Farmers Markets – Thai eggplant, or little purple Aubergines

Along with all the traditional American fruits and veggies found at the farmers market I recently found these little gems. The two women running the booth were Burmese. Burma as they referred to it, was renamed Myanmar in 1989. These women grow traditional fruits and vegetables from their home country. There are currently approximately 6,000 residents of Fort Wayne that were born in Burma.

I must admit I only recognized a few items on their table and decided to experiment with these “mini eggplants” as she called them. Through a translator I was told to sauté them.

I decided to start out by sautéing a handful of sliced button mushrooms and a small sliced onion in a bit of water along with 2 Tbsp of minced garlic. While these were cooking I cut off both small ends of these small round eggplants. I halved each one, left their skins on and tossed them in with my other veggies. I added a couple tsps (just a couple of shakes of the bottle) of balsamic vinegar. It seemed to need some greens for my tastes so I roughly chopped some baby kale and tossed it in toward the end of the sautéing process.

Once the mini eggplants were tender I decided the dish was done.

Success! The flavor of the eggplant was similar to the tender inner bites of large sized eggplant.

There are so many different varieties of fruits and vegetables! It is estimated that there are over 20,000 species of edible plants yet only 20 species represent 90% of our food. Get out there and look, don’t settle for just what your local grocery chooses to offer you. Stop in that Asian grocery store or that Indian market. Experiment and have fun!

Buddha Bowl

Savory Buddha Bowl

Another fun mix up!

I started off this buddha bowl by putting pearled barley in my rice cooker. I hadn’t tried barley in the cooker before but seeing that it’s similar to other grains I toss in there that aren’t rice….lentils…quinoa….I was willing to give it a shot. I put 2 cups of uncooked barley and 2 1/2 cups of water in the rice cooker, closed the lid and set it for white rice. Whenever I try something that isn’t rice in the rice cooker I keep an eye on it just to be safe. I tried red lentils in there once, left the kitchen for a bit and came back to a mess of water, lentils and mush all over the cabinet, countertop and floor. Don’t do red lentils in the rice cooker.

I washed and slit the sides of two sweet potatoes and put them in my microwave to bake. My microwave has a setting for baked potatoes so when I bake sweet potatoes I aways set it for 1 more than I actually have in there. So I set it for 3 potatoes and it baked 2 sweet potatoes perfectly. Taking them from the microwave, I peeled their skins off (I know its the healthiest part) and diced them, then tossed them in a skillet with a bit of water and cumin just to keep them warm while everything else finished up.

While the sweet potatoes and barley were cooking, I chopped up an onion and sautéed it in a little water in my large copper skillet (yes, the as seen on tv one). I chopped up some greens, it was the bag that says super greens, a mix of things…and put them in to sauté with the onions. I also tossed in a few chickpeas and some black beans that were hanging out in my fridge from something else. Cook on low heat and add water as necessary, feel free to add some spices here if you want.

The tofu was a little package of prepared tofu called tofu steak. It was the first time I have seen it so I wanted to try it out. It came from Fresh Thyme and thats the only place I have seen it, I can’t remember the brand and unfortunately the packaging is long gone. I chopped up the tofu and put it in a small skillet with a little orange soy sauce just to heat it through.

Once everything is heated and finished, just assemble your buddha bowl. I sprinkled the top with Braggs Nutritional Yeast and then drizzled Hak’s BBQ sauce over the top.

Eating plant based doesn’t have to be difficult. Buddha bowls make a tasty meal. You can change up the ingredients and never have the exact same one twice. I have lots of barley left over in my fridge for something else..maybe some soup.

Enjoy! ❤️ur❤️. Remember the same diet that is good for your heart, is good for your arteries, is good for your whole body.

Vegan Minced Mushroom Burger

This is our latest burger. We are always trying new recipes, tweaking, and then trying again. My freezer is sometimes full of things I’ve tried and then I can’t wait to make it again and change one thing. So into the freezer all the tests go. Thankfully I have lots of people who enjoy eating all the attempts. I have one son who says he basically eats experiments every time he’s home.

The first thing you want to do when making these burgers is to cook your rice in the rice cooker. I usually prepare 3 cups of uncooked rice which gives me more than enough. The mushrooms need to be pulsed in small batches through a food processor, you don’t want them to be paste, just minced. The onions need to be finely diced. This was my third attempt with this particular burger and I couldn’t bring myself to make another batch just to dice the onions finer. So in my photo you can see the onion…the burger will hold together better if they are finer.

Summer Savory seems to be a difficult spice to find, so be aware. The light sweet miso is sometimes found on the shelf and I have also found it in the refrigerator section, so just poke around or ask. I use a 1/2 cup measure to form my burgers so they all have the same amount of “meat”. Using the 1/2 cup measure this recipe makes 18-20 burgers. Freeze those leftovers to make for an easy dinner another day.

We eat burgers with 100% whole grain buns, usually some lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, some homemade hummus is always nice as well.

Vegan Minced Mushroom Burger

  • Servings: makes 18 burgers
  • Difficulty: medium.
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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds mushrooms, pulsed
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 16 ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. light sweet miso
  • 3 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 tsp. summer savory
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3 cups vital wheat gluten
  • no salt seasoning (for sprinkling on burgers before baking, if desired)

Directions

  1. Pulse mushrooms in batches and put in a large bowl.
  2. Finely chop onions and add to the mushrooms
  3. Add rice to the mushroom mixture
  4. Mix in tomato paste
  5. Blend in parsley, soy sauce, miso, basil, thyme, summer savory, allspice and garlic. Mix well so that the spices are evenly distributed.
  6. Add in the vital wheat gluten.
  7. Form burgers and place on prepared baking sheet. (line the sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper) Sprinkle with no salt seasoning.
  8. Bake at 350° for 30 min.
  9. Enjoy!

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Homemade Veggie Chili

Homemade Veggie Chili is one of my favorites. It is my go to soup probably once every two weeks, because most of the ingredients I have readily on hand. It also makes a bunch so we have left overs to last us a couple of days and it is perfect to send along for lunch. Don’t let the long ingredient list overwhelm you, just go ahead and pull everything out before you start.

Typically I use minced garlic, just to make life easier than mincing my own. I purchased an electric can opener after about a year of our new way of eating. My wrist was so sore after preparing Christmas the first year that an electric one was the only way to go. I go through and open all the canned items while my fresh veggies are cooking. Get started draining and rinsing the beans. This is important, not only will it have an effect on the color of your soup but I have heard it can elevate some of the gas that sometimes comes with beans. Once rinsed and drained, put all the beans in a large bowl while they wait their turn to go into the soup. I use a small bowl and get all my seasonings ready ahead of time as well. I’m all about making things easy. Enjoy!

Homemade Veggie Chili

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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A Heartie soup, packed with fresh colorful veggies

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Directions

  1. In a large pot add garlic, onion, all three of the peppers, carrots, and celery, cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften and give up their juices.
  2. Add the oregano, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Cook and stir for a few more minutes.
  3. Pour in the broth, tomato sauce, and the tomatoes with chiles. Stir and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and the zucchini to the pot. Cover and simmer for 30 more minutes.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together the cornmeal and the warm water, add to the pot and cook for 15 more minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

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Steff’s Mac and Cheese

 

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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

  • Servings: 5-7
  • Difficulty: easy
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A yummy substitute for the traditional blue box, approved by one their most avid fans.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. Prepare pasta and while the pasta is cooking, chunk up red peppers.
  3. Toss red pepper chunks, nutritional yeast, onion powder, water, cashews, salt, nutmeg and turmeric in food processor. Blend until smooth.
  4. Drain pasta and pour back into pan.
  5. Pour sauce over the cooked pasta, stir and place over low heat just until heated through.

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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.

theheartie.kitchen

 

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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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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