Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Cookbooks!!

Trying to eat like a vegetarian isn't that hard, but trying to do it in a healthy way IS!
I mean, anyone can cut out meat and eat tons of pasta, and bread, and stuff like that, but I want to do better than that. As a result, I heard about these two Vegan Cookbooks, and wanted to give them a try. I got them in the mail last week. So exciting!

The Conscious Cook By Tal Ronnen

And The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone

I haven't tried any recipes from either of these two yet, but I'm very excited to do so!
It is so interesting to read them....and also hear the stories of why they decided to become Vegans, and how it is has changed their life. The Kind Diet throws in a lot of gross facts that I think are meant to scare you a little out of eating meat, but she does include a lot of cool tidbits from athletes, and cancer survivors that went Vegan...including a body builder.

The Conscious Cook has amazing pictures...his recipes look a little more complicated, but they also look to die for yummy. After all, he did cook for Oprah for a 21 day Vegan thing she did.

I will definitely let you know if any of the recipes are as yummy as they look! I will be moving in the next week or two..so may not be blogging as much, but I will be back, and with a vengeance hopefully having tried many new recipes!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I LOOVE a good salad. I really do. I could eat a salad everyday forEVER and be perfectly satisfied probably.

Here are two of my favorites:

Asian Spinach Salad

8 T. Olive Oil
3 T. Sugar
3 T. Unseasoned Rice Vinegar
3 T. Soy sauce

1 3-ounce package Asian noodle soup mix (like Top Ramen), noodles coarsely broken
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 T. Sesame seeds
1 10 oz bag spinach leaves
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Whisk 6 T oil, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in small bowl to blend. Season w/salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 2 T. oil in heavy medum skillet over medium heat. Add noodles from soup mix, nuts, and sesame seeds. Stir until noodles, nuts and seeds are toasted and golden, about 8 minutes. Pour contents of skillet into large bowl and cool 10 minutes. Add spinach and green onions to same bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Serve.

This would also be good topped with some mandarin oranges.

Yummy Garlic Swiss Salad (not sure of the real name...but my sister in law made this one famous in our family)

1 head of romaine, and 1 head of green leaf lettuce
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T. Lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 tsp. salt
8 strips bacon (optional for the vegetarians), crumbled
1 cup of swiss cheese grated or in small chunks
1 small pkg of sliced almonds
1/4 to 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Mix in a mason jar, oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, bacon (again, optional), swiss cheese, and almonds all together. Mix into lettuce and top with parmesan cheese.

**note: If you take this to a gathering, leave dressing in jar until just before ready to serve.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Autumn Soup

I would have not survived without this gem in my Dairy Free days:
by Alisa Fleming

There are at least two recipes in here that will be staples in my family even though I am no longer Dairy Free. One of which is this delicious soup recipe. It is a little time intensive, but FULL of VEGGIES!!:

Spiced Autumn Soup

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2/3 Cup Minced Onion
2 to 4 Garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/8 tsp. Ground Cardamom
3 Cups Vegetable Broth
1/4 tsp. Salt
8 Ounces Cubed Butternut Squash
1 Cup Baby Carrots
2/3 Cup Canned Pumpkin Puree
1 Cup Milk Alternative (again I used Rice milk)
Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, and continue to saute another minute. Add ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom, and saute an additional minute. Stir in broth, salt, squash, and carrots and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and allow the soup to simmer until veggies are quite soft (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the pumpkin. Using an immersion blender (I just used a regular old blender), puree the soup, or transfer to the blender in batches and puree until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Return the soup to your pot, stir in the milk alternative, and heat it to your desired temperature. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

ps-butternut squash is a pain to cut, but it is so worth it in the end. Maybe I'll post later on how I cut one of those suckers!! :)

Chocolate Cake...from scratch!

1. I heard a guy on Oprah that was, I think, the author of Food Inc., or at least he was talking about it or something....I only halfway watch Oprah these days, anyway, he was a Health Nut, and talking about how poorly Americans eat these days and he said something I LOOOOVED. He said, that he lets himself have all the junk food he wants, as long as it is made from scratch!!
So, that got my attention. He said, if you want fries, have fries...but cook them yourself. You will find since it is more work, you will do it less often, and maybe only have fries once a month. Well...whatever, but I liked the idea.

2. I am a chocolate addict. When I had to go Dairy Free for a year, I was dying for some recipes that would still give me that chocolate fix without the milk. And, now, I present to you my dairy free chocolate cake. It is by far the BEST Chocolate Cake I've ever had. Moist and delicioso.

It's kind of my own invention b/c I had to tweak it to make it Dairy Free. If you don't want Dairy Free, I'll tell you how you can add some milk, but you must promise you'll try the dairy free version, because it is still that good.

Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

1 Cup Milk substitute (I used rice milk)
1 Tbsp. Vinegar (side note: the original recipe calls for buttermilk. You can use milk and 1 tbsp. vinegar as a sub for buttermilk. However, I just used rice milk instead)
1 Cup Water
2/3 Cup Cooking Oil
2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Cups all purpose flour
3/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13x9 pan. Combine Rice Milk, Vinegar, Water, Oil, sugar, Eggs, baking Soda and Salt. Using a large wire whisk, whisk until well combined. Add flour and cocoa powder; whisk until smooth. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the center bounces back when lightly touched. DO NOT OVERCOOK!

Cuban Black Beans and Coconut Rice

This one is from a friend that has some great ideas for quick, easy vegetarian dishes. And, we made this last night for dinner. It was yummy. And, again, got the 3-year old's approval.

Coconut Rice:

  • -1 cup of your favorite rice.
  • -1 15ish-ounce can of coconut milk

Cuban Black Beans:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped. (I did minced (Sorry Eliza!!))
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup of vegetable or chicken broth (optional)


Cook the rice according to the package directions, substituting coconut milk for 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook for 1 minute.

Add the beans, oregano, and 1 cup water. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and smash some of the beans with the back of a fork to thicken.

We served with tortillas, per Eliza's suggestion. Thanks Eliza!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spaghetti Squash

Have you ever looked at a food in the grocery store and thought, "People eat those?" or "What am I supposed to do with that?"

Well, I have. I remember thinking that about Squash. Not the small yellow zucchini squash, but the big ones...you know....butternut and spaghetti. Now, I love cooking with them.

Spaghetti squash is awesome too because you can trick yourself into thinking you are getting a carb, and you're really eating a veggie!! It's because after it is cooked, it comes out like Spaghetti...in strings. So you can mix it with just about any pasta type recipe, and voila, you've got a healthier version.

First of all, basic instructions for cooking a spaghetti squash:

Cut lengthwise and it looks like this:

Put in 13x9 pan with about 1/4 inch of water, Bake at 325 degrees for an hour, covered.

Now, on to what I made tonight for dinner found in the Betty Crocker New Cookbook circa 1996:

1 Spaghetti Squash (about 2 lbs)
1/2 cup of onion
1/2 cup green pepper
1 large clove of garlic
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp. fennel seed
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. butter or dairy free margarine
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese (optional)

Prepare and cook squash. Set aside. Saute onion and green pepper in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in tomatoes, salt, oregano, basil, fennel, and pepper. Simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes.

Remove all seeds from squash. Then, take a fork and pull out squash into spaghetti-like strands. Toss with butter and cheese, then mix with tomato mixture.

If you leave out the last two ingredients, this is easily dairy free too and would still have plenty of flavor.
Even my 3 year old gobbled it up. We ate it with a side of whole wheat bread. Yum!

No Fuss Whole Wheat Bread in 1 Hour

5 1/2 C. Whole Wheat Flour
2 C. All purpose Flour
2 Tbsp. yeast
1/4 C. Honey
3 1/2 C. Warm Water
1 Tbsp. Salt
1/2 C. Corn Oil (or Veg. Oil)

Mix Yeast, honey and warm (not hot) water. Add oil, salt and half of the flour. Mix and add rest of flour. Divide into 2 or 3 portions. Oil hands to make easier to handle dough. Shape into loaves (2 very large or 3 smaller) and place in oiled bread pans. Place in cold oven. Heat to 140 degrees and let rise 12 to 15 minutes. Leave dough in oven and turn oven to 375 degrees and bake for 35 minutes or until done. Remove from pans and rub tops w/butter (optional).

Bean and Butternut Chili with Quinoa

Go here for more pics and full description. Great vegan/vegetarian website. I'm sure you'll see more from them in the future. My husband ran across them in a PA magazine.

1 large red onion, chopped
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cubed

2 cups butternut squash (or sweet potato) cubed, about 1 medium squash
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. cumin
2 t. chili powder
1/2 - 1 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried cilantro/coriander

1/3 cup drinkable red wine
1 heaping tablespoons tomato paste

25 oz. (1 large can) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. (1 can) black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
28 oz. (1 large can) tomatoes (one big can, preferably whole San Marzano tomatoes)
16 oz. (2 cups) vegetable stock (half a box)
1/2 c. quinoa (or millet)

2 T. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped cilantro &/or basil

1. In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan, saute the onion, carrot, celery, and red bell pepper in olive oil until the vegetables begin to brown.

2. Add the cubed butternut squash, garlic, tomato paste, and spices. Saute for a minute or two, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

3. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits that might have stuck to the bottom.

4. Stir in the beans, canned tomato, and stock. Cover and bring to a boil.

5. Simmer on low for about an hour. Stir in the quinoa, cover again, and continue to cook over a very low flame for as long as you can wait. The longer the better... all day! (The quinoa will absorb some liquid and thicken the chili.)

6. Stir in the vinegar and lots of fresh chopped cilantro (or basil). Serve with a hunk of crusty bread!

PS-I left out the red wine, and used cilantro. It was to die for!!

Tuscan Hummus

I do not own this cookbook, but I do make the Tuscan Hummus recipe out of it every now and again. Oh yummy! and Oh. so. garlicky.

Hummus Ingredients

8-10 cloves of garlic
3 cups drained and rinsed canned cannellini beans
1/2 cup sesame paste (tahini)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon + 1 tsp. soy sauce
6 tablespoons of EVOO
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup cold water, if needed

Process garlic cloves in food processor until finely minced. Add beans and pulse a few times to chop coarsley. Add remaining ingredients. Blend well, add water if too thick. Chill.

If desired top with this:
California Pizza Kitchen Checca Ingredients

3 or 4 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2" dice
1 tablespoon minced garlic (don't crush the garlic, as it will make this too bitter)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

What started it all....

Here's the story in as much of a nutshell as possible.

My first encounter wanting to change my lifestyle was watching an Oprah about how animals are treated in our typical American farm. It impacted me. I was 8 months pregnant with my second child, and remember being very emotional as I told my husband about the show. I think I even cried...but that could have been the hormones. I have always believed (and still do) that animals are put on this earth to help us have nutrients, and that we are supposed to eat animals....sparingly. But did I truly eat them sparingly? NO! In fact, I was raised in the south, on your typical meat and potatoes diet. We ate meat every night. So after telling my husband about this, I decided I wanted to start small and at least buy cage free eggs. To my surprise, my husband said, OK! So....we've been doing that for about a year.

Fast forward a few months to where I found out that my second child (the same child who was, as mentioned before, in the womb) was allergic to dairy and soy that I was eating in my diet. (I was breastfeeding) He was having horrible tummy issues including bloody stool that would not go away until I cut dairy/soy out of my diet. I was addicted to cheese, and I knew it. How would I ever do it? But, I did. For a solid year. We later found out that he actually has a rare syndrome called Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome or FPIES. So, as a family, we had to make a lot of changes all at once.

Then, my husband got a new job. One working in a preventive health clinic called Pro Health Lab in Park City counseling people about exercise and diet to prevent disease. And he had recently stopped eating chicken all together (I won't get into that one). So, we've talked a lot about being vegetarians...could we do it? How?

Then, he said to me one night, "I like the idea of a cheating vegetarian". And, I thought, me too!!! So, here I am.

I don't know if I'll ever take that plunge. We'd like to incorporate more fish into our diets, less red meat, and he may never want chicken again, who knows?? But, I want to experiment more with this...so I'm starting this blog. I Hope in some ways it will make you think...could you do it? And if you're already doing it...good for you! I support that, and admire it too. And in the mean time, we'll all share some fabulous recipes!!