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.

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

 

 

 

Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Pasta

Zucchini Tomato Pasta

So, it’s August and every gardener has more zucchini than recipes and more cherry tomatoes than any salad can hold. Here is a simple meal that only takes 15 – 20 minutes to prepare using all your garden abundance. Strikingly beautiful on the plate, I served it as a warm salad on a plate of fresh arugala for even more color and vitamins, but I think any dark leafy greens would work as well.

While you are preparing the vegetables, cook 2 cups small pasta according to package directions (shells, elbow macaroni, or spirals work well). Drain well. Add a few drops of olive oil, and toss to keep pasta from sticking together

. Ingredients:

1 medium size zucchini, cubed

2 cups cherry tomatoes, whole (they will soften as they cook and pop when you chew them — I like that)

2 TBS. Olive oil

1 TBS. Minced garlic (fresh or bottled)

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. dry Italian seasoning

Herbamare (seasoned salt) or Himalayan pink salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 – 5 TBS. Marinara sauce

Feta cheese, or cheese substitute for topping (optional)*

Method:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and garlic; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Season with Herbamare and pepper. Add red pepper flakes and dry Italian seasoning. When vegetables are tender add the marinara sauce and heat through. Add the cooked pasta to the vegetables in your skillet and mix gently. Serve warm on a bed of greens.

*If desired, top with feta cheese or feta substitute (There is good recipe for vegan feta,”Betta Feta,” in The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, by Jo Stepaniak; Book Publishing Company, Green Press Initiative, 2003).

Homemade Vegetable Wash (Spray or Soak)

I have to admit that it just breaks my heart to spend a big chunk of my food budget on veggie wash.  Those tiny spray bottles of veggie wash never seem to last long the way I use it, and plain water just doesn’t do the job for soaking leafy greens. Here are two simple solutions you can make at home with common household products you probably already have on hand. They cost only pennies to make and work really well.  (You should refrigerate the spray because it contains fresh lemon juice)

SPRAY:

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. baking soda

1 cup water

SOAK:

1/4 cup vinegar

2 Tbsp. salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. SPRAY: Put all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake gently to mix (it will foam). Spray on vegetables or fruit and allow to sit for 2-5 minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry.

2. SOAK: Fill a clean basin or sink with cold water. Add vinegar and salt, then stir until salt dissolves. Place vegetables or fruit in sink and allow to sit for 25 – 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water and dry.

These ideas came from http://www.food.com where you can find even more great recipes and money-saving hints.

Vegetarian Food Prep: Make it Easy

One of the comments I often hear is that vegetarian cooking takes so long and is so inconvenient.  I agree. All that chopping, slicing, and dicing is time consuming, but YOU ARE WORTH IT, so take all the time you need to be healthy. Better health for you and your family starts in the kitchen.

I would like to share some things I’ve learned that make preparing healthy foods a little quicker and easier:

–First of all, PLEASE, don’t cook for only one meal.  It is just as easy to make 10 cups of brown rice as it is to prepare 2 cups, so make a big pot and save the leftovers for future meals.  If you won’t use it all this week you can easily freeze leftovers to use next week or even next month.

–The same goes for dried beans; make more than you need and freeze the leftovers. I like to freeze two cup portions in plastic freezer bags for use later.

–Cleaning and peeling vegetables is best done when you have a big chunk of time, but I like to peel a 5 lb. bag of organic carrots as soon as I bring it home so that fresh carrots are always available for juicing and recipes.

–Romaine lettuce also gets washed as soon as it hits the kitchen; separate the leaves and let them soak in the sink with cold water and a little vinegar while you put the rest of your groceries away.  After draining, roll the leaves in a clean dishtowel, put it in a plastic bag, and store in the frig until you’re ready to make a salad or sandwich.  You’ll be surprised how fresh and crisp it stays this way!

–Don’t be afraid to buy in bulk.  Raw tomatoes (whole, cored), raw peppers and onions (chopped), and raw peas and berries (whole, washed) can be frozen with little preparation, and can make individual meal preparation go faster if you have them on hand.

–Finally, considering how mind-numbing a task chopping, slicing, and dicing is, consider multi-tasking.  You can put the phone on speaker and still have both hands free.  Or, USE that wasted time in front of the TV — chop the vegetables you will need for tomorrow’s supper tonight while watching your favorite show.  You’ll be so glad you did this when you get home tomorrow after work, and all that meal prep is already done!

I hope these ideas to make eating for better health faster and easier are helpful to you.  If you have any other time- saving ideas, please share them!

Tips for Making Vegetable Soup

_Add carrot pulp (leftover from juicing) to soup for more fiber.

_Thicken soup easily with instant mashed potato flakes.

_Always add enough water or broth to cover the vegetables by at least 2 inches.

_Some cubed pumpkin or squash may be added along with the vegetables for even more nutrition to tomato based soups without altering the flavor too much.

_With a submersible stick blender, puree half the soup for dairy-free cream of vegetable soup.

_Another way to make a creamy vegetable soup is to puree a can of rinsed and drained cannelini beans and add to the broth.

_Add chopped sea vegetables (kombu or nori) for additional flavor and minerals.

_ Saute onion in a little oil as the first step to add flavor and creaminess.

_When soup is done check the seasoning and make appropriate adjustments.

_For more protein 1/2 cup dried lentils or split peas can be added along with the raw vegetables (no presoaking necessary for these small legumes).

_Drained and rinsed canned larger beans (kidney, black, navy, pinto, pinto, or lima) can be added along with the vegetables.  Dried beans, however, must be presoaked and cooked before they can be added to a vegetable soup.

_ 1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or red wine vinegar will make all the flavors pop 🙂

_Finally, at the end of cooking soup you may add any leftover cooked vegetables, rice, or pasta that have accumulated in your refrigerator over the last few days.  This adds taste and variety and is a thrifty and creative way to use leftovers.

Vegan “Parmesan Cheese”

This is an exciting recipe I discovered while viewing a recent cooking demo on http://www.therenegadehealthshow.com . (I highly recommend this site.)

We all know how expensive commercial brands of veggie cheese are, so I couldn’t wait to try this recipe.  I made it last night to serve on tofu stuffed shells, and it was great.  You can make a larger batch to keep on hand. It’s simple and stores well in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

5 large Brazil nuts, rough chopped

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste (I found that 1/2 tsp. works well)

Grind the nuts.  Add sea salt and nutritional yeast, and grind again.  Done!

Is that easy, or what?

Freeze Your Tomato Harvest

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I grew up helping my mother can tomatoes the old fashioned way. We spent hours skinning the tomatoes in boiling water, sterilizing glass quart jars, and then processing the tomato-filled jars in a boiling water bath and waiting to hear the “pop” as each jar cooled and sealed. It was an all day project that most gardeners endured in order to enjoy the fruit of their labor during the long winter months.

Later, as a young wife, my mother-in-law taught me how to freeze fresh tomatoes. It still involved skinning the tomatoes in boiling water, and then slicing them into eighths. But, instead of the canning process, you just had to pack and freeze them in plastic quart containers. I thought this system was a real time saver, and did it that way for years.

Imagine my surprise when I learned just last year that there is a MUCH simpler way to freeze all the tomatoes we harvest from our garden, and now this is how I do it:

First, wash and core (cut out the stem end) your whole tomatoes.

Place the cored tomatoes on a tray with sides (leave a little space around each one — you don’t want them to touch) and place the tray in the freezer. (notice that you DO NOT have to peel the tomatoes). IMG_0177

When they are completely frozen (like the next day), put the whole frozen tomatoes in a gallon size plastic freezer bag, zip closed, and store in the freezer until needed.

When you are ready to use, simply remove however many tomatoes you need and hold each one under hot running water. The skin will easily slip off the frozen tomato. Then let them defrost just long enough to be able to slice or chop.

That’s it! You can easily fit this method of preserving your tomato harvest into even the busiest day and be satisfied with the results.

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Recipe: Greek Salad Dressing (+ Salad)

This is an easy dressing that you can mix up in minutes with common ingredients you already have in your kitchen. It’s the best!

Ingredients:

1/3 c. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. of chopped fresh dill OR 1 Tbsp. dry dill weed

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Whisk all above ingredients together until well blended.

Then add 2/3  – 3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, and whisk again.

Serve over a salad that includes Romaine lettuce, sliced sweet onion, sliced green bell peppers, cucumbers, black Greek olives (Kalamata), and tomatoes. Top with crumbled feta cheese (look for vegetarian) if desired.

( Note: Sometimes I toss everything above with cooled cooked wholegrain pasta to make a complete meal.)

SHARON’S TOFU

   I am not a tofu fan, but my friend, Sharon, gave me this VERY EASY recipe for tofu cutlets that really does taste delicious, and takes so little time to prepare with just a few ingredients, too.  Even a non-tofu fan will enjoy this recipe.

Sauce:*

1/2 Tbsp. grated ginger (Hint: freeze a whole ginger root, and peel and grate as needed)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup sugar (I use honey — a little less)

thinly sliced leeks, onions, or scallions

   *In a hurry? Just skip the first three ingredients and use bottled BBQ sauce.

   Slice tofu very thin. Fry, in a little oil, on one side. Brush on sauce. Flip. Brush sauce on other side. Fry on this side, and remove tofu to a warm plate. Fry thinly sliced leek, onion, or scallions in same pan for just a short time and serve over tofu.  

   Done! There, wasn’t that easy?