Tag Archives: nutritarian

My Nutritarian Diary: Tips to Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Part 1

Nutritarian HeaderAs a returned Peace Corps volunteer and an occasional world traveler (emphasis on occasional), I am very much aware of the blessings I have in America in the abundance of food choices I have every day. When I examine just the amount of produce I can choose from in any grocery store, I am in awe of my blessings here and just how easy it is to have access to foods that nourish my body in all seasons. I am tremendously thankful for the bounty of food I experience in America, and I think eating healthy can be one way I show my gratitude.

Another way I can show my gratitude is to pass along to you some tips on how to increase your own intake of fruits and vegetables.

Most of us have no trouble eating grains, protein sources, healthy fat, and so on. But what most of us don’t eat enough of are our fruits and vegetables, and what we are probably lacking most in our diets are vegetables.

We are learning more and more in the media that these foods are so very good for us, and not only do they have the ability to keep us healthy, they also have the ability to make us healthier. Also, the more fruits and vegetables we eat, the less room we’ll have for the junk food that is hurting us.

So, listed below are 10 tips I’ve learned on my plant-based eating journey about how to eat more fruits and vegetables. Next week, I’ll provide you with 10 more! If you have any suggestions, let me know them in the comments below, and you may be mentioned in next week’s post.

Photo by Liz West, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Liz West, Wikimedia Commons

  1. Try to eat one pound of raw veggies and one pound of cooked veggies a day (Dr. Joel Fuhrman). This will ensure you receive the diversity of nutrients that come only when the vegetable is eaten raw and only when it is eaten cooked. Just for guidance four to five raw carrots weighs a pound and often store-bought, frozen vegetables are sold in pound-sized packages.
  1. Try to eat one large salad a day topped with a healthy low-fat or non-fat dressing (Dr. Joel Fuhrman). And by large, I mean at least four to six ounces of greens. That amount would probably fit the size of a medium bag of popcorn you get at a theater. Top your chosen salad greens with more veggies, about a cup of a legume or combination of legumes of your choice (flavored tofu, edamame, lentils, chickpeas, or other beans), and a tablespoon or two of raw nuts.
  1. Experiment with cooked veggies (and yes, they can be cold!) as a topping for your salad.
  1. Try to eat three pieces of fruit a day. And one of those fruits should be a banana. They are amazingly good for you and help your mood.
    1. Don’t discount smoothies that are full of veggies and fruit as part of your plan to eat more fruits and veggies. But don’t rest totally on smoothies to try and take in more fruits and veggies either. (See my Super Easy Blended Salad.)
Photo by Ionutzmovie, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Ionutzmovie, Wikimedia Commons

  1. Don’t get weighed down by buying the “perfect” food item. There are some rules that may be non-negotiable for your family, but try and keep them simple and try not to have too many. Buying organic can be expensive, especially when the produce you are buying isn’t in season locally. So, if your family likes cherries, and the organic ones are just too cost prohibitive at this time, buy the non-organic and enjoy them—after a diligent rinsing, of course.
  1. Don’t use any sweeteners to sweeten your oatmeal/morning cereal. Instead, use raisins or other dried fruit, frozen berries (I prefer blueberries!), sweet apples, cut in cubes, or any other sweet fruit. That way you’re not only sweetening your breakfast, but you’re adding more fiber and nutrition to your meal, as well as working toward your fruit requirement.
  1. Have a dessert salad for your after-dinner sweet tooth. My favorite is lettuce topped with granny smith apple slices, drizzled lightly with a sweet, no-fat dressing.
  1. When making a pasta salad, halve the amount of pasta the recipe calls for and double the veggies. (And raw zucchini is an amazing added vegetable to almost any pasta salad.) (This tip could be applied to my Savory ‘Herb d’Vour’ Pasta Salad recipe.)
  1. Don’t be afraid of corn or peas. I know they get a bad rap as “starchy” vegetables, but they are better to eat than no vegetables at all. Besides, these sweeter veggies may be easier for kids to enjoy as you transition them to eating more vegetables.

My Nutritarian Diary: Vegan Eggplant Meatballs

Vegan Eggplant Meatballs Header
In my opinion, great plant-based recipes taste great, are nutritious, and feature vegetables prominently. Well, this Vegan Eggplant Meatballs recipe does that and more. One of the things I like most about these little guys is that they can be eaten in a variety of ways.

These “meatballs” are great served hot out of the oven on noodles (zucchini, wheat, or gluten free) and topped with a homemade veggie marinara sauce. They would make an excellent warmed appetizer dipped in your favorite store-bought, plant-based spaghetti sauce. And as leftovers, they taste excellent cold served on top of a large salad.

IMG_4317 Small
So whatever your eating style or mood, these eggplant delights are an excellent treat!

And if you decide to eat the leftovers on a plate of lettuce, why not whip up some of Dreena Burton’s “Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette to go with it.

Or if you are in the mood for another delicious eggplant-centric meal, I recommend giving my Baked Eggplant Spaghetti recipe a try!

IMG_4312 Small
Vegan Eggplant Meatballs
(Slighty adapted from skinnytaste.com, which slightly adapted it from Mark Bittman’s VB6 Cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:
• ¼ cup (or more) of low sodium vegetable broth, for sautéing
• 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubed pieces
• 1 teaspoon (or to taste) sea salt, mixed
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic (or more depending on taste)
• 1 cup cooked white beans (or drained and rinsed canned beans)
• ¼ cup fresh parsley (or a ¼ cup mix of fresh parsley, fresh oregano, etc.)
• 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs or panko
• ¼ cup of nutritional yeast, optional
• pinch of red chili flakes, optional

DIRECTIONS:
“Heat the oven to 375°. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray [or line sheet with parchment paper].

Place [vegetable broth] in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot add the eggplant …. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. [Add more vegetable broth if necessary to keep from sticking.] Transfer to the bowl of a food processor.

Add [more vegetable broth] to the skillet with the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add to the food processor along with the drained beans and parsley [or other fresh seasoning blend] and pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed.

Combine the mixture with the breadcrumbs, [nutritional yeast if using] and red chili flakes if using. Taste for salt then roll into 12 meatballs, about 2-inches in diameter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake until firm and browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the marinara sauce and serve with the meatballs over pasta, zucchini noodles or on a whole wheat roll” (skinnytaste.com).

My Nutritarian Diary: Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato “Alfredo”

Sun-Dried Alfredo Header
This Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato “Alfredo” is a wonderful recipe for a few reasons. First, it’s absolutely delicious. The sun-dried tomato flavoring gives this sauce one of the best flavors I’ve tasted since going mostly plant-based in my eating.

Second, it’s so easy to make! I mean the only thing you have to “cook” is the pasta. Really, that’s it. Isn’t that great?

Third, this “alfredo” is better for you than its fat-laden (and yes, I’ll add delicious!) cousins. Using lite silken tofu and cashews helps provide the creamy texture that wonderfully coats the pasta. Cashews are a great alternative to using heavy dairy creams in recipes, and the tofu makes the sauce go further.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes, and you have a dish that packs a nutritional punch of fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and more! And the artichoke hearts are worth a mention, too. They are full of health benefits including aiding digestion, lowering cholesterol, and possessing a high amount of the antioxidant vitamin C.

So, what are you waiting for? Why don’t you give it a try and let me know what you think!

IMG_4267 Large
Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato “Alfredo”
(Adapted from Tosca Reno’s “Penne with No-Cook Sun-Dried Tomato Tofu Cream, Artichoke Hearts and Basil” recipe in The Eat-Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook.)

INGREDIENTS:
• 12-16 ounces of pasta of your choice (I used 12-ounces of tri-colored penne pasta)
• 1 (12.3 ounce) package firm lite silken tofu, drained, at room temperature
• ½ cup raw unsalted cashews
• ½ cup hot water
• 1 cup rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), drained
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 2 tablespoons chopped basil
• 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or more, to taste)
• 1 (12 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
• ¼ teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
“Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and cook the pasta according to package directions until ‘al dente’. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Do not rinse the pasta. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl.

In a blender (or food processor), blend the tofu, cashews and hot water until very smooth. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, [nutritional yeast], salt and pepper, and blend until combined, but you can still see little chunks of tomatoes. Pour over the pasta, add the artichoke hearts, and toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta cooking liquid a bit at a time until you reach the desired consistency” (Tosca Reno).

MY NOTES:
The original recipe called for one tablespoon of chopped marjoram, which I didn’t have on hand. Also, I added nutritional yeast to my version for more of a “cheesy” flavor. And Tosca’s name for this recipe was just entirely too long for my blog post title, so that is why I’ve renamed it.

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

Lebanese Spinach Triangles Header
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.

IMG_4258 (1024x683) 

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: Fruity Quinoa Salad

Fruity Quinoa Header

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!

IMG_4238 small

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: Chickpea “Tuno” Salad

Chickpea Tuno Salad Header

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.

 

IMG_4196_edited

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

Blended Salad Header

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?

IMG_4183

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

Japanese Vegetable Curry Header

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

Banana-Choc Chip Header

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.

IMG_4126

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.