Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Zucchini-N-Greens Omelet Filling

This was a trial run of a new attempt to make a satisfying vegetable filling for an egg-white omelet.  To have it turn out so splendidly on my first try was impressive!   That's how easy it was and it filled my desire to start the day with a healthy dose of vegetables.  It combines healthy greens with zucchini, shallots and parsley.  

If you haven't cooked with shallots previously, you are in for a treat.  I was first introduced to shallots at the New Scenic Cafe where the chef cheerfully creates pureed vegetable dishes of the highest caliber to meet my needs. He usually uses shallots as an accompaniment to a main vegetable such as asparagus or zucchini and then adds some type of greens such as spinach or micro-greens.  And the chef graciously tells me the ingredients he used so that I can try to replicate it myself. While I can never equal the fine taste or presentation of the purees he prepares for me, it has inspired me to try new techniques and flavors.  

So what are shallots?  They are often thought to be a variety of onion but they are actually a species of their own. Shallots have a mild taste that combines the flavor of a sweet onion with a touch of garlic.  The beauty of a shallot is that they do not have the firm texture that an onion does when sauteed, so they are ideal for using in a puree.  Tom and I have added shallots to our list of what to plant in the garden next year.  This year, I have been purchasing shallots at the local farmers market and I see them regularly in most grocery stores.

This puree was born out of my desire to use up some of the last zucchini in the garden, as well as the kale that keeps on producing more leaves as soon as I cut them.   Oh,,,,the gifts that keep on giving!   I also long for vegie filled omelets like I ate BC(before cancer).  My new version of them is to use egg whites for the base and then put a pureed vegetable filling in it. The addition of fresh parsley in this filling certainly added to the vibrant color and taste.  And one morning I used up the second portion of this filling and added a new element of roasted winter squash cubes in the filling as well.  Definitely Pzazz!
Garden Kale

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon chopped shallot
1 Tablespoon chopped green pepper
1/2 cup peeled and sliced baby zucchini
1 cup chopped kale (stems removed)
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (approximate)
Sea salt to taste

Garden zucchini
Heat oil over medium heat and cook the shallot until fragrant and lightly browned.  Add the zucchini and green pepper and saute until almost tender.  Add the chopped kale and parsley and saute until wilted, adding a bit of water if needed.  Puree in a Magic Bullet or similar gadget and place on one half of the egg white omelet.  Cover the pan and continue cooking till the egg whites are completely done.  Fold the omelet in half and enjoy!

Nutrition: (for the filling only; does not include the egg white base) 
Servings per recipe: 2
Serving Size: About 1/4 cup
Calories: 74
Total Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 21 mg
Total Carbs: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 2 g

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Joyous Day!

Happy Birthday to our son, Caleb!  His wisdom has inspired, blessed, and encouraged me.  September 24 has significance not only because it is Caleb's birthday, but because it was September 24, 1998 when a 14cm neuroendocrine tumor was successfully removed from the tail of my pancreas.  So September 24, 2012, marks 14 years of living with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer.  While the tumor later reappeared in the head of the pancreas and remains there rearing its ugly head on a daily basis, I never dared to imagine that I would live for 14 years.  

When the tumor started invading the posterior wall of my stomach and the length and quality of my life seemed imperiled once again, Caleb wisely reminded me that it was not how long I lived but how well I lived that mattered.   

During the early years of this journey, I had CT scans every 3 - 6 months and generally received the contrast liquid in small brown vials.  I viewed those vials as perfect tiny vases for flowers, so saved them.  Now I enjoy choosing flowers to be held lovingly by the these make-shift vases.  I take great joy in seeing beauty emerge from what was an ordinary container for a nasty-tasting fluid. Somehow, it is representative to me of how the ugly and painful experiences of this life can be transformed into expressions of beauty and hope.  

Thanks to so many of you who have supported me on this path.  And thanks to those of you who have sent emails telling me of the encouragement and hope and nutritional support you have found on this blog.  You are the reason I keep exploring new ways to find Pzazz in the midst of health and nutritional challenges. 

For more information about any type of   neuroendocrine cancer, I highly encourage you to look at the websites for the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation or the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation.  

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is also a useful resource for individuals with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup

Tomatoes from the garden mark the end of summer and beginning of fall in my world.  With the threat of frost in Duluth, Tom and I picked most of the tomatoes from the vines earlier this week and reveled in the beauty of the many shades of gold and red and orange adorning the heirloom tomatoes.  I put the many still green tomatoes on a tray in the sunshine and will watch them slowly ripen.  I decided the easiest and tastiest way to use the ripe ones  was to slow roast them in the oven.  The smell as they roasted was earthy and inviting.  To make the soup, all I had to do was puree them and enjoy their naturally delectable flavor without the addition of anything beyond the fresh herbs used during the roasting process. 

Heirloom tomato
About 6 large ripe tomatoes or several small roma tomatoes
A drizzle of coconut oil or olive oil
Fresh basil, thyme, oregano, and/or rosemary.  As much as you want.
Sea salt

Slice the tomatoes and place them in a baking pan.  Drizzle the oil on them and add the fresh herbs and sea salt.  Roast in a 300 degree oven for about one hour.  The longer and slower you roast them, the sweeter and more caramelized they become.  Don't rush the process.  Let them cool and then puree.  They are so incredibly tasty as a soup.  I ate mine with a grilled cheese sandwich using thin slices of whole grain sourdough bread and low-fat mozzarella. Comfort food with Pzazz!

Bowl of Roma Tomatoes 

Variety of heirloom tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes with sprigs of oregano 

Roma Tomatoes after roasting

Roasting tomatoes with fresh herbs
Note:  I did not do a nutritional analysis as I know that one medium tomato contains 5 grams of carbohydrates and one medium plum tomato contains about 3 grams of carbohydrates.  And each bowl of soup used about 2 medium tomatoes or about 4 plum tomatoes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Zucchini Soups to Remember

Abundant zucchini!

Is the zucchini still sneakingly appearing under the leaves of the plant and making its way into your kitchen?   Or has it come to your kitchen by way of friends who don't like zucchini but were given some and they didn't want to offend the gardener and so they passed it on to you?  If you haven't thrown it in your compost pile yet or passed it along to another friend, here is a list of the zucchini soup recipes I have posted since I started this blog. Hopefully they will make you smile when you look at that long green mutant sitting on your counter.   Last week I made the Curried Zucchini Soup for the first time this year, and was glad I had remembered it.  I actually wanted more zucchini from my garden.  And don't forget about the merits of freezing soup for the days when your energy or time or health prevent you from making something healthy and tasty. 

Southeast Asian Coconut Zucchini Soup

Zucchini Pok Choy Soup

Asparagus-Zucchini-Spinach Puree                                     

Curried Zucchini Soup

Zucchini and Green Bean Soup

Zucchini and Basil Soup by Anna Thomas 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Zucchini and Basil Soup by Anna Thomas

Anna Thomas' recipes never cease to amaze me.  Her Zucchini and Basil Soup is outstanding!  It tastes creamy, yet there is not a bit of cream in it.  The amount of basil seemed excessive as I prepared the soup, but when I tasted it, I was singing the harmony of basil and zucchini for days upon end.  This recipe, found on pages 311 and 312 of her newest cookbook, Love Soup, will be one you will return to many times over and serve to guests who don't need pureed food, yet they will be asking for the recipe.  I guarantee it! 

If you aren't familiar with Anna Thomas, she is the legendary chef of vegetarian cooking.  Her first cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure, published in 1972, revolutionized kitchens across America, bringing vegetarian cooking to a new culinary level.  To purchase your own copy of Love Soup, (believe me, you won't  be disappointed with this cookbook!) and to see a list of all of her cookbooks, please visit her website at Anna Thomas - Vegetarian Epicure.   She has links there for you to purchase her books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other sites, as well.  

Zucchini and Basil Soup

I checked out a copy of Love Soup from the local library for two weeks and had to use a vice grip to get it out of my hands to return it.  I purchased my copy from Barnes and Noble the same day I returned the library copy.  You can see in the photograph above how many little page markers I have inserted.  And although the title of the cookbook implies it has only soup recipes, it actually contains far more than this.  My family has also enjoyed other recipes such as her recipe for Kale Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts.  Oooohhhh...sometimes I miss those crunchy salads.   But thankfully, her culinary talents have brought so much Pzazz to my soup world, as she elevates green soups to a whole new level.   The fact that such a legendary chef enjoys green soups as much as I do makes me makes my eating style feel normal.....almost.  

The only element I changed in this recipe for Zucchini and Basil Soup was to substitute coconut oil for olive oil to accommodate my dietary needs.  Her cookbook does not provide a nutritional analysis for each recipe and I calculated that using SparkPeople recipe calculator, as I do for all recipes posted on this blog, unless noted otherwise.  The nutritional analysis uses coconut oil rather than olive oil. 

Anna Thomas' recipe for Zucchini and Basil Soup and other delectable soups is available in her cookbook.  I highly encourage you to try it!

Servings per recipe: 9                          
Serving Size: 1 cup                  
Calories: 107
Total Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 377 mg
Total Carbs: 11 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 2 g

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Black Bean Salsa Dip

Garden bounty of heirloom tomatoes
I created this recipe on the spur of the moment, using ingredients I had.  A few black beans and some cilantro left from the weekend and fresh salsa that Tom made from the  bounty of fresh garden tomatoes, peppers, and onions. So I combined the black beans with some salsa and threw in some extra cilantro and a bit of Fage Greek yogurt to make it creamy.  Superb! If you don't have the ingredients to make fresh salsa, you can easily use your favorite brand of purchased salsa.  For the nutritional analysis, I used mild Pace Chunky Style Salsa.  Ah....the joy and Pzazz of creation.

Black Bean Salsa Dip

Tom's Garden Salsa
1/3 cup salsa
1/2 cup cooked black beans
2 Tablespoons Fat Free Fage Greek Yogurt          
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Georgia Flame and Czech Hot Black Peppers from the garden

Put all ingredients into a Magic Bullet or similar gadget and puree to desired consistency.  Garnish with another small dollop of Greek yogurt and finely minced fresh cilantro.  Delicious with whole grain tortilla chips!

Servings per recipe: 2
Garden Goodness!
Serving Size: 1/4 cup                                
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 374   mg
Total Carbs: 13  g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 5 g

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zucchini Pok Choy Soup

Harvest from a single day from Tom's vegetable garden!

Here is the harvest from Tom's vegetable garden in just a single day. WOW!   It is definitely a banner year for the vegetables.  It is the last of the beans (purple and yellow), but just the beginning of the many varieties of heirloom tomatoes, more suyo long cucumbers (nearly 50 cucumbers from a single plant),  the second harvest of pok choy,  and.........more zucchini!  Some people might be glad when their gardens stop producing zucchini, but not me....bring it on!!  I can always find more ways to prepare it.  

View of the garden from the deck

And today's lunch was a good example.  Just a simple zucchini/pok choy soup.   Is it spelled Pok choy or pac choi???? I posted an earlier recipe for a Pok Choy Broccoli Soup, but as I looked at the seed packet Tom had ordered from Territorial Seed, I realized that it was spelled "pac choi", so there are apparently a few different spellings.    "Pac choi".  "Pok Choy". It's fun to say, isn't it?  And doesn't it conjure up images of all things Asian and exotic?  If you aren't familiar with pok choy, it is a member of the brassica rapa family and a dwarf version of the more familiar bok choy.   Bok choy is Asian cabbage and delicious.  Pok choy is simply an extra tender version of it.  And like bok choy, it is filled with high amounts of beta-caratene, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, calcium and iron.  Pok choy is also a great source of vitamin K.  

Zucchini Pok Choy Soup
Garden Pok Choy ready to be washed.

I wanted a quick and simple lunch and so skipped doing the usual saute of onions and garlic that is the most often prelude to many of my creations, and opted instead for the addition of garlic powder, onion powder and Chinese 5-Spice Powder.  It took no more than 20 minutes to make it,  and probably not much more to eat it, either!  I enjoyed it with left-over tofu from last night that I had sauteed with Asian spices.  For supper last night, we enjoyed a stir fry of pok choy, baby bella mushrooms, garden peppers, onions, celery, garlic, ginger, and garden carrots.  After it was all stir fried in coconut oil,  I took out a portion for me and put it in the Magic Bullet and Pok Choy Pzazz!  Try saying that three times in a row! 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 cup pok choy leaves, chopped
Sauteeing zucchini and pok choy
(wash and drain pok choy before chopping)
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste
5-Spice Chinese Powder 

Thoroughly wash and drain the pok choy, then chop it.  Heat the oil in a pan and add the sliced zucchini.  Saute it until it is nearly tender.  Add the chopped pok choy and cook until the leaves are wilted.  Add the vegetable broth and continue to cook over medium heat until the zucchini is tender.  Add the seasonings and blitz it with Pzazz in a Magic Bullet or similar gadget to puree.  

Servings per recipe: 1
Zucchini Pok Choy Soup with Tofu
Serving Size: Approximately 3/4  cup                        
Calories: 163
Total Fat: 14 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg                                        
Sodium: 86 mg
Total Carbs: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 2 g