Strawberry-Spinach-Quinoa Salad

Strawberry-Spinach-Quinoa SaladThe simple fact of the matter is, I needed a reset. It had been months of chocolate this and chocolate that, and I was feeling my body slowly tell me I had had enough. Enough chocolate? Yes, it’s possible. I started to suspect something was amiss when I brought home from work an empty tupperware container of what once contained my double chocolate chip cookies. “Oh, did you bring your cookies to work?” my husband asked, when he saw me come back in with the empty container. I had. “How did your co-workers like them?” he wondered. I looked sheepishly back at Gennaro, ashamed to admit that my coworkers hadn’t eaten them, I had. I had eaten 4 chocolate chip cookies in one day. They were my lunch. And my mid-afternoon snack. This is what happens when you have a full work schedule and nothing else to bring for lunch at work except chocolate cookies — seemingly the only thing I had been working on in the kitchen that past week.*

As a side note, I did eventually bring my double chocolate chip cookies to work. And my co-workers did love them, thankfully. 

So, after months of chocolate desserts interspersed with some thumbprint cookies, I was ready to call it quits on the desserts for awhile and get my sweet fix elsewhere. Like in a salad. A fresh, seasonal, whole foods, plant-based salad. Something bursting with color and nutrients, that wouldn’t leave me feeling heavy, weighed-down or sluggish.

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Fat-Free Potato Salad

vegan, fat-free potato saladTo say I’m a carb-aholic does not entirely describe my problem. It’s potatoes that are my carb of choice. And I don’t care how you give them to me. Mashed, fried, boiled, baked, roasted or au gratin — I don’t discriminate and love ‘em all (as long as they’re all vegan versions, of course).

But as benign as the potato may seem on the scale of addictions, the danger in my affinity for spuds usually comes in their preparation, as it’s long been a tradition for the potato to be prepared with fat. Oil for frying and roasting. Buttery spreads for mashing and melting over baked. And boiled potatoes, if not soon to be mashed, are often on their way to becoming part of a salad filled with oily and fattening mayo or mayo replacements. I love it, don’t get me wrong. But does it love me back? Doctors Esselstyn and McDougall say “no”.

When I searched the internet for “fat-free potato salad”, I found little in the way of a solution. Many such recipes called for processed “fat-free” mayo blends, which use artificial ingredients and flavors, along with several preservatives. That was simply not an option for me.

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Easy, Fat-Free Green Bean Salad

fat free green bean saladSo, I realized that this past Thanksgiving was my 4th — 4th! — annual vegan Thanksgiving. And for the first time ever, as I mentioned, the entirety of my extended family joined along in the spirit of the vegan Thanksgiving and there was no turkey to be found.

At one time, I would have thought that a turkey-less, entirely vegan Thanksgiving would mean I’d feel lighter and not stuffed to my breaking point after eating. I was wrong. And I’m here to set the record straight. It is entirely possible to way overeat  and induce a food-coma even if all of the food you’re putting into your body came from plants.

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Raw Fruit and Nut Kale Salad

raw fruit and nut kale saladI am going to make this post short and sweet, as I am not feeling so well and have a long day ahead tomorrow. But I wanted to share this amazing kale salad that is a new favorite in our house. It was inspired by the kale salad I frequently get for lunch from a macrobiotic place near my office called Om Cafe. Their genius combination of dried apricots and walnuts in their raw kale salad sort of rocked my world the first time I tried it. Now I’m in love with the combo and Gennaro is, too.

My take on this salad includes grapes in addition to the dried apricots to round out the fruit component. Other fruits would also be great here. Instead of dried apricots, try fruit sweetened dried cranberries or golden raisins. I’ve also added pomegranate for an antioxidant boost and extra crunch.

raw kale salad with fruit and nuts

This salad would be a great addition to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s pretty and colorful and delicious. As far as serving size goes, it’s hard for me to tell how many it serves, as Gennaro and I can polish off this salad between the two of us. But I’m thinking 4 servings is probably appropriate for those eating this in addition to other parts of a meal. This recipe can be multiplied as needed for crowds.

Raw Fruit and Nut Kale Salad:

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale (any variety), washed and chopped

pinch of sea salt (about 1/8 teaspoon or less, can add in more salt later to taste)

1/4 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup red grapes, halved lengthwise

1/3 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped

6 dried apricots (I use unsulfured), cut into strips

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

Dressing:

2 tablespoons tahini

2 teaspoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Directions:

1. Add kale to a large salad bowl with a pinch of sea salt and olive oil. Massage gently with hands (I like to put bunches of kale between my palms and rub together). Do this until kale is softened just a bit and dark green in color.

2. Using a spoon or small whisk, mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.

3. Add remaining salad ingredients to salad bowl with kale and top with dressing. Toss everything together until well coated and serve.

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Pineapple-Cashew Quinoa Salad

quinoa-cashew-pineapple saladI recently became obsessed with preparing a modified version of a Veganomicon recipe for pineapple-cashew quinoa stir fry. It’s basically a quinoa fried rice with a hot and sweet flavor and distinct crunch from the addition of cashews. If any of you are familiar with the Veganomicon cookbook, you might imagine that while the ingredient list is long and the directions somewhat time-consuming, the end result is this amazingly flavorful and impressive stir-fry.

While I certainly love the hot version of this dish, I also (on more than one occasion) have craved its flavors, but not wanted to mess up a bunch of cooking dishes to make one meal. I also typically like to pack dinner leftovers into lunch the next day, and prefer not to use a microwave to heat food at work (or ever, if I can help it!). That’s when I started thinking about how I could re-imagine this dish as a salad. Why not? After all, fresh pineapple is as good as cooked — and quinoa works great in salad preparations. After playing around with some additional ingredients and modifications, suddenly, a lunchtime (picnic, summer dinner, etc.) version of one of my favorite Veganomicon dishes was born.

pineapple quinoa cashew salad

I think this is the kind of recipe that could definitely be a crowd-pleaser at your next vegan or non-vegan gathering. Since it’s designed as a salad, it stores and travels well. It also tastes great at room temperature, or even slightly on the warm side if you’re adding freshly-cooked quinoa. I like to use red quinoa, as it tends to not clump together like its white counterpart, and has a distinctly nutty flavor that is great in salad preparations. You can buy all of the ingredients for this recipe at Trader Joe’s (except, perhaps, the Tamari — though they do sell a regular, wheat-based soy sauce there), which makes it a one-stop shopping kind of meal. I love when gluten-free, vegan fare doesn’t require trips to every health food store and Whole Foods in town.

Pineapple-Cashew Quinoa Salad:

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked red quinoa, well rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped ripe tomato

1 cup diced pineapple

4 scallions, chopped

3/4 cup cashews, lightly toasted

1/2 cup minced cilantro

1/3 cup  fresh squeezed orange juice

2 1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Directions:

1. Rinse and drain quinoa well. Add quinoa to a small to medium pot with 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer over medium heat until water is mostly absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and fluff with a fork. Leave covered until ready to use.

2. If toasting cashews, add to a dry skillet and heat over medium-high heat until cashews are aromatic and turning golden brown. Remove from heat.

3. While preparing quinoa, add chopped carrot, tomato, scallions and pineapple to a large salad bowl. Once quinoa has cooked, add to bowl. Mix well. Add in cashews, chopped cilantro, orange juice, tamari and sesame oil and toss well. Serve immediately or let cool and chill in refrigerator until ready to use. You may top with additional toasted cashews, if desired.

 

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Raw Broccoli Salad

cleansing raw broccoli salad

Cleansing. It’s a word that you hear a lot these days. Depending on who you’re talking to, cleanses are a beneficial — even necessary — component of health maintenance, needed for removing toxins and restoring our inner health. Others might say that cleanses are unnecessary at best, and at times even dangerous.

I don’t necessarily subscribe to either way of thinking. On the one hand, I believe that we put a lot of crap (for lack of a better word) into our bodies — especially when eating the Standard American Diet of meat, cheese and processed foods. Add the environmental toxins that are in some ways unavoidable these days, and we’re not really doing our inner systems any favors. Then again, I don’t necessarily feel that the only answer is an extreme cleanse. To be fair, I know that juice cleanses and even the master cleanse have had mental and physical benefits for many people. And as much as I’ve been tempted at times to experiment myself, it’s just not realistic when I consider that a typical day for me requires meeting with clients, arguing cases in front of judges, responding to phone calls and emails, and then coming home to walk Woodley and tend to a variety of household chores that, unfortunately, can’t always wait.  From what I understand, the process of cleansing and detoxing necessitates a certain level of removal from daily life before the benefits begin to kick in (similar to a drug or alcohol detox). This is simply not a viable option for many people.

Instead, I try to take a more pragmatic approach to the idea of cleansing. I view it as an ongoing process that I try to fit into my daily life, without risking starvation, social alienation or physical and mental anguish. Here are some of the ways I try to incorporate aspects of cleansing into my daily routine:

  • Every morning, I start of my day with either a large class of water with raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, or a mug of hot water with lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar boast numerous health benefits, and have long been revered for their cleansing properties. Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, CN, writes in her book The Beauty Detox Foods that raw apple cider vinegar is a strong digestive aid that also has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is also known to alkalize the body — keeping ones body pH from becoming too acidic, which is important for maintaining optimum health. Lemon juice, on the other hand, is also a strong detox aid and has been said to have amazing benefits for the skin. It is also great as a liver detox aid and blood purifier. Like raw apple cider vinegar, lemon is also alkaline-forming in the body. Cayenne pepper is also said to help speed up the metabolism and aid in cleansing.
  • I also drink a green smoothie almost every morning. I often add lemon juice to my smoothie for additional cleansing properties, and use raw leafy greens and fresh fruits which are alkaline-forming and easy to digest. Often, I throw in cilantro or parsley for additional cleansing properties. When I first told my doctor about suffering from Lyme detox symptoms (what happens when you start antibiotic treatment and Lyme spirochetes begin to “die off” in the body, releasing lots of toxins), she suggested that I add cilantro to my green smoothies, as cilantro is an excellent detox aid. It is also great for heavy metal detox — something to consider if you use aluminum deodorant or eat lots of fish.
  • I try to eat several raw salads a day, including my favorite kale salad. I also top my salads with raw fermented sauerkraut or kimchi. Sometimes I make my own sauerkraut according to the method from The Beauty Detox Foods, but often, I just buy a locally-produced brand called The Brinery which is sold throughout the metro Detroit area. Raw fermented sauerkraut and kimchi contain many beneficial enzymes and probiotics which help to aid in cleansing and keep gut flora in check.
  • I have recently cut out processed foods from my everyday diet. Not that I was going crazy on processed foods before, but I would periodically have daiya cheese or organic tortilla chips and other more processed vegan foods. Now, I try to snack on whole foods like nuts, fruits and vegetables rather than processed options. I try not to be too extreme or rigid with this approach, but I do save processed foods and snacks for emergencies or very special occasions.
  • I have to admit that I do still drink coffee. It’s something that I gave up for awhile, but then added back in to my diet when I was becoming extremely tired and suffering from the “die-off” Lyme symptoms I described above. Now, though, I try to never go over 2 cups a day, and I try to take breaks periodically from coffee drinking to give my body some rest. I also ONLY drink organic coffee, as non-organic can contain many pesticides and toxins. Because coffee is acidic, I make sure to only drink it after I’ve had my apple cider vinegar or lemon water and my green smoothie — so that I am balancing the acidity with more alkaline foods.
  • Finally, I try to add other cleansing regimens into my routine as much as possible. Massages and chiropractic treatments can help removed trapped toxins (which is why you’re always told to drink lots of water after a massage). I have also done Far Infrared Saunas, which help you sweat out a lot of toxins. I also recently discovered Zeoforce from Healthforce Nutritionals, which is a brand I really like. This product is a great cleansing aid, as it binds to toxins and heavy metals and removes them from the system. I will admit, the taste is a little like you’re drinking clay — but to me it’s a better alternative than not eating for a week!

This raw broccoli salad is one example of the raw salads I try to enjoy daily as part of my ongoing “cleansing” process. This is actually based on a recipe my mom has been making for a few years, so I have to give her the credit here. I made a few changes — including adding raw red cabbage for further nutritional benefits. My mom likes to use organic dried, unsweetened cherries instead of raisins, which is also very good. Broccoli is an amazing food that contains so many health and cleansing benefits. Yet often, we’re eating it in its cooked form and removing some beneficial properties. When it is raw, I’ve usually seen it in some sort of salad laden with mayonnaise or oil, or in a veggie tray with a fatty ranch dip. This salad is a healthy alternative to those raw broccoli options. Raw cabbage, celery, almonds, cider vinegar and lemon juice add to the numerous health properties of this salad.

Raw Broccoli Salad:

Serves: 3-4 as a side

Ingredients:

3 cups broccoli florets

1 cup chopped red cabbage

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/3 cup minced red onion

1/2 cup chopped raw almonds

1/4 cup raisins

2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos*

2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

* Note: for a completely raw salad, raw coconut aminos may be used in place of the liquid aminos. Coconut aminos are also soy free. A pinch of sea salt may be added for taste, as the coconut aminos are less salty than liquid aminos.  

Directions:

1. Toss all ingredients in a medium-large glass salad bowl until well combined.

2. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Toss again before serving to distribute dressing. Salad can be chilled in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

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Summer Squash and Lentil Salad

summer lentil salad (low-fat, oil-free, grain-free)I’m not going to talk about the hot and humid weather. I am not going to talk about the hot and humid weather. I am not going to talk about the hot and humid weather. 

Ok, where were we? Oh, yes. Here’s a refreshing summer lentil salad that only requires minimal stovetop cooking and nothing in the oven. Why would you want to make something like that? Oh, I don’t know…maybe you’re not feeling like doing a lot of cooking one night due to situations out of your control (ahem, “outside conditions”). Maybe you’re feeling like something lite — not hot. I don’t know why you would be, but maybe you are.

Or, in all seriousness, maybe you’ve just braved the heat (oops, I did it) and walked to your local farmer’s market, where there was likely some lovely spinach and probably some colorful summer squash. And maybe you’ve had that squash sitting in your fridge and you’re wondering what to do with it.

summer squash and lentil salad (low-fat, oil-free, grain-free)

Or, maybe you’re in the mood for a salad. Not your typical, boring lettuce salad with only a few tomatoes and some dressing. But a substantial, satisfying, healthy, high-protein, all-in-one salad that incorporates lots of veggies. Simple. Unprocessed. No added oils or fats. Just refreshing, colorful, flavorful summer fare.

In my constant quest to come up with recipes that can double as lunches I can take to work, this is certainly going to become a regular in that rotation. I love bringing healthful fare that I don’t have to reheat, dress or otherwise prepare at the office. For me, coupled with some simple grains on the side, this is the perfect, light meal. Plus, it’s simple and not fussy — most of these ingredients are pantry staples or can be easily found at your local grocery store or farmer’s market.

This recipe can keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Summer Squash and Lentil Salad: 

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

1 cup dry brown lentils

2 1/2 cups water

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 packet stevia*

1 yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and then cut into thin slices

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

2 scallions, sliced

1 large handful baby spinach

Directions:

1. Place lentils and water in a medium to large pot and bring water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes, or until lentils are cooked through yet retain their shape.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together apple cider vinegar, garlic, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and stevia in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Add squash, bell pepper and scallions to a large salad bowl. Once lentils have cooked, add warm lentils to bowl with dressing and spinach and toss until everything is coated. Serve immediately at room temerature, or chilled in the refrigerator prior to serving.

I used Sweetleaf brand stevia. The package indicates that 1 packet is equal in sweetness to two teaspoons of regular granulated sugar, just to give a frame of reference for those looking to substitute who don’t have stevia on hand. If using a different brand of stevia, add slowly, to taste, as brands vary significantly in sweetness. 

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Oil-Free Protein-Packed Kale Salad

oil free protein kale salad

As you are all probably aware from my previous post, I had a blast at the Vegetarian Summerfest this year. And I learned SO MUCH about health and nutrition, even though I was already eating what I considered to be a very health vegan diet. One thing that really struck me on my trip was how many of the speakers we heard advised against using oil. Not only does oil have no nutritional value — making it completely empty in calories — but many presenters discussed its artery-clogging effects, links to cancer when cooked due to oxidation, and associations with vascular insufficiency and blood-clotting. But the thing that really made sense to me is that, when you think about it, oil is a pretty unnecessary food. It really provides no health benefits that can’t be obtained through whole, plant-based sources. This is why it’s best to get fats from nuts, seeds and avocados rather than from oil, which is a processed, stripped down version of real food.

When I came home, I wanted to start incorporating more oil-free meals into my life and in this blog (I am always a student and learning new and amazing things about nutrition — this blog is certainly a reflection of that). Unfortunately, I realized that many of my dishes in the past have contained oil — probably even in cases where it may not be entirely necessary. I will certainly try to limit its use in dishes where it is not needed from now on. I did create a tag for my oil free recipes, and I hope those will increase in volume as time goes on.

It’s pretty clear by now that I am quite the fan of kale. That certainly did not change on my trip. This dish was created to provide a nutritionally-dense, high-protein salad. Gratuitous oil use is perhaps most common in salad dishes — especially in those that soak up a lot of liquids like quinoa. I tried to find other ways to add intrigue to the salad and dressing — and flavor throughout. This salad makes a great, intriguing side dish, or can be eaten in larger portions for a one-bowl lunch or dinner. I find that the flavors work best when warm, but it can certainly be served as a cold salad as well.

The following are a few of my favorite books providing additional information as to why processed oils should be avoided or eliminated from one’s diet:

oil-free protein-packed kale salad

Oil-Free Protein-Packed Kale Salad:

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

4 cups finely chopped curly kale (about 1/2 bunch)

1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 white)

2 cups sweet potato, peeled, diced and steamed or boiled until soft (about 10 minutes)

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), roughly chopped (more may be added to taste)

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 can organic chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

sea salt to taste

Directions:

1. Add quinoa to a small pot with 1 cup of the vegetable broth and 1 cup water. Cook according to package directions, or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy.

2. Meanwhile, cook or steam sweet potatoes if you haven’t already.

3. Whisk together dressing ingredients: remaining vegetable broth, cider vinegar, cumin and coriander.

4. Add kale, sun-dried tomato, sweet potato and chickpeas to a large salad bowl. Once quinoa is cooked, add warm quinoa and dressing to bowl and toss. Add salt to taste. Serve warm, room-temperature or chilled.

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Caribbean Kale Salad

carribean kale saladI mentioned a few posts back that I recently had the opportunity to go to Chicago for a long weekend for a wedding. While I was unable to hit up every single spot on my list due to time constraints and wedding activities, I did manage to eat at my top 3 “must-try” places: Karyn’s, The Chicago Diner and Native Foods Cafe. While Chicago Diner may have been my overall favorite — the Soul Bowl was out of this world (right, Liz? Unlike the stir-fry which was “not coming out well”) — I think Native Foods cafe was a close second and more closely represents how I eat on a regular basis (fresh, whole plant foods). Karyn’s was also very good, but we went for brunch so had somewhat more limited menu options. Though I have to say, I had a tofu scramble with roasted potatoes and polished off my entire plate.

Because Native Foods had the most menu items that were friendly to my diet (i.e. also gluten-free and many whole plant foods), I really, really wanted  to get the chance to go back a second time while I was there. Unfortunately, I never made it back, which was a true shame because I had already picked out the next item I was going to order — the Caribbean Jerk Kale Salad.

The Native Foods original version of this salad is topped with blackened jerk tempeh, and appears from the menu description to have some sort of a creamy dressing. I desperately wanted to try it, so I decided to try to make something similar at home. In an effort to simplify this dish, I made this recipe without the tempeh, though tempeh or tofu with jerk seasoning and some baked sweet potato fries would certainly complete the dish and make an excellent meal (I should know because I made it with these additions recently and posted it to my Instagram feed, @bversical).

Carribean kale salad top view

This salad is a little sweet with just a hint of spice from the cumin. It’s definitely a nice change from my usual kale salad, though I am not sure I will ever tire of that one.

So, native Chicago folk, did I miss any go-to vegan spots? Let me know what your favorite Chicago vegan restaurants are, so I can be sure to try them out then next time I’m in town (if I can pry myself away from Chicago Diner, that is).

Caribbean Kale Salad: 

1 large bunch curly kale, washed and chopped

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for massaging kale

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted until golden brown*

2/3 cup diced fresh mango

1/2 large avocado, diced

1/4 cup red onion, minced

1/3 cup diced red pepper (optional – I omitted it from mine because I didn’t have any)

Directions:

1. Place kale in a bowl. Add teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and massage kale between hands until it begins to break down.

2. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients: remaining olive oil, salt, lime juice, cider vinegar and cumin.

3. Top massaged kale with remaining ingredients and add dressing slowly until reaching desired amount (may vary depending on amount of kale). Toss and serve.

I toast mine in a non-stick skillet. Add dry coconut and heat over medium-high for about 4-5 minutes or until coconut just begins to turn golden brown. Remove from heat. 

 

 

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What I’m Eating These Days

Quick veggie fried rice with raw kimchi

Since becoming what I like to call a “real person” and working full-time (ugh, not to mention beginning a course of extensive Lyme disease treatment), it’s been somewhat difficult to keep up with blogging as much as I’d like. I honestly do NOT understand how so many bloggers that I read and admire have other jobs — not to mention kids! — and yet can post on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. Whew. I got tired just thinking about that.

But as much as I haven’t been able to blog consistently lately, my blogging gene is still in full-force. Which is to say, I can’t stop taking pictures of my food! Eating for me these days is more quick and less recipe-based (i.e. I’m throwing together what I have in the fridge), but I still try and create things that are healthy, colorful, and most importantly, exciting to eat! So I thought I would share with you some of the iPhone photos I’ve been taking of my “thrown together” meals (those that haven’t already been instagram-ed, that is). These represent in large part what I have been eating lately when I’m not trying to create recipes. Hopefully they will provide some inspiration to my readers. Oh, and please excuse the photo quality as, like I said, most of these were taken on my phone!

Boiled baby potatoes, green beans, hummus and raw sauerkraut

As you can see, my quick meals still involve lots of greens, whole grains, and of course, raw sauerkraut, which has become a staple in my diet. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve become a huge fan of nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, whose new book Beauty Detox Foods has inspired even more of my go-to meals. However, as you can see, I still do eat organic tofu (which is an apparent Beauty Detox no-no), and other things such as white potatoes on occasion. I feel that the key to good health is to vary your diet enough so that lots of fresh and colorful vegetables are incorporated, and to minimize processed foods and animals products (duh!) as much as possible.

Stuffed peppers with sweet potato salad and mixed baby greens

Here are some of my go-to, healthy meals (no recipe necessary):

  • Quick veggie fried rice with raw kimchi: Saute tofu, garlic, ginger and veggies of choice in olive oil or vegetable broth. Add cooked rice (I sometimes even just use Trader Joe’s pre-cooked frozen brown rice for a super quick meal), wheat-free tamari sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos to taste, and frozen peas. I also add some crushed red pepper to taste. Serve hot topped with raw fermented kimchi on the side.
  • Stuffed Peppers: I make stuffed peppers a lot, usually mixing in different grains with sauteed veggies, then baking in the oven, covered, until peppers are soft. This particular photo had short grain brown rice, corn, sauteed zucchini, garlic and baby portobellos. I added cumin, coriander, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast and sea salt for flavor. The only reason you don’t see them topped with salsa in this picture is because I had run out! I love Mexican flavored stuffed peppers topped with salsa and avocado. I either bake them in the salsa or add it after.
  • Sweet potato salad: I like to boil sweet potatoes until tender (with skins!) and toss with cider vinegar, cilantro, sea salt (to taste) and reduced fat Vegenaise. I got the inspiration for this recipe from Dr. Barnard’s book Power Foods for the Brain, which is also amazing and another frequent healthy eating reference for me.
  • Mixed Greens Salad: Toss pre-packaged mixed greens with your choice of a combination of lemon juice, olive oil, Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s (just a dash or two), apple cider vinegar, sea salt and nutritional yeast. So healthy and easy — a great way to get your greens!
  • Potato-hummus-kraut plate: Topping baked or boiled potatoes with hummus is one of my new favorite things, and something that my mom definitely got me hooked on. The plate shown in the above photo was taken on a day when I was tempted to order out because I had “nothing” in my fridge. Just goes to show you what can be made from “nothing”! I boiled Trader Joe’s “teeny tiny” potatoes (one of my guilty pleasures) until tender, then added green beans during the last minute. Drained. Added some nutritional yeast (totally optional), a healthy dollop of hummus (ok, I may have gone back after this photo to add more) and just a tiny pinch of salt. Then I topped with a heaping pile (as you can see) of raw sauerkraut (yum!). This was one of my favorite creations from my fridge full of “nothing”.
  • Sauteed beans, grains and greens (below): To prepare for busy weeks, I like to cook up a big pot of beans in my pressure cooker (aduki is a new favorite for me), and a big pot of grains such as millet or quinoa. Then, during the week, I can simply saute everything together and add some greens or other veggies, seasoning, and enjoy a meal without having to do a lot of prep. The photo below was millet and aduki/black beans, packaged baby spinach, sliced baby bell peppers (I forget what they’re called…), cumin, olive oil, cider vinegar, coriander, chili powder and some cayenne for heat. It was delicious!

Black and aduki beans, millet and greens

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