Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pineapple Stir Fry with Quinoa

One of my favorites ... a fun way to have stir fry!

Healthy benefits

This stir fry is very high in manganese, vitamins B6 and C. Manganese is a mineral that is part of many different enzymes working throughout the body.  Vitamin B6 helps nerve cells to communicate. It is involved in making hormones, insulin, antibodies, and cell membranes, and is needed for the normal breakdown of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects cells against damage, helps wounds to heal, fights infections, promotes healthy bones, teeth, gums and blood vessels, and aids in the absorption of iron.

It's also high in magnesium and vitamin A.
Magnesium is a mineral important for muscle contractions, a healthy nervous system, immune system and strong bones. It is involved in hundreds of enzyme reactions in the body. Vitamin A is needed for normal vision, immunity, growth and reproduction. It keeps the mucous linings of the respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts healthy to prevent bacteria and viruses from entering. 

There is no cholesterol and it's low in saturated fat.

Ingredients (serves 3, 345 calories per serving. One serving is without pineapple shell)
Pineapple and quinoa are the core ingredients, but you can use whatever you have for vegetables.
Chunks from pineapple (about 2 cups)
1/2 carrot
1/4 cup green bell pepper
1 tbsp ginger
4 button mushrooms
3 scallions
1/4 cup zucchini
1/4 cup peanuts
2 tbsp chives
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp lliquid aminos (or lite soy sauce)
2 tbsp water
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock


  • Slice pineapple lengthwise starting at the base and cut through the top leaves with a long knife
  • Remove the core 
  • Remove the pineapple chunks and chop into bite size pieces
  • Prepare one cup of quinoa with 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Cut vegetables into small pieces. Use a large wok.
  • Stir fry ingredients in 2 tbsp of water quickly (within a minute) at high temperature, continually tossing as you add each ingredient
  • Be sure to add the vegetables that take the longest to cook to the pan first. Carrots first, ginger and garlic last. After all vegetables are cooked add soy sauce and mix.
  • Add cooked quinoa into wok and briefly toss
  • Spoon stir-fry mix into the pineapple halves and serve

Note to vegan chef
You will have more stir fry than what fits into the two halves so plan on having one serving as extra or as leftovers. So it's really 3 servings of stir fry. Add more soy sauce and water if you prefer more juice.

Reference:  Calorie Count

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Refreshing ... Tiny's chef: "Didn't need to mark menu as 'vegan' because it's normal food."

It was my good fortune to get a lunch recommendation from a local P-town dog-owner for Tiny's Restaurant, a local organic-scratch kitchen serving breakfast and lunch. He couldn't say enough good things about it. He was right and now I'm a fan of Tiny's too.  

I was surprised to see so many vegan choices throughout the menu interspersed with traditional fare. After enjoying the Vegan Caesar Salad with garlicky tempeh croutons, which was outstanding, I had the pleasure of chatting with Chef/Owner Kristyn Samok. 

I asked Kristyn why the vegan food dishes were not marked as 'vegan' on the menu. She said, 'she didn't need to mark them as 'vegan' because it's normal food. Why get caught up in labeling food? Vegans and non-vegan love delicious healthy food.' It was so refreshing to hear this! We both agreed that the word 'vegan' tends to create a distance with those who are unfamiliar with vegan food perhaps because of their fear of the unknown. Having vegan dishes blend in the menu with traditional fare did make it more approachable!

Vegan Caesar Salad with garlicky tempeh croutons
Tiny's Restaurant in Provincetown, MA

Tiny's website shares ' Our food is deliciously casual with an occasional fluffy flair, it's approachable. Our food ideas are influenced by years of cooking with pan cultural staffs and eating in various parts of the world. It's great for us to have the ability to create new menus from week to week without having to try to fit into a specific box. And to share some of our experiences through food. "

I'm already looking forward to my next visit.

Tiny's (local food from farm to table), 336 Commercial Street, Provincetown MA Facebook link

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

If you love rich chocolate, you'll love this chocolate pudding. 

Healthy Benefits
Soy milk is naturally high in essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients provide energy and keep your body functioning at its optimum level.

One tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder contains 3 to 9 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc. In addition to carrying oxygen, iron helps make red blood cells and is essential for your immune system. Manganese is a component of enzymes that form cartilage and bones, metabolize nutrients and function as antioxidants inside every cell in your body. Magnesium helps produce energy and maintain a normal heart rhythm. Zinc is vital for the production and development of new cells, including immune system cells. Without enough zinc, the number of bacteria-fighting cells goes down and you become more susceptible to illness. 

Ingredients (130 calories per cookie, makes 4 servings)
1-1/2 cup soy milk
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup maple syrup

- Whisk all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. 
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until pudding is thickened. 
- Pour into individual serving dishes and chill. 

Note to vegan chef
You can add 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract but I left it off because of the alcohol content. I tried swapping the maple syrup for agave nectar but it doesn't work, stay with the maple syrup. You can use almond milk in place of soy and it's fine. When I first started making this I used rice milk and it was good but there's no protein in rice milk so I switched to soy or almond milk.

Recipe modified from Food for Life by Neal Barnard, MD, Recipes by Jennifer Raymond, p278.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Zucchini Bread Cookies

Zucchini Bread Cookies don't last long in my house

Here's a great way to enjoy fresh zucchini and satisfy your sweet tooth.

Healthy Benefits
Zucchini and oats are a powerful combination for people on a diet since zucchini has a high water content (over 95%) and oats which stays in you stomach longer, making you feel full longer. You will have less hunger and cravings.

Zucchini contains Vitamin C and lutein, both of which are good for eyes. It also contains useful amounts of folate, potassium, and vitamin A, necessary for a human body.

Oats provide high levels of fiber, low levels of fat, and high levels of protein putting it on the short list for the highest protein levels of any grain. It stabilizes blood sugar and reduces risk of diabetes (type 2). Oats removes your bad cholesterol (without affecting your good cholesterol) and contains unique antioxidants beneficial for preventing heart disease.

Ingredients (90 calories per cookie, makes 20 cookies)

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole spelt flour (which is wheat flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp all spice

1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 cup grated zucchini (leave the skin on)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins

- Preheat oven to 375°F.  
- Prepare a large baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray or lining with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. 
In a separate bowl, mix the coconut oil, applesauce and maple syrup.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix. 
Fold in the walnuts and raisins. Gently stir in the zucchini. 
- Take spoonfuls of the batter and roll into golf ball sized cookies. Place each cookie on the prepared baking sheet and press down to flatten slightly.
- Bake for 13 minutes, until cookies feel firm on top and are lightly browned on the bottom
- Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes to firm up a bit more, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.

Note to vegan chef
I like them as is but you can add more applesauce to make them more moist.

References: Zucchini, 10 Benefits of Oatmeal, Nutrition by Calorie Count

Recipe modified from Running to the Kitchen

What Color is Your Diet?

Image courtesy of

When you’re picking up the freshest produce from your local farmer's market and planning your meals you might consider the ‘seven colors of health food’ as medical researcher David Heber, M.D. presented in his book, ‘What Color is Your Diet?

The idea is that colors don't just make food pretty. They are there because specific nutrients have specific colors. Each color group represents a family of nutritional compounds - the deeper, the more nutritious.

Here's the basic rundown:

Red – These foods are rich in lycopene, which reduces cancer risk by ridding the body of free radicals that can damage genes. Examples: tomatoes, watermelons, and pink grapefruit.

Red/Purple – These are loaded with anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that can help protect against heart disease. Examples: grapes, red wine, beets, blueberries, strawberries, eggplant and red apples.

Orange – These foods contain alpha- and beta-carotenes, thought to improve cell-to-cell communication, night vision, and slow cancer. Examples: carrots, mangoes, winter squash, and sweet potatoes.

Orange/Yellow – These foods contain vitamin C, which protects cells, and beta-cryptoxanthin, one of the many carotenoid compounds that Heber recommends. Examples: oranges, tangerines, papayas, and nectarines.

Yellow/Green – These foods are rich sources of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which contribute to eye health and reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Examples: spinach and other greens, yellow corn, green peas, and avocados.

Green – These foods contain sulforaphane, isothiocyanate, and indoles, which Heber says stimulate liver genes to make compounds that break down cancer-causing chemicals. Examples: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, and kale.

White/Green – These foods contain flavonoids that protect cell membranes. Examples: onions, garlic, celery, pears, white wine, endive, and chives.

Did you know: The Needham Community Farm is a small, non-profit located in Needham. Their mission of the farm is to engage the community in nature and the food system. They accomplish this through education and by donating fresh produce to the Needham Community Council Food Pantry. It firmly believes that everyone should have the opportunity to eat quality, local, fresh produce, sustainably grown no matter their socioeconomic status. #foodjustice