Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Potato Quinoa Stew

There is nothing I love more than a hot bowl of stew! At my house we eat either homemade soup or a stew at least once a week.  I made a big pot of it so we can also eat it for lunch through the week.   What I love about this soup is that the quinoa is a great source of plant based protein for my family...oh, and it tastes AMAZING!!

So, here is our stew from last night and from my lunch about 20 minutes ago!!

6 organic potatoes cubed with skin
1 organic onion chopped finely
3 organic carrots chopped
3 cloves organic garlic choppd
2 cups white beans
4 cups organic veggie stock
4 cups purified water
2 cups organic non dairy milk (I used rice)
1 cup uncooked organic quinoa (rinsed) 
2 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbs  dill
1/4 cup white wine (or more if needed)
2 tbs non dairy cream cheese (optional)

Saute the garlic and onion in the white wine until tender, add more wine as needed to saute.  Add the spices and saute until incorporated.  Add the veggie broth and water and bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes, carrots and beans and quinoa.   Boil for about 5 minutes then turn to a low simmer.  Simmer on low for about 1/2 an hour.  In the last 10 minutes of cooking add the milk and cream cheese (if you want it a little creamier).  Stir well a few times during the simmering.  Serve piping hot with a salad or a piece of gluten free toast!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

BIG SALAD: Black Bean Apple Onion with walnuts

It's almost 11:00 pm and I just went to my fridge for a late night snack.  I couldn't resist finishing off the leftovers from my "big salad" I made tonight.  I'm sure I will regret eating red onion this late at night but I just had to have a few more bites of this fab creation!

Black Bean Apple Onion with Walnut Salad:
Combine all the following into a large salad bowl:
1 large head organic romaine lettuce  finely chopped
1/2 organic red onion diced
1 organic cucumber cut into thin slices
1/2 cup raw walnuts chopped
1-2 organic red delicious apple cut into thin slices

In a sepearte bowl combine:
2 cups black beans
1/2 cup vegan mayo
tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Stir all the ingredients well and pour over the veggies, nuts and apples.  Toss the salad well and devour, I mean enjoy !!

(I wish I had a picture to show you.......but it was eaten too fast to capture the moment)

Friday, November 25, 2011


I apologize that this post comes after the actual Thanksgiving.  It was so busy planning and cooking my first vegan and gluten free holiday meal that I couldn't squeeze in time to blog about it.  Well, I suppose better late than never applies here!

In addition to the standard Thanksgiving dishes I usually make, (I cooked for meat eaters as well), I also came up with some vegan and gluten free options for us.  My goal was to make a really tasty gravy and stuffing that didn't contain gluten or animal products.  From the reviews I received from family members, I think I succeeded!

Vegan/Gluten Free Stuffing:
gluten free/vegan bread 
2 flax eggs
3 celery stalks chopped
1 onion chopped
1 cup brown rice
2 tbs Earth Balance
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 tsp dill
1/2 tbs Mrs. Dash original seasoning (add more or less as you prefer)
white wine
1/2 cup water

Take your sliced loaf of bread and toast it in the oven on a cookie sheet until the edges are crusty.  Cube the bread with your hands and put into a bowl. Pour the water over the bread with your hands to moisten the pieces.  In a saute pan heat up 1/4 white wine and saute the onion and celery.  Once the vegetables start to soften add the Earth Balance.  Once the butter melts add the bread.  Add the salt, pepper, dill and Mrs. Dash.  Keep mixing the bread, onion and celery while adding white wine to the pan to keep the mixture from burning.  The idea is to use enough wine to avoid burning and not too much to soak the bread.  You want a semi-moist/browned finish product.

Once the bread is done, transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the brown rice, stir well.  Finally, add the 2 flax eggs and mix once again.  Transfer your stuffing to a serving dish and enjoy! 

I also used this stuffing to make stuffed butternut squash.  For this dish I used the same stuffing but mixed in the flesh of the squash and then baked covered in foil...YUM!

Gluten Free/Vegan Gravy

2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup GF flour (I used garbanzo bean flour)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp dried mustard powder
1 tsp dried parsley 
 1 tbs Earth Balance
2 tbs nutritional yeast

In a sauce pot melt the Earth Balance and add the veggie broth.  Bring to a low boil and add all the spices and stir.  Slowly whisk in the flour and continue stirring until no lumps are visible.  Add more veggie broth if you like a thinner gravy.

This gravy was so tasty over mashed potatoes,  stuffing and stuffed squash.  I didn't miss the actual turkey on bit! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gltuen Free/Vegan Flax Bread (in the bread machine!)

Gluten free bread making is not for the faint of heart.  There are so many flour combinations out there and learning how to use each one correctly seems more scientific than artistic at times.  Not only was I attempting a corn free, gluten free bread, but I also wanted it to be vegan. My youngest has Celiac and recently we took corn out of her diet to see how her health improves.  I have RA and have been gluten free for a while,  but I am now trying to take all grains out of my diet to improve my joint pain. It's amazing what you can do when you are motivated by health!

Here is the breakdown of this recipe:

1 1/2 c garbanzo bean flour
1 c potato starch
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/4 c flax meal
2 tsp guar gum
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 yeast packet

1 1/4 c warm water
2 tbs oil
1 tbs agave
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 flax egg (1 tsp ground flax mixed with 3 tsp water)
(or your egg replacement of choice)

In your bread machine pan:
put in the yeast, warm water, oil, agave, vinegar and flax egg

In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients together with a whisk.  Pour the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients.  Set the machine for 1.5lb loaf with a medium crust.  I have a gluten free bread cycle on my machine so that is what I used.  If you don't have one, use the setting for a rapid white.

Watch your dough as it is mixing, it should be thinner than regular bread dough but not watery like a batter...add a tsp more flour if it looks to wet, or a tsp of liquid if it looks to dry. 

Let the bread cool completely before cutting.

Here is what I have noticed so far:
  • the bread has a nice taste, goes well with nut butter and jelly! It has a different taste than traditional GF bread because of the garbanzo bean flour (FYI)
  • is on the dense side and has a firm crust
  • isn't crumbly but needs to be cut with care and not too thinly sliced
  • Store in a sealed bag in the refrigerator or freezer 
My goal in my next loaf is to be grain free so I will sample more non-grain flours.  I would also like to eliminate oil as well, so if you have any tips for me about that I would be happy to hear them!

I know how difficult producing a good gluten free bread recipe is, and I have tried many myself!  If you try this one let me know how you like it.  If you don't like it I'd LOVE to hear suggestions on how to improve it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Postive Affirmation Monday

Viewing each day as a small piece of a journey helps to unburden our mistakes... 

Loving myself heals my life. Healing my life brings me peace....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quinoa Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (gluten free :)

Everyone once in a while I get that gotta-have-chocolate itch and immediately head towards the kitchen to bake.  So, today I went into my pantry and there staring at me was the bag of quinoa flakes  I bought the other day.  As I stared at the quinoa flakes (p.s BUY the flakes in BULK: cheaper!!)   I wondered if I could use these to make a cookie recipe.....here is the result of my wondering:

1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup brown rice flower
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xantham gum
1 cup organic creamy natural peanut butter (or sun butter if peanut allergy)
1 1/4 cups homemade apple sauce
 2 tsp  organic vanilla
3 tsp pure organic maple syrup
1/4 cup rice milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
1 cup of your favorite vegan chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350
First add the dry ingredients, whisk until incorporated.  Next, add all the wet ingredients.  Mix all the ingredients until well blended.  (If you are the kind of person who likes neat, symmetrical cookies follow the next direction) Shape into golf ball sized balls with the dough.  Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, (or lightly spray with cooking spray).  Using the back of a spoon, press down on the cookie balls making them into disks. OR, if you are like me and like the way they look dropped off a spoon by all means skip the ball stage :)   Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the bottoms and edges are brown.

Make yourself a nice hot cup of tea and enjoy this treat!  They sort of remind me a bit of oatmeal cookies and have a really different but enjoyable flavor.  Let me know what you think!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's a wrap!

How have I never used rice paper before??
I have been so excited about these gluten free-rice spring roll wrappers, you'd think I've never eaten before!  You see, since my little one has Celiac disease, (and me with a gluten sensitivity), we no longer eat Chinese take out .  I can make some mean vegan and GF Asian stir fry, but totally miss the spring rolls........until now!
Since picking up rice paper,  I have made two different batches of spring rolls.  Both were really great!

two whole carrots peeled and julienned
1/4 head of cabbage shredded
1/2 large onion cut into strips
rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha hot sauce

In a very hot pan, add 1/4 rice wine vinegar, 1/4 tamari, and sesame oil.  Add the carrots and cabbage, mix with the liquids and cover.  WATCH CAREFULLY and stir every 2 or three minutes.  You may have to add water to deglaze the pan when the veggies start to stick.  Once the carrots and cabbage get soft, add the onions and sriracha sauce.  Add more tamari and vinegar and stir.  Cover and watch again.  When the veggies are all soft remove from heat and let cool.

Get a bowl of water for soaking your rice paper.  You want to place one piece of rice paper in at a time, maybe for 20 seconds.  You want it to get soft, but not too soft or it will tear.  Check out this video for how to stuff and roll the wrappers.........

Unlike traditional Chinese take-out spring rolls, we are not going to fry them.  Preheat your oven to 425.  Place the rolls on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with organic cooking spray, then spray the rolls as well with the cooking spray.  Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the rolls are crispy and brown, turning them over half way through baking.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce during your Chinese make in meal!  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shepard's Vegan GF Pie!

Once the fall weather begins to arrive the "comfort food" bell goes off in my head.  Shepard's pie has always been a favorite of my family when we were carnivores.  Just because we don't eat meat doesn't mean we can't have something bubbly and delicious out of the oven on a cool fall day.

5 organic russet potatoes
2 large organic yams
1 package tempeh
1/2 organic onion chopped
2 whole carrots peeled and cut into circles
1 package frozen organic green beans
2 tablespoons ground flax
1/4 cup non dairy milk
white wine

Begin by cutting the potatoes and yams and bringing to a boil. ( I leave the skin on the russets and peel the yams, that part is up to personal preference) Cook the potatoes until fork tender.

Steam the whole bag of green beans, being careful to keep them crisp.

In a separate skillet, saute the chopped onion in white wine.  Peel and cut the carrots into small circles and add to the onions in the wine.  When the wine evaporates, add some water to continue sauteing.   Cut up the tempeh into very small pieces and add to the onion/carrot mixture.  Add fresh ground black pepper.  Add more wine to the skillet and keep stirring the mixture until the tempeh browns slightly.  You may have to add water or more wine to de-glaze the skillet and keep the mixture from burning. 

When the potatoes are cooked, strain them and put them into a mixing bowl.  Add the ground flax, the non dairy milk and salt and pepper.  Using a hand masher or mixer, mash the potatoes until they are the consistency you prefer.

Smooth a thin layer of the potatoes on the bottom of an 8 x 13 in baking dish.  Layer all the green beans on top of the potatoes.  Then sprinkle the tempeh mixture on top of the green beans.  Use the rest of the potatoes as a final layer to your shepherd's pie.   Place in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, (heat longer if you have it saved and refrigerated for later cooking!).

Two nights a week I teach a class so I usually leave a dish like this for my husband to reheat and serve.  You may want to get creative with your green beans and leave your family a message to be revealed when dinner begins...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My RA Soup

It's rainy and damp today and my joints certainly are feeling achy.  Today I decided to make myself a pot of soup to help with the swelling that is going on in my body.  The ingredients not only have properties that are anti-inflammatory, but they taste so delicious and warming on this damp and rainy day!  Here is more information on fruits and veggies that fight inflammation

4 cups organic vegetable stock
1 medium organic onion
1 large organic sweet potato
5 organic kale leaves
2 organic celery stalks
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it really spicy)

Chop the onion and celery into medium sized pieces, (smaller if you prefer), and saute in 1/4 cup of vegetable stock*.  Once the onion and celery are sauteed, add the 4 cups stock and potato and kale, bring to a boil.  Add the paprika and cayenne and stir.  Add the sweet potato and kale and cover and turn heat to low.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Enjoy..........and feel better!!!

*get into the habit of sauteing without oils of any kind!  You can use veggie broth, veggie juice, water, wine, vinegar.

Gluten Free-Vegan Fig Bars!

Prior to our lifestyle change, my husband's favorite snack was fig bars, (a.k.a Fig Newtons).  Since we no longer purchase processed/artificial foods, the fig bars have vanished from our snack cabinet.  I have been so proud of him and my children for embracing our new way of eating, it still amazes me that my kids are choosing fruits and veggies for snacks without me nagging them!  As a little reward for all this fabulous behavior, I decided to go on a quest for a gluten free/vegan fig bar recipe!

In my search I came across a really fun and informative site called fitfortwo.tv.  What is different about this healthy plant based diet site is that they also produce video segments to go along with their recipes.  Their fig bar recipe sounded and looked so delicious, so I adapted it to fit our (no oil) diet plan with a few small changes. 

GF/Vegan Fig Bars:                                                          
Dough Ingredients-
1 1/2 cups  organic almonds
1 1/2 cups organic brown rice flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup organic apple sauce (mine was homemade)
1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract

Fig Filling Ingredients:
1 cup dry organic figs
1/4 cup organic raisins
1/2 cup fresh organic lemon juice
1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract


In a food processor, put in almonds and process until they form an almond meal consistency.  Add in the flour and salt and process again until the almonds and flour are combined.  Combine the wet ingredients for the dough in a separate bowl.  While the food processor is on, add in the wet ingredients.  Once the dough is combined, place in a bowl and cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

While the dough is chilling, make the fig filling, (that rhymes :),  In the food processor, put in your figs (with the stem removed), and raisins and process until chopped.  Add the rest of the filling ingredients and process until a smooth paste is formed. 

Once your dough has chilled, split it in half.  Put the first half between two pieces of wax or parchment paper and roll it out into a rectangle shape, about 1/4 thick.  Spread half the fig mixture along one side of the dough, then fold the other side of the dough on top of the fig mixture and pinch the edges to keep them together.  Repeat the process with the remaining dough.  You can bake the cookies on the parchment paper on a cookie sheet or transfer the dough to a lightly sprayed cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  You will know they are done when the bottom and edges brown.  Let them cool completely before cutting into squares.  Enjoy with your favorite cup of tea!

For fun,  here is the list of ingredients from store bought fig bars:


Monday, September 12, 2011

Hot Quinoa-Apple Cereal

Here is one of my morning favorites!  While checking email and catching up on the news, I eat a hot bowl of quinoa cereal to kick-start my day!  No need for coffee, this amazing little nutrient-packed bowl of quinoa really keeps you energized!

1 cup of rinsed quinoa
2 cups  almond milk (rice or soy work great too!)
2 tsp Cinnamon   (I use more because I love it, add more or less depending on your preference) 
1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract    
1 apple cut into pieces (you can also use blueberries, strawberries, peaches, whatever is in season...)

After rinsing the quinoa, add it to the nondairy milk in a saucepan, stir.  Add the cinnamon and vanilla and bring to a boil.  Ofter boiling for a minute or so, add the apples and simmer covered on low for about 15 minutes.  If you like your apples crisper, add them in the last 5 minutes of cooking.  You will know the quinoa is done when all the liquid is absorbed and it has a soft texture.  Store your cereal in an airtight container in the refrigerator.                                   

If you haven't been introduced to quinoa yet then this is an exciting moment!  Here is part of an article frrom whfoods.com  that discusses the many health benefits of this amazing protein!

"....... quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Quinoa is available in your local health food stores throughout the year. 

Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas."


A recently rediscovered ancient "grain" native to South America, quinoa was once called "the gold of the Incas," who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa's amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis."
continue reading the article for more health benefits of quinoa!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Potato Kale Leek Soup

The beauty of this soup is that it is so hearty and filling it can be served as a meal.  We have homemade soup at least twice a week and this is one of the kids FAVORITES!  You can serve this with fresh veggies, GF toast or alone! 

You will need:
2 leeks cut and cleaned *
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes cut and unpeeled *       
5 fresh kale leaves chopped*
4 cups vegetable stock*
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
(*organic ingredients are used)
(**I double the recipe for our family of 5 and freeze the left-overs for another night!)

Cut and wash the leeks thoroughly.  I cut them into small circles and recruit my oldest daughter to separate the leek circles.  I soak the leeks in water and swish them around to get all the dirt out of them. (I've had leek soup where you could taste the grit of the dirt that wasn't washed out, not enjoyable!)

In a large stock pot, saute the leeks in 1/4 cup of veggie broth until they are soft. (add more broth if needed).

Add the cut up washed kale, the rest of  the veggie broth and water.  Bring to a boil and then add the cut up potatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, (or blender of choice), carefully blend the soup until it is creamy and to the texture of your liking. You can add more water if it is too thick after blending, add salt and pepper to taste!

The Most/Least Pesticide Containing Produce

Organic produce is more expensive than non-organic, that is definitely true.  If your budget won't allow you to live completely organic, then this list will help you choose some items to buy organically based on their level of pesticides.  Check out this site for the most complete list of produce items along with more information regarding organic produce :   http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list/

12 Most Contaminated                                                           
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
12 Least Contaminated
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why Organic? Why local?

      There are many reasons to try and shop organically whenever possible.  If you are trying to heal from disease or just keep healthy,  then the first reason that jumps into your mind is to keep toxins, (like pesticides and herbicides) out of your body.  Yet there are so many other important reasons to look for that organic sticker.
      I always believed that buying organic food was important and better for my family.  Yet, I was always hung up by the higher prices.  How could we afford to feed a family of five on all organic food and stay in our budget?   When we went to a whole foods diet we eliminated prepacked foods, meats and most dairy from our grocery trips which allowed me to purchase organic foods without much of an increase to our budget! Plus, eating a whole foods diet satisfies you more so you don't need to fill up on empty calorie, prepackaged foods!  Check out how different fruits and vegetables rank in their levels of pesticides here!

Here are some more reasons to consider organic and local food:

  • Organic farming keeps the land clean and safe and allows living things to grow without harmful toxins.  Not only do poisons get into the land, food, and living things but the toxins also run off into oceans and rivers, (not to mention the air), all of which further pollutes the environment.
  • One of my favorite reasons to purchase organic foods is because it benefits the small farmer/business!  Face it, we live in a world where the mega-marts have squashed the "mom and pop "stores and have almost caused small farms to vanish.  How and where we spend our money is a great power that we have.  I rather give my money to a local farmer than to one of the giant companies any day. Not to mention we love to go to the local farm and pick our dinner!
  • The food tastes better! (that might sound like an opinion, but I'm sticking to it!)
  • If you don't want to eat genetically modified food, (food designed through science and not nature), then you need to shop organically.  You can't rely on the label to tell you that the ingredients were genetically altered because we don't have that labeling law in the U.S.A. We don't know what the outcome will be for the population that consumes genetically modified food because it is such new technology.
  •  Toxins are spread to our unborn children!  "Before a mother first nurses her newborn, the toxic risk from pesticides has already begun. Studies show that infants are exposed to hundreds of harmful chemicals in utero. In fact, our nation is now reaping the results of four generations of exposure to agricultural and industrial chemicals, whose safety was deemed on adult tolerance levels, not on children’s. According to the National Academy of Science, “neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.” Numerous studies show that pesticides can adversely affect the nervous system, increase the risk of cancer, and decrease fertility."  (from organic.org)                                                                                                                                                                  
Check out this article from organic.org for more reasons why choosing organic is best for your health, your community and the planet!