Not Organic?

Not Organic?

A friend of mine assumed that I only consume organic food made from scratch. That is very far from the truth.  Unless you grow your own food, you are eating processed food.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are minimally processed and meat substitutes and nut milks are heavily processed.  Most of us don’t have the means or the knowledge to grow our own food.  Although I eat a lot of fruit, vegetables and whole grains,  I certainly do consume my fair share of seitan, pea protein, nut cheese and some soy based products.  I just don’t have to time to make my own.  With an active family and schedule, I don’t feel bad about that.

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Grilled Eggplant, Red Pepper & Red Onions

Fruits and vegetables do not have to be organic.  I used to follow the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) Dirty 15 rule  because it ranked produce with a percentage of pesticides found after harvesting.  But, according to the Journal of Toxicology (article), some pesticides are more toxic than others and they are not all equal.  So, I try to buy organic when possible.  But, sometimes stores are low in organic inventory or the non-organic produce looks fresher than the organic.  A good washing of non-organic fruits and veggies removes most pesticides.  Simply eating more fruits and vegetables is beneficial along with a balanced diet.

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Orgain Vanilla Almond Milk

My husband and my kids are not vegan.  They consume mostly organic eggs, milk, chicken and fish at home.  But, the kids get fast food when they are out with friends and we go to restaurants that do not serve organic meat and dairy.

According to the Washington Post, there are two main differences between organic and conventional animal products.  One is what the animals are eating and the other is the level of Omega 3’s.  I do care what the animals are eating and not so much about the Omega 3 levels.  (article)

Organic milk, eggs and meat come from cows that are pasture raised and grass fed and free range chickens that are not fed animal or poultry by-prodcuts.  I just feel better buying organic animal products, but when we go out…

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Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burger Salad.  See below for recipe.

As long as you are eating a diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruit and grains with some protein (animal or plant based), you are on the right track.  If that diet includes organic foods, even better!  I would love to be the perfect, puritanical, organic, and unprocessed vegan but I’m not and I’m okay with that!

Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burger Salad

1 package Morningstar Farms Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burgers (4 patties)

2 C Mushrooms, washed

2 Medium Tomatoes, washed

1 Medium Yellow or Red Pepper, washed and deseeded

2 T Garden Gourmet Basil Paste (or fresh basil if available)

2 T Olive Oil

1/2 t garlic powder

Salt to taste

Cook burgers according to the package.  While they are cooking, add olive oil, basil paste, garlic powder and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Chop mushrooms, peppers and tomato into one inch pieces.  When burgers are done cooking, cut them into one inch pieces and add them and the veggies to the mixture in the bowl.  Mix well so the dressing coats all the pieces and serve. This recipe serves two.

As Requested

As Requested

A lot of you have asked for my easy Veggie Chili recipe.  I have been making this Chili for years.  When I became a vegan three years ago, I switched to vegan meat crumbles.  The Morningstar crumbles contain egg whites and are not vegan.  I have also done a variation of this chili with onions too.  Saute the onions first before following the recipe.  This recipe is very simple and very delicious.  I hope you like it!

Veggie Chili

1 package Morningstar “Meat” Crumbles or Beyond Meat Vegan Crumbles

1 red or orange red pepper diced

1 can red bean kidney beans (washed and drained)

1 can tomato sauce

1 large tomato cut into half-inch pieces

1 tsp garlic powder

1tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

Juice of half a lime

Red chili flakes to garnish

Salt to taste

Spray a medium pan with oil spray.  Add meat crumbles to the pan, on medium heat, saute the crumbles until soft and slightly browner, about 5-6 minutes.  Add diced peppers to the pan, let peppers cook with crumbles for about two minutes.  Add the tomato sauce, tomato, garlic, chili, cumin, lime juice and salt.  Stir the chili well.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about ten minutes.  Garnish with red pepper flakes  and serve with tortilla chips or warm tortillas.  If you are vegetarian, add some grated sharp cheddar or monetery jack cheese.  If you are vegan, add grated Chao vegan cheddar cheese.

 

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Cauliflower Crush

Cauliflower Crush

 

I love cauliflower.  It tastes good, its satisfying and its low in calories.  This dish keeps me happy and keeps me from snacking after dinner.  I am always looking for new ways to make cauliflower.  Most of my recipes are unintentional.  Meaning, they come about because of what I have in my fridge or pantry!  This dish was accidental, but it is really good if you like spicy Buffalo sauce.  Other vegan buffalo cauliflower dishes have breading, but my version is tasty without the extra calories.  I may try a breaded version after I am back to running my usual mileage and injury free!

 

Spicy Tangy Buffalo Cauliflower

1 head of Cauliflower, washed and cut into 2 inch florets

2 T olive oil

1/4 C Buffalo sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot, mine is a grocery store brand)

4 T Nutritional yeast

1/2 t garlic powder

2-3 T water

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, coat cauliflower florets in the olive oil until all pieces are coated.

Roast cauliflower for about 20 minutes until they turn soft and have a little color on the tops. Turning them over once halfway, after 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as oven temperatures vary.

In a small bowl, mix together buffalo sauce, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, water and salt.  If your sauce is too thick, add another tablespoon of water.

Pour the mixture on the hot cauliflower and serve with your favorite bread, grains or legumes.

This dish serves around 4 people.  And has approximately 130 calories per serving.

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Spicy Tangy Buffalo Cauliflower

 

 

Already November?

Already November?

Hello November!  I can’t believe the year is almost over.  I have finally gotten around to writing down recipes from my previous blog post “Cooking”.  For those of you asking for those recipes…so sorry for the delay.

I cook by the seat of my pants.  Whatever is in the vegetable drawer or is close to expiring, dictates the meal!  When I was a Food Service Director, we operated very differently.  The menu drove inventory purchases.  We had a 4 week menu and usually didn’t deviate unless something was going bad.  Then of course, we had a daily special!  Why don’t I do the same thing at home?  Well, I guess I like the spontaneity and I may be a little lazy.  I hope these recipes help you.

I am always looking for ways to cut calories.  Feel free to substitute your favorite option.  You can get creative from one little idea which can turn into something quite delicious!

 

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This is my go to easy option for lunch.

2 slices of Nature’s Own 40 calorie Bread

3 slices of Field Roast Wild Mushroom Deli slices

1 medium Tomato sliced

Handfull of washed Spinach leaves

2 T House of Tsang Korean BBQ sauce

1 oz Kettle Black Pepper Potato chips

Spread BBQ sauce on both slices of bread, one tablespoon each.  Assemble seitan slices, tomato slices and spinach.  Devour with chips.  I like to stick the chips in my sandwich.  It doesn’t always look so pretty when I am eating the sandwich, but I really love the chips in the sammie!

 

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2 C cooked rice (I use Basmati, but any cooked white rice will do)

1 can Black Beans wash and drained

4 Medium Tomatoes chopped

1/4 C Green onions sliced thin

1/2 Mango cut into long slices

1/2 Avocado cut into long slices

1/2 large Lime juiced

1 t Garlic powder (adjust to your taste)

1 t Cayenne Pepper (adjust to your taste)

Salt to taste

In a large saute or frying pan, add rice, beans, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.  Mix well and heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add tomato and green onions, heat an additional two minutes.  Add salt, serve with mango and avocado slices.  I like to sprinkle the fruit with a dash of garlic, cayenne pepper, lime juice and salt also.  This recipe serves 1-2 people depending on their appetite.

 

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1 C Chickpea flour

4 C Baby Spinach leaves

1/2 Red Pepper diced

1 1/2 C Water

2 T Roasted garlic chunks or 1 t garlic powder

2 T Nutritional yeast

1/2 t cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Oil spray

Spray a medium frying pan with cooking spray.  On medium flame, add diced red pepper to the heated pan.  Cook peppers until soft.  Add spinach and let wilt.

While spinach is wilting, in a small bowl, add chickpea flour, water, cayenne pepper, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt.  Mix well, the batter should resemble thin pancake batter, however this batter will be gritty, not smooth.

Once the spinach has wilted, add flour mixture into pan, pouring evenly and let the mixture cook until solid.  Spray the top with oil spray.  The veggie fry will need to be turned over for both sides to cook.  With your spatula, quarter the fry and turn all four pieces over and spray with oil spray again.  Chickpea flour cooks quickly, I like to let mine form a slight crust.  This veggie fry is a nice alternative to scrambled eggs because chickpea flour is high in protein.  This recipe serves 2-3 people.

 

You are holding the key

You are holding the key

“How do you do it”?

“How do you have the self-control”?

These are questions I get asked all the time about not just being plant based, but portion control and staying fit.  These are not easy questions to answer.  We are all different and what works for me may not work for you.  I can however, provide you with some habits that I formed in my teens.  During my senior year in high school, I lost fifteen pounds and have kept it off using portion control and running.  This post is about eating, I will talk about fitness in my next post.

Eating a meal should be only that.  Just eat, don’t do anything else.  Don’t multi-task.  Look at your plate and pay attention to your food.  Enjoy the taste and get the satisfaction and nourishment that it provides.

Eat sitting down.  When you are eating anything,  a meal or even a snack or having a drink, sit down.  Don’t stand when you are eating or drinking.  Take the time to look at what you are eating and drinking.

When you are still craving more of what you just ate, change the taste.  For example, when I am craving more potato chips and I have already eaten two servings, I wait.  I drink some water, then eat something with a completely opposite taste like cherries, or vegan yogurt or sorbet.   I forget the taste of the salty, fatty chips because I have tasted something else.

Portion out your food.  I know this piece of advice gets such a bad rap and a bad reaction from people.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with measuring or weighing out serving sizes.   Eating snacks like chips out of a bag usually means overeating because of their small serving size.  Serving sizes for potato chips are usually around 150 calories for 28 grams or around 14 chips.  I usually lose count after 4.  I have an inexpensive food scale and measuring cups/spoons.

Eat your meals on smaller plates.  I have both 10 and 8 inch plates.  But I always use the 8 inch plates.  This optical illusion works by tricking my mind into thinking my plate has runneth over.

Not having bags of readily available junk food forces me to make my own snacks.  If I am feeling too lazy to cook, I end up eating a fruit or doing something else besides eating.  See below for an easy yet healthy smoothie bowl.

I am not perfect by any means.  We all have good days and bad days.  But starting with a health eating goal in mind everyday is really important.  Do your best and try to stick with your eating goals everyday.  It will pay off eventually.  Good eating habits and physical fitness can help with weight loss and improve health.  It won’t happen overnight, it takes time and patience to change behavior and break lifelong habits.  Next post is all about moving!

 

Easy Smoothie Bowl

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There are thousands of great smoothie bowl recipes.  This one is easy, lower in calories and high in protein.  I did not have any of my favorite berries to add when the above picture was taken, but feel free to top with blueberries or strawberries.

1 container Silk soy yogurt (or your favorite low fat yogurt)

4 T Trader Joe’s Chocolate Hemp Powder

1 T unsweetened Coconut Flakes

Around 8 Pistachios (mostly crushed or whole if you prefer)

In a bowl, mix yogurt and hemp powder together.  Top with coconut, pistachios and fruit.  Enjoy!

Using the nutrition labels provided on all the ingredients, I calculated this smoothie bowl at approximately 310 calories with 15 g of protein.

 

 

Easy Peasy

Easy Peasy

Savory Cauliflower and Channa Masala

These two dishes are favorites of mine because they are easy yet delicious.  I love Indian food, but I don’t always have the time or ingredients for “by the book”, authentic recipes.  Therefore, I make Indian inspired dishes.  Keeping meals healthy and low calorie is really important to me.  Many of my recipes could be made with additional oil for example, but I limit the oil and use oil spray.  I hope you like these simple recipes.

Savory Cauliflower

1 head of Cauliflower

1 medium Onion diced

1 t Cayenne pepper

4 cloves Garlic diced

1/4 t garlic powder

4 T Nutritional yeast

1 T Sunflower Oil

1 t Salt  or to taste

Olive Oil spray or equivalent

Green onions pieces to garnish

 

Wash and clean cauliflower.  Cut the cauliflower into 2 inch pieces.  Place cauliflower into a large pan with about an inch of water.  Cover and let cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Check to make sure that all pieces are cooked and let the cauliflower cook a few more minutes if needed.  Drain water and transfer onto a large plate.

While the cauliflower is cooking, dice onion and garlic.

I like as little cleanup as possible and like the reuse pans whenever I can.  In the same pan, on medium heat, add sunflower oil and diced onion.  Cook until the onions are soft.  Add garlic and cook for maybe two minutes until the garlic is soft, making sure the garlic is not burning or turning dark brown.

Then, add a layer of cauliflower, spray with olive oil spray.  Sprinkle half the amount of garlic, cayenne pepper and salt.  Add a second layer of cauliflower and repeat the olive oil spray, sprinkle the remaining garlic powder and salt.  Let the cauliflower cook with the spices and salt for an additional five minutes making sure that all the pieces are coated.

Add nutritional yeast and make sure the yeast coats the cauliflower evenly.  I like the yeast because it adds protein and an extra layer of taste.

Garnish with pieces of green onion and serve with your favorite bread, vegan garlic naan or parantha.

 

Channa Masala

1 Can of Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed

2 Medium Tomatoes, chopped

1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

1 t Garam masala (found in the spice section or at your local Indian grocery)

1/2 t cayenne pepper

1/2 t salt or to taste

Oil spray or equivalent

 

Cover the bottom of a medium sauce pan with oil spray.

Add garlic and ginger.  Cook for about three minutes on medium heat making sure they don’t burn.

Add tomatoes and cook until they get really soft and release a little water.

Add garam masala and cayenne and cook for another 3 three minutes or so.

Add garbanzo beans and salt, mix thoroughly.

Serve with your favorite bread, (vegan naan, pita, parantha or tortilla)

 

Please see picture above for both dishes.

 

 

Cooking?!

Cooking?!

Cooking and creating new recipes is one of my passions.  Although the experts say that eating less highly processed foods and more whole foods is healthier, its not always that easy.  Even with my nutrition and dietetics management background, it can be challenging.  Hectic schedules don’t always allow for “made from scratch” cooking.  And weekend bulk prep doesn’t always work  for all recipes.  I try to buy organic milk, meat and eggs whenever I can, but of course that rule is broken with fast food joints that my husband takes the kids to.  I try to stick with organic fruits and vegetables, but that’s not always possible.  Sometimes, the non-organic items may be fresher than the organic ones or not be available at the time.

I have managed to find a “middle of the road plan” for my family.  In our house, I make plant based food for myself, kid friendly meals for my 12 and 9 yr old and meals for my husband.  That may sound daunting, but our Venn diagrams do overlap with some foods! And, my husband does enjoy a lot of my vegan dishes.

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Seitan Sandwich with Korean BBQ Sauce, Spinach, Tomato and Black Pepper Chips

My kids have become interested in making their own food these days.  Cooking on the weekends has become a favorite activity with my 9 yr old who always bugs her older brother to help.  She always cajoles him into joining in.  Whether its Trader Joe scones or grilled cheese, they want to do it themselves.    They are allowed to make things like waffles, toast, PBJ’s and eggs with minimal supervision.  They have also acquired some knife handling skills with supervision of course.  They are not allowed to turn on any appliance unless an adult is present.  Both kids have been super picky eaters in the past, but they have opened up to salads, tomatoes and nuts from helping me cook.  I am not sure how long they will be interested in cooking.  But, here’s hoping they learn a few skills and acquire new tastes that will take them through life!

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Hot and Spicy Mexican Rice with Avocado and Mango

I have gotten many recipe requests from friends.  Therefore, I am working on a recipe gallery.  Most of them are plant based, easy and take about 30 minutes.  I hope you will find some of these dishes helpful and delicious as I do!

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Savory Veggie Fry with Spinach, Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper