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

 

 

 

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!

 

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.

Crunchy Garden Salad

Do you ever get tired of leafy green salads?  With gardens producing just about every vegetable imaginable right now you might want to throw together a colorful vegetable salad that contains no lettuce at all.  The ingredients in this crunchy salad can be altered to accommodate whatever vegetables you have on hand; for a surprising burst of flavor throw in your choice of olives (I like kalamata olives), pickles, banana peppers, or sun-dried tomatoes.

It will be more flavorful if you steam the heavier, more dense vegetables for a few minutes — not too long, just until the color brightens but they still retain some crispiness. Any Italian salad dressing will work well, and it always tastes better the next day after flavors have had time to marinate. Makes a great lunch!

Ingredients:

1/2 head cauliflower florets

1 stalk broccoli florets

2 carrots, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, sliced

2 red radishes, thinly sliced

1 pint halved cherry tomatoes

1 ear fresh corn kernels (sliced off the cob)

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Optional: (any or all) olives, dill pickles, banana peppers, sun-dried tomatoes

Lightly steam cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots until just crisp tender (they will be easier to chew and absorb more flavor if steamed). Cool quickly in very cold water and drain.  Place in a large bowl, add other ingredients and your favorite Italian dressing. Toss to coat everything with dressing and allow to marinate for best flavor (good to make the day before). Serve cold.

Makes 10 – 12 servings

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!

Hearty “Chicken” Garden Soup

This soup is a melange of colorful garden vegetables and comfort food flavor with just a hint of hot cayenne pepper to spice it up.  As healthy as it is beautiful, this recipe will make the most of summer’s bounty all in one pot — sure to be a keeper!

In a large pot:

Lightly saute 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1 Tbsp oil (or 1/4 cup water for low fat)

Add:

4 cups water and 1 (32 0z) container Imagine brand “No Chicken Broth,” and bring to a boil.

All at once add remaining ingredients:

3 stalks celery, chopped

4 carrots, cut into chunks

2 large orange bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium zucchini (10 – 12 inches), cut in half lengthwise then cut into 1/4″ slices

1 large bunch kale, stalks removed and leaves chopped

1 Tbsp. whole fennel seeds

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. turmeric

1 – 2 tsp. gray Celtic sea salt (or to taste)

Simmer all ingredients together for 15 – 20 minutes.  Add 1 package chopped Light Life brand  “Chicken” Strips during the final 5 minutes of cooking (just to heat thoroughly).

Serve hot.  (Makes about 8 generous servings)

Crockpot Sweet Potato Soup

This is a wonderful fall recipe; the color, aroma, and taste are all the best autumn has to offer.  It’s the perfect way to warm up on a crisp cool evening.  This soup can either be made on the stove or in a crockpot.  I like to throw all the ingredients in the crockpot just before leaving for work — what a stress reliever to come home to the smell of dinner only minutes from serving!

Ingredients:

1 c. celery, chopped

1/2 c. onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

32 oz. Imagine “No-Chicken Broth”

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. honey or maple syrup

Method:

Saute celery and onion in olive oil until tender.  Put sautéed mixture in crockpot and add all other ingredients. Cook on High for 8 – 9 hours (until you return home).

Remove bay leaf. Puree cooked mixture with a submersible stick blender.  (Or if you have extra time, cool cooked mixture and puree in batches in blender.)

Add: 16 oz. rice milk, 3 scoops rice “Better Than Milk,”  3/4 tsp. cinnamon and puree again until creamy.  Add more rice milk if soup is too thick.

Serve hot topped with chopped walnuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, croutons, or chopped scallions.

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.

Dr. Springer’s Soup

This is a recipe that my mother made often.  She said she got it from the radio during the Great Depression when everyone was living off the produce they grew in their home gardens.   (I have no idea who Dr. Springer was.)  When I was growing up this soup was always served with a peanut butter sandwich on the side, and I still think that’s a delicious combination.

This makes a simple, satisfying vegetable soup with minimal ingredients that should be in every kitchen. It is fine as is, or the recipe can be used as a base for a more elaborate soup by using any of the “Tips for Making Vegetable Soup.”  I hope you like it.

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 – 4 carrots, sliced

3 – 4 stalks celery, sliced

3 – 4 potatoes, peeled and 1 inch cubed

1 qt. stewed tomatoes

Method:

Saute chopped onions in olive oil for about two minutes.

Add all other ingredients and enough water to cover the vegetables by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer,  and cover.  Cook until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper.