Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lentil & White Bean Burgers

Photo: Getting my food mojo back with lentil & white bean burgers. Husband and toddler approved!

I love to make and create different variations of veggie burgers because they are probably the easiest way to add extra veggies and nutrients into any diet.  I also love how easy they are for my almost 2 year old son to eat and that my husband still gets the sensation of eating a burger. 

As long as you have a few cans of beans sitting in your pantry, you can start creating your own versions of veggie burgers too! 

1 can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can lentils, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked grains (I like to use a combination of grains and the Seeds of Change company makes an organic Seven Whole Grains packet that cooks in 90 seconds in the microwave).
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 TB dijon mustard
1 TB ketchup
1 cup finely chopped baby spinach
2 TB finely chopped italian parsley
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper 

In a food processor, pulse the beans and lentils together so they are 80% smooth.  A few whole or half beans left is perfect. 

To a large mixing bowl, combine the beans, grains, bread crumbs, oats and nutritional yeast and mix together.  Use your hands to ensure optimal combining.

Add the dijon mustard, ketchup, spinach and parsley and mix again to combine.

Finally add the garlic salt and pepper and make sure it all gets evenly distributed.  Shape your bean batter into 6 or 7 large patties, or 8-10 small ones.

On a preheated pan set to medium high heat, add a few teaspoons of oil and add your patties (you may need to cook in more than one batch depending on the size of your pan).  Cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes or until nicely browned.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Semi-Homemade Carmelized Onion BBQ Pizza

I love semi homemade recipes because in less than 30 minutes, you have a delicious meal that you and your family will love.

Recently I have been making different variations of a BBQ Chicken Pizza. The version you are getting today is using extra firm tofu for the chicken. The other uses a homemade seitan (Say-TAN), which is wheat gluten flour that has been formed into a dough and cooked into a firm, chicken-like consistency.

This recipe is so easy, I'm just going to get right into the ingredients and directions:

1 Store Bought Pizza Crust:

I prefer the brand Rustic Crust, which come in 2 vegan varieties: Sourdough and MultiGrain. They are both fantastic. You can also buy a gluten free crust since the crust is the only thing that contains gluten in this pizza.
1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce + more for coating tofu
1 small white onion and 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 package vacuum sealed (not in water) extra firm tofu:
Wildwood is the only brand I have found for this. Buying the tofu vacuum sealed removes the step of having to press all the water out of tofu that is sitting in water. You can either buy the plain tofu or they also have flavored brands. Last time I made this I used their Savory Baked flavor.
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
2 TB extra virgin olive oil


Chop tofu into small one inch cubes and place into a small bowl. Cover with enough bbq sauce to coat each piece and allow to rest.

Coat your pizza crust with a thin layer of bbq sauce.

Heat a medium sized saute pan over medium high heat and add your olive oil. When hot, add your sliced onions and shallots and cook until caramelized and browned. This should take about 10 minutes.

Add your cooked onions to the the pizza. Now add your bbq tofu pieces. Top with carrots and cilantro and cook according to directions on your pizza crust. The Rustic Crust directions are usually 425 for 10-15 minutes, or until crust has browned.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Gluten Free Friday: Vegan & Gluten Free Lentil Loaf

Full Disclosure: I am a true newbie to the Gluten-Free world. I am not g-free at all and don't ever plan to be. However, I am finding more and more people are. So whether you are doing it as part of the new "diet" trend, or you or a family member actually has a gluten intolerance, I decided to jump on the gluten free bandwagon for YOU!

I will scour the internet looking for the BEST of the BEST G-Free recipes, try them myself and share them with you... starting with this one!

Vegan and Gluten-Free Lentil Loaf by Tasty Yummies
(all pictures are courtesy of Tasty Yummies)

I have made "meat" loaf using lentils before, but this recipe is a winner! Beth, the loaf creator, found that pureeing the cooked lentils into a smooth and thick paste helped keep the loaf together. That, plus the flax-"egg", gluten free oats and almond flour all come together to create a beautiful consistency.

I love this quote from her blog regarding this recipe: "I honestly was so excited about finally conquering this lentil loaf that I found myself dancing around the kitchen while taking the photos. I love when that happens. As awful as it feels when you fail at a recipe, and you find yourself so bummed out, there is absolutely NOTHING like that feeling of accomplishment when you figure it out and master it. I live for that feeling!"

The flavors are hearty, "meaty" and very satisfying. Serve with roasted or baked potatoes and a big green salad.

Optional: Make this easy spicy BBQ sauce from scratch and avoid buying expensive organic BBQ sauces filled with high fructose corn syrup.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and take some time to check out some of Beth's other recipes and posts on Tasty Yummies, too!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Toddler Tuesday: Macadamia Nut Crusted Tofu Sticks

Who says macadamia nuts can only crust the outside of Mahi Mahi?

Well... not sure anyone really says that, but in dining my experience, it's pretty common to find fish with a mac-nut crust.

Well, I say that marinated extra firm tofu can also be coated with delicious macadamia nuts. I chose to cook them in toddler-friendly sticks for easy eating, but it would look beautiful as a tofu filet served over whole wheat couscous and garlic sauteed kale. Good thing my husband said this recipe is a repeat!

Tofu sticks getting ready to grace the oven.

My crust is simple: Mac nuts, nutritional yeast and a little bit of salt. Next time I will add some fresh herbs; parsley perhaps. And due to my last minute creation, I failed to dip the tofu into something that would allow the nut mixture to stick.

The marinade is also simple: Ponzu sauce, dijon mustard and maple syrup. I let it marinate in the fridge for 5 hours, but I'm sure the flavors would be even more enhanced overnight.

Kaden digging in...

Macadamia Nut Crusted Tofu Sticks


1 10oz package vacuum sealed super firm tofu (not water packed)
1/2 cup ponzu sauce
1 TB dijon mustard
3 TB pure maple syrup
1/2 cup raw unsalted macadamia nuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt

Prepare tofu by cutting in half, lengthwise, and then cutting into strips. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together ponzu, dijon and maple syrup. Pour marinade into a large ziplock bag and add tofu to coat. Put in the fridge for 3-5 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a food processor, combine macadamia nuts, nutritional yeast and salt. If you have some fresh parsley, chop and add 1/4 cup.

On a non stick baking sheet, or one lined with foil, place your tofu sticks in a single layer. Top each stick with some macadamia nut mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned.

Reader Q&A: Adding (Healthy!) Fats to Your Toddler's Diet

I thought this would be fun to post a question I recently got from a reader about how to add a variety of fats into her baby's diet. My response is included in this post, but PLEASE comment below if you have other suggestions or feedback regarding this topic!

Hello, MGAB! I'm a young mama who's been vegan for several years now. However, many of the recipes I make or find online are very low fat which is fine for me, but I am now embarking on the task of feeding my 16-month-old daughter and I am finding it hard to "fatten up" some foods. We've done baby-led solids where she feeds herself and she does well, but she does not have many teeth yet(4 in front and currently working on her top molars), so my options are a little limited. Avocados have been my go to for healthy, unprocessed fats for her but, she goes through phases where she will love avocados and then other times, like now, when she won't touch anything that is touching an avocado. I also try to add flax meal wherever I can, but she doesn't love it on everything... The only other "fatty" thing I have tried on her is pure extra virgin coconut oil but not only do I feel guilty about giving her spoonfuls of processed "empty" calories, but she will rarely eat it more than a couple times a week. This leaves me panicking about whether she's getting enough. She does still breastfeed quite frequently, so I'm not awful concerned just yet, but I feel I need to up her fat intake in her solids anyway. Sorry this has been such a long babbling email. I'm just really looking for some ideas on good recipes for little ones or any ways I can add fat to her portion of some of my recipes. I've just recently begun really getting into cooking(before I had my daughter, it was mostly simple soups, spaghetti, or stir-fry... I was very repetitive and needed to branch out! I have found TONS of great websites like yours and now cook something new every week!), so I'm not quite sure which ingredients taste good w/what... I'd like to try some nut/seed butters and other stuff, I just get so overwhelmed and lost! Can you please help me?! :) -Forever Grateful

Here was my response to this wonderful Mama:

I know exactly what you mean about many vegan recipes being low fat or fat free! Great for us, but not so great for our little ones. Here are some of the foods I use on a daily or weekly basis to increase the fat in Kaden's diet (other than avocados!)

- Tofu & Tempeh 5g/7g fat per 1/2 cup
- Hemp seeds 4g fat per TB
- Hemp milk and Coconut milk 7g/5g fat per cup
- Linwoods makes a great product. Its ground flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds and goji berries. 4g fat per TB. So far I only add this to his oatmeal, smoothies and pancake batter. But I am going to make some muffins soon and it to the mix.
- Earth Balance (it is processed, but I do spread it on toast)
- Almond butter (he doesn't like peanut butter, but loves almond butter) 8.5g fat per TB
- I make a homemade cashew ricotta cheese and make stuffed manicottis, lasagna, or just use it as a dip or spread. The recipe is on the blog.
- Dr. Prager makes an AMAZING frozen California Veggie Burger (all veggies and grains). It's 5g of fat per patty.

That's about it I guess. If I remember or think of anything else I'll be sure to send you an email. Otherwise, make sure you subscribe to receive my blog posts via email so when I come up with something that works for you, you wont have to search for it!

Here's an idea: You could try and grind up some macadamia nuts in a food processor or high powered blender and use it a crust (along with other spices and stuff) for baked tofu... OR maybe I'll just come up with a recipe for that and post it on the blog :)

Hope that helps!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pureed Purple Cauliflower and Red Quinoa

I know what you're thinking...

Trust me, it works. The combination of sweet and tender squash, smooth and savory pureed purple cauliflower and the delicate nuttiness of red quinoa come together in an unexpected, yet delicious way.

Recipes don't always have to be complicated with a long list of overwhelming ingredients. In fact, some of the best meals are simple foods, simply prepared.

Roasted acorn squash tastes great all by itself.

Cauliflower also come in an orange and purple variety. The only difference between these and the white variety are some of the vitamins and antioxidants. The purple cauliflower, which I used for this recipe, contain the same antioxidant as purple grapes and purple cabbage.

Sadly, there is no nutritional difference among different colors of quinoa. Red and white alike have high concentrations of complete protein, Vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium and phosphorus. But it does look pretty. And its gluten free, for those of you who need to know.

So that's it... 3 (ish) ingredients!

Serves 4
2 Acorn Squash, halved and seeds removed
1 large purple cauliflower (or white if you can't find it)
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1 TB vegan butter (earth balance)
1/4 cup non dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, hemp, etc)
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 400.
Place prepared acorn squash cut side down on a non stick or sprayed baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until soft. If a fork goes through the skin after 30 minutes, its done!
White the squash is cooking, combine quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all water has absorbed.
Wash and steam cauliflower until soft. Transfer to a food processor and blend until chunky. Add the vegan butter, non dairy milk and salt and blend until smooth and creamy.

Scoop prepared cauliflower into squash and top with quinoa. That's it!! My 17 month old ate almost an entire half tonight. Big win for Mommy!

3 Ultimate Vegan Super Bowl Party Snacks

My husband is very serious about two things: Football and Food. For the past few years I've held the job of "veganizing" some of his favorite snack foods. This year is no exception and the three recipes I have for you will be a hit at your Super Bowl party, too!

Check out my Spicy Buffalo Bites, Spinach Artichoke Dip and Cheezy Mashed Potato Quesadillas!

Of the three, the Buffalo Bites do require a bit more work. After some experimenting, I made the decision that they should definitely be made the day before and sit in the fridge overnight to generate the desired texture. The "dough" for the nuggets is called is made from Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, which you can easily find at most health food stores. And unfortunately for a few of you, they are not gluten-free friendly since they are made almost entirely from gluten!

But they sure are delicious...

Vegan Spicy Buffalo Bites
Adapted from Vegan Dad

Ingredients for the Dough

1/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced white button mushroom
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp Poultry Spice
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup water
1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten Flour

Ingredients for the Breading
1/2 cup finely ground corn flakes
1/2 cup flour (I used whole grain spelt flour)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Buffalo Sauce (melt and combine small in saucepan)
1/3 cup vegan butter (earth balance)
1/2 cup hot sauce (I used Cholula)
1 TB white vinegar
1 TB ketchup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with oil.

Combine mushrooms, onion and garlic into a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Add oil, poultry spice, salt and water and blend until a smooth, thin paste. Add gluten and process until you get a dough. Remove dough from food processor and roll into a long cylinder. Cut into 1 inch pieces and roll those into a cylinder shape, then flatten slightly. Pour 2 tsp oil into a shallow dish and coat your dough pieces.

In two separate bowls, add your ingredients for your dry and wet coating.

Take each dough piece and dip into dry coating first, then wet, and then dry once more. Line on baking sheet when done. Bake in the oven for 10 min, flip and bake 10 min more. Add all but 1/4 cup of your buffalo sauce to your bites and cook for 10 min more until bubbly. Use the rest of your sauce to coat after done cooking. Allow to cool before putting in the fridge overnight.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
I really miss going to a restaurant and ordering the hot and bubbly spinach artichoke dip. Unfortunately for non-dairy eaters, and even health conscious ones, most restaurant versions contain more fat laden sour cream, cream cheese and cheese than the spinach and artichoke! Lucky for you I have an unbelievable alternative for you.

6 garlic cloves... yes 6. Use them all. And peel and chop them of course.
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, packed in water (drained and chopped).
1 lb bag frozen chopped spinach
2 TB vegan mayo (veganaise)
2 TB vegan cream cheese (i used follow your heart)
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup mozzerella style Daiya Vegan Cheese
pinch salt

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add a small amount of oil or vegetable stock. When heated, add your garlic and cook until slightly browned. Add the artichoke hearts and cook for a few minutes more. Add the entire bag of frozen spinach and combine well. Stir often for about 10 minutes so most of the water can evaporate from the spinach.

Transfer spinach artichoke mixture to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until well combined and enjoy with chips, bread or sliced veggies.

Cheezy Mashed Potato Quesadillas
What could be better than creamy, cheezy mashed potatoes inside a grilled tortilla? Maybe spicy buffalo bites or spinach artichoke dip?

2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 green onions, chopped (white and very beginning of green parts only)
1 TB vegan butter
1/4 cup non dairy milk
1/2 bag cheddar style Daiya vegan shredded cheese
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
6 corn tortillas
vegan butter, for spreading on the tortillas

Boil your chopped potatoes until soft (fork tender). Drain and return back to pot. Mash with a potato masher or fork and add remaining ingredients (except tortillas... but I hope you already knew that!).

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Butter one side of each corn tortilla and fill half of the other side with potatoes. Fold in half. Cook quesadillas for 5 minutes on each side or until browned.

Now that you have your food covered, who are you hoping will win?? Lets hope for a good game... and good commercials!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sesame Roasted Beets & Greens from For the Love of Food

So my dishwasher is broken. And while I'm waiting for the new one to arrive, I have simply lost my motivation to make a mess in the kitchen and create new recipes. Instead, I've been scouring the internet for simple and easy recipes that I can share with you, and I'd like to start with this one from For the Love of Food.

It is just copied and pasted directly from her site to mine because I think her entire post was very funny and clever. I can relate to her sense of humor, which is why I thought you would enjoy reading it, too. However, she has an AMAZING archive of recipes, from gluten-free and soy-free to raw and even recipes for veggie-haters and kids! Please click on the link to go to her website and check out her delicious recipe selection.

Sesame Roasted Beets & Greens by For the Love of Food

Here are the things they don't tell you about hot yoga:

Before your first hot yoga class, you should really paint your toenails. Trust me. You'll want to have something pretty to distract you from the thought that this is how you are going to die.

It's hot. I know you must have gathered that much from the name of the class, but it's really hot. And when the room is that hot and the studio gets really crowded... it smells. Sorry to say it, but some classes make it hard to come back.

You can totally do it. If I can do it, you can do it. Promise.

I started hot yoga two weeks ago and have completed six classes to date. I am not a "yoga person" by any means. I do a couple of yoga classes at my gym here and there, but hot yoga was never something that appealed to me. Standing in one spot and dripping sweat all over myself? No thanks.

I started my hot yoga experiment to see if it would help alleviate my knee pain. So far I have had very positive results, which is one of the reasons why I have forced myself to stick with it. Hot yoga and I kinda have a love-hate relationship at the moment. I think we're frenemies.

One of the things that I do enjoy about hot yoga is how it strengthens the mind and body connection. I usually make a point each day to try to listen to my thoughts and make the positive ones outweigh the negative ones. During my first class, it became apparent very quickly how strongly my body responds to my thoughts. For instance, I would think to myself "I am going to fall out of this pose." And so I did. But, if I tried the pose again and thought, "I can hold it this time." I did. Incredible.

In the studio that I go to, the room is long and narrow so everyone can see themselves in the front mirror. I find it very powerful to look into my own eyes for an hour and a half. Some days that takes a lot of courage and work to give myself love that entire time. I think for women especially this is really powerful because we learn so quickly to avoid mirrors or use them as means to critique ourselves. Before hot yoga, I don't think there ever was a time when I looked myself right in the eyes and said, "You can do this." Or, "look how strong your body is in this pose." Or, "Wow, your arms look awesome today."

Here's one more thing they don't tell you about hot yoga:

Even if you really don't like it... even if you kinda hate it... even if you dread every class... you'll kinda love it.

Here are the things they don't tell you about beets:

Don't ever eat them from a can. I'm serious. If you have a can of beets in your pantry, please compost them right now.

Buy beets when they are fresh, preferably with the greens still attached.

Don't overcook them and if you are not a beet lover, don't boil them. Roast them. Always.

Even if you really don't like beets... even if you kinda hate 'em... even if you dread the thought of eating them... you'll kinda love this recipe.

Roasted beets are perfect in winter because they are in-season and full of Vitamin C. Roasting them brings out their natural sweetness which is why I recommend this method of cooking for people who say they don't like beets. This recipe utilizes the beet greens as well as the root so you use the entire vegetable. I like to use different kinds of beets in this recipe for a more colorful presentation, but any type of beets will work. Serve this with some brown rice and lentils for a hearty and healthy meal.

Sesame Roasted Beets
Serves 4

2 bunches of beets
3 Tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1 leek, ends removed and chopped
1 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Bragg's liquid aminos
salt and pepper, if desired
sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the greens from the beets and set aside. Chop the beets. Toss beets with one tablespoon of sesame oil and lay flat on sheet pan. Roast for 25 - 30 minutes, turning twice, until beets are tender (but not mushy).

Chop the beet greens. Add one tablespoon of sesame oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté for two minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the the greens and liquid aminos and cook for 15 - 20 minutes, until tender. Add salt and pepper if desired.

Drizzle beets with remaining tablespoon of sesame oil. Garnish beets and greens with sesame seeds and serve warm.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lentil Bolognese with Cashew Parmesan

We are a pasta loving family! And sometimes when it gets chilly and windy, a nice bowl of warm and hearty pasta just hits the spot.

There are so many reasons I love making pasta sauce! For one, you can pretty much add any vegetable you want (kale anyone?). If chopped small enough and covered in sauce, its a great way to get your kids (or a picky husband) to eat their veggies!! A great substitute for ground meat, lentils are very hearty and packed with protein. I have several variations for this recipe, but I chose the easiest one for you today. From start to finish, it shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes.

A quick note about the pasta choice. I have found that a whole wheat spaghetti works great for this sauce for its heartiness and density. It holds up well to the thick sauce. You can certainly use any pasta you love in substitution. If you need a gluten free option, try not to overcook the pasta so it stays firm and not mushy.

And NO pasta is the same without some melt-in-your-mouth cashew parmesan. 3 ingredients and one minute later is all it takes to dig into this...YUM! I could eat it straight from the spoon. Oh wait, I already DO!

Ingredients for Lentil Bolognese
1 box whole wheat spaghetti (or other preferred pasta)
1 jar favorite marinara sauce (I love Amy's Family Marinara)
1 15oz can cooked lentils.
You can also find vacuum sealed, steamed and ready to eat lentils at places like Trader Joes or Gelsons in the produce section. OR if you are feeling extra brave, you can cook your own lentils. Use 1/2 cup dried greed lentils and follow directions on the package.

1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 medium sized carrot, chopped
1 medium sized zucchini, chopped
About 10 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
Vegetable stock for sauteing
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Cashew Parmesan
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt

Cook pasta of choice according to its directions.
While the water is boiling for your noodles, prepare your veggies. Chop your onion, carrot, zucchini and mushrooms all into about quarter inch pieces. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add about 1/2 cup of vegetable stock. Add your chopped veggies and cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Turn your heat down to medium low add the chopped tomatoes (with its juice) and the lentils to your pan and stir to combine and let simmer for a few minutes. Lastly, add your jar of marinara sauce and chopped parsley and stir everything together. The longer the sauce sits and simmers, the more the flavors will come together.

In a food processor, combine cashews, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend until soft and fluffy (1-2 minutes).

When your pasta is done, drain and serve with a heaping serving of sauce on top and your cashew parmesan on the side.

Baby Modification (9 mos+): Take a small serving of pasta and sauce and combine in a blender. Now everyone can eat together!

5 Minute Breakfast with "Better Oats."

I don't usually love instant oatmeal, but the company Better Oats, has made a fan out of me!

It's been quite a while since I let go of my favorite baby cereal for Kaden and on days where he eats oatmeal for breakfast, I have been making him plain 1 minute oats by Quaker. To that I would add a little maple syrup, cinnamon, hemp seeds or flax seeds, a sprinkle of ground walnuts and either banana, blueberries or strawberries. And I have to say it has been working quite well... until Better Oats entered my life.

I guess you can say I'm a sucker for anything multigrain. The one pictured here contains oats, barley, quinoa, rye and wheat. The past few mornings I have been making this for Kaden and adding all of the same stuff I normally do. It was a hit... for both of us!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vegan Meat-Lovers Lasagna with Roasted Garlic Cashew Ricotta Cheese

I certainly don't think this was the "prettiest" dinner I've ever made (nor the healthiest), but it sure passed the meat-lovers taste test when my husband sat down to eat. Most of our meals are pretty plant-based (grains, vegetables, salad, legumes, sometimes tofu/tempeh) so this was a treat for sure.

This lasagna does have two easy plan-ahead steps:
1. Put about a cup of raw, unsalted cashews in a bowl and cover it completely in water. Let it sit on your kitchen counter for at least 2-3 hours. You can do that in under 2 minutes.
2. Roast your garlic. If you have never roasted garlic before, click HERE for a great tutorial from on my fav bloggers, Oh She Glows. Yes I could do it too & not send you off somewhere else, but I'm feeling lazy... and you'll LOVE her site, so its a win-win!

Prepare the Roasted Garlic Cashew Ricotta Cheese
Drain your pre-soaked cashews, give them a quick rinse and add them to your food processor.

Ingredients for Cashew Cheese
1 cup raw unsalted cashews, pre soaked for at least 2-3 hours
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (almond, soy, hemp, rice etc).
1 TB olive oil
1 TB apple cider vinegar
2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 TB agave nectar
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 entire bulb roasted garlic cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine cashews, non-dairy milk, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and agave nectar in your food processor and blend until very smooth and creamy. If your "ricotta" still looks a bit nutty, add a little more milk and blend again. This may take a few minutes until you get the right consistency. Add the basil, garlic, salt and pepper and pulse until combined well. Set aside.

Ingredients for Lasagna
1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1 package Lightlife Smart Ground Veggie Crumbles
2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 -2 cups Roasted Garlic Cashew Ricotta Cheese (depending on how thick you want it)
2 tsp olive oil, cooking spray, or vegetable stock for sauteing

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. Add your sauteing base of choice (oil, spray or stock) to heat a bit and then add your onions and mushrooms. Cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms have cooked down. Add your Smart Ground and break up into crumbles. Cook about 6 minutes. Remove from heat.
Build your lasagna (I'm assuming you are using some sort of pyrex glass dish):
Sauce-Noodles-Sauce-Smart Ground-Noodles-Cashew Cheese-Noodles-Sauce-Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (Optional).

Cook uncovered for 40 minutes. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Homemade Bean Burgers

There is just something so satisfying about sinking your teeth into a big juicy burger... made of garbanzo beans and brown rice of course!

It doesn't get much worse than a store-bought veggie burger from the frozen section that tastes like cardboard and is made from processed soy. I also don't love ordering a "house made" veggie burger from a restaurant, only to have the entire thing completely crumble on the first bite. No fun!

Here is my solution to the veggie burger woes...

1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 package "Seeds of Change" Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice... 90 seconds in the microwave!
2 large shallots, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup curly parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt & pepper to taste

Cook quinoa and rice mixture according to microwave directions. Combine garbanzo beans and cooked rice in a food processor and process until paste-like.

In a saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil to heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute for a few minutes or until shallots are translucent. Remove from heat and add parsley.

In a medium sized bowl, combine prepared bean-rice mix with cooked shallot mixture. Add garlic salt and pepper and stir well.

Form into 6 patties. Reheat the same saute pan over medium high heat. Either spray with cooking spray or add a little more oil. Add your patties and cook about 5 minutes on each side, or until browned.

Make your burger as you wish! I like a little Follow Your Heat sliced mozzarella "cheese", avocado, red onion, mixed greens, shredded carrot and dijon mustard.

For your toddler, just cut into bite sized pieces as is.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Detox Smoothie #1 and Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chickpeas

Cucumber Melon Mint Detox Smoothie
Cucumbers, melon and mint are all great detoxing foods. The high water and vitamin content in the cucumbers and melon help to detoxify the body and eliminate toxins, while the mint can help stimulate digestion.

1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 honeydew melon, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh mint
a few squeezes of fresh lime
Optional: Garnish with hemp seeds

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chickpeas
These crispy chickpeas will give you lots to feel great about. They are a great grab-n-go crunch that is good for you too. You can toss a baggie of these in your kids lunchbox, your lunchbox, purse or gym bag. Instead of reaching for a high carb, high fat, overly salted chip, you can make your own. From sweet to savory. The gamut of flavor is wide open, be creative and have fun with this recipe.

1 14oz can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and dried with paper towels
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until very golden brown (almost burnt looking).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Toddler Eats More Than I Do!

People who know me, know that I am constantly amazed by how much my now-16 1/2 month old son can eat! Just to give you some actual perspective, I decided to document a typical days food intake. I never count calories (for him or myself), as my only goal for my family is to provide the highest level of nutrition by offering a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods.

What are your thoughts?

Breakfast - 7:30am

- 8oz hemp/coconut milk combination with 1/4 scoop Chocolate Sunwarrior (raw, whole grain, sprouted brown rice protein powder) and a scoop of FloraBaby Probiotics.
- 3 strawberries, chopped
- 1/2 cup oatmeal with 1 tsp maple syrup, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 TB finely ground walnuts

Morning Snack - 9:00am
- Two Plum Organics Packets (we LOVE them ALL)

Lunch - 12:00pm
- 1/3 cup steamed tempeh with a few TB of marinara sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped, steamed carrots (multi-colored if available)
- A few steamed broccoli florets
- 1/2 small avocado, chopped
- water

Afternoon Snack #1 - 2:oopm
- Tasty Brand organic cereal bar
- 8oz hemp/coconut milk combination with 1/4 scoop Chocolate Sunwarrior

Afternoon Snack #2 - 4:00pm
- 10oz of a Green Apple Baby Green Smoothie:
Almond milk, kale, frozen peas, 1/2 small raw fuji apple, 1 banana, a little frozen pineapple, 1 Pixie Vite multi-vitamin

Dinner - 5:30pm
- 1/2 cup cooked Quinoa with a few drops of Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1/3 cup chopped, steamed zucchini
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted butternut squash
- A few chopped grapes for dessert
- Water

The good news is that he isn't out of the range for a normal weight/height ratio for his age. In fact, he has always been about 75% for height and between 35-50% for weight. The only problem with this little guys eating habits is that its A LOT of work for MOM! I guess its a good thing he picked me :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

10 Superfoods. Green Apple Baby Approved!

I'm sure by now you are all familiar with the word, "superfood," and have probably even seen a few superfood lists. Most of the ones I have read contain at least a few animal-based products like turkey, eggs and yogurt. However, they are almost always written by dietitians or doctors who are products of "the system." If you are a product of "the system," you have received a highly esteemed medical or food science degree from schools where education is mandated by our federal government.

Think about it: We only know what we are taught. It is interesting to me that toddlers are practically wired to ask "WHY" about everything, and yet, we somehow re-wire them to understand the answer is because we said so. This way of thinking is then transferred into our schools, where the information we are taught is true because they say so. If we learn to stop asking why and this pattern continues, there will never be change.

So what does all this have to do with my Superfoods List? By questioning and asking "why," I have been able to make the best decisions I can for myself and my family. Here is a short list of the superfoods we strive to eat daily! How many of these do you eat?

1. Avocados
Included as one of my Baby Superfoods, avocados are an excellent source of fatty acids and antioxidants, and are known to lower cholesterol and prevent certain cancers. For my toddler, I mash avocados and spread it on whole grain bread/toast, mix it with steamed broccoli as an alternative to cheese, use it in my Green Quinoa add it to smoothies, or simply just chop and serve.

2. Berries
Organic blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are always a staple in our home. Loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants, these super-berries are perfect for smoothies, pancakes, muffins, and oatmeal! Buy fresh or frozen.

3. Broccoli
People are always so surprised that my toddler loves broccoli. Keep in mind that it takes 10-15 tries to determine whether or not a child likes or dislikes a food. Most people stop at only 5 tries. My favorite way to eat broccoli is simply steamed with a little salt and lemon juice, but its also delish in Vegan Mac n Cheese, on a baked potato, spicy in a stir-fry, or even hidden in a smoothie! Are you getting the hide your greens in a smoothie trick yet?

4. Beans & Lentils
Beans provide a delicious, low fat alternative to meat. One cup of lentils provides 17g of protein and less than 1g of fat. Another reason why beans and lentils are on this list because of their high nutrition content, including fiber, b-vitamins, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and many phytonutrients. For baby, I love mashing squash or sweet potato with white beans. Get my recipe for Sweet Butternut Squash and White Beans here. I love to use lentils in Veganomicon's Snobby Joes. This is an excellent alternative to Sloppy Joes, which I honestly don't even know what part of which animal is used for that anymore.

5. Carrots
Carrots don't only come in orange. You can find them in beautiful yellow and purple varieties. Delicious raw, steamed, roasted or juiced, carrots are high in fiber and antioxidants. I love to steam carrots and cut them into bite sized pieces as a snack food for Kaden, or grate them raw. If you have a juicer, you can add the juice of carrots to smoothies and soups, or steam and puree to use as sweet addition to pancake or cake batter!

6. Dark Leafy Greens (Kale, Romaine & Spinach)
If I wasn't trying to list these in alphabetical order, my greens would be number one. No matter what superfoods list you find, there is no doubt that one of these magical greens will be there. You just cannot argue with the fact that calorie for calorie, greens contain more nutrients than other food, including protein! Yes, greens contain more protein per calorie than red meat. Add a wide variety of greens to as much as you possibly can!! Kaden has been drinking Green Smoothies since he was 10 months old! My favorite way to eat kale is HERE!

7. Ground Flax Seed
Countless studies have shown the positive effects of including ground flax seed into your diet. They are high in fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, which help with constipation, cholesterol, cancer and heart disease. Keep in mind that these benefits have been scientifically documented with raw, ground flax seed, not flax oil. I add a few teaspoons of flax to oatmeal, pancakes, smoothies, yogurt (soy, almond or coconut), and even cookies!

8. Tofu & Tempeh
There seems to be so much misunderstood controversy surrounding soy. The truth is, with all foods, you want to eat soy in its most natural state. In this case, that would be the soybean itself, tofu and tempeh. But when highly processed in a lab and turned into isolated soy protein as the main ingredient for "fake meats," protein powders and energy bars, too much of a good thing is just not good! Tofu and tempeh are super high in quality protein, calcium and good fats. For Kaden, I cut up tofu into small cubes or steam and cube tempeh and cover with marinara sauce. I use extra firm tofu to make breakfast scrambles and the vacuum sealed tofu to grill for dinners as the texture is fabulous. Tempeh is a great alternative to ground meat when crumbled and seasoning. Use in tacos, meatloaf and even sushi!

9. Quinoa
Quinoa made my list of superfoods because it is the only grain that is also a complete protein, containing all the same amino acids as meat. Remember that your body doesn't need protein, it needs amino acids! Not only is quinoa rich in protein, but it is loaded with magnesium, iron, calcium and fiber. I have been using quinoa in replace of rice for years now and we love it. Quinoa is also a fabulous, easy to digest food for your toddler, and easy to make! Check out my Rainbow Quinoa with Marinated Tofu Spring Rolls.

10. Walnuts
Ever notice that walnuts look similar to a brain? Coincidence? I think not! Because of their extremely rich vitamin E content, walnuts have been shown over and over again to help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Walnuts are also a great source of folic acid, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium. I have been giving Kaden walnuts since he was 10 months old by grinding them in a food processor into an almost-powder like consistency and sprinkling over oatmeal. I now also add them into his smoothie... shocking, I know :)