Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Lost 15 Pounds in 10 Days - Marx Foods Morel Mushrooms Creamed Spinach

Quick Diet update, despite the impression I may have left with the last two days postings (Cheese Fondue and Fudge (both of which I made and ate every morsel prior to starting my diet), I am still very much in diet frenzy (see my first update for the details).  15 pounds in now 10 miserable days.  Now, I will never recommend diets as a lifestyle fix.  But as a quick fix, goal of fitting into my 1970's leisure suit so I can be the funny uncle at our family's upcoming wedding of the century, this has been an incredibly positive experience.  The weight continues to flow off.  7 more days of this limited ingredient phase before I move to a more forgiving phase 2.

Believe it or not (actually, believe it...), the plate of food above is all diet food, very filling, very satisfying and not a hint of flavorless suffering diet food usually associated with miserable cuisine.  I roasted a turkey (on this diet, unlimited amounts of breast meat turkey and chicken are allowed).  I steamed some raw carrots and glazed with just a ting of honey.

But the crowning jewel of my meal is the Morel Mushroom Creamed Spinach!

See that little beauty in the center of the photo.  That is a Morel Mushroom.  Here's what the good folks at Wikipedia have to say about Morels...

Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi. These distinctive mushrooms appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them.
These ascocarps are prized by gourmet cooks, particularly for French cuisine. Commercial value aside, morels are hunted by thousands of people every year simply for their taste and the joy of the hunt. The American state of Minnesota has adopted the morel as its state mushroom.
Morels have been called by many local names; some of the more colorful include dryland fish, because when sliced lengthwise then breaded and fried, their outline resembles the shape of a fish; hickory chickens, as they are known in many parts of Kentucky; and merkels or miracles, based on a story of how a mountain family was saved from starvation by eating morels (the spelling "merkel" reflects a corruption of the word "miracle" as spoken with an Appalachian dialect common to SW Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky area).  In parts of West Virginia, they are known as "molly moochers." Other common names for morels include sponge mushroom.
So, here's the legal stuff I need to say... A couple of weeks ago, the very good folks at MARX FOODS
traditionally, they were a boutique high-end restaurant distributor). Now, home chefs like you can buy the finest and freshest foods just like the pro chefs who are driving food trends. Our goal is to supply you with the ingredients to make memorable dining experiences … in your home.

Made me an offer I could not refuse.  FREE package of these beauties in hopes that I would spread the word of the gourmet provider of 5 star restaurant quality ingredients.  It took me just a quick look through their website before I knew I wanted to take them up on the offer.  It took me 50 years of life to get passes the common button mushrooms, and I am excited to give these legendary gourmet items a try.

But, as much as I enjoy free, I was a bit concerned about doing these beauties justice given the limitations of my diet.  I made a commitment to my wife to live by the 17 Day Diet.  

After a bit of figuring, recipe analysis, comparing ingredient options, I can now present an original recipe, fits in with all the limitations of the diet plan, and accentuates the taste of the Morel...

Creamed Morel and Spinach -
A "Super Food" Side Dish

There are three "tricks" that make this a unique super food.  

First is the use of low fat Greek Yogurt as the creaming ingredient.

Next is the timely use of Vidalia Onions (fresh real Vidalias in stock right now)!!!

Finally is a bit of a favorite, a Green Onion - Cilantro Sweet sauce used to flavor the dish with a wave of amazing layers of tastes!

And every ingredient fits in with my obnoxious fad diet (but you would never ever know that from the luxurious creamy complex tastes.

OK, here we go...
First up, the Green Onion Cilantro sweet sauce...

1 cup (about a dozen) sliced Green Onions (white and green parts)

1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped

1 red Jalapeño Pepper, stems, seeds and white inner pulp removed, minced

1 TBS Honey

1 TBS Dijon Mustard

2 TBS Sweet Rice Wine Vinegar 

Combine everything into a blender and mix until you have a chunky sauce.

Once the flavoring sauce is done, the rest comes together very easy...

1 whole Vidalia Onion, Diced in large (about 1 inch square) pieces
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

You need to sweat the liquid out of the onion.  This is very easy, in a large Saute Pan, cook the onions over medium heat for 10 minutes.  The trick for this recipe is to cook them covered.  you want to use the moisture from the onions to help cook the spinach in a few minutes.  So, after the 10 minutes, you have translucent onions sitting in a pool of about 1/2 a cup of water... Wonderfully naturally flavored water.

Add the minced Red Jalapeño Pepper to the onion now and give it a stir to mix well.

Add the Spinach.  Take the time to remove the hard stems from the leaves.

Turn the heat up just a bit and start stirring.  You will see the spinach start to wilt.  Continue gently stirring until the spinach is completely wilted.

Now, add the Greek Yogurt.  In U.S., Greek Yogurtt has become increasingly popular because it is richer in texture than unstrained yoghurt, but low in fat; since straining removes water and dissolved salts and sugars, by volume, it has twice the protein of regular yoghurt and less sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar.  Greek yogurt actually tastes closer to sour cream than to "regular" yogurt.  Continue to stir as the yogurt blends to make the cream sauce.

Add the  the Green Onion Cilantro sweet sauce. and continue to mix!

While this makes a fine dish on it's own, to add a gourmet touch, start to add the mushrooms.

The bag I received from Marx Foods was dried.  They needed to be rehydrated.  Simple matter of soaking them in a bowl of water for just a couple of minutes.  I allowed them to drain dry for a few minutes.  I saved 2 pretty ones to use as a tasty accent for the dish.  The remaining mushrooms I sliced into thin circles and added them to the spinach.  Turn off the heat now, as the mushrooms will cook fast.  I only wanted them warmed, allowing more of the rich, earthy, near truffle taste to shine through all the ingredients already added to the spinach.

Serve as an amazing vegetarian main course, or a highlighting side dish that outshines and meat on the plate.  I also sprinkled in just a pinch of smoked Paprika... mostly for the very appealing color contrast!

There are just a few tricks of stunt dieting that I will cover in the next few posts.  But one is quality will shine when ingredients are limited.  use the best you can find.

And thanks to the good folks at Marx Foods, I now have another resource to get lots of amazing quality ingredients.



  1. Congratulations on the 15 pounds!! That's amazing! :)

    This recipe is amazing, too. I'm trying to fit in more veggies in my diet, so I'm going to have to give this one a go!

  2. Dear Dave, Excellent! I think we are all in this boat together. It is challenging to eat tasty and slimming at the same time. Looks delish! Blessings, Catherine

  3. I was absolutely sure this HAD to be something you made before the diet! Looks awesome! You definitely did those morels justice.

  4. You did a bang up job with those mushrooms. What a great dish for a won't want to see what I did with mine ~ not diet friendly at all.

  5. Great recipe. For years I've made a side dish/accompaniment of saute button mushrooms and onions in sour cream, so this sounds right up my food alley. I can't wait to try it. And...congrats, WOW - it took me 3 months to lose 10lbs this year so I'm very impressed.

  6. look amazing and deliicous! gloria

  7. Marx Foods has an amazing line up of quality products. You used these in a great way Dave.