Archive for the ‘Food and Recipes’ Category

Berry Sorbet or Daquiri

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Several years ago, I found a recipe strawberry daiquiris, in one of Joanna Lund’s Healthy Exchanges books (I’ll include my modifications after the basic recipe).

 Joanna Lund’s Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri

2 cups frozen strawberries no sugar added (do not thaw)
2 cups Diet Mountain Dew
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 package JELL-O sugar-free strawberry gelatin 4 serving

PreparationIn a blender container, combine strawberries, Diet Mountain Dew, lemon juice, lime juice, and dry gelatin. Process on HIGH 15 seconds. Continue processing on HIGH until mixture is smooth. Pour into 4 glasses

 

As written, the recipe is good, but I found that the diet jello isn’t necessary (but if you do use it, unless you’re a gambler by nature, only use Jello-brand.  Some store-brands work fine, others are horrible).

Instead of Mountain Dew, I often use Diet Sprite or Crystal Light (actually Walmart’s version - pink lemonade and cherry lime are my favorite), or flavored sparkling water (Walmart, Target, and Aldi all carry their own brands and flavors - I’ve used pomegranate, raspberry, lime, wild cherry).

I’ve also used other frozen fruits.  Pineapple, blackberries, raspberries (just remember the fruit has to be at least partially frozen).

I also love making strawberry or other berry sorbet.  Just by cutting back the liquids (start with a small splash, you can always add more until it’s the consistency you want).

Process until it’s the texture you want (I like it very smooth). Pour into a bowl or glass - and then sweeten to taste (if the berries or your processing liquid are very sweet, you may not need any sweetener).

I prefer to sweeten in the glass, because everyone can sweeten to their taste.  

If you don’t have a blender, the food processor works fine.  For sorbet, I think the food processor works best. To make beverages, it can be a bit messy - so before I had a blender, I would make sorbet, spoon it into the glass, and then add more liquid and stir in the glass (or if you don’t stir, it make a pretty “float”).

There really are endless variations, so experiment with ingredients and proportions. 

Better than mashed potatoes

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Mashed cauliflower makes a fair imitation mashed potatoes - but for any potato lover, it’s a little disappointing, so I decided to try to have the best of both worlds, by combining potato (just a little bit) with the cauliflower (a whole lot).

The result is awesome, and only about 10 to 20 more calories per serving than the instant cauliflower alone.

1 large head cauliflower

about 2 cups of chicken broth (a 14 to 16 oz can or 2 cups water and a bouillon cube)

1 small potato, or 1 serving  (1/4 cup or 24g, usually) of instant mashed potato flakes

liquid for mashing (reserved hot cooking broth and skim milk) 

In a roomy dutch oven, I steam a whole large, trimmed cauliflower in the 2 cups of broth (the broth doesn’t cover the cauliflower) and cover the pan and simmer until the cauliflower is tender. I drain out any of the broth into a cup (in case I need extra moisture). I microwave the potato in the meanwhile (if I’m not using flakes). Then I mash the cauliflower with a potato masher (I mash the potato with it, or add the flakes as I mash) with a little bit of skim milk (maybe a quarter cup) and a little bit of the reserved broth. Sometimes I toss in green onion (the white and an inch or two of the greens), sliced thin right before draining (they’re also good tossed in raw during the mashing instead).

Personally, I like them better than the typical mashed potatoes. They have a lighter, creamier texture and just melt in your mouth - Almost a cross between colcannon (and if you add the onions) champ, two irish mashed potato dishes (recipe link below), without the calories of all the potato and the added butter.

http://fall-recipes.suite101.com/art…_champ_recipes

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Delicious No Spinach, Fee-Fi-Faux Spinach, Spinach Dip

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

I (thought) I bought some frozen spinach to make my favorite spinach dip (the one on the back of the Knorr Vegetable soup mix, often served in a bread bowl).

So, I started the dip and discovered that I had grabbed broccoli, not chopped spinach.   Broccoli’s not THAT different than spinach, right?

So anyway, here’s my recipe for chopped broccoli dip (I like it almost as much as the original).

 

1/2 can waterchestnuts, chopped

about 6 green onions sliced thin (whites and about 2 inches or more of the green)

1/3 cup sour cream (I use regular or light, I’m not a real fan of the fat-free)

1/3 cup mayonaise (I like Hellman’s Canola mayo - only 50 calories a tablespoon).

Vegetable soup/dip mix packet (Knorr’s, Lipton, or a similar brand).

Optional (if you like garlic),  minced fresh or dried garlic to taste

1/3 of a bag of frozen broccoli - microwave until tender.  Chop or puree in food processor or blender - or by hand. 

 

Combine ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour to blend flavors and soften garlic (if you used any).

 

 

 

 

Amazing Brussels sprouts (no, really I’m not kidding).

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

To say I hated brussels sprouts, would be an understatement.  As children, we had to eat one piece of everything that was being served at the dinner table.  Which usually wasn’t a problem, because I wasn’t a picky eater and had very few disliked foods (canned carrots and peas, beets, brussels sprouts, cottage cheese, and applesauce or any cooked apple )- can’t think of anything else off hand - I even liked liver, (well if it was fried with onions anyway).

I would cry when I saw brussels sprouts.

I still don’t like canned peas or carrots - but like them fresh or frozen.  I’ve learned to enjoy beets and cottage cheese.  Still don’t like cooked apples (or soft or mushy apples, for that matter), but when it comes to brussels sprouts I’ve not just changed my mind, I’ve experienced a true a conversion - an epiphany really.

Reading a post on roasting vegetables (and already being a fan of pan roasting veggies to bring out awesome flavor), and a poster’s praise of roasted brussels sprouts - I thought it couldn’t hurt to give them another  try.  Though I have to admit, I was skeptical (also an understatement).

A tip if you don’t like this recipe (or in general, hate all vegetables) - make the recipe using a little (or a lot) more oil and seasonings.  I know that’s a sacreligious statement for weight loss - but bear with me - if you find that you like it this way, every time you make it, reduce the amount of oil - until you’re barely using any.

fresh brussels sprouts (I’ve not tried this with frozen, but in theory it would work - but the cooking time would need adjusting)

oil (I prefer canola or walnut - the best thing about walnut oil is that it’s so expensive, it reminds you to use it sparingly).

seasoning of your choice (ranch dressing powder such as a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix is my favorite.  Goya brand Adobo seasoning is very good also).

I know, I haven’t given amounts.  That’s because exact quantitiess really don’t matter.

Wash and pat dry the brussels sprouts.  Trim the ends and quarter the sprouts (through the core, so that they hold together better).  You can roast them whole or cut them in halves instead of quarters - or even slice them across the core.  I’ve done all of those.  If you cut across the core, the sprouts fall apart.  They taste good, but look very messy (and if you use too much oil, they get soggy).  Leaving them whole, the outer leaves can burn before the center is cooked.  Halved or quartered works best.  Quartered, the seasoning penetrates the sprout best, in my opinion. 

Put the cut sprouts in a ziploc bag or tupperware container.  Add oil. Close container and shake to coat.  The first time I made them, I used 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil per pound of vegetable , now I generally use less than a tablepoon - just enough to moisten the veggies so the seasonings to stick. 

Open container, add seasoning (if you’re using a packet of dry ranch dressing mix - about half to 2/3 the package), close and shake. 

Optional step  - refrigerate up to 24 hours.  I’m convinced that allowing the brussels sprouts to “marinate” in the seasonings improves the flavor - hubby says he can’t tell the difference.  Maybe I’m imagining it.  You decide.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Another optional step.  Line baking dish with aluminum foil.  This isn’t necessary, but the carmelizing does tend to make the vegetables stick to the bottom of the pan (unless you use more oil than you probably want to).  Foil makes for easy cleanup (but it’s not necessary).

 Bake in oven until the veggies are to your liking.  I recommend that you start with 30 minutes, and keep checking every 3 to 5 minutes.  Ovens vary, and so do personal preferences.  Hubby likes them soft, but without much carmelization.  I like carmelized, nearly burnt edges.  30 minutes, he’s happy, 60 minutes, I’m happy and 40 minutes is about right to please us both. 

This is also a great way to make other vegetables.  Potatoes (need to cook longer), Zucchini (will cook much faster, start checking at 20 minutes).  My favorite is eggplant (use thin asian eggplants and cut in chunks, leaving the skin on).  I’ve made it with potato, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, squash, mushrooms, green beans (awesome), snap peas, parsnips, broccoli, and cauliflower

You can combine veggies, but I always try a new vegetable alone first, so that I know that when I combine them, I’m combining veggies with similar cooking times, so the one doesn’t burn before the other is tender.

 

 

 

Better than mashed potatoes

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Mashed cauliflower makes a fair imitation mashed potatoes - but for any potato lover, it’s a little disappointing, so I decided to try to have the best of both worlds, by combining potato (just a little bit) with the cauliflower (a whole lot).

The result is awesome, and only about 10 to 20 more calories per serving than the instant cauliflower alone.

1 large head cauliflower

about 2 cups of chicken broth (a 14 to 16 oz can or 2 cups water and a bouillon cube)

1 small potato, or 1 serving’s worth (1/3 to 1/4 cup dry, I believe) of instant mashed potato flakes

liquid for mashing (reserved hot cooking broth and skim milk) 

In a roomy dutch oven, I steam a whole large, trimmed cauliflower in the 2 cups of broth (the broth doesn’t cover the cauliflower) and cover the pan and simmer until the cauliflower is tender. I drain out any of the broth into a cup (in case I need extra moisture). I microwave the potato in the meanwhile (if I’m not using flakes). Then I mash the cauliflower with a potato masher (I mash the potato with it, or add the flakes as I mash) with a little bit of skim milk (maybe a quarter cup) and a little bit of the reserved broth. Sometimes I toss in green onion (the white and an inch or two of the greens), sliced thin right before draining (they’re also good tossed in raw during the mashing instead).

Personally, I like them better than the typical mashed potatoes. They have a lighter, creamier texture and just melt in your mouth - Almost a cross between colcannon (and if you add the onions) champ, two irish mashed potato dishes (recipe link below), without the calories of all the potato and the added butter.

http://fall-recipes.suite101.com/art…_champ_recipes

Egg Trivia

Monday, October 12th, 2009

On a lark, I researched the calorie counts in various eggs (hmm, wonder how many calories lark eggs have).   At any rate, just for fun -

ostrich egg - 2000 calories

emu egg - 1000 calories

goose egg - 265 calories

turkey egg - 170 calories

sea gull egg 140 calories (said to taste of fish)

duck egg - 130 calories

alligator egg - 90 calories

turtle egg - 75 calories

hen’s egg - 60 - 80 calories

guinea fowl egg - 45

quail egg - 15 calories

The Asian Market is my friend

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I LOVE ASIAN MARKETS!  An asian market is a wonderful place to find exotic, gourmet items, as well as pantry staples.   I can also save a lot of money, though not everything is cheaper than a traditional grocery.  As with any store, you’ve got to comparison shop.

Still, for many items, I’ve noticed that the price is “about the same” as similar options in a standard grocery, but the quantity is so much greater that I end up saving money.  Even when the price is higher, the quality or variety may make up the value difference (to me).

Sometimes there can be a language barrier, which can intimidate some people.  I’ve found that more people are concerned or afraid of this, than reality bears out.  Don’t let it intimidate you, because it’s not nearly the problem you think it will be, especially if you’re friendly, patient, and just brave enough to risk feeling a little foolish (the ability to pantomine really comes in handy).  Usually, I find that the store staff speak good to excellent english (though sometimes heavily accented, so you have to “pay attention” a little more closely, and be willing to admit when you don’t understand or need the person to repeat themselves).

Some of my favorite items:

Soy sauce - for the price of a small bottle of Kikoman’s, I can buy a quart bottle of a gourmet soy sauce.  Also, instead of three brand choices, I have about fifteen or more.   There are flavored sauces, aged sauces, sweetened sauces - from several different countries.  I’ve never found a “bad” one, so I often buy new one just for the variety.  My favorite though is mushroom soy.

Fish sauce -  Smells horrible, tastes wonderful.  I use it in asian recipes, but also in any place I might use worcestershire sauce, because the taste is milder yet more rich.  I even add it to chili.  The art of using it in non-asian dishes it to use just enough to bring out the flavor, without using enough to identify the flavor as fish or seafood (unless that’s what you want - for example, it’s really good in scampi recipes).

Chili sauces and pastes  (condiments in general, especially if they’re spicy) -  Such a variety, it’s mind boggling.  I especially love sweet chili sauce - usually an orange or apricot colored thick sweet sauce - makes an excellent dipping sauce for chicken (sometimes a label will say sweet chili sauce for chicken).  Chili garlic paste (not sweet) is great for recipes - even american-style dishes like chili.  Viatnamese barbecue sauces are AWESOME!  

Vinegars -  In most asian groceries, there are even more flavored vinegars than in fancy gourmet shops.  With lower acid rice wine vinegars, you can use a lot less oil when making salad dressings.  Mixed with fish sauce and sweetener (I use splenda) it makes an excellent dipping sauce for egg rolls, lettuce wraps, viatnamese spring rolls, chicken (any food that you like dipping, actually).

Oils - Nut oils and olive oil, especially are really expensive in most grocery stores, but are priced better (at least per ounce) in asian markets.  I haven’t made nearly as much use of the oils, though as they often come in huge jugs or cans.  Now that we’re moving into a larger apartment with more storage and pantry space, I probably will.

Rice - Like many things, great prices if you’re willing to buy huge quantities.  In quantities under 5 lbs, it often isn’t cheaper than in chain-grocery stores (although just for the variety of rices, it’s worth a trip).  However, if you’re willing to buy 10 or better yet 20 lbs, you’ll save a lot of money.  I recommend buying it in the small packages first, to find your favorite.

Mushrooms - whether canned or fresh, you’ll get alot more mushroom for the price, and there are more varieties.  Check out the canned mushrooms - the cans are bigger, so you have to calculate the per/ounce price, but all of the fancy varieties can be used any where you’d use button mushrooms.  Straw mushrooms are especially good sauteed in wine and garlic with onion.

Noodles - of every variety.  I have to be carb-conscious so I try not to spend to much time here.

Instant and quick dry packaged soups (endless varieties and permutation of the ubiquitous “ramen”).  Not always diet-friendly, but tons of variety in shape and flavor.  I do regularly buy the “Pad Thai,” and “Tom Yum” flavors - mmm.

Rice paper - a very thin rice sheet (usually round) that when placed in hot water for a few seconds, becomes a soft and pliable (slightly chewy) wrapper.  Traditionally used for viatnamese spring rolls (wrapped like a burrito with a filling of noodles, lean meats, and vegetables) they can be used sort of like a tortilla (a paper-thin, stretchy, almost transparent tortilla), as a wrap for salads and other sandwhich-style fillings.  Only about 30 to 35 calories each (unless super-sized). 

Nori and Nori snacks - sheets of seaweed (the green “wrapper” in some sushi).  Not everyone likes nori, but I love it.  I use sushi sheets like tortillas to “wrap” thin slices of deli-meats (dampen the sheet with a wet paper towel or by dipping your hand in water and running it over the nori sheet before folding - otherwise it will crack and break).  Small strips of nori (often flavored) are very good as a chip-like snack.  Even deep-fried (in the snack chip aisle, in a chip style bag), the calorie count is quite low.  Baked and seasoned (often in a plastic wide-mouthed jar), they’re excellent also.

Broth cubes - So many flavors, and so cheap.   I have to say, I never imagined being excited by a broth cube, but there are so many flavors that are so versitle, it’s hard not to get excited (I’m also like a kid in a candy store, and find it difficult to resist buying one of each variety - I’ve got a huge gallon ziploc bag filled with these cubes - and most of the packages are only about the size of a matchbox, containing only 4 to 6 cubes).  Just add hot water and you’ve got a low-calorie broth to sip (for few calories).  Or, add to soups and stews or cooking liquids for meats and you’ve got an instant seasoning mix without having to fuss.  The small size (and price) of the packages are the best feature, because they contain only 2 to 8 cubes, there’s not a lot of waste if you find out that you don’t like one variety.

Dried teas.  More variety at much better prices (just beware of medicinal teas, weight loss teas, especially), some of these are actually fairly harsh laxatives - or they may just taste really bad.  I learned the hard way to always ask.  Because the stores are usually small, the cashier usually knows the products very well. 

Fresh herbs  (especially cilantro and basil) and some vegetables (especially green onions, bean sprouts, many cabbages -   Sometimes the prices seem a bit high, until you compare them to what you get in a typical grocery store.  The freshness, variety, and quantity usually compare favorably when you compare ounce for ounce.  Bean sprouts are about twice the price of the quantity you find in the grocery store (a small bag), but the quantity is about four times as much and they last longer before going “slimy.”

Fruits - NOT CHEAP, at least not in our local asian markets - but unbeatable for variety and exotic fruits you won’t find anywhere else.  Fresh lychees, tiny little bananas, magos, papaya, dragon fruit (cool-looking, but kind of bland for the exhorbitant price, really neat to add to a fruit salad - or kept whole in a fruit bowl for display).  Mmm.

Canned juices and juice drinks - These aren’t usually cheap, especially when sold individually from the refrigerator case.  They’re about the same price as any ready-to-drink refrigerated beverage ($1 to $3 per 12 to 20 ounce bottle/can), but the variety!!  I don’t drink much juice, because of the calorie and sugar content (and the better-for-you fiber in whole fruit), but I do drink 1-2 cans per week.  Mangosteen, lychee, guava, and pomegranate are my favorites (Hubby likes pineapple, pear, mandarin orange, and coffee and tea drinks).  Read the labels - to check for added sugars, and such. 

I dilute the calories per ounce (and make my drink last longer), by mixing the juice with diet lemon-lime soda, seltzer or other carbonated water (sweetened or not).

Cheese!

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

It was a beautiful day today, so hubby and I wanted to do something fun, but inexpensive, so we went on a “cheese run” today to one of the local cheesemakers. They were having a special promotion for their flavored Montery Jack cheeses ($2.00 to $4.00 per lb.). I bought small bricks of several cheeses - Reduced Fat Pepperjack, Garlic and Herb, and one with a “blue” cheese marbeled through the jack. Hubby chose smoked swiss, and mozarella whips (a very thin string cheese, a little thinner than that of an average pencil).

I know that cheese can be a problem food for a lot of people.  It’s a trigger food for me if I eat it with a high carb accompaniment.   A few small cubes of cheese with raw veggies or a small amount of fruit, or just alone are satisfying to me, but add crackers or other fast-acting carb, and I can eat until I’m sick. SO the secret for me, is to just eat cheese in a meal or snack without any high carb foods in the same snack/meal.

The bad news - we decided to stop for lunch, and the best choice was Golden Corral (a mega-buffet). I have to say that the buffet turned out to be my friend.  There were so many healthy options, I was actually quite impressed, and I did very well. My first plate was mostly asparagus, spinach and other veggies. I choose mostly the veggies in steam trays that didn’t seem to have butter or other fats added.

It took a bit of willpower to avoid my favorite pitfalls, but I was determined not to feel sorry for myself, and it worked pretty well.  What really helped was the asparagus and spinach, two of my favorite veggies.  Especially the asparagus, since I don’t buy fresh experience very often, because it can be a bit expensive.  I think I ate nearly a lb of steamed asparagus. 

I stayed within my calorie budget, but I know that with my IBS, I’m going to suffer for it. So, I expect a severe stomach ache late tonight, early tomorrow.  I’m also expecting that the sodium will cause a bit of water retention, so I’m hoping I don’t see a gain in the morning.  It won’t be a big deal if I do, because I know my calories were fine.  So if I drink extra water (I’ve already started) it will disappear quickly, at least by Tuesday morning.

Still if I’m going to “suffer” for overeating, I’d rather be it due to veggie overload and temporary water gain than calorie overload and actual fat gain.

Snails: Food Adventuring “gone wrong”

Monday, August 10th, 2009
Today, I tried to cook snails at home.  As I mentioned in my Food Adventuring post, about a month ago, I  bought a pound of boiled apple snails (imported from Thailand).  I’d only eaten snails a couple times and liked them, but I don’t know why I thought cooking them myself was a great idea, but in the spirit of Food Adventuring,  I gave it a shot, and failed miserably.
I thawed the package of snails overnight in the refrigerator.  Then, I rinsed the thawed snails in water. They were obviously thoroughly cooked, and cleaned, but very rubbery. The odor was very similar to clams, but a little bit stronger. Not objectionable, so I went on to simmer them in a garlic-wine broth (water, wine, butter, minced garlic, chives, parsley, salt and pepper).

Results:

Flavor: Overall, mildly disappointing, with a pleasant-enough flavor (mostly from the sauce, however). The snail meat had a stronger aroma than flavor, and the combination aroma/flavor was not as mild as clams, but not as strong as cooked mussels or oysters (I don’t eat raw shellfish). Expected a lot more flavor than the snail delivered, it was more bland than anything else.

Good news: No grit, so the snails were obviously prepared and cleaned well.

Bad news: Rubbery as pencil erasers. The texture ruined it completey for me. There were a few pieces that were tender enough to eat and enjoy, but the larger pieces were very tough and rubbery.

I attempted to simmer longer to see if it helped - and while it did (I found a few more morsels tender enough to eat), the texture still wasn’t enjoyable, and the flavor was so bland, it felt more like I was cooking bits of slightly mussel-scented, but completey tasteless rubber (in a yummy garlic sauce) - not “food-like” enough to warrant continued interest.

Conclusion: I would eat these again only if I was starving or if someone who knew how to make them tender and delicious cooked them (and it’s definitely, not me). I will not be rebuying snailmeat.

In hindsight, I probably should have known better. My only previous experience with mollusc-cooking was also a disaster:

I love calimari, so decided to try to make my own. I followed the fishcounterman’s suggestion to clean (yuck, broke the inksack, double yuck), slice, and then soak the squid in lemon-lime soda (supposedly tenderizes meat), and to dip in egg and panko and fry for only 20 to 30 seconds, until panko browned.

The result was pretty much similar to the snails today (except there’s not much aroma to squid, just a mild salt-water smell). The batter was tasty, but the squid meat was flavorless and inedibly rubbery. Not just chewy like fried clam, but no give at all, like rubber bands (actually, rubberbands probably would have more flavor - they couldn’t have less).

I guess I’ll leave the mollusk-cooking to the experts (flavored rubber, just not “Good Eats”).

Food Adventuring

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

I’ve always been a food adventurer.  More a foodie than a gourmet (funnel cake appeals to me as much as tiramisu), and yet for some reason, I rarely carried over that adventuring into dieting.  Whenever I restricted calories, I stuck to mostly traditional “diet foods.”   I don’t know why I wasn’t able to think outside the box, but dieting meant “diet foods,” and also usually meant boredom and frustration and going off the diet (at least periodically).

This time, I decided to incorporate food adventuring into my weight loss plan, and see what happens.  Some of my successes and failures during this journey (in no particular order):

Dragonfruit (pitaya)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitaya

  Beautiful, bright red and golden green on the outside.  Moist, white flesh speckled with tiny black seeds, a texture a bit like kiwi.  The texture was pleasant and juicy, but the taste was a disappointment.  It didn’t taste bad, it just lacked oomph.  Imagine sugar water.  Sweet, but nothing else.  I would eat it again if it was given to me, but I would never again pay $7 for one fruit.  Still, it was fun to try.

Lychees

  Mmmm, I didn’t think I’d find a fruit that could replace Ranier cherries as my favorite fruit, but fresh (not canned!) lychees are as wonderful as their reputation.

Ugli fruit, Uniq fruit, pluots, white peaches/nectarines, and fancy varieties of apples

  These aren’t exactly “new” for me, but while I have always loved the fancy hybrid and varieties of fruits, I am less reluctant to buy them because of the somewhat higher price.  I have to be budget conscious, but I don’t buy the cheapest varieties just because they’re the cheapest.   Flavor matters too.

Wheat and rye berries.

   I discovered wheat berries in the 80’s in Yoplait’s “breakfast yogurt,” but until a couple years ago, had never cooked them myself.  Now they’re a staple.  I like them added to yogurt, oatmeal or dry cereal (or used by themselves as a hot or cold cereal).  I also use them as a base or add-in to salads.

  I tried rye berries for the first time when I made a sloppy joe-like bean and rye berrie dish (see recipe in recipe section of blog).  So absolutely yummy.

Bitter melon -

  Not so yummy.  It’s supposed to be very good for weight loss and diabetes (if eaten or juiced/drunk on an almost daily basis), but it lives up to it’s name and is very bitter.  I probably won’t be eating much of this, though I may try it again.

Asian eggplant

   I HATE european eggplant.  I’ve never been able to de-bitter one successfully (yes, I’ve tried salt and milk and multiple rinses).  However, I love thin asian eggplants, and even the tiny egg-sized and shaped ones (though not quite as much as there are more seeds than I care for in the tiny ones).  No de-bittering required, and the skin is even edible.  I like them roasted best (cut in large chunks, tossed in a bit of oil and seasonings - a bit of ranch dressing mix powder is my favorite fast mix, baked at 425 until carmelized).

Brussels sprouts

  I’ve hated Brussels sprouts most of my life, but discovered that I love them roasted (just like the eggplant, though I halve the sprouts before tossing with the oil and seasoning).

Ground cherries (physalis) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalis

  They look like tiny little tomatillos, and taste a bit like them, but sweet.  Sort of like gooseberries.  I’m not sure whether these were a success or a failure.  I mostly liked them, but can’t say that I’ve had a “taste” for them since trying them.  Hubby didn’t like them, he didn’t like the texture or “green tomato,” flavor (I’m not sure that I would have compared the flavor to tomato, or even completely tomatillo, but I agree that it did have more of a “sweet vegetable” flavor to me than a sweet fruit.  More astringent than tart.)

Canned fish

  I’ve always eaten canned tuna and sardines, whether dieting or not, but in standard grocery stores and in ethnic groceries, the variety is endless.   I do have to be careful here, because some products are canned in oil or high calorie sauces, but whether it’s big-brand flavored varieties of tuna, or sardines in curry sauce or clams in chili sauce from the oriental grocery, canned fish and seafood packs a lot of flavor punch for the calorie (which some would see as a downfall - hubby hates the smell of canned fish products other than tuna so much that we have a deal that I only eat them when he is not in the house - or at least give him warning so he can decide whether to leave for a while).  I never want for a dinner companion though, as our cat becomes very friendly when she smells that I’ve opened a can.  Her favorite is sardines in green curry.  It’s pretty spicy, but she will beg for it like a lapdog - even will “sit pretty” on her hind legs.

Snails

  These are my next culinary adventure.  I bought a pound of frozen boiled apple snails in a thai grocery.   They’ve been in there about a month or two, because I haven’t the foggiest idea how to cook or serve them, but Google of course, came to the rescue - and now I can’t decide which of the yummy-sounding recipes I’m going to try.  I have about 24 hours to decide, because they’re in the refrigerator thawing.