Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Raw Experiment


This is what my kitchen counter looks like at home now; a cornucopia of delicious organic fruit. Barely even a weeks worth. I no longer shop in a "Super" store; most of my purchases are from Trader Joe's Whole Foods & Dave's.  Actually, Trader Joe's has very good organic produce at reasonable prices and has become my go to place for fruits and vegetables.

Green juice with feldsalat & pears.


So what is this raw vegan thing? Well I am still figuring it out, myself. Some of the Raw Foodies describe themselves in terms of percentages: 100% raw, 50% raw etc.  I am at about 75% raw, which means that most of my meals consist of raw fruits and vegetables in whole, blended or juice form. For dinner I still like to enjoy something cooked such as my legumes with rice. And the incessant baking that I do continues to go on, of course.

Pink beans made in the crockpot with jasmine rice.


Why eat raw? Everyone is different, I am certainly not an expert in any way....BUT, I feel can be testimony to the fact that I feel A-MAZ-ing when I eat this way. I have no aches or pains of any sort. I feel cleaner and lighter and... Let's talk about the scale for a moment: when I eat 100% raw the weight starts to come off without even trying. The conundrum I face at this moment is making the break from my grains and beans in cooked form. And I can not forget to mention my vices: the baked goods with their white flour, chocolate & sugar that hold me prisoner in a vat of denial and excuses. It would seem that feeling better and losing weight would make this a no brainer for me, wouldn't it?

Vegan fudge cake

Two books I have purchased to help me sort out what is best for my body are:



Mimi Kirk's "Live Raw"

















and "The 80/10/10 Diet" by Dr. Douglas N. Graham.

Click Here to watch an awesome u-tube video about the addictive properties of chocolate, cheese, meat & sugar by Dr. Neal Barnard, PCRM

Some of my raw meals:
Bananas & berries

Blackberry & strawberry smoothie with chia seeds

Strawberry, banana & pineapple smoothie

Cucumber & tomato salad dressed with basil and lemon.

Lunch!

Raw tomato red pepper sauce with carrots, garlic & basil on zucchini swirls.

Packing up my breakfast & lunch for work.

Grapefruit & kumquat juice

Lunch salad with avocado, spinach, grapes, oranges & pea sprouts dressed with lime juice.








Sunday, March 11, 2012

Asparagus Frittata


Eggs need not apply. This frittata is vegan and just as delicious, if not more than the traditional egg laden version. This recipe was sent to me by a dear friend, who clipped it out of the Hartford Courant. Unfortunately, I could not find the original post to credit the chef, so I changed it up a bit. I never follow a recipe down to the T, anyway. This is my version:

Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh asparagus (snap off the tough ends and rinse)
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of minced garlic
Olive oil to saute vegetables
1/2 cup soy cheese, such as Daiya

1 lb of firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp oil
salt, pepper, onion powder (1 tsp)
1/2 a teaspoon turmeric (for color)


Rinse and chop veggies and sauté in a couple tbsp of olive oil until soft.  Meanwhile, place rained tofu in blender or food processor with water, turmeric and spices. Process and drizzle in oil until smooth and creamy. take veggies off heat and mix in cheese. Toss until cheese is melted then add tofu mixture and spoon into 9 inch greased pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees until set, 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before slicing and serve with salsa if desired.

Rinse the asparagus.
Saute veggies in oil.

Process tofu until smooth.
Baked!









Breakfast Burrito made the next day with the leftover frittata!




Leslie's Quinoa Stuffed Peppers


I have to be honest: I have never been a fan of quinoa (Keen-wah), couldn't pronounce it, and thought the taste was blah. Obviously, I did not know how to cook it properly.

My wonderful friend, Leslie, shared this recipe with me and now I can introduce you to a very flavorful way to use quinoa, that will satisfy even the omnivores.

Ingredients:

6 medium sized bell peppers
1 cup organic quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 medium diced onion
1/2 lb fresh chopped mushrooms (I used baby portabellos)
2 cloves of diced garlic
2 Tbs butter, margarine or olive oil
1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 12 ounce jar of salsa (I used medium heat)
2 Tbsp dry sherry (I didn't have any, so I skipped this)
10 oz of mozzarella cheese (I used pepper jack Daiya)

Cook Quinoa in water or broth according to the directions on the package. Meanwhile, steam the peppers for about 10 minutes to soften them up a bit, while still retaining their shape and color. In a skillet pan, use the butter or oil to saute your onion, garlic and mushrooms until they are softened. Add diced tomatoes & salsa to the vegetables and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add Sherry and simmer another 10 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add quinoa to mixture and cook for a few minutes to incorporate flavors. Stuff the peppers and sprinkle tops with cheese, if desired. Place peppers in an oven proof casserole dish and bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. This recipe makes enough quinoa to stuff many more peppers, about double the amount. I spooned the extra quinoa around the base of the peppers in the baking dish, but could have easily stuffed about 4 more peppers with it.

Bean Burgers

Top: Baked.  Bottom: Fried


I started making my own bean burgers years ago because of my desire to stay away from all processed foods. This recipe is a mere guideline and can be altered as desired.


Ingredients: (I use this term rather loosely)

2 cans of your favorite beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 an onion
2-3 cloves of garlic (optional)
1 bell pepper, any color (red will be sweeter)
Parsley, cilantro, salt, pepper, spices
Olive oil
Flour







Start out  by sautéing, in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, half of a diced red onion, one large bell pepper (any color will do), a few cloves of minced garlic and a small handful of fresh parsley. Cook for medium heat until the veggies are softened.









Black Beans
 Use two cans of your favorite beans such as black beans and start out by draining and rinsing them. Place them in a food processor and pulse or mash with a fork until beans are broken up. Process the cooked veggies as well.

Processed beans
Processed veggies.


Mix the two together and add a little flour (about 1/4 cup) to help the patties hold together. Let your imagination run wild and add spices such as cumin and coriander for a Mexican flavor, or curry spices for an Indian version. Use garbanzo (chickpea) flour to make them gluten free. 

Place patties on parchment paper and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully flip the burgers after 15 minutes. They should brown slightly and hold their shape when done.

The burgers can be fried as well. I suggest, that if you are going to fry them, that you make a small test patty to see if it holds together in the oil. If it starts to fall apart, add more flour to the mixture and test again. Quite frankly, I think they taste better baked and it was less of a mess. This recipe makes about eight large burgers. Store in the fridge in a sealed container or wrap separately and freeze for later use.



Baked Beans


You will not find any ham hock in this vegan version of baked beans. What you will find is a rich bold flavor partly due to the molasses in the recipe. Serve with my vegan corn bread.


Vegan Slow Cooker Baked Beans
Ingredients:
1 lb. dried beans (I used Great Northern)
1 large onion, diced fine 
1 cup water
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce 
1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Method
The night before, pick through the beans to remove any stones, then place in a bowl and cover with enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Soak overnight.
In the morning, mix together all ingredients except the beans, and onion  in a large bowl.
In the bottom of minimum 4-quart slow cooker, layer the diced onion, then add the beans.
Pour the liquid mixture over the beans, then add up to an additional 3 cups of water until the tops of the beans are just submerged.

Cook the beans on high for 6-8 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours. I left mine in the pot on low for around 12 hours. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Green Juice







The inspiration for this green juice comes from Joe Cross from the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. He is a 43 year old,  Australian businessman that was told by his doctors that he would die if he did not turn his life around. Click here to read an article about his juice journey to wellness.

Joe Cross in an article by Paige Hansen on the Take Part site.

Do not let the color fool you, with the addition of apple and lemon, these juices have a very mildly sweet and tart flavor. Personally, I find the color and chemicals in certain green soft drinks much more offensive. What you have here in this very unassuming glass is a juice teaming with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, protein (yes vegetables have protein) and carbohydrates. 






The basic recipe from Joe Cross contains kale, cucumber, celery, green apples, parsley, lemon, and ginger. Watch Joe make his Green juice in this advertisement.




There is no exact recipe in my book. If you hate celery, leave it out. Add carrots or don't.

Green juice with the addition of carrots.


Tomatoes & carrots in this one


Joe's recipe





 For this juice I added extra green apples.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chickpea Burgers


My love for the garbanzo is never ending. Today, I sculpted the little treasures into burgers that can be served on a bun or on a bed of fresh greens. Chickpeas are higher in protein per serving than soy beans and by nature are gluten free.

Ingredients

2 cans of chickpeas, drained
2-3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 handful of fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
Salt & pepper, spices
Garbanzo flour ( I use Bob's red Mill)

Oil for frying

A note about the ingredients: This is only a basic recipe for you to start with. If you prefer green bell peppers, switch out the red. Don't like peppers at all? Don't use them. Add cajun spices or curry powder for a different tasting burger. The chickpeas base can be flavored in any way desired. Regular all purpose flour can be used in place of the garbanzo flour, but then your burger will no longer be gluten free.






Warm up a large skillet on medium heat and add about a tablespoon of oil. Saute  the diced vegetables until they are softened. Add salt, pepper and desired spices. Set aside to cool off a bit.












In the meantime, mash the chickpeas with a fork or use a food processor, until they mushy but not quite even in texture.





Before
After: Next time I think I will mash them a little more.
Add your vegetables to your chickpea mash and stir together with your hands until  the mixture is even. Add the garbanzo flour in tablespoon increments until the mixture begins to hold together. Depending on the moisture of your vegetables, about 1/2 a cup of flour will be necessary. Form a patty in your hands. If it holds together you are ready to cook it; if not add a little more of the flour until you have a good consistency. This takes a little trial and error. If unsure about the right consistency, fry a small one up and see if it holds together in the pan.






Wipe your now cool skillet down with a paper towel to clean it off and place it back on medium heat. Add just enough oil to cover the bottom and once the oil is warm (drop a little mash in and see if the oil sizzles), add your patties. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side or until each side is golden brown. Carefully remove with a spatula from the frying pan unto paper towels to absorb excess oil. 






Next time I make these I might try to bake them instead by placing them on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, spraying them lightly with a little oil, and baking in a 375 oven until brown.