Dehydrating

This is the coldest winter I can remember. I thought I just felt it more because we’ve relocated farther north (from southern Pennsylvania to northern New Jersey), but the locals tell us that this is the coldest winter on record for these parts. So while the heat runs constantly and everything in the garage freezes solid, I have discovered that keeping the dehydrator running and the kitchen cupboard doors open, our under-the-sink water pipes won’t freeze shut again (as they did a couple of days ago). So, I am dehydrating everything within reach. That appliance is running almost constantly!                                                                       Dehydrating

Dehydrating is so easy to do. Much more convenient than canning, in my opinion, and if you do it at a low temperature (I usually dehydrate at 105 – 107 degrees) the fruits and vegetables retain all the living enzymes of raw food. This is important if you want to get maximum nutrition for your effort. My Excalibur Dehydrator has a fan in the back that constantly blows warm air over all the trays, so I don’t need to babysit it and shuffle the trays around to get even air distribution as you would with a round stacked dehydrator with the fan at the top or bottom. Many times I load the dehydrator at night and in the morning everything is done to perfection. (I would highly recommend an Excalibur to anyone considering such a purchase). At this low temperature, it takes awhile longer to properly dehydrate, but I like things to be thoroughly dehydrated.  When I make chips I want them to be thin and crispy, not tough and chewy like leather. The secret is to slice the fruit and vegetables very thin using a mandolin or a very sharp knife if you have the patience — 1/8 inch thick or less is perfect.

In the photo you can see some of the things I’ve done so far. You can experiment with the seasonings you like, but I will tell you what I used and you can improvise from there.  I only use thoroughly washed organic produce because when dehydrating any chemicals in or on the food will be concentrated. Flavor is also concentrated when foods are dehydrated.  Notice that I did not use any sugar at all.  The natural sweetness of the fruit and vegetables is all you need.

The APPLE CHIPS were easy. Just thinly slice each apple, cut slices in half, remove core parts and any seeds, and lay slices in a single layer on the mesh dehydrator tray. You will get a lot of apple chips from one apple! Some people brush the apple slices with lemon to keep them white, but I don’t think it makes that much difference. Sometimes I sprinkle slices with cinnamon before dehydrating. This time I didn’t.

BANANA CHIPS were peeled, sliced very thin and laid in a single layer on the mesh tray. These I did sprinkle with cinnamon and they tasted great!

RED BEET CHIPS were a first for me. Once again I sliced the beets very thin. I made a marinade of 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, and 1/2 tsp. Himalayan Pink Sea Salt. In a large bowl I gently tossed the slices in the marinade until they were evenly coated and let them sit for about a half hour, tossing a couple of times just to make sure each slice was flavored. Each beet, single layer not touching, made a full tray of chips!

SWEET POTATO CHIPS…so yummy! I scrubbed, but did not peel, the sweet potatoes. I cut off about 1/2 inch from each end, thinly sliced them, and placed the slices in a large bowl with 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil and 1 tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt. I gently tossed the slices until each one was coated and placed them in a single layer on a mesh tray.

That’s it. When the dehydrator was full I turned it on at 105 degrees and went to bed. No timer, no turning or repositioning trays, no worries. In the morning everything was dried to a perfect crisp chip. No, the flavors did not transfer, and the house smelled wonderful. We have a supply of healthy chips for snacking, AND with the dehydrator fan blowing 105 degrees all night and the cabinet doors open, our kitchen pipes didn’t freeze!

 

Chen Vegetarian House, 709 Penn Ave. West Reading, PA 19611- Phone: 610-374-2288 or www.chenvegehouse.com

Chen Vegetarian House is an all vegetarian Asian restaurant with a full menu of vegetarian dishes to choose from…just what the health-minded people of Berks County have been waiting for!  Tonight was our first visit there and I was impressed.  We will be going back!  Although this is a small establishment, probably more geared to take-out than dining-in, our experience was entirely enjoyable.

We entered the newly remodeled restaurant (next to Haute Chocolat) and were promptly seated at one of the two tables by the window.  Several other tables were available near the take-out counter.  Our server answered all our questions and explained the menu (Yes, EVERYTHING on the menu is vegetarian — even the chicken, the beef, the pork, and the seafood).  They do not use MSG in any of their food.  We talked and drank green tea until our dinners arrived.  The spring rolls were piping hot and very fresh (not frozen and reheated).  My Pad Thai was delicious, seasoned perfectly with not too much “chicken” and lots of crunchy bean sprouts.  My husband ordered General Tso’s “Chicken” (his favorite) and we were both impressed by the quantity and presentation.  Our meals were delicious and the service was efficient and courteous.

Chen Vegetarian House also features something other Asian restaurants don’t offer — fresh vegetable and fruit juices (3.99) and fruit smoothies (4.29).  Hallelujah!

The menu states that lunches including white or brown rice, hot & sour soup or spring roll, and entrée are only $5.99.  To save time you can pre-order online and pick up at the counter. Business hours are Mon. – Thurs.: 11 am – 10 pm, Fri. and Sat.: 11 am – 10:30 pm, and Sun.: 12 pm – 9:30 pm.  Visa, Mastercard, and Discover are accepted.  Now until 1/31/2014 is their Grand Opening and you get 10% off a minimum $20 order!

If you want a healthy and delicious meal for not a lot of money, then I would highly recommend Chen Vegetarian House.

Tomato Chips

Because it’s the end of the growing season, and gardeners probably have an overabundance of tomatoes, I thought I would share this again. I use these tomato chips in place of sundried tomatoes all year long. Delicious!

This is the easiest way I have found to preserve your abundant tomato harvest.  Only two ingredients besides the tomatoes, and so simple!

The first thing you will do is thinly slice the tomatoes — not more than 1/4 inch thick.  Spread the slices in a single layer on the dehydrator mesh tray making sure the slices are not touching each other.  There is no need to line the tray with a teflex sheet or parchment paper.20130917_211051 tomato chips ready for dehydrator, 2

Lightly sprinkle each slice with a little Herbamare (or any sea salt and herb seasoning you desire). Then top with some nutritional yeast. Dehydrate for 6 – 8 hours or overnight.  Store in a tightly covered glass jar in the pantry, and they’ll stay crisp all winter. 20130921_134958 tomato chips jarred, 2

Bet you can’t eat just one!

Veggie Lasagna

A word to the wise: If you’re trying to change your family’s eating habits to a healthier vegetarian diet, please don’t serve them a green smoothie or a blended salad to start out.  Unfamiliar and unrecognizable food like that will only shock them into resistance. Give your family something they are used to, something they can identify and already enjoy eating — but make it healthier, lower in fat and calories, with no animal ingredients.  This is a delicious recipe even a carnivore can enjoy.  It may become one of your family’s favorites!

Ingredients:

1 chopped onion

1 clove minced garlic

1 lb. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

8 oz, sliced mushrooms, rinse well and drain

12 – 15 lasagna noodles

1 container (12.3 oz) Mori-Nu silken tofu, drained and mashed with a fork

¼ c. vegan parmesan topping, plus another 1/2 c. reserved for top

1 Tbs. parsley flakes

1 tsp. oregano

1 ½ tsp sea salt

12 oz. shredded vegan mozzarella (Soya Kaas or Daiya are good brands)

1 ½ qt. any good meatless spaghetti sauce (reserve 1 c.)

Method:

— Cook noodles according to package directions.

–Saute onions, garlic and mushrooms in 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add thawed, drained spinach and toss together.

–In a large bowl combine: tofu, ¼ cup veggie parmesan and spices. Add sautéed vegetables and mix together with a fork.

–In an ungreased oblong casserole layer:

A thin layer of sauce

¼ noodles

¼ sauce

¼ tofu mixture

¼ vegan mozzarella

Repeat this process three times.

–Spread reserved 1 cup sauce over top layer of noodles.  Sprinkle with ½ cup vegan parmesan topping. (At this point lasagna can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.)

–Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (allow additional 10 – 15 minutes if lasagna has been refrigerated.)

For easier cutting, let stand for 15 minutes after removing from oven.

Did People in the Bible Eat Animal Foods?

As a Health Minister, one of the statements I often hear is, “But people in the Bible ate meat.” I encourage you to read below and learn the facts. The diet in Bible times did not in any way resemble the Standard American Diet. To read the complete article: http://healthtip.hacres.com/index.php/2013/02/12/how-to-stop-cheating-on-the-hallelujah-diet?

Animal-Source Foods

In Bible days, there were societies of pure vegetarians while other societies consumed some animal products – animal flesh and goat milk. However, even in those societies where animal flesh was eaten, consumption was extremely limited and confined to special occasions because the ancients had no means of refrigeration.

For this same reason, goat milk was consumed in its raw state almost immediately after milking. It is also important to note here that almost all milk consumed in Bible days was goat milk. Even to this day, The United States is one of the few countries in the world that consumes more cow milk than goat milk.

It is also interesting to note that in Bible days, the fat content of grass-fed animals, which was all they had to eat, was around 3%. This is the fat content that you will find in wild deer to this day.

6 Things Man Didn’t Learn from the Bible

  1. Man started graining the animals in an effort to put more fat on their flesh.
  2. Even later, farmers learned that they could get these animals to grow more rapidly if they gave them growth hormones.
  3. Then they learned that by giving the animals antibiotics, they could cover up the physical breakdown that occurred by this unnatural and rapid growth.
  4. Farmers next began to realize that by giving the milk cows hormones that caused them to grow faster, they could also generate more milk production.
  5. Forcing these milk cows to produce more milk than God designed them to produce caused all manner of physical breakdown. Farmers realized (again) they could give cows more antibiotics.
  6. As man began to drink more and more cow milk, man had to find a way to prevent the milk from going bad too quickly. To solve that problem man learned that by cooking the milk in a pasteurizing process that killed both friendly and unfriendly bacteria and destroying the enzymes (life force in raw milk) they could give the milk a longer shelf life under refrigeration.

With the consumption of ever increasing amounts of both animal flesh and dairy, physical breakdown from these animal source foods began to manifest earlier and earlier in the lives of those who consumed them. In fact, my research reveals that animal source foods, both flesh and dairy, are the cause or contributing cause of as high as 90% of all the physical problems being experienced today.

These animal sourced foods are the primary cause of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes, as the fat in these animal sourced foods clog up the arteries. In addition to the fat clogging up the arteries and causing all of these physical breakdowns, these animal sourced foods are the primary cause of cancer, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, colon problems, acid stomach, asthma, allergies…

The list goes on and on….

Be encouraged, God loves us and His way is always best 🙂                              “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
~ Romans 12:2

Grandma’s Chili (Vegetarian Style)

20130123_175023 Blog photo Chili

What is the perfect dinner for a cold winter evening?  A steaming bowl of heart healthy chili!  This recipe will provide mega protein and fiber with very little fat and calories.  It’s a very simple recipe made with common ingredients, and is delicious with or without the optional ingredients. As a bonus, you can also throw everything in your crockpot and let it cook on LOW all day.  Dinner will be ready when you return home!

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped and sautéed in 1 Tbsp oil (if you have the time)

1 large can tomato sauce

1 large can kidney beans

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Optional Ingredients (use any or all as desired):

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. sweetener

1 Tbsp. vinegar

1 – 3 cloves minced garlic

1 chopped red bell pepper

a little cayenne pepper or Tabasco Sauce (to warm you from the inside out!)

Method:

Cover and simmer all ingredients for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 pkg. Morning Star Farms (frozen meat substitute) Crumbles, and cook for an additional 15 minutes to heat crumbles.  Remove from heat and enjoy with salad and warm cornbread.  Mmmm-m-m-m! This chili tastes even better the second day, so look forward to any leftovers 🙂

Vegan Polish Stuffed Cabbage (Halupki, Golumpki, Pigs-In-A-Blanket)

One of the things I miss most about my hometown is the food.  Populated by descendants of European immigrants brought to the anthracite area of Pennsylvania as cheap labor for the booming coal industry in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, the Wyoming Valley is rich in ethnic heritage and the most wonderful foods you can imagine.  These simple peasant dishes will not be found in any fine restaurant, but families still gather to make and feast on recipes that traveled from Europe and  have been handed down for generations.

I thought Halupki, pure Northeastern PA soul food, was gone from my life forever when I gave up meat, but I have found that with a little imagination and experimentation I can still have my Pigs-In-A-Blanket (as we called them when I was a child) and eat them, too!  This recipe is the result of sheer determination and stubbornness, since I also decided to not use prepackaged fake meat for the traditional ground beef filling. I think this one is a winner. It takes a long time to prepare, so the best thing to do is plan ahead and do it in two stages.  The first day make the brown rice and  Medley’s Vegan Oat Burgers; the second day you can prepare the cabbage, filling, and sauce and assemble the cabbage rolls. It truly is a labor of love (now I know why it took my mother, aunts, and grandmother all together to make these for family gatherings), but to make things easier prepare extra brown rice to freeze, and note that one Oat Burgers recipe is enough for two Halupki casseroles, so making it next time will not be as time-consuming.  Here we go:

MEDLEY’S  VEGAN OAT BURGERS

These are the tastiest vegan burgers ever — on a bun with your favorite toppings or as a substitute for chopped sirloin with mushroom gravy.  This recipe makes a lot so you can freeze some for another time.  The recipe comes from my niece (a wonderful cook just like her mother) who got it from the restaurant where she first enjoyed them. I veganized it.

In a food processor separately grind:

2 c. rolled oats

1 c. walnuts (not too fine, chunky is better)

1 lg. onion

Add:

2 c. rolled oats

2 Tbs. ground flaxseed & 6 Tbs. warm water (mix together and allow to sit a few minutes until thickened)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground sage

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp pepper

1 c. unsweetened soy or almond milk (or just enough to hold it all together)

Let mixture sit for 20 minutes.  Form into patties (slightly wet hands so they don’t stick) and brown in olive oil. Then add 2 cups of water with enough soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (about 3 Tbs) to taste.  Pour this over the burgers and simmer uncovered until liquid is absorbed, turning once or twice. Enjoy!

Halupki FILLING:

1/2 recipe Medley’s VEGAN Oat Burgers chopped up after cooking (freeze the other half for next time)

1  – 1 1/2 c. cooked brown rice

1 Tbs parsley

1 Tbs sweet paprika

Saute together: 6 oz. chopped Portobello mushrooms, 1 lg. onion, and 2 Tbs. Annie’s Organic Worsteshire Sauce.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and season to taste with sea salt and cayenne pepper.

Halupki SAUCE:

1 – 10 3/4 oz. can tomato soup and an equal amount to crushed tomatoes

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice or vinegar

1 soup can water

Mix all together and season with sea salt and pepper as desired.

Method:

(Dealing with a whole head of CABBAGE can be intimidating — don’t worry, you will win).  Core the cabbage and submerge the whole thing in a large pot of boiling water.  It will be somewhat bouyant so you will want to turn it occasionally so that the leaves soften evenly. Cook until the outer leaves become tender, then you can start to peel the leaves off one at a time, and place them on a clean towel to drain. (You can take the cabbage head out of the water to do this, then return it to the water to cook a little while longer until more leaves can be removed.) Repeat until all leaves are removed.

When cabbage leaves are cool enough to handle: In each leaf place 2 – 3 heaping Tbs.filling, tuck in sides and roll to cover filling.  Place cabbage rolls in a large oblong glass baking dish (seam side down).  Pack them tightly together so they don’t unroll.

Pour sauce over all the rolls and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake @ 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. This recipe makes a lot (about 30 cabbage rolls).

Do You Want a Whole Foods Market in the Reading Area?

This week I received the following email that I must share with the health conscious residents of Berks County.  I, for one, am tired of driving over an hour to get to the nearest Whole Foods and the products they offer. Please read this letter, and if you feel the same way send your letters to Senator Schwank asap.  Let’s make this happen!

Hi All,

Are you tired of trying to find a zucchini that doesn’t bend in half, being able to get Bobbi’s Hummus, crisp apples, or finding a persimmon in Berks County? I am! The other evening I had a conversation with Judy Schwank about our grocery stores (or lack thereof). We understand that Wegman’s and Trader Joe’s have no interest in coming here, but to date, Whole Foods had not said no. Sen. Schwank followed up our conversation by making a series of phone calls that put her in touch with the realtor for Whole Foods who does site selection in the mid-Atlantic region. He was surprised to hear from a state senator and told Judy that they are looking to expand, and Berks and Lancaster counties are two areas they are considering. To no surprise of any of us who have tried to get Wegman’s and Trader Joe’s here, he said that education demographics play a large part in their site selections, not exactly in our favor. What was different was that he was willing to entertain a conversation about bringing Whole Foods here. Sen. Schwank put him in touch with our economic development site selectors and they will continue their dialogue.

 

So that is where you come in. Sen. Schwank and I agreed that a mass e-mail, letter writing campaign would be a good way to show our interest. You are getting this e-mail because I think you are someone who cares about feeding your family well, you are a gourmet cook, you are a vegetarian or vegan, you have a family member with dietary restrictions that are difficult to find ingredients for, or you simply like to eat. I agreed to spear head a letter writing campaign. Judy has agreed to have all the e-mails/letters sent to her office where they will be aggregated and presented to Whole Foods. Please consider sending an e-mail stating your interest in having Whole Foods in the area. We have several locations that would be feasible so that they would not even have to build. To this end, all e-mails can be sent to senatorschwank@pasenate.com. Thanks for your help. See you at the ribbon cutting!

 

Please feel free to send this e-mail on to any of your friends and family. The more letters the better.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

 

 

 

 

 

 

One ingredient I really love, one that gives vegan recipes a real “cheesy” flavor without all the negatives of dairy, is Nutritional Yeast.  It is also a good vegan source of vitamin B-12!  To learn more, or to experiment with some great recipes using this little known seasoning, visit the link below or simply try some Nutritional Yeast sprinkled on a bowl of warm popcorn.  Yum!

http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2011/10/what-the-heck-is-nutritional-yeast.html

FREE Health Fair, October 8, 2011, Glad Tidings Church, 1110 Snyder Rd., West Lawn, PA 19609, 610-678-0266

Come one come all, this Saturday anytime from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm to meet area wellness professionals and learn what options are available to meet your own personal physical, mental, and spiritual health needs.  Free medical screening by Adventist Whole Health Network, samples, informative presentations, movies, and more.  While you’re there enjoy a healthy lunch in the popular Sacred Grounds Cafe and Grille, and shop Scrolls Bookstore.  See you there!