Falafel Burgers

It’s mid June now, and my herb garden is literally overflowing with cilantro and parsley, it seems the more I cut the more it grows.  I don’t want it to go to waste and I can only give away so much, so I was trying to think of something I could whip up.  Way back almost 2 years ago I made this falafel burger recipe for the first time and I remembered that it took  both of herbs, so I searched and found that recipe.  At that time, in the midst of fear and the unknown, starting down this plant-based journey for heart health this recipe seemed very difficult.  I believe at the time I only had a small food processor and not a very good one at that, so perhaps that was my angst.   Regardless I remembered it being a challenge and difficult, so much so apparently that I don’t remember preparing it more than twice.

Yesterday they came together so easily, I am shocked I don’t make them all the time.  Everything popped into my VitaMix and that’s basically it!  I had my 19-year-old son form them into burgers for me, leaving him with green fingers, not I.  He used a 1/3 cup measure to determine the amount of mix needed for each burger, formed it into a ball and then pressed it into a burger shape and placed them on a prepared baking sheet.  I use silicone mats on my baking sheets that I found at Costco (they came in a set of 3 around Christmas time), and they have been wonderful.   Prior to the silicone mats, I lined my baking sheets with parchment paper.  I had to leave before they finished cooking so this is the photo my son sent me when he pulled them out of the oven,  he says they were surprisingly good, even though they are green.

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In some parts of the world cilantro is referred to as coriander, here in the US the leaves are cilantro and the seeds are coriander. Both cilantro and parsley have heart healthy benefits and are part of a Whole Foods plants based lifestyle.

Falafal Burgers

  • Servings: 8 burgers
  • Difficulty: easy
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A full of flavor,healthy, green burger

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup parsley packed, stems off
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, packed, stems on
  • 1/2 cup scallions, roughly chopped
  • 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, liquid reserved
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt (optional if you are avoiding salt)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400°
  2. Place garlic, parsley, cilantro and scallions in food processor and process until finely ground, you may need to scrape down the sides several times to get it to mix.
  3. Add all the other ingredients (work in batches if your processor isn’t big enough) and process into a paste.  It should stick together, making it easy to form into patties.  If its too dry add the reserved liquid from the chickpeas 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.
  4. If I have time I like to refrigerate the mixture for approximately 30 minutes, if you are short on time I have gone straight to forming into burgers and baking.
  5. Form into patties using a 1/3 cup measure as a guide. Place on prepared baking sheet (cover with parchment paper or silicone mat).
  6. Place baking sheet in the oven and let cook for 10 minutes.  Flip patties and let them cook for another 10 minutes. They should be slightly browned.
  7. Enjoy with your favorite burger sides.

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Lentil Sloppy Joes

This is a recipe I found early on in our venture into heart healthy living.  After watching Forks Over Knives on Netflix I discovered the Forks Over Knives Recipe App which was not free but very low cost, like I think around $5.  It updates all the time with new recipes and each recipe has a shopping list of ingredients and step by step instructions.  The app is great for when I find myself at the grocery and I can’t remember what ingredients I needed for my evenings creations.  I open it up and viola, a plethora of whole food plant based recipes at my fingertips.  I’ve tweaked the recipe just a bit to fit our family, but the original can be found on the Forks Over Knives Recipe Ap as well as the website http://www.forksoverknives.com

The recipe calls for cooking in a large stock pot, I  have also experimented a bit and used my slow cooker.  I put everything together but instead of letting it simmer over low heat for an hour, I toss it all in my crock pot and set it on high. Then there’s time to run someone to soccer practice, pick someone up from band practice, zip over and watch someone play a game and come home to a hot homemade dinner. Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 5.38.30 PM

 

 

Lentil Sloppy Joes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A quick and easy lentil based meal that lends itself to delicious leftovers.

credit:forksoverknifes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups water or low-sodium vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp.  chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils
  • 1 15-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Place 1/3 cup of the water in a large pot
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion softens slightly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chili powder and mix well.  Add the remaining liquid, lentils, tomatoes, and the rest of the seasonings.  Mix well.
  4. At this point you can move everything to your slow cooker and cook on slow for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  5. If you are leaving it in your pot, bring it to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve on 100% whole grain buns, with the trimmings of your choice.

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Lentil Pasta

I came across this recipe called Lentil Enchilada Pasta in the first Forks over Knives Bookazine from 2017.  I have made it many times and have tweaked it just a bit to make it my own, and to suit my family.  I have dropped the “enchilada” from the recipe name because at my house it was bringing up totally different ideals and somehow they wanted it wrapped in a corn tortilla and that just wasn’t happening.  I use 100% whole grain penne pasta, my local grocery “Kroger” brand in the brown box.  It comes in a 16 ounce box so I have adjusted the recipe to account for the change from the original 12 ounce box called for in the forks over knives bookazine.  Four cups of lentils cooked is approximately 2 cups of dry lentils.  This is one of those recipes that gives you that home cooking feeling, no frills, just fills everyone up.  The bonus is I typically have left overs to pack for lunch the next day. Enjoy this healthy dinner and remember to ❤️ur❤️.

 

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Lentil Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 16 oz. dried penne pasta ( 100% whole grain)
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped red sheet pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 4 Tbsp. whole grain flour
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup snipped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. In a large pot cook pasta according to package instruction, drain. Return pasta to the pot, cover with a lid and keep warm.
  2. To prepare the sauce, in a saucepan, cook onion, celery, sweet pepper, and garlic in the water and the 1/2 cup of veggie broth over medium heat, until the onion and celery are tender.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, additional veggie broth, nutritional yeast, flour, chili powder, cumin, sea salt, and paprika.  Bring to boiling and reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes.  Season with black pepper.
  4. Add sauce and cilantro to the pasta, toss to coat. Serve topped with additional nutritional yeast if desired.

Tuesday Tidbit “Lentils”

I must admit that before starting down this healthy path I think I maybe had purchased lentils once and used them in a soup recipe.  I certainly would never have walked into a restaurant and been excited seeing lentil soup on the menu.  But, my how times have changed.  Did you know that there is more than one types of lentils and they each have a subtlety different flavor, I bet you thought they were all the same.  Brown lentils are what is commonly sold in the store in a package that states simply, lentils.  Red, brown and green lentils are what I use because they don’t end up mushy and are great for most of the dishes I make.  Maybe my future holds some experimenting with black, red, yellow etc. but for now I’m happy with red, brown and green.

 

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I discovered a quick and easy trick for making lentils that doesn’t require you to watch them to see if they are boiling or set a timer or anything, my rice cooker!  As all rice cookers are slightly different I’ll tell you what works for mine and then you may need to play around with it a bit.  I haven’t tried the yellow or black lentils in my rice cooker, actually I haven’t tried them at home at all.  It is my understanding from reading about them that the yellow and black can become mushy so I would guess putting them in the rice cooker may not turn out so well.  After rinsing brown, green or red lentils, I pop them in my rice cooker and add twice the amount of water, close the top and push the white rice button, and walk away.  So for example if I use 1 cup of lentils dried I add 2 cups of water with them in the rice cooker.  They will double at least,  in size so if you have a small rice cooker be careful not to overload it.

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A half cup of dried lentils yields a little more than one cup of cooked lentils.  Better to have too much than too little is my motto, so you will tend to find some extra cooked lentils in my fridge at all times.  I’m not sure how long they last once they are cooked because I use them within the week.  I toss them on salads, on top of pizzas, in budda bowls, not to mention all the tasty recipes they go in, lentil pasta and lentil sloppy Joes, lentil loaf.

The best thing about lentils is how healthy they are for us.  They are exceptionally nutrient dense, rich in protein, fiber, calcium, iron and B vitamins.  One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, which makes them a perfect chunk of my daily 48 grams of protein.  Lentils are little lens shaped legumes and lenses were named after lentils…lens is lentil in latin.  Lentils are one of the oldest legumes, dating back to Ancient Greece.  Enjoy your healthy lentils!  ❤️ur❤️

 

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh

This recipe is a great way to use up any extra quinoa you may have on hand.  If you are making fresh quinoa for this recipe please refer to my previous post and try your hand at making quinoa in your rice cooker.   Remember quinoa is gluten-free and packed with protein!  I usually have a big bag of regular quinoa from Costco in my pantry.  I also have small bags of multi colored quinoa that have found at my local Kroger grocery store. Tabbouleh is traditionally a vegetarian salad made of mostly finely chopped, parsley with tomatoes, mint, onion, bulgur, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.   This as you will see is an adaptation of the traditional, absolutely oil free.   I am sure there are numerous ways you can play with this recipe and make it your own.  For now this is what our family enjoys, however each time I think we tweak it just a little, so tweak away.  I serve this cold as a side salad.

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Quinoa Tabbouleh

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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a delicious side salad best served cold.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa (7 1/2 cups cooked quinoa chilled)
  • 3 1/4 cups water ( if using uncooked quinoa)
  • 1 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cups minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • leaves from 3 stalks of mint, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Directions

  1. If you are using uncooked quinoa, combine the quinoa with the water in a pan and bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 min., fluff with a fork and refrigerate until chilled, approximately 2 hours.
  2. Combine chilled quinoa, parsley, cilantro, cucumber, mint, red onion, salt and ACV, mix together and serve immediately or chill.

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Tuesday Tidbit – Quinoa

I have been using a rice cookers for several years and I am currently on my second one.  The one I  have has two setting, one for white rice and one for brown rice.  I have consistently cooked either brown or white rice and nothing else, it does have a steaming basket but I have yet to try it.  A few weeks ago my son purchased a rice cooker for his apartment and read the instruction book, something I had neglected to do since mine only had two buttons and I think I can tell if its brown or white rice.  He informed me that his rice cooker could also cook quinoa and had a button specifically for that purpose.  I curiously went to my stash of instruction manuals and fished out the one for my rice cooker, but there was no mention of quinoa or any other grains that could be cooked in there.  Having  burned quinoa on my stove top before I was anxious to give my rice cooker a try.   Using a 2/1 ratio, 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, I clicked the white rice button and waited.IMG_5939

Quinoa is a seed related to the beet and chard families that looks and tastes like a grain but packs as much protein as meat. It is versatile and can go almost anywhere a grain can go.   It can replace rice in a stir-fry or couscous in a salad.  You can even eat it in the morning instead of oatmeal. Quinoa is gluten free and easy to digest. Quinoa is native to Andean cultures and the Incas referred to is as “mother of all grains”.

 

The light on my rice cooker clicked from red to green indicating that it was finished.  Tentatively opening the lid I found to my delight that it was fluffy and steamy, and a success.  No longer will I accidentally burn quinoa to the bottom of my pans, my rice cooker has a new purpose.IMG_5943

Cauliflower and Peas Masala (Gobi Matar Masala)

We recently discovered a gem in our little Fort called Taj Mahal Indian restaurant.  One of our favorite restaurants when we lived in Shanghai was an Indian restaurant  and Taj Mahal brought back memories of those times.  While it doesn’t sit next to the ever exciting pearl market of Hangqiao there is a small grocery next door called Taj Food and Gifts.  This small grocery has been a fabulous find. We have enjoyed the Indian whole food plant based items in the restaurant and decided to experiment and try some Indian recipes at home.  This is where the Taj food and gifts came in very handy.  Thankfully they have a wonderful staff, who were able to help me go down my ingredients list and find all the items I needed. Taj food and gifts is where I found asafetida, and dried fenugreek leaves,  I found the garam masala at my local Kroger. The garam masala was there all the time I just never noticed it until I needed it, much like many of the plant based whole food items we use now.   My photo includes cauliflower and peas masala, oil free falafel bites, 100% whole wheat naan, quinoa tabbouleh and Silk plain soy dairy-free yogurt alternative.

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Cauliflower and Peas Masala (Gobi Matar Masala)

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup green peas, frozen
  • 2/3 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 pinches asafetida
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp. apple sauce
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp. red chile powder
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 tbsp. dry fenugreek leaves

Paste

  • 3 tomatoes, parboiled and peeled
  • 2 green chiles
  • 1″ ginger piece
  • 10-12 cashews

Directions

  1. Place cauliflower and peas in a pan with 1 cup of water and boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare the paste by pureeing the 3 tomatoes, 2 green chiles, 1″ piece of ginger, and 10-12 cashews.
  3. In a second pan, add 2 Tbsp apple sauce ( this is the oil substitute) heat until warm, add cumin seeds, asafetida, turmeric, dry fenugreek leaves, coriander and sauté.
  4. Add the previously prepared paste and the red chile powder, stir and cook until bubbly. A bit of water may be needed as these ingredients sauté so they don’t stick to the pan. This is the masala.
  5. After the 5 minutes, check the cauliflower and when tender, add 1/2 tsp. of the salt to the cauliflower and 1/2 tsp. of the salt to the masala, stir well.
  6. Mix the cauliflower and peas into the masala
  7. Add garam masala, cilantro and water for making a gravy consistency.
  8. Cover the pan and cook 2-3 min. on low flame, so that all the spices get absorbed into the vegetables.
  9. Serve with rice and naan.

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Roasted Beets

As a child the only way I had ever seen beets served was in pickled beet eggs.  That tradition is from an old Pennsylvania dutch recipe where boiled eggs are refrigerated in pickled beet liquid along with the pickled beets and allowed to marinate until the eggs turn a deep red color, they are then both served together.  As a child these red eggs with the yolk sections stained pink and their accompanying beets were less than appetizing.  As it turns out beets are rich in natural nitrates, which your body uses to make nitric oxide (NO).  Nitric Oxide is important for your body because it helps dilate your arteries, delivering more oxygenated blood to your organs.  My husband carries a small bottle of nitroglycerin to take if he begins to experience chest pains,  nitroglycerin is converted by the body into NO and dilates the coronary arteries, allowing more blood to flow to the heart muscle  Recently it was discovered that NO actually enables your body to extract MORE energy from that oxygen.  A recent study quoted in Dr. Gregor’s “How Not to Die”, states that men and women eating one and a half cups of baked beets seventy-five minutes before running a 5K race improved their running performance while maintaining the same heart rate and they even reported less exertion.  While I haven’t tried that out for myself, it is good to have a little extra blood flow to the most important organ of the body, the brain.  Studies also show that researchers have been able to get a 10 point systolic blood pressure drop in volunteers within hours of their consuming beet juice – an effect that lasted throughout the day.  Roasted beets are so easy to make and keep easily in the refrigerator to be chopped up and added to salads, budda bowls, stir-fries, or just plain throughout the week.  As a grown up I have now aquired a taste for these roasted beets.IMG_0323

Roasted Beets

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of red beets ( usually 3 beets) scrubbed clean, green tops removed
  • 1 bunch of golden beets ( usually 3 beets) scrubbed clean, green tops removed
  • white balsamic vinegar ( I use lemon grass white balsamic)
  • salt

In my photo I used a lidded corning ware dish, previously I have made them using foil in my dish, either way works, however there was a lot of scrubbing to get that dish clean that I hadn’t lined with foil.  This photo is when they were fresh from the oven and still have their skins on.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° and line baking dish with foil.
  2. Rub beets with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt, place in dish and cover with another sheet of foil.
  3. Roast for 1-2 hours.  After 1 hour test them with the tines of a fork.  Typically average sized beets take an hour and a half.  Once the fork tines slide in easily the beets are tender and ready to be removed from the oven to cool.
  4. After the beets have cooled a bit but are still warm, peel off the outer skin.
  5. Cut and eat, or put in the fridge.

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WFPB Stuffed Grape Leaves

IMG_5883.jpgA few weeks ago I rediscovered an old Greek recipe book I had long stuck in the back of my shelf.  A plethora of recipes handed down for generations, each needing only a small alteration to make them whole food plant-based.  As a side note my first trip to Greece was with my grandparents many moons ago over spring break.  The smells, the food, the rich history, the view of the Acropolis above the city, lit up against the night sky, and then to stand in its midst the following day.  My first taste of the thick licorice liquor that I would come to learn is a Greek tradition, ouzo.  In the midst of these memories I started off on my quest to find grape leaves in the midwest.  After ventures to most of my local shopping marts turned up empty, I turned to Georges International Market.  There I found what I was looking for, Krinos imported grape leaves in a jar.  Each jar contains approximately 50-51 leaves according to the label, probably 10 more than I actually needed for this recipe.  As you can see from my photo, I need to practice my wrapping skills as some of my filling decided to escape from my grape leaves. I’m sure it’s an acquired skill from lots of practice…I’ll keep trying.  We enjoyed these with my previous post, zucchini humus.

WFPB Stuffed Grape Leaves

  • Servings: 50 grape leaves
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Grape Leaves – layer grape leaves on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking or burning. (preferably the broken ones).  To fill, lay leaf flat with vein side up, place filling by stem end (stem removed), fold bottom edge up, fold sides in, roll to tip, place in pan seam side down.

Ingredients

  • 1 jar grape leaves, rinsed well
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice (uncooked)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium mushroom, finely diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped finely
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 Tbsp. dill
  • 1 lemon juiced and zest and 1 lemon sliced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock + for sautéing
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water

Directions

  1. Drain the grape leaves, soak them in hot water for a few minutes and then put them in cold water for 5 min, then rinse them well.  Separate them and cut off the stems if needed.  Allow them to drain in a colander while you make the filling.
  2. Pulse the garbanzo beans in a food processor until you get a crumbly texture without any whole beans.  Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, sauté onions and mushrooms in vegetable stock for 2-3 minutes until the onions become translucent.  Then add the brown rice and toss with a bit more stock to coat.
  4. Add the tomato paste, garbanzo beans, and the vegetable stock and mix in.  Cover the pan and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the mint, parsley, dill, juice from 1 lemon, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, mix thoroughly. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  6. Lay a grape leaf flat, vein side up and place 1 tablespoon of rice mixture on the stem end of the leaf. Fold the sides in and roll to the point. (See note)
  7. Line the bottom of the pot with any torn leaves and a few slices of lemon.
  8. Arrange the stuffed grape leaves in tight layers. Place lemon slices on the top.
  9. Place a heavy plate upside down on top to weigh them down and cover with water to a level a little over the plate, then cover with the lid.
  10. Bring to a boil over high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
  11. Once rice is cooked remove plate and allow grape leaves to cool.
  12. Enjoy!

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