Tomato & Cumin Tofu Scramble

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I made my Tomato & Cumin Tofu Scramble twice in one day as requested by my sister. It’s very easy to prepare, simply flavored with tomato sauce, ground cumin, and fresh cilantro. You might want to keep tomato sauce handy for this and other recipes, frozen in an ice cube tray. Serve with rice or potatoes and top with optional avocado, queso fresco, sour cream, etc.!

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 Tomato & Cumin Tofu Scramble

  •  Serves 4

2 tsp. canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 container firm or extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

1/3 cup tomato sauce

1/8 tsp. ground cumin

¼ tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tofu, tomato sauce, cumin, and salt to pan and increase heat to medium-high. With a heat-proof spatula break up the tofu, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the tomato sauce coating the tofu and onions begins to caramelize. Adjust salt and cumin to taste.  Mix in cilantro.

Moist Turkey Meatloaf

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Meatloaf is often made of beef, veal, and/or pork, but I always make meatloaf with extra lean turkey. Contrary to what some people believe, a meatloaf made with super lean meat can be tasty and moist!

Moist Turkey Meatloaf

  • Serves 6

1 Tbsp. canola oil plus more for greasing pan

4 carrots, chopped (about 8 oz.)

1 medium onion, chopped (about 4 oz.)

3 garlic cloves, minced

¾ tsp. kosher salt

pinch of dry thyme (optional)

1 cup very small pieces of soft bread

¾ cup skim milk

1 to 2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

1.3 lb. extra lean ground turkey

2 tsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 Tbsp. plain bread crumbs

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl; mix in a pinch of thyme (optional), pieces of bread, milk, and parsley. Place bowl in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow bread to soak up the milk and flavors.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, add turkey, soy sauce, grated cheese, egg, bread crumbs, and refrigerated carrot-bread mixture. With clean hands, lightly mix ingredients until combined. Add turkey mixture to a greased 8×8 inch square pan and form into a 6×8 inch loaf . Bake for about 55 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meatloaf registers 165°F.

 

Rosemary Chickpeas & Bell Peppers

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Fast food doesn’t have to come from a restaurant. Rosemary Chickpeas and Bell Peppers is a dish that requires little prep time and cooks up in less than 20 minutes. It’s a great vegetarian recipe that I usually enjoy with polenta or brown rice.

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Rosemary Chickpeas & Bell Peppers

  • Serves 4

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, small dice (3/4 c.)

1 rosemary sprig (about 7 in.)

½ tsp. kosher salt, divided

3 garlic cloves, minced (1 Tbsp.)

3 medium bell peppers, large dice (12 oz.)

15.5 oz. can low sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 Tbsp. dry white wine

pepper, to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, rosemary sprig, and ¼ tsp. kosher salt and cook for about 3 minutes. Mix in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add peppers, chickpeas, and ¼ tsp. kosher salt and cook covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 6 minutes. Add white wine, scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook for 2 more minutes or until peppers are cooked. Add pepper to taste, adjust salt as needed, and drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil before serving.

Note: You may have heard that plant-based proteins (beans, nuts, seeds, bread, cereal, pasta, and rice), except for soy beans, are “incomplete proteins”. This means that they lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own. To complete “incomplete proteins”, make sure to consume a variety of protein sources throughout the day. For instance, rosemary chickpeas at lunch can be complemented by rice at dinner.

For more information take a look at Diana Burrell’s article: “Build Muscle, No Steak Required” at

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442463961&terms=vegetarian%20protein#.UQxINqU81fF

Egg-Free Banana, Corn, & Pumpkin Baked Treats

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All out of eggs?  Allergic to eggs?  Choose not to eat eggs?

You might already have an egg substitute, such as banana or ground flaxseed, in your kitchen!

Years ago, I learned that mashed banana could be used as an egg substitute from the Vegetarian Times’ Egg-Free Chocolate-Banana Loaf recipe. Try it; this bread is a real treat!

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Check out the recipe at http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/egg-free-chocolate-banana-loaf/.

I also discovered that 1 Tbsp. of ground flaxseed plus 3 Tbsp. of water could be used to replace 1 egg. I have successfully used this mixture in cornbread  and pumpkin cookie recipes. Bits of flax are visible in these baked goods, but barely impart a nutty flavor.

I usually enjoy a not-so-sweet corn bread made with 2 Tbsp. of granulated sugar, but the recipe below is for those who love their sweets. The recipe for vegan pumpkin cookies also follows.

Sweet Corn-Studded Corn Bread

  •  One 8-inch square bread

1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

3 Tbsp. water

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2½ tsp. baking powder

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ tsp. salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup milk

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

Preheat oven to 425°F and grease an 8-inch square pan. In a large bowl, whisk together ground flaxseed and water until mixture thickens. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. To the large bowl containing the flaxseed mixture, add canola oil, milk, and half of the corn kernels. Stir dry mixture into wet ingredients until just mixed. Pour batter into pan and gently push the remaining corn kernels into the batter. Bake bread for 25 minutes.

Vegan Pumpkin Cookies

  • Makes 29 cookies

1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

3 Tbsp. water

1¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. allspice

¼ tsp. salt

¼ cup canola oil

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup pumpkin puree

½ tsp. vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease two cookie sheets. In a small bowl, whisk together ground flaxseed and water until mixture thickens. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla extract, and flaxseed mixture until smooth. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Drop flat tablespoonfuls of cookie dough on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes and allow cookies to cool. Lightly dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Note: Fore more egg replacers and other vegetarian substitutes visit  http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/ingredient-substitution-guide/.

Apple Betty

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We’re only 5 days into autumn and I’ve already made 2 apple crisps, 2 versions of apple betty, and 1 apple strudel. I’ve been getting lots of apples from my fruit share since August! So far, my mom’s favorite apple dessert is the Apple Betty from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (1996). Their version of this old-fashioned, baked fruit dessert uses soft bread cubes instead of dry breadcrumbs. My mom loves the crunchy bread topping!

Apple Betty is fun and easy to put together; my mom may even make it with her pre-school class. The children will definitely enjoy tearing the bread into pieces, slicing the apples under adult supervision, and measuring the other ingredients. Sounds like a great lesson!      

Looks like stuffing, but it’s dessert!

Apple Betty

  • Serves 6

5 cups peeled, cored, and sliced cooking apples (5 medium)

½ cup sugar

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

5 cups white bread cubes (about 7 slices)

3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

whipped cream (optional)

1. (Preheat the oven to 375°F.) For filling, in a large mixing bowl combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add apples; toss to coat. Add 2 cups of the bread cubes; toss gently till combined. Transfer filling into an ungreased 2-quart square baking dish.

2. For topping, place remaining bread cubes in a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle with melted butter or margarine; toss to coat. Sprinkle topping over fruit filling. Bake in a 375° oven about 30 minutes or till fruit is tender and topping is golden. If desired, serve warm with whipped cream.

Note: I used Italian semolina bread instead of white bread in this recipe with excellent results. Feel free to use any bread that you have on hand.

Spiced Watermelon Fig Popsicles

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My summer was way too short, so I’m holding on to the season with the last watermelons and figs that I can find. Last Saturday, I bought the very last watermelon that the farmer’s market had in my neighborhood and it was delicious! This week, my nearby Stop and Shop has watermelons on sale, so let’s enjoy them before they’re all gone.

Watermelon is an amazing fruit that is made up of 91% water plus vitamins A and C, potassium, and lycopene. One cup of watermelon has almost 2x the amount of lycopene in 1 fresh tomato! Figs are a great source of potassium, calcium, and iron. Since iron absorption is increased by vitamin C, the watermelon, lemon juice, and white grape juice in this recipe aid in the absorption of iron from the figs.

The flavor of Spiced Watermelon Fig Popsicles bridges the end of summer with the beginning of fall. If you’ve already had enough popsicles for the season, you might enjoy this recipe as a smoothie instead!

Spiced Watermelon Fig Popsicles

  • Makes 6

1½ cups watermelon cut into about ½ inch chunks

1 cup fresh figs cut in quarters (about 6 large)

1 Tbsp. honey*

1 tsp. lemon juice

3 shakes cinnamon

2 shakes nutmeg

100% white grape juice (about ½ cup)

Blend first 6 ingredients until smooth and add enough grape juice to bring the total to 2¼ cups. Blend once more to mix in juice and pour into popsicle molds.

*Adjust honey according to sweetness of the watermelon. Also, remember not to introduce honey to children less than 1 year of age.

Freshly Picked Blueberries

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Last week, I enjoyed the simple pleasure of blueberry picking with friends.

I brought home a little more than 1.5 lbs with the thought that I would use some to make a blueberry galette and simply add the rest to pancakes, cereal, and yogurt. I tried to save 3 cups of blueberries for the galette, but I’ve eaten almost all of the blueberries up. I especially apprecited Fresh Blueberries added to Greek Maple Yogurt! You can make Greek Maple Yogurt by mixing at least 1 Tbsp. maple syrup into a 6 oz. container of non-fat Greek yogurt.

You might even be able to buy Greek Maple Yogurt at your supermarket. Sometimes, I buy Green Mountain Creamery’s yogurt made with only 2 ingredients: cultured pasteurized nonfat milk and maple syrup, as it should be made! http://greenmountaincreamery.com/index.php/our-yogurt/greek-yogurt.html

Spanish-Style Tuna & Potato Salad

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I recently discovered that Tuna & Potato Salad is a classic Spanish recipe. I should’ve guessed it, since my first taste of this salad was prepared by my Spanish boyfriend’s mother! In writing this recipe, I stayed true to the ingredients that Mama Conde typically uses. However, roasted red peppers and mayonnaise can also be added with tasty results.

Spanish-Style Tuna & Potato Salad

  •  Serves 3 to 4

3/4 lb. white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½ in. pieces

6 oz. can tuna, drained if water-packed and mixed with 1 tsp. olive oil

½ cup halved Pimiento-stuffed Manzanilla olives, preferably reduced salt*

½ cup cooked peas

2  Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. white onion, very finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 boiled eggs, sliced

sweet Spanish paprika, optional garnish

1. Add potatoes to a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 8 minutes or until just tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool slightly.

2. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Garnish with the boiled egg and paprika, as desired.

*Pearls® brand has reduced the sodium content of their olives from 310mg to 70mg per 4 olive serving. Nice!

TLC & Baked Banana Oatmeal

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According to the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) program, consumption of 5-10 grams (g) of soluble fiber on a daily basis can help reduce “bad” cholesterol by 3-5%. Soluble fiber blocks the absorption of cholesterol and fats through the wall of the small intestines into the bloodstream.

To get 5 g of soluble fiber in the diet, one can consume: ½ cup of cooked oatmeal (1 g), one medium orange (2 g), and one medium pear (2 g).

To obtain 10 g of soluble fiber, a person can add on: 1/2 cup cooked brussels sprouts (3 g), ½ cup cooked barley (1 g), and ½ cup cooked lentils (1 g).

For much more information about the TLC program check out: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol_tlc.pdf

Baked Banana Oatmeal is an old recipe that my sister has recently revived to add some great-tasting soluble fiber to my dad’s diet and to give his heart some tender, loving care. It’s perfect for breakfast or an any-time snack.

Study Break

Baked Banana Oatmeal

  • Serves 4 to 6

1 3/4 cups traditional oats

1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar*

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup craisins

1 1/3 cups skim milk

1 egg or 2 egg whites, beaten

1 large ripe banana, mashed

Canola oil, for coating pan

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine next two ingredients in another bowl. Stir milk mixture into the oat mixture and pour into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with a small amount of canola oil. Top with chopped nuts. Bake for 18 minutes and broil for 1-2 minutes to toast the nuts. Now it’s time to enjoy a portion of baked oatmeal straight out of the pan or in  a bowl with a little bit of milk mixed in!

*Adjust sugar according to the sweetness of the banana.

Creamy Tomato & Hummus Spaghetti

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After enjoying carrots and hummus for a few days a week, I sometimes lose interest in using hummus as a dip. So, one day I decided to add hummus to freshly cooked rotini and I liked it. The tangy “sauce” was made with 1/2 cup hummus and 3 Tbsp. pasta cooking water for 2 cups of cooked pasta. Then, I took the idea one step further and added hummus to homemade tomato sauce. If you’re going to try this recipe, I strongly suggest using homemade tomato sauce because commercial tomato sauces may be too strong/salty to mix with hummus.

Creamy Tomato & Hummus Spaghetti

  • Serves 2-3

2 cups freshly cooked spaghetti

2 tbsp. pasta cooking water, plus more reserved to use as needed

¾ cup homemade tomato sauce

¼ cup hummus

Combine pasta cooking water, tomato sauce, and hummus in a small bowl. Add to spaghetti and use more pasta water to add more fluidity if needed. Garnish with some grated cheese and parsley.