Tuesday, March 30, 2010

E-Cornell: Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition

Not that this is the best timing in the world but tomorrow I have my first on-line course for a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition. The certificate is based on the work that T. Colin Campbell did which later became “The China Study” as well as updates since it was published.  I enjoyed the book and have recommended it to many of my friends.  I thought this would be a great learning experience for me.

What am I going to do with this certificate? Nothing to speak of. I want the knowledge to make the best nutritional choices for my family. There is so much bad information about what is healthy or unhealthy that I am hoping to get some scientifically based information from a reputable source.

I don’t actually know that this will change anything that we are doing but you will all know if it does. I will absolutely let you all know what I think of this and if I recommend it. Wish me luck as this is my first on-line course which means I have no idea what to expect or how this is supposed to work.  If any of you have any guidance please share.  I would really appreciate any tips you have to offer. :-)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kalamata Olive and Roasted Garlic Pesto

The word pesto comes from the Italian word pestare, which means to pound or bruise. It can be anything that you want although in America we think of it as a basil sauce with nuts, cheese and oil. My husband thinks that I am the queen of condiments. I love anything saucy that I can spread on top of something else. I will use this on top of crackers (or my polenta and panelle hybrid), to top baked potatoes, stirred into cooked grains, on soup. This has a lot of uses. Here is what I did.

Kalamata Olive and Roasted Garlic Pesto
Makes about ½ cup or 16 half tablespoon servings


2 heads steam roasted garlic, cloves only no papery skins
15 kalamata olives, pitted
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon brined capers, drained
½ teaspoon oregano, dried
1 lemon, zested


Process until combined. You still want to see the flecks of green from the capers. It is just as easy to mince this with your chef knife it you don’t want to clean your food processor. Refrigerate in a sealed container until needed.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 18.4
Calories From Fat (47%) - 8.7

Total Fat - 0.97g
Saturated Fat-  0.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 72.82mg
Potassium - 24.91mg
Total Carbohydrates - 2.26g
Fiber - 0.2g
Sugar - 0.08g
Protein - 0.39g


This is something that I made just for me. My hubby is not a big fan of olives which means more for me. Yay! If you like olives you will enjoy this. I could eat it anytime on almost anything. If you thin it out with a little lemon juice it makes a really tasty salad dressing. It is also good with a few sun dried tomatoes, fresh parsley or fresh thyme added.

Unrelated note:

So today has been a wait and see day with nothing much to report. I hate waiting around for an important phone call that doesn't come. I guess there is always tomorrow.

On a more positive note I found an interesting standing ab workout today at the Women’s Health website. I decided to try the moves just to see how it would work, thinking it didn’t look very tough. Since I was so convinced it was easy I used dumbbells during the moves. Now I should tell you it was a better ab workout than I expected. If you are looking for something different you may want to check it out.

I have a quinoa salad planned for this evening, and for lunch for a few days. With a little luck I will have time to post that tonight. I hope you are all having a wonderful day.

Steam Roasted Caramelized Garlic

I used to be a big fan of caramelized garlic. But all the oil that is typically used meant it was out of the question. I tried roasting the garlic with a little water and it worked like a charm. If you want to reduce your oil consumption but miss caramelized garlic give this method a try. It works great for me.

Steam Roasted Caramelized Garlic
Makes 4 heads of garlic


4 heads of garlic
2 tablespoons of water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the garlic in half through the equator. Allow the sliced garlic to sit for at least 10 minutes (while the oven is preheating) so the allicin can develop before it goes into the oven. Place the halved heads of garlic on a large piece of aluminum foil and add two tablespoons of water. Thoroughly seal the foil and bake until the garlic is soft. The exact time will depend on your oven but it will take about forty five minutes to an hour.

You can wrap the heads and freeze them separately to be used later.

Nutritional Information per head:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 67.05
Calories From Fat (3%) - 1.89

Total Fat - 0.23g
Saturated Fat - 0.04g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium - 7.87mg
Potassium - 180.52mg
Total Carbohydrates - 14.88g
Fiber - 0.95g
Sugar - 0.45g
Protein - 2.86g


When I first tried this I wasn’t certain what to expect but it works great. I now make it every couple of weeks so I always have it on hand.

I roasted some garlic this morning so that I can make roasted garlic and olive pesto today. If you read the comments you know Brandi asked about how I make olive pesto so I wanted to get that posted today before I forgot. Thankfully it is a quick thing to whip together. My mind has been much more scattered than normal lately!

Unrelated note:

This is a really interesting website that you might want to check it out. It lets you input personal information and tells you what you can do to lower your risk of specific types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and stroke. I was playing with this earlier today and found it quite informative.  I scored well on almost everything but it does give good insight on the changes you can make to lower your risk of specific diseases.

I will be back later today with another recipe.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Golden Raisins

I would love to take credit for this idea but it isn’t mine. This is my adaptation of a recipe that our chef friend Ian makes. Only his version uses olive oil and wine. I made some changes to make this healthier but kept the big bold flavor. His version is lighter in color so I think he uses more golden raisins proportionally. But the flavor of this is really good so I don’t know how much I am going to change the ratio of tomato to raisin. Here is what I did.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Golden Raisins
makes 15 servings - they are intentionally small due to the intense flavor


¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in warm water and drained
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
1/2 tablespoon Chianti wine vinegar (Sherry vinegar or balsamic would also work here)
½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced
salt and pepper, to taste


Toss everything in your food processor and pulse to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate in a sealed container until needed.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 12.52
Calories From Fat (3%) - 0.38

Total Fat - 0.05g
Saturated Fat - 0.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 19.33mg
Potassium - 56.26mg
Total Carbohydrates - 3.14g
Fiber - 0.25g
Sugar - 2.25g
Protein - 0.25g


This is one of the few recipes that have gotten an immediate two thumbs up from the husband. He loves this stuff. This pesto has a huge flavor. If you like big bold flavored food you will love this. But I warn you it is a flavor rush. It also has a sweet and sour aspect to it. It is alternately sweet from the raisins and tomatoes but with a hint of acid from the vinegar.

Unrelated Note:

This is going to be my last post tonight. I need to wind down and relax. Tomorrow will be another extremely hectic day at my house. I may not be able to post anything until much later in the day. I will be back as soon as I can.

What if Polenta and Panelle had a child?

Okay weird title but you get the idea. This is something that I made up so it doesn’t have name. Surprised? I thought not. This is one of those things that comes from area 51 (what my husband calls my kitchen) when I have time to think. For whatever reason I was thinking of both polenta and panelle yesterday and it finally occurred to me that they were so similar there was no reason I couldn’t combine them into one recipe. So that is what I did. The idea was to use this to deliver condiments, nut cheese, pesto, that sort of thing. I made two versions one baked and one dehydrated and here is what I did.

Panelle and Polenta Hybrid
Makes 24


1 cup of garbanzo bean flour (or dried garbanzos you turn into flour with your Vitamix, which is what I did)
1 cup of polenta
6 cups cold water
2 tablespoons hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon gray salt
Black pepper to taste


Combine the bean flour, polenta and water and whisk to thoroughly combine. Then add the remaining ingredients and turn on the heat and cook over low heat, stirring very often until the mixture is thick and you can see ribbons when you stir. This will take a while, in the neighborhood of 30 minutes, depending on the heat level and pan you use. When the mixture has cooked you can pour it into a pan to be baked or dehydrated.

If you are going to bake do so at 250 degrees until the mixture is firm to the touch. This happened at 2 ½ hours in my oven, at which time I flipped it over to firm the other side. The second side cooked for another 30 minutes. I intially spread the mixture to a thickness of about ½ inch on silicone to make it easier to flip and it worked fine. Use a spatula to loosen the bottom as it will still be moist. If any of it sticks you can use a knife to return it the mixture and spread it flat.

I dehydrated the second version on 105 degrees. After 10 hours it was still wet on the bottom. Additionally I am not happy with the way the surface cracked. I expected the dehydrated version to be more visually appealing, but it is not. Next time I will bake the entire recipe.

Nutritional information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 37.09
Calories From Fat (8%) - 2.96

Total Fat - 0.34g
Saturated Fat - 0.03g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 101.2mg
Potassium - 36.1mg
Total Carbohydrates - 6.87g
Fiber - 0.8g
Sugar - 0.45g
Protein - 1.38g


This combination worked really well. I am pleased with the taste and the texture. Even my omni parents liked this so I would call it omni approved. Dan and I like the lime flavor and the little bit of heat that these have. This is going to be something that I make again, and often. It will be nice to have an alternative to the flax crackers. The texture of this is much softer, more like bread than a cracker.

I topped this with lemony pine nut and macadamia ricotta and a sun dried tomato and golden raisin pesto (recipe to follow). This makes a great little addition to a salad or soup. I hope you give this a try.

Unrelated note:

Today was another long day at our house. The gray weather set the tone for the day. We were both a little blah. On the bright side the new issue of Vegetarian Times is still waiting to be read. The magazine is something for me to look forward to this evening while I relax.

I am going to try to get the tomato pesto recipe posted this evening. Dan gave it too thumbs up and since he never does that I want to get that up for you all. If you like food with a lot of flavor punch you will enjoy the latest pesto. On that note I am off to write the pesto post. I hope to be back later today if not, I will get it up for you in the morning. I hope you all have had a great weekend.

Enchiladas Stuffed with Beans, Veggies and Rice and Fresh Veggie Salsa

Weekend dinners with the elderly omni parents are always tough. Needless to say they are not concerned about health, though they should be. It is always tough to figure out what to make that is healthy enough for Dan and me yet tasty enough for them. This is why typically I will make pasta or something else with flour. While it isn’t something we eat during the week it seems to be what my parents prefer. This dish is mostly other ingredients with a little whole wheat flour, in the form of a tortilla. I found that half of one of these enchiladas was enough with fresh salsa and a salad on the side. But the remainder of the family ate a whole enchilada. Here is what I made last night for dinner.

Enchiladas Stuffed with Beans, Veggies and Rice and Fresh Veggie Salsa
Serves 5

Enchilada Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice (I used sprouted short grain brown rice)
2 cups water
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
4 carrots, finely diced
2 celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
Water to sauté veggies (between ¼ and ½ cup)
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
5 large whole wheat tortillas
14 ounces tomato sauce
Cumin, oregano, paprika and pepper for topping

Fresh Salsa Ingredients:

½ cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
½ cup cucumber thinly sliced in 1/4’s
½ cup savoy cabbage, thinly julienned
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 hass avocado, finely diced
Oregano, salt and pepper to taste
Tofu and tahini sauce, for topping – optional
Cilantro, for topping - optional


Cook the rice and water and cool to approximately room temperature so that you can work with it.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in water until tender. Add the spices, rice and bean and mix until thoroughly combined. Taste the filling and add salt and pepper as desired.

Fill each tortilla with 1 cup of the mixture and roll up. Place in a baking pan with the seam side down. Top the filled enchiladas with tomato sauce. Sprinkle the top with cumin, oregano, paprika and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, until the fillings are hot.

To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients and stir gently to not break up the avocado. Serve the salsa cold on the side of the enchiladas.

Top with tofu and tahini sauce and cilantro when serving, if desired.

Nutritional information (doesn’t include optional ingredients):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 494.95
Calories From Fat (19%) - 92.92

Total Fat - 11.45g
Saturated Fat - 1.78g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium-  966.03mg
Potassium - 1348.76mg
Total Carbohydrates - 85.91g
Fiber - 23.15g
Sugar - 10.3g
Protein - 23.51g


Since my mother isn’t tolerant of spicy food this is intentionally mild in terms of heat. If I were making this just for Dan and me there would be a chipotle pepper, Tabasco or crushed red peppers in this dish. I served this tonight with salsa on side and topped with tofu and tahini sauce. The sauce is always popular with my parents. My father slathered his enchilada in the tofu tahini sauce, and he knows it is tofu. I don’t think you can get a better endorsement for the sauce than that. Another thing that surprised me was that my father mentioned twice that he liked the fresh salsa. Since it didn’t include any oil this was a little out of the ordinary. I think the freshness and crunch of the salsa is important with the warmth and softness of the enchilada.

Each enchilada contains approximately 12,700IU of vitamin A, 78mg of vitamin C, 137mg of calcium, 6mg of iron, 200mcg of folate, 335mg of phosphorus, and 160mg of magnesium. Another very nutritious meal, even with the flour. I also like that this dish contains 23 grams of protein.

Unrelated note:

Today we have more to-do items to cross off our list. I probably won’t be back until dinner time. Today I will be playing around with combining panelle and polenta. I like making panelle, but haven’t made it since I stopped using oil so I wanted to make it again only a healthier version. I think it will make an interesting “cracker/bread” to hold toppings. The idea is to cook the mixture and then dehydrate it until it is crunchy. This may take longer than 8 hours, but the plan is to use it tonight. Since some of you don’t have a dehydrator I am baking part of this and dehydrating part. This idea came from our New Years Eve at the MiniBar at Cafe Atlantico a few months back. One of the dishes was a dehydrated cornbread. This recipe is my first attempt to play around with that concept. Wish me luck.

Talk to you guys later! I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quick Snack: Broccoli and Onion Flax Cracker with Nut Cheese and Veggies

I wanted to post this to give you some ideas of what to do with the broccoli and flax crackers and nut cheese in addition to the raw pizza. As I have mentioned before I prefer to snack until dinner time. At lunchtime today we had fresh vegetable and fruit juice and this nut cheese topped cracker. Of course Dan had more than one cracker, but this with the juice one cracker was enough for me. Here is what I did.

Broccoli and Onion Flax Cracker with Nut Cheese and Veggies
Serves 1


1 broccoli and onion flax cracker/bread
½ tablespoon lemony pine nut and macadamia ricotta
1 grape tomato, thinly sliced
3 very thin slices of cucumber (about ¼ inch in total)
1 pinch oregano
1 pinch pepper


Spread nut cheese on cracker, top with cucumber, tomato, oregano, and pepper.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 154.39
Calories From Fat (59%) - 91.65

Total Fat - 10.54g
Saturated Fat - 1.05g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 102.11mg
Potassium - 231.53mg
Total Carbohydrates - 11.53g
Fiber - 6.19g
Sugar - 1.4g
Protein - 5.17g


This reminds me very much of a crostini that I used to make with strained ricotta that I flavored with lemon and herbs. The nice thing about this particular recipe is that when everything is in the refrigerator it is literally a two minute item. When I am not in the mood to cook (and yes that even happens to me) I love quick things like this. It would also be good with sliced olive, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, anything you can dream up.

For those of you that are concerned about protein this one little snack has 5 grams. While that doesn’t sound like much those grams add up quickly. Since I have been getting quite a few protein emails recently I may write a post on that early next week. Hopefully I will have the time.   There are so many things I want to do I know some of them will have to wait.

This one little cracker contained approximately 710IU of vitamin A, 23mg of vitamin C, 28mg of calcium, 28mcg of folate, 51mg of phosphorus and 24mg of magnesium. Considering how small this was that is quite a bit of nutrition. This is also great to have with a salad, in place of baked bread, or with a nice soup.

Unrelated note:

Today has been less productive that I had hoped, but tomorrow is another day. Finger crossed that I can make up the ground I lost today on my projects. My to-do list seems to get longer by the day.

For our new vegan reader I wanted to outline what we ate today (with recipes to follow tomorrow on a few items). We started the morning with oatmeal, topped with cinnamon, wild blueberries, ground flaxseeds and walnuts. To go with this we had our green tea with ginger and our green drink. Lunch was fresh veggie and fruit juice with this nut cheese topped cracker. Dinner was enchiladas filled with black beans, brown rice and veggies topped with tofu and tahini sauce and a fresh salsa on the side. I will post the dinner recipes tomorrow. After dinner we did have a cookie dough truffle. Even the parents approved whole heartedly of dessert. Before bed we will have another fresh veggie and fruit juice and green drink. If once I calculate all our nutrition for the day the calorie count seems light Dan may have another snack.

For now I need to get back to my to-do list. I hope to be back tomorrow morning with the recipes from dinner tonight. I have also changed our veggie and fruit juice and wanted to share that with you in addition to why I changed it. Because you all know there was a nutritional reason for the change.

I hope you are all having a fabulous weekend. Talk to you again soon.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Southern Italian Artichoke and Tomato Sauce over Quinoa

As many of you may have noticed my husband works unpredictable hours based on what is going on at his office so I never know when he will be home for dinner. Needless to say this makes planning tough at best. Today he was home earlier than usual and that meant I had nothing started for dinner. This is one of those dishes I make when I need a quick meal. In the bad old days I would have served this over whole wheat pasta and with either ricotta salata or feta cheese. However this version over quinoa and with nut ricotta is just a good and much healthier. I added some fresh spinach just before serving to up the nutrition. Here is what I made for dinner tonight.

Southern Italian Artichoke and Tomato Sauce over Quinoa
Serves 2 hungry adults


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
½ yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water to sauté onion and garlic
14 ounces diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 tablespoons capers, drained
10 kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
2 cups artichokes, quartered
4 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemony pine nut and macadamia ricotta


Combine the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed.

Water sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Add the remaining ingredients except the spinach and ricotta. Simmer until the quinoa is done. Turn off the heat and add the spinach and stir it in. The heat from the sauce will lightly wilt the spinach.

Serve the sauce over quinoa and top with ricotta.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 590.28
Calories From Fat (27%) - 159.66

Total Fat - 18.08g
Saturated Fat - 1.46g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 840.86mg
Potassium - 2013.03mg
Total Carbohydrates - 91.13g
Fiber - 20.51g
Sugar - 7.37g
Protein - 23.43g

This is one of my favorite sauces. I have loved artichoke and tomato sauce for as long as I can remember. It is also good with fennel seeds and crushed red pepper flakes if you like. If you have fresh fennel that would also be great in this sauce.

Each serving of this dish contains approximately 7,600IU of vitamin A, 235mg of calcium, 9mg of iron, 400mcg of folate, 315mcg of vitamin K, 525mg of phosphorus, and 270mg of magnesium.

Unrelated note:

Today was another hectic one at our place. I am really looking forward to things settling down around here. This weekend will also be a busy one for us. I should have time to get in a recipe a day, but it might not be much more than that. If I can find time to post more than once a day over the weekend I will. I hope you all have a great a weekend and I will be back tomorrow.

Reuben Inspired Stuffed Potatoes

Both Dan and I used to love Reuben sandwiches. I liked the traditional version with sauerkraut and he liked the cole slaw version. A Reuben sandwich has never been the least bit healthy, but they were a tasty occasional treat. Since bread is in the severely limit category for us I decided to use potatoes to hold the ingredients instead. I also opted for sweet potatoes for nutrition, but think that russet potatoes would be a more familiar flavor in this dish. Since corned beef is out I decided to use mushrooms, spinach and onions and the “meaty” filling. I added a little Worcestershire sauce to the filling to make it taste more like meat, and that seemed to work for me. I made a quick white sauce using raw cashews and oat flour like the base of my queso dip. I added a small amount of nutritional yeast to make the sauce “buttery”. In place of standard dressing I made something similar but used capers instead of pickles and sriracha in place of ketchup. Here is the recipe.

Reuben Inspired Stuffed Potatoes
Serves 6 as an entree


6 Sweet or Russet Potatoes
½ onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water to sauté onion and garlic
3 cups crimini mushrooms, quartered
10 ounce box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
¼ cup oatmeal, dry (finely ground in your blender)
¼ cup raw cashews
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 pinch dry mustard
1 cup water, plus about ¾ cup additional (to make faux cheese sauce)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons vegan mayo (I used tofu and pine nut)
1 teaspoon drained brined capers, or to taste
1 teaspoon sriracha


Clean and prep the potatoes for the microwave and set aside.

Water sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the crimini mushrooms, spinach and Worcestershire sauce and cook until the mushrooms are cooked the water has mostly evaporated.

Place the oatmeal in the blender and process into flour. Add the raw cashews and process until obliterated. Add 1 cup of water to the blender, the garlic clove, mustard, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and process until smooth and combined. Pour this into a saucepan and cook over low heat. It will get very thick and you will need more water. Add ¾ to 1 cup of water to blender, to clean out some of the remaining ingredients, and use that to add to the pot in increments until the texture is right. Cook until the sauce is thick and the garlic taste has mellowed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Combine the vegan mayo, capers and sriracha. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Microwave the potatoes until done. Microwave the sauerkraut until hot.

To serve cut the potatoes in half. Top with sauerkraut, mushroom and spinach, cashew sauce and finish with flavored mayo.

Store all the leftover components in separate containers in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 215.05
Calories From Fat (16%) - 35.21

Total Fat - 4.09g
Saturated Fat - 0.5g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 441.43mg
Potassium - 927.14mg
Total Carbohydrates - 38.22g
Fiber - 7.91g
Sugar - 8.4g
Protein - 7.43g


I intentionally made more of the components to this dish last night so that I could make a quick lunch from the leftovers. Dishes like this that just require a quick trip to the microwave are always my favorites. This is another dish that I could eat for a few weeks before I got tired of it. I particularly like all the flavors and textures it has. My husband described it as reminiscent of a Rueben and I think that is a good description. It isn’t the same but the flavors are similar and it is infinitely healthier. If you like salty foods I think you will like this. Between the sauerkraut and capers this has more salt than most of my recipes, and I love that. It was definitely a treat for me.

The nutrition on this dish is also great. Each serving contains approximately 24,000IU of vitamin A, 150mg of calcium, 90mcg of folate, 260mcg of vitamin K, 200mg of phosphorus, 105mg of magnesium and 16mcg of magnesium. Not too shabby for a little over 200 calories.

Unrelated Note:

Last night I tossed and turned all night so I do not expect today to be super productive. It doesn’t help that the weather has changed from 74 and sunny yesterday to 46 and rainy today. You gotta love the unpredictability of spring weather.

On my agenda today is checking on my parents and seeing what I can do there to help them out. This usually involves a little housework and possibly a trip to the grocery store. Nothing exciting, just my usual wellness check to make certain everything is under control before the weekend starts.

After I check on my parents I need to get back to the items on our to-do list. This would have been a little easier had I slept better last night. Oh well, no complaints. Things could always be worse.

For now I need to get moving so that I can kick back a little this afternoon. I will talk to you all later today. I hope you are having a great Friday. The weekend is almost here! Yay!  I don't know about you but I can use the unwind time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Carrot and Walnut Dressing with Cumin

As I have said many times I get very bored by eating the same dishes over and over again. That is the biggest reason you see so many recipes on my blog. I am constantly trying new ways to use foods to make them taste different. This dressing is a variation of the walnut dressing I posted here. This time I used carrot instead of water to add more body and flavor. This makes a nice dressing that has the consistency of ranch without the calories. I like the way it coats the leaves without feeling heavy. Here is what I did.

Carrot and Walnut Dressing with Cumin
Makes approximately 2 cups or 32 tablespoons


1 carrot, scrubbed and cut into small pieces
½ cup water
1 cup walnuts
½ clove garlic (or 1 small clove) peeled and minced
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


Combine everything in your blender and puree until completely smooth. Depending on your blender you may need to add a little water to help the mixture puree. Refrigerate in a covered jar until needed.

Nutritional Information per tablespoon:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 25.67
Calories From Fat (78%) - 20.08

Total Fat - 2.4g
Saturated Fat - 0.23g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 11.75mg
Potassium - 28.43mg
Total Carbohydrates - 0.88g
Fiber - 0.35g
Sugar - 0.26g
Protein - 0.6g


We had this tonight on a simple salad of baby spinach, grape tomatoes, and cucumber. It added a nice flavor to the salad without being overpowering. This is a combination that I will use again.

Unrelated note:

I was a little busier today than I expected. However, I did get a few things accomplished that were on my list so that was great. But it necessitated a quick dinner. I made Reuben inspired topped potatoes to go with our salad tonight for dinner. Since I used the microwave for the potatoes and to heat the sauerkraut this was a fast dinner. It is so late now that I don’t have time to get it posted this evening. However you can expect to see that recipe tomorrow.

I hope you are all having a great evening, and talk to you tomorrow.

Raw Broccoli Soup with a hint of Cumin

To accompany dinner last night we had a raw broccoli soup that I flavored with a touch of cumin. I like raw broccoli recipes since they are more nutritious than cooked dishes. This soup was born from that notion. I added cumin since broccoli and cumin work so well together. When you are making raw soup with onion and garlic they can quickly overpower the flavors of any dish. Some onions and garlic have a more powerful taste than others. I always start with less than I think I need and add more if necessary. Here is what I did.

Raw Broccoli Soup with a hint of Cumin
Makes 3 servings


1/8 – ¼ peeled raw yellow onion
1 small or ½ large clove garlic, peeled
½ cup walnuts
3 cups water
6 cups broccoli florets
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon wine vinegar (or substitute fresh lemon juice)
Lemon wedges, for garnish and finishing - optional
Flaked smoked sea salt, for garnish and finishing - optional


Combine the smaller amount of onion, garlic, with walnut and water in your blender and process until smooth. Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, cumin and wine vinegar and process again, until completely smooth. Taste the soup to see if it needs more onion, garlic and seasoning and adjust as necessary. Blend the soup until it begins to warm slightly (about body temperature).

To serve garnish with a sprinkle of flaked smoked sea salt for color and texture and include a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top of the soup. Both of these are optional but I think they add to the dish.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 214.13
Calories From Fat (54%) - 114.59

Total Fat - 13.71g
Saturated Fat - 1.34g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 397.06mg
Potassium - 769.65mg
Total Carbohydrates - 18.51g
Fiber - 10.85g
Sugar - 4.95g
Protein - 11.91g


This is another one of my quick and ridiculously nutritious dishes. I enjoy this quite a bit and could it eat it every week. My hubby is not a big fan of cool or cold soups other than gazpacho. He will eat this, but has to fuss about it a little. I always remind him of the healthfulness of this soup and that is usually enough to get it to disappear. Something tells me he enjoys fussing, not that I pretend to actually understand men (or man in this case).

Each serving of this soup is packed with nutrition and contains approximately 3,200IU of vitamin A, 175mg of vitamin C, 205mg of calcium, 230mcg of folate, 250mcg of vitamin K, 230mg of phosphorus, and 90mg of magnesium. Aren't these amazing nutritional stats for a small bowl of soup?

Unrelated note:

Last night we had another later dinner, which seems to be our normal. I am still experimenting with veggie loaf recipes so last night we had a quinoa and black bean loaf. My veggie loaves are definitely improving but the texture is not quite right yet. As soon as I perfect the proportions to get the appropriate texture I will post the recipe. We had the veggie loaf topped with sun-dried tomato marinara and served with a baby spinach, grape tomato, cilantro and macadamia and pine nut ricotta that I dressed with wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Today I have more research to do and errands to run. I will be back later today with at least one more recipe, possibly more since I still have a backlog to post. I also need to replenish the refrigerator with more vegan cheese (for salads), sun dried tomato marinara (for raw pizza) and nut ricotta (also for raw pizza). If there is time I will be making seitan sausages for the freezer as well, flavor to be determined. It is definitely going to be a busy day at my house. I had better get my behind in gear or I will never get through my list.

I hope you all have a great day and I will talk to you later.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Raw Cookie Dough Truffles

My husband has the world’s most vicious sweet tooth. Giving up sugar and agave his been really difficult for my husband. When we met, decades ago, the man put 6 packets of sugar in a small coffee. When I say he has a wicked sweet tooth I am not exaggerating. Periodically I make him a little sweet treat because he loves them so much. These are things that we eat one or two at a time and only immediately after a meal to keep blood glucose levels down since cancer is a sugar feeder.

When I read a comment that Raw Sierra posted on Vivacious Vegan’s blog about raw cookie dough I knew I needed to make a version of the recipe only with stevia. Instead of adding chips to the dough I decided to turn them into truffles by coating them in melted chocolate. Here is what I did.

Raw Cookie Dough Truffles
Makes 20 small truffles


2/3 cups oatmeal, dry
1 1/3 cups raw cashes
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cinnamon, or to taste
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water, or as necessary to make a stiff dough
Stevia to taste (I used 3 single unit scoops or 3 grams)
Approximately 4 ounces dark chocolate


Place the oatmeal in your blender and grind into a powder. Add the raw cashews to the oat flour and grind those as well. Empty this mixture into a large bowl and stir in the salt and cinnamon. Add the vanilla, and as much water as is necessary to make a stiff dough. Using a small disher that you fill to a level with dough and form each scoop into one or two balls. I made small balls and got two truffles from each scoop. Roll the dough in your hands to form balls. Place the balls on a sheet pan lined with parchment or silpat and freeze until solid.

Depending on your freezer the balls will take about an hour to freeze. When they are completely frozen melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. I do this on 30% power and stir periodically until it is almost liquid. It will continue to cook from the heat of the melted chocolate and you don’t want to overheat it so stop a little before it has completely melted.

Dip the frozen balls in the chocolate, allow the excess to drip off and return to the cold, lined pan and return it to the freezer. When the chocolate is hard the truffles can be placed in a freezer bag for storage.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 75.86
Calories From Fat (55%) - 42.03

Total Fat - 5g
Saturated Fat-  0.56g
Cholesterol - 0.28mg
Sodium - 15.85mg
Potassium - 82.01mg
Total Carbohydrates - 6.74g
Fiber - 0.77g
Sugar - 3.21g
Protein - 1.76g


These taste surprisingly like cookie dough. Thank you Raw Sierra for the cookie dough recipe. I think this basic recipe can be flavored in many different ways to make different recipes. If you have a craving for cookie dough and just want a little something this really hits the spot. Be warned this may be one of those recipes that are too good to resist. I plan to hide them in the freezer so my hubby doesn’t eat them all in one sitting.

Unrelated note:

Time for me to get back to my research. I will try to be back later today with another post regarding our dinner tonight, but realistically that will probably happen tomorrow. Have a great evening in case I don’t get a chance to say that later tonight.

Broccoli and Onion Flax Crackers/Bread

Why should you make flax bread instead of eating whole wheat bread? This was a tough issue for me. I really love baking bread. I love the smell, the feel, and of course I love eating warm fresh bread. I suppose you could say I have always had a love affair with things made with flour. However, if you are concerned about cancer and trying to keep your blood glucose levels in check (since cancer is a sugar feeder), things made with flour need to be an occasional treat. Darn it!

The store bought varieties of bread can be much worse than homemade. Check the label of the bread you buy it may well contain high fructose corn syrup and/or carrageenan. We all know about high fructose corn syrup so I am only going to discuss the carrageenan. This is commonly used in baked goods, ice cream and soy milk and has been linked to both the promotion and spread of cancer. You will see this used in raw foods as well, it is also known as Irish moss. Dr. Weil recommended you reduce your consumption of carrageenan as far back as 2005. This is something that we have been avoiding. For these reasons commercial bread has been out at our house for a while. To satisfy our bread cravings I have starting making flax bread.

This is my favorite flax bread. I love that it uses raw broccoli, onions and garlic which keeps more of the nutrition intact. We use this in place of bread, crackers and pizza crust. It is simple and nutritious. I keep these on hand so that we can make a quick slice of raw pizza. They are also great with nut cheese or okara miso pate. Once you have them around you will find they are very versatile. Here is how I make them.

Broccoli and Onion Flax Crackers/Bread
Makes 1 tray in the Excalibur which I cut into 16 pieces


4 cups broccoli florets
½ yellow onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 2/3 cups flax seeds, ground
1 cup water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (probably a ¼ teaspoon)
Kosher salt to sprinkle on top


Place the broccoli in your food processor and pulse until has been obliterated. You don’t want many obvious pieces of broccoli, add the onion and do the same thing. Place the broccoli and garlic in a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients through black pepper. Stir to thoroughly distribute everything. The mixture should be fairly cohesive.

Using your hands spread this on a teflex sheet. It will cover it corner to corner. I try to make certain the edges are reasonably square but this isn’t necessary. Place the “dough” in your dehydrator and “cook” at 105 degrees for four hours and then check it. If it isn’t too humid you should be able to flip the dough off the sheet (it will still be sticky on the back) and cut it into serving pieces. Return the crackers, sticky side up, to the dehydrator and “cook” until the top is dry (about an hour). I like mine a little undercooked so they are more like bread than crackers. But it you want yours more crisp the only change is to “cook” them longer.

I store mine in a covered container in the refrigerator. They seem to last a very long time, weeks in fact.

Nutritional Information (per 1/16th of the recipe):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 105.79
Calories From Fat (57%) - 60.24

Total Fat-  6.91g
Saturated Fat - 0.68g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 70.9mg
Potassium - 66.89mg
Total Carbohydrates - 8.16g
Fiber - 5.12g
Sugar - 0.17g
Protein - 3.94g


This is something that I try to keep in the refrigerator at all times since we use it like bread or crackers. I like that it contains raw broccoli, onions and garlic. I also like knowing we are getting omega 3 fatty acids from the flax seeds. Inflammation is something that I feel is important to keep in check. If you like this recipe you may want to make two trays at once since this keeps for weeks in the refrigerator. We also eat this with our salad in place of crackers. It really is very versatile.

Unrelated Note:

I am going to run for now. I want to make my hubby some healthy raw cookie dough truffles which I am going to cover in melted dark chocolate. This recipe has been on my to-do list for too long so I want to cross this off. Assuming all goes well I will be back later today with the recipe. After that I need to get back to my research for a few hours this afternoon.

Where has that woman been?

Sorry I disappeared on you guys for a few days. Things are incredibly hectic at the moment but in a good way. Fingers crossed! However there is a lot of research to be done in a short period of time. I have been cooking a little but haven’t had time to document it let alone run nutrition numbers. I am hoping things will we back to normal sooner rather than later. You should know we have some things going on here that will result in my being mostly off line for about a week or so. But I will warn you before that happens.

Today has been busy again, but a little better than the last few days. I wanted to post dinner from last night, but as a method rather than a recipe. This is one of those things I make when I need a quick nutritious meal.

I water sauté onion and garlic and add a diced chipotle pepper, quartered crimini mushrooms, black beans and diced red bell pepper. Next add cumin, chili powder and cayenne to taste. I use this to top sweet potatoes that I cooked in the microwave. Next I topped the dish with fresh diced grape tomatoes, cilantro and squeeze of lime. I also added some avocado on the side to cool the heat from the chipotle and cayenne. If you need a quick meal this one can be ready in less than 10 minutes. Sometimes I need things that are no fuss like this. If you had tofu or cashew sour cream in the refrigerator that would also be great on top this.

Unrelated note:

My wheat grass seems to be doing well growing inside. There are many little shoots sprouting. It is too soon to call the project a success but I am definitely more hopeful than when I started. As soon as we have our first crop I will write a post on specifically how it is done and whether it is worth doing.

I need to get back to my research and also get my exercise in. But I hope to have more time this afternoon to make a proper dinner and post a recipe. That is my plan at the moment. Wish me luck. Cooking is something I find very therapeutic so I need a little kitchen time to help me get centered.

I hope you are all having a wonderful day. The skies are beautiful and blue here with hardly a cloud. I am going to try to spend a little time outside today. Talk to you again soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cold Asparagus Soup with a hint of Dijon

Raw asparagus is something that Dan and I both like. It doesn’t hurt that is also known to inhibit cancer cell growth. In the spring we eat a lot of asparagus. Today we thought it would make a nice soup. As usual we used raw cashews to stand in for the cream. I added a little Dijon for a subtle background flavor. Morels were used for garnish because Dan loves morels, they are a spring fungus and they go well with asparagus. Here is what I did.

Cold Asparagus Soup with a hint of Dijon
Serves 4


1 yellow onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water
½ cup raw cashews
1 cup water, or what is necessary to process the soup
2 pounds asparagus
1 – 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
4 dried morel mushrooms, for garnish
Water to soften the morels
Salt or lemon zest for garnish - optional


Sauté the onions and garlic in water until soft and water has mostly evaporated.

While the onions are softening remove the stringy ends from the asparagus and discard. Remove the tips and save for garnish. Cut the remaining asparagus stems thinly and place them in your blender. By cutting the asparagus thinly you should be able to avoid needing to sieve the soup. Add the cooked onions and garlic to the blender with the water, raw cashews and Dijon. Process until smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Refrigerate the soup and asparagus tips until serving.

Meanwhile place the morels and a little water in a microwave safe bowl and heat until the water is beginning to simmer. The morels will be soft enough to slice thinly in about 30 minutes, but soaking them longer is also fine. These are used for garnish.

To plate the soup top with reserved asparagus spears, morel slices and finish with a little salt or lemon zest (if desired).

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 133.55
Calories From Fat (36%) - 48.61

Total Fat - 5.86g
Saturated Fat - 1.05g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 172.47mg
Potassium - 604.36mg
Total Carbohydrates - 16.75g
Fiber - 6.03g
Sugar - 6.28g
Protein - 8.04g


This is a lovely light soup. Perfect for when the weather is beginning to turn warm are you are thinking of shorts and bathing suits. This soup has a very light flavor, but one that we enjoy. If you wanted to make something bolder I have made it with a touch of horseradish and that was also good, but very different. This soup is also nice with a dollop of tofu sour cream or silken tofu and tahini sauce.

Unrelated note:

When the weather turns warm my cooking tends to become lighter and more raw. In the middle of summer almost everything I make will be chilled. I don’t enjoy hot food very much in the summer time. This year I plan to try to live seasonally by minimizing our use of air conditioning and eating cool and cold food. We will see how long this lasts. I tend to be a bit of creature comfort seeker. But I am determined so we will see how long I make it.

This will be the last post tonight. Time to start winding down for the evening and get my tasks outlined for tomorrow. I will be back as soon as I have time to come up for air. Talk to you all again soon.

Spanish Flavored Barley Risotto with Mushroom

Dan and I tend to plan dinner together on the weekends. What this really means is that I am tired of planning what to have for dinner and am looking for suggestions. Plus Dan knows that what I make on Sunday will turn up in his lunch for a few days so he has a vested interest. In the morning after we have breakfast we start discussing the options for dinner. It usually starts with the fresh produce we have on hand and then we move on from there. We always make a big green salad, this is a given. Today’s salad was a simple one of baby spinach dressed with lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, brined artichokes and red bell peppers. The salad was nothing too difficult so it escaped the camera.

Risotto is something that everyone loves so we opted for a healthy version made with barley. We had criminis in the refrigerator that I wanted to use so that is where this began. I decided to take it in a Spanish direction on a whim, but this turned out quite tasty. Even my parents asked for leftovers. So I would say this is omni approved and I added no oil to this dish. Here is what I did.

Spanish Flavored Barley Risotto with Mushroom
Serves 8


1 yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water to sauté aromatics (onion and garlic)
1 pound barley (dry)
Water necessary to soften barley (approx 8 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
14 ounces diced tomatoes
2 cups Crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely minced


Water sauté the onion and garlic until soft and the water has been evaporated. Add the barley and cook it, stirring very often, until the barley begins to toast lightly (you will smell this before you see it, takes a minute or two at most). Begin by adding enough water to cover the barley by a ¼ inch. Stir it for a minute and reduce the heat and cook for five minutes during which time much of the water will be absorbed. Add more water to cover the barley by a ¼ inch, stir and cook for five minutes. Continue this for about 25 minutes. Then add the salt, thyme smoked paprika, tomatoes and mushrooms and check the barley for tenderness. You will probably need to cook the barley a total of 45 minutes but it doesn’t hurt to check it early. When the barley is almost finish reduce the heat to as low as it will go and cover the pan. It will absorb most of the liquid. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley just before serving. Taste for seasoning before serving so you can add salt and pepper as necessary.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 225.28
Calories From Fat (3%) - 7.21

Total Fat - 0.86g
Saturated Fat - 0.18g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 252.93mg
Potassium - 414.5mg
Total Carbohydrates - 49.69g
Fiber - 10.17g
Sugar - 2.98g
Protein - 6.89g


I have always been a huge fan of risotto. In the past I made my risotto from carnaroli rice. Arborio was always too soft for my taste. I guess you could say I was particular about my risotto. Changing over to barley was a big deal at our house (for me). I felt as though I was betraying some sacred Italian trust. But just as I gave up olive oil I have also given up white rice, even when it is carnaroli. This texture of barley made in the risotto style is similar to that made from rice. It isn’t the same, but it is close enough for us. If you like smoked paprika and lemon you will enjoy this dish. Those are the first two things I can taste in this dish. It is very filling and makes a nice entrée course that doesn’t require fat for flavor.

Unrelated note:

The day has gotten away from me and I still need to exercise. So I need to get that done soon so it doesn’t keep me up tonight. Tomorrow is another busy day with appointments most of the afternoon. After that I am going to run a couple of errands. The posts tomorrow may be sparse, or late.

I hope you all had a great weekend and I will chat with you again soon.

Dinner Out - First Day of Spring, Dinning Al Fresco and Sandals


As planned we went out for dinner last night and let Ian do the cooking. The weather was gorgeous so we had dinner on the patio. With the heaters on patio we were able to stay out until 10pm and be perfectly comfortable. Not only was yesterday the first day or spring and the first dinner dining al fresco, but it was also the first day of wearing sandals.

Wearing sandals makes me a very happy girl and is a sure sign of spring at our house. I will be packing away my boots and most of my closed shoes on Monday. It is so nice to be wearing my sandals again. For those of you that don’t know I am sandal fanatic. I have at least 20 pair that I wear regularly throughout the season and add to my collection each year. Can you tell I love my sandals?

We had some of our usual suspects for dinner so I won’t bore you with the details again. But I did snap a picture of the dinner specials last night since they gave me inspiration for things to veganize so I thought they might do the same for some of you. Here they are:

I don’t want to frighten anyone but one of our favorite non-veggie options was on the special menu tonight. We could almost hear Ian (in his best Darth Vader voice) calling us to the dark side. We did not give in, but darn it we were tempted. He does make it tough to stay on the straight and narrow path. Having such a talented chef in the neighborhood makes life much more difficult when you are trying to eat healthy.

For our entrée we asked the kitchen to take the quinoa and veggie salad they were serving under the lamb chops and put it on top of a green salad for us. It was great, even though the chef thinks we don’t eat enough. Do you ever mix and match things on a menu in and non-veggie restaurant to make a meal you can eat? I find that most restaurants are more than happy to do this when the components are easy to swap in from other dishes.

As usual we had a wonderful time and spent far too long at the restaurant. When you have had 5 pots of green tea you know you were in a place a very long time. During the evening the Ian (the chef) sat down with us, as did Corey (the manager), Alan (one of the owners,) and Aimee (the sweetest “Pharmacist to be” you have ever met). I guess you can see why we feel right at home here. Somehow we spent over 5 hours at the restaurant. Alan was telling us that our “private stock” of good Brunello is still stashed away waiting for us. That too was incredibly tempting, but we managed to abstain. As you can see this was an evening of temptations but we made it through without giving in. This was a miracle I assure you.

My garden has started to return to life. The french tarragon has sprouted and is about 2 inches tall. The oregano has also sprouted. Oddly one of my parsley plants has little shoots sprouting forth. I can’t wait to see the dill, fennel and mint coming up. Spring is my favorite season. Somehow the renewal and return of life lifts my spirits every year.


Dan and I were just discussing what to have for dinner tonight. We seem to have settled on green salad with marinated veggies and lupini beans, with a cold asparagus soup and mushroom barley risotto. I doubt that I will get those all posted today so you can expect to see at least some of them tomorrow.

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. The weather here today is glorious again with sunny cloudless skies and temperatures expected to reach the 76 degrees Fahrenheit. I plan to take advantage of the weather since tomorrow we will be having thunderstorms. Talk to you all later.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Japonica Rice and Veggie Salad

This is another one of those quick, easy and healthy recipes that I have been making a lot lately. When the weather turns nice all I want to do is enjoy the fresh air. There is something about spring that just makes me happy. This is a simple rice salad made special by the beautiful mahogany colored rice. Here is what I did.

Japonica Rice and Veggie Salad
Serves 5


1 cup black japonica rice
2 cups water
1 pinch kosher salt
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon oregano
½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
½ cup marinated mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup brined artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup cucumber, finely diced
5 servings vegan slicing cheese, cut into bite size chunks
10 cups baby spinach
salt and pepper, as necessary


Cook the rice, water and salt according to the package directions. Add the lemon juice, zest and oregano to the rice as it is cooling so that it will absorb the flavors. Once the rice has cooled to room temperature add the remaining ingredients, except the spinach. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Serve the rice salad on a bed of spinach.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 363.21
Calories From Fat (15%) - 52.94

Total Fat - 6.33g
Saturated Fat - 1g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 349.73mg
Potassium - 1071.08mg
Total Carbohydrates - 71.26g
Fiber - 10.41g
Sugar - 4.24g
Protein - 11.7g


I made variations of this all summer long. When the weather is beginning to warm I start to crave cold food. This salad has a lot of flavor from the marinated veggies. You can add any veggies you like, these are just the ones I had on hand but they all work. If you are going to add oil to the salad I suggest that you add it at the end when you are serving. This dish has so much flavor the oil is unnecessary, in my opinion.

Unrelated note:

My hubby has decided that we need to go out to dinner tonight to relax. I guess this is his way of saying I need to relax, although he is being more diplomatic about than I would be. So there won’t be a recipe from dinner tonight. I will try to remember to take my camera and get some shots of our meal this evening in case it inspires some recipes at your house.

I need to run and get a few things accomplished before our date. I hope all of you are having a good day too.

Mild Vegan White Slicing Cheese

The weather was gorgeous again yesterday. I didn’t realize how much I missed the warmth. It is by no means hot, but upper 60’s and low 70’s feels fabulous after the cold snowy winter we had. I just couldn’t seem to keep myself inside these last few days. The windows were open again yesterday and today and the felines were and are enjoying the fresh air. They are so cute sleeping in the windows in the sun.

Yesterday I was determined to actually plan dinner for a change. Let me tell you, reading books on health doesn’t help with that process. I get so caught up reading and then I don’t spend any time thinking about what we are going to have for dinner. Making dinner was much easier before I started sharing it with everyone. Now I feel a certain amount of internal pressure to make it something that is “blog worthy”. I know this is entirely self-induced and ridiculous but it is just the way it is. So once again at 7pm, I had no idea what I am making for dinner. Some things never change. ;-) Nothing like planning!

For some unknown reason I decided that I wanted to make some sliceable vegan cheese yesterday but wanted to make something different from the cheddar and mozzarella I have made previously. Since I didn’t know what I wanted to make I started with macadamia nuts and kept adding things to the blender until I liked the taste. I also decided to try a different method this time to see what impact that would have on the final product. In the interest of science I skipped the stove and used the microwave instead and cooked the agar for less time. Here is what I did.

Mild Vegan White Slicing Cheese
Makes 16 servings of approximately 2 ounces each


½ cup macadamia nuts, raw
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (or tahini if you don't have a high powered blender)
1 ½ cups water
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard, or to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
5 teaspoons agar powder


Combine everything but the agar in your blender and process until it is completely smooth. This happens in under a minute in the Vitamix. Taste for flavor and adjust before proceeding. Add the agar powder and process quickly to distribute it in the mixture. Allow the agar to stand undisturbed for 5 minutes before proceeding. After 5 minutes process again until it is completely combined. You will need to stop and stir the mixture as it will have begun to set, but it will still be soft.

Pour the mixture into a microwave safe bowl and heat on 60% powder stirring occasionally. You want the mixture to bubble for about a minute to activate the agar. According to Harold McGee in “On Food and Cooking” in order to make agar jelly you need to dissolve the agar in cold water and then bring it to a boil to fully dissolve it. The mixture will begin to jell when it cools to about 110 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Whisk the mixture before pouring it into a pan to set. I use a glass container. In the past I greased the dish but that doesn’t appear to be necessary as I didn’t grease it today and had no problems releasing the cheese. Allow the cheese to cool to room temperature (takes about an hour) before covering and refrigerating until needed. If you cover the hot cheese condensation will form on the top and make an unpleasant texture on the surface. I did that once. Be certain to let it cool before refrigerating. It will firm up considerably as it chills. Cut with a cheese knife or cheese slicer.

Also according to Harold McGee foods made with agar need to reach 185 degree Fahrenheit to melt. You may want to keep this in mind if you are trying to use this on top of pizza or pasta and want it to melt. I tend to use this type of cheese cold on salads.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 132.26
Calories From Fat (24%) - 32.05

Total Fat - 3.83g
Saturated Fat - 0.6g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 150.38mg
Potassium - 372.81mg
Total Carbohydrates - 26.14g
Fiber-  2.9g
Sugar - 1.13g
Protein - 2.48g


I know you are wondering what this tastes like. It is similar to a mild white cheese, like mozzarella or provolone, but it isn’t exactly the same. If you have had dairy recently you will definitely know this isn’t dairy. However, it is good in or on food. It is a perfectly acceptable cheese substitute, in my opinion. I like that it approximates cheese both visually and texturally without the saturated fat with of the dairy original.

Unrelated Notes:

Heather had an interesting post yesterday that touched on blogger honesty. It was very thought provoking so you might want to check it out. I must say there are personal things about health that I don’t post on my blog. I suppose that I think that too many details about health and cancer don’t add to the conversation. When I started the blog I thought long and hard about its purpose. I considered gearing it to cancer patients and survivors but decided that may get too dark, if you know what I mean. I believe that a positive attitude is very important for everyone, but particularly those dealing with any type of health crisis. It is too easy to become defined by your disease. The doctors do this all the time referring to patients by their condition, “the appendectomy in 106B, the hip replacement in 227A”. That always felt so cold, clinical and wrong to me when I worked in healthcare. I think we are all more than the health issues we are trying to overcome.

Why am I mentioning all of this? In the interest of honesty I wanted to acknowledge that cancer is something that is always in the forefront of my mind. I do my best to plan our meals around what will nourish us so that we are in the best position to stay ahead of cancer. But we do not do everything right 100% of the time. We try, but everyone falls down sometimes. However the longer you eat a healthy diet the more it becomes a lifestyle and not something that you need to think about. The types of issues we have are eating too many grains or not making a fresh juice to go with dinner. No terrible problems, just less than ideal.  

If any of you are trying to clean up your diet and want suggestions on how to ease into it please feel free to ask. My hubby and I went from omni to vegan overnight. It was a shock to our taste buds initially and I found some ways to ease into healthy eating that made it easier for us.

Today is going to be a busy day at our house. I have a quick recipe to post from dinner last night. Beyond that I don’t know that I will have time to do much cooking and writing today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Talk to you again soon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Food Update

Not much happening here today. Dan has gone to work and I have life administration to attend to. However I wanted to write a quick post and summarize breakfast and lunch for our new vegan reader.

This morning we had oatmeal with frozen mixed berries, ground flaxseeds and walnuts. This was accompanied by minced garlic (that I talked about here), fresh green juice and green drink powder. As I said, nothing special, just our normal breakfast. The oatmeal adds body, fiber and calories to the meal. The flaxseeds and walnuts provided healthy fat, the mixed berries provide ellagic acid. Garlic was included for its cancer fighting properties. Fresh juice adds a few additional servings of fruits and veggies and a lot of nutrition. Green drink was included because it is a daily ritual that seems to keep us healthy.

For lunch Dan took leftovers from dinner last night, baby spinach topped with garbanzo beans, trail mix with dry roasted edamame, walnuts and dried blueberries. I also had salad but with a small slice of raw pizza, which I pictured above (flax bread, topped with sun-dried tomato marinara and pine nut and macadamia cheese). One small piece of this pizza is enough because it is very rich from the cheese and flaxseeds in the bread.

I finally have wheat grass soaking so that we can starting growing our own wheat grass for juice. Reading so many stories about wheat grass mold I was slow to get started on this project. I will keep you all informed how this goes. I am not the best gardener so if I can do this anyone can. Well, only time will tell.

Tonight I hope to actually plan dinner, unlike yesterday. At the moment I don’t know what I making but will come up with something soon. I will be back later with a recipe. I hope you are having great weather and a wonderful day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

7pm and No Idea What to Have for Dinner

Okay so this actually happens much more often than it should. At 7pm I had no clue what I was going to make for dinner. Since dinner normally has some sort of grain I started some bulgur cooking while I decided what to serve with it. Then I remembered the walnut dressing that Laloofah recommended that was so good. I decided to make another version, this time with sriracha. Here is how I made the dressing/sauce, whatever you want to call it.

Spicy Walnut Sauce/Dressing
Makes approximtely 2 cups


1 cup walnuts
1 cup water
1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
Sriracha to taste (I used about a tablespoon but I like heat)


Combine in your blender and puree until smooth.  Keep this in a covered container in the refrigerator until needed.  It will thicken as it chills.

Nutritional Information (does not include the sriracha) given per tablespoon:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 29.6
Calories From Fat (83%) - 24.55

Total Fat - 2.94g
Saturated Fat - 0.28g
Cholesterol -0mg
Sodium - 37.31mg
Potassium - 20.4mg
Total Carbohydrates-  0.66g
Fiber - 0.3g
Sugar - 0.12g
Protein - 0.69g


This is a nice sauce to use on cooked or raw veggies. It worked well tonight on steamed broccoli and bulgur. To be specific I used bulgur as the base and topped it with steamed broccoli and then a little of the walnut sauce. I added julienned carrot for some extra crunch and color. I finished the dish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds (black would have been prettier but I only had white). It was a quick, filling and nutritious meal. This dish is good, hot, warm, room temperature or cold. I prefer it at room temperature and Dan prefers it hot.

Unrelated notes:

Today was a gorgeous day with temperatures near 70. I have had ever window in the house open since early afternoon. With all the sunshine the ground is starting to dry out a little. The spring bulbs have peaked out from their long cold nap. The azaleas have buds and the red bud tree and dogwood should be blooming soon. All in all it has been a very good day. Tomorrow is a supposed to be a repeat weather wise. I may have to spend a little more time outside soaking up the rays, and getting a little exercise.

I hope you all have a good evening.

Quick Strawberry Soft Serve

Oh Vitamix how do I love you? Let me count the ways. Okay so that was a tad dramatic, but that machine is amazing. Who wouldn’t love a two minute fruit soft serve?

Today I wasn’t much in the mood for food. Salad wasn’t appealing to me, I didn’t want soup so ……. I decided to break out the Vitamix. This is something I make a lot in the summer since it cools me down instantly. It works with any frozen fruit. I like to use berries for their ellagic acid since they are linked to cancer cell death (apoptosis), and they taste good. I add cinnamon to assist the body in processing the natural sugar more efficiently. Orange extract was added for flavor and aroma. Here is what I did.

Quick Strawberry Soft Serve
Serves 1 as a meal


2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup soymilk, unsweetened
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon orange extract


Put everything in your high powered blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 241.76
Calories From Fat (17%) - 41.17

Total Fat - 4.6g
Saturated Fat - 0.52g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 130.11mg
Potassium - 734.94mg
Total Carbohydrates - 43.65g
Fiber - 8.41g
Sugar - 23.45g
Protein - 9.28g


If you still use sweeteners you may need to add a little agave or stevia to this. In the past I had to add additional sweetener. Now that we have been off sweeteners for many months (sorry I lost track of how many) this tastes sweet enough to me. It tastes mostly of strawberries with a subtle hint of orange. You can leave out the orange extract but I think it adds a lot. Sometimes I make this with fresh mint in place of the orange extract.

Unrelated Note:

The weather is beautiful here today. The sky is blue and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. It is so nice to have temperatures in the upper 60’s. It is one of those days where you want to be outside as much as possible. On that note I am going to hit post and head back outside. I hope the weather where you are is lovely too. Talk to you all later.

Quick Stir Fry with Black Bean Sauce and Cashews

This post is about a method rather than a recipe. I received an email yesterday from a new vegan asking me what type of things we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I thought I would make certain to include those details for a week to be helpful. Last night’s dinner was so fast and simple it wasn’t something that requires a recipe. I used the veggies I had on hand which included: onion, garlic, ginger, celery, carrot, snow peas, asparagus, red bell pepper, maitake mushrooms and cilantro.

Stir fry is something I make often because it is quick and easy, except for the brown rice. If you have a pressure cooker it can be used to make quick work of the brown rice. I find 16 – 17 minutes seems to be perfect for rice in my cooker on high. Otherwise you need 45 minutes for the brown rice.

I call this dish a stir fry but it isn’t really since I don’t use oil in the dish. I quickly sauté the veggies in water, rice wine vinegar or mirin until they are hot. The cooking process is finished in less than 5 minutes since I want the veggies to be as lightly cooked as possible. Start with the harder (or stronger) veggies like onions and carrot and add the more tender ones at the end. I stir a little black bean and garlic sauce into the veggies and maybe a little liquid aminos (if it needs it) and top with cashews. Dinner in 20 minutes (assuming you have a pressure cooker). If you don’t own a pressure cooker you can always cook a large batch of brown rice and store it in the refrigerator or freezer and reheat it in a steamer or your microwave.

My hubby took the leftover for lunch today with a baby spinach and chickpea salad like I had yesterday for breakfast. I also packed him a small bag of trail mix with walnuts, raw pumpkin seeds, dried blueberries and slivered almonds.

Unrelated note:

I need to run for now. However, I will be back later.  I hope you are all having a wonderful day.

Green Tea Linked to Increase in Oral Health

Is there anything green tea can’t do? I write so many posts about the various health benefits of green tea I may have to change the name of the blog. As many of you know I love my green tea. Both my hubby and I drink it all day long. I am sipping my second cup of the day as I write this.

According to this recent analysis of 25,000 people there is a reduction in tooth loss in those that drink green tea. Studies have indicated that the catechins in green tea inhibit the oral bacteria associated with periodontal disease. This is not very surprising since there was another recent study linking a reduction in oral cancer with green tea consumption

This is another study in a long line of studies that indicates that green tea may just be the healthiest beverage on earth. Given all the studies that link green tea consumption with a reduction in many forms of cancer it has become an important part of our lives.

Personal Notes:

As many of you know I adore my green tea. Pictured above is my beverage of choice, a double green tea with fresh sliced ginger, and vitamin C powder with dry roasted edamame. Both Dan and I have this at least three times a day. For those of you that are new readers I wanted to highlight a few things that I do in relation to green tea.

When choosing green tea the Japanese varieties contain more EGCG, we buy matcha. To get the maximum benefit from the tea it is important to brew it for 10 minutes and then consume it within two hours as the antioxidants deteriorate with time. Vitamin C powder is added to keep the EGCG available longer in the body so more of it can be absorbed. We add ginger for taste, antioxidants (gingerol) and for its anti-inflammatory properties. We consume dry roasted edamame with our green tea because soy and green tea have been shown to have a synergistic effect.

Is this a little bit of overkill? Maybe. But my theory is that if we can develop little habits like this we provide our bodies with things it needs to stay healthy or heal every few hours.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pineapple and Cilantro Salad with Miso Dressing

We first had pineapple and miso at Café Atlántico in DC and it is flavor combination that I have loved ever since. It is wonderful used in salsa or as a salad like I had it today. I could eat this salad every day. This is a very simple recipe but one that is better than the sum of its parts, in my opinion. Here is what I did.

Pineapple and Cilantro Salad with Miso Dressing
Serves 1


1 teaspoon white miso
2 teaspoons mirin
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped


Whisk the miso and mirin together until the miso has completely dissolved. Add the pineapple and cilantro and stir to combine. This is best served cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 85.28
Calories From Fat (3%) - 2.93

Total Fat - 0.39g
Saturated Fat - 0.05g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 111.76mg
Potassium - 239.99mg
Total Carbohydrates - 23.45g
Fiber - 2.49g
Sugar - 15.45g
Protein - 1.29g


This is a fast salad that has great flavor. If you want to change this a little it is also good with diced cucumber, jicama, water chestnuts, orange and/or red onion added.

Unrelated Note:

Sorry for the short post. Today has been a little frenetic.
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