Vegetable Broth

We’re still in the throes of winter here in the great northeast. Most years I take advantage of a nice cold garage as bonus storage for onions, squash, and root vegetables during the cold winter months. What a surprise I had yesterday when I went to the garage shelf for an onion and discovered that all the vegetables I had stored there had frozen solid.  This is the first time that has ever happened!  Well, I just refused to even think about throwing everything away — what a waste that would be! Instead, I decided to make vegetable broth with my rock-hard stash of fresh frozen, vitamin-packed, organic ice-veggies.  These are the ones I used.WIN_20150303_132932    I’ve made vegetable broth before, and like soup, it never comes out the same way twice.  The flavor depends on the type of vegetables and seasonings you use.  Usually, I make broth when there are more veggies in the fridge than I will be able to use before they die, or when I have collected a varied supply in the freezer from food prep leftovers. This was a rather unusual mixture of flavors, but “waste not want not,” as the saying goes. Some vegetables, namely the cruciferous variety (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), have a strong flavor and will overpower the broth if you use too much.  Fortunately, only the outer inch of the cabbage was frozen, so that and the core are all I used in this broth. I peeled the small pumpkins easily with a regular vegetable peeler, seeded them and cut them into large pieces because I  wanted them stay solid, not cook down to a puree. You should keep all the vegetable chunks rather large — at least over one inch.

In a large stockpot, to these vegetables I added 3 stalks of celery, 6 sliced cloves of garlic and these spices: 1 Tbsp. parsley, 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and one bay leaf. You may use whatever seasonings you prefer and adjust the amount to your liking (this isn’t a precise science), but I have found that you can’t go wrong with these basic seasonings.    WIN_20150303_141051

Add enough water to cover the vegetables (I used about a gallon), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Cool and strain. Discard vegetables. You may freeze the stock in  small batches or refrigerate up to one week.

This homemade organic vegetable stock will add delicious flavor to soups, stews, or rice and other grains.  If you’ve been buying  vegetable broth then you know what a money-saver it is to make your own, and what a wise way to use what otherwise would just be thrown away. Waste not, want not!

 

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!

 

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

  Shepherd's Pie

   This is an entrée I love serving to meat-loving friends.  It’s fun to watch them try to figure out where the beef is!  It tastes like it’s there, but in reality it’s not.  Invariably, they have to admit this is a great version of the fat-laden Shepherd’s Pie they’re used to.  All the flavor, minus the artery-clogging cholesterol…what’s not to love?

As always, cook once but eat twice.  This recipe is easy to throw together if you have leftover Vegetarian Taco “Meat” https://vegtutor.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/recipe-vegetarian-taco-meat and cooked brown rice in the freezer.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. Vegetarian Taco “Meat”

1 1/2 cooked brown rice

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp. dried basil

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 c. dry bread crumbs

Bottom Layer:  Place Taco “Meat” and brown rice in a large bowl. Saute vegetables in oil for 4 – 5 minutes, then add to bowl with Taco “Meat” and rice.  Add spices, Dijon mustard, and bread crumbs. Stir with a large spoon to mix ingredients. Season with sea salt and pepper if desired. Spread mixture in an oil-sprayed glass casserole dish.

  Top Layer:  If you’re smart, you have leftover mashed potatoes on hand to make this recipe as simple as can be. If you don’t have any leftover mashed potatoes, here is a recipe:

Mashed Potatoes

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 qt. water

1/3 c. unsweetened rice, soy, or almond milk

1 – 2 Tbs. organic butter or substitute

salt and pepper to taste

   Bring water to a boil and add potatoes.  Reduce heat and cook 15 – 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain and place in a mixing bowl. Add seasonings and use an electric mixer or hand masher to mash potatoes.  Add milk a little at a time as you mash until potatoes are thick and creamy with no lumps. Adjust seasonings to taste.

   Spread thick layer of mashed potatoes on top of the bottom layer of Shepherd’s Pie. Top with vegan parmesan cheese or Gomasio if desired.

   Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 -45 minutes

   Cut into thick slices and serve with vegan gravy.

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!

Vegan Wendy’s Frosty

There are several versions of a Vegan Wendy’s Frosty out there.  I’ve tried a few, and played around with the recipe until I came up with one that suited me.  Of course it isn’t full of fat like the original, but it is cold, sweet and creamy.  If you like chocolate, but not the fat and calories that go with it, then I think this version will satisfy very nicely. Hope you like it!

This recipe makes enough for two large servings — one for you and one for a friend.20130812_122328

Ingredients:

3 frozen bananas, broken into pieces

2 Tbsp. carob powder or cacao powder

12 -15 ice cubes (depends on the size)

3/4 cup almond milk

12 – 20 drops vanilla stevia

Method:

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender (one that can crush ice).  Turn on high and blend until smooth and creamy, stirring occasionally if necessary.  Add a little more almond milk, if necessary.  Adjust the amount of vanilla stevia to suit your taste. Yum!

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.

Raw Pizza Crackers

We made these raw crackers in this week’s Cooking for Health Class, and they are delicious! Serve them with a dip, hummus, or eat them plain.  You will enjoy the pizza flavor which can be enhanced by adding garlic or red pepper flakes if you like your pizza spicy.  The recipe makes two full trays of crackers.  The photo shows how many crackers you will get from one recipe (of course that depends on how big you make them, too).  Easy to make ahead so take some to the next party  — enough for yourself and to share!                                                                                                   20130403_180507 Pizza Crackers

Ingredients:

2 cups ground flaxseed

2/3 cup whole flaxseed

2 large skinned plum tomatoes

2 Tbs. Italian Seasoning

1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

2 Tbs. nutritional yeast

1 1/3 cups whole raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup sesame seeds

2 cups water (add up to 1/2 cup more, a little at a time, if needed)

Optional additions:  garlic powder, red pepper flakes, onion powder, chopped fresh basil

Nothing needs to be soaked.  Simply mix all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.

Spread 1/2 batter on each of two dehydrator trays covered with teflex sheets or parchment paper.  Use the back of a spoon to spread batter evenly about 1/4 inch, thick keeping batter as square as possible.  (If you have a round dehydrator you could drop batter by spoon and spread into individual rounds).

Dehydrate at 115 degrees for about 2 hours. They should be starting to harden.  At this point, take a sharp knife and score the crackers (don’t cut all the way through) into squares or triangles as big as you want them to be. (If you score the crackers now they will be easier to break apart when finished).

Pizza Crackers on Tray

Lower temperature and dehydrate at 105 degrees for 6 – 8 hours, until crackers are firm enough to move (go to work, go to school, go to bed).  Remove teflex sheet (some of the crackers may separate along scored lines…that’s okay), and continue to dehydrate at 105 degrees on mesh dehydrator tray until crackers are completely dry and crisp.

Separate crackers along scored lines.

These can be stored in an air-tight jar in your pantry for weeks…but they won’t last that long!

Easter Onigiri

Onigiri may be new to Americans, but in Japan it is a common snack and bento box lunch treat for kids. Usually, they are small round or triangular rice balls filled with vegetable surprises.  Onigiri is an ancient food that history tells us was wrapped in leaves and carried by Samuri warriors into battle.  Today, making the cutest Onigiri, shaped and decorated like animals or people, has become somewhat of a crafty competition among Japanese mothers when preparing school lunches.

Easter Onigiri

With Easter approaching I was inspired to try making something I’d never seen — Easter Onigiri! It was a little tricky getting the colors I wanted naturally, without going the standard food coloring route, but I think these turned out pretty cute.  They’re really not that hard to make and would be a fun project to do with the kids.  What a colorful addition to an Easter buffet table instead of the usual hard-boiled eggs — and no messy eggshells to deal with!

Ingredients:

1 cup sushi rice

3 Tbs. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. evaporated cane sugar

1 1/4 sea salt

1 sheet nori (to cut up for decorating)

Fillings:  1/2 inch slices canned baby corn, pickled radish (yummy!), red bell pepper, thawed frozen corn, diced avocado, etc.

I recommend making one color rice at a time.  To make the different colors you will need:

1 tsp. Turmeric – yellow

1 tsp. red beet powder (I’m sure Hallelujah Acres BeetMax* would work, too. You may have to adjust the amount to get the color you want) – pink

1 Tbs. Hallelujah Acres BarleyMax* – green (For brightest color, in a shaker cup put 1 ice-cube the BarleyMax and enough water to measure 1 1/2 cup. Shake vigorously until ice-cube dissolves. Add mixture, foam and all, to rice and cook as directed)

If you want to decorate white eggs, then add no coloring.

Method:

Rinse and drain rice several times (It takes about 5 times until the water is no longer cloudy). Place in a heavy saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and whatever coloring you choose. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to med/low. Simmer 12 minutes (don’t peek!) Remove from heat and let stand 1 minute.

Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl whisk together rice vinegar, sugar, and sea salt. Mix in the hot rice until the liquid is absorbed. Spread on a foil covered baking sheet to cool for about 5 minutes.

Place a square of plastic wrap over a 1/2 c. custard bowl. Scoop a spoonful of rice into center of plastic wrap making a thumbprint indentation. Fill indentation with your choice of fillings. Cover with another spoonful of rice and pull up sides of plastic wrap. Twist and squeeze wrap around rice, forming a tight, smooth egg shape around filling. Unwrap and place onigiri on a large flat plate.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Decorate Onigiri with cut up nori.  Have a bowl of water nearby to glue down nori decorations.  If rice sticks to your fingers wet them to solve that problem.  I used die cut stamps (the kind used for scrapbooking) to stamp out flower and duck shapes, and a paper punch for little dots. Be creative — go wild!

*www.hacres.com

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 🙂

Raw Vegetable and Nut Cereal

We call this cereal, but it’s really a salad disguised as breakfast.  It’s the strangest and healthiest breakfast cereal I have ever LOVED!  This recipe doesn’t contain any actual cereal at all, but oddly enough, it does have a granola-like texture and taste.  I promise, it is really good — the teenagers in our house have been known to eat three bowls full!  This simple recipe makes enough for several generous servings and will keep in your refrigerator for a couple of days (if it lasts that long).

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup carrot

1/4 cup pecans or almonds

1/2 cup cauliflower

1 cup broccoli

1/2 apple (peeled if not organic)

Method:

Cut vegetables into chunks.  Chop carrots for about four seconds in food processor.  Add other ingredients to processor and pulse until desired texture is reached (pieces about the size of granola).  That’s it — wasn’t that easy?

Pour all in a bowl, and top with maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice) and pour almond or soy milk over top.

Optional: Sprinkle raisins and/or cinnamon on top.