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Sep 30 2011 by
I was missing my dad today, thinking about his garden and all the good things that he grew. One thing he grew a lot of were cucumbers. Not only did he like to make all kinds of pickles but we always seemed to have a cucumber salad on the table at dinner time. Sometimes it was a sour cream sauce and others a tangy vinaigrette. I was reminded of this salad when talking with Sarah the other day about sesame seeds being a good source of calcium. ‘Got Sesame Seeds?’ doesn’t have the same ring to it as the original slogan but it’s a delicious, fresh and crunchy alternative.
- 3 tbsp pure pineapple juice
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp raw honey or coconut nectar
- 1 tsp low sodium tamari or soy sauce (if you follow a gluten free diet make sure to use a gluten free sauce)
- 2 chives, green part only, minced
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced (peeled or not peeled is up to you)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Combine the vinegar, oil, tahini, tamari, pineapple juice, honey and chives in a medium bowl.
- Add the cucumber and stir to coat.
- Serve garnished with sesame seeds.
Makes about 2 cups.
Serving size 1/4 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 75, Cal. from Fat: 54, Total Fat: 6g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Carbs: 5g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 31mg, Chol: 0mg
Best eaten right away but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 day.
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Sep 29 2011 by
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning) Maybe I won’t just count the ways I love pumpkin but count the ways I like to eat pumpkin. No, that would definitely take too long. Well, anyway here’s another of my favorite pumpkin recipes. See the notes for a fun trick (or treat) to turn your ice cream into ice cream pie bites.
- 3 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut or 3 cups unsweetened almond milk (coconut milk makes a creamier texture and almond milk is more like sorbet)
- 3/4 cup raw honey or a combination of honey and maple syrup if you like maple flavor
- 2 tbsp organic cornstarch
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (no salt added)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- In a small bowl mix together the pumpkin puree, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside
- Mix honey, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan.
- Whisk in the milk and over medium heat, stirring frequently bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Simmer for 3 minutes stirring constantly, scraping the sides of the pan to prevent burning. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the pumpkin puree into the milk and whisk until well blended.
- Cover and let the mixture cool about an hour. Once cooled pour into a glass 13 x 9 pan (don’t worry if a skin forms on the top it will get stirred into the ice cream as it freezes).
- Place the pan into the freezer for 3-4 hours. Stir with a fork every 30 minutes or so to break up the edges that freeze faster than the middle. Freeze until the ice cream is a soft serve consistency.
- Scoop into bowls and serve.
Makes about 4 cups.
Servings size 1/2 cup
Nutrients per serving (made with coconut milk): Calories: 189, Cal. from Fat: 63, Total Fat: 7g, Sat. Fat: 5g, Carbs: 31.5g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 28g, Protein: .5g, Sodium: 52mg, Chol: 0mg
If not serving right away place the ice cream in the refrigerator 45 minutes to an hour before serving to thaw for a softer consistency. Stir well and serve.
Cinnamon Raisin Mochi
For Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie Bites cut some Cinnamon Raisin Mochi into 2 inch squares and bake as directed. Fill the mochi with Pumpkin Ice Cream and enjoy.
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Sep 28 2011 by
I used to work at a company that took it’s potlucks as seriously as it did it’s business. We made up more excuses to have a potluck than Hallmark has holidays or Heinz has varieties or….well, you get the picture. My Shrimp Jambalaya was often requested and that was ok with me because no one had to know how easy it was to make. It cooked itself in the slow cooker and I had only one pot to deal with cleaning up after it was all done. Now that’s as good a reason to have a potluck as any. Want to join in too?
- 2 ounces pancetta, finely sliced (omit for a vegetarian meal)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 can (28 ounces) no salt added diced tomatoes
- 4 tbsp no salt added tomato paste
- 3-4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
- 2 tbsp parsley, minced
- pinch of cloves
- 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
- 1 cup long grain brown rice
- 12 – 16 ounces fresh or frozen shrimp, shelled and deveined
- lemon wedges (optional)
- If you have time you can brown the pancetta in a skillet for 1-2 minutes. Add the onions, celery, green pepper and garlic and saute until tender about 4-5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (start with 3 cups of broth) except the shrimp and cook on low 4-8 hours.
- If you don’t have time you can just add all of the ingredients (start with 3 cups of broth) except the shrimp into the slow cooker and cook on low 4-8 hours. Adjust cooking time according to your specific manufacturers instructions. I found that my old model slow cooker cooks at a lower temperature and needs more time but my newer one cooks much faster and was done in 4:30 hours. You will know when it’s done when the rice is tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add additional chicken broth if it seems too dry before the rice is done.
- An hour before serving turn your cooker to high and add the shrimp. Put the lid back on and cook until the shrimp are pink.
- Spoon into bowls and serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze over the Jambalaya.
Makes 8 cups.
Serving size 1 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 158, Cal. from Fat: 31, Total Fat: 3g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 17g, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 6g, Protein: 14g, Sodium: 486mg, Chol: 69.5mg
Store leftovers in an airtight container for 1-2 days.
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Sep 27 2011 by
I absolutely love my food processor and my magic bullet but the kitchen tool I use most often is my hand chopper. Which is saying a lot since I use my magic bullet every single morning to make my daughter a smoothie for breakfast. Honestly though I use my hand chopped for just about every meal I make. Anytime a recipe calls for chopped or diced veggies I whip it out. Chopped nuts and chocolate chips for cookies and baked goods – hand chopper. And the most important use – THE CHOPPED SALAD. I’ve been making this salad for years after being inspired by the chopped salad served at Portillo’s Restaurant. As delicious as this salad is the dressing is what puts it over the top with awesomeness. What? Salads can have awesomeness. Don’t believe me? Make this salad. Oh, and you might want to make a double batch of dressing. If you’re anything like me the first batch somehow disappears from the bowl before it can get on your salad. True story folks. True story.
Ingredients for Chopped Salad:
- lettuce, finely chopped (you can use romaine, kale, spinach or any of your favorite greens)
- carrots, finely chopped
- red cabbage, finely chopped
- radish, finely chopped
- red onion, finely chopped
- cooked pasta of your choice (choose a smaller shaped pasta such as ditalini, orzo, elbow, etc.)
- any other of your favorite veggies, finely chopped of course (I like to add in some cooked quinoa as well)
Ingredients for Creamy Vinaigrette Dressing:
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
- 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinger
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or Garlic Gold Oil
- In a food processor (or powerful blender) add the chickpeas, garlic, mustard and vinegar. Turn on food processor and after 5-10 seconds slowly add in the oil while the food processor is still on. This helps to create a creamier dressing. The consistency is thinner than a hummus but more solid than your typical dressing. If you want a thinner dressing add a bit more oil or water to thin it out.
This is the picture my husband snapped after laughing at me for eating the entire first batch of dressing
- Next prepare your salad in a large bowl. Add in the your veggies and pasta in whatever quantities you’d like. There is no wrong way to make this salad.
- Top with dressing and stir well to combine. Enjoy!
Nutritional info will vary greatly depending on amount of ingredients used to make your salad.
The best way to store any leftovers is in separate containers in the fridge. The dressing will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
Sep 26 2011 by
I recently got an email from a friend (let’s call her Lucy) who had serious concerns about me and my family being vegans. Here’s my rant.
Lucy was concerned that we will be lacking B12, protein, iron, zinc and calcium. First of all, eating meat and dairy doesn’t not mean that all your nutritional needs will be meet. In fact I’m pretty sure that most of the overweight and obese population are lacking in WAY more areas than most vegetarians and vegans. Why is it that so many people worry whether or not vegans get enough protein and calcium but no one seems that least bit worried about “carnivores” and if they are getting enough fiber and water soluble vitamins, among other things. Let’s not even talk about the fact that nuts, seeds and legumes provide just as much protein as animal meats or that there are dozens of other sources for calcium that contain MORE calcium per serving with less calories than milk or dairy products. I also think it’s outrageous that people who eat a diet of fruit and vegetables receive criticism yet those who eat french fries as a vegetable source and drink OJ as their only fruit don’t have judgement passed on them as long as they eat a steak and drink some milk.
On top of receiving the email on that same day I had an encounter at a ‘kitchen gadget’ store that practically sent me over the edge. My kids have been asking me to make some vegan doughnuts for them so this weekend the hubby and I headed out to a local Williams Sonoma to pick up a doughnut pan. Upon entering the store we were asked by the sales associate if the kids would like to try a sample of the sausage in pasta sauce that they had just made. Knowing that WS doesn’t carry any organic products or clean ones that I know of we kindly said no thanks and explained that we were vegans who eat a strictly plant based diet without added sugars and preservatives. The sales associate looked at our kids as though they were deprived orphans who had never had a decent meal and said “Oh a little meat won’t hurt them”. WTF?
Is this what we need to teach our kids? A little meat won’t hurt you. A tiny bit of sugar won’t kill you. A little white lie is ok. One puff of the cigarette is fine.
You’re right, a little meat won’t hurt them. But it won’t make them strong and healthy either. I’d rather teach my children about the foods that will benefit their bodies and show them that making good food choices are easy and fun. Instead of popping them down in front of the TV where they are shown over and over again that ‘Milk does a body good’ and ‘Fruity Pebbles is part of a nutritional breakfast’, I’ll spend time with them and show them how their bodies work, what foods make it strong and healthy and what steps we can take to grow up knowing that we eat to live, not live to eat.
Ok, my rant is over. BTW, I got the doughnut pan. My first attempt at doughnuts produced an AWESOME tasting doughnut but the texture wasn’t right. Tomorrow I will try again and I’m crossing my fingers that the adjustments I have in mind with reward me with the perfect vegan doughnut!
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Sep 26 2011 by
Whether you follow a clean diet, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free or any other combination out there – no diet should be without chocolate chip cookies. In the past I’ve experimented with baking without dairy and my results were not so good. It took me a few attempts but this time in the end I came up with a gooey, chocolately and buttery tasting cookie. I’m not proud to admit it but my family devoured the whole pan in one sitting! My in-laws are in town visiting and we had them over for dinner. I made these cookie bars for dessert and they had no idea they were vegan! I’ll definitely be making them again and again. Next time I might even add a bit of peanut butter to really spice things up – cause that’s how I roll!
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (if you follow a gluten free diet use a gluten free all purpose flour)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup raw coconut crystals
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup raw honey or coconut nectar
- 1/4 tsp blackstrap molasses
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup sunflower or olive oil
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips of your choice (use a chocolate chip that fits your dietary needs)
- Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, coconut crystals, chocolate chips and salt
- In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, coconut crystals, chocolate chips and salt.
Combine the wet ingredients and stir until well combined
- In a smaller bowl, add honey, molasses, vanilla, and oil. Stir until very well combined.
- Next, stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Be careful not to over mix them.
Place the dough into a small glass loaf pan
- Place the dough into a small glass loaf pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. Check every so often to avoid overbaking.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 cookie bars.
Serving size 1 cookie bar.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 204.5, Cal. from Fat: 85.5, Total Fat: 10g, Sat. Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 28.5g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 16g, Protein: 1.5g, Sodium: 193mg, Chol: 0mg
If you’d like to make single cookies, form into 10-12 balls and bake for 10 minutes, being careful not to overbake them.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Sep 24 2011 by
Today marks 2 weeks in which the whole family has been eating a strictly planet based diet. It’s been a interesting 2 weeks. Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Being vegan does NOT mean you eat healthy. I’m frustrated almost daily by the lack of healthy vegan recipes that are available. Grocery shopping is not pretty. Milk in some form or another is in almost all products and those that are ‘vegan’ are filled with artificial crap.
2. Be honest with your kids. Cliff and I sat down with both Caleb and Keegan and explained why it was that we decided to eat only planet based foods now. While they are only 5 and 6 they still understood when we told them that eating meat from animals as well as milk and eggs isn’t good for our bodies and can make us sick when we are older. For being 2 VERY picky eaters they have both been very open to trying all the new things we are eating and they are the first ones to ask if something is vegan or not before putting it in their mouths.
3. Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you stop liking the way it tastes. Cliff, the ultimate meat fan, has been so supportive in this new lifestyle. I know each night when we sit down for dinner that he’d rather there be a steak in front of him instead of a quinoa loaf. That’s not to say he isn’t liking the meals, just that he’d rather it still be meat. Although we’ve both taken the time to educate ourselves as much as possible about the effects of animal protein on our bodies and while we both like the taste of meat, neither of us will ever put a bite of it in our mouths again.
4. The beginning of a journey is usually the hardest and this is no exception. Between the lack of healthy vegan recipes and the limits imposed by my family of picky eaters I have yet to stock pile a bunch of go to recipes. I also haven’t found my stride. Each night it still takes me a good 30 minutes to prepare dinner. When we were eating clean I could get dinner on the table in 15 minutes and some night, when I had no time, I could throw together a grilled cheese and be done. Not anymore. My goal for the next 2 weeks is to find some easy, quick and tasty meals that I can throw together in 15 minutes or less.
5. I LOVE BEING VEGAN! I’ve never had issues with my skin but now it’s practically glowing. I wake up with more energy. I’m not constantly hungry throughout the day and I feel lighter after eating. The changes in my husband have been just as great. He’s lost a bunch of weight, he’s in a better mood, has more energy and stressful situations seem not to bother him anymore.
While the last 2 weeks have been hard and a lot of work – I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know as time goes on that it will get easier. I’ll discover my recipes and things will start to get easier and quicker. Now I’m off to have a great breakfast, have fun with my kids and celebrate 7 wonderful years being married to my soulmate.
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Sep 24 2011 by
I’m not gonna lie. Eating a healthy plant-based diet is HARD! So so so many of the ‘vegan’ products on the market are filled with artificial sugars, tons of chemicals and a buttload of processed ingredients. Coming up with a tasty and healthy meal for dinner has never been so hard. I know it will just take time to get used to this lifestyle as it does whenever you start a new journey but I feel out of my league and slightly scared. I read in a magazine that all kids like refried beans. I gave them to my kids and they spit them out. I was told lentil soup would be a big hit. My son gagged on it. I was really starting to get worried. How many times could we eat Quinoa Loaf and Crunchy Burgers Patties? When we first started eating a “clean” diet, I would go through my recipes and clean up our favorites. Why couldn’t I do the same thing now? You all know I have a thing with meatballs – don’t judge! Lentils make a great substitute for meat and I knew that I could make a great meatless meatball. I used an old family recipe and switched a few things around and ended up with a great tasting dinner that everyone loved. My meat loving hubby gave these 2 thumbs up and even the kids enjoyed them (they didn’t like them too much on their own but once we put a bit of Homemade Ketchup on top they really seemed to like them). Whether you’re a meat eater or not, give them a try – you’ll be surprised how little you’ll miss the meat.
- 1 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs (if you follow a gluten free diet make sure to use gluten free bread when making your breadcrumbs)
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups diced onions
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 3 cups lentils, mashed
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup no salt added tomato paste
- 2 cups cooked rice (a plain short grain or jasmine rice works best)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or Garlic Gold Oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with non stick foil and set aside.
- In a large saute pan add oil and heat on high heat. Once the oil is hot add the carrots and onions and saute until tender.
- In a large bowl mix together the carrots and onions with the remaining ingredients.
Roll into approximately 48 balls and place on a baking sheet
- Using the palms of your hands roll the mixture into 1-2 inch sized balls. Place each ball on the baking sheet and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until hot all the way to the center.
- Remove from oven and serve over rice, pasta or a salad. Enjoy!
Makes approximately 48 bites.
Serving size 6 bites.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 162, Cal. from Fat: 21, Total Fat: 2.5g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 27g, Fiber: 8g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 9g, Sodium: 132mg, Chol: 0mg
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. They also freeze rather well. You can easily reheat in the microwave or oven.
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Sep 23 2011 by
I like double duty meals. Make one protein and get two meals from it. One of my favorite double duty meats is a boneless pork butt that is slow cooked, shredded and then used in bbq pork sandwiches and later as pork carnitas. This carnitas recipe is so easy it hardly counts as a recipe but it sure is good. Besides the spicy good taste of the pork, I love the way one side gets fried all crispy and brown before serving. So get your slow cooker out and let it do the work but you must certainly take all the credit for 2 great meals this week.
- 2 – 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Anaheim chili (mild) or 1 jalapeno chili (hot), ribs and seeds removed, diced
- 1 lemon
- whole grain tortillas of your choice
- diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese (optional toppings)
- Mix 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and coriander together and rub evenly all over the pork.
- Place in a slow cooker and add the onion, garlic and chili pepper.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the top.
- Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4 hours. Adjust cooking time according of your slow cooker if necessary.
- Once the meat is tender enough to shred with a fork, remove from the cooker and cool 10-15 minutes.
- Pull apart with a fork.
- When ready to serve the carnitas heat the remaining oil on high in a large skillet. Once the oil is very hot place about 2 cups of the shredded meat into the pan. Press down with a spatula or a sandwich/grill press (a brick wrapped in foil works too) and sear one side of the meat until it is a crispy golden brown.
- Serve on tortillas with your favorite toppings.
2 cups of pork makes approximately 8 carnitas served in a tortilla.
Serving size 1 carnita.
Nutrients per serving (pork only): Calories: 170, Cal. from Fat: 72, Total Fat: 8g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 4g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 2g, Protein: 19g, Sodium: 280mg, Chol: 51mg
With the remaining pork add some Homemade BBQ Sauce and serve over whole grain buns. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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Sep 22 2011 by
I’ve never been a big meat eater. Veggies have always been more of my thing. But when we decided to switch to a plant-based diet I kept thinking about all the meals that I would be giving up. Burgers, lasagna, sweet and sour chicken, omelets, etc. There was definitely a voice in the back of my head questioning whether or not we could really do this. Then I took a bite of these burgers and I never heard from that voice again! Best. Burgers. Ever! This was one of the first meals I made after we gave up animal based foods and there were no leftovers! My whole family of picky eaters loved them! I made them a few days later and made a bigger batch this time. We ate them throughout the week for lunch and I even put a few in the freezer for when I need a quick meal and have no time to cook. Give them a try – you won’t be sorry!
- 1/2 a medium onion, diced
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ground flax
- 3 tbsp lukewarm water
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs
- 1 cup grated carrot (or 1/2 cup grated carrot and 1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli)
- 1 cup cooked lentils, mashed
- 1 – 2 tbsp oregano
- 1/2 cup almonds, crushed (place almonds in a plastic zip bag, seal and using a hammer or meat tenderizer, crush almonds until you have a coarse consistency)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or Garlic Gold Oil plus extra for frying
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari (if you follow a gluten free diet make sure to use a gluten free sauce)
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp parsley
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Homemade Hamburger Buns or your favorite hamburger buns
- In a small bowl mix together the ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp lukewarm water. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- In a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are a nice golden brown.
- In a blender or food processor (or even a magic bullet), add the oats and pulse until you have a flour consistency.
Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix well
- Place all ingredients (including oat flour and flax mixture) into a large mixing bowl and stir well.
Using your hands form dough into 8-10 patties
- Using your hands, shape the dough into patties. Pack dough as tightly as possible. This recipe yields 8-10 patties.
Fry burgers in skillet until they are golden brown on each side
- Using the same skillet that you cooked the onions in add a tbsp of olive oil and heat on high heat. Add as many burgers to the skillet as will fit and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes each side. (You can also bake these burgers in the oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.)
- Repeat with the remaining burgers until all have been cooked.
- Place burgers on hamburger buns and top with your choice of toppings.
Makes about 8-10 patties.
Serving size 1 patty.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 133, Cal. from Fat: 45.5, Total Fat: 5g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 17g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 2g, Protein: 5.5g, Sodium: 172mg, Chol: 0mg
I like to make these burgers in a big batch, fry them up and then pop them in the freezer. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until heated all the way through.
You can also store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
If you follow a gluten free diet make sure to use gluten free hamburger buns and use gluten free bread when making your Homemade Breadcrumbs.