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 :)