Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Joy of Cooking Indeed

The past three months have been ones of incredible change in my life. I decided to give my life the makeover it needed, stop complaining and dragging my feet, and create change. Surprisingly (to me), joining Weight Watchers has instigated all kinds of change in my life. Finding the Veggie Board there has sparked a renewed passion for me. I have found the most wonderful people, many of whom have inspired me to get back in the kitchen. We have always eaten relatively healthy meals, but we'd fallen into the habit of eating easy convenience foods, (even if they were organic they weren't the healthiest) and eating out. I think one of the things that kept me from cooking as much as I'd like was being afraid to try new recipes and not like them. It's much easier to cook when a) you need to know what's in your food, and b) the recipe comes highly reccomended, and with pointers no less! We picked up Moosewood Low-Fat Vegetarian Cookbook, and then started trying out community shared recipes. First I tried a simple recipe for calzones. It was amazing, and relatively easy! Next it was a Country Pie, with all kinds of vegetables, and seasonings I'd never used before (caraway seeds, combined with dill-very unique!). I started looking for new recipes on the web too and pulled off a low fat alfredo sauce that has great promise. Next to come was homemade dark chocolate pudding from Moosewood Low-Fat. Mmmmmm. Chickpea Mock Tuna Salad, Lentil Loaf, there have been lots of fun and healthy finds. My how I love those Veggie Boarders!

My latest joy has been learning a bit about Indian cooking. After eating at a small Nepalese place that we love, I was inspired to ask the Indians on the Veggie Board if they could help me learn to make a good curry. I wanted the basics, not just a recipe. Teach me how to fish, as it were. I couldn't have asked for more! I have been guided along every step of the way by a wonderful (and patient, generous) woman who is very skilled in Indian cuisine. I can now make a lovely curry with just her simple (but specific!) guidelines, and I'm experimenting more with the Indian spices I'm learning about. Pictured is a recent curry creation on a bed of whole wheat cous cous. This is quickly becoming a standard here.

The best thing about trying all of these new recipes is that I'm more bold with my techniques and my experiments. I can create a relatively simple meal that's different enough to keep things interesting. We've come to love the Quorn products, a brilliant me@t substitute that's easy and delicious. Recently I sauteed a couple of Quorn naked cutlets, topped them with an herbed sour cream, and did sides of steamed broccoli spritzed with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika and sunchokes sauteed with Garam Masala. It was so simple, and a delicious change. The kids can have a modified version with Quorn nuggets and either the curried vegetables or some veggies that I steam and set aside before adding to the curry. EcoMama's in the kitchen, and loving it!


e4 said...

Wow, great post. For one thing, it's making me crave Indian food.

We've got a 3-ring binder with plastic sleeves in it that we put "keeper" reicpes into. We got several "30-minute meals" type cookbooks and gradually tried new recipes from them, building up a pretty large repertoire over time. For a while we were doing a simple calorie counting diet, which was made easier because almost all of our dinner recipes had nutritional info, and most were under 500 calories.

Two of my favorite recipes are a chicken vindaloo (spicy!) that I got from a co-worker, and Moroccan chicken couscous.

I've got one kid who will eat dirt before she'll eat a brownie, and another one who, when given menu choices, always picks the thing he's never heard of. Tonight at the Chinese buffet it was mushrooms, jello, and scallops.

Enough rambling. Good luck with Weight Watchers.

e4 said...

Oh, if you want a very plant-centric cookbook, look for one called "Phytopia". It's not vegetarian, but it puts a lot of flavor emphasis on veggies and grains. We haven't tried a lot of recipes, because some of them use specialty grains that don't turn up on our usual shopping trips. It's a good read, if nothing else.

HaileySqueek said...

Mmmm...that curry looks/sounds wonderful! I'm going to have to start spending some time on the VB's Indian thread.

Suzer said...

Where can I find Quorn products? I eat Morningstar Farms and the like, but all their meat substitutes have way to much seasonings to add any of my own. It looks like yours is fairly plain, just right for cooking. I would love to be able to find something like that around here.

Mia said...

Here is the link to their store finder, Suzer:
e4, Thanks for the idea of the binder. Right now the front of my copy of The Enchanted Broccoli Cookbook is bulging!
HS, Some days are better than others on that thread, but if you stalk me on the VB you should be able to see the posts re: curry prep. Let me know if you don't find them.

Mia said...

I meant to add, the only place I think I've found out Quorn is at Whole Foods. Hope you can find some though, Suzer--it's GREAT. A bit pricey, but wonderful stuff.

Suzer said...

Thanks for the info, I found a store (fairly) near where I live. I can't wait to try it!