Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spinach, Tofu and Bean Enchiladas


I find it a little difficult to figure out what to make for dinner when my parents are coming over. Knowing they are old and stuck in their ways makes cooking a challenge for me. I want things that are healthy enough for Dan and me yet something that my parents will enjoy. Tonight’s dinner was a big hit, which surprised me a little. Everyone, vegans and omnis enjoyed this dish. Here is what I made

Spinach Tofu and Bean Enchiladas
Serves 4 very generously

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup water
10 ounces frozen spinach
14 ounces of firm tofu
4 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon oregano, dried
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pinto beans
4 whole wheat tortillas
14 ounces tomato sauce, no salt added
Salsa for topping (numbers assume 1 cup)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro, minced

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees using the convection setting.
Water sauté the onion until tender. Microwave the spinach and squeeze it until dry.

Combine the tofu, garlic, nutritional yeast, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and flour in your food processor. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Remove the tofu mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the spinach, onions and pinto beans to the tofu and stir to combine. Place ¼ of the tofu mixture in each tortilla and roll up. Place all the filled tortillas in a baking dish seam side down. Top the filled tortillas with tomato sauce. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven until they are heated through (at least 40 minutes).

To serve top with sliced green onions, minced cilantro and salsa.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories- 577.89
Calories From Fat (20%) - 113.27

Total Fat - 13.1g
Saturated Fat - 1.74g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1365.48mg
Potassium - 5033.88mg
Total Carbohydrates - 80.77g
Fiber - 32.35g
Sugar - 12.47g
Protein - 48.56g

Comments:

The interior was creamy, yet firm. Adding the flour to the tofu helps it form a cheese like consistency. Spinach, onions and beans add nice textural variation to the filling. If you like spicy food please feel free to spice this dish up. One of my parents doesn’t like heat so my weekend meals tend to be blander than my weekday cooking. This is a good dish to feed to children (due to the mild heat level), or omnis since the tofu tastes more like cheese. You can give the dish more heat by adding spicy salsa on top for those that want the heat.

Unrelated Notes:

The weather here is starting to warm a little we reached the upper 30’s today. Except for the large piles of snow most of the blizzard has now melted. It is so nice to see the dirt again. I am now anxious to get into my garden. Do any of you garden? If so do you have anything fun planned this year for your garden? I have decided to try my hand at greens and chioggia beets this year in addition to my usual plantings. We will see how it goes; I am not the best gardener.

My plans this week include more spring cleaning (aka major cat hair removal), working on a new exercise routine and trying to plan a weekly menu. The weekly menu will probably give me the most trouble as I am not one who likes to plan my meals far ahead. If I succeed in planning a weekly menu I will post it to see if that helps me stick to it.  I have my doubts but we will see.

For now I am off to clean up the kitchen from dinner and enjoy the few hours that remain of the weekend.

Cancer Fighting Salad


After reading the article about foods that inhibit the growth of cancer I decided to add many of those raw foods to our daily meals. Spinach, savoy cabbage and green onion all scored well against most forms of cancer and went into today’s salad. Black beans are higher in antioxidants than other beans. Salsa is high in lycopene because the tomatoes are cooked. Pumpkin seeds were added for healthy fat so the fat soluble vitamins could be absorbed. Here is the super healthy salad we had for lunch today.

Cancer Fighting Salad

Serves 2
Ingredients:

6 cups baby spinach
2 cups savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 ½ cups cooked black beans, no salt added
1 cup salsa
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds
1 green onion, finely sliced

Directions:

Combine and enjoy.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 293.99
Calories From Fat (15%) - 44.32

Total Fat - 5.29g
Saturated Fat - 1.03g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 871.79mg
Potassium - 1596.91mg
Total Carbohydrates - 48.34g
Fiber - 17.98g
Sugar - 6.2g
Protein - 19.66g

Comments:

Savoy cabbage in salad was one thing I wasn’t too certain I would like. However the texture is much softer than I expected. It adds nice textural dimension to the salad. Both the hubby and I agreed this salad was “healthy” but still tasted good.

Each serving of this salad contains approximately 9,600IU of vitamin A, 50mg of vitamin C, 200mg of calcium, 7mg of iron, 3.5IU of vitamin E, 440mcg of folate, 510mcg of vitamin K, 400mg of phosphorus, and 250mg of magnesium.

Unrelated note:

Yesterday was one of those days when I was not in the mood to come out and play. Sometimes stress gets to me and I get a little blue, and that is what happened yesterday. I decided it was better to keep my gloomy mood to myself. My mood is much better today, so I am back (like Poltergeist).

Tonight for dinner I am making a Mexican inspired meal. I hope to have the recipes posted sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

SoyQuick Milk Maker 930P - Product Review


Since I have been using fresh okara recently I decided to write a formal review of my soymilk maker. I was very confused about what to buy before I purchased this machine. When you haven’t made soymilk you have no idea what the process is like or what features you need.

We decided to buy this when we realized we were buying a case or more of soymilk a month. Now that was when we were drinking coffee, and since then our soymilk intake has slowed to a crawl. But I am glad that I have this machine when I make soymilk. This was something that my husband thought I needed to make life easier. I wasn’t certain it was a necessity but it does make the soymilk while I do other things. Here are the positives and negatives of the machine:

Pros:

• No measuring, there is a fill line for water. This is handy if you make a lot of soymilk

• One button and you walk away until the machine beeps. I particularly like this feature because I don’t like to baby sit machines. When the cycle has finished (between 16 and 19 minutes) the machine stops processing and sounds a beep so you know to begin straining.

• Easy to clean. The manufacturer recommends that you clean the machine while it is still warm and that does make it very easy to clean. Additionally there is no internal filter which makes all the moving parts easy to access.

• Fairly quiet. While the machine is running, you can hear the grinding mechanism but that doesn’t last the entire time and is not as loud as I imagined.

• Comes with a pitcher and fine wire sieve which allows you to start making soy milk right away.

• Cheaper than buying soymilk. Depending on how much non-dairy milk you make it won’t take long to recoup the purchase price of the machine in savings.

• Flexibility. I have been using Bryanna’s soy milk recipe that adds 3 tablespoons of oatmeal to the machine. It makes a rich creamy soymilk. Adding a date to the milk also makes lightly sweet milk without processed sugar. By making your own soymilk you can eliminate both the salt and sweetener if you choose. The machine also comes with a recipe book that gives you many options for non-dairy milks.

• 7 year warranty. A longer warranty than I would have expected for a small appliance.

• Okara. Okay so this may not seem like a benefit now but I love finding uses for the stuff. My Japanese friend told me her mom added okara to soup when she was a kid. If you haven’t tried this you should. I was very pleasantly surprised by the richness fresh okara adds to miso soup.

• Makes great tasting milk. According to my Japanese friend from Tokyo this machine makes soymilk as good as she can get at home. I can’t think of higher praise than that.

Cons:

• Storage. The machine is not big but it is another appliance that needs to be stored. On the positive side it is smaller than a case of soymilk. So I suppose this isn’t a big negative.

• Straining takes forever. I like making my own soy milk but the straining process is a serious pain. It can take an hour to drain the okara from the soymilk. This is fine if you have plenty of time, but it can be annoying.

Overall:

I have used this machine to make soymilk, mung bean milk and almond milk. It works great with all the types of non-dairy milk I have tried. Having an automatic soymilk maker does make the entire process quite simplistic.

Would I purchase this again? Yes. Even though we don’t make soymilk as often as we used to it is handy to have and I like the versatility of making different versions of soymilk that you can’t purchase.

The Steps Required to Make Soymilk With this Machine:

If you haven’t made soymilk before I will outline the entire process so that you know what to expect.

• Soak 1 cup of soy beans in plenty of filtered water for 8 hours or overnight.

• Place the soaked soy beans in a large container (that your hands will fit into) and fill with warm water. Use your hands to rub the soybeans together to loosen the outer skin of the beans. You can skip this step but your soymilk will taste more “beanie” if you don’t remove the hulls. This step takes about 5 minutes, but I don’t obsess about removing every hull only the majority of them. As you rub the beans together the skins will rise about the beans. The soy bean hulls are mostly clear but you will be able to see them to remove them.

• Place the soaked and dehulled soybeans in the soymilk maker.

• Add water to the line on the interior of the machine.

• Place the head (white part where the heater and grinder are located) on top of the machine and plug it in.

• Press the button for soymilk and come back when the machine peeps (somewhere between 16 and 19 minutes).

• Remove the machine head and place in the sink.

• Place the wire sieve on top of the provided jug and begin straining the milk. This will need to be done in batches and takes about an hour. You will need to empty the sieve once or twice during the straining process.

• While the milk is straining clean the machine head. Use the provided green abrasive pad to clean the metal parts of the machine. This tastes about a minute.

If you have any questions about this machine that I didn’t cover please let me know.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Low Fat Baked Vegan Cheesy Pate – Version 1


The okara miso pate I made earlier today was quite tasty but I wanted to make second pate today so that we had variety. I have enjoyed making mock liver pates in the past but today I wanted to make something that had a cheesy flavor.

It is easy to make nut cheeses that taste very much like the dairy originals that they are replacing. The only problem with nut cheese is the fat content while lower than dairy is still higher than I would like. I wanted to make something that has a similar flavor to cheese without the fat of cheese. This is going to be an ongoing process but I wanted to share the steps I go through to develop a baked recipe. I thought some of you may find it interesting. Also, if anyone has any ideas to share please feel free to comment. I love suggestions. So here is the first version of the recipe with more to follow as I make more soy milk.

Low Fat Baked Vegan Cheesy Pate – Version 1 (Recipe in process)
Makes 7 generous servings – a little over ¼ cup each

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups fresh okara, well drained (from making soy milk)
4 ounces organic russet potato, scrubbed and cut into cubes
2 tablespoons dry oatmeal (ground into flour in your blender)
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ cup soy milk, or whatever is necessary to process the mixture

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees convection.

Combine everything in your blender and add as much soymilk as is necessary to process the mixture.

Pour the pate mixture into small ramekins and place those in a larger pan. Fill the larger pan with enough hot water that it comes ½ way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the pate is firm. Mine were finished in 30 minutes. Cool completely then cover and refrigerate.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 74.38
Calories From Fat (13%) - 9.46

Total Fat - 0.8g
Saturated Fat - 0.1g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 178.69mg
Potassium - 208.75mg
Total Carbohydrates - 10.2g
Fiber - 0.73g
Sugar - 1.01g
Protein - 2.08g

Comments:

I am happy with the fat content and the overall concept.  But the recipe needs some work. When I am making a new recipe I like to outline what happened in terms of texture, flavor and appearance and jot down any ideas I have for the next version. Here are my notes from this first version of the low fat cheesy pate.

Texture:

I would describe the texture (when warm) as like creamy ricotta cheese or a warm brie (only not fatty). Except for the dry top, I am happy with the texture.

Flavor:

Definitely needs salt, and more nutritional yeast. I think lemon zest would also be good in this, and maybe a hint of Dijon.

Appearance:

I don’t like the cracked surface. This shouldn’t have happened since it was cooked in bain marie.

Changes for next time:

Add more salt, and nutritional yeast (double each to start).
Add zest from one lemon.
Add Dijon mustard; start with ½ tablespoon and taste.
Consider substituting the juice of one lemon for part of the soy milk.
Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil to try to eliminate cracking.
Bake at a lower temperature which may also keep the top from cracking.
Fat content is good, don’t add a lot of nuts or seeds.

Unrelated notes:

I have somewhere that I need to be tonight. I will be back with more experiments from the kitchen tomorrow. I hope you are all have a good evening

Okara Miso Pate


This is my variation of one of Bryanna’s recipes which is found here. Laloofah has mentioned this a few times and asked me if I had tried and of course I hadn’t. Since I normally make almond milk I don’t often have okara to play around with. Curiosity finally got the best of me and I made sprouted soy milk this morning so that I could try this recipe.

I had to make changes, because I am incapable of following recipes, my own or anyone else’s. I used oat flour in place of bread crumbs to thicken the pate. Laloofah told me about a mistake she made using peanut butter in place of tahini that turned out well so I also made that change. I used fewer green onions because I didn’t want a very green pate. When I tasted the pate before adding the herbs it was very good so I left them out. Here is what I did.

Okara Miso Pate
Makes 10 servings of 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) each

Ingredients:

¼ cup oats, ground into flour in your blender
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup of fresh okara, well drained (the solids that remain when you make fresh soy milk)
4 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons white miso
Freshly ground white pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine the oat flour, garlic and green onion in your food process and process until the onion and garlic are ground. Add the remaining ingredients and process until completely combined. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Refrigerate in a covered container for a few hours. Serve with vegetable crudités, crackers, or pita chips.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 65.85
Calories From Fat (49%) - 32.05

Total Fat - 3.83g
Saturated Fat - 0.76g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 194.97mg
Potassium - 96.75mg
Total Carbohydrates - 5.99g
Fiber - 1.01g
Sugar - 1g
Protein - 2.92g

Comments:

If you haven’t tried Bryanna’s recipe for okara miso pate I highly recommend it. This must be a very versatile recipe given it still turned out after my changes. Next time I am going to add lemon zest and fresh ginger to give this a more Asian taste. There are many variations of this pate I can think of.

Unrelated Note:

I thought we had dodged the bullet with snow yesterday. However, when we got up this morning there was more snow (not much but still snow). I was in quiet a cranky mood this morning due to the snow. Now the snow has turned to flurries. But seriously, when is winter going to end?

I am also making a second okara pate today that I am going to post that later today. The second one is very different in both texture and flavor.  It is based on this recipe.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mostly Raw Taco Salad


I have been very unfocused today in terms of food. It was about 6pm before I knew what I was making for dinner. Good thing the hubby is working late tonight. As soon as I decided on a raw taco salad I threw the walnuts and raw cashews into water to soak hoping 2 hours was long enough. Thankfully it was adequate to make them soft enough to process easily.

The beauty of this dish is that it doesn’t require a dehydrator or juicer. If you have a blender and food processor you can make this dish quickly and easily.

I added raw savoy cabbage to the salad for its anti cancer properties. It adds a nice sweetness to the salad and textural variation. This is a mostly raw taco salad because the corn chips are baked, the salsa is jarred and the beans are cooked. However the raw components do make up the majority of the volume of the salad. The nut taco meat, and cheese sauce are both raw. If I had planned better there would be raw corn chips and salsa. Well, there is always the next time. Here is what I made tonight.

Mostly Raw Taco Salad
Serves 4

Taco nut meat ingredients:

1 cup walnuts, soaked for two hours (or more) and drained thoroughly
1 carrot, cut into small chunks
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Raw cheese sauce ingredients:

½ cup raw cashews, soaked for two hours (or more) and drained thoroughly
1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled and finely minced
½ carrot, cut into smallish chunks
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon chil powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Water necessary to make a thick sauce (I started with ½ cup of water)

Salad ingredients:

12 cups baby spinach, julienned or left whole
4 cup savoy cabbage, julienned
1 bell pepper, julienned
1 cup salsa
¼ cup cilantro, for garnish
2 cups black beans for additional protein
Baked or dehydrated Corn chips, if desired – optional

Directions:

In your food processor combine the walnuts, and seasonings and pulse to combine. You don’t want a puree, but instead want some chunky bits like “ground meat”. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. Hold until composing the salad.

In your blender combine the sauce ingredients and process. Stream in water until you have the texture your desire.

To make the salad top the spinach and cabbage with salsa, red bell peppers, taco nut meat, cashew queso, and fresh cilantro. Add beans if using. Serve with chips, if desired

Nutritional Information (doesn’t include optional chips):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 457.77
Calories From Fat (47%) - 214.92

Total Fat - 25.68g
Saturated Fat - 2.98g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 513.29mg
Potassium - 1586.42mg
Total Carbohydrates - 45.87g
Fiber - 17.16g
Sugar - 8.45g
Protein - 20.14g

Comments:

This is a nice salad with the flavors of taco salad. It is obviously a raw salad, but is quite tasty. I think it is good enough that you can serve it omnis. If you like olives they would great in this salad.

Each serving of this salad contains 15,900IU of vitamin A, 100mg of vitamin C, 210mg of calcium, 7mg of iron, 420mcg of folate, 500mcg of vitamin K, 410mg of phosphorus, and 250mg of magnesium. Next time I make this I am going to reduce the amount of nuts in the taco nut meat mixture and increase the carrot to reduce the fat. I may also reduce the amount of cashew cheese for the same reason. Overall we were very happy with the taste of this salad.

New fun things from the store


We found some interesting stuff last night in addition to the new toy for the cats (which they are playing with now). Our local health food store had one pound bags of kelp leaves. I grabbed one immediately and tossed it in the cart. The one pound packages are much cheaper than the two ounce bags on a per pound basis. If you are local the big bags are on the bottom shelf below the small bags of sea vegetables. They aren’t the easiest to see. You can expect to see more kelp with recipes going forward. Also for those of you with felines ours love nori and kelp. We allow them to have a little as a treat every once in a while.




In addition to the kelp the health food store had yacon root powder. Since this has been turning up on a lot of raw food blogs and is low in calories, sugar and has a very low GI so I grabbed a bag. Since we don’t use much sugar I am expecting the bag to last a very long time. As soon as I crack into it I will let you know what we think.

The Natural Market also had frozen wheat grass juice. I almost bought some but decided we could wait for mine to grow at home. My poor husband, how does he put up with me?

The remainder of our shopping trip was uneventful. Many bags of dried beans (about 20 I think). Wegman’s has a nice selection of organic dried beans so I always stock up when we are there.

I was also surprised to see that Wegman’s has expanded their Indian food section. At least they have at the Hunt Valley location in Maryland. If you are looking for Indian food you may want to take a look. Since I have been buying fresh curry leaves as Wegman’s recently too so it does make sense that they have expanded the Indian spices, condiments and beans.

I also picked up a couple pounds of organic millet, which is my hubbies favorite grain. There were also a few packages of water packed tofu, and lots of fresh produce.

This brings me to a question. How do you grocery shop? What I mean is to you work from a list, or do you buy the produce that looks good and then build meals from there? When I shop I have a short list of pantry items we need. Other than that I buy what looks good. This only works because I keep a very well stocked pantry at home. My hubby calls it my home grocery store. If it weren’t for that I wouldn’t be able to make meals without planning. I would love to hear how you shop and cook. I have always envied people who can plan their menu for the week and actually stick to it. That never happens at my house no matter how much I want it to.

Unrelated Note:

Since I have no idea what I making for dinner, I need to go flip through a cookbook or two for ideas. I am thinking of Japanese tonight, undoubtedly inspired by the kelp. However, there is a good chance I will change my mind before dinner. Whatever it turns out be I will let you know.

Rice Bowl and a New Cat Toy


Last night we ran out to the health food store and Wegman’s before coming home to a late dinner (after 9pm). As I expected we both came in the door starving. Needless to say I didn’t measure and document the recipe from last night, so I will be giving you the method instead with rough measurements.

I make something that I call rice bowls for dinner when I don’t want anything fancy. They are wonderful quick meals because they use things that are in the refrigerator. Earlier in the day I had cooked a cup of brown basmati rice and stored it in the refrigerator for this evening. Rice and black beans became the base of the meal. Here is what I did.

Water sauté half an onion, thinly sliced, three garlic cloves minced and ½ inch of fresh minced ginger. When the aromatics are soft add a thinly sliced red bell pepper and a hand full of snow peas (about a cup). After two minutes I added the cold rice I cooked earlier and about a cup and a half of cooked beans for protein. I also added liquid aminos (you can use low sodium soy sauce) and mirin and cooked until everything was warm. Turn off the heat and add about 1/4 cup thinly cut kelp and sliced green onions to the mixture and stir to combine. The residual heat will be enough to warm both the kelp and onions. Serve with fresh minced cilantro. This makes 4 servings at our house.

Since the rice and beans were cooked and in the refrigerator this meal took 15 minutes and 10 of those were spent waiting for the allicin to develop in the garlic before cooking it. While the garlic was standing I had time to clean and slice the other veggies. Any vegetables will work in this dish, as will any beans although adzuki are my favorites in this.

Even though this is very similar to the beans and rice dish we had a couple of days ago with queso it tastes very different due to the seasonings. This is how I like to use “leftovers” in a way that makes them a different meal but doesn’t require a lot of work from the chef.

Unrelated note:

While we were out last night we bought this adorable squeaky toy for the felines. We always buy them something when we see it. My hubby decided to give it to them this morning when all three of them are wake and active. The first few minutes they were really adorable with the toy. Then I realized what we had inadvertently done. This squeaky little toy is the feline equivalent of buying your children a drum set. It is cute and they love it but it has a motion sensor and as long as they are playing with it, it is squeaking. I will be hiding this at night so they don’t decide to play with it in the bedroom while we are trying to sleep.


As for a review, three very enthusiastic paws up from the feline members of the family. The humans are glad the cats are happy, but find the squeaking to be a tad annoying. Our two thumbs up are much less enthusiastic.

No exciting plans for today. I have some soy beans soaking for soy milk later today. Laloofah has been encouraging me to make Bryanna’s okara miso pate so I want to try that today or tomorrow. Figuring out twitter is also on my short to do list. I think I need to spend a few days following what other people do and hopefullly then it will make sense. For the moment it is a bit of mystery. If anyone wants to share any tips on twitter please feel free to comment here or send me an email. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.

For now it is time to work on crossing some items off my to do list. I will be back later with a post, or two. I hope you are all having a wonderful day

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spinach Salad with Citrus, Walnut and Date


Sometimes I want a sweeter salad and that was what I was in the mood for today as part of my lunch. This is my favorite sweet salad at the moment. When citrus is in season we eat lots of it. I am currently obsessed with clementines. They seem to go so well with date and walnuts. Here is the salad.

Spinach Salad with Citrus, Walnut and Date
Serves 1

Ingredients:

4 cups spinach
1 clementine, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
6 walnut halves
1 medjool date, pitted and cut into small pieces
Splash of date vinegar (can substitute apple cider vinegar)
Salt and pepper, to taste if desired

Directions:

Top spinach with clementine pieces, walnuts, and date pieces. Add a splash of vinegar and a little salt and pepper and enjoy.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 209.37
Calories From Fat (34%) - 71.37

Total Fat - 8.54g
Saturated Fat - 0.82g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 96.27mg
Potassium - 1024.85mg
Total Carbohydrates - 32.96g
Fiber - 6.32g
Sugar - 23.59g
Protein - 6.35g

Comments:

If you want a salad that is sweet and savory this is my current favorite salad with fruit. Clementine and date provide the sweetness. Date vinegar cuts the sweetness of the fruit. Walnuts provide the fat necessary to absorb the fat soluble vitamins.

Each serving of this salad contains approximately 11,300IU of vitamin A, 70mg of vitamin C, 170mg of calcium, 265mcg of folate, 580mcg of vitamin K, 130mg of phosphorus, and 135mg of magnesium.

Unrelated note:

Dan and I are going to run a few errands tonight when he gets home from work. He likes to go to the health food store so we tend to make that trip together. I doubt that we will be home early enough to post another recipe tonight. But I will be back tomorrow. I hope you all have a great evening.

Spanish Rice and Black Beans Topped with Queso


Last night for dinner we had a simple dinner of Spanish rice with black beans topped with cashew queso and a salad. This is an easy meal that you toss together quickly if you have the prepared beans on hand. When I make beans I always start with a pound and then use some immediately and freeze the remainder in containers equivalent to a can (1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups).

You can change this dish by adding any veggies you have on hand to the mix. Today is grocery shopping day at our house so the veggie selection was quite limited last night. In the past I have added broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini or sweet potatoes to this dish. All of them work fine and if you add enough of them this can easily become a one dish meal. Here is what we had last night.

Spanish Rice with Black Beans Topped with Queso
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 sachet of 4 bay leaves, 2 smashed garlic cloves and 12 black peppercorns
½ yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 carrots, finely diced
4 stalks celery, finely diced
¼ cup water
1 ½ cups cooked black beans
10 ounces rotel tomatoes with chilies
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
Cashew queso for the top of the dish

Directions:

Combine the rice, water and sachet and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes. If the water has been absorbed turn off the heat, put the lid back on the pot and allow the rice to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes to finish. Fluff with a fork.

Water sauté the onion, garlic, carrots and celery until soft. Add the black beans, tomatoes (with liquid), oregano, cumin, chili powder and cooked rice.  Cook until everything is hot, probably under 5  minutes.

To serve top the rice and beans with some of the cashew queso sauce. Fresh cilantro would be great on this dish.  I also finished with salt and freshly ground pepper.

I mostly followed the recipe for the queso sauce linked above except that I made the following changes:

• Eliminated the canned tomatoes and replaced them with a 10 ounce can of rotel
• Added 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, since there were no omni’s eating this.
• Added oregano, cumin, and chili powder, all to taste

Nutritional Information (does not include queso):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 316.23
Calories From Fat (7%) - 23.06

Total Fat - 2.74g
Saturated Fat - 0.54g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 395.48mg
Potassium - 777.42mg
Total Carbohydrates - 63.75g
Fiber - 10.9g
Sugar - 4.11g
Protein - 11.52g
Comments:

This is one of our favorite quick dinners. We always have this with a big green salad to make certain we get plenty of nutrition. It is also great spicy if you want to add crushed red pepper flakes or hot crushed peppers (wet hots).

Each serving of this grain and bean dish contains approximately 8000IU of vitamin A, 100mg of calcium, 140mcg of folate, 300mg of phosphorus, 140mg of magnesium, and 13mcg of selenium.

Unrelated note:

Today I will be trying to set up my Wheatgrass Growing Kit. This is more than a little outside of my comfort zone. Additionally I am not the best gardener, although I do try, which makes this endeavor iffy at best. I will let you all know how easy it is to grow wheatgrass at home. If I can do, which only time will tell, then anybody can.

For now I am off to exercise. But will be back later with another green salad, this time with fruit and nuts. I hope you are all having a great day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bean and/or Starch Seasoning Sachet


I started a pot of black beans this afternoon so we have them for our lunch salads this week and a few extra for dinner tonight. As I was doing this in occurred to me that I do something perfunctorily that I have not written about before. This is something I do when I am in autopilot mode so it didn’t occur to me to share it, until today.

Some time back I bought this nifty little device that is a reusable sachet. It is easier to use than twine to tie herb bouquets or cheesecloth for sachets. It is very easy to clean, and has lasted thorough many uses at our house.

I use it all time to add flavor to food that I would have previously added salt or fat to where I want to remove the seasonings at the end of cooking. For beans I always add a couple of garlic cloves that were smashed, a few bay leaves and whole black peppercorns. I use the same seasoning for plain rice or potatoes. If you are making rice for an Asian or Indian dish you can change the seasonings to suit the cuisine. The beauty of this device is that you don’t have to fish out the bay leaves or herb stems when you are finished cooking.  There is a chain on the device that you attach to the side of the pot.

I wanted to share this idea before it fell out of my head. Both Dan and I think it adds nice flavor and aroma to foods that could otherwise be bland without salt or oil.

Unrelated note:

I have a black bean, veggie and brown rice casserole with cashew queso planned for dinner tonight. I hope to get that posted before bed. The hubby is working late again tonight so dinner may be so late the post has to wait until tomorrow.

I hope you are all having a great day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Asparagus Salad with Tomato and Onion


About a year ago we discovered that we really like raw marinated asparagus. I have made a similar salad with millet which you will find here. Tonight I wanted to make an asparagus salad without a grain component. If you haven’t had raw asparagus before you should give it a try. This recipe is in essence a quick pickled asparagus.

After reading the full article about nutrition and cancer last week I decided that I was going to add more of those healthy raw vegetables into our diet. Asparagus was one of the foods that inhibited cancer growth, and since we like it raw this was an easy addition to our diet. Here is what I made tonight.

Asparagus Salad with Tomato and Onion
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste (nutrition below assuming ¼ teaspoon of each)
¼ red or yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced in half moons (again as thin as you can slice it)
3 cups raw asparagus, cut into thin coins (as thin as you can cut)
¼ cup grape tomatoes thinly sliced into coins
2 tablespoons pine nuts – for garnish

Directions:

Combine the wine vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the onion to the vinegar and toss to coat. Add the asparagus and tomatoes and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes so the flavors can combine. Don’t keep for more than few hours of the vegetables will get too soft. Serve as a side dish or over salad greens and garnish with pine nuts.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 111.74
Calories From Fat (46%) - 51.5

Total Fat - 6.19g
Saturated Fat - 0.52g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 297.92mg
Potassium - 542.17mg
Total Carbohydrates - 11.44g
Fiber - 5.14g
Sugar - 5.33g
Protein - 6g

Comments:

If you add oil to your vinaigrettes you may want to add that to the dressing component of this salad. We have all but eliminated oils which is why it is not in the recipe above. I added pine nuts to this salad for fat, texture and flavor. We love the buttery flavor of pine nuts in spite of the fact that they are not antioxidant packed. You could also add olives if you prefer.  A little fat is necessary to aborb the fat soluble vitamins. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, this is also good with sun-dried tomatoes. Garlic lovers may want to add a clove to the dressing. Cooked beans would also be good in the salad if you want to make it a meal. As you can see the salad can go in many directions.

Each serving of this salad contains approximately 1,700IU of vitamin A, 15mg of vitamin C, 60mg of calcium, 5mg of iron, 110mcg of folate, 90mcg of vitamin K, 165mg of phosphorus, and 55mg of magnesium.

Unrelated Note:

Today was rather disorganized at my house. It started with me losing my keys. I looked for them for an hour before I gave up and decided to do other things. A couple of hours later I found the keys when I wasn’t looking for them. This is what I get for grabbing my keys and not my purse and not putting them back in my purse when I can home. Live and learn.

Since I was stuck at home today, I did some work around the house on my various projects and to do lists. Sometimes it can be very productive to be stuck at home.

On a very positive note the snow we were suppose to get today turned into a very light rain. Yay, something to help this darn snow melt. However, I did see a little bit of grass today. Not much, but I will take it. I am really looking forward to the snow melting.

This is going to be my last post today.  Talk to you all tomorrow.

Salad of the Moment


I have mentioned before that we eat a big salad with both lunch and dinner. These salads vary depending on my mood. I tend to get bored easily with food combinations so I have to change the salad contents for that reason. There are always a few things I like to include in my salads for maximum nutrition, these are:

1. Dark leafy greens (I tend to favor organic baby spinach)

2. Beans, cooked without salt, for protein (whole or pureed)

3. Salsa for lycopene, flavor and to stand in for fatty dressings

4. A few raw seeds or nuts so the fat soluble vitamins can be absorbed

5. Dulse granules for iodine since we don’t use much salt and what we do use is either sea or kosher salt (doesn’t contain iodine)

I am one of those people that actually like salad. I have been known to eat them for breakfast. Strange, I know. But it does make a nutrient packed meal, even for breakfast. Here is my current favorite salad.

Salad of the Moment
Serves 1

Ingredients:

4 cups baby spinach
¼ cup cold cooked cannellini beans
¼ cup salsa
1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds
Sprinkle of dulse granules (nutrition below assumes 1/4 teaspoon)

Directions:

Combine and enjoy.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 266.57
Calories From Fat (18%) - 48.34

Total Fat - 5.75g
Saturated Fat - 0.7g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 500.13mg (came mostly from the salsa)
Potassium - 1842.24mg
Total Carbohydrates - 41.07g
Fiber - 12.31g
Sugar - 2.49g
Protein - 17.67g

Comments:

Today I had this salad with a small bowl of leftover mushroom, lentil and wheat berry soup. It made a filling meal that had some cooked and some raw food which is how I prefer to eat. When the weather is cold the idea of all raw food just isn’t that appealing to me.

This salad contains approximately 11,500IU of vitamin A, 35mg of vitamin C, 260mg of calcium, 9mg of iron, 250mcg of folate, 580mcg of vitamin K, 175mg of phosphorus, and 115mg of magnesium. I love meals like this that I can toss together in a few minutes that are packed with nutrition. If you make a pound of beans on the weekend you will have plenty for salads during the week. A pound of cooked beans for salad will last Dan and me for a week, assuming we have salad with lunch and dinner.

Unrelated note:

I need to finish my projects for today so it will be a while before I am back on-line. I am making a raw asparagus salad tonight. If you haven’t tried raw asparagus you should it has a great crunch and light flavor that we both love.

Before I go here is a completely gratuitous picture of my boys (Nicco and Massimo). They are two of my three cat hair making machines. We adore them, but they are high maintenance. As their human father would say, they take after their mother (me).



On that note I have to run. I hope are all having a great day. Talk to you later.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mushroom, Lentil and Wheat Berry Soup

Since I was busy around the house today we had soup and salad for dinner tonight. I wanted to make something with mushrooms tonight and soup is not only low maintenance but always seems to work for both the vegans and the omnivores.

Mushrooms are wonderful to use because they are known to boost immunity. Lentils were chosen for two reasons. Of all beans they have the second highest amount of antioxidants, and they don’t require soaking. Wheat berries make a great chewy stand in for meat. Tomato paste adds a nice depth of flavor and lycopene to the soup. Paprika adds flavor and vitamin C. I like to use acids (either vinegar or citrus juice) to finish soups to lift the flavor. Here is the soup we had tonight.

Mushroom, Lentil and Wheat Berry Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
5 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed (allow stand 10 minutes so allicin can develop), peeled and finely minced
½ cup water
1 cup wheat berries
6 cups water
4 bay leaves
1 cup dried mushrooms
4 cups water
1 cup red lentils
4 or 5 cups of water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons salt
12 ounces fresh Crimini mushrooms, cut into a size that will fit easily on a spoon
1 ½ lemons, zested and juiced

Directions:

Water sauté the onions, celery, carrot and garlic until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the wheat berries, water and bay leaves and cook for 45 minutes.

While the wheat berries are cooking combine the dried mushrooms and water and microwave until hot (3 minutes in microwave). Allow the mushrooms to sit in the hot water while the wheat berries cook. Then remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid and dice them into bite size pieces. Add the mushroom pieces to the soup. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a cheese cloth or paper towel lined wire sieve into the soup pot. Straining should remove any grit that was on the mushrooms before they were dried.

Add the lentils, water, tomato paste and paprika and cook for another 30 minutes. By then both the lentils and wheat berries should be tender. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice just before serving.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 290
Calories From Fat (5%) - 14.85

Total Fat - 1.77g
Saturated Fat - 0.31g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 892.46mg
Potassium - 972.58mg
Total Carbohydrates - 57.24g
Fiber - 11.08g
Sugar - 5.28g
Protein - 16.28g

Comments:

Even though this soup was very low in fat everyone enjoyed it. The first flavor of soup you taste is mushroom, followed by lemon and paprika. We enjoyed the softness of the lentils and the chew of the wheat berries. This soup had a little e bit of everything.

Each serving of this soup contains approximately 5,400IU of vitamin A, 90mg of calcium, 120mcg of folate, 320mg of phosphorus, 100mg of magnesium and 44mcg of selenium.

Unrelated note:

Tomorrow is going to be a little hectic but I will try to post at least once tomorrow. I hope you all have a great evening.

Spicy Baked Tofu and Satay Sauce

Yesterday ended up being a much busier day than I anticipated. My hubby worked until 7:45p so we had dinner a little after 8p. I made a quick baked tofu with sauce (recipe to follow). After dinner we went to visit our friends Jackie and Walid. Dan and Walid work together and had spent the day at the office so I would have thought they would be tired of seeing each other but apparently not. Although Jackie and I did most of the talking last night. Isn’t that what normally happens?

I took some of the raw cookies and they were a hit. Jackie, like my hubby, isn’t a big fan of coconut but liked the cookies. I know she wasn’t just being polite because she had a few. ;) Her hubby, Walid, has a major sweet tooth, which he claims is an Egyptian thing. But even Mr. Sweet Tooth liked the cookies. I am psyched that the recipe has been universally well received. Don’t we all just love it when one of our creations turns out so well?

Our dinner was intentionally high in calories because we hadn’t eaten much for breakfast or lunch today. I know you shouldn’t have most of your calories at dinner, but I knew we were going to be up for a while so this wasn’t as bad as it could have been. ;) I have been making variations of this meal for a long time (decades actually). The recipe changes at our house based on what I have in the pantry. Tamarind paste may not be traditional, but I love the flavor it adds to the sauce. Fresh cilantro would be great in here if you have it on hand.

Here is what we had for dinner. Recipe in a slightly different format. Do any of you have a formatting preference? Is this easier to follow, or more difficult?

Spicy Baked Tofu and Satay Sauce
Serves 2

Tofu:

14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained
1 tablespoon liquid aminos (or substitute low sodium soy sauce)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Cube the tofu into bite size pieces.  Toss the tofu with the seasonings and place on a sheet pan. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and lightly browned (about 40 minutes).  If you are worried about the tofu sticking, line your sheet tray with parchment paper.  My tofu released fine, but the pans are fairly new and that my have made a difference.

Sauce:

¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
½ inch ginger, finely minced (peel if not organic)
1 tablespoon liquid aminos
¼ teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
Stevia or agave, to lightly sweeten (I used a small amount of stevia, about ¼ scoop)
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (I used ¼ teaspoon)
½ tablespoon tamarind paste (or substitute lime juice)

Puree until completely smooth. Heat until warm.

Vegetables:

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 tablespoon liquid aminos - optional

Water sauté the onions until wilted, add the red bell pepper and pineapple and cook until heated (about a minute). Add the liquid aminos when sautéing, if using.

Rice:

¾ cup brown basmati rice
1 ½ cups water

Combine the water and rice and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to stand, covered, for another 10 minutes. Then fluff the rice with a fork.  I intentionally didn't add salt to the rice since I knew the sodium would be high due to the liquid aminos.

To serve:

Top brown basmati rice with lightly cooked red bell pepper, onion, pineapple and baked tofu. Drizzle with peanut sauce and serve. If desired top with cilantro and diced peanuts.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 730.41
Calories From Fat (35%) - 253.53

Total Fat - 30.34g
Saturated Fat - 4.87g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1001.04mg
Potassium - 1013.87mg
Total Carbohydrates - 88.44g
Fiber - 9.27g
Sugar - 19.61g
Protein - 35.5g

Comments:

The sodium content of this dish is high due to the liquid aminos. This is something that I would not make often, for that reason. But every once in a while a high sodium meal is fine. The sauce is much healthier than what you get out since that typically has a generous amount of oil it in. The baked tofu, even without oil, will develop a crusty exterior. If you haven’t tried baking tofu without oil you should give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised by the results the first time I made it. We enjoyed this dish and hope you do as well.

Each serving of this dish contains approximately 2,300IU of vitamin A, 140mg of vitamin C, 420mg of calcium, 130mcg of folate, 670mg of phosphorus, 280mg of magnesium, and 45mcg of selenium.

Unrelated notes:

Today I am back to finishing a project at home, not cooking related. I have been taking the house apart room my room and cleaning it top to bottom. I absolutely hate to clean, but our precious felines have hair that floats so it ends up everywhere. So …. I need to defuzz the house a few times a year to keep things somewhat under control. And on that note, I am off to tackle the cat hair storm.

I will be back later with tonight’s soup. At the moment I have lentil, wheat berry and mushroom soup in mind for tonight.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Omega 8006 Juicer – A Review

Sorry I didn’t come back last night after the cookie post. Things came up that I had to attend to, as usual. Nothing bad, just time consuming.

This morning we had the same breakfast as yesterday with the oatmeal and green juice. We are both really enjoying the green juice. It has such a nice flavor and oddly seems to give me a burst of energy like I used to get from my morning shot of espresso. The increase in energy isn’t as dramatic as the espresso but it is noticeable. I had read about the energy from green drinks on other blogs and thought it was in their heads. Much to my surprise fresh juice does give me energy too.

Speaking of juicing, I never expected to become a juice person. I was one of those people that thought juicing was a little silly since you were throwing away the pulp. However, now that I have found the pulp has so many uses, juicing makes sense to me. By obliterating the food you are destroying the cells walls and extracting all the potential nutrition from the food so you can consume a lot of vegetables and fruit quickly.

Since I have been using the juicer quite a bit lately I wanted to share the research I did before buying it and why I choose the model that I did. I also wanted to let you know what we like and don’t like about the juicer. To be clear, this is something that we purchased. It was not given to me to review.

There are two basic types of juicers, centrifugal and masticating. My first juicer (about 10 years ago) was centrifugal. I found it to be very cumbersome to clean and much larger and more difficult to store. Additionally centrifugal juicers are generally not recommended for wheat grass. Since I thought we might get into that soon centrifugal juicers were out for us.

This left masticating juicers which I had no experience with. I had no idea where to start researching. Thankfully Jordan at explorave pointed me in the right direction. Thanks again Jordan! According to my research masticating juicers are better than centrifugal for two reasons, higher juicer extraction (drier pulp) and they heat the juice less retaining more nutrition.

For those of you that are considering a juicer here is what I like and don’t like about the juicer we purchased.

Pros:

• Extremely easy to use, right out of the box. The machine is very intuitive. Not being very mechanical I appreciate this aspect.

• Quiet. Unlike my dehydrator, this machine is much quieter than I expected.

• Easy to take apart and clean. My original centrifugal juicer was a pain to clean. It was so cumbersome it was the primary reason it didn’t get used often. The machine is exactly the opposite. It comes about in under a minute and is 95% clean from a quick trip to the sink.

• Dry pulp. When the pulp comes out of the machine it is very dry. This makes me feel as though we are getting most of the vitamins and minerals from the food.

• Cold juice. I have been processing cold vegetables and fruit and the juice the machine produces is still cold. This is a positive and should result in less nutrient loss.

• Compact size. This is an easy machine to store since it has both a compare size and built in handle. It also doesn’t take up much room on the counter for those of you with a small kitchen, like me.

• Doesn’t require much strength to use. While this may not seem important but some of the other reviews I read complained that the juicers required more strength than the person had. Since none of us are getting any younger, I am happy this juicer does most of the work thus not requiring much strength.

• Can handle wheat grass juice which is on my short list of things to do.

• Makes a great banana soft serve without straining the machine. Banana soft serve has become our new favorite desserts of choice.

• Pasta extrusion attachments. If you don’t have the pasta plate for your Kitchen Aid mixer, this machine will extrude pasta. I have not tried this functionality yet, but it comes with the accessories standard.

• Flour Grinder. I have not tried this yet since I use my Vitamix to make flour, but the paperwork says it will grind flour. This is something I will try the next time I need flour.

• 15 year warranty. Nice long warranty, as high as or higher than most I saw when researching machines. Given the work it has to do I was happy to have a long warranty period.

Cons:

• Body is chrome covered plastic. It looks pretty now, but I am a little worried about how this it hold up. Only time will tell. I would have paid more to get a chrome or stainless body.

• Placement of the on/off switch. I am not crazy about the switch being in the back of the machine where you can’t easily see it. This morning I reached for the button and accidently reversed the direction. It was an easy mistake to see since the juice wasn’t coming out. But if the button were located in a place where you could see it more easily I think that would be an improvement.

• Little pricey. I think it is worth the price, but wish it were a more accessible price point.

Overall:

Both my hubby and I are enjoying juicing much more than we expected to. I can definitely say we will be continuing to drink fresh juice with our breakfast and dinner. The machine is very easy to use and clean and that makes juicing something you can do without much prep.

There is another machine that we considered by Green Star, but it is almost twice the price. I think this juicer is more than enough for us.

If anyone has any specific questions that I didn’t cover please feel free to ask. We purchased this from coolshinystuff.com (the same place we bought the dehydrator). The on-line vendor shipped the product very quickly. We would purchase from them again.

Unrelated notes:

My hubby has gone downtown to work today. Bummer. However, this gives me a little time to cross some things off my to-do list.  Although I would rather be spending time with my hubby.

I should be back later tonight with a dinner recipe. At this moment, I have no idea what I am making, but I will come up with something. Dan has requested tofu chocolate mousse for dessert tonight. There are many variations of this on the blog if you are interested. Some with less sugar and one with a peanut mousse component that is particularly tasty.

I hope you are all having a great day. The sun is out here and the snow is gradually melting. With a little luck we will be able to see the grass in another week or so. ;)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Raw Cookies from Cashews, Reduced Fat Coconut and Juice Pulp



Those of you that have been reading for a while know that I don’t like to throw things away that still have a use. That also applies to food. One of the reasons I took so many years to buy a juicer is that I didn’t like the idea of throwing away the juice pulp, which I was certain contained fiber and most likely nutrition as well. Because the flax cracker worked so well I knew that the pulp needed to be incorporated into other foods. When my friend Louis mentioned cookies from the pulp and Heather agreed I knew I had to give it a try. They are so easy it is ridiculous. Here is what I did.

Raw Cookies from Cashews, Reduced Fat Coconut and Juice Pulp
Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups raw cashews (not soaked)
1 cup reduced fat coconut (Let’s Do Organic)
Carrot, Apple, Celery, Lemon and Ginger juice pulp from here
4 Medjool dates, pitted

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in your food processor and process until the mixture forms a ball. If you are concerned about the power of your food processor you can process until they are ground (but before they turn into nut butter) and then add the remaining ingredients.

I used a small disher to form the cookies and placed them directly on the mesh dehydrator sheet. Since I wanted them to be chewy I dehydrated them at 104 degrees for 4 hours.

The resulting cookies are firm on the outside but chewy on the inside.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 105.69
Calories From Fat (57%) - 60.68

Total Fat - 17.75g
Saturated Fat - 2.18g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 8.59mg
Potassium - 156.22mg
Total Carbohydrates - 10.51g
Fiber - 1.65g
Sugar - 5.52g
Protein - 2.63g

The nutritional numbers are a bit of swag since I had to estimate what was left in the juice pulp. If anything I have overstated the numbers above, except the fiber which is probably higher than shown.

Comments:

This is going to sound strange, but I am not much of a sweets person. That is my hubby’s role in the family. I tried one of these to see if they were finished, which lead to a second cookie, because I needed to take its picture whole and the interior. Who I am kidding? These things are really good! Not just good, but really good. I am very happy they only have 105 calories a piece. These things could spell trouble.

Unrelated Note:

I will be back later with another recipe. For now I need to get a few things accomplished at home. Talk to you all again soon.

Almond Milk Yogurt - Version One


Yes, that is Nicco in the picture, trying to get a little almond milk yogurt so he can be a taste tester like his human father. Good thing we love that little fur ball.

Making non-dairy yogurt has been on my list of things to do for some time. Greek yogurt is one of the things that I really miss. My husband and I started making non-fat yogurt at home about 20 years ago. It was an every weekend event that resulted in enough yogurt to made breakfast sundaes for breakfast every day for the week. We both miss yogurt. I buy soy yogurt sometimes but it just isn’t the same. It is better than nothing, but not something either of us got excited about. I knew that soy yogurt probably wasn’t something that I wanted to make since I wasn’t thrilled with the commercial versions. I have been hoping that almond or coconut yogurt may be better.

When I saw a recipe for almond yogurt in Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen I was thrilled to have a starting point for making yogurt. I read her recipe a few times and it just didn’t feel to me like it would result in something that was close to what we used to love. I took her recipe, made a few tweaks, and started the “non-dairy yogurt experiment two days ago”. The results……..you will need to keep reading.

First I made a batch of almond milk, thicker than I usually make, but nowhere near as thick as Ani, and I strained mine which she doesn’t. I just couldn’t imagine the almond bits in the end product. After I made the milk I added lemon and the probiotic powder I bought to make nut cheese. I also added a little agave to give the probiotic something to eat. Then we waited, and waited, and waited for me to finish the experiment.

Almond Milk Ingredients:  (Makes 5 cups almond milk)

1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
6 cups water

Yogurt Ingredients:

3 cups almond milk made from recipe above
1/8 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon agave
½ teaspoon probiotic powder (All flora brand)

Ingredients to thicken the yogurt:

1 cup almond milk (made earlier)
3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in the almond milk

Directions:

Make the almond milk using the ingredients in this recipe. To three cups of the almond milk add the lemon juice, agave and probiotic powder and stir to dissolve the powder. Place the yogurt in a warm place to culture. I used my dehydrator set on 95 degrees. My yogurt cultured for about 8 hours. I checked it every few hours to see if I liked the taste. When it tasted like yogurt I removed it from the dehydrator.

The texture was far too thin so I refrigerated the yogurt overnight, hoping it would get thicker (which dairy yogurt does). No luck.

To thicken the yogurt I combined another cup of almond milk and three tablespoons or cornstarch and cooked it until it looked like a cooked roux (whisking continually). Once the starch had completely cooked I turned off the heat, add the cultured yogurt and whisked to combine. The resulting yogurt was very thick. Once it cooled I refrigerated this yogurt. In the frig it got even thicker and actually cracked on top. I whisked the yogurt so that it was smooth before serving.

Nutritional Information (assumes 4 servings of approx 9 ounces each):

Amount Per Serving
Calories-  64.89
Calories From Fat (43%) - 27.83

Total Fat - 3.01g
Saturated Fat - 0.01g
Cholesterol - 0.04mg
Sodium - 151.22mg
Potassium - 196.08mg
Total Carbohydrates - 7.96g
Fiber - 1.18g
Sugar - 0.09g
Protein - 1.06g

Comments:

This tastes similar to soy yogurt, only better in my opinion. I am happy with the flavor of this. However this does take a while to make. I don’t know that I can reduce the time this process takes, but I am going to try. That is my project for this weekend.

Unrelated note:

Today’s experiment is raw cookies. I used the pulp from carrot, apple, celery and ginger juice and added nuts, coconut and a few dates. The cookies are in the dehydrator now. The “batter” tasted great before I put it into the dehydrator. Hopefully the dried version will also be good. My husband has always loved cookies. He loved them too much in fact. He is eagerly awaiting his taste testing responsibilities on this project. The cookies themselves are thick so I expect them to be in the dehydrator for a number of hours. I should have the results later tonight though.

Breakfast today


I like to start the day with as much nutrition as possible. But when it is cold outside it is hard to have a smoothie for breakfast. So that we have the best of both worlds (warm food and nutrition) we have been having oatmeal and fresh juice recently for breakfast.

The oatmeal is very simple. I cook ½ cup of old fashioned oats and 1 cup of water in the microwave. I top the oatmeal with a generous amount of cinnamon (to provide antioxidants and help with glucose absorption), about  ½ teaspoon of agave, ½ a banana and a few walnuts. It helps me to feel warm from the inside which is great when it is 30 degrees outside.  Will Spring ever get here?


For nutrition we had a quick fruit and veggie juice. Into our juicer I added an apple, 1/3 of a lemon, 4 carrots, 4 cups of baby spinach and ½ inch of fresh ginger.  This makes enough juice for two.  It looks crazy with the green liquid and orange foam but it tastes great. I also love knowing that we are getting the nutrition of the spinach first thing in the morning.  And most important to me, even my picky hubby likes it.

To go with this we had our minced garlic clove in keeping with the article from yesterday. As always I smashed the garlic and allowed it to stand for 10 minutes so the allicin could develop and then minced it finely so we could swallow it like a pill. The intensity of chewing raw garlic is too much, even for me. I do cut the garlic very finely so that we absorb as much as possible. If you are on any blood thinners check with your doctor before adding garlic to your diet since it is also known to thin the blood.

Unrelated note:

I did get the almond milk yogurt thickened last night before bed. I plan to have that today for lunch. However, I already know I will need to tweak the recipe at a minimum. It takes far too long to make now. But I have some ideas for streamlining the process. However, the most important part is the taste and texture so I will update you on that later today and let you know the process so far.

For now it is time to exercise and do a few things around the house. I hope you are all having a good day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lemony Brussels Sprout Soup

On one of the Nutrition DVDs from Dr. Greger mentioned a study in Food Chemistry that studied the impact of specific raw foods on different cancer cell lines. The article is quite interesting and covers stomach, lung, breast, kidney, skin, pancreas, prostate, and brain cancers. I read the article with great interest and wanted to immediately put the science into practice at our house. The bottom line of the article is that vegetables in the alliums (garlic and onions) and cruciferous (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and savoy cabbage) family tend to inhibit cancer growth. In keeping with this article I made a quick raw soup as part of dinner tonight. Here is what I made.

Lemony Brussels Sprout Soup
Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ cup raw cashews
2 cups water
4 cups Brussels sprouts
1 lemon zested and juiced, or to taste
1 tablespoon yellow onion, peeled
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
Veggie bacon bits, for garnish - optional

Directions:

Place everything in your blender and puree until smooth. If using a high powered blender you can cook the soup in the blender. I only pureed it until it smooth, and slightly warm. This was done to retain the maximum amount of nutrition. Taste the soup for seasoning (salt and pepper) before serving.

To serve you can top with veggie bacon bits and freshly ground black pepper.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 272.79
Calories From Fat (39%) - 107.29

Total Fat - 11.99g
Saturated Fat - 2.17g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 812.55mg
Potassium - 1198.14mg
Total Carbohydrates - 32.84g
Fiber - 9.13g
Sugar - 7.77g
Protein - 12.55g

Comments:

This definitely tastes likes Brussels sprouts but not in the same way they taste when cooked. There is no sulfur taste in this soup. The lemon gives the soup I nice acidic background. I added the garlic and onion for a little sharpness. If you are don’t like onions and garlic raw you may want to cut the quantity in half, but that will also reduce the nutrition.

Each serving of this soup contains approximately 2,400IU of vitamin A, 210mg of vitamin C, 135mg of calcium, 200mcg of folate, 450mcg of vitamin K, 320mg of phosphorus, 135mg of magnesium, and 9.5mcg of selenium. Fairly impressive for so few ingredients and so little work.

Unrelated note:

This was my first attempt at putting the ideas in the article into practice. I will say it was easier to do than I expected although I don’t have any idea what I am going to make tomorrow. Our grocery shopping is going to change a little. Brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage and leeks will now be regular items in our refrigerator. Spinach will continue to be our green of choice.

Dan and I talked about it and we will be eating a raw garlic clove each morning and evening with our green drink. Garlic had a big impact on all the cancer cell lines tested so we decided it couldn’t hurt us to make certain we get a clove or two per day. For now we are cutting up a clove every morning and evening, and allowing it to sit for 10 minutes before we consume it with food. Please don’t try to take raw garlic without food. I have tried that and you will end up with a very nauseous feeling. As long as we take it with a full stomach we haven’t had any stomach distress.

I was so busy reading about nutrition today I didn’t get back to the almond milk yogurt. The almond milk yogurt has moved to my to-do list for tonight. I will have a modified version in the frig tonight before I get into bed. Hopefully that means I will have a recipe for you tomorrow.

Nutrition DVDs from Dr. Greger – A review


For the last two days I have been watching these DVDs about recent studies regarding nutrition. I ordered these after one of you asked me if I had heard of Dr. Greger. Since I had not, I wanted to find out what I was missing and purchased the DVDs.

The doctor summarizes the relevant nutritional studies from the prior 12 months and presents them in a quiz show type of format. I have found the DVDs to be fascinating and thought a review was in order so you could decide if you want to purchase them as well. I will list my pros and cons in bullet order.

Positives:

• Information is presented in a format that makes it easy to absorb regardless of your current knowledge on the subject of nutrition (even my husband, the one that only wants nutrition cliff notes, found the DVDs to be both useful and interesting).

• The doctor does a nice job of summarizing the most recent studies and shows the cover page of those studies so that you can find the specific paper if you want more detail.

• DVD length appears to be based on the relevant science from that year. The 2009 DVD had 114 chapters while the 2008 was only 52 chapters. The first two DVDs were 90 minutes long the most recent was 3 hours in length.

• Content is not targeted to one disease; he covers heart disease, cancer, diabetes, fertility, dementia, etc.

• He also covers supplements, vitamins, specific foods, and nutritional deficiencies.

• The DVDs are packed with information. So much information in fact that I plan to watch them again this week to take notes and make certain that I didn’t miss anything. I also need to compile a list of articles I want to read in detail.

• Very reasonably priced and the purchase price goes to the Human Society.

Negatives:

• Those that like detail will feel that the information does go deep enough.

• I would have loved to get a list of the studies referenced by chapter to make them easier to find so that I can read the entire article.

Overall:

These DVDs were very well done. Much of the information they contain I have read before, but not in this format. Both my husband and I enjoyed the DVDs and found them to be useful. I am the information junkie in our house that reads this type of thing all the time. When my husband also found the DVDs interesting I knew they were well made. It isn’t easy to put something together that everyone will like, and I think the doctor has achieved that. If you are interested in nutrition, disease prevention, or vitamin supplementation these DVDs will contain something that you find interesting. I will be buying the future DVDs when they are available. They are a wonderful summary of the science from the prior 12 months.

If any of you have any specific questions about the DVDs please feel free to send me an email or comment here and I will be happy to respond.

Unrelated Note:

Regarding the almond milk yogurt experiment, the taste is quite nice. However, the texture is not like yogurt. I had hoped that it would get thicker in the refrigerator (like dairy yogurt), but it is still too thin. Since the flavor is good I think I can overcome the texture issue. I am going to work on that today. I have some ideas of how to correct the texture that will hopefully not change the taste. I will keep you all posted. With some luck the recipe will be ready to post tonight or tomorrow.

For now I am off to exercise. I will be back later today. I hope you are all having a great day. Where I am there is actually sun and little blue sky today. It may be a good day to get outside for some fresh air.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Green Tea and Soy


I have mentioned before that I have a small handful of roasted edamame when I drink my green tea. However, I had not given you the links to the articles that started this practice at our house. So I wanted to share those while I was thinking about it. Before you ask, this did occur to me as I was getting a mug of tea and a few edamame.

After reading that the very conservative Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism at Harvard wrote, “Our study suggests that soy phytochemicals plus green tea may be used as a potentially effective dietary regime for inhibiting progression of estrogen dependent breast cancer” I knew I needed to pay attention and put this into practice. Another study by the same group of scientists found a similar reduction of prostate cancer.  Here is the link to the abstract regarding breast cancer and the one regarding prostate cancer.  A more recent article by the same scientists studied the same combination of soy and green tea but looked at metabolic syndrome.  The article does a nice job of explaining why this combination may work, including a reduction in IGF-1 (a known tumor promoter).  That article is found here.

The bottom line of the studies is that preliminary animal testing suggestions that soy and green tea are more powerful nutritionally when consumed together. Since I read this we have been trying to have a handful of roasted edamame when I am having green tea. My husband and I don’t drink much soy milk or I may have tried adding that to the tea. Either way, it can’t hurt having a little soy with your tea.
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