Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Flourless Plantain Tortillas
Low Calorie And Gluten Free

Green Plantains make delicious grain-free tortillas.
And, they are less than 40 calories!

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Gluten and Grain-Free Tortillas
Most people buy corn tortillas when they are trying to avoid gluten or products made from various gluten-free grains such as brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, millet, teff, and sorghum. But if you want to avoid grains completely, here's a brilliant alternative that my friend Margarite introduced me to - making tortillas from green plantains!

Make sure to buy green plantains, not ripe ones.

Plantains may look like bananas but they are starchy, not sweet. They are not eaten as a fruit and must be cooked. The biggest difference is that they are not as easy to peel! But I'll be showing you a trick to make that easier. 

Although most plantain tortilla recipes just use plantains, I've jazzed these up with seasonings, and herbs. And of course I added some freshly harvested garlic. For my herbs, I used the lemon basil from my garden, but you can use any of your favorite herbs. Cilantro works well. For the chili lime spice, I used Rancho Gordo but you can use Tajin. Here's the recipe!

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Green Plantain Tortillas
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 18 tortillas]

Medium saucepan to boil plantains
Food processor
Non-stick or cast iron griddle
Tortilla press or two flat plates
1-Quart size Ziplock plastic bag

2 green plantains
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped lemon basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili lime spice 
Zest of 1 lime

Cut the ends off the plantain and cut it horizontally in 4 pieces. Slice each chunk vertically along its seam. This will make peeling them a lot easier after they are cooked.

Place the chunks of plantain into a pot of boiling water and cook until they just soften, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the skins and place the peeled plantains in a food processor with the remaining ingredients.

Process until the mixture turns into dough. Using your hands, turn the dough into 18 (1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch) balls.

Heat a griddle to medium high heat.

Place each ball in the center of a quart-sized plastic ziplock bag. Using a tortilla press or two flat plates, press the dough ball until it's a flat, 5-inch circle. You can buy a really nice Victoria 8 inch Cast Iron Tortilla Press for around $25 on Amazon.

Victoria 8 inch cast iron tortilla press.

Carefully peel off the plastic and place the tortilla on a heated grill. Cook for several minutes until the tortilla is slightly brown. Turn over and cook a bit longer, about a minute. Do one more quick flip, if needed, and you're done.

Cool a minute so that they are pliable and enjoy. To save and reheat, place a piece of wax paper between the leftover tortillas, place in a Ziplock bag and refrigerate. They will last several days. 

Per tortilla: 36 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 54 mg omega-3 and 379 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 1 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 244 mg sodium*.
*Sodium with vary with the brand of chili-lime seasoning.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Is The Perfect Time
For A Raw Food Cleanse

Enjoy Chia Seed Pudding on your raw food cleanse.

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Raw Food Cleanse
It's been almost a hundred degrees here all week and I've naturally been craving raw foods. So I thought it might be a perfect time to do a raw food cleanse. 

I've been writing about raw food cleanses for at least 7 years now. For me, it's a much easier way to detox than doing a juice fast or other liquid fasts. Eating raw food is satisfying, doesn't trigger a severe detox reaction and it doesn't require taking a bunch of herbal supplements (although B12 supplementation is always necessary when on a raw vegan diet.)

How Long?
What I like about doing a raw food cleanse is that any amount of time gets results. You can do it for a day, a weekend, a week, 21 days, or a month. It depends on your goals. Are you trying to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, break some bad eating habits, jumpstart a healthier lifestyle program, or just do a general detox? 

The Rules
It's really simple. Just eat mostly organic raw food - vegetables, fruits, nuts, sprouted grains and legumes. If you want, add a 1/2 cup of cooked beans or quinoa each day to one of your meals, but otherwise just raw food. Drink lots of pure water and skip the soft drinks and booze.

For breakfast, or anytime of day, drink raw smoothies like my favorite Blueberry, Pear and Baby Spinach Smoothie. Or start the day with a breakfast fruit salad with nuts. If you are feeling ambitious and you have a dehydrator, make Raw Granola.

Blackberry, Strawberry, and Mango Breakfast Salad.

For lunch or dinner, enjoy a raw soup like Raw Zucchini with Crushed Pistachios, or make a gigantic raw salad like Bernadette's Everything In The Garden Salad.

Scoop up fresh guacamole with slices of jicama and bell pepper. Make a Veggie Sushi Roll.

Enjoy raw desserts like Chia Pudding or raw Peach and Blueberry Crisp. If you have a Yonanas Elite Healthy Dessert Maker, you can eat 100% raw fruit soft-serve "ice cream" every night!

My favorite yonanas dessert is frozen bananas with cherries.

There are many delicious raw food recipes on the blog that you can use or you can download my ebook, Health Begins in the Kitchen for more recipes and detailed instructions on how to do a raw food cleanse with menus.

So don't deprive yourself or try a dangerous juice fast. Try a raw food cleanse!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lotus Foods Rice Ramen
Gluten Free, Low Sodium And Vegan

So much healthier than Top Ramen!

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Eating Ramen at Home
Who didn't get through college eating Top Ramen? As I now look at the nutritional information on the back, I'm amazed we all survived! Assuming the entire package was consumed (who eats half a block of ramen), here's what you get:

Top Ramen (one package of Oriental Flavor)
380 calories
14 g of fat, 7 g saturated
1600 mg sodium

And these lovely ingredients:
Wheat flour, Palm Oil, Salt, Calcium Silicate, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Succinate, Dried Leek Flake, Garlic Powder, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Maltodextrin, MSG, Onion Powder, Potassium Carbonate, Sodium Alginate, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Soybean, Spice, TBHQ, Wheat.

This looks more like a chemistry experiment than food!

Along Comes Lotus Foods
Although this is still a processed food with very little whole grain, Lotus Foods Rice Ramen addresses a number of issues. First, it's gluten free and made from organic rice. And second, it has fewer calories, much less fat, and half the sodium. A double serving provides:

Lotus Foods (one package of Jade Pearl Ramen with Miso Soup)

280 calories
2 grams of fat, 0 saturated
820 mg sodium (still high but half that of Top Ramen)

The ingredients of their Pearl Jade Ramen with Miso Soup are actually food and include:
Organic Brown and White Rice, Bamboo Extract, White Miso Powder, Salt, Soybean Powder, White Onion Powder, Tamari Powder, Dried Wakame Seaweed, Dried Parsley.

Lotus Foods Ramen comes in a number of flavors including:
* Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
* Jade Pearl Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
* Millet and Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
* Wakame and Brown Rice Ramen
* Buckwheat and Mushroom Rice Ramen
* Purple Potato and Brown Rice Ramen

I tested the Jade Pearl Rice Ramen with Miso Soup and the Millet and Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup.

Pearl Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
Like the Ramen in our past, you get a block of Ramen and a soup packet.

You bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add the Ramen and soup packet to the pot and simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. The Ramen broke up nicely and after 4 minutes I removed it from the heat and waited a bit until the noodles were just right.

Add Ramen and soup packet to boiling water.
Simmer for 4 minutes and remove from heat.
Serve as is or add other good stuff.
You can add veggies and a protein for a hardier meal.

The flavor of the Pearl Jade was a very mild miso. It was good but a little bland. It definitely needed the added vegetables.

Millet and Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup

For some reason, the block of millet and brown rice Ramen didn't break up as nicely as the Pearl Jade and the noodles took a little bit longer to soften.

The millet and brown rice clumped a bit more.

I did like the flavor of the millet and brown rice's miso soup. It had a little kick to it since it contained dried chili pepper in the soup pack.

The millet and brown rice soup was more flavorful.

I bought these products at our local Whole Foods. Here's their STORE LOCATOR to find the nearest store. Or, purchase them ONLINE

Monday, June 05, 2017

How To Grow Pole Beans 7 Feet High
A Better Use For Tomato Cages!

A simple way to grow pole beans.

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Pole Beans 
One of the most enjoyable things about growing beans is to see how tall and how fast they grow. But let's face it, we are all tempted to grow bush beans, especially if we don't have anything for beans to climb on. Here's a really easy way to grow pole beans in a very small space with something you probably already have!

A Better Use for Tomato Cages
Tomato cages are probably the worse design in history. As the tomato plant grows, you are constantly trying to figure out how to stuff the thick stems through the narrow bottom circular ring. There are much better ways to grow and stake tomatoes, such as a square cage made of hog wire. 

As an engineer, I look for ways to use failed contraptions and since I have a pile of useless tomato cages, I thought, "why not build a tower for my beans and other climbing vegetables?" (I am also using this technique to grow cucumbers.) Here's what I did. I asked my husband Doug to demonstrate.

#1 - Place a tomato cage upside down on the growing site.
The picture shows the regular size tomato cages but for my beans, in the pictures below, I use large tomato cages. They will create a 7-foot tower. 

#2 - Insert a second tomato cage right side up into the bottom cage.

#3 - Align the cages so that they are perfectly straight.

#4 - Stake the cages in place with one or two pieces of rebar or other types of stakes.
Beans are pretty top heavy so use 2 stakes.

 #5 - Plant a bean seed at each vertical bar.
As they grow, train them to grow up the bars.

#6 - When the plant grows laterals, tie some twine from the bottom wrung to the top to provide additional vertical bars for the beans to grab.

#7 - Watch them grow!
In a very short time, my Romano beans grew 7 feet tall! And now they are cascading over the top and will make their way back down.

You might even see a hummingbird using it to take a little rest!

Several weeks later!

My Favorite Beans
My favorite beans are the Italian Romano Beans. They are quite prolific and very easy to grow. Here's what they will look like at harvest.

Last year's harvest of Romano beans.
Here are some recipes for Romano Beans:

Romano Green Bean and Garbanzo Bean Salad.

Julienne Cut French Style Green Beans.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Instant Pot Great Northern Beans
When Should You Salt Beans?

White beans with olives, artichokes, peppers, and avocado.

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Easy to make in your Instant Pot
It's easy to open a can of beans but it's not all that hard to make them from dried beans in your Instant Pot. Here's a simple recipe that's perfect for summer since it can be served warm, at room temperature, or even chilled. Bring to a pot luck, serve as an antipasto when entertaining company, or make it a meal on a bed of greens. 

To Salt or Not to Salt
A while back I read a post on Serious Eats about whether or not you should salt your beans when soaking and when cooking. You should read the entire article to appreciate the testing but their results were: "For the best, creamiest, most flavorful beans, season your bean-soaking water with one tablespoon of kosher salt per quart (about 15 grams per liter), rinse the beans with fresh water before cooking, then add a pinch of salt to the cooking water as well." 

This goes against everything we've been told about how salt during cooking will cause beens to be tough or that the skins will burst. If you've listened to this advice, you probably realize how tasteless unsalted beans are and how hard they are to flavor after they are cooked. After reading this article, I've started soaking my beans in salted water and adding salt to the pot when cooking. They come out great! So give that a try when you make this recipe.

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Mediterranean Great Northern Beans
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 6 servings]

Plan ahead to soak the beans the night before.

For the beans:
1 cup dry Great Northern Beans
2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 cup small diced roasted red pepper
4 marinated artichoke quarters, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons sliced kalamata olives
1 avocado, diced

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

The night before: Pick through the beans for rocks and rinse. Place them in the Instant Pot and cover with 4 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cover and let sit over night.

Drain and rinse well. Return to the Instant Pot and cover the soaked beans with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Secure the lid, press the “Manual” button, and set for 6 minutes at high pressure. When done, press the “Off” button and let the pressure release naturally. After 10 minutes you can release the pressure. Then, remove the lid carefully with the steam vented towards the back. Drain the beans and set aside.

Most of the skins are intact and the beans are soft and creamy.
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the drained beans, the roasted red peppers, artichokes, olives, and avocado. Gently mix to combine and serve.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Smoothie

A delightful way to eat oatmeal in the heat of the summer.

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Keep Oats in your Diet
Oats have the fiber "beta-glucan" which can help lower bad cholesterol which in turn lowers the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. But when the weather heats up, you may not crave a bowl of hot oatmeal.

Adding uncooked rolled oats to your favorite smoothie is a refreshing way to get those healthy oats into your diet. Here's a simple recipe that uses seasonal strawberries and provides 6 grams of fiber per serving.

In the following recipe, you can substitute the almond butter and water for almond milk or any nondairy milk. 

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Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Smooth
Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free (see note)
[makes 2 (1 1/2 Cup) Servings]

High Speed Blender

1 tablespoon almond butter
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 packet stevia

Place all the ingredients in your high speed blender and process until smooth.

Per serving: 206 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 124 mg omega-3 and 1498 mg omega-6 fatty acid, 5 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber, and 4 mg sodium.

Although oats are naturally gluten free, they are sometimes cross contaminated. So if you have celiac or are extremely sensitive to gluten, use certified gluten free rolled oats.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Strawberry Crisp With Nutty Hemp Seed Topping

Fresh strawberries in a delicious vegan and gluten-free crisp.

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Strawberries are in Season
My little strawberry patch is producing in full force and although my favorite way of enjoying them is to just pop them in my mouth, I love making this healthy strawberry crisp. 

Strawberries from my garden.

To add additional fiber and structure, I combine the strawberries with a few delicious pears and to get a good dose of omega-3, I add raw, shelled hemp seeds. 

I like the taste of organic coconut sugar in this recipe but you can also use regular organic cane sugar. 

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Strawberry Crisp
Vegan, Gluten Free (see Note)
[makes 6 servings]

8-inch Square Baking Pan

For the topping: 
3 tablespoons Earth Balance or other vegan "butter", plus more for greasing pan 
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup raw hemp seeds
2 tablespoons organic coconut or cane sugar
2 (1-gram) packets stevia powder (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon 

For the filling: 
2 pints fresh strawberries, cut in half and sliced (~4 cups)
2 pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon organic coconut or cane sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch 

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. 

Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, hemp seeds, sugar, stevia, and cinnamon and mix well. Add 3 tablespoons of "butter" and mix together with your fingers or with a fork until crumbly. 

Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss the strawberries and pears with the sugar and cornstarch. Pour the fruit mixture in the prepared baking pan.

Cover the fruit evenly with the topping. 

Place in the oven and bake until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, and serve. 

Per serving: 231 calories, 10 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 753 mg omega-3 and 2,091 mg omega-6 fatty acids*, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, and 53 mg sodium. 

* Nutritional information for omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids excludes any contribution from the Earth Balance, since that information was not available from the 

Although gluten is not naturally present in oats, oats occasionally get cross-contaminated during storage and processing. If you are on a gluten-free diet, use certified gluten-free oat flour.