Crockpot Portuguese Fava Bean Stew and Strawberry-Honey Yogurt

Ray and I have long days during the week. We are typically out-the-door by 8 AM, and on non-gym days we’re home by 7 PM, gym days home anywhere from 8-8:30 PM. This schedule obviously poses a bit of a challenge when it comes to preparing our own healthy meals at home. Of course, if you know us, you know we love a good challenge, and one solution we’ve turned to twice this week already is our crock pot.

Actually, it’s a little funny we’ve been using the crock pot so much lately, since Emilie Hardman during our recent vegan cooking class asked the class “What kitchen tool do you love but don’t use?” and Ray responded, “our crock pot!” I think the question got us thinking of why we love our crock pot and inspired us to use it again. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have to say, it is really amazing to come home to the smell of delicious hot food after a long day at work (and an hour at the gym!) and be able to scoop some onto a plate and chow down immediately!

So first we’ll show you a Portuguese bean stew we made last night right here, right now, and later on we’ll post our second crock pot recipe, a Thai green curry. Our friend Warren, who shared the meal with us, recommends adding a couple capfuls of tabasco sauce like his father used to do when he made Portuguese bean stew. I personally don’t handle heat so well, so I left it out of my serving and it was still yummy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Crockpot Portguese Fava Bean Stew

Portuguese Bean Stew

  • 1 pound fava beans (we soaked dried fava beans overnight, for about 9 hours. I think they were about half a pound dry.)
  • 1 ~15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (we used Muir Glen)
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 vegan snausage, diced
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 roasted red pepper halves (we got them in a jar)
  • 2 cups water
  • A crockpot

This is an extremely, extremely simple recipe. Dice up the onions, mince the garlic cloves, dice up the celery, slice the roasted red pepper. Toss all the ingredients into the crock pot. We did this the night before, covered the crock pot ceramic bowl in the fridge, and put it into the crock pot body the next morning and left it on low. It cooked for over 12 hours. When we got home, we stirred it up and served it over some brown rice from our rice cooker.

Portuguese Bean Stew - Crockpot

  • Servings: This will make 6 servings.
  • Weight Watchers Points: 2 points per serving. (If you divide it into 4 servings, it’s 4 points a serving)

Oikos Honey Greek Yogurt with Strawberries

Oikos Honey Greek Yogurt with Strawberries

Thanks to Kristina from Stonyfield Farm, we had some great coupons to get free Oikos Greek yogurt. (If you haven’t guessed by now, we are both huge Greek yogurt fans and Oikos is one of our favorite brands) It’s a little hard to get sometimes though, especially all the available flavors at the markets we normally go to. (It surprisingly wasn’t available at our food co-op, nor was it at the Market Basket or Shaws we go to. We ended up getting it at the local Whole Foods market.) We tried the following flavors:

  • Vanilla (Ray loves it!)
  • Blueberry
  • Honey
  • Plain

For dessert after our stew I sliced up some fresh strawberries and mixed them in with the honey flavor Oikos. The Oikos Greek yogurt is probably the thickest, creamiest yogurt I’ve had yet. It was really delicious and only 2 Weight Watchers points. So I highly recommend it! The only complications are that it cost a bit more than other Greek yogurts and can be difficult to find in stores (Market Basket told me they don’t carry it because of the price point.) If you’re looking to really treat yourself though, with a super creamy, thick, organic, and naturally-sweetened yogurt (no nutrasweet! no splenda!!) it is *really* worth it. For us, there is an extra bonus as Stonyfield Farm is local to us up in Londonderry New Hampshire.

Oikos Honey Greek Yogurt

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Mochi and Wild Blueberry Yogurt

Mochi and Wild Blueberry Yogurt

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • Four packets low-calorie sweetener (I prefer erythitol)
  • 4 squares of mochi (about 1″x1″ uncooked, was 1/4 a package for me)

I picked up a package of plain mochi (Grainassance Mochi Baking Sheet) at Whole Foods last week. I knew it was sweet, and that one serving was reasonable calorically (2 Weight Watchers points, roughly ~100kcal) but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

So, I followed the package directions… pre-heated the oven to 450F, dutifully cut 1/4 the package into 1″ x 1″ squares, spaced them out on a foil-lined baking sheet, and waited 8-10 minutes. While I waited, I put the blueberries in a small dish and defrosted them for 2 minutes in the microwave. I split the Greek yogurt between two bowls, adding two packets of sweetener into each bowl and mixing. I added in the blueberries. By the time I was done with the yogurt and blueberries, the mochi was ready.

Baking Mochi

The mochi puffed up into these cute little… poofies! I split them between the two bowls, which ended up being 4 squares per bowl, and served. What was cool about the mochi is that if you bite into them, they’re a little hollow, so I split mine in half then scooped up yogurt and blueberries inside.

Vegan Snausages and Apple Cinnamon Yogurt

Vegan Snausages

This week we started a two-part cooking class with Emilie Hardman at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Harvard Square. One funny coincidence is we were at a tea shop in Harvard (called Karma) last weekend admiring the desserts there. We come to find out during the class that she was the one who bakes them!

Anyway, one of the recipes we learned in the class was for fennel seed sausages which we tried out on our own tonight, adapting it slightly to lower the calories a bit (basically way less olive oil.) It definitely affected the texture – they are more chewy – but they are still delicious.

Also for dessert tonight I made a hot cinnamon apple topping that I put on a vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt. The warmth of the apples with the cool of the thick creamy yogurt was really good. ๐Ÿ™‚


Fennel Seed Sausage

Vegan Snausages

  • Cheesecloth
  • Twine
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 6 cloves smashed and minced garlic
  • 2 tsp smoked sweet paprika (ours wasn’t smoked so we added 1/4 tsp liquid smoke)
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp tamari
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

Preheat the oven – 400F.

Cut the cheesecloth into 6 pieces, about 8 inches square. Cut the twine into 12 small (~5 in) pieces.

Toast the fennel and cumin dry in a skillet for about 5 minutes, until you really start to smell it. Cool and grind.

Mixed the wheat gluten, garlic, fennel, paprika, sage, cumin, pepper, and nutmeg in a large bowl until mixed well. In a smaller bowl, combine the water, oil, tamari, sea salt, and liquid smoke if you used it, with a whisk. Dump the smaller bowl into the large dry bowl, stirring gently, starting from the outsides and working your way in. Make sure all liquid is absorbed… you may need to add more water. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes, until it is stiff and all moisture is absorbed. Cut the dough into 6 pieces, roll it into little snausage logs, and wrap each one into a cheesecloth square, tying the ends with the kitchen twine.

Vegan Snausages (In Cheesecloth)

Pour the vegetable broth into an oven-safe glass dish, or in our case cast-iron dutch oven. Arrange the cheesecloth-wrapped sausages in the broth, and cover the dish (use foil if using a dish without a cover.) Bake for 1 hour, cool.

  • Servings: Makes 6 sausages, 1 sausage per serving
  • Weight Watchers Points: 5 per sausage
  • More nutritional information, per 1 sausage:
    • Calories 254
    • Fat 4.9g
    • Carbohydrates 20.7g
    • Fiber 1.53g
    • Protein 27.9

Vanilla Greek Yogurt with Hot Apple Cinnamon Topping

Cinnamon Apple Yogurt

This recipe is super simple, quick, and easy, maybe not worth writing out but hey, maybe not everyone knows about the ziploc steamer bag trick of this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 1 ziploc steamer bag
  • 1 large apple (mine was a 6 oz red delicious)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon sugar
  • 1 container / 6 oz vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt

Core and slice the apple into thin slices. Toss slices into the Ziploc freezer bag. Pour in the 1 tsp of cinnamon sugar (if you don’t have any, mix 3 parts powdered sugar to 1 part cinnamon.) Zip up the back and shake it, shake it, sha-sha-shake it like a Polaroid picture! Place in the microwave for 3 minutes on high. Let it sit for 1 minute. Pour the greek yogurt out into a nice bowl, and mix it well. Open up the Ziploc apple bag, being sure not to get burnt by the steam (point the opening away from you as you open.) Pour the apples on top of the yogurt, and eat immediately to get the cool hot-cold sensation!

Cinnamon Apple Yogurt

  • Servings: 1
  • Weight Watchers Points: 3

Super Low-Calorie Mixed Vegetable Stir Fry

So this past weekend, we drove out to Needham, Massachusetts for lunch at an Indian restaurant we’d heard about from a Phantom Gourmet book – Masala Art. What intrigued us about this place (other than the fact we could never remember if it was in Needham, Newton, or Natick) is that they supposedly have a “spice bar” where you get to watch the chef prepare your meal and he teaches you about all the spices going into the dish and the sorts of flavor that they add.

Well, we didn’t get to go to the spice bar (you have to reserve 48 hours in advance, for 6 pm or 8 pm, and you need at least “3-4” people) but we got there for the last ten minutes of their buffet. Which they were ready to start cleaning up. I heaped my plate way too high in fear of going hungry and ended up eating way too much. 10 pm comes around and I’m hungry for dinner. But I had way overindulged on Indian food. What to do? Ray made me this amazing stir fry that turned out to only be 1.5 Weight Watchers points.


Super Low-Calorie Mixed Vegetable Stir Fry

Vegetable Medley Stirfry

  • 1 package shirataki noodles (We used House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodles, Spaghetti Style)
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into chunky rounds
  • Broccolini (handful)
  • 1/2 cup cubed squash (we used Kabocha leftovers)
  • 6 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Soy sauce, preferably Tamari
  • Sliced cabbage (we used savoy cabbage)
  • 1/4 cup Diced onions
  • oil spray (we used canola)

Spray a skillet a couple of times with the oil spray. Toss in half the diced onions, and let them brown. Open of the package of shirataki noodles, and rinse them well in a colander or strainer with cold water. Toss in the rinsed shirataki noodles. Toss them in the pan for about 8-10 minutes until they start to brown. Add a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce to the noodles and stir. Once the soy sauce is fully absorbed, pull the noodles out of the pan and set aside.

Toss the rest of the diced onions in the pan and let them brown. Add a couple more sprays of oil if needed to prevent sticking. Add all the veggies except the tomatoes to the pan, and pour a water-soy sauce mixture on top, 2 parts water to 1 part soy sauce, maybe half a cup. Let the veggies cook for a while; when they start to look done maybe after 10 minutes, toss the tomatoes in. Cook for another couple minutes, toss the shirataki noodles back into the pan, and shake a little more soy sauce over the mixture (maybe 1-2 Tbsp.) Serve and enjoy!

  • Servings: 1
  • Weight Watchers Points: 1.5

Thai Green Curry Plantains with Peppers and Shirataki Noodles (Also, Persimmons)

Today we dropped by our local food co-op and saw two Fuyu persimmons. They looked cute, and we’d never had fresh persimmons before (we have had dried) so we decided to give them a try.

Persimmon

According to Wikipedia, they are peeled before eating, so we did just that. I diced them up and served them in a cute little ramekin. Pretty good! They have a sweet, kind of apple-y / pear-y flavor.

We also picked up a single browned plantain to pair with our already browning plantain we had leftover from our Tostones experiment, so we decided to do a curry with them, with a twist – we’d use Thai curry.


Thai Green Curry Plantains with Peppers and Shirataki Noodles

Thai Green Curry with Plantains and Peppers

First get all of your dicing and slicing out-of-the-way. Then spray a skillet a couple of times with the oil sprayer, and let it heat up. Toss in most your diced onions and the white parts of the scallions. When the onions start to brown, toss in your rounds of plantains and let them get good and brown. You may need to add a bit of water – maybe 1/4 cup, to keep them from sticking.

While your plantains brown, pour 2/3 cup of the light coconut milk into a small sauce pot. (We poured out the rest of the can into tupperware for later use.) Add 1 cup of water and 2 Tbsps of Thai green curry paste. Heat the coconut-curry mixture on low for maybe 10 minutes. We also tossed the frozen bell peppers into the coconut milk so they would thaw, and we also tossed the green parts of the scallions in as well. Stir occasionally.

Once the plantains have browned, add in the broccolini and chopped cabbage. Add more water as needed to keep the mixture moist. Once the greens have cooked, transfer the plantain, broccoli, and cabbage mixture to a plate or bowl temporarily. Open the package of shirataki noodles and toss them into a colander or strainer, and rinse them well with cold water. Toss what’s left of the diced onions in the pan, let them brown a bit, then toss in the rinsed shirataki noodles. Keep them in the pan until they start to brown, 8-10 minutes.

Once the shirataki noodles have browned, toss the plantain, cabbage, and broccolini mixture back into your skillet, and also pour in your coconut-curry mixture. Cook another 5 minutes or so, and you’re done. Serve with sprinkling of dried basil and garnish with fresh basil leaves (we only had a couple to spare since our basil plant is a bit stunted at the moment.) Or if you’re lucky enough, serve with all fresh basil leaves. ๐Ÿ™‚

Note: if we had some available we would have tossed some freshly-rinsed mung bean sprouts on top to serve to make this even more delicious.

  • Servings: 2
  • Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

Tostones and Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers with a Tofu Chipotle Sauce

Stuffed Pepper and Tostones

My friend Jesรบsgave me the idea for Tostones. They are so good!! We paired them with a Quinoa-stuffed pepper recipe. They went pretty well together.


Tostones

Tostones

  • 2 green plantains (we got ours 3/$1 at Market Basket!)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Salt, to taste

Heat up the oil on low in a sauce pan. Peel the two plantains. Chop off either end of each plantain so the ends are flat. Chop the plantains into 1-inch chunks (the shorter they are, the less oil you will need.) Place the plantain chunks in the oil such that they are standing up tall in the oil. Let them brown, then flip them over so they are standing on tall from the other end. When both sides have been browned, pull them out of the oil and drain them on some paper towels.

One-by-one, take each plantain chunk, lay it on a small, flat dish, and take another small, flat dish and crush it into a little cake. You’re basically laying the plantain chunk on the lower dish so it is standing tall, and then compressing it down with the upper dish. Continue until you have a plate full of mashed plantain cakes!

Dump most of the oil from the pan, reserving a very small amount (2 tsps should be sufficient.) Pan fry the plantain cakes in the pan. As you pull them out and they are still hot, sprinkle a little salt on top.

  • Servings: 2
  • Weight Watchers Points 4

Stuffed Red Pepper with Tofu Chipotle Sauce

This dish involved two recipes I found online, so I’ve linked to the sites where I got them.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Recipe and video available at: http://summerkitchen.tv.

  • Weight Watchers Points Eek I don’t remember. I think we used 1/4 cup of quinoa uncooked, so it ended up being maybe 3 points/pepper.

Tofu Chipotle Sauce

Recipe by Kathy F. available at: http://whatdoiknow.typepad.com/what_do_i_know/2007/09/wednesday-food-.html (We only followed the Tofu Remoulade portion of the recipe.

  • Weight Watchers Points 1 per servingThis may vary depending how much / what brand Tofu you use. We used half a carton of regular Mori-Nu extra firm silken tofu for 2 servings.

Stuffed Poblano Pepper with Tofu Chipotle Sauce

Guiltless Chocolate Cheesecakes

Guiltless Chocolate Cheesecakes

These are adapted from a recipe that appeared on page 19 in the February 2009 issue of Prevention Magazine.

  • 1/4 cup Kashi Heart-to-Heart cereal (or your favorite breakfast cereal)
  • 1/4 cup organic low fat or fat free cream cheese
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsps cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Pour the cereal into a ziplock bag, and run a rolling pin over the ziploc to crush it into fine bits. Divide it in half and cover the bottom of two small baking dishes with it, one half for each dish. Shake each dish if needed to even out the crumbs.

Mix the cream cheese, honey, egg white, yogurt, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until it makes a smooth batter. Turn the mixer off, add the cocoa, spoon it in to mix. (If you use the egg beater you’ll get a face full of cocoa. At least I did. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Divide batter in half. Pour each half into one of the dishes. If you used the Kashi Heart to Heart cereal, fish out two hearts from the cereal box and garnish each cake with a heart.

Bake for 14 minutes. Pop in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

  • Servings: 2 total, one cake per serving.
  • Weight Watchers points 2

Eggplant-Spinach Pita Pizza with Sweet Potato Curry Fries

Tonight was gym night, so we got home late, around 8:20 PM, and we were starving so we needed something quick and easy. These are so simple it seems silly to write out recipes for them, but hey! Why not. ๐Ÿ™‚

Eggplant-Spinach Pita Pizza


Eggplant-Spinach Pita Pizza for Two

  • 2 whole wheat pitas (we love Joseph’s Omega-3 Flax Pitas, Joseph’s is local to us.)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Eggplant cutlets
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • Italian seasoning
  • Lowfat shredded mozzarella

We already had the eggplant cutlets because my mom made me some last weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚ They are thin-sliced eggplant rounds dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and baked.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lay out alumnium foil on a cookie sheet, and lay the two pitas out on the aluminum foil. Spoon out a thin layer of tomato sauce on each pita, then make a layer of baby spinach leaves on top of that. Lay out the eggplant cutlets on top of the spinach. Finally, top the pitas with 1/8 cup each shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of Italian seasoning. Bake the pizza in the oven for about 12 minutes.

  • Serves two (1 pizza per serving.)
  • Weight Watchers Points: 3 (this may vary with the type of cheese and eggplant breadcrumbs you use)

Sweet Potato Curry Fries


Sweet Potato Curry Fries

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. We really lucked out by having a bag of Trader Joe’s pre-cut sweet potato sticks. If you are not so lucky, take two sweet potatoes, peel then, and chop them into long thin fry-like sticks. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and spray lightly with olive oil. Spread the sweet potatoes out on the aluminium foil and spray on top of the sweet potato lightly. Salt & pepper if you like. Bake the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes, then flip and bake an additional 10. While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, take one square block of the curry powder and heat it on low in a small pot with 1 cup of water. Pull the sweet potatoes out when they are browned (ours were not super-crispy), and portion out the curry sauce into ramekins. Dip the sweet potato fries in the curry sauce and enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Serves 2.
  • Weight Watchers Points:3

Indian Lentil, Portabella, and Silken Tofu Wrap

Lentil, Portabella, and Tofu Wrap

We wanted a quick and easy dinner tonight, so we used Tasty Bite Indian Jodhpur Lentils, which come in boxes conveniently portioned for two, to help make this a very quickly-cooking meal. The Jodhpur Lentils took 2 minutes in the microwave. Ray sauteed half a diced shallot, then added chunks of a single Portabella mushroom and browned half a package of cubed Nori Mu extra-firm silken tofu in an iron skillet. Once the tofu was nicely browned, we poured the heated lentils into the pan and stirred them together for a bit, so the tofu and mushrooms would sponge up the yummy yellow lentil curry flavor.

Meanwhile, I wrapped two whole wheat + flax wraps in alumnium foil and we heated them up to be nice and warm. Then we laid each wrap on a plate and covered it in fresh baby spinach leaves. I also added a tablespoon of fat free Greek yogurt to mine. Finally we added the curry mixture into the wrap.

It was delicious, but messy. Took about 15 minutes.

Weight Watchers Points: 4 points per wrap (1 point tofu, 1 point wrap, 2 points lentil mix.)