Thursday, September 24, 2009

Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow is not, as I'm sure you've gathered, actual dog food. That would be boring. Who wants to make dog food unless you want to save the starving hairy skeleton that hangs around your garbage bin and licked your hand once and made you feel like this is the stupidest rambling sentence that isn't even a metaphor, why am I writing it.

Okay, so. Not dog food.

It IS, however, a most delicious form of noms, as well as slightly dangerous. Trust me when I say if you are alone in a room with this, it can only end badly, and one of you will be crying. So be certain to recruit some mouths before making this, or be like me and carry a huge bag of it around campus and force it on anyone who makes eye contact or looks hungry. ...Yes, I really did do this today. I just want to be loved.

On a happier note, though, this is a somewhat healthier version of the traditional puppy chow with which you may be familiar.

Puppy Chow
Note: Again, since I have the tendency to throw random amounts of things together...use your best guess.

1 - 1 1/2 cups Natural Peanut Butter (You can use regular peanut butter, but I have an obsession, okay.)
1/4 cup Cocoa
3 - 4 cups Life Cereal (or another cereal of your choice, like Shreddies, Chex, etc. Even bran flakes might work, AND they would mean less guilt if you consumed it for the whole day.)
Icing Sugar

Melt the peanut butter in a large pot over low heat.

Stir in the cocoa until mixed in.

Pour in the cereal and stir it until well coated. Remove pot from heat.

Add the icing sugar in gradual amounts (roughly a 1/4 cup at a time) until the cereal looks lightly coated (or to your taste).

Make sure you are surrounded by others to save you from being consumed by it's deliciousness.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chickpea Broccoli Salad

This salad is a healthier version of the more well known broccoli salad which usually involves cheddar cheese, bacon, red onion and a sugar-sweetened mayo dressing. Me being me, though, I naturally like to take what other people think is a good thing and fu -- change it up a bit.

This salad has no added sugar and is not doused with exorbitant amounts of mayo, which is one of my biggest peeves. See, I have this thing with mayonnaise. It tends to disgust me in ways I can't really explain. I don't like touching it or looking at it or smelling it, even though I enjoy it in food, except in globular, massive amounts, which Subway employees, no matter how you phrase it to them (not a lot of mayonnaise -- just a BIT - a TEENY - SMALL -- WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ARE YOU EDUCATED), always seem to put on your sandwich.

But, back to the salad. Like I said, not a whole lot of dressing, but I find the raisins add wonderful bursts of flavour and sweetness that make up for the lack of sugar and dolloping of mayo. Feel free to adjust the amount to your own tastes, though!

Chickpea Broccoli Salad
1 small - med. Head of Broccoli
1/3 - 1/2 cup Chickpeas
1 heaping tbsp. Finely Chopped Raw Almonds
1/4 cup Raisins
1/4 - 1/3 cup Barley (or whole grain of your choice)

1 - 2 tbsp. Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 tbsp. White Vinegar

Chop the broccoli into small, bite-size pieces and set aside.

Finely chop the raw almonds.

Toss the chopped broccoli and almonds with the chickpeas, raisins and barley in a bowl.

Add your desired amounts of mayonnaise and vinegar to the salad and mix until well-incorporated. Adjust according to taste.


Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds instead of Almonds
Cranberries instead of Raisins
Navy Beans instead of Chickpeas
Add in Celery for an extra crunch
Omit the barley or whole grain of your choice if you want a lighter side dish

Play with it, there are endless possibilities!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Whatever You Want in It Soup

I've been on a bit of a soup kick lately, after discovering from a super awesome friend of mine (who definitely is not reading this and getting this reference at ALL) told me that you can reuse the water lentils are cooked in as broth. I was ridiculously excited, because I hate using bouillon powder as it's essentially a concentration of SALT!! with double exclamation marks. Suddenly I had a healthy broth alternative at my fingertips, oh the possibilities! (Clearly I need a life.) However, lentil broth only lasts for about two single-servings of soup, and so I was once again without an easy broth source. (And I am way too cheap to buy an entire chicken or veggies to make my own broth. If I buy veggies -- or an entire chicken for that matter -- I want to EAT IT. Not boil them and throw them away. Blasphemy.) But then I thought -- tomatoes! Or, canned tomatoes, which are mostly liquid, and thus a perfect way to make broth without consuming inordinate amounts of sodium. Huzzah! And thus, this soup was born.

The great thing about soup though, (besides being a fast, easy and cheap meal) is that you can flavour it any way you like. This is just a basis for soup, which you can add to and change to suit your own tastes.

(Also, I do this thing where I don't really measure when cooking my own meals. So most measurements you see here are my best guess, so use amounts you think are reasonable if you don't trust mine.)

Tomato Lentil Soup
Cooking oil of choice (I used olive oil)
1/2 of White Onion, chopped
1 cup Broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup Canned Diced Tomatoes (including liquid)
2 tbsp. Water
1/3 cup Lentils
1 1/2 cup Spinach
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat a small pot over medium heat, add the oil, swirl it around, and then add in the chopped onion. Saute it for several minutes, until it begins to look translucent or is slightly browned, about 4 - 5 minutes.

Add in the chopped broccoli, tomatoes and water. At this point I usually start to add seasonings. I have a shameless love for freshly ground pepper, and highly recommend purchasing a cheap reusable grinder so you can have your own. (You will not regret it!) I have a bunch of pre-mixed seasonings, but for this soup, in addition to salt and pepper, I suggest using oregano, basil, parsley, and maybe a little cumin and (if you want your soup to have a kick) cayenne pepper. But really, it's up to you!

Stir in the lentils, bring the soup to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the spinach (the heat of the soup will cause it to wilt).


Ideas for alterations:

(The only reason I didn't put garlic in was because I was too lazy to chop it up.)

Add in some whole grains to get a complete protein (barley, brown rice, whole grain pasta, farro, quinoa, to name a few).

Choose your favourite veggies -- carrots, cauliflower, celery, asparagus, you name it!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nutritious Cookie Noms

So I have this obsession with baking. One that I'm surprised has not yet resulted in an intervention, although I'm sure I came quite close last year when I was baking up to three batches of cupcakes and or cookies a week. (Sometimes in one night.) Because even if it's past 10 o'clock at night and you're watching Hannibal wit your roommates, you want some peanut butter cookies and you want them NAO. (So much so that your mental narrator - what, you don't have one of those? - degenerates into lolcat speech.)

Ahem. However, having that many baked goods around is neither good to your wallet or your waistline (or those of your housemates, unless they're boys, in which case they are very reliable baking disposal machines). So I am learning some semblance of self-control. Not necessarily by not baking, but by baking things that will actually provide me with some kind of nutrition.

So cookies like these are a good thing. And not only because they taste good, but because you can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not feel guilty about it.

Healthy Oatmeal Spice Cookies (or Fibre Protein Snacks of AWESOME)

1 Ripe Avocado
1 Very Ripe Banana
1 Can (540 ml.) Chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked)
¼ cup Ground Flaxseed
1 cup Oat Flour (or grind 1 cup of rolled oats)
3 cups Rolled Oats
½ tsp. Salt
1½ tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Cloves
½ tsp. Allspice
¼ tsp. Nutmeg
Zest of 1 Orange
½ cup Maple Syrup
¼ cup Molasses (whatever you have on hand, though blackstrap is best)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Raisins
1 cup Chopped Walnuts or Almonds (or a mix of both, or whatever nut you have a hankering for)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients, spices and orange zest together. Set aside.

Puree the avocado, banana and chickpeas together in a food processor. Or, if you don’t have a food processor, mash the banana and avocado with a fork and take a potato masher/hand blender to the chickpeas. (Or mush everything in whatever way you find satisfactory.)

Whisk the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla into the puree mixture.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until combined. Stir in the nuts and raisins.

Press into balls and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet. (Warning: your hands will get very sticky with cookie goo, so you may have to wash them once or twice in order form the cookies more easily.)

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.