Category Archives: Snacks

Eggplant

This week’s focus was on eggplant.  This was an easy choice as our garden is overflowing with this glossy purple veggie.  Just when I think we’ve gone through them all there are 3-4 more ready to harvest.

Eggplants have a decent amount of potassium, folate, magnesium, copper, manganese, niacin and fiber.  The skin of eggplant is edible and has been shown to have the potential ability to help prevent against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.  

The meaty flesh makes them hearty and filling.  Try roasting or grilling thick slices for a “steak” the healthy way!

Here is how we enjoyed our eggplant this week:

Eggplant Pizzas

Eggplant Pizza 2

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant, sliced into 3/4 inch slices
  • 1 tbsp salt (for drawing out the liquid)
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasonings
  • 1 recipe Moxerella
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Place the eggplant slices on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle both sides with salt. Let the eggplant sit for about 20 minutes to draw out the liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. After 20 minutes, wipe the eggplant clean with a dry paper towel, removing the salt and water.
  4. Place the eggplant slices on the parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until just tender.
  5. While the eggplant roasts, make the Moxerella.
  6. When eggplant is done roasting, top each slice with a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce, a few dollops of Moxerella and a sprinkling of Italian seasonings.
  7. Put eggplant under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melty and starting to brown.
  8. Devour!

Note:  The Moxerella recipe is so easy.  I know it sounds weird and you probably think it won’t work, but trust me!

 

Vegan Eggplant Meatballs

Eggplant Meatballs

These were delicious and held together really well.

Spaghetti w Eggplant Meatballs

 

Basil Roasted Eggplant with Heirlooms & Balsamic Drizzle

Basil Roasted Eggplant

This was my favorite recipe of the week!! I am a fan of anything with vinegar. I did not use the honey called for in this recipe. I like the balsamic to stand on its own. My eggplants were on the smaller side. One half would make a great appetizer or salad course for a dinner party, a light lunch on it’s own or, if you are like me, you’ll eat 3 of these halves and call it dinner.  If you have bigger eggplants, you can slice each half into quarters for more manageable serving sizes.

Basil Roasted Eggplant 2

 

Eggplant seems to be one of those vegetables that people either love or hate.  Obviously, I love it! Where do you stand?

 

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What to do with all that summer zucchini…

If you are anything like me, you find yourself with an over abundance of zucchini somewhere in the middle of summer.  It’s high in fiber and low in calories.  It’s mild taste lends itself well to almost anything from stirfrys to sweets.  Along with zucchini’s antioxidant properties, you will find folate, potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C among the health benefits.

Here are a few ways we enjoyed our zucchini last week:

Deli Macaroni Salad

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By far our favorite pasta salad for picnics or potlucks.  Read my original post about this delicious vegan macaroni salad here.   I change it up a little every time I make it to incorporate the veggies I already have on hand.  This time I omitted the peas and added shredded zucchini instead.  And I always double the amount of veggies.  Yum!

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Summer Veggie Tart

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I admit I melted a tiny bit of mozzarella on one half for the hubby and kids.  My half was cheese free.  This was great.  I served it with a big salad made of green leaf lettuce, spinach, red pepper strips, fresh from the garden cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Zucchini Bread

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Who doesn’t love zucchini bread?  This one did not disappoint.  Sweetened only with dates, it’s super healthy.  I love the addition of the nutmeg.

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Roasted Zucchini with Thyme

We also enjoyed zucchini simply roasted with a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. I didn’t take a photo of this, but you know what roasted veggies look like, right?  Hubby and I probably enjoy them best this way. Easy and flavorful.

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all ingredients together and place on baking sheet in one even layer.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until zucchini is just tender.  We like it best with a little bit of bite left.  Enjoy!

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.  🙂

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.  🙂

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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!!

 

 

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

What does one do when their sweet tooth is screaming loudly, but there are no sweets in the house?  You whip up a batch of these No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites and about 5 minutes later you are licking your fingers and that sweet tooth has been silenced.  From an 8×8 pan, I got 25 of these little bites.  Each one is very filling thanks to the plentiful fiber and protein.  They make the perfect afternoon pick me up, but would also be great for breakfast, a wonderful addition to any lunchbox and, of course, as a little something sweet after dinner.

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No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites (Vegan)

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1.5 cups NATURAL peanut butter (peanuts and salt should be the only ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup PURE maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 2 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Transfer to an 8×8 square pan and press mixture firmly so the top is even.  Cut into 25 small squares and enjoy!  Store in the fridge.

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These got the stamp of approval from all three of my little ones.  M requested one in his lunchbox today too.

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Both chia seeds and flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, minerals and antioxidents.  Just be sure to grind whole flaxseeds into flaxmeal as your body doesn’t asorb the whole seeds well.  You can also buy them already ground.  Store both of these seeds in the fridge.

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I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.  Let me know if you try them!

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