Saturday, May 22, 2010

sweet somethings in my bowl

Sweet nothings in my ear are nice, too, but my goal is to entice you, not nauseate you.

Tonight's post will [I hope] be full of rewards for suffering through my beauty product reviews.  Let's start with a sweet review.

I have found that the best weapon in my arsenal of healthier eating options is to always have healthful alternatives to Mister's favorite junkfoods readily available.  With that in mind, I took advantage of a recent sale at Whole Foods to pick up something I have heard great things about but never tried...until tonight.

Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss is a great brand, ethically speaking.  They are vegan, pareve kosher, and use fair trade ingredients.  Their non-dairy desserts are a blessing also to people who can't do soy or gluten, since they're based in coconut milk (I hope that doesn't come as a surprise).

Not nearly as creamy in texture as the Tempt "ice cream," the Mint Galactica Coconut Bliss we tried tonight was more like Breyer's - it tastes clean and natural and in that way, it is very refreshing.  It is not as thick as Tempt, which perhaps makes it a better choice for hot summer days/nights.  The nutritional profile is slightly more worrisome, packing about 50% more calories and a ton more fat than Tempt, so this will more likely be a special and occasional treat, though I feel fairly certain we'll get this again.  Enough people brought up their concern with the 12g saturated fat that Luna & Larry have it covered in their FAQs, but if you want my take on the healthful qualities of coconut fat, look here.

Tonight's dinner ended up being sweeter than I thought it would be.  I made Thai Steamed Green Garden with Coconut-Peanut Sauce from Vegan Express

The sauce was sweeter than I thought it would be, despite my conservative addition of agave nectar and my relatively generous addition of harissa (in place of the prescribed curry paste).  I think tamari might have added the savory character I was anticipating.  The lack of bite or savory caused the sauce to come across as quite mild.

Attractive though it is, I realized something tonight.  I really don't like steaming vegetables.  Maybe I don't do it right, but they always taste like water.  Supposedly, steaming veggies is the best way to keep their flavor and nutritional character intact but that has not been my experience at all.  I like the idea behind this, so I'll probably make it again, but next time I will saute/stir-fry the veggies and add tamari to the sauce.

Wednesday could have been a One-Serving Cooking Adventure, but instead I did an exact repeat of Tuesday's soup and wrap dinner.  Due to a stressful day at work, Mister was not in an eating kind of mood last night, so I got a second chance to be creative - it takes a special level of tragedy/stress to make me not hungry.

My brainchild/labor of love started out with me scanning the cupboards of my mind for all the things Mister won't eat but I do.  Immediately, I knew I needed to incorporate quinoa (pronounced KEEN- wah) - a lonely, almost-full bag has been sitting in my cupboard ever since Mister told me he hates quinoa several months ago.

Toasted Quinoa Pilaf Salad
makes 2 servings (no one is perfect and I needed leftovers for lunch)

1/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp tamari (soy sauce)
1/4 tsp minced ginger (I used jarred)
1/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit (I used pineapple and cranberries)
3-5 baby carrots, sliced on the bias
salad greens

Toast the quinoa in a dry skillet/saute pan on medium heat, 2-3 minutes, until it starts to crackle and pop (but no snapping!).  Pour in broth, ginger, and tamari and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to the lowest setting, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes. 

Once the quinoa has absorbed nearly all the liquid and the germ is spiraled out of the grain, remove from heat and add dried fruit.  
Cover and allow fruit to steam on top of the quinoa for about 5 minutes, then stir together.

Meanwhile, toast the coconut and almonds together in a dry skillet over low heat for 3-5 minutes, until fragrant and the coconut is just beginning to brown.

Lay salad greens in a shallow bowl or on a plate, top with quinoa mixture and carrots, then sprinkle generously with coconut-almond topping.

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