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!

Ingredients:
two whole carrots peeled and julienned
1/4 head of cabbage shredded
1/2 large onion cut into strips
water
rice wine vinegar
tamari
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.


Ingredients:
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
salt/pepper

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


Ingredients:
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

Instructions:

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:

Ingredients: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), FIGS PRESERVED WITH SULFUR DIOXIDE, CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, SOYBEAN OIL, WHEY (FROM MILK), PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, BAKING SODA, CALCIUM LACTATE, MALIC ACID, SOY LECITHIN (EMULSIFIER), POTASSIUM SORBATE ADDED TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR.






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!


Ingredients:
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
"....... 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."


HEALTH BENEFITS 


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!