Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fava Bean Salad

Meandering around a grocery store is easily on my favorite things to do. When your boyfriend plans a date that includes a new grocery store/farmer's market visit and you literally get giddy, you know you're a crazy grocery freak. Yet, every now and then it lands me with a stellar find that keeps me scouting out new places or revisiting favorites. This time around it was a can of fava beans that caught my attention. I had seen the name before in recipe books, but had no earthly idea what these beans were all about. Without hesitation, that bad boy was coming home with me, well, and Dan.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower - Indian Inspired

One of our favorite Indian dishes is Gobi Aloo, or cauliflower with potatoes in English. Cauliflower and Indian spices, like Garam Masala, meld so beautifully together. Like peanut butter and jelly baby. Garam Masala is a mixture of coriander, cumin, ginger, red chili or various peppers (red, black, white), cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, and pepper. Traditionally, the seasoning blends are toasted and then ground together. For lazy cooks, such as myself, commercially prepared versions are available. You're more likely to find a higher quality blend (for a fraction of the price) in an Indian grocer, but your neighborhood one will have one in the spice aisle as well.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

No Bake Strawberry Pie

There's nothing better than an easy, no-bake dessert that uses fruit as it's base. This dessert is so simple, you can put it together while dinner is cooking and it will be ready by the time dinner is done.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Potato, Corn, and Celery Chowder

Growing up in Minnesota, you can bet these winter months are filled with corn and potatoes. Let's face it, they make a regular appearance year round. Corn and potatoes are easily some of my favorites foods, and lend themselves to so many uses that it makes it simple to create dishes with a corn or potato base. Chowders, however, weren't on the regular rotation. They are typically loaded with fat, mostly saturated fat from whole fat milks or cream. Most chowder brands and/or recipes have a few specs of vegetables here or there, hardly heart healthy. By blending plant based (vegan) ingredients you can still create that thick chowder consistency without the fat. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hummus Pizza

Pizza has to be one of those classic All-American meals that practically everyone enjoys. The problem is when we start to layer the pizza with fat packed toppings like cheese galore, sausage, pepperoni, etc. Pizza is very versatile, and now toppings such as spinach and roasted red pepper may be making their way into regular rotation. Another great way to make pizza healthy AND delicious is by using hummus as the base instead of pizza sauce. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Best Brussel Sprouts - Roasted and Maple Infused

These are the most wonderful gems of a vegetable. Eating them everyday would be the most fabulous thing. I realize not everyone shares this sentiment, but do me one a pound of fresh brussel sprouts, roast them like the recipe below and you may start to think similarly. The maple syrup really helps bring out their natural sweetness, making them more delectable than boiling, steaming, or other cooking methods.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wild Rice and Lentil Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Creating a stuffed anything is a fabulously easy main entrĂ©e served. Stuffed peppers are always an option, but I really like stuffed portabella mushrooms. The beauty of stuffing these babies is that they add more of that earthy flavor to the “stuffing” compared to stuffing peppers. Stuffing ingredients can be combined from leftovers, quick on hand vegetables, and a few pantry items.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Healthy Vegan Valentine - Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

It’s hard to miss the bright pink and red wrapped chocolates and candies in stores for Valentine’s Day. I've never understood why we push these sugar and fat packed treats on our loved ones. Sure, they may taste good temporarily. But, why don’t we give treats that not only taste good but are healthy? Yes, these sweets do exist! It starts with the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe below. Oats are a great source of soluble fiber, helping to reduce cholesterol. To be festive, I formed them into various sized hearts, but you can also drop a spoonful onto the pan instead.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Low Salt Vegan Taco Seasoning

It's becoming more common to see your dinner guests request gluten free, vegan, or a dairy allergy alternatives when dining at your home. Tacos are one of those meals that can be easily tailored to fit everyone's needs while keeping your preparation work to a minimum. I'm a firm believer in cooking one meal at dinner time, and when having dinner guests over, it's no different.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Heart-y Hot Chocolate

February is American Heart Month to raise awareness about the leading cause of death in our nation, cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, despite the billions ($444 billion in 2010 per the CDC) spent, nothing is as effective as dietary changes. Those who consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and whole grains have a lower risk of heart disease. In fact, some studies have concluded a vegetarian (vegan) diet is more effective than cholesterol lowering medication in addition to lowering blood pressure. Think it's too late?? Nope...several researchers including Dr. Dean Ornish have shown that even if people with advanced cardiovascular disease adapt a low fat vegetarian diet, along with a few other lifestyle changes, the progression of heart disease can be stopped, even reversed. Now that's reason to have an apple a day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vegan Super Bowl Meals and Snacks

I’ll admit, I’m not an avid football fan. I’m not even a partial football fan, but I do love the company and socialization of a Super Bowl Party. Unfortunately, these parties are usually loaded with things like wings, nachos, little sausages, and some bacon wrapped artery clogger. Low fat vegan and vegetarian options are bountiful. Below are a few options that are sure to have you vegan and omnivore friends ready for the big game, whether they watch or not.  
1.       Salsa and Guacamole with Low Fat Tortilla Chips – A standard by most party accounts. Avocados are more expensive for my frugal budget, so mash a can of peas with the avocado and spices to reduce the fat and stretch the quantity.
2.       Bean and Veggie Chili – Mix 3 types of beans such as dark red kidney, pinto, and great northern into your chili for a great color and texture combo. Add extra chopped onions, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, can of diced tomatoes, or frozen corn.
3.       Hummus and Raw Veggies – Hummus is essentially mashed garbanzo beans with seasonings to create a high fiber, high protein dip. Watch prepared versions for excessive added oils. You can always make your own with numerous recipes, but it doesn’t get any easier than mashing a can of drained garbanzos with roasted garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and salt.

4.       Vegan Flatbread Pizzas – Spread pizza sauce on pita rounds or flatbread. Top with assorted veggies like portabella mushroom slices, red bell peppers, onion, or fresh basil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes and cut into wedges for the perfect snacking treat.
5.       Black Bean "meat"balls – Similar to meat balls, find a recipe you like for black bean burgers but roll into balls and bake. You may need to adjust the consistency so they stick together. When done, use a toothpick and serve with various sauces.
6.   Falafel - Similar to the black bean "meat"balls, serve these delicious Mediterranean infused chickpea patties with a non-dairy based yogurt sauce. Even without the dip, these patties can be baked for lower fat, or conveniently bought in your local grocer.
6.       Fruit Kabobs – Using whatever fresh fruit variety you like, thread the chunks onto skewers for a more festive approach to a traditional fruit salad. A sample combo could include strawberries, grapes, apples, kiwi, and blueberries. Cheer for your favorite team by only using those colors of fruit.