Greens and more greens…and a recipe

I hope you had great holidays; it seems that all of us get some time off from the regular routine, no matter what we are celebrating. Personally, the whirlwind of the week before Christmas just about did me in. I had a huge amount of work due the 21st on a project related to my job, and a million other things to do. I’m glad that’s over. Now I feel peace…

Extra free time is such a gift, seriously. I have so enjoyed using my WordPress blog reader and checking out old and new blogs that I have not had time for.  I’ve had time to delve  into recipes without worrying about time requirements or rushing somewhere…

I received a new cookbook from my mom, which I love-Wild about Greens, by Nava Atlas. This is such a beautiful book. If you are a book lover, you will relate…pleasing green colors on dust jacket (color green enhances serotonin production in the brain, you know), nice feel to the pages, illustrations throughout that help me with identification of my greens, and easy to follow directions, with tons of tips. I made a few recipes already which turned out well. I think she has set me straight on kale chips…they definitely turned out better than my past attempts.

Here is a picture of her Kale Salad with Dried Fruits and Nuts in a fun container I found at TJ Maxx. This was still delicious 2 days later! In Wild About Greens, Nava gives basic directions for massaged kale salads and easy variations. I used Craisins and walnuts. Although I had made a variation of this in the past, she provided the best instructions I have seen. Click here for Nava’s quick video on making a massaged kale salad, which I got from her website VegKitchen.

kale salad in frigoverre container

 

I’ve also meant for a very long time to share the following recipe I developed. I can’t believe I found this picture of it too. Just before I started this blog in March 2012, I was building confidence with cooking quinoa and greens. I saw an email at work that our hospital was having a cooking contest for Nutrition Month. I think the top meal would be served in the cafeteria. I tinkered with this recipe a bit and submitted it, sure that I would be in the top few. It is a quick, well-rounded, gluten-free, plant-based meal. It was not meant to be, and I will admit I was disappointed that I never heard back from them. But here it is.  I like to think at least one of the folks that judged the recipes took this one home and is using it…He, he, we all have our daydreams…

 

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Easy and Colorful Spinach and Quinoa (Entrée)

Ingredients:

1 c quinoa grain

2 c water

1 vegetable bouillon cube (use cube designed for 8 oz of broth) if desired to add flavor to the water–can be omitted if desired

1 TBSP +1 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp minced garlic from jar (approx 4 small cloves)

¼  cup pine nuts

8 packed cups washed and ready to eat fresh spinach (approximately 10 oz in weight). You can add in more if desired because it will reduce down significantly in cooking.

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup Original flavor Craisins (or any sweetened cranberries)

 

  1. Using small sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to boiling, then add the bouillon cube and stir to dissolve. Add the quinoa, stir, and reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer according to package directions, until water is absorbed (usually 10-15 minutes). Fluff quinoa, remove from heat, and keep covered.
  2. As the quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in large non-stick skillet on medium until hot. Add garlic and pine nuts and stir for 1 minute. Keep the skillet on medium for the remainder of cooking.
  3. Add about ½ of the spinach and stir constantly to coat and distribute the oil mixture.
  4. Once spinach is mostly wilted, move it to the outside of the pan and add the remaining spinach in the open “hole” in the center. Stir the fresh spinach in the middle for 1-2 minutes. Stir the entire pan as needed to evenly cook the spinach.
  5. Stir spinach mixture frequently and once nearly fully wilted, add salt, pepper and Craisins.
  6. Stir another 1-2 minutes to warm but do not overcook the spinach. Add more pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the spinach (with some of the toppings included) on top of a large spoonful of quinoa. Combine them if desired.

Recipe is easily adjusted to add more spinach, pine nuts, or craisins if desired.

Serves 3-4

Entire recipe takes 25-30 minutes.

 

Have you ever entered a recipe contest? Do you like to fix greens?

Have a great week!

 

 

 

Cookbooks and Books

I made another recipe from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook by Del Sroufe. The Veg Cookbook Club (check them out!) has moved onto a new book, but I’m still plodding through some recipes from Forks Over Knives that I never got to last month. It has over 300 recipes and I do think I will be using it in my healthy cooking rotation. Probably not so much when I want a rich not-so-healthy meal. Which is never, right? Sure…

Red Lentil Dal was a winner for me. I love Dal of all types…Unfortunately, I was the only one in the family to eat much of it. For the next time, I will probably cut it in half to reduce the mountain of leftovers, even after I ate it three times! I will also cut the onion in half as I did in the other Forks Over Knives recipe I tried. This did have a bit too much onion for me. Something in the combination of spices (maybe the turmeric?) and red lentils always gives this type of recipe a crazy color. But I still love my red lentils unconditionally. See below, served with Tofutti “sour cream”…

red lentil dal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next cookbook: A find at the library: The Good Neighbor Cookbook by Sara Quessenberry and Suzanne Schlosberg, published in 2011. No, it is not vegetarian, but it has plenty of veg recipes and others that I can easily convert. It contains (I quote from the cover here), “Easy and delicious recipes to surprise and satisfy new moms, new neighbors, recuperating friends…” The book has recipes for other occasions also, including condolences, block parties, and community, religious, or business gatherings to name a few. Just about covers it all! I’ve always wanted to be the good neighbor or friend who shows up with the pan of lasagna or similar dish at the first opportunity, but I only actually achieve this about 25% of the time. I hope to find a few standby dishes that I can whip up quickly.

The Good Neighbor Cookbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, I just finished up The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals by Jenny Brown. I had a special interest in the book because Jenny Brown is the founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I happen to have a brother who lives in  Woodstock, NY. We are hoping to spend a week with my brother this coming summer, and now I definitely hope to visit the sanctuary. Truthfully, I never heard of farm animal sanctuaries until I started reading about veganism. The book is a good read. I loved the way she shows the personalities and intelligence of the animals. It won Editor’s Pick: Book of the Year from VegNews magazine. I have always loved the book Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White from a very young age. I can’t turn down a chance to get to know some big Wilburs!

What have you been reading or cooking from?

Cooking from Forks Over Knives Cookbook

I’m following along with the Veg CookBook Club this month. I wish I was “cooking” along, but that doesn’t seem entirely accurate; I have only managed one recipe so far in November! The book is Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook, by Del Sroufe. The documentary by the same name was released in 2011 and is a very informative movie on health reasons to go vegan. I highly recommend it and couldn’t possibly do it justice by trying to summarize. Two weeks ago, I managed to make the Barley and Sweet Potato Pilaf the night before I was working a half day and leaving for a conference. This is the preface to explain the hurried pictures.

I know it’s goofy for a vegetarian, but I’m not a huge onion fan. Because they typically are needed for flavor, I decided to cut the amount of onion in half. I just don’t like them in large amounts, in every fork or spoonful. The Forks Over Knives folks believe in cooking without oils and the recipes often call for cooking onions and garlic (or whatever the starter vegetables may be) in water. I was anxious to see how this would work. It worked fine in my enameled cast iron pan. You add a tablespoon or two of water when needed…no sticking problem encountered. I also liked the fact that this recipe is a single-pan dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, I used dried tarragon due to availability issues at my grocery. The pilaf seemed like it might be rather bland until I added the freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest at the end. I loved the flavor, with freshly ground pepper added too. This would especially taste great as a spring dish.

Not a bad start to this book, even with the onions! I think I will keep going with this book for the next month. If you are curious, check out the Veg CookBook Club. If you read the blog comments, you will get a feel for whether this might be a cookbook for you. It could very well be at your library too! Additionally, if you explore the Forks Over Knives website, I saw some great recipes posted there.

I just had to share that the Gardein Holiday Roast was worth the wait until Saturday. The omnivore adults surprised me by (every one of them) tasting it and commenting that they thought it was good. They were quite intrigued by the resemblance to the “T” word and the ingredients list. Very tasty, especially with extra cranberry sauce added along.

Have a splendid week!

Happy Thanksgiving. Yep, not that original, but heartfelt…

I do wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. What a good holiday I’ve had so far…

  • Brought my son to run his first ever Thanksgiving Day 10K. I couldn’t run, but you know, I’m thankful for having been a spectator. Beautiful sunny morning, Starbucks coffee in hand, total inspiration in the experience of watching people of all shapes and sizes accomplish a goal.
  • Took a family walk in our nearby park. I’m thankful for having a park with a one mile wooded trail just down the street.
  • Pumpkin pie is baking in the oven to bring to Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for food. Pumpkin pie kind of food!
  • I am anticipating (big time) my non-meat Gardein Roast but decided to wait until my side of the family celebrates Thanksgiving Saturday. I did pull it out today to gaze longingly at it…
  • I am thankful for you too. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I may not always know how to space things out (e.g. pictures, text) or write them with correct grammar, but it’s been a blast so far.

Did you happen to see this Google Search homepage today? Macy’s parade theme.

Don’t forget to enjoy your veggies today! I know I will. Just to make you smile, here are some veggie “outtakes” from this year…pictures I didn’t use on the blog, or shouldn’t have! We have “mangled” squash, overcooked squash, and really ugly kale chips. Oh my.

 

 

 

 

Have a great day!

 

Good Finds this Week including Thanksgiving “Roast”

 

 

 

 

 

This is what I’m really excited about! I found Gardein Holiday Roast at Whole Foods on Saturday by searching the entire store (the guy near the front taking holiday orders was not sure if it was in stock yet). I was unsure whether I could find this vegan “faux” holiday roast because I don’t live near Whole Foods for frequent checking and I thought they might go quickly. This looked terrific in VegNews magazine. Gardein makes some tasty products which are designed to be the plant-based protein source in a meal. This is my third Thanksgiving as a vegetarian, and my first time to try a product like this. It will be fun to have a “main dish” I can eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other things I stocked up on that I can recommend. I love red lentils and can’t find them at my local grocery. The last time I was at Whole Foods about 3 weeks ago, their normal slot on the shelf was empty. I wistfully found a store employee and asked whether there could be red lentils in the back. I felt a little self-conscious at that point, but I just had to check. Red lentils cook in 20 minutes and can be added to soups, simmered with any sauce or broth, and seem to come up often in vegetarian recipes.

The Nature’s Path organic instant oatmeal is my favorite quick breakfast when I don’t make oatmeal in my rice cooker. I love the blueberry, flax, and cinnamon combination.

I’ll admit I haven’t tried the 365 brand organic canola oil yet, but it’s definitely better to use organic canola from what I have read. See this post for details.

Lastly, Soy Boy Tofu Lin is Asian flavored organic tofu which is already marinated and cooked. I just cubed it and added it in my veggie stir fry towards the end of cooking, to heat it through. I love how easy that is when you don’t want to press, marinate, and cook the tofu. And tofu and I have an ongoing battle anyways, don’t we?

Have you found any interesting products lately? Are you preparing for Thanksgiving yet?

A New To-Do List

Still recovering from surgery here. Cultivating patience I did not know I needed to learn! I’m just starting to be able to stand long enough to cook a little. Hence, I’ve taken a week off from the blog–I didn’t mean to, but it just happened. So, wouldn’t you know, I’ve been collecting a bit of a to-do list. (And sorry about the formatting of this post–not sure how to change what keeps happening-hopefully I can figure it out by next week)

1. Cook an acorn squash–I picked this up at Whole Foods. I was shocked when it rang up as nearly $5.00! Hope it’s good…

 

 

 

 

2. Make something with this can of pumpkin. I am debating between muffins and bread. I’d like to try (with whatever I choose) this gluten-free flour from Namaste Foods. It’s allergy-safe for us, which is difficult to find when dabbling in “alternative” grains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Make this quinoa, which is allergy-safe for my son unlike the type sold at Costco. The challenge is to get him to try it!! I ordered it directly from the company to get the bulk size–four pounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Experiment with this coconut oil. An employee at a Whole Foods-like store in a nearby city told me that coconut oil is better than canola oil. I think she said canola oil wasn’t good for you because it is so refined, which requires chemicals. I did a bit of reading about it, and those who think canola oil is bad for health think it is due to 1. Refinement with harsh chemicals that can leach into it. 2. Most of it is made with genetically modified seeds (buying organic would prevent this).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some “sample” views on canola oil–One doesn’t know what to do after reading all this. A somewhat balanced perspective on canola oil here. A more pointed, different view here. I didn’t mean to open a can of worms, but it is something to think about. I can’t say that these are reliable, scientifically accurate sites, but they do illustrate the main arguments I have found. And here is an article on Benefits of Coconut Oil from the Balanced Bites blog.

 

 

Oh and one more thing, when I handed my 12-year old his packed lunch (of peanut butter and jelly) today, he said “why is it always chicken at school?” (he had checked the menu and did not want the lunch of the day) and then “and why chicken on Meatless Monday?” I LOVE it!! Maybe a possible vegetarian in the making? In all truthfulness, I accept their choices, whatever they may be. I will just keep educating!

So, have you used any of the products or foods I have on my list? How did it go?