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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf with Flaxseed Meal and Green Pesto Sauce

Here's a tricky conundrum - how do you make a protein and vegetable packed "meatloaf" without using eggs, breadcrumbs, milk, cheese and tomato paste? Rest assured! It CAN BE DONE!  

I needed new ideas and versions of foods that I love - making chicken, grilled, roasted, baked, steamed, etc, no problem.  Turkey breast? Sure.  Lamb - working on it.  Cold water fish - shopping for wild caught.  But meatloaf? I know how to make it lighter, healthier, vegetable packed, hearty and well-seasoned, but I wasn't sure about omitting the breadcrumbs or oatmeal, the tomato paste and the binding eggs.  

Might as well give it a try.  My new version, lighter, healthier, gluten free, egg free and loaded with flavor works.  I swapped out the binding agents for Flax seed Meal - reconstituted with water to be the egg substitute, and used it dry to be my breadcrumb binder.  To replace the tomato - paste/ketchup/sauce/bbq sauce options I used to use, I used a lot of seasonings.  In the pantry there was a container of salt-free all purpose seasoning, full of good flavors - a kitchen sink of herbs and spices.  BAM! It worked.

To substitute the barbecue or tomato sauces I usually use with meatloaf after it's been cooked, I made a vegan pesto sauce - another hit!  Both of my revised recipes are easy and pull together with only a few pieces of kitchen gear - bowls, a blender or "Magic Bullet" blender; box grater; loaf pan; spatula or spoons.  

Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Ingredients:



  • 2 Medium Carrots - peeled, scrubbed and finely grated
  • 2 Medium Zucchini/Yellow Squash - cleaned and coarsely grated
  • 1 Small-Medium Onion - peeled & small dice
  • 3 Scallions - cleaned. Use whites and light greens only - finely minced
  • 3 Small-Medium Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 1/4 cup All-Purpose Seasoning - salt free.  You can use a good Italian Blend or whatever you prefer that is a multi-herb seasoning blend
  • 1/3 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup and 1 Tablespoon Flax seed - divided
  • 1 Pound Ground Light Turkey - Kosher or Organic Preferred
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
Directions:



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a measuring cup, add in 1/3 cup water and 1 tablespoon of flax seed meal, stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. Clean and grate the carrots and zucchini/squash; put them into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Dice the onions and mince the scallions and garlic.  Add to the bowl.
  5. Add in the ground turkey and 1/4 seasonings, and the 1/2 cup of flax seed meal.  Add in the reconstituted flax seed meal - which will become your egg substitute. Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt and several grinds of fresh cracked black pepper.
  6.  Stir/fold the mixture to distribute the vegetables and seasonings thoroughly.  If the mixture is too wet and sticky, add in more dried flax seed meal, a tablespoon at a time.
  7. To taste the mixture to see if it's seasoned enough, pan fried a bit and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed. 
  8. Put the mixture into the loaf pan and place the pan onto a sheet tray into the preheated oven.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, then check the internal temperature of the meatloaf - it should read 165 degrees on a thermometer.  
  9. Once the meatloaf is 165 degrees, turn the oven off and then allow the meatloaf to cool and finish cooking in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  Take the meatloaf out of the oven and cool on a rack, in the loaf pan.  Once the meatloaf is fully cooled, cover and refrigerate.



The meatloaf will be best the day after it's cooked.  I enjoyed it reheated/fried in a small pan, with a bit of olive oil.  Since I can't eat tomatoes, I enjoyed my meatloaf with a bit of cheese-free pesto made with basil, mint, almonds, salt, pepper, roasted garlic, olive oil and dry mustard powder.  I'll post that recipe in a few days!




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Powerhouse Smoothies

Powerhouse Almond Milk smoothie
Day one of the elimination diet went well, albeit with a few moments of lightheartedness and a foggy brain.  I drank more than a half gallon of water infused with fruit, mint and basil.  I weaned myself down to maybe a cup of coffee.  The first day's breakfast quinoa porridge was satisfying.  The pre-packed lunch I made was genius.  A roasted sweet potato with olive oil, salt and pepper; crispy roasted brussel sprouts, steamed broccoli and string beans.  For an extra jolt of protein I ate a handful of almonds.  Throughout the day I nibbled on gluten-free, rice and seed crackers (No sugar! No wheat! Low Sodium!), fruit salad, carrots and celery.  It was one of the first clean eating days I've had in years.


Today I started out with a half of a cup of coffee with a splash of almond milk.  I whizzed up a smoothie for today's breakfast, inspired by the ripening avocados I have - too many so I need to think of clever ways to eat them that are not on toast (sigh...toast!)  I've been drinking fruit and yogurt smoothies a lot lately.  It wasn't difficult to remove the yogurt and skim milk.  As a matter of fact, I couldn't' taste the difference.  Most days I toss in whatever frozen fruit I have on hand.  I froze a few bags of fresh New Jersey peaches last summer, so I'm enjoying those still.


Thank goodness for my Magic Bullet Blender.  Three years later and the thing is still going strong.
All the items were frozen: I packed in chopped peaches, chopped spinach, blueberries, half a ripe avocado and a smattering of golden flax seeds - for fiber mostly.  To this I added in half a cup of unsweetened almond milk.
You have to shake the mixture or stir it a few times to get it going and you may need to splash in more of the almond (or coconut) milk to get this blended.  Taste and adjust to your likening.  It may need a dash of agave syrup or a tablespoon of pure applebutter to balance the sweetness against the spinach tannin and the buttery avocado.  The flax seeds give this a nutty texture.

A well-made smoothie should be filling and not sugary.  I generally feel full until it's time for lunch and I don't feel a blood-sugar spike because I balance the fruit with proteins.  To speed the process of these, you can premake the fruit/veggie component and then add it the the blender with the milk to puree.  I find that having chopped frozen fruit works best - it keeps the drink cold and thick, more of a milkshake like drink than a puree.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Elimination diet week 1 and Breakfast Quinoa Porridge

For the past few years, I've been afflicted with some serious arthritis in my knees and lower back.  I've had cortisone shots in my back and knee and electric nerve blocks in my back and left knee. I've been taking way too much medicine to combat the nerve pain I have that runs from the lower center of my back down to my legs and feet.  Lately the inflammation I've been feeling seems to be worsening.  The new general practitioner I see suggested that I start on an elimination diet, removing foods, dairy, meats, eggs, and wheat that might be triggering my flare-ups.  It's also a way to re-start my system and to get me back to a cleaner eating pattern.  

The doctor told me to start the elimination diet a week ago, but it's not something you can just start without planning: shopping, cooking and lots of studying.  I couldn't just jump into the plan as we have a crazy couple of weeks ahead of us at home.  The boy is an "extra" or "super" in Opera Philadelphia's production of Elixir of Love. Which means we are out almost every night of the week and Saturday mornings for rehearsals.  By the time I could plan, shop, study and cook, it was Sunday.

The diet started today - Monday.  Last night I cooked up a lot of clean food - steamed broccoli and string beans; roasted brussel sprouts; sauted Vidalia onions and carrots; quinoa for a breakfast quinoa porridge;  grilled portobella mushrooms; grilled chicken breast; a pot of short-grain brown rice; roasted sweet potatoes.  I'm so glad I can have some carbs like rice, quinoa, millet, flax and potatoes.  I have to avoid sugars, peanuts, and soy products.  The hardest thing to eliminate for me so far - caffeine.  Giving up coffee and black tea is going to be a slow withdrawal I fear.  

If you fail to plan you''ll plan to fail.  I'm happy to report I do have my lunch for this week sorted.  I bought entree containers and made my 4-day week's worth of lunch. Two days with roasted sweet potatoes and veggies; two days with brown rice bowls and veggies - one is curry bowl, the other is an Italian style bowl with a grilled portabello  mushroom.  
Breakfasts this week will be quinoa porridge with coconut milk, sunbutter, (unsweetened) applebutter and almonds with a banana or chopped apple.  I'm also planning to make almond milk fruit and spinach smoothies with flax seeds.  Passover is next week, making lunches trickier, as I'll have to omit the brown rice from my breakfast and lunches that I take to work.  Lots more soups and veggie stews for me.  

I plan on documenting my progress and health changes was the weeks progress.  I'm glad that I did Weight Watchers all those years ago.  It gives me an edge in meal planning and healthy cooking.  Omitting the dairy and eggs component sure make this a more complicated diet.  I relied heavily on my dairy and eggs to get me through my meals. The upside of this is that I hope there will be a restart of my metabolism giving me the kick in the pants that I so desperately need to get back on track.  I did it once before, I can do this again...

Quinoa Breakfast Porridge Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Red Quinoa - rinsed
  • 2 Cups Cold Water
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Piece Candied Ginger

Directions:
  1. Rinse the red quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under cold running water.  Set aside.
  2. In a 3 quart sauce pot, bring the 2 cups of cold water to boil.  Add in the rinsed quinoa, salt, vanilla extract, cinnamon stick, cloves and candied ginger.  Bring the mixture to boil then reduce down the heat to low and cover the pot.
  3. Simmer the quinoa for up to 30 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat; keep the quinoa covered and set aside to finish cooking and absorbing the cooking water, about 10-15 minutes more.  
  4. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and remove the cinnamon stick, ginger and cloves.
  5. Makes 4 servings, as follows:

To Serve:
I ate my quinoa with a 1/4 cup of coconut milk, a mashed banana, 2 tablespoons of pure, unsweetened applebutter, a tablespoon of sunbutter and some ground cinnamon.  On other days I plan to add in chopped apples and sunbutter; chopped nuts, fruit and coconut milk.  There are lots of options to make this breakfast porridge.  Almond milk, other fresh or frozen chopped fruits; nuts; nut butters.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Gorniak goes for Gold - Guest Blogger Post

LeAnne always does a #CinemaSneakInSnack at her movies, so I followed suit.
I stopped for pizza beforehand and ate it at the restaurant, but brought dessert to the movies.  Pizza was meh, dessert was terrible, but the movie was a delight!
I was asked to be a guest blogger for my friend, LeAnne, of TinselTine.com  She couldn't attend a movie screening of, City of Gold, ( #CityofGoldDoc ) a documentary about LA Times Food Writer, Jonathan Gold.  LeAnne had a premier screen pass to see Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, and she didn't want to miss it.  I can hardly blame  her what with it being touted as the epic superhero action flick of the spring season.  Although Tinsel and Tine is a blog dedicated to both FOOD and Film, LeAnne couldn't be in two places at once.  It was sort of a Foodie Doc vs Action Flick kind of mash up.  I'm glad I got to step in to "save the day".  I'm the Super-Momma in love with all things food-related, and LeAnne is the Knightess of film reviews.  We make a great food and film writing team.

As much as I would love to share my review here on my blog, it would serve no purpose for my guest  posting if I did.  Instead I will kindly direct your attention to LeAnne's blog so you can read it there.  Unsurprisingly, I have a lot to say!  LeAnne did an excellent job with editing my thoughts.  I sure wish I could figure out a way to be a more clear writer, taking inspiration from Jonathan Gold's gonzo journalist style.  

Read on and let me know your thoughts.  If any of you have seen the movie, I'd love to know what your impressions were.  Here's the link to my view:  http://www.tinseltine.com/2016/04/gorniak-goes-for-gold-city-of-gold.html

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Walking Philadelphia


The only way to know and understand a place is to walk, or in my case, bike it.  There's too much beauty, interesting sights, and unsung food finds. This was a lucky shot - it was a chance to snap a photo of a Philadelphia fashion Icon, Miss Julie.  The fact that this tree is in full glorious pink blossom, that the mid-day sun was at it's perfect shine, and Julia is in mid-stride all made this still-life more of a caught in motion photo.


Went out to see and review a movie called City of Gold.  I stopped at Mama Angelina's for 2 slices of pizza beforehand.  Along my walk down to the theater, I picked up some pastries at Le Pain Quotidien. Pizza- cheap and somehow nostalgically memorable. Pastries - worst I've ever had!  My movie review will appear on my friend, Leanne's blog - TinselTine.com, in a few days. 

I'm sure I've seen this doorbell and eye-viewer before.  On this walkabout It struck me as peculiar, like something from a science fiction movie. I expected the eyepiece viewer (or is it a sound system?) to come to life; to expand towards the visitor, probing you before you can enter the building.


Within the next year, the view from this corner of Broad and Locust will become a construction site, home to a new swank hotel. A serious piece of Philadelphia history for many drunks, late-night party people, college kids, LGTBQ folk finding their way in our city will be taken away from us.  A cheap slice, cheesesteak, or $3 breakfast special (2 eggs, home-fries, toast and coffee) will become a thing of the past. Except for Wawa, we'll have very few dive dining choices in Center City. 





























There's a reason why we tend to eschew chain restaurants.  They're usually soulless and bland.  Le Pain Quotidien lulls you into a false sense of cool. A long roughly hewn community table; candles gently flickering on tables at day's end, beckoning you with their promise of a misty glow.  Artfully arranged breads and pastries, so enticing.  It's all a sham. The breads are sub-par and the pastries are no more than decorative knick knacks.  The almond treat I picked up turned out to be some sugar log that shattered upon the first bite and sent my mouth into a near diabetic fit. The mini Madeline - more of a mini marzipan muffin was a rock-hard toad stool.  Best part of the visit was finding the bicycle image on the catering box advertisement.  

This lot will surely become yet another series of condos or a boutique hotel.  I'm surprised it's been empty for this long.  It allows graffiti artists to ply their tags.




The open lot also gives a great view of Old Philadelphia buildings. Seen here is the Curtis Center Building. It especially beautiful when dusk is hitting the buildings, creating shadows on the open spaces and highlighting the taller buildings.  

From the files "Things you've NEVER noticed before" - I present the Gammadion Cross on a building at 5th and Chestnut Street.  I should hope the geometric lines are formed in the Greek tradition of the Gamma letter.  The inter-locking lines follow the key-line style of Greek neo-classical design.  Considering the proximity of this building's facade to the National Museum of Jewish American History, it gives one pause to say the least.




We'll miss you too - sign/art on a row of row-houses along 9th Street at Locust.  These will be torn down soon.  The buildings have already all been condemned.  Many street artists have left markers on the buildings.  Most are mundane graffiti.  Occasionally you'll find a true piece of street art.  Gotta love the street artist who takes the time to frame their work and install it!  We'll miss you too.