Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Green Lentils with Bouquet Garni

We have had a terrible and tragic loss in our family.  I find it very hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone cook so on the days when I have even a little energy to do something I try to get a meal in the crock pot.  It is a rainy day here so I was craving some warm tasty lentils.  This dish could not be easier to make and helped use up some of the last CSA-share vegetables of the season.

2 1/2 cups organic green lentils
32oz. container Pacific Mushroom Broth
2 cloves CSA garlic, chopped
2 large CSA carrots, sliced into coins
8 leaves CSA lacinato kale, roughly 1" slices
1 heaping teaspoon bouquet garni
1/2 heaping teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt

Two and a half hours on high.  Enjoy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Green Beans

Recently part of our CSA share was pick your own beans.  There were green, wax and broad, flat beans.  We mostly picked the broad, flat ones but did take a few green beans as you can see in the photo.  Having a lot of business travel the next few weeks I didn't want to leave much sitting around for the rest of the family to forget about until it went bad so while I simmered the tomatoes from this week's share into gravy that will be frozen for use during the winter I set out to take care of the beans.  I cut the stem ends off then cut the beans in half.  Tossed them into a pan with a little bit of water, covered and let cook on high for four minutes, stirred, then cooked for another three.  I like my beans to have a little crunch to them so I don't want to cook too long.

After seven minutes I drained the water, added about 1/4 cup of coconut aminos and let cook for another three minutes, for ten minutes total cooking time.  Next I sprinkled the beans with some sesame seeds and recovered the pan, removed it from the heat and let sit for five minutes before plating.  They were quite tasty and had that nice bit of crunch that I love.

Easy enough for a hectic day when you feel like you have no time to cook.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Baba Ghanouj

Since about a month after my surgery I have had a yen for eggplant.  I may have eaten more baba ghanouj in the last few months than I did in the past five years so of course I wanted to try my hand at making it myself.  I've tried it two ways - baking the eggplant in the oven and roasting it on the barbecue.  I think I prefer the taste of the barbecue method and plan to use it until the part of the winter when it is so darned cold outside that I can't possibly imagine being out there for half an hour while I roast eggplants.  First, I have to ask, how gorgeous are these CSA eggplants roasting on my grill?

The roasting part is really easy, just turn your grill onto high, place the eggplants directly on the rack and grill on each side until charred.  The skin will break and change color.  The juice that drips out onto the grill will smell nice too.  Once you've charred your eggplant, remove it from the grill, allow to cool, then peel and discard the skin.  I'm not ashamed to say it smelled so good I tasted a bit of the skin before I discarded it.  Yummy.

I'm getting hungry just looking at the photo.  So glad there is a tasty jar of the finished product in my fridge waiting for me to dig in.  Here's a peek:


2 eggplant, roasted, skin removed
3 tablespoons tahini
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon good cider vinegar (I like Bragg's)
3/4 teaspoon smoked salt
1/2 teaspoon of oil from the tahini jar

I tried mashing it together with a fork, however it didn't break up small enough so I dumped it into the chopper attachment of the stick blender and gave it a good spin to get it to the texture I wanted.  This is so yummy, I love the little bite the vinegar gives it.  I hope you'll give it a try and tell me what you think.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Pickled Radishes

How pretty is this jar of radishes?  Once again I found myself ready to head out on a business trip knowing that by the time I got home all our beautiful, fresh, organic CSA food would be wilted and sad looking in the fridge when I returned.  It feels like my family goes for convenience and ignores fresh food when I'm out of town, which really frustrates me.  So I spent the day before I left cooking, packaging and sometimes freezing up a storm to ensure I wouldn't encounter a sad, wilty fridge when I got back while at the same time ensuring they'd have their convenience while I was away.  I decided to pickle the radishes and after looking at lots of Pinterest search results I chose the recipe I found at Garden Therapy because it was simple and I had all the ingredients on hand.

10 delicious organic CSA radishes, including the as pungent as they are pretty, watermelon variety
1 large clove organic CSA garlic
3/4 cup water (I used plain old tap water)
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg's)
3 tablespoons honey (from my local apiary)

Slice your radishes thin.  Place them and the peeled, whole garlic clove in your jar.  Fill it with hot water to warm the vegetables and jar so it doesn't crack when you pour the hot liquid in it later.  Place other ingredients in saucepan and warm until all are dissolved.  Drain hot water from jar, pour pickling mixture in and let sit in fridge for 24 hours before eating.  The recipe I referenced said this would keep 3-4 weeks but I doubt they will go a week before we consume them all.  Still bright and pretty immediately after adding the hot liquid.

After curing for a while the liquid has taken on some of the radishes' color and has a pink tinge.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Another Savory Oatmeal

I used to be a huge lover of macaroni and cheese.  Once I became both vegan and gluten free I thought I would never find a substitute for mac 'n cheese that I found as satisfying as the boxed stuff I ate as a kid.  I've been on a binge for savory steel cut oats and it occurs to me that the reason may be that it has become my new mac 'n cheese.  It certainly tastes as good to  my mature taste-buds as that powdery stuff did to my childhood taste-buds so you may see quite a few more versions of the steel cut oats, nut milk, vegetable broth and nutritional yeast combination.  And really, what could be better than something you dump in the crock pot, turn on high and come back three or four hours later to enjoy?

Into my crock pot I put:

1 cup organic steel cut oats
1 cup 5X protein unsweetened almond milk
2 cups veg broth (I used organic mushroom broth)
1 cup nutritional yeast
6 organic carrots, sliced into coins
1 garlic scape, chopped
3 small yellow beets, peeled, halved and sliced
cilantro (You may cringe, but the cilantro was kind of dried up, having been stored in a cloth bag in a drawer in the fridge, but I came across it and tossed it in anyway.  Tasted fine to me.)
3 organic celeriac stalks/leaves, sliced (I'm sure a stalk of celery would work just fine, however it would be a slightly less strong flavor.)
salt to taste

I set the crock pot on high, went out to an appointment, returned three hours later to a perfectly cooked batch of oatmeal.  Yum!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Savory Oatmeal and Veggies

You've probably noticed by now that I am a fan of nutritional yeast and tend to favor carrots, onions and kale when I cook veggies.  I woke up today with a mad desire for savory oatmeal that just wouldn't subside until I set this up in the crock pot, let it cook, then dug in.
I forgot to take my vitamins the past two days so I'm guessing the desire for nutritional yeast came from my body seeking B-12.  The yen for steel cut oats came from, I think, the hope of being able to dump something in the crock pot that was easy to assemble but would be tasty and delicious.  Also, I have some business travel coming up and needed some leftovers to freeze in snack-size bags to take along for meals away from home.  Most of the things I cook are quite liquidy and as we all know that doesn't cut it when you're going through airport security.  I shouldn't have any problem with little bags of oatmeal and veggies.  This turned out so yummy I had it for both lunch and dinner.  It fed one sleever, plus two 'normal' eaters with enough for leftovers.

To my crockpot I added:

1 cup Bob's Red Mill organic steel cut oats
1 cup 5X protein unsweetened almond milk
2 cups Pacific organic mushroom broth
1 cup Bob's Red Mill large flake nutritional yeast
1 bunch beautiful organic CSA lacinato kale, chopped
8 medium organic CSA carrots, sliced into coins
1 organic CSA sweet onion, sliced
salt and garlic powder, to taste

I stirred it all together, cooked it three hours on high, then stirred it again before serving.

Have a savory oatmeal recipe you like?  I'd love it if you shared it here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tasty Thursday: End of Summer Watermelon Salad

We've been blessed with a gorgeous yellow watermelon from our CSA share several times now.  First one went to my Dad's birthday celebration where it got rave reviews from all ages and provided some adorable photo ops with a baby who was having a ball feeding it to himself.  Last week's melon was left for my daughter to share with some company she had while we were out of town for the weekend, however she ended up not using it.  So when I picked up my share this week I knew I still had the one in my fridge and with there being little space for another one I chose the smallest one I could find and set out to make something with the older melon ASAP when I arrived home.  This is what came of it:

Into your nice, large salad bowl place the following ingredients then toss to mix:

Half a lovely organic yellow watermelon, cubed (reserve rind for pickling if desired)
Two cups organic home-sprouted mung beans
Two organic carrots, shredded
One small organic onion, chopped
A handful of organic cilantro, chopped
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste (optional)

I added balsamic to this, however one of the folks in my house doesn't have  a taste for vinegar lately so we dressed the salad individually once plated.  I served it over a bed of organic spring mix greens.

What are you waiting for?  Go cut that watermelon you have sitting in your fridge from this week's CSA share and enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Baby Eggplant with Sprouted Red Lentils

This eggplant and lentil dish is what resulted from me not being able to resist a pint of gorgeous little organic baby eggplants and a failed experiment with sprouting red lentils.

You see, I sprout green lentils every week.  We use them in everything from salads to hummus.  I decided this week to see what would happen if I used red instead.  What I learned is that although they will sprout, the beans are so delicate that when you rinse them, as I do every two hours while I am awake, the sprouts come off. So with the lentils not suitable for further sprouting and the sweet little baby eggplants needing to be used ASAP, I set out to make something yummy and while it might not be attractive in the photo we sure did enjoy eating it.


Half a Vidalia onion, chopped
Pint of adorable organic baby eggplant, cubed with stems removed
Four cloves of gorgeous CSA garlic, chopped
One cup of red lentils, soaked overnight, then rinsed every two (waking) hours for a day and a half
sea salt and ground pepper to taste
1/3 tsp turmeric

In your largest cast iron pan brown the onion.  When the kitchen smells heavenly and the onion is done, deglaze the pan with some water.  Lower flame, add eggplant and garlic, cover for five minutes to soften.  Make sure you've got enough water that it steams and doesn't burn.  Next, add lentils, salt, pepper, turmeric and more water if the pan has gone dry.  Give a good stir then cover and cook for a few minutes to allow lentils to come to the same temperature as the vegetables.  Enjoy!

Serve over bed of rice, if desired.  My spouse had it with thick slices of toasted sourdough bread topped with soy-free Earth Balance, I had it with some nutritional yeast on top.  It got two thumbs up from everyone who ate it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Vegan Mommy Chef's Sweet Potato Kale Frittata

I have to say that this recipe is a WINNER!  Not only did I find it delicious but my omnivore spouse finished up about half of the frittata, going back for seconds and thirds while delivering lots of compliments.  When an omni gorges on something that is made with a substitute for eggs when they are the major ingredient in a recipe it sure is a good feeling.

You can find Vegan Mommy Chef's recipe here and my version below.

Now I will mention that I do not own a food processor so this was a little more work to make than I like to put into a recipe but it was worth every bit of the effort.  I plan to make it again this week.


'Egg' base:
1 1/2 cups Burmese tofu (I'll share this recipe tomorrow)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup Trader Joe's ground almond
1/4 cup tapoica starch
2 TB coconut oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pink sea salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 TB whole grain mustard
1 TB chia seeds
water as needed for blending (I ended up using 1/2 cup)

Vegetable filling:
1 tsp coconut oil
1 red torpedo onion from our CSA share, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, skin removed then cut into small cubes
6 leaves lacinato kale from our CSA shrare, stems removed and leaves cut into 1" bits
2 TB worcestershire sauce substitute (I'll share this one tomorrow too)
1 tsp local honey

First, I melted the coconut oil in a cast iron pan, then added the cubed sweet potato, stirred for a minute or two then added the onion.  I allowed it to cook for a few minutes, then turned it off because I had to answer a telephone call and was afraid I'd get distracted and let it burn.  It sat covered for about five minutes.  When I came back I added the kale, sauce sub and honey to the pan.  It cooked for about eight minutes, then I removed the lid, stirred it and let it sit covered with the burner off for a few minutes while I finished blending the egg sub items and greased my ceramic quiche dish with coconut oil.

While I was cooking the veggies I  ran the egg sub ingredients through the chopper attachment of my stick blender to break them down as far as I could, then transferred to the regular blender to liquefy.  This was a pain in the butt, however in the end it was all worth it.  I really should purchase a food processor.  Do you have a food processor you like?  If you do, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.  But I digress. 

Once the egg sub is blended, add it to the veggies in the pan.  Mix well, then scrape into quiche dish, distributing evenly.  Bake 35 minutes (or as long as needed) in a 350F oven then enjoy this delicious frittata!

Tasty Thursday: Sauerkraut!

I love, love, love fermented food and am expanding my horizons and beginning to make it myself.  This is my second batch of sauerkraut, curing in a gallon canning jar on the counter.  I wish I'd researched sooner because now that I have discovered how insanely easy it is to make I'll never purchase it again. 

The ingredients are 2lbs. cabbage to one tablespoon sea salt.  That's it!  You can of course adjust to whatever quantity of cabbage you have to work with.   I used beautiful heirloom conical heads from our organic farm share and decided to add a little dehydrated organic dill to this batch.  We are all crazy for dill in this house so I think we'll like it.  Next batch I'm going to experiment with adding some finely shredded carrot.

Remove the tough outer leaves and reserve, then simply slice the cabbage into thin strips, place it in a large bowl and add the salt.  Knead and massage the cabbage with your hands, working the salt into it.  The mixture will become very wet and the cabbage will begin to shrink as it releases its fluids.  Once it is nice and mixed, transfer to a jar or crock by the handful, tamping it down with your fist every now and then.  Push it down enough so that the fluid rises to cover the shredded cabbage.  When you have added all of the cabbage to the vessel and tamped it down firmly cover with the leaves.  This is important because the leaves will help keep the shredded cabbage fully submerged and prevent mold growth.  In order to keep the mixture firmly held down place a water-filled jar or zipper bag on top of the hard outer leaves.

Tamp down daily.  I began tasting the first batch at five days out.  My family began eating it at seven days out so I placed it in the fridge at that time.  I can't say how long it lasts because around here it was consumed in a week.

Have you ever made sauerkraut?  Did you add anything besides salt and cabbage to it?  I'd love to hear your ideas and experiences.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Purslane Frittata

Yes, that's a knife in it.  I was so excited to try it I was already cutting myself a slice when I realized I needed to take a photo to post here.  Oops.

Inspired by Eco Lesbo Vego's recipe, I created a delicious frittata.  On the gastric-sleeve side what I am learning from my experiments with chickpea flour is that it is a slider food and does not fill me up.  I'm finding that fact a little frustrating since it is good for me protein-wise.  This frittata was quite tasty and very easy to make.

First, use your choice of item to grease a favorite pie plate.  I used a ceramic pie plate and coconut oil. Next add the veggies, then the egg substitute and bake.

Fill your pie plate with the veggies of your choice.  I used a bunch of chopped purslane and two scallions, sliced thin.  I sprinkled a bit of Trader Joe's almond meal on the top of the veggies for a little more protein before pouring the liquid mixture over them.

Vegan egg substitute:
3TB nutritional yeast
1tsp Herbamare
1 cup chickpea flour
1.5 cups water
1 tsp granulated garlic
Mix ingredients together in a bowl until smooth, then pour over veggies in pie plate.

Bake at 400F for 30 minutes or until done to your liking.  I found the center a little moist but it resolved after I let it sit for a few minutes.

Really tasty.  I plan to try this with lots of other veggies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Pickled Watermelon Rind

So we got this gorgeous little organic watermelon from our farm share and I thought it was a shame to throw away so much rind.  I've never done anything with watermelon rind before but I really wanted to find a way to use this organic food rather than discard it so we gave this recipe from Eco Lesbo Vego a try.  Being only eleven weeks out from surgery I'm not planning to eat more than a taste but I know the rest of the family will enjoy it. 

Here are the ingredients I went with:
half the rind of a small, round, organic watermelon cut into 1" chunks, white only, skin completely removed and discarded
1 cup water
1 cup Bragg's apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup organic sugar

Simply combine vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved.  Add rind, stir, then turn off heat and leave mixture to cool.  Once at room temperature transfer rind and liquid to jars.  This quantity yielded two pint and a half jars.  (Did you spot my scoby photobombers in the picture above?)

This is not a recipe meant for canning and must be stored in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Penniless Parenting's Swiss Chard with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I love Penny's recipes.  She's not afraid to use something 'past prime' so I was very happy to find this recipe on her blog for the once-beautiful bunch of chard that was now a week old in my fridge and beginning to wilt.  I modified her original recipe very little which was also a very happy surprise.  I usually have to modify out so many things that I find it hard to achieve the same level of spice as in the original recipe when I have to modify out a bunch of different peppers.  It was nice that the only peppers in this spicy dish were a 'sprinkle of pepper flakes'.  The spice in this yummy meal comes from garlic and ginger, both of which we use often in our home.  I encourage you to enjoy this very tasty and easy to make dish.

1-2 Tbsp. oil (I used some olive oil, realized I didn't have enough and added some coconut oil.  Don't cringe, it tastes great.  Next time I'll use all coconut oil.)
1 onion, sliced thin (I used a large Vidalia)
2 organic farm carrots, sliced thin
1 bunch organic farm swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and sliced
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. peanut butter (I used  organic smooth but in the future I'm going to use crunchy.  I think the little bits of nuts would be a great addition but I'm not cleared to eat nuts yet.)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (I used coconut aminos because we recently learned that soy is my daughter's migraine trigger)
1 Tbsp. honey or sugar (I used a teaspoon of local honey)
1 tsp. garlic powder (I used a tablespoon of dried shaved garlic)
1 tsp. ginger powder (I used organic purchased from my local HFS' bulk jar)
1 tsp. salt (I used sea salt)

Cook onion and carrot in oil until onion is translucent, stirring as needed.  Add chard stems, continue to stir as needed for about four minutes until stems are softening.  Add chard leaves, cook another four minutes in the same manner.  Add all other ingredients, stir well to mix, cook until peanut butter and honey are melted and all items are well blended and veggies are coated.

I ate the three tablespoons of food my sleeve can hold without any other accompaniments and served this to my family over a bed of rice and lentils.  It got good reviews all around.  I plan to try this sauce on other vegetable combinations very, very soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tasty Thursday: 86 Lemons' Vegan Carrot Cake and Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Zucchini Bread Oatmeal, what could be nicer to wake up to on a Saturday morning?  This was my first foray into eating oatmeal post-sleeve, despite having been told quite a few times that it was an option.  Oatmeal, prior to surgery, was giving me stomach bubbles and pushing my blood sugar up and it's a grain, why eat a grain post-surgery?  But it looked so good and I planned to boost the protein so I gave it a try.  I measured four tablespoons into my bowl, added a little extra 5X protein almond milk and a couple of drops more vanilla stevia then mixed a half scoop of unflavored protein powder into it.  I was able to eat two and a half tablespoons.  It filled me up but didn't give me the uncomfortable feeling I sometimes get.  Three hours later I took a little spoonful of it for a snack and did get that uncomfortable feeling so I know it was still in my stomach.  It kept me pretty much full from 7am until 1pm when I had a low blood sugar and needed to have something to bring my number up.  I think that a two and a half tablespoon serving that keeps me full for hours and hours, even if it is a grain is ok now and then and will plan to make this recipe again.  Here is how I modified from 86 Lemons' recipe.

I did not oil my crockpot.  There was a little bit crisped on the top edge on one side but I mixed things up before serving anyway and it mixed right in.  I'll note that I made a double batch, not realizing how much the steel cut oats would puff up.  Even feeding three of us full portions we have some left over.  I plan to freeze two and a half tablespoon servings and hopefully they'll do ok defrosted and popped in the microwave.

1 cup organic steel cut oats
3 cups 5X protein almond milk
2 small farm carrots, grated
1 small farm zucchini, grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground clove
1 teaspoon cinnamon
splash of Grade B maple syrup
2 droppersful vanilla stevia

We like vanilla and I would have wanted to use the optional vanilla extract but at 9pm last night when I put it together I discovered my choices were whole vanilla beans, vanilla sugar or vanilla stevia.  It was too late to get to Trader Joe's to get alcohol-free vanilla so I made do with what I had, reduced the maple syrup and subbed the vanilla stevia.  Next time I plan to use vanilla extract and maple syrup.  I used no nuts because I'm not at the stage where I can have whole nuts yet and I didn't think adding nut butter would work for this.  If you try it with nut butter won't you please share your results with me?

I cooked this on low overnight and we were very happy to wake up to it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sharing Saturday: Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy

I don't normally share personal information so freely online but perhaps other vegans who are considering or have had gastric sleeve surgery will find me through this post and we can share ideas.

All my adult life my weight has been a concern.  In 2001 I was exploring the idea of gastric bypass surgery.  I was 260lbs. chronically ill and quite frankly housebound for a year and a half, leaving only to drive the kids to school or activities and to go to physician appointments.  Needless to say I was in pain, uncomfortable, lethargic and quite unhappy.  Praise God, the last person I saw in the process of pre-surgical evaluations was a very gifted RD/CDE, Natalie Dickstein.  I will forever owe her a debt of gratitude and respect.  Thirty minutes into our first appointment she figured out that I had celiac disease, something I had never heard of.  Who had back in 2001?  Certainly not all the physicians I had seen who failed to pick it up.

Five days later all  my pain and discomfort had vanished.  I began to lose weight without effort.  Through the removal of gluten from my diet I lost 40lbs. without trying.  Once that 40 was gone I started going to yoga and later removed some other items from my diet as a result of allergy testing and my heart leading me to evolve from vegetarian to vegan.  This took off another 50lbs. 

I maintained my weight at 170lbs. for ten years.  It might not sound light but it was fine with me.  My health was good, I ate reasonable portions and felt satisfied, I exercised, went to work at a sometimes very stressful job which I commuted to.

In 2012 I started to struggle.  I began gaining and couldn't understand why.  I was treated by a naturopath with an elimination diet and with homeopathics for multiple parasites.  I noticed I'd lost the ability to feel satisfied which freaked me out.  I had western medical physicals, blood work, the whole routine.  Long story short, almost two years later what I kept hearing was that as people get older their metabolism slows down and you just have to accept it.  Well, at 212lbs. I could not accept how I felt so I did something about it.

Truthfully, I had embarked on this second dalliance with weight loss surgery because I had hoped the same thing that happened the first time out would happen again - one of the pre-surgery evaluating professionals would find the magic solution as Natalie had for me in 2001 and I wouldn't need surgery.  That was not to be.  But another wonderful thing that happened was that the sleeve surgery has come about in the years since I first considered bariatric surgery.  A 45 minute surgery versus a surgery of several hours.  I guess God had always known that I would need some kind of surgery and he provided Natalie to me so that I could hold out long enough for the sleeve to be commonly performed.  I don't know what would have happened if I'd had the bypass with undiagnosed celiac and I shudder to think where I might be today if I'd done it then.

My surgeon, Dr. Eric Sommer, is a wonderful guy and was worth me traveling to see. 

You will be seeing more recipe posts here as I explore which foods sit best in my new sleeve and I hope other bariatric patients will share with me here.