Squash Browns (sounds like Hash Browns)

I saw this term somewhere recently and thought, “Hmmmm.”  Now there’s a good idea.  Substituting squash for potato and cutting down on the grease sounds great.  But how to do that and still have some crispiness?  And how to do that without standing over a hot stove in the middle of the summer?  And can I actually make this for breakfast?

I think I have a good answer for 2 of those dilemma and even though I’m not a fan of gastronomic or musical meatloaf, ‘2 out of 3 ain’t bad’.  In fact it’s actually good if it get’s more veggies on the table with less effort.

As far as not standing over a hot stove goes, there is nothing like roasting.  It still gets hot near that oven, but I am not standing there!  I chop, drizzle or coat with oil and spices, put it in the oven and move on to some other task, even if it is sitting down with some PMS tea….. all by myself….. wonder why no one is sitting with me?

As far as the crispiness goes…. my son recently found a bag of packaged croutons in the pantry.  Ooooh – like crack to someone who doesn’t get white bread.  I mean, really they are almost like Dorito’s – crispy with flavor powder sprinkled on top.  He keeps asking to have salads, so there is a definite silver lining to that cloud, but the idea of croutons jumped out as a crispy addition to squash browns and they can be made the same way as roasted vegetables, using your bread and spices of choice:  Chop, drizzle or coat with oil and spice, pop in the oven and walk away…. although not for as long!!

As for the making it for breakfast, well it depends on how much time you have, but as this recipe happens at high heat, it doesn’t really take that long.

So, I give you my version of Squash Browns

1 sweet onion (I used a rather large onion because I love onion – your choice!)
2 medium tender yellow squash
2 slices of Ezekiel bread or other whole grain, hearty bread
garlic salt and/or garlic pepper and/or seasonings you’d like to try
1 – 2 Tbsp high heat oil like avocado

Pre-heat oven to 450
Chop onions, yellow squash and bread into squares
20150630_173027 Now, I tossed them all together and ended up removing the bread during roasting because bread browns much more quickly than squash and onions, so…..
Toss your onions and squash with 2/3 of the oil and spices
Place on tray and place in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.  Roasting time depends on how big you cut your chunks and your taste in tenderness and browning.

While the squash and onions are roasting, toss the bread cubes with oil and spices, then go drink your tea :-)
When your squash and onions are getting close to tender and brown, add the bread cubes and stir it all together.
Continue roasting to taste, but it’s really good if you stir once and let the bread cubes get crispy on several sides.

20150630_180104

 

It will take another 5 – 10 minutes to brown the bread.

Eat it up, nice and hot, maybe things aren’t as bad as you thought
– Garrison Keillor’s rhubarb pie song from A Prairie Home Companion radio show.

It’s not rhubarb pie, but I thought these were awesome.  One of the squash I used was a little tough on the outside and this does not translate so well into the roasting process (unless you peel it and I am an anti-peeler), so I highly recommend using tender young summer squash for this.  I did my experimenting with this recipe in the evening, so we did not have it as part of a healthy breakfast, but!  It certainly could be….. in fact today is Friday, so there are 2 mornings where I’ll have a little more time, maybe we’ll try them out on Sweetie Dad and Super-Step-Mom.  It’s a great way to start,                                or end,the day.20150630_180427Veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies.  Eat well and be well friends!

Blueberry Sauce for my French Toast

However you make your french toast….. and there are vegan ways to make it!  You still generally have to pour some sugar on it in some form….. or you think you do.  I think I do.  I know I’d like to.  But I try to limit the amount of maple syrup that I pour, and the amount of honey that my son pours over the french toast.  Or pancakes.  Or hot cereal, OR whatever you might like to pour sweet gooey stuff on.

Well, this blueberry sauce idea is indeed sweet but it dilutes the maple syrup and adds some vitamins, anti-oxidants, and fiber.  Now this terrific treat might sound like something you could only do on weekends, but there’s no cooking involved and it was just a flick of the blender switch, so this is worth doing any morning, for hot cereal, leftover pancakes or french toast.

I placed 1 cup of blueberries in the blender and added 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup.

20150628_082230-001 That may still sound like a lot of maple syrup but this makes enough for from 4 – 6 people and so that means the maple syrup content is really only 1/3 – 1/2 a tablespoon per person.  Not to mention the additional nutrition of the whole blueberries.  Well, they WERE whole blueberries when I put them in.  I must confess that this concoction goes quickly from the lovely purple you see to the left to a sort of brown-ish with dark flecks of blueberry skin in it.  It also congeals a bit, so it must be poured slowly or you will get a huge glop of it on your french toast, or pancakes or hot cereal or face.

Now if you are a more measured person like Mr. Bigg Sis, OR are the second one to pour, as was Mr. Bigg Sis, then your french toast will look like this with the blueberry sauce on it…

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But, I think the sloppy version picture looks much more tasty :-)

blueberry stuff-001  Well, use your imagination on the tasty looking part.  It really was good. If you prefer a thinner consistency you could add a little water or nut milk, but the thickness was still wet and completely satisfied the need for moisture and sweetness.

The leftovers do separate a bit, but a stir and a mash and it was ready for another go.  If you want more ideas for less sweet, but still yummy toppers for pancakes and french toast, check these out.

A raw, vegan birthday carrot cake for Little Sis

So sorry to have been away for so long!  We have moved out of our home in TN, put almost all of our belongings in storage, moved in with Sweetie Dad and Super Step-Mom and I have started the last semester of my schooling, so it’s been a little tough to post.  However, all of this allowed us to be together right around Little Sis’ birthday, so I made her a cake.  Vegan for Little Sis and GF for Mr. Bigg Sis and something a little different than the fabulous cakes she has made for my last 3 birthdays.  Yeah, I’m a little behind, but luckily Little Sis is not a bean counter and loves me despite my sloth in regards to her birthday.  So to the internet I went…..

I found a raw vegan carrot cake that sounded delicious and different, but I must say that ‘raw’ makes for an interesting ‘cake.’  Super Step-Mom watched with interest as I patted the ‘batter’ into a spring form pan and said, “Will that rise?”  To which I said, “No.”  She then asked the question of questions: “Then, how is it a cake?”  Well…. it’s round and tastes good and has icing on it.  And Little Sis will like it.  She was good with that answer and we all enjoyed this.  For more info on eating raw, I highly recommend that site where I found this cake recipe: This Rawsome Vegan Life.

I changed this up only a little, and we enjoyed it.  It was one of those things that feels good to eat on top of tasting good, and it was really not hard – although Little Sis deserves any amount of effort!!  In addition, it kept very well, so she got to have a little slice for several days.  Nice.

We hope to get back on track with posting, and certainly hope that you are all well and will feel good about eating this cake!!

Raw Carrot Cake w/ Cashew Cream Frosting

Cashew frosting:
2 cups cashews, preferably soaked for a couple hours
1-2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
Water, as needed

raw carrot cake lemons-001Oh I knew you were coming so I didn’t bake a cake……
I smashed a cake?……
I created a cake!

Oh I knew you were coming so I created a cake
Wack-a do a wack-a d0 a wack-a do.

Wack a do indeed!

raw carrot cake cashews-001

Cake:
2 large carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups oat flour or buckwheat flour (I used oat flour)
1 cup dates
1 cup dried pineapple (or more dates – I used a mixture of dried fruit: pineapple, cherries and mango)
1/2 cup dried coconut (I used the sweetened kind as it was all I had)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I forgot this, wasn’t a problem)

To make the frosting: blend all ingredients in your high speed blender until smooth, adding as little water as possible. Taste it – mmm. Put in a bowl and set aside.

To make the cake: cut the carrots into small chunks. Then throw all the ingredients (including the carrots) in your food processor and pulse until it’s all in really small pieces and sticks together.

Assembly: Press half the cake mix into the bottom of an adjustable spring-form pan, mine was about 6 inches. Then spread on about 1/3 of the frosting. Put it in the freezer until the layer of frosting is hard. Then press on the rest of the cake mix. I let it set in the fridge overnight, then frosted the whole thing, but you can do it right away if you want. Take it out of the pan and use the remaining frosting, cover with whatever garnishes you like. Enjoy!

raw carrot cake whole-001You should check out the author’s site for her pictures, which are really lovely… but either way, eat the cake!

Happy Birthday Little Sis!

Eating Healthy Crumbs While Overwhelmed

Okay, so we’re not really eating crumbs…. It just seems that way as we attempt to empty refrigerator and pantry prior to moving closer to Little Sis, Sweetie Dad, Carni-Mom, Super Step-Mom, Little Big Bro and all of their attached spouses and children.  Hooray!

We are extremely excited, but between packing, working, finishing up a semester of school (only 1 more to go!!!),and trying to finish up the print version of our book, there has not been much time for cooking or blogging.  I realized that my current life mirrors the lives of some friends whose time is indeed so limited that they can not see any way to make time for healthy food preparation.  I am grateful for the times in my life that have not been QUITE so busy when I cultivated cooking skills and knowledge that comes through in a pinch now.  I find that in this difficult time, I am clearly reminded of 3 basic tenets that we have been preaching:

1) The Baby Steps approach.  If you are so incredibly busy that you can only find one meal a week in which you can make a change then that is one more healthy meal down the gullet per week than before!  And that is a good thing.

2) You eat what you have.  When I attempted to increase variety of snack foods and quick meals without time to bake, or slice lots of stuff, I found that I could a) buy more nut-based snacks, fruit and veggies that needs no preparation, and veggies that make easy snacks, OR
b) I could buy prepared foods that we would all regret.  The choice of what goes in the mouth when hungry is enormously affected by what foods are in the pantry!!

3) Having awesome sauces and spice mixes on hand can really save you.  Apparently, so can olives.

I don’t really have any pictures for you, but we have been wrapping up odds and ends and a few last minute ideas have come out of this endeavor (plus a few tips for me to remember in the future).

The first tip is that vanilla really truly brings a lot of flavor.  I made Little Sis’ chocolate crock pot steel cut oats and did not have vanilla.  I threw in the last of the ‘all natural’ chocolate extract instead…. Well, it was okay, but not fabulous like usual.  Hey – what’s a little bottle of vanilla to move, right?  Next time I’ll stay stocked in vanilla.

The second tip is that a person, okay me, maybe you, but definitely me, should have a firm grasp on consumption rates of dry goods before purchasing large amounts at a fabulous price if a person, okay me, maybe you, but definitely me, can’t possible use all of it… or even half of it prior to moving.  I have madly baked a few GF items before packing away baking ware just to try to use up some of the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free baking mix.  Nobody minded of course, but it wasn’t really on the agenda.

Now on to the experiments based on limited choice…..

The first was scrambled eggs inside of tortillas with salsa.  Add GF/DF parmesan if you wish (I did).  This was actually a big hit and extremely fast and could also be made with tofu scramble.

The second was brown rice, spinach and smoked salmon with a little sweetened vinegar on top.  This is a bare bones sushi salad and again, it worked!  The sweetened vinegar is just about a 1:3 ratio of sugar to rice vinegar, dissolved at low heat on the stove.  We put raw baby spinach in the bottom of the bowl, hot rice on top, and cool salmon on top of that.  Drizzle vinegar – add any other veggies you want and even without soy sauce it was good!

I have noticed that many of the experiments involved animal protein, but we also had a meal that was leftover lentil casserole in a tortilla with salsa – and whatever type of cheese you might like.

Finally I made a marinade for rice and chicken that involved lemon juice (the last wrinkly lemon still packed some punch), green olives, dates broken into pieces and tabil spice mix.  This was a winner and there will be real experiments involving this mixture and vegan fare once we are re-settled.

It is true that lack of time and lack of supplies impact the diet greatly!  If you’d like some help planning how to slowly and powerfully change how you eat, check out our book: Baby Steps to Better Health: A Guided Journey to Healthier Eating.  Currently available as an e-book but coming out in print soon!

Eat well.  Be well.

GF Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I posted ‘My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie – and it’s GF’ not too long ago.

You know what’s coming, now don’t you?  I was wrong.  I have a new best, although this is just an adaptation of the old best…… These are my best-est, BFF-est chocolate chip cookies – in fact they are right up there with my best cookies ever and are indeed GF, so the whole family is very excited about these cookies, and dang it, they are almost gone.

20150505_183509-001I hate it when everybody loves the cookies!  But what is not to love?  A little crispy on the outside – chewy on the inside, chocolate… do I need to go on?  Seriously, these are good cookies.

I also made these without nuts because 2 guests coming to a gathering that night don’t do nuts.  And I (who generally feel  that nuts are an essential ingredient in any worthwhile chocolate endeavor) loved them.  So the original recipe is here and the new recipe is………
Here!

GF Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

My Best GF chocolate chip cookies  – vegan as well!!
– adapted from I.S. at Yahoo Voices

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF baking mix (or your favorite GF baking mix)
½ c almond meal (or dried and pulverized leftover almond milk mash – that’s what I use)
½ c brown rice flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp tapioca starch or potato starch
1 tsp guar gum
½ c brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ c pure maple syrup
½ Tbsp blackstrap molasses
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup + 1/2 Tbsp organic neutral flavored oil (I used avocado)
½ – 2/3 c non-dairy chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix the dry except chips
In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined.
Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chips, and stir until combined
Place ½ Tbsp scoops on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little.
Bake for  12-14 minutes, rotating halfway through until browning just a tad on the bottom.  Mine puffed up slightly and then started to deflate.  That’s when I took them out.
Cool on a wire rack before removing from tray.
As Little Sis always says….. and she comes from a very bright family I hear – Eat that chocolate cookie while it is still warm!!

And if you’d like some more chocolate chip recipes…. we happen to have a few others.

Zucchini Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Drops

Sanely Delicious Chocolate Cake

Did She Say Chickpeas & Chocolate?

Good Neighbor Chocolate Chip Cookies

Enjoy your chocolate chips when they roll or drop your way and come back and visit us soon.

Very Roasted, No Stank Broccoli

Wow – what an invitation, huh? What is stank anyway?  You know, it’s just a variation of stink.  Reach back into your Christmas time trivia and recall the Grinch song:

“The three words that best describe you
are as follows
And I quote
Stink, Stank, Stunk”

Of course Mr. Grinch has garlic in his soul which is in his favor… but really – broccoli…. cabbage, kale, cauliflower and all of the incredibly healthful cruciferous vegetables do carry a bit of a stank with them.  I noticed it very strongly when pregnant with my son who despises broccoli, and have never fully appreciated it since.  I still eat it, it’s available and a gift of nutritious abundance – so I make my son eat it as well.  For awhile he offset that stank by putting ketchup on it (bleah!).  Now he reports that he prefers it steamed rather than cooked in the microwave… but he still doesn’t like it.

So when Snack Girl posted a recipe for broccoli that had her 6 year old begging for more I HAD to give it a try.  For my son’s sake.
Okay, for mine!  I’ve missed enjoying broccoli and if it works for him (always a dubious prospect when it comes to broccoli, asparagus or brussels sprouts) then so much the better.

downloadWhat is so different about this broccoli?  You throw it into the nearest volcanic vent, into the fires of hell…. or if you don’t have access, you roast it at 500 degrees.  That’s right 500 degrees.  I confess this was a new setting for me.  This setting could reveal dirt on the dial for those that have ovens with dials on them.  My little digital window said “Are you sure?” as I approached that lofty number.  And I said – “Of course I’m sure!  Why didn’t I realize earlier that you could heat blast the stank out of broccoli?”  Can’t wait to try it on brussels sprouts!

The other trick is to put a little sugar on it.  “AHA!” you say smugly. It’s the sugar, not the heat.  Well, it’s only a teaspoon of sugar for 2 pounds of broccoli, so I’m thinking that is not really the stank-remover.  It was indeed the fiery furnace.

We have shared Snack Girl offerings in the past and I recommend her as a source of common sense recipes and changes for folks that are not as interested in losing animal products from their diet.  I did not adapt her recipe much other than I cut the broccoli smaller (in hopes that would help number only son to try it with an open mind), and I used brown sugar instead of table sugar and avocado oil instead of olive.  I recommend that you use a high heat oil….. because this is really high heat!  And maybe your oven gets a little cleaner while these bad green boys lose their stank :-)

Snack Girl’s Roasted Broccoli
(makes 4 servings)

2 pounds broccoli crowns
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used avocado)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (I used brown sugar – packed)
ground black pepper (optional – I opted out)

Preheat oven to 500F.  Place sheet on the lowest rack of the oven while oven heats up.

Cut crowns into 4 wedges LENGTHWISE (I cut smaller pieces – see above). Place broccoli in bowl and add oil, salt, sugar, and pepper to taste (optional). Toss to combine. When oven is heated, place broccoli on baking sheet and roast for 11 minutes (until slightly browned). Serve and enjoy!

20150427_184136This was very yummy.  My son was not enamored of this, but he did not make a face and he had to admit a little of the stank was gone.  I think he’ll come around, but I was sold.  I will do this again and again, and as I said before – I can’t wait to try it on Brussels sprouts.  As long as Brussel doesn’t mind ;-)

Fabulous Carb-Craving Recipe and Book Giveaway

Friends, Family and Fans….. or is it Fan ;-)?  Wait, our mother doesn’t count as a Fan….

It is my honor to share with you a review and a recipe from “Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-Based, Whole-Food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite” written by Annie Oliverio, AKA anunrefinedvegan.

unnamedBoth Little Sis and I are big fans of Annie’s delicious and healthy plant-based recipes and we have shared recipes from her blog in the past, so you may be familiar with some of her incredible recipes.  What has been left out of our sharing, and what is abundant and one of the extremely appealing elements of her book is the photography.  In looking through the book I was reminded of looking at a well-crafted seed catalog.  You can spend a good amount of time just planning and dreaming and seeing the abundance of the natural world!  Each photograph inspires you to eat better, feel better and enjoy truly delicious food.  She is really an artist in the kitchen and behind the lens and you will enjoy this book visually as much as you will enjoy the content.

As far as the content goes, the book is divided by cravings…., so instead of “Do you feel like Chinese or Mexican food tonight?” You can ask yourself or your eating partner(s), “Do you feel like salty, creamy, comfort food, carbs or crunchy tonight?”  It is an interesting and helpful approach to changing your diet to healthier food to find foods which scratch those gustatory itches which you may previously have scratched using unhealthy or processed foods.

Annie also provides a lot of help for those not familiar with plant-based or vegan cooking, so you can begin the book with an education that will help you and your family incorporate more vegetables and less animal fat into your diet.  And although I didn’t mention sweets above (because it was a dinner question), there are many fabulous sweets recipes to satisfy the post-dinner sweet tooth.

This is truly a gorgeous and informative book.  Annie is a thoughtful and interesting writer as well, so you feel like she is talking to you and helping you along with a bit of humor and lots of lovely intentions.

I prepared a recipe that satisfies carb cravings but can be GF – perfect for us because I can tell you that being GF can cause some serious carb cravings.  I am going to use her photo, because if you can use Annie’s photo – you should!  I am also going to use her introduction to the recipe because it will give you a taste of her engaging style.  We are giving away a copy of the book to a lucky reader!

So here’s the dealio on the giveaway – I won’t make you read more, because I know you want the free stuff. I get it, I like free stuff too! All you need to do to enter the giveaway is to leave a comment on this page. That’s one entry. If you’d like to double your chances, take a trip over to our FB page and give us a like. Two whole chances to win this lovely book with just a little typing and clicking. Yay!

Okay – you’re all entered up, so now let’s talk about Annie’s fab food!

We really enjoyed this meal.  My son who is an inveterate cauliflower hater enjoyed this meal (!).  Hooray!  I wouldn’t even tell any anti-cauliflowites in your house it is present…. they probably won’t know!  I will also tell you that the leftovers of this served without the wrap and with some chopped celery or romaine makes a great dish as well – sort of potato salad with some punch!  Check out the recipe, the book and Annie’s blog.  You and all of your arteries will be glad you did ;-)

I give you Annie’s….CAULIFLOWER, POTATO, & PICKLE WRAPS WITH TAHINI DRESSING

If you’re familiar with the television show, Seinfeld, than you probably remember the episode about The Bad Breaker-Upper.  Well, I’m The Bad Wrapper-Upper.  I can’t roll a wrap or burrito to save my life!  But it doesn’t stop me from trying.  This recipe was inspired by one I saw many years ago on a blog called Herbivoress, and I was surprised at how delicious this seemingly strange combination of flavors was.  My recipe is admittedly a lot more complicated than the original – but the basics are in there: potato, cauliflower, tahini – – and pickles.  

Gluten-free Option, Oil-free, Easy

CAULIFLOWER, POTATO, & PICKLE WRAPS WITH TAHINI DRESSING
Serves 4-6
INGREDIENTS

Filling
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups chopped cauliflower
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Vegetable Broth (see page XX for recipe), or store-bought low-sodium
vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. liquid aminos or tamari
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
Pinch sea salt
Pinch cayenne
Pinch sweet paprika
2 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
4 kosher dill pickle spears
4 whole wheat or gluten-free tortillas, lavash, or pita

Dressing

1/2 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. – 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 – 1 Tbsp. white miso paste
1 tsp. dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the potato, cauliflower, onion, garlic, vegetable broth, liquid aminos, and spices and toss to combine.  Pour this mixture into a shallow baking dish and spread into one layer to speed cooking.  
Bake the potato-cauliflower mixture for about 45 minutes, turning the vegetables two or three times.  The vegetables should be soft and slightly browned at the edges.  If the mixture dries out during the cooking time, add a splash or two of water or vegetable broth.  
While the vegetables cook, prepare the dressing.  Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a high-speed or regular blender and process until very smooth.  Set aside.
To serve, gently warm the tortillas, lavash, or pita breads.  You can either mix the vegetables with the dressing, or you can spread some of the tahini dressing on/into the breads and then add the other ingredients on top.  Divide the romaine lettuce between the breads, then spoon on the potato-cauliflower mixture, sprinkle with chopped parsley and top with one pickle spear per wrap.  

unnamed

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes including roasting time

Suggestions:

I prefer to eat this when the potato-cauliflower mixture is warm, rather than hot.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Annie Oliverio and Front Table Books.

There you have it my friends.  More vegetables and less animal fat is easier, tastier and oh so beautiful with Crave, Eat, Heal.  Check it out!

Peppers Stuffed w/ Healthy Yum

Colored peppers make me smile.  Bright colors, shiny skin, green hat…. then after I kill it ;-)  they are juicy, crisp and flavorful.  Great raw, sauteed, broiled, roasted, just get them in the mouth!  My grocery store sends me coupons and recipes that require the ingredients for which they sent me coupons.  Clever, right?  Of course I don’t eat 50% of what they list as ingredients, but hey – 50% positive match is a start!  In this case the grocery store missive brought a recipe for Orzo stuffed peppers.  Sounds good, now how to adapt for my GF hubby, my picky son, and my preference to be meatless most of the time…..

Enter some old standbys and an inspiration from our good friend Annie at ‘anunrefinedvegan.com‘   She cleverly used pulsed chickpeas to add some texture and protein to spaghetti sauce.  I took that idea and added walnuts, quinoa and spices to make a mixture for pepper stuffing with an aim at a sausage-y kind of flavor.

You could easily change the flavor profile in this by switching out some spices, just give whatever you try a taste before stuffing, make changes and voila you are now the recipe creator :-)

Peppers Stuffed with Yum

1 1/2 c cooked quinoa
3 large bell peppers, topped and seeded to be like cups
1/2 c cooked chickpeas (rinsed if you used canned)
1/2 c walnuts
Oil for saute (I used avocado)
1/2 c chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sage
3/4tsp. smoked paprika
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp dried parsley-2 of fresh
Diced tomatoes – I used canned fire roasted

Pre-heat oven to 350
Cook quinoa in vegetable broth
Prepare peppers
Place chickpeas and walnuts in bowl of food processor and pulse until mixture is broken down but not much – leave some texture
Saute onions and garlic in pan large enough to accommodate all ingredients until translucent
Add spices and cook for another minutes or so, stirring
Add chickpeas and walnuts to heat
Add a little water if it seems too dry
Turn off heat and add parsley and cooked quinoa
Grease a pan that will enable your peppers to stand upright (I used coconut oil)
Spoon mixture into peppers until almost full

20150321_164203Add a layer of diced tomatoes to each pepper
Cook 30 – 45 minutes or until Peppers reach desired tenderness.

20150321_173318
Serve with vegan parmesan (my preference)

20150321_175122

or plain – both my boys liked it just fine plain.

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This was a 100% hit.  I wish I’d made more than one apiece!  Next time this is a recipe doubler or tripler for sure. And again – you could switch out the spices for oregano, basil & thyme…. or chili powder, cumin and cayenne…. whatever works for your tribe!

I was left with lots of extra quinoa because I always make extra grains.  We shall see if Little Sis offers some ideas that include quinoa in the weekly meal plan (which I selfishly steal on a regular basis).  If not, it is so easy to throw together some quinoa, some veggies and a favorite sauce for an easy weeknight meal.

Eat well. Be well.  And if you want some help on the journey to healthful eating, check out Baby Steps to Better Health.

Shepherd’s Pizza (Potato Crust-ish Tasty Thing)

I was going to leave the title as just ‘Shepherd’s Pizza’ thinking it might intrigue millions, or thousands of readers into opening this post.  Then I thought perhaps I’d better offer just a little explanation, or maybe nobody would read it except for my mother.

So now that you are here…. you are still perhaps wanting a little more explanation?  This started as an attempt on my part to create a pizza crust out of potatoes (and a few other things).  Well, it did not turn out to be something that you could pick up.  More specifically, not pick up and take a bite that was several inches away from where you were holding it.  You could pick this food up in your hands if you are so moved, however…. it won’t be pretty.

“Alas, failure! I signed.”  Then my son said, “You should make this more often Mom!”

Ho ho!  Music to my ears on getting healthy food into my people!  I saw beyond failure and into the land of opportunity where lies the naming of something weird and different than what was expected.  What to name this soft layer of potato-y goodness topped with pizza stuff.  Upside down Italian Shepherd’s Pie came to mind.  The Italian word for shepherd is pastore by the way ;-)

So, I would be happy to share Pastore Potato Pizza with you!

Pastore Potato Pizza
2 qts chopped and boiled red potatoes.  (I left the skins on)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup cashews that have been soaked in 1 cup water for at least 6 hours and then drained.
1 – 2 Tbsp milk of choice
3 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp salt

Pizza toppings or any roasted vegetables or cheeses that you like

– Pre-heat oven to 375
– Boil the potatoes until very tender and drain
– Drain the cashews and blend or process with the yeast flakes, milk and olive oil until fairly creamy.
(The milk is purely to get this mixture to mash, so start with just a little and see if you need more.)
– Place everything, including the blender goo in a large bowl and mash away.

20150304_162121See the chia seeds hiding in the potato cave? And the cashew lava creeping down the mountain?  Okay, so the imagination thing can be a problem for me ;-)

– Place parchment paper on a pan or two and spread a layer about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick on the parchment paper.
– Bake for 20 – 30 minutes.  I left one in for 20 and one in for 25.  Neither burned but the one in longer started to get a little puffy.  It might be good to leave them in longer but I don’t think they will ever get dry enough to be crusty and I didn’t notice much difference at the end either.
– Top with your choice of stuff and pop back in to heat up the toppings.  I did not put raw veggies on top as I was afraid the sweating of those veggies would make the whole thing too soupy.

We topped one with leftover spaghetti sauce that had colored peppers in it plus vegan parmesan
The other I brushed with olive oil, sprinkled on slightly steamed broccoli, green olives and vegan parmesan.  Of course my son wouldn’t touch this one, but it was my favorite.

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A switch from flour or grain based dishes.  Some favorite flavors.  Overall a failed crust with a happy ending!

Thinking of planting potatoes this year?  Little Sis has had luck with this method.

Other potato dishes?  We’ve got ’em…..
GF veggie burger/potato cake
Tabil Spiced Chili Over Roasted Red Potatoes
Not Your Mother’s Warm Potato Salad w/ Miso Dressing
Lemon-Oregano Chicken & Potatoes
Leftover Mashed Potato Soup

Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes

Silence – An Absence that is Part of Wholeness

Silence.  Silence!  SilenceBabySteps.pptx

Absence of noise.  A place.  A state of being.  A chance to listen.  Silence.

Not sure what to say next because I’m not supposed to be talking.  Apparently I’m supposed to be quiet right now.

Not an easy task for me.  Just ask Little Sis…. or Carni-Mom.  Plus I am supposed to be contributing to our Well-Being series.  So I get to proceed – as usual  :-) talking about silence.

Beyond my own ability to keep my mouth shut, and my enthusiasm bridled, there is the relative difficulty we all face of establishing quiet around ourselves even with our mouths shut.  We are surrounded by devices and machines and tasks and people and news and entertainment and alarms and warnings and intentions and plans and much human noise.  Yet, amidst all of this noise, most of us would agree that silence is powerful.  Isn’t that a bit telling?  Silence is something powerful that we often decrease or even eliminate from our lives.  Perhaps a year of wellness warrants taking a closer look at silence and what we can get from silence.

Sometimes silence is scary.  We associate it with apocalypse.  Perhaps it is more truly associated with a chink in our civilized armor.  Perhaps we don’t want time to think about more than our devices, schedules, tasks, entertainment and distraction, because if we do we might be faced with some questions about our own priorities, or our own power, or our own disappointments.  Perhaps our ‘conquest’ of the natural world is only complete if we are removed from the natural world.  How is it that we acknowledge this power and can acknowledge that it is a good thing, (think ‘peace and quiet’) but are for some reason losing, or even avoiding silence.

Silence is one of those things, like a dark night sky, or fear of predators, or for many people the ability to provide one’s own basic needs, that for good or ill we lose with modern civilization.  It is power that can weigh like an anvil, or beckon like a boat at the end of a dock on a peaceful lake.  Silence allows expansion.  It is a starting place.  A void.  There are places that silence can take us.  Perhaps journeys that feed our imaginations, our spiritual musings or longings or feed insights that can help us grow, prioritize and appreciate all of the blessings in our lives require a clear canvas on which to unfold?

True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.  ~William Penn

Where to start such a journey?  In order to appreciate or benefit from silence, we must find it, make it, accept it, allow it and work with it.  As is our wont over here at the Pantry, baby steps come to mind in any endeavor of change or exploration that seems difficult or even impossible.

Start by thinking about the sources of noise that block out natural noises in your life.
Is there a TV, radio or other device that makes noise always on at your house or in your car?  Does it ever get turned off?  Can you set a time each day when the devices will be silenced?  It doesn’t have to be a big deal of everyone being very quiet.  It could just be a time without music, TV, news or other outside noise.

An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.  ~Walter Bagehot

Being quiet is indeed not easy which is why I suggest just establishing a few times with less noise as a starter.  You might be surprised by what you notice or even think about with less noisy stimulation going on.

You might also like to try some true quiet time when there is an intention of not making noise.
We will sometimes sit as a family and meditate.  Other times we will simply be quiet for a number of minutes, close eyes and mouths and pay attention to what we are hearing, smelling, and feeling.  We often discuss what we noticed when done, and also do this outside to notice smells, sounds and feelings outside.  This was especially hard for our son at first, but he has become quite good at it and can now also be still and meditate.  If you’d like some ideas for family meditation, we have enjoyed these 2 books:

Product Details

This one being particularly good for young children.  The next one works for all ages, especially if you are willing to just replace the words ‘child’ or ‘children’ with people / family members, etc.

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Silence is the true friend that never betrays.  ~Confucius

Once there is some silence in your life, I believe it then becomes easier to choose noise more wisely.  One can decide to actually listen to music OR to have it be a soundtrack in the background OR not have it at all.  Well-being, or being well is not an accident but a result of our choices and our reactions to the things we can not control.  Silence and meditation are wonderful ways of increasing self awareness, mindfulness, stress-reduction and peace.

Silence is a source of great strength.  ~Lao Tzu

Be well.

(Quotes were all found at http://www.quotegarden.com/silence.html)