Thursday, November 19, 2015

Farro Stuffing For Your Thanksgiving Menu

Farro is an ancient grain with a lower gluten content.

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Farro, an Ancient Grain
I like grains that are a bit chewy, like barley, spelt, wheat berries, and farro. Farro is emmer wheat, an ancient strain of hard wheat. And like other ancient grains, like Einkorn, it's got a lower gluten content than modern wheat although it is still not suitable for those of you who have Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. But for people like my husband who has a slight sensitivity to wheat, this fills the bill. It's also great for those of you who would rather eat a whole grain stuffing rather than one made from heavily processed bread.

Farro comes in pearled, semi-pearled, and whole. The semi-pearled and whole has more fiber and bran but it takes longer to cook. 

If you are cooking and serving this in a casserole dish, you do not need any binders but if you are using this as a stuffing, you might need to use a beaten egg or flax egg to make it a bit firmer and hold it together.

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Farro Stuffing
Vegan, Dairy Free
[makes 6 servings]

Requires an 8"x8" casserole dish
Instant Pot Pressure Cooker for making farro (optional)

1 cup dry farro
1/2 to 1 whole Rapunzel vegetable bouillon cube*
Boiling water
1 1/2 tablespoons Earth Balance buttery spread plus some for baking dish
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 to 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, or to taste
1/4 black pepper
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups grated butternut squash
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

* depending on if you are using the Instant pot to make the farro.

Prepare the farro. 
Using the Instant Pot pressure cooker, dissolve the whole Rapunzel bouillon cube in 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. Set aside.
Using the "saute" function, toast the farro in the Instant Pot, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off. Add the water with the dissolved bouillon cube to the farro. Set for 7 minutes. When done, let the pressure come down naturally. Test for doneness. If necessary, cook longer. 

If you don't have a pressure cooker, cook the farro according to directions in salted water.  Set aside.
Dissolve 1/2 of the bouillon cube in 1/2 cup of boiling water. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8"x8" casserole dish with Earth Balance.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon of Earth Balance, on medium-low heat, in a large pan or 5-quart Dutch oven. Add the onion, celery, poultry seasoning, and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquids, about 5 minutes. Add the butternut squash and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in a tablespoon of Earth Balance. After it melts, add the cooked farro and fresh parsley and enough of the 1/2 cup of water with the dissolved bouillon cube to get the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. There should be enough salt from the bouillon cube.

Place the farro mixture in a prepared casserole dish, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Per serving: 187 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, and 395 mg sodium (using the entire bouillon cube).

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For more Thanksgiving recipes and menu ideas, download my ebook, Health Begins in the Kitchen: Delicious and Easy Vegan Recipes and Seasonal Food Plan.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fuju Persimmon And Pomegranate Relish
Perfect For Thanksgiving!

This simple and colorful side dish is vegan and gluten free.

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Getting the Menu Together
Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away so I'm finalizing my menu. I've got a full house this year so I'm trying to pick recipes that are delicious, simple, and that can either be prepped or made ahead. 

Since my persimmon tree finally blessed me with over 4 dozen fuyu persimmons, I will definitely serve them in at least one dish. They pair beautifully with pomegranates, so I'm thinking of making this simple raw vegan relish. 

Persimmons and pomegranates pair
beautifully and reflect the colors of fall.

A lot of people avoid pomegranates because they think they are difficult to clean. I know I avoided them for years until I figured out how to clean them. It's really pretty simple with the trick being that you have to do it with the fruit submerged in a bowl of water. Check out my post on How To Clean a Pomegranate

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Fuju Persimmon and Pomegranate Relish
Raw Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Fee
[makes 8 (1/4-cup) servings

2 cups pomegranate arils
2 persimmons, finely diced (2 cups)
1 jalalpeno, finely diced (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds*
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

* make sure you ask ahead if any of your guests have a nut allergy.

Toss all ingredients together and serve. It can also be stirred into freshly made cranberry sauce.

Per serving (with pecans): 114 calories, 5.5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 69 mg omega-3 and 1,456 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 2 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, and 2 mg sodium.

Per serving (without nuts): 67 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mg omega-3 and 51 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 1 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 2 mg sodium.

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For more Thanksgiving recipes and menu ideas, download my ebook, Health Begins in the Kitchen: Delicious and Easy Vegan Recipes and Seasonal Food Plan.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Creamy Asian Cabbage Salad With Black Sesame Seeds Featuring "Just Mayo" From Beyond Eggs

Raw cabbage is inexpensive, delicious and healthy!
And it's only 53 calories per serving!

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Hampton Creek's Egg Replacer
Whether you eat eggs or not, there's something interesting brewing in the food industry. Hampton Creek, a fast-growing food company, is trying to develop food that is eco-friendly, compassionate, and healthy. And, of course, delicious - something many vegan food products are not. Their first target is to replace the egg.

They haven't come out will a product that will make scrambled eggs yet, although they are supposedly quite close, but they have developed a pretty delicious mayo substitute called "Just Mayo." 

Just Mayo comes in four flavors:
Original, Chipotle, Garlic, and Sriracha.

I'm not a big mayo eater but now and then you need a little bit for a creamy dressing like the one I'll share with you today. I'm also not terribly fond of vegan mayo because it doesn't have the taste or texture of real mayonnaise but this product really does. It's not that I totally exclude eggs from my diet. I'm lucky enough to have several friends who raise the happiest chickens on the planet. But when you buy regular mayonnaise, you can bet that the chickens that produce those eggs are from industrial farms and I don't like to support companies like that. 

What's in Just Mayo?
The ingredients include expeller-pressed non-GMO canola oil, while vinegar, and 2% or less of the following: organic sugar, salt, pea protein, spices, modified food starch, lemon juice concentrate, fruit and vegetable juice (color), and calcium disodium EDTA to preserve freshness. 

1 tablespoon provides:
90 calories
10 g total fat
1 g saturated fat (no trans fat)
Zero g of cholesterol 
80 mg sodium
Zero g carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, and protein

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My Favorite Cabbage Salad
There's a Japanese restaurant nearby that has the best cabbage salad. It's big and it's meant to share with the table but every time I go there, I eat an entire bowl or two of it. The last time I was there, I came home determined to make it myself. I think my recipe is a bit lighter (more vinegar, less mayo), but it's pretty darn close to what they serve at the restaurant. I'm excited to use Just Mayo as the base.

Besides being delicious, raw cabbage is extremely healthy to eat. First of all, it's a cruciferous vegetable which can help prevent cancers such as bladder, colon, and prostate but only if it's eaten raw or lightly cooked. Plus, it's a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium and manganese. It's also a good source of vitamin A, B6, thiamin, calcium, iron and magnesium. All this for one of the least expensive veggies you can find!

Creamy Asian Cabbage Salad with Black Sesame Seeds
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
(makes 1/2 cup dressing)

Ingredients for the dressing
1/4 cup Just Mayo
1/4 cup Marukan organic seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon pressed or grated fresh garlic
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds plus some for sprinkling

For the salad
1 to 2 cups very thinly sliced cabbage per person

To make the dressing, place the Just Mayo in a small bowl. Slowly stir in the rice vinegar and then the ginger, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the sesame seeds. I don't think it needs any salt but if you do, add a little pinch. There's already some in the mayo.

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and dress with the desired amount of dressing. To keep the calories low, start with 1 tablespoon of dressing per 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cabbage. Add more if needed. Sprinkle with a few extra black sesame seeds. Serve with chop sticks.

Per tablespoon of dressing: 53 calories, 5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g protein, 1.5 g carbohydrates, 0 g dietary fiber, and 160 mg sodium. 

Per 1 1/2 cups of cabbage: 18 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, and 9 mg sodium.

If you enjoyed this recipe, check out my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen.