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.

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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!

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.

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.

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Serve with vegan parmesan (my preference)

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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.

Lentils, Potatoes, and Tomatoes – So Simple, So Good

The other day when I entered the kitchen to attempt to follow my meal plan for the week, I discovered that despite all my careful planning, I was missing a key ingredient for the dish I planned to make. What’s a Mom of hungry children to do? Divert from the plan is the only answer, but the question is what level of diversion. Rather than coming up with a whole new game plan, I decided to simply make some changes to the recipe based on the ingredients I DID actually have on hand. This is a common strategy on my part, and has nearly always resulted in some level of success. My success at making these change ups is likely because i don’t just replace the missing item with any old thing.( Read here for my suggestions on adapting, changing, and experimenting with recipes in ways that are more likely to create a successful outcome.)

On this particular occasion I was short the chickpeas required to make Chickpeas with Potatoes and Tomatoes according to Deborah Madison’s recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (see my thoughts on Deborah Madison). I know, I know – me out of chickpeas, it’s almost too much to believe, but I tried not to linger on that ridiculous reality and moved quickly to surveying what I DID have available. And what I DID have was some already cooked lentils (always cook extra of staples – see here for why). Yay! I pulled the lentils out as well as the other ingredients and got down to business. It occurred to me that while the lentils were going to play the same nutritional role as the chickpeas (protein, fiber), they are so radically different in size and texture I supposed there may be some consequences for the switch. But I proceeded and just sort of kept my eyes open for things that needed tweaking.

As it turned out, the lentils did give the dish a very different flavor and overall feel. They also seems to take up some of the liquid from the dish, even though they were already cooked, I added to the tomatoes called for in the original recipe and then added some extra seasoning to make up for the additional volume. It was a delicious dish and scored a 75% percent approval rating in our house, Ms. Picky Pants was, not surprisingly, not a fan. I was a simple dish with delicious flavors and while it was nice and warming on a chilly day, I’m told it can also be served cold with lemon wedges and black olives. I have some ideas for summer!

Lentils, Potatoes, and Tomatoes – inspired by Deborah Madison’s Chickpeas, Potatoes, and Tomatoes in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • Olive oil for the pan
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and diced (I went slightly larger than a dice and used the three small russets I had on hand – I also didn’t peel them, I know I’m bad)
  • 2 carrots cut into small rounds (less than 1/2 and inch so they cook in a reasonable amount of time)
  • a pinch to 1/2 t chili powder or smoked paprika, depending on your heat preferences
  • 2 smashed garlic cloves
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 2 1/2 c diced tomatoes (I used cans and did not drain them)
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I used French as that’s what was in the fridge waiting to be used)
  • 1/2 c raw cashews (or 1/2 c more beans)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c water (or enough to make a broth to simmer in)
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 c chopped parsley

Warm oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until onions are beginning to color – 5 to 10 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, chili, and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentils and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to simmer. Simmer until veggies are tender. About 25-30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Stir in fresh herbs and cashews if using.

  

We served ours with lemon wedges and quinoa. Absolutely delish!

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

Hemp and Bean Sausage Patties (GF,V)

Let me just start by saying that in general, I am not a fan of meat substitutes. For the most part I like to create dishes that aren’t trying to emulate something else as I feel that it nearly always disappoints meat lovers and only occasionally really gets the vegetable crowd excited enough to bother. But there does seem to be a trojan horse for this particular problem. If you make something in the form of a patty, the adventurousness and acceptance both seem to increase – veggie burgers, falafel, or neatballs for sandwiches or pasta have all gained acceptance and, more often than not, enthusiasm over here. So when I saw a recipe for breakfast sausage made from beans, masa harina, and hemp, I was intrigued.

What is it that makes breakfast sausage worth emulating? This is a valid question, and an important one when deciding whether or not to bother. Breakfast sausage, for all their greasy yuck (in my non-that much grease loving opinion), have a combination of herbs and spices that really are tasty and it is my opinion that keeping that flavor profile solely for the breakfast table is nonsensical, but we’ll get to that. So, a less greasy plant strong version of that? Yeah, I’ll give that a go.

The result? Delicious, and as I suspected an excellent candidate for moving off the breakfast table into many other parts of the day. We’ve used our nausage patties as the centerpiece of a dinner that also included roasted plantains and sweet potatoes and fresh cut veggies. We had salsa, malt vinegar, and ketchup on the table to scratch any of the varied condiment itches I could imagine. The only thing I would do different the next time I make these babies, is that I would make at least a double batch and freeze the remainder so that they could be served with pancakes some morning. While not difficult to make, they were time consuming and so I would not want to execute these and pancakes at the same time (pre tea cooking must be strategically limited). If you have given up meat but miss breakfast sausage, these are a good fit. If you are trying to eat less meat and are more open to the whole patty concept, these are delicious and very flexible (in use, not in texture because that would be weird and gross).

A nice thing about this recipe, for me anyway, is that I had nearly everything I needed already in my pantry. Only one item was missing… the masa harina. Honestly I know my store carries it, but you know how I feel about dashing out for a single ingredient (and if you don’t know, let’s just say I suffer from a lack of self control at the store so limiting trips is best), especially when I don’t really know what that ingredient is. So I looked it up. Masa harina is a flour made from corn… so far so good. The corn is apparently dried, cooked in water with slaked lime, dried, and finely ground. The limewater imparts a distinctive flavor. And masa harina is more finely ground than corn meal. Okay, so I don’t have limewater and I’m not up to a chemistry experiment in addition to a recipe experiment. My solution? Grab that cornmeal and grind the crap out of it. I used my food processor, but would likely use my Vitamix next time. The only other problem with the recipe was that it requires that you refrigerate the sausage batter overnight… yeah, I may write a meal plan, but THAT level of planning is rare in this house. I added a little more ground corn meal instead to firm the batter up. I’ve also ditched the liquid smoke called for in the original recipe because I don’t regularly cook with it and there are some concerns with the safety of the product. The safety concern for liquid smoke is less, but still apparently present, in smoked paprika I am sad to discover. I actually have smoked paprika, and will use it here, but next time I may switch out the liquid smoke for scotch whiskey (boozy breakfast) and the paprika for a little extra pepper.

Hemp and Bean Nausage Patties (GF,V) – adapted from Spicy Hemp Breakfast Sausages in December 2014’s Vegetarian Times

Spice Liquid

  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T dried parsley
  • 2 T dried rubbed sage (this is KEY, don’t skimp)
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 2 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t dried thyme
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 c boiling water

Nausage Mix

  • 3/4 c plus 2 T finely ground corn meal (use food processor or power blender)
  • 1 c hemp seeds
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1 15 ounce can of soft beans (or 1 1/2 c well- cooked from dried; I used black beans here, probably anything well cooked other than chickpeas would work), drained and rinsed

First thing to do is to make the spice liquid – it’s basically like flavor tea. Combine all of the seasonings in a medium sized bowl. Add the boiling water and set aside for at least 5 minutes. While the flavor tea steeps, collect the other ingredients. Place corn meal in large bowl. Place beans in skillet or large sauce pan on stove, but don’t heat. Measure out hemp seeds. Drink some water.

Add 1 1/2 c flavor tea to the beans on the stove. Turn to medium heat to bring to a gentle boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally until liquid is largely evaporated, leaving a thick mixture that looks a bit like refried beans. While they are simmering…

Add 1 cup of the flavor tea to the corn meal and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add hemp seeds. When beans are done, add to cornmeal mix and stir.

Heat olive oil in pan on medium. Add nausage batter in plops with a large spoon. Allow to cook for a minute or so and then flatten a little with a spatula. Cook about 5 minutes per side or until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Serve wherever you like. Delish!

Loving Raw Chocolate Macaroons

Food makes a lovely gift.  Everyone loves sweets.  Most of us give sweets to those we love in some way, at some time, in some place…. and especially in February when Hallmark moves us….. I mean our hearts move us, to make our amorous leanings known through buying stuff.

Making a gift has always been a way to imbue a gift with an extra bit of love and caring because not only your resources but your time was given (albeit shopping for the right gift can take time as well!).  But how loving is it to hand someone a box of candy that consists of a whopping load of sugar and unrecognizable chemicals?  It feels like love when given, when received, when consumed, but the health consequences are surely not was intended by the giver in love.  See our Sugar Busting series if you need a reminder about just how rough sugar is on our bodies….. (How Sugar Strict Should You Be?, Salt, Sugar Fat, How the Food Giants Hooked Us, The Sweet Stuff (facts about sugar consumption), Eat Food, Real Food., Giving Hidden Sugar the Boot,)

But back to the problem at hand.  Our Sweetie-Dad is having a few health troubles that the doctors think would be helped by cutting back on sweets.  He is Sweetie-Dad because he is indeed wonderfully sweet and charming…. and also because he’s consumed enough sugar over the years to turn himself into plum jelly.  Of course the poor man has to listen to The Sis Daughters lecture here and again and is probably often frightened when we come by what we might try to pass off as dessert, however, as with all things, experimentation and perseverance can yield workable results.  I know of quite a few lower sugar treats that he enjoys and with Valentine’s Day in mind decided to try a recipe that had been stored on my Kindle for some time waiting for a test run.

Tessa the Domestic Diva created these morsels that are perfect for a pre-kiss Valentine’s exchange.  I only added one ingredient – an almond on top of each, so she really gets all the credit for this one ;-)  And Sweetie-Dad and I thank her.

Raw Chocolate Macaroons

2 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 c coconut oil (don’t over do it)
4 – 5 Tbsp cocoa powder (I used this)
1/4 cup maple syrup (she also lists honey or coconut nectar as possibilities)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
about 2 dozen raw almonds

Place all ingredients in food processor and mix well (scraping down sides as needed).  I am gathering from her description that she placed hardened coconut oil.  I melted mine first and mixed in the cocoa powder and vanilla before pouring into the food processor.  Mine probably mixed faster, her mixture was probably easier to shape.

20150206_120102-001Roll, scoop, plop, shape – just get it in reasonable portions onto wax or parchment paper or a silpat lined cookie sheet and chill in the fridge or freezer until firm.

20150206_134903-001You can store them in the refrigerator or the freezer and share them with the sweeties in your life knowing that your time and your love has translated into a treat that lacks processed ingredients without a high dose of sugar.  Love :-)

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If you’d like to give some other kind of loving sweets check out these other options from us and friends:

Chocolate Apricot Truffle Cups from an unrefined vegan

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Drop Cookies

Sweet Potato Crusted Apple Pie

Cocoa-nutty Good Bars / or Cake!

Nut Butter Bliss Balls

Crispy Chocolate Granola Stacks from Emmy Cooks!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups from Vedged Out

For more ideas for reducing the amount of sugar and processed food in your life, check out our book!  Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals.  Eat well, Be well friends!

Broccoli Meatballs? Reallly? Yes, Really.

I don’t know about you, but my preparation of, or suggestion of broccoli to the youngest members of our tribe is rarely met with an enthusiastic: “Oooooo broccoli!” I confess I find it hard to understand as broccoli was one of the only vegetables I willingly ate as a child, but I digress. When I make broccoli (despite their admission that my preparations are better than most thanks to this broccoli secret) there is usually at least a few faces that range from disinterest to disgust and either an implied or directly stated requirement that it be eaten regardless of how you feel about it because it’s broccoli. Why should they (and by they I mean all of us) eat their broccoli?

If you’re a data hound looking for reasons to eat broccoli, check this out (lots of graphs for you). If you prefer paragraphs to charts, give this one a go. The long and short of it is that broccoli is one of the richest sources of nature’s good stuff out there. It’s so great it makes the Mayo Clinic’s list of top 10 healthy foods. I’m gonna assume at this point that you at least logically believe that eating broccoli is a good idea, even if it has not been your favorite in the past. I would suggest that this preparation is a winner and just might turn your broccoli feelings on their healthy little hearts.

Vegetarian Times says: “Broccoli Meatballs.” Okay, there’s a lot of problems with that name for a dish. First of all “broccoli meatballs” just sounds weird. Secondly the fact that these little gems are called “meatballs” suggests that they have meat in them, which they do not. Admittedly simply calling them broccoli balls would likely not increase their appeal. Even I, a broccoli lover, am not particularly interested in eating broccoli balls. These little dealios, strange name or no, are really quite delicious, packed with nutrition (they include yet another ingredient on the Mayo Clinic’s top 10 list, almonds), and pretty simple to prepare. So let’s get on with… broccoli balls or bust! Okay, yeah, still no on the broccoli balls.

Broccoli Meatballs (adapted from Vegetarian Times Broccoli Meatballs with Garlic-Tomato Sauce)

  • 4 cups chopped broccoli (original called for just florets, but that’s wasteful, so peel the stems and go for it)
  • 1 c raw almonds
  • 2 t sesame seeds + 1 t salt in a 1/4 c measure – fill the rest with nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 11/2 T dried basil
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh spinach (shut the door – it’s another super healthy Mayo Clinic approved food!!)
  • 1/8 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 flax eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment. Steam the broccoli until just fork tender (maybe 10 minutes). It should be bright green and not mushy. Remove from steamer and allow to cool. Pulse almonds in food processor until ground. Place in mixing bowl. Pulse broccoli in food processor until mostly chopped. Add spinach and pulse a few more times and then add to ground almonds. Add all remaining ingredients except for the flax eggs and stir to combine. Add eggs and stir until combined. Shape mixture into meatballs.

  

We made 12, but I would make more smaller ones next time. You will have to press a little to get them to stick together. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until browning on the outside. Serve wherever you might consider serving meatballs. We had ours in mini pitas (a slight size mismatch there) with some leftover Easiest Pasta Sauce EVER, a salute to my old favorite a meatball sub. Sauteed green beans on the side made it a super green dinner bonanza. Delish! Since then I’ve had the leftovers with pasta, on a salad, and on a bed of rice with more nutritional yeast. All of them were great, so I give this badly named nutritional powerhouse a super Sis Sisters thumbs up! Eat well, be well friends!