Saturday, December 20, 2014

Glazed Lentil Apple Walnut Loaf

Yield: 1 large loaf 

1 cup uncooked red or green lentils
3 cups of vegetable broth or water
3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped and toasted
3 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup water (flaxseed eggs)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups diced sweet onion
2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup diced celery
1 cup grated carrot
1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet apple (use a firm variety)
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 cup oats or panko crumbs
Dash of red pepper flakes
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried thyme)

Balsamic Apple Glaze: (I like this topping so much I double the batch)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp apple butter (or unsweetened applesauce in a pinch)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Rinse and strain lentils. Place lentils into pot along with 3 cups of vegetable broth or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, uncovered, until done. Stir frequently & add touch of water if needed. Slightly under-cook the lentils so there is a 'chew' in the lentil loaf.  

3. Whisk ground flax with water in a small bowl and set aside. (Flaxseed eggs)

4. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together. 

5. Spray a loaf pan (or 9 x 9) and press mixture firmly into pan. Whisk glaze ingredients and then spread on top of loaf. 

6. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, uncovered. Edges will be lightly brown. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. I usually wait until loaf is cool before slicing.
The loaves freeze well too. Just make sure to fully cool the baked loaves before wrapping and freezing.
As for serving suggestions, this loaf is great paired with applesauce, sautéed greens, and mashed/roasted potatoes.

Note to vegan chef: 
I prefer the 9 x 9 pan because it there is more area to add the glazing.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer Salsa (Pico de Gallo)

Summer Salsa (Pico de Gallo)
Healthy Benefits

Antioxidant Powerhouse. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. They are antioxidants that are instrumental in neutralizing free radicals known to potentially damage cells, which can increase inflammation and the progression or severity of disease. Diets high in these antioxidants have been shown to help reduce the risk or severity of all of these illnesses. Lycopene, especially, helps protect cells from oxygen damage and heart disease.

Prostate, Colon and Pancreas. Although tomatoes are great cancer fighters in general, they are specifically known to promote prostate and colon health. Further, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that those consuming a diet high in lycopene had a diminished risk for pancreatic cancer.

Fiber Factor. Tomatoes are a great source of fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Ingredients   47 calories per 1 cup serving (makes 4 cups)
4 large organic tomatoes
1 onion chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbspn lime juice (1 lime)
jalapeño pepper, minced with seeds removed

Pulse the tomatoes in a blender to get a 'chunky' consistency. In medium-size bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and jalapeño. Cover and chill for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend.

Ethical Considerations 
1) Florida supplies an enormous portion of the USA's out-of-season fresh tomatoes, as well as slicing tomatoes used throughout the food service industry. These tomatoes are picked green, ripened en route, and arrive perfectly red and tasteless in our stores and restaurants during winter and spring. 

2) Because of the poor soil quality and warm climate in Florida, growers there use up to six times the pesticides and fungicides used on tomatoes grown in California (the USA's other primary tomato region). 

3) Worse, labor conditions for people picking our out-of-season tomatoes in Florida range from mediocre to deplorable. Safety standards are highly questionable--especially concerning pesticide use in close proximity to fieldworkers. Worse, in the past several years there have been documented cases of slavery among contract work crews hired by major Florida growers. Yes, that's right: slavery.

4) California growers, in general, have better labor practices and pesticide use practices. The problem is, California supplies the vast majority of North American canned tomatoes, not fresh/out-of-season tomatoes. Casual Kitchen readers should instantly see a possible solution here for their tomato needs: when tomatoes are out of season, stick to buying canned.

5) In other words, if you buy an out-of-season, fresh tomato, chances are it's from Florida. And that tomato was likely sprayed, grown and picked under suspect conditions. If you buy canned tomatoes, they were probably grown under better--and safer--conditions. 

Note to vegan chef
I don't add salt because I usually have it with salted multigrain chips. Pico de Gallo is the same recipe only chop the tomatoes instead of using the blender. 

Nutrition: (per 1 serving)

Fun facts
  • Although many people believe that tomatoes are vegetables, they are actually fruits.
  • Italian in Origin … not so much. Although popular as an ingredient in Italian cuisine, tomatoes are originally native to the western side of South America.  However, it was first cultivated in Mexico; and it was through Colombus that seeds were first introduced to Europe.
  • Every Color of the Rainbow. Tomatoes come in every color except for blue!  You can find them in red, orange, yellow, green and even purple!
  • Organic Matters. In tomatoes, research has shown that organic tomatoes and organic tomato products provide a much greater dose of lycopene than non-organic.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Oatmeal Banana Waffles with Blueberries

Oatmeal Banana Waffles with Blueberries with pineapple and grapes because that's what I had :)

Healthy Benefits
Bananas are a excellent source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Its unique mix of vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic carbohydrates has made them a favorite fruit among endurance athletes.  
Since bananas also contain tryptophan, serotonin and norepinephrine, they help prevent depression while encouraging feelings of well-being and relaxation. Additionally, the vitamin B6 helps protect against sleeplessness, mood swings and irritability.
Ingredients   223 calories per serving (serves 2)
1 organic banana (besides being a great source of potassium, it's also a binder)
1 cup of uncooked rolled oats
1 cup of water
1 tsp of vanilla extract
10 blueberries

Optional add-ins:
1 tsp Wheat germ
1 tsp Flaxseed

Place all ingredients in blender (except blueberries) and blend until smooth. Let it sit for a couple minutes to thicken.
- Pour onto the heated oil-sprayed waffle iron
- Add blueberries when batter in on waffle iron
- Cook for 8-10 minutes without lifting the lid. 

They should be moist with a crunchy crust. Add pure maple syrup and fresh fruit.

Ethical note: USDA Organic bananas have never been included in the “dirty dozen”. Organic farmers use natural fertilizers like manure and seaweed, and rely on insect predators rather than pesticides to keep pests and weeds at bay, whereas conventional bananas are sprayed with synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides. 

Organic is not only better for your health, it’s also better for the planet. Fertilizers and pesticides make their way into the soil and water and eventually the ocean. These contaminants in our waterways are leading to ocean dead zones and blue-green algae blooms that are so dense they can be fatal to marine animals and humans.

Note to vegan chef: Pour the batter onto the waffle iron and then add the blueberries.

Nutrition: (per 1 serving)

Fun facts: 
  • Did you know there are ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that depict people with bananas?
  • Bananas have been around as early as the 6th century B.C. (this is when they were first mentioned in literature)
  • The average American eats 27 pounds of bananas each year.
  • Bananas are one of the few foods to contain the 6 major vitamin groups.
  • Bananas are a very rich source of vitamin B6, which your brain needs to function properly and make you wise.
  • The phrase "going bananas" was first recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary because of the banana's connection with monkeys.
  • We buy more oatmeal in January than any other month of the year.
  • Oats were known in ancient China as long ago as 7,000 B.C. The ancient Greeks were the first people known to have made a recognizable porridge (cereal) from oats.
  • Seventy-five percent of U.S. households have oatmeal in their cupboard.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kale chips

Kale chips
Healthy Benefits
Very high in dietary fiber, vitamins A, B6 and C, B12, potassium, and manganese. Potassium is a simple mineral with a crucial job: helping your heart beat. A hundred thousand times a day, potassium helps trigger your heart's squeeze of blood through your body. 
No sugar and no cholesterol (high blood cholesterol is generally associated with an increased risk of heart disease) and low in calories.  
Ingredients   236 calories per serving (serves 2)
5 stems of kales broken off with stems removed
2 tspn of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbspn of nutritional yeast (and then some for the topping)
1/8 tspn sea salt
1/4 tspn black pepper

A few shakes of garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in large bowl by hand.
Place on cooking sheet as one layer.
Shake another 1 tbspn of nutritional yeast on top.
Preheat oven at 250 and bake for 28-30 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes and enjoy.

Note to vegan chef: I tried making it with 1/4 tspn of salt but it tasted too salty. Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B12. Two tbspn a day meets the daily requirement. If you are not already taking a B12 supplement you should start. Any kind will do. B12 is the one vitamin needed that a plant-based diet cannot provide. You really want it to be crispy. 

Nutrition: (per 1 serving)

Fun facts: 
  • There are over 50 varieties of kale. It has been in cultivation for over 6,000 years and is grown around the world.
  • A kale plant continues to produce late into winter and becomes sweeter after a frost.
  • Kale is an amazing source of carotenoids, which are linked to one’s level of optimism.
  • Kale has more vitamin C than an orange. (among other benefits, Vitamin C helps heal wounds, protects agains ill effects of stress, and helps to lower cholesterol).
  • Kale has more calcium than a container of milk. (Calcium, the most common mineral in the body, plays an essential role in blood clotting, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and bone and tooth formation). 
  • Kale has more vitamin A than any other leafy green vegetable. (Vitamin is essential for good health. It promotes growth, the immune system, reproduction and vision).
  • Kale might become the new state vegetable of Vermont.
  • Thomas Jefferson experimented with several varieties of kale at his garden in early 1800s.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Flourless High Protein Pancakes

Flourless High Protein Pancakes - 13.7g of protein, 14.3g of fiber

Healthy Benefits 
One serving of Quaker rolled oats has 4 grams of fiber. Fiber is a way to describe carbohydrates that are indigestible, explains the Harvard School of Public Health. There are two types of fiber found in food: soluble fiber, which partially dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water. Two grams of the fiber found in Quaker oats is soluble, which can help lower cholesterol, and the other 2 grams are insoluble, which helps with digestion. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women aged 19 to 50 get a minimum of 25 grams of fiber daily and men 38 grams daily.
Ingredients 406 calories per serving (makes 8 pancakes, 4 per serving)
1 chia seed or flaxseed egg (1 tbsp chia seeds (or ground flaxseed) and 
3 tbsp water
, stir and wait 3 minutes until gelatinous). This is your binder.
2 cups rolled oats

1-1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond, hemp, soy)
1-1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon, add more for topping when done


- Mix the chia seeds (or ground flaxseeds) and water in a small bowl and set aside 
- Add the oats and milk in the blender and blend untill smooth
- Add the remaining ingredients and purée until smooth, but do not over mix
- The consistency should be close to pancake batter
- Cook until it’s golden on both sides and then garnish with your favorite fruit
- Add pure maple syrup

Note to vegan chef
Garnish with fruit. Vanilla extract does contain alcohol. I suspect it burns off but I don't know how much, probably more in baking. Another option would be to use one vanilla bean in the blender.

Fun facts  
Everybody talks about needing protein but nobody knows how much protein they actually need. 

Most individuals are surprised to learn that protein needs are actually much less than what they have been consuming. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. To find out your average individual need, simply perform the following calculation: Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams). A 180 lb. man should aim for 64.8g of protein/day. A 120 lb. woman should aim for 43.2g of protein/day.

Nutrition: (per 1 serving)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi, a mix of pasta dough and mashed potatoes, is a delicious alternative to pasta. They have a soft texture with lots of 'potato' taste and tastes like comfort food on the first bite.

Healthy Benefits 
Sweet potato has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the vitamin C, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, and manganese it contains. They are just as effective in curing both internal and external inflammations. 

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, which has been found to help in the prevention of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. 

Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, helping to promote a healthy digestive system. 
Ingredients  253 calories (before the marinara sauce) per serving (1 serving)
- 1 sweet potato (chunked) 
- Semolina flour

Part One:
- Boil 1 sweet potato (chunked) until mashable
- Drain, put on cutting board
- Let it cool for a couple minutes

Part Two:
- Add semolina flour (any flour would be ok) 
... enough to make it chalky. Start with 1/4 cup and add more if needed
- Add one flaxseed egg (1 tbsp of ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp of water, let it sit for 3 minutes and stir). This is your binder.
- Knead ingredients until the dough has a chalky consistency
- Roll out dough into a cylindrical shape on a floured surface so the dough does not stick and cut into 1" pieces for a traditional Italian look

Part Three:
- Make fork indentations on top to hold the sauce

- Place gnocchi tubes on a bed of Semolia flour on a plate or tray and cool for 10 minutes (the gnocchi will be firm)
- Put in boiling water... When they rise to top they are done (about 1-2 minutes).
- Plate the gnocchi and add sauce of your choice (photo is a mushroom marinara)

Note to vegan chef
Gnocchi is a lighter dough than the usual pasta dough. Consider making it with roasted vegetables in a rich savory wine wine sauce ... wild mushrooms comes to mind. Gnocchi can also be made with butternut squash, russet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash and the popular chopped spinach (Gnocchi verdi).

Fun facts  
Gnocchi is Italian for dumplings.

Although the dish is Italian, the word derives from a Germanic word for knot, as in a wood knot, probably due to the short, squat shape of gnocchi.

Some interesting gnocchi facts:  Throughout Tuscany, Italy spinach and ricotta gnocchi is called strozzapreti, which translates to ‘priest-stranglers’.  Apparently, a priest chocked to death after eating too quickly because the dish was so wonderful, which is good and at the same time bad for the chef.

In Argentina gnocchi, known as noquis, is traditionally eaten on the 29th day of each month.  This was the traditional day before payday when people were at their poorest, gnocchi makes for a cheap & hearty meal.  I must want to be poor, ’cause I love the stuff.

Nutrition: (per 1 serving)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kiwano, Banana and Pineapple Sorbet

Healthy Benefits 
Kiwanos (horned melon) are low in calories, loaded with dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium as well as iron. 
Pineapples offer beneficial digestive support enzymes, a number of important minerals, and vitamins along with fiber. They are low in calories, abundant with carbohydrates and free of fat. Uncooked, juiced, cooked or even processed, pineapples provide incredible nutrients and vitamins. 
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 content in bananas all support heart health.  

Ingredients 159 calories per serving (makes 2 servings with extra filling)
1 or 2 Kiwanos - juice (see Note to vegan chef below)
2 frozen bananas
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 lime - for zest on top
- Remove the 'points' on the Kiwano for easier handling with a knife or your fingernail
- Slice the Kiwano lengthwise...marvel at the beautiful gelatin green color and seeds
- Using a large spoon, scrape the insides of the Kiwano above a wire mesh colander resting over a bowl (to collect the juice). It will be a little challenging but not bad.
- Save the empty Kiwano shell to be used as a distinctive serving bowl
- Using the back of a large spoon, press against the Kiwano pulp in the wire mesh colander so that the juice collects in the bowl. This is time consuming because the pulp doesn't want to separate from the seeds. You won't be able to extract all the pulp in the colander.

- In blender, combine frozen bananas, pineapple and the Kiwano juice (1 is fine, 2 is good too)
- Blend until smooth
- Spoon into empty Kiwano shells
- Add lime zest to top and serve right away.

Note to vegan chef
The 'horns' on Kiwano are pointy...enough to break the skin if you're not careful. They can easily be knocked off with a fingernail or knife. (The cashier at Whole Foods appreciated that I removed the points before she had to handle them.)

Kiwano juice has a mild 'sweet cucumber taste' so you can use the juice from one or two Kiwanos. Both ways are good.

Be patient when trying to remove the Kiwano pulp with a spoon. It can take 10+ minutes and you won't get all of it. Spend about 12-15 minutes on it and be happy with that.

For a little more zest and visual appeal, add the zest of lime on top. (not seen in photos)

Don't refrigerate or freeze: the shell will not hold up, it will wilt. The sorbet can freeze fine but I like making it fresh for guests.

You will have more filling than what fits in two Kiwano halves.

Fun facts
Kiwanos originated in desert conditions in Australia. It's also grown in Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal and parts of California. It's also known as the English Tomato, the Hedged Gourd and the Melano.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Gobi Manchurian

Gobi Manchurian
Healthy Benefits
Cauliflower contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check. Sulforaphane in cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function. It contains sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells, thereby slowing tumor growth.

It’s very high in Vitamin B6, a water-soluble vitamin needed by the nervous and immune systems. 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 B6 helps to maintain blood sugar within the normal range. 


Ingredients   345 calories per serving (serves 4)
For batter and frying:
Medium size head of Cauliflower
3 tbsp Whole Wheat (or Buckwheat flour)
3 tbsp Corn Starch
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Water 
Canola oil for frying

For sauce:
Water to sautee onions
1/2 medium Onion 
3 large garlic cloves
1 cut diagonally green chili pepper
2 tbsp Tomato sauce
2 tbsp Red chili sauce
2 tsp White vinegar
4 tsp Liquid Aminos (or Soy sauce)
4 tbsp Water
2 tsp Corn starch
2 cut diagonally Green onions
1/2 Green pepper 
1/2 Red pepper
Cilantro for garnish

Directions (for frying)
- Break cauliflower into florets and steam to soften.
- In a wide bowl, add flour, corn starch, sea salt, black pepper and water. Stir for batter consistency.
- Mix the cauliflower florets in the batter so that they are evenly coated.
- Use a small amount of canola oil for light frying. Use tongs to keep cauliflower shapes (instead of crumbles). Turn to light fry on all sides. Fry in batches. Don't overload the oil pan to avoid it becoming soggy.
- Remove cauliflower when it's golden brown and place on plate with absorbent paper towels.

Directions (for sauce)
- Using a wok in medium-high heat, sauté in water: chopped onions, garlic, cloves and chili
- Add tomato sauce, red chili sauce, white vinegar, liquid amines (or soy sauce)
- In a small saucer, mix water and corn starch and add to sauce
- Add the green onions, green pepper and red pepper
- Add the cauliflower and mix in wok
- Plate it and add cilantro to garnish

Note to vegan chef
Don't overcook the sauce, peppers should have some crunch to them. Liquid Aminos has less salt than soy sauce so I use that. I sauté in either water or vegetable broth to avoid extra oil. Next time I make this I'm going to split the cauliflower and bake it instead of frying. I'll let you know how it comes out. I'm also going to try it with Orange Cauliflower and Purple Cauliflower.

Fun Facts
Cauliflowers are white because while they are growing, the heads are surrounded by thick green leaves that protect them from the sun. As the name implies, cauliflower is in reality a flower: the part of the plant that we eat is the head of the immature, tender flow stems and buds. Almost all cauliflower in the U.S. is grown in the Salinas Valley, California.

I estimated 1/2 cup for frying oil.

Calorie CountFresh Vegetable Fun Facts, Interesting facts about Cauliflower