Plant Based Potato Salad

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My mother in law used to make the most fabulous potato salad, the kind that is so rich and creamy it just melts in your mouth.  But alas, it was far from plant-based with its mayo and eggs.  So this is the substitute, not as creamy but certainly as tasty.  We test made this over the Labor Day holiday weekend, when all my kid’s were home.  They are always good taste testers.  They agreed it passed and could be added in to those family gatherings where we used to enjoy grandmas potato salad.  It’s fairly quick and easy to pull together and best yet, it can sit outside at the family picnic without any worries about whats going on with the mayo sitting in the sunshine.  We chose to leave the skin on the potatoes but you can certainly peel them if you want.  Potato skins are actually quite healthy.  One whole baked potato amazingly has more potassium than a banana. Spuds are also rich in iron, magnesium, and fiber, and fiber my friends is only found in plant food, and is a must have for our bodies to run efficiently.  Enjoy!

Plant Based Potato Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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A flavorful salad, rich with herbs and packed with nutrients

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dill

Directions

  1. Put potatoes in a saucepan full of water.  Bring to a boil and cook 5-8  minutes, until just tender.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Whisk apple sauce, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the hot potatoes and toss to coat.
  3. Add celery, parsley, scallions, sun-dried tomatoes and chopped dill.  Stir.
  4. Serve immediately while still warm or refrigerate to serve chilled.

theheartie.kitchen ❤️ur❤️

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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Tomato Tidbits

Tomatoes, those wonderful antioxidant rich….hum what are they a fruit…a vegetable? Botanically they are classified as berries, but culinarily they are classified as vegetables, so that doesn’t really clear it up.  In 1887 the US imposed a tariff on vegetables,  but not fruits,  causing the tomatoes status to become legally important.  The Supreme Court stepped up in 1893 and decided that the tomato was a vegetable, based on its use in dinner versus dessert.  Tomatoes are not the only food source with this ambiguity, bell peppers, cucumbers, green beans, eggplants, and squash are also botanically berries and culinarily vegetables.

Tomatoes contain approximately 95% water and it has been written that they are good for heart disease, cancer prevention and skin health.  I’m all over that skin health part, I have read that antioxidant foods are great for helping to keep our skin from oxidizing.  Aging and disease have been thought of as the oxidation of the body, so basically we are rusting.   Those brown age spots, are oxidized fat under the skin!  Yes, I know yuck…so if eating more tomatoes might help me keep those off the backs of my hands, I’m eating them.  The antioxidant in tomatoes is called lycopene and is most concentrated in the tomato peel.  So no more peeling those tomatoes, the skin is the best part!

Tomatoes even have their own festival, it appears to have started in a small town in Spain.  La Tomatina, as the festival is called, started in 1945 and today one can only participate if you have a pre-paid ticket. Ticket holders come together and throw tomatoes at each other for approximately one hour.  As I was thinking how incredibly messy and sticky this must be, I read on about the citric acid in all those tomatoes and how when they use fire hoses to clean the town square, it ends up cleaner than before the tomatoes.  If you are so inclined to travel and throw tomatoes at your friends, the next festival is planned  for August 28, 2019, remember you need a pre-paid ticket to participate.

Did you know that tomatoes should not be kept in the refrigerator?  Did you know it even says do not refrigerate right on the front of the package of cherry tomatoes?  When I first read this I immediately got up from my computer ran to my refrigerator and whipped out my pack of cherry tomatoes.  You guessed it, right there at the bottom it clearly says “do not refrigerate”.  I included some photos with my post, because yes, I too had a hard time believing I had been storing them wrong all these years.  So what happens when you refrigerate them?  When they get cold, they become tasteless, it’s as simple as that.  I always enjoyed picking them fresh off the vine as a kid and eating them standing right there in the garden while they were still warm from the sun.  As an adult, they just never tasted the same, and now I know why!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balsamic Tomatoes

I like to shop at Costco and I usually make a stop there every other Thursday.  One of the items on my repeat list is the 2 pound package of what I call cherry tomatoes.  I don’t think thats what the name is on the outside of the package, but they are the small ones the shape of a cherry…you get what I mean.    I like to roast them in my oven, with a bit of garlic, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and a dash of pepper.  I use a jelly roll pan, thats the one that looks like a cookie sheet with edges.  I put a silicone mat in the bottom to prevent anything from sticking to the pan, since I don’t use any oil when cooking.  The silicone mat makes it easy to just lift the sides and pour them out without any mess.  Once they are finished roasting I like to put some in my food processor and puree them into a tasty, healthy, plant based salad dressing.  I store my balsamic tomato dressing in the refrigerator.  The rest of them I usually pop into a refrigerator container and use them whole on salads, in pastas, as a pizza topping, and in veggie bowls, the possibilities are probably endless.  Let me know what your favorite uses are.

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Balsamic Tomatoes

  • Servings: 2lbs
  • Difficulty: easy
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A tasty addition to salads, pastas, pizzas, and veggie bowls, as well as a delightful pureed salad dressing.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°
  2. Clean and rinse tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise and place in a container
  3. Mix together garlic, vinegar, maple syrup and pepper.
  4. Pour mixture over tomatoes
  5. Pour tomato mixture into jelly roll pan (lined with silicone mat if desired) and spread them out.
  6. Cook for 15 minutes and then rotate the pan and cook for another 15 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

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Yes, you can cruise healthy

I recently had the opportunity to go on a business trip with my husband and that business trip was a cruise! I had heard all about cruises from my family and friends, tales of the 24 hour food selections, drink packages, excursions and beautiful scenery. I must admit I was a little worried about finding food that would fit within our healthy lifestyle and I was worried about being seasick, this being our first cruise. For the seasickness I packed acupressure bands, regular Dramamine and non drowsy Dramamine, I was prepared. We set off for Seattle and our ship, Celebrity Solstice.

First, the acupressure bands worked like a dream, (no Dramamine necessary) and I kept those Velcro bands strapped to my wrists for the entire trip.

Second, the food! All that food! So many different venues, the dining hall, (we only made it to our assigned dining time one evening), the 5 specialty restaurants, the buffet (I usually steer clear of those but this was awesome), and my favorite the spa cafe!

Each of the specialty restaurants we dined in went totally out of their way to make sure that our meals were dairy and meat free, they had no qualms with me picking and choosing from all over the menu to put something together. This is a photo of breakfast in Luminae, tortillas, sautéed mushrooms and roasted tomatoes.

The Oceanview cafe offered a vegan buffet at dinner time, which even though they had lots of options all day long it was nice to know you didn’t have to ask about dairy or meat. You could just walk up and know that everything in front of you was perfect! These are some photos from the vegan buffet.

The spa cafe was my all time favorite. I can not even remember how many detox and antioxidant smoothies I ordered. (They are an extra cost if you don’t have the premium drink package) The homemade energy bars were sitting out daily during breakfast. I might have lost count of those too! The best part about the spa cafe is….it’s quiet! It was like my secret oasis that no one else had discovered.

Some side notes, first I learned that there are no irons on board, so iron up before you go. I’m an iron every morning kinda gal so this bothered me at first and then I realized I could get some of my wrinkles under control with my curling iron. On that note, there were three times during the trip when my curling iron would light up but not heat up. Thankfully I didn’t pitch it in the trash the first day because it worked the next day. I talked to a couple other people who experienced the same thing, I won’t even begin to try and understand the mechanics of why, just happy I was able to eventually get it to work. Second, our ship had a fabulous work out facility and an outdoor track.

In conclusion, you CAN cruise healthy on Celebrity Solstice. This was my first cruise so I can’t give any comparisons on size of ship or number of people, but it surpassed all my expectations.

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