Thursday, October 28, 2010

Raw Purple Cauliflower Crudité With Tahini Dipping Sauce

Purple cauliflower from my garden.

Purple Cauliflower?
When I planted my winter garden, I picked up a tray of cauliflower starts. After planting them, I put in the little plastic marker so I'd know what I planted and noticed that it said, "purple cauliflower"! I thought I had bought the regular, run of the mill white cauliflower! You know, the kind that makes lovely white soups. I was a little annoyed that I didn't pay more attention to what I had bought but then I got excited at the thought of this unusual vegetable. But I did wonder, "what am I going to do with 14 heads of purple cauliflower?"
Yesterday I picked my first head. I broke off a piece and noticed how tender and lovely it was. What a shame it would be to cook it. I decided to just serve it raw. I cut it up in little pieces and put it on a sushi plate with dipping sauce. I may post more interesting and exotic recipes with the rest of the heads but last night we just enjoyed a really good glass of pinot while we dipped our first head of purple cauliflower in this yummy tahini dipping sauce.

Health Benefits
Purple cauliflower makes a delicious and unusual crudité. When eaten raw, it's packed with vitamin C. It's a cruciferous vegetable so it has cancer prevention properties. It does this in three ways: by detoxifying the body, as an antioxidant and as an anti-inflammatory. It gets its purple color from anthocyanins, the same antioxidant flavonoids found in red cabbage and red wine. So you get the added benefit from these beneficial phenolic phytochemicals.

Omega 6 to omega 3 ratio
I've written many times about how important it is for people not to eat too many omega 6 fatty acids without balancing them with omega 3. Otherwise, the omega 6 fatty acids will block the conversion of the ALA omega 3's to the more healthful DHA and EPA. The ratio for vegans should be anywhere from 4:1 to 1:1. The tahini in this dipping sauce has almost all omega 6's so in order to drive the ratio to 1:1, I add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil. That same dipping sauce with olive oil instead of flaxseed oil would have a ratio of almost 18:1 omega 6 to omega 3 and that is not as good for you, especially if you are vegan. This is not as critical for people who get their EPA and DHA omega 3's directly from fish.


Raw Purple Cauliflower Crudité with Raw Tahini Dipping Sauce
[Makes 4 appetizer servings]
For the crudité
1 head raw purple cabbage (cut up)
For the dipping sauce
2 tablespoons raw tahini
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon nama shoyu soy sauce
2 tablespoon raw agave nectar
1 garlic clove, mashed and finely minced
1 tablespoon of cold pressed, unrefined flaxseed oil

Thoroughly combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce. Divide up the cauliflower pieces onto 4 sushi plates and serve with small soy sauce bowls filled with 2 tablespoons of tahini dipping sauce.

Per serving: 143.6 calories, 7.3 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 1.9 g ALA omega 3 and 2.0 g omega 6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g protein, 18.6 g carbohydrates and 4.0 g fiber.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hearty Vegan Barley Mushroom Stew, Low In Fat And Calories But Rich In Health Benefits

Medley of local mushrooms.

The Weather is Changing
Woke up to some chilly fall weather this morning. Time for barley mushroom stew. I'm reposting this from a recipe I wrote 2 years ago with some improvements.

We Don't Need to be SIck!
The number 1 cause of death in the United States is heart disease. The number 2 cause of death is cancer. This doesn’t have to be the case. Although people are quick to point out their “bad genes” and tell you that their health conditions were “passed down”, I don’t completely buy it. Yes, certain genes pass on terrible diseases, or at least your propensity to get these diseases. And, in some cases, very little can be done about it. But in most cases (some estimate over 80%), your parents’ degenerative disorders, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer, do not have to be a fait du compli. I believe that it’s not “genes” that we pass down, but “recipes” and “lifestyle habits”. You can help break the chain by not smoking, increasing your level of activity and of course, eating a healthy diet. The American Dietetic Association claims that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other diseases.

How Barley can help Prevent Heart Disease
In 2005, the FDA approved the health claim that the soluble dietary fiber, beta-glucan, found in barley can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This is the same fiber that gives oats their heart healthy qualities. Studies have also shown that barley can lower total and LDL cholesterol in both men and women. High fiber foods, such as barley, have also shown to improve blood sugar levels and protect against colon cancer. This ancient grain is also a good source of manganese and selenium (a very powerful antioxidant).

Mushrooms - A True Longevity Food
Mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to promote longevity. There are thousands of mushroom species. (DO NOT, however, pick wild mushrooms, as many of them are fatally toxic.) This low calorie, low fat, delicious food has been shown to boost your immune system, suppress tumors, resist both bacterial and viral infections and support cardiovascular health. Mushrooms are also high in B vitamins, copper, selenium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Many people have just eaten the little white, button mushrooms, but for the most health benefits, branch out and try shitake, crimini, portobello, oyster and many others. Some of these can be rather pricey, but they don’t weigh much and they are worth every penny. Look for local mushroom growers in your area.

Hearty, Low Calorie Main Course
This barley mushroom stew is a low calorie, low fat, nutritious main course which combines the magical powers of barley and mushrooms. To add color and many healthy plant chemicals, this recipe includes red and green bell peppers. Red peppers contain lycopene, a carotenoid that has gotten a lot of recent attention in its ability to protect against cancer and heart disease.
To add some "meat-like" flavor, you can toss in your favorite vegan link. My favorite is Field Roast Smoked Apple Sausage.


Barley, Mushroom Stew
[makes 4 large servings]
2 t olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups diced celery
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound of assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2/3 cup of pearl barley, rinsed
4 cups veggie broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 shakes of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 bell peppers, 1 red, 1 green, diced
1 Field Roast smoked apple sage vegan sausage link (optional)
3 T of fresh parsley, chopped

On medium heat, sauté the onion, carrots and celery in 2 teaspoons of olive oil for 4 minutes.
Add the garlic, stir for a minute and then the mushrooms. Cook until they soften, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the barley, veggie broth, bay leaf, salt, black pepper and cayenne (NOT the peppers) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 35 minutes.
Add the peppers and cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the barley is tender and much of the broth is absorbed.
If you want to add a vegan link, take the link and dice it into small pieces. Sauté in a small, lightly greased non-stick pan until it is warm and crisp. Stir into the soup right before serving.
Remove the bay leaf and garnish each bowl with ½ T of parsley.

Per serving (no vegan link): 237.3 calories, 2.8 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7.2 g protein, 46.3 g carbohydrates and 9.5 g of dietary fiber.

Per serving with one vegan link: 297.3 calories, 5.3 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 13.7 g protein, 49.1 g carbohydrates and 10.3 g of dietary fiber.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How I Develop Recipes And Nutritional Information For This Blog

How Engineers Cook!
I usually start my blog with a beautiful picture of food. So this morning you are probably wondering why I have a picture of a piece of paper filled with numbers and food droppings. I thought it would be fun to explain to you how I develop recipes and calculate the nutritional information. If you have Excel on your computer, you can use this technique to develop your own healthful recipes at home.
As some of you know, I started my career as an electrical engineer and then spent 3 decades working in high tech. So when I traded my lap top for a sauce pan, I couldn't totally abandon my love of engineering tools. Especially the Excel spreadsheet!
My goal for recipes is that they be delicious, healthy, easy to make and nutritionally balanced. Sometimes I have to make a dish quite a few times before I get it just right. I'm currently writing my first cookbook so I'm taking this opportunity to fine tune and improve many of your favorites recipes from this blog.

The Steps
The first pass recipe
I usually start with an ingredient that inspires me. In the case of the Thai Garden Stir Fry, pictured above, it was the head of cabbage and a zucchini that I had from my garden. Often I'm inspired by another recipe that I love but I want to make it vegan or more healthful. Sometimes the amounts of each vegetable I use happens to be the amount I have on hand. Seasoning will be whatever sounds good to me or whatever herbs I have available.
I cook up the initial recipe, carefully writing down amounts, times and temperatures and number or resulting servings. I take pictures and then feed it to my husband and anyone else who is around for feedback. I take a notepad to the dinner table and write down ideas to improve the dish while we are eating.
The spread sheet
I then list all the ingredients and their amounts on a spread sheet. The ingredients are on the left side and across the top I list the nutrients I'm interested in. I usually list: calories, g of total and saturated fat, mg of cholesterol, g of protein, g of carbs and g of fiber. If the recipe has nuts and seeds or other ingredients high in essential fatty acids, I list omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Nutritional information
I then fill in the spread sheet with nutritional information. I start with information from SELFNutritionData or Calorie count websites and if they don't have what I need, I use other resources on the internet, my text books or manufacturers information.
If the recipe has too many calories or fat, I look at the spreadsheet for the offending ingredient and either reduce it or substitute it. This is tricky because you don't want to ruin the flavor.
One of the things I pay a lot of attention to is the balance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. Since vegans do not eat fish, they depend on the conversion of ALA omega 3 fatty acid to DHA and EPA. This doesn't happen very efficiently (I actually recommend supplementing with an algae derived DHA and EPA). One of the things that effects this conversion is that vegans eat too much omega 6. So I try and keep my recipes high in omega 3 and try never to have more than a 4:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. You may notice that I use lots of flaxseed oil, flax, hemp and chia seeds, as well as English walnuts, all high in omega 3.
Adjust the ingredients
I take a copy of the first pass spread sheet to the kitchen and use it to make notes when I cook the dish a second time (hence the messy paper in the picture). I now adjust the ingredients to optimize the nutritional content of the recipe and incorporate the feedback from those who tasted the dish. Not exactly what Julia Child did but she wasn't an engineer.
Sometimes it works
Some of my dishes make it to the blog and some don't. But the important thing is it's fun experimenting with different vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds and spices. And by creating a spread sheet and looking up the nutrients, you learn what's in the foods you are eating- good and bad. Give it a try!

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Vegan Blueberry Orange Muffins With Omega 3 Rich Flaxseeds - No Eggs Needed For These Fluffy, Low Sugar Muffins!

No Eggs Needed
My husband is the baker of the family (until this morning when I created these beautiful muffins!). For years he added eggs to everything he baked, even recipes that didn't call for them. He loved to see his baked goods rise and was convinced that the eggs were the key ingredient.
But after learning some tricks of vegan baking, we figured out that many of our favorite recipes can be made by using other techniques. In this recipe, the use of 1 tablespoon of baking powder does the trick.

5 Reasons For Omitting Eggs
1. They are expensive
Eggs can cost from 20 to 40 cents per egg depending on their size and how they are grown (organic, free range, etc.). Why pay that extra money when you don't need to?
2. Eggs are a possible health risk
Eggs are a source of Salmonella contamination. I'm sure you remember last summers recall of millions of salmonella infected eggs. Although not from eggs, my grandson had a life threatening case of salmonella and believe me, it's definitely something you don't want to experience.
3. Think of the poor chickens
A typical battery cage used to house egg-laying hens is the size of a sheet of paper. They are stacked in tiers and chickens never see the light of day. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of "Eating Animals" compares it to being stuck in a crowded elevator your entire life. Even "cage free" or "free range" could mean that the chickens are packed together and debeaked. He says, "I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range".
4. Egg allergies
Egg allergies is one of the most common childhood allergies. But it doesn't always end at childhood. I was diagnosed with egg allergies as an adult. Eating factory farmed eggs made me dizzy, nauseated and gave me a headache. Organic eggs from my friends happy and well cared for pet chickens did not have this effect on me. This is something I cannot explain.
5. The environment
The egg industry generates tons of chicken waste that contains nitrates and other pollutants that can get into our water supply. Roxarsone, an arsenic feed additive, is routinely given to chickens to fight parasites and increase their growth, Like nitrates, arsenic can ultimately finds its way into drinking water. The enormous demand for cheap eggs has led to huge factory farms that are posing these serious environmental risks.

So I offer you this egg free muffin recipe. I encourage all of you, vegan or not, to give it a try!


Blueberry Orange Muffins with Flaxseeds
[makes 12 muffins]
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or half whole wheat and half white)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
8 packets stevia (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup organic cane sugar or Sucanat
zest from 1 orange (1 teaspoon)
¼ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup unsweetened, non-GMO soy milk
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups frozen blueberries, unthawed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, flaxseeds, stevia, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, combine sugar, orange zest, orange juice, soy milk, applesauce and vegetable oil. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Fold in blueberries.
Fill each muffin cup three quarters full with batter and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center and golden brown (about 18 to 22 minutes). Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, remove from pan and serve warm.

Per serving: 164.5 calories, 5.8 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 330 mg ALA omega 3 and 691 mg omega 6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 3.3 g protein, 24.9 g carbohydrates, and 3 g dietary fiber.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Anti-Aging Smoothie - Raw Frozen Red Or Purple Grapes With A Shot Of Matcha Green Tea, A Good Combination Of Resveratrol And Catechins

Freeze cleaned, dry grapes in a plastic basket.

Resveratrol and Anti-aging
You may have heard about resveratrol, the compound found in the skins of red grapes and various other sources like berries and peanuts. It has been accredited, by some, for explaining the French Paradox (the ability for the French to eat a rich diet and not suffer high incidences of cardiovascular disease because of the red wine they consume). It also has anti inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer preventive properties. The phenomenon most discussed, however, is how resveratrol has anti-aging benefits by activating sirtuins, a class of longevity genes in the body. Sirtuins can reduce cellular decay and promote cell repair. (I'm so excited about this compound, it is one of the few supplements that I take on a daily basis). Raw red and purple grapes are one of the best sources of resveratrol. Once heated, the amount of resveratrol in grapes drops dramatically.
Grape seeds also have many health benefits due to their antioxidant properties. They are associated with improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, improving blood cholesterol levels and preventing hardening of the arteries. So if you have a high speed blender that is capable of grinding seeds, you can make this smoothie with seeded grapes.

Matcha Green Tea
Green tea, with its rich catechins called EGCG (epigalloctechin-3-gallate) also have been associated with anti aging health benefits. I particular like Matcha Green Tea which is a green tea powder, especially when making smoothies. Green tea has a little caffeine so putting it in your morning smoothie certainly helps you wake up and gives you a jolt of energy. I'm pretty sensitive to caffeine and had to give up coffee years ago but I'm very tolerant to the caffeine in green tea. Another benefit of green tea is that it can lower blood sugar.

Frozen Grapes - A Good Weight Loss Tip
Besides putting them in smoothies, frozen grapes make a great little dessert. If you are trying to lose weight and want something sweet, pop some frozen grapes in your mouth. The frozen texture and sweetness of the grapes are very satisfying and may keep you from eating that bowl of Ben and Jerry's!


Anti Aging Smoothie
[serves 2]
2 cups red or purple grapes, frozen
1 large or 2 small bananas
2 teaspoons powdered matcha green tea
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
2 cups cold water
6 to 8 drops liquid stevia (or other sweetener,optional)

To freeze grapes, rinse and dry well and place in a basket like the one pictured above. You can also place them on a plate or cookie sheet that has some edges to prevent them from rolling off. Once frozen, you can store them in a ziplock bag until needed.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 183 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.8 g ALA omega 3 and 0.3 g omega 6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 43.5 g carbohydrates, 31.5 g sugar from fruit, and 4 g fiber.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vegan Grilled Rosemary Portobello Mushroom Burgers With Spicy Red Pepper Hummus And Watercress On Sprouted Whole Grain Buns

Place on large dish and brush rosemary marinade on both sides.

Portobell0s on the grill - you can also broil them in the oven.

Portobello Mushrooms, a Great Meat Alternative
Eating less meat or giving it up completely doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good burger! I can write about how much riboflavin, selenium and other key nutrients these wonderful mushrooms contain or what a good source of protein and fiber they are but one of their most important attributes is simply this: THEY TASTE LIKE MEAT! So if you are looking for a natural meat alternative that is free of highly processed wheat gluten or soy protein isolate, look no further.
This delicious portobello burger recipe also includes spicy garbanzo hummus, a complete protein. It's pretty easy to make but feel free to use a ready-made hummus from your local grocery if you are in a pinch for time. Throw this on a sprouted whole grain bun with your favorite sprouts or watercress and you may have the tastiest and healthiest burger in the world! And, it by-passed the factory farms and its production didn't generate any greenhouse gas. Life is good.


Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger with Spicy Red Pepper Hummus
[makes 4 burgers and 2 cups of hummus]
For the marinade and burger
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems carefully removed
For the hummus
One 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted red peppers (8 ounce jar)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
The rest
4 sprouted whole grain buns
1 cup watercress or sprouts

To make the marinade, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, black pepper, garlic powder and dijon mustard in a small bowl. Carefully remove the stems from the portobello mushrooms and clean with a damp paper towel. Place the mushrooms in a large casserole dish or plate and slowly brush the marinade on both sides. Set aside.
To make the hummus, rinse the roasted red peppers well, removing any seeds or blackened skin. Combine garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, roasted red peppers, cayenne and salt in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides. This will make more than you need for the burgers.
Cook the marinated portobellos on a hot grill for about 10 minutes turning a few times. You can also broil in the oven or cook on an electric panini maker or George Foreman grill. If you'd like, brush a little olive oil on the buns and throw on the grill until lightly toasted.
To assemble the burger, place 1/4 cup of spicy hummus on the top half of the bun and 1/4 cup of watercress or sprouts on the bottom half of the bun. For additional flavor, you could put additional dijon on the bottom side of the bun under the watercress. Place the cooked portobello mushroom on the watercress and serve immediately.

Per burger with bun, watercress and 1/4 cup hummus: 351.5 calories, 15.5 g fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 15.7 g protein, 44.2 g carbohydrates and 8.3 g fiber.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Raw Cucumber And Radish Salad With Lemon Dill Dressing

A Quick and Beautiful Raw Salad
My daughter Linda sent me this lovely picture and recipe the other day so I'm passing it along. It's a good way to use up those final cucumbers from your summer garden and the new radishes from your fall garden. Cucumbers are more of a summer dish because of their "cooling" properties, however, those of you on the west coast who are experiencing our fall heat wave can still appreciate this.


Linda's Cucumber and Radish Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing
[serves 2]
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into cubes
5 small radishes, sliced
1 tiny handful of fresh dill, minced or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place cucumbers and radishes in a bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper then slowly whisk in olive oil. Toss dressing with the cucumbers and radishes and serve.

Per serving: 78.8 calories, 7.0 g fat, 1.0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.5 g protein, 2.3 g carbohydrates and 0.5 g fiber.

Add tomatoes for more of a Greek vibe or make the salad with cucumbers alone.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Vegan Thai Garden Stir Fry With Rice Noodles - Penseys' Bangkok Blend

Stir fry onions, peppers, shitake and zucchini with garlic and ginger.

Add cabbage to other veggies and toss frequently.

Fast growing Chinese Kaboko cabbage from my garden.

Penseys' Bangkok Blend for Thai style cooking.

Soak rice noodles in hot water, rinse and add to stir fry.

Tonight's Dinner brought to you by Mother Earth!
It was one of those evenings when I was trying to use up the last of the zucchini from my summer garden and an enormous head of Chinese cabbage from my new winter garden. I just planted 6 starts of Kaboko Chinese cabbage about 4 weeks prior and already had these huge heads ready to eat. So I took out my non-stick electric wok and cooked up all the veggies I had in the house along with some fresh shitake mushrooms and rice noodles.

Health Benefits of Cabbage
There have been hundreds of studies that have linked cabbage to cancer prevention. This cruciferous vegetable provides this benefit due to its high content of antioxidants and glucosinolates. Cabbage also can lower cholesterol. Many of these studies show maximum benefit when the cabbage is steamed or sautéed only for a brief period of time. In this recipe, the cabbage is added towards the end and cooked for only a few minutes so it should provide the maximum health benefits.

Bangkok Blend
Did you ever purchase an interesting spice and forget to use it? I went crazy with a Penseys catalog a while back and bought dozens of spices. Some of them made it to the back shelf and were forgotten. Bangkok blend unfortunately, was one of them. When I decided to make this stir fry I was looking around for spices to use and rediscovered it. Bangkok blend is a mixture of sweet peppers, garlic, ginger, black pepper, galangal, hot peppers, lemon grass, basil and cilantro. It's nice and spicy and is wonderful in this stir fry. I use 1 tablespoon in this recipe for medium heat. For a less spicy dish, you can reduce it to 2 teaspoons and if you want to bring tears to your eyes, you can use 4 or more teaspoons.

How to make Rice Noodles
In case I'm not the only one who ignores instructions clearly written on a package, I thought I'd point out that rice noodles are never boiled. To cook them properly, you boil water, remove it from the heat, immerse the rice noodles in the hot water for the specified time, drain and serve. The first time I cooked rice noodles, I assumed you boiled them like spaghetti. I'm Italian. How else would you do it? After watching the rice noodles disintegrate before my eyes, I decided to read the package.


Thai Garden Stir Fry with Rice Noodles
[serves 4]
1 tablespoon Penseys' Bangkok Blend (or other Thai seasoning)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon unrefined sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
2 cups thinly sliced zucchini
2 cups fresh shitake mushrooms, cut in half or thirds
1 head Chinese cabbage, 1 inch slices (about 10 cups)
7 ounces of dry rice noodles

This dish is best cooked in a non stick wok.
Mix Bangkok blend and cornstarch in a small bowl. Slowly mix in soy sauce and water and set aside.
Boil water for noodles. Remove it from the heat. Soak noodles while making the stir fry which will take about 8 or 9 minutes. Make sure noodles remain firm, rinse and set aside.
Heat oil and quickly stir in ginger and garlic until fragrant (no more than 10 seconds).
Add onions, peppers, zucchini and shitake mushrooms and toss frequently for 5 minutes until the veggies just begin to soften.
Add cabbage to the wok and toss frequently until the cabbage and all veggies are crisp tender, about 4 minutes.
Stir up cornstarch mixture and mix into the stir fry until it thickens.
Carefully mix in the rice noodles and serve immediately.

Per serving: 304 calories, 4.4 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 9.8 g protein, 58.8 g carbohydrates and 5.0 g fiber.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding - Rich, Creamy And A Great Source Of Omega 3 Fatty Acid And Soy Protein

All you do is stir chia seeds into chocolate milk!

I Love Chia Seeds!
As many of you know, chia seeds are one of my favorite power foods. They provide over 2 grams of ALA omega 3 fatty acids and over 4 grams of fiber per tablespoon. They also are a very good source of manganese, phosphorus, iron and calcium. The best thing about them is that when they are put into soy milk, for example, they become the consistency of tapioca. I've published over a dozen postings on chia seeds so be sure to check them out.

More Chocolate
I must be in the mood for chocolate this week. I had some leftover soy milk from making Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream for Tuesday's posting and it occurred to me that I had never tried making chocolate chia pudding. How can that be? I've made so many things with chia seeds but never chocolate pudding.
I immediately poured some chia seeds into the chocolate soy milk, gave them a vigorous stir, and they started to thicken beautifully right before my eyes. I threw the mixture in the refrigerator until the next day so they would get really thick and creamy, and the result was amazing. How simple can it get? Two ingredients with hardly any prep time. You MUST try this.
I need to experiment with a raw vegan version of this. I imagine it will just be a matter of replacing the cinnamon with some raw cacao in my Raw chia seed pudding recipe and perhaps increasing the number of dates.


Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding
[serves 4]
2 cups organic, non-GMO chocolate soy milk
5 to 6 tablespoons raw chia seeds (depending on how thick you want it)
Berries (optional)

Combine chia seeds with chocolate soy milk and stir vigorously with a fork for several minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes and stir again until the chia seeds are well blended and separated. Let the mixture sit out for an hour, stir one more time and refrigerate at least one day until thickened and firm. This is a good dessert to make a day or two in advance in order to give it time to set. When ready to serve, top with strawberries or raspberries and divide into 4 small serving dishes.

Per serving: 106.3 calories, 5.6 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5.1 g protein, 15.2 g carbohydrates, 6.2 g fiber and 3.1 g ALA omega 2.7 fatty acid.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream - Low In Sugar And Fat

Place hazelnuts in plastic bag and crush with side of mallet.

Freeze individual scoops of left over ice cream on cookie sheet.

Store individual frozen scoops in tupperware.

A Heart Healthy Dessert
We've already heard that dark chocolate benefits the heart by lowering blood pressure and reducing LDL cholesterol. It also tastes great and can even act as an anti-depressant. (How can you be depressed after eating chocolate?)
Hazelnuts, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, also contributes to a healthy heart. Studies show that eating a daily dose of these delicious nuts, also known as filberts, can also reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.
And let's not forget the benefits of soy milk.The FDA recommends 25 grams of soy protein a day to reduce the risk of heart disease. (Always use organic, non-GMO soy products).
Put them all together and you've not only got a delicious dessert, but one that you can feel good about serving to your family.

Compare to Ciao Bella Hazelnut Gelato
Obviously I'm not saying that this healthy vegan ice cream is as rich tasting as a commercial gelato, but if you avoid dairy and are conscious of your weight and health, this is a good alternative. This recipe has less than 40% the calories, one fourth the fat and one half the carbs and sugar as Ciao Bella Hazelnut Gelato. It also has very little saturated fat and absolutely no cholesterol where Ciao Bella has 8 g of saturated fat and 45 mg of cholesterol per serving.

Tips for Storing Left-over Dairy Free Ice Cream
After making home made dairy free ice cream, serving is a breeze. But if you store it until the next day, it gets quite hard and is difficult to serve. I discovered a way to get around this. Scoop the left over ice cream onto a cookie sheet and freeze the individual servings. Then after a few hours, transfer the frozen scoops into a tupperware container. The next day, place one or two frozen scoops in a bowl, wait until they thaw slightly and enjoy!


Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
[makes 6 servings]
2 cups chocolate organic, non-GMO soymilk
1 teaspoon raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa
8 drops liquid stevia or to taste*
1 medium banana, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup raw hazelnuts, crushed
* you can substitute 2 to 4 soaked dates or several tablespoons of agave nectar for the stevia

You'll need an ice cream maker for this recipe.
Mix the soy milk with the cocoa, stevia (or other sweetener) and the banana in a high speed blender until smooth.Add to the ice cream maker and process until frozen. Crush the hazelnuts by placing them in a plastic bag and gently beating them with the side of a mallet. Put into the ice cream maker one minute before it's finished so they get well mixed into the ice cream. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 91.6 calories, 4 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.6 g protein, 12.5 g carbohydrates, 8.9 g sugar and 1.7 g of fiber.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Ella's Kitchen Organic Baby And Toddler Food - A Convenient Way For Mom's To Get Healthy, Organic Fruits And Veggies Into Their Babies Diets

I was having brunch yesterday with my favorite one year old twins when their mom whipped out these adorable little ready-made drink pouches filled with a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. The babies loved them! When I looked at the ingredients, I was impressed to find pure organic fruits and vegetables with no water, preservatives or added salt. The most brilliant thing is the packaging. They come in these little pouches with a pop up top. No need to try and feed the baby in a restaurant with a spoon and little glass jars. Where were these products when I had babies!!

Ella's Kitchen
Ella's Kitchen was formed by a hands-on father of two children who was horrified by the child obesity rate. He wanted to create an opportunity for children to eat and enjoy healthy food. The combination of foods, together with the cool packaging, are designed to create colors and textures that the kids will be drawn to. By the way the twins were scarfing down these little pouches, I think he certainly achieved his goal!

Healthful flavors
They have different products for the various stages of your babies life. In their stage 1 baby food, the cute pouches come in flavors like:
* apples and bananas
* broccoli, pears and peas
* butternut squash, carrots, apples and prunes
* carrots, apples and parsnips
* peaches and bananas
* sweet potato, pumpkin, apples and blueberries
* sweet corn, pumpkin and peas
to name a few.

Other Products
Their other products include:
* Baby brekkie - breakfast foods for babies 6 months and older
* Stage 2 foods aimed for weaning babies of 7 months or more
* Stage 3 foods for toddlers
* Healthy baby cookies and snacks
* Italian and Indian cooking sauces that you can put over pasta or rice
* LIttle boxes of organic rice and pasta
Although some of their products contain meat and dairy, there is a good selection of vegetarian products across their product line for those of you who are raising veggie babies.

Where to Buy
The products can be purchased throughout the U.S. To check out a store near you, look at their Store Locator. You can also find their products on Amazon.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Celebrate World Vegetarian Day With A Delicious Vegan Swiss Chard And Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Sauté onions and Swiss chard stems until soft.

Briefly wilt Swiss chard and remove from heat.

Cover bottom with 5 tortilla halves.

Cover final layer with tortillas and enchilada sauce and bake.

World Vegetarian Day
October 1st is the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. There's a lot of information to share as we learn more and more about the benefits of eating a predominantly plant based diet. No matter what your current diet is, here are some great reasons why you should eat more vegetarian meals.

Factory Farming is Harming Our Environment
Even our favorite Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, tells us, "If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you can do".
The United Nations agrees that the meat industry is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."
So if you are driving to the grocery store in your Prius carrying your recycled bags, remember that eating more meat free meals is even more effective in preventing greenhouse gases and resource depletion.
Greenhouse Gases:
A 2006 U.N. report showed that the meat industry produces more green-house gas emissions than the combined emissions of all the cars, trucks, airplanes and ships in the world!
Resource Depletion:
Animal agriculture uses one third of the earth's entire land surface, consumes more than half the water and over one third of the petroleum.
The U.S. livestock population consumes more than 7 times as much grain as all the people in the United States put together. This grain could be better used to end world hunger.
It takes about 100 times more water to produce animal protein, pound for pound, than to produce plant protein. A meat eater's diet uses 4,000 gallons per day where a vegetarian's diet uses 1,200 gallons and a vegan's diet only uses 300 gallons.

The American Diet is Making Us Sick
The typical American diet has lead to obesity and all of the diseases that follow. Vegetarian diets are better for our health. People who eat meat are almost 10 times more likely to be obese. Vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they only have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters.
Several famous people have recently switched to a vegetarian diet for their health. World famous golfer Phil Mickelson announced that he switched to a vegan diet to help alleviate the painful symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Even President Bill Clinton has changed to a mostly vegan diet to help prevent further accumulation of arterial plaque. I guess he wants to be around to become a grandpa now that Chelsea is married.

Factory Farms are Exempt from Animal Cruelty Laws
More than 15 billion animals are killed for food every year in the U.S. and the overwhelming majority of these animals are treated horribly. They are crammed into tight spaces and never get to experience things that should be natural to them like running in a field, feeling the warmth of the sun or raising their young. If anyone ever treated a dog or cat like these animals are treated, they would be arrested for cruelty to animals but factory farms are exempt from these laws. To learn more about this check out Farm Sanctuary.

Give it a Try
If you want to help save the planet, lower the rate of obesity and degenerative disorders and prevent animals from coming into this world unnecessarily just to become our food, eat more plant based meals. If you're a meat eater, go vegetarian one or two days a week. Start with this delicious recipe!

Swiss Chard and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
[serves 4 to 6 people]

2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and finely chopped. Leaves sliced (about 6 to 8 cups)
28 ounce can enchilada sauce (medium heat), you'll need about 3 cups
Eight 6 or 7 inch corn tortillas
One 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
Avocado and cilantro garnish or top with Guacamole (optional)

You'll need an 8" x 8" casserole dish.
Prepare enough rice to yield 2 1/2 cups of cooked rice and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in a sauce pan and sauté onion and chard stems until soft.
Add Swiss chard briefly just until it wilts. Set aside.
Cut 7 tortillas in half. Leave 1 tortilla whole.
Pour about 1 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with 5 tortilla halves (see picture above).
Layer with half of the rice, chard mixture and beans. Pour another 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce evenly across the layer.
Cover with another 5 tortilla halves.
Layer with the remaining rice, chard mixture and beans. Pour another 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce evenly across the layer.
Cover the top with the remaining 4 tortilla halves and one whole tortilla (see picture above). Pour enough of the remaining enchilada sauce to completely cover the top.
Tent the top with aluminum foil making sure it doesn't touch to top layer. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the aluminum foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Cut into 4 or 6 pieces and garnish with avocado (or guacamole) and cilantro.
Serve immediately.

Per serving (without garnish - 6 servings): 294.2 calories, 5.2 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 8.6 g protein, 53.1 g carbohydrates and 7.5 g of fiber.

Per serving (without garnish - 4 large servings): 441.3 calories, 7.8 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 12.9 g protein, 79.6 g carbohydrates and 11.3 g of fiber.