Wash and thinly slice tomatoes. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and Herbamare seasoning. Dehydrate at 105 degrees overnight or until completely dry and crisp. (At 105 degrees these will still be considered raw). Store in a tightly sealed jar to use until next summer. You can also eat them as chips… delicious!
If you like granola, but are leery of the fat contained in most commercial brands, if you like to make your own granola but don’t want to heat up the kitchen making it on hot summer days, if you’re looking for a healthy breakfast that really gives you energy and keeps you feeling full until lunchtime, then muesli is for you. Muesli is a raw oatmeal dish that contains other grains, nuts, seeds and dried or fresh fruit. It’s a heart-healthy alternative to processed cereals that actually helps to lower your cholesterol! Have you ever tried it? Some people have never even heard of muesli.
Muesli was first created by Swiss physician Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, who believed that much of the sickness experienced by his patients could be alleviated through a diet rich in raw grains, fruits and vegetables, plus moderate exercise including walking and gardening daily. Although muesli was first commercially produced in 1959 and has been a presence on grocery store shelves for over 60 years, it is is often overlooked or crowded out by the slick packaging, colors and shapes of the processed breakfast foods we know today. That is a shame, because muesli is so healthy, can be eaten cold or hot with or without added plant milk or yogurt… and it is so easy to make that even a child can do it.
In a large bowl add:
1/2 cup raw walnuts, crushed*
1/2 cup raw almonds, crushed*
3 cups organic old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
2 Tbsp. wheat germ
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup organic raisins
Gently stir to mix all ingredients together. Place in a tightly covered glass container and store in the refrigerator. Take out individual portions as needed and serve cold with plant milk or as a yogurt topping. If you prefer a softer cereal, top your muesli with just enough plant milk to cover and keep it in the refrigerator overnight. It will soften by morning, and you can eat it cold or warm it in the microwave for a hearty porridge. Add fresh fruit, honey or maple syrup to sweeten if desired.
* Hint: this is an easy way to crush nuts, and cleanup is a breeze. Put the walnuts and almonds in a plastic lunch bag, press out all the air and seal it closed. With any rolling pin roll over the bag several times until each nut has broken into desired size chunks. When you are finished just dump the nuts into your large bowl and throw the bag away. Nothing to wash!
This recipe makes 10 or more 1/2 cup servings. Muesli is a real time-saver to have on hand for busy mornings. Healthy and delicious!
It’s zucchini season again and if you are a gardener, you’re looking for zucchini recipes right about now. You would think that vegan zucchini recipes would be everywhere, but they’re not. I found a great Italian Zucchini Boat recipe online by Valerie Brunmeier, but it wasn’t vegan, so I made a few changes and voila! I really like this recipe first of all because it tastes delicious, second because it is a filling entree served with a side of brown rice or pasta, and third because it is beautiful.
3 medium zucchini, roughly the same size
1 (24 to 26 ounce) jar marinara sauce, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms or small jar of sliced mushrooms
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp dry parsley flakes
1/2 tsp pink sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper or to taste
1/2 lb hamburger style veggie crumbles
1 – 1 1/2 cups veggie mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Measure out 1 cup marinara sauce and set aside for later.
- Trim about 1/2 inch from each end of the zucchini and slice in half lengthwise. With a sharp knife lightly outline the center area you will remove to create the hollow of your boats (this will include the seed area, leaving about a half inch of solid zucchini around all the edges). Be careful to not cut through the skin. Using the tip of a spoon remove the zucchini flesh inside your outline, chop and set aside.
- Place the scooped out zucchini boats into a 13″x 9″ baking dish, and add about 1″ of water. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven 20 minutes or until just slightly fork tender but not soft. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a bit.
- Meanwhile add olive oil to a 12″ frying pan and place over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook a few minutes until veggies have softened, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chopped zucchini flesh, mushrooms, remaining marinara sauce, veggie crumbles, nutritional yeast and the spices. Stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the partially cooked zucchini boats from the baking dish and pour off water. Pour the reserved 1 cup marinara sauce into the empty baking dish and place the zucchini boats on top of the sauce.
- Generously divide the cooked filling between the 6 zucchini boats (if you have extra filling just spoon it into the dish around the boats). Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until zucchini boat is fork tender, but not soft and droopy.
- Remove baking dish from oven and set oven to BROIL.
- Remove foil and sprinkle zucchini boats with half the veggie mozzarella, panko bread crumbs, and more mozzarella.
- Place dish in oven and broil for just a few minutes (watch closely so it doesn’t burn) until the cheese melts and bread crumbs are golden brown.
A simple homemade dressing with all natural ingredients.
If you love pickles, then you will love this salad dressing. It’s so simple to prepare, and has none of the unhealthy fats you’ll find in commercial dressings. The only fat in this salad dressing comes from the single fresh avocado. The green color will stay bright several days in the refrigerator (thank you, lemon) — if it lasts that long!
Vegetarians eat a lot of salad, and this light creamy dressing is one of my favorites!
Juice of one fresh lemon
1 lg. garlic clove
1 tsp. dry dill weed
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 – 2/3 cup water You can add a little more water if necessary, but don’t dilute too much, or you’ll lose flavor.*
Put all ingredients into a blender, then blend until smooth and creamy.
*Add a little less water and you’ll have a tangy dip for veggies or pita chips.
Around the beginning of February each year I start to get hungry for color. Where we live, winter seems to drag along forever. The only colors we see outside are brown, gray and white (if it has just snowed). I miss the greens of spring and summer, but most of all I miss the kaleidoscope colors of flowers. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a rainbow of flowers growing in my yard or in pots on the patio and deck. This year I just couldn’t wait for the weather to cooperate, so I decided to start planting my flowers early, inside instead of out.
Fortunately, I have a little AeroGarden* that sits on my kitchen counter where I usually grow fresh organic herbs. This winter I decided to plant organic edible flowers to brighten our salads and introduce some color into my kitchen. I’m sure you could grow flowers in pots on a sunny windowsill, too. I have tried in the past to buy organic flowers for salads, but no one (grocer or florist) would guarantee they could supply organic, never-sprayed flowers, so I was a little leery of buying them commercially. However, when you grow your own flowers you know exactly what chemicals they have, or have not, encountered. Mine have encountered none. I also have plenty of fresh flowers to place an occasional centerpiece on the table (The snapdragons are especially prolific. The more you cut off, the more they bloom).
This is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had, and the timing was perfect. The colors of my little garden just sparkle on the black granite countertop, and the salads have been a hit with our family, too. Seeing the living profusion of colors lifts my spirit everyday and reminds me that this long dreary spell, which now includes social isolation due to the coronavirus, shall also pass.
The flowers I grew are: calendula, marigolds, snapdragons, and dianthus. All are competely safe to eat. If you are shy about eating flowers, there is nothing to fear. Most of them have a very mild flavor. The marigold petals (that’s the only part of this flower you use) are a bit peppery tasting, but the others have practically no flavor at all. Their purpose in salads is mostly aesthetic. Calendula petals have healing properties, especially when used as a tincture on the skin. Because of their mild flavor, Snapdragons have been used for years to decorate elegant desserts and specialty cocktails as well as salads. The Dianthus flower has a mild clove-like scent and is a member of the carnation family. Dianthus (Greek) means “flower of the gods.”
This little Flowerpot Salad would be perfect at a shower or tea party. The “pot” is a long thin slice of zucchini wrapped in a circle and held together by a fancy little toothpick with a frill on top. Inside place a couple spoonfuls of your favorite hummus. “Plant” celery and carrot sticks along with strips of red pepper, broccoli spears, a few salad greens and an edible flower. So pretty, and healthy, too!
This is one of my favorite go-to meals when I know there won’t be time to prepare dinner tonight. It takes just minutes in the morning to get the yams into the slow cooker, and then in the evening pulling it all together for serving is a breeze. Bonus: Everyone can even assemble their own!
One organic yam per person, scrubbed and individually wrapped in foil. Place yams in slow cooker, and cook on high for 4 hours or 7 – 8 hours on low. This is all the early preparation you need to do before your busy day.
Seasoned black beans — you may use your own recipe (a great way to use leftovers) or canned as shown below.
Guacamole — once again, your own homemade or purchased.
Vegan shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa — homemade or purchased (I like to add a squeeze of lime to my salsa)
Organic corn chips.
As you can see, making this is simple as can be if time is a factor. I know homemade everything is always the best, and I feel like I’m cheating when I open a can, but this is the 21st century. We’re all strapped for time, and if I can put a healthy inexpensive meal on the table, it sure beats take-out. So, dip your chips and enjoy a healthy meal with little preparation and lots of fun.
If you follow the news, then you hear hourly updates on the coronavirus as reporters spread doom, gloom and fear about worldwide sickness and even death from the coronavirus. You may be asking: When will it strike here? What should I do if I get sick? Am I safe? How can I protect my children from something I can’t see? Obsessing on this one topic is creating panic when commonsense wisdom would be more helpful.
Please, keep in mind that fewer people have died from the coronavirus this year than from the flu last year, and those who have died had compromised immune systems before they contracted the virus. It is believed that thousands of people have recovered from the coronavirus thinking it was just the common cold, because their symptoms were so mild. So it seems obvious that the way to deal with this new health threat is to strengthen your immune system and use the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick in the first place. Here are some reminders:
— Wash your hands often, at least 20 seconds each time with soap and running water.
— Use antibacterial wipes at the grocery store (many stores provide them at the entrance) to wipe down shopping cart handles before use.
— Carry antibacterial wipes with you, and remember to use them.
— Sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm instead of your hands.
— Keep your hands away from your face.
— Carry your own supply of tissues with you. Communal tissue boxes are loaded with germs.
— Think of others. If you feel sick, STAY HOME. No matter how badly you “need to be there,” no one there wants to catch what you have.
— At home, sanitize often: door knobs, light switches, buttons on the microwave, toaster, stove, coffeepot, tea kettle, toilet seat/handles, faucets, etc.. Bleach infused wipes or even a paper towel saturated with rubbing alcohol will do the job quickly and easily.
— Avoid sugar. Sugar depresses your immune system for the next four hours after consuming it.
— Eat plenty of whole foods: vegetables, fruit, and minimally processed grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
— Stay hydrated and make pure water your beverage of choice. Nix the sugary drinks.
— Increase your intake of Vitamin C and Zinc. Taken together these help to lessen the severity of a cold, but you can also take them before any symptoms arise as a preventive measure.
— Elderberry syrup taken daily is a great immune booster (also comes in lozenges in case you’re traveling).
— If you live in the northern hemisphere and don’t get much sun for part of the year, you may need to increase your vitamin D intake. Vitamin D3+K2 is most easily absorbed. Ask your doctor to monitor your blood levels to get the correct dosage.
— Finally, reduce the stress in your life. Prayer and meditation, daily exercise, even a walk are all great stress relievers. Read a good book. Enjoy a hobby you’ve neglected for a long time, or try something new. Spend time with your pet. Turn off the news and just relax.
— Refuse to worry. Worry leads to anxiety, which stops you from living your best life. As long as you use wisdom, you have nothing to fear.
God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Looking for something to please both vegetarians and meat eaters? This dish is an easy crowd pleaser. Who doesn’t love pasta? Some of the steps can be completed the day before, so it shouldn’t take too long to pull everything together when you plan to serve it. I appreciate recipes like this that allow me to spend time with my guests rather than slaving away in the kitchen on the big day. (Always choose organic ingredients, if available, for the most nutrition).
2/3 box of large shell pasta
1 Tbsp. oil: grapeseed, olive or coconut
1 chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 container organic firm tofu
10 oz. frozen spinach, kale or chard, defrosted and drained
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Shredded veggie mozzarella cheese (8 – 12 oz.)
1 jar any good meatless spaghetti sauce
Drain all the water off the tofu, then place tofu on a flat plate lined with several layers of paper towels, cover with more paper towels, top with another plate and on top of all that place a large unopened can of anything that weighs about 2 lbs. Your goal is to press as much water from the tofu as possible. This will take about 30 minutes, so continue with the rest of the recipe while the tofu drains. (I like to squeeze water from the saturated paper towels a couple of times during this process). Tofu is very versatile and will take on the flavors of any seasoning IF it isn’t water-logged, so draining it well is very important.
While the tofu is draining, also drain the defrosted spinach, kale or chard — whichever you are using. (Use a large spoon to press out any extra moisture or it will also dilute the flavor).
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet and saute the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Add thawed, drained greens and toss together. Heat through, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl combine: tofu (mash with a fork), 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, parsley, oregano and salt. Add sauted vegetables and mix all together. The hard part is done. This mixture may be refrigerated until tomorrow if you wish, or you may complete the rest of the recipe.
Next day or continue:
Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and set aside on a clean tea towel to cool.
Add half the veggie mozzarella cheese to the tofu mixture and stir to mix.
Lightly grease a large glass casserole dish. Spread a thin layer (scant 1/2 inch) of sauce on the bottom.
Stuff each shell with a large spoonful of tofu mixture and place each one in a single layer in the casserole dish.
Distribute the rest of the sauce over each shell and top with the remaining veggie cheese.
Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes. Remove foil the last 10 minutes of baking.
Serve hot. Enjoy the compliments!
First of all, I want to give credit to my friend, Mary Anne Williams, who graciously shared this recipe with me. According to Mary Anne, her mother’s bread was locally famous with family and friends. A friend once told her mother that all she wanted for her birthday was her bread, and that’s exactly what she got! (We should all have such a friend!) It really is delicious, and I will share the recipe just as it is written.
This recipe makes three full size loaves! It’s simple to make if you follow the directions exactly. The starter is alive, and keeping it that way is a bit tricky, so at least for your first attempt I would suggest not changing a thing. Be prepared to wait 3 – 5 days from start to finish, most of that time is for the dough to rise.
— Hint: Use metal only for the baking pans. Yeast does not like metal and will die. That means wooden or plastic spoons, glass bowls, measuring cups, etc.
— Hint: Store in a bowl with a lid, but yeast must breath. The lid should have holes, or you can use plastic wrap and leave it partially uncovered.
— Hint: When you get too much starter, share some with a friend.
To make starter:
1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup very warm water. Stir well
Add 2 cups lukewarm water, sugar and salt. Stir well.
Stir in flour and mix well.
Place mixture in a large container, cover with a cloth, and leave at room temperature until mixture begins to ferment. (It usually takes about 18 – 24 hours). When it foams and bubbles, it is ready to use.
It may be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator.
To make bread:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 cup starter
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix with a wooden spoon.
Add 6 cups bread flour and mix well with hands.
Put this in a larger greased bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and let stand in a warm place overnight.
Next morning, divide the dough into three parts. Knead each part on a floured board. It does not need to be worked much.
Put each loaf into a greased loaf pan. Brush with vegetable oil.
Let rise in a warm place 4 – 6 hours.
Bake at 325 for approximately 45 minutes.
Remove from oven, brush with butter. After a few minutes, remove bread from pans and allow to cool completely before wrapping to prevent sweating.
After removing starter to bake bread, add:
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup flour
3 teaspoons sugar
Feed the starter every Tuesday and Friday. Add to starter:
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons instant potatoes
1 cup warm water
Stir with a wooden spoon.
Let sit at room temperature for 8 – 10 hours, then refrigerate until ready to use.
*My notes after trying this recipe:
Knowing a little bit about the chemistry of sourdough bread, I was surprised to see that this recipe includes yeast and sugar. The yeast helps reduce rising time and sugar feeds the yeast. Traditional sourdough does not include either of these ingredients — only flour and water in the starter, but it takes much longer to get a good starter going, and your location is also a critical factor. San Francisco is famous for traditional sourdough bread because the location’s climate is perfect.
I would call this recipe Amish Sourdough Bread, sometimes known as Friendship Bread because you can and are encouraged to share the starter and recipe with a friend. (A variation of the Amish starter is sometimes called Herman which can be used to make sweet pastry).
Don’t be reluctant to add the sugar called for in this recipe. The yeast consumes most of the sugar, so you won’t.
The addition of instant potatoes surprised me, but it works here, so don’t leave it out.
Use only purified water or bottled spring water. Chlorine kills yeast, so regular tap water is not a good choice.
A good place for your bread dough to rise is on the middle rack in the oven with only the oven light on for heat. Place a bowl of warm water on the lower rack. Warmth and moisture are the perfect conditions for keeping yeast happy.
If you are thinking about substituting whole wheat pastry flour for half the bread flour, don’t. Whole wheat pastry flour is best suited for sweet baked goods that include baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast to produce rising. (I don’t know if regular whole wheat flour will work here, because I haven’t tried it… yet.) Here is a photo of my bread when I tried substituting half whole wheat pastry flour (pretty flat!) compared to the bread made according to the recipe. It still tastes great, but you’ll never make a sandwich with that one.
If bread making seems intimidating to you, then try this recipe as a start. The results are yummy, and you will have such a sense of accomplishment. Your confidence will grow, and then you can experiment with other recipes.
I just had to share a review of this B&B where we stayed for a long weekend in the Fall. River Bluff Farm B&B is located off the beaten path in the beautiful hills of Virginia near New Market. When we left the highway we thought , “Oh, this is pretty…” past the farms , pastures, etc. Then we turned into the little town of Quicksburg, crossed the railroad tracks and landed on a dirt road. When we drove past a few houses and turned into an unpaved driveway that never seemed to end, my husband was glaring at me. His face said, “Where are we, and what have you gotten us into?” Really, the only other living thing we saw after leaving the highway was a cow, so I was concerned, too. “The reviews online looked great,” was my defense. Finally, a sign came into view: NOT YET, KEEP GOING. Okay, we proceeded down the driveway past another sign that said SCENIC VIEW. We saw nothing, but later learned that you had to hike up the path to see the view. Then, just as my husband was threatening to turn around, a house came into view. (Thank you, Lord!)
That was our humorous introduction to this wonderful B&B. Everything there great. Lots of rustic charm and antiques while providing every modern convenience you could want. We stayed in the New England Room on the second floor. River Bluff B&B boasts three bedrooms, all with queen beds (and oh, the sheets are heavenly — definitely better than hotel quality) and private baths plus a loft that has been used for groups with children who don’t mind climbing the ladder and spreading out sleeping bags. A cozy fireplace, modern kitchen and large adjoining diningroom complete the interior. In warm weather guests can also choose to eat outside on the ample deck overlooking an expansive yard and North Fork of the Shenandoah River.
Our hosts, Donna and Matt, made sure we and the other two couples who were staying there, were comfortable and had everything we needed. All the breakfasts were homemade and delicious. Our hosts were very knowledgeable about the area, and pointed us in the direction of several interesting tourist attractions, places to eat, and orchards to pick apples. Knowing we were vegetarians, Donna managed to make a delicious vegetarian breakfast for us each day in addition to what the others were being served. We really appreciated that. So, I was surprised one morning when she offered us FROG Jam for our muffins. (What… another great reason to be a vegetarian?) Well, she also had BEAR Jam if we didn’t want FROG for breakfast. As you can see from the photo, not a frog or bear was sacrificed in the making of either. She got us that time!
River Bluff Farm B&B, 183 Quicksburg Mill Lane, Quicksburg, VA 22847. (540) 454-9751, http://www.riverbluffbnb.com Check them out!