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.
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
A flavorful salad, rich with herbs and packed with nutrients
- 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
- Put potatoes in a saucepan full of water. Bring to a boil and cook 5-8 minutes, until just tender. Drain and set aside.
- Whisk apple sauce, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the hot potatoes and toss to coat.
- Add celery, parsley, scallions, sun-dried tomatoes and chopped dill. Stir.
- Serve immediately while still warm or refrigerate to serve chilled.
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.
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❤️
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.
a delicious side salad best served cold.
- 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)
- 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.
- Combine chilled quinoa, parsley, cilantro, cucumber, mint, red onion, salt and ACV, mix together and serve immediately or chill.
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.