Friday, January 8, 2010

Healthy Cooking Challenge: Family Favorites

For the first Healthy Cooking Challenge I thought we start by taking a family favorite recipe and making it healthy and vegan. This can be a recipe you grew up eating, or something you make for your family now.

Here are the rules:
1) No animal flesh or animal products (aka vegan)
2) Emphasis should be on whole foods, such as veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes and unrefined grains...keep any commercial products with added fat sugar or salt to a minimum when possible
3) No sugar (although stevia, agave, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, and maple syrup are okay)
4) As low fat as possible
5) The more veggies and fruits you use the higher the nutrition will be
6) Enter as many times as you like (any type of dish and cuisine is appropriate for this challenge)

Judging Criteria:
1) 50% of the score: Healthfulness of the recipe as determined by overall nutrition. I will be compiling the nutrition for each recipe per calorie and looking at the overall vitamin and mineral profile compared to the RDA. Raw dishes will tend to score higher, as will things that are heavy on the veggies and fruit. Seeds tend to be more healthy than nuts, beans would be next with grains being the least nutritious. You may want to keep this in mind when working on your recipes.
2) 30% of the score: Creative use of ingredients. This can be either how your use them (example cabbage as noodles), or the specific ingredients you are using.
3) 20% of the score: Presentation. We will be looking at your presentation not your photography skills.

Rose set up a Flickr Group for people to upload their photos and describe their recipe (specific ingredients with measurements and instructions) and provide a link to their blog (if they have one). Flicker accounts are free, so participants just set up an account and join the challenge group. If anyone doesn’t want to bother with a Flicker account, they can send their entries directly to me (use the email on my profile page) and I will post them on the Flicker group page for you. Participants should upload their entries to the Flicker group page at their leisure, anytime before the deadline (January 31, midnight your time).

If anyone needs help with Flickr feel free to ask. I hadn’t used it until yesterday. It is free and easy to use. Trust me on the ease of use. If this old dinosaur could do it without any problems it must be intuitive. All you need is a yahoo email account and then you can log into the group (link above) and post your recipe and photo.

Depending on the timing of all the recipe submissions I may need a couple of days to calculate the nutritional information for each recipe and set up the spreadsheet to compare them all. Please be certain that I have a way to contact you (email or blog) in case I have any questions about ingredient quantities or serving sizes.

For judging, Rose and I will be standing judges, and there will be a guest judge that may change monthly, for a total of 3 judges. The judges may participate in the challenge by submitting recipes but are not eligible to win. We are targeting February 7 as the date to announce the winner.

The winner or winners will be announced in a blog post along with a link to the all the submissions. I was thinking it would be nice to compile all the entries into an e-book and email it to each participant. This would require each of you to consent to having your recipe “published”. I need to check with “the powers to be” on this but will probably be emailing each participant a quick note to get their approval to include their recipe in the e-book.

The prize for winning this challenge is a blog badge that you can put on the sidebar of your blog, similar to a blog award. Additionally each challenge winner will automatically receive an e-book of recipes for each subsequent challenge this calendar year whether they participate in future challenges or not. Although of course I hope the winners will continue to participate.

As each of you submit a recipe I will be updating this post with a running list at the bottom of the post including the blog address (if available otherwise the name of the participant) and the specific recipe. That will allow you to double check that I have seen your recipe and begun calculating the nutritional information. I will check the Flickr page at least once a day for updates.

If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask. Additionally if you have an omni recipe that you would like to veganize and don’t know where to start let me know. I am happy to give you ideas.

Good luck to all of you, and I can’t wait to see your creativity!

Recipes Submitted:

Cream of Tomato Soup - Vegan Epicurean (Alicia)
Orange, Avocado, Fennel and Raddicho Salad - Dandelion (Rose)
Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes - My Green Diet (Mary)
Summer Chopped Salad - My Green Diet (Mary)
Spinach Mushroom Tortillas - Meatless Mama (Janet)
Broccoli Slaw - Ordinary Vegetarian (Sarah)
Broccoli and Wheat Berry Casserole - Where's the Beach (Heather)
Creamy Potato Soup - Abby's Army (Morgan)
Ginger Rice Soup with Tofu and Kale - Easy Veggie (Oraphan)


  1. I am so excited about this challenge; I think it is a great idea.
    Can I submit more than one recipe?

  2. Oops. Just read rule 6- I can submit as many as I want. Thanks!

  3. Mary Jolley,

    So happy to hear you plan to join us. I can't wait to see what you submit!


  4. This sounds fun, but I don't have time to enter, since I'm running a tax office for tax season (shall I add major headache so far and not even started yet). I did subscribe to the flickr pool though. I can never have enough recipes to try, even if I may never get them all made.

  5. Snuggle Bunny,

    My condolences on managing a tax office at tax time. I was a hospital controller for more years than I care to remember. Tax season, boo hiss! Good luck with that!

    Maybe things will slow down after April 15 and you can join in. We would all love to have you participate. :)


  6. Oh exciting! As I was reading this a family favorite from childhood came to mind right away. Do you have any advice for a vegan substitute for buttermilk (used in dressing, not baking)?

  7. Sarah,

    Since you want a nice thick texture for a salad dressing you have a couple of options. You could heat the non-dairy milk and add either a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry to thicken it. Alternately you can mix the non-dairy milk with a little silken tofu until you get the right texture. Then add a little vinegar for tang.

    Can't wait to see your salad!


  8. Oh, this sounds so exciting! I'll try my best to come up with something healthy! Thank you and Rose for having this such wonderful event:)

  9. I am so far behind on my blog reading that I nearly missed this.
    This is fabulous, and major props to you for doing all this work!
    For now I don't have time to enter, but I will be watching closely and as time allows, I hope to join in too:)
    You are awesome Alicia!!!

  10. Oraphan,

    I can't wait to see what you come up with. Your recipes always inspire me.


    So sorry to hear you are too busy this time. I thought for sure you would be joining in. Maybe next month?


  11. Hi there, i just came across to your blog from easy veggie. What a great cooking challenge! If i get some spare time I will try and think up a recipe for this.


  12. Rose,

    Nice to meet you! Glad you found me from Oraphan's blog.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with. :)


  13. you will pick a new winner every month? or is this just for jan?

  14. Michelle,

    We (Rose and I) were thinking we would have a monthly contest as long as there was enough interest. So we will see. At the moment, there will be a montly winner.

    Great question as always,

  15. Alicia, I finally found something to try to make, but only figured out what I wanted to try today. It may not turn out AT ALL even. :-( Drats.

  16. Heather,

    If you need any ingredient substitution suggestions please feel free to ask. I am happy to help! :)


  17. Thanks Alicia. I think I have it under control. It's just a matter of how it actually tastes. It's in the oven right now. I had forgotten about a broccoli, rice, cheese casserole my mom used to make.

  18. Heather,

    I think my mom made something similar when I a child. I can't wait to see your recipe!



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