Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Steel-cut Oats with Cranberries and Almonds

Well, it's snowing again. Still. We've got another snow day for the kids, another day of shoveling a foot of snow at a time, and that means another day of warming, filling foods. My mom gave me an unopened canister of steel cut oats when I was there over Thanksgiving. I'd been meaning to try them out - I'd heard good things about them - and we love oats in this house anyway. I was intrigued by others' description of the chewy texture, rather than the glue-like paste of some rolled oats' dishes.

This version is pretty low-maintenance to boot. Instead of standing over a pot for a half hour, stirring constantly to keep the oats from sticking, you start these the night before and then let them sit overnight to soak. In the morning you just heat them up, sweeten to taste and then serve.

Steel-cut Oats with Cranberries and Almonds
Makes 3 servings

  • 3/4 cup steel-cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon orange peel 
  • 1/4 cup chopped salted roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Agave nectar
  1. In a large saucepan, boil the oats, dried cranberries and orange peel in the water for 1 minute. Cover, remove from heat and set on a heat-resistant surface.
  2. Let sit overnight.
  3. The next morning, uncover the oats and bring them to a boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the oatmeal is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the chopped almonds and some additional cranberries if you like and sweeten to taste with agave nectar.
One serving is worth 6 WW points.

  • There is a very large discrepancy between the points I got when I entered this recipe into the WeightWatchers online calculator and when I entered the nutritional data generated by Living Cookbook software. Like, a HUGE difference. I don't know what bit of pixie dust they have in the WW algorithms, but, man, it makes no sense.

    They revamped the points system to get away from assigning points value strictly on calories and to account for specific nutrients: fat, carbohydrates, fiber and protein. Still, when I entered that specific data which my software generated from the exact same recipe, I got a points value of 10 per serving. I think that the food database in my software might be hinky. :/

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

It's still cold here. I burned off god knows how many calories shoveling snow today and it looks as though I'll be trekking back out there today to shovel some more. I am still in my soup/stew kick, and today made up a pot of vegan chili. I was not in the mood for a long time spent on the mise en place (lol I love saying that "mise en place"). I really wanted to toss stuff in a pot and let it simmer because I just wanted to sit and catch my breath and rest before I had to go back outside into the snowstorm. Right? So I thought to myself: "Hmmm. Chili. Yes."

Now, chili is one of those foods which can attract controversy and strong opinion. There are those who believe that beans have no place in chili, like the chili con carne often also called Texas chili. Others like a lot of beans and minimal meat in their chili, while still others like to call a chicken and white bean stew by the name "chili." Many vegetarian chili recipes will also include high-protein grains like bulgur, though many chili purists would turn up their noses at it.

Honestly, if it's good, I like it all.I won't fight to the death over some literal interpretation of what a dish is supposed to be called, I'll just eat it.

Vegetarian Chili
Makes 6 servings

  • 1 15-ounce can chili beans in sauce (I used Full Circle Chili Beans)
  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1/4 cup bulgur
  • 1 20-ounce can diced tomatoes, with the juice
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Morningstar Farms crumbles
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 small dried chipotle chili pepper
  • 1 T dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  1. Put all ingredients in a large pot bring to a near-boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer on low for about an hour. Stir frequently so that nothing sticks to the bottom and burns.  Or you could just throw everything in a crock pot, put it on low and walk away.
  2. Taste to adjust seasonings, remove the chipotle and serve.

One serving of this chili is 5 WW points on the new PointsPlus Plan.

Amount Per Serving
Calories From Fat (10%)
% Daily Value
Total Fat 2.83g
Saturated Fat 0.4g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 884.16mg
Potassium 888.31mg
Total Carbohydrates 46.75g
Fiber 12.87g
Sugar 9.08g

Protein 15.75g

  • This chili is flavorful but not spicy. The chipotle gives it a little bit of heat, but even better, a wonderful smokiness which I think rounds out the flavor. Of course, if you have to have a number of alarms on your chili, feel free to add diced jalapenos or hot sauce to taste.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Potato, Leek and Celery Root Soup

There's been a lot going on lately, not the least of which is that I have joined Weight Watchers for their all-new PointsPlus plan. One of the changes is that most fruits and vegetables are freebies, with 0 points. You can read more about the changes here. So, this means that I am going to be slimming down my recipes, at least for the next three months, although if I do a Cookie-Palooza again, I just won't be the one eating many of them.

Ok, maybe one or two, to "test" them. ;-)

Today, I kick-started it with a nice, warming and filling soup. It's a blustery winter day here in Syracuse, with a forecast for Lake Effect Snow until Wednesday; the kids have a snow day and we're all trying to stay warm, so I opted for a nice pot of soup. I had a celery root languishing in the vegetable crisper, and a few fresh leeks and potatoes.... can you see where this is going? I adapted the classic vichyssoise by adding the celery root for that crisp celery flavor and omitted the cream. The result was a thick, luscious soup that clocks in at 5 points per bowl, or 29 points for the whole thing, so you can divide it up as you like.

Potato, Leek and Celery Root Soup
Makes 6 servings

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leeks
  • 1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 medium red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish
  • celery seeds

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the leeks, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the celery root and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  5. Reduce the heat, then simmer 25 minutes, covered, or until vegetables are soft.
  6. Remove the sprig of thyme and discard.
  7. Puree the soup using a blender until nice and smooth.
  8. Season to taste with salt- though this will probable not be necessary if you used regular chicken broth. Garnish with thyme and celery seed.

  • I am trying out a new recipe software for maintaining my recipe library, and it includes an option to create a table with nutritional date for the recipe.

Amount Per Serving
Calories From Fat (44%)
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.68g
Saturated Fat 5.13g
Cholesterol 20.35mg
Sodium 519.77mg
Potassium 614.77mg
Total Carbohydrates 19.31g
Fiber 1.53g
Sugar 1.63g

Protein 5.26g
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