Category Archives: Recipe

G-BOMBS Away!

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The cold and flu season is here, and all the usual precautions apply: wash your hands often, increase the size of your “bubble” and do not touch your face. I’m talkin’ to you, picking your nose at a stoplight! Seriously, though, that is the easiest way for pathogens to enter your body in sufficient force to cause illness. I don’t get sick very often, despite encountering a lot of people every day. I attribute that to a plant based diet, but recovering from a cold right now has prompted me to remind myself of some cold and flu secrets.

I have a problem with the germ theory of disease. There are pathogenic bacteria and viruses all around us, yet we only get sick occasionally. Some people get sick, but those closest to them do not. So something else is at work here, and that something is the immune system. A healthy immune system should be able to resist any infection.

So hygiene aside, what can we do to optimize our immune system?

  • Get enough sleep- Sleep deprivation causes stress that interferes with immune response
  • Reduce stress- Stress puts the immune system on hold until the threat is over
  • Exercise- Moderate, regular exercise like base training improves immune function
  • Nutrition- Get lots of phytochemicals and micronutrients, from food, not supplements

G-BOMBS to the Rescue

Big ups to Dr. Fuhrman and his recent book Super Immunity for details about how lifestyle impacts the immune system for both infectious disease and cancer. He created that acronym to serve as a reminder of the most potent immune system supporting foods to include as often as possible.

G- Greens: all leafy green and cruciferous vegetables like kale, collards, spinach, chard, cabbage, broccoli

B- Beans: all varieties of beans, peas and lentils

O- Onions: anything in the allium family: onions, leeks and garlic

M- Mushrooms: turns out this low calorie filler has potent immune benefits

B- Berries: antioxidants and more, grapes included

S- Seeds: especially pumpkin, sunflower, flax and sesame

You do not have to have all of these ingredients in the same dish or meal; spread throughout the day they provide the same benefit. But it is kinda fun to see if you can pack them all into one dish.

Here is one G-BOMBS Dish:

Based on a Spanish dish

Saute some chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add a bunch of chopped chard, a few sliced white mushrooms, and some diced tomato. Cover and steam for a few minutes. Uncover and add a can of drained garbanzo beans, a handful or raisins or currants, and season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and a splash of balsamic. Heat through. Garnish with sunflower seeds and serve over rice, potatoes or your favorite starch.

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Guest Post: How to Survive a Potluck and Stay Plant Strong

So how do you stick with the Kickstart when dealing with a crowd? Here is how my sister handled the problem. Make a large amount of something fresh, seasonal, flavorful, and fun, and don’t tell anyone! Here my sister used great summer produce, good but not overpowering seasonings, and grilling to bring out flavor. Brilliant! I’ve had her grilled sugar snaps and they are a revelation. With something this good, make sure you do as she did it ensure success: keep your stash separate!

Hi Bro- It’s veggie sis here. So week one of kick start is done and I had a slip too – it was pizza with the parents. Oh well, at least I have this week – which has started off awesome! For a church potluck yesterday I made our new favorite summer pasta with every fresh summer veggies we can think of mixed with squiggle noodles, balsamic vinegar, capers, and roasted red bell pepper. The veggies included grilled yellow squash in bite sized pieces, grilled green zukes in bite sized pieces, grilled red onion, and mixed these with fresh sweet corn cut from the cob and steamed green beans, A little cracked pepper, a little garlic power, roasted red pepper and fresh basil torn into small pieces and mixed in. ALL FLAVOR – even the people who didn’t know they were eating vegan enjoyed the fresh natural flavors.

Recipe for a potluck to scale back for your own use:

(makes about six servings) (yeah right! for vegpedlr, that’s 2-3!)

Ingredients:
Pasta boiled and cooled (squiggles or bow ties)
Two crook neck yellow squash cut into bite sized pieces
Two Green Zukes cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 pound of green beans

Or: sugar snap peas

Two red onions in 1/8’s wedges

Directions:

If using green beans, steam until tender and bathe in ice water to stop cooking and set color.

I put one teaspoon of olive oil on the whole gaggle of veggies and hand toss to coat them

Heat the grill and put down release foil so they won’t stick and when its preheated dump the veggies on. Grill until there is a char on everything. Remove from the grill and mix with the cooked pasta- green beans – allow to cool

When cooled, add two tablespoons of capers (or less to taste)
Dice one jar of roasted red bell peppers and mix in
Kernels cut from two ears of fresh white corn
Diced baby heirloom cherry tomatoes
Drench it all in 20 year balsamic vinegar for a wonderful rich sweet flavor
Zest a lemon and mix the zest in, then squeeze the juice on it
Tear up 1/2 cup of basil and sprinkle all over then mix in.

This dish can be served hot or cold as a main course or a side and NO ONE WILL EVER GUESS ITS VEGAN, LOW FAT, AND VIRTUALLY OIL FREE.

The pot luck crowd devoured it like animals so luckily I kept a dish at home for me!

Week One of the PCRM Vegan Kickstart

What a blast!

As I shared on the forum, I thought I had “been there, done that” with regards to a 21 day vegan challenge. That’s true, I’ve done it, but what I didn’t realize is how much more fun you can have when it is a team effort. Big ups to the whole PCRM team for organizing this. Bigger ups to everyone who takes the challenge, tries hard, and posts in the forum with their successes and failures. Together, we can make this stick! So for everyone who stuck it out through week one even if you fell down (I did) congratulations!

Here are the salient points from Week One:

The recipes are awesome!

I modified them a bit based on ingredients I had on hand, but the base was brilliant.

I LOVE the daily message with a celebrity.

Some of them I had never heard of, so it was great to learn about others on the same path.

The forum is great!

Already I’ve connected to an Australian blogger and  someone from the “mother country.” Brilliant!

Recipes:

The Moroccan Stew

Good, but I modified it and messed it up a bit on the way. Taste was spot on.

Chili

I’m an experienced chili cook, but I have not made it in awhile, extra yum!

Other recipes that looked good but I missed were the zucchini sandwiches, curried lentil tomato soup and white bean hummus. Since I live alone, some of these recipes last a few days, but I will try as many as possible.

So, to all you Kickstarters, congratulations on finishing week one!

I wish you all the best of luck in the next week.

PCRM Vegan Kickstart September 2012

The racing season is mostly over, school is back in session, and I need to find a new writing and blogging groove. No more grueling mountain bike races, maybe one more short sprint triathlon, but my real focus will be training for a December marathon. In contrast to triathlon and mountain biking, running is much simpler. Less time consuming too. I just have to keep pushing my one long run each week and maintain the rest of the days.

So what to write about?

I think it’s high time to leave Maffetone, heart rate, lactate threshold, and heart rate variability on the sidelines and get back in the kitchen. After all, this is the best time of year for fresh produce at the Farmer’s Market. Thanks to my sister, I found out about PCRM’s 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, and signed on to help support her and a friend, along with anyone else on the forums making the effort. I could use a little inspiration, and this challenge looks like a good one. My midseason break from training has been refreshing, but I need a new focus. The Kickstart lays out a meal plan complete with shopping lists. I won’t follow all the meals, but I will follow the rules. My breakfasts are uniform: oats and fruit, and lunch is nearly always left overs from dinners. But I will try  as many of their dinners as I can for a little variety.

So my first Kickstart meal was Moroccan Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes.

It came out more like a soup, a LOT of liquid. I winged it on the spices, but the flavor was good. Needed more heat, and some sriracha fixed that up. I added some red bell pepper, zucchini, and green beans because I had some laying around. And its funny that the garbanzo and black beans the recipe called for I already cooked up in the slow cooker before I signed up. Brilliant. I didn’t have the couscous, so I used a wild rice blend, which was OK. Too much liquid and a little over cooking of the veggies made the final dish a little mushy. I’ll keep the leftovers separate when packing my lunch. The next recipe is a black bean chili, to which I’ll add some extra veggies as well.

In addition to the how to, they’ve got an impressive list of celebrities adding their inspiration. Today’s message from NBA star John Salley was interesting, since I don’t follow basketball. Hopefully this community effort will lift me out of the Back to School doldrums.

What does everybody else do when motivation sags?

Healthy Pizza? Damn Straight!

Thanks to my boy Soulveggie, pizza no longer needs to be the pariah that it deserves to be. Mark Sutton’s new book Heart Healthy Pizza  is out and it is slammin’! It’s no secret that pizza is one of America’s favorite junk foods, of the top three foods ordered in restaurants, it is just as you would imagine, burgers, fries, and pizza. Pizza is typically made with a ridiculous amount of artery clogging cheese, but does it have to be that way? If you can sidestep the addictive nature of the opiate like casomorphins, can you build a satisfying pie that won’t tighten up your chest?

The answer is a resounding yes!

I made this pizza using a garbanzo, oat, pimiento sauce that was fantastic. I topped it Greek style with spniach, red onion, kalamata olive, mushroom, and tofu feta from the Happy Herbivore. Bomb!

It was also fun to try out the pizza baking stone I got for Christmas. So give your heart a break and cook up some Heart Healthy Pizza.

Lent Recipe: Hoppin’ John with Carolina Kale

hoppin' john kaleRice and beans could mean lots of things. Perhaps Mardi Gras inspired to keep my culinary effort south of Mason-Dixon with a combination of two recipes that fulfill my dietary plans for Lent. Hoppin’ John is a dish of black eye peas served with rice, and the Carolina Kale helps me toward my goal of five bunches of greens per week.

Carolina Kale

This is a dish I haven’t done for a while that I chose for being different from my usual preparation. The greens are cooked with tomatoes for more liquid. I modified the recipe intentionally by adding eight ounces of pre-sliced mushrooms to increase the dish’s nutrient density Fuhrman style. They were a great  addition, and by adding a couple of cups of cooked beans it would make a great all in one Rice and Beans and Greens Super Dish. I will definitely make this dish again during Lent.

Hoppin’ John: Yam Variation

This dish seems to be black eye peas cooked in many different ways.  I chose a variation from Alan Goldhamer’s cookbook The Health Promoting Cookbook that included chopped yam and potato and celery as the main seasoning. The yam looked huge when chopped, so I omitted the potato. It came together nicely, but when finished I realized that I should have added more yam or sweet potato.

Fat Tuesday Plant Strong Style

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For much of the Roman Catholic world, today, the Tuesday before Lent, is Mardi Gras, or “fat Tuesday”, the last day of celebration before the fasting season of Lent. Cities such as New Orleans, Sao Paulo, and Trinidad kick out the jams with a party to end all. At least until next year.

        While raucous carnaval parties are not my style, why not celebrate the season with plant strong versions of New Orleans cuisine? Louisiana cooking is well know for meat and seafood in everything, but there is more than one way to cook a gumbo. Many meatless versions exist thanks to the Lenten tradition. It’s not so hard after all to go plant strong for Mardi Gras.

Over at the Engine 2 blog they linked a bunch of recipes.

Here is the usual gumbo recipe in my family. It’s not uncommon for us to eat this once a week in winter. We use chard and add 1/2t of dried thyme along with some cajun seasoning salt.

Susan at the great fatfreevegan blog is from Louisiana, and she has painstakingly converted the classics for healthy plant strong warriors.

My favorite is Real Louisiana Red Beans and Rice.

A cookbook that has some ideas is Good Time Eatin’ in Cajun Country.


For us tonight? The Happy Herbivore’s NOLA Gumbo from The Everyday Happy Herbivore, with the addition of chard.

And zydeco. Gotta have some zydeco, too. With Tabasco.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Super Bowl Survival

According to my top secret research elves, tomorrow’s Super Bowl partying could add up to the following:

26 million avocados (mostly as guacamole, mmm)

8 million pounds of popcorn

1 billion chicken wings

4.4 million pizzas (from the top three deliverers)

50 million cases of beer

Wow.

No wonder heart disease hasn’t budged out of its place as the top killer of Americans. That’s an insane amount of fat. And not for a significant holiday. Just a football game. But one day can’t hurt that much, right? I mean, if you worked hard all week you deserve a day on the couch with a case of beer and a hundred wings, right? Well, such a sporting party can actually kill. “Holiday heart” is a well known, but not wholly understood phenomenon where binge drinking and eating can lead to life threatening heartbeat irregularities. Ouch.  But throughout the holidays there are more heart attacks too. Clearly the rich, fatty, salty food and festive cheer in a glass is killing us. But it gets worse party professionals, not only can a festive day or night put you in the emergency room,just one meal can demonstrably damage your arteries. How do those wings look now?

Is there any way to survive the Super Bowl with your arteries intact? Here is what I’ll do:

Two Dips Good for Your Arteries:

Spicy Bean Dip

1 can black beans

1/2 to 1 C Medium Spicy  fresh salsa (store bought)

Lime

Cilantro

Hot sauce

Blend beans and salsa in a food processor, adding the salsa a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Taste and correct seasoning by adding hot sauce, cilantro and lime juice.

Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans

2-3 cloves garlic

Lemon

Roasted red peppers (jarred)

Cumin

Tabasco

Blend all ingredients in food processor and adjust seasonings

I stay away from nearly all chips and crackers due to the calorie density and the oil used. So I will make my own. Simply bake corn tortillas and split pits breads until crispy. No oil needed. Plus the beans will help clear out cholesterol, what a deal.

So that’s my plan to keep my arteries and watch a good game.

And the beer? Why not? A little juice goes good for the heart, right? (well, not so much, but…)

Do you minimize the damage? Take an indulgence day? Hide under the covers or watch lacrosse?

Where do you put the leafy greens?

Everybody knows they’re supposed to Eat More Kale, but once you get that bunch of uber healthy dark green leafy vegtables home and the smugness wears off, what do you do? You’ve got this giant pile of something that smells vaguely like lawn clippings. For a long time my preffered preparation was to leave them inthe fridge while I thought about what to do with them. A week later they would be yellow, I’d throw them out and buy a new bunch. Sound familiar?

I’m a late convert to leafy greens other than spinach. I just kept trying them over and over until finally I kinda liked them. They’re not my favorite thing to eat, so I’m always on the lookout for recipes that use them. But practice makes perfect, and I finally figured out to prepare them easily, and how to eat more of them.

Simple Preparations:

Wash, chop, and saute in a little water covered for about five minutes.

Add chopped garlic and a splash of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.

That’s it!

Those are the secrets. The soy sauce and vinegar cut all the bitterness and they taste great.

For a spicy southern version use Tabasco instead. The concentrated vinegar will have a similar effect.

How to use them:

I learned this from a cooking demo I watched while sick, unfortunately I don’t remember what it was. Cook greens as above, and put a handful in the bottom of your bowl or plate, and pile the rest of your meal on top. You don’t really notice the greens are there, they don’t get in the way, and you get a great dose of green leafy goodness. I did this while sick with kale and collards under my brown rice, which was then topped with a soup. I increased my nutrient density while not offending my limited appetite.

Bonus:

For a different flavor, try using your favorite mustard for the seasoning. Mustard also has a lot of vinegar, and it gives a nice flavor.

 

Help From The Freezer

Coming back home from the holidays is always a challenge. Trying to reintegrate myself into the regular routine is always hard. Knowing this, I planned ahead and had some dinner food already cooked and frozen so I would have less to do. Good thing I did this, because I came back with pneumonia, and cooking was a real chore. My freezer food saved me! What I stocked in my freezer was two huge containers of two different split pea soup. I was worried about they might freeze, but they were fine. Here’s how they work out, nicely color coded:

Green Split Pea Soup

 1 pound green split peas

8 C water

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2-3 potatoes, cubed

1 head broccoli, chopped into florets

2 bay leaves

2 T parsley flakes

1 T prepared mustard

1 t basil

1 t paprika

Directions:

Put split peas and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. While peas simmer, chop veggies. Add veggies and seasonings and simmer for 30 minutes more. Check to see that everything is done to your liking, cooking longer if needed.

Yellow Curried Split Pea Soup

Follow above recipe with these substitutions:

Yellow split peas for green

Cauliflower for broccoli

2 T curry powder for the other seasonings.

To serve, you can top rice with it, or have bread or naan alongside. Or wrap in a tortilla.

There you go, two easy, inexpensive soups/stews complete with cancer fighting crucifers. Can’t beat that with a bat.