Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Delicata Squash and Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing!

If you are looking for a hearty, cold-weather salad...
this one is your baby!
Here is how I ended up making this winner...
I had checked out The Oh She Glows Cookbook from the library.
My daughter gave me a delicata squash.
I had cooked quinoa in the fridge.
I had all of the other ingredients on hand.
It was a no-brainer...I needed to make this unique salad :)
I'm going to walk you through the assembly of this salad...
but my advice would be to bake the squash, prepare the quinoa, blend the dressing and toast the pumpkin seeds the day before you plan to serve this dish.
You can then warm up the squash and quinoa (if you prefer)
and quickly put the salad together!
Ingredients You Will Need
* 2 delicate squash (cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds)
* 1 tablespoon of coconut or avocado oil
* sea salt and black pepper for seasoning
* 1 cup of cooked quinoa (prepare according to package directions)
* 1 package of baby kale
* lemon-tahini dressing (see directions below)
* 1/2 cup of chopped celery
* 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
* 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
* 2 tablespoons of toasted pumpkin seeds

Baby Kale makes this salad more tender and tasty!
Crunchy celery and tart dried cranberries help to give the
salad unique flavors and textures.
In goes the baked delicate squash :)
Baking the Squash
*Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
*Slice the halved and seeded squash crosswise into 1 inch wide pieces.
*Place them in a single layer in glass baking dishes.
*Drizzle them with the oil...and flip them over to coat.
*Salt and pepper the squash pieces.
*Bake the squash for 15 minutes...flip each piece over...and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
*Remove from the oven and set aside.
Prepare Your Quinoa...and Set That Aside!
Dry-toast the pumpkin seeds (in a small pan over a low heat)...and Set That Aside!
Blending the Lemon-Tahini Dressing
In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine and blend the following ingredients....
* 1 large garlic clove
* 1/4 cup of tahini (sesame seed butter)
* 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
* 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
* 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
*1-3 tablespoons of water (depending on thickness preference)
* 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
Massaging the Kale...and Assembling the Salad!
*Place the baby kale in a large bowl and spoon 2-4 tablespoons of the dressing onto the greens.
*Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands until all of the leaves are coated.
*Let the kale sit for 15 minutes.
*Now add in the chopped celery, dried cranberries, parsley, quinoa, toasted pumpkin seeds
and the baked delicata squash.
*Add in the remaining lemon-tahini dressing...and toss all of the ingredients together :)
This salad is delicious and filling!
It is definitely a "keeper"...and will be added to my catering repertoire.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Nacho "Cheese" Please!

I've seen it in several videos.
I've read about it in several cookbooks.
It was time to try it myself.
What AM I talking about??
Homemade vegan "cheese" sauce!
I'm not talking about a processed product that looks like cheese slices.
I'm talking about a creamy sauce made from nutritious plant foods :)
Well, I knew right where to go for the perfect recipe.
I follow Ellen Fisher on you tube.
She has the hard job of living on Maui with her husband and three children :)
Ellen is passionate about the many benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet!
She and her husband have written an e-cookbook called Epic Vegan Food.
In that book, she lays out a colorful and easy recipe for
"Loaded Nachos with Baked Chips and Quinoa Meat".
Soon I will create that whole meal...which is complete with chili-spiced beans and guacamole.
But a few days ago, I decided to just tackle the nacho "cheese".
The recipe did not disappoint!
The sauce was creamy, "cheesy"...and oh, so fresh.
Here are the ingredients you will need... Use organic whenever possible :)
*2 cups of sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
*2 cups of russet potatoes, peeled and diced
*2 medium carrots, diced
*1/2 of a sweet bell pepper (orange, red or yellow)
*1/2 cup of raw whole cashews
*1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (see note below)
*1/2 - 3/4 cup of water
*1 teaspoon of garlic powder
*2-3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
*1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
*1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
**Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses.
It is a yellow powder packed with B vitamins, selenium, zinc...and other nutrients. 
It has no added sugar or preservatives. 
When added to recipes...it provides a nutty, "cheesy" and creamy quality.
Here are the super-simple directions :)
1.  Boil the potatoes and carrots until they are fork tender...and drain.
2.  Place the cooked veggies into a high-speed blender.  
I LOVE my VitaMix blender!
3.  Add in all of the other ingredients.
I told you it was simple :)
4.  Blend until smooth and creamy.
Adjust your water to achieve the consistency you desire.
5.  Happy eating!
I enjoyed my nacho "cheese" over baked Ezekiel bread chips with black beans and tomatoes!!
You could go full-out with Ellen's complete nacho feast...
or enjoy the "cheese" sauce over pasta :)

Ellen gives credit to Angela at www.ohsheglows.com for the "cheese" recipe.
I give credit to Ellen at www.ellenfisher.com
Check out both of them on you tube, as well!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Get out!! ....
Doughnuts that are actually GOOD for you??
Can it be?
You bet!
These baked babies are full of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber.
Gather these ingredients...
* 3/4 cup of oat flour
* 1/4 cup of chia seeds
* 1/4 cup of hemp seeds
* 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
* 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
* 1/4 to 1/3 cup of pure maple syrup...depending on your sweetness preference :)
* 1/3 cup of nut milk (I used cashew milk.)
* 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Score yourself a doughnut baking pan...if you can :)
I bought a Wilton doughnut pan at Meijer.
You can always use a muffin pan instead...
but they look mighty cute doughnut-style!
Here are the directions...
1.  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
2.  Lightly grease your doughnut pan with coconut oil.
3.  In a medium bowl, combine your oat flour, seeds, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
4.  Add in the nut milk, maple syrup, vanilla...and stir until combined. 
Do not be concerned if the batter is somewhat runny.
5.  Fill the doughnut pan with the batter...filling each cavity to the top. 
(I transferred the batter into a measuring cup for easy pouring.)
6.  Bake the doughnuts for 22 to 26 minutes...until they are firm
and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
(Mine took 21 minutes.)
7.  Cool the doughnuts in the pan for 10 minutes...
and then invert the pan onto a cooling rack.
Finishing Touches
*a drizzle of honey
*a spread of nut butter
*a dip in chocolate hazelnut spread
*a dollop of jam
But honestly...they are great on their own :)
This recipe was adapted from...
The Oh She Glows Cookbook
by Angela Liddon

Monday, March 26, 2018

So Sad...and Mad...to Read This :(

I rarely share negative information.
I would much rather share all the wonderful, uplifting ways you can nourish yourself.
But once in a while I come across something that I consider dangerous misinformation.
A week ago, I found the Take Charge newsletter from the
Saint Joseph Health System in my mailbox.
The target audience of this publication is seniors.
The contents of this issue were: free preventative care services, baby-proofing for grandparents, important medical screenings for the over 55 crowd,
transitioning into senior living and...
The bone I have to pick is with the last article.
Saint Joseph PACE participants can take part in classes called NutriBits...
where they can learn how to "create dishes they love in a way that is nutritious and healthy, and tastes wonderful".
[PACE stands for Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.]
The NutriBits hands-on cooking classes goal is to share information about nutritious food in small amounts with reduced calories, fat, sugar and salt.
The classes are facilitated by a Registered Dietitian/Certified Diabetes Educator
and a Dietary Manager/Executive Chef.
The article included a recipe called "Perfectly Pleasing Cheesecake".
I was shocked...and dismayed...when I read the ingredients.
*4 tablespoons of Splenda
*1 package of low-fat cream cheese
*1 1/2 cups of sugar-free whipped topping
*frozen unsweetened mixed berry fruit
(This was the ONLY ingredient I would include.)
*prepared graham cracker crust
I am continually astounded with the health care industry's recommendations to consume ingredients that are neither fun, nor nutritious!
Here's a quick low-down on these ingredients...minus the frozen fruit :)
(the brand name for the artificial sweetener sucralose)
*made from sugar atoms that have been "moved around"
*advertised as no calories and no absorption...and "safe" for diabetics
*600 times sweeter than sugar
*99% of the product is (some kind) of sugar
*3 calories  and 1 gram of sugar in every serving (not packet)
(If the calories are under 5...it can be advertised as NO calories ???)
*serving size is 1/2 packet
*concerns about its overuse and long-term effects
*only 10% of 200 studies have to do with safety
*many studies have been funded by Splenda :(
Low-Fat Cream Cheese
*1 cup of this type of cream cheese contains 14 grams of sugar,
22 grams of saturated fat, 130 milligrams of cholesterol,
1128 milligrams of sodium, no fiber and 19 grams of protein.
**The sodium amount (almost a day's worth) worries me the most.
Sugar-Free Whipped Topping...
Cool Whip or the Off-Brand
*16 ingredients...including corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats) and aspartame (another artificial sweetener). 
This stuff is a non-food in my opinion.
Prepared Graham Cracker Crust
*ingredients include...enriched white flour, refined sugar, palm oil,
corn syrup and caramel color.
So...this recipe is a highly-processed, chemically-laden mess!
I am done mincing words.
My Advice...Should You Choose To Take It...  :)
#1  Just Eat the Fruit
#2  Sweeten desserts with raw honey, pure maple syrup, molasses, dates, etc.
#3  Use organic, full-fat dairy.
It is the least processed and contains the food's original array of nutrients.
#4  If you can't score some REAL whipped topping from organic cream...just skip it.
#5  Make almond meal or pecan meal pie crusts...or skip the crust.
This Blog Post comes to you with important information...and LOVE!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

So Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette!

In an effort to prove that homemade salad dressing is quick and easy to make...
I created a versatile and unique spin on balsamic vinaigrette for tonight's supper!
This recipe makes 3/4 cup...

Two salads in the making!
Ingredients You Will Need (use organic whenever possible):
*1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar
*3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
*2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
*2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce (This is the unique part :)
*1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
*1 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
*1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
*1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
*black pepper to taste
Measure out each of these ingredients into a pint-sized canning jar...
put the lid on...and shake to blend.
(That's the easy part !)

What a tasty blend of tangy and sweet!
This recipe was adapted from The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Banana Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chips!

What do you do with an abundance of very ripe bananas?
Well...banana bread seemed like a logical answer...
But, I wanted to use as many unprocessed ingredients as possible :)
I found this simple recipe at www.geniuskitchen.com
The end product was moist, tasty and filling cookies!
You will need...
*3 ripe bananas
*1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
*2 cups of oats
*1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
*1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
Here's how you do it...
In a medium bowl, mash the bananas.
Stir in the melted coconut oil, oats, vanilla and chocolate chips.
Using a small spoon, scoop up the batter into cookie balls.
Place them onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
Gently flatten out each cookie with your hand.
Bake the cookies for 18 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
*I baked my cookies for 9 minutes...and then switched which
oven rack the baking sheets were on.  I baked them for another 9 minutes.
Then move the cookies onto cooling racks.
These simple gems will be quite moist...and disappear quickly!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Cooking Efficiently #2...or How I Turned Last Night's Leftover Chicken into Jambalaya!

Well...last night I used previously baked potatoes
to create some very tasty twice-baked potatoes :)
Carrying on with the theme of using what I already have on hand...
I took the leftovers from last night's Instant Pot whole chicken
and made some Jambalaya!
How did I come up with Jambalaya?
I looked around my kitchen and pantry for some inspiration :)
"Ahhh...here's a packet of organic Jambalaya seasoning.
Maybe there's some sausage down in the freezer.  Yes, there is!
Better go bring up the Instant Pot from the basement.
I'm sure glad I bought more brown rice on Tuesday.
Think I'm going to prepare the rice in the leftover broth that I saved.
That will really boost the flavor of the whole dish :)
Ohhh...I'll use some frozen peas to finish things off!"

While my rice was cooking in the Instant Pot,
I baked the sausage.
After it cooled, I cut it into thin slices.
I cut up the leftover chicken...and I was ready to go!
After the rice was done, I added the Jambalaya seasoning...
and then the chicken, sausage and peas.
So easy and delicious :)