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.
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❤️.
- 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
- In a large pot cook pasta according to package instruction, drain. Return pasta to the pot, cover with a lid and keep warm.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add sauce and cilantro to the pasta, toss to coat. Serve topped with additional nutritional yeast if desired.
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.
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.
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❤️
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.
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.
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.
A 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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- Pulse the garbanzo beans in a food processor until you get a crumbly texture without any whole beans. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the mint, parsley, dill, juice from 1 lemon, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, mix thoroughly. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
- 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)
- Line the bottom of the pot with any torn leaves and a few slices of lemon.
- Arrange the stuffed grape leaves in tight layers. Place lemon slices on the top.
- 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.
- Bring to a boil over high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
- Once rice is cooked remove plate and allow grape leaves to cool.
Lentils are mentioned in the Bible in Genesis, in the story of Esau who gave up his birthright for a dish of lentils. (Genesis 25:30-34)
We were enjoying a lovely lunch the other day at Chick P in Brooklyn, when I happened to remember a Greek cookbook a friend gave me years ago. The falafel deluxe sandwich was incredible as was the lentil soup. I couldn’t wait to get home and see what kind of plant-based treasures from Greek grandmas I could discover in that long forgotten book. I was not disappointed, there are lots of recipes I plan on trying. The first to get a little WFPB makeover was this Barley and Lentil Soup. I made it for just my husband and I and it has taken us a week to eat it all, so it really does serve 8.
Barley Lentil Soup
- 5 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 7-8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup lentils, rinsed
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1/4 tsp. of each turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander, and cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. salt (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- Cook garlic and onion a splash of water (to prevent sticking) in soup pot. Sauce 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add carrots and celery. Sauce 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add 6 cups vegetable broth, mushrooms, lentils, barley, tomato paste, and seasonings from thyme to parsley. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer 60 to 70 minutes or until the lentils and barley are tender, but not mushy.
- Add in remaining broth, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Remove bay leaf and serve. Enjoy!