Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blender Whole Wheat Pancakes

This is an adaptation from the pancake/waffle recipe my mama has used every Saturday morning since I can remember. I tried it in my new vita-mix and it was so fast and easy!
*Blending times and speeds will vary depending on your blender.

Blender Whole Wheat Pancakes

Preheat griddle sprayed with cooking spray or well greased.
Place in blender:
1 C Whole Wheat Kernels
1 C Rice Milk
Blend on high for 1-2 minutes until smooth
Add another 1/2 C rice milk and blend until well mixed- about a minute in Vitamix (2-3 minutes otherwise)
Add in:
2 eggs
1/4 c. coconut oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
Blend well then add 1 Tbsp baking powder
Blend until just mixed in. Bake on hot griddle until bubbles near center pop and holes remain. Flip and cook until browned.
*This can also be used in a waffle maker.
Serve with real maple syrup, fresh fruit jam, yogurt, honey, agave, or your favorite toppings!

A Divine Treat- Strawberry Sparkling Cider

I am SO EXCITED! We got a Vita-Mix for Christmas!
I have made everything from fresh apple juice to blender whole wheat pancakes, to the smoothest of yummy smoothies, salsa and fresh pizza sauce.
My husband got us a 4 pack of sparkling apple cider for the holidays. My biggest pet peeve with these is that one bottle only contains 4-5 small servings. On Christmas night I decided to stretch it out and make it better. So I filled the blender with about 8 cups of semi-thawed frozen strawberries and added one entire bottle of cider. BRILLIANT! It was delicious! My little family all had glass after glass and we all got more than our fill of this new favorite treat.
Try it! Yum!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Easy Garden Squares

I take this little finger food to family gatherings, open houses, farewells, homecomings, showers and receptions and am always bombarded for the recipe (adapted from Treasury of Christmas)! They disappear so fast! YUM!
I wasn't going to post them here, but they are vegetarian and if you load on enough veg, healthy enough for the season! Enjoy!

Easy Garden Squares

2 cans refrigerated crescent roll dough (8 each- 16 total)
1 1/2 8 ounce packages cream cheese or neufatchel cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 packet (about a tbsp) buttermilk ranch salad dressing mix
1 tsp garlic powder
3 cups of desired toppings*
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For crust, unroll crescent roll dough and press in to 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 2 inch baking sheet (large cookie sheet with a lip works great).
Bake according to package directions (11-13 minutes at 375).

In a small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayo, dill weed, dressing mix and garlic powder.
Spread evenly over cooled crust.

Sprinkle generously with desired toppings and mozzarella cheese.
Cut into 2 x 2 inch squares and serve.

finely chopped broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, red pepper, yellow pepper; seeded and finely diced tomato; thinly sliced or finely diced green, white or red onion; seeded and diced cucumber; thinly sliced black olives, celery, or shredded carrots; finely diced fresh mushrooms; finely shredded and chopped baby spinach.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Chili Cakes

What to do with all that leftover veggie chili? Make chili cakes of course! My kids adored these!

Chili Cakes

3-4 cups leftover veggie chili
2-3 cups cooked brown rice
6-10 ritz crackers, saltines or a cup or so of bread crumbs

Place chili and rice in food processor or blender and pulse to a pasty consistency. You want it thinner than cookie dough, but thicker than pancake batter. Add crackers or breadcrumbs as needed to get the desired consistency.
On a hot griddle or skillet (about 375 degrees or medium high), sprayed with cooking spray, spoon a medium to large scoop of your paste and flatten/spread to about 1/2 inch thick and a few inches round. Then you just cook 'em like little pancakes! I used my large griddle and did 8 or so at a time. Check them every once in a while for doneness- if you can't easily get your spatula under them, then they aren't ready to flip yet. They should be slightly blackened on each side when they are done (takes about 3-4 minutes on each side depending on griddle heat). Repeat until chili paste is gone.
Eat alone as finger food or topped with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo or dipped in ranch dressing.
Serve with a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Veggie Chili

I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe before! It is a winter/fall staple in our house.

Veggie Chili

1-2 tbs olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, grated
4 baby bella mushrooms, grated
1/2 large red pepper, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or micrograted
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
(bean types can be substituted for each other if you don't have one kind or another)
1-2 Tbsp chili powder (to taste)
1-2 tsp cumin (to taste)
approx 2 tbsp agave or pure maple syrup
approx 1-2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1- 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In large pot, heat oil to medium high heat
add onion, mushroom, carrot, and red pepper and saute until veggies soften. Add pressed garlic and saute for a minute longer. Turn heat down to medium and add all remaining ingredients except spinach and corn. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally and then turn heat to low. Stir in spinach and corn and let simmer for a minute or two. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with yummy bread and a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Brown Rice and Cranberry Stuffing

Adapted from the e-health compete newsletter
Brown Rice and Cranberry Stuffing
A healthy alternative to buttery soggy old bread.... as tasty as it can be. :)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 medium fennel bulbs, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
 (I had problems finding fresh fennel at the store, so I added a little extra celery and used about 1 1/2 tbs fennel seed)
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cups long-grain brown rice (I used short grain)

1 3/4 cup chicken broth (veggie broth for our vegan/veg friends)
1 cup dried cranberries

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon dried ground thyme

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

 Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add carrots, fennel, celery, and onion, and cook 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, stirring frequently. 

Stir in rice, chicken broth, cranberries, salt, thyme, pepper, and 4 1/4 cups water. (I added 2 cups of water in the skillet and then the remaining 2 1/4 cups to the baking dish.) Cover and heat to boiling. Pour rice mixture into 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish; cover with foil and bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until liquid evaporates and rice is tender.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not dead yet, and a sweet giveaway at the Old School

First of all, sincere apologies for dropping off the face of the blog planet for months.
A short explanation:
I am baking a baby.... no, not in my oven, but in the reproductive sense. And anyone who is aware of my personal 'delights' of pregnancy, can rest assured, this one is no different... except worse. So my sudden absence of recipes, springs from the fact that for the past 17 1/2 weeks I would have rather laid on my roof holding an umbrella frame during a thunderstorm than make up recipes and actually think about them enough to post them here. I'm sorry. I truly am. Hopefully I can get back to posting a bit soon, as my stomach has stopped hating me completely and merely growls grumpily at me now and then.

Anyway, second and much more fun item of business: The New Old School Giveaway!
My dear friend the Damsel over at the New Old School is holding a T-shirt Giveaway! Yay! Go! Read her awesome blog and enter!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Truly Vegan Potato Salad

I searched high and low for a good vegan potato salad recipe. All of them called for vegenaise- I am not so fond of many vegan substitutes. I know some like them, but in imitating the real thing, I feel like I automatically have expectations that won't be met! So I created my own recipe. It turned out SO yummy! I love it anyway. My husband (who is not a fan of mustard or dill) did admit that it was at least okay. Our guests seemed to enjoy it as well. It has hints of classic potato salad flavor, with a light, flavorful dressing.
Truly Vegan Potato Salad

Water for boiling
16-18 red potatoes, washed and cubed
approx 3 cups fresh or frozen green beans
3/4 cup shredded carrots (one large carrot did it for me)
approx 1/8-1/4 red onion, sliced thinly or finely diced (depending on preference)
3-4 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp raw agave nectar
2-3 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp white vinegar
1-2 Tbsp dried parsley (fresh would be awesome)
1-2 tsp dried dillweed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried basil
Approx 1 cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In large pot, bring salted water to boil and add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are only slightly firm (not too soft or they'll fall apart in your salad). Drain and rinse in cold water. Spread on paper towel to cool and dry. Salt them lightly while they cool. In smaller pot with lid, place about 1-2 cups of water and your green beans. Cover and turn on high. Steam until lightly cooked- approx 3-4 minutes after water boils. Remove from heat, drain and run under cool water. Salt and set aside.
In medium mixing bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon juice, agave, vinegar, garlic and seasonings. Then slowly pour in olive oil while whisking briskly to emulsify dressing. In large bowl, combine potatoes, green beans, carrots, onions and dressing, mixing gently to coat well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Quinoa Caprese Salad

This recipe turned out so yummy and easy. It is based on the idea of a classic Italian Caprese with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Quinoa Caprese Salad

2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed well
6 cups water
2-3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (grape tomatoes cut in half would also be yummy)
approx 1 cup of 1/2 inch mozzarella cubes
approx 3-4 tbsp chopped fresh basil (2-3 tbsp of dried will work if you don't have fresh)
2 cups fresh flat leaf spinach, finely chopped
approx 3/4 c balsamic vinegar
approx 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 large cloves fresh garlic, pressed or micrograted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place quinoa and water in rice cooker and let cook or follow package directions on stove top.
Let quinoa cool before mixing in other ingredients.
Once quinoa is mostly cooled, add all other ingredients and mix well- be gentle so as not to damage your tomatoes. Serve chilled.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Spinach Cashew Pesto

Sorry I've been slacking for a while! So much has been going on! I will try to catch up with great recipes in the coming weeks, but for now I'll start with a marvelous pesto that is awesome with pasta, as a dip, or however else you want to use it!
Most pesto sauces call for walnuts or pine nuts, but since I'm more apt to use what I have on hand, this one is made with raw cashews. It is easy and oh, so tasty.

Spinach Cashew Pesto

approx 4 cups fresh, clean spinach
approx 1/2-3/4 cup raw cashews
3 medium/large cloves garlic
approx 1 1/2 -2 Tbsp dried basil (if you have fresh basil- use it!!)
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
extra virgin olive oil

In food processor place all ingredients except for olive oil. Pulse until chopped, then begin adding olive oil a drizzle at a time while processor is running until desired consistency is reached. Thicker is desirable for a chip or cracker dip or spread. Thinner is great for pasta sauce.
You can add parmesan cheese if desired, but I kept this one clean and healthy.

Delicious with pita chips, on sandwiches, pasta- get creative!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Laundry Detergent... one year later....

Wow. I am thoroughly impressed.

The homemade laundry detergent I posted about almost a year ago has been not only earth friendly and efficient, but majorly cost effective as well. I spent around 13 dollars for all of the materials. I made a double batch every 2 months or so and I just ran out of ingredients today! 13 bucks for a year's worth of laundry! Mind you- this is for a family of 5! In terms of time and effort, I calculate I spent about 30-45 minutes total this past year making detergent. That is incredible to me- that it can be so cost effective AND minimally time consuming.

I love it when experiments work out!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Creamy Vegan Coconut Ice Cream

I am constantly amazed at the decadence that can be enjoyed healthfully!!
This one came from the combined efforts of my sister-in-law and mother-in-law. SO delicious!
I am going to have to go buy myself an ice cream maker.
We doubled this recipe and it fed 20 people!

Creamy Vegan Coconut Ice Cream

2 15 oz cans coconut milk
15 oz rice milk
1/2 cup raw agave
1 tsp vanilla

Pour all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well, then follow your ice cream maker instructions. It's that easy! Thanks Misha and Joyce!

Toppings and Add-in possibilities:
Strawberries, Bananas, cocoa powder, blueberries, raspberries, peaches. - get creative!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Veggie Coconut Korma and Naan

A marvelous Naan recipe inspired some Indian creativity and it turned out lick-the-plate divine!

Veggie Coconut Korma

10 medium red potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
approx 1 1/2-2 cups chopped carrots
3-4 tbsp olive or coconut oil
1/2 small white or yellow onion, diced
2-3tbsp cinnamon
2-3 tbsp curry powder
1-2 tbsp cumin
2 14 0z cans coconut milk
1 small-medium head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
approx 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas.
generous amount of sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steam potatoes and carrots in steamer or rice cooker steam basket until tender.
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft. Add cinnamon, curry and cumin and stir well for 1 minute. Add coconut milk. Stir well, bring to a simmer reduce heat to medium low. Add cauliflower and peas, cover pot and let simmer until cauliflower is tender but not too soft- stir occasionally. Add steamed potatoes and carrots. Combine well and add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer uncovered for at least 5 minutes to allow flavors to combine and permeate veggies. Adjust seasoning amounts if needed.
Serve over cooked brown rice and with fresh naan and enjoy!

Fresh Pillowy Naan
(based on the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day book)
For this recipe I clarified my own butter in place of ghee. To do this, place a stick of butter (1/2 cup) in a skillet on low heat until it melts and separates. Pour through strainer into glass container or scoop solids off top. The clear liquid is what you will use to cook the naan in.

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sea salt
3 1/4 cups flour (I used half whole wheat, half unbleached all purpose)

Combine ingredients in large bowl until incorporated-no need to knead. Cover with kitchen towel and place in a warm place for at least 30-40 minutes (up to 3 hours). In cast iron skillet, heat clarified butter over medium heat. With floured hands and working with a floured surface, pull off a tennis-ball sized piece of dough. Flatten and work into a thin circle (1/16 to 1/4 inch thick), sprinkle with sea salt and place in hot ghee. Cover with lid and let cook for 2 1/2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and cook for 2 1/2 more minutes.
Repeat for as many naan as needed. Add ghee to skillet as needed.
Cover (not air tight) and refrigerate any leftover dough for up to 2 weeks.
Dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated after rising.
3 naan fed our little family of 5 well.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It is in EVERYTHING! I try really hard to avoid MSG, but those sneaky processed food people have started renaming it- or using food titles that we don't recognize as containing it. From the Mercola website:

Here is a list of ingredients that ALWAYS contain MSG:

Autolyzed Yeast Calcium Caseinate Gelatin
Glutamate Glutamic Acid Hydrolyzed Protein
Monopotassium Glutamate Monosodium Glutamate Sodium Caseinate
Textured Protein Yeast Extract Yeast Food
Yeast Nutrient

These ingredients OFTEN contain MSG or create MSG during processing:[10]

Flavors and Flavorings Seasonings Natural Flavors and Flavorings Natural Pork Flavoring Natural Beef Flavoring
Natural Chicken Flavoring Soy Sauce Soy Protein Isolate Soy Protein Bouillon
Stock Broth Malt Extract Malt Flavoring Barley Malt
Whey Protein Carrageenan Maltodextrin Pectin Enzymes
Protease Corn Starch Citric Acid Powdered Milk Anything Protein Fortified
Anything Enzyme Modified Anything Ultra-Pasteurized

I will definitely be going through my cupboards and fridge checking labels!

Here is a link to the Mercola article on MSG and what it does to our bodies.

All the more reason to eat more food in it's natural form!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Salmon and Potato Soup

Utah weather. Saturday was sunny and warming. There was no snow on the ground. We built planter boxes and went on a picnic at the park. Then comes Sunday morning. Light flakes of snow drift down as we head into church. Three hours later we emerge from the chapel to 6 inches of blizzard! I loathe Utah weather in early Spring. We cozied up in the afternoon with sweet herbal tea, naps and Yahtzee. Then, not able to deny the winter white outside my window, I made bread, salad, and Salmon and Potato Soup. It was delicious... or as my little boys put it, "This is great mom!!"

Salmon and Potato Soup

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped or shredded carrots
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup rice milk
2-3 cups water
10 red potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly (in the food processor)
1-2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 salmon filets (approx 12-16 oz total)
water for boiling
2 cups frozen corn kernels (reserve for serving)
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In bottom of large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and carrots and saute until all are soft, adding a little of the veg stock if needed. Once they are softened, add stock, rice milk, water, potatoes and paprika. Raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium low, cover and simmer until potatoes are soft. In separate medium-small pot, place salmon filets in enough water to cover them, salt well and bring to a low boil, cover and let cook until fish flakes easily (about 10 minutes). Drain off water, break fish into flakes with a fork and add to the main soup pot. Sea salt and pepper to taste and let simmer a little to combine flavors. Add frozen corn kernels to separate bowls at serving time to help cool soup. Serve with a green salad and some hearty bread and enjoy!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

I pledged to take pictures of my food from now on, but it was my daughter's first birthday (Happy Birthday Ary!) and between cake baking and present wrapping and dinner, the photographer was busy and the camera, when in use, was on the birthday girl!
This recipe is inspired by a craving for twice baked potatoes and lack of any potatoes but red in the house (their skins don't hold together so well). It was a big hit and even my notoriously slow eaters cleaned their plates pronto!

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

12 red potatoes
3/4 cup favorite ranch dressing (I prefer Lighthouse Homestyle Ranch for the flavor and because it's one of the few without MSG)
1 cup finely chopped broccoli
1/2-3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
approx 1 cup shredded cheese of choice (I used mozzarella.) optional
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Wash potatoes, prick skins with knife or fork and place in 400 degree oven for 45 min- 1 hour until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove from oven (reduce oven heat to 375 but leave on) and let cool slightly, then remove all skins and place peeled potatoes in a large bowl. Add ranch dressing, broccoli and corn, 1/4 cup of the cheese and seasoning. Mash ingredients with fork or potato masher until they are well mixed. Place mixture into a medium sized baking dish, top with remaining cheese and place in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese is fully melted.
Serve with a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lemon Garlic Pasta Salad

This recipe just shouts spring! It turned out really delicious and the only cooking involved is boiling noodles.

Lemon Garlic Pasta Salad

12 -15 oz Whole wheat noodles- I used Hodgson Mills Organic Whole Wheat Penne with Milled Flax Seed
Water for boiling
2 cups chopped broccoli florettes
2-3 diced roma tomatoes or 4-5 campari tomatoes
approx 1/2 cup diced yellow pepper (or sliced mini peppers)
approx 1/2 cup diced red pepper (or sliced mini)
1-2 cups chopped baby bella mushrooms
1/2-1 cup diced seedless cucumber
approx 1/2 15 oz can black olives, sliced

1/2-3/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1/2- 3/4 cup olive oil
4 medium sized garlic cloves, minced or micrograted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 -1 tsp dried parsley
1/4-1/2 tsp dried basil (this would be so good with fresh!)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Run under cold water until no longer warm. Drain well.
In small bowl, place dressing ingredients, whisking olive oil in gradually to emulsify.
In large bowl place vegetables and cold pasta. Cover with dressing mix, tossing to coat well.
Serve and enjoy!
Optional: sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese

Friday, March 6, 2009

A glimpse into my kitchen

I don't know why I didn't think of it before. My sweetest friend Ezzy made a request the other night as she, lovely Nae and I noshed Indian-style in cozy company. She asked for my grocery list! Her inquiry made perfect sense as soon as it parted her lips. When I look up recipes, I very often wonder, "Did they really have this stuff in their kitchen??" Most of the time with my recipes, the answer is yes- I keep it on hand. When you have a specific lifestyle you'd like to maintain, it helps to have the right stuff in your kitchen. So here is a glimpse into my kitchen and some tips as to how I make it easier for myself to make healthy eating feel indulgent and adventurous rather than stressful and unmaintanable.
As I begin this list, I am realizing this is going to have to be a series of posts. I don't always buy everything in every grocery trip, so we'll take it a bit at a time.
We'll start with a typical Costco trip. I have a family of 5 (my husband and I and 3 darlings). We go through a LOT of produce. Costco saves us. I do the bulk of my shopping there. This trip lasts us 2 weeks. We spend approximately $500/month on food. To us, totally worth it- very few trips to the doc and a life of feeling awesome most of the time!

~Whole wheat bread- 4- 5 loaves of locally made, real ingredient bread at just under 2 bucks a loaf. I put 4 in the freezer and keep one in the fridge at a time. Nothing ever goes moldy. We make a lot of peanut butter and agave sandwiches.
~Tortillas. I buy whole wheat and regular white flour. Again- if I'm not sure we'll get through them all, I freeze some.
~Red potatoes (if I'm out)
~Onions/ Garlic (if I'm out)
~Yams/sweet potatoes (whenever they have them)
~ Avacados (when in season)
~Roma tomatoes
~Apples (we like gala and fuji)
~Pears (if they have good ones and are in season)
~(in the summer) Nectarines or peaches
~Bananas (one pig bunch that is fairly ripe and one that is still fairly green) If they start to get too ripe near the end, I slice them onto a cookie sheet, freeze them and then keep them in a ziploc in the freezer for smoothies.
~Clementines (when in season)
~Romaine Lettuce hearts
~Flat Leaf Spinach
~Broccoli Florets
~Red peppers (or mini mixed peppers)
~Baby Carrots
~Baby bella mushrooms
~(in the summer) Fresh Pineapple and/or Mangoes
~Frozen strawberries
~Frozen Blueberries
~Frozen fruit mix (Spectrum Blend is what they carry at my costco- peaches, white peaches, pineapple, honeydew melon, blueberries and strawberries)
~Frozen sweet corn
~Frozen green beans (if I'm out)
~Frozen Stir Fry mix (if I'm out)
~Frozen fish (Salmon, Mahi Mahi, Shrimp whatever is cheapest- these big bags last us a while in the freezer. I usually buy one every other shopping trip.)
~Mozzarella cheese (separate itinto smaller ziplocs and freeze them so they last a long time. Again, probably every other shopping trip)
~Fresh Pressed Apple juice
~ Concord Grape Juice
~ Rice milk (one box lasts us months)
~ One favorite fairly healthy cereal- Cheerios, autumn wheat or flax plus granola (every other shopping trip)
~ organic Peanut Butter (every other trip)
~ Raisins (the Costco pack lasts us months) or Craisins
~ a healthy-ish cracker/chip snack (gotta have snacks)
~whatever canned stuff I need to stock up on (beans, tomatoes, etc...)
~ vegetable stock (if they have it) or organic chicken broth (sometimes)

Coming soon: Things I keep on hand in the cupboard, freezer and fridge

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Lately it seems I have had far too many mentions of Holy Basil in my life to be coincidence. Information began flying out of the woodwork until I simply could not ignore it any more.
I did my own research and found article after article on the positive, stress-reducing and health effects with no side effects or negative issues. I was convinced- had to try it. I popped my my local health store looking for Tulsi tea. They didn't carry a tea form, but they did have Holy Basil caplets in concentrated form. They were pricey (28 bucks for 60 caplets), but I had to try them. Later I found some online sources that could have saved me a good 10 bucks even with shipping!
I got home from a hectic shopping trip and took my first dose. I have to say. I am floored! This stuff is amazing! I have not felt so positive, happy and stress-free since I was a kid! I have energy and a positive mindset- a clear head that allows me to organize myself and get more done. And I am not wired at all! I had zero issues hopping into bed at 10:30 and falling right into a deep and relaxed sleep.
Here is what the LuckyVitamin Blog says about it:

Everyone is always looking for the magic pill. Wouldn’t be nice to take something and feel a lot better right away? We know there isn’t such a thing, but we can find some pills that may help you “feel better”.

Holy Basil is also known as Tulsi (means “the incomparable one”) and has been helping people feel better for many years. The herb has been called the “Queen of Herbs” since the ancient civilization. Originally from India, this powerful herb can increase the body’s resistance to stress and minimize the negative effects of stress on the body.

Many people believe Holy Basil can support carbohydrate metabolism, resulting in healthy blood glucose levels. Several products for blood sugar support add this herb in their formulas.

Studies have also showed the ability of Holy Basil to promote body relaxation. People have been able to sleep better, reducing stress levels and elevating spirit when taking the herb on a regular basis.

Holy Basil is safe to use and it can be taken by kids, adults and elderly people, with no sides effects. It’s a great product for children, calming them down and supporting better nights of sleep.

If you are not getting results from more traditional products, such as St. John’s Wort, Gaba, Kava Kava and L-theanine, Holy Basil could be the “magic pill” for you.

Wikipedia also has great information and study references to back up the claims.

I am pretty sold. Anyone with high-stress, who is prone to worry or who has depression issues or sleep issues could benefit immensely from this herb.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Marvelous Taco Salad

I've done a few different taco salad blends, but this one took the prize!

Marvelous Taco Salad

2-3 ripe avocados, diced
3 roma tomatoes seeded and diced
approx 1/4-1/2 cup diced onion (I mixed yellow and red.)
1/4 red pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
approx 3/4- 1 cup corn kernels
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3-4 tbsp lemon or lime juice
sea salt to taste

Flour tortillas
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

Fresh flat leaf or baby spinach
romaine lettuce, washed and shredded
baby carrots, chopped
broccoli, chopped into small pieces
shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

In a large bowl, combine first 9 ingredients. Stir well.

In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. One at a time, brown tortillas in olive oil on both sides until golden and crisp.

Build taco salads per plate starting with crisped tortilla, spinach and lettuce, broccoli, carrots, avocado mixture and top with a sprinkling of cheese.

My kids liked a little natural ranch on top. It think the avocado mixture does a beautiful job doubling as a dressing!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Crispy Stacks

I couldn't think of a great name for these, so Crispy Stacks will have to do. This is a completely plant-based recipe. It reminds me of an omelet and hash brown breakfast without the eggs and cheese! They turned out really yummy!

Crispy Stacks

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 red potatoes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic powder (optional)
paprika (optional)

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 large yellow or white onion
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
approx 1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped into smallish pieces (about 1/2-3/4 inch)
1 red pepper, diced
about 6 baby bella mushroom, chopped
approx 1/2 - 1 cup frozen corn kernels
approx 1-2 cups fresh flat leaf spinach, chopped well
sea salt to taste

Wash potatoes and shred or grate them. The food processor is your friend if you have one, if not, by hand will give you a good workout! Let shreds rest for 5-10 minutes. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Squeeze out excess liquid from shreds and press into palm-sized patties. Place them in the oil (I do 4 at a time), press down with spatula and season the one side. When edges are golden brown and crispy, flip and season again. When both sides are golden crispy, remove to paper toweled plate and repeat until shreds are all cooked.

In separate skillet, heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil over medium low heat. Saute onions until they are soft. Add everything else except spinach and saute until cooked through, but still brightly colored. Stir in chopped spinach and allow to wilt. Salt to taste.
Serve veggie saute over hash brown patties.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vegilada Pie with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

I used to make the most scrumptiously bad-for-you enchiladas. Ground beef, white flour tortillas, olives, sour cream and loads of cheese. The homemade sauce put it over the top! It has taken so many tries to get even remotely close to a healthy version, but tonight I think I got as close as I'm going to! The sauce is one thing I kept. This recipe is delicious. You could add mushrooms and /or olives for more flavor and texture.

Vegilada Pie

1 tbsp olive oil
6 gardenburger patties (or boca burgers or whatever vegan or vegetarian burgers you can find)
Homemade enchilada sauce (recipe below)
2-3 flour tortillas (whole wheat for health, whatever you have will work)
1 can black beans, rinsed
approx 3-4 cups fresh flat leaf or baby spinach
approx 1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
approx 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (omit or subsitute soy cheese for vegan recipe)

Enchilada Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp flour
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin

Heat oil in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add chili powder and flour and stir with fork or whisk. allow to cook for one minute, stirring frequently. Add tomato sauce, water and other seasonings. Bring to bubble, reduce heat and let simmer stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F.
In large skillet, heat olive oil and cook patties according to stove top directions. When they are done, remove them from pan, let cool slightly and dice into small crumbles. In prepared baking dish (mine was a 2.2 qt 7x11 pyrex), spread a little sauce in the bottom and begin layering in the following order: Tear tortillas into large segments and use enough to cover bottom of pan. Add half of the fresh spinach, spread to cover. Add a thin layer of black beans, then half the burger crumbles and a thin layer of corn. Cover with half of the sauce and top with half of the cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese on top. Cover with foil and place in oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 5 more minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly on the edges. Let cool slightly and serve with a colorful green salad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Children's Health and Nutrition

I was blessed enough to be raised by parents who took my nutrition and care seriously. They did their research and knew their facts and we didn't eat like most Americans. My friends though we were weird. I cannot express how grateful I am that my parents fed me a diet rich in fresh fruits and veg, whole grains, healthy fats and unprocessed foods. That refined sugars and flours were scarce and dairy and red meat were 'once-in-a-while' things. I die a little each time I see someone pull into McDonald's with a car full o' kids. It is our responsibility as parents to do better than that! My wonderful mother-in-law sent me a link to this article:

Childrens Health Issues

After reading it, I am even more grateful that I have years of health behind and ahead of me and that I know what I know now so that I can pass on that gift to my children.

Put the AH! in Mahi Mahi

Sometimes my body just wants more protein. No better way to satisfy that craving than an awesome bit of fish. Simple and quick. Add your veg and you have a gorgeous meal!

Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi

Mahi Mahi fillets (I used the frozen ones from Costco)
1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, roughly crushed with side of knife blade
approx 1-2 tsp dried bouquet garni herbs (parsley, sage, thyme...)
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. If fish is frozen, quick thaw in warm water bath. Be sure it is thawed through. Rub generously with coarse salt and pepper on both sides. Place oil, crushed garlic cloves and herbs in oven-safe skillet (I use my cast iron). Heat until olive oil just begins to smoke and add your fish fillets. Cook about 2-3 minutes on first side until flesh releases from pan naturally, then turn and cook other side for 1-2 minutes. Once both sides are seared and flesh has released, place entire pan in oven and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

There are all sorts of ways to serve this. You can add an avocado tomato salsa, a buckshot salsa with black beans, baby bella green beans and sweet corn, garlic roasted asparagus, roasted rainbow veggies, or serve it with spinach and garlic mashed potatoes and a green salad. Use your imagination!
We enjoyed it with a gorgeously colorful quinoa salad.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Healthy Fudge

Oh yes. It's true. Awesome, melt-in-your-mouth chocolatey goodness with so very little guilt and so very little work! Why? Because coconut oil is so good for you and agave is a saint as far as sweeteners go. This is still dessert, but so much happier than a sugar rush!

Healthy Fudge

1 1/2 cups coconut oil
1 1/4 cups agave
1 cup organic cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt or real salt
1/8 scraped out vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract (could substitute peppermint extract just for fun!)

Liquefy coconut oil by setting jar or measuring cup in hot water. Place all ingredients in blender and mix well (it doesn't take much).
Pour into glass baking dish and spread evenly with spatula. Let set up at cool room temperature or in fridge. Cut into candy-sized pieces and enjoy. Store in refrigerator for up to 12 months.

A little finishing idea from my mother-in-law makes this into delectable truffles!
*Roll your fudge squares into little balls and roll them in cocoa powder for a deliciously lovely presentation.

** New experiments! This is SO good rolled in crushed almonds or cinnamon or both!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Easy Quinoa Casserole

If you toss the quinoa in the rice cooker ahead of time, this one whips up pretty fast. I knew it was a keeper when my 4 year old called dibs on the leftovers before dinner was even over! This is definitely a new favorite! It is vegetarian, but can be made vegan by omitting the mozzarella or substituting soy cheese.

Easy Quinoa Casserole

2-3 cups cooked quinoa (don't forget to rinse before you cook)
2-3 tbs olive oil
1/4 white or yellow onion, diced
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
6-8 baby bella mushrooms, cut in half and sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2-2 cups frozen corn kernels
approx 4 semi-loosely packed cups fresh flat leaf or baby spinach
1 can diced tomatoes
approx 3/4-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In large skillet, heat oil to medium heat, add onions, garlic, mushrooms, corn and red pepper. Saute until onions are soft. Add spinach and cover pan until spinach wilts a little and is easier to stir. Stir occasionally and keep covered until spinach wilts all the way down. Add can of tomatoes with juices and heat through (1-2 minutes). Add sea salt to taste.
In prepared casserole dish (I used an 11x7 Pyrex), spread about half of the quinoa to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with sea salt and a thin layer of cheese. Spread entire vegetable saute mixture (with liquid from pan) evenly over the quinoa layer, then top with remaining quinoa and cheese. Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes until cheese is melty.
Serve warm and enjoy!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Splenda. Also known as sucralose. I've known it was a bad thing since I saw the first commercial with the heavenly little yellow box and the promises of sweetness with no consequence, but I have never taken the time to find facts until now. I know I can't stand the taste of it and that it invariably makes me sick to my stomach. I did the research today. I read plenty of opinions and articles and chemical compounds and barely understandable scientific break-downs. Almost all of them point to the same thing... bad.

I found this article to be most helpful and inclusive.
Splenda or Splen-dud

Friday, January 23, 2009

MMMmmmmm Paella!

We went Spanish tonight! In honor of two of my brothers who served missions there, a lovely Shrimp Paella. This could also be vegan/vegetarian by skipping the shrimp. Delish!
Pre-cook your rice ahead of time, and this becomes a quick meal as well.

Delicious Paella

1/4 cup olive oil (and a little more for drizzling)
1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, mashed and minced
approx 10-15 spears asparagus, chopped in 2-3 inch segments
approx 1/2 cup diced red peppers
approx 1/2 cup diced yellow peppers
approx 2-3 cups frozen pre-cooked, de-veined, tail-off shrimp, defrosted
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 can diced tomatoes
approx 3 cups pre-cooked brown rice
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
Sea salt to taste (about 2 tbsp)

Pre-cook brown rice according to package instructions. Defrost frozen shrimp in warm water bath.

In large skillet bring olive oil to medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions start to soften. Add asparagus and continue to saute for 2-3 more minutes before adding the peppers. Saute for a few more minutes to allow the peppers to soften. Add shrimp, some sea salt and lemon juice. Stir frequently until shrimp is heated through (4-5 minutes). Add corn and diced tomatoes. Mix in well. Add in brown rice and stir well to allow rice to soak up some of the juices. Season with parsley and a generous sprinkling of sea salt. Drizzle a little extra olive oil and stir in. Once everything is well incorporated and heated through, serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Veg n' Mash Pie

This is kind of a variation on the Veggie Shepherd Pie. My family loved it!
I used what I had (we were getting down to the dregs- time to go grocery shopping!), but you can add carrots, broccoli, whatever.
This sounds long and complicated, but really everything can be going at once and it doesn't take that long.

Veg n' Mash Pie

2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1/4 large onion, diced
1 yam or sweet potato, thinly sliced
1/3 cup vegetable broth
approx 2 cups frozen green beans
approx 1 1/2 cups frozen corn

6-8 large red potatoes, mostly peeled and diced
3-4 garlic cloves
Water for boiling
sea salt
approx 1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp butter or vegan margarine

approx 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
approx 1 cup rice milk or soy milk (or a mix)
1 tbs sea salt
1-2 tsp vegan chicken base or chicken boullion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp bouquet garni herbs (sage, thyme, basil)
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In large skillet heat oil over medium heat and saute onions. Add yam slices (and sliced carrots and broccoli if you are using them) and 1/3 cup vegetable broth. Cover and let simmer/steam until yams are mostly soft. Add corn and green beans just long enough to defrost and heat them. While your yams are steaming, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add potatoes, garlic cloves (smashed a bit) and salt. Boil until potatoes are soft. Drain out water. Add broth, milk, butter and salt to potatoes in the pot and mash them well.
For the gravy:
In a small pot, place vegetable broth and rice/soy milk and and seasonings. Bring to a low boil. In a small jar or cup with lid, place 1/4 cup water and cornstarch and shake it up. Whisk in to boiling liquids, turn down heat to low and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.

Put it all together:
In baking dish place sauteed/steamed veggies, cover them with gravy and spread mashed potatoes to cover the top. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool a bit and ENJOY!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Potato Corn Chowder

It is soup season for sure. Besides that, I am still digging into my Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book, and hearty bread just begs for a cozy soup to go with it.

Potato Corn Chowder

2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1/4 large sweet onion, diced
approx 2 cups frozen corn kernels
6 cloves garlic, minced
approx 1/3 cup grated carrots (about 5-6 baby carrots)
3-4 tsp sea salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
approx 2 cups vegetable stock/broth
approx 1/2 cup soy milk or rice milk
approx 1 1/2 cups water
8-10 large red potatoes, peeled and diced
approx 2 cups chopped broccoli
3/4 cup water

Heat oil or butter at medium heat in bottom of large pot. Saute onion for about 5 minutes, then add corn. Saute for 5 more minutes, then add garlic and grated carrots. Salt and pepper the cooking veggies and stir well. Add liquids to pot, then add potatoes. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Once potatoes are soft, remove about 2-3 cups of soup and cream in blender, then add back to pot.
In separate small pot, place broccoli, 3/4 cup water and dash of salt. Cover and heat on medium high heat stirring occasionally until broccoli is steamed to preference. Add broccoli to the soup in the large pot, stir well.
Serve with yummy bread and enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Russian Schi- Cabbage Soup

This is my interpretation of Schi- or Russian Cabbage Soup. (Apparently winter has me thinking Russian!) I served it with a delicious crusty loaf from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. (This is a book I highly recommend getting.)
It turned out even better than expected! Perfect for a cold January night.

Russian Schi- Cabbage Soup

3-4 tbsp olive oil (you can add a tbsp of butter to it for flavor)
1/4 large sweet white onion, diced
approx. 1 - 1 1/2 cup chopped carrots
approx. 4-5 large mushrooms, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
4-5 large-ish red potatoes (other types would work as well), diced in rather small cubes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
approx 24 oz vegetable stock
approx 1-2 cups water
1 tsp dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp dried basil
approx 2-3 tbsp sea salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in bottom of large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots, saute until mostly soft. Add garlic, mushrooms, potatoes and cabbage. Stir and saute until cabbage wilts and begins to brown. Add tomatoes (with juice), vegetable stock, water and seasonings and bring to simmer over medium high heat. Once it comes to a low boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until potatoes are soft (about 10 minutes). Serve with fresh bread and enjoy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Crispy Potato Pirozhky

I meant to make pelmeni- Russian dumplings. But once I was done, my husband decided they were more like little pirozhky (little Russian pocket pies). So that is what I'll call them. Whatever they are, they are really yummy. I made way too much filling for one dinner, but one package of wonton round wrappers does way more than one dinner anyway. I guess I could make more and freeze them.

Crispy Potato Pirozhky

12 red potatoes (any kind would work), roughly peeled and diced
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 onion finely diced
2 tbsp butter or vegan margarine
1/4- 1/4 red pepper, finely diced
about 6 baby carrots, grated
about 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
about 1 tsp paprika
about 2 tsp real salt or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Azuyama round wonton wrappers/pasta round
about 1/2-1 cup vegetable or olive oil

Place potatoes and garlic in large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are soft and break apart easily. In the meantime, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, peppers and carrots until soft. Reduce heat to medium low.
Drain water from potatoes. Pour them into skillet with onion mix, add broth and seasonings and mash it all together well. Remove from heat.
Take a round and brush the edges lightly with water. Place about 1 tsp- 1 tbsp in the center of the wrapper, fold top and bottom edge up to met and press together to seal. (Should make a crescent-shaped, pot sticker-like dumpling.) Repeat until filling is gone. (I stopped at 25- it fed 2 adults and 3 littles well.) Clean out your skillet. Place oil in the bottom of skillet and heat over medium to medium-high heat. Carefully place the pirozhky in the oil and turn them as they brown until all sides are crisp and golden. Remove them as they are done and drain on paper towel.
I served these with the Baby Bella Green Beans. Delish!