Zucchini Chips

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Do you have an overabundance of zucchini in your garden right now? Are your friends and neighbors starting to avoid you because they can’t accept any more of your extra zucchini “gifts?” Well, this recipe will help you to easily preserve your harvest without using up any freezer storage space (or annoying your friends). When you pull out these raw zucchini chips on a cold winter night people will gobble them down like they’ve never seen zucchini before in their life.

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When you have a large bowl of sliced raw zucchini it’s time to make the marinade. (You may have to make several batches of marinade in order to coat all the slices).

Ingredients:

1 TBS. olive oil

2 TBS. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 TBS nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor)

Extra nutritional yeast to sprinkle on top

Pour the marinade over the chips and gently toss them to coat. Make sure that each slice is coated. It helps to slide a coated slice over an uncoated one, front and back, to get the flavor onto each chip. Make more marinade as needed and repeat the process until all slices are coated.

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Arrange the coated slices in a single layer on the mesh dehydrator trays making sure that they do not touch each other. Lightly sprinkle more nutritional yeast on top of each slice. In order to maintain a raw chip dehydrate at only 110 degrees for 10 – 12 hours. I usually dehydrate overnight and then check them in the morning. Add more time if necessary. They are done when all the chips are dry and crisp.

Allow the finished chips to cool in the dehydrator before storing them in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. These will stay crisp and tasty for months stored this way, and you can enjoy your fresh garden produce any time of the year. Zucchini chips are great for parties and healthy lunchbox treats, too!

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Fresh, green veggies… enjoy zucchini all year long!

 

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YOUR PERSONAL SALAD BAR

   20160627_185707 salad fixins

 

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!

Beauty of Sprouts

   It’s been some time since I’ve posted a restaurant review, but while vacationing in Florida we came upon a new restaurant that simply must be recognized. If you try to eat vegan, or even just healthfully, then you know how difficult it is to find a restaurant that meets your needs. Even vegetarian restaurants bury their entrées in cheese. Eating a vegan meal when out on the town can stretch your creativity to the limit.

   Today we were fortunate enough to stumble upon Beauty of Sprouts, 1474 Fruitville Rd. Sarasota, FL; 941-350-8449. Chef  Rano has worked at Rockefeller Center and is an award winning chef in her native Russia. Her menu features all vegan, mostly raw, dishes that are lovingly prepared and artfully presented at reasonable prices. Fresh healthy sprouts are the highlight of each dish.

   As an appetizer, we ordered guacamole with spicy dehydrated crackers. The portion was generous enough for two hungry people to nosh on while we waited for our entrées, and we devoured it all. My husband also ordered the mildly seasoned, sprouted hot mung bean soup, because he eats likes to eat soup whenever he can get it. As an entrée he had the vegan burrito, which was wrapped in a chard leaf instead of a flour tortilla. He liked the filling of fresh veggies and side of salsa, but left the chard leaf on the plate — just his personal preference. I had the raw vegan Pad Thai. It was scrumptious! A mountain of thinly sliced cabbage and carrots, kelp noodles and cashews all served in a tangy sauce. I loved it! Several beverage options are on the menu, including some unique teas and homemade Kombucha, but as we were feeling dehydrated after a day of vacation fun we chose the restaurant’s own purified, ionized, alkalinized water to drink. We topped off our meal with a lovely raw lavender crème brulee for dessert. The serving was deceivingly small but filling, and you don’t want to miss this sweet taste of heaven!

   If you like chatting with the friendly chef, clean bright surroundings, and nutritious food, then you will surely enjoy Beauty of Sprouts. This was definitely the healthiest meal of our entire  vacation. We like to eat nutritionally dense food and also to get the most nutrition for our dollar. Beauty of Sprouts meets both criteria. If you ever want a delicious, guilt-free meal in Sarasota, then this is the place for you!

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!

 

Tomato Chips

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!

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!

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.

Raw Cranberry/Almond Cookies

It’s almost Christmas, and you still want to make some cookies — but they have to be vegan…and healthy…but still taste great.  Hmm, this recipe can meet all those requirements and your friends will ask for the recipe.  You can feel good about serving these raw cookies, and you won’t spend all day in the kitchen either; quick, easy, and delicious!

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal

1 cup rolled oats

2 cups dried cranberries*

5 pitted dates

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp. almond flavoring (or 1/4 tsp amaretto oil candy flavoring)

Method:

Soak dates and cranberries in distilled water (just enough to cover) for 2 hrs. Grind oats in food processor until fine. Drain dates and cranberries. Add remaining ingredients and process thoroughly to form a dough.

Roll into small balls and roll each ball into more almond meal. Refrigerate until serving. Keeps up to two weeks in the frig.

* This is a very versatile recipe. I have substituted dried cherries for half the cranberries, and you could probably use half light raisins, too.

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!

Raw Carrot Apple Cookies

This is another great way to use carrot pulp leftover from juicing.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can bake them in a  low temperature oven.  I did this for years before I had a dehydrator, but you must keep an eye on them.  If they do actually bake, they will still be yummy, full of fiber and nutrition,  just not raw.  Still a healthy cookie you can feel good about snacking on or giving to the kids.

Raw Carrot Apple Cookies

carrot/apple pulp (leftover from juicing)

soaked ground buckwheat groats OR soaked rolled oats

ground flaxseed

sprinkle of stevia powder (very potent, a little goes a long way!) or a little honey

dash sea salt

ground almond meal

raw sesame seeds

raw sunflower seeds

chopped almonds

chopped dried fruit, your choice ( I used papaya and cherries)

about ¼ c. water with 1 ½ Tbsp, lemon juice

Soak grains in water (not too much) about 20 mins.. Add remaining ingredients; use your own judgment to make a moist dough.  Mix thoroughly using a wooden spoon. Shape and press dough into cookie shapes on teflex or parchment paper sheets.  Dehydrate until they resemble a moist cookie (4 – 6 hours) – not too long or they will be very tough.  If necessary flip and dehydrate on the other side until done.

You can vary this recipe by substituting whatever ingredients you have on hand for the nuts and seeds (poppy seeds, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seed, coconut, etc.) and chopped dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, currants, dates, etc.). Be creative – these cookies never come out the same twice!