Monday, October 28, 2013

Vegan And Gluten-Free Antipasto Salad
The Perfect Start To A Holiday Dinner

Everyone loves antipasto salad- A real holiday pleaser!

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Antipasto Salad
You know it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter when my cousin's all post pictures of their gorgeous antipastos. But this year, I'm leaning towards an antipasto salad. What's the difference you might ask? Well, an antipasto is usually a large platter with ingredients such as olives, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, etc., all laid out in a beautiful and creative fashion. If you're not vegan, you'll see provolone, bocconcini (small mozzarella balls) or chunks of salami on the platter as well. An antipasto salad has many of the same components but also has more raw salad ingredients such as cucumber, romaine lettuce, raw onions, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and more, in a Italian dressing. I find the antipasto salad a little easier to serve and you don't have your guests picking out their favorite ingredients :-)
So for those of you coming to my Thanksgiving feast this year, expect to see a huge platter of this delicious vegan and gluten free antipasto salad!

Feel free to substitute your favorite fresh salad or olive bar ingredients for the ones listed in this recipe. Or just add more ingredients. At dinner last night, while consuming (and testing!) an entire platter of this salad, my husband mentioned that I left out radishes, his favorite. So we quickly cut up a bunch of them and threw them on! So if I left out something you love, please don't hesitate to make modifications.

Box Beans - A Healthy Alternative to Most Canned Beans 
My father's favorite antipasto ingredient was garbanzo beans. Even though he is no longer with us, I always include garbanzos in my holiday salad to make me feel like he's at the table.

When shopping for garbanzos this week, I was very excited to discover that Whole Foods now sells them and other beans in little boxes that are BPA free! BPA, or bisphenol-A, is an industrial chemical that is commonly found in the lining of cans. Beans are one of the only things that I still buy in cans so it is worrisome. There are companies, like Eden Foods, that make cans without a BPA lining but these companies are few and far between. BPA is an endocrine disruptor because it mimics the body's hormones and is linked to an increased risk of infertility, obesity, breast and other cancers. So if you can find these cute boxes of BPA-free beans, they are a better choice than canned beans that have BPA linings.

Whole Foods sells beans in boxes.
A great option when trying to avoid
BPA linings in canned goods.

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Antipasto Salad
Vegan and Gluten Free
[makes 8 servings]

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive or cold-pressed hemp oil (or a mixture of both)
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 large clove pressed or finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup sliced red onions
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup peeled, halved and sliced English cucumbers
1 cup seeded and sliced red bell pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup mixed, pitted marinated olives
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup marinated button mushrooms
1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (15 oz can or 13 oz box)
1 large head of romaine lettuce, cleaned and chopped

Mix the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Stir in the onions and let them marinate while you are preparing the remaining ingredients.

Let the onions marinate in the dressing while
you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss until well combined.

Spoon onto a large, shallow platter and serve.

A large shallow platter makes a nicer presentation
than a tall salad bowl.

Check out other healthy and delicious vegan and gluten-free Thanksgiving and holiday favorites


Friday, October 25, 2013

No Need To Gain Weight Over The Holidays! Download Health Begins In The Kitchen For Delicious Vegan And Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes At Special Holiday Pricing

Enjoy our holiday price of $9.99!

T'is the Season to Cook
The holidays are upon us - Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years. T'is the season to entertain our friends and families. I would guess that more cooking is done this time of year than any other. And with all this cooking, people do more eating as well.

No Need to Trash Your Diet
Millions of people gain weight during the holidays and many carry it around with them for a very long time, if not forever. But there's no need to trash your diet. 

A few years ago, a friend asked a simple question which I have pondered since. 

"Why do we serve the most unhealthy food to 
our friends and family when we entertain?"

Think about it. It's almost a reflex to think our guests want cheese and crackers, roasted and salted nuts, queso dip and chips and fattening desserts. Even I hesitate to serve people whole grain or gluten-free pasta instead of that made from semolina as they expect. 

But the good news is that you can serve delicious holiday favorites without trashing your diet and without compromising taste and enjoyment! 
Among the 160 healthy, vegan recipes in my ebook, Health Begins in the Kitchen, there are many holiday favorites that are delicious and guilt free.

Holiday Pricing!
To celebrate the holidays, I'm now offering this eBook for only $9.99 ($5.00 off of list price!) 

Buy it for someone you love for Hanukkah or Christmas!

Enjoy beautiful and delicious dishes like these and many, many, more:

Olive Tapenade
Waldorf Salad
Raw Beet Salad
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
Gluten-Free Stuffing
Green Beans
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Gluten-Free Stuffed Pumpkin
Carrot Cake
Gluten-Free Ginger Cookies

Enjoy the Holidays without Gaining Weight!
Download Health Begins in the Kitchen: 
Delicious and Easy Vegan Recipes and Seasonal Food Plan

Now Only $9.99

Monday, October 21, 2013

Everything Orange Soup - Vegan And Gluten Free, Perfect For Thanksgiving!

Butternut squash, carrots, oranges, and turmeric
 blend up into  this healthy autumn soup.

Perfect for Thanksgiving or even Halloween!

instinct - (definition)
1. an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli.

In this case, the stimuli is fall, the leaves turning color, and the cooler weather. 
The fixed pattern of behavior, at least for me, is to make soup! 

This instinctive behavior was part of the driving force behind my Seasonally Raw Food Plan that I write about in my book, Health Begins in the Kitchen. Despite my love of raw food and my belief of its critical role in a healthy diet, I believe that certain seasons and climates dictate the percentage and balance of raw and cooked foods in our diet.

Phytochemical Stew
I almost named this dish Phytochemical Stew but I realized that, besides me, not many people would find that appetizing. But when I look at the beautiful orange color of squash, carrots, fresh oranges, and turmeric, I see phytochemicals such as carotenoids, flavonoids and more. And although the original purpose of these plant chemicals is to protect the plants themselves, research demonstrates that these substances can also help protect humans from all kinds of diseases. 

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Everything Orange Soup
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 6 servings]

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups sliced carrots
4 cups diced butternut squash or pumpkin
2 cups chopped tomatoes, or 15 oz can diced
4 cups veggie broth*
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste, plus some for garnish
2 medium oranges, peeled and seeded
pinch of fresh thyme for garnish

* or 4 cups water and a large Rapunzel vegetable bouillon cube

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and celery and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes. 

Add the garlic, ginger, and turmeric and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the carrots, squash (or pumpkin), tomatoes, broth, salt and pepper and cook, covered, until the vegetables soften, about 20 minutes.

Place the soup in a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, together with the fresh oranges, and blend until smooth. You may have to do this in batches. 

Return to the pot, heat, and serve. Garnish with fresh thyme and additional freshly ground black pepper.

Per serving: 142 calories, 3 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 51 mg omega-3 and 376 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber, and 589 mg sodium.

Download Health Begins in the Kitchen for lots more vegan and gluten-free Thanksgiving favorites, as well as recipes for a Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Banquet!

Monday, October 14, 2013

What To Do With Fresh Figs - Enjoy Them Now But Freeze Some For Later! Plus Recipe For Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Figs are high in dietary fiber, potassium,
magnesium, and vitamin B6.

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It's Time for Figs
Our neighbor's fig tree and our fig tree are both presenting us with heavenly sweet figs. Unfortunately figs are so perishable and have such a short season, most people have very little time to enjoy this magnificent fruit.

A few years ago we planted a Janice Seedless Kadota fig. It's a fairly new breed of white fig that is exceptionally sweet and has very few seeds. It had a slow start because we decided to move it to a new location,  but it is now starting to produce very lovely figs.

Janice Seedless Kadota Fig

Ways to Enjoy Fresh Figs
Besides popping them in your mouth, diced figs are wonderful in a morning fruit salad or sliced and tossed in a green salad.

Add diced figs to your breakfast fruit salad.
Add sliced figs to your green salads.

They also make a wonderful fig balsamic vinaigrette.

Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 packed cup chopped, ripe figs
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons cold-pressed hemp oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cold filtered water, or more
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, and blend until smooth. If it's too thick, add more water or some almond milk.

Fig balsamic vinaigrette.

Freeze Some to make Smoothes and Soups All Year Long
One of my favorite things to do with figs is to add them to my smoothies. They thicken and sweeten any smoothie recipe, like this Raw Vegan and Gluten-Free Apple Pear Green Smoothie.

Or use them to add sweetness to a blended soup recipe, like this Raw Vegan and Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Figs.

In order to enjoy figs in your smoothies or soups all year long, vacuum seal them.
First, wash and dry the figs. Cut them in half and place them on a cookie sheet.
Place in the freezer.

Freeze on cookie sheet

Once the figs are frozen, vacuum seal them using a product like FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer. Our figs last in the freezer for an entire year when properly sealed. And if your fig tree is as prolific as most, you'll have plenty to save!

Food Saver Vacuum Sealer

Monday, October 07, 2013

Vegan And Gluten-Free Cherry Tomato Pasta With Peas - And, The Story Of The Wedding Tomato

Cherry tomato pasta with peas.

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The Story of the Wedding Tomato
On September 1st  we had the honor of hosting our nephew's wedding ceremony in our vineyard. Our daughter-in-law is a professional floral designer and generously volunteered to do the flowers. A gardener herself, she thought it would be great if we grew all the flowers for the arrangements and bouquets. And while we were at it, we should fill all our vegetable raised beds with flowers too since they would be the backdrop for the ceremony. (I will do a future post on growing your own wedding flowers.) 

The beds were filled with a variety of seeds, from zinnias, to sunflowers. There was, however, a tiny cherry tomato plant in the center of the main flower bed. We asked the bride and groom if they minded us leaving it there since it would be the only edible thing we were growing this summer besides the wedding flowers. They didn't mind at all. Since they are both would-be farmers, they would have been just as happy getting married in a field of zucchini.

So with much love and care, the little flowers grew into bigger flowers. And the tiny cherry tomato plant, getting more water than it should because of the flowers, grew into a giant, almost mutant, tomato plant about 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide. I continued to ask the bride and groom if they minded having a massive tomato plant as the backdrop of their nuptials, but they insisted that it was ok. I hated to rip it out as, despite it's healthy growth, it hadn't yet produced a single tomato! 

So there sat, in all it's glory, proudly beside the wedding chuppah and beds of lovely flowers, our massive tomato bush and it's unripened green tomatoes. You can see it, in the picture below, behind the yellow snapdragons.

Wedding tomato

Here we are in October getting bombarded with these beautiful, plump cherry tomatoes that eluded us all summer. Today's recipe makes a cherry tomato sauce with peas that you can put over pasta, rice, quinoa or any other grain. My pesca-vegan friends can add a can of oil-packed Italian tuna fish, which can be flaked in at the end.

Finally, the wedding tomato plant starts to deliver!

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Cherry Tomato Pasta with Peas
Vegan, Gluten Free (with gluten-free pasta]
(makes 4 servings)

8 ounces gluten-free or whole wheat pasta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups ripe, halved, cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 can organic peas with liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Prepare the pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.

Use gluten-free or whole wheat pasta

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a medium saucepan, on medium low heat.
Add the onions and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the cherry tomatoes, black pepper, parsley, and basil and simmer until the tomatoes soften and begin to get juicy and break down, about  8 to 10 minutes. If they look dry, add a splash of water or white wine.

Cook until tomatoes break down.

Add the peas and their liquid. 

The liquid from the peas adds to the flavor of the sauce.

Cook for several minutes until the peas are heated through and serve over pasta.

Per serving (with gluten-free pasta): 338 calories, 5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 60 mg omega-3 and 574 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 9 g protein, 67 g carbohydrates, 10 g dietary fiber, and 423 mg sodium.

Per serving (with whole wheat pasta): 333 calories, 5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 75 mg omega-3 and 875 omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 14 g protein, 63 g carbohydrates, 11 mg dietary fiber, and 423 mg sodium.

For more delicious vegan recipes, preview my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen: Delicious and Easy Vegan Recipes and Seasonal Food Plan PLUS Raw Food Cleanse.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Blistered Padron Peppers With Nutritional Yeast - 10 Minute Vegan And Gluten-Free Appetizer

Padron peppers - some are hot, some are not!

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Be Prepared for a Spicy Surprise
I was recently introduced to these tasty little peppers at Woodfour, a new local brewpub in Sebastopol. The waiter warned me that most of these peppers are pretty mild but occasionally there will be one that will set your mouth on fire. 

The waiter didn't lie. We popped a few in our mouths and thought, what's the big deal? These are sweet and delicious. Then my husband, who has a high tolerance for spicy food, came across one of the hottest peppers he had ever eaten! The same thing happened to me a few peppers later.

Padron Peppers
Padrons, or Pimientons de Padon, are small green Spanish peppers from Galicia. Because you never know how hot the pepper is going to be, they have been called "Spanish roulette." So besides being a great appetizer, they become a very exciting one. But I would certainly warn your guests beforehand and I would only serve them to people who enjoy spicy foods. But hot or not, they are one of the  most delicious appetizers you can whip up in ten minutes - perfect for football season!

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Blistered Padron Peppers
Vegan, Gluten Free
Requires cookie sheet or shallow baking pan
[makes 6 servings]

1/2 pound padron peppers
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast, or to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash and dry the peppers. Place them in a bowl and drizzle with oil. Toss until well coated.

Spread the peppers out on a cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle them with salt.

Roast until the peppers blister, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Blistered peppers

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the peppers with nutritional yeast. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 33 calories, 2 g total fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, and 2 g dietary fiber.