Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 70: Scrumptious Salubrious Squash!

Being on a diet low in complex carbs, I admit, I do miss bread, pasta, and other foods traditionally deemed as 'poisons' for people with low-metabolisms such as myself. That's why I've been creative in the kitchen to come up with some tasty alternatives that will make the losing with so much the better! My dad's been on the same quest to change his life around because as he said, if you can't control what you put into your mouth, what can you can control in life? You wouldn't consume poison, so that's how I motivate myself not to eat the delicious pasta/pizza/bread baskets I've encountered at restaurants and grocery stores. Anyway, back to the squash: Even though it hasn't really felt like a true winter in New York City, it has been a lovely season for squash and there are so many kinds to choose from, it's not even funny! My new favorite is called spaghetti squash. That's right--I said spaghetti--but lo and behold, it's a much healthier alternative to the high-carb pasta you may be thinking of. Spaghetti squash has the look of spaghetti (if it were a squash), with yellow strands that you peel away from the rind and you can pretty much substitute it in any recipe that would normally call for traditional spaghetti, like spaghetti and meatballs, noodle kugel, etc.  However, I used it in replace of noodles along with some thinly sliced tofu for some gluten-free, vegan Mexican lasagna tonight. My sister agreed that it was most definitely scrumptious and salubrious! Along with this recipe, I'm also including a second take on celiac pancakes that uses pumpkin instead of coconut. Take a look:

Vegan Mexican Lasagna
Makes 8 servings

2-3 cups Swiss chard, chopped
2 cups of kale, chopped
2 c. yellow and brown cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cup white onions, chopped
1 3/4 c. spaghetti squash
3/4 block light firm tofu (I used Nasoya brand)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp lime juice
4-6 squirts Tabasco sauce
1 packet raw stevia
1/4 c. Tofutti sour cream
1/8 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/8 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp vegan pesto sauce (Bear Pond Farm's)
1/3 cup black beans
3 tbsp Toffuti sour cream
1/2 c. grated vegan cheddar cheese (I used Vegan Gourmet, which was actually tasty and melted just like regular cheese, unlike most vegan alternatives)
1/4 c. lactose free cheddar cheese (optional, since it's not vegan)

1 tbsp soy bacon bits (Bac'Uns brand) for garnish
1 tbsp ground oregano for garnish
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Rinse off the kale, swiss chard, and tomatoes in a colander and set aside.
3) Layer 1 cup of kale and swiss chard onto the bottom of the pan, topping it with 1 cup of cherry tomatoes.
4) Place the onions in a small skillet and caramelize with the raw stevia and balsamic vinegar, stirring them on medium-high heat until they appear translucent, about 5 minutes. 
5) In a small bowl, combine vegetable broth, garlic, pesto sauce, almond milk, 1/4 c. sour cream and lime juice.
6) Cut the tofu into thin 1/8" slices and cover the veggie mixture with about half the amount.
7) In a small food processor, blend the beans with the 3 tbsp sour cream and Tabasco sauce until smooth. 
8) Spread 1/8 c. of the mashed beans on around the tofu slices on the veggie layer.
9) Layer on the rest of the kale and Swiss chard, topping it with the remaining tomatoes and caramelized onions.
10) Place the remainder of the tofu slices on top, pouring the creamy mixture from before on top of the tofu.11) Sprinkle the vegan cheddar on top of the mixture, garnishing with the cilantro, oregano and vegan bacon bits.
12) Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place the dish in the oven to bake for about 30-35 minutes. 
13) Divide and serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Mini Pumpkin Pancake Muffins
Makes about 16 mini pancake muffins

½ c. canned pumpkin
4 tbsp flax powder
4 tbsp almond meal/flour
4 packets of raw stevia
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs separated
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Chinese five-spice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and sift together with a fork.
3) Whisk in the egg yolks along with the vanilla extract and the Chinese five-spice.
4) In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they form foam peaks.
5) Fold the egg whites into the batter.
6) Line 2 8-cup muffin pans with aluminum cupcake liners and spray them lightly with Pam Buttery spray. (I used a heart-shaped muffin pan along with my regular pan, which I obviously couldn't line with cupcake liners, so that's part's optional as I discovered later).
7) Bake pancake muffins in the oven for about 1-15 minutes, until they bounce back to the touch and are slightly browned on top.
8) Serve with the balsamic syrup from the previous pancake recipe!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

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