Category Archives: Vegan

Recipe Review: Food Babe’s “Ravishing Red Juice”

 

For those of you who don’t know, the “Food Babe” aka Vani Hari, is a food activist, passionate foodie and educator, and creator of fabulous health-promoting recipes. Any questions you have about your food, or questions you didn’t even know you should have asked, check her out.

You may know that I have a juicer, and am trying to incorporate more fresh juice into my diet, if only as an easy way to get more veggie goodness. I love me some vitamins and phytonutrients! So one day I was reading through some of Food Babe’s writings, and found her juicing advice and recipes. There was one in particular that intrigued me: The Ravishing Red Juice.

Getting its ravishing red color mainly from beets, this juice has blood-cleansing capabilities, immune-boosting ginger, and hair/skin/nail magic from carrots. Toss in some cooling cucumber and power greens, this baby is the complete package! And for those who don’t like juices because of the bitterness, SUGAR is made from BEETS! So yeah, this juice basically has all the ingredients to totally rock.

I altered Vani’s recipe slightly by throwing in half a lemon because I had a bag and I love citrus in everything, and leaving out the apple since I had none of those and the beet sweetened it enough for me. If you want your juice even more palatable throw in the apple, sure. Other than that, let the good times roll!

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Ingredients:
  • 2 thick carrots
  • 1 big red beet
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger root
  • 3 full kale leaves
  • Handful of parsley

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Step 1: Wash all your veggies well and shake off excess water. Cut up the veggies, and get your juicer and two glasses ready.

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There are two ways to do this. You can either juice everything into one big cup then split it up (or drink a mega-juice!) or you can split up all the ingredients into two even piles.

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Step 2: Alternating between hard ingredients (like carrots, cucumber, lemon) and softer ingredients (kale, parsley), juice all your veggies. The beets give up this glorious, deep magenta-red juice that gives the drink its name.

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Step 3: Mix your drink to ensure no pulpy chunks, and enjoy! The slight tang of ginger and lemon effectively erases any bitterness from the palate. The beet juice is delightfully sweet, but not overpowering. And if you want it overly sweet, like I said add in some apples or even berries.

 

 

To health, wealth, and vitality.

<3 BE

 

 

Barley & Kale Veggie Salad

 

Fall is the time for bumper crops of kale. As the current “It” vegetable, we know all about how healthy kale is for you. But even though kale chips are amazing, sauteed kale in greens makes a great side dish, and Zuppa Toscana is a definite crowd-pleasing soup, sometimes you need a new way to enjoy this power green. If you like light, fresh, great-cold-or-room-temp dishes, this baby’s a winner!

I’ve been meaning to try more grain and veggie salads, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. Kale is on sale for 0.99 per bunch, organic! You can’t pass up that kind of deal. So with a fridge full of kale and a hankering for something new, I made up this recipe. It turned out fabulous! The combination of tomato and cucumber and onion crunch with the soft cooked barley and fresh kale leaves is really addicting.

The best part about it? It makes a crap-ton, and per 2 cups is under 100 calories! So you can stuff yourself on this all you like and feel good about it. Have it for lunch, as an afternoon snack, before dinner to dull the appetite. There really isn’t a bad time for this.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, torn and stems removed
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cucumber, rinsed, skin-on, diced
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

Step 1: Cook the barley in 1 1/2 cups water by bringing to a boil, then lowering to a simmer. Cover, and cook 20-30 minutes, until all water is absorbed and barley is soft. Add more water if needed during cooking. Let cool.

 

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Step 2: Chop all your veggies and place in a large bowl. Mix the oil and vinegars, and salt & pepper if using. Pour over the veggies.

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Step 3: Combine the cooled barley with the veggies and mix well. Now you have a giant side dish, snacks all week, or a super healthy and vegetarian main course.

 

Fresh garden salsa

 

Salsa is a beloved condiment in many cultures. The ingredients can vary widely, but basically always contains tomatoes and chilies of some sort. “Salsa” is the Spanish word for sauce, and may come in many forms such as pureed until smooth, a combination of smooth and chunky, or the uniformly diced pico de gallo.

Salsa can be wickedly spicy to light and fruity. See Wikipedia for a long list of salsa types. Basically any fresh fruit and/or vegetable, diced or blended, with or without fresh herbs, can be called a salsa.

Fresh salsa right out of the garden, just lightly diced, is my favorite kind. I like to see the chunks of what I’m eating in bright technicolor on my tortilla chip. This salsa is amazing on its own, or you could spoon it over fresh white fish fillets, onto tacos, or into a soup with rice, beans & diced chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cherry or pear tomatoes
  • 2-10 large tomatoes, diced small
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, diced
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
  • Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Handful fresh chives, chopped
  • 4-5 tbsp lime juice, or juice of 2 fresh limes
  • Sea salt to taste

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Step 1: Dice up all your tomatoes and onions. This part takes a little time, but is well worth it. It is up to you how big to dice, or you can puree part of the tomatoes or all of them. Totally up to you.

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Step 2: In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, herbs, and lime juice. That’s really all there is to it!

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This salsa is wonderfully fresh and vibrantly colored. It is super healthy for you, so throw it into everything, or just eat spoonfuls!

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Stuffed Bell Peppers – SNAP meal

 

This is the first dinner I cooked during my week of the SNAP Challenge. I love stuffed bell peppers, and I usually make them with ground beef. Though I have had some success with vegetarian stuffed peppers in the past.

Given the already high and rising cost of meat, I knew I’d have to take a vegetarian route to keep these in budget. Swapping in lentils for the beef keeps this recipe high in protein content, and lowers the fat, while keeping the core tastes and hunger-crushing properties of the meal intact.

Ingredients:

  • 2 green bell peppers (use any color)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/3 cup lentils
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • Garlic salt

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Step 1: If you have a rice cooker, you can cook the lentils and rice together in it. If not, simmer the rice and lentils in a sauce pot with 2 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes.

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Step 2: Mix the cooked rice and lentils with the can of tomato sauce.

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Step 3: Cut the top off the pepper and pull out the seeds. Stuff the mixture inside, adding as much garlic salt as you like.

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Step 4: Bake the peppers in an oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until soft. Alternatively you could microwave each pepper, covered, for 8-10 minutes to soften. Another option is to put the stuffed peppers in a crock pot on low for 1-2 hours.

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Serve as a meal, or with a baked potato or salad on the side.

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I ended up eating one pepper for dinner, and the other for lunch the next day. They are quite filling, and delicious! Pretty healthy for you as well. Vegan, vegetarian, and you can make it gluten-free if you substitute in quinoa or another gluten-free grain for the rice.

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For approximately $0.84 per serving, you can’t do much better!

 

 

**UPDATE: All SNAP Meal Recipes listed below:

Less than 5: Honey Sweet Potato Snack

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Happy almost 4th of July! Whether you are having a small family get-together, a backyard BBQ, or going out to a picnic-and-fireworks party, enjoy our independence from the Crown and be safe! I’m sure there are overwhelming amounts of recipes involving burgers, apple pie, and anything red white or blue flooding the internet. So I went another way: to highlight a simple, humble veggie that I think doesn’t get enough attention.

Little bright orange jewels, so good for your health, sweet potatoes are more than a Thanksgiving side dish. Any time of the year, they can add nutrients and fiber to your diet and become an easy side dish or snack, even a main dish or dessert.

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Sweet potatoes are one of nature’s best sources of beta-carotene, the provitamin-A carotenoid. And an adequate supply of Vitamin A ensures  proper growth and development, immune system function, and healthy eyesight. Vitamin A deficiency is estimated to affect roughly 1/3 of children under the age of 5 worldwide, leading to developmental problems, eyesight deficiencies, and blindness. However Vitamin A is fat-soluble, not water-soluble, which makes it harder for your body to get rid of excess, leading to the possibility of toxicity if over-supplemented. Always ask a doctor or physician before starting a supplement regimen.

Not all sweet potatoes are orange, they can also be purple due to anthocyanin pigments. These molecules have important antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory properties. World’s Healthiest Foods states: “Particularly when passing through our digestive tract, they may be able to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals.”

They also clear up the common confusion: sweet potato vs. yam. They can be very similar in terms of size, shapes, and skin colors, though they both come in a variety of flesh colors. Turns out, sweet potatoes are FAR more common in the US than are yams, so at a store it is pretty safe to assume you are buying a sweet potato, even if a sign says “yams”.

Anywho, sweet potatoes were on sale, and I wanted to incorporate more into my diet, so I bought a few. Luckily they keep for a long time so I could figure out what to do with it. Turns out, these can be the simplest snack ever. Simply take one to work with you, and whenever you need a tide-me-over between lunch and quittin time, or breakfast and end-of-board-meeting, pop it in the microwave, top as you please, and you have a filling, healthy snack. This is a sweet treat, though you could go savory instead with, say, goat cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small-med sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • -or- 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon

So simple, just stab the potato a few times with a fork to let steam escape. Microwave the potato for 8-10 minutes, until soft. Break it open, drizzle on some honey, and enjoy! With about 100 calories per cup, this is a super healthy choice all around.

Try using sweet potatoes anywhere you would use regular potatoes for extra fiber and vitamins. Make sweet potato chips, roast chunks in the oven as a side dish, boil and mash them with some brown sugar and butter (just be careful of amounts, it’s easy to overwhelm the health benefits with sugar and fat!), throw some into soups, stews, and curries. See how you can creatively add some sweet potatoes into your 4th of July festivities!

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Balsamic Marinated Portobello Mushrooms

Portobellos are definitely my favorite mushroom for grilling. They are delicious in just about anything else too. I love their thick, meaty texture that feels almost like a burger patty but for only 10 calories per ounce (NutritionData). My favorite marinade for meaty things has to include balsamic vinegar. It gives that salty, umami depth of flavor to whatever you put it on. I got some portobellos on sale and marinated them in this, and they turned out wonderful!

You could put these babies straight on the grill as a burger, or stuff them with grain/veggie combo. I sliced them and put them in a taco, you could also put them in stir fry or on a panini.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
6 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp Nature’s Seasons mix

Step 1: Mix all marinade ingredients in a bowl or plastic bag. The best route is likely a platic bag so you can flip it, but I just poured the marinade over the mushrooms in a shallow pie pan.

Step 2: Place in the refrigerator and marinate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. They are like little sponges and will soak up all those tasty flavors. After a few hours they get soft, don’t panic.

Step 3: Put on an oiled grill or fry in a pan. You could also roast in the oven at 400 for 15-20 minutes. I cooked mine for 5-10 minutes each side on the stove top, then sliced into strips.

With some avocado, cooked rice, roma tomatoes, and feta cheese, I had the perfect vegetarian burrito! Portobellos also have 1 gram of protein per ounce, plus the avocado and cheese. It will very filling without feeling heavy. These mushrooms will be a staple part of my summer cooking repertoire for sure.


What do you do with mushrooms?


Broccoli-Cheddar Soup Bread Bowl

Broccoli cheddar soup is definitely one of my favorite go-to soups. It is relatively easy and quick to make, and I almost always have frozen broccoli on hand. I’ve tried several ways, adding and taking out ingredients as I had them available, but this batch was the best by far. It was thick, smooth, and creamy, with a perfect balance of flavors. I had some large bread rolls, so I hollowed them out to use as bread bowls, and it was a perfect meal. Try it yourself!
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups chicken stock (veggie stock for veg/vegan)
  • 1 cup milk (plant milk for veg/vegan)
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 3-4 tbsp butter/margerine
  • Salt & black pepper
 

Step 1: In a sauce pot, bring butter, chicken stock, and milk to a simmer. Cook the broccoli for 5-10 minutes in a pan or microwave, until heated through and soft.

Step 2: In a blender, combine the soup, spices, cheese, and sour cream. [You can use an immersion blender if you’re fancy enough to have one]. Reserve 1 cup if you want broccoli chunks in the finished soup. Blend until smooth and return to the pot. Heat through, about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Hollow out a large round bread roll by cutting at an angle with a sharp knife all along the edges. Pull the middle out, and fill with hot soup. Sprinkle a little cheddar on top, and enjoy!


This soup was so good I had to have two bowls. Luckily the bread roll was big enough that I had plenty left for dipping. If you’d like to make this vegetarian soup vegan, just use a plant milk and omit the cheese, or maybe use some vegan cheese product instead.

 
What’s your favorite soup to eat in a bread bowl?

 

Under 100 Calories per Bowl: Cruciferous Vegetable Soup

 

I’m always a big fan of recipes that help “clean out the fridge or pantry“, and if they are healthy as well then bonus! We all have some assorted cans, boxed, half bag of frozen mixed vegetables, etc. that have been sitting around since approximately we moved into whatever abode we inhabit.

Even the most strict, list-making, meal-planning, leftover-eating of us have odds and ends we need to try to use up before expiration dates. It is especially hard with produce. I have a bad habit of buying everything that’s on sale, I want to cook eventually, sounds healthy… and then I have a fridge packed full of five-day-old veggies beginning to wilt and lose nutrients. Sad face. 

That’s why this soup is fantastic! You can mix and match what vegetables you add based on what you have waiting to be used, and choose whatever protein and grain is in the half-empty box in your cupboard. There is of course a few caveats.

You need a huge ratio of veggies to other stuff, and a large portion of it must be water IF you are going for a filling, vegetarian, healthy, low-cal, low-fat soup.

Try to choose mostly cruciferous vegetables and/or leafy greens, as those pack the most nutrients and fiber for the least carbs and calories. Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. Limit the beans and grains to one cup each to keep calorie counts low. If you have a “meat tooth” feel free to throw in some cooked shredded chicken or steak.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 cup pinto beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Garlic salt
  • Lots of water (stock or bouillon for extra flavor)

Step 1: Chop all your veggies and add to the crock pot. Add the grain (barley) and protein (beans) as well as diced tomatoes. You can sub fresh chopped tomato or tomato sauce, or forget the tomatoes. I just super love diced tomatoes in all the things.

Step 2: Cook on low for 4-6 hours, until veggies, barley and beans are tender. Add any other seasonings you like. Enjoy for under 100 calories per bowl as often as you are hungry!


*Disclaimer: I do not recommend crash diets like the cabbage soup diet where this is all you eat all day, but I do believe that soup before a full meal will help dampen hunger and make it easier to eat healthy and manage a healthy weight, and broth based soups should be incorporated into your meal plans to keep total grocery costs for the week low.

Breakfast Burritos for the Busy

 

I always say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However I also understand mornings can be the busiest time of the day. This is why I have become quite talented at whipping up fast, hot, filling breakfasts in under 30 minutes. Sometimes, I even make several breakfasts I can leave in the fridge or freezer, then reheat and run out the door.

If you have a few minutes to spare in the AM or some time on Sunday to get ahead for the week, this a perfect idea to make filling your belly in the mornings easy. I made two, but you can scale this to whatever size you want.
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Ingredients:
2 tortillas
2 eggs, scrambled
1/4 cup cooked beans (I used canned kidney)
1/2 cup veggie (sliced zucchini featured here)
2 slices cheddar cheese

Step 1: In a sprayed or non-stick skillet, cook the veggies (I’ve used peppers, onion, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, squash, carrots…). Add the beans just to heat them, then pour in the beaten eggs. 

Step 2: Cook the eggs until fully done. Sprinkle on some salt or other seasonings if you like.


Step 3: Heat the tortilla for 10-15 seconds in the microwave, then add the cheese and half the egg mixture. Fold both ends of the tortilla in, then roll it up. I ate one that morning and saved the other for the next day. 

Please do get creative, you could add refried beans, black beans, spinach, sriracha… the possibilities are endless so you never get bored. These are also a quite affordable source of some major protein.

What’s your favorite wrap combination?

Simple sauteed power greens

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One of the things I like best about growing up is changing tastes. When I was little, I had an on-off relationships with most vegetables, notably mushrooms. I loved them one week, and hated them the next. With growing up comes changing ideas of what tastes good, and I love it. I can be more creative, try different ingredients and recipes, and cook things that are good for me at which I would have turned up my nose years ago.
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One of those things is kale. Since I worked on a CSA farm and tried Kale Chips for the first time, I have been looking for more ways to use this power green more often. One excellent option is in soup, like the Olive Garden copycat of Zuppa Toscana I made. Delicious and packed with healthy ingredients.
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So as I had recently purchased more kale at Sprouts Farmers Market, along with some golden beets and fresh garlic heads, I decided to try another kale classic: Italian Sauteed Greens. I’m sure this is yet another popular side dish with a long and debated over past. But basically it’s garlic and olive oil with various greens sauteed lightly, and usually a tangy dressing like vinegar or lemon juice added. Also it is sometimes spicy, but since I’m a wuss I did not add hot peppers or hot pepper flakes. Feel free to if you love heartburn.
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Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, cut into small strips
1 bunch beet leaves, in small strips
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
1/4 cup sour liquid (I used banana pepper liquid and 3 tbsp lemon juice, you can also use any type of vinegar)
Sprinkle of sea salt
3-4 banana pepper or hot pepper rings

Step 1: Dice up your garlic into bits. You can use a garlic press or chopper if you want.

Step 2: Saute the garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil 4-5 minutes, you should be able to smell it.

Step 3: Cut the greens into thin strips. Add to the pan, and cover tightly. Let it steam in the garlic oil for 10-15 minutes, or until fully wilted.

These greens were so vibrant and lovely even before cooking! All that heart-healthy nutrient-packed deliciousness…

Step 4: Add your sour notes, lemon juice and banana peppers. Stir, cover, and saute another 5-10 minutes.

Banana pepper rings are a new love of mine. I put them on tuna sandwiches, on pizza, into my greens… they’re awesome. And lemon juice is a necessity for life.

Step 5: Once wilted and everything is combined, move to plate and garnish as you like.

I added a little sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese and some sea salt. It was the most perfect balance, and the tart juices took away a lot of the harsh bitterness most people don’t like about greens.

These greens were tangy and delicious, and if you enjoy spicy food would go great with some hot peppers.  I also had some cottage cheese on the side, to complete a whole, light lunch. It’s filling without feeling stuffed, and ridiculously good for you.

Mmmmmm…

What’s your favorite way to cook greens?