Muesli!!

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For some reason I’ve always believed Muesli was this mysteriously complicated cereal made in Europe using some super-secret old-world technique, unapproachable by the average person. Like maybe they hand-rolled the oats or something. Why else would the little box offered by that one brand perch so stoically high on the grocery shelf all by itself with its exorbitant price tag?

Turns out, Muesli is nothing but naked and un-toasted granola! This, in my mind, makes it an easier and healthier choice than granola. Why? And don’t get me wrong–I am a true granola lover from way back before it was cool–but, you know and I know even homemade granola can be full of sugar and sometimes full of fat. And sometimes, even full of sodium.

But this. This is not that. It is a bowl full of whole foods, in their natural state, completely unadorned. No sugar, no added fat or salt. Just clean, pure energy.

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Cooking a serving of oatmeal in the microwave takes 2-3 minutes. Putting together this cereal takes about the same amount of time and you have breakfast for the week!

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That’s it! No soaking, no cooking, no need to heat up the oven. This recipe is completely adjustable to your tastes, with an endless variety of nut, seed, fruit and cereal combinations.

Yield:  10 cups (that’s 10 1-cup servings or 13 3/4 cup servings). Store refrigerated.

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I topped my first bowl of homemade muesli with fresh chopped strawberries and non-dairy milk.

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There is so much going on in this bowl!! So many textures and flavors. It’s crunchy and chewy, sweet and tangy from the fruit and then the little edge of cacao nib influence is a pleasant surprise against the fresh berries.

A healthy and delicious breakfast to take you through the morning feeling satisfied and energized!

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Curry Rice with Peas

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Sometimes cooking is the most enjoyable when I really don’t have to cook, but I just want to. Certain dishes say comfort to me and this is one of them. This recipe is not only quick and easy but it’s also cheap and comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Indian Curry Rice with Peas

(Servings: 6, or so)

  • 1 med Onion, yellow, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp. Garlic, minced, heaping
  • Handful shredded carrots (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. Oil
  • 1 cup white rice, Jasmine or Basmati or long grain
  • 1 ½ tsp. Curry powder
  • 1 cup Peas, frozen
  • 1 3/4 cups Vegetable broth (or water)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Saute onions and garlic. Add a handful of shredded carrots (optional).

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Add rice and coat with oil, stir. Add curry to coat and reduce a bit.

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Stir in vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a low boil, then reduce to simmer.

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Cover and steam for 12-15 minutes.

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Remove lid and add peas. Drape with towel and steam, off heat 5 minutes. This will warm the peas and they will keep their color and also bring down the dish temperature and stop the cooking process.

Fluff with fork.

Check salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

 

Tofu Scramble

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Tofu scramble, when I reflect on my day to day cooking, is probably the recipe I cook most often at home and for clients. It’s quick, easy and versatile. Delicious on its own, it also lends itself well to sandwiches, burritos, casseroles…you name it.

And this recipe is SO tasty and good it’s a staple on my  menus. I think you will agree this recipe is the best!

Scrambled Tofu

recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Spice blend:
2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with your fingers

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (or more, to taste)

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Fresh black pepper to taste

First stir the spice blend together in a small cup. Add water and mix. Set aside.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Saute the garlic in olive oil for about a minute. Break the tofu apart into bite sized pieces and saute for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to stir often. Get under the tofu when you are stirring, scrape the bottom and don’t let it stick to the pan, that is where the good, crispy stuff is. Use a thin metal spatula to get the job done, a wooden or plastic one won’t really cut it. The tofu should get browned on at least one side, but you don’t need to be too precise about it. The water should cook out of it and not collect too much at the bottom of the ban. If that is happening, turn the heat up and let the water evaporate.

Add the spice blend and mix to incorporate. Add the nutritional yeast and fresh black pepper. Cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve warm.

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Vegan Brunch

 

Friend or Faux: What You Need to Know About Fake Meats

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Vegan Chili Dog       Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

The Plant-based Diet is receiving a lot of press these days, due in part to recent documentaries like “What The Health” currently streaming to billions of homes through services like Netflix. It’s being heavily promoted in best-selling books like Dr. Greger’s “How Not To Die”. The idea is catching on. At least in theory.

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Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

It is easy to understand why so many would-be vegetarians declare “I can’t afford to go plant-based!” and just keep on doing what they’re doing. No, you can’t afford to go plant-based if you are simply switching out your meats and cheeses for plant-based/vegan meats and cheeses. Because they cost three to four times more than real meats and cheeses. And the real goal is to get off the meats and cheeses and eat more plants, for real. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts.

A food product can be labeled vegan, the ingredients all free of animal-derived components and yet be about the unhealthiest thing you could eat. Oreo cookies are a good example of vegan junk food. Oreos are plant-based!

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Plant-Based Baked Goods                   Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

The common argument for faux meats is that they are a “transitional” food for those new to meat-free eating. After conducting my own personal studies over the course of the past five years, I have come to the conclusion that they do nothing to ease the transition to a healthy, whole foods diet.

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What they actually do is become an obstacle to healthier whole-food protein choices such as beans, legumes and potatoes.  Because they taste so damned good! And as technology moves on, they just keep tasting better and better. These products are highly processed, high in fat and salt in most cases–manipulating our taste buds with artificially engineered flavors. Consequently, simple natural foods taste dull in comparison.

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If you want to improve your health, reclaim your naturally balanced weight, increase energy and focus…all of this is possible with a whole food plant-based diet. Whole food being the important factor. This means buying and consuming foods that have five ingredients or less. Yes, you read right. Check your cupboard, your fridge, your desk drawer at work. How do your plant-based food choices stack up?

There are really no shortcuts to better health. There are no super foods. Sustainable health is attained by a lifestyle balance between the foods we eat and the way we treat our bodies and minds every day.

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Should we never eat faux meats? Do I sometimes eat them? Absolutely. Most dieticians and nutritionists agree that a ratio of 80% natural, whole foods to 20% “discretionary” foods is a good balance for sustainable health. That’s what I’m shooting for. One day at a time. One meal at a time.

 

 

Vegan Zucchini-Spice Muffins

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When my day in the kitchen is smooth, I often have a little energy left over to make something just for fun. Today I baked these delicious, moist muffins filled with nutritious real food like fresh zucchini, banana, applesauce, walnuts and raisins. And just in time for tea!

This recipe comes directly from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s website. She’s definitely my go-to gal for the tastiest, fool-proof vegan recipes. Click here to link directly to her site and the recipe: ZUCCHINI BANANA BREAD

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I made little modification, other than using whole wheat pastry flour, adding a little

chai masala for extra spiciness and baking the batter as muffins instead of in a loaf pan.

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They baked up in about 20 minutes. Just watch your time. You’ll know when they’re ready–nice high, lightly-browned domes and dry on top, but if you’re not sure just poke a toothpick or the blade of a thin knife through the center to make sure the batter is no longer wet.

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Mushroom Bourguignon

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Well, isn’t this fancy? A classical French dish turned vegan!

Warm, savory and satisfying– this rich stew is filled with vegetables, potatoes and hearty mushrooms, simmered with red wine and fresh thyme leaves.

If you really want to go top shelf, bake a nice little puff pastry top hat!

Mushroom Bourguignon

1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 ½ Carrots, diced
½ large Onion, yellow, diced
½ cup Onions, pearl, peeled
1 cup Mushrooms, cremini, halved
½ cup Mushrooms, button, halved
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
½ 1 large Potato, russet, diced
½ cup Peas, frozen
2 cloves Garlic, roasted
1 ½ cups Red wine, Pinot Noir preferred
¼ cup Vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
3 sprigs Thyme, fresh, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon Sea salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper, black
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened
1.5 tablespoons Flour, all purpose
1 tablespoon Brown rice syrup ( I used agave nectar)

Method:
1.Heat oil and add carrots, yellow onion and pearl onions, cook for about 3 minutes to start browning. Add mushrooms and walnuts and cook for about 3 minutes.:

2.Add potato, peas and garlic and stir. Add wine, vegetable broth, tomato paste, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for about 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.:

3.While vegetable mixture is cooking, whisk together room temperature butter and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.:

4.After about 30 minutes of cooking add brown rice syrup and buter and flour mixture to pot and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over low heat. Let cook for up to an hour if you have time.:

Recipe Source:  The Spork-Fed Cookbook by Jenny Engel and Heather Goldsmith

Barbecue Tofu with Baked Beans and Cheesy Mash

TofuBarbequeWith daylight savings time and the longer evenings, I just can’t wait for those summer cookouts. It’s fun to pull out the grill on a regular old weeknight and turn out some great barbecue!

Whether you like it smoky or spicy, savory or sweet, there’s no reason to give up your favorite barbeque flavors as a vegetarian or vegan. Tofu has a wonderfully absorbent quality when it comes to flavors. It’s especially so when it is frozen, thawed and pressed  beforehand.

Here’s a basic barbecue flavored marinade, that can be used by itself or along with your favorite barbecue sauce at grill time.

Smoky BBQ Tofu Marinade

¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or mirin)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika or chili powder

Blend all ingredients and pour over tofu. Makes about 1/2 cup, enough for 1 pound.

There are so many sides to choose from, but on a weeknight, I choose the easiest to prepare. Here is a quick and easy baked bean recipe that can be baking in the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal. It is sweet and tangy with a rich tomato flavor.

Homemade Baked Beans

courtesy of Jenna Weber (www.eatliverun.com)

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp hot sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 350
In a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté for about five minutes or until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the maple syrup, tomato sauce, salt, ground mustard, hot sauce and ketchup and simmer for five minutes.
Add the beans and bay leaf, stir, then cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, stirring once during the baking process.
Allow to cool and serve warm.

Serves 4

Cheesy mashed potatoes is the simplest side dish of all, provided you have some leftover cheesy sauce hanging around in the fridge, which I think everyone should! https://veganflavorista.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/sexy-cheezy-sauce/

Cheesy Mash

courtesy of Vegan Flavorista

Wash and dry four big potatoes. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave 10 minutes. Mash with unsweetened non-dairy milk until desired consistency is reached. Stir in a big dollop of Dijon mustard, then season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Take about 4 scallions, washed and dried, and snip them with kitchen shears right into the potatoes. Stir to blend.

Gently reheat cheesy sauce and drizzle over warm mashed potatoes. Heavenly!

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