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.

What Does a Vegan Eat for Breakfast?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This may be a simple question for some to answer, but believe it or not, it is a real delemma for people trying to transition to a plant-based lifestyle. They are confused about what to eat in the morning. Changing lifelong habits can be baffling, especially when you first wake up. This is understandable if you are used to the standard bacon and egg breakfast or a quick doughnut and coffee grabbed on the way to work. If you are not a morning person and don’t wake up with the energy and motivation to follow a recipe and actually cook your first meal of the day, then your plan to eat more healthfully can be derailed before the day even begins. Here to help are some suggestions for easy plant-based breakfasts that require little to no preparation:

First of all, think outside the box. What leftovers are in your frig.? Leftover cooked brown rice, quinoa, corn grits, barley or millet sweetened with maple syrup or rice syrup and topped with fruit, nuts, seeds and any plant milk you prefer is a healthy alternative to boxed cereal. You can eat this cold or warm — it will be delicious either way.

Muesli is a raw whole grain cereal usually made from oats combined with dried fruit, nuts and seeds. It is more expensive than granola in the stores, but it is simple to make in large batches, so all you need to do in the morning is scoop some into a bowl. Here is an easy-to-make-ahead muesli recipe: https://vegtutor.com/2020/08/05/homemade-muesli/

For an even more basic breakfast idea: raw fruit and nuts can’t be beat. If you prefer, you may substitute natural nut butter instead of nuts and use it as a dip for sliced whole fruit. All natural, and so simple that even a child can prepare it! Each of these ideas contains enough protein to keep you fueled all morning, and that is important. A little protein in each meal will help you avoid food cravings between meals.

Toasted wholegrain bread or bagel topped with mashed ripe avocado, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt is another option for those who want something more savory.

Photo by Kasumi Loffler on Pexels.com

Of course, you could always go the way of veggie bacon and egg substitutes, and that is okay for a rare treat, but not every day. Fake animal substitutes are overly processed and should not be a regular part of your healthy diet. If you habitually use fake animal foods as a crutch, then you will never learn to appreciate the flavors and health benefits of real whole plant foods… the foods your body was designed to thrive on. If you train yourself to eat as close to the garden as possible, you can’t go wrong!

August Zucchini Casserole

If you garden, you are probably up to your eyeballs in summer produce by now. We currently don’t have room for a garden where we live, and I do miss growing my own veggies. There is just something so primal about digging in the warm earth and nurturing your own nutrition to life. I guess you can take the girl out of the garden, but you can’t take the garden out of the girl! Fortunately, we have generous friends that are willing to share their bounty with us. Thanks Mary and Rohn! And, that’s how this simple and economical recipe was born.

Ingredients:

2 – 3 zucchini, thinly sliced

2 – 3 peppers (red or green), diced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 – 3 large tomatoes, diced (include the juice)

1 – 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup shredded veggie cheese of your choice

Herbamare for seasoning

Vegan parmesan and Italian herbs (garlic, basil, oregano) for topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Use a 13 x 9 inch glass casserole dish. Spread about 1 Tbsp olive oil in the bottom of the dish.

Layer one half of the zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and all the chickpeas.

Season with Italian herbs and Herbamare

Spread shredded veggie cheese over all.

Then layer the remaining half of the zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes and a final layer of zucchini.

Drizzle some olive oil over top, just a tablespoon or two (or you can spray some over the top)

Season with Italian herbs, Herbamare, and veggie parmesan. (You can make your own with this recipe: Vegan “Parmesan Cheese”)

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1-1/4 hours.

Veggie Quinoa Casserole (serves two)

If you have never tried quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”), here are some things to consider:

Quinoa is one of the least allergenic grains. It contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, and it is a plant protein source of all 9 essential amino acids. Technically a seed, quinoa is nutritionally dense and gluten free. It is an excellent grain substitute for anyone suffering with celiac disease. In addition, the fiber in quinoa acts as a prebiotic by providing food for your beneficial gut flora. If you have a sensitive tummy or live with an inflammatory digestive condition like colitis, you know how important all these factors are to your diet and comfort.

This Veggie Quinoa Casserole is an easy protein-packed main dish that will satisfy even a meat-eater. The recipe serves 2, but I tripled it because I knew people would want seconds.

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

2 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup diced firm tofu (press to drain)

1/4 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Directions:

Place uncooked quinoa in a sieve and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Drain.

Press tofu between two paper towel-lined plates with a heavy can of something on top to drain for about 1/2 hour.

  • In a medium sauce pan, bring 1 cup vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in drained quinoa and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, broccoli florets, and tofu cubes. Stir for one minute, then cover and steam over low heat for two minutes.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup vegetable broth, mushrooms, and spinach. Cover and cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are soft and the spinach is wilted (about 3 minutes).
  • Stir the vegetable/tofu mixture into the cooked quinoa. Cover, and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Season with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos if desired.

YOUR PERSONAL SALAD BAR

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You want to eat a healthy meal, but when you arrive home famished the last thing you want to do is spend the next 20 – 30 minutes preparing a fresh salad. You want to eat now! All that washing, chopping, slicing, and dicing veggies each time for a salad is time consuming. All home cooking takes time, but it’s time well spent for your health, and you are worth it — even if you’re cooking for just one person. So, before you give in to the temptation to pop some kind of prepared fast food into the microwave or open yet another can of soup, STOP! There is a more excellent way!

You probably already know that it is wise to cook once to eat twice. This smart idea can be applied to preparing fresh salads, too. You simply need a plan — a specific block of time for food preparation. It is just as easy to prepare veggies for six salads as for one. Your chosen block of time can be any time that is convenient for you, when you are not hungry — before or after work, when the kids are napping or while watching evening TV. And, don’t just stand in the kitchen in silence while you slice and dice (unless you are using this time for prayer or meditation, too). Put on some music, listen to a podcast, practice your French — make it fun!

I have seen those huge salad boxes that people make up once a week for their various salad ingredients, but honestly, most people don’t have that much space in their refrigerator — I know I don’t. I do however, have a couple of plastic relish trays with eight sections each. Each tray has a lid, so they are stackable — what a space saver! When you have your favorite salad ingredients already prepared and waiting to be thrown on top of a heaping handful of triple-washed ready-to-eat greens, eating healthy fresh salads will no longer be a chore you dread. You will be your very own raw chef at a gourmet salad bar featuring only your personal favorites (none of those icky raw onions). It’s all about you, and you are worth it!

Excellent “Chicken” Salad

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This is a wonderful vegan “chicken” flavored sandwich spread that is great for school or work lunches. Packed with protein, taste, and crunch it satisfies on every level. Even if you have a nut allergy, you can still enjoy this scrumptious “chicken” salad with no fear– simply substitute raw cauliflower for the nuts.

 

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Ingredients:

1- 15 oz. can chick peas, rinse and drain

1 handful each of almonds and cashews OR an equal amount of chopped raw cauliflower.

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

4 – 5 Tbsp. Vegenaise

2 tsp. prepared mustard

1/8 – 1/4  tsp. ginger powder

1/8 – 1/4 tsp. Adobo seasoning salt

pepper to taste

1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)

Method:

Chop scallions and celery (and cauliflower if using) — set aside.

Blend remaining ingredients in food processor ( blend only enough to chop — you want it kind of chunky, not creamy).

Place blended ingredients in a bowl and add chopped scallions and celery (and cauliflower). Mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

Makes 6 – 8 great sandwiches!

Turmeric Pickled Cauliflower*

Turmeric, and its active component curcumin, has been used for thousands of years in India, and recent research confirms that its anti-inflammatory properties can be helpful in the treatment of many conditions. Turmeric also gives food a warm golden color.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables belong to the Brassica genus and include: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels spouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, watercress, and wasabi. These plant powerhouses contain potent antioxidants which may reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. Their anti-viral, anti-bacterial effects have been shown to fight illness and inhibit tumor growth.

This simple recipe incorporates both of these natural disease fighters. Tart and tangy, serve it cold as a salad topper or as a colorful addition to a relish tray.

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Ingredients:

1 large head cauliflower

1 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 cups warm water

3 TBS. Sugar (cuts the acid)

2 TBS. Kosher salt

2 tsp. ground turmeric

1 dry bay leaf

1 Mason jar

Disinfect Mason jar before beginning by placing it in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds.

Cut cauliflower into small florets that are evenly sized. Place florets into Mason jar and set aside.

In a small pot, add turmeric, bay leaf, salt, and sugar. Once dry ingredients are combined, add water and vinegar, creating a brine.

Bring your brine to a boil over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes.

Pour boiling brine into your Mason jar to cover cauliflower.

Seal and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

20160321_083322 pickled cauliflower

 

*Courtesy of Ellie Kahlon and Matthew Weisberg, Novo Mediterranean Restaurant, 37 Chestnut St., Ridgewood, NJ. 201-444-4910; novomediterranean.com

 

 

 

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!

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.