Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sesame Snow Peas with Red Onion and Citrus



Tonight we are going out to dinner, which means we won’t be having a “healthy dinner”. Knowing this I decided we would eat uber healthy before dinner to moderate the net effect of dinner. This is a quick veggie dish that took under 10 minutes start to finish. Here is what we had.

Sesame Snow Peas with Red Onion and Citrus
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced top to bottom
2 tablespoon water
¾ pound snow peas. stems removed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced and julienned
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon liquid aminos (or reduced sodium soy sauce)
1 tangerine, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
toasted sesame seed oil – optional

Directions:

Water sauté the onion until it begins to soften, and then add the snow peas, garlic, ginger mirin, liquid aminos and cook for a few minutes to warm the snow peas. When the ingredients are evenly heated through turn off the heat and add the citrus segments and sesame seeds and stir to coat. If desired you can drizzle a little toasted sesame oil on the dish when you serve it.

Nutritional information (does not include the optional sesame oil):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 158.4
Calories From Fat (14%) - 22.79

Total Fat - 2.92g
Saturated Fat - 0.44g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 492.87mg
Potassium - 554mg
Total Carbohydrates - 31.28g
Fiber - 7.1g
Sugar - 12.22g
Protein - 6.98g

Comments:

The flavor of this dish is not overpowering but definitely not bland. I liked the little bit of sweetness the tangerines added. It would have been great over brown rice (if we weren’t going out tonight). Each serving of this dish contains approximately 2,200IU of vitamin A, 115mg of vitamin C, 150mg of calcium, 4.8mg of iron, 85mcg of folate, 40mcg of vitamin K, 135mg of phosphorus, and 70mg of magnesium. I thought the nutrition on this was rather amazing given the amount of calories.

Unrelated note:

I need to get moving and get ready for dinner tonight. We are going to DC this evening. With the “winter precipitation” we had overnight we are leaving earlier than usual.

I hope you all have a happy and healthy new year. Be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baby Bok Choy with Fermented Black Bean Sauce and Cashews



When we stopped at Wegman’s last night after dinner the baby bok choy looked so fresh that I felt I needed to buy 4 and figure out what to do with them later. This is normally how I grocery shop. I buy what looks good and figure it out later. For some reason I didn’t really give dinner any thought today so we had a “fusion” meal, which is what I call it when I mix different cultures in one meal.

As always I lightly cooked the bok choy (since it is part of the cruciferous vegetable family) so that it would retain the maximum amount of nutrition. I added the black bean sauce and mirin for flavor and the cashews for texture. Here is the Asian inspired bok choy dish we had tonight.

Baby Bok Choy with Fermented Black Bean Sauce and Cashews
Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 baby bok choy, cut in half top to bottom
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon fermented black bean sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (or use rice wine vinegar sweetened with a little agave or stevia)
1 tablespoon cashews, or to taste

Direction:

Run water through the inside of the cut baby bok choy to remove any grit that may have accumulated. Pat dry the bok choy halves.

Add the canola oil to skillet and place the bok choy in the skillet cut side down. Cook on high for three or four minutes, until just tender. Now plate the bok choy.

Whisk together the fermented black bean sauce and mirin and drizzle over each plate. Top with cashews and serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 78.82
Calories From Fat (48%) - 37.96

Total Fat - 5.02g
Saturated Fat - 0.6g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 652.22mg
Potassium - 430.67mg
Total Carbohydrates - 9.62g
Fiber - 2.03g
Sugar - 3.37g
Protein - 3.26g

Comments:

If you weren’t watching your carb intake as closely as we are this would be good over brown rice. The bok choy was a little crisp but cut easily with a knife. It had good flavor from the black bean sauce and mirin.

Each serving of this dish contained approximately 6,250IU of vitamin A, 150mg of calcium, 95mg of folate, 65mcg of vitamin K, and 70mg of phosphorus. How about that nutrition for less than 80 calories?

Unrelated note:

The hubby pulled the dehydrator out of the box and set it up for me. He is such a good guy. The dehydrator is smaller than I expected, but in a good way. I just can’t decide what I am going to make first. Now I am wishing that we were going to be home tomorrow to play with it. I am just like a little kid with a new toy sometimes (this is one of those times).

It is getting late here so I am going to call it a night soon. I hope you all have a wonderful evening.

Italian Tomato and Onion Soup



Today the weather was bone chilling cold. The type of cold where you can’t bundle up enough to stay warm no matter what you do. To me this is soup weather. This particular recipe is a modified version of a baked onion side dish I used to make with cipollini onions. Today the basics of the recipe became soup. Here is what we had tonight for a starter course.

Italian Tomato and Onion Soup
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (allow to stand 10 minutes so the allicin can develop)
1 cup water
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes
1 cup pinot grigio
½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire (for “meaty flavor”)
additional water or white wine if soup is too thick for your taste (I added another cup of water)
vegan parmesan substitute for serving, optional

Directions:

Cook the red onion and garlic in simmering water until the onion is soft. Now add the remaining ingredients and cook for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Depending on the heat level of your burner you may need to add a little additional water (or white wine) to keep the soup at the correct consistency.

When serving you can add a little vegan parmesan, if desired. It isn’t necessary but does add a nice flavor and aroma.

Nutritional Information (does not include the optional vegan parmesan cheese substitute):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 162.08
Calories From Fat (2%) - 3.56

Total Fat - 0.43g
Saturated Fat - 0.07g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 318.1mg
Potassium - 419.19mg
Total Carbohydrates - 17.38g
Fiber - 3.25g
Sugar - 5.02g
Protein - 2.59g

Comments:

If I were trying to describe the flavor of this soup I would say it tastes mostly of onion, tomato and herb with other flavors in the background. Worcestershire and Pinot Grigio are definitely background flavors.

Each serving of this soup contains approximately 100mg of calcium and 2.75mg of iron. Not bad for a little bowl of soup.

Unrelated Note:

My food dehydrator arrived today. To say that I am anxious to put this to use doesn’t even begin to explain it. I am really looking forward to putting this little baby into action. You should expect to see quite a few recipes using the dehydrator in the future. We bought the dehydrator because we are trying to add more raw food to our diet and didn’t think that cold raw food would be something that we would enjoy in the winter. If anyone has a traditional recipe they would like to see made raw please let me know. Ideas are always welcomed.

Healthy Banana and Cocoa Smoothie



This smoothie was inspired by a comment Brigid left a couple of days ago. It sounded like such a good idea I decided to give it a try. Brigid, great call. We loved this smoothie.

You may notice that I added Brazil nuts to this smoothie. I did that for the selenium. They should have been on my add-ins list in my why smoothies post. I am going to go back and revise that post to include them. If are looking for more detailed information on why selenium is important see this post.

Both the hubby and I enjoyed the flavor and texture of this smoothie. It kept us full for a few hours until we were at The Natural Market yesterday (where it is tradition for us to grab a hummus wrap to share). Here is the smoothie we had yesterday morning.

Healthy Banana and Cocoa Smoothie
Serves 3 (or a double for the hubby and a single for me)

Ingredients:

2 bananas, peeled
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseeds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon molasses
3 Brazil nuts
1 ½ cups water
6 ice cubes (or as many as you need to create the texture you want)

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in your blender and process until smooth. If you don’t have a high powdered blender (like a Vitamix) I would suggest adding the ice a cube at a time.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 210.56
Calories From Fat (42%) - 88.65

Total Fat - 10.46g
Saturated Fat - 1.82g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 9.72mg
Potassium - 478.93mg
Total Carbohydrates - 29.04g
Fiber - 7.14g
Sugar - 11.11g
Protein - 5.71g

Comments:

This smoothie reminds me of dessert. It is rich with a definite banana and chocolate flavor. The add-ins blend into the smoothie and you can’t tell they are there. Dan is still amazed by this fact. Each serving of this smoothie contains 185mg of phosphorus and 100mcg of selenium and tastes great.

Unrelated note:

I have a few things to accomplish today before my hubby gets home from work. I will be back later with a recipe or two.

I picked up some beautiful baby bok choy and snow peas yesterday at Wegman’s that may make an appearance this evening. After dinner out last night I am looking forward to making my own food this evening.

I hope you are all having a great day.

Yesterday Update 12.29.09

As expected we spent most of the day out running around with little time at home. Sorry it too me so long to respond to your comments. Somehow responding on a hand held device isn’t very efficient.

When Dan and I spend the day together we always seem to manage to buy things I don’t need but want. He is such a bad influence, but I love it. All I have to do is look at something and he says, “If you want it get. It is only money and life is short”. What this means is yesterday somehow turned into a me day. We stopped at the bookstore and bought a few mores books (just what I need). I added a Japanese cookbook to my collection, “Clean Food” by Terry Walters, and “Thrive Vegan Nutrition Guide” by Brendan Brazier. I have skimmed them all, and they look great, but I need to properly read them before I can say for certain.



After the bookstore we stopped at Tuesday Morning. That store can be really dangerous. Sometimes they have nothing, and other times it is the opposite. I picked up a bunch of organic tea, in a variety of flavors, blood orange marmalade (my personal favorite and only 5grams of sugar per serving), and two beautiful Irish lead crystal glasses for our green drink in the morning.

We also stopped at Best Buy and the Daisy Fuentes Wii Pilates game just happened to jump into my hands. I don’t know how that happened. ;) Today I will be trying that out.



After shopping we stopped at home briefly and then met our friend Louis for dinner at Jesse Wong’s in Hunt Valley. I was so excited to see Louis I completely forgot my camera. What a bad blogger I am. Normally when we go to Jesse Wong’s we get the veggie sushi, edamame and maybe a “faux chicken” entrée. Last night we decided to try the “faux duck” Hunan style. All three of us decided it was amazing. Louis even said it was the best “duck” or any type he had ever had. The hubby and I definitely will be exploring other “faux duck” dishes on the menu.

Once we were finished with dinner we had to stop at Wegman’s. We were hoping for more sea beans, but no luck. Dan tracked down a produce guy and found out that the sea bean inventory will be replenished tonight and would be out on the floor by Thursday morning. I guess you know where I will be tomorrow morning.

We did find some great stuff at Wegman’s though. They are carrying a lot of the Navitas food line now, so we picked up some maca powder, camu camu powder, and lucuma powder. Do I know what to do with these yet? Of course not. But I will do my research and figure it out. I will share my research with all of you. My intention is to add these to our smoothies but they may also have other applications.



Finally we picked up this root vegetable. The label said, “name” and that it has a nutty flavor. Again, I have no idea what it is. Once I again I will be researching this vegetable so I have some idea what to do with it. If any of you have an idea please let me know.

We did a little research last night and it may be Caribbean, South American or Japanese. At the moment I am really not certain. But I will know more about it in the next couple of days. We love trying new foods at our house. I think that by mixing up our food we are maximizing the vitamins and minerals we are consuming.



I will be back shortly with the very interesting, tasty and healthy smoothie we had yesterday morning.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Queso Dip with Raw Cashews



For years I was a “card carrying cheeseaholic”. There, I said it. I love the taste and texture of cheese. I always have, and I probably always will. Even though I still love the taste, I don’t eat the stuff anymore. Now that I know how bad it is for me how could possibly enjoy its rich gooeyness?

For those of you that don’t know there are two major components that make up dairy protein, they are casein and whey. Whey has been associated with positive health benefits. However the problem is that 80% of the protein in dairy milk is casein and that is known to be tumor promoting. Sadly, that is why we gave up dairy at our house. No matter how good it tastes, since it promotes cancer tumor growth, it is out our house and our lives. Given how cheese is made, where the whey is separated, cheese must be much higher than 80% casein. Something to think about if you are concerned about cancer.

Since I was someone that worshipped at the altar of cheese I knew to survive a vegan diet I had to come up with suitable cheese substitutes. I don’t mean the type you buy at the store with full of mystery ingredients, but something that I could make at home so I knew what was in it. The first cheese that I began making was the cheddar cheese brick, then there was the almond feta. Finally there was queso dip. I have been modifying this recipe each time I make it. Both vegans and omnivores have enjoyed the version that is posted below. If you are looking for a queso dip that is lower in fat and calories (than the dairy version) and has no cholesterol this is good choice.

This is the dip I took to Jackie and Walid’s house on Christmas Eve. The queso dip was so popular I needed to remake it and document exactly what I had done so I could give them the recipe. There was one change between this recipe and the prior version and that was the diced tomatoes/salsa. When I remade the dip my elderly parents were going to be eating it with us so I backed off on the heat and used canned diced tomatoes in place of salsa. If you have any extra dip this is great on baked potatoes with broccoli. Here is what I made.

Queso Dip with Raw Cashews
Makes approximately 7 ½ – ½ cup servings

Ingredients:

½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
½ cup oatmeal, ground into flour
1 ½ cups water
2 teaspoon onion flakes, dried
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 clove garlic, peeled
14 ounces diced tomatoes (or substitute an equal amount of salsa if you like heat)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon hot crushed peppers (wet hots, finely minced pickled peppers), or to taste
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 dash cayenne, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine the cashews, oatmeal, water, onion flakes, turmeric, and garlic in your blender. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into a heavy bottom saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring often to keep it from sticking. Add the canned diced tomatoes with their liquid (or salsa if using), paprika hot crushed peppers, chili powder and cayenne and stir to combine. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper, as you desire. Cook the mixture (continuing to stir) until it is hot and the texture you want. You can add more liquid if it gets too thick.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 65.95
Calories From Fat (39%) - 25.78

Total Fat - 3.08g
Saturated Fat - 0.55g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 5.32mg
Potassium - 209.9mg
Total Carbohydrates - 8.69g
Fiber - 1.68g
Sugar - 2.01g
Protein - 2.35g

Comments:

This dip is thick and rich and tastes much more decadent than it actually is. We like to eat it with corn chips, but more often it shows up on a baked potato stuffed with broccoli.

Each serving of the queso dip contains 600IU of vitamin A, and 70mg of phosphorus.

Unrelated note:

Today is going to be hectic. My husband has taken the day off and we are going to spend the day together shopping and then have dinner with our good friend Louis. I will be back later with a dinner recap. I hope you all have a great day today.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Green Salad with Berries and Nuts in a Citrus Cashew Dressing



This is another one of the backlog recipes I have been remiss in posting. We like green salad with fruit and nuts and that is the origin of this salad. I decided to try making a cashew dressing using citrus in place and water and liked the results. If you want to make the dressing after work you can soak the cashews in water in the refrigerator and drain them when you get home. Sometimes we keep cashews soaking in the refrigerator for a day or two for just this reason. Sliced almonds were added for a little crunch but they do add additional fat and calories. Here is the salad I have made the last few days at our house.

Green Salad with Berries and Nuts in a Citrus Cashew Dressing
Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ cup raw cashews (soaked for at least an hour and then drained)
1 tangerine, peeled and seeded (or ½ orange)
12 cups mesclun greens
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Directions:

Place the raw cashews and tangerine in your blender or food processor and process until smooth. Soaking the cashews results in a smoother dressing. The dressing will also be smoother if you use a blender versus a food processor.

Toss the greens with the dressing and top with the berries and nuts and serve.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 109.8
Calories From Fat (40%) - 44.44

Total Fat - 5.32g
Saturated Fat - 0.65g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 16.73mg
Potassium - 420.59mg
Total Carbohydrates - 13.61g
Fiber - 4.84g
Sugar - 5.84g
Protein - 4.3g

Comments:

This salad is refreshing and low in calories for the volume of food. Each serving of this salad contains approximately 750IU of vitamin A, 70mg of vitamin C, 60mg of calcium, 105mcg of folate, and 70mg of phosphorus. Not too bad for a little over a 100 calories of food.

We have made this same salad the last few days and everyone enjoyed it. Now that I have used fruit juice in place of water in the raw cashew dressing I will be exploring that idea more in the future.

Unrelated note:

I have spent most of my time doing “life administration” today. I hope to get another recipe posted tonight. Be back later.

Why Smoothies?



My husband and I have been making a concerted effort to clean up our diet and make it as healthy as possible. As part of that effort we have added smoothies. Are all smoothies healthy? No. Many of the smoothies that you buy are nothing more than sugar filled fruit flavored beverages. They taste great, but they are more unhealthy than healthy. To make certain our smoothies are as healthy as possible I always make them myself. That way I know exactly what we are consuming and that it is good for us.

What makes a healthy smoothie? It should be fruit and healthy add-ins only. What I mean by healthy add-ins are those items that have a beneficial health impact. There are many things you can add which I will summarize below along with what they contain.

Freshly ground flaxseed – omega 3 fatty acids
Wheat germ – folate, vitamin E
Sunflower Seeds – folate, selenium and vitamin E
Carrots – beta carotene
Tofu – calcium
Black strap molasses – potassium
Cinnamon – helps to body process sugar more effectively
Ginger – anti-inflammatory
Raw spinach – beta carotene, and folate

These are some of things I add to my smoothies to ramp up the nutrition. I also like to use a variety of fruits each week to maximize the phytonutrients that are different in each fruit.

Wild blueberries, cranberries and goji berries are very common in smoothies at are house. Blueberries have been shown to induce cancer cell suicide. Wild blueberries contain higher levels of antioxidants than their cultivated relatives. I try to keep a bag of frozen wild blueberries on hand at all times. Cranberries contain ellagic acids, anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, which promotes cancer cell suicide and inhibits blood vessel growth to the tumors. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants particularly vitamin A. Early studies have indicated consuming goji berries may help boost the immune system.

I have had friends ask if I am concerned about the natural sugar in fruit and whether that might promote cancer, since cancer loves sugar. Initially I was concerned about fruit, but as I learned more I realized my concern was unwarranted. Many studies have shown that consuming fruit is inversely related to an occurrence of cancer. Additionally whole fruit contains many phytonutrients and eliminating it from our diet would mean reducing our intake of those healthy nutrients. To maximize our nutrient intake I change the fruit I buy every couple of weeks. I also always add cinnamon to fruit to help our bodies to process the natural sugar. Also by adding additional fiber with ground flaxseeds, wheat germ or sunflower seeds you are ensuring the fruit travels through your gastrointestinal system as rapidly as possible.

When I make smoothies I always start with a fruit combination I know works, and then add at least two of the add-ins above for extra nutrition. This morning we had a banana, orange and cranberry smoothie with wheat germ and flaxseeds.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage and Apples



This was another request from my husband. To make it healthier I used stevia in place of sugar or agave. Stevia worked fine in this dish. I added julienned apple for additional natural sweetness. This dish gets a big flavor punch from the cloves.

When you make this dish it is important to lightly cook the cabbage so that the maximum amount of nutrition remains in the cabbage. I cook it until the cabbage just begins to wilt and is still a little crunchy. Here is the cabbage dish I made tonight.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage and Apples
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup water
2 apples, cored and cut into julienne
8 cups red cabbage, finely sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 whole cloves, smashed (or ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 scoops stevia, or to taste

Directions:

Water sauté the onion until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Serve hot or warm.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 107.16
Calories From Fat (5%) - 5.63

Total Fat - 0.68g
Saturated Fat - 0.09g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 153.67mg
Potassium - 806.84mg
Total Carbohydrates - 24.93g
Fiber - 8.44g
Sugar - 4.84g
Protein - 4.01g

Comments:

This dish was well received tonight at dinner. My father asked me to show him how to make it once he picks up a head of red cabbage. I would say this dish is omni approved.

Each serving of this dish contains approximately 400IU of vitamin A, 130mg of vitamin C, 150mg of calcium, 175mcg of folate, 75mg of phosphorus, and 50mg of magnesium. Cabbage is good source of calcium and vitamin C, which is always something I forget until I get the nutrition numbers from the cookbook program.

Unrelated note:

I am going to relax the rest of this evening so there won’t be any more recipes until tomorrow. I have a few errands to fun tomorrow but should have time to post a recipe or two before dinner.

Have a great evening everyone!

Herbed Whole-Wheat Spaetzle



This evening we had a very German inspired dinner. My husband, who almost never has any idea of what he wants for dinner, asked for beefy seitan cutlets, with spaetzle and red cabbage. Since I have posted a spaetzle recipe before, I decided to try to simplify the recipe and make it a little different. To accomplish this I added fresh herbs to the batter and it added quite a bit of flavor.

If you are unfamiliar with spaetzle they are little German dumplings. Traditionally they are made with an egg rich batter. They are added to soup or baked in casseroles with cheese. I substituted tofu for egg and used whole-wheat flour instead of white flour. I added fresh parsley to the dough for flavor, color and vitamin K.

Fresh spaetzle is a very quick side dish to prepare. Including boiling water I made this tonight in less than 30 minutes. I served it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil that I added just prior to serving. Here is what I made tonight.

Herbed Whole-Wheat Spaetzle
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons firm silken tofu, organic
6 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely minced
1 cup whole-wheat flour

Directions:

Heat a pot of water to a low boil for cooking the spaetzle. Set up another bowl with cold water to place the cooked spaetzle in to keep them from sticking together.

Place the tofu, water, salt, pepper and parsley in your food processor and process.

Combine the flour and herb mixture in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. The mixture should be the consistency of thick waffle batter. You may need to add more water if your mixture is too firm.

Place a spaetzle maker or a colander with large wholes over the pot of simmering water. Use a spatula to place a quarter of the spaetzle batter in the spaetzle maker/colander. Use a silicon spatula to force the dough through the holes. Cook the spaetzle in the simmering water until they float. Then use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked spaetzle to the bowl of cold water. Continue making spaetzle until the dough is gone.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 122.86
Calories From Fat (5%) - 5.68

Total Fat - 0.65g
Saturated Fat - 0.1g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 298.31mg
Potassium - 79.98mg
Total Carbohydrates - 24.53g
Fiber - 1.05g
Sugar - 0.26g
Protein - 4.16g

Comments:

The parsley added a nice flavor to the spaetzle. In fact I liked it so much I don’t know that I will make the plain version very often in the future. Adding parsley to spaetzle worked so well, I will be trying other variations in the future.

Each serving of spaetzle contains approximately 300IU of vitamin A, 60mcg of folate, 60mcg of vitamin K, and 10mcg of selenium.

Unrelated note:

Next I am going to be posting my healthier version of sweet and sour cabbage.

Miso Soup with Dried Mushrooms and Red Bell Pepper



As the hubby and I have cleaned up our diet I find myself wanting very different things for breakfast. Miso soup now one of our favorite breakfasts. I know it seems odd to most people but it is a traditional Japanese breakfast, from what I am told.

Miso soup is normally light and wouldn’t stand up as a complete meal. I add other things to the soup to make it a substantial breakfast. My hubby loves mushrooms so I like to include them in the miso. Not only do mushrooms taste good but they are also very healthy food. The consumption of mushrooms is associated with a robust immune system. Mushrooms contain lentinian that is shown to directly stimulate the immune system. The activation of the immune system slows tumor growth. In Japan, hospitals are now including mushrooms and mushroom extracts for cancer patients on chemotherapy. Earlier this year a study showed that women who ate mushrooms (fresh or dry) had a lower incidence of breast cancer.

I added red bell pepper as a garnish and for additional nutrition. When you add your miso be sure to do so off the heat as prolonged exposure to heat will kill the B12 that is present in miso. Toasted sesame is optional in this soup but adds a wonderful aroma that I like to include occasionally.

Miso Soup with Dried Mushrooms and Red Bell Pepper
Servings 2

Ingredients:

1 cup mixed dried mushrooms
8 cups filtered water
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ inch fresh ginger, thinly julienned
12.3 ounces firm organic silken tofu, cut into ¼ inch cubes
2 tablespoons yellow miso
½ cup red bell pepper, cut into thin strips approximately 1 inch long
1 green onion, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil, optional but recommended

Directions:

Combine the mushrooms and water and microwave on high until the water begins to boil (3 minutes in my microwave). Allow the mushrooms to sit in the water for 20 minutes so they can rehydrate.

After 20 minutes strain the mushroom liquid into a soup pot through a fine wire mesh strainer lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth or a damp paper towel. Dice the mushrooms into pieces that will easily fit on a spoon and add to the pot with the soaking liquid.

Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pot and simmer until tender. Add the tofu cubes and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow the soup to cool a couple of minutes.

Place the miso in a small mixing bowl and stir in a ½ cup of the soup liquid. Whisk to dissolve the miso. Stir the thinned miso into the soup pot. Add the red bell pepper to the soup and stir.

Serve the soup and top with green onion and a little drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

Nutritional Information (includes optional sesame oil):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 299.54
Calories From Fat (22%) - 65.7

Total Fat - 7.41g
Saturated Fat - 1.1g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 741.45mg
Potassium - 1048.33mg
Total Carbohydrates - 44.86g
Fiber - 7.09g
Sugar - 4.55g
Protein - 18.78g

Comments:

Both Dan and I enjoy miso soup so I like to make a couple of times a week. This version is much more substantial than the traditional versions. I find it keeps me satisfied for a good 4 or 5 hours. I like the protein content on this low calorie meal. Each serving of this soup contains approximately 800IU of vitamin A, 120mg of calcium, 80mcg of folate, 200mg of phosphorus, and 70mg of magnesium. Not too shabby for just under 300 calories.

Unrelated comments:

I am going to try to get another couple of recipes posted tonight from the last few days. Other than that it is going to be a relaxing evening at our house.

Banana, Wild Blueberry and Citrus Smoothie



We have been staying up late, and getting up even later this weekend. This means we end up eating brunch and dinner and then needing a snack later in the evening. When I looked at what we had eaten yesterday I noticed that our fruit intake was a little light so I made up a healthy smoothie after dinner.

There are normally wild blueberries in our freezer so I added those for their reported ability to induce cancer cell suicide. Banana was included for its sweetness, thick texture and potassium.

One issue that many Americans have is their ratio of sodium to potassium tends to be too high. Americans consume far more salt that potassium and this elevates blood pressure and is thought to cause chronic inflammation. To correct this imbalance we watch our salt intake and eat as many fruit and vegetables as possible.

Brazil nuts were added for selenium. Selenium is known to prevent and possibly reverse cancer so I like to make certain we consume 200-300mcg per day. For more detailed information on selenium see this post. Freshly ground flaxseed was added for its omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory. Wheat germ was included for the polysterols, which has been linked to a reduction in cancer. Cinnamon was included to help the body process the fruit sugar. Since sugar feeds cancer if adding a little cinnamon to fruit helps the body to process the natural sugar more quickly why not add it to our smoothies. Here is the fruit smoothie I made last night.

Banana, Wild Blueberry and Citrus Smoothie
Serves 3 (a double for the hubby and a single for me)

Ingredients:

1 banana, peeled
1 cup wild blueberries, frozen
3 Brazil nuts
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoon golden flaxseed, freshly ground
2 tangerines, peeled and seeded
½ inch fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water (or as much as your blender needs to process the ingredients until smooth)

Directions:

Place everything in your blender and process until smooth.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 161.15
Calories From Fat (35%) - 56.89

Total Fat - 6.68g
Saturated Fat - 1.16g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 6.65mg
Potassium - 233.43mg
Total Carbohydrates - 23.44g
Fiber - 4.22g
Sugar - 4.99g
Protein - 4.19g

Comments:

This smoothie tastes of fruit. The Vitamix blended the drink so the nut, wheat germ and flaxseed were completely incorporated into the drink. No specific fruit flavor dominated the smoothie. Each serving of this smoothie contains approximately 100mcg of selenium.

Unrelated Note:

Today is starting like the rest of the weekend with us moving slowing. Dan is still sleeping so I think this is going to be a lazy Sunday. Maybe that means I can get some of the backlog of recipes posted.

For now I am off to do a little yoga before the hubby wakes up. I will be back as soon as possible with a recipe or two. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Genovese Green Beans with Pesto



This recipe is one that I served on Christmas with the lasagna. It is a family favorite. In Genoa they make lasagna with potatoes, green beans and basil pesto. Pesto works just as well with the green beans alone. When I want a quick veggie side with a ton of flavor I make this. Since I always keep basil pesto in the freezer this comes together quickly. Here is our favorite green bean recipe.

Genovese Green Beans with Pesto
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

8 cups frozen organic green beans
3 tablespoons Genovese pesto

Directions:

Steam the green beans until they are tender crisp (about 5 minutes). Toss the green beans with pesto and serve hot or at room temperature. If desired you can sprinkle some toasted pine nuts on top.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 113.64
Calories From Fat (38%) - 43.33

Total Fat- 4.7g
Saturated Fat - 0.54g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 13.5mg
Potassium - 489.7mg
Total Carbohydrates - 16.26g
Fiber - 7.65g
Sugar - 3.2g
Protein - 4.54g

Comments:

If you like pesto you will like this recipe. It is a vegetable dish packed with flavor. Each serving of this recipe contains approximately 1,700IU of vitamin A, 90mg of calcium, 85mcg of folate, 50mcg of vitamin K, 100mg of phosphorus, and 65mg of magnesium.

Unrelated note:

This is going to be it for me tonight. I hope to get a few more of the backlogged recipes posted tomorrow.

My husband actually had a dinner request for tomorrow. We will be having beefy seitan cutlets, herbed spaetzle, and wilted red cabbage. It is somehow comforting to have some idea of what I am cooking tomorrow. I hope you all had a great day.

Vegan Neapolitan Lasagna



My hubby loves it when I make Italian food. Since I love it too, I don’t mind complying with those requests. One of his favorite foods is Neapolitan lasagna. It is such a simple dish when he wanted it for Christmas I felt a little guilty because it isn’t much work. But hey, since that is what he wanted who was I to say no.

The last time I made tofu ricotta the taste was so good I knew I was finished playing around with the seasonings. However, the texture was not quite right. This time we have a winner in terms of both texture and flavor. I knew I was finished changing it when my husband asked me to make another one so he could eat it for lunch this week with a big salad. Here is what I made for Christmas dinner.



Vegan Neapolitan LasagnaServes 8

Ingredients:
5 ½ cups meaty tomato sauce
12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles
Vegan Parmesan cheese for topping - optional

Tofu Ricotta Ingredients:
½ cup raw cashews, ground
28 ounces firm water packed tofu, drained and crumbled
2 tablespoons yellow miso
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 lemon, zested
1 ½ teaspoons oregano, dried
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
4 teaspoons onion flakes
20 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
4 tablespoons flour (I have used both whole-wheat and brown rice flours and both work fine)

Directions:
Prepare the sauce, and cool a little to make it easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get out two loaf pans and line them with parchment paper to make it easier to get the lasagna out of the pan after baking.

Cook the lasagna noodles until they are partially cooked, about ½ to 2/3 done. By partially cooking the noodles they will finish cooking in the pan and will absorb any excess liquid making the lasagna more firm and easier to slice.

Place all the ingredients for the tofu ricotta in your food processor and process until combined. My food processor has a 14-cup capacity. If your processor is smaller you may want to make the ricotta in two batches.

Now it is time to layer the lasagna. I started with ½ cup of the tomato sauce, then two lasagna noodles followed by 1/6 of the tofu ricotta. Continue to layer in that order ending with tomato sauce. I had three layers of noodles and ricotta and 4 layers of sauce.

Cover the pans with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Take the lasagna out of the oven and uncover the pans. Insert a paring knife into the lasagna to make certain the noodle are tender. Top the lasagna with vegan parmesan (if using) and bake another 15 minutes. Then allow the lasagna to cool for 15 minutes to make it easier to remove from the pan and to slice.

I placed the aluminum foil back on top of the pan and flipped the lasagna out. Then inverted it to a platter. The lasagna held together beautifully. Adding the flour to the ricotta made a huge difference in the texture. It was just as firm as a layer of dairy ricotta, only it was healthy. I love it when an experiment works this well.

Nutritional Information (without optional vegan parmesan):
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 492.69
Calories From Fat (21%) - 105.69

Total Fat - 12.67g
Saturated Fat - 1.60g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1,308.45mg
Potassium - 4,696.09mg
Total Carbohydrates - 70.02g
Fiber - 23.00g
Sugar - 9.89g
Protein - 43.61g

Comments:
Hands down this is the best vegan lasagna I have made yet. The tofu ricotta was firm, but not too firm. This is definitely my new go to lasagna recipe. When my hubby asked me to make more I said I could make a variation (like artichoke or mushroom) and very quickly said he wanted the spinach version. It looks like there will be some repeats in my future.

A special thank you to Rose at Dandelion for posting the idea of using a loaf pan for lasagna. Such a brilliant idea, thanks again for sharing. It works beautifully to make a small lasagna. I still need to make your delicata squash lasagna. It looks beautiful and sounds amazing.

Unrelated Note:
I am off now to finish dinner for tonight. I will be back later with those recipes. We decided to make posole, salad and a documented version of the queso dip from Thursday.

Tomato Sauce for Southern Italian Lasagna



Yesterday for Christmas dinner we had Neapolitan Lasagna because that is what Dan wanted for dinner. He loves it when I make anything Italian. I have been working on the vegan ricotta cheese substitute for some time now. This last batch of ricotta was the best yet. Dan has already asked me to make more lasagna this weekend for him to take in his lunch this week. Here is the tomato sauce I made to use with the lasagna.

Tomato Sauce for Southern Italian Lasagna
Makes 8 ½ cups – nutrition is per 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 red onion, peeled and finely minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ cup water
1 carrot, grated
30 ounces tomato sauce
28 ounces diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
½ pound seitan crumbles

Directions:

Water sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Add the remaining ingredients bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced (about 60 minutes). Cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce is the texture you like. I prefer mine to be nice and thick as pictured above.

Nutritional Information (per one cup):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 96.01
Calories From Fat (7%) - 7.03

Total Fat - 0.81g
Saturated Fat - 0.13g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 629.5mg
Potassium - 597.25mg
Total Carbohydrates - 14.72g
Fiber - 3.55g
Sugar - 7.15g
Protein - 9.56g

Comments:

This sauce is flavorful, slightly sweet from the carrot and spicy from the red pepper flakes. It has a meaty chew from the seitan crumbles. This sauce would also be excellent with spaghetti.

Each cup of this sauce contains approximately 1,200IU of vitamin A, 50mg of calcium, 30mcg of folate and 6mcg of selenium.

Unrelated note:

I will try to get the lasagna recipe posted tonight before dinner but I need to get into the kitchen soon and get to work on dinner. I should be able to get the lasagna recipe written while dinner cooks on its own.

Tangerine Banana and Cranberry Juice



The last few days have been absolutely insane at our house, but in a very good way. We have been celebrating since mid-day on Christmas Eve and having a fabulous time I might add.

We started Christmas Eve with our friends Jackie and Walid at their place until well after midnight. We spent the evening talking and eating, just having a great time celebrating. I made a few vegan appetizers to take with us which Jackie and Walid also liked, which was exciting since neither of them, is vegetarian. In fact Walid wants me to give Jackie the recipes so I know he liked them. I made a queso dip, my fat free hummus and whole-wheat flat bread. These dishes came together as I used to cook before the blog. I didn’t measure except to the bread, which is posted here. This means I will need to remake the queso and hummus and measure so I can give the recipes to Jackie. When I do I will post them here.

Last night we had Neapolitan lasagna for dinner and it was by far my best vegan lasagna yet. This recipe I did measure everything for this recipe and will be posting soon (hopefully today). My husband is already asking me to make more lasagna. He was telling me this morning it would make a great lunch item for next week.

We got moving so late yesterday that we missed breakfast. Since we only had lunch and dinner we decided to have a little juice snack in the evening. I thought we were a little light on our fruit consumption and that is why I made this specific combination last night. I added wheat germ and flaxseeds for healthy anti-inflammatory fat. For now here is the juice we has last night after dinner.

Tangerine Banana and Cranberry Juice
Serves 3 (or a large for the hubby and a small for me)

Ingredients:

1 banana, peeled
2 tangerines, peeled and seeds removed
¼ cup whole cranberries (I used frozen)
1 regular sized organic carrot, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons ground golden flaxseeds
1 inch fresh ginger, sliced thinly
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
1 scoop stevia

Directions:

Place everything in your blender and process until smooth. I used my Vitamix, but any blender should work with this although you may want to cut your carrots into smaller pieces if not using a high-powered blender.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 147.88
Calories From Fat (21%) - 31.34

Total Fat - 3.67g
Saturated Fat - 0.44g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 24.7mg
Potassium - 417.42mg
Total Carbohydrates - 28.36g
Fiber - 6.27g
Sugar - 13.5g
Protein - 3.83g

Comments:

This juice was light and refreshing. We thought it was a great juice to have last night after dinner for a little added nutrition. Each serving of this juice contains approximately 5,000IU of vitamin A, and 8 mcg of selenium. Next time I may add a brazil nut to the juice to increase the selenium.

The juice is lightly sweet and tastes mostly of citrus. It is a beautiful peach color with a little flecks of cranberry running through the juice. Ginger gives the juice a nice little zip in the background. There is a background hint of cinnamon.

Unrelated note:

It is going to take me a few days to get caught up on posting. However, except for Christmas Eve I did record and photograph everything so I only need to write the posts and calculation the nutritionals.

We had a very healthy Christmas at our house this year. Almost all the presents under the tree were related to healthy cooking or living. I can’t wait to have a little time to learn to use some of my “new toys”. I hope you all had a great happy and healthy holiday.

I will be back soon with a recipe or two before dinner.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tangerine, Banana and Apple Juice with Ginger



Knowing that the next few days are going to contain heavier food than we typically consume I decided we would start today with a nice light fruit drink. As though of you that read regularly know I light to get a couple of fruit servings in for breakfast since this is the food group I don’t consume as much as I should.

This morning’s juice blend contained a bit of everything. I added the bananas for potassium and creamy texture. Tangerines were added for vitamin C and their membrane. The membrane in citrus fruit has been linked to both cholesterol reduction and fighting cancer. Once I read that I stopped supreming my citrus. Apple cider was used for its intense flavor but you could also substitute apple juice or even water. Ginger is anti-inflammatory so I tossed that in the blender as well. Cinnamon was included to assist the body to process all the natural sugar that is contained in this juice. Flaxseed was added for its omega 3 fatty acids. We typically start our day with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed for the omega 3 fat. Here is the juice I made this morning.

Tangerine, Banana and Apple Juice with Ginger
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tangerines, peeled and seeded
2 bananas, peeled
1 apple, cored
2 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseeds
1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Directions:

Place everything in your blender and process until smooth. Serve cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 378
Calories From Fat (12%) - 45.64

Total Fat - 5.27g
Saturated Fat - 0.65g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 16.73mg
Potassium - 1001.12mg
Total Carbohydrates - 84.73g
Fiber - 10.12g
Sugar - 32.16g
Protein - 4.61g

Comments:

This juice tasted very sweet to me, probably because we have dramatically reduced our consumption of sweetened foods. Next time I may use less apple cider. The flavor combination was nice. The juice tasted mostly of apple with the other flavors in the background.

Each serving of this juice contains approximately 780IU of vitamin A, 40mg of vitamin C, 70mg of calcium, and 40mcg of folate. I really like that this juice has 10 grams of fiber and 1000mg of potassium. This is a quick, tasty and healthy breakfast that you can eat on the run.

Unrelated note:

I have many things to do today to get ready for tonight and tomorrow. Italians celebrate the feast of the seven fishes on Christmas Eve, and this year I have decided to make a few of those traditional dishes vegan. Additionally, I have a few things to do to get ready for Christmas. I will be back later today with another recipe when I get 30 minutes to relax. I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What are Sea Beans?



That was a question I asked about a year and a half ago when our chef friend Ian had them on the daily special’s menu. It turns out sea beans are a very mild tasting, salty sea vegetable. The flavor it not at all like seaweed, it is very mild and reminds me of the taste of baby spinach, only less intense.

When I saw the sea beans yesterday at Wegman’s I knew I had to buy them. I remembered Ian telling me to soak them to remove some of the salty flavor so when I got home I tasted one raw. Wow, are they salty! Today the sea beans soaked in cold water in the refrigerator for about 6 hours. When I tasted them again they were less salty, but still salty. So I decided to quickly blanch them to see if I could encourage more of the salt to come out without making them mushy. I blanched the beans in simmering water for about 45 seconds and they were less salty.

I served them over rice that I didn’t salt so that together the salinity would be correct. I also added sliced almonds on top (unpictured because I didn’t like the way they looked in the photo). We had this will thinly sliced porky seitan on the side.

If you haven’t tried sea beans please consider them. They are high in protein and have a very pleasant and mild taste. The texture is most similar to a very thin asparagus. Most importantly they don’t take long to make. A quick blanch of less than a minute and they are ready.

Chai Green Tea



Sometimes when it is really cold outside all I want is chai tea, but I don’t want to bundle up to go somewhere to buy it. A few years ago I started making my own chai green tea and now I find that I prefer it to what I can buy at coffee shops.

This recipe is very simple and quick. Best of all you can make a big batch (I usually make a double recipe) and keep it the refrigerator and then warm it up on the stove or in the microwave when you want a mug.

When the chai tea is cooking the aroma is so wonderful. It smells like Christmas baking to me. I don’t think my recipe is traditional since I have tweaked it over time and added things that we like. Here is how I make chai tea.

Chai Green Tea
Makes 4 - 1 cup servings

Ingredients:

5 allspice berries
½ teaspoon whole peppercorns
6 whole cloves
6 green cardamom pods (or ½ teaspoon ground cardamom)
1 cinnamon stick (approximately 3 inches)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 orange, zest removed in strips (strips are easier to remove)
3 cups water
4 green tea bags (or other tea)
1 cup soy or almond milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
agave or stevia, to taste

Directions:

Place the allspice, peppercorns, cloves and cardamom pod in your mortar and pestle and break up the spices to release their flavor. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can put all the spices on your cutting board and crush them with a rolling pin or the bottom of skillet.

In a saucepan combine the all the spices, orange zest, and water and bring to a boil. Simmer the liquid for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Add the green tea bags and steep for 10 minutes. I know most tea producers recommend a shorter steeping time but science has shown that you get the maximum EGCG from green tea that has been steeped for 10 minutes, so that is what I do.

After 10 minutes strain the beverage through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a damp paper towel. You can refrigerate the chai tea now and add the milk and sweetener when you are serving, which is what I do. I like to keep this in the refrigerator when the weather is cool. The flavor of this tea is so bold, and the aroma is intoxicating. It warms me up just smelling it.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 31.48
Calories From Fat (30%) - 9.41

Total Fat - 1.07g
Saturated Fat - 0.08g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 53.47mg
Potassium - 178.65mg
Total Carbohydrates - 6.23g
Fiber - 2.81g
Sugar - 0.11g
Protein - 0.61g

The nutritional numbers above assume you used unsweetened almond milk, and does not include a sweetener.

Comments:

When this is cooking the entire house smells like holiday spice. I adore the aroma of this tea.

This tea is equally good with orange pekoe or English Breakfast tea. When you use a black tea the resulting chai will be a more traditional light brown color, compared to the very light green color of my tea. Don’t let the light color of this tea fool you into thinking it has a mellow flavor. This tea packs a nice flavor punch, which is how we like it.

I have kept the tea base in the refrigerator for a week without any problems. It will probably keep longer than that, but we always drink ours quickly when it is in the refrigerator.

Unrelated note:

I need to get a few things done this afternoon. But I will be back late this afternoon with a couple of recipes. I hope you are all having a great day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Porky Seitan Cutlets



Since my friend Sue and I decided our 2010 challenge was to veganize and make healthy “ad hoc at home” I knew I needed a seitan recipe that was reminiscent of pork. This recipe was a little more difficult than the more mild chicken or robust beef seitan substitutes. I wanted the “fatty” mouthy feel to this seitan but without the fat. Again I turned to adding cooked onions to the wet ingredients for that unctuous feel. I knew I wanted a mild flavor cutlet but without it being bland. We think this is nice substitute for pork. I am not going to lie, it isn’t going to fool a meat eater into thinking it is pork, but it is good and the texture is nice without having added oil. Here is what I did.

Porky Seitan Cutlets
Makes 8 cutlets

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, peeled and minced (approximately 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ cup water
2 teaspoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon marmite
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
enough water to make 2 cups
2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
2 cups vital wheat gluten

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Water sauté the onions and garlic until completely soft. Place onions, garlic and any remaining liquid in your blender with the tomato paste, marmite, Worcestershire, salt and enough water to make 2 cups. Puree the mixture until completely smooth.

Pour the wet ingredients over the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Allow this mixture to sit undisturbed until the breadcrumbs are completely soft. Now add the vital wheat gluten and knead to combine the ingredients. All the dry ingredients should be incorporated into the wet mixture. If any of the gluten remains dry you will need to add a little more liquid.

Form the seitan dough into a mass and cut it into eight roughly equal balls. Form each ball into a flat patty shape.

Heat a lightly oiled heavy bottom skillet over med high heat (I use cast iron). Cook the cutlets on each side until they release easily on their own. Move the seared cutlets to a waiting half sheet pan. Don’t crowd the pan as the cutlets will expand a little as they cook. I cook no more than three cutlets in the skillet at one time.

Add ½ cup water to the half sheet pan and bake the cutlets for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add another ½ cup of water to the pan and place it back in the oven. I rotate the pan to make certain the cutlets cook evenly. Bake for another 20 minutes. When you are finished baking the water should have been absorbed or evaporated.

Use the cutlets in any omni recipe that calls for pork.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 200.31
Calories From Fat (11%) - 21.25

Total Fat - 2.38g
Saturated Fat - 0.36g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 322.23mg
Potassium - 159.68mg
Total Carbohydrates - 17.82g
Fiber - 2.36g
Sugar - 2.54g
Protein - 27.3g

The nutritional numbers above assume that the cutlets absorb ½ tablespoon of canola oil when they are seared. This is probably overstating the fat, but as usual I prefer to be conservative and overstate rather than underestimate the fat.

Comments:

I have served these as cutlets with BBQ sauce and sliced them and included them in a veggie lo mein. The cutlets worked in both applications.

Unrelated note:

My husband was asking me the other day what “faux meat” I am going to try to make next and I think it is going to be Mortadella. Being part Italian I have an affinity for Italian cold cuts, and Mortadella has always been my favorite. Those experiments will start after Christmas. I don’t know how difficult this will be, but I love a good challenge so I am looking forward to it.

Additionally the hubby wants me to come up with a vegan pepperoni recipe so that is also on the horizon. If there is anything else you want me to work on please let me know.

This is going to be my last post for tonight. I will be back tomorrow with a recipe or two. Have a great evening.

Shopping adventure 12.22.09

The hubby and I were all over town today shopping. Most of what we bought was food, nothing new there. I finally decided on Christmas dinner and needed to make another run to Costco for provisions (aka fresh produce). The hubby wants lasagna for Christmas. Since that is a traditional Italian feast dish it made sense to me so that is what we are having. I imagine the family will find this crazy, but since they already think we have gone “all granola on them”, crazy is fine with me. ;)

Before I forget, the next time you go to Costco check to see if yours has agave nectar. Our local Costco had 2 bottles of Wholesome agave (23.5 ounce bottles) for $7.75. That is the best price I have seen on agave so I wanted to pass that along.



Next we stopped at the health food store. I just love the going to health food store. While there we found the probiotics powder that is recommended in “The Conscious Cook” for making nut cheeses. I can’t wait to try that experiment. Once I saw the recipe for nut cheese I thought the probiotics would add the umami that is missing in most nut cheeses. I love nut cheese without the probiotics. However I think the probiotics will make it that much better. That experiment may happen tomorrow, if I can get all my other Christmas stuff accomplished.



While at the health food store we picked up a couple of cookbooks, which will go under the tree for a couple of days. One book is on raw “cooking” and another on baking with agave. Doesn’t this just sound like me? There was also a wild hand product that is a lotion/candle/massage cream that was vegan so I had to pick it up. You burn the candle and then it melts the lotion so you can smooth it on your skin. Additionally, is smells wonderful. I may have to try my hand at making a replica of this at home. I love the concept. I really am so easily amused.

At Wegman’s I finally broke down and bought fresh turmeric root. Not that know what to do with it, but I will figure it out. They also had sea beans, so that I was very exciting. (Louis and Sue, yes I squealed like with the fresh cardoons and curry leaves … in case you two were wondering). I love it when our chef friend has sea beans so I had to grab some of these. Why would I let the fact that I haven’t cooked them before stop me?

Overall it was a great day, and we picked up all sorts of fun and healthy stuff while we were out. My cooking has become so much more adventurous since we became vegan. I am always surprised when people ask us what we eat.

On the juicer front I finally decided what I wanted (after the hubby confirmed the mechanical aspects). We ordered an Omega 8006 juicer. I am really looking forward fresh green juice. And, as my friend Alexandra put it, "more opportunities to feed Dan the stuff other people throw away". Specifically, I am really anxious to make flax crackers with green juice pulp. Yes, I really am that healthy. Scary huh?



Has anyone else picked up the current issue of Oxygen magazine? I can’t believe I am younger than Tosca Reno, the cover model. That woman looks amazing, and she is 50. Unbelievable! I clearly can’t use my age as an excuse. It that cover doesn’t make you want to run to the gym to lift weights nothing will.

There won’t be any dinner recipe tonight since we came home famished and had a quick salad with hummus and veggie burger with BBQ sauce. I will try to get at least one of my backlog recipes posted tonight before bed though.

I hope you all had as wonderful a day today as I did.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baked Whole Wheat Empanadas



I haven’t made empanadas since last fall. Mine are always baked now, not fried because it is healthier. For the same reason mine dough is whole and sprouted wheat and not white flour.

To keep our dinner healthier I served a few of these with a little guacamole to dip them in, along with a big green salad with hummus. Both the hubby and I enjoyed these tonight. Here is what I made.

Baked Whole Wheat Empanadas
Makes 20

Dough Ingredients:

1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup sprouted whole-wheat flour (or substitute whole wheat flour)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup warm water, or more

Filling Ingredients:

½ red onion, peeled and finely diced
½ cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup golden raisins
½ pound ground seitan
¼ teaspoon oregano, dried
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil, for drizzling on top of finished prebaked empanadas

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper, or silpat.

Place the dough ingredients in your food processor and process until combined. If the dough does not form a ball add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough forms. Wrap the finished dough in plastic cling film and set while you make the filling.

Water sauté the onion until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. You may need to add a little water or wine to encourage the tomato paste to meld with the other ingredients. Allow the filling to cool before placing in the dough.

Roll 1/6th of the dough as thin as you can. Cut out circles with your largest biscuit cutter (mine was approximately 3 inches). Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of the dough and use your fingers to seal the dough. Then use a fork to crimp the edges. Place the empanada on the half sheet pan. Continue until all the dough has been used.

Drizzle the top of the empanadas with a little canola oil (I may have used a tablespoon), or spray the tops of the empanadas with canola oil spray. Bake the empanadas for 30 minutes until firm.

Serve hot with guacamole or lime flavored tofu sour cream for dipping.

Nutritional Information (for 1/20th of the recipe):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 76.2
Calories From Fat (23%) - 17.62

Total Fat - 2.19g
Saturated Fat - 0.2g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 145.63mg
Potassium - 80.35mg
Total Carbohydrates - 12g
Fiber - 1.84g
Sugar - 2.84g
Protein - 4.47g

Comments:

I was chatting with Rose today and she mentioned ravioli and after that I had filled dough on the brain. Since it had been so long since I made empanadas I thought they would taste good tonight. The hubby was quite quick to agree with me that this was a good idea for dinner. While this isn’t exactly health food, when the meal is more veggie than empanada it is still healthy.

Unrelated note:

Dan is taking tomorrow off so we are spending the day together. I don’t expect to be online much tomorrow and it may be Wednesday before I get another recipe posted, it depends on how much time we spend out of the house.

I still a few recipes from the weekend to post. Right now I have the following posts yet to write: porky seitan cutlets, veggie lo mein with black bean sauce, and revision to the chocolate covered date and walnut truffles.

I hope you all have a great day tomorrow. I will be back as soon as I can with another recipe or two.

Hummus with Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Red Pepper



I make a lot of variations of hummus and I prefer to make it with little or no added fat to keep it as anti-inflammatory as possible. Some months ago I realized that I could add a baked and peeled sweet potato to the hummus and it would bump up the nutrition and result in a nice creamy texture without adding fat. Since then I have been adding sweet potato to our hummus.

Yesterday I decided to add roasted red peppers to increase the nutrition further. The resulting hummus was still creamy and flavorful and had even more nutrition and still no added fat. This is definitely another experiment that worked out well. I like to use hummus with raw veggies dippers or on a green salad. When I use hummus in place of salad dressing I also like to add a little sriracha on top of the hummus. Here is the hummus I made for our salads this week.

Hummus with Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Red Pepper
Makes 5 cups – or 10 ½ cup servings

Ingredients:

4 cups very tender cooked garbanzo beans (2/3 of a pound), warm would be best
1 medium sweet potato (approximately 8 - 10 ounces), baked and peeled
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
3 roasted red peppers, stems and seeds removed
½ lemon, zested and juiced
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
cooking liquid from beans (I used 1 ½ cups)

Directions:

Place everything but the bean cooking liquid in your food processor and process until combined. Now add the bean cooking liquid a ladle at a time until the hummus is the texture you desire. Remember that the hummus will get considerably firmer as it chills.

The hubby and I have very different ideas regarding the perfect texture of hummus. I like mine thinner, and he likes his very thick. The hummus pictured on our salad above is the middle ground between what the two of us like. You may need more or less liquid than I used depending on your preference.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 152.86
Calories From Fat (7%) - 11.03

Total Fat - 1.31g
Saturated Fat - 0.14g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 479.24mg
Potassium - 358.06mg
Total Carbohydrates - 30.19g
Fiber - 6.05g
Sugar - 3.02g
Protein - 5.7g

Comments:

This hummus has a mild but interesting flavor. You can taste the red pepper, cumin and lemon but none of them are dominant. Interestingly the sweet potato is more a texture than a flavor. Even knowing the sweet potato was in the hummus I couldn’t taste it.

Each ½ cup serving of this hummus contains approximately 5,050IU of vitamin A, 60mg of vitamin C, 45mg of calcium, 90mcg of folate, 110mg of phosphorus, and 40mg of magnesium. Not bad for something that I using on my salad in place of salad dressing.

I specifically use warm chickpeas because I think the hummus gets creamier when the chickpeas are warm, or even hot. If you are using canned garbanzo beans you can rinse and drain them and then add water and put them in the microwave to warm them up before processing.

Unrelated note:

I got really behind posting recipes this weekend with the snow. It may take me a few days to get caught up since the hubby and I are going shopping tomorrow.

My schedule is fairly packed today. I have to exercise, clean a little, check on my parents, finish researching juicers so we can get that ordered today, and then I will be back with another recipe or two.

I hope you all have a wonderful day and stay warm.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Red Lentil and Tomato Soup



Red lentil and tomato soup is one of my husband’s favorite soups. I like to change it a little when I make it and this time I pureed the soup to create a smooth texture and added a little fennel seed for southern Italian flavor. This is a very easy soup that reheats well. It is also filling due to the beans. Here is what I made tonight.

Red Lentil and Tomato Soup
Makes 8 servings of approximately 2 cups each

Ingredients:

1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, scrubbed and diced fine
3 stalks celery, scrubbed and diced fine
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
½ cup water
28 ounces of canned tomato sauce
14 ounces of canned diced tomato
1 pound red lentil, picked through
3 cups of water, or what is necessary to cook the beans and not scorch the soup
1 teaspoon fennel seed
salt and pepper, to taste
reduced fat tofu sour cream, for garnish - optional
2 tablespoons diced fresh zucchini, for garnish - optional

Directions:

Water sauté the onion, carrots, celery and garlic until soft. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomato, red lentils, water, and fennel seed and cook until the lentils are soft (about 30 minutes). You may need to add a little extra water as the soup cooks and the lentils absorb the cooking liquid.

Place the soup in your blender and puree until smooth. I had to do this in three batches in the blender. Return the soup to the cooking pot and keep warm until needed.

Before serving taste the soup for seasonings and add salt and pepper to your taste. Finish the soup with tofu sour cream and a little diced fresh zucchini if using. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information (includes optional ingredients):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 249.58
Calories From Fat (6%) - 14.76

Total Fat - 1.76g
Saturated Fat - 0.28g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 628.74mg
Potassium - 887.74mg
Total Carbohydrates - 45.25g
Fiber - 9.29g
Sugar - 7.31g
Protein - 16.63g

Nutritional numbers assume ¼ tablespoon of reduced fat tofu sour cream on each serving.

Comments:

Everyone enjoyed this tonight, including my parents (the omnivores), which was surprising. Their diet is so unhealthy (in my opinion) when they are not eating with us I am always amazed when they enjoy my healthy food. The texture of this soup is very smooth and creamy, without the fat.

Each serving of this soup contains approximately 3,875IU of vitamin A, 75mg of calcium, 140mcg of folate, 225mg of phosphorus, 70mg of magnesium, and 5mcg of selenium. Not too bad for a bowl of soup.

Unrelated Notes:

It is still snowing here and it appears that we got 24 inches at our house based on the snow sitting on top the trash cans. The weathermen as so prone to panic here I didn’t believe the storm was going to be this bad. Everything is covered with snow and it looks beautiful outside. It doesn’t look like we will be going anywhere tomorrow and possibly not on Monday either. As it turns out it was good thing we went to Costco on Friday.

My porky seitan experiment worked well today. I will be posting that recipe soon. First I need to see if I took a decent picture of the seitan. If not that recipe may go up tomorrow.

Tonight for dinner we had the porky seitan with agave sweetened BBQ sauce and a green salad with raw cashew dressing with blackberries, blueberries and sliced almonds. It was a reasonably healthy meal that we all enjoyed.

Brunch with an Italian Zucchini and Potato Bake



“Oh the weather outside is frightful … “, and thankfully you can’t hear me sing. As predicted we are getting buried in snow. We have about a foot on the ground and it is still coming down. I don’t think we are going to get the 28 inches they are predicting. However this one storm has already dropped more snow than we normally get in an entire season.

Because the wind is blowing and it is so cold outside I decided to make a mostly hot brunch today. This zucchini and potato bake was just part of our brunch. Here is what I made.



Italian Zucchini and Potato Bake
Serves 4

Ingredients:

10 ounces of red potatoes, scrubbed (2 medium sized), I left the skin on since they are organic
1 ½ medium zucchini, scrubbed (approximately 2 cups)
¼ onion, peeled and diced
¼ cup water
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 pinch fennel seeds
1 pinch hot crushed pepper flakes
1 pinch thyme
1 pinch oregano
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
reduced fat tofu sour cream in a squeeze bottle, for garnish and flavor

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap four small spring form pans with aluminum foil around the bottom so they don’t leak. Place the pans on a half sheet pan.

Pierce the potatoes with the tip of paring knife and microwave until they are just tender (3 ½ minutes in my microwave). Set aside to cool so you can handle.

While the potatoes are cooking start the tomato sauce by water sautéing the onion and garlic until tender. Then add the tomato sauce, fennel, red pepper, thyme, oregano, salt and black pepper and cook for a few minutes so the flavor can combine and the sauce reduces a little. You want to taste the fennel and there to be a little heat from the red peppers.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle slice them into ¼ inch thick slices. Then slice the zucchini on a diagonal, so the pieces are approximately the same size and thickness as the potatoes. Layer the potato and zucchini slices alternately in the spring form pans in a spiral fashion.

Top each zucchini and potato spiral with a couple of tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Bake for 20 minutes until the zucchini is cooked through.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 90.24
Calories From Fat (6%) - 5.5

Total Fat - 0.64g
Saturated Fat - 0.09g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 394.72mg
Potassium - 760.93mg
Total Carbohydrates - 19.36g
Fiber - 3.06g
Sugar - 3.86g
Protein - 3.56g

The nutritional numbers above assume that you use two tablespoons of tofu sour cream in total when plating.

Comments:

I liked these exactly as they were, but the hubby has his second one seared for a few minutes in a lightly oiled cast iron pan. He wanted a little crisp on the bottom.

We had these today for brunch with a porky seitan cutlet (it hasn’t been posted yet since I need to tweak the recipe) and a small green salad with raw cashew Caesar dressing. My husband had two servings of the zucchini and potato bake for additional calories.

Unrelated note:

The hubby just came in from shoveling and the snow is really piling up. Everything is so beautiful and white outside. I love being inside looking out the window when it is snowing. Everything looks so clean and fresh outside.

Today I am going to spend as much time inside as possible. I think some almond milk hot chocolate may be in order later tonight.

For now I need to go and figure out what I am making for dinner tonight. As usual I have no idea other than some type of soup and probably seitan since my parents like it.
After I finish dinner planning for today I am going to try out one of my new exercise DVDs I picked up last night. Everyone has been raving about Jillian Michael’s 30 day Shred so I got that last night at Costco. How could I leave it there since it was on $5.99? I don’t know why it was so cheap, but I a love a bargain so it jumped into the cart with a few other exercise DVDs, with a lot of other stuff.

I will be back later with a dinner recipe or two. I hope you are all having a great day and stay warm.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Egyptian Breakfast Beans


(pictured: Egyptian beans with a green salad in the back of the photo)

Before I start I need to say this is my variation of Egyptian breakfast beans and should not be considered authentic. I understand that mini favas are called “ful” (pronounced fool) in Egypt. Some say it is the national dish of Egypt. I don’t know if that is true but when used in this breakfast dish they are really tasty.

I reduced the fat substantially and added the cumin, bay and onions for additional flavor since I reduced the flavor by backing off on the oil. I like to eat this with raw veggies (especially cucumber) and olives. It is also good with a little almond feta. Here is what I did.

Egyptian Breakfast Beans
Makes 5 cups or 5 servings

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups dry mini fava beans, picked through and soaked overnight (or quick soaked)
2 tablespoon red lentils
water to cover the beans by an inch
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon onion flakes
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, pasted with ½ teaspoon salt
zest and juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
¼ to ½ cup of freshly minced parsley

Topping ingredients:

1 ¼ teaspoons olive oil (1/4 teaspoon for each 1 cup serving)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 1/2 cups diced tomato, fresh is better but canned will work
1 lemon, cut into 1/8th to serve with beans
2 green onions thinly sliced, optional

Directions:

Cook the favas and lentils in water with bay leaves and onion flakes until the favas begin to burst. You want the favas to be soft so you can smash them. When the beans are soft add the salt and pepper. Drain the cooked beans in a fine wire sieve and move to a mixing bowl. Use a potato masher to coarsely mash the beans. You want some bean texture to remain (you are not trying to make hummus).

Paste the garlic by mincing it as finely as you can and adding the kosher salt and smashing the garlic with the side of your knife. Add the pasted garlic to the beans and stir so that it is evenly distributed.

When you are ready to serve the beans warm them slightly in the microwave. They are to be served warm (think room temperature), not hot (although I don’t know why that is, it is just what I was told). To the warm beans stir add the lemon juice, zest and parsley and stir to evenly distribute.

Warm the oil with cumin seeds until you can smell the cumin then remove it from the heat. Allow the cumin oil to cool slightly.

Top each serving of the breakfast beans with fresh diced tomato, sliced scallion (if using) and a ¼ teaspoon of the warm cumin oil. Serve the bean dish with lemon wedges. Traditionally this is also eaten with flat bread. I eat it with raw veggies and frequently salad.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 210.13
Calories From Fat (9%) - 18.99

Total Fat - 2.2g
Saturated Fat - 0.33g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 369.02mg
Potassium - 800.15mg
Total Carbohydrates - 36.08g
Fiber - 13.48g
Sugar - 5.83g
Protein - 14.27g

Comments:

Even though this is a breakfast of brunch dish we had it tonight for dinner after a hectic trip to Costco. I served it with celery and carrot sticks and a small green salad on the side. We both decided that we needed a little more food and I added another green salad with a veggie burger and raw cashew chipotle dressing. It was a quick meal but quite tasty and filling.

Each serving of the Egyptian beans contains approximately 1,100IU of vitamin A, 80mg of calcium, 225mcg of folate, 75mcg of vitamin K, 235mg of phosphorus, and 110mg of magnesium.

Unrelated note:

The hubby and I spent hours this evening going to Costco to replenish the pantry. Our timing could not have been worse. A winter weather warning was issued for our area starting at midnight tonight. It seemed as though everyone decided to go to Costco tonight. What a mad house.

When we got home we had a quick bite and then walked to our local grocery store for garbanzo beans. I know I could have purchased hummus at Costco but I really prefer to make my own so I can control the fat in the dish. At 10:30pm tonight when our local grocery store is normally empty the store it was packed with the self-check out line being 12 people deep when we got in line.

The weather service is predicting a minimum of 18 inches of snow tomorrow and possibly 28 inches of snow by Sunday morning. Since this town practically shuts down with 3 inches of snow that much snow will cripple the city for days. It should be interesting. I will keep you all posted regarding the antics. If nothing else it should be entertaining.

Stay warm and dry and I will be back tomorrow with something appropriate for the cold weather.
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