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
(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

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
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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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:

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

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!
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