Monday, April 23, 2012

The Other 49.8%

Laura has a lot of little apps on her iTouch that prognosticate on different matters. Like a Magic 8 Ball gone digital. The other day in the car, she entered my birthday into some app and then informed me that I have now lived 50.2% of my life.

I both hope that is right and protest that it isn't giving me enough credit.

In the interest of making that number more like 40%, I've made a lot of changes in the last couple of years. Basically they all boil down to cruciform vegetables.

(Get it? Boil down! Vegetables? Oh ho! Japery.)

I mean, in addition to the 999 pieces of evidence that broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are superfoods and should be in your diet, there is more and more evidence mounting that these foods have specific anticancer activity.

So okay, I've been on this journey of wonderful cruciferous discovery and meanwhile, Matt decided to lose weight too. He also uses the MyFitnessPal app, and he's lost thirty pounds (or more?) since the first of the year. We are becoming the thin couple.

In our years of keeping house together, Matt has only ever gone on purpose to buy the ingredients for and request that I make two dishes. One is my lentil soup, which, you know, I won't lie, is very good. And the other is this broccoli-cauliflower purée. Now, wait, if you are thinking, "broccoli-cauliflower purée, where is the yummy in that?" just listen. Something about puréeing those things yields a texture and taste that is magically delightful. You would swear that there was a potato in it. It seems starchy or creamy or something. And if you are counting calories, it is basically free.

You need:

olive oil
an onion, chopped
clove or two of garlic, chopped
couple of carrots, chopped or shredded
a couple crowns of broccoli cut into pieces
cauliflower, half a large head or whole small head, cut up
broth of your choosing
half cup of ricotta cheese
chili pepper paste (optional)
a handheld immersion blender, or a good countertop blender and lots of patience

In a cast iron dutch oven, first I cook the onion, garlic, and carrots in some fat. Today I used like a tablespoon of olive oil, but I've also used ghee. When the onion is cooked and has little brown bits on it, I pour about a cup of broth in. I use chicken broth but you could vegan it up. Let that simmer while you get your broccoli/cauliflower ready. I even cut up the broccoli stems, just in very thin slices. Honey badger don't care. Then you dump all the cut up veggies into the pot and pour the rest of the container of broth in. I added water to get the liquid about halfway up the sides of the veggies. Then put the lid on tightly and bring to a boil. You're basically going to boil some of the veggies and steam some of them. A couple of times, open the lid and mix the whole business around with a spoon. You should throw in some salt and pepper here.

When they're tender but not too tender, turn off the heat. Then get your immersion blender out and go to town. Pulse that stuff, being careful not to splatter yourself with boiling hot vegetable parts. When it is starting to look mashed up, pause and add a few dollops of your chili paste. I use that tube of chopped chilis that you find in the produce section. It is key, I think. Blend a little more. Then add half a cup of ricotta cheese and go at it with the blender just a bit more. It should now have a smooth texture and a pretty green color.

Serve with grated parmesan, sour cream, or a few slivers of butter. I won't tell.

A big bowl has about 130 calories, I think? And that's good, because that's all the room I had left in my calorie budget today. Laura had a well-checkup at the doctor's and got three shots, and THEREFORE, she, Hank, and I all got milkshakes at Chick fil A afterwards. I finally had the banana pudding milkshake, and it was everything I'd hoped. Then I got home and looked it up in myfitnesspal and saw that the small shake (the small, mind you) has 780 calories. And I won't even tell you how many grams of sugar. I straight up fuh-reaked out.

I hollered for Matt like I'd eaten deadly nightshade. I wailed, "But the other flavors of shake are only like 500 calories! What's with the banana pudding one?" He was like, "Uh...pudding?"

So, yes, pudding. I gorged on the pudding milkshake of heedlessness, and tonight I sip the veggie purée of penitence.

Enjoy in health.


Common Household Mom said...

I love lentil soup. I look forward to trying your Cruciferous Cloud, which maybe if I call it that my kids might try some (HA!). But first I must ask for an immersion blender for my birthday, I think.

Amy said...

Cruciferous Cloud! Love it.

Becks, I am right there with you on the cruciform train. I've gotten to where I crave cabbage, which seems crazier than I ever thought I'd be. I sauteed cabbage in coconut oil at breakfast this morning with a fried egg and licked the plate. I am not ashamed.

Shamelessly (notice a theme?) linking here to my recent post of an Ethiopian Cabbage recipe ...

Elizabeth said...

I hate milkshakes, particularly banana ones, but that certainly isn't the reason why I need to lose weight.


I'm going to see if the Android has that app. And I'm telling you bravo on all these positive changes for you and Matt. As a woman in her late forties, I can attest that doing the good stuff and losing weight is so much easier in your thirties. I wish I had been more disciplined and done so then.

Amy said...

Cauliflower puree is a revelation. A revelation! I can only imagine it with broccoli, too! Definitely gonna give this one a go. Imagine how virtuous I'll feel with all those cancer fighting veggies in me??

Amy said...

Oh, and 780 calories in a SMALL?? Unreal. That should've come with a warning!

Becky said...

Yes, and the warning should have been that the drive-thru kid should have said, "Let's look at your choices."

Elizabeth, if you start on Myfitnesspal (it's a website too), we can friend each other and be Fitness Pals. Everyone in my dang family is on there, so it's great for accountability and support, etc.

Amy the First, speak to me of coconut oil! I am hearing it everywhere, what is so good about it? Besides the deliciousness?

Amy said...

Ha! That reminds me of those Gay Best Friend videos-- "Look at your life, look at your choices!"

Michele said...

I love mashed cauliflower but have never tried the chilli paste. Sounds good.

I like to cook cauliflower to almost done (al dente). Then strain it through a ricer. Add a little cream cheese, parmesan, salt, pepper, you know...the stuff you would put into risotto. Voila! Cauliflower risotto without all those carbs.

Amy said...

I don't know that I believe all the benefits touted by the coco-oil proponents (helps burn fat! improves heart health! reduces national debt and homelessness!), but the one that grabbed me is that by heating olive oil you not only destroy the groovy antioxidants, but actually oxidize it. Oops. Of all the oils, only coco can withstand the heat of cooking. Or use ghee for the same reason. I'm finding I like ghee for some things and coco for others.

So that's your long-term benefit. Day-to-day you can just enjoy the deliciousness factor. xoxo

AlGalMom said...

OMG "honey badger don't care" should liberally season all recipe instructions. I'm still giggling.

I have broccoli AND cauliflower in my fridge right now....but no ricotta. Think plain greek yogurt would work?

I bet you would also enjoy pureed kohlrabi, although I'm not sure I've seen much kohlrabi since moving down here. But here's my favorite recipe just in case you have a supplier:

Beth said...

I think I might try this tonight. I won't lie, I hate cauliflower, but mixed with broccoli sounds good. How spicy is it? Do your kids eat it spicy?

You like this MyFitnessPal thingy? I'm thinking of trying it. But then, do I have to do the exercise, too, or will the app just take care of everything for me?

Also, please post the lentil soup recipe!

puncturedbicycle said...

It may look off-puttingly like lard, but coconut oil on toast = delicious. And if your toast is cold, the oil keeps that lovely creamy buttery texture. (It's all in the details.)

Cruciferous veg can be hard on the thyroid but I read that cooking fixes that. I hope so. I'm a broccoli fiend. And I plan on using some chipotle paste in this amazing recipe if you don't mind.

Becky said...

I think the chipotle paste sounds great!

Beth, you can use less of the chopped chilis if your kids reject spicy. Laura will roll with mild spiciness, and that's about what this achieves. I bet your boys will like it; L thinks it's broccoli cheese soup. Hank won't eat it but he is an air plant.

That kohlrabi recipe has cream AND mushrooms in it, yum!

Amy the first, so does everything you do with coco oil taste like coconut (not that that's bad), or is that why some people talk about "refined" coco oil?

Susan said...

Definitely making this tonight...the baby weight just doesn't fall off on its own. Apparently. Oh and could you post your lentil soup recipe?

I curse Rapid City daily for not having a chick fil a. I vowed to eat it weekly when I was living with mom for 2 months last year (during Jonathan's deployment)--let's just say pregnancy and being husbandless, I devoured their peppermint shake weekly. I never dared to look up the calories. But, at the time, it was worth every pound I gained! :)

Susan (Slinkard)

Becky said...

Susan, didn't you have that baby like fourteen minutes ago?!? Give yourself some time! And oh, that peppermint shake. More than the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, that shake is the real meaning of Christmas!

Cassi Renee said...

Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies. If you steam it just right, it has the best creamy texture. Yum!

I did make cream of cauliflower soup once, which was wonderful, but you can't freeze it. Something very strange happens to it in the freezer, and the texture after thawing is just really, really, gross.

Amy said...

Somehow the coco oil imparts a teeny bit of sweetness without being overwhelmingly coconutty. At least that's my tastebud take on it. Let me know what you think.

And I'm astonished that no one has yet mentioned roasting cauliflower. It's what actually got me started on my current cruciform devotion. (Oh look! Another link to fabulous moi: )

Forget cruciforms, now I'm starting to crave milkshakes. Thanks bunches, y'all.

Lisa Lilienthal said...

Hank is an air plant!!
and maybe it is a good thing I am lactose intolerant because a banana pudding milkshake, yum.
Also what is this chili paste? I need more direction on that.

Carry on, thin couple!

Keely said...

My dad makes a really good cauliflower mash that I've yet to replicate. I'm pretty sure he just pumps it full of butter.

I tend to focus on the exercise side of my health regime WAY more than my diet. But I do enjoy my veggies also, so I consider it good. I just...CANNOT calorie count. I only ever last 2 weeks before imploding in a flurry of stolen chocolates and goldfish crackers.

And that is why I'll never be part of a Thin Couple.

AlGalMom said...

Just reporting in: I made this tonight using 1T coconut oil and smoked chipotle powder (Winn Dixie didn't have the chili paste) and it was stupendous. Thank you, Becky!

AlGalMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veronica said...

I got purple cauliflower in my CSA box this week; might have to try a purple version! Also got kohlrabi, so I'm thinking I might need to try AlGalMom's linked recipe too.

Jen said...

Yum, I will SO have to try that soup. We are all about veggies and anti-cancer stuff here. BTW, do you have the cancer fighting cookbook? I loathe the name, but love the recipes. Super easy, lots of veggies and good things like ginger and kudzu root powde...oh, and of course, love, love, love my Vitamix!

Bren said...

I've checked that cancer fighting kitchen book out of the library about 10 times. It's good.

I just made this puree tonight. NOW I see where it says "halfway up the veggies". It was a bit soupy. So I added about 2 oz of cream cheese to thicken it up. The kids hated it, but I can't stay away from it. It's the cream cheese, I'm sure, but it tastes like I should feel guilty eating it.

Bren said...

Oh! and I totally missed the ricotta, so I guess the cream cheese filled that hole. I shouldn't try to cook using recipes I read 2 weeks ago without re-reading them.