Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cheese - can you go without?

OK my Vegan friends, what is your favorite "cheese" or do you just go without? I have a LOVE of aged cheddar and Gouda cheese. You may have noticed that I often put cheese on meals as well. It is one of the the things (other than my meat eating partners) that make it hardest to avoid animal food products.  I'm fine replacing milk with coconut milk, almond milk, and the like, but I can't seem to find a cheese substitute (oh and I can't have soy)

Yes, I love cheese. Even on days that I go completely meat free, I often have cheese (please don't shoot me) and I have tried various vegan substitutes and none really taste right to me. I enjoyed the pumpkin chili with cashew "cheese" sauce at Aside of Heart, but it did not taste like "cheese" sauce at all to me, just cashew sauce on pumpkin chili. Which was delicious and fine with me... but not going to get me to quit having snacks with aged cheddar, and a piece of fruit. (Yes, guilty, my favorite mid day snack is an apple with a hunk of cheddar)

I was reading this blog that a Milo posted on FB: and it made me wonder, did I give up too early? Are there vegan cheese substitutes I could healthily add to my food plan now and then and further cut back on the animal fat products in my life?  If I could, maybe a fine cheese could become something I have on the rare occasion much like a fine wine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Yams Gourmet Babylon Style

Thanksgiving Yams with Orange Cranberry Relish
What are your yam or sweet potato recipes for the holidays? Here is what I made. It was inspired by someone on Gourmet Babylon, a FB group a friend invited me to about a month ago. They have given me so many great ideas that I have neglected to blog. So I'm making up for it today with 2 entries. We will definitely be making this again.

Rinse 3 softball sized yams, poke with fork, and cook the yams in a microwave for 10 minutes. If you prefer you can bake them in the oven till mostly done. Then peel, slice, and layer in a baking dish with cranberry relish and walnuts.
Orange Cranberry Relish

Orange Cranberry Relish:
1 cup of fresh cranberries rinsed, strained, and placed in food processor with 1 sectioned orange, process briefly till pieces are the size you enjoy in your relish. Save the juice and peels. Place into an airtight container but do not cover yet, add 1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar or 1/8 cup of brown sugar, any extra juice from the orange you sectioned, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. You can double this recipe easily. Extras save well in the fridge and can be frozen. Chill for 2 hours before serving

Chop and soak the walnuts for 2 hours before then strain, rinse and set aside to dry. I soaked the walnuts while our orange cranberry relish was chilling in the fridge. this lets the chemicals in the walnut that make it bitter release, hence the need to rinse them, and it makes them softer and need less cooking time as well, in fact you can just eat them raw at that point and your body could process the proteins.
First Layer of Yam Dish
Layer yams, rellish, walnuts, and then Sprinkle a small amount of red pepper flakes on each layer. Squeeze a full orange worth of juice over the entire thing. Place baking dish in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. We then turned the oven off and left them sitting in there with the stuffing until we were ready to serve. SO GOOD! You could use 1/8th of a cup of brown sugar for the same level of sweetness if you do not have coconut palm sugar, but I decided to use up the last of mine for this. It is said to be low on the glycemic index, and I've found that cooking low glycemic foods keeps my blood sugar more regulated. Before eating dinner my BG was 104, and after eating my thanksgiving meal this year my blood glucose was only 126 a full two hours later! Woohoo! (2 hours later is when they tell me to check, supposedly it's the highest your blood sugar will get after eating)

If you use either of these recipes, please let me know how you liked them, and if you have your own favorite you'd like to share, please do! You can also join in the recipe sharing in the Healthy Recipe Sharing Group:

Thanksgiving Brunch and Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Thanksgiving Brunch in my house has always been a quick and easy, light meal so that we have room for the big meal later, but energy for a walk before "linner" (late lunch, early dinner) which also means less cooking for the chef/s. So last night I made the Pumpkin Dinner Rolls. Based off of this recipe: which I altered to be whole wheat by substituting 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 3.5 cups whole wheat flour for the 5 cups of all purpose flour called for. The whole wheat flour tends to soak up liquids more easily, so I used less flour, and I also split my loaf into halves which I then split in half and then thirds so it made a total of 24 rolls instead of the halves and 15ths the original recipe called for, which made 30 smaller rolls. You could go either way, but this worked for me.

 Next time I would add some sweet potato (the orange/yam colored kind) in there as well, because it would add some natural sweetness, and it's bright orange color would make them more pumpkin like, as the originals look very cute with their orange pumpkin color. Normally I do not cook with yeast or egg, but I did with this recipe, because it was my first time changing it, and I've learned the hard way that it's best to only change ONE thing in a recipe at a time when your'e playing around with new recipes.

Thanksgiving Brunch,
Sliced in half so they're still cute pumpkin looking things, temporarily remove the nut/stem, spread each half with cream cheese (I used 1.5 tablespoons 1/3 fat cream cheese on each side) then add 1/2 a tablespoon (1.5 teaspoons) cherry preserves on each side, no nitrate happily raised turkey slices in the middle. I like to shop locally so the cherry preserves are from a local farmer, and are basically cherry and sugar. SO GOOD. Put the sliced turkey in the middle, close it like a sandwhich and for extra OCD bakers, line up the pumpkin's creases so they still match. Tastes (and looks) like Martha Stewart visited our kitchen.

Now back to the kitchen to make some butternut squash soup and orange cranberry sweet potatoes.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beets - expanding our food preferences

Red and Golden Beets being prepped to make chips
As a child and even as a young adult, I just did not like beets. I had only ever tried red beets that were boiled to death and had used them to dye clothing for a science project, but had never found a way in which I liked to eat them. Granted, I didn't try very much. I just ate what people gave me and didn't like it.

But these days, I've been trying to expand the boundaries of what I know I like, and find a variety of ways to prepare things. I want to get more nutrients in my food, and eat more whole foods, so I've been coming from that perspective. Here is some good information on the nutritional properties of beets:

An early morning look at a golden sunrise beet
Recently we visited Sprouts, a grocery store with some great produce, and saw some golden sunrise beets. I'd never seen anything but red beets, so we picked one up to try it out. I tried a piece raw, and loved it! Finally something with a sweetness and crunch to rival carrots! I am always looking for something to replace carrots as I am allergic to them. Plus it added a gorgeous yellow color to anything I put it on!

Sprouts had cut off the tops of the golden sunrise beets, but the thing was so delicious it emboldened me to try red beets, and the tops were so gorgeous so I started looking up ways to use the tops as well. I found quite a few. And also noticed that whatever beet tops are not used the same day you bring them home from the store tend to wilt quickly. Unfortunately this meant that a lot of them went straight into the compost instead of getting eaten. Next time I will cook them up the same day. Here are some of the recipes I found:

The beet and apple salad above inspired me to try my own version which was delicious and non allergenic, the original version had lemon juice and something else I can't do, so here's mine:

Leaving this salad in the fridge only improves the flavor.
I also found putting it on top of a baked tortilla and cheese as a personal pizza was delicious

Orange, the juice and zest of 1 medium orange
Apples, fresh, 1 small (2-1/2" dia) (approx 4 per lb)
*Yambean (jicama), 1.5 cup matchstick sized slices
Red Beet, fresh, 1 beet (2" dia)
Watercress, 10 sprigs
Baby Spring Greens 1 cup
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 3 teaspoons
Green Onions, raw, 5 slice thin
Salt, 1 dash
Pepper, black, 1 dash
Red Pepper Flakes, 1 dash
Walnuts, chopped, 3 Tablespoons

slice one small apple into matchstick sized pieces and set aside in a medium salad bowl
peel and slice enough jicama to make 1.5 cups of matchstick sized slices and add to salad bowl
peel and slice 1 beet into matchstick sized pieces and add to bowl

In a small water tight container, mix 3 tablespoons olive oil, the juice from one medium orange, and 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid. cover and shake till well mixed, then pour over the apples, jicama and beets and mix well. Grate half of the orange's rind over the salad, add salt and pepper to taste, then toss well and set aside in fridge to marinate (if you can eat lemon and limes, you can substitute a teaspoon of that juice for the 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid of course, but it will alter the flavor of this salad of course)

Mince the head of one green onion and slice 2 green stalks into thin, even slices. I cut mine to the length and width of the other pieces. Set aside

Lay 1 cup of mixed baby spring salad leafs and 10 watercress on each plate, then remove the salad bowl from the fridge and layer 1/4 over the top of each. Sprinkle green onion pieces over the top. Grate the other 1/2 of the orange rind over the salads and enjoy.

Serving Size:
Makes 4 servings at 1/2 a plate of salad for each person

Here are a few other ways we enjoyed beets and all their parts:
Golden beets in various salads, Beet Greens cooked with other vegetables and mixed into a cheese sauce then put over whole wheat spaghetti, Beet Greens mixed in with the Sweet and Spicy Beet Salad which I may make again but with golden beets added for it's bright yellow flavor and slightly sweeter essence, and red and golden beets sliced up, coated in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and herbs and dehydrated into chips, on pizza, in soup, roasted, juiced, in smoothies, and there are so many more. Plus, we only used red and golden beets because that's what was in our local stores, but there are other versions I look forward to trying some day as well. Next fun and new to us vegetable we'll be exploring is rainbow chard!

A friend warned that juicing and drinking large quantities beet greens can lead to temporary vocal paralysis in some people. I did look into this, and posted a link above with information. I would say, all things in moderation. Many people eat beet greens mixed in with other things and have no problems. But eating them raw and juiced in large quantities means you're exposing yourself to more of the quantity in them that can be harsh on the throat. We ate them in small quantities mixed in with various other veggies and had sometimes meat like the bacon, sun dried tomatoes and zucchini mixed in with beet greens to the left here, and had no problems.  Also, I found juicing beets and adding to smoothies was wonderful except for right after my having my tonsils out, at which point it was too harsh for me. Try various combinations till you find what you like. Personally, I don't like boiled beets which is the way I had them as a child. Primarily because I do not like the texture. But there are so many other wonderful ways to eat them, that I no longer avoid them in the grocery aisle or farmer's market. Now back to rainbow chard adventures!

Open Faced Sandwiches

Heritage Tomato Yumness
One of my favorite things to do in cutting down carbs is to simply have an open faced sandwich, and previously where I would have had just meat, cheese and bread, instead having a healthier lower fat cheese, veggies, maybe some meat, and a healthier higher protein lower carb bread or just a REALLY delicious bread. Both of which often go together for me, because I like some of the heartier breads with nuts, seeds, etc.

Yesterday I wasn't sure what to have for lunch but knew I wanted to use up some of the heritage tomato that was left. We go the last 2 organic, heritage tomatoes in our local grocery store, and they were delicious. In fact, this sandwich was SO good that I'm having it again today. Here's the basics:

Take a thinly sliced, hearty bread, I chose flax and sunflower seed bread from Sprouts. Spread 2 Tablespoons of a light cream cheese or neufchatel cheese which I may be spelling wrong, but it 1/3 the saturated fat of cream cheese and still less than light cream cheese as well, and has a slightly cheesier flavor than cream cheese, which I like. Lay 10 leaves of fresh basil on top. I get mine from a neighbor whose basil garden is amazing. Heck most of her gardening efforts come out great!  Add two thin slices (sharpen that knife) of gorgeous, locally farmed, organic heritage tomato. 6 slices of bell pepper on the side to nosh on. Oh, and by the way, the bread was accidentally gluten free. We did not go looking for gluten free, I just thought flax and sunflower seed bread sounded delicious and like it would have some oomph to the texture. It does, it's not a fluffy white slice of bread, but I really am enjoying it.

Fresh Local Basil and Dehydrated Bell Pepper - POW!
Obviously the locally farmed and organic are my personal choices, but I recommend you try them if you can get them because OH MY GOSH talk about a difference in texture and flavor. I think tomatoes are one of the things I try never to skimp on these days. I was never a fan of the fruit as a child. I still do not like the seeds and the slimy pouch they are surrounded by, but I've found heritage tomatoes usually have less of that goop, and non pesticide tomatoes just taste so much better to me. Plus they no longer give me a stomach ache or headache. I used to think I was allergic to tomatoes, but turned out I was allergic to the chemicals people were spraying on them.

Finished off with a side of home made sweet potato chips
Just writing this has made me hungry and although I had planned to make a pizza with the last of my sweet beet salad, I think I'm going to go make one of these sandwiches today too! Only difference is today I will be putting bell pepper that I dehydrated on top, and I'm going to try toasting the bread first to see what that's like. So have fun with your food, get creative and please let me know what you come up with! You never know what gourmet moment your kitchen may already have waiting for you to whip up.

Stay tuned, I have a lot of delicious food adventures to blog about, just have to catch up! Next up, exploring the flavors, textures, colors and general variety I never knew existed around beets!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pizza Yumness!!!!

Today I got a message that a friend had left basil on my front door... yesterday. Being that this is a hot part of the country, we suspected it had wilted. However we were pleasantly surprised to discover it had not. She also sent me some dehydrated and ground sweet peppers which are a sweet and delicious spice I have now added to my pantry and will be making more of in the future once we get our dehydrator. These combined with a recent conversation with a dietitian inspired today's Pizza Yumness! BEST home made PIZZA EVER! No seriously, it was the best home made pizza I have ever had.

We have been using pitas to make pizza in the past, but the dietitian recommended we try out a tortilla instead. So today I did, and it was SO GOOD! I have been making a lot of mandalas lately, and so that may have affected my pizza making a bit.

Small Ancient Grain Tortilla, 1 tablespoon pizza sauce, 8 leaves spinach, 1/6 cup mozzarella cheese, 5 leaves torn basil, 1/2 small red bell pepper, and then after taking a photo, I sprinkled another 1/6 cup mozzarella cheese on top.

To go with it, I had a salad with some of the sweet pepper on it, and some Jicama. And it was so good I practically licked the plate clean:

I will definitely be making my home made pizzas with tortillas in the future. Made a perfect portion. Only down side to this was the relatively low protein for a meal. Any suggestions for having a vegetarian meal like this with more protein? I thought of having a bit of hummus with the jicama.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A light dinner

I notices a couple of the sweet peppers were going bad and we had a bunch left so decided on a hummus plate and salad for dinner. After this i will dehydrate the rest.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Veggie Tuesday

Cinnamon Apple Casserole
Yesterday was supposed to be Meatless Monday in our house, but we're on vacation and forgot it was Monday. So while shopping at Sprouts in Ahwatukee, we remembered, and decided to make today Veggie Tuesday instead.

For this morning's Vegetarian Breakfast I mixed some Macadamia nuts and mixed bean sprouts in with Zen's Cinnamon Apple and Cactus Casserole. It is delicious, I will definitely be asking her for the recipe!

We will be going out for lunch. I'm not sure where, possibly here: as it would be fun to try a vegetarian restaurant we haven't tried yet. It's the last day of Staycation for Patch, so it would be a fun adventure.

And for dinner we bought all sorts of interesting veggies to put in a stir fry. I will take a photo of it when it's done and post the recipe if it's as delicious as we suspect.

Also while at Sprouts we discovered they had Golden Beats which are GORGEOUS and I decided I wanted to try them. Plus I bought a starfruit and a couple of persimmons which should be interesting fruit to mix it up a bit since I've been eating primarily apples and strawberries with the occasional orange. Getting in food ruts has always proven a bad idea in my life. Time to switch it up a bit!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Best Sprouting Info EVER

Well, so far anyway :) This person put together A CHART! I love charts like this. When they make life so much clearer and simpler. Everything you wanted to know about sprouting on one page: Well, OK not everything, that would take books. But all the basics, and that's really what I want to know when I'm trying to prepare food.

Sprouted Grain Salad

This recipe is tweaked from one out of "The SparkPeople Cookbook" called Lentil and Bulgar Salad but doesn't really look or taste much like it at all. The original recipe is here:

Minutes to Prepare: 15
Minutes to Cook: 10
Number of Servings: 8

Sprout Lentils 3 days before making this salad, wheat berries 2 days before, or earlier but kept in fridge.
This salad does have quite a bit of protein so could be a light meal in itself. We ate it with salmon, which was good each on it's own but didn't work well together for me. Carlie liked it as it was, but I would eat the salad as it's own meal next time.

Salt, 1 tsp
 Black Pepper, 1 dash
Celery, raw, 1 stalk, medium
Basil, 1 tbsp
 Garlic, 3 cloves
 Lentils, 1 cup
 Onions, raw, 1 medium (2-1/2" dia)
Spinach, fresh, 2 cup
Wheat Berries, dry, .5 cup
 Beans, black, 1 cup
 Bell Pepper, 1 large (3-3/4" long, 3" dia)
White Balsamic Vinegar, 2 tbsp Olive Oil, 2 tbsp
 Zucchini, 1.25 cup, sliced
 Heritage Tomatoe 1 medium chopped
Walnuts 1/3 cup

Place 2 cups spinach in a large bowl and set aside

 Put sprouted lentils in a medium-sized saucepan, cover with water, and bring just to the boiling point. Turn the heat down, partially cover, and allow to simmer without stirring for 5 minutes. While those are cooking, chop the veggies. Add the minimally sprouted wheat berries to the pot with the lentils, and let cook 5-10 minutes more till lentils are soft but not mushy. Drain well, and then transfer to large bowl on top of spinach, to wilt spinach lightly.

While the lentils and wheat berries are cooking use 1 of the Tablespoons of Olive oil to cook most of the the walnuts (set a handful aside for topping), red onion, garlic and basil until the red onion starts to clarify, then add the zucchini and cook just until it's softened a bit.

 Add black beans and everything else to the lentils, except tomato chunks. Mix gently but thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Just before serving, top with tomatoes and a few walnuts

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Comfort Foods the Healthier Way - Savory Recipes

What do you think of when you think of comfort food? What do you tend to reach for? I lean towards carbs and creamy things. It's been a hard couple of days, and I've been doing really good about not over indulging in foods that will make me sick and keeping to delicious healthy yumness. I'm pretty proud of me in fact. And the last couple of days have been really challenging. But here's some of the comfort foods I made, so that I could have guilt free yumness:
Carlie's Turkey Chili
Walnut Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge 
Coconut Milk Chocolate Bars (no bake)
Peanut Butter Caramel Dip (really good with the fudge on top of the last of last week's mango sorbet)
Almond Cookie Dough Truffles (covered in chocolate and frozen, not baked)
Chocolate Cookie Dough Dip & Dark Chocolate Chunks (no baking required)
And this morning I made Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup with Coconut Macadamia Crunchies. SO GOOD! 

So I know, you must be thinking none of that sounds healthy Sean-Michael! And you're right it doesn't SOUND healthy. But trust me, they are all much healthier than they sound. Actually you don't have to trust me, just check out the recipes. I'm working on variations, and a group of my brave friends will be trying them all out, so the recipes I'm about to post are tentative and probably not exactly what they'll be in the end. But we enjoyed them as they are. I'm just a perfectionist and I like to tinker and tweek my recipes until they're just right.  Plus, I'm seriously considering writing a cook book some day for people who want recipes that are delicious while being healthy. For now, I've decided to perfect a few recipes I can give to friends and family for the holidays, and maybe even trade barter and sell locally. Stay tuned for more on that. Today I'm going to focus on the savory recipes out of the bunch. Please feel free to make them yourself and see how they turn out, and if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Carlie's Turkey Chili is a long time favorite of ours. She likes to make extra because we all love it so much. It has a decent amount of protein, low carbs, and turkey is a low fat meat. It's a nice mild chili which is great with melted cheese on top. I like to use a Monterey Jack and Chedder mix. I don't have any photos of this, will try to remember to take one next time we eat it. In the mean time, here's the recipe: ENJOY! 

Sent some to a friend for taste testing
Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup which happens to be vegan. I just created this recipe this morning because I had seen a recipe for a curry soup but didn't have the ingredients. If I were going to change any one thing about the recipe it would be that I'd add a bit of lemon or lime, but I'm allergic to those, so I may try adding a bit of citric acid and see if that gives it some acidity. But if you're wanting a warm, comforting, creamy soup, give this one a shot and let me know what you think. Although Patch is not a pumpkin fan, and hates Curry (she says it smells like stinky feet) she ate this and said "Wow, that's actually pretty good!!" and then polished off her bowl. Here you go, give it a try and please let me know what you think. oh and I made these crunchies to sprinkle over the top with some chopped mint:
More on the rest of these recipes soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sprouting Wheat Berries

Repurposed Ricotta Cheese Container
Since I'd used up a container of ricotta cheese the night before which had a nice little basket in it, I decided to repurpose that container and basket for sprouting. As you can see from the photos, it worked well for the wheat berries (tho a few did get through at the beginning before they started to swell) I decided to eat 1/2 of them as minimally sprouted to see what that was like, and left the other half out to continue sprouting, to see how that goes. They were chewy and a nice addition to my breakfast, in a way that my body will be able to process more efficiently, and from what I've read are a safer way to eat grains for diabetics. I'm still experimenting with it, but so far my blood sugars have been fine even when eating a breakfast on the higher end of my carb goal, and presumably that is because they were grains with a higher protein count such as quinoa, and because I'd sprouted them. I'll keep testing and see what happens.

There are a lot of videos and even books about sprouting wheat, why you would want to do it, how to do it, various stages and why they're good, etc. This article has a lot of great information and is a pretty easy read:

Here's a few videos I found helpful:
Clear and simple instructions:

Quick and easy description video about how to sprout wheat:

Video about the health benefits of wheat grass (which is apparently what you get if you let the wheat keep going after it sprouts):

I'm not a dietitian so I'm not going to go into why it's good to sprout various grains, beans, nuts, etc. However the link at the top of this blog entry does, and I would suggest reading it if you're looking for some answers.

One thing I've learned is to leave 3 times as much room for water as wheat berries because they will absorb the water and they will expand. I found this very helpful because it expands about 2 times it's original size by the end of the first 10 hours, and even more in the last 10. You can sprout it longer than 20 hours, but I was only going for a small amount of sprouting, called minimally sprouted wheat berries, for some breakfast cereal.

I also looked up how to sprout lentils ( and quinoa because I've got a lot of each in the pantry, and this guy had some really clear and simple videos that gave me the confidence to just go ahead and try it. This one is my favorite because he talks about how there are a variety of sprouting methods:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick breakfast

Overnight oats and sprouted quinoa in cinnamon apple flavor, with an apple pear aka Asian Pear and some string cheese. Quick n easy! Only down side, this had more carbs than I usually eat. Still within the range I was told I can have, but more than I shoot for. Still, super quick and easy. Gotta love overnight muesl!

Tomorrow I'm going to try some with sprouted wheat berries and raw protein added. I haven't decided on tomorrow's flavor yet, but I'm thinking strawberry sounds good.

What do you do for a quick and healthy breakfast when you have to run out the door or don't have the energy to make something when you first get up? Do you have any favorite meals you make the night before and eat for breakfast?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Black Bean Italian Flavored Burgers

Did not end up eating the pasta, the rest was plenty
Marjorie from the Healthy Recipe Sharing group on Facebook shared her Black Bean Burger recipe with me. It sounds really good, but you know me, I had to tinker with it a little bit. I happen to have some extra ricotta cheese laying around and was looking for recipes to include it in, so here's the tweaked version that I came up with:

Since there is no meat in this burger, it is safe to taste the ingredients before pressing into patties and cooking. I would suggest doing just that to get the flavors the way you like them.
This might be a good recipe to try out with sprouted black beans, but since I couldn't wait to try it, will have to do that next time.

Black Bean Meatles Burger Mix looks a lot like Meat

1 can black beans or 1 1/2 cups rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
1 red bell pepper finely choppped
10 leaves fresh basil finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3 Tablespoons already prepared marinara sauce
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup rolled oats
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain 1 can black beans (or 1 1/2 cup)
mash about 1/2 of the black beans with a fork, leaving the rest for texture
mince or press 2 cloves garlic
finely chop 1 red bell pepper
finely mince 4 leaves fresh basil
grind flax seed and measure out 2 tablespoons
Mix all ingredients, taste and add salt and pepper in whatever amounts you prefer
Form into patties and fry up in a tablespoon of olive oil  or bake in an oven at 400 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes (tho baking may make them dryer than you'd like, it will reduce the fat content)

Tested Various Patty Sizes, Liked the smaller ones
If you like hamburger buns go for it, or serve in 1/2 a pita or thin wrap bread to lower the carb count, or open faced with no bun to lower even further. Next time I might try this out with 1/2 the beans and replace them with some grated eggplant instead. I think this would be delicious with caramelized red onion on top.

I made these to go on the side with an egg replacer instead of the eggs:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Overnight (no cook) Breakfast Cereal

Overnight Breakfast Cereals by
I am really enjoying Pinterest! Lately I've found some great recipes on there, and today I finally got up the guts to try sprouting some quinoa and making overnight breakfast cereal. Here's one of the main articles that inspired me to try my hand at this:

So first off let's get to the good stuff, here's the recipe.

Sprouting the quinoa first is not necessary, but adds to the nutrients. I set mine out this morning after eating overnight oatmeal with the intention of making the overnight breakfast cereal I'm posting here.
Some people do not feel oats are gluten free. If you do not eat oats, you could make this with just the quinoa
Be sure to grind the flax seed or your body can't process it and you won't get the binding/thickening properties (I use a coffee grinder we have set aside for nuts, seeds, flax, etc)

3/4 cup sprouted quinoa
1/2 cup dry whole rolled oats (or you could sprout oat groats to use in their place)
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 dash of salt
1 cup coconut milk

mix dry ingredients well, add to sprouted quinoa, then add 1 cup coconut milk (the light kind that is the same amount of fat and less carbs than 1% milk, not the whole fat kind that comes in a can although I'm sure that would be delicious as well)
Stir well, cover container and leave in fridge over night.

Makes 2 servings

Now to the cool (to me) part... how to sprout Quinoa. I have been wanting to learn to sprout various grains, seeds, beans, etc. for a while now, because it raises their nutrient value. It's a really cool little trick of nature, that when they start to sprout, apparently that's when the most nutrients are easily available to the body, because it's when the nutrients are trying to provide what the plant needs to grow. Obviously it's great to plant food and grow your own food, but if you're going to eat grains, seeds, nuts and beans, may as well eat them at the peak of their health impact right? Here's a neat little instructable on how to sprout quinoa: and here's a video using the same method: plus there are some great kits out there, but all I used was a sealable plastic container, as shown above. It would probably be best to do this in a glass container now that I think about it, or anything but plastic. I put the quinoa in, put about twice as much water which turned out to be more than I needed, just need enough to cover the quinoa ... and then after the movie I got rid of the floaties, and put more water (from the filter) to just over the quinoa, then covered and let it sit all day, then rinsed again, and used it in the above recipe. They had started to sprout so I didn't feel the need to sprout them any further at that point.

Apparently some people do not do well with raw quinoa, so be aware of your body's response to eating such things, but I've never had a problem eating or processing raw foods. Actually, the entire meal could be considered a faw food breakfast, because nothing in it is ever cooked. I did heat mine up a bit in the morning just for a nice hot cereal feel, but it tasted just the same cold of course, so that's a personal preference issue.

Some people like to dehydrate their quinoa and use them in baking, or as the crispy part of foods like to make cookies have a crunch, on top of yogurt, to coat fish, etc. I'll try that out after we finish building our solar dehydrator and let you know how it goes! In the mean time, give this super easy breakfast cereal a try. It made it really great this morning when we were in a hurry to get out the door because I had a healthy breakfast all ready to go. Once my vegan protein powder arrives, I'll probably add that to it as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What is your diet?

First of all, let me just point out for those who haven't been keeping up with this food blog, that I am not dieting. I am working on finding delicious foods that contribute to my health. I also am not on a weight loss plan although I am losing weight, and will probably continue to do so for a while. Part of getting healthier is weight loss for me, tho not for everyone, and I certainly have no intention of ever being skinny or muscle bound. I would like to be a nice healthy weight and to improve my musculature, but I do not want to over do in any area.

Secondly, I will sum it up for you like this. I am eating twice as many vegetables, and half as many carbs with  at least 8 cups of water a day. Most days I drink 8 -10 cups of  water. Of course that is not the entirety of what I'm doing, but that's the simple description, and if that were the only thing I did, it would have improved my health. I am also avoiding most processed foods, and limiting those processed foods I do eat, to mostly things with as few ingredients as possible, and that those ingredients are things easily pronounced such as whole wheat, salt and water = egg free pasta or rice, basil, water as the ingredients on some simple crackers. Things made with whole foods are more likely to end up in my grocery cart than highly processed foods, and whole foods themselves are the most likely to end up there. This along with eliminating foods I am allergic to or intolerant of has made a huge difference in my health.

I use as a free food and exercise tracking device, and I also use their site for getting recipe ideas, networking with others who are working on their health. Sometimes I take a day or week off from tracking food, but during that time I still eat in the same basic manner. If I don't feel like measuring things out with actual measuring cups, I use this plate planning method: which is basically 1/2 a plate of vegetables, a fist sized portion of protein and a first sized portion of carbs. Sometimes I have a piece of fruit or glass of milk with it. Often I save my fruit for dessert.

Healthy fats. There are a lot of disagreements out there about what healthy fats are, but I have noticed that when I eat more plant based fats I lose more weight, and my cholesterol has been lower, so I've been sticking to that. If I want to eat something higher in carbs, I make sure it's combined with protein and healthy fats, as I learned from the Prevention Magazine titled DTOUR, and later in the DTOUR diet book. I do not follow the DTOUR diet and exercise plan 100%, but I have used it to help me plan my meals. The cook book is great,  so I'm hoping to get that in the future. Every recipe I've gotten from them is pretty easily altered to avoid allergens, and the cookbook has helpful lists of replacement foods for just such a situation. (I scan it every time I'm at a book store) it's really helped me to manage my diabetes and so far I've been able to get off 2 medications since starting to eat more vegetables, less carbs, and all the rest I said above.

Avoiding chemicals has also been really helpful to getting rid of my migraines and reducing my chronic pain. I'm still having a difficult time during Monsoon season, but other than that I have been seeing some great changes. Some are gradual, and some are almost instantaneous. For example the hives I have suffered multiple times a week for my entire life, haven't happened in quite some time. They stopped as soon as I eliminated all allergens and foods I'm intolerant of. Since then I have been able to add some foods from the intolerance list back in carefully bit by bit, but others I haven't been able to add back in. I've come down to a list of about 30 things to avoid. It used to be a much longer list. That, the addition of stretching and relaxation techniques, and avoiding flashing lights, I have greatly limited my migraines which used to be chronic cluster migraines which affected me daily for almost 2 years in a row, but now are much milder and happen much less frequently. I had a migraine the other day after accidentally eating some dehydrated meat with chemicals in it, and then seeing lightning. So they do sometimes still happen, but at least it was only a couple days of being sensitive to light and having a headache instead of months worth.

Two new things I've been trying are natural sweeteners with a lower glycemic index than fructose or sugar, and sprouting things to get higher nutrients from them. In 2 weeks I'll meet with a dietitian to discuss I will write separate posts about each of those as I come to some conclusions.

Hope that helps answer some of the questions people have had. :) Please keep asking questions, and I'll keep posting my experiences. And please feel free to share what has helped you to be more healthy! I'm just learning as I go.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Coconut Mango Vegan Ice Cream/Sorbet

A friend of mine was sharing a simple vegan ice cream recipe made of nut milk, salt, cinnamon and maple syrup. Sounded delicious, but I happen to have coconut milk and mango, so thought I'd try a different recipe. I did a search for home made coconut milk ice cream and found a few recipes:

of course one could always just buy one of these:
and we've done that, but I figured I would like to try my hand at making some from scratch. After all, I have a delicious mango and some coconut milk, why not?

Here's my first attempt at a recipe. If I tweak it, I'll let you know:

1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 mango (minus rind and pit)
1 dash of sea salt
1/8 cup coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

I don't have a machine, so here's what I'm doing:

Put a shallow metal pan in the freezer the night before, mix ingredients well, taste to make sure the flavor is what you want and adjust as necessary, chill over an ice bath, then pour into the frozen pan and stir. You can put it in the freezer about 10 minutes afterwards to firm it up if you want. The above link has much more detailed instructions and reasoning.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My first attempt at gluten-free scones

Found this old post sitting in the unpublished drafts section:

Inspired by the Gluten-Free Guru and memories of lemon scones made in college with a loved one, I absolutely had to try to make gluten-free lemon scones for breakfast. Besides, I had the rest of that lemon from the lemon oil cookies to use up! So here's my first attempt at gluten-free scones. 

12 oz GF flour mix
4 tsp guar gum powder
2 plentiful pinches of sea salt
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
3 oz of unsalted butter
4 oz mixed, dried fruit
2 large eggs
4 fl oz of fat free plain yogurt 

2 tablespoons myer lemon oil
zest of 1/2 lemon 

1 Preheat the oven to 375 f (190c)

2. Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl

3. Using a fork, cut in the butter so that the mix resembles fine bread crumbs

4. With a wooden spoon, stir in the dried fruit

5. Whisk together eggs and yogurt

6. Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in the yogurt, egg and lemon juice

7. Turn out onto a floured surface and lightly kneed until the dough comes together and is smooth in texture.

8. Roll the dough out so that it is 1 1/2 inches thick, cut out with a small glass or cookie cutter

9. Place on a floured baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes or so, or until brown and slightly risen.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Casserole

We were out of all vegetables and almost all fruit so we made a trip to the closest store. First I did a search for recipes with Quinoa, because a friend had mentioned it, and we hadn't made any lately, but I have a LOT of the stuff in my pantry.

This recipe  sounded different, so I bought all the ingredients for this, some things that were on sale, some organic leafy greens and such that looked delicious, and some cherry tomatoes that were on sale. It was a good shopping trip, not too much money for a lot of food. Ironically, Patch also decided to stop by the same store about an hour later on her way home from work.

We'll just have to make sure to eat LOTS of vegetarian meals and salads in the next couple of days. She also did much better at getting a lot of food for a little money, since she only bought things that were on sale in the 50% off section, whereas Carlie and I had some things we knew we needed for the week. It's all good, the house feels bountiful again, and the options for making healthy meals has greatly improved!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Casserole with Cantelope & Wilted Spinach
I actually modified the recipe since the original had a pretty high carb count: this one has about 1/2 the carbs, a bit less fat, and higher protein. It is vegetarian, not vegan like the original, so if you're vegan, use the original recipe :) Or at least use the things which I replaced with cheese. My recipe has more whole, unprocessed vegetables. Be sure to grate the sweet potato, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

No Bake Coconut Chocolate Bars

I have a thing for chocolate, and recently I had gotten some coconut oil to try out in various methods of cooking. One thing I had heard you could do with it, is mix in cocoa and a bit of sugar to have a chocolate bar. Here's the recipe I used, and it turned out delicious.

3 Tablespoons coconut oil (solid at room temperature)
3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
.25 cup of shredded coconut
plus 1 tablespoon shredded coconut to sprinkle over top

Made 8 servings about 1 inch square

Mix 3 Tablespoons coconut oil with 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon brown sugar until smooth. Add a quarter cup of shredded coconut and mix well. Pour into shallow air tight container and spread across the bottom. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tablespoon shredded coconut on top and freeze. Easy-peasy!

We enjoyed these and they were ready about 20 minutes after putting them in the freezer. After that we moved them into the fridge, where they remained in good condition but didn't last long because we ate them up pretty fast.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2nd meal (snack)

Vegan chili leftovers from Meatless Monday. Really delicious, and even better as leftovers! I eat it with cheese on mine, so my meal was vegetarian, not vegan, but that works for me. I just don't like vegan cheese substitutes I've tried so far. Here's the recipe: next time I think I'll only use one can of pinto beans, and it will be just as delicious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pesto - Raw Food you may already eat

Yesterday was Meatless Monday, and I guess today is Italiano Tuesday.

I love pesto. Did you know it is often made raw, and can be made with any number of ingredients? I first fell in love with pesto as a child, but didn't know what was in it. Later, I started asking restaurants where I found it particularly delicious, what is in this stuff? And soon I realized it can be as simple as 3 little ingredients, olive oil, nuts, and basil. It can also have cheese in it like Parmigiana or Romano, but I don't think cheese would qualify as raw. I'll have to look that up. Anyway, I left it out of this recipe, as I figured it's easier to just shake some on and know the measurements since I keep track of exactly what I eat on at least 3 days a week. If you choose to add cheese, I'd add about 1/2 an ounce, taste, and see if you want more.

Today I made some with Thai Basil from my neighbor's garden, (Thanks Amy!) and some pistachios that needed to be used up. We have a tiny food processor, so here's the slightly more complex recipe I used:

1 cup of Thai basil (just the leaves, flowers and stems excluded) 
1/2 cup of green pistachios
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Spicy Pasta Olive Oil 

The Spicy Olive Oil is a seasoned oil from The Dipping Well, a locally owned store that just opened down the street from us near 26th Ave and Baseline I believe. It basically has roasted peppers, basil, and sea salt infusing the oil, so you could add the above to some olive oil if you're not in the Phoenix, AZ area.

Pulse a bit to begin mixing, adding olive oil between pulses, and then using a spatula, push ingredients down and pulse until it is the consistency you want. You may need to push it down a few times to get all the leaves and nuts well chopped and blended. I chose to use less olive oil than most recipes I've found, because I am watching my weight and pesto is a high fat food. All good fats, but still, something to be aware of. 

For lunch I had some on flaked salmon with wilted spinach and arugula and a pear. BtW, we got some amazing pears from a neighbor recently. DELICIOUS! If I had my aquaponics system up and running, I could have had everything grown at home or from neighbors. But we canned some of those pears, and today I gave a can to the wonderful lady who gives me as much basil as my heart desires. Why spend money on food, when you can share your excess with neighbors! I call it being neighborly, but I suppose in a way, it's a form of Freeganism. I am not freegan myself, but I try to incorporate as many sustainable practices in my life as I can. Step by step, I've been learning and adding more. 

Who knew Thai Basil would be so good in pesto! It has a more floral scent and taste than Italian Basil, but is very good. Everyone who has tried it today has enjoyed it. And I didn't end up putting any cheese on my meal, which means I can have some on my chicken spaghetti later for dinner. Hooray! 

First meal

Half a bagel, peanut butter and organic strawberries. Yum!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meatless Mondays

Today is our first ever official Meatless Monday as a family. I'm a flexitarian, as in I eat some vegetarian and some carnivorous meals. Most days, I get at least one vegetarian meal. Recently at work, Patch asked their dietitian how she could lose weight and be at her healthiest, and told the dietitian about my current method of eating. The lady said "Do what he's doing" so Patch has started heading down the same path towards health I'm on. Now I'm no dietitian, so I plan to meet with a dietitian myself to make sure that we're getting all the necessary nutrients, but in the mean time we're basically following the DTOUR plan with some vegan or vegetarian meals mixed in, and a few of our standard favorites, or some new twists on old comfort food.

While on vacation, Patch and I agreed that we will start having vegetarian and vegan meals all day every Monday starting today. Carlie wasn't there and I can't remember if we shared this little gem with her, but the two of us are a go, and Carlie will either join in or not. Often if we prepare delicious food, everyone else eats it too, so maybe she'll start having some accidentally vegetarian days. I'll ask her tonight if she wants to try it out with us.

So here's what today's food adventures look like:

Breakfast: (serves 1)
Shredded Wheat spoon sized cereal, 1 cup
Almond Milk, unsweetened, original, 1.5 cups
Raw cashews, 1 oz
(Shredded wheat really soaks up the milk and I would have liked to put some berries on there too, but we were out)

Shopping trip! I looked up a couple of vegetarian meals, made a list of the ingredients plus a few salad fixins, and we went to Fresh and Easy where found everything on our list, most of it in the organic section. Put Vegetarian Chili on to cook after shopping for Dinner, it takes 3 to 6 hours to cook down to the correct consistency depending on method of cooking.

Snack: (serves 2)
1 head of Romaine Lettuce
1 cup arugula
2 oz pistachio nuts
1 stalk celery
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic

 Lunch: (serves 4)
Vegetarian Stir Fry
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 cups water
1 head bok choy
1 can baby corn
1 can water chestnuts
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 baby sweet peppers (1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow)
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 stalk celery
2 cups bean sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons seasoning sauce of choice

 Snack: (serves 2)
1 apple
1 whole grain bagel
4 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

Dinner: (serves 8)
Vegan Chili (This smells amazing!)
2 cans sliced pear tomatoes, 28 oz each
1 can diced roasted red tomatoes, 15 oz (in basil sauce)
1 can tomato paste, 4 oz
1 can black beans, 15 oz (remove liquid)
1 can butter beans, 15 oz (remove liquid) 2 cans pinto beans,
15 oz (remove liquid)
1 medium sweet potato
2 cups diced celery
1 medium red onion
3 baby sweet peppers
1 tablespoon garlic
3 tablespoons chili powder
top with cheese if you're vegetarian, cheese substitute if you're vegan

Dessert: (serves 3)
6 whole grain fig cookies
12 large strawberries, sliced
6 tablespoons spray whipped cream (fat free)

Movie snack:
Kale Chips from 1 head of Kale, flavored to request (see previous entries for various recipes)

Obviously these are just lists of ingredients and not full recipes. If you would like to see the full recipes for lunch and dinner, please let me know and I'll write them out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Vegetable Tortellini Soup

Patch made this soup today. She doesn't cook from a recipe, but wrote this down for me and I translated. If you're vegan, obviously you won't want to use cheese tortellini but we really enjoyed it and so far today has been a vegetarian day for both of us. :)

Flax seeds

Flax seeds, when ground, are a wonderful thing to put in bread.  They add omega three oil, and if i'? Not mistaken, fiber. But... I have a difficult time putting them in smoothies because of the texture. Today i am trying them on my togurt. I am not really sure that will eork fir me either. Maybe if i bake them into a healthy granola i could put that on things.

What do you put flax seeds in? How else do you get omega 3's in your diet?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Salad and dressing

I feel like I've been neglecting an important part of the yumness around here. That would be salads and dressing.

There are so many wonderful salads i've been trying out lately. Like this one! Red leaf lettuce with red bell peppers, bean sprouts, peanuts and orange pear vinegrette. Yum! Sometimes a simple salad really hits the spot.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Green Pear Jicama Salad

A little dressing goes a long way on this To zest an Orange, use a small grater or a microplaner
For Dressing: 1 tablespoon olive oil Per 2 tablespoons pear balsamic vinegar A bit of orange juice from the orange you zest 
The pears were free from a neighbors tree & the zucchini was from a neighbors garden. It's always nice to find local fruits and veggies!

2 small, green, apple pears, julienned (finely sliced)
2 cups jicama, julienned
1/2 cup zucchini, sliced into round thin strips and then quartered
1 small slightly tart tomatillo sliced into similar pieces as the zucchini then halved
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Zest of one orange

1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic
the Juice of 1 orange

 This dressing keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge I made this salad and dressing based on what was in the pantry and fridge that seemed like it would make a nice mix of sweet and tart. We took this with pear balsamic kale chips to a pot luck along with a container of almonds that people could sprinkle on top instead of croutons. People went back for seconds and some wanted the recipe. I'm finishing the rest off for a snack now.

Yummy and I believe it fits right into the DTOUR diet I've been using for recipe inspiration, tho I made it up myself so who knows. I hope you give it a try if these fruits and veggies are local and in season they will be the tastiest. Enjoy!