Tag Archives: nutritional yeast

My Nutritarian Diary: Vegan Eggplant Meatballs

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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.

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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!

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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: 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: 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.