This past 4th of July my family traveled as we have for many years to my sister’s house on the east side of Cleveland. Her home is nestled in Ohio wine country and we celebrate yearly at Chalet Debonne Vineyards. It’s a joy to visit because she prepares scrumptious plant-based dishes too. This year she prepared a Mac and Cheese, (along with lots of other dishes) that was extra yummy. My hubby even went back for seconds and he was never a Mac and cheese kind of guy before this plant-based adventure. I was initially a little concerned because following Dr. Esselstyn’s prevent and reverse heart disease lifestyle one is supposed to stay away from nuts. I have been avoiding them like the plague. However, at a recent conference, Dr. Esselstyn was asked about nuts and he stated he doesn’t like nuts because no one can stop with just one handful and people end up with nuts in their car, nuts in their desk, nuts in their purse, essentially you can’t stop with just one. So I made the executive decision that I can use them occasionally within a recipe and just keep them out of sight and hidden in my house so they don’t become a go to snack. Over Labor Day weekend I prepared Steff’s Mac and Cheese for the first time. My sister assured me it was super easy. Just toss everything in the Vita-mix. I’m told if you have a Vita-mix you don’t need to soak your raw cashews, however the ones I had were lightly salted so I soaked and rinsed them just to get rid of the added salt. I had to text her photos of my progress several times during the process because I was expecting the sauce in my Vita-mix to be much thicker than it was. She assured me it was perfect. Sticking with Esselstyn I used 100% whole grain elbow macaroni.
Steff's Mac and Cheese
A yummy substitute for the traditional blue box, approved by one their most avid fans.
- 2 red peppers
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 -1lb box elbow macaroni
- Place the nuts in a small bowl and cover with water, let sit for approximately 6 hours, then drain and pat dry, this step is not necessary if you are using a Vita-mix.
- Prepare pasta and while the pasta is cooking, chunk up red peppers.
- Toss red pepper chunks, nutritional yeast, onion powder, water, cashews, salt, nutmeg and turmeric in food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Drain pasta and pour back into pan.
- Pour sauce over the cooked pasta, stir and place over low heat just until heated through.
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.
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.
A full of flavor,healthy, green burger
- 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
- Heat oven to 400°
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Form into patties using a 1/3 cup measure as a guide. Place on prepared baking sheet (cover with parchment paper or silicone mat).
- 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.
- Enjoy with your favorite burger sides.
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.
Lentil Sloppy Joes
A quick and easy lentil based meal that lends itself to delicious leftovers.
- 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
- Place 1/3 cup of the water in a large pot
- Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion softens slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chili powder and mix well. Add the remaining liquid, lentils, tomatoes, and the rest of the seasonings. Mix well.
- At this point you can move everything to your slow cooker and cook on slow for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- 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.
- Serve on 100% whole grain buns, with the trimmings of your choice.
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.
Cauliflower and Peas Masala (Gobi Matar Masala)
- 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
- 3 tomatoes, parboiled and peeled
- 2 green chiles
- 1″ ginger piece
- 10-12 cashews
- Place cauliflower and peas in a pan with 1 cup of water and boil for 5 minutes.
- Prepare the paste by pureeing the 3 tomatoes, 2 green chiles, 1″ piece of ginger, and 10-12 cashews.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mix the cauliflower and peas into the masala
- Add garam masala, cilantro and water for making a gravy consistency.
- Cover the pan and cook 2-3 min. on low flame, so that all the spices get absorbed into the vegetables.
- Serve with rice and naan.
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.
- 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)
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.
- Pre-heat oven to 400° and line baking dish with foil.
- Rub beets with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt, place in dish and cover with another sheet of foil.
- 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.
- After the beets have cooled a bit but are still warm, peel off the outer skin.
- Cut and eat, or put in the fridge.
Engine 2 Lasagna
This veggie lasagna has been a hit several times with my family. It’s an easy dish to make ahead and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to heat and serve. I use Kroger brand 100% whole wheat lasagna noodles, and Kroger brand Simple Truth Organic Marinara Sauce with Mushrooms. (This sauce is one of the few that doesn’t contain any oil) I begin by cleaning and cooking the sweet potatoes in the microwave while I sauté the rest of the vegetables. I usually substitute fresh spinach sautéed in the liquid from the veggies in place of the frozen spinach used in the Engine 2 version. We are on the Esselystyn diet which means we skip the cashews on the top, and we avoid any oils. This recipe completely fills a regular size 9 x 13 pan to the top, so it’s the perfect dish for feeding a crowd. The last two times I’ve made it the pan has been almost over the top so I am currently looking into a deep dish lasagna pan. www.engine2diet.com/recipe/raise-the-roof-sweet-potato-lasagna
Engine 2 Lasagna
A hearty pasta dish very reminiscent of Grandma's lasagna.
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 head broccoli, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
- 1 package firm tofu
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. basil
- 1 tsp. rosemary
- 2 jars pasta sauce
- 2 boxes 100%whole grain lasagna noodles
- 2 cups fresh spinach (engine 2 says 16 oz. frozen)
- 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
- 6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
- Optional: 1 cup raw cashews, ground
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
- Press the tofu in a tofu press and set aside to drain.
- Cook and mash sweet potatoes and set aside.
- Sauté the onion and garlic on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp. Put aside in a large bowl, leaving the juices in the pan.
- Sauté the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and then add to the bowl with the mushrooms.
- Sauté the peppers and corn and then add them to the vegetable bowl.
- Sauté the fresh spinach and set aside separately from the vegetable bowl.
- Break up the tofu in the vegetable bowl, add the spices and combine.
- Cover the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce.
- Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another layer of sauce.
- Add the sautéed spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce.
- Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes. Cover with foil. Bake immediately or refrigerate until ready.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and (sprinkle optional ground cashews) return to the oven for 15 minutes.
- Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.