vegan

Hot Potato

Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to…

Did you know how healthy potatoes are? I’m not talking about diced, shredded and fried (although undeniably Delicious). I’m referring to the low-cal (about 110 calories in 1 medium) naturally gluten-free vegetable with more potassium than a banana, 45% of your daily intake of vitamin C, 10% of vitamin B6, zero fat, zero cholesterol that contains essential minerals like magnesium and zinc to mention a few. We all know the story: eat your potato while drinking a glass of milk and live forever! Or at least avoid scurvy. But seriously, with necessary blood aids like iron and much needed digestive assistance from fiber (of which sadly our diets are greatly deprived), it just might be what the doctor ordered. That is of course baked- to maintain the most nutrients. (Save the sticks of butter and cups of cream for special occasions 😉 ) And if I may, please make sure you buy organic- not crazy hi-bred weird GMO who knows what they are potatoes, because I can’t vouch for those.

Serves 4-6

2 1/2 pounds -about 10-12 medium Potatoes (Russet, Idaho, Golden, Red…)

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1-2 Tbsp Course Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375°. Wash, scrub and rinse the potatoes. Remove any eyes or blemishes that you don’t want to eat. Dry the potatoes completely with a towel. Brush on the olive oil (a little goes a long way) or get messy and use your hands to cover the skins. Generously sprinkle the potatoes with the course salt. (Do not be afraid of this- the Kosher course salt is not as “salty” as fine salt. If you are using regular table salt, go easier obviously… I trust your judgement.)

Place potatoes on a baking sheet. I like to cover the sheet with Silpat or parchment paper for easier clean-up. Bake for an hour (sometimes 15-20 minutes more if using large potatoes) until skin is crispy and inside of potato is tender. Eat just like this, or with a pat of butter and a little salt and pepper, or with a dollop of sour cream (or plain yogurt if you’re eating clean) or crumbled bacon if you’re feeling wild. I’ll stop. You know what you like.

For more information on the healthiness of potatoes along with recipe ideas check out potatogoodness.com or an interesting article on the health benefits at livescience.com.

Seriously Delish’s BBQ Roasted Chickpeas

I love seasoned & lightly salted snacks. Specifically popcorn, potato chips, roasted nuts & seeds, pretzels… actually it’s not specific to anything- just season & salt it. But for a period of time I almost lost that passion. I was on a train in Alaska when my husband brought me a thoughtful and highly seasoned snack pack, because he knows me so well… that I could never eat because just the smell of the unopened package made me sick (like many things on that trip). Of course, when we got home, it all began to make sense because we found out I was pregnant (with who is now my daughter). I’ll admit it took a while to get past my little hangup, but let the good times roll and the seasoned snacks too! It’s nibbles like these that remind me of how good snacking can be. Did I mention they are healthy? Purely Coincidental! (Furthermore they are awesome tossed in a salad!)

As found in Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant:

1 Tbsp Smoked paprika

1 Tbsp Onion powder

1 1/2 tsp light Brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp Garlic salt

1/2 tsp Chili powder

1/2 tsp freshly ground Black pepper

1 1/2 cups canned Chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 Tbsp extra-virgin Olive oil

 

Preheat the oven to 425°.

In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, onion powder, brown sugar, garlic salt, chili powder, and pepper.

Pat the chickpeas completely dry with a towel and remove any of the skins that become loose. Add the chickpeas to a bowl and toss them with the olive oil and three-quarters of the spice mixture. Mix well to coat the chickpeas and spread them out on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake the chickpeas for 20 minutes, toss them with a spatula, and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven and let the chickpeas cool on the baking sheet.

Taste the chickpeas and season them with the additional spice mix if needed… Roasted chickpeas are best the day they are made- after a few hours they can lose their crunch. However, you can store them in a container with a sheet of plastic wrap lightly covering the top for 2 to 3 days.

 

 

Beet Chips & Cilantro Hummus

You know I’ve been digging the veggies lately. Just can’t get enough… they can be really fun and super delicious! Again to give accolades where they are due: thanks to Gwenyth Paltrow and her new cookbook, It’s All Easy. Eating healthy doesn’t mean bland, or that you have to squash your creativity. In fact, just the opposite, vegetables can make your mind whirl with possibilities! For example beets can be more than a Greek salad or Bortsch, they make for great chips! I love their red color and there little sweet crunch. Adding herbs like parsley or cilantro to your hummus, is a nice way to play with flavors and add a little variety to your intake of nutrients. But seriously, even if none of that matters to you- you’re going to love this because it is yummy!

As organic as possible:

Beet Chips

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more more for the baking sheets

2 medium beets, peeled  or very well scrubbed

leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced (*I used almost 1/2 tsp dry)

Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease two baking sheets lightly with olive oil.

Use mandolin to slice the beets as thin as possible.

In a bowl, toss the beet slices with rosemary, olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt. Arrange the beets in an even layer on the prepared baking sheets, making sure that none of the slices overlap. If you can’t fit all the slices, use another baking sheet.

Place the baking sheets in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, bake for 10 minutes, then switch their positions and bake for another 10 minutes. Let the chips cool on the baking sheets before eating. Eat plain or with the cilantro hummus for dipping.

 

Cilantro Hummus

1 – 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Juice of 1/2 large lemon, plus more as needed

1 1/2 tsp salt, plus more as needed

3 Tbsp tahini

1/4 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, very finely minced

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl with 1/4 cup water and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth (alternatively, use a food processor). Adjust with more lemon, salt, or water to taste.

 

 

Szechuan-Style Green Beans

This dish is amazing. Yes, you can serve it as an awesome side. But I am telling you this dish could stand up to being a meal in itself. Seriously, it is that good and flavorful. Even better, it’s easy and quick! Yay! The original version can be found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Easy; which I am loving btw… It’s makes healthy eating fun! A couple of the ingredients might not sound familiar, so here’s a quick note: you could probably replace the tamari with soy sauce and the sambal oelek with a chili paste (such as Thai). Enjoy!

 

As organic as possible:

Salt

2 tsp minced fresh Ginger

2 tsp Sambal Oelek

1 Tbsp Tamari

1 tsp toasted Sesame oil

1 1/2 tsp Maple syrup

1/2 pound Green Beans

3 Tbsp Olive or Peanut oil

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the green beans.

In a small bowl, combine the ginger, sambal oelek, tamari, sesame oil, and maple syrup to make the sauce.

Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook just until the water comes back to a boil, about 3 minutes; drain well and dry on a kitchen towel.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the green beans and cook until sizzling and beginning to blister, about 3 minutes. Add the sauce, turn off the heat, and let sit for 2 minutes before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.

Berry-Banana Smoothie Bowl

Now that I’m a raging health nut… I buy healthy recipe magazines. And according to my Clean Eating periodical, “Smoothie Bowls” are all the rage. They’re smoothies you can chuck so full of nutritional goodness and frozen fruits/veggies that you can’t suck them through a straw- hence the bowl and spoon. Of course if you know me, you know I am all about cutting edge (and regularly sarcastic). But I thought, why not? I like smoothies and I certainly know how to freeze a banana. However, for all my strides in stocking my pantry with chia seeds, coconut milk, almond flour, and avocado oil; I still came up short on my chlorella, maqui berry and maca powders. So I came up with my own, and I must say that it does feel indulgent. Like eating berry ice cream for breakfast! 😉

 

Serves 2 (or a hungry 1)

As organic as possible:

9 frozen Strawberries

1 frozen Banana, sliced into 2″ pieces

1/2 cup Almond Milk (Soy or non-fat milk)

5 Ice cubes

2 cups mixed frozen Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries

1/3 cup granola (preferably with some source of protein: nuts or seeds), plus more for topping (optional)

1 Tbsp Honey (buzzword “raw” optional)

 

Make sure to freeze your fruit the night before or at least several hours in advance (or you might end up with a regular old smoothie). Place all the ingredients in a blender and flip the switch! (Or push the button…)

Spoon the ingredients into a bowl and top with granola or slivered almonds if you’d like, and eat up butter cup. You’re so healthy!

Iced Chai Tea Latte

I made this drink for an India themed dinner party. Immediately I knew I would have to share it during the holidays. Honestly it was like the most beautiful thing I had ever tasted. I know that is a strange thing to say, but it really was. It was complex, but simple; like something I’ve never tasted before, but familiar; aromatic and yet subtle. I think it would be special to serve with a meal or to drink alone. Just trust me on this and give it a try. (BTW I did have to find the cardamom pods at an Indian grocer, but I am sure they are available on-line.)

Originally posted on Big Girls Small Kitchen.

Iced Chai Tea Latte
Makes 1 drink

Ingredients
6 tablespoons Chai Tea Concentrate (recipe follows)
1 cup milk of your choice*
Ice

*If you use sweetened almond, soy, or rice milk, you may need to play around to make the concentrate less sugary. This recipe was developed using 2% milk.

Pour both the Chai Tea Concentrate and the milk into a glass, stirring to combine them. Add a large handful of ice, and drink immediately.

You can make this into a hot drink for winter by warming the milk and chai concentrate slowly in a small saucepan until very hot. Serve in a mug.

IMG_4687

Chai Tea Concentrate
Makes 1 1/2 cups, enough for 4 lattes

Ingredients
3 tablespoons sugar
8 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half
1 slice ginger, peeled
5 whole cloves
4 whole black peppercorns
2 black teabags
1 tablespoon honey

Combine all ingredients except the honey in a pot. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower slightly and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the teabags, squeezing out any liquid from them. Let the spices steep for another 15 minutes. Strain, removing all the spices. Add the honey and stir in. Taste, adding more honey if you like.

Cool completely.

The concentrate is easily doubled and will last a while in the fridge.

Loving Lately ❤️

I am a huge advocate for eating well. I am not a dietician, and I certainly could practice more moderation, but I am whole-heartedly in agreement with trying to eat your vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. through your food. I have said before, and I’ll say it again; I am a believer in eating organic and non GMO/GEI crazy food experiments. I understand it can be costly which is why I always say “as organic as possible,” because every bit is a step in the right direction.

I am also always interested about specific foods and they’re health benefits. Not too long ago, a fellow blogger wrote an interesting post on the benefits of parsley. I believe herbs (and spices) in general have health potentials we haven’t begun to fully understand. And when I see something as informational as this, I’ve got to pass it along!

Loving Lately #1: Parsley

From Cooking Without Limits: Click “Parsley” for the full read.

Loving Lately #2: La Croix

IMG_0010

Sometimes you just got to have some fizz in your drink and nothing else will do. Honestly diet drinks scare me. Fake sugar of any kind is linked to cancer and all sorts of other issues, and no joke I think it erases peoples’ brains. So, I try to avoid it. On the other hand too much sugar is a bad thing too. I personally don’t do well with big doses of sugar, and I certainly don’t need the extra calories. Enter La Croix, sparkling water but better! It’s just right. It’s flavored; it’s fizzy; it’s zero calories; it’s sodium free; it’s love. Currently my favorite flavor is Peach-Pear.

Turmeric: For Body and Mind

Turmeric has a warm bitter taste and enhances the flavor in mustards, butters and cheeses. It’s known for its deep yellow color and is also used in dyes. It comes from the root of the Curcumalonga plant and the main spice in curry. Turmeric is used in many cuisines world wide, most commonly known in Indian food.

Turmeric has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for centuries as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Also called “Indian saffron,” Turmeric is high in Manganese, Iron, vitamin B6, fiber, copper and potassium. Medicinally it is used for arthritis, colds, headaches, heartburn, stomach pain, intestinal gas, diarrhea, menstrual problems, jaundice, liver problems and gall bladder disorders. Even more impressive is that turmeric is also used for lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It contains curcumin, believed to be more potent in its concentration. The volatile oil fraction, curcumin, is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric that has proved in many clinical experiments to be as potent as the drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory Motrin, without the side effects! Unlike drugs linked with major toxic effects (intestinal bleeding, ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, etc.), curcumin produces no toxicity.

The curcumin in turmeric has powerful antioxidant properties that are able to neutralize free radicals (chemicals that cause a great amount of damage to healthy cells and membranes as they travel through the body). These free radicals are responsible for joint pain and inflammations that eventually cause damage to the joints. Pure turmeric (containing the highest rate of curcumin) is used to treat bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cystic fibrosis. And may also block the progression of multiple sclerosis. Combatant against free radicals, it is linked to those with higher frequent use of turmeric having lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer.

Growing evidence shows that turmeric provides protection against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that in elderly Indian populations where turmeric is consumed commonly and frequently, neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s is very low. A major factor thought to be responsible for neurodegenerative disorders including dementias like Alzheimer’s is free radical injury. It is believed that curcumin plays a role in triggering the protective system that produces bilirubin, which protects the brain from such injuries. With significant studies done, long time use at hand and no side effects it’s all win as far as I can see.

Food for thought (pun intended)… eat your turmeric!

Some suggestions for incorporating tumeric into your diet: Add to egg salad, lentils and salad dressings; Mix brown rice, raisins, cashews, turmeric, cumin and coriander; Grams’ Curry Dip; Curry BLT

And if those aren’t your thing they sell turmeric capsules at health food stores, on-line and at Whole Foods; ranging in price from $14.99 – $49.99. Just make sure you look for pure turmeric, it has the most curcumin.

Sources for this essay include WebMd, whfoods.org, and Whole Foods.

The Family Baked Beans

These bakes beans could not be easier to make; they just take time. I realize that they may not seem all foodie and complicated. That said, it is imperative that you make these beans. They will quickly become a staple in your recipe repertoire. They are like candy. They are sticky and shiny and sweet and oh so good. These baked beans belong on every plate at every barbecue or family gathering in the world. That’s how yummy they are.  You’re welcome.
Serves 6

3 lb 5 oz can of pork ‘n beans (Vegetarian/Vegan option: I have made these with meatless baked beans, and they were delicious)

3 cups dark brown sugar

2-3 Tbsp ketchup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the beans, sugar, and ketchup, in a Dutch oven (or bean pot) with lid and stir. Place covered in an oven for about 2-3 hours (depending on how much time you have because the longer they cook the better they are!) Remove the lid and bake an additional hour stirring every 15 minutes. If too wet continue to bake for 15 minute intervals. Keep in mind that beans will thicken as they cool so they should be a little soupy. Serve while warm and gooey. If there are any leftovers, the beans are easily warmed on the stove top or even delicious served cold; served with leftover potato salad and ham or whatever you have…

Side note: This recipe can easily be double, tripled, etc. depending on your crowd. It’s just about 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of ketchup per pound of beans. 

Guacamole Salsa

Guacamole is a perfect summer dip. It’s a guilt free creamy indulgence. When combined with other bold fresh flavors and piled high on a salty corn chip it screams “fiesta!” Of course don’t limit yourself to corn chips; it also makes a great sandwich spread. For an even healthier treat, stack it tall on cold crunchy leaves of romaine or roll it in cool pockets of iceberg lettuce.

Serves 8

As organic as possible:
1 small onion diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced small

3 small tomatoes, seeds and juice discarded (as much a possible, don’t work too hard)

½ tsp coarse salt

1 dash cayenne pepper

4 ripe avocados; pitted, diced and scooped out of the skins
Juice of 2 medium limes

Place the onion, garlic, jalapeno, tomato, salt,  and cayenne in a bowl. If you’ve never worked with avocados, don’t worry; I’ll step you through it. On a ripe avocado, one with a little give when pushed, the skin may appear tough, but isn’t. Using a chef’s knife, cut lengthwise (top to bottom) all the way through to the pit. Continue all the way around the avocado until you have cut a full circle. Set down the knife and hold the fruit in your hand. Twist half of the avocado at the cut, holding the other half steady in your hand. Once it gives, separate the two halves. One of the halves should have retained the pit. Use the chef’s knife (being very careful not to cut yourself) and give the pit a little whack, just enough to get an edge of the knife inside. Then holding the avocado twist the knife enough to loosen and remove the pit. Carefully pull the pit off of your knife and discard. While the fruit is still in its skin, I like to cut a diamond pattern (dicing it) in the flesh and use a tablespoon to scoop it out along the skin.
Place the diced avocado in the bowl, and add lime juice. Gently toss, just mixing until combined, not to mash the avocado. (I like big chunks.)

IMG_6103

Serve immediately (pool side if possible) as avocados have a tendency to turn brown when left in open air too long. If juice settles, feel free to re-toss. Happy Eating!

Side note: If you need to store it in the refrigerator, gently press plastic wrap against the guacamole to eliminate as much air as possible from contacting the avocados… and the lime juice will help.