without oil because I zucchini is one of the foods that doesn't need oil. I've learned this here.

I added the rest of the frozen vegetables and just cooked them. I steamed the cauliflower, thinking I would add that later too in a separate pan but what did I know?

I prepared the sauce the same way I would make the mole sauce with sugar and chocolate. I didn't have the Mexican chocolate I would typically add so I added cocoa. Same concept and probably less fattening. (For instructions on how to make this sauce, it's on the jar.)

With the adobo sauce and vegetable mix side by side in saucepans, I added the chocolate sauce into the vegetables and thought of making the enchiladas like wet burritos. Again, I'm just going with it. I had to figure out a way to keep the tortillas from not breaking apart but not making them too dry either.

As I'm thinking about this concept, I thought of how I would previously heat the tortilla and quickly fry it by coating it with oil. After doing this you add the sauce and roll them with dry filling like chicken.

So I figured if I mixed the filling with the sauce and added it to a dry tortilla, that might balance it out. (Sometimes working this 'opposite effect' works and sometimes it doesn't but this is beginning to be a cooking concept I try every now and then.)

Hence, I mixed the sauce in the vegetables and began to pour the vegetable mixture into the tortillas that I heated.

I made sure the tortillas were a little crispy so that they would not break apart. If they were a little hardened, maybe this would help. So I warmed the tortillas a little longer than usual.

I added the sauce right over the dry enchiladas and figured the oils that were already in the sauce would activate the moisture necessary. (This is the scientist I become that I talk about in my book.)

When I started to add the cauliflower in the vegetables, I began to think that they would crumble into small pieces like Cotija cheese. When I thought about this, I thought about the way to trick the visual senses by adding it on top to make it look like cheese.

(Another concept I talk about in my book, is how our eyes are trained in what we think we know about food to the point it becomes psychological. Knowing this, I have learned to trick even myself!)

Since we had Cotija cheese, I simply sprinkled some with the cauliflower on top of the enchiladas. (By doing this, I have reduced the amount of cheese in this dish by at least a third.)

I put them in the oven at about oven ta around 350 degrees to cook them a little more and brown the cauliflower to make it look more like cheese on top and it worked.

They eye is used to seeing white cheese on top, browned and it looked perfect. The tortillas weren't entirely covered with sauce but I've seen recipes where the sauce doesn't necessarily cover the whole tortilla so I was ok with that.

It helps to eat foods that we're used to seeing visually. This makes eating plant based as normal.

I sliced some radishes and cilantro as a nice garnish and as nice as it was, I still hadn't tasted it. Before I did, however, Richard took a bite and said they were delicious. I made adobo enchiladas with no oil, very little cheese, and no meat.

Do you have another way you like to make enchiladas? Please let me know!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Oh God! I'm sick!!

Everyone knows what to tell you when you're sick. Drink lots of fluids, gargle with warm salt water, etc. But honestly, when you're sick and don't feel well, you might think to yourself what the insurance will be for a doctor's visit.

Here is when Google comes to the rescue. For me, I have tonsillitis every now and then which I've taken antibiotics for and never finish.

Here are some helpful sites I came across online when I googled "Home remedies for tonsillitis." Ya, just looking for a cure here folks.

Thanks to Dr. Axe ~

But of course, this is when my body will need all the healthy foods I've been giving it to kick in. It truly is mind over matter but most importantly, it's a constant war I'm having not just with eating right but when you eat right, you're still fighting a war to stay healthy.

Think about it. How are you winning the war on staying healthy?

Tell me what you think below.