Lentils!

This week’s ingredient was lentils because I use them ALL THE TIME.  I love them and they are so versatile.  Lentils are part of the legume family and are high in B vitamins (especially folate), fiber, iron and protein (18g in 1 cup). Lentils can help to stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, increase energy and keep you feeling full.

I often use lentils in place of ground meat when “veganizing” a recipe.  They are great in sloppy joes, tacos, burritos, bolognese, burgers, salads, soups, etc.

Here are a few ways we ate our lentils this week:

Red Lentil Cauliflower Burgers

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These held together really well!  I did end up having to add a bit more chickpea flour, but ultimately, it worked out great.

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Delicious and the kids ate them up too!

Lentil Grape Salad

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I have been making this salad since long before I decided to eat plant based.  It is one of my favorites for potlucks, BBQs or just a big crowd.  The original recipe calls for honey and feta cheese.  You can sub agave or raw sugar for the honey and just leave out the feta.  If you are a salt person (I am not), you may want to add some extra salt to make up for the lack of feta.  Maybe use salted roasted walnuts instead of raw…or maybe add some olives (no idea if that would work,  I despise olives, but they would definitely add that salty flavor).

Massor Dal Tadka (Pink Lentil Stew)

Masoor Dal Tadka

I love lentil soups and stews of all kinds.  I actually wasn’t sure about this one going in.  I usually would chop my garlic very fine…not generally a big fan of bigger garlic slices.  And I was worried about the spice level.  I did use a jalapeno instead of  a Serrano because I have an abundance of them in my garden.  I LOVED this!  I wish I would have doubled the recipe because I ate the whole thing (myself) in one day.  The garlic melts right into the soup and you can’t taste any bits of it or the cumin seeds (another worry I had).  It all just blended so nicely and the seasoning was perfect, not spicy.

Cheeze Lentil Rice Bake

Sadly, I did not photograph this one.  I’ve made it at least 5 times now over the past year and I have not one picture.  Wha?  But, just trust me, you will love this.  My kids all love it too!  In fact, recently, I’ve been doubling the recipe cause we end up eating all the whole thing in one sitting.

In other news:  I am super excited that I have been accepted as a recipe tester for Vegan Richa.  She is a vegan food blogger and working on a new Indian cookbook.  Obviously, I can’t share any recipes with you, but I may post up some pics every now and then about what I’ve been testing.  I’ve already made a few very tasty dishes!!  FYI:  two of the recipes I made this week with lentils were from her blog and I didn’t do that on purpose; I had them on the menu before I even knew of the recipe testing opportunity.  I just really like her food!

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?

 

 

My First Guest Post: Meal Planning

Good morning, all!  I’m excited to announce that I wrote my first guest post.  It’s all about meal planning.  Each Monday, Holly of My Plant Based Family posts her own meal planning ideas.  During the month of July, she is posting meal plans and ideas from other bloggers. All recipes and meal plans are plant based and vegan.  I am thrilled to be a part of it! You can find my post on her blog TODAY. Check it out HERE.

Thanks, Holly!!

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?”

Citrus Farro Salad w/ Golden Beets and Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

I’m so impressed with my kids this week. The girls (2.5 years old) have been eating the Roasted Beet and Walnut Spread like it’s candy. They’ve been dipping crackers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas and spoons into this stuff all week. I have a feeling this is going to go in the rotation quite often. They were asking for more today, but they already ate it all! And my son (6 years old) is asking when we are going to make the Strawberry Beet Smoothie again. FYI: Trader Joe’s sells packaged roasted peeled beets. Obviously, they are more expensive than buying loose beets, but if you don’t have the time to roast them yourself, they are a great alternative. Beets are so nutritious that I say go for it!

I’m wrapping up “Beet Week” with 2 outstanding recipes! The first is a light summer salad and the second a fudgy decadent dessert.

Citrus Farro Salad w/ Golden Beets

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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large golden beets, scrubbed and trimmed
  • Beet greens, chopped
  • 1 cup orange slices
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked farro

 

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut beets in half or quarters and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Cover with another piece of foil and roast until tender, about 50-60 minutes. Let cool.IMG_1073 IMG_1074
  3. Peel off the skins, then cut the beets into bite-size chunks
  4. In large bowl, combine cooked farro, beets, beet greens, celery, and oranges. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the farro mixture and toss well to combine.

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Vegan Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

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I mean, who doesn’t love a good cupcake, right?  And if it’s packed with nutrition, even better.  These do have more sugar than I would normally use, but they sounded so intriguing, I just had to try them.

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Mmmm, fresh out of the oven.  I could ever so slightly taste the beet flavor, but I can pretty much guarantee if you didn’t know it was in there, you wouldn’t taste it.  So, feel free to serve them up to your healthfood adverse friends.

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I have just recently discovered the blog where this recipe came from, The Minimalist Baker. I’m already a fan.  Lots of good looking recipes there, so take a look around after you download the recipe for these cupcakes!

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Are you a beet lover?  How do you like to eat your beets?

Next up will be all about Cantaloupes!  It’s M’s favorite food.  I can’t wait to experiment with all the yummy ways to use it.

 

Beet Burgers

I hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day.  We spent the daytime with relatives and the evening with neighbors.  Super fun day all around.

Well, I’m promised a beet burger recipe and here it is. If I’m being honest, however, I didn’t care for these all that much. Before being cooked the mixture looked amazingly like raw hamburger meat and held together really well. I had high hopes. They were fine, but I have made many a veggie burger that I liked better. These get rave reviews online though, so if you are a risk-taker, you might just want to give them a try.

Quarter Pounder Beet Burger from PPK

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I served it alongside a pasta salad inspired by Veganomicon’s Brooklyn Deli Macaroni Salad.  I have made this salad numerous times as is and it is DELICIOUS, but this time I made a few changes.  I added more vinegar (I really love vinegar), dijon mustard, shredded zucchini instead of radishes and left out the peas.  So good!

Vegan Macaroni Pasta Salad

Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup Vegenaise
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Salad:

  • 1 lb package macaroni noodles
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated

Cook the macaroni noodles according to package directions.  Set aside to cool.  While noodles are cooling, whisk your dressing ingredients in a bowl (or simply shake vigorously in a mason jar with lid).  Add grated veggies to noodles, top with dressing and mix thoroughly.  Eat immediately or refrigerate until serving.

This makes quite a bit and is perfect for a potluck or backyard BBQ.  So yum!!

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Which plant based foods did you enjoy at your July 4th celebration?

I’m still looking for more suggestions on which fruits, veggies, grains, etc., you would like to see featured here.  Please keep all ideas and suggestions coming my way!

 

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!!