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
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)

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


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)

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

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)

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!

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

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!

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:

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