Sunday, December 18, 2011

Penne w/ Butternut Squash and Sage Pesto

This is really why I made the sage pesto.  I cheated and bought butternut squash already prepared from Trader Joe's.  Can you blame me?  The protein and complex carbohydrates from the whole grain pasta and mushrooms provide a heartiness that will fill you up quickly.  The combination of flavors in this recipe are pretty amazing, each distinct. 

So Yum!
Ingredients:

8 oz. whole wheat penne
2 T refined coconut or safflower oil
1 1/2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled and cut up
2 shallots, diced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms (baby bellas)
1/2 cup  sage pesto
pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook penne according to package directions, Al dente, and remember to salt the water.
In a large skillet, heat oil.   Cook squash about 6-8 minutes with cover (sort of frying and steaming at the same time).  Stir in shallots, mushrooms, and pepper and cook until veggies are tender, about 5 min.  Remove from heat and set aside.
When pasta is done, drain and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Return pasta to the pot (or a large bowl), stir in the sage pesto and squash mixture.  Add some pasta water if it seems too dry.  Um, yah, you know what to do next!

This recipe shared on Amee's Savory Dish

Sage Pesto

I find fresh sage to be delightful and a nice deviation from basil.  It has a musty mint and woodsy flavor.  Works well over penne rigate or with veggies.  Love it.  Try it.  

Recipe inspired by Skinny Bitch:

Sage Pesto:
1/4 cup whole almonds
2-3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, rinsed
3/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, rinsed
1/4 cup soy or almond milk
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
*I used extra light in flavor olive oil to not over-power the sage

In a food processor or blender, combine almonds and garlic and pulse to roughly chop.
Add the sage, parsley, salt, pepper, and soy milk and pulse to chop.
With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil until combined.
Consistency will be slightly liquidy, rather than creamy.   Refrigerate to thicken.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Cake

I don't normally post sweets, but I'm getting my pumpkin on this fall, and this recipe deserves a shout out.  I bought some cans of pure pumpkin at the beginning of the season, knowing I would be baking and devouring all-things pumpkin.  Other than that, I already had all the ingredients in my cupboard.  Love when that happens!  To save myself major calories, I didn't use frosting/icing.  I say, it's quite rich and spicy and delicious without.

So moist, it's unfair!
Ingredients:
1/4 cup + 1 T soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup + 1 T evaporated cane juice sugar 
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegan margarine, melted (I use Earth Balance)
1 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1 1/4 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Optional: add vegan chocolate chips or chopped pecans

 Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar, set aside.  This creates a 'buttermilk'; don't skip this step, trust Eating Smart!

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, margarine, molasses, cinnamon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, cloves and lemon juice.

3.  In another bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

4.  Add all the wet with all the dry, mix but don't over mix.

5.  Pour into oiled 8 inch round cake pan, or deep dish pie plate.  Bake 25-30 minutes, cool, Eat, Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm Feeling Honored!


I am so proud to be the recipient of the Liebster Award!  The word Liebster means 'Beloved' in German--and a show of love and support is what this award is all about.  The idea is to bring attention to new blogs with fewer than 200 followers. 

The rules of winning this award are the following:

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment at their blog.

3. Post the Award on your blog. 

4. Enjoy the love of some of the most supportive people on the Internet!

A huge THANK YOU to Amee at Amee's Savory Dish for awarding me with this honor! Please visit her amazing blog; you'll be glad you did.

Here are my picks:
The Vegan Tummy
The Vegetarian Who Hates Tofu
All You Eat is Vegetables?
Gourmet Cookiing on a Dime 
Vegan Heartland 
  
These amazing people have not only been very supportive of my blog, but they write beautiful blogs as well.  Check them out!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tabbouleh... or is it Tabouli

Many different spellings for this word.  Either way, a traditional Middle Eastern salad that packs tremendous flavor.  The trick is to chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.  This allows all the flavors to blend.  The lemon and mint give Tabbouleh a fresh, clean taste, and I add garlic for a little kick.  This salad is so simple to make and very inexpensive.   Good in a pita with Falafel or chick peas, over a bed of lettuce, or plain as a side dish.  Really, you can't go wrong,   Give it a try, you'll love it!   (contains gluten)

Lemon and Mint give this a light, refreshing taste
Ingredients:
3/4 cup of water
3/4 cup fine cracked wheat (bulghur)
1 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 lg cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 T good olive oil
3 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, pour the water, lemon juice and salt over the cracked wheat, stir and let soak about 20-30 minutes until water is absorbed.  Meanwhile, chop all the herbs and veggies and add to the cracked wheat mixture.  Stir in olive oil.  Add cracked pepper, salt and more lemon juice to taste.  Chill 2 to 4 hours before serving.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Black Bean Avocado Quinoa Salad

Since I am relatively new at preparing vegetarian and vegan dishes, I get some of my recipes from other vegan blogs and websites.  I love finding new foods to try and sharing them here.  I can't tell you how yummy quinoa is.  It's not just for vegetarians or vegans!  My feeling is, if you like rice, then you will like quinoa.  Don't be afraid to try it.  There are several recipe ideas on my blog for preparing quinoa.  It is very versatile.  Why should  you eat quinoa, you ask?   Click here for more information on health benefits. 

Chili and lime give this a nice Mexican flare!

This recipe adapted from mightyvegan.com.

Ingredients:
2 cups prepared quinoa (1 cup of rinsed quinoa, 2 cups of water or veggie stock. Boil until liquid is absorbed)
2 avocados, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed
juice from one lime
1 T olive oil
1 T chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
dash of Cayenne
(add onions, red bell peppers, or jalapenos to make it your own!)

Directions:
Mix everything together in a large bowl and let chill for an hour before serving so flavors can combine. Chow down!

This recipe shared on Amee's Savory Dish

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Edamame Lo Mein

This recipe is one of my go-to dinners when I'm in the mood for Asian fare.  I borrowed it years ago from Eating Well, but changed a few of the ingredients to suit my taste.  It seems quite simple and plain, but it's full of delicious flavors, and packs some heat if you like cayenne; add a little or a lot.   Protein and veggies included.  There is usually plenty left-over for lunch the next day, woo hoo!

Dinner, lunch, cold or hot!
Ingredients:

8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or udon noodles
1 cup frozen edamame (shelled soybeans)
4 scallions, diced
1/4  cup oyster sauce, or vegetarian oyster sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 T reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. pure maple syrup, or Agave
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper (or more if you're crazzzy!)
2 T canola oil
2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 small red bell peppers, cut into matchsticks

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, whisk scallions, oyster sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil and crushed pepper in a small bowl.

3.  Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat.  Add carrots and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, 2-3 min.  Add the pasta and edamame.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is crispy in spots, a few minutes.  Add the sauce and stir to combine.  Makes 4-6 servings.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fudgy Brownies

Try as I might, I just can't make "healthy" brownies.  But, in an attempt to use better ingredients, I cut back on the oil and used apple sauce, whole wheat pastry flour, and evaporated cane juice sugar.  All still processed, don't get me wrong.  These brownies are very rich and moist, so they don't need frosting.  Be careful!  If you eat more than one at a time, you may go into a sugar coma.  Who says you need milk and eggs to make crazy good brownies?
Fudgy Goodness
 Ingredients:
1 cup organic, unbleached flour
1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup water or coffee
1/2 cup safflower or canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce/or 1 mashed banana
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)
vegan chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar.  Add the other wet ingredients and mix.  In a second bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together.    Combine the mixtures and stir well.   Spray or oil a 13x9 pan.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool 20 minutes before serving.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Crispy Tender Wrap

Welcome to another addition of faux meat.  As I have said before, I don't cook a lot of processed "meat."  I focus mostly on whole foods. But, for convenience sake, I will eat it about twice a month.  A girl's gotta have her fast food.  Luckily, Gardein makes some pretty decent faux chicken.  Morning Star makes "chicken" nuggets, but I prefer the Gardein Crispy Tenders.  For a quick lunch, I cooked 4 tenders and made 2 wraps for myself.  I cannot take credit for the bomb Thousand Island Dressing in my wrap.  See below for recipe. 

Love chicken tenders in a wrap!

In my wrap:
2 whole wheat flour tortillas, small size
4 Gardein Crispy Tenders
steamed asparagus
avocado slices
grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 T Thousand Island Dressing

Warm tortillas on the stove or in the microwave.  Stuff with cooked chicken and other goodies.  Spoon on some dressing, fold and chow!


Skinny BitchThousand Island Dressing:

Yes, you can eat it with a spoon, it's that good!

1 cup vegan mayo, I like Follow Your Heart (you can find it at Sprouts)
1/4  cup organic ketchup
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
2 T tomato paste
3 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt (I used 1/4)
dash of Cayenne

Whisk all ingredients together and store in fridge.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vegan Ranch Dressing

We love our Ranch, don't we?  We put it on salads, veggies, fried foods, even our pizza crust.  I've tried several Ranch dressing recipes, never to be satisfied.  I wanted it to taste like "I-can't-stop-dipping-so-I-might-as-well-drink-it" good.   Here is the recipe I came up with.  It has no buttermilk, egg yolks or MSG (thank goodness)!


Makes a little over 1/2 cup of dressing:

1/2 cup vegan mayo;  Follow Your Heart has the best tasting one, like mayonnaise
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk; or you could use sweetened, whatever your preference
handful of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, rinsed
1/2 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. sea salt
pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, except soy milk.  Slowly add the soy milk last to get desired consistency.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Salad

Cold salads are in order for the summer.  I'm always looking for new ways to prepare Quinoa.  This is a sweet version that will knock you out, baby!  I used sweet apples and dried cranberries, as well as celery and walnuts for crunch.   Celery does not provide much nutritional value, but it adds the perfect amount of crisp with the apples and chewy craisins.  To read more about Quinoa, look here.

**I garnished with Chia seeds.  Nutty-tasting, whole-grain Chia seeds are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, and they have among the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food -- even more than fresh blueberries.  They are an excellent source of dietary fiber and help keep blood pressure and blood sugar under control.   Unlike flax seeds (which you should grind to get full nutrition), Chia seeds can be left whole.

Click to enlarge

Ingredients:

1 cup of water
1 cup of apple juice (a good brand with no HFCS, please)
1 cup of quinoa, *rinse well
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped celery, about two stalks
1 apple, coarsely chopped
Pinch of sea salt
Chia seeds for garnish (optional)

In a pot, boil rinsed quinoa, water, apple juice, cinnamon and salt for 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.  Cool in fridge for 1 hour.   Take out of fridge and fluff with a fork.  Add apples, walnuts, cranberries and celery.  Mix and eat!  Good alone or on a bed of lettuce.

*Why should you rinse quinoa? Quinoa produces a natural coating called saponin. This protective coating makes the seeds taste bad and may cause indigestion.  Fortunately, you can easily rinse the saponin off your quinoa before cooking.

This recipe is shared on Amee's Savory Dish Fit & Fabulous Fridays:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Black Bean Mango Salsa

Have you been getting your Mango on this summer?  Here are some juicy details on Mangoes in case you didn't know:

*High in Vit. A, C and B6.
*Contain fiber and calcium
*The phenolic compound found in mangoes has been found to have powerful antioxidant and anticancer properties. 
*Being high in iron, mango is said to be very good for pregnant women as well as for people suffering from anemia. (and Vegetarians!)
*Mango is believed to be effective in relieving clogged pores of the skin. 
*The vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin E and selenium present in mangoes provide protection against heart disease. 
*Mangoes have been found to be quite helpful in treating acidity and poor digestion.
*It is being said that the Vitamin E present in mango helps hormonal system function more efficiently and thus, boosts sex life. (Gotta Love That!) 
*The anti-inflammatory properties of mango might help alleviate asthma symptoms.

So Easy and Delicious!  (Click on photo to enlarge)

 Ingredients:
1 cup of organic black beans, rinsed
2 mangoes, seeded and chopped
4 green onions
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
handful of cilantro, washed and diced
1/2 lime squeezed
pinch of salt (optional)

Mix in a bowl and serve with your favorite chips!  Sluuurrrp!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Artichoke and Tofu Lasagna

I love a veggie lasagna.  This recipe is super because you can add any veggies you love.  I used artichokes and sweet onions, but you could add spinach, zucchini or peppers.  Go crazy!   Extra firm tofu is used to make "ricotta" and it's dog-gone good!  Don't let the word "tofu" make you think this isn't delicious.  Tofu is packed with protein and calcium, and a healthful alternative to animal products.  Add the right spices to tofu and you have a delicious ricotta, VoilĂ .  Good for your heart and your waistline!

Click on photo to enlarge

Ingredients:
1 container organic extra firm tofu, well pressed
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 T nutritional yeast, (optional)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 14 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts, well drained and chopped
1/3 cup sliced black olives
1 box whole wheat lasagna noodles
5 cups marinara sauce (no sugar added)


Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350F.   Mash together the tofu, lemon juice, basil, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and nutritional yeast.  Saute diced onions (and other veggies) in oil.  In another bowl, mix together cooked onions, artichokes and olives. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.

Cover the bottom the the lasagna pan wit a layer of sauce, then place a layer of lasagna noodles on the sauce.  Spread half of the tofu mixture on the noodles, and half of the artichoke, olive, onion mixture.  Continue layering until ingredients are gone, finishing with a layer of pasta and sauce.  Cover and bake 50 minutes.  Serve with salad, french bread, and a nice Pinot Noir.  Family approved!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cholesterol News

I enjoyed this article on Medical News Today.   Have you had your cholesterol checked lately?  Here is a recap:

What Causes High Cholesterol?

1.  Nutrition - although some foods contain cholesterol, such as eggs and some seafoods, dietary cholesterol does not have much of an impact in human blood cholesterol levels.  However, saturated fats do, as well as *trans fat!  Foods high in saturated fats include red meat, sausages, hard cheese, lard, cream and butter.

2.  Sedentary lifestyle - people who do not exercise and spend most of their time sitting/lying down have significantly higher levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol).

3.  Bodyweight - people who are overweight/obese are much more likely to have higher LDL levels and lower HDL levels, compared to people who are of normal weight.

4.  Smoking - this can have quite a considerable effect on LDL levels.

5.  Alcohol - people who consume too much alcohol regularly, generally have much higher levels of LDL and much lower levels of HDL, compared to people who abstain or those who drink in moderation.

(This list is not exhaustive.  Some diseases, certain medicines, and family history may also impact cholesterol levels).

*Trans fat is found in many processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, snack foods, and other processed foods made with shortening, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, or hydrogenated vegetable oils, including some margarines and salad dressings.  Really, try to avoid! 


Monday, July 11, 2011

Smoky Lentils with Kale

This recipe is a bit funny to me because it doesn't look particularly appetizing.  But fear not!  I don't eat food that tastes bad.  I had some lentils.  I had some kale.  I wanted to add some caramelized, sweet onion, so I did.  I actually cooked the lentils first, didn't use them all in the recipe, but stored in the fridge for later use.  This side dish is packed with protein, veggies, and calcium.  Win-win... win.  Made two servings but can easily be doubled.  The onions, red bell and coriander added a bit of sweetness to this smoky, savory dish.  I ate it as a main meal, so it's all gone.  Sorry for not sharing, but you know me (oink).

Use your favorite variety of lentil!

Ingredients:
1 small yellow onion, or 1/2 large one, chopped
4 cups of kale, chopped, washed and drained
1 cup of cooked lentils, any color you like
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 T canola or safflower oil (these two withstand high heat)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
pepper

What  to do:
Heat oil in a large skillet, saute onions for about 10 minutes until they start to brown and caramelize.  Add in chopped red bell pepper, kale, spices and salt.  Saute 3-4 minutes more for the kale to wilt.   Add in cooked lentils and pepper to taste.  Heat through and serve with a side of brown rice, for some whole-grain action!

(Note: for extra flavor, boil the lentils in vegetable stock instead of water)

This recipe shared on Amee's Savory Dish

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Chicken" Salad

Okay, so, Morning Star makes these packages of Meal Starters "meat."  They have steak and chicken strips (made from soy protein), and are located in the frozen aisle of most supermarkets.  Check near the veggie burgers and frozen pizzas.  Not all Morning Star frozen products are vegan, though.  Some items may contain dairy.  If you use bread, this recipe makes 3 or 4 sandwiches; or try it on a bed of salad.  *You don't have to eat meat ALL the time.  Take a break from it and try out some new foods.  Your body will love you.

Simple and Delicious!
Ingredients:

2 cups of Morning Star Chik'n Strips, thawed and chopped
1/2 cup vegan mayo (Vegenaise)
1/4 cup red or white onion, diced fine
1 celery stalk, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries (Oh boy, does this make the dish!)
2 T fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 T Agave nectar
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and serve on whole grain bread or on a bed of lettuce.  Yum yum.

This recipe shared on Amee's Savory Dish:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rainier Cherries

I'm not a huge fan of  Bing cherries (the dark red ones), but I love when June rolls around because Rainier cherries (or white cherries), are at their peak.  These large yellow-red cherries are especially sweet, and have a completely different flavor than your regular Bing cherries.  Several things distinguish the Rainier cherry from other cherry varieties. The first is the unusual and distinctive color discussed above. Rainiers also have a tender texture which is almost creamy, and their sweetness is much higher than that of ordinary cherries.  

Put a bowl of cherries out today!

It's only 90 calories for a 1 cup serving, 3 grams of fiber, and lots of Vit. C.  I don't have a recipe here because I'm busy snacking...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tempeh Salad Sandwich

I know what you're thinking, "What weird thing is she eating now?"  Believe me, it's less weird than hot dogs or chicken nuggets...  Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a patty, similar to a very firm veggie burger.  Many commercially prepared brands add other grains, such as barley, and also add spices and extra flavors.  Although tempeh is made from soy, it has a unique taste and is mildly flavorful on its own.  If you aren’t fond of tofu, tempeh is a great nutritional choice because it is very high in protein, calcium and iron and has zero cholesterol (unlike meat), as well as beneficial fiber and isoflavones.  Tempeh tastes nothing like tofu.  It has a textured and nutty flavor.  If you are cutting back on meat and trying to lower your cholesterol, give this a try.  You can make anything with it.  Let your creative juices flow.

Make a sandwich!

*Most tempeh you buy in the store is pre-cooked, pasteurized and ready to go; however, I highly recommend you steam it for 10-15 minutes anyway because the tempeh will swell and soften a bit which helps it to accept more flavors; and it helps to remove some of tempeh's bitter flavor.  I serve up this salad on toast like a "tuna" sandwich, but it is delicious plain too!

You Need:
You will need an 8 oz. package of Tempeh, found in most grocery stores and natural food stores.  Break up tempeh in big chunks and place in a steamer basket (or use a sauce pan filled one inch with water) and steam for 10-15 minutes.  Cool completely.  You will also need 1/3 cup frozen corn, thawed; and 1/2 cup of frozen peas, thawed.  While tempeh is steaming, you can get the dressing ready:

Tempeh right out of the package
Ingredients:
(8oz. pkg tempeh, peas, corn)
1/2 cup chopped dill pickle
2 T sweet pickle relish
1 T Vegenaise vegan mayo
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp. stone ground mustard
1/2 tsp. dried dill seasoning
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 salt
pepper to taste

Directions:
Mix dressing, add peas and corn, add cooled tempeh (break it up a bit with your hands), mix thoroughly.  Serve on toast, a bed of lettuce, or eat plain.  You can also add other veggies to your taste such as, chopped red onion, celery, cucumber, or carrots.  Make it the way you like it, but don't be silly, just TRY it!  Makes 4 servings.

Recipe inspired by The Kind Life.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Zucchini Pasta

Why didn't I think of this?  I love the idea of using zucchini for pasta.  I love whole wheat pasta but I don't always feel like eating carbs.  Spaghetti squash is another favorite of mine that my mom turned me on to a few years ago.  Using zucchini, however, is simplified and doesn't require using the oven.  Just take 2-3 zucchinis and peel them with a regular potato peeler (I kept the dark green parts in there as well, that's where all the nutrition is).   Put them in a sauce pan and cover with water.  Simmer about 5 minutes and drain.  That's it!  So easy!  Thanks VeganPandamonium for opening my eyes to new and yummy food ideas.


*Serve with your favorite marinara sauce, or any sauce you love.  I topped mine with marinara sauce, nutritional yeast, and Italian seasoning.  And because it's veggies, I can eat as MUCH as I want.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chick Pea Salad w/ Lemon Balsamic Dressing

When I think of this salad, I think: simple, fresh, healthy, crunch, sweet, savory.  With protein and veggies mixed in, you can't go wrong.   The marinated artichoke hearts give it an extra yummy flavor, and the flat leaf parsley and lemon freshen it up!  The dressing is the sweet/savory part with a garlic kick.  In a pinch, you can use a balsamic vinaigrette dressing and squeeze lemon over the top.  Just be careful to buy a dressing without high fructose corn syrup HFCS.  Read your labels!


click photo to enlarge
Ingredients:
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 can organic chick peas (garbanzo beans)
handful of flat leaf parsley, washed and diced
1/2 cup organic shelled edemame
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1-6.5 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts

Dressing:
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp.  organic balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Agave nectar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 lemon, squeezed (2-3 tablespoons)
pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk up dressing and set aside.  Drain and dice artichoke hearts.   Drain and rinse chick peas.  Add all salad ingredients to a medium bowl and toss with dressing.  Chill for 1 hour.  I don't know how many servings this is because I almost ate the whole thing in one sitting.  You can share; I'm just really really selfish.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Homemade Mini Cinnabuns

One of the main reasons I eat a plant-based diet is for health and nutrition reasons.   I'm addicted to the feeling I get from it, mental, physical and spiritual.  Most of my postings will be on healthful foods I eat on a daily basis.   I try to avoid white flour and white sugar as much as possible, however, I do like occasional sweet treats, and I know they contain these refined ingredients.  I came across this cinnamon-roll recipe browsing one of my favorite vegan blogs.  My family loves cinnamon rolls, so I had to give it a try.  Plus, my daughter helped me make them, and the time spent together was well worth it.  These are gooey, moist, and sweet.  Proof you can eat sweets without using animal products.  This recipe is adapted from VeganPandamonium.


Ingredients:
1 cup white flour (preferably organic, unbleached, Bob's Red Mill makes one)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (found at your regular supermarket next to white flour)
4 T. vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance also found at regular supermarkets)
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 T. baking powder
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. melted vegan margarine, set aside

Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450F.  In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in the margarine and using your fingers, kind of massage the butter into the dry ingredients. Next, pour in the milk until the dough gets thick and soft. Work the dough with your hands. Ball the dough up and set it on a floured surface. Roll the dough into a long rectangular shape about 14x10.  Brush the top with melted margarine and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon on top.

From the long side, tightly roll it up.  Be careful and gentle, it can tear easily.  Then cut into 1 inch rolls. Place the rolls in a greased baking dish.  A pie dish works great.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, until puffy and golden.  Whisk up ingredients for icing and drizzle on top while slightly warm.  Makes 14 minis.  Yum!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Seared Tofu with Asian Sweet Sauce

I have to confess a small secret.  I'm not a huge fan of tofu.  Nevertheless, I know the health benefits, and I do need this healthy protein as part of my diet.  So, when I eat tofu, it better be delicious!  That said, here is what I came up with for my tofu.  You want to make this! 

I used a rub on the tofu and then pan-seared it until crisp.  No joke, it tastes like chicken!   The sweet and sour sauce is so delectable, I drizzled it over my bok choy as well.   Speaking of bok choy, this is one vegetable you must try:

** Bok Choy, also referred to as white cabbage, is very popular in Asian cooking.  You've probably eaten it many times and didn't even know it.  It is low-fat, low-cal, and low-carb.  It is high in vitamin-A, vitamin-C, beta-carotene, calcium and dietary fiber.  Some of the vitamins found in this super vegetable are also powerful antioxidants, including folic acid and beta-carotene, which helps reduce the risk of certain cancers and cataracts.  I prefer baby bok choy.


What you need:
4 oz. of organic, extra firm tofu
1 T. safflower oil
1 T. sesame oil

Rub:
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
pepper

Asian Sweet Sauce:
2 T reduced sodium soy sauce
2 T pure maple syrup
1 T olive oil
2 tsp. rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger


Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk up ingredients for the Asian sweet sauce (taste as you go) and set aside.  Next, in a ramekin, mix up spices for rub.  With a paper towel, gently squeeze out some liquid from tofu, and make 4, 1/4 inch slices.  Rub spices on both sides of tofu slices.  Heat both oils in a frying pan on medium high heat.  Sear tofu about 5 minutes on each side until crisp.  Steam bok choy for 3-4 minutes.  Drizzle sauce over veggies and use as a dip for tofu.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.  SO Good!  Enjoy!

This recipe shared on Amee's Savory Dish. Check it out!
Fit and Fabulous Fridays


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Breakfast Scramble

On the weekends when I have more time, I like to make a tofu scramble for breakfast.  There is something very satisfying about eating vegetables for breakfast.  They say if you eat a healthy breakfast, it will set you up for healthy eating all day.  This is a perfect time of year to use veggies from your garden to add to your breakfast scramble.  Tofu is low-fat and a good source of calcium, protein, and iron.  It is also known to lower LDL cholesterol.   Tofu may impact you if you have a soy allergy or a thyroid dysfunction (so avoid) otherwise, I believe the health benefits from tofu out weigh any negative connotations.  I eat soy (tofu, miso, tempeh, soy milk) as part of a well-rounded diet of whole foods.   As you can see from this blog, I also eat beans, quinoa, nuts, legumes etc. for additional protein (not just soy).

I can make extra firm tofu taste like scrambled eggs or chicken nuggets.  I am THAT good.


4 oz. of organic, extra firm tofu
1 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 T green taco sauce
1/4 cup diced red bell peppers
1/4 cup diced summer squash, what ever veggies you love
Generous handful organic spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Take a paper towel and gently squeeze out the liquid from the tofu.  Then crumble it up in a bowl and set aside.  Spray a saute pan with oil and cook spinach and veggies for 5 -7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add in tofu , soy sauce, taco sauce and warm through.  Done.  Serve with additional hot sauce or salsa and sweet cornbread for a very satisfying, filling breakfast.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quinoa with Basil and Pine Nuts

Quinoa is whole grain that has super powers!   It is a "complete" protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids (and it's gluten-free).  I love looking up new ways to prepare Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).  It has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture, and somewhat nutty flavor when cooked.  This recipe is from one of my favorite cook books The Kind Diet, and I am so happy to share it with you.  It is simple to prepare, very clean and fresh tasting, and extremely healthful.   If you've never tried Quinoa, this is a great "starter" recipe. Skip the white rice tonight and try something new!

*More about Quinoa is provided in this previous post.

Serves 2-4:

1 cup quinoa
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup pine nuts or cashews
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 generous handful fresh basil leaves, rinsed and chopped

Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well.  Combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and the salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

While the quinoa cooks, heat the pine nuts in a a small dry skillet over medium heat.  Toast until the nuts are just starting to turn golden, about 6 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan to prevent burning.  Transfer to a serving bowl to cool.

Add the quinoa to the serving bowl with the pine nuts and fluff with a fork.  Add the olive oil and basil, stir to combine, and serve.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Artichoke with Dijon-Dill Dip

Spring is quickly coming to an end in Arizona, but not before I have my fill of fresh artichokes.  Every year I look forward to artichoke season. There is nothing like pulling the petals off of a warmed artichoke and scraping the flesh off into your mouth.  Mmmm.  I try to look for artichokes that are big, round and have slightly closed up petals.

**Artichokes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium, and the trace mineral chromium. They are a very good source of Vitamin C, folic acid, biotin, and manganese. They are a good source of niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin A, and potassium.  Wait!  There's more...  artichokes have strong choleretic activity, which helps reduce the manufacture of cholesterol in the liver and protects liver cells. Whew.  Just eat 'em!


Here is a  video to help you get started.  It shows three ways to prepare your delicious artichoke.  Also, experiment with different dips and sauces.   Here is a quick, non-dairy dip that I make:

Dip:
2 T Vegenaise mayo
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dill seasoning
1 tsp. squeeze of lemon
pinch of sea salt, pepper and garlic powder
Enjoy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Veggie Lettuce Wraps

Who doesn't love lettuce wraps?  You can make healthy, delicious lettuce wraps right at home!  No meat in this dish, but richly satisfying and full of flavor with veggies, garlic, and mushrooms.  You can experiment with different veggies or even add tofu.  The key is to dice everything very fine.  If you have a food processor, even better.  This recipe is for two, but can easily be doubled for your family. 
 

1 container of mushrooms, about 2 cups (I used baby bellas), diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 green onions (scallions), diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1- 8oz. can water chestnuts, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 T sesame oil
1 T canola oil
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 T plum sauce (found in Asian section of grocery store)
pinch of sea salt and pepper
Bib lettuce (or red or green leaf, whatever you have)

Heat both oils in a large saute pan.  Cook carrots and mushrooms, with salt and pepper, for about 8 minutes.  Add in the red bell pepper, onions, water chestnuts, and garlic and cook for a few more minutes.  Add the soy sauce and plum sauce, stir and warm through.  Serve with lettuce.  Pig out!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Curried Lentils and Brown Rice

This dish is a no-brainer.  It's packed with protein, whole grains, and antioxidants.  Lentils are popular in Indian cuisine, as well as curry.   Curry contains many powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.  Curry is a mixture of several spices, the main one being turmeric.  Curcumin is the substance in turmeric that gives the curry mix its yellow color.  Curry is used as a common antiseptic in India to treat damaged skin such as cuts or burns.  It's even being linked as a possible cure for Alzheimer's disease.  I actually take a curcumin supplement every day.


This dish goes a long way, as well as keeps you full longer with it's complex carbs.   So simple to make, enjoy!

3 cups of cooked lentils (any variety you like)
2 cups of cooked brown rice (white rice is bleached and has no beneficial nutrients, just empty calories)
4 vine ripened tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teas. chili powder
1/2 teas. curry powder (or more if you like!)
1/2 teas. cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
dash of red pepper for heat
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Heat oil in a large pan and cook onions and garlic for a few minutes.  Add tomatoes and spices, stir.  Add cooked lentils and brown rice, warm through to let flavors combine.  Can be served warm, or cold like a salad.  Left-overs are delish!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Yard House Restaurant

Wonderful news!   The Yard House is now serving Gardein™ garden dishes on their menu.  I've always enjoyed this restaurant, but now I love it even more.  Over 15 vegetarian and vegan options!  Plus they look delicious.  Gardein™ is made from soy, wheat gluten, and ancient grains.  It mimics the flavor and consistency of chicken.  It has 14 grams of protein per serving, zero cholesterol and only 90 calories.  I love that so many restaurants are getting with the program and adding vegetarian meals to their menus.  It's a way of life that seems to be catching on more and more.  Even if you are not a vegetarian, but are cutting back on meat for health reasons, it's nice to know you can still enjoy a night out dining and not have to eat the same old salad again!  Check out their website and look for Gardein on the menu!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fried Onion Rings-Only Baked

Don't you love onion rings?! I love to have my friends order them when we are eating out, then I 'taste' a few. But let's face it~the fried grease is clogging our arteries, mine included.  Have you heard the saying "anything in moderation is fine?"  Well here is a new saying I keep thinking about: "moderation kills."  All that means is you may be eating so many unhealthy things in "moderation" that it all adds up to, NOT GOOD!  Here is a simple way to make "fried" onion rings a healthful way, and you can eat more for less calories.  If you steer away from white flour, casein, and too much oil, you're on the right track.  Recipe adapted from Skinny Bitch:


You will need three bowls for dipping, plus:

1 sweet yellow onion, cut into 1/4" slices, for about 20 good rings
1/2 cup soy or rice flour (you could use whole wheat, but then you'll have a "wheaty" taste)
1/4 cup yellow corn meal (for the crunch part)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup of soy or rice milk
1/2 teas. sea salt
pepper to taste
canola or coconut oil (these two oils are best for heating at high temps)


Preheat oven to 450F. Oil cookie sheet with canola or coconut oil and set aside.  Even if it is a seasoned pan, grease it anyway~it will help crisp up the rings. In one bowl, mix in the bread crumbs, cornmeal, salt.  The next bowl, flour.  The third bowl, soy milk.  Then, dredge onion rings one or two at a time in milk, then flour, milk again, last bread crumb mixture.  Shake off and set on pan.  Bake for 18 minutes and serve with organic ketchup.  Did I eat the whole batch?  Duh.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lemon-Rosemary Israeli Couscous

Wow, you've got to try Israeli Couscous.  What is it, you ask?  Israeli Couscous is a small, round semolina pasta that should not be confused with the tiny, yellow North African couscous; it is completely different.  Sometimes called pearl couscous or maftoul, it resembles barley, or very small, white peas.  Totally yummy.  It makes an excellent side-dish instead of that same old rice or pasta. You can make it with any veggies your family loves, such as, green beans, broccoli, peas, corn etc.  Be creative!


**Did you know rosemary/rosemary oil is full of healthful benefits, such as cancer fighting antioxidants, delaying of the aging process, memory enhancement, and hair shine.  Make sure your eating lots of fresh herbs!
 
All I did for this recipe is sautĂ© my favorite veggies (asparagus, red onion, mushrooms) with some oil and then add it to the couscous.  I followed the preparation directions on the box for the couscous, except, at the end, I added:
1/2 squeezed lemon
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary (or fresh would be great!)
pinch of salt, garlic powder and pepper to taste

Really delish!  Try something new and healthy tonight!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pomodoro Sauce

Pomodoro (tomato) sauce is a type of Italian red sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and fresh basil.  It is so fresh and flavorful, much more authentic and delicious than anything bought in a jar.  Plus it is extremely easy to make, anyone can do it!   I use whole wheat spaghetti and "meatless" meatballs, which makes for the perfect, healthful, vegetarian pasta dinner my family loves!  Complex carbs, protein and fiber. Boo-ya!  (This is Joe Bastianich's recipe found in Runner's World magazine)  Enjoy!


The key is in the tomatoes, do not deviate!

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2- 28 oz. cans of peeled, whole Italian plum tomatoes (such as San Marzano or Muir Glen)
1 tsp. dried oregano or Italian seasoning
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
fresh basil for garnish

Directions:
Heat oil in large sauce pan over medium.  Add garlic and saute about 3 minutes.  Pour tomatoes in separate bowl and squeeze them with your hands to break them up.  (If you don't like big chunks, then blend tomatoes in blender.)  Add tomatoes and juice to sauce pan.  Add oregano, salt and pepper.   Simmer on low 45 minutes.   Use one pound of pasta.   Two minutes before pasta is done, drain and add to sauce, cooking a few more minutes allowing pastas to absorb some of the sauce.  Garnish with fresh diced basil and serve with a garden salad.  YUM.

*You can also make this sauce ahead and freeze for up to two months.

Banana Oatmeal Chip Cookies w/ Flax

These little gems are a cross between a cookie, muffin and scone.  They are packed with nutrients, fiber and protein~a perfect energy snack!  I used whole wheat flour, but you could use spelt or any non-wheat flour.  I like to eat two for breakfast with my tea or coffee.   They contain ground flax seeds.  I like to include ground flax seeds in my diet as much as possible~in baking recipes, on top of my cereal or oatmeal, in a smoothie and in pasta dishes.  Flax is full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals called lignans.   Lignans may help prevent Type 2 diabetes, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and prevent breast cancer.  Flax seeds are very low in carbohydrates and help lower blood cholesterol.  Ground flax seeds are more easily digested compared to the whole seed.  If you don't have any in your pantry, pick some up at the supermarket as soon as possible!   This recipe is adapted from Oh She Glows.


Ingredients:
1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour (or spelt, or soy flour)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt, optional
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 cup organic soy milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp expeller pressed canola oil
1/2 banana
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick mat.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Next, add in the liquid ingredients and stir well.
3. In a small bowl, mash the banana. Stir in the mashed banana, chocolate chips, and walnuts into cookie mixture.
4. Spoon onto prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches apart.  Bake 12-15 minutes.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 1 dozen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Katy's Chicken and Cheese Pitas

I have to give credit to my daughter, Katy, for coming up with this recipe all by herself.  She likes to try new foods and quite often helps me cook vegetarian meals for the family.  Before I get to this delightful chicken recipe, I'd like to let you in on something I've learned about chicken.  Americans think they are being 'good' because they eat more chicken and less red meat.  I used to eat loads of chicken too, but I can tell you I will never eat it again, and I'm not to keen on serving it to my family.  Why so radical you ask?  Before you put me on your list of friends who are 'total freaks' consider these facts:

*Chicken (while lower in saturated fat) has almost the same amount of cholesterol per serving as red meat.  

*Chicken has more animal proteins than red meat, therefore, more carcinogenic

*Grilled chicken is the largest source of PhIP, a potent carcinogen, (the highest risk is for cancers of the prostate, colon/rectum, and breast).  Fast food places like KFC and others offering 'grilled' chicken, all found to be laced with PhIP!

*Even though high temperatures kill E.coli, people constantly get food poisoning from cross-contamination

*Raw chicken you bring home is covered in bacteria

*Researches from the UofA found more fecal bacteria in the kitchen (from sponges, dish towels, sink drains) than they found swabbing the toilet 

*Chicken 'juice' is pretty much E.coli-fecal soup, ewww, gross!

*Why are there such large chicken breasts at the grocery store?  Hormones and unnatural feed, Ugh.

There are chicken alternatives.  Morning Star makes "chicken" strips and "chicken" nuggets; and Gardein  makes "chicken breasts" made from soy and vital wheat gluten. Gardein "chicken" has 20 grams of protein per serving.  Because it's not animal protein, it has virtually no saturated fat and zero cholesterol. Gardein products are vegan and use non-GMO soy beans.  You season up this "chicken" the exact same way you would season animal chicken: rubs, spices, salt, sauces, bbq... it's all the same, yet very different.

Recipe below:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leek & Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Ahhh, comfort food.  Okay, so this isn't traditional Shepherd's Pie, but not lacking in flavor!  It's my own delicious, savory version, using lentils for protein instead of lamb or beef.   Of course, there are mashed potatoes on top to give it the "pie."   I thought I would throw in some leeks, a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.  Leeks are easier to digest than standard onions, and have antiseptic, diuretic, and anti-arthritic properties.  Using left-over mashed potatoes is great.  You'll need about 6 cups.  Whether making homemade mashed potatoes or a box mix, please refrain from using cow's milk and butter.  This will make the recipe completely fattening and unhealthy.  I'm trying to help you lower your LDL.  Help me, help you!   *When I make mashed potatoes, I use unsweetened soy milk, Earth Balance butter, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.  All in all, it's a healthy meal your family will love.  Just make it.


Ingredients:

6 cups vegan mashed potatoes (about 3-4 large russets)
3 cups cooked lentils (I cheated and used already cooked lentils.  Otherwise, simmer 1 1/2 cups of dried lentils with 3 cups of water or veggie stock about 40 minutes)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 Roma tomatoes, washed and diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 leeks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons canola or safflower oil
1/4 cup of red wine, optional

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