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!!

 

 

Which Plant Based Food Would You Like More Recipes For??

I am quickly approaching my one year Blogiversary.  I have enjoyed sharing delicious, healthy plant based recipes with all of you.  Thank you so much to all of my readers!  Hopefully, I have provided some new recipes for you to try and maybe even inspired some of you to take a closer look at how you are fueling your body every day.

I wanted to do something special for my one year blogiversary.  I thought about taking my original challenge again because, I’ll admit, since that first month ended I have not followed the whole foods plant based way of eating 100%.  I really wanted to do something different though.  Luckily, I drew inspiration from a friend of mine (a fellow twin mama).  She was looking for a way to encourage her family to eat more veggies.  They decided that as a family they would try a new vegetable every week.  She does not have a blog (though she should), but she has been posting on Facebook each week about the veggie, how she cooked it and whether or not she and her family liked it.  I really really like this idea!  Sooo, I’m kind of stealing it.  🙂  Starting in July, I will be choosing one fruit, veggie, grain or some other whole foods plant based ingredient each week.  I will discuss it’s nutritional value and try several different recipes using the chosen ingredient.  I am hoping this new “challenge” will help me focus on this blog more as well as inspire others to try new ingredients or simply try new healthy recipes using ingredients they already love.

I would LOVE to hear what ingredients you would like to see featured!  A vegetable that has always intimidated you, perhaps.  That grain you always see in the store, but can’t pronounce and don’t know what to do with, maybe.  Or possibly you would like more healthy recipes for the 10 pounds of strawberries you picked last week.

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I can’t wait to hear from you!  Let’s Eat!

The Perfect Summer Lunch

This was my go-to sandwich last summer and I’ve been craving it again the last few weeks.  I have made this numerous times and just can’t get enough.  You can change out the veggies to please your palate.  If you pre-cut your veggies when you get home from the grocery store, this will come together in seconds.  And if not, it still only takes a few minutes.  I find it flavorful enough that you don’t need any special spreads or dressing, but hummus would be a great addition.  You could also add some mustard or vegan mayo if you wish.  Proof that eating healthly can be quick, delicious and beautiful!

The Perfect Summer Veggie Sandwich

1/2 avocado, smashed or cut into thin slices

1/2 carrot, shredded or shaved

1/4 sweet red pepper, sliced thin

4 or 5 thin slices of cucumber

2 leaves of Bibb lettuce (or spinach or kale or romaine, etc)

2 slices Ezekial Whole Wheat Bread (or your bread of choice), toasted

Layer up the ingredients on one slice of bread and top with the other slice.  Serve with some delicous summer fruit on the side.  Enjoy!

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Once the radishes in my garden are ready to harvest, I will be adding those to this sandwich as well.  This would be perfect for a picnic on the go too!

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Today, I used the same veggie ingredients, but opted for a spinach tortilla instead of bread.  So yummy!!

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Doesn’t that look gorgeous?!  Delicious!

 

 

 

 

My New Favorite Black Bean Burger

I am always trying new burger recipes, but I find myelf consistenly going back to the same black bean burger recipe that uses vital wheat gluten because it just works so well.  Well, I finely found one withOUT vital wheat gluten that stays together just as well (if not better) and was so delicious.  They even look more like the hamburgers that your carnivore friends would love.  I “fried” these up in my new non-stick pan (that I am soooo loving by the way…absolutely no oil necessary), but they hold together so well that I am betting they would be wonderful on the grill too.

Black Bean Pecan Burgers by Namely Mary

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I did add a few splashes of liquid smoke to the ingredients…smoked paprika would work too.  I just love that smoky flavor.

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Looks like a real hamburger, right?  I’m glad this recipe made a lot because 3 of the 5 of us went back for seconds.  And, I packed one in M’s lunchbox today and the girls and I had them for lunch today here at home.  Yum!

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I topped mine high with mustard, veganaisse, lettuce, tomato and pickles.  I was going to do avocado instead of veganaisse, but my avocados weren’t quite ripe yet.

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Looks super yummy, don’t you think?  They come together really quick, especially if you have leftover rice.  Go make up a batch today!  Enjoy!

Broccoli Grape Salad

Picnic and BBQ season is finally among us!!  Here in the midwest, I was beginning to think it was never going to happen. (What was with that snow last Friday?!?!). Now that it IS here, you are going to need some delish dishes to take to all those parties you plan on attending, right?  I have the perfect potluck salad for you!  Just swap the mayonaisse for Veganaisse and you’ve got yourself the most amazing vegan side dish.  I have made this three times in the last two weeks. And I haven’t gone to any BBQs, parties or picnics…it’s just for us. I’ve been eating it for lunch most days or a little afternoon snack.  Its THAT good!

Broccoli Grape Salad

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The Broccoli Grape salad is on the right (don’t forget to use Veganaisse instead of mayo).  On the left is a Three Bean Kale salad, which was also terrific.  I actually mixed the two together one day and it worked out great…so yummy!

 

Quinoa Chickpea Patties and Veggie Lentil Loaf

I know I promised lots of yummy recipes last time I posted, but then life got in the way.  We just got done putting new countertops and flooring in our kitchen.  Everything in the kitchen was moved into the dining room and living room and conveniently placed right in front of my computer cabinet.  Even if I could have gotten to my computer I was entirely way too busy the last week and a half.  The kitchen is done (I LOVE it) and we are now getting back to our normal routine.  I’m excited to get back into the kitchen and start cooking again. Entirely too much take-out was devoured while the kitchen was a mess.

To make it up to you, I’m posting TWO recipes today.  Both of these were great and my kids loved them both!  I was hesitant about the veggie loaf because I’ve tried some in the past that the family wasn’t too keen on.  Shockingly, the kids ate this one with gusto, asked for seconds and never questioned what was in it!  WooHoo!  Sadly, I don’t have a picture of it because I forgot to take pics the day we originally ate it and what little leftovers we had kind of fell apart.  But, it was delicious none the less.

Here is the link to the Veggie Lentil Loaf.  I left out the fennel and I totally forgot to make the sauce.  I served it with ketchup for the kids and I ate it as is with no sauce.

Now for the Chickpea Quinoa Patties.  These were super easy.  I have been trying to get away from eating so many grains.  This recipe is gluten-free as well as vegan and plant strong.  I’ve talked about quinoa before and it’s many health benefits, but chickpeas are also a nutritional powerhouse.  The mighty chickpea is high in folate, fiber, protein and iron.  You can easily sneak other veggies into these patties if desired.  I think shredded carrot or spinach would be a great addition.  I put everything into the food processor and mixed it all together, so I didn’t have any big chunks of veggies.  I thought they would stay together better that way, but I have to warn you that these patties were quite delicate.  I found making them about the diameter of a sillver dollar pancake, but thicker, worked pretty well.

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Like I said before, the kids devoured both of these recipes.  Give them a try!

 

Crispy Breaded Tofu

I have tried so many yummy recipes lately that I had a hard time choosing which one to post first.  I decided on this Crispy Breaded Tofu because the WHOLE family loved it…even those that proclaim they don’t like tofu (M, our 5 year old for example).  He, along with C and K, our 2 yr old twins, all asked for seconds!  Hubby ate all of his first serving and went back for more veggies, but opted against a 2nd helping of tofu…but did I mention that he ate ALL of his first serving?!  That’s a win all around in my book.

Tofu

So, a little about tofu first.  Soy is a controversial food.  Soy is one of the most genetically modified foods out there and MOST of the soy the average person consumes comes in an extremely processed form.  Not good!  However, whole food forms of soy that have not been genetically engineered do have some amazing health benefits.  Tofu is very high in calcium and protein and has a good dose of healthy fats and iron too.  Non-gmo tofu is said to have cardiovascular benefits as well as cancer prevention benefits.

On a separate note, I find it ironic that most carnivores like to point out to vegan/plant based eaters the controversial issues surrounding soy foods while ingesting their sugar, cholesterol and saturated fat laden foods and chasing it down with a chemical laced syrupy beverage.  But, I digress……

Crispy Breaded Tofu

First you must press and slice your tofu.  If you’ve never pressed tofu before, learn how to do so here.  I doubled the recipe (in the link above) since one recipe of anything these days does not suffice for our family of five.  You will likely get 6 slices out of one block (so 12 for two blocks).  I cut one of my slices in half again (thus, the 13 pieces) because I thought the girls would eat smaller portions…I was WRONG!

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Then set up your breading station.

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I used unsweetened organic soy milk in place of the soy milk creamer and a mix of almond meal and nutritional yeast in place of the all purpose flour.  (If you are gluten-free, that would be a good option for you too…but you’d also have to leave off the Panko breadcrumbs).

After the “milk” and “flour” stations, this is what you will have:

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Dip once again into the “milk” and then into the Panko and fry those slices up!  It will look like this:

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Just try and tell me that doesn’t look delicious!!!  So crispy on the outside, firm but moist on the inside.  Mmmmmmm.

I served it up with mashed potatoes, corn and broccoli.  The kids dipped their crispy tofu in ketchup.  BBQ sauce would be good too.  I found it didn’t need anything extra though.  Perfection!

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Be on the lookout for some more delicious recipes in the next week or so.  Enjoy!