Saturday, October 31, 2009

Apple Carpaccio with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisin Sauce



This may sound odd but I keep a perpetual list with recipes I want to develop. I am constantly adding ideas to the list. I say ideas because they aren’t recipes when I jot them down; they are just ingredients or concepts.

Carpaccio is something that both my husband and I have always enjoyed. If you have had the traditional version you know it is raw meat thinly sliced, dressed with a sauce and some greens. Since the main ingredient is off the list I had to think of what I was going to replace it with. I saw Tyler Florence make a zucchini carpaccio on Food 911 ages ago, but it didn’t exactly appeal to me. I couldn’t imagine zucchini would have as much flavor as red meat.

Earlier this spring I thought of apple carpaccio and didn’t get much beyond recording the idea on my list. I couldn’t quite decide if I wanted the apples to be soft (like the traditional steak) or crunchy. My husband and I decided on crunchy for the first version. The next question was what type of sauce would I use. Golden raisins are sweet, but their flavor isn’t too intense so I decided to use that. I also considered a reduction of apple cider but wanted a secondary flavor from the sauce. Hazelnuts were added because they are Italian, so of course I love them. Here is what I did.

Apple Carpaccio with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisin Sauce
Serves 2

Golden Raisin Sauce Ingredients:

¼ cup golden raisins, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours and drained thoroughly
½ tablespoon hazelnut oil (or other neutral oil)
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider

Remaining Ingredients:

2 apples, thinly sliced on a mandolin
4 cups water
1 lemon, squeezed
¼ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

Combine the drained golden raisins, hazelnut oil, apple cider vinegar, and apple cider in your food processor and puree until the ingredients form a thick sauce. If you want the sauce to be more “pour able” add a little more apple cider or water. Mine thickened as I worked on the apples and I should have thinned it out a little.

Squeeze the lemon into the water to create an acidulated bath for the sliced apples. Slice the apples as thinly as possible, preferably on a mandolin. Drop the sliced apples into the acidulated water and leave them there while you chopped the hazelnuts.

Place the hazelnuts in the bowl of your mezza luna and roughly chop. I use a mezza luna because it keeps the nuts from rolling off the cutting board. If you don’t have a mezza luna use a cutting bowl being careful to not let the nuts roll away. The finer you chop the nuts the easier the carpaccio is to eat.

Drain the apples and pat them dry with paper towel. Lay the apples on a serving tray or a large flat plate in a single layer overlapping the slices like shingles until the tray is full and the apples are gone. Drizzle the golden raisin sauce over the apples. Top with chopped hazelnuts. Serve immediately so the apples don’t begin to oxidize. This is easier to eat if the apples are cut into bite size pieces, but it doesn’t look as pretty. I served it with a knife instead.

If you like the idea of a broken sauce you can add a little hazelnut oil to the golden raisin sauce and stir it in so the oil remains separate. It would make a pretty presentation but I thought this dish had enough fat and calories so I left it out.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 258.63
Calories From Fat (41%) - 105.84

Total Fat - 12.46g
Saturated Fat - 0.96g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 18.49mg
Potassium - 433.95mg
Total Carbohydrates -39.36g
Fiber - 5.55g
Sugar - 26.42g
Protein - 3.24g

Comments:

This is a very lightly flavored dish. It is crunchy from the apples and sweet from the sauce. Hazelnuts add a nice texture to the dish. Overall I was quite pleased with this dish. Next time I may make it with soft apples to see if I prefer that version.

Pine Nut Mayonnaise



Last night when my hubby was ready to leave work he called and said he needed a substantial dinner because he felt like he hadn’t eaten enough. That is the reason made the broccoli and “cheese” potato with avocado. Dan doesn’t often say he needs extra food so I knew I needed to pile on the calories. Last night’s dinner was a good cold weather comfort meal that we both enjoyed but it was definitely heavier than most of my recipes.

After dinner I was looking through Charlie Trotter’s book “Raw” and saw a recipe for pine nut mayonnaise. It looked interesting so I tossed a ½ cup of pine nuts into filtered water before I went to bed so I could try the recipe in the morning.

When I tasted the recipe as given in the book it was a little too plain for me so I added a few additional flavors to the sauce. Here is the pine nut mayonnaise recipe I modified from the book “Raw”.

Pine Nut Mayonnaise
Makes approximately 1 cup – 16 tablespoons

Ingredients:

½ cup raw pine nuts, soaked overnight and well drained
¼ cup water
½ lemon juiced and zested
1 pinch dry mustard (scant 1/8 teaspoon)
1 pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Combine everything in your blender and process until smooth. Pour into a jar and refrigerate until needed. The pine nut mayonnaise will thicken in the refrigerator as it chills.

Nutritional Information (per tablespoon):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 44.19
Calories From Fat (89%) - 39.13

Total Fat - 4.59g
Saturated Fat - 0.44g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 15.05mg
Potassium - 30.77mg
Total Carbohydrates - 0.95g
Fiber - 0.33g
Sugar - 0.16g
Protein - 0.62g

Comments:

I have been exploring a lot of raw salad dressings so mayonnaise was the natural progression. Pine nuts make a very mild body for the mayonnaise. My only complaint is that the sauce is a little too thin even after it has been thoroughly chilled. Not terribly thin, but a bit off the mark. Next time I may add another tablespoon of olive oil to see if that thickens the sauce. Overall this was easier than I expected and turned out more like mayonnaise than I thought it would. It has more lemon flavor than traditional mayonnaise, but since I love lemon that is a good thing in my opinion.

If you are looking for a cooked reduced fat mayonnaise I posted a recipe that can be found here. It results in a much thicker sauce than this that is more like traditional mayonnaise. There is a full fat mayonnaise that tastes like the store brought refrigerated brand, which I posted here. I have made both of these versions many times with good results.

I hope everyone has a nice day.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nacho Cheese with Cashews


(pictured: 1 potato, 3 cups of broccoli, 1 cup nacho sauce with 1/2 avocado and a few pumpkin seeds)

After getting a little over four hours of sleep last night I ran out of steam early this afternoon so that I didn’t get to cross everything off my to-do list. When it was time to make dinner I wanted something fast and easy. This normally means what can I pop in the microwave, which is part of what I made tonight. For dinner tonight we had potatoes topped with broccoli and nacho cheese sauce topped with avocado and pumpkin seeds. Start to finish dinner was ready in about 15 minutes because I used the microwave for both the potatoes and frozen broccoli florets. Here is the sauce I made.

Nacho Cheese with Cashews
Makes a little over 4 cups

Ingredients:

½ cup leek, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ cup water to water sauce the aromatics above
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup raw cashews
1 ¾ cups water
½ tablespoon onion flakes
¼ teaspoon turmeric
dash of cayenne
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
¼ teaspoon cumin seed
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
½ tablespoon hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Water sauté the leek and garlic until soft.

Combine the nutritional yeast, flour, cashews, water, onion flakes, turmeric, cayenne, and cumin in the blender. Puree until smooth. Pour the wet mixture into the saucepan with the leeks and garlic and add the diced tomatoes, and hot crushed peppers and cook a few minutes until the mixture thickens.

Taste the sauce and adjust the salt and pepper level to your tastes.

Nutritional Information (for ¼ of the recipe):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 125.83
Calories From Fat (28%) - 35.7

Total Fat - 3.08g
Saturated Fat - 0.54g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 84.89mg
Potassium - 359.49mg
Total Carbohydrates - 14.41g
Fiber - 2.79g
Sugar - 3.73g
Protein - 3.44g

Comments:

I don’t know if we have just been away from cheese so long that I have forgotten what it tastes like, but this really reminds me of cheese sauce. Additionally the percentage of calories from fat is so much lower than a traditional cheese sauce. This worked really well on baked potatoes, and broccoli. I added the avocado and pumpkin seeds on top the dish because both of those remind me of Tex-Mex food. Overall I was very happy with this quick meal. I need to remember this the next time I need food fast and don’t have anything in the freezer.

I am going to bed early tonight to catch up on my lost sleep. Tomorrow I will be making more seitan for the freezer. I try to stock up on seitan in the freezer to make it easier to make meals during the week.

Apple and Leek "Sausage" Patties



Yesterday I asked for suggestions on seitan variations and Rose from Dandelion suggested apple and leek and that immediately sounded wonderful to me. I am so glad she suggested that combination because these patties are amazing! They may be my new favorite version of seitan (time will tell what the hubby thinks). These patties smelled amazing when they were baking. My entire kitchen smelled like fall. Here is what I did.

Apple and Leek "Sausage" Patties
Makes 9 patties

Ingredients:

1 Fuji apple, cored and very thinly julienned (approximately 1/2 cup)
4 inches of the white part of a leek, quartered lengthwise and then finely sliced (approximately ¾ cup) - rinse thoroughly after slicing to get off the grit that is standard with leeks
½ cup water to water sauté the apple and leek
2 cups of water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger, powder
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon amber agave
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce – vegan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (approximately 1/3 of a nutmeg)
2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 cups vital wheat gluten

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Water sauté the apple and leek in the ½ cup of water until very soft and the water has evaporated.

Combine the 2 cups of water, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, agave, nutritional yeast, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in your blender. Puree until liquid until smooth.

Pour the liquid in a large bowl. Combine the sautéed veg and fruit and breadcrumbs with the liquid and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes so the breadcrumbs will get soft. Add the vital wheat gluten and knead to combine. A small percentage (approx 5% of the total) of the apples and leeks won’t stay in the dough.

Form the dough into ball and divide it into nine portions. Using your hands shape the dough into round patties and set aside.

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet (I used cast iron) with a little bit of oil from a mister or brushed onto the skillet. Sear the patties on both sides for a few minutes until they are brown and crisp. Removed the crisped patties to a large roasting pan or half sheet pan.

Add ½ cup water to the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Then rotate the pan, add another ½ cup of water and bake another 20 minutes. When you remove the pan from the oven the patties should be firm. If the patties are soft on the bottom you may have added too much water, or you oven wasn’t hot enough. If this happens place the pan back in the oven or remove the patties back to the pan you seared them in. Either method will work.

Seitan patties freeze really well. I cool them completely in the refrigerator and then wrap each patty separately in plastic cling film and freeze in a zippered bag.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 175.37
Calories From Fat (7%) - 12.5

Total Fat - 1.4g
Saturated Fat - 0.28g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 363.91mg
Potassium - 139.7mg
Total Carbohydrates - 16.77g
Fiber - 2.39g
Sugar - 2.49g
Protein - 24.38g

Comments:

I adore this recipe since it has a little bit of everything. It is savory and sweet. I love that it includes apples, leeks and garlic, which are all known to fight cancer. I can’t wait to make these with a dinner of cabbage or apples as well as for breakfast. These would also be great with sweet potatoes, fresh fennel, or squash.

I am off to make another type of seitan for the freezer, something for dinner and also need to fit in a workout. Expect another post or two later this evening.

Steam Baked Seitan Cutlets with a hint of Worcestershire


(pictured: Seitan cutlet with sea salt and asparagus from last night)

I was decidedly unproductive yesterday. It is amazing what a headache does to my ability to get things done.

My precious husband requested that I make seitan cutlets yesterday because they are one of his favorite things to have for dinner. Once I started adding breadcrumbs and steam baking the cutlets he really embraced this from of seitan. These come out crispy on the exterior, but tender while not being spongy on the interior. The flavor is very mild but with a subtle umami background from the nutritional yeast and Worcestershire. I use these mild cutlets where I would have previously used chicken breast. They are really good sliced on a salad with Caesar dressing. Here I what I did.

Steam Baked Seitan Cutlets with a hint of Worcestershire
Makes 8 cutlets

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups water
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce – vegan
2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
2 cups vital wheat gluten
commercial pan spray (or pump mister filled with olive or canola oil)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (convection).

Combine the water, garlic, ginger, onion, salt, pepper, yeast and Worcestershire sauce in your blender. Puree until the liquid is thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid into a large bowl. Add the fresh breadcrumbs to the liquid and allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes so the bread will become completely moist. This is more important if you are using dried breadcrumbs. Add the vital wheat gluten to the wet mixture and knead well.

Form the seitan dough into a rough ball and cut the ball into 8 pieces. Using your fingers and palms of your hands form each smaller seitan piece into a cutlet shape. I let mine form whatever shape they choose. I like the organic shapes the dough will form.

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet (I use cast iron) over medium heat. Spray the pan with oil and cook three cutlets at a time until crisp and lightly brown. Then flip and cook the other side. I would say it took 3 minutes per side to get a nice brown crust. Move the crisped seitan to a large roasting pan or half sheet pan and continue cooking the remaining cutlets.

Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan with the cutlets and bake for 20 minutes. Now remove the pan from the oven so that you can turn it around and add another ½ cup of water and bake another 20 minutes. The cutlets are now ready to be used or frozen. I use a stainless steel roasting pan and the cutlets release easily from the pan. If you have trouble add a little water and that should loosen the cutlets.

To reheat, I put the cutlets in a cast iron pan with a few tablespoons of water or sauce and cook for a few minutes. I don’t turn the cutlets, as I want the top to remain crispy. These cutlets turn out crispy on the exterior but tender (not spongy) on the interior. If you are reheating them from frozen you may want to recrisp the exterior before serving.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories -200.47
Calories From Fat (7%) - 14.43

Total Fat - 1.5g
Saturated Fat - 0.29g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 384.24mg
Potassium - 124.34mg
Total Carbohydrates - 16.63g
Fiber - 2.14g
Sugar - 1.86g
Protein 27.11g

Comments:

I like to a have at least 2 of these in the freezer at all times. Then I know I can make a really fast dinner by adding a big serving of vegetables. They defrost well in the microwave but you will need to put them into a skillet to get them a little crispy once they have been frozen (assuming you like crispy that is).

At our house these are normally served with a gravy, sauce, or salsa. Like chicken breast I think they need a sauce to give them a big flavor pop. Plus ….. I like to make sauces so it is a twofer for me.

These cutlets are very similar to a recipe I posted here. By eliminating the lemon and mustard this version has a more neutral flavor than the prior recipe.
I will be back in a while with a seitan sausage recipe.

Is it Coffee? No, it is Teeccino!



Being part Italian I love my double shots of espresso. Anyone that knows me will tell you I love espresso a little too much. I had to have an Italian semi-automatic coffee maker in my office so I can get my espresso fix at a moments notice. That should have been a sign to me that I was out of control.

It wasn’t until I read that caffeine is implicated in the mutation of DNA that I decided to cut way down on espresso. Well, I am one of those all or nothing people so I quickly decided to go cold turkey on espresso since cutting back wasn’t exactly in my vocabulary. Other than an occasional coffee while out at dinner I haven’t had a cup of coffee in over six months.

Even at home, occasionally I really want a cup of coffee. I love the flavor, the aroma, and the experience of sipping a cup of coffee. When I am having one of those moments I turn to teeccino. Haven’t heard of teeccino? Neither had I until about two years ago. I read about it in a magazine but had never seen it in the grocery stores. A month of so later I noticed it at our local Wegman’s and grabbed a container. The taste is like a very mild cup of coffee without the bitter back notes I love. It is so mild you can drink it black. I have given it to friends that don’t like coffee, and they have enjoyed it.

I have only brewed the teeccino in my French press so I can’t tell you how it works in a coffee maker or espresso machine, but according to the packaging it works.

According to the ingredient label teeccino contains the following: roasted carob, barley, chicory root, dates, orange peel, almonds and figs. Needless to say when I saw the ingredient label I was ready to try it based on the ingredients alone.

If you are trying to kick the caffeine habit but love the taste of coffee this is a reasonable approximation. I don’t drink it often, because I am afraid of going back to espresso, but every once in a while a few cups of teeccino just hits the spot.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Asparagus topped with Pineapple Salsa made with Pomegranate Molasses



If you have been reading my blog for a while you know we have a favorite local restaurant that just happens to be in our neighborhood, we are so lucky. The chef is a sweetheart and always volunteers to make special low fat vegan meals just for us, but that is such an imposition I hate to let him do that since there are things we can eat on the menu. One of our favorite items is the asparagus with pineapple salsa with pomegranate molasses, which I posted here. Both the hubby and I love this dish. Tonight I decided to make my own version of the dish.

I could have asked the chef what was in his version but that would take the fun out of experimenting. Instead I turned to “The Professional Chef” since I remembered they had a recipe for a pineapple salsa on fish. I substituted some of the lime juice for pomegranate molasses as I assume Ian did. My pomegranate molasses is crazy thick so I thinned it out with a little lemon juice. I added thin radish matchsticks, because I could (no other reason). Both the version in the cookbook and at the restaurant had a fresh herb (basil in the book), which I didn’t have, so I left it out. Here is what I did.

Asparagus topped with Pineapple Salsa made with Pomegranate Molasses
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 pound of asparagus, tough ends removed
1 inch slice of fresh pineapple (about ½ cup when diced)
¼ red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
6 radishes, trimmed and cup into fine julienne
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

Directions:

Cook the asparagus until tender crisp and set aside. The original recipe grilled the asparagus, however I steamed them instead.

Grill the pineapple until there is a little char on each side, which will take approximately 2 minutes. Then set the pineapple aside until cool enough to handle. When cool cut into approximately ½ inch dice or larger (removing the core).

Combine the pineapple, onion, jalapeno, radish, pomegranate molasses and lemon juice and thoroughly combine.

Top the asparagus with the pineapple salsa and serve warm or cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 193.3
Calories From Fat (2%) - 2.97

Total Fat - 0.4g
Saturated Fat - 0.1g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 8.14mg
Potassium - 543.33mg
Total Carbohydrates - 46.7g
Fiber - 5.92g
Sugar - 26.88g
Protein - 5.54g

Comments:

Both the hubby and I thought this was very close to Ian’s version. Including the fresh basil would definitely have made it better. I also think there may be a little fresh minced ginger in the restaurant version. Not much ginger, just a hint (maybe a quarter teaspoon), which I am going to try next time. Overall, I was quite pleased with how this turned out and we will be having this again soon. It is a very quick and flavorful vegetable dish.

I served this tonight with a steam/baked seitan cutlet and that was dinner. We finished our meal with a green tea, fresh ginger and vitamin C nightcap followed by a green drink chaser and that was it for us tonight.

I hope everyone has a great evening. Tomorrow I will post seitan recipes. With my headache today I didn’t get as much accomplished, as I intended. Oh well, stuff happens. Tomorrow is another day.

Blog Award



First I want to say thank you to Nanny Dee at New England Nanny for bestowing the Friends award on me at a time when I really needed it. She didn’t know that things were chaotic at my house at that time and this was the push I needed to continue the blog.

I didn’t realize how difficult it was to choose the bloggers to forward the award to until I received one myself. It was much more difficult to decide whom to send the award to than it is to write a post each day.

Here are the rules of this award:

This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming.

These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends.
They are not interested in self-aggrandizement.
Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.
Please give more attention to these writers.
Deliver this award to six bloggers who must choose six more and include this cleverly written text into the body of their award.
I will pass this award to some of my bloggy friends that I find exceedingly charming...

Rose at Dandelion for her great recipes, gardening tips and for her blog friendship. I look forward to reading your posts and comments each day. You are quickly becoming my blog sister on the West Coast.

Debra at Vegan Family Style for all the great raw information and recipes she provides. You have encouraged me to eat more raw food and I know that is a good thing. Thank you for the encouragement, support and answers to all my basic raw questions.

Janet at Meatless Mama, my cancer warrior in arms. We share a connection that no one should have. I appreciate the great information you share and you inspire me to be better with each post.

Oraphan at Easy Veggie. You are so quick with a compliment and know how to make me feel welcome in the vegan community. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas.

Janelle at Adventures in a Vegetarian Kitchen. I enjoy reading about all your projects, your husband, baby to be and the pugs. Your warmth and sincerity come through in every post you write. You are going to be a great mom.

Jeni at Heathen Vegan. I love reading your blog and seeing your creativity. Your posts always make me smile, and wish I was a little younger and going to pub with you. I know your sense of humor brings a smile to many of us.

There are so many bloggers that I could have included but six was the limit. I appreciate all of you and enjoy reading your posts and comments. When I started the blog my intention was to share recipes and not much more. Over time I have realized the blog has become so much more than recipes alone. Thank you all for making the blogosphere such a warm place to be.

If you haven’t taken the time to visit these blogs please do. Each of these ladies have put a lot of time, effort and heart into their respective blogs that I hope everyone will take the time to visit and comment. For those of you that don’t have blogs it takes a lot of time to put together a good post and we don’t know you are reading and like what we have to say unless you comment. Even just a few words to let us all know you are there would be appreciated.

Thank you again Nanny Dee for sending me this award at exactly the right time. Your timing is impeccable.

Seitan Sausage Variation Requests?



First, what does the picture of the National Aquarium have to do with the post? Nothing. It is a picture I took a few years ago at lunch with my husband and it is one of my favorite photos from the Baltimore Inner Harbor. I wanted to share it with all of you so you could see a little bit of the town where I live.

Today I am moving very slowly. The morning after cooking class I always feel a little unwell and this morning it is worse than normal. My head was screaming at me this morning as though it spent the night in a vice (probably the vino since my body isn’t used to it now). We had a lovely Nero D’Avola last night that happens to be one of my old favorites and I think my body is telling me to give up the vino 100% (darn it, you would think a glass once a week would be fine). After my morning green drink, goji and mixed berry smoothie and green tea with ginger and vitamin C I am beginning to feel more human and ready to start my day (at 11 am, yeesh it is almost lunch time).

Today my plan is to make whole wheat bread and turn it into breadcrumbs so that I can spend the afternoon making various versions of seitan. If anyone has any requests for particular seitan sausages please post a comment. Otherwise I will be making chorizo, andouille and another variation of a cutlet, yet to be determined.

I hope everyone is having a great day today. While I have a little motivation I am going to get my bread dough rising and do a little yoga. Does anyone else think yoga improves a headache, or is it just me?

I will be back later today with a few seitan recipes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creamy Pesto Salad Dressing



Since we eat multiple salads everyday I am always making salad dressing. I wanted to make a different dressing today and went to “The Professional Chef” for inspiration. There was a recipe for pesto vinaigrette that was interesting but not quite what I wanted. I have been on a raw cashew salad dressing kick lately and decided to make a creamy pesto version today.

I used some of the frozen basil from the freezer for convenience. Nutritional yeast was added for a little background cheesiness. Garlic was added for the kick as well as nutritional impact. Since color wasn’t an issue in this recipe I used dulse granules in place of salt today. Here is what I did.

Creamy Pesto Salad Dressing
Makes about a cup – 16 tablespoons

Ingredients:

½ cup raw cashews
½ cup water
1 cube basil from the freezer (approximately 1 tablespoon of pureed basil)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ teaspoon dulse granules (or kosher salt to taste)
1 pinch black pepper, freshly ground

Directions:

Combine everything in your blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until needed. The dressing will thicken as it cools.

Nutritional Information (per tablespoon):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 23.49
Calories From Fat (70%) - 16.53

Total Fat - 1.77g
Saturated Fat - 0.29g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1.24mg
Potassium - 28.31mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.07g
Fiber - 0.14g
Sugar - 0.18g
Protein - 0.61g

Comment:

This dressing has a subtle basil flavor. Nutritional yeast flavor fades into the background to round out the dressing. A little red wine vinegar (a tablespoon) would also be nice if you want sharpness in the dressing.

Smoky Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup



When I saw Bryanna’s soup I knew I wanted to make my own version of it. I changed the soup a little because I was in mood for something Spanish inspired soup last night. I ran out of time to post this last night.

I love the texture of this soup. Be warned I tried using my immersion blender first and ended up with the Vitamix for the perfect creamy texture. Next time I will start with the Vitamix so I only have one appliance to clean.

We love sweet potatoes and I make a lot of version of sweet potato soup. Since the spuds we buy are organic I leave the skins on for added nutrition. The Vitamix has no difficulty chewing through them. Sweet potato skins do muddy the color of the soup a little, but the nutrition is more important to me. I omitted celery (a typical aromatic) since I thought that would result in a much more brown soup. You could add some fresh fennel bulb if you have it on hand for a similar flavor. Here is what I did.

Smoky Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into chunks
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
water to sweat vegetables (about a ½ cup)
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 ½ cups red lentils, sorted and rinsed
14 ounces tomato sauce
water to cover
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
4 tablespoons parsley, finely minced

Directions:

Water sauté the onions, carrots and garlic over high heat until soft. Add the sweet potatoes, lentils, tomato sauce and enough water to cover the vegetables. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the sweet potatoes and lentils are soft.

Place the soup in your blender in batches for a velvety soup. I initially tried using my immersion blender and wasn’t satisfied with the texture and ended up putting the soup in the blender.

Return the pureed soup to the pot over low heat. Add the smoked paprika, salt, black pepper and sherry vinegar.

To serve, top the soup with sliced almonds and minced parsley. I also dusted the top with a little smoked paprika for color.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 249.95
Calories From Fat (12%) - 29.12

Total Fat - 3.49g
Saturated Fat - 0.38g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 559.38mg
Potassium - 740.38mg
Total Carbohydrates - 45.2g
Fiber - 9.14g
Sugar - 6.32g
Protein - 12.66g

Comments:

I loved the texture of this soup it was smooth and creamy like my broccoli and white bean soup. The flavor of this soup is hard to pin down. I couldn’t taste any tomato flavor but like the antioxidants it added. Almonds and parsley added a lot to this soup in terms of crunch and freshness. My husband thought this reminded him of barbecue, I think it was the smokiness from the paprika.

Each serving of this soup contains over 14,000IU of vitamin A, 90mcg of folate, and 180mg of phosphorus. The best part of making a big pot of soup is that we can have it for lunch with a salad for the rest of the week.

There may not be many posts today since today is cooking class. I will post again tonight if I have anything interesting to share. Otherwise, I will be back tomorrow. I hope you all have a great day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mostarda – Apple, Apricot and Raisin



If you aren’t Italian you are probably wondering what in the heck is Mostarda. It is an Italian condiment that is typically served with cheese or charcuterie. I made it to go with the raw cashew goat cheese and I am so glad I did.

Mostarda is basically Italian chutney with a little mustard background. You can make it more sweet, or less. Add more or less mustard. Use whatever fruit you have on hand. I always use both fresh and dried fruit. At Christmas time I like to add cranberries, which go beautifully with the other fruit and mustard.

Assuming you don’t have any homemade goat “cheeze” on hand this is wonderful on seitan or baked tofu. I love it on sandwiches or on crackers. Here is what I did.

Mostarda – Apple, Apricot and Raisin
Makes 36 tablespoons

Ingredients:

½ red onion, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water
½ cup dried unsulfured apricots, finely diced
½ cup golden raisins
2 apples, cored and finely diced
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons amber agave
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed

Directions:

Combine the onion, water, apricots and raisins and cook until the onion is soft. Then add the remaining ingredients and cook until syrupy. Refrigerate until needed. This will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 16.55
Calories From Fat (4%) - 0.6

Total Fat - 0.07g
Saturated Fat - 0.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 3.36mg
Potassium - 47.19mg
Total Carbohydrates - 4.17g
Fiber - 0.52g
Sugar - 2.99g
Protein - 0.21g

Comments:

This is one of my favorite condiments. I was first introduced to this at cooking class and it has been making regular appearances at our house ever since. If you like things that are sweet and tart (agro dolce as the Italians call it) I think you will love this condiment.

Raw Cashew Goat Cheese – the experiment



For me the most difficult animal product to eliminate from our diet wasn’t meat, Greek yogurt, European butter, or even heavy cream, it was cheese. I have loved cheese for as long as I can remember. I have been thinking about this recipe since the April issue of the Vegetarian Times came out. However, life got in the way and never found time to make it. Yesterday I decided to make the cheese, but I wanted it to be raw. So I knew it this cheese was going in the dehydrator even without directions as to time.

The original recipe called for tahini, which I omitted. I have tried other “cheese” recipes in the past that called for tahini and found they didn’t really taste like “cheese” to me. Other than that change I followed the recipe, mostly. Here is what I did.

Raw Cashew Goat Cheese – the experiment
Makes approximately 10 ounces

Ingredients:

¾ cup raw cashews
2 cups water
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons water
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Place the cashews in a jar and cover with water. Allow the cashews to stand overnight. Drain the cashews, rinse and drain again.

Place the remaining ingredients in your food processor or blender and process until completely smooth. Processing took about 2 minutes in my machine.

Cut enough cheesecloth to cover the mixture at least three times. Scrape the cashew cheese into the cheesecloth and roll into a log. Place the cheese log in a wire mesh strainer in a bowl let stand overnight at room temperature. I kept mine in the microwave to keep nosey felines out of the mixture.

In the morning place the cheese in your dehydrator until the cheese is set on the outside but still soft. I left the cheese in the dehydrator for 24 hours.

When the cheese is done remove the cheesecloth and scrape the cheese into a bowl. Then use a fork to fluff the cheese. I did this because the exterior was firmer than the interior and I wanted the consistency to be even throughout.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 127.93
Calories From Fat (87%) - 111.56

Total Fat - 12.81g
Saturated Fat - 1.3g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 262.23mg
Potassium - 60.43mg
Total Carbohydrates - 2.96g
Fiber - 0.29g
Sugar - 0.63g
Protein - 1.47g

Comments:

The texture of the cheese was quite good. However, the biggest problem I have with this cheese is the amount of salt. We found this cheese to be so salty that I used a tiny amount of it on a cracker, and covered it with Mostarda. Next time I will definitely start with ¼ of the salt when I make this next. The salt issue may be due to the fact that I have reduced our salt intake so much, or it could be that dehydrating was more drying than baking (the method used in the original recipe). Next time I am also going to eliminate adding the 2 tablespoons of water. I don’t think it does anything but add additional water to be removed during draining and baking/drying. There is one good thing about the cheese being too salty. I didn’t use much of it on our cracker reducing both the fat and calories.

I think this was a good experiment, but it does need a bit of modification. When I am happy with the results I will post the final recipe.

Genetically Modified Soy to include Omega 3 Fatty Acids



According to this article, the FDA has approved a genetically modified (GM) soybean with omega 3 as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Since this was the first I heard of this I wanted to share it with everyone else.

If you are avoiding GM foods, as I am, you should know this product would be in your grocery stores in the future. Had I not read the article I may have purchased some of these products because they contain omega 3 fatty acids, which is something I try to include in our diet.

Why can't we just leave the food supply alone in this country? Argggggh.

Vegan MOFO Survey


I thought I would weigh in on the Vegan MOFO Survey that is floating around. It seems like a good method for bloggers to share more about themselves, and their food philosophy.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
I like my own almond milk the best. I also make sprouted soymilk occasionally, but I tend to use the almond milk more often. Too much of anything, even healthy things can lead to problems. That is why I save my soybean consumption for tofu and use almond milk in my cooking, and for my smoothies and oatmeal

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
I have had a couple of recipe requests so I have to go with vegan escargot and braciole. For myself I want to make a vegan version of saag (the Indian creamed spinach) that has the taste and texture of the original.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
That is so easy, truffle salt and truffle oil is my absolute favorite popcorn topping.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
That is a tough one because it has been awhile since I had an actual disaster. I have had dishes I didn’t love but disasters haven’t happened in a while. That is a function of how long I have been cooking (I am old). I remember a crazy Thanksgiving about 30 years when I hadn’t gotten the whole “timing thing” down. It is not a great idea when everything else is ready and the main dish is still far undercooked. But that little event with the in-laws taught me how to plan dinner so everything was done at the same time.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Pickled peppers, I use them in everything. Here on the east coast we call them “wet hots” and most people use them on sub sandwiches.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
My new recipes are saved electronically in my cookbook software so they are easy to find. The recipes prior to that could be almost anywhere. Some are on paper in binders, others are on index cars, and still others are saved electronically as word files. Thankfully I have a good memory and can usually remember where to begin looking. I am looking forward to the day when all my recipes are saved electronically in the cookbook software but that is going to be a while.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash. Compost is something I have wanted to do but haven’t made the time.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
Wheat berries so I could also plant it or turn it into flour and make many things. Beans for protein and so I could plant them to grow more. Last I would say tomatoes since I am part Italian and can’t imagine life without red sauce.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
This is a tough one. My mother never embraced cooking so we eat a lot of dinners out. I would say my favorite meal was at a restaurant in Chicago that is now closed. We used to go to dinner and movie or show a few times a month and sometimes we would go to “The Berghoff” for dinner. They had the most amazing creamed spinach, and Weiner schnitzel. I have not had either in over 30 years but I still remember those great dinners.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
I prefer to make my own ice cream. Of all the frozen desserts I have made recently my favorite was the peach, banana and ginger sorbet, which isn’t ice cream but was extremely tasty and not too unhealthy. That was a twofer in my book.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
I couldn’t live without my Vitamix! I use it almost every morning to make smoothies. It is also my good too device for making salad dressings and pureed soups. I also use it to make almond milk, another daily activity.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Tellicherry peppercorns

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
I bought Julie Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and The New York Times Cookbook at the same time. Both are extremely warn and have fallen apart. Yet I still use them both when I am looking for ideas of something to veganize for dinner.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
There is an Italian condiment called Mostarda that is like chutney with a background flavor of mustard. I love it on top of seitan and tofu. We don’t put jams or jellies on toast at our house. It I had to pick a sweet flavor it would be pink grapefruit marmalade.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
I always serve either my mushroom ragu or curried ravioli stuffed with tofu feta; both of these are always a big hit.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Hands down my own seitan. If we were talking store bought then it would be tofu.I really enjoy making my own seitan sausages. The different forms seitan can take make it the most versatile of the three in my opinion.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
I prefer to make dinner. I like to make multiple courses and enjoy building flavors with the dishes. On weekends I also enjoy making a leisurely brunch, which is also fun.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Other than cats, there are rolled oats, rolled barley, spelt flakes, rye flakes and Larabars. There may also be an empty reusable lunch bag or two in the back.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
I can probably name 50 things in my freezer. We keep a lot of food on hand for quick dinners. The first three items in my freezer that come to mind are whole golden flaxseeds, homemade seitan sausages (various flavors), and wild blueberries.

20. What's on your grocery list?
I went to the grocery store a few days ago but there are a few things that seem to always on my grocery list:
Various types of dried beans
Whole golden flaxseeds
Nutritional Yeast
Raw Cashews
Raw Sunflower seeds
Raw Pumpkin seeds
Walnuts
Almonds
Silken Tofu
Seeds for sprouting
Frozen broccoli
Canned tomatoes
Sprouted whole-wheat flour
Whole-wheat pastry flour
Bananas
Wild Blueberries, frozen
Mixed Berries, frozen
Edamame, in the pod
Baby Spinach
Crimini Mushrooms
Lemons
Onions
Garlic
Apples
Carrots
Celery
Red bell peppers
Mixed Dried Mushrooms

21. Favorite grocery store?
I go to at least three different grocery stores each week so I don’t have one favorite. We go to Costco and buy a lot of things there every few weeks. Additionally we belong to an organic CSA and pick up produce every Sunday. I like going to Wegman’s for their unusual produce selection. There is also a neighborhood health food store (The Natural Market) I frequent regularly. We order a lot of food from Amazon grocery. Finally I stop at an Asian market (H Mart) before cooking class a few times a month for those items you can’t find anywhere but an Asian market.

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
There are many recipes that I have on my list of things to veganize.
- Escargot
- Braciole
- Homemade puff pastry that is also whole wheat
- Whole Branzino in Cartoccio (we had this in Venice on our honeymoon and it was my favorite) – my problem is that I want it look like Branzino with the skin on, which may be impossible.
- Whipped cream that doesn’t taste like tofu. I have been working on this for a while and it harder than I imagined it would be to make without silken tofu.
- Gorgonzola cheese substitute
- Smoked Gouda substitute

23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3?
I spend far too much time cooking and posting to read other people’s blogs as much as I would like. That is the one downside of having a blog. However, I always like to keep up with my blog buddy Rose at Dandelion. Our cooking styles are very similar and I get great ideas seeing what she it making. I have to check out what Bryanna is up on Vegan Feast Kitchen. If it weren’t for Bryanna my husband and I would have given up veganism before it we really got started. She gave me enough ideas to get me going so we stuck with it.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Oddly, I am not a big chocolate fan. It is okay but I would rather have anything made with lemon. My husband likes Green and Black chocolate.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
That is a toss up between the organic unfiltered olive oil, fresh black truffle, fresh porcini mushrooms and kefir lime leaves. I justify this by saying, “but think of all the money we are saving my not buying the buffalo tallegio and organic grass fed steak.” My husband acts as though this sounds perfectly reasonable. He is such a good guy.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
- Sea cucumber (serious slime factor), but I am trying to work up to it since I know it is good for us.
- Making my own tempeh is a little daunting.
- Making my own sauerkraut scares me. I have this fear I will grow bad bacteria and make us sick. I probably just need to do more research to get over this fear.


That is it for now. I will be back later with a recipe or two. I also have an “experiment” in the dehydrator that I need to blog about later today after it has chilled and I have tried it.

I hope everyone is having a great day.

Pomegranate Juice and Prostate Cancer


(pictured: Green Tea with Yerba Mate, Goji Berries and Pomegranate Juice)

For those of you that have prostate cancer in the family I wanted to post a link to this abstract of an article found in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

According to the abstract, scientists now have a deeper understanding of how pomegranate juice contributes to prostate cancer protection. The scientists seem to be advocating the consumption of pomegranate juice for those with prostate cancer and those that wish to avoid it. According to a phase II study presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in 2005, daily consumption of pomegranate juice reduced the spread of established prostate cancer by 67%. Since it is easier to prevent cancer than treat it, as a wife I want to make certain my husband does have to deal with this problem.

We will continue to add a little pomegranate juice to our green tea during the day. We starting doing this after reading in "Anticancer" that 8 ounces of pomegranate juice per day was recommended to keep prostate cancer at bay.

For those ladies that aren't concerned with prostate health, the antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties of pomegranates are also well established. I also consume pomegranate juice every day as part of my "every little bit helps" theory of nutrition.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spinach Salad with a Veggie Patty, Alfalfa Sprouts, Tomato and Green Goddess Dressing



This is another one of my “where did that come from” salads. As I have mentioned before my husband and I really do eat salad all the time. I tend not to post these as I think salads are dull. I am posting the salad tonight because I want everyone to consider tossing a veggie patty on his or her next salad. This is a combination that I am particularly fond of and it happened here out of necessity one day at lunch, which led me to discover how much I like those foods together. Here is the salad we had tonight.

Spinach Salad with a Veggie Patty, Alfalfa Sprouts, Tomato and Green Goddess Dressing
Serves 2

Ingredient:

6 cups raw spinach
2 Don Lee Farms veggie patties
1 teaspoon oil to crisp patties
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
1 tomato, diced
6 tablespoons green goddess dressing

Directions:

Cook the veggie patties in a heavy bottom skillet (I used a cast iron) coated with a little olive oil. Cook on medium heat until the patties are browned on both sides and heated through.

To plate, start with spinach, add the sprouts, tomato, then burgers and finish with the dressing.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 268.64
Calories From Fat (41%) - 109.28

Total Fat - 10.85g
Saturated Fat - 1.76g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 559.06mg
Potassium - 813.3mg
Total Carbohydrates - 26.2g
Fiber - 5.79g
Sugar - 2.66g
Protein - 9.6g

Comments:

I love to top salads with hot items like falafel or veggie burgers. The contrast of hot with cold is something that I really enjoy. I think the hot topping somehow greatly improves the taste of the salad.

One serving of this salad has over 10.500IU of vitamin A, 120mg of calcium, 220mcg of folate, 530mcg of vitamin K, 110mg of phosphorus, and 110mg of magnesium. This meal does a little more fat that I would normally allow but the remainder of our day had very little fat so I was trying to get to my magic number of 13% total calories from fat.

I hope you are all having a good evening.

Potato and Bean Cakes in a Pool of Red Sauce Topped with Almond Feta



This is something I dreamed up last night when my husband wanted a snack. I hadn’t intended to put it on the blog but he liked it so much that we both had it tonight with our salad as dinner. Since this was good enough for my husband to have twice in two days I decided that made it blog worthy.

The potato cake and almond feta work really well with the red sauce. I like the combination of crunchy with smooth, hot with cold and sweet with sour. This dish hits all my culinary hot buttons. I hope you like it as much as we did. Here is how I did it.

Potato and Bean Cakes in a Pool of Red Sauce Topped with Almond Feta
Serves 2

Ingredients:

¾ cup basic red sauce
2 potato and white bean cakes
4 tablespoons of almond feta
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced

Directions:

Place ½ of the sauce on the bottom of each plate and top with a potato and white bean cakes. Microwave until hot.

While the potato cake is heating combine the fresh parsley with the almond feta.

Top the hot potato cakes with the almond feta. Serve hot or warm.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 223.73
Calories From Fat (26%) - 58.73

Total Fat - 6.65g
Saturated Fat - 0.75g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 324.9mg
Potassium - 946.87mg
Total Carbohydrates - 28.71g
Fiber - 5.35g
Sugar - 3.51g
Protein - 9.58g

Comments:

This recipe isn’t a nutritional powerhouse, but having something like this occasionally probably isn’t going to hurt anyone. I love combination of flavors and textures. The tomato sauce is sweet from the tomatoes and spicy from the red peppers. The potato and white bean cakes are mild and crunchy and the almond feta is a little sour from the lemon and salty. Overall I was quite pleased with combination and will be looking for more uses for potato cakes in the future.

For those of you that have made the almond feta you may notice that the color of mine is not as white. That is because I have begun using the almond pulp that is leftover from making almond milk. It seemed silly to throw away the pulp and then make more for almond feta over a few flecks of almond skin.

When Cancer Stops Growing, Regresses or Disappears



If anyone you know has been touched by cancer you may want to read this article in the New York Times. Spontaneous remission is said to occur though most doctors don’t think it is possible. The article discusses spontaneous remission, tumors that stop growing or get smaller without treatment. I found this article to be encouraging for anyone that has been touched by cancer.

The reason that we eat such a healthy diet at our house is our way of trying to maintain some level of control over our health. I plan our meals based on not just what tastes good but what is the healthiest thing we can eat at that time. By continually changing the healthy foods we eat I hope to maximize our nutrition and give our bodies the best chance of fighting disease. Only time will tell if I am correct. But until proven otherwise I will continue to remain focused on nutrition and health.

I hope everyone is having a happy and healthy day. I am off to start dinner just as soon as I figure out what I am going to feed us tonight. I will be back later with a recipe.

Green Goddess Dressing


(pictured: baby spinach salad with sprouts, hempseeds and green goddess dressing)

As usual I made a salad for myself for lunch today. I wanted to make another salad dressing and choose this one from “The Professional Chef”. The original recipe is made with mayonnaise and additional oil making it very caloric and fatty. I used raw cashews in place of mayonnaise and oil and kept the remaining ingredients roughly the same. In the original recipe they used equal portions of raw spinach and watercress but I didn’t have watercress so I went with all spinach. Next time I will probably use arugula for a little sharpness. Here is what I did.

Green Goddess Dressing
Makes just under 1 ½ cups – approximately 22 tablespoons

Ingredients:

½ cup raw cashews
½ cup water
4 ounces raw spinach (approximately 3 handfuls)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley minced – optional
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
zest from 1/2 lemon, or to taste

Directions:

Combine everything in the blender and process until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as desired. A little lemon juice would also be good in the recipe if you like acid.

Nutritional Information (per tablespoon):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 14.03
Calories From Fat (60%) - 8.36

Total Fat - 1g
Saturated Fat - 0.17g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 34.53mg
Potassium - 45.98mg
Total Carbohydrates - 0.98g
Fiber - 0.23g
Sugar - 0.16g
Protein - 0.59g

Comments:

This dressing has a very mild taste. Both the mustard and garlic flavor are very much background notes. I think this dressing is mild enough that children would eat it. I can’t say how this compares to the original since I never had it. I think this is a nice dressing variation. Next time I may a little lemon juice to enhance the flavor.

Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips



Last week I made my first batch of kale chips and both my husband and I found them to be surprisingly addictive. The hubby shared some of his with the guys are work and from what I heard they all liked them, including one gentleman who does not like kale. Full of enthusiasm from the initial success I wanted to try salt and vinegar kale chips. Since I used to love salt and vinegar potato chips this made complete sense to me. I only made a few in case I was wrong. Big mistake. The salt and vinegar version is better than the plain. Here is what I did.

Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips
Makes 4 generous servings - about a cup each

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and torn into large pieces
1 teaspoon malt vinegar
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 pinch dulse granules
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Place the kale pieces on a half sheet tray and sprinkle with malt vinegar and oil. Toss the kale so that all the greens are coated. Add the dulse granules and black pepper and toss to coat.

Place the kale in a single layer in the dehydrator and dry overnight. In the morning you will have crispy kale chips.

If you like salt and vinegar potato chips these are very similar only healthy.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 77.66
Calories From Fat (23%) - 17.84

Total Fat - 2.07g
Saturated Fat - 0.21g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 59.79mg
Potassium - 609.24mg
Total Carbohydrates - 13.65g
Fiber - 2.7g
Sugar - 0g
Protein - 4.43g

Comments:

This is my second attempt making kale chips and I think these are much better than the first batch and no more difficult. I think we are now officially obsessed with kale chips at my house. I may need to stop at the store for more kale before the weekend. Something tells me two batches of kale chips won’t last us all week.

One of the reasons I love these, other than the crunch and the taste is the nutrition. These little chips are packed with healthy antioxidants and phytonutrients. I increased the serving size this time to more closely approximate what we were actually eating at one time. Each serving of these chips contains over 20,600IU of vitamin A, 160 mg of vitamin C, 180mg calcium, and 1,090mcg of vitamin K.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Whole Wheat Penne with Red Sauce, Steamed Cauliflower and Gremolata



My post tonight is more of a concept than a recipe. I wasn’t in the mood to make a complicated dinner or to weigh and measure ingredients this afternoon.

Since my parents were coming for dinner tonight I made a simple red sauce this afternoon because everyone likes pasta and red sauce. I lightly steamed a pound of cauliflower florets to add to the dish. Since the cauliflower is a little chunky I made a whole-wheat penne to more closely match the size of the vegetable. I cooked the pasta al dente to lower the glycemic index. Then I made a modified gremolata with 1 clove of minced garlic, the zest of a lemon, a ¼ cup of fresh minced parsley, a teaspoon of drained capers and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. I topped the pasta, cauliflower and red sauce with the gremolata and added a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts when I served the dish. Fresh lemon juice was squeezed over the pasta just before serving.

When I am not in the mood to cook I frequently turn to pasta for dinner. Pasta is universally loved, and ridiculously quick and easy.

If you wanted a little more crunch on this pasta you can cook some whole wheat bread crumbs in a little olive oil with garlic until crunchy and top the pasta with that as you would use cheeze. Toasted breadcrumbs are a traditional topping for food in southern Italy.

Sautéed Apple and Cabbage with Hints of Bourbon, Dijon and Maple Syrup and a Sweet Potato on the Side



As you may have guessed I purchased more apples and cabbage than I needed for dinner last night and wanted to use them today somehow. By the time lunch rolled around today I had no idea what I was going to make. This recipe is something that came out of my head while thinking about what to make. Despite the fact that the main ingredients were the same as dinner last night this dish has a very different flavor.

The bourbon inspiration came from watching “Alex’s Day Off” today on the Foodnetwork. I don’t normally get many ideas from the Foodnetwork because there are only so many variations of paella, or baked pasta I can watch without going brain dead. However, the apple and bourbon idea today I thought was genius and immediately appealing. For those of you that have been reading for a while you know that bourbon turns up occasionally in my recipes. I love the aroma of bourbon in food. If you are interested there is a nice bourbon glaze for seitan here, and a chocolate and peanut butter mousse with bourbon posted here, that you might want to check out.

I combined maple syrup with the bourbon because that is a match made in heaven. Really, why wouldn’t you combine them? Dijon was added to the recipe for a little zip. Cumin was included because it mimics the smokiness of the bourbon.

The apples were unpeeled because most of the nutrition is in and just under the skin. I lightly wilted to cabbage so it would retain most of its nutrition. Because the sweet potatoes were organic I left the skin on as well for its fiber and nutrition. Here is what I did.

Sautéed Apple and Cabbage with Hints of Bourbon, Dijon and Maple Syrup and a Sweet Potato on the Side
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 large organic sweet potato (weight approximately 8 ounces), scrubbed and pierced
2 Fuji apples, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
3 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 tablespoon Bourbon
½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 pinch cumin seed
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pinch kosher salt, to taste
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the sweet potato in the microwave until tender.

While the sweet potato is cooking heat a heavy sauce pan on medium high heat. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato is ready cut it into quarters and serve it with sautéed apples and cabbage on the side.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 238.99
Calories From Fat (3%) - 6.65

Total Fat - 0.81g
Saturated Fat - 0.13g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 323.59mg
Potassium - 784.13mg
Total Carbohydrates - 53.77g
Fiber - 10.37g
Sugar - 26.33g
Protein - 4.26g

Comments:

The bourbon was definitely a background aroma more than a flavor. The dish has a touch of heat from the red pepper flakes. There was a nice textural contrast between the apples and cabbage. Overall I thought it was a nice balance of flavors and texture.

Nutritionally this dish has a lot of punch. Each serving contains over 16,000IU of vitamin A, 108mg of calcium, 74mcg of folate, 107mcg of vitamin K, and 104mg of phosphorus. Not too shabby for a dish I had on the table in less than 10 minutes than contains less than 250 calories.

I was surprised by how filling this dish was. We had such a light lunch today there will need to be a snack tonight to make certain we have eaten enough calories.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Warm Cabbage and Apple Slaw with Carrot and Golden Raisin



This dish is my lightened variation of a dish we learned in cooking class this past week. The original dish had bacon and added oil which I eliminated. I considered adding a touch of liquid smoke to this recipe but decided I wanted a cleaner taste.

Cruciferous vegetables are some of my favorites because they are cancer-fighting powerhouses. I try to serve them at least 4 times a week. Remember that cruciferous vegetables are more nutritious if lightly cooked.

You can alter this recipe by adding thinly sliced fennel bulb, celery, celery root or parsnip. Sliced dried apricots or figs would also be good in this dish if you didn’t want to use the raisins.

Here is the recipe that I made tonight.

Warm Cabbage and Apple Slaw with Carrot and Golden Raisin
Serves 4

Ingredients:

½ red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup water
3 carrots, julienned
3 apples, cut into quarters and very thinly sliced
8 cups green cabbage, finely julienned
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted
2/3 cup golden raisins
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Sauce the onion in the water until tender. Then add the carrot, apple, cabbage, vinegar, fennel seeds and raisins and cook until the vegetables are the texture you want. Taste the slaw for salt and pepper and adjust to suit your taste.

This is best served a little warm or at room temperature.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 199.18
Calories From Fat (3%) - 6.2

Total Fat - 0.74g
Saturated Fat - 0.15g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 149.93mg
Potassium - 788.58mg
Total Carbohydrates - 49.51g
Fiber - 9.06g
Sugar - 32.6g
Protein - 4.26g

Comments:

This dish is difficult to describe. There is a nice balance of tart and sweet flavors, agro dolce as the Italians call it. I found the dish was best when the cabbage still retained a little body and crunch.

My husband is calling this a nice fall dish. Heating the salad changes its character so that it doesn’t really resemble a light raw cole slaw. This dish flew off the table tonight. I think was slightly more popular than the potato cakes. However, the potato cakes worked really well with this slaw for dinner tonight. I served a quarter of this slaw with two potato cakes tonight and both my husband and I were really full. I had initially planned to add a raw salad to dinner but I am glad I didn’t because we would have had leftover slaw.

The warm slaw had the highest nutrition on the plate tonight. Each serving contained over 10,300IU of vitamin A, 73mg of vitamin C, 125mg of calcium, 88 mcg of folate, 145mcg of vitamin K, and 111mg of phosphorus.

I will be back tomorrow with more recipe ideas. Have a great evening everyone.

Potato and White Bean Cakes



Tonight I wanted to make a potato and cabbage dish but wasn’t really certain which direction to go with dinner. Initially I was going to make colcannon but this didn’t feel very creative so I wanted to make something else.

When I was growing up my mother would make potato cakes from left over mashed potatoes from the prior night. Her version included eggs and was pan-fried. I decided that I would make a healthier version and that is what I did. I added white beans and tofu to increase the protein content. Additionally, I used the least amount of oil necessary to achieve a crispy exterior on the cakes. I omitted the flour my mother used to dredge the cakes in to keep them gluten free.

These cakes are nothing like my veggie burgers. They are light and tender, with a crispy exterior. My husband thought the cakes needed vital wheat gluten but that wasn’t the texture I was going for tonight. If you want a firmer cake add a few tablespoons of vital wheat gluten and breadcrumbs to the cakes. Here is what I did.

Potato and White Bean Cakes
Makes 11 cakes

Ingredients:

1 cup cannellini beans, sorted presoaked
water to cook the cannellini beans
3 large Yukon gold potatoes (approximately 1 pound), pierced several times with a knife
½ red onion, peeled and finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely diced
¼ - ½ water to cook the aromatics
12.3 ounces of firm organic silken tofu
juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or canola) to brown cakes

Directions:

Cook the cannellini beans in water until tender. Then drain and mash or rice the beans while still warm. Warm beans are easier to mash. Place the mashed beans into a large bowl or on a sheet pan so they begin cooling.

Microwave the Yukon gold potatoes until tender. If they aren’t organic peel the potatoes. Otherwise mash or rice the potatoes and move them to the container with the beans.

Cook the onions and garlic in the water until tender and the water has evaporated. Add the cooked aromatics to the beans and potatoes. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast on top and combine.

Put the silken tofu and lemon juice in your blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the tofu to the potatoes and bean mixture. Thoroughly combine the mixture until everything is evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Using a ½ cup measure form the potato and bean cakes and set aside on a sheet pan. If you aren’t cooking them right away cover the pan with plastic cling film and hold in the refrigerator until needed. Cold cakes tend to stay together better. You can cook them right away if you are gentle when flipping the cakes.

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet with one teaspoon of oil. I used a cast iron skillet and got a nice crisp crust on the cakes. Cook the cakes in three batches until crispy on each side and hold in a 200 degree oven until everything is ready to serve.

Nutritional information for 1 cake:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 142.75
Calories From Fat (15%) - 20.96

Total Fat - 2.25g
Saturated Fat - 0.34g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 45.88mg
Potassium - 682.39mg
Total Carbohydrates - 22.43g
Fiber - 3.62g
Sugar - 0.86g
Protein - 7.58g

Comments:

The flavor of these cakes was mild, but not boring. These potato and bean cakes would be good with many meals. We had these cakes tonight with a warm cabbage and apple slaw. It was a great combination. Both the vegans and omnivores enjoyed dinner tonight.

I will be posting the warm slaw recipe next.

Goji Berry, Wild Blueberry, Mixed Berries and Banana Smoothie


This has been our go to breakfast smoothie for a few weeks now. I like having the goji and wild blueberries first thing in the morning. There is nothing like starting your day with lots of antioxidants to give you a natural high first thing in the morning. No caffeine needed.

Goji berries are packed with nutrition and have a very high ORAC value coming in at 25.300. Berries in general are packed with nutrition. Raspberries contain loads of antioxidants and specifically ellagic acid that has been shown to slow tumor growth in mice. Blueberries are high in antioxidants and have been shown to induce cancer cell suicide. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants and has been shown to help the body to process sugar (like that found naturally in fruit) more efficiently. Ginger is also high in antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory. Additionally ginger has been shown to slow the formation of blood vessels to cancerous tumors. Flaxseeds are packed with healthy omega 3 fats. I grind my own in a coffee grinder since reading that flaxseeds are best consuming within 20 minutes of grinding to maximum nutrition. Banana was added for potassium and to help the smoothie’s texture. Whew, that is enough about nutrition on this.

The texture of this is like a soft serve ice cream. We eat it with a spoon. It tastes mostly like blueberries.

Goji Berry, Wild Blueberry, Mixed Berries and Banana Smoothie
Makes 3 servings (a double for the hubby and a single for me)

Ingredients:

¼ cup dried goji berries
1 banana, peeled
2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 cups frozen mixed berries (I use the Costco Blend with Raspberries, Blueberries and Marion berries)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger, powdered
2 tablespoons golden flaxseeds, freshly ground
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened

Directions:

Combine everything in your blender and process until smooth. I use a Vitamix and the machine turns this into a smooth mixture in under a minute. If you are using a different blender you may need to stop it and move the mixture around with a spatula a few time to get it blend thoroughly.

Serve in a chilled glass with a long handled spoon and enjoy.

Nutritional information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 254.8
Calories From Fat (18%) - 46.23

Total Fat - 5.21g
Saturated Fat - 0.35g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 104.17mg
Potassium - 347.81mg
Total Carbohydrates - 51.29g
Fiber - 7.61g
Sugar - 18.46g
Protein - 5.58g

Comments:

We have been away from added sugar for so long now that this actually tastes sweet to me without any agave or stevia. In the past I have added both and they work well in smoothies.

If you are looking for a fast breakfast that you can toss into a to go mug and eat on the way to work this one fills the bill. Additionally you get a couple servings of blue foods to start your day.

This morning we had this with our usual Green Vibrance chaser. I often think my husband and I have more vitamins and antioxidants at breakfast than most Americans eat all week. I am completely convinced that good nutrition can protect us from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Hopefully during my lifetime this idea will become a widely held belief.

I am off to work on my menu for tonight. Have a happy and healthy day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fresh Strawberries Topped with Sweetened Tofu Sour Cream



This is more of concept than a recipe. For dessert tonight I topped fresh sliced strawberries with tofu sour cream that I sweetened with agave to taste.

This is the perfect desert, tasty and ready in less than 5 minutes. Can you say heaven on a spoon? I am going to finish my dessert now.

Avocado and Edamame Appetizer



Our appetizer this evening is another variation of guacamole similar to the one I made earlier this week only more casual. Tonight I added edamame in place of the cucumber I used earlier this week. Edamame adds protein to the dish. Hot crushed peppers were added for heat and to reduce the need for added sodium. Lemon zest adds d-limonene for additional cancer protection. Dulse granules were used tonight to cut down on sodium. Here is what I did.

Avocado and Edamame Appetizer
Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ cup edamame, measured out of the pods
1 haas avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 lemon zested
½ lemon juiced
1 tablespoon hot crushed peppers
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch dulse granules
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced or grated
1 tomato, seeded and finely diced

Directions:

Crush the edamame with a fork or potato masher. I find the potato masher works faster. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and correct to suit your taste.

I served this with tortilla chips but warm pita chips would also be good.

Nutritional information (for dip only does not included tortilla chips):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 216.08
Calories From Fat (60%) - 130.54

Total Fat - 15.57g
Saturated Fat - 2.11g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 20.37mg
Potassium - 863.67mg
Total Carbohydrates - 17.27g
Fiber - 9.56g
Sugar - 3.52g
Protein -7g

Comments:

Of course I needed to use my presentation molds again tonight. They seem to be required when making something with avocado as a key ingredient. I used the square presentation mold to go with the square plates and angular chips.

Having tortilla chips was a bit of splurge tonight for us. We don’t have things like this very often so I wanted to run with scissors tonight. The strangest thing happened tonight when I had the first chip straight. They tasted incredibly salty to me and these are the low sodium version, which only have a little over 200mg of sodium per serving. I find it amazing how sensitive I have become to the taste of salt in such a short period of time.

The nutrition on this appetizer is more than reasonable. One serving contains 1300IU of vitamin A, 210mcg of folate, and 90mcg of vitamin K. Not bad for a quick appetizer.

How to Decrease Your Probability of Getting Sick this Winter



Since this is the beginning of flu season I was thinking this morning about measures we can take to help to boost immunity so that hopefully we can avoid the flu this year. When we were at the internist last week we got into a discussion about flu and the flu vaccine. According to our internist the reason the swine flu (H1N1) is a bigger problem in the younger population is that we old farts were likely to have been exposed to a variant of the swine flu in the 70’s thus building up some level of immunity for this round of the swine flu.

Hand Washing

When flu season starts I find myself becoming an almost obsessive hand washer. One thing I learned from working in hospitals is that the most effective thing all of us can do to avoid germs is to wash our hands often and well. Washing your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap will remove most germs. At least that is what we were taught each year in the infectious control in-service. Why were financial and administrative people in infectious control classes? All I know is JCAHO required it and we were all there once a year. The most important thing I learned in these in-services ... good hand washing skills. This is a skill that has served me well.

Vitamin C

Having adequate vitamin C is associated with a reduction in the duration of colds and flu and the intensity of the disease. One red bell pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange. Other peppers also contain vitamin C. Kiwi, strawberries and brussels sprouts are also good sources of vitamin C. I also add powdered vitamin C, in the form of ascorbic acid, to our green tea a few times each day.

Vitamin D

Current wisdom seems to link an increase in flu in the winter to a reduction in exposure to sunlight and therefore resulting in a reduction in vitamin D. I for one take 2,400IU’s of vitamin D a day from three sources. Our multivitamin contains 400IU’s, we also take a D3 supplement with another 1,00IU’s and our green drink contains another 1,000IU’s. According to our internist 2,400IU’s is a safe level. He went on to say he had never read of anyone with vitamin D toxicity so we thought that was good to know.

Green Tea

Green tea has also been shown to boost immunity in addition to its cancer fighting abilities. In this abstract at pub med green tea and ascorbic acid is shown to boost immunity. I wonder if this is why the same combination is thought to fight cancer. Looks like I have something else to research more thoroughly.

Probiotics

Studies suggest that probiotics help to reduce the duration and severity of colds and flu. There are probiotics supplements you can buy, or you can eat probiotics rich foods. For vegans there are a few options including: soy yogurt with active cultures, kim chi, kombucha, miso, and fresh sauerkraut. Our green drink “Green Vibrance” also contains 12 million probiotics per dose.

Quercetin

Quercetin rich food has been shown to increase immunity in lab studies. Foods that are rich in quercitin include: apples, broccoli, onions and tomatoes. We eat most of these foods everyday.

Summation

At our house we cover all of these bases every day. The things that boost immunity are also associated with good nutrition for cancer patients and survivors. This is another example of how following sound nutrition results in positive results all around.

I hope you all have a happy and health day. I will be back later with another recipe or two.

UPDATE:

Something I forgot to mention earlier that I wanted to add is getting plenty of rest. The body repairs itself while at rest. I feel as though a body that is able to rest and rejuvenate is better able to fight off disease be it acute (a cold or flu) or chronic (cancer).
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