Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Vegan Moo Shu Vegetables With Tempeh

Simple and delicious Moo Shu Veggies - great for entertaining!

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Moo Shu
Moo Shu (fill in the blank) is a popular dish in Chinese restaurants. You can order Moo Shu pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu, and vegetables. They usually are made with shredded cabbage, onions, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, and seasonings, and are served on a delicate pancake which almost always breaks apart in your hand half way through eating it. The characteristic flavor is usually dominated by the yummy plum sauce that it is served with.

Most of us wouldn't think of making this at home, probably because of the difficulty of making the pancakes. But if you take that fear away by using your favorite tortilla as a replacement, the rest of the job is pretty easy! Just stir up a few veggies, buy some plum sauce at your local market, and you're almost there.

Today's recipe uses Three Grain organic tempeh from Lightlife as the protein made from cultured soybeans plus millet, brown rice, and barley. It's a great source of iron, protein, and dietary fiber. Feel free to use other types of tempeh made from other grain combinations. For extra flavor, try using marinated tempeh in flavors such as sesame garlic, or teriyaki.

One 3 ounce serving has:
170 calories
5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat
6 g dietary fiber
16 g protein
14 g carbohydrate
10 mg sodium
15% DV of iron

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Moo Shu Vegetables with Tempeh
[makes 6 servings]

4 teaspons sesame oil, divided
4 ounces organic tempeh, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 large carrot, shredded or cut into ribbons
1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
6 tortillas
2 tablespoons plum sauce 

Cabbage, onions, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms

Heat 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add the sliced tempeh and cook until browned, a minute or two per side.

Remove from the pan and slice into small chunks. Set aside.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. Add the ginger and garlic and cook on medium-low heat, stirring continually, until fragrant, about one minute or less. Add the onion, cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, soy sauce and rice vinegar to the pan. Stirring frequently, cook on medium heat until the vegetables soften and reach the desired texture. The mixture should be pretty dry.

Stir in the browned chunks of tempeh and cook until they are warmed up. Turn off and cover until ready to serve.

Wrap the tortillas in a towel and heat for 30 seconds to one minute in the microwave or heat individually in a heated pan. 

Place each tortilla on a plate and spread 1 teaspoon of plum sauce in the center.

Place moo shu vegetables on the center of the tortilla.

Fold and enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

12 Healthy And Delicious Things To Do With Fresh Strawberries

Fresh strawberries can be used in so many delicious ways.

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Fresh Strawberries
My garden is presenting me with the most beautiful strawberries. Last year I dedicated one of my raised garden beds to growing strawberries. We got a small harvest last season, they lived through the winter, and now they are producing in force. 

My strawberry bed

If you have strawberries in your garden or if you go to the farmers market and get inspired to buy an entire flat of these beautiful berries, you may now be asking yourself, "what should I do with all this fruit?" Here are some ideas.

Prep the Strawberries
Of course strawberries are often nice and sweet and you can just pop them in your mouth, but many can be tart and a little hard. So you may want to prep them with a tiny bit of sugar. It doesn't take very much and it makes a big difference.

Just slice fresh strawberries and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle a teaspoon of granulated sugar over them, stir well and set aside for 20 minutes until the berries soften and begin to release their juice. Now they are ready to enjoy as is or in a few of the following dishes.

Softened strawberries

#1 French Toast Smothered in Strawberries
One of my favorite things to do with strawberries, is to use them over French toast or pancakes. Smothering French toast or pancakes allows you to skip the butter and syrup!

French toast with strawberries

#2 PB&S
You've heard of PB&J- well, skip the jelly and place some "prep'ed" strawberries over your favorite nut butter on a muffin or slice of bread. Try Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Muffins with Almond Butter and Fresh Strawberries

Almond butter and fresh strawberries on an Ezekiel muffin

I also love placing strawberries on Kite Hill vegan cream cheese on a whole wheat English Muffin.

Sliced strawberries and Kite Hill or Tofutti non-dairy
cream cheese on a whole wheat English muffin.

#3 Strawberry Banana Fruit Leather
Just whip up a 2 cups of strawberries and 2 large bananas in a blender, pour onto 2 large Teflex dehydrator sheets and dehydrate until leathery and pliable. Just follow my recipe for Vegan Blueberry Banana Fruit Leather and substitute the blueberries with strawberries. These make a wonderful snack!

Pour mixture onto a dehydrator sheet
Strawberry banana fruit leather

#4 Strawberries on Greens
Most people think of putting tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, etc. on their greens but fruit is a wonderful addition to salads. Try my Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette. or just add sliced and "prep'ed" strawberries to any green salad.

Spinach and Strawberry salad

#5 Sugar-Free Popsicles
Popsicles are pretty easy to make and they are especially delicious with fresh strawberries. Check out this low-calorie, sugar-free Strawberry Popsicle recipe.

These strawberry popsicles are only 20 calories each!

#6 Organic Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam
This is one of my favorite things to do with strawberries. Even before I had my own strawberry patch, I would buy flats of fresh strawberries to make this delicious Strawberry Jam.

This strawberry jam is only 12 calories per tablespoon.

I was so excited to discover making jam with Pomona Universal Pectin, that I included an entire chapter in my book, Health Begins in the Kitchen, on making healthy jam. I included recipes for making jam and jelly with various fruits and different sweeteners such as honey, agave, stevia, apple-juice, grape-juice, less sugar, or no sugar at all.

#7 Freezing Strawberries
I love making smoothies in the morning and frozen strawberries are a great addition. To freeze strawberries while they are in season so that you can use them later in your smoothies, first clean them and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen, place them in a freezer bag. Label, date, and pop in the freezer. 

Place clean strawberries on a cookie sheet in the freezer.

#8 - Make a Smoothie
You can drop some frozen strawberries in any of your favorite smoothies. Check out this recipe for Strawberry Banana Green Tea Smoothie with Chia Seeds.

#9 - Sliced Strawberries with Honey
There's a Chinese restaurant in town that serves this little desert of sliced strawberries with local honey. It's so simple yet elegant and delicious, especially if you have access to local honey. I also like to add a few dark chocolate covered almonds or a piece of dark chocolate on the side.

Drizzle local honey over sliced strawberries.

#10 - In a Fruit Salad, of Course!
The slight tartness of strawberries pair beautifully with sweet fruits such as papaya, mango, and banana. Check out this Mexican Papaya Salad with Strawberries in a poppy seed dressing.

#11 - Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream
At 73 calories per serving, you can enjoy all the Strawberry Ice Cream you want. 

This strawberry ice cream has 1/3 the calories and 1/10 the fat as Ben and Jerry's strawberry ice cream.

#12 - Vegan Wholewheat Strawberry Muffins
These wholegrain, low-calorie muffins are light and delicious. Check out the recipe for Wholewheat Strawberry Muffins.

Let us know if you have some other good ideas to share!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Grindstone Bakery's Great Tasting Gluten Free Bread - Also Loaves Of Healthy Rye And Spelt

Grindstone's bread are made from the purest ingredients.

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Looking for Gluten-Free Bread?
My husband eats gluten free bread because he's a bit sensitive to wheat. But I cringe when he brings home these brands that are made from processed rice flour, rice starch, and gums to hold them together. Then we found Grindstone Bakery. The above picture shows an entire shelf of their breads at our local Whole Foods although the first loaves we bought were directly from their quaint factory. But you can buy all of their breads online too.

Ancient Bread-Making Techniques
The whole grains are all stone milled in the factory. This gentle and cool process preserves the protein, healthy fats, and nutrients in the germ as well as the dietary fiber. To truly appreciate how much love goes into this bread, you need to read Mario Repetto's story:

Mario's Story - from their Website
"Grindstone Bakery was founded in 1999 in a small "garage" in Santa Rosa, California, where we experimented with alternatives to modern wheat and created fermentation cultures for an authentic sourdough process. My father had been a partner at a flour mill. I grew up in Argentina among grain fields and all kinds of flours and breads. I wanted to be a chemist, so my father thought that the natural path for me was to be the mill’s chemist. But during my studies I was captivated by the world of science and decided that just testing flours was not enough of a life. So, I went on pursuing an elusive career in science. Today, I am extremely happy that I have found myself baking once again. Baking is a science that requires the precision and rigor, the experimental and inquisitive skills that are rooted in my scientific background. Baking is also an act of love that now provides meaning to my life." 

~Mario Repetto, the Baker

Mario Reperto
This guy really knows his bread!

Pure Ingredients
These breads have the purest ingredients you'll ever find. It reminds me of the bread my husband's grandmother used to make. 

Check out this beautiful Sprouted Seeds Quinoa/Millet Loaf. It contains organic whole quinoa & whole millet (stone-ground at the bakery - which we personally witnessed when we visited their factory), purified water, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, psyllium husks, fermentation starter (from quinoa and purified water), Nana Mae's apple juice, and sea salt. 

All the ingredients are organic..

Packed with seeds, inside and out!

The selection of gluten-free breads is impressive. Here are some others.

Their Gluten-Free High Flax Quinoa/Millet Loaf starts with the same whole quinoa and whole millet. They add flaxseed meal that is freshly ground at the bakery just before mixing the dough! Who does that? Flaxseed should always be ground fresh to retain its omega-3 potency and it's great to buy a product from a company that realizes this.

Contains freshly ground flaxseed meal.

One of my personal favorites is the Gluten-Free Dill Baguette. Same wonderful, wholesome whole quinoa and millet ingredients and some dill seeds for flavoring.

I love to serve this warm with soup.

One of Doug's favorites is the Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa/Millet loaf. Toasted with some vegan cream cheese - it's divine!

Taste great toasted!

They have other selections such as:
Gluten-Free Quinoa/Millet Plain Loaf
Gluten & Grain Free 100% Quinoa Plain Loaf
Gluten & Grain Free 100% Quinoa Loaf with Fennel
and one that makes great sandwiches, the Gluten-Free Sandwich Loaf.

They also have some Gluten-Free cookies in three flavors: Sesame, Coconut Crunch, and Dark Chocolate but I found them to be bit dry. 

Spelt, Rye, and Barley Breads
Grindstone also has a lovely selection of Spelt, Rye and Barley breads (not gluten free) for those of you who enjoy these grains. 

One of their yummiest is the Banana Barley Loaf which is also great toasted with cream cheese.

Banana Barley Loaf

They also make a Wheat Free Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds.

Contains organic whole rye berries, rye
fermentation starter, caraway seeds, and
sea salt. Thats it!

For Spelt Lovers
They also offer a Sprouted Seeds Spelt Loaf, a Hi Flax Spelt Loaf, and a Multigrain Spelt Loaf.

Sprouted Seeds Spelt Loaf

So if you are looking for bread that is made the way nature intended it, get some from Grindstone Bakery!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Whole Wheat Vegan Strawberry Muffins

These yummy strawberry muffins are only 150 calories!

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Another Way to use your Garden Strawberries
My strawberry patch is going crazy so I've been using strawberries in every delicious way I can (you'll be seeing a post next week on a dozen different ways to use strawberries so stay tuned.) For Mother's Day, I baked them into a yummy, low-calorie, low-sugar, whole grain muffin. Here's the recipe!

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Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins
Vegan, Dairy Free
[makes 12 muffins]

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing pan 
2 cups King Arthur white whole-wheat flour or 1 cup whole- wheat and 1 cup all-purpose flour) 
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1⁄3 cup organic cane sugar
4 (1-gram) packets or equivalent bulk stevia powder 
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1⁄2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1⁄2 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
2⁄3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup diced fresh strawberries
2 fresh strawberries, diced

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, flax seeds, sugar, stevia, baking powder, and salt. 

In a large bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, milk, applesauce, and oil and beat well. 

Add the flour mixture to the large bowl and mix until well blended. Fold in one cup of diced strawberries.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1⁄3-cup measure, scoop batter into muffin tins. Divide up the two diced strawberries and place on top of each muffin. Gently push them in a little. 

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of a muffin, 18 to 20 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, release the muffins from the pan, and serve warm. 

12 Muffins 

Per serving: 152 calories, 6 g total fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 320 mg omega-3 and 674 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein 22 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 195 mg sodium. 

For more healthy recipes, download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

How To Grow Your Own Potatoes

Magic Molly purple fingerling potatoes from Johnny's seeds.

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A Year for Trying New Veggies
In March I planted my very first asparagus. They are popping up now although I won't be able to harvest any until next year (despite having bought 2-year old crowns). But it's always exciting to try growing new vegetables.

The one vegetable I have never tried growing is potatoes. So this year, after the encouragement of my cousin Christy,  I dedicated an entire raised bed to the effort.

Why Bother?
You might ask yourself why bother growing something as plentiful and common as a potato. Well, have you ever tasted a fresh potato? I have and the difference is amazing. Besides superior taste and texture, you can grow a variety of potatoes that you don't find in the store. And if you do find them in the store or farmer's market, these gourmet potatoes can be pretty pricey.  But if you decide to grow them, be sure to order them in time as the "seed" potatoes get sold out pretty quickly. 

Seed Potatoes
You don't actually grow potatoes from their seeds, even though they do produce seeds, but you grow them from  the part of the potato that has "eyes." These potatoes are called "seed potatoes." Each eye is a bud that turns into a new plant. 

Although you can grow a crop from you old potatoes that are beginning to sprout, it's important to make sure that you are starting with potatoes that are "disease free." So this year, at least, I am starting with organic seed potatoes that I purchased from Johnny's Seeds. They were crazy expensive so I hope to try to make my own seed potatoes next year.

How to Plant
We went a little overboard in our garden beds this year. We filled it with new compost, rock dust, biochar, worm castings, and mycorrhizae. So the potatoes should be pretty happy.

Amendments to the soil before mixing.
Mycorrhizae are added directly under the seed potatoes.

We had been keeping the seed potatoes at 40 degrees so we had to let them warm up to room temperature. Most of the Pinto Gold's were so small (2 ounces or less) that we didn't have to cut them and were able to plant them whole. The Magic Molly purple fingerling potatoes were bigger so we had to cut them into smaller pieces, each piece having at least one "eye.". The cut potatoes should be allowed to sit for 2 days before planting so that they seal. This prevents rotting and makes them less susceptible to soil-born diseases.

After mixing the amendments into the soil, we placed each seed potato 2 to 3 inches deep into the soil with the eyes pointing up about 12 inches apart with the rows about 30 inches across.

Note the eyes pointed upward
Cover carefully with the soil. 

Covered with soil
The plants should emerge 2 to 3 weeks later. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Update May 14th 
12 days after planting, sprouts emerged. They looked like this:

Potatoes sprouted after 12 days

Update May 20th
The weather has been unusually warm and the little spuds love it. Here's what the bed looks like 18 days after planting.

Less than 3 weeks after planting, these
healthy leaves are growing quickly!

When the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, I will have to "hill" them by mounding soil from each side of the row about 4 inches high along the base stem of the plants.

As the plants grow, I will repeat the hilling process until the hills are about 1 foot high.

Hilling prevents the "greening" of the potatoes. Green potatoes contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid poison (found in nightshade vegetables) so don't ever eat a green potato or the sprouts of a potato as they also contain solanine.

Update June 14th
Six weeks after planting, the plants are about 3 feet tall! I've hilled the dirt around the stems and I'm now starting to see little flowers.

6 weeks old, the stalks stand 3 feet tall
Clusters of little flowers appeared

Not sure what to expect but I should get around 5 to 10 pounds for every pound of potatoes I planted. Since I planted a pound of Magic Molly's and a pound of Pinto Golds, I'm hoping to get 10 to 20 pounds of potatoes. I'll keep you posted!

Here's what they should look like:

Magic Molly fingerling potatoes
Pinto Gold

Small "new" potatoes can be harvested 7 to 8 weeks after planting. Main crop tubers harvested in the fall. To prepare for storing, dig the tubers, brush off soil, and allow skins to cure.

Update August 9th
I harvested nearly 70 pounds of potatoes - much more than I expected from only 2 pounds of seed potatoes. Here's what they looked like.

Super pleased with this huge harvest!