September 6th is National Read a Book Day!

This is one “holiday” we can all celebrate and enjoy together. I can’t think of a single day in my life when a book hasn’t been in my hands. Books can expand your mind, open new worlds to explore, and feed your spirit.

Need some quiet time alone? Relax with a book. Doing research? There’s a book on that topic. Is it time to build a better you? Answers can be found in books. Trying to get a child to go to bed? Books can help with that, too!

Here are a couple of suggestions so you can get a headstart on National Read a Book Day.

You can find these books on Amazon now, read sample pages, and have them in your hands by September 6. Just click on the links:

SMASHING IDOLS: http://www.amazon.com/dp/173758641X

Peeling Potatoes: Katie’s Story: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1737586436

I hope you enjoy everyone’s holiday on September 6th, and know that I will be reading with you!

Mediterranean Hummus Platter

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook Page and thought it was such a beautiful presentation that I had to share it with you all. I just know you will want to take this to your next potluck dinner or party.

Courtesy of Nourished with Alice Group page on Facebook.com

It’s so simple to prepare!

Spread hummus on a platter.

Top with a variety of colorful mediterranean vegetables, such as:

red onion, cucumber, grape or cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, orange bell pepper, and fresh oregano.

Serve with crackers or pita bread.

Alice has more delicious recipes on her Facebook Page, Nourished with Alice Group. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us, Alice!

Barley Mushroom Casserole (Tsar-kasha)

Because I am working on a new book series for middle grade children that focuses on early 20th Century eastern European immigrants to North America where life was hard and childhood was short, I currently have a special interest in Russian/Ukrainian cuisine. Both of my grandfathers worked in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania during that era, so some of these recipes have been passed down through the generations. I am resurrecting a few favorites from my childhood and experimenting with them to fit a meat-free plant-based lifestyle.

This is a simple Russian/Ukrainian peasant recipe that I have adapted from the original to be vegan. I am including the original ingredients in parentheses so you can choose the version you prefer. This was an easy recipe to adapt because it was already vegetarian. I just made a few minor adjustments to make it vegan.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

3 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or 6 Tbsp butter)

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 lb fresh sliced mushrooms (these were traditionally hand-picked in the forest, but you can just use sliced white mushrooms from the grocery store as I did here)

3 cups water

1 cup regular barley

3 tsps instant vegetable bouillon granuals or “Better Than Bouillon-No Chicken Base” (or instant chicken bouillon or regular chicken broth)

1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley

1 tsp dried basil leaves

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method:

In a large pot combine the onion, oil, garlic, and mushrooms. Cover and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, just until the onion is tender.

Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook until barley is tender. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.

Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.

This simple recipe yeids 8 -10 side dish servings or 4 – 5 maindish servings.

My mother would have served this with ground redbeets mixed with horseradish, but I really dislike that concoction. I served it with a side of whole cranberry sauce instead and roasted vegetables. Serve as you like.

If you are interested in learning about the early 1900’s coal mine experience as seen through a child’s eyes, then please check out my new book, “Peeling Potatoes: Katie’s Story” on Amazon. Available in Paperback or eBook: https://amazon.com/dp/B0B4KTJL3F

Hippy Chick Hummus Restaurant

I really, really wanted to like this place. They serve healthy vegan, locally sourced food with an emphasis on green sustainability throughout this casual restaurant. These things, as well as the food, mean a lot to me. The decor is colorful and quirky. I’m always on the lookout for good vegan food, and I love things that are different. Hippy Chick Hummus looks like a fun place to grab a quick bite to eat while shopping or sight-seeing in town, but that was not my experience. This is my honest review:

interior view

Perhaps Hippy Chick Hummus is a little bit too casual for me. I did not appreciate the panhandler who wandered in through the open door and approached each table asking for money, and then sauntered up to the register to ask for money there as well. The open door again — an invitation for flies that had to be batted away from our food as we ate. We could have sat outside at a sidewalk table and enjoyed the traffic noise and exhaust, but we chose the lesser of two evils.

Falafel Wrap and Falafel Salad

The food was fresh and locally sourced. Servings were large. The falafel is their own unique recipe, a bit different and air-fried which makes them lighter and drier. The flavor was just okay, but could have been greatly improved if they served both items with more of the lemon tahini dressing (a lot more). The food was pretty dry with such a skimpy amount of dressing. You can ask for more dressing with an upcharge (who charges for more salad dressing?). The oily dressing on the side — I couldn’t identify a flavor. I poured it over the entire salad, but there was just no flavor to that dressing.

Finally, the ginger-lemonade. I wouldn’t recommend it. Have you ever tasted a sour beverage with no sugar, but hot ginger instead? It is an awful combination that burns your throat and overwhelms everything else. Fortunately, I had a packet of stevia with me, but that lemonade was painful to drink. As I said, I really, really wanted to like this place, but sadly couldn’t. Maybe you would feel differently. We did notice a lot of take-out orders being picked up while we were there. That could be a clue.

Exterior view

Hippy Chick Hummus, 237 N. Market St., Frederick, MD, Phone: 240-815-7175

New! About Jayne M Booth, Author of “SMASHING IDOLS: Transform Your Body, Mind and Spirit with a Plant-Based Lifestyle.”

Jayne M Booth has always loved reading and writing. At 16, she started working as a waitress at Percy Brown’s Restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, PA. She is a certified Health Minister. She helps individuals enjoy a healthy whole-food plant-based lifestyle. She likes to paint, dance, hike, and read to anyone who will listen. Read full interview…

Matcha Green Tea Latte

Do you ever find a product that is so outstanding you just have to share it? Well, sometimes I do, and this is one of those times. I should mention at the beginning that I am not being paid for this review. I simply believe that when a product performs above and beyond your expectations, it deserves to be noticed.

I like to start my day with green tea… and not just any green tea. Each morning I enjoy lingering over a tall vegan Matcha Latte. Tea is very important to me, so I have tried many different brands of matcha. Some are good, and some are just meh. The very best I have had so far is Rishi Ceremonial Matcha (organic, single origin). You can find this tea at many retail outlets and online: http://www.rishi-tea.com

There is absolutely nothing bad about this tea. It mixes well and creates a decent layer of foam when I mix it with my little electric whisk. (Hint: If you do use an electric whisk be sure to also use a tall mug. Fill the mug 1/3 full with boiling water and a spoonful of matcha powder. Then, and this is the important part, completely immerse the whisk BEFORE turning it on. Otherwise you will have green matcha tea splashing everywhere!) When you are satisfied with the quality of the mix and the foam you can add more boiling water, sweetener, and non-dairy creamer if desired. The foam and flavor last even after adding plant-based creamer.

Additionally, the little container in which this tea comes deserves mention. It’s round, as every loose tea container should be — no nasty corners to trap that last bit of tea you just can’t dig out no matter how hard you try. The outer lid glides off easily and the little tab on the inner seal that helps you easily remove that seal without breaking a fingernail — inspired!

You may wonder why I am so passionate about this tea. Well, it’s not only delicious, but it also contains a healthy dose of L-theanine. Along with caffeine, L-theanine helps to increase focus and attention, ease anxiety and stress, and helps you to relax without causing drowsiness.* Sounds like the ideal way to start your day, right?

Several studies have also found that the antioxidants in green tea could enhance the function of the body’s immune system, decreasing upper respiratory tract infections and preventing flu symptoms. Right now it is more important than ever to bolster your natural immune system. Sipping this creamy Matcha Latte is a delicious way to do that. Drink to your health!

https://www.healthline.com/health/l-theanine

Recipe: Mock Crab Cakes (carrot cakes)

Do you juice? I try to drink one or two glasses of carrot juice everyday. It always bothers me to throw away the carrot pulp after juicing, so I’ve found some creative ways to use it (besides compost). This is one recipe I make often, and everyone seems to like it. The ingredients aren’t exact and you can adjust them according to the amount of carrot pulp you are using and your personal preference. The one thing I keep constant is the equal ratio of carrot pulp and cooked brown rice.

Ingredients:

Equal amounts of fresh carrot pulp and cooked brown rice. This is also a good way to use up leftover cooked rice. It should look something like this. I didn’t measure exact amounts, but this looks like about 2 cups of each which yielded 8 burger-size “crab” cakes.

1 cup finely chopped mixed sweet red and green peppers

1/2 finely chopped onion

1 – 2 cloves pressed garlic

1 – 2 Tbsp. Braggs Liquid Amino Acids (or soy sauce), to taste

1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

1 sheet Nori (sea vegetable), cut into small flakes

1 – 2 egg substitute (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer). Instead of mixing the Egg Replacer with water I mixed it with carrot juice.

And finally, Italian seasoned bread crumbs (enough to hold it all together when molded into cakes)

Procedure:

Put all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. You want the mixture to hold together and not be crumbly. With your hands form handfuls of mixture into oval or round shaped patties (round if you are serving them on a bun), about 3/4 inch thick. Wetting your hands during this process helps keep the mixture from sticking to your hands.

Fry patties, several at a time, in a large lightly oiled, heavy frying pan. I use grapeseed oil or light olive oil — not the extra virgin kind (save extra virgin olive oil for your salad dressings). You can also bake them on a prepared pan in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, brush cakes lightly with more oil, and turn once. (Baking is easier because it doesn’t require your full attention, but the cakes will be slightly less firm.) Today I baked them on a parchment lined pan after brushing both sides with grapeseed oil. Baked or fried, these are delicious!

Serve these imitation seafood treats with a sauce made from Vegenaise and bottled horseradish or ketchup mixed with horseradish. Make it as tangy as you like.

A yummy departure from the typical veggie burger. Enjoy!

CREAMY ASPARAGUS RICE CASSEROLE

This is the best plant-based comfort food, perfect on a cold winter day! It doesn’t call for any exotic ingredients, and you can mix and bake it all in the same casserole.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups No Chicken Broth or Boullion

2 1/2 cups water

1 – 1.5 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces

2 Tbsp. melted organic butter or plant-based spread

1 tsp. sea salt

3 cloves minced garlic

1 cup uncooked arborio rice

3/4 cup red lentils

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You will need a big (3 qt) glass casserole dish or oven-safe pasta bowl.

Place all the prepared ingredients, except the broth and water, in the casserole dish.

Heat broth and water unil hot, and pour over all ingredients in casserole.

Stir well and cover.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir, recover, and bake another 30 minutes.

Check to see if rice is cooked and creamy. If not, stir, recover, and cook for another 10 minutes or until done.