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 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❤️