Tuesday, February 16, 2010

OMG! Not Vegetarian!

Yesterday morning I went out to start the cars, I don't scrape windows, haven't in 15 years. Cars these days come with a built in function called "heat" and have "defroster" settings. Some even have front and rear defrosters. Amazing technology. I could be lazy and buy a remote starter, but it isn't that difficult for me, as long as I don't fall down the steps. Anyway, I went out yesterday morning to start the cars and it was snowing hard. So I went inside to check to see if there was any notice regarding school and there was an email saying school was not closed. Fine. I would appreciate some consistency though. Last time it snowed on a Thursday and on Monday we didn't have school. This time we got about two inches on Friday and had small snow squalls on Saturday and Sunday and it was snowing now. Not a problem for me, I've driven through far worse on a routine basis in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. But just be consistent.

I got to school a little early. Blue skies. Unbelievable. I think there were 8 of us out of 18. Hottie # 2 called in saying she couldn't get out of her driveway. BS. But what really pissed me off was the school president announced that anyone who missed yesterday was not to be counted absent. So what's the point of being open? It seems the school is in a quandary with snow days, make up days, and staff suffering through furloughs but being asked to work for the make days. And somehow the attendance is tied to state funding and they don't want to risk losing any. It was 45 degrees when I left school yesterday afternoon. And even then people were saying they couldn't get out of their driveways. B-S.

Last night we had a dusting of snow, blue skies at 9:00AM and right now and school was cancelled for "inclement weather." WTF!

At least I will be home for the start of curling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last week's nutrition class was a little more difficult because we were not allowed a grocery list. We had to work with what was already in the kitchen. That meant that just because something was in stock when I left on Tuesday, didn't mean that it would be there when I got back to class on the following Monday.

I always try to have three parts to my meals, soup and salad and dessert, salad and entree and dessert, salad and entree and side, etc. I figured I could do a veggie wrap. I would take one of my extreme high fiber tortilla shells from home. I would make hummus and use it instead of mayo and hope for the best on a variety of vegetables.

Trying to figure out a dessert was a little more difficult. I finally decided to go with oatmeal raisin cookies since I knew there would be oatmeal at school. But I was going to have to do some modifications. The classic Quaker Oats recipe called for butter and I couldn't risk using butter for someone with a milk allergy. I searched some vegan recipes for ideas but many of them called for items I knew I wouldn't have access to like apple sauce.

The other obstacle to overcome was the recipe yield was 48 cookies. I need one cookie. I needed to try to reduce the batch size down. My goal was to make a 50g cookie and a four cookie batch. The scientist in me kicked into over drive. The Friday before my class I settled into experiment mode.

Batch Number One was the classic recipe scaled to a yield of four. It worked! Batch Number Two was my attempt at replacing the butter with canola oil. It worked! But then I did my nutrition calculations and decided I needed to get some calories out. With batch Number Three I attempted that by replacing the white sugar with Splenda. The cookies worked again! But I still needed to get rid of more calories. For the last batch I pulled out all stops. In addition to using oil and Splenda, I replaced part of the brown sugar with honey. I also replaced the egg content with egg white. And I upped the oats and reduced the flour to try to pick up a tad more fiber. They took a little bit longer to cook and the cookies had to be flattened with a spatula because they did not spread out. But they did bake.

All of the cookies were made with dried cherries because I couldn't find my raisins. From now on, I'm using cherries. I thought they were SOOOOO much better. For my class I was planning on using dried cranberries because I knew for sure they were in stock. Of course the unadulterated cookie was the best. My wife preferred the cookie with oil substituted for butter though. It had a softer texture. The cookie with Splenda and oil was almost indistinguishable from the one with oil and sugar. The final cookie with all of my changes was not bad. No, it wasn't as good as the previous three but it was still a good tasting cookie. If you had nothing to compare it to and had one fresh, you would come away thinking it was a good but not memorable cookie. Better than many of the nutriloaf cookies available.

I was excited because I achieved my two goals, make a small batch of cookies and a healthier version that still tasted good. In the end I was able to reduce the calories from 211 to 156 and the fat grams from 9g to 6g per cookie. Unfortunately I was only able to increase the fiber content from 1.5g to 1.7g per cookie. Still, it was a noble effort.

I had no idea what to do for the third component for my meal but I kind of had this idea of soup and sandwich that kept popping into my head. I wanted to make a Russian fresh mushroom soup because I was sure that I had fresh mushrooms to work with. But the recipe calls for milk. Ugh. This will only work if I have soy milk and even if I have that, can you make a good tasting soup with soy milk? I decided that I would wing the third part and wait until I got to school and see what I had.

There was soy milk!

For the soup, I halved the batch. It's a stone simple soup made with milk, fresh mushrooms, potatoes and a little barley. Instead of sauteing the mushrooms in butter, I tried with a tiny bit of olive oil. It did not work as well and I ended up overcooking the soup trying to get the mushrooms and potatoes soft. By overcooking I mean that the soup was much thicker than I have made in the past, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, I like thick soups. Of course the thickness could be related to using soy milk instead of real milk. Dunno. It tasted fine though.

I LOVE hummus. Just plain ordinary hummus. I don't need any of those fancy flavors like roasted pepper hummus. I can OD on hummus, and have. If you buy your hummus, stop. It is so damned simple to make and probably better for you than buying pre-made. I made a small batch and spread it on my wrap instead of mayo because if you are like me, you need something moist in your sandwich. I didn't know until later how many calories are in hummus. My nice thick layer of hummus skyrocketed my nutritious wrap to over 600 calories! A little less than if I had given her a Whopper from Burger King!!! If I had known that at the time I would have given her soup and HALF a sandwich, which probably would have been smart regardless. At least the fats from my hummus are far healthier than those in a Whopper. I did send the fiber content into the stratosphere with this meal.

For the veggies, I used a peeler to make thin strips of cucumber, carrot and bell pepper. I added a large leaf of romaine and for whatever reason decided to throw on some bits of broccoli florets. I kind of regret that last one. To take it over the edge, I chopped up some sun dried tomatoes and sprinkled them over the middle. The whole thing rolled well, looked good and had the color that Chef wanted.

Except Chef wasn't there. New Chef liked what I was doing though. I hope I impressed him. He really liked my cookie and was very impressed with the thought process and effort I put into making them. Wendy City wanted her meal to go. I didn't think it was as good as the week before. The broccoli was really bothering me.

Speaking of effort. Mouth came in, pulled three items out of the walk-in that we had left over from lunch, put it on the plate, declared she was done and went home. Is that cooking? I didn't know we were doing Semi-homemade with Sara Lee.

In the end, my client didn't really care for the cookie, but hey, I tried. She did however love the soup and sandwich and appreciated all of my efforts.

1 comment:

Brook said...

I like raisins and nuts in my oatmeal cookies. And brown sugar. Which is how I like my breakfast oatmeal so go figure. Actually I like blueberries in my morning oatmeal, I wonder if dried blueberries would taste good in a cookie? I mean of course they would but now I have something new to try... I love good hummus, but bad hummus is so very disgusting. I will have to make my own to avoid having that experience again.
Mushroom soup...yummy!