Tag Archives: vegetarian

Thanksgiving – Don’t Join Them, Beat Them!

22 Nov

Isn’t Thanksgiving one of THE best days of the year?!  The sound of football and family talking, the smell of herbs roasting, and the sensation of binging on your favorite once-a-year recipes.  I adore this holiday because it brings together my family and friends over an amazingly delicious and unique meal.  Most of the dishes we serve on Thanksgiving are only served on this holiday, which makes it that much more special.  AND I love left-overs!  What holiday has left-overs like Thanksgiving?  Not one.

turkeys
I have been celebrating Thanksgiving as a vegetarian since 1997. For me it is easy and it always has been.  However, some of you fledglings out there are daunted by the prospect of sitting down with your family and not eating turkey flesh.  If your main worry is the heckling you will receive, my best advice is to beat them. I don’t mean pound them with your fists, although tempting after you hear those boring vegetarian jokes for the hundredth time.  I refer to making a better meal for yourself (and your fellow diners if they choose to pull their heads out of their…) than they have made for themselves.  Make them jealous of your fantastic concoctions!

There is not one traditional Thanksgiving recipe you can’t alter to make vegetarian.  You can even make a turkey flesh alternative with seitan if you so choose.  I have been wowing meat eaters on Thanksgiving with recipes like Walnut Apple Stuffing, Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes, Tofurky Roast in a homemade Savory Sauce and Roasted Root Vegetables, Vegetable Pot Pie, etc.  Every year I am surprised by the reactions from my meat eating co-diners when they taste a well executed vegetarian dish.  I am not surprised that they think it’s great, I am surprised by their amazement.  You would think in the year 2013 people would KNOW our food is fantastic.  *shrugs*

Below is a Thanksgiving recipe for your taste buds to discover.  Remember, don’t join them, beat them this Thanksgiving!

VEGETARIAN POT PIE

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1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or substitute vegan margarine)

2 small heads fennel, finely chopped (about 3 cups)

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)

12 ounces crimini or white button mushrooms, sliced (about 5 cups)

2-3 red potatoes, diced small (about 2 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup low-sodium mushroom broth

1 cup whole milk (or substitute plain soy)

1 cup frozen baby green peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives

1/4 cup parsley

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 large egg yolk (remove from recipe if vegan)

7 ounces store-bought puff pastry or pie dough, defrosted if frozen (vegan and gluten-free options available in most health food stores)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Melt butter over medium heat in a 3 to 4 quart heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add fennel, onions, and carrots, and cook until just soft and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and potato, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms have let off water and are shrunken, about 6 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir to coat, and cook until raw flavor is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully add broth and milk, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, add peas, herbs, and vinegar, and stir to coat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn filling into an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.

Whisk egg together with 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.

Cut dough to fit over the baking dish. Place dough over filling and tuck into the edges of the dish. Brush dough with egg wash and cut slits in the top to vent. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and mixture is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit at least 5 minutes before serving.

Quinoa is SUPER

24 Apr

Not only is quinoa delicious, it is high in protein, fiber and iron, and it’s gluten free.  Quinoa has every one of the nine essential amino acids. These nine essential amino acids are the ones that your body cannot synthesize in quantities sufficient to sustain good health, so they need to come from food sources.  It is also reported to help migraine headaches, because it is a great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax blood vessels, preventing the constriction and rebound dilation characteristic of migraines.  Low dietary levels of magnesium can also lead to hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and heart arrhythmias.  Quinoa is good for the heart.

Many people think that quinoa is a type of grain, but it’s not. Quinoa is actually the seed of a plant related to spinach. This food staple is grown in the mountains of Ecuador and was once called “the gold of the Inca’s” because it increased stamina. At that time, the Incas didn’t know about quinoa’s nutritional facts or amino acids.

So now that you know how super quinoa is for you, try one of these unique recipes.

Pineapple Quinoa Boat

1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced

4 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 red onion, diced

1 cup Shiitake mushrooms

1 cup kale, shredded

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp dried jalapeno

1/2 cup finely diced pineapple

2 Tbsp mint, chopped

2 Tbsp Tahini

3 Tbsp pineapple juice

to taste: splash of tamari, fine black pepper, and pinch of salt

  • Cook your quinoa. I used 1 1/4 cups dry quinoa + 1 cup water + 1 cup veggie broth + pinch salt. Set cooked quinoa aside.
  • Put Quinoa, diced pineapple (not the finely chopped), red onion, shiitake mushrooms, 1 Tbsp mint, kale, nutritional yeast and jalapeno to the pan with a splash of safflower oil. Turn heat to high and cook for about 3 minutes – moving quinoa around so it cooks on all sides. A few crisped bits of quinoa is a good thing. Add a splash of tamari, black pepper and salt to taste. Transfer the fried quinoa to a bowl. Set aside.
  • Quickly sauté the 1/2 cup finely diced pineapple to add as a garnish later. Just brown the edges a bit. The pineapple will pick up the flavor left in the pan. Set aside.
  • Mix the tahini, pineapple juice, and chopped mint for the sauce, and set aside.
  • To plate you spoon in the quinoa mix into a pre-hollowed pineapple. Then add the pineapple garnish over top. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp fresh chopped mint on top. You can serve with the dressing on the side or you can add right over top this dish.

Italian Quinoa Cakes

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 flax egg (1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of hot water)

1/2 cup almond flour

2 green onions sliced thinly

2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella Cheese-Style Shreds (or “real” mozzarella if that floats your boat)

1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp olive oil, for cooking

  • Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine.
  • Form compact cakes with about 1/2 cup of the mix per cake.
  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat with 1 tsp olive oil.
  • Place quinoa cakes in the pan and cook about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  • Serve over a bed of salad.

 

Quinoa Brazil Nut Paella

 

1 cup whole grain quinoa

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 orange, juiced (about 1/4 cup juice)

1/2 orange de-seeded and diced

2 tsp orange and lemon rind zest

1 lemon, juiced

1 bag frozen mixed organic veggies (peas, corn, carrots)

1 large onion, chopped

2 white button mushrooms, chopped

7 cloves garlic, chopped thickly

1/2 Serrano pepper, roasted, de-seeded and chopped

1/2 cup Brazil nuts, chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp vegan buttery spread

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon saffron strands

1 tsp cayenne

generous black pepper

sea salt to taste

Prep:

  • Rinse and dry quinoa with cold water. Set aside.
  • Juice, chop and zest the orange.
  • Juice and zest the lemon.
  • Chop onion, garlic, mushrooms and Brazil nuts.
  • De-seed and slice Serrano pepper. Roast strips of pepper.
  • Microwave frozen veggies for two minutes (or thaw on counter prior to use)

In soup pan:

  • Add oil, vegan spread, a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Turn heat to high-until oil sizzles.
  • Add onion, garlic, pepper, Brazil nuts and bay leaves.
  • Saute for a few minutes, on medium heat.
  • Add chopped orange and orange zest.
  • Saute uncovered for an additional few minutes.
  • Fold in 3/4 package of frozen veggies (thawed or warmed).
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Saute on medium-high for five minutes, stirring constantly.
  • When all ingredients are cooked through and slightly browned, remove 1/2 of veggies from pot. Set aside, covered.

Quinoa:

  • Turn heat to high and add veggie broth, cayenne, saffron and orange juice.
    Bring to boil.
  • (Yes, half the portion of veggies will still be in the pot.)
  • Add dry quinoa and stir.
  • Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir occasionally.
  • When quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, remove cover and fold in remaining veggies to pot.
  • Re-cover and allow to cook on low heat for five minutes. (This should add a nice browning effect to the bottom layer of quinoa.
  • Fluff finished quinoa with fork.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving.
  • Serve hot. Garnish with grated/chopped raw Brazil nuts.

 

Thanks to http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2009/03/recipe-vegan-quinoa-brazil-nut-paella.html for the paella recipe. 

 

Easter Bunnies Love Carrots

5 Apr

For Easter, most people think of ham and eggs.  But I think of carrots, because that cute Easter Bunny loves them so.  Not only are carrots a super food, they also are amazingly versatile. Different cooking methods highlight different flavors and can bring out surprising changes in how they taste.  Here are a few unique carrot recipes:

Turkish Carrot Salad

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 cup whole milk plain yogurt (or Plain Vegan Yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 small clove)
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups grated carrots (3 to 4 carrots, depending on size)
  • 1 tablespoon mint, plus additional for garnish

In a small dry skillet over medium heat, gently toast the cumin seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool and grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, garlic, cayenne, sugar, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of the ground cumin. (For improved flavor, make the dressing an hour or two before assembling the salad.)

Right before serving, toss the carrots and mint together gently. Add enough dressing to coat the salad thoroughly. Adjust seasoning, adding more cumin and salt to taste. Sprinkle with additional mint.

Carrot Soup

  • 1 lb fresh carrots
  • 1 medium Russet potato
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (or vegan margarine)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 qt vegetable broth or stock
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste
  • A bit of parsley for garnish

Peel the carrots, then trim the top and bottom ends. Cut carrots into (roughly) same-sized pieces, about ½ inch to 1 inch thick, depending on diameter. Don’t worry about precision — the soup is going to be puréed anyway. You just want the pieces to be of uniform size so that they cook evenly.

Peel the potato and cut it into pieces about the same size as the carrots.

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat the butter over a low-to-medium heat.

Add the onion, garlic and carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is slightly translucent, stirring more or less continuously.

Add the wine and cook for another minute or two or until the wine seems to have reduced by about half.

Add the stock and the potato. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are soft enough that they can easily be pierced with a knife. Don’t let them get mushy, though.

Remove from heat and purée in a blender, working in batches if necessary.

Return puréed soup to pot and bring to a simmer again, adding more broth or stock to adjust the thickness if necessary.

Season to taste with Kosher salt and white pepper.  Garnish with a bit of parsley to make it pretty.

Pomegranate Balsamic Glazed Carrots

  • 1/4 cup pure pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter (or vegan margarine)
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lb. carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut into sticks about 2 inches long and 3/8 inch wide
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup veggie broth
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 Tbs. lightly packed thinly sliced fresh mint

Combine the juice, vinegar, and honey in a liquid measuring cup and whisk. Cut 1 Tbs. of the butter into 4 pieces and refrigerate.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the carrots and a pinch of salt and toss well to coat. Cook without stirring until the bottom layer of carrots is lightly browned in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, stir and flip the carrots and then leave undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes to brown. Continue cooking, occasionally stirring and flipping, until most of the carrots are a bit browned in places and are starting to feel tender, an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium if the bottom of the pan begins to brown too much.

Carefully add the veggie broth, cover quickly, and cook until all but about 1 Tbs. of the broth has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium low, and add the pomegranate mixture (re-whisk, if necessary) and the cayenne. Cook, stirring gently, until the mixture reduces and becomes slightly glazy, about 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat, add the chilled butter, and gently toss with a heatproof spatula until the butter has melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and stir in about two-thirds of the mint. Serve in a warm shallow bowl or on a platter, garnished with the remaining mint.

Spanish Carrots and Olives Tapenade

  • 1 Lb young carrots cut into 2 x ½ inch sticks
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 12 Spanish Green olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS slivered almonds, slightly toasted

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based skillet, add the carrot sticks and cook, covered, over low heat for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until almost tender.

Add the garlic, parsley and green olives and stir to combine.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then toss the carrots over low heat for 1 minute. Stir in the slivered almonds and serve warm.

Happy Easter my friends!

Asparagus! Food of Kings

23 Mar

At the local farmers markets here in San Diego, I am finding the biggest tastiest asparagus!  Normally I just grill it and eat it as a side or as a salad topper. But I have recently been trying new recipes and I found a cool one, Asparagus Avocado
Salad!  Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

The history of asparagus is pretty darn interesting.  About 20,000 years ago, asparagus was eaten near Aswan in Egypt. It has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavor, diuretic properties, and more. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC.  Still in ancient times, it was known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans would even freeze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus reserved the Asparagus Fleet for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action. There is a recipe for cooking asparagus in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third century AD De re coquinaria, Book III.

Al-Nafzawi’s The Perfumed Garden celebrates its aphrodisiacal power, which the Indian Ananga Ranga attributes to special phosporus elements that also counteract fatigue, and by 1469 it was cultivated in French monasteries.

Asparagus is often called the “Food of Kings.”  France’s Louis XIV had special greenhouses built for growing it.  The finest texture and the strongest and yet delicate taste is in the tips. The points d’amour (“love tips”) were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour.  

The asparagus growing beds in Northern Italy were famous during the Renaissance period. These graceful spears have always been a sign of elegance, and in times past, were a delicacy only the wealthy could afford.

I didn’t know veggies could be considered posh! Enjoy your food of kings my friends.

Asparagus and Avocado Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 4 or 5 thick asparagus spears
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 16 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of fluer de sel (or fine sea salt) per serving

Cut away about 2 inches of the base of each asparagus spear. With a vegetable peeler, shave the entire asparagus from bottom to top, reversing your grip and rotating as necessary to shave as much as possible. Don’t rush it; be deliberate for the greatest precision.

Divide the asparagus strips among 4 salad plates. Cut each avocado half into 4 sections and place 2 wedges on each salad. Sprinkle with the mint leaves. Squeeze lime juice over the salads, drizzle evenly with the oil, and sprinkle with salt.

Thanks to epicurious.com for this recipe 

 

ALL Red Meat is Bad For You

13 Mar

It is sad but true, ALL red meat is bad for you.  Too long has the American public been brainwashed into believing their bodies need beef to be healthy, when in fact it is quite the opposite.  Consuming any amount of red meat whether it is beef, pork, or lamb, will hasten mortality.

This LA Times article released yesterday is late, but late is better than never.  This is a huge step towards re-educating Americans about what is really healthy.

By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times

March 12, 2012, 4:28 p.m.

Eating red meat — any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to a long-range study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years.For instance, adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.Even worse, adding an extra daily serving of processed red meat, such as a hot dog or two slices of bacon, was linked to a 20% higher risk of death during the study.

“Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” said An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study, published online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Crunching data from thousands of questionnaires that asked people how frequently they ate a variety of foods, the researchers also discovered that replacing red meat with other foods seemed to reduce mortality risk for study participants.

Eating a serving of nuts instead of beef or pork was associated with a 19% lower risk of dying during the study. The team said choosing poultry or whole grains as a substitute was linked with a 14% reduction in mortality risk; low-fat dairy or legumes, 10%; and fish, 7%.

Previous studies had associated red meat consumption with diabetesheart disease and cancer, all of which can be fatal. Scientists aren’t sure exactly what makes red meat so dangerous, but the suspects include the iron and saturated fat in beef, pork and lamb, the nitrates used to preserve them, and the chemicals created by high-temperature cooking.

The Harvard researchers hypothesized that eating red meat would also be linked to an overall risk of death from any cause, Pan said. And the results suggest they were right: Among the 37,698 men and 83,644 women who were tracked, as meat consumption increased, so did mortality risk.

In separate analyses of processed and unprocessed meats, the group found that both types appear to hasten death. Pan said that at the outset, he and his colleagues had thought it likely that only processed meat posed a health danger.

Carol Koprowski, a professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine who wasn’t involved in the research, cautioned that it can be hard to draw specific conclusions from a study like this because there can be a lot of error in the way diet information is recorded in food frequency questionnaires, which ask subjects to remember past meals in sometimes grueling detail.

But Pan said the bottom line was that there was no amount of red meat that’s good for you.

“If you want to eat red meat, eat the unprocessed products, and reduce it to two or three servings a week,” he said. “That would have a huge impact on public health.”

A majority of people in the study reported that they ate an average of at least one serving of meat per day.

Pan said that he eats one or two servings of red meat per week, and that he doesn’t eat bacon or other processed meats.

Cancer researcher Lawrence H. Kushi of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland said that groups putting together dietary guidelines were likely to pay attention to the findings in the study.

“There’s a pretty strong supposition that eating red meat is important — that it should be part of a healthful diet,” said Kushi, who was not involved in the study. “These data basically demonstrate that the less you eat, the better.”

UC San Francisco researcher and vegetarian diet advocate Dr. Dean Ornish said he gleaned a hopeful message from the study.

“Something as simple as a meatless Monday can help,” he said. “Even small changes can make a difference.”

Additionally, Ornish said, “What’s good for you is also good for the planet.”

In an editorial that accompanied the study, Ornish wrote that a plant-based diet could help cut annual healthcare costs from chronic diseases in the U.S., which exceed $1 trillion. Shrinking the livestock industry could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt the destruction of forests to create pastures, he wrote.

Pub Grub Potato Bites

1 Mar

With this colder weather I have been craving potatoes big time!  I tend to make potatoes mashed style most of the time and put them in tacos, burritos, or serve as a side.  I need to switch it up.  Here is a lovely euro pub style recipe.  It seems like junk food but it’s not!  This is a healthier version, so don’t feel guilty.  Enjoy!

Salt and Vinegar Potato Bites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boil potatoes in water for approximately 5 minutes. Drain, and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss potatoes with oil on baking sheet, and spread in single layer. Roast 45 minutes, or until golden and crisp, turning 2 or 3 times. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Meanwhile, bring malt vinegar and sugar to a simmer in saucepan over medium heat. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Serve malt sauce on side for dipping.

 

Real Milk Comes From What?

22 Feb

Which Milk is "Real" ??

The California Milk Processor Board has launched a new ad campaign asking consumers to guess which milk is real on their Got Milk homepage.   I don’t know of anything more real than plants.  The ad makes fun of plant based milks with snide comments like, “This came from a cow? Please.”  I’m not sure anyone believes soy milk comes from a cow, so this is an insult to the intelligence of Americans.

Now I can go on and on about how unnatural it is that humans drink the breast milk from other species.  I could go into detail about how unhealthy cow milk is for our human bodies; i.e. sucking the calcium right out of our bones, creating allergies, causing respiratory problems, and increasing the incidence of cancer, especially prostate cancer and breast cancer.  I could remind everyone the purpose of cow breast milk is for baby cows to become full grown cows as quickly as possible, to gain hundreds of pounds within 6 months; it’s quite fattening – DUH!  But I don’t need to obviously, because this ad shows that the dairy industry is scared; scared of losing their profit because people are realizing the truth and striving to be healthier.  Their mud slinging is a sign of something to be celebrated my friends.  Americans are learning and accepting that factory farming is just simply: bad.

Below is an edited version of that ad, provided by My Vegan Journal.  When you play the real milk game, the Milk Processor Board fails to inform the consumer of the icky things in their cow’s milk.  My Vegan Journal was kind enough to help them be honest.  Shame on them for trying to hide the truth!

6 Reasons to Not Drink MilkThis video by Dr. Mark Hyman is quick and loaded with facts regarding the dangers of dairy.  Check it out if you have any doubts or you need a refresher of the facts.  

Fat Tuesday is for Vegetarians too!

21 Feb

So Happy Fat Tuesday my friends!  If you wanna know the history behind this yummy holiday click on this link: The History of Mardi Gras

Now on to a few traditional (AND DELICIOUS!) recipes that have been adjusted slightly to suit our vegetarian lifestyles.

Creole Black Beans and Rice

  • 2 pounds Tofurky Sausagecut into 1-inch slices
  • 3 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-1/2 cups each chopped onion, celery and green pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon veggie bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Hot cooked rice

In a large skillet, brown sausage over medium heat. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker.

In a large bowl, combine the beans, onion, celery, green pepper, water, tomato sauce, garlic, thyme, bouillon, white pepper, cayenne and bay leaves; pour over sausage. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaves. Serve with rice. 

Vegetarian Jambalaya

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 zuchinnis, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups okra, (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes OR 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup mock meat, such as Gimme Lean, Morningstar Crumbles, Boca Burger Crumbles, Yves Meatless Ground
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (or sea salt)

In a large bowl, mix tomato paste with vegetable broth until smooth and set aside. In a large pot, sautee onion, garlic, celery and green pepper until slightly soft, about 5 minutes.  Add uncooked rice and allow rice to toast for one minute, stirring.  Add tomato and broth mixture.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a separate skillet, sautee the okra, zucchini and mock meat until just barely cooked, about 3 minutes.

After the rice has cooked about 10 minutes, add the sauteed mock meat and veggies, spices and diced tomatoes, stirring well.  Cover, and allow to simmer 10-15 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies are fullly cooked and rice is soft.  Serve with your favorite hot sauce for extra kick.

King Cake (Not Vegan)

Recipe Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

Dough:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron
  • 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby

Glaze:

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Purple, green and gold sugar crystals

Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes. Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the citron and knead until the citron is evenly distributed. Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Place the cylinder on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King  CakeBaby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors. Cut into the cake and hope you do not get the baby.

Feed Your Heart

14 Feb

On Valentine’s Day, I suggest you love your heart.  Regardless of your relationship status you can spoil your ticker today and feel great about it.  What better way to show your heart you care than to eat something healthy for it?  Below you will find what your heart needs and where to get it.  Wishing you and your heart a very happy Valentine’s Day.

1. Potassium “High blood pressure is perhaps the single greatest contributor to the development of heart disease,” says Kulze. Scientists agree that a diet high in the essential mineral potassium is associated with lower blood pressure levels. Potassium lowers blood pressure by countering the effect of excess sodium and by aiding in the transmission of nerve impulses and promoting normal muscle function, both of which are vital for optimal heart and blood vessel function, explains Kulze.
Find it in: Potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, prunes, soybeans, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, avocado, almonds

2. Carotenoids Thanks to their fat solubility and potent antioxidant properties, these plant chemicals (which give fruits and veggies their red, yellow, and orange hues) are a major force in the fight against heart disease. Evidence suggests they interact with bad LDL cholesterol, preventing it from oxidizing and sticking to artery walls. According to a study published in 2004 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women with higher levels of carotenoids in their blood had a 34 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Find them in: Watermelon, kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers

3. Flavonoids Both oxidation and inflammation are involved in the development of cardiovascular disease. “But thanks to their potent antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activity, flavonoids pack a powerful one-two punch against heart disease,” says Kulze. In particular, this large class of plant chemicals keeps the lining of the arteries (endothelial cells) flexible, which improves blood flow and reduces blood clotting. In a 2001 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, researchers reported that a 7.5-milligram increase in catechin (the flavonoid compounds found in tea and cocoa) intake resulted in a 20 percent reduction in heart disease mortality risk.
Find them in: Cocoa, dark chocolate, green tea, red wine, extra virgin olive oil, pomegranates, apples

4. Soluble fiber According to a 19-year survey that examined the effects of fiber intake on heart attacks in about 10,000 adults, those who ingested the most soluble fiber had a 12 percent reduction in coronary heart disease events. So what gives soluble fiber its heart-healthy properties? “It combines with water in the GI tract to form a gelatinous mass that ‘sponges up’ cholesterol, diminishing its absorption and escorting it out of the body,” Kulze explains. “It also slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrate foods, giving rise to lower and more stable blood glucose and insulin levels, which has favorable effects on metabolism and arterial health.”
Find it in: Whole grains such as oats and barley; beans; okra; Brussels sprouts

5. Omega-3 fatty acids Research continues to confirm that omega- 3 fatty acids, a class of polyunsaturated fats, play a key role in heart health. “Omega-3s give rise to anti-inflammatory molecules known as resolvins and protectins, both of which ward off blood clots that can trigger stroke and heart attack,” explains organic chemist Shane Ellison, author of The Hidden Truth about Cholesterol Lowering Drugs. Also, in a 2005 Brazilian report that reviewed 159 studies of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibers, and phytosterols on heart health, scientists established that omega-3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Researchers also found that they increase good HDL cholesterol, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and author of The Flexitarian Diet.
Find them in: Flaxseed; flax oil; walnuts; soy; canola oil; small, dark leafy greens such as watercress, arugula, purslane

6. B vitamins (folate, B6) Elevated levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood, are associated with risk of coronary artery disease and stroke. B vitamins folate and B6 work in concert to metabolize or break down homocysteine. Harvard’s famous nurses’ health study showed a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in women who regularly used multivitamins (a major source of folic acid and vitamin B6) and also in those with high dietary intake of vitamin B6 and folic acid. In another study, reported in the journal Circulation, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio found a link between low blood levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid and an increased risk of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
Find them in: Fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, bananas, sunflower seeds

Thanks to Vegetarian Times for providing this info.

Natalie Portman blogs about Eating Animals

7 Feb

I absolutely adore Natalie. She is one of my favorite actors, and on top of that she is a wonderful and smart human being.  I fell head over heels for her back in 1994 when I saw her as Mathilda in The Professional.   She continued to show off her acting chops in some very cool movies, like Garden State, Closer,  V for Vendetta, and Black Swan.  Everyone knows she is an amazing actress, she did win an academy award last year, but what a lot of people don’t realize is how impressively educated she is.  She graduated from HARVARD with a B.A. in psychology, she authored research papers that have been published in scientific journals ( “A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar” and “Frontal Lobe Activation during Object Permanence: Data from Near-Infrared Spectroscopy”), she speaks 5 languages, she took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she appeared as a guest lecturer at a Columbia University course in terrorism and counterterrorism.  Natalie Portman is one smart cookie!

Now onto Natalie’s love of animals. She has a compassionate spirit; she has been a vegetarian since childhood, and went Vegan in 2009 after reading a powerful and influential book called Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (The guy who wrote  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which is now a major motion picture).  I was going to attempt to write a review of this book, however Natalie Portman wrote her own, and it is so appropriate and moving, I just had to share it.  From the mouth of a babe:

“Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals changed me from a twenty-year vegetarian to a vegan activist. I’ve always been shy about being critical of others’ choices because I hate when people do that to me. I’m often interrogated about being vegetarian (e.g., “What if you find out that carrots feel pain, too? Then what’ll you eat?”).

I’ve also been afraid to feel as if I know better than someone else — a historically dangerous stance (I’m often reminded that “Hitler was a vegetarian, too, you know”). But this book reminded me that some things are just wrong. Perhaps others disagree with me that animals have personalities, but the highly documented torture of animals is unacceptable, and the human cost Foer describes in his book, of which I was previously unaware, is universally compelling.

The human cost of factory farming — both the compromised welfare of slaughterhouse workers and, even more, the environmental effects of the mass production of animals — is staggering. Foer details the copious amounts of pig shit sprayed into the air that result in great spikes in human respiratory ailments, the development of new bacterial strains due to overuse of antibiotics on farmed animals, and the origins of the swine flu epidemic, whose story has gripped the nation, in factory farms.

I read the chapter on animal shit aloud to two friends — one is from Iowa and has asthma and the other is a North Carolinian who couldn’t eat fish from her local river because animal waste had been dumped in it as described in the book. They had never truly thought about the connection between their environmental conditions and their food. The story of the mass farming of animals had more impact on them when they realized it had ruined their own backyards.

But what Foer most bravely details is how eating animal pollutes not only our backyards, but also our beliefs. He reminds us that our food is symbolic of what we believe in, and that eating is how we demonstrate to ourselves and to others our beliefs: Catholics take communion — in which food and drink represent body and blood. Jews use salty water on Passover to remind them of the slaves’ bitter tears. And on Thanksgiving, Americans use succotash and slaughter to tell our own creation myth — how the Pilgrims learned from Native Americans to harvest this land and make it their own.

And as we use food to impart our beliefs to our children, the point from which Foer lifts off, what stories do we want to tell our children through their food?

I remember in college, a professor asked our class to consider what our grandchildren would look back on as being backward behavior or thinking in our generation, the way we are shocked by the kind of misogyny, racism, and sexism we know was commonplace in our grandparents’ world. He urged us to use this principle to examine the behaviors in our lives and our societies that we should be a part of changing. Factory farming of animals will be one of the things we look back on as a relic of a less-evolved age.

I say that Foer’s ethical charge against animal eating is brave because not only is it unpopular, it has also been characterized as unmanly, inconsiderate, and juvenile. But he reminds us that being a man, and a human, takes more thought than just “This is tasty, and that’s why I do it.” He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don’t believe in rape, but if it’s what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

But Foer makes his most impactful gesture as a peacemaker, when he unites the two sides of the animal eating debate in their reasoning. Both sides argue: We are not them. Those who refrain from eating animals argue: We don’t have to go through what they go through — we are not them. We are capable of making distinctions between what to eat and what not to eat (Americans eat cow but not dog, Hindus eat chicken but not cow, etc.). We are capable of considering others’ minds and others’ pain. We are not them. Whereas those who justify eating animals say the same thing: We are not them. They do not merit the same value of being as us. They are not us.

And so Foer shows us, through Eating Animals, that we are all thinking along the same lines: We are not them. But, he urges, how will we define who we are?” ~ Natalie Portman, “Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals Turned Me Vegan

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