Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spinach-Chard Filled Egg White Omelet

Earlier this week, my good friend, Julie, and I basked in the glorious sunshine and winter beauty of Lake Superior.  The ice capped rocks, the icicles frozen on logs, the silhouette of bare trees against the azure sky inspired and awed us.   After a quick walk along Brighton Beach we drove further up the shore to New Scenic Cafe for lunch.  The few times that I have been there,  New Scenic Cafe has been eager and cheerful to accommodate my dietary needs by pureeing vegetables and reducing fat, without compromising taste and presentation.   And they have done this at no extra charge.  I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for exquisite food with an amazing view of Lake Superior.  The food has always been delightful and this meal was no exception. Julie and I  lingered over our lunch,  thankful for a window view with bright sunshine and thankful for friendship that has endured many years.  

I ordered a sandwich from the menu that contained slabs of sauteed tofu with spinach leaves.  The waiter said that the chef would be able to easily puree the spinach into a spread for the sandwich.  When the sandwich arrived, I peered inside and was intrigued by the "just right consistency" which wasn't too thin nor too chunky. How did the chef do it? What tool did he use?  When I puree vegetables using my immersion blender or regular blender, a small amount of liquid is required, so the consistency of my creations is generally too thin to spread. My friend asked the waiter the questions about what tool the chef used. (I was too busy snarfing down the delicious sandwich.)  The waiter said the chef used a VitaMix to accomplish it.  Wow.  I am only vaguely familiar with a VitaMix, but know it is quite large and quite expensive.  I couldn't imagine how such a large device could be used for such a small quantity.  But I was on a new mission.  

Spinach and chard stems sauteing
One of my nutritional goals is to include vegetables in every meal.  Doing so for breakfast seems the most challenging.  Before I developed the need to puree my vegetables to prevent obstructions, I frequently made egg white omelets filled with sauteed vegetables of many types. But I hadn't figured out how to puree or pulverize vegetables to a consistency that wasn't too thin for omelets.  The meal at New Scenic Cafe inspired me to try new techniques.  So I dug out the Chopper/Grinder attachment to my Cuisinart Smart Stick and used it to process some sauteed spinach with some chard stems.  

Spinach-Chard Filling on Omelet
After using the Chopper/Grinder attachment, I inspected the mixture.  Hmmmm...would it pass the guideline given to me by my gastroenterologist - i.e. vegetables need to easily squeeze through a tube of toothpaste and without any stringiness.  Not quite.  So then I put the mixture in my vintage General Electric Food Processor, on which only one of the buttons now actually work.  Well, even missing the full range of buttons for processing, it did the trick.   The spinach/chard mixture was just right for placing in an omelet for my breakfast this morning.  It might look ugly as a stand-alone food, but tucked inside an omelet, it was tasty, nutritious, filling, and digestible.

1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped chard stems
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 egg whites

Heat olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add finely chopped chard stems and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add chopped spinach and saute until tender.  Remove from pan, cool slightly and then  place in a food processor and process to desired consistency.   Set aside.  Meanwhile, spray the skillet with nonstick cooking spray.  Beat egg whites until fluffy, and add seasoning as desired.  Pour egg whites into the cooking pan and cook gently over low heat, adding a cover to ensure the eggs are done on top.  When nearly finished cooking, spoon the spinach/chard mixture onto half of the omelet and fold the other half over it.  

For variation another time, I think I will add reduced-fat feta cheese and a sprinkle of Greek seasoning and a sprinkle of True Lemon crystals.

Nutrition: (includes egg whites for omelet) 
Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: 1 omelet
Calories: 116
Total Fat: 5  g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium: 204 mg
Total Carbs: 5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 17 g

Quick Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup with Nutmeg

It's important for me to have some quick and easy ways to incorporate pureed vegetables in my meals.  This soup is a favorite one that I created because not only is it extremely quick, the nutmeg seasoning adds just the right amount of punch to give a satisfying taste experience.  I try to keep bags of broccoli and cauliflower in the freezer for times when I simply don't have the energy to make anything more complicated.  The vibrant green color of this soup makes it particularly appealing.  It is similar to the recipe I posted earlier for Quick Cauliflower and Broccoli soup, but this one uses nutmeg.  Compensating for the lack of varied textures with an assortment of spices is one of the most important strategies I have learned on this journey into Pureed Pzazz.  Using this soup as a starter, you can use a variety of seasonings to create your own favorite combinations.  

1 cup frozen or fresh broccoli florets
1 cup frozen or fresh cauliflower florets
Approximately 1 cup water
Nutmeg, to desired taste
Sea salt to desired taste

Put the broccoli and cauliflower with water into a microwave safe 4-cup container.  (I like to use my 4-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup for most soups that I make in the microwave because I can then simply put the immersion blender into this container to puree the contents. Then I have only one dish to wash.) Microwave on high for about 5 - 6 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Cool slightly, then puree with an immersion blender.  Add nutmeg to desired taste.  A small amount of sea salt can also be added to desired taste.  

Nutrition: (doesn't include salt)
Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: Approx. 1 1/2 cup
Calories: 53
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0  mg
Sodium: 49 mg
Total Carbs: 9 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 3 g