Veggie Party Tray Season

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I love this!  I picked up this tray from Pier 1 and have been using it as a decorative piece on my coffee table and recently, I looked at it with a new vision.  I started by covering the inside with cute pumpkin cloth napkins to protect the wood detail.  Moving on, I filled two bowls with The Better Chip brand chips from Gordon Food Services(GFS), I have spinach and kale in the red bowl and Jalapeño (Yes, real Jalapeño and they DO kick) in the green bowl, both are whole grain and vegan.  Two types of hummus in the white bowls in the center, roasted red pepper family style from GFS and garlic family style from Costco.  A bowl of guacamole, store-bought from Costco..all three of the containers fit into my one bowl,  and a plate of veggie sushi from my local Kroger.  On the other side a bowl of mixed nuts, a bowl of honey nut clusters (not vegan by all standards), a bowl of olives, and a bowl of dark chocolate covered pretzels.  I filled in with lots of fresh veggies, mushrooms, cauliflower, green cauliflower, orange, yellow and red peppers, and carrots.  The left over holes on one side got filled in with grape tomatoes and the other side was filled in with grapes.  I almost forgot all the Mary’s Gone crackers!  We go through box after box of these over the holidays.  Costco has them in a 20 ounce box with 2 bags of the original flavor, certified vegan. Such a party hit and so much food.  A perfect tray to put out for the holidays!  I served this at home, the tray might be a little hard to take somewhere once you have it filled.  Let this serve as an example of what you can bring when you’re invited to a get together with friends this holiday season.

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
  • Print

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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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❤️

 

 

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

Zucchini Hummus

While on a frequent business trip my husband picked up a vegan cookbook for us.  It is packed full of vegan recipes from many different restaurants around the world.  Although each recipe needs a slight tweaking to be whole food, plant-based, no oil.  This past weekend we tried out our version of zucchini hummus and it was wonderful.  We made some veggie stuffed grape leaves and used this hummus as a dip, it was fantastic.  We also tried some with our favorite original flavor Mary’s gone crackers, as you can see in the photo.

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Zucchini Hummus

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a wholesome, tasty, plant-based dip for all your dipping needs.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 1/4 cups red onion diced
  • 1 tsp  garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups chopped zucchini

Directions

  1. Grind the sunflower seeds and set aside
  2. Add apple sauce, lime juice, onion, garlic, salt, paprika, cumin, ground mustard, and black pepper and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add ground sunflower seeds and chopped zucchini. Blend until smooth
  4. Serve with your favorite veggies!  Enjoy!

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