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.


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

Open-faced Grilled Italian Sandwich

This open-faced sandwich is similar to your average meatball sub, only ten times better!  I couldn't believe how delicious this turned out; I just had to blog about it.  I didn't use a recipe, just what I had on hand.   I bought some tomato-basil bruschetta in a jar, but regular spaghetti sauce would work just fine.  Promise me you won't use meat or cheese in this meal.  I want you to know how amazing it is without animal protein!

click photo to enlarge

Here's what I used:

Earth Balance butter
2 pieces of whole grain, whole wheat bread
Bruschetta in a jar, or regular spaghetti sauce, whatever you have!
Extra firm tofu (I used teriyaki flavored baked tofu from Trader Joe's cuz it tastes like chicken)
Pesto sauce
Italian seasoning
Vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast

Grill both sides of the buttered bread and 6 tofu slices
Instead of mayo, use pesto sauce to spread on the toast
Layer the grilled tofu slices and bruschetta on top
Sprinkled with Italian seasoning and nutritional yeast

This was so bomb, I had to pour myself a glass of wine to drink it with!  I didn't use a fork, either.  Trust me, you'll love it!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sweet Cornbread

You know what's great about cornbread?  It's delicious with any meal, any time of day.   I like making my own cornbread because the ingredient list in store-bought mix cornbread is atrocious (lard, which is fat from pig intestines-gross!).  I have two very good recipes I make all the time.  One of them uses silken tofu, the other ground flax seeds.  Now, while I like these things and have them on hand, I didn't want to scare you away from making decent cornbread. So I combined and tweaked both recipes and came up with my very own version.  All ingredients can be found in your normal grocery store. Plus, you probably already have some of these items on hand.  This cornbread is deliciously sweet with with your savory dishes, or for breakfast, or a late night snack.  It's hearty and rich and full of fiber.  Enjoy!


1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened soy milk)
1/4 cup unsweetened natural apple sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon of canola or safflower oil

Preheat oven to 425°
First, mix the apple cider vinegar with the soy milk and set a aside to let thicken and turn to "buttermilk."  Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly.   Add the milk mixture, apple sauce, and oil to the dry ingredients and stir well. Oil or spray 13x9 pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Serve plain or with pure maple syrup.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Are you addicted?

When I was a kid, I drank about 3 glasses of milk a day, or more.  I've always eaten cheese too.  Love cheese, yogurt, sauces, and a huge fan of ice cream.  I ate a bowl of ice cream almost every night until I was 40.  I didn't know how on earth I was going to give it up.  Turned out it was easy when I researched the effects of dairy for myself.  I have had so many people say to me, "I could never give up diary, I love my cheese!"  Guess why?  Because dairy is addictive.  No, for real.  When you eat dairy, there are compounds produced in your digestive tract called casomorphins.  Did you notice the word morphine in there?

Of course cheese and dairy are 'addictive' because they are so yummy and creamy and fatty.  But did you know that diary is truly addictive?  When milk protein breaks down in your digestive tract it's converted to something chemically similar to morphine.  Fat from certain foods makes it way to the brain and fat molecules trick the brain into saying "Oh that is so good, don't stop eating it!"  They also signal the body to ignore appetite-suppressing hormones.  Wonderful.  Fat, salt and sugar do the same darn thing!   It's completely addictive like drugs or alcohol.  But good news!  It's not too late to get healthier and reverse some things that may be going on with you!

**Dairy (casein) has been linked to a host of problems and diseases including allergies, acne, breast and prostate cancer~as well as autism and attention deficit disorder in children. Hmmmm.  You will lose weight giving up diary, it's true.  But for me, it's also health issue.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper & Potato Salad

I learned a few years ago how to roast my own red peppers and now I'm addicted to it.  The store-bought ones are expensive and floating in so much oil.   The sweet, roasted red peppers combined with garlic, scallions, lemon, and fresh parsley, make this dish to-die-for!  You have your complex carbs and veggies in one side-dish.  It travels well because it can be eaten warm or cold.  Yipee!

If you've never tried it, here's how to roast a red bell pepper:
Preheat oven broiler.  Wash, clean out, and cut up bell pepper.  Place on baking sheet or stone.
Place under the broiler, turning every 3 minutes until the skin is blistered, about 10 minutes total.
Place blistered peppers in a brown paper lunch bag and seal, for 10 minutes, allowing to steam and cool.
Remove peppers, peal off skin, and dice up.

Salad Ingredients:
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 pounds of white baby new potatoes (boil for 10 minutes, then cut in half)
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cooked (steam or micro, however you do it)
5 or so scallions, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 Tablespoon of dried parsley flakes, or 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf, washed and chopped

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing:
In a small bowl and whisk together
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Squeeze in half lemon

Toss salad and dressing together and Eat It Up! Makes 6-8 servings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What to do with Kale

You probably thought Kale was just a garnish chefs use, but no!  You should eat it.  Kale is a wonderful source of antioxidants such as vitamins A and C, health-promoting phytonutrients, and calcium (yay!).  Kale is more dense than other lettuce, but it is wonderful raw in salad (remove the stalk and stems, chop). I like to mix it with Romaine leaves.  You can also sauté or steam and use in pastas, soups and stews.  Amazingly, you can bake it, and it turns into delicate little "chips" that melt in your mouth, similar to the way cotton-candy does. 

Basic Crispy Kale Chip recipe:

Rip apart 4 or 5 stalks of Kale into bit-size pieces, discard center stalk
Rinse and pat dry, or use a salad spinner to get moisture off
Put Kale into a bowl and drizzle in about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and
Pinch of sea salt, massage olive oil and salt into Kale
Spread out on baking sheet so pieces are not touching or overlapped
Bake at 350° for 18 minutes
**Now, here's where you can get your grove on. Other spices can be sprinkled on before baking such as, garlic powder chili powder, paprika, cayenne, pepper etc. Experiment!  I used a little garlic powder and nutmeg.  So good!  Makes about 1-2 servings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Fried" Zucchini

One of my favorites since I was a kid.  I had to find a healthier way to make this bar-food munchie.  The zucchini is baked instead of fried and less oil is used.  It works best if you have some kind of spritz bottle for spraying the oil.  Start with 3 zucchinis, slice in half, and then quarter each half.  Then you will need two bowls, one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet.  Last, you will need a cookie sheet.  I have a stone, which I think works best.  And here is a final tip:  take these babies out of the oven pronto and eat immediately!  They continue to cook when out of the oven.  Enjoy with a cold one, and you'll feel like you're at your favorite pub (only without so much fat and salt) Yay!

First bowl:
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons of yellow corn meal
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Second bowl:
1 egg white and 2 Tablespoons of water, whisked

Spray baking sheet with canola oil and preheat oven to 475°
Dip zucchini in egg white, then dredge in flour mixture, tap off excess
Arrange on baking sheet, not touching
Spray all exposed sides with canola oil
Bake for 7 minutes, then turn and bake for 5 more.  (If you are using a stone, you don't have to turn them)
Only bake for 12 minutes total.  Do not over bake.  Serve hot with my Ranch Dressing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Banana-Berry Smoothie

Perfect time of the year to start making smoothies again.  I find it economical to make my own, as well as controlling the amount of sugar and other 'mystery' ingredients.  This recipe is for the basic version, but you can always add goodies to your smoothie such as a handful of spinach or basil or other fruits such as mango.  Make it how you love; but I'll give you the secret ingredient for making it sweet without adding sugar.

This makes a 15 oz. drink:

1 cup of unsweetened soy milk or almond milk (I use half of each cuz I'm crazy like that)
1/2 of a lg banana (or 1 small banana)
1 cup of frozen strawberries, rinsed
1/4 cup of frozen blueberries, rinsed
Squeeze of fresh lemon, about 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
(throw in a handful of spinach if you like)

Blend in a blender until smooth.  You don't need ice; it's already cold from the berries.  You don't need extra sugar; it's already sweet from the berries and vanilla.    Suck it down!  (careful of brain-freeze)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

Make bruschetta-your family will think you are a gourmet chef.  I have to give my husband credit; he painstakingly prepares the tomatoes by scraping out all the goo, dicing them perfect, and patting dry with a paper towel.   This is one vegan dish we can all agree on.  The combination of fresh garlic and basil make this too good to be true.  No cheese is needed, it's absolutely delicious as is!   I serve bruschetta with a green salad, steamed broccoli and a nice Pinot Noir.   Who needs a fancy restaurant?

1 french bread or baguette
5 organic vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and dried
4-5 cloves garlic chopped fine
1 cup of fresh, organic basil, washed and chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Italian seasoning
Cracked pepper

Pour 1/3 cup olive oil in a small dish and brush on bread slices
Top with diced tomatoes, garlic, and seasonings
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes
Top with fresh basil and serve immediately

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are You Nuts?

Sorry about the lack of recipes on some of my posts, but I promised to chronicle what I eat, and so this is me doing that.  I always get asked about protein and calcium, and nuts are a big part of that.  I eat a handful of nuts every day.  Mostly almonds and walnuts, but I throw in a few cashews cuz they rock.  I always buy raw, unsalted nuts.  It's alarming how much sodium we eat and don't realize it.  It's added to all processed and prepared foods.  This one time, at band camp, I saw a gal dump half a bottle of salt on her french fries.  The fries were already salted.  Gulp.

**The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day (1,500 mg if you're over 51 or have high blood pressure).  The average American gets 3,400 mg (Good Golly Miss Molly!)  Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health.  But if you eat too much, your kidneys can't eliminate all of it.  When that happens, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood.  Because sodium attracts and holds water (bloat), your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, which increases pressure in your arteries.  Can you say: congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, and chronic kidney disease?  Once you stop eating so much sodium, your taste buds change, and the addiction goes away.  Your body is amazing that way.

Lunchtime Quicky

Colon cancer isn't invited to my party, so I eat a lot of fiber, including beans.  Beans provide protein as well.  I like some faux meat, but I don't eat it very often.  Here is a quick and easy sandwich you can make for lunch that is so satisfying and healthy, it will blow your socks off.

Think of it this way:

*Take away processed meat and use beans for protein.  You also get fiber, calcium, and iron, for the hat-trick.

*Take away the highly processed cheese (which has saturated fat and major pesticides) and use avocado for that creaminess you crave.  You also get vitamins, minerals, and potassium for the triple-crown.

Add some veggies for crunch--you must have crunch or your mouth won't like it.  I rarely eat pickles, but to this I add bread & butter pickles because my brain tells me to add some sweet to my savory.  By the way, all pickles are swimming in a load of HFCS.    I buy sweet pickles at Sprouts because they use sugar.   Sugar and HFCS are pretty close the way they are processed and the way your body metabolizes them.  Neither are healthy.  Nevertheless, I try to avoid HFCS at much as possible.


1/4 cup of white Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 avocado
Squeeze of lemon
I use Mrs. Dash, but you could use salt and pepper to taste, or garlic powder

Mash bean mixture with a fork and spread on 2 slices of toasted, whole-grain bread. 
Top with sliced tomatoes, Romaine, red onion, pickles, whatever you like.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Guacamole Made Simple

Avocados are in season!  I know, there are a zillion guac. recipes out there, and good ones too.  But I heard a rumor that some people don't eat avocados because they're fattening.  What's the deal yo?  Avocados are high in fat, but they don't make you fat.  Here's why you should eat them often:  fiber, potassium, Vitamins A, C, E, B, minerals, folic acid, low saturated fat, low sodium, and zero cholesterol.

**Did you know our bodies make all the essential fatty acids we need except for two: omega-3 and omega-6.  Guess one place you can get those?  Did you say, avocados?  You are so smart!  Their health benefits include helping lower cholesterol levels, regulating blood pressure, and protecting against heart disease and stroke (monounsaturated fat). Avocados are nature's butter.  Replace some of your dairy with avocado and you will reap the benefits!

I like guacamole that is not covered up by a lot of other flavors.  I don't add onions and tomatoes to my guac. cuz this ain't salsa!  Try with unsalted corn chips and you'll be amazed at the deliciousness.

Here are my simple ingredients:

3 Avocados, mashed. Hold some out cubed, to stir in
2-3 garlic cloves, diced fine
Juice of  1/2 lemon or lime or both
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teas. sea salt
pepper to taste

P.S. by the time I was done typing and posting this, I ate all the guacamole.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sesame-Orange Asian Salad

I hijacked this recipe from Little House of Veggies, but of course, I made it my own way, as we all tend to do with recipes.  The dressing is the 'sesame-orange' part and the joie de vivre of an otherwise boring cabbage salad.  It is light and refreshing, without that feeling of too much sodium and sugar.  I could munch on this all day.  Now, here's the thing:  I added 6 oz. of cubed, fried, extra-firm tofu for a healthy protein.  You could leave that out all together and just eat this as a lovely side-dish.  But for me, it's a main dish.
Bon Appétit!

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