Author Archives: Cassandra

About Cassandra

When I’m not working for FOX 28 and its parent company, Northwest Broadcasting Inc., as an executive assistant, I enjoy spending time reading about and experimenting with low-fat, plant-based recipes. After watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and reading the book “Food Over Medicine: A Conversation That Could Save Your Life” by Pamela Popper and Glen Merzer I was totally convinced that I needed to change the way I looked at food and how I ate it. The purpose of My Nutritarian Diary, a www.myfoxspokane.com blog, is to deliver fantastic-tasting and nutrient-dense recipes that are sprinkled with dashes of nutritional wisdom each week for the Health-Conscious, Health-Adventurous, and Health Happy—at whatever stage they are in on their health journey. The term nutritarian was first coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of #1 New York Times best-selling book “Eat to Live,” and it is how I classify my approach to eating a low-fat and mostly plant-based diet. If you are interested in sponsoring this blog, please contact Katie Vantine at 509-448-2828.

My Nutritarian Diary: “Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette

Magical No-oil vin HeaderThis week marked the first week of #wellnesswednesday on our station’s Facebook page, and I talked a little about why I have chosen to go oil-free or nearly oil-free in my eating, which is contrary to a lot of what we read about oils in the media. While various oils may have some health benefits, they are high in calories and are actually a processed food, with no fiber, which means the “bang” for the nutritional “buck” is not there for many of us (some individuals and some illnesses are better served by high-fat diets, so I don’t mean to discount oils’ benefits for them).

I remember reading the no-oil theory for the first time in Pamela Popper’s book, Food Over Medicine: A Conversation That Could Save Your Life, and I thought, no … that can’t be. Everywhere I read, authorities say oil is good for you. Really, I shouldn’t eat oil? I have my doubts here, but okay, I’ll gave that theory a whirl. And what do you know, there was a great benefit to me, not only in shedding some extra weight (about 10 pounds!), but also in the knowledge that I’m taking another step away from my dependence on processed and fatty foods.

So, over the last several months, I have chosen to go oil free in my dressings, my sautéing, and in most of my baking. That’s not to say I don’t eat fat. I do! But the fats I eat are from whole food plant sources, such as nuts, seeds, and avocadoes. And I do so in small amounts every day.

What better way to sum up that theme than to provide you with a magnificent no-oil vinaigrette I found on the web this week, Dreena Burton’s “Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette.

And if you haven’t liked our Facebook page, yet, you should! Every Wednesday, we celebrate #wellnesswednesday, where many of our posts are focused on better health, and where every Friday, I post a link to a new My Nutritarian Diary blog post.

SaladwithMagicalDressing“Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette
(From Dreena Burton’s “Plant-Powered Kitchen” Blog)

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mild miso (ex: brown rice miso)*
  • ¾ – 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoon pure maple syrup (or more to sweeten to taste if desired)
  • ¼ teaspoon (rounded) sea salt (or more to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

*I used a light soy miso that I purchased at a local Asian grocery store.

DIRECTIONS
“Using an immersion blender and deep cup (if using a blender, you may need to double the batch for enough blending volume), combine all ingredients, whizzing through until very smooth. Taste, and if you’d like a little sweeter add another teaspoon or so of maple syrup. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as well. If you’d like a thinner dressing, simply add a couple of teaspoons of water and blend through again” (Dreena Burton).

My Nutritarian Diary: Lebenese Spinach Triangles

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These Lebanese Spinach Triangles are the next best thing to pizza in my book, and boy, do I need an alternative to pizza for when that craving hits my family. Every week or two, I’ll commit to spending several minutes mining one of my cookbooks for recipes I want to make in the coming days, and this was one of those recipes. It lifted itself off the page and said to me, “Make me.” Last night, I obeyed that command, and it did not disappoint.

Many studies show that dark, leafy greens are one of the most (if not the most) nutrient dense foods we can eat. Joel Fuhrman, who I quote often on this blog, says in his Eat to Live Cookbook that “Vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, win the nutrient density prize. The concentration of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants per calorie in vegetables is the highest, by far, of any food.” Spinach also has a high amount of calcium, but because of it also having a substance called oxalate in it, spinach’s calcium is less available for absorption in our bodies. However, cooking spinach removes this substance and increases the amount of calcium and other minerals available to our bodies.

Prior to making this, I had recently watched a cooking show on PBS and witnessed the awesome technique of squeezing cooked, frozen spinach dry by putting it a thin kitchen towel and using that towel to squeeze it dry. That technique worked well for these lovelies as they were dry and not dripping with spinach juices when finished cooking.

This combination of ethnic flavoring, pizza dough covering, and green, leafy vegetable nutrient providing makes these little guys one of my favorite discoveries on my nutritarian journey so far.

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Lebanese Spinach Triangles
(Slightly adapted from The Eat Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook by Tosca Reno.)

INGREDIENTS:
• ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
• 1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained with all the water squeezed out*
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
• 1 teaspoon dried parsley
• 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound store-bought whole wheat raw pizza dough, cut into 10 equal portions

*To make sure the spinach is as dray as possible, you can squeeze it in some cheesecloth (or a thin kitchen drying towel) or press it in a colander.

DIRECTIONS:
Place rack in lower third of oven, and preheat to 425 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large baking sheet and set aside.

Heat a little water in a skillet on medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent but not brown, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl. Add drained spinach, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, parsley, lemon pepper, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

Roll out each portion of the dough into a ball, and then using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a 5-inch circle. Place about 3 tablespoons of the spinach filling in the middle of the dough. Bring 3 edges up and pinch them together at the top, and then continue pinching the edges together, making a triangle, until the pie is sealed. Place the spinach triangle on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the rest of the dough balls and spinach filling. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and heated through. Remove from oven and serve.

MY NOTES:
The lemon pepper and smoked paprika seasoning was Tosca Reno’s method of making the Middle Eastern spice sumac. Of course, if you have sumac on hand, you would just use 2 teaspoons of that spice and omit both the lemon pepper and smoked paprika from the above ingredients.

My Nutritarian Diary: Tuscan White Bean Dip

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We all know we are supposed to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. Even the United States Department of Agriculture recommends a significant portion of both on its now three-year-old MyPlate nutritional info graphic.

However, most of us, including me prior to going mostly plant-based in my own eating, actually eat a very small portion of fruits and vegetables as part of our daily diet. Our consumption probably looks something like this: a small cup of juice during breakfast, maybe an apple as part of lunch, and a side salad with our dinner. Instead, we get calories from less than desirable sources and we suffer as a result. We not only deplete our bodies of its nutrients, we don’t even replenish them.

In the plant-based community, there are many suggestions as to how to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption. There are also many ideas about what a plant-based diet should look like.1 But all agree. We should eat more fruits and vegetables and we should all start now.

The best advice I’ve read so far, for myself, has been Joel Fuhrman’s suggestion to try and eat at least one pound of raw vegetables and one pound of cooked vegetables daily, as well as try to eat three fresh fruits a day.

That is not as easy as it may seem, which is why I wanted to give you a recipe this week that will help assist you in eating vegetables—the incredibly healthy and nutrient dense Tuscan White Bean Dip, from Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Cookbook.

1For an excellent comparison of different plant-based diet philosophy’s, I recommend Dr. John McDougall’s August 2012 McDougall Newsletter article, “The Diet Wars: The Time for Unification is Now.” The comparison chart is on the second page of this link. (Accessed online: 6-6-14)

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Tuscan White Bean Dip
(Adapted from Eat to Live Cookbook by Joel Fuhrman / with low-sodium references removed)

INGREDIENTS:
• 1½ cups cooked great northern beans or 1 (15-ounce) can of great northern beans, drained
• ¼ cup pine nuts (I used cashews)
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• seasonings, to taste (could be a no-salt seasoning blend or other seasoning blend of your choice)
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 tablespoon fresh, minced rosemary
• ¼ cup rehydrated dried tomatoes, minced

Makes 2½ cups.

DIRECTIONS:
“Place all ingredients, except the dried tomatoes, in a high-powered blender or food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in the dried tomatoes. Chill for 1 hour before serving” (Fuhrman).

MY NOTES:
Fuhrman says to soak the dried tomatoes in lukewarm water until soft (about 1 to 2 hours). I rehydrated mine with boiling water for 10-15 minutes. His way probably leaves more nutrients in the tomatoes, but I didn’t have that time. I also added some of the tomato soaking water in my dip to help achieve my desired consistency.

My Nutritarian Diary: Fruity Quinoa Salad

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For today’s post, I decided to throw out into the world-wide web my very own recipe: Fruity Quinoa Salad. I haven’t done that yet on my blog, mainly because I still feel like a novice when it comes to making plant-based food. I love reading recipes and gleaning new ideas. I love making them and eating them, too, sometimes even adapting them to my own tastes. But to create a recipe from scratch? How do I know when it’s ready for the public? Does it taste good? Will people like it? Am I missing a key ingredient? And the worrisome questions go on and on.

But today, I stopped the questions and began a different dialogue. This Fruity Quinoa Salad may not be perfect. But it is beautiful-looking and very delicious. I, personally, love the way the Kalamata olives compliment the overall fruity taste of the salad (my husband does not and is why I made them optional), and I think you can add the raisins or not, depending on how sweet you want the salad to taste. And if you’re not entirely plant-based in your eating, I think a ¼ cup of feta cheese mixed in would taste absolutely delicious.

What I did do on purpose for me was keep this recipe oil free. But even that is flexible and up to you.

In the end, what this recipe lacks in absolutes, it certainly does not lack in flavor, flexibility, and health.

So, if you are feeling adventurous, why not give it a try!

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Fruity Quinoa Salad

SALAD INGREDIENTS:
• 1½ cups cooked tri-colored quinoa
• 1 cup Granny Smith apples, chopped in ½-inch cubes*
• ½ cup dried apricots, finely diced
• ⅓ cup toasted almond slivers
• ¼ cup raisins, optional
• ⅓ cup Greek Kalamata olives, chopped, optional
• salad greens for plating

*Lightly coat cubes with fresh squeezed lemon juice (or other preferred method) to prevent browning.

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:
• 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon grade B maple syrup*
• Up to 1 tablespoon of water (in case dressing needs to be diluted to your taste)

*Grade B maple syrup has more healthful minerals than its Grade A variety and is why I use it.

DIRECTIONS:
Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, combine the treated Granny Smith apple cubes, apricots, almonds, raisins (if using), and Greek Kalamata olives (if using). Add the quinoa and mix all the ingredients together.

In another small bowl, whisk together the Balsamic vinegar, mustard, ground ginger, and maple syrup. Taste, and dilute with a little water if necessary.

Poor dressing over the quinoa mix and coat evenly. Adjust seasonings to your desired taste.

Put salad greens on plates and top with the Fruity Quinoa Salad. And enjoy!

My Nutritarian Diary: Spaghetti Squash Primavera

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Something happened this week along my way to writing this blog post that I have to share with you. I had my annual physical and received some wonderful results in my blood work. As of this week, my total cholesterol was 162 (six years ago, it was 199 with a lot of dietary effort—but still eating chicken, eggs, cheese, and dairy) and my LDL was 107 (down from 146 six years ago).

As a little background, I went to an excellent nutritionist around the time of these higher cholesterol numbers. He helped me lose weight and get my cholesterol numbers in check (but still in a highish range). I learned a lot from him and was inspired to keep learning about nutrition. But over the last several years, my total cholesterol numbers have remained around 200, with and without dietary effort.

Six months ago, I was convinced that going mostly plant-based in my eating habits was the right path for me. And this week’s blood work results prove to me that I was correct. While my health is the main focus of this dietary change, an added bonus was that I have also lost about 10 pounds.

Don’t get me wrong, I still eat an occasional pizza or another indulgent meal or dessert, but those are treats now and not my way of life. I also know I need to add more exercise into my life, as well as lose about 10 or so more pounds. Perfection is not the goal for me, though. Improvement is. And this week’s encouragement did not come from the scale but from the results of my blood work.

We all have different aha moments when it comes to changes we should make in our lives. My hope for you is that with this little insight into my story, you may be inspired to make changes that will make you not only healthier, but feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This wonderful recipe below is a great start toward that goal!

As shown in this image above, Spaghetti Squash Primavera can be served in a variety of ways.

As shown in this image above, Spaghetti Squash Primavera can be served in a variety of ways.

Spaghetti Squash Primavera
(From Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Cookbook. Alterations I made are in italics below. I also removed the low-salt references that were in the original.)

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 medium spaghetti squash
• 1 ½ carrots, diagonally sliced
• ½ cup diagonally sliced celery
• 3 cloves garlic, minced (I added 1 more)
• 1 ½ cups shredded cabbage
• 1 small zucchini, chopped into small pieces
• 1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans or 1 (15-ounce) can of pinto beans (I used chickpeas)
• 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes (I used a can of organic diced tomatoes)
• ⅓ cup vegetable broth
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used a little over 1 teaspoon of dried parsley)
• 1 cup pasta sauce
Salt, to taste
• Nutritarian “Parmesan”

DIRECTIONS:
“Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place both halves upside down on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook carrots and celery in 2 tablespoons of water (or vegetable broth) in a covered pan over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water (or vegetable broth) if needed. Add garlic, cabbage, and zucchini and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, except for pasta sauce and ‘Parmesan’. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

When squash is done, remove from oven and using a fork, scrape spaghetti-like strands from squash into a bowl. Add pasta sauce and combine by mixing thoroughly.

Mix the vegetables, beans and herbs with the squash/pasta sauce mixture and serve on a bed of shredded romaine lettuce, if desired, or place back in the hollowed out squash bowls.

Sprinkle with nutritarian ‘Parmesan’ (recipe below)” (Joel Fuhrman).

Fuhrman’s nutritarian “Parmesan” is ½ cup nuts (pine, almonds, or cashews) and ½ cup nutritional yeast ground in a food processor. It stores in an airtight container in refrigerator indefinitely.

MY NOTES:
This meal is so versatile. You can eat it warmed in a bowl by itself. You can lightly heat it and serve it over a bed of lettuce with a ¼ cup of your favorite vegan sausage. Or you can eat it cold. Because the recipe uses squash “noodles” instead of pasta, they never bloat, which means it keeps well in the refrigerator.

My Nutritarian Diary: Chickpea “Tuno” Salad

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What I enjoy most about Chickpea “Tuno” Salad, apart from its deliciousness, is that I feel full and very satisfied after eating a serving of it. Whether I plate it on a bed of greens or spread it across a piece of whole-wheat toast, this salad is good anytime for any meal—okay, it may be a stretch for breakfast.

Chickpeas have the distinction of being a bean that is extremely high in insoluble fiber (which is the good fiber we need to eat for a healthy digestive system), the mineral manganese (which protects our cells’ energy systems), and protein. They also lower LDL-cholesterol and help with weight loss. You can find out more about them on the World’s Healthiest Foods website.

Also found in this unique recipe are kelp granules (I used a few seaweed snack sheets) and lite silken tofu. The former adds the “sea” flavor to the salad, and the latter provides the perfect creamy texture you would get from mayonnaise with less fat, as well as provides the nutrients from soybeans.

Some bites reminded me of eating a wonderful potato salad, and some bites reminded me of the ever-popular egg salad. But all bites had me hooked and inspired me to share it with you.

 

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Chickpea “Tuno” Salad
(Chef Jame Rohrbacher’s recipe in Eat to Live Cookbook. Alterations I made are in italics below)

INGREDIENTS:
• 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt added or low-sodium chickpeas, drained
• 1 cup raw almonds, preferably blanched
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
• 1 teaspoon kelp granules*
• 1 (12.3-ounce) package of firm lite silken tofu
• 3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
• ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
• 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (I used ½ teaspoon more)
• 3 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
• 2 medium celery stalks, diced
• ⅓ cup red bell pepper, minced
• ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
• Freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste

*I was not able to locate this ingredient so I just added a few small sheets of a salted seaweed snack I purchased for a dollar.

DIRECTIONS:
“In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas and almonds until coarsely chopped. Add the lemon juice and kelp powder and pulse a few more times. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Place the tofu, vinegar, dry mustard, yeast, and mustard in a high-powered blender and blend until very smooth. Add to the mixing bowl with the chickpea mixture, along with the celery, green onions, red pepper, peas, and black pepper (and salt). Mix thoroughly.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle before serving” (Chef James Rohrbacher).

MY NOTES:
The Eat to Live Cookbook recipes are purposely low in salt. I personally do not follow a low-sodium diet, so I do add some salt to the recipes in this book.

When I make this again, I am going to add about ¼ cup of diced dill pickles. I think that would be a wonderful addition to this recipe.

My Nutritarian Diary: Super Easy Blended Salad

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This blended salad is one of the most intriguing of all the recipes in Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live Cookbook,” a great resource for those wanting to learn how to make more nutrient-dense and weight-loss-assisting meals.

But, a blended salad? Is that even going to taste good, I thought to myself. I wasn’t so sure. But rather than be a naysayer before even giving it a try, I decided to get the ingredients together and let the blending begin.

First of all, 8 ounces of baby greens (I happened to use spinach, too) is a lot of greens. But don’t let that misguide you into thinking that it won’t fit in your blender because this salad drink winds up being around 2 cups of liquid. It’s also fewer than 110 calories (if you don’t add any banana). Some of its nutrient-rich benefits are fiber, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, and folate.

But what’s more interesting about this “salad” is that when you blend salad ingredients into a drink rather than eat them with a fork, you increase your ability to absorb the nutrients.

According to Fuhrman, “A blender crushes the cell walls of plants more efficiently than we can by chewing … [making] it easier for our bodies to absorb the beneficial phytochemicals contained in the plant’s cells.”

And that’s what sold me into giving it a try.

How about you?

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Super Easy Blended Salad
(From Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live Cookbook—I added a frozen banana to mine)

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS:
• 8 ounces baby greens
• 1 orange, peeled and seeded
• Juice of ¼ lemon
• 1 frozen banana (or a ½ cup of frozen blueberries), optional

DIRECTIONS:
“Blend ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy” (Joel Fuhrman).

MY NOTES:
I do not have a high-powered blender and so used my hand blender to blend the ingredients together one handful of baby greens at a time. I recommend using what you have on hand to blend, since some of these high-powered blenders are cost prohibitive for some. I would like one eventually, but in the meantime, my little hand blender did just fine.

My Nutritarian Diary: Japanese Vegetable Curry

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My journey into plant-based eating started out rather slowly. I remember sitting at a meal I had made after two weeks of trying to eat better thinking, I’m not going to make it if all I eat is a variation of flavorless rice and beans and vegetables. I was totally depressed and lacked any creative idea when it came to making plant-based meals. What I needed was inspiration in order to find my “voice” in cooking this way for me and my family.

So to the library I went to check out books, books, and more books on vegan, vegetarian, nutritarian, and plant-based eating. All of a sudden, I went from no inspiration to too much inspiration, which was a bit overwhelming. After a time, though, I began to gravitate to certain cookbooks, and those were the ones I chose to buy so that I could reference and learn from them at my leisure. You can see the results of my current plant-based cookbook library pictured below. The one-dish vegan book on the right by Robin Robertson contains the recipe I feature today.

Cookbook Collage

Any step you make toward plant-based eating is a good one. Through my research so far, what I’ve learned the most is that we all need to start somewhere. I started cold-turkey and was quickly depressed by how much I didn’t know about how to cook this way. Instead of quitting, I did what I do best, I began to research. And this blog is a way for me to share with you what I’m learning along the way.

Now, onto today’s recipe.

Japanese Vegetable Curry

Japanese Vegetable Curry (Gluten-Free)
(From Robin Robertson’s book one-dish vegan)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ¼ cup of water (I used vegetable broth)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1½ to 2 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 1½ tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp wheat-free tamari
  • 1 to 2 tsp of agave nectar
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ⅓ cup applesauce
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp mellow miso paste*
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, well drained, blotted dry, and diced
  • ¾ cup fresh or thawed frozen peas

*You can find miso paste at your local oriental food markets.

DIRECTIONS:
“Heat the oil or water/vegetable broth in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, then stir in the curry powder, tomato paste, tamari, agave, cayenne (if using), applesauce, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the potato and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Transfer about 2 cups of the mixture to a high-speed blender or food-processor. Add the miso paste, and puree until smooth. Stir the vegetable puree back into the curry along with the tofu and peas, and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve hot” (Robin Robertson).

MY NOTES:
I love the way this stove-top simmer is thickened with the use of applesauce and a russet potato. The stew comes out very creamy without any dairy or fat added to it. For the meat eaters in the family, you could easily pan fry some chicken breast, lightly seasoned with curry powder and salt, to add to their curry.

I also used a hand blender, instead of a food processor or blender, to make my puree.

This curry would go well on top of some brown rice, any variety, garnished with a small serving of coconut flakes.

My Nutritarian Diary: Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones

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This Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones recipe is my third Lindsey S. Nixon, a.k.a. Happy Herbivore, recipe featured on my blog so far. The other two are Harvest Salad and Maple Vinaigrette and Chocolate Banana Ice Cream.

One reason she is one of my go-to gals for plant-based eating is that I love the simplicity of her recipes. She really uses minimal ingredients to get maximum flavor. This is such a timely characteristic in our land of processed foods where ingredient lists are as long as biblical genealogies. Another reason is because her recipes are generally quickly made, an added benefit for our “stuffed-with-too-many-things-to-do” schedules. But the main reason for me is that she knows how to make tasty low-fat, with minimally added sugar, plant-based treats! I think you can all agree that in our world of over-stimulated taste buds, this is a great quality.

While maybe not as nutrient dense as other recipes I’ve featured so far, these Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones are healthy enough for me to give to my daughter for breakfast. They are also about as easy to make as putting a Pop Tart in a toaster.

Go ahead. Give them a try. I think you will like them just as much as we do.

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Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones
(Recipe from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean by Lindsay S. Nixon)

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 c white whole-wheat flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• pinch of salt
• ¼ – ½ c of nondairy milk (I used unsweetened, vanilla-flavored almond milk)
• 1 spotted banana
• ¼ vegan chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
“Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Break banana in half and add both halves to the flour, and then start mixing it together with your hands, squishing the banana into the flour until you have a bowl of flour balls. Add ¼ cup of nondairy milk and chocolate chips, and stir to combine, adding more milk if necessary (when in doubt, wetter is better). Drop similar-sized spoonfuls on prepared cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, until the scones are firm and golden at the edges.” (Lindsay S. Nixon)

Makes about six.

MY NOTES:
You may be surprised to know that many brands of chocolate chips are vegan, using soy lecithin instead of milk lecithin in their ingredients. My preferred brand at the moment is Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips. The package says there may be traces of milk, and that does not bother me personally. So I don’t mind incorporating them (very frugally, mind you!) into my low-fat, plant-based cooking.

And, for those who don’t like to get their hands “too” dirty cooking, you can easily use a pastry blender to combine the banana into your flour mixture in much the same way you would combine butter or shortening to any biscuit recipe.

My Nutritarian Diary: Baked Eggplant Spaghetti

Eggplant Header MergedThis recipe was a very pleasant surprise to my taste buds this week. In an effort to diversify my fruit and vegetable eating (which is what plant-based doctors and nutritionists recommend), I like to purchase an occasional eggplant and make it the main ingredient of a recipe. Before going mostly plant-based in my eating, I can honestly say, I never used it in a meal as a main ingredient.

Since cooking with eggplant, I have discovered that there is something about its taste that is perfectly complimented by spaghetti sauce.  So, after purchasing one this week, I had it in my mind that I wanted to make a lasagna-like casserole out of it.

What resulted was amazing, if I do say so myself.

Eggplants are a great source of antioxidants that have the ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and fight cancer-causing free radicals. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin A, and folate—all of which are great immune system boosters. And if you choose to leave the skin on when you cook with it, you would be getting Nasunin, which is another cancer-fighting antioxidant found only in eggplants (source).

I’ll leave you now with the recipe, while I go and reheat my yummy leftovers!

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Baked Eggplant Spaghetti

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into quarter-inch circles
• 1 jar of organic spaghetti sauce (I used Trader Joe’s 25-ounce Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms)
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1-2 tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable broth for sautéing
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 2 teaspoons of dried basil
• 12 ounces of meatless ground “beef” (I used Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef (pic below))
• 1-3 teaspoons of dried Italian seasoning blend
• 2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast (or a 1:2 blend of nutritional yeast and ground nuts), separated
• cooked whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta, optional

This meat substitute is made from textured wheat and soy protein and has almost no fat, it tastes great, and has a wonderful meat-like texture. I highly recommend it!

This meat substitute is made from textured wheat and soy protein. It has almost no fat, it tastes great, and it has a wonderful meat-like texture. I highly recommend it!

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8 x 11 glass casserole dish with Pam-like oil, and set aside. In a separate pan on the stove, cook onion for about 5 minutes in vegetable broth. Add the garlic and basil to the onions and cook another couple of minutes, adding more broth, if necessary, to the pan to prevent sticking. Add meat substitute of your choice to the pan, break it up, and cook it until heated through. Remove from heat.

Put a third of the jar of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Place half of the sliced eggplant on top of the sauce (the slices may over lap). Sprinkle the desired amount of dried Italian seasoning on the eggplant (I used about a teaspoon). Place half of the “meat” blend on top of that and sprinkle the “meat” with about a teaspoon of nutritional yeast.

Repeat this process one more time. Finally add the rest of the spaghetti sauce on top of the second layer, and sprinkle about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast or nutritional yeast and nut blend on top. Cover with foil and place in oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook uncovered for 15 more minutes.

Take out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving it on top of some pasta or on a plate by itself.

Now, when I make this again, I am going to add fresh mushrooms to the layers. You could also fit in some fresh spinach, kale, or chard greens in the layers as well.