Category Archives: Dips/Dressings/Sauces/Spreads/

Kids LOVE Red Bell Peppers!

This week was all about red bell peppers. To be honest, every week is all about red bell peppers. The kids just love them. M’s lunchbox last year had raw red bell pepper strips on average 4 out of 5 days. We eat them raw, sauteed in a stir fry, grilled in fajitas, wrapped up in a tortilla, roasted in dips and spreads and the list goes on and on.

Bell peppers just happen to be one of hubby’s favorite foods as well. His favorite recipe growing up (and still to this day) is pepper steak. His mom makes an awesome recipe using red bell peppers instead of green.It’s a nice change and works so well. That recipe contains beef steak, but you can try it using tempeh or seitan instead…or just lots of meaty mushrooms.

Red Bell Peppers are incredibly high in Vitamin C. Just one cup has over 150% of your daily needs. Vitamin A and a few of the B’s are also found in decent amounts in these red beauties. Red Bells also have plenty of antioxidants and anti-cancer benefits.

Peppers of all kinds are super easy to grow at home. My green bells, jalapeno and banana peppers are all doing so great this year. I kept waiting and waiting for my red bells to appear. Upon closer inspection….I forgot to buy a red bell plant. UGH! No wonder they weren’t growing. ¬†ūüôā

Here is how we enjoyed our red bell peppers this week:

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

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The girls and I really liked this. ¬†Hubby and son thought it was just ok. ¬† The sauce is creamier than a tomato based sauce. ¬†You could always add a little veggie stock to thin it out if you like…or maybe just leave out the cornstarch. ¬†And, if you are in a time crunch, feel free to cheat and use roasted red peppers from a jar instead of charring your own.

 

 

Veggie Tortilla Rollups

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I have made these several times, usually for an appetizer for a party.  They are always a hit!  They also make a great lunch for the littles.  Easy for little hands to pick up and a nice change from the everyday PB&J.

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It also makes a great lunch for a grown up…just cut in half as a wrap instead of slicing into bite size pieces.

 

 

Stuffed Peppers

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I replaced the hummus in this recipe with the leftover bean spread from the Veggie Tortilla Rollups (see recipe link above) and it was delicious. I’m sure the hummus would be great too, I just wanted to use up what we had. Little did I know I would be making hummus the next day anyway. ¬†ūüôā

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I served it up with a side of fresh sweet corn bought at the famers market that morning. Can’t go wrong there! ¬†Kids and hubby all loved this as well!

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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This is so easy. ¬†I just use my favorite hummus recipe and add a roasted red bell pepper (again, you can cheat and use jarred…I won’t tell!)

  • 1-2 ¬†garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ¬†sea salt
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor.  Hummus will thicken when refrigerated.  Enjoy with raw veggies, pretzels, crackers, pita chips or a spoon!

 

Is anyone growing red bell peppers in their garden?  How do you use them?  Share with me in the comments section!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kale: Versatile and Nutritious

This week is all about Kale¬†in our house. ¬†We grow it in our garden and we are never lacking. ¬†It’s super easy to grow. ¬†It does well in high and low temps, humid or not, lots of rain or draught…this veggie is hard to mess up.

Kale¬†was quite the “trendy” veggie among the health conscious for several years and now “they” seem to be trending away from it. However, you can’t deny the health benefits of this green goddess. ¬†Kale is considered a superfood for many reasons. ¬†It is incredibly high in Vitamin K, A and C. ¬†It also boasts lots fiber, iron, calcium, folate and magnesium. ¬†In fact, per calorie, kale is higher in iron than beef and higher in calcium than dairy milk. ¬†Kale is high in antioxidants and can reduce your risk for many different cancers, including breast and prostate.

Kale is very versatile. ¬†You can add it to just about anything from smoothies and dips¬†to casseroles, soups and pastas. ¬†I often use it interchangeably with cabbage…it is part of the cabbage family after all.

Here are a few of the kale recipes we enjoyed this week:

Kale Grapefruit Smoothie

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Ingredients:

  • 1 extra ripe banana, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1/4 – cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or more depending on desired consistency)
  • 1/2 ¬†cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 red grapefruit, peeled and seeded
  • 2-3 cups kale, ribs and stems removed

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend for a couple minutes until smooth.  Add more almond milk if your smoothie is too thick.

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Cilantro Lime Rice w/ Kale

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I added mushrooms to the kale mixture.  It would have been great just like this before even adding the rice!  The original recipe served it alongside a filet of salmon, which obviously I did not do.  So, just make sure to leave out the directions for that if you check out the recipe.

 

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Kale and Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

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This was probably my favorite kale recipe this week.  At first we just enjoyed this with whole wheat crackers.  Yum!

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Then, I whipped up a grilled cheeze on Ezekiel sprouted grain bread.  I spread a little Earth Balance on the outside of the bread, slathered on a good amount of this kale hummus on the inside and topped it with a Daiya cheddar slice and the other slice of bread and seared until golden brown.  No, not the healthiest thing around, but it was yummy!

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Since the grilled cheeze was such a hit, I decided to try a vegan version of a BLT.  I toasted up two slices of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, slathered on the kale hummus (instead of lettuce), topped with 4 slices of Tofurkey Tempeh Bacon (seared for a few minutes in a pan) and tomatoes.  This was super yummy as well!

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I also think this kale hummus would be great thinned out just a bit and mixed with pasta or rice.  How else would you use it?

 

Kale Chips

Last, but not least, what kale story would be complete without kale chips? ¬†This is by far the easiest recipe I have come across. ¬†I have tried “cheezy” kale chips too and they are great, but I thought I would keep it simple here. ¬†These only take 15 minutes in the oven and a couple minutes of prep before that. ¬†Super easy, super crunchy.

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There are so many more yummy ways to use kale. ¬†I LOVE to throw a few handfuls into soups in the fall/winter. ¬†And a cupful in almost any smoothie won’t be tasted but will up the nutritional benefit.

How do you like to eat your kale?

 

 

All About Cantaloupe!

This week’s plant based ingredient is: Cantaloupe!

Cantaloupe is really nutritious, high in Vitamins C, A, several of the Bs and K.  It is also high in potassium, magnesium and fiber.

We eat a lot of cantaloupe in this house. ¬†It’s a favorite of the kids and they like to eat it in bite-size cubes. ¬†The beginning of the week almost always finds a container of cantaloupe cubes in the fridge. ¬†A mere 2-3 days later and the kids have licked it clean. ¬†While we did enjoy a good amount of plain cantaloupe cubes this week, I decided to see just what else this juicy orange fruit might be good for. ¬†As it turns out, it’s pretty good in pasta, smoothies, salsa and even bread!

 

Orechiette w/ Cantaloupe and Avocado

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I left out the mozzerella and used walnuts in place of the pine nuts.  I loved it.  A perfect light summer meal.

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Cantaloupe Smoothie

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  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe
  • 2 frozen bananas

Blend.  Enjoy.

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Cantaloupe Quick Bread

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I was intrigued by a recipe I found on Pinterest, but it contained eggs, oil, white flour and 2 full cups of white sugar. ¬†Yikes! ¬†I didn’t think it would be too hard to veganize and I was right. ¬†I replaced the oil with smashed banana and because of the sweetness of the banana, I was able to cut down the added sugar to only 1/2 cup of maple syrup. ¬†I replaced the eggs with “flax eggs” and swapped out the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour. ¬†Here is the new, healthier version.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp flaxmeal (ground flax seeds)
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 cup smashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pureed cantaloupe
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Mix the flaxmeal and warm water and set aside for a few minutes to thicken.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. ¬†Lightly grease 2 9×5 loaf pans.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flax eggs, smashed banana, maple syrup, vanilla and cantaloupe puree.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger.  Stir flour mixture into cantaloupe mixture and combine, but do not overmix.  Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from loaf pans and enjoy.

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This bread is delicious and just sweet enough. ¬†It has gone great with my morning coffee as well as acting as dessert. ¬†The kids all love it too! ¬†You can’t really taste any cantaloupe flavor, however. ¬†This quick bread would be a great use for that overripe cantaloupe you let sit on your counter for one too many days.

 

 

Cantaloupe Salsa

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I’m a huge fan of peach salsa, so when I came across this recipe for cantaloupe salsa, I knew I just had to try it. ¬†It’s light and refreshing…perfect for a summer appetizer. ¬†We ate it with tortilla chips, but if you are an omnivore, check out the link to see how the original recipe was paired.

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And now for an exceprt from my girls’ favorite book (for the moment anyway), What Color Is Your Apple?:

“Fruits and vegetables come in many colors.

Each one a yummy treat!

Red, orange, yellow, purple, green.

Crispy, crunchy, sweet!

What is your favorite color food to eat?”

All about Beets!

Happy Blogiversary to ME!!! ¬†I can’t believe this little blog is a year old today. ¬†Seems like just yesterday it was a fleeting thought in my head. ¬†Thanks again to all of my readers. ¬†If you know of anyone else who is interested in plant based healthy eating, I would love it if you would share my site with them. ¬†And I always love hear from you guys…what foods or cuisines you would like featured…what you tried from this site and what you thought about it, or any questions you might have.

I asked last week for recommdations on which ingredients you would like featured and the winner this week is BEETS!! ¬†I think its pretty common to be intimidated by beets. ¬†Let’s face it, they can be messy with all their beautiful redness. ¬†They may stain your clothes, so you do have to be careful, but they wash right off of your hands and dishes quite easily. ¬†I even stored some roasted marinated beets in a plastic container in the fridge and it didn’t stain at all.

Beets are super healthy!  They belong to the same family as spinach, chard and quinoa.  They are high in folate, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, iron and vitamin B6.  Beet greens are really high in lutein, very important in eye health.  Beets also have antioxident and anti-inflammatory properties, beneficial in preventing and reversing disease.  With only about 59 calories per cup, you will want to eat up!!

I’ll admit, I don’t use beets very often. ¬†If they are on my plate, you will most likely find them atop a salad. ¬†And I grew up in a family of borscht lovers (that’s beet soup in case you didn’t know). ¬†While those are both good choices for using beets, I wanted to get a little more creative. ¬†Drawing inspiration from Pinterest, I came up with two quick and easy recipes to use the beautiful red beets I found while shopping with a friend at a local co-op in Madison, WI. ¬†Save those beet greens my friends….while I don’t use them here, there are plenty of ways to get those in your diet as well.

First, let’s roast some beets. ¬†(I used 6 small beets for these two recipes).

Roasted Beets 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Cut the greens off, trim the tails and cut each beet in half
  • Place beets on a foil lined baking sheet and cover with an additional sheet of foil
  • Bake for about 50 minutes or until the beets are fork tender
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool
  • Once cool, peel the skins off the beets

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Marinated Beets

  • Place roasted beets in a container or plastic bag with 1/2 cup orange juice and stick in fridge until you plan to use them. ¬†They should keep for several days.

 

Strawberry Beet Smoothie

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  • 1 cup unsweetened soymilk (WestSoy is my fave…just organic soybeans and filterd water. Almond milk would work too)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 2-3 small roasted marinated beets

Place all ingredients in a blender and watch the magic happen.

This turns out the most beautiful pink color. ¬†My girls were in heaven! ¬†My son loved this too! ¬†It’s sweet from the banana and strawberries and has just a hint of the earthiness of the beets. ¬†Will definitely be making this again!

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Roasted Beet and Walnut Spread

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  • 4 small roasted marinated beets (these don’t need to be marinated…it’s just what I had)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (toasted if you prefer)
  • heaping 1/2 cup of cooked white beans (chickpeas would work here too)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy.  You may add a little water or more EVOO if you need for consistency.  Or on the flip side, if yours is too runny, add more beans or walnuts.

This was SO good! ¬†It has a wonderful sweetness to it while still be savory. ¬†Again, the kids ate this up. ¬†The girls were BEGGING for more! ¬†Wow! ¬†We snacked on it with whole wheat crackers and cucumbers. ¬†This spread would be an excellent addition to any veggie tray…especially for Valentine’s Day or Christmas. ¬†I think it would be amazing as a spread on a veggie sandwich too. ¬†How else would you use it?

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I’ve got more beets to use up and I am so excited to try a burger recipe later this week. ¬†Stay tuned!!

 

 

Cauliflower Coconut Masala

I have always loved cauliflower. ¬†It’s my favorite on a veggie tray just straight up raw. ¬†I remember my mom making cauliflower when I was growing up. ¬†She would boil it until tender, drain it and toss it with butter and breadcrumbs. ¬† When served we would drizzle it with apple cider vinegar. ¬†Sounds weird, but it’s soooo good. ¬†Just this past January, I found myself in Nashville, TN, enjoying a cauliflower “steak” as my main course. ¬†It was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. ¬†Ever since, I have been looking for ways to make cauliflower my main dish. ¬†I was super excited when I came across this recipe on Pinterest the other day. ¬†It was last night’s dinner and although my 5 year old wasn’t convinced of it’s awesomeness, the rest of us were.

Cauliflower Coconut Masala (click for link to recipe)

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I served it with jasmine rice and sweet green peas. ¬†Side note: I had no idea how much C (one of my 2yr olds) loved peas until last night. ¬†I throw peas in a lot of dishes I make, but this was maybe the first time I put them on her dish as a side all by themselves. ¬†She had 3 generous helpings and continued to ask for more. ¬†Note taken…more peas for dinner! ¬†I kind of stirred everything together in my bowl. ¬†It was delicious!

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This is a very hearty meal.  It will fill you up with not a lot of calories.  The sauce was a little spicy, but sweet at the same time.  So yum!  Even hubby liked it.

Did you know?

Cauliflower is very high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate and fiber.  It has ani-immflamotory properties and lots of antioxidents.  And an entire medium size head of cauliflower weighs in at less than 150 calories!!  Image

Eat up and enjoy!!

Vegan Cauliflower Bolognese

When you are eating a vegan, or even a vegetarian diet, its easy to fall back on pasta a lot. ¬†And who doesn’t love pasta? ¬†My kids certainly do and so do my husband and I. ¬†I do, however, like to mix up the type of sauce I serve it with, espcially trying to sneak in more veggies whenever possible. ¬†I found this recipe for Cauliflower Bolognese and thought it would be the perfect substitute for a “meaty” sauce.

Vegan Cauliflower Bolognese

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I used kale instead of spinach because I already had some in the fridge. ¬†I pureed the mixture with a handheld immersion blender, leaving small bits of cauliflower, but no big chunks. ¬†The kids devoured this…even my son who claims not to like cauliflower. ¬†He had no idea it was in there and I wasn’t about to tell him. ¬†ūüôā ¬†I thought it was really good too!

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I used a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes instead of the 14oz in the recipe and I thought it was perfect. ¬†And we had plenty of leftovers for once…even after everyone had seconds, and in some cases, thirds.

I served it over whole wheat macaroni noodles.  Give it a try!

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Fettuccine with Lentil Bolognese

Here is the recipe I promised from yesterday. ¬†Another “lucky” meal for New Year’s Day. ¬†We ate this for lunch yesterday and enjoyed leftovers today. ¬†Long noodles represent longevity and lentils resemble coins representing wealth. ¬†Health and wealth…who doesn’t want that?! ¬†But, don’t just save this meal for New Year’s Day, it is great eaten all year round. ¬†The lentils make it hearty enough that your carnivore friends won’t miss the meat.

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Lentil Bolognese

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1 29oz can crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree)
  • 1 29oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine (or veggie stock)
  • 1 tbsp tamari (or liquid aminos or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 cups cooked lentils (depending on how thick you want your sauce) (I cooked my lentils in veggie stock for added flavor)

Heat the oil, add the onion and cook until onions have softened and are translucent (a few minutes). ¬†Add the garlic and cook for another minute. ¬†Add the carrot and celery and cook for another 3-4 minutes until veggies start to soften. ¬†Add the remaining ingredients except the lentils, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. ¬†Add cooked lentils and simmer for another 10 minutes to heat through. ¬†With an immersion blender, puree about half of the sauce or to your desired consistency. ¬†If you like a really chunky sauce, you don’t need to puree at all; if you like a smooth sauce, puree until smooth. ¬†If your sauce seems too thick, add veggie stock or water and simmer a few more minutes to heat through.

I served this over fettuccine noodles, but it would be great over any type of noodle or as a sauce for stuffed shells.  Feel free to sprinkle with nutritional yeast if desired.

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Lentils are super nutritious and cook up quickly with no pre-soaking required.  Click HERE to learn how to cook dried lentils on your stovetop.

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Enjoy!