Tuesday, August 25, 2009

nom nom nom the spinach

First, though, tales of today's bar. Today I had the thinkFruit Chocolate Pomegranate Power bar. It left a much more favorable first impression than the Jocalat bar yesterday, though I think that if I had to choose between the two, I would actually choose the Jocalat bar.
First of all, there's just something about me that cherishes the simplicity of 3-5 ingredients. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the thinkFruit bar had the most ingredients - granted, only ten, but they included things like added pectin and the ever-enigmatic "natural flavor." Also, I don't care for the trickery of using pineapple and pomegranate flavored cranberries to flesh out the bar. I would not have been less inclined to purchase the bar if it had said Chocolate Cranberry Power or something like that because honestly, I was more excited about the chocolate. Speaking of chocolate - the chocolate taste was subtle...possibly even more so than the Jocalat bar, which surprised me for some reason. On the plus side, this bar is lower in fat than other fruit & nut bars, with the added bonus of being enriched with omega-3s despite the lower fat. Also, there were a couple of times when I could swear I tasted figs, but there were none on the label...unless they are the "natural flavor." I guess we'll never know.
Anyway, it wasn't a bad bar at all. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about thinkProducts in general, but as it goes, I wouldn't turn my nose up if this was offered to me. I just wish pomegranate wasn't dead last on the ingredients list since it's part of the bar's name.

For dinner tonight, I made the Chamomile Couscous with Savory Spinach (but there was actually only one piece of spinach - the rest was spinach-flavored basil*). It was fun and different. I think it'll take a little tweaking, but all in all it came out well. Also, when you are absolutely certain you have an abundance of chamomile tea in your tea chest, please check before you arrogantly write it into a recipe as though you'll never run out. You can also read that as: My dumb butt didn't realize I only had 1 of the 2 tea bags I had written into the recipe, so I substituted one chamomile tea bag with Stash Sandman tea, which contains chamomile...and spearmint, which way overpowered both that chamomile and the pure chamomile tea bag. Also, in an effort to draw out the flavors of the tea and not just the scents, I think I overdid the honey. Below you will find the amended recipe, with less honey.
Chamomile Couscous with Savory Spinach
serves 6
a little more than 2 cups water
2 chamomile tea bags
2 cups plain couscous
1/2 Tbsp (1 1/2 tsps) honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 Tbsp garam masala**
1/2 tsp salt
28 oz (petite) diced tomatoes
15 oz chickpeas, rinsed and drained
9 oz fresh baby spinach

Boil the water, then place the two tea bags in the pot and cover - allow to steep at least 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, stir in honey until dissolved, then add couscous. Cover and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep pot. Add the mustard seeds and cover. When mustard seeds begin to dance, sprinkle in the garam masala, then stir in the undrained tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, stir in chickpeas and salt and simmer a few minutes. Add about 1/3 of the bag of spinach, cover to steam 1-2 minutes, then stir into tomatoes and chickpeas to wilt. Repeat with second 1/3 and final 1/3. If your cat enjoys spinach, share some with him (or her) before you destroy it all in your dinner. Once all spinach is added and has wilted, uncover and allow to simmer about 5 minutes.
Fluff couscous. Serve spinach mixture over a fluffy white cloud of couscous!

*this was a joke...read about the pomegranate-flavored cranberries again if you didn't get it.

**Garam Masala is merely a mixture of popular spices used in Indian cooking. One brand will have one mixture and another will have a completely different mixture. For this recipe, I used Whole Pantry brand - a.k.a. the Whole Foods store brand - which ended up being much heavier on cardamom than I would have preferred. Cardamom is one of those very pungent and peculiar spices that is better seen but not heard, so to speak. Whole Pantry Garam Masala has the following spices: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander. To balance out the pungency of the cardamom and cloves, I added just a pinch of cumin for its savory and a generous pinch of turmeric for its bitterness. You'll be able to smell if it needs something. For the record, my favorite Garam Masala (so far) is McCormick brand.

Finally, I got Angst to dance for his spinach. I tried to get some action shots to share:"mmm... is that my spinach?"
"nom nom nom"

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