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Making Veg. More Interesting (Low Carb.)

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Plain veg. are sometimes a little boring for us. Maybe we need to expand our repertoire of what we eat, how we prepare it, or other aspects of our veg intake...

We like big, bold flavors. Also, I tend to cook several days of food at once, so we can just reheat for a few days. I make the veg plain so we season as we like depending on what flavors we feel like eating at a particular meal.

But our recipes for doing this are too sparse. I'm thinking it would be helpful to make up a couple/few sauces, curries, seasoning mixes, or what-have-you to have on hand in the fridge at the beginning of the week. That way we can select our veg for the next meal and pick something to jazz things up.

Something like a basic curry sauce (onions and/or tomatoes, spices, ghee/oil)--but made without meat or veg so we can versatile-y toss it on and chow down...?

BTW, we don't eat:
wheat and all other grains
corn and potato

Does anyone do something like this? Would love to hear your ideas and recipes!

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  1. Regarding your first paragraph: My go-to preparation for vegetables is roasting (grilling in the summer). Brings out all the lovely flavors of the actual vegetable itself! Roasted brussels, cauliflower, root vegetables, onions, zucchini, you name it. Usually with garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, S&P, a squeeze of lemon. I also really love every kind of vegetable gratin (you can thicken a bechamel with arrowroot or similar to avoid grain) and find that those reheat beautifully. Cauliflower and spinach gratin is my favorite at the moment, but I've done every kind of winter squash you could imagine, sweet potatoes, kale, leeks, all kinds of things. Much more interesting than plain steamed!

    Regarding the rest of your post: My concern about a curry sauce (and some other sauces) is that it would just be a condiment -- just plopped on top of pre-cooked vegetables -- rather than the two things cooking together and their flavors kind of marrying. However, just off the top of my head: Gastriques and similar tangy/tart/sweet reductions would freeze well in an ice cube tray to pop out one or two to drizzle over your meat and veg. Of course peanut sauce, unless you're counting peanuts in their proper family rather than their culinary use? :) Pesto and chimichurri are a bit more a la minute, but pesto does freeze nicely.

    10 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        According to their list the idea is to avoid grains, legumes, corn and potatoes. Arrowroot doesn't fall into any of those categories. A couple teaspoons of thickener in an entire dish might make it off-limits or might not, depending on individual preference and dietary needs. YMMV.

          1. re: paulj

            Allowed? For what? Don't understand.

              1. re: paulj

                Yeah, the language of "allowed" doesn't really make sense to me. If you know the nutritional value of something, and it's not going to kill you (i.e., you have a deadly ____ allergy or whatever), you choose to include it or not depending on your particular goals. "Allowed" doesn't really enter into my calculations, because I'm the one making the decisions for my diet, not someone else.

                1. re: LauraGrace

                  I use the word 'allowed' because followers of these diets (low carb, paleo, etc) seem to be working from some book, web site, or 'guru'. The focus is on avoiding certain categories of foods (e.g. what you listed: grains, legumes, corn and potatoes). In the paleo case(s) these are bad because they don't fit someone's concept of what our ancestors ate. To say they are bad because some nutritional content (empty starches) sounds like a post hoc rationalization.

                  It's the rational side of me that wonder's why some tropical root starch is ok, but not corn or potato starch.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Eh. I'll let other people police their own dietary choices.

                    1. re: paulj

                      I have never followed any low carb diet plan or "guru." I don' t know any low carbers who do.

                      1. re: paulj

                        Are you interested in a special diet, paulj?

                        While I don't know of anyone following a "guru" on a special diet, they are often looking for information (and ways to make things easier!) on the web, in forums, etc. and I think people who are following special diets to correct or prevent a health issue (for the most part) are MUCH more interested in the "why's and how's" behind things rather than those that follow them for religious or ethical reasons too(they know the "whys" already).

                        I think as people have different reasons for following a specific diet, there can be significant differences in what they eat on the "same" special diet as others. For example, I follow Primal eating, but I eat some dairy and drink wine. I am not lactose intolerant and have no problem with limited dairy. The reasons I eat the way I do are for better health and fitness- not because I want to follow some sort of "rule".

                        As long as my personal goals are met, I would see no reason to change what I eat or would not expect anyone to tell me that I am eating something "not allowed" but if I ran into a problem with my diet or health- I would seek advice from others that understand the concept of Primal eating for increased health to see what I needed to change in order to get "back on track" and feel good again.

                        So, some might eat a little bit of potato starch, some none, some arrowroot, some guar gum. Whatever works. The only time to micro manage this is when it is not working for you and you wonder why. Often, it is because you get off track with "a little bit of this and that". This is when you need to seek more specifics about the diet. this has nothing to do with following a guru.

        1. if you love garlic, make traditional Toum... it's just garlic, salt, lemon and oil emulsified together. use slightly older garlic if possible, as it's a bit more mellow. it also mellows over a few days in the fridge.

          i do a lemon butter herb cream sauce that is so fast, it's not necessary to make ahead. just dump a hunk of butter in a pan, toss in some crushed garlic, let melt and cook for a minute. stir in some cream and some fresh herbs (parsley or basil or thyme are my usual go-to's), let simmer for a minute more and voila.

          also, a good topping for other roasted or cooked veggies is diced onions and tomatoes cooked together with a little olive oil, tiny bit of garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and garam masala. (i love garam masala.)

          i think LauraGrace does raise an interesting concern about flavors, but I think you're goal is to pre-make a bunch of dipping sauces, so to speak.

          5 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              Love this, we have something similar in the Yucatan called Mojo de Ajo. The garlic gets roasted and then mashed into a paste with spices and sour orange. It's great with shrimp but also with all manner of vegetables, especially leafy greens like kale...


              1. re: Dommy

                Sour orange and spices... yum! Any more specifics to offer? or is it google time... ;)

                1. re: Emme

                  Sadly most of the Mojo de Ajo recipes online are WAY too oil heavy. But the spicess are Cumin, Corriander and Mexican Oregano.... if you don't have sour orange, then lime will work find...

                  1. re: Dommy

                    I have yet to find anything that Mojo doesn't work well with....

            2. I grill veggies all summer, roast on high temp with EVOO s and p all winter. I always have some rutabaga puree in the fridge as a side sub for mashed spuds in winter, too, and some cooked spaghetti squash ready in summer for pesto or sauteeing with herbs and shallot. I love a quick saute of sugar snap peas in toasted sesame oil sprinkled with black sesame seeds (very pretty, too). And I, too, make gratins of almost anything, small white turnips, rutabaga, with heavy cream, gruyere and chopped parsley, thyme and rosemary mixed in. Great leftover, too.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mcf

                I first made this recipe as written for others, only tasting it... it's been in all our dreams ever since and I began making it obsessively, tweaking and substituting until it was okay for my diet controlled diabetes. one thing I haven't tried yet but plan to come autumn is celery root. Small white turnips are the most bitter result. I like it, DH not so much. Rutabaga is excellent, but carbier than white turnip. A combination of those two is in my plans, along with celery root. I bought a mandoline just for this, it's so good, and leftovers are to die for. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                1. re: mcf

                  Tried the celery root due to cold weekend weather, it worked really, really well.

              2. I found the book The Saucy Vegetarian really useful for exactly what you describe -- serving up simply prepared vegetables (cooked ahead) in a variety of ways: http://www.amazon.com/The-Saucy-Veget...

                1 Reply
                1. re: alc

                  Now why didn't I think of that!
                  Thanks...will check it out

                2. I've been playing around with cold soups. I did escarole the other day and looking now to make some asparagus or pea soup. Make some good stock, saute the vegetables in some evoo with salt and pepper. Puree the soup together chill. It's very easy to make the soup more substantial by adding a bit of creme fraiche or yogurt. Even on its own, as long as you don't use too much stock, the soup should be very full flavored. Especially with so many vegetables in season right now.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JeremyEG

                    I have been playing around with cold soups too! Cold soups and warm salads really change things up.

                    We had the (Radically Simple) cold Watermelon tomato soup with a warm grilled salad the other night -and it was a nice change of pace.

                    I have been making a few cold soups and keeping them in the fridge. Then I make some spreads and salsas. It is easy to throw together the soup with a pairing of a spread/salsa and chips or crackers that fit your diet (like seed crackers or vegetable chips) and/or a grilled warm salad with blue cheese crumbles and lemon -or drizzled with a chimichurri. All of things go well with a cold soup.

                  2. I've been doing low carb vegetarian for a little while and I am finding it deadly dull. Would you mind sharing examples of daily menus?

                    Many thanks.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MplsM ary

                      Low carb vegetarian is a VERY tough row to hoe... can't help you there. It might need its own thread if there isn't one already.

                    2. a big +1 for toum, pesto & chimichurri.

                      some other ideas (assuming you're not fat-phobic):
                      - tahini or taratoor
                      - homemade mayo or aioli flavored a ton of different ways
                      - chipotle- or wasabi-spiked sour cream or cream sauce
                      - coconut milk-based sauces such as: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...
                      - creamy cashew sauce
                      - tamarind ketchup
                      - avocado sauce

                      and you can always use tahini, almond butter or sunbutter in place of PB for "peanut" sauce.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Great list! I love sauces to enliven veggies! I also love a charmoula, gramolata as well as Harrisa and a sauce made of roasted red pepper.

                        Another thing to try is roasting veggies with rubs. My favorite is taking whole fennel, corriander and cumin seeds, toasting them and then grinding them with some salt (I especially like grey salt with this).

                        Then, tossing the veggies in it right when they come out of the oven. The flavors are amazing...


                      2. Have you made ratatouille? (It's a vegetable dish, so doesn't hit your request specifically for a sauce, but it checks too many of your boxes to ignore)

                        Big, bold flavors - check.
                        Can be made in huge batches - check
                        Better the next day - check
                        Can be used in different ways - check....

                        It can even be eaten warm or cold, as a part of a salad, by itself, or as a pasta-type sauce (over whatever you eat in place of pasta or rice).

                        One of my fallback recipes - easy, cheap, and everyone likes it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sunshine842

                          I love it warm or cold as a side dish, I love it with low carb wraps and cheese for lunch. And I love it made with tomatoes or just roasted. Roasted ratatouille makes a wonderful omelette filling, too, with or without cheese.

                          Great idea.

                          1. Poking around the internet (menu pages) I came across this vegetarian menu from an Italian restaurant in NYC. While not all the dishes fit your criteria, it is nevertheless inspiring (I think):

                            Primi Piatti
                            Crispy Vegetables artichokes & herbs 13.00
                            CipollIni Agrodolce pine nuts, raisins & humboldt fog goat cheese 14.00
                            Local Greens seasonal local greens & truffle vinaigrette 13.00
                            Bibb Lettuce tomato vinaigrette & oregano 12.00
                            Creamy Polenta fricassee of truffled mushrooms 18.00
                            Roasted Beets pumpkin seeds, sheep’s milk yogurt & watercress 17.00
                            Mozzarella In Carrozza stewed baby tomatoes 16.00
                            Ceci Bean Soup chickpea, brussels sprouts & rosemary 16.00

                            Spice Roasted CaulIflower olive and shallot breadcrumbs 19.00
                            Roasted Mushrooms porcini puree & crispy potatoes 19.00
                            Rosemary -Braised LentIls broccoli rabe & concentrated tomatoes 19.00
                            Roasted Spring Vegetables preserved lemon & almond broth 19.00
                            Vegetable & Farro Risotto shaved parmigiano 19.00
                            SpaghettI tomato & basil 24.00
                            TaglIatelLe truffle zabaglione & spring vegetables 26.00
                            Taleggio Mezzaluna new potatoes, ramps & shiitakes

                            1. I make this very low-carb version of gazpacho: Process in Cuisinart (until chunky but not pureed) 4 large peeled tomatoes, 1 small or medium onion, 1 green pepper, and 1 cucumber. Combine this with a 46-oz can of tomato juice. Season to taste with salt, cumin, garlic powder or pressed fresh garlic, a little hot red pepper, and 2 tablespoons each of vinegar and olive oil. This makes a lot and it keeps a week in the refrigerator. Serve ice cold.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Querencia

                                I do something similar but I like low sodium V8 juice.

                              2. if you already have a bottle of sambal or make your own! make green beans stir fry

                                3 dried shrimps soaked in water until soft
                                4 garlic cloves minced
                                1 tsp ginger minced
                                2 tbsp sambal chili sauce (+ salt if needed)
                                3 cups green beans
                                2 tbsp water
                                2 tsp chili powder

                                Soak the dried shrimp in water for about 5 mins. Then mince it up real good so it is almost paste like.
                                This is optional for vegetarians but it gives a more umami flavor.

                                Mince your garlic and ginger. Trim your green beans and cut them in half.

                                Heat up a frying pan, add about 1-2 tbsp of oil to it. Once the oil is heated, add the garlic, ginger and paste. Fry that until the moisture from the shrimp has evaporated a bit. Around 3 mins.
                                I doubled the recipe so this looks like a lot.

                                Add the Sambal sauce and stir fry that for 30 secs.

                                Toss in your green beans and add the water. Give it a good stir and let it cook for about 2 mins.

                                Add some salt to your liking and add chili powder.
                                Keep stirring it so that the green beans get a good coat of sauce. Another 3 mins. It's done when the green beans are soft but still has a good amount of crunch.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: MDcooksfor2

                                  oops are green beans considered legumes?

                                  1. re: MDcooksfor2

                                    That sounds delicious! I wouldn't worry about the green beans being legumes as much as I might about the shrimp not being vegetarian. : )

                                    1. re: MDcooksfor2

                                      Just remove all the immature beans from inside the pods! :)

                                      1. re: MDcooksfor2

                                        I *think* that if they're eaten when the pods are still green and tender, they're processed like vegetables. (Weight Watchers counts them as a vegetable at that point).

                                        Similarly, dried peas and beans are then processed as protein/starch. (Weight watchers counts them as protein at that point).

                                        Not entirely sure, so feel free to correct. Not saying WW is the authority...just that they've been dividing this stuff up for a very long time, so I'd be inclined to believe them.

                                    2. holandaise
                                      chopped hardboiled eggs (especially good with hollandaise over asparagus)
                                      compound butters made with herbs, zest of citrus fruits, chopped nuts . There are so many combinations for this..
                                      and I definitely second the mayo dressups.One I use all the time has garlic, capers, lots of parsley, minced red onion, chopped pickle, lemon zest and juice, s & p
                                      cilantro, lime and chili or jalepenos in sour cream
                                      toasted almonds and blue cheese
                                      pumpkin seeds or pecans and goat cheese
                                      any homemade spiced nut (obviously the savoury kind, not sweet
                                      cheese can be used in compound butters too
                                      romesco without the bread