Cucumber Rolls

Cucumber Rolls

Ingredients

  1. 2 large cucumbers
  2. ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
  3. 6 tbsp. roasted garlic hummus (you could use any flavor, I think)
  4. 6 tbsp. roasted red pepper, chopped (I bought them already roasted but you could also make your own)
  5. 3 oz Heidi Ho Ne Chèvre Pure, crumbled (this is my new favorite ingredient!)

Instructions

Using a sharp chef’s knife slice long, thin slices of cucumber. The thinner the better for these (this was hard…perhaps a mandolin would work better) so take your time on this part and the rest will be a breeze.

Spread about 1 1/2 tsp of hummus on each cucumber slice followed by 1 tsp of chopped red pepper, 1 tsp of Heidi Ho Pure Ne Chèvre and a pinch of black pepper.

Roll up your cucumber slices ending with the seam on the bottom and secure with a toothpick. Try not to roll them too tightly to prevent the filling from squeezing out. (this was the toughest part of this recipe)

Repeat until your all out of cucumber slices

I LOVED the idea of this recipe and it was the first one I tried for this season. I am always on the look out for “fancy” dishes that I can use for parties and this one sounded like it might fit the bill.

First the positives: love using cucumbers as the “wrapper”: they’re great for your skin as they aid in detoxification, which also helps promote a healthy weight. Red peppers are super high in vitamin C (anti-cancer) and can improve night vision because of the high folate levels. I used more than the recipe called for and I liked the way the red looked with the green and white of the cucumber and hummus. Using hummus is always a positive, no matter what it’s made from: chickpeas, white beans, etc…beans are great for us on every level!

Then the Ho No Chevre Pure! OMG…I’m definitely in love with this product…a very unique flavor. Made with cashews, lemon, and nutritional yeast, we get all the health benefits of these ingredients along with the amazing taste and NO milk! Yay!

Now, the drawbacks: for an unaccomplished chef, getting the cucumber sliced as thin as it should be will be a challenge, as it was for me. I might try asking the deli counter at my grocery store to slice them…great idea! I was able to soften them a bit by salting them and storing them in the fridge overnight. (I like the flavor the salt added)

These remind me of my eggplant roll ups and I think rather than spread the ingredients over the whole surface, it might be easier to concentrate them at the beginning of the roll up.

Overall, I loved the flavor and the look of the ones I actually successfully arranged but they were pretty time-consuming. I’m definitely going to try this recipe again and would love to perfect them for summertime gatherings.

cucumber roll

Everyone’s Favorite Bean Salad

I can’t remember the first time I had this fresh, crunchy, colorful and delicious dish but I DO remember thinking how brilliant it was: so simple yet good for you, stays fresh in the fridge for a couple of days and a crowd pleaser…how can you go wrong? I think of this dish as a staple for any non-winter holiday and love how quick it is to make, how easily it travels and most important: how much everyone loves it! Huge bonus: as with most of my dishes, every ingredient is actually super good for you! In my Bean Tostada and Burgers recipes, I go into substantial detail about the benefits of beans. Check out those

I think of this dish as a staple for any non-winter holiday and love how quick it is to make, how easily it travels and most important: how much everyone loves it! Huge bonus: as with most of my dishes, every ingredient is actually super good for you! In my Bean Tostada and Burgers recipes, I go into substantial detail about the benefits of beans. Check out those

Huge bonus: as with most of my dishes, every ingredient is actually super good for you! In my Bean Tostada and Burgers recipes, I go into substantial detail about the benefits of beans. Check out those

In my Bean Tostada and Burgers recipes, I go into substantial detail about the benefits of beans. Check out those write ups and take this advice: try to eat some beans and greens every day…. seriously. If you just did that (and flossed everyday) you would dramatically improve your health! How about the benefits of all the other vegies? Let’s focus on corn:

How about the benefits of all the other vegies? Let’s focus on corn:

Anti Cancer
Corn contains a number of phytonutrients like carotenoids, anthocyanins, ferulic acid, vanillic acid, coumaric acid, syringic acid and caffeic acid. Studies at Cornell University indicate that the excellent antioxidant profile destroys free radicals that cause different cancers. Ferulic acid is very effective against breast and liver cancer. The fiber content also lowers risk of colon cancer.

Regulates Blood Sugar
The high fiber content and protein levels enable just the right pace of digestion leading to a steady absorption of sugars and preventing sudden spikes and drops, in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Benefits The Cardiovascular System
Some phytochemicals lower high blood pressure while some others reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Folates lower homocysteine levels, higher levels of which are linked to increase in risk of heart disease.

Ensures Digestive Health
The fiber helps to alleviate constipation and issues with hemorrhoids. It maintains the healthy proliferation of the friendly bacteria in the large intestine.

Benefits In Pregnancy
The folate levels and the iron content keep the hemoglobin levels up in pregnant women and can help prevent neural defects in the growing fetus.

Better Bone Health
Minerals like iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc promote healthy bones.

Wow! What a nutrition-packed dish! Let’s make it NOW!

Everyone’s Favorite Bean Salad

Ingredients

  1. 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed & drained (I used white & black beans from tetra packs) 1 1/2 cups frozen, canned or fresh corn kernels
  2. 1 red bell pepper, chopped (I added a little green sweet pepper, too)
  3. 2 tomatoes, chopped
  4. 1 small red onion, chopped
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  7. Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  9. drizzle with lemon infused olive oil (optional)

Instructions

In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.

Drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt, pepper and cayenne. Enjoy!

Wild Rice

This is a simple recipe that you can play with and add things you like: nuts, cranberries, celery, greens, etc. If you really want to the dish to have the unique, earthy flavor of wild rice, don’t mix with other rice, as so many recipes call for!

Wild Rice

Ingredients

  1. Rice
  2. Earth Balance (or oil)
  3. Garlic (chopped)
  4. Onions (chopped)
  5. Crimini Mushrooms
  6. Parsley (optional)
  7. Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Bring 5 cups water to a boil. Stir in 1 cup wild rice, then reduce heat so liquid is just simmering. Cover and cook until grains are chewy but not broken open about 40 minutes. Drain excess liquid from rice and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt a little Earth Balance or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped garlic and onions until translucent and then quartered or sliced crimini mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have released their liquid and are golden brown, about 8 minutes; remove from heat and season with the salt and pepper, to taste. I like to add chopped parsley or other fresh herbs. (you could experiment with using dry sherry or wine in this step)

Mix mushrooms into prepared rice and season again with salt and pepper.

You can serve this as a lovely side dish or have as the “main event” at any meal. The high protein content (24 g per cup!!) makes it a satisfying dish, indeed. Pair with a salad and/or some vegies and you have a flavorful, healthful and hearty meal! Wild rice is actually considered a “water grass seed” not a rice and is one of the only 2 grains native to North America.

Native Americans valued “wild rice” as a nutrient dense, protein-rich staple they could travel far distances with without fear of spoilage and many believe allowed the vast expanse of the continent to be used as “homeland”.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

Ingredients

  1. 1 bunch Tuscan kale (for ex: black or lacinato)
  2. Two handfuls good, homemade coarse gluten free breadcrumbs
  3. 1/2 garlic clove
  4. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
  5. 1/4 cup (or small handful) grated “faux” cheese (optional)
  6. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  7. Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (scant 1/4 cup or ~50ml)
  8. 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  9. Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Trim the bottom few inches off the kale stems and discard.

Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups.

Place the kale in a large bowl..

Using a mortar and pestle or a knife, pound or mince the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a paste. Transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine.

Pour the dressing over the kale and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves).

Let the salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with the bread crumbs, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil

Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic

Asparagus

Ingredients

  1. Asparagus
  2. Lemon
  3. Garlic
  4. Pepper
  5. Olive oil (optional)

Instructions

In this episode, I lightly steam the asparagus but asparagus can also be grilled, sautéed or eaten raw,

Try pairing asparagus with a salad, grain or even tofu.

The Reasons Asparagus Keeps Us Healthy:

  1. For detoxification – asparagus has 288 milligrams of potassium/cup. Which is known for reducing belly fat. It also contains 3 grams of fiber, which cleanses the digestive system. According to a clinical dietician at UCLA Medical Center, asparagus in the ultimate in detox vegetables.
  2. For anti-aging purposes – asparagus is rich in potassium, vitamin A, and folate. It is also very high in glutathione – an amino acid compound with potent antioxidant properties.
  3. As an aphrodisiac – the asparagus is considered a psycho-physiological aphrodisiac because of its shape. It is said to trigger the mind to have a physiological response. The French word for asparagus is asperge; a slang word for penis.
  4. Against cancer – asparagus in high in folate, which is now known to be an important protection against cancer.
  5. Reducing pain and inflammation – folate helps reduce inflammation.
  6. Preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis – asparagus has high levels vitamin K which studies have shown can help prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Vitamin K aids in bone formation and repair. It is also necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, the protein in bone tissue on which calcium crystallizes.
  7. Reducing the risk of heart disease – folate has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  8. Preventing birth defects – getting enough folate is especially important for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Having a folate deficiency has been correlated with increased risk of Spina Bifida (a spinal cord birth defect) and also anencephaly (a neural tube defect). Folate helps to regulate embryonic and fetal nerve cell formation and may also help to prevent premature births.

Additionally, studies have shown that the nutritional benefits of asparagus can help prevent and treat urinary tract infections and kidney stones. You may notice some asparagus spears are thick and some are thin. The thick

You may notice some asparagus spears are thick and some are thin. The thick ones are best for roasting or steaming. I find steaming the best and also very quick. The thin spears are ideal for the grill or if you are planning to sauté. For optimum health benefits it is suggested that asparagus be eaten raw. Before eating, the woody stem should be removed from both the thick spears and the thin. Peel only the thick spears before cooking.

Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad

Ingredients

  1. Arugula
  2. Avocado
  3. Tomato
  4. Walnuts
  5. Lemon
  6. Garlic
  7. Fresh Pepper
  8. Sea Salt
  9. Olive Oil

Instructions

Put the arugula, tomatoes, chopped or crushed garlic and avocados together and then squeeze the lemon over the top. I really like Pampered Chef’s lemon juicer for this.

Then add the fresh pepper and sea salt….not too much! The taste will intensify as it sits.

I sprinkle a tiny bit of olive oil….about ½ of the cap full for 2 of us.

Add the walnuts and let it sit while I make whatever else we’re eating. Refrain from thinking you need lots of oil and salt; a little goes a long way. The less of these 2 ingredients you can use and still love it, the better. Yum!

About the Recipe

This is a very “individual taste” recipe. You have to find the proportions that you like. I used to buy arugula in the prepackaged bags because I am lazy and hate to have to wash and clean greens and I would use ¼ of a bag per person, for a normal sized salad, and ¼ avocado, 8 to 12 cherry tomatoes, ¼ lemon, one good sized garlic clove and about a tablespoon of walnuts; all per person. You will find the proportions that you and your family find yummy. Now I grow all my own arugula aeroponically and I don’t have to wash it and its WAY better than anything store bought!

The tomato, avocado and lemon make the salad really juicy so #1, you don’t need very much oil…just a splash and #2, it can get soggy, so make it right before you’re going to eat it.

The freshness of the ingredients really makes a difference. I like to use super juicy tomatoes; either the little organic cherry or grape ones or the smallish ones, still on the vine. (if you have Trader Joe’s near you, you know what I’m talking about.) I like them cut into quarters for maximum surface area. If you’re using the ones on the vine, of course, you’ll want to think about that size. I cut the avocados in smallish cubes and chop the walnuts…not super fine; sometimes I’ll just crush them with my hands. See what you like. Some people like to toast the nuts.

The Benefits of Arugula

Arugula, also known as rocket and rucola, is a less recognized cruciferous vegetable that provides many of the same benefits as the better-known vegetables of the same family – broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Arugula leaves are tender and bite-sized with a tangy flavor. Along with other leafy greens, arugula contains very high nitrate levels (more than 250 milligrams/100 grams).

High intakes of dietary nitrate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise, and enhance athletic performance. Wow! Eat more arugula! I like to put it on pizzas, sandwiches…really most dishes. It’s also great in a morning smoothie. Let me know how YOU like to use it!

Joy Makes Veggie Twice Baked Potatoes

Joy Makes Veggie Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients

  1. Potatoes! (In the recipe, we use large russet potatoes and Yukon Golds but you could also make bite sized ones with small potatoes!)
  2. Olive oil, coconut oil, Earth Balance
  3. Sea salt
  4. Almond Milk
  5. Black pepper
  6. Garlic
  7. Cooked broccoli chopped
  8. Green onion chopped, shallots, red pepper, veggie bacon bits, faux cheese or sour cream…whatever you love! (Optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Wash the potatoes; pat them dry with paper towel.

Place potatoes onto baking sheet. Bake until softened, should be able to pierce easily with a fork. Remove from oven and allow the potatoes to cool.

Once cooled, using a paring knife cut the top off the potatoes and scoop out the potato, leaving the skin and a thin layer of potato for support. Place the scooped out potato into a mixing bowl. Place the potato skins back onto the baking sheet.

Once all potatoes have been scooped, mash up the potato in the bowl using either a masher or a fork.

Pour in the almond milk and continue mashing. Should become creamier and softer. Use more if needed to reach desired consistency.

Add in the broccoli, garlic, green onion and any other add ins you want to use. Stir to combine. Add in the black pepper and garlic salt to taste. Stir to combine.

Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato skins. Add extra on top so the filling comes out of the top of the potato.

Place baking tray back in oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes until the top of the potatoes are slightly crispy

Serve immediately and enjoy! Along with Caesar Salad, this is another dish that we ALWAYS have on Christmas Eve. Potatoes and broccoli have so many health benefits that I always feel good about this dish. Keep in mind, however, that as you add the faux cheese, faux sour cream and Earth Balance, you are adding fat calories…. still better for you than the dairy alternatives but fat, nonetheless.

Arugula Salad

This is a very “individual taste” recipe. You have to find the proportions that you like. I always use the arugula I grow from my tower garden, it is by far the best I have ever had.

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Sausage and Kale Stuffing

Sausage and Kale Stuffing

Ingredients

  1. 4 T unsalted butter or alternative (Earth Balance, Coconut Oil, etc)
  2. 1 lb sweet Italian fennel sausage, (or faux sausage…several brands) broken into small pieces
  3. 3 large leeks, sliced
  4. 1/2 med butternut squash, peeled & diced (easier solution: package, pre-cut)
  5. Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  6. 1 bunch kale, leaves trimmed & chopped
  7. 1 pound stale onion focaccia, cubed (My favorite: gluten free, rosemary by Canyoh Bakehouse)
  8. 1 large egg (or egg replacer)
  9. 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or turkey stock or vegie broth
  10. 1 cup diced Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup shredded; can use rice or other parm

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish or use parchment paper on a cooking sheet.

Heat 1T butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat.

Add the sausage; cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes.

Add the leeks & squash; season with 1 teaspoon each salt & pepper; cook until the leeks are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the kale, toss; cover until the kale wilts, about 4 minutes.

Add the focaccia cubes & remaining 3 T butter, toss until butter melts.

Whisk the egg & broth in bowl until smooth; stir in diced parm & 1 t salt. Pour the broth mixture over bread mixture; cook until liquid is absorbed by bread, about 1 minute.

Transfer bread mixture to prepared casserole dish. Scatter shredded cheese evenly on top & bake until golden & cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Set aside for 5 minutes before serving.

Benefits

First, read the info on benefits of avoiding gluten in my episode with Gluten Free Bagels and Faux Lox. Second, watch “Forks Over Knives” for reasons to avoid animal products and a good movie to watch with family for the holidays. Next, understand that kale is one of THE MOST nutritious foods on the planet; we should all strive to get some kale in our diet every day! Anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-cancer, detoxification…. need we say more? Eat More Kale!! Here’s an easy way!

Vegan Pumpkin Risotto with Sage

Vegan Pumpkin Risotto with Sage

Ingredients

  1. 5 c (low sodium) veggie broth
  2. 3 T olive oil
  3. 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 clove of garlic, minced
  5. 1 c Arborio rice
  6. 1 c canned pure pumpkin puree
  7. 1 t sea salt
  8. ½ tsp nutmeg (I like freshly grated)
  9. freshly ground pepper
  10. ½ T chopped fresh sage

Instructions

First, bring the broth to boil in a saucepan and then let simmer, while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Sautee the onion in the olive oil until soft…3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute and then add the rice and 1 c of the hot broth, reducing the heat so that the mixture simmers. Stir often and, as broth gets absorbed, add another cup. Continue with this process, until all the broth has been absorbed. (About 20 minutes)

Stir in pumpkin, salt & nutmeg (if using fresh nutmeg, use a fine grater).

Season with fresh pepper, top with fresh sage. (After making this, I think it would be better with the sage stirred into the mixture and I would probably use a large onion and at least 2 more cloves of garlic)

This delicious recipe was adapted from a recipe from Chloe Coscarelli.

A Little about this Dish!

Okay, first of all…this is a fabulous fall dish! Now that I’ve made it, I’m going to have it as the first course of our Thanksgiving dinner. It’s really simple and the taste PLUS health benefits are fantastic!

People are a little confused about Risotto. Many confuse Arborio rice with Orzo…shaped similarly but Orzo is a wheat product and Arborio rice is a type of rice whose nature makes it super absorbent without it becoming soggy so makes it really easy to imbue with intense flavors. The other thing about risotto is that most recipes call for cream, butter and cheese…not the healthiest nor weight friendly way to make it but THIS recipe is completely vegan and the addition of pumpkin, sage, garlic and onion, really pack a super nutritional “punch”!

Arborio rice is high in protein, good carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Of course brown rice has a better nutritional profile but as an Italian choice, it sure beats pasta.

Pumpkin is super high in beta-carotene (the highest of any vegetable), which converts to vitamin A…great for eyesight & cardiovascular protection, potassium: fantastic for recovery from exercise (higher than bananas!) and vitamin K, a cancer fighter. Sage has been found to have flavonoids and polyphenols beneficial to brain health as well as anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Top this off with the anti-viral, anti-bacteria, anti-cancer properties of onion and garlic and we’ve got a winner! (a little side note about onions: the outer layers are highest in the anti-oxidant quercetin, so be careful not to “over-peel”)