Plant Based Dye Free Easter

Easter has become a chocolate, sugar packed, food dye bomb on our children. Easter baskets filled with goodies are literally everywhere you look. Aisle upon aisle of chocolates and candies created especially for this holiday, are found in every grocery store. How did Easter become synonymous with plastic eggs and baskets filled with candy?

What’s a plant based family to do? First, remember you can offer items that aren’t edible. Second, you aren’t the only parent looking for healthier options..and there are some out there.

Smash Mallow

I found these Smash Mallows at my local Earth Fare and after a quick google search I found they are also offered at Fresh Market, Fresh Thyme, and many more stores, as well as online. They are free from HFCS, dairy and dye free. Their website is http://www.smashmallow.com

Love this healthy comparison!❤️
Enjoy Life candies

Enjoy Life has three different varieties of holiday packaged candies. I found this bag at Earth Fare. They do have options to order on line from their website (www.enjoylifefoods.com), although I noticed that the variety pack is already sold out. The back side of the bags states that their products are free from wheat, dairy, soy, sulfates, lupin, fish, crustaceans, peanuts, tree nuts, casein, egg, sesame and mustard. Wow!

Yum Earth

Yum Earth organic sour beans, also from Earth Fare. Their packages states they are vegan, No HFCS, and dye free. This big bag contains 10 snack packs. Their website is http://www.yumearth.com.

Unreal

I found three flavors of unreal chocolate cups, dark chocolate almond butter, dark chocolate peanut butter, and crisp dark chocolate peanut butter. They are certified vegan, nothing unreal included. Their website is http://www.getunreal.com

Keep your eyes open, new products are showing up on stores shelves all the time.

Protein…Protein…Protein

Our country is obsessed with protein!

This is a photo I snapped yesterday at Costco when I noticed these boxes screaming about how much protein they contain.

But, do you actually know how much protein your body needs, or if you are consuming too much?

We only need .8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. (The Recommended Daily Allowance) Thats all! I actually sat down and tallied mine up yesterday. You will be shocked to know with my plant based diet, I was slightly over the RDA.

So what happens to all that excess protein the average American consumes? No worries, it’s usually stored as fat. Is there a difference between plant protein and animal protein? Yes, of course and heart disease is just one of the risks associated with animal protein.

Don’t follow the latest marketing hype, don’t worry about your protein! Where are you getting your fiber? Here’s a hint….no animal products contain fiber.

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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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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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.

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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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Lentil Pasta xoxoxo

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 sweet 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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