Category Archives: Vegan

Easy Spring Rolls with Shrimp and Crunchy Veggies

Spring rolls are a snap to make once you get the basics down. You may have eaten them at an Asian take-out restaurant before, or have seen them on a buffet somewhere. They are light and fresh and can be filled with almost anything you like.  I like to add whole grains like Bhutanese Red rice for an earthy, chewy texture which contrasts excellently against the succulent, salty-snap of fresh shrimp. I include powerfully nutritious green herbs in this recipe which will align well with your diet plans, and I hope you will make it and enjoy it.

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (toasted if you can find it)
  • 4 each 8-inch diameter rice paper rounds (you can use brown rice rounds if you can find them)
  • 1 cup cooked Bhutanese Red rice (cook per package directions)
  • 2 1/2 cups of cole slaw mix prepared (you can find it at the grocery store and it has shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 1 small avocado halved and sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh Thai basil (regular sweet basil will work if you cannot find Thai)
  • 6 teaspoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 8 each cooked and peeled (deveined) shrimp (medium or large) cut in half horizontally
  1. To begin have a bowl or shallow dish of warm water with a splash of the rice vinegar on hand, as well as a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels at the ready. You will soak the rice paper wrappers to soften them in the warmed water and lay them out on the paper or towel to drain off excess water.
  2.  Combine the first seven ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together with a little sesame oil until the sugar dissolves. This will serve as your dipping sauce, which you can divide into four small portions.
  3. Soften a spring roll wrapper until it is soft and pliable enough to wave gently in the liquid. Remove it to the towel gently, and add several slices of avocado, then two halves of shrimp. Next add some of the cole slaw filling and the green herbs.
  4. Leave about an inch and a half at the top of your spring roll and at the sides. Make sure you place the filling toward the bottom edge of the wrapper.
  5. Now fold the sides up and roll your wrapper like a burrito up and around the filling, pressing gently at the seam. Set your spring roll aside and finish the others in the same manner.
  6. When you have finished, slice each spring roll at the center in a diagonal slice.

You should have 4 servings of an appetizer portion of these delicious spring rolls. Now that you have the technique figured out the sky is the limit for what you can add. Steamed or grilled chicken slices and a creamy, citrus peanut sauce would be a filling treat, as would a spring roll chock full of crunchy veggies alone! If you cannot find fish sauce, or do not particularly enjoy it, feel free to omit it and instead substitute 1/8 cup tamari sauce with 1/8 cup of citrus juice; such as lemon, lime or orange, or even some stock if you have it handy.

 

Lucky Peas and Kale

The year is almost up and if you’re just beginning the diet, or an old hat by now, you will want to prepare some of these black eyed peas for your New Year. Lucky or not they are sure good for you!
You will need:

  • 2-cups Dried Black Eye Peas
  • 1-medium white or yellow onion, minced
  • 1- large, fresh Bay leaf, dry is ok too, I prefer fresh
  • 2-good cloves of garlic, smashed and minced (about 1 teaspoon if using prepared garlic)
  • 2-Tablespoons Olive oil, or Grapeseed oil
  • 1 -6 ounce can chopped tomatoes, organic if possible
  • 4-cups Kale, washed, rinsed and chopped or 1 ready to use bag
  • 2-Tablespoons Apple Cider vinegar
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1-teaspoon smoked Paprika
  • 1-teaspoon ground Cumin
  • Juice of 1-sour orange, or 1/4 cup of a blend of lemon and orange or lime and lemon
  • Fresh black pepper in a grinder, about 1 teaspoon
  • 2-teaspoons sea salt
  • Optional sliced Serrano, or Jalapeno chili.

In a pot have your soaked beans at the ready in double the amount of water to beans. 4 cups water to 2 cups beans in this case. To quick soak you can boil the peas in water and set the cover off the heat and let it sit until room temperature again. This takes about an hour or two. Or you can soak overnight, or even use canned, but drain and wash well due to the excess sodium that tends to be used in canned peas. Dried are best and easy if you just soak and drain them prior to use.

Depending on  how you like your kale add it at the beginning or the end. I prefer it to be tender and silky in a dish like this, so I add it with the dried peas at the beginning with the garlic, onion, spices (except salt) Bay leaf, oil and tomatoes to the pot. You will want to sweat the onion in the oil first on medium-low heat. Then add the spices and garlic and stir until fragrant and add the peas, tomato and water. Bring it up to a boil and skim off any scum that arises.  Bring it down to a simmer and gently cover with a little ventilation. Cook for about 45 minutes until the peas are nice and tender as you like them. Don’t add salt until the end when cooking beans and dried peas. When it’s ready for the salt test and add the citrus juice and vinegar. That should brighten things up and not necessitate more salt, but just in case, taste again and add it if you like. Let it sit to cool some and serve over wild rice or brown rice if you like, or just as it is.

Makes about 6 hearty servings

Variation: Use same amount of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth or stock in lieu of water.

Kale and Lentil Salad

Red Lentils are quick to cook, and very filling. This salad can be served warm as a side dish, or chilled until cool and eaten as a cold salad. You will need:

  • 2 cups red lentils, cooked and drained
  • 1 Tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons good vinegar such as balsamic or sherry
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • wedge of lemon
  • 1/4 cup Dinosaur kale, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • fresh basil, minced or chiffonade
  • 3 Tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts or other nuts like hazelnut
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare the salad have your ingredients ready and warm a skillet or sauté pan gently over medium heat and warm the oil and garlic until it softens, about 3 minutes. Stirring occasionally to ensure no sticking or burning. Add your vinegar and kale and wilt the kale, stirring to coat the greens with the warm garlic dressing. Once wilted remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix this with the basil and nuts and tomatoes while still warm but not hot. Squeeze a little lemon over the salad and toss gently ensuring an even coating. You may serve this chilled or warm as it is and it is a lovely summer dish. This is excellent with a grilled fish as an entrée.   Serves-4

Simply delicious collard green salad

I want to share a recipe from one of my favorite cooks and authors Robin Asbell.

Her Collard Green Waldorf salad is perfect for winter. Check out her site for more information about this recipe, and great pictures on how to prepare the collard greens.  Here is the link to her website and the recipe as follows:

 

Collard Green Waldorf Salad

A great thing about using resilient leaves like these in a salad is that you can dress it and serve it for days. Like coleslaw, it just gets more tender as it sits.

Makes about 4 cups

1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and saved for juice or other use

2 tablespoons Meyer or other lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil

1/4 cup vegan or other mayo

1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup

2 ribs celery, split lengthwise and then chopped

1 large Honeycrisp or other apple, chopped

1/2 large carrot, grated

1/2 cup toasted broken walnuts

 

On your cutting board, roll up the stemmed leaves and slice thinly. Place in a large bowl and add the lemon, olive oil and salt, and massage until the greens are deep green and shrink to about 2/3 their original volume. In a cup, stir the mayo and agave or maple, and add to the greens. Add the celery, apple, carrots and toss to coat. Stir in most of the walnuts, saving some to sprinkle on top at serving.

Fran Costigans Vegan Pecan Chocolate Cake

This comes from Fran Costigan’s “Vegan Chocolate” book. Here is her website.

This combines healthy dark chocolate, Pecans, and Cranberries with healthier ingredients which yields a decadent dessert for your Thanksgiving, or Hanukkah table that doesn’t cost your health much!

 

Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake by Fran Costigan, Courtesy of Running Press

Makes one 9-inch cake, 10-12 servings

CRUMB

1/2 cup dried cranberries

zest and juice of one medium organic orange

3/4 cup pecans, roasted, cooled, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup rolled oats, toasted

1/2 cup organic whole cane sugar (sucanat or rapadura) ground in a blender to a fine powder

2 tablespoons mild tasting xv olive oil

2 tablespoons vegan chocolate chips

CAKE

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup dutch process cocoa

1/3 cup organic granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild-tasting xv olive oil

3/4 cup Grade B maple syrup

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon orange oil (optional)

1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips

GLAZE (optional)

1 1/3 cup organic confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons dutch-process cocoa

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons boiling water

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

1. Mix the cranberries and orange juice in a small bowl and let soak for 10 minutes.

2. Drain the cranberries, reserving 1 tablespoon of the juice. Return the cranberries to the bowl, add the pecans, oats, whole cane sugar, zest, and oil. If the crumb is dry, add reserved orange juice. Think damp sand. Stir the chips into the crumb and reserve while you make the cake.

CAKE:

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Oil the sides and bottom of a 9-inch cake pan, and cut a parchment round to fit the bottom. Line the pan and don’t oil the paper.

2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt to the strainer and stir with the whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. If any bits stay in the strainer, add to the bowl, and whisk to aerate the mixture.

3. Whisk the oil, maple syrup, non-dairy milk, vanilla, vinegar and orange oil (if using) in a separate medium bowl until mixed, stir into the dry mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Pour about half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle about half of the crumb over, going light on the center. Pour the remaining batter over the crumb, use a spatula to spread the batter evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crumb over, going light on the center.

5. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry or with a few moist crumbs.

6. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then cover with a plate and invert. Remove the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto the rack to cool completely. If you are glazing, wait til it’s completely cool, or if you want to warm the cake for serving, glaze after it’s warm.

GLAZE:

Sift the sugar and cocoa into a small heat proof bowl. Add the boiling water and whisk until sugar is dissolved and glaze is smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk.

Roasted Pumpkin and Brussels Sprouts

Pumpkins are abounding now that Fall is here. That holiday center piece could be the center piece at the dinner table instead. Pumpkins are full of cartenoids (orange and yellow veggies) and high in vitamin A.

Select a firm pumpkin with no bruises or cuts. Sugar pumpkin are tender and easy to peel. You could also substitute a winter squash like acorn, or buttercup.  When choosing Brussels sprouts you want to look for ones without large brown spots, fairly similar in size so they cook consistently, and if possible still on the stalk.

You will need:

  • 2 cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped in a 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 cups Brussles sprouts, washed, picked over, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 Teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chiffonade
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed to a paste with the broad side of a blade
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Sea or Kosher salt to taste, about 1/4 teaspoon

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl toss all ingredients including the olive oil and mix well.

Spread onto a large sheet pan, and roast for about 15 minutes checking on the color of the pumpkin, and stirring with a wooden spoon a little. Roast another 5-10 minutes until the Brussels sprouts are golden around the edges and the pumpkin can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife blade.

Serves 4.

Tangy Chioggia-Jicima Slaw

  • 1-large Jicima bulb, washed, peeled, and julienned
  • 1-medium chioggia beet, washed, peeled and julienned
  • 1-teaspoon grape seed or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1-teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • pinch cayenne or chili spice

Serves 2-4

Use a Mandoline with the Julienne blade to shred the Jicima and the Beet. Toss all the ingredients well in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper and the lime juice and herbs. Alternately you could use Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Seasoning instead of salt. There is even a pepper blend now.

This is a tangy, crunchy slaw that pairs well as a side dish for lunch or brunch items. Or as a salad on it’s own with some diced, fresh, avocado added and some minced red onion. The taste of Jicima is similar to a potato, but not nearly as starchy or earthy, and it’s very hydrating as it is full of water. It is full of iron and vitamin C, as well as having 6 grams of fiber per cup. It’s mildly anti-inflammatory and even has 1 gram of protein, which is surprising considering how plain and crunchy it is. Combined with the candy-cane striped Chiogga beet, this slaw is an eye pleaser, as well as being so good for you.

Alternate suggestions: Add a chopped avocado and citrus segments. If you dislike cilantro, parsley or your other favorite soft herbs may be used.

Collard Greens

Collard greens, or Collards, as they’re known in the South, are typically prepared with bacon, or pork belly and braised or boiled for a long time until the texture is reminiscent of buttery Saag (a spinach dish in Indian cuisine cooked in ghee). The Collards you may have grown up on were most likely cooked in this manner, and usually retained a strong pork flavor that you either loved or hated, so you doused them in hot pepper vinegar or hot sauce!

Well Collard greens, and all leafy greens are so incredibly good for us. Yet they can be a little daunting, especially without the bacon to help things along. They have a very earthy, chlorophyll flavor to them with a slight bitterness that can actually be pleasing in the way endive is.

They can be eaten raw or cooked. With such hearty greens like collards some cooking really helps them along. 1 Cup of cooked and drained collards provides 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 308% vitamin A, 58% vitamin C, 27% calcium, 12% iron, and they are strongly anti-inflammatory. Good news for those suffering with chronic pain!

To start select your collards at the store or farmer market. The best way to wash them well is in a sink full of water. Swish well and shake loose all the dirt and grime so it falls to the bottom of the sink. Then you will want to either use a paring knife to cut the leaves off of the thick stem, or tear them off. It really doesn’t matter. I prefer to buy my vegetables organic as much as possible due to some of the genetically modified seeds out there.

You can eat collards raw in a salad like my kale salad, and they sure are going to give you a good chewing workout. This could be good for those of you missing your steaks on the diet. It is also very easy to do a quick saute or braise until it melts in your mouth from long, slow cooking. They also work well finely shredded tossed into a cole slaw.

Being that they are rich in iron, they tend to go well with citrus and acidic ingredients like vinegar. Adding citrus to iron rich foods helps in the absorption of the mineral during digestion. Ensuring you get the most out of it, as well as tasting great.

Since Autumn is fast approaching us I think it appropriate to offer you a stuffed squash recipe using Collard greens.

You will need:

  • 2 small Acorn squash
  • 2 cups collard greens, chopped
  • 1\2 cup wild rice
  • 1 1\2 cups water or stock
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh sage, chiffonade or finely minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium celery stalks, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion, about 1\2 large onion
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1\4 lemon ( a wedge)
  • 1 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
  • 3\4 cup Pecan halves
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees faranheit.
  2. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.
  3. Cut the squash open from the stem to the base, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and lay the squash cut side down on the baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 20 to 30 Minutes, r until easily pierced with a paring knife. Remove from the oven when you can do this, and let the squash cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
  5. In a medium sauce pan cook the wild rice and collards in the water. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmering, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes. The rice is done when the grain starts to split. If there is extra water leftover drain it out in a strainer.
  6. In a saute pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the celery, onion, lemon thyme and sage until just softened.
  7. Stir in the parsley, black pepper, cayenne, allspice, and salt. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  8. When the squash have cooled enough to handle, use a spoon to carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving a bit behind to keep the skins from tearing.
  9. In a large bowl mash the squash flesh and reserve.
  10. Select about 16 (4 per squash half) perfect pecans for a garnish, then use a food processor to grind the rest of the pecans to a fine texture.
  11. Add the processed pecans, to the reserved, mashed squash flesh, along with the sauted celery and onion mixture, and the wild rice.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and mix thoroughly.
  12. Stuff the mixture into the pecan shells and garnish with the perfect pecan pieces you removed prior.
  13. Place all in a casserole or baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops feel firm to the touch.

This dish is a little time consuming but the beauty is that you can make it ahead and assemble the components and bake for a quick meal the next day. Or eat it cold!

Try Collards. You might love them. They will do your body and joints a world of good while they fill you up and help reduce your chronic pain.

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds
High in Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You may have noticed a new fad in the world of healthy living: chia seeds. Yes, those chia seeds of Chia Pet lore. They’re in puddings, in drinks, sold as is in packages and people are adding them to their baked goods and sprinkling on salads and oatmeal.

Chia seeds taste slightly nutty when eaten out of hand, and absorb about 9-12 times the amount of liquid they are put in making them ideal for using as an alternative thickening or gelling agent. This also means they help keep you feeling fuller, longer, as well as hydrated. When used in liquid they take on the flavor of the liquid. Adding them to a glass of coconut water is a great post workout treat.

They also are high in Omega-3’s and Omega-6 fatty acids, as well as being a complete protein. Per 1-ounce serving (about 2 Tablespoons a day) they offer up 11 grams of fiber, 4.4 grams of protein, and 18% of your daily value of calcium. They can help regulate blood sugar, reduce cravings, are anti-inflammatory and help keep you regular.

You can simply add them to a cup of water with some lemon or fruit juice, let them sit 10 minutes until they gel (absorb the water) and drink it that way. Or you can make smoothies with them, or add them to oatmeal or your almond or soy milk.

To make a simple, fast chocolate chia pudding you will need:

  • 1 cup plain almond (or other non-dairy) milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 small, ripe avocado (or 1/2 a larger one)
  • 2 tablespoons real Maple syrup or Raw organic honey

If you’d like a spicier Mexican chocolate pudding you could add some cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne.

Whiz this mixture up in a blender on high until smooth and transfer to a bowl or serving cups and chill in the refrigerator until set.

You may omit the avocado as well and use 1/3 cup of chia seeds instead.

Simply Kale Chips

Kale chips. Have you tried them? A great alternative to potato chips but often over-priced for a small package, and full of added ingredients to preserve freshness and add artificial flavor.

They couldn’t be easier to make at home however. All you need is:

1 bunch of Kale. Curly, or flat.

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt or Kosher for seasoning. And spices that you like, or leave it plain.

 

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your washed and dried Kale and either cut, with a sharp paring knife, or tear, the leaves off of the thick center vein. Make sure Kale is dried well. In a big bowl toss the Kale well with the olive oil, rubbing it in and then sprinkle the salt, rubbing it over the leaves with the oil. Lay the Kale out flat on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake until crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Check frequently as the edges tend to burn.

Alternately you could “dry” the Kale leaves in the exact same manner as above, with a lower oven temperature, for a longer time: such as 200 degrees Farenheit and let it “dry” until crisp about 2-4 hours. Even overnight. At such a low temperature like 200 degrees it’s very difficult to burn the leaves.

Once you have them, let them cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or so. Though I doubt they will make it week once you taste them!