Saturday, April 9, 2011

Orzo Salad

I got this idea from a recipe card at SunFlower Market near the bulk bins.  It's a simple cold salad that we loved.  It's a nice dish to be able to make ahead and put in the fridge till you're ready to eat it or take to whatever dinner party or pot-luck you're going to.  (We had it this week alongside a simple veggie stir-fry with this quick recipe for ginger citrus sauce.)

Direction for Orzo Salad:
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
2 (6 oz) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1 tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 (2 oz) black olives, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbl lemon juice
2 Tbl olive oil
salt, pepper, opt.

Boil pasta for 8 to 10 minutes. Chop and dice other ingredients.  Stir all together and put in fridge.  Let chill for at least 1 hour.  (I didn't have the black olives, as called for, when I made it.  But I'm sure it would be great with them, or even kalmata olives.)


Also, can I tell you what my current food obsession is?  It's pita bread stuffed with veggies and a little vegan mayo or salad dressing.  I actually had a little pita sandwich for breakfast twice this week.  Weird, I know, but it's what I wanted!




Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Seitan Baked in Sweet and Sour Orange Sauce- from FatFreeVegan.com

Last night I made this awesome recipe from Susan at FatFreeVegan, found here.  I used the other half of the sauce in the recipe to pour over zucchini I'd stir-fried.  It was a great meal!  (And her recipes are the best, am I right?!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Veggie Dip

 Here's a dip I used to make but kind of forgot-a recipe given to me by my friend Jess.
Blend in blender or food processor:
2 cups walnuts
2/3 stalks celery
1 large red pepper
1 scallion (or other onion-type)
1 tsp salt


I forgot how much I love this dip! When I first had it, pre-vegan, almost 3 years ago, I couldn't believe there wasn't sour cream in it.  I was like "What, no sour cream in here?  What's in it then?  It's so good!"  I ate it as a snack yesterday with my wheat crisp and all-peanut peanut butter. Tthe ingredients of the wheat crisps are: Puffed wheat, honey flavor, and stevia.  Not too bad, right?  Which brings me to a question? Can packaged food be healthy food? I think the answer is really "No," but some packaged foods can be healthier than others. And sometimes, living in the world we do, we need convenience food. Not as much as some may think... I believe that you CAN easily make easy, homemade, delicious food at home quickly. By the time you get in your car, navigate through traffic, wait in line at the drive-thru, drive home and eat, you could have diced up a few veggies, thrown them in a skillet and stir-fried while stirring up a sauce of orange juice, vinegar, agave, ginger, and sesame oil.

One convenience food that is in my freezer right now?  Morningstar Chipotle Black Bean Burgers.  They're not the gross soy burger junk, they are mostly black beans, brown rice, and vegetables.  When you cut the burgers you can see the vegetables, corn and black beans, so I consider them OK to eat sometimes- although your own veggie burger is pretty easy to make, these ones stand up well to the grill and are convenient for when you didn't plan ahead.  I've got to admit I don't spend hardly any time in 'health food' stores.  I shop at the local grocery store and then at Sunflower Market for nooch and grains in the bulk bins.  Do you have a convenient food that you buy that is a whole food and tastes GOOD?  If you do, please share!
Morning Star Chipotle Black Bean Burger

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

There are a lot of vegan and raw ice cream recipes out there.  I remember googling it once and finding a ton.  I think I even remember a blog called "Even Vegans Scream for Ice Cream."  You can make some great ice cream using coconut milk and an ice cream maker.  I've even blended up some coconut milk, vanilla bean, cocoa powder and agave; poured in ice cube trays; frozen; then blended again for a more 'real' ice cream.  This recipe, however is a quick-I want some ice cream right now- kind of recipe.

Blend the following, quantity from greatest to least:
Frozen bananas,
Peanut butter (or other nut butter),
 Non-Dairy Milk/Coconut Milk,
Cashews,
Cocoa Powder,
a tiny bit of agave nectar or honey,
1 tsp Vanilla,
1 tsp Coconut Oil (opt but good for you--and TASTY)
 I used my 'ninja' food processor, but I think a regular blender would work just fine.  Blend till desired consistency.  I leave a few little pieces of cashew for a little crunch. *  Note, if you use just-ripe bananas it will taste less banana-like.  If you use overripe bananas it will taste like...bananas.  Which could be good- just depends what you're going for.  
 Make your own variation with a frozen banana base- or maybe some other fruit?  How about maple pecan ice cream using a little real maple syrup and some pecans?  Avoid the saturated fat and sugar of traditional ice cream, improve your health, and hit that 'ice cream craving' with real food.
For a less fat version make this chocolate shake I used to make all the time.  But don't feel guilty about eating a little of this recipe...don't forget that these are good fats for the health of your brain, dry hair, dry skin, and lots more.  And don't forget that good fats will help kids with their behavior ( my kids devour this ice cream!) and it helps those suffering from depression.  These fats and oils are the ones they are talking about that should be eaten in moderation for your health.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Mushroom And Rice Stew

I think I could have this for dinner every day.  It's hearty and hits the spot!


1 Tbl Oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 Celery stalks, diced
8 oz package Mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
Fresh herbs, chopped finely (I used Sage)
4 Tbl Whole Wheat Flour
5 cups Vegetable Broth
1 Tbl Lite Soy Sauce
3 cups Brown Rice
opt: Tofu strips, cooked and cut into cubes
(pan-fried or baked previously)
green onion, optional






Heat oil in deep sided skillet or large saucepan.  Saute onion, celery, mushrooms, and herbs till softened, stir in flour and cook just a little bit till browned a little, and then add vegetable broth and soy sauce.  Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until rice is cooked.  Try not to open lid often while cooking.  Optional : Add already cooked tofu at the end and serve when all is warm. 

In this Bok Choy and Baked Tofu Stir-fry wtih Ginger-Citrus Sauce recipe I explain how I make baked tofu.  If done right, tofu tastes good!  I like when my friends say "there was tofu in that?"  That's when I think it's done right-when it's not noticable but enhances a dish. Tofu is great because it takes on any flavor it's with.

Garnish this dish with chopped green onion and enjoy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Raw Carmel Fudge/Chocolate Fudge Sauce

This is a twist on my 5-minute- raw fudge recipe I posted a while back. It tastes a little like carmel fudge thanks to the texture and flavor of coconut milk and coconut oil.

Ingredients:

1 cup peanut butter (natural kind with no added sugar or fats)

1/4 to 1/3 cup cocoa

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup agave nectar (or other non-crystalline sweetener)
(can experiment with reducing sweetener)

1 tsp coconut extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

dash salt

(Optional: Top with shredded coconut and dried cranberries)

Blend ingredients in a food processor. Spread in pan lined with foil (so when it's solidified you can lift it out and cut into squares) and put in the freezer for at least an hour.


You can leave this as sauce and serve over coconut milk ice cream at a special occasion! When you need to bring a dessert to a friend's house or a similar function, I don't know if there's a quicker dessert to whip up and let set up while your getting ready for your party. I love that this is made with nutrient dense ingredients, healthy fats and anti-oxidant-filled cocoa; and that a couple squares are so rich and satisfying that there's really no chance of an 'eating the whole pan of brownies' type of thing to occur!


I didn't remember to take a picture of this new version.  So just picture a combination of my original fudge and my Chocolate Nut Ball dessert  : )

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

English Muffin Pizza and Thoughts and Stats on Protein and Inexpensive Healthy Eating

I'm a believer that your life is as complicated as you make it.  Now maybe that statement is over-simplifying things a little, or a lot, but it's true to a certain point.  I think the same is with cooking for your family.  I find cooking an outlet for my creativity.  But every meal doesn't have to be something new and different if you don't want it to be.  I think the best formula for people trying to lose weight, people on the go, or people living with carnivores while they themselves are attempting to be an omnivore/herbivore can be soup and salad.  It's a simple formula but can be as complex, light or filling, and as interesting as you like.  Grill/skillet/bake a piece of meat for anyone that thinks they need it, and you all have supper together.

There are endless salad and soup recipes/ideas.  Lucky for me my husband likes everything I make us, and doesn't care if there's no meat on the table.  As long as it's filling, tasty and satisfying I don't see how anyone could complain about what they're being fed.  The American notion that meat should be at every meal or every day is deep-rooted in our history and therefore understandable.  Kings ate meat, paupers didn't.  Now everyone can eat like a king thanks to factory farming!  But sadly, eating like the affluent has brought with it the 'diseases of affluence' (heart disease, cancer, etc.)

I'm loving all the new studies proving that it is best to 'eat meat sparingly', to eat foods that are in season, and eat grains of the earth.  Eating meat should be reserved for times of famine or cold. It's a very compact source of energy and calories that definitely has its place.  Most of us though, most of the time, aren't hurting for lack of calories in our day.  As I listened to health leacture by a friend, Dr. Tracy Gibbs, a few years ago, I learned that a big portion of Americans are malnourished.  Not meaning that they lack for calories, but they lack nutrition, vitamins, anti-oxidants, fiber, and water.  I also love all the studies proving that we don't need as much protein as we think we do, that too much protein is harmful, and that vegetables have as much protein per calorie as meat 1This site lays out the stats nicely.

Here's a simple dish I threw together for today's lunch.  It's a whole wheat english muffin, topped with some Newman's Own spaghetti sauce, thinly sliced zucchini and tomatoes, put under the broiler for a few minutes.  I guess it's just like my pita pizza non-recipe.

Remember, eating healthy does not need to be complicated.  It can be simple if you want it to be.  And even though real food prices are rising, I still think eating healthier is less expensive than eating junk food and meat and dairy.  A bag of chips is more expensive than a bag of potatoes.  And I could definitely eat a whole bag of chips and still be hungry but not eat a whole bag of potatoes in one sitting.  Since changing to cooking vegan my grocery bill has lowered by about 15-20 percent.  I love this site "Raw on $10 a Day" that proves how inexpensive healthy eating can be.  In the long term we know it's cheaper.  Any middle age/ elderly person will tell you how much their pills cost and I'm sure that some of those pills could be avoided with some dietary changes.

A Second Opinion on Learning Disorders and Autism Diagnosis


The other day Dairy Free Betty posted an amazing video from the TED website, here.  It's absolutely amazing and the results could be life changing for many.  Well, it already has been, but I hope it will be for many more.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cilantro Cashew "Cheese" Ball

This recipe is from the from greenereating.com girls.  It's an adaptation of the dressing on their raw taco salad.  I made this for a party and vegans and non-vegans alike loved it.  The simple instructions for making it are found here.  It feels good and TASTES good to be eating good-for-you fats instead of artery-clogging saturated fats that are in a normal cheese ball.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Barbecue Portobello Mushroom Quesadillas


I put a couple of recipes together to make this tasty lunch today.  Since the classic mushroom taste and texture are NOT what you notice or taste when you are eating, I think even non-mushroom lovers will love this meal.

You'll need:
2 Portabella/Portobello Mushrooms (there are 2 different spellings for the same thing) de-stemmed and 'fins' cut off then coarsely chopped
(here's an ehow video on how to do that.  do you love ehow.com?  It has taught me many things... like some acupressure techniques for one and what to do with anise for another.)  
1/2 onion, chopped
Chipotle Barbecue Sauce (recipe below) (or other bbq sauce)
Cheeze Sauce (recipe below) (or other veggie cheese or cashew cheeze)


Heat a little oil or water in a skillet.  Add portabellas and cook 5 minutes.  Add onions and cook maybe another 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms and onions are soft.


Meanwhile make barbecue sauce and cheeze sauce.  (I love this bbq sauce recipe!  The deep smokey flavor of chipotle and the surprise flavor of cinnamon make it a really special one.
Spicy Chipotle Barbecue Sauce -recipe found here at fatfreevegan.com-
4 cloves garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup organic ketchup
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (or other sugar or agave nectar-I used agave)
2 tablespoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed (optional)



Stir all ingredients together then add to skillet of cooked mushrooms and onions.  Cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat.


Cheeze Sauce -recipe found here at fatfreevegan.com-
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup plain, fat-free soymilk (may use other non-dairy milk)
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon mellow white miso (or additional salt)
black pepper to taste

blend in blender or food processor.  Simmer in saucepan or skillet till thickened.


Assemble quesadilla:  Spread mushroom/onion and barbecue sauce mixture on whole wheat tortilla, drizzle cheeze sauce on or serve on side. Brown each side of tortilla on the skillet.  You could use bottled bbq sauce and veggie cheese for a quicker meal.  But you'll save yourself eating a lot of sugar/high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and preservatives if you take a few minutes to make homemade!  Make a double batch and put extra in the freezer!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Inspiration: Vegan Hope

I'm so inspired by this gal on www.veganhope.com and I love the article she posted called " The difference between a “junk food vegan” and a “whole foods vegan” (By John Pierre)  She lost 200 lbs going plant based and her husband lost 90!


Her facebook read, the other day: "Today I went to the eye dr for a check up. I was able to see my eyes, and how they look after being on a healthy vegan diet for almost 2 years. It was yet another affirmation about the way I've decided to live our life. I have no more eye damage from out of control diabetes, and my vision has actually drastically improved.


My husband told me that he remembers crying after one of my eye dr. appointments because he realized what they were saying was that one day I would not be able to see him. Today, that fear is something we never have to worry about again. This way of living and eating does not just control a disease, it heals and cures it - there is no better feeling."



Check out her site for more inspiration and the post reminding us to eat whole foods, not 'vegan' labelled junk food!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Alternative Grains

I love this article my friend Kate posted about 5 alternatives to traditional grains.  (She also promises to share a recipe for a great tried and true multi-grain bread.)  The article highlights quinoa, buckwheat, flax, amaranth, and spelt.  I haven't had any experience with amaranth but now I'm planning to hit the bulk bins at Sunflower Market and make some amaranth stir-fried with garlic as they suggest.  (Anything with garlic sounds good to me.)  I tried buckwheat noodles the other day (soba) and loved them.  I wondered, "Why are we eating wheat pasta when we could have buckwheat pasta-which tastes so much better?"  There are so many other grains than wheat with growing availability, maybe due to the rising number of documented wheat allergies.  Happy grain finding and eating everyone!

And, P.S., Go Steelers!  (I have to say that, I'm originally from Pittsburgh.)  How about this site for some black and gold appetizers?  Or Susan's black and gold salsa or my similar bean dip with baked chips?


 Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Coconut Curry

I blame/give credit to my friend Shelley for putting the thought of coconut curry in my head the other day.  She was describing a dish she had a long time ago and I almost immediately had to go make some curry.  --I shared with her of course.  I thank my friend Mika for teaching it to me in the first place a long time ago.

Curry is easy to make.  Use whatever color curry paste you like, (depending on how great/poor the international section of your grocery store is, you may have to go to an international market) put some coconut milk and veggie broth with it (in whatever proportions you like), and pour over veggies you stir-fried.  I've used a broccoli blend before with lots of veggies but today I chose simple and sweet with just carrots and zucchini.  A great spice to add is one used in traditional Indian dishes called Garam Masala.  It's a spice blend including coriander, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon.  Serve your curry over brown rice.


Here's the ingredients I used for today's curry:
1-3 Tbl Red curry Paste (amount to taste)
1 Tbl Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Onion Salt
1 Tbl Oil
1 can Lite Coconut Milk
1 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
Carrots, sliced long
Zucchini, sliced long
Almonds, sliced
Flaked, dried Coconut (optional)
Brown rice, cooked

Heat oil in skillet, add curry and masala.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add coconut milk, onion salt, and vegetable broth.  Vary amounts to your taste and the amount you want to make.  Add sliced carrots and zucchini.  Cook all, simmering until vegetables are soft but not mushy.  Mound cooked rice on plate and surround with the coconut curry.  Pile vegetables on top and sprinkle on almonds and coconut.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cauliflower Pizza Casserole (Chipotle Pizza and Asian Pizza Versions)

Back in November I was watching the Dr. Oz show when a gal that had lost 100 lbs shared one of her tricks to weight loss which was replacing traditional pizza with this recipe for cauliflower pizza.  Since then I have been experimenting with the recipe, but have yet to make the crust hard enough to pick up.  Hence- pizza casserole to be eaten with a fork.

Although the texture is not exactly the same as traditional pizza crust, the spices really make this "crust" taste like pizza but, of course, it's much healthier.  Think of the cancer-fighting properties of cauliflower as well as the high amounts of vitamin c and k when making this great dish.  Susan of FatFreeVegan mentioned yesterday her chipotle guacamole and got these spices on my mind which inspired me to make the Mexican version of this pizza last night.  More than heat, chipotles bring deep flavor and smokiness to a recipe.  Going out to Thai food the other night with girl friends and talking about our love of peanut sauce inspired me to make the Asian pizza.  Both were amazing!

Crust Ingredients:
Cauliflower, 2 cups steamed, grated (by hand or blended in food processor)
2 "eggs"  (I soak 1 Tbl ground flax in 3 Tbl water for 3 mins per egg)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup veggie cheese
Spices: (quantities and/or spices you like, or "pizza seasoning", or what I did:)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Blend crust ingredients in food processor.  It should look like this:


Spread crust 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Cook at 450 (F) degrees for 20 minutes.  You can do this in a casserole dish, or on a pre-heated pizza stone/pan with cornmeal underneath.  (I used both methods and although the pizza pan way didn't yield a pizza you could pick up with your hands, I still liked it because it gave some crispiness to the bottom of the crust that I liked.  Both ways were amazing though!  Maybe I'll try a skillet next time.)  Add toppings of choice, see chipotle pizza topping or asian pizza topping below, and bake another 10-15 minutes.

Chipotle Pizza Topping
1/2 to 1 chipotle (canned "chipotles in adobo sauce" in the mexican foods section)
1/4 cup oil/ veggie broth (I used oil this time)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup black beans (or any kind of bean)
1/2 cup pinto beans
1 red pepper, diced (or any color pepper)
1/2 cup veggie cheese (optional)
Blend in food processor the oil/broth, garlic powder, and chipotle.  Spread on half-cooked dough.  Top with beans and pepper (and cheese if using.)  Cook for 10-15 more minutes.



Asian Pizza Topping
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 to 1 tsp chili sauce
1/4 cup lite soy sauce
1/8-1/4 cup brown sugar
water for thinning sauce
dash lime juice
mushrooms, chopped
red pepper, diced
green onion, sliced

I used the peanut sauce my friend taught me for my Vietnamese spring rolls for this version.  Stir together peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, and chili sauce and lime juice.  Taste and make sure there is enough sweetness, sourness and spice to your liking.  Thin with water as you mix.  Should be not watery, but not as thick as the peanut butter.  Spread on half-cooked dough.  Top with mushrooms, pepper and green onion.  Cook for 10-15 more minutes.


(I only wish I'd have put LOTS more toppings on!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meat-less Loaf

I found this recipe here and  modified it a little bit.  Although I'd read many rave reviews about this recipe I was still surprised by the complexity and strength of flavor in this dish.  Susan calls it "Thanksgiving" meat-less loaf and I agree, it would make a great holiday meal.  I made it last Sunday though, and it seems like it would make a great Sunday dinner tradition.

Ingredients:
1 medium sweet potato
1 onion
2 ribs celery
1 medium carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (or I used pinto, being out of cannellini), drained and rinsed
1/3 package of extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons lite soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon mustard
Spices: (substitute with what you have or what you like or with fresh herbs)  1 Tbl dried parsley, 1/2 Tbl dried sage, 1/2 Tbl dried rosemary, 1 Tbl dried crushed thyme, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper 
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup oats or quinoa flakes

Cook the sweet potato in the microwave (stabbed with a fork to vent, and covered in a paper towel for 6 minutes, or until soft) then let cool.  Meanwhile dice onion, celery, carrot and press/mince garlic.  Cook in a skillet until soft, (about 6 minutes) adding tablespoons of water as necessary during cooking so nothing sticks or burns.  Remove from heat.  Rinse and drain beans and add to skillet, mashing beans with fork or slotted spoon.

Peel the sweet potato and blend it in a food processor along with the drained tofu, tomato paste, soy sauce, mustard, spices, and nutritional yeast.  Put walnuts in a pulse will walnuts are smaller but not pureed.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in oatmeal (or quinoa flakes) and the skillet-cooked vegetable/bean mixture.


Stir all together and spread in a loaf pan.

Cook at 375 F degrees for 25 minutes.  Cover and cook another 25 minutes.  Make sure middle is firm and outside is lightly browned.  Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chilled Thai Squash Soup

I found this recipe here.  Click for the simple instructions that involve yellow and zucchini squash, coconut milk, curry powder and red curry paste.  (I'm sure you could substitute the red curry paste for any other color curry you like as well.  Here is some info on curry.)  It was simple to make in the morning and let chill till dinner time.  I added some leftover cilantro sauce from my avocado spring rolls- it was great.

Bread!

To me, there's nothing better than bread.  I love it.  My Mom made us amazing homemade bread growing up and I still love it, however, I"m not the "make bread from scratch" kind of gal.  This is where my bread machine comes into play.  It's one of the ones that you add all ingredients, and 3 1/2 hours later is a small loaf of bread has been mixed, cooked, and is ready to be eaten.

I hope we're all over the notion that carbohydrates are bad for us.  It's true of refined carbs, (also known as sugar or very close to being sugar.)  But whole grains and carbs are essential to our good health.  I'm thinking that these three things are closely related:  the american idea that 'low carb, high protein= weight loss/health,' the fact that america is the most obese nation, and the fact that heart disease is the number one killer in America.  We also know that too much protein is, in fact, bad for us.  It puts strain on our kidneys, liver and heart 1.

One reason carbohydrates are good for us is because they have a lot of fiber.  "Fiber has been found to decrease incidence of cancer, decrease total cholesterol, and increase sensations of satiety.  When a food is in its natural form, there will be more fiber in it 2"-  Which is why we strive for whole foods.  I am testament that eating (whole grain) bread doesn't make you fat.  When I began a whole-foods, plant-based diet I ate granola everyday and lots of bread (and of course lots of fruits and veggies.)  I lost 8 lbs that I didn't know I had to lose.  I did it not restricting calories, but by eating a lot of food, and I was happy the whole time.

Yes, complex carbs make you happy!  A diet that is too low in complex carbohydrates can cause serotonin depletion and depression 3.  The best sources of complex carbohydrates are:  fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, brown rice, millet, legumes, soybeans and soy products.

-Note that this 'nutritional information' that I present every now and then is just my opinion.  Snippets of information may not provide the complete picture and it's up to you to research on your own and be in charge of your own health.  What works for one person may not work for another.  I'm talking about the details (like my friend who is diabetic and couldn't handle sitting down and drinking a whole fruit smoothie at once.)  Of course a whole foods diet is good for everyone.

This is the recipe I use for whole-wheat bread (bread machine)
1 1/8 cups water
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbl non-dairy milk
1 1/2 tsp salt (I add with liquid so it doesn't kill the yeast)
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbl vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Here is a list of  bread machine recipes, many of them vegan.  I think I'm making cherry-almond bread next!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Avocado Spring Rolls (Inspired by Cheesecake Factory)

After two bites of this delicious dish at the Cheescake Factory the other night with my girl friends, I said "I'm going to re-create this!"  And they believed me.  So here it is.  Whole grain.  Baked, not fried.  And delicious.


The dipping sauce is where it's at, really:  
(Approximate quantities since I hardly ever measure anything.)
Fresh cilantro (1 cup?)
Cashews (1/2 cup)
Olive Oil (1/4 cup)
Honey (1/4 cup)
White vinegar (3 tsp)
Lime juice (3 tsp)
1 clove Garlic
1 Green Onion
Balsamic vinegar (1 tsp)
dash of Salt
-Blend well in a blender or food processor.

-Filling:
Avocado (I used 3 avocados which made 4 tortilla's full.  I cut each tortilla in half when serving)
1/2 to 1 Red Onion
some diced Tomatoes
dash of Salt

Whole Wheat Tortillas

-Cut avocados into big chunks.  Stir, gently, with onion, tomatoes and salt.  Fill whole wheat tortillas with 1/4 cup of mixture and roll, cigar-style.

-Cook at 375 degrees F for 6 minutes, flip, and cook for 4 minutes more until crisp on the outside.  Enjoy with your cilantro dipping sauce.

You could go authentic with real spring rolls/egg rolls and frying.  But this way you are saving tons of calories, avoiding bad fats, and maintaining your whole foods lifestyle- all without sacrificing ANY taste (I promise!)

Gnocchi with Sweet Potatoes, Leeks, and Mushrooms

There are three way to gnoocchi.  1, buy the gnocchi frozen, 2, make easy gnocchi, or 3, make gnocchi the long way.  (Which really isn't complicated, you just have to boil potatoes and put them through a ricer.)  The other day I did the second way.

Next I boiled some sliced sweet potatoes (you could also use butternut squash) until semi-soft.  Then I put the slices in a hot oiled skillet, added diced mushrooms, slivered leeks, and some oregano and thyme.  I let it all cook until it got a little color on everything, then served hot.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Green Smoothies (or pink, or purple, or..)

A friend and I were talking about green smoothies today (because I was drinking one) which reminded me I had this half-composed post about smoothies from a while ago.  Green smoothies are, I think, the easiest, tastiest way to get more vegetables (and fruits) into your/your family's diet.  It's pretty much just whatever fruits and veggies you want, (some do just vegetables and no fruit) mixed into smoothie form.  I've blogged about them before here, but I thought we could use a reminder.

This has been my go-to smoothie for a while now:
-a couple handfuls of spinach/kale/or other leafy greens
-some non-diary milk/maybe a little lite coconut milk/water/coconut water
-peaches or pineapple (a small amount-fresh or canned)
-and frozen strawberries or cherries.  Blend in a blender and serve (does not have to be an expensive Blen-tec or Vita-mix!)


My kids have gotten more fond of green smoothies as time has passed.  They get excited when they hear the blender.  I switched up my regular recipe with this 'hot pink smoothie' the other day:
-1 beet (fresh)
-some non-dairy milk
-a few prunes
-some frozen strawberries
My 7 year old's reaction (after asking if she could have some ice in it...I said 'hot' pink smoothie right?) was "This is the best smoothie i've had in my whole entire life!"  I'm thinking the color may have been the reason she was so in love with it.

It really is the best sweet treat out there.  I choose to do my daily (every-other-daily? -ish?) meditation outside, sitting in the sun (I live in Arizona,) drinking my green smoothie.  It is the best therapy.  And even when it's not great weather outside, or I don't have time to sit for a minute, it makes a great mini-meal on the road in a water bottle.  I drink one (or more a day.)

I save money by buying that huge bag of spinach from Costco, putting a couple handfuls in freezer baggies and storing in the freezer.  I just put the spinach leaves in raw; I smash flat, freeze, and then grab them out of the freezer and stick in my blender at smoothie time.


I store a lot of veggies in the freezer and save money not letting produce go bad.  If something looks like it's going to turn and I haven't used it yet, I dice it up and stick it in the freezer.  They've always come out tasting great (squash, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes) and come in handy pre-chopped and ready to go in something great like lasagna or soup.  So don't be afraid to buy too much produce.  It's cheaper, per pound, than any food I know of (packaged food, diary, meat etc.) and now you won't have to be afraid that you'll waste it.

A great resource is Robyn, of www.greensmoothiegirl.com (although there are lots of others who make green smoothies too.)  She teaches people how to transition to a whole foods diet, and although I've never bought her books, I like to read her blog and learn a lot from her you tube video recipes.

Creamy Corn Soup

Sometimes the best meals are the simplest.  This dish is one of those- corn, onion, oats, and red pepper- simple, but so delicious.  This recipe was found here.
Ingredients:

FOR RED-PEPPER SAUCE

  • 2 red bell peppers (1 lb total)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
  • dash of salt

FOR SOUP

  • 4 ears of corn  (or about 15 oz frozen, thawed, corn)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • dash of salt


ROAST PEPPERS FOR SAUCE:

  • Roast peppers on racks of gas burners on high, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened all over, 10 to 12 minutes. (Or broil peppers on rack of a broiler pan 5 inches from heat, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes.) Transfer to a bowl and let stand, covered, 10 minutes.

MAKE SOUP WHILE PEPPERS ROAST AND STAND:

  • Cut kernels off cobs, then scrape cobs with knife to extract “milk.”  (Or defrost frozen corn in the microwave.)
  • Cook onion in oil in a heavy medium pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add corn with its “milk,” water, oats, and sea salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

FINISH RED-PEPPER SAUCE WHILE SOUP SIMMERS:

  • Peel peppers (do not rinse), then halve lengthwise, discarding stems and seeds.
  • Purée peppers in a blender with oil, lemon juice, hot sauce, sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with hot sauce and salt, then transfer to a bowl


FINISH SOUP:

  • Purée soup in 2 to 3 batches in cleaned blender until smooth (be careful!  it's hot!), then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl if desired. Reheat soup if necessary, then season with salt.
  • Serve soup drizzled with some red-pepper sauce and serve remaining sauce on the side or reserve for another use.  (optional- what I did- top with some chopped fresh cilantro for garnish and taste)
* In the picture you'll see a little stuffed cherry tomato baked in some phyllo dough sheets in a mini-muffin tin.  I felt it my *duty* to use the phyllo dough that was in the freezer left over from making Christmas dinner.  I cut the tomatoes twice, opened, then stuffed them with toffuti cream cheese, mixed with chopped green oinion, soy sauce, and a little onion powder.  They made for a cute appetizer.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Heart-Healthy, and Brain-Healthy Fats

I'm reposting this info on good fats since it was buried in the middle of my raw fudge post.

This amazing article from Dr. Fuhrman, found here, says:
Today, more and more researchers are finally aware that it is not fat in general that is the villain, but saturated fat, trans fat, and fats consumed in a processed form. Fats from avocado, raw nuts, and seeds are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that offer unique health benefits.

Recent evidence shows that the frequent consumption of nuts is strongly protective against heart disease. It has been shown that people eating nuts daily, or more than once a day, had a 59 percent lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease.
One study estimated that every exchange of one ounce of saturated fat to one once of nut-fat from consuming a whole nut was associated with a 45 percent reduction in heart disease risk

Study after study shows that raw nuts and seeds not only lower cholesterol, but also extend lifespan and protect against common diseases of aging. They also provide a good source of protein, which makes up about 15 to 25 percent of their calories.

*But don't go nuts (get it?) on the good fats:
While nuts and seeds have great health benefits, they are higher in calories and fat compared to vegetables, beans, and fruits so they should be consumed in smaller amounts. Nuts and seeds contain about 175 calories per ounce, and a handful could be a little over one ounce. For most of us, they are not a food that should be eaten in unlimited quantity. Unless you are thin and exercising frequently, hold your consumption of raw nuts and seeds to less than two ounces a day. 

And don't forget how good healthy fats are especially for our kids' brans, behavior, and development.
Other benefits:
  • Improves your child's intelligence
  • Aids depression and Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Improves memory
  • Important for brain and eye development
  • Promotes smoother skin; prevents wrinkles
  • Helps prevent heart disease and arthritis
  • Lowers risk of Alzheimer's and senior dementia
  • Lowers "bad" cholesterol