Leftovers Cuisine: Second-Day Beef Stew with Quinoa and Beans

IMGP2033 What’s your leftovers attitude?

Mine is: leftovers are terrific opportunities to create a new, different, interesting, exciting dishes! Really. (Or, at the very least, no cooking the next night.)

For example, early this week, we returned from a week-long vacation in Jamaica (Sun! Sea! Sand! Piña Coladas!), and the spouse decided to make beef stew our first night home. It was basic: beef, potatoes, carrots, onions. After one dinner, we had about 1½ cups left—a slightly thick broth, dotted with a few pieces of beef, etc.

To be honest, it did look uninspiring, BUT…

Those Jamaican chefs had inspired me. They had raised leftovers + vegetables + mix-and-match beans to an art form. One night we had turkey as the main meat, the next day at lunch we had a tasty turkey stew with vegetables and two types of beans. Surely, I reasoned, this type of creation was in my cuisine skill set.

Their cooking also had a second appeal for me because it fit the flexible use-what-you-have-in-the-kitchen approach. My recipe uses tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa. Why? Yup, you guessed it.

The result was delicious and filling, plus the spouse liked it! And he doesn’t always go for my mixtures—unfortunately, his mother cooked basic (meat, potato, veg) and served basic (no mixing) and this has had a lingering effect.

If you try this recipe, please use it as a template rather than a fixed-in-stone culinary creation. Feel free to change ingredients, vary quantities, and use your favourite spices. Continue reading

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Tomato Quinoa-Bean Squares

Today I’m writing to you about a culinary triumph and a baking disaster.

Disaster first. Those who follow this blog may recall that I planned to experiment with my gluten-free angel food cake recipe to bring down the carb and calorie count. Well, experiment I did, substituting erythritol for some of the sugar. Erythritol is granular like sugar, has no calories or aftertaste, and is very low on the glycemic index.

sadfaceSo what happened? The erythritol (1) melted and created a messy, black residue on the bottom of the oven that had to be scraped off, (2) sealed the tube section to the rest of the pan so tightly that the spouse had to pry it loose with a knife—good-by pan, and (3) resulted in a very crumbly, nowhere near as delicious, version of the real thing.

The cake did rise and stay that way, but…sigh. Upwards and onwards…

Now the triumph—A tasty, filling, low-cal, vegetarian bake!

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This dish is packed with protein via the beans, quinoa, and cheese. As well, the quinoa can  help you fill your daily whole grain quota, which is not always easy to do on a gluten-free diet.

This is also a great way to get rid of quinoa leftovers. In fact, it was the cooked red quinoa hanging around in my fridge that got this dish off the ground along with some recipe-surfing on the Internet.

And what’s more, it is flexible.

  • Not quite enough quinoa? Not to worry.
  • Want to add more beans? Go ahead.
  • Prefer tomato paste to pizza sauce? Do your own thing and throw in some basil and oregano.
  • Like it hot? Go for it.

But most of all, enjoy!

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Turkish Carrot and Lentil Stew

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Yep, carrots again. But this time, instead of making them sweet and spicy, I adapted a coriander-spiced dish from NPR’s show, The Splendid Table.

I was attracted to this recipe because it

  • sounded like a tummy-warming, tasty, vegetarian winter stew.
  • required a lot of carrots and I’d bought a lot on sale.
  • included bean protein, which is always a good and nutritious thing.
  • would use up the tomato paste languishing in my fridge.
  • needed fresh herbs which I actually had on hand (almost never happens!).
  • would help fill up my teenaged grandchildren who were coming to dinner. (The dinner was cancelled after this dish was made, and we’ve been eating it ever since…but that’s another story.)

So I re-fashioned the recipe: eliminated the oil, used more carrots and, generally, simplified where possible. The result was delicious, had delightful grace notes of parsley, and was every bit as warm and filling as I had hoped.

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Navy Bean Brownies with Carob Chips (no flour, no dairy)

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How’s your Chocolate Monster? Mine is alive and well, thank you very much.

In fact, I would say that she has been on a bit of a rampage lately. I’ve made two batches of brownies in 3 days. I eat them for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.

Breakfast! you exclaim. Brownies for breakfast? 

Yup, unless you’ve got something against eggs and beans first thing in the morning. No kidding. These brownies* are not only delicious and filling, they’re good for you—high in protein, low in carbs, and low in calories.

So how can your Chocolate Monster or mine resist?

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Happy Thanksgiving and Check It Out! (5)

First, to my American readers, may you have a wonderful holiday with lots of terrific food and great company!

For those of you dieters who aren’t American and for those you dieters who will have to return to real life tomorrow, here are  interesting recipes that focus on vegetables and beans plus an article about our food preferences.

The Carnivore’s Guide to Vegetables by cookbook writer, Marc Bittman. Bittman is great at providing a recipe and then showing different ways to alter to suit you, family preferences, what’s in your fridge and so on. Here are four recipes, each with variations.

40 Magnificent Mushroom Recipesat the Wise Bread web site, is a compilation of recipes and great ideas for using mushrooms—for example, Vegan Mushroom Risotto, Mushroom Paté, and Mushroom Tikka Masala. Yum!

Beans, beans, and beans! Martha Rose Shulman at the New York Time has two great-looking bean recipes: Three-Bean Soup and Rainbow Quinoa Salad With Fava Beans and Herbs. I haven’t had a chance to try them, but her recipes are always good and reliable.

Finding New Tricks To Get More Satisfaction Out Of Low-Fat Foods, an article from NPR that reports on an interesting study about the thickness and creaminess of foods and how they affect our taste buds and appetite.

 

Thanksgiving: A Dieter’s Suggestions

Arghhh…Thanksgiving, the dinner that just keeps on giving—weight-wise that is. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie…and the list goes on.

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving and, as our Weight Watcher leader brought us through techniques for diet-managing the bounty of food, I began to think about my own strategies.

In our house, the spouse handles most of Thanksgiving. That is, he makes the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy and is not—repeat, is not—open to diet suggestions. Daughters bring salads and desserts.

I’ll have roast vegetables, probably Brussel sprouts, to ensure there’s lots for me to eat. But here are some other dishes I’ll make to keep my Thanksgiving calories down.

Dieter’s Spiced Cranberry Relish

Dieter’s Spiced Cranberry Relish: Love cranberry sauce? Don’t waste your valuable points on the canned stuff. This relish, made with cranberries, oranges, spices, and artificial sweetener, is easy to make, delicious, and 0 points!

Sweet Potato Bean Bake with Currants

Sweet Potato Bean Bake with Currants: If you can, try to avoid the white mashed potatoes and gravy; it’s just one big point-fest. This dish, on the other hand, provides protein, carbs, and great taste for only 3 points per serving. (Think 1/8 of a pie–see photo for Crustless Pumpkin Pie.) BTW, this is my favourite bean bake, and I often have a pan of it in my fridge. Bean bakes will keep for 4-5 days when refrigerated.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Crustless Pumpkin Pie: At the WW meeting, the leader passed around a recipe for a “crustless pumpkin pie.” My hopes lifted but then dashed. The recipe called for evaporated milk, and I don’t know how to replicate that with soy or another alternative milk. So…what will I substitute? Pumpkin “Pie” Bean Bake, that’s what! It looks like pumpkin pie, tastes like pumpkin pie, and is creamy like pumpkin pie. And even better? WW value: 2 points per serving unless you add coffee liqueur (optional).

Minty Lentil and Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese

Back in June, 2011, I wrote a post that included the travails of cooking (includes photo) aboard our 30-year old, 32-foot cabin cruiser, the Outrageous, which we use as a moving cottage on the lakes around Ottawa and as a means of travel to the St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands.

At the time, I likened the galley to a shower stall, and guess what? Nothing has changed its size between now and then. Thus another summer finds me once again seeking out ways to maintain my healthy, gluten-free, and low-cal diet while on the water. Basically, I need a variety of dishes that I can make in advance and that are easily portable.

Hence a Weight Watcher recipe for “Lentil Salad with Fresh Mint and Goat Cheese” caught my eye. It had no flour, I love mint, and legumes are my friends. Most importantly, it fit my seafaring criteria. The problem? After I made it, I found its flavour too dense—it had…well, too many lentils in one bite.

I began to mix it with other dishes: a lettuce salad, a chicken salad. All were good, but nothing I’d write home about. Then I decided to add cooked quinoa and hit the jackpot, taste-wise and nutritionally speaking. A cup of this salad is a power-house of filling protein and a great mix of tastes, both fresh (mint) and salty (cheese), and interesting textures, both crunchy and soft.

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Roasted Veggies Redux or “How will I gorge on vegetables today?”

I haven’t talked about roasted vegetables recently, but that doesn’t mean they’re far from my mind. Uh-uh.

As any dieter knows, the only food we don’t have to eat in moderation is vegetables. In fact, we’re encouraged to eat those veggies the way we used to eat chips, mmm, and cookies, yum, and ice cream, delish!, and…but, ahem, I digress.

Back to vegetables. I have many new readers to the blog, and I thought it would be helpful to re-visit roasted vegetables because they provide a really good solution to that never-ending diet question:

How will I gorge on vegetables today?

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Low-Calorie Snacks

Snacks and dieting…dieting and snacks. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, these are two things that don’t go well together.

In my pre-diet days, I loved the oh-so-easy snacks. I’d just grab something from the fridge or cupboard that would quickly satisfy my carb or salt cravings.

Snacks on a diet don’t have that happy-go-lucky quality. For me, snacks now require careful planning from the grocery store right up to the finished product. Even a simple nosh like an apple requires making sure I always have apples in the house.

But this post isn’t about the simple snacks. I don’t know about you, but sometimes an apple, a handful of carrots, or a bowl of popcorn (how to make your own in the microwave, oil-free) just won’t cut it. I want a snack more interesting in taste and texture that is also

  • Low in calories, i.e., has little or no fat. (Sugar isn’t a problem for me; I use artificial sweetener.)
  • Healthful because it has nutritious ingredients.
  • Filling so that I don’t get hungry again so quickly.
  • 2 Weight Watcher (WW) points or less so it doesn’t overwhelm my daily count. (Roughly 100 calories.)

To that end, I am now experimenting with snack recipes, mine and others’, with the express purpose of keeping the calorie count down. As part of this effort, I decided to compile a list of all my low-calorie recipes to better understand how to replace empty calories with good ones. I thought you’d find this list helpful.

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What is an “Incomplete” Protein?

As a result of working on The Bean Bake Blog, I’ve begun to look more closely at beans in general. For example, bean protein is considered an “incomplete” protein.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really understood the term: incomplete protein. I know we have to “complete” the protein with other food, but what does that mean, and how are we supposed to do it?

Clearly, it was time to do some research, and here is what I learned.

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