Spicy maple sweet potato mash… Take 2.

So I think I’ve officially concluded that my favorite food is “anything I can top with salsa and an avocado and throw in a wrap or scoop up with chips.”

I took the sweet potato mash up stuff I made this morning that was leftover and reheated it in a skillet with some Poblano Farm Roasted Chipotle Salsa. Then I cut up an avocado. I couldn’t decide between chips or a tortilla, so I’m having both. 😉

Next time, a few fresh lime wedges will skyrocket this leftovers dinner outta this world.

 

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Spicy maple sweet potato mash with greens

Holy moley! What a way to start a Sunday morning. This meal is certainly going to make for a productive day!

Sweet potatoes are incredible nutritious, especially when compared to a regular potato. More color usually means more phytonutrients, and in this case, that’s totally true. Particularly, sweet potatoes are PACKED with Vitamin A – about 430% of our Daily Value in just 1 cup. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant, which means it’s going to help boost your immune system and help prevent disease (allowing your body to work as it should.) I find it so interesting that certain foods are in season when their nutritional benefits will help us the most. Sweet potatoes, being in season during the winter, are there to help us from getting sick! And the maple syrup used in this recipe is full of minerals, like zinc and manganese, which also help boost antioxidant levels, leading (again) to a healthier heart and stronger immune system. But make sure to use 100% pure maple syrup with no sugars or other flavors added to get the best nutritional punch.

But sweet potatoes don’t just have to be for Thanksgiving or for dinner…. How about for breakfast?! With a little sweet and spice?? (And of course some leafy greens for added nutrition, color, and scrumptiousness!)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups frozen leafy greens (your choice, fresh would of course work too)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Method:

1. Bake sweet potato at 400 degrees for 15 minutes to soften. (Can also steam if you prefer, I like to just throw it in the oven and walk away.) Cut into bite size pieces – don’t burn yo’self!

2. Caramelize onions in a hot pan. No need for oil! (See steam fry method in an earlier post.)

3. Add garlic, stir well. Make sure to keep onions and garlic moving so there is no burning.

4. Add diced sweet potato, greens, spices. Stir well. Frozen greens will sweat, allowing for moisture to steam the potatoes to fully tender.

5. When potatoes are tender, drizzle in maple syrup.

6. Using a potato masher, go to town until you get to desired texture.

(Skip the maple syrup and add corn and black beans for a delicious burrito filling!)


Meatless Monday: Portobello burger and red kale

 

Every day is meatless for me, but in an effort to promote and spread the Meatless Monday movement, I’ll share my dinners with you from now on!

 

Tonight is portobello burger and red kale with onions and garlic.

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grab a portobello mushroom.

Cut off the stem (don’t throw it away – you can either roast it with the top or cut it up and sautee with your greens.)

Line a pan with parchment paper just to prevent stickage.

Cover mushroom with 2 Tbsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce and 2 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (or more as you see fit!)

I also sprinkled some dried herbs on there (fresh would be much better, but I used rosemary, basil, and parsley.)

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(If you remember early enough you can also marinate the mushroom, but I don’t find it necessary to get great flavor.)

Then you just throw it on a bun or some whole wheat toast (my personal favorite).

Tonight I topped with heirloom tomato slices, broccosprouts, and a little ketchup.

I made some garlicky greens to go along with it as well.

Heat pan until water ‘dances’ on surface. Don’t use oil! You do not need oil to caramelize onions!

Steam fry 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion and as much garlic as you’d like. Make sure to have constant movement to prevent burning/sticking. Add a splash of vegetable broth when onions begin to become translucent.

 

Before…

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…after!

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Add handfuls of your favorite green and stir, cooking down to desired tenderness.

 

Enjoy a Meatless Monday – for your health, for your wallet, for your environment!

 

 

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Vegan potato chowder with seitan

Tonight I’m cooking inspired this recipe from the Whole Foods Market “Health Starts Here” program: Italian Chowder with Cod.

I admit that I’m a bit biased towards this program because I was paid for almost 2 years to represent it in-store. However, the program ROCKS. It’s all about Whole Foods, Plant-strong, Nutrient Dense and Healthy Fats (I talk a little bit about whole foods and healthy fats in a previous post.)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil*
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley*
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano*
  • Crushed red pepper (as desired for taste)*
  • 1 pound baby potatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 – 15 oz can no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 – 15 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced butternut squash*
  • 1 1/2 cups organic frozen yellow corn*
  • 1 – 16 oz bag frozen leafy greens*
  • 1/2 pound seitan, cut into chunks*

* means I changed from the original recipe. I decided to up the almond milk, potatoes, and onion since I’m adding in squash and corn so the chowder will be a bit bigger. I also upped the spices and added crushed red pepper per reviews in the comment section on the recipe page. And of course, subbing seitan for cod to make vegetarian.

1. Bring almond milk and spices to a boil in a large pot.

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2. Add potatoes and onions, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes.

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3. Using a blender or immersion blender, carefully purée contents of pot. Don’t burn yo-self!

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4. Whisk in tomato paste, add beans, tomatoes and squash. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until squash is tender. Make sure to scrape bottom of pot often, almond milk will act the same as milk or cream and will burn on the bottom if not!

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5. Stir in kale, corn, and seitan, cover and simmer until kale is tender and seitan is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes more. When you first add these, it may look like there’s not enough liquid in the soup but the frozen greens and corn will cook out a bit of liquid and balance it out. Don’t add more!

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CHOWder DOWN!!!

 

(Note: the only thing I would change is to add some GARLIC. I forgot I wanted to do that.)


Refined oils: cut down by using pumpkin in baked goods

I baked a cake for my brother’s 27th birthday yesterday. Ignore the way it looks, I got carried away in the decorating. 😀

Since it contains sprouted grains, you can find the recipe over at my sprouted foods blog. Vegan chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.

I was particularly excited about the outcome of this recipe because of how rich, moist, and flavorful it remained even without animal products or refined oils. I eliminated the canola oil in the original recipe and replaced it with canned pumpkin. I love this trick. Especially in chocolate or fall flavored treats. It adds kind of a sophisticated undertone to the flavor.

Replacing oil with pumpkin was one of the first experiences I had with creating a low-fat dessert, even before I realized the bigger picture about food. When I was in my yo-yo dieting phases, I would take a box of brownie mix (any would work really) and skip the box instructions of adding milk, oil, and eggs and just add a can of pumpkin. I don’t remember where I had heard of this trick and I certainly didn’t research into why or how it worked. I remember it resulted in a “crappier” brownie (drier, less rich, and a bit less chocolatey than the box brownies intended.) A friend of mine would not really even eat them, but she was pretty picky. At the time, they were NOT ENOUGH to satisfy the obnoxious dependence I had formed on sugar, salt, and oil. So I’d eat these brownies, then head out to get some junk food somewhere else. Kind of defeats the purpose! So I ended up forgetting about the pumpkin substitution, and just continued shoving my face with whatever foods I wanted.

Once I went vegan, I started using Earth Balance and canola oil in all my baking. But now it was HEALTHY because it was vegan, right? Oh, so wrong. It’s true that a plant-based butter or oil would be cholesterol-free. That, yes, is healthier. However, it’s still a refined oil. As my veganism began to transform into part vegan, part nutritarian, I learned more and more about oil and the effect it has on our body. I wrote this today in response to a reader’s comment, but wanted to reblog it as an entry, especially since its so valid to this specific entry:

… fat content does not have as much effect on weight loss/weight gain as sugar content do. However, the source of the fat certainly affects overall health and the ease of losing/maintaining weight. You mentioned nutrient-rich foods. Well, oil is the LEAST nutrient-rich food you can have. Refined oil, which is what I was commenting on that made the Field Roast sausages so heavy in fat, contains only one item on the nutritional label: Fat. Refined oils are 100% fat. Certain low or no heat processed oils like flax or coconut may still contain beneficial EFA’s and omegas, but processed and refined oils like palm, canola, or even olive oil, lose many of these nutrients in the heating/refining process.

So in order to get fat and all the good stuff that comes with it, replace these refined oils with WHOLE FOOD sources like nuts, seeds, and avocados (fat from animal products would prove to be more difficult to break down and negate the benefits of the fats contained). The whole food source of healthy fats will result in more energy than the refined oils because your body will expend less energy digesting them. And that to me is the real goal when eating. Food is fuel.

Spending 120-140 calories on one tablespoon of oil is significantly less satisfying than mowing down on 1/4 cup of cashews or walnuts with 160-180 calories, even though both items are high in fat. The nuts might even contain more fat but its different and more complete. Basically, the end game is to spend every calorie on the most nutrient-dense foods (WHOLE FOOD). So logically, getting your healthy fats from a food that provides other and more efficient nutrition, is the more effective way to health. My bottom line is not just to lose weight but to eat to allow my body to reach its own peak performance, which will be my natural and correct weight. I’m not counting calories, I’m eating to live. Whole foods and nutrient dense for the win! I’ll eat carbs and fats all day long. I have never avoided either. The healthiest I’ve ever felt was when consuming an all-raw diet with some days up to 80% of my calories coming from nuts, seeds, and avocados.

The best reads on the subject that I’ve come across are “The Thrive Diet” by Brendan Brazier and “Eat to Live” by Dr Joel Fuhrman. The first one is particularly fascinating and easy to understand the stress that refined foods put on our bodies, including to pH levels.

When replacing oil, the first thing to remember is that oil is used to moisten. You want something with a smooth, moist texture. Pumpkin works well to add a distinct flavor (some people may honestly not like it, but if making a pumpkin flavored dessert, you’ll never notice the difference.) I find it works best in chocolate, I like the flavor it lends. It is true that the texture of a baked good will change when eliminating oil, but that does not mean it will be ruined! Oil is used as a ‘barrier’ so that the water is not completely absorbed into the flour and cooked off, and that the baked good remain moists.

Pumpkin (or apple sauce, pureed fruits, even zucchini) are great substitutes because they partially bind with the flour but not completely. It’s a different texture that will result, but it shouldn’t be dry and crumbly. The cake recipe above actually came out very moist. If you are worried about texture, start with substituting half the fat for pumpkin in the first take of a recipe. A slow, gradual change will allow your taste buds to relate to the new flavor and texture. The added nutrients will prove to be endearing to your taste buds (and body!) and you’ll find yourself craving this healthier version of any baked good in no time at all.

It’s true for me. I do not have canola oil in my house. I very rarely use olive oil. I do use Earth Balance and Daiya cheese pretty often, depending on what I’m making, but that’s usually the only incorporation of oil into my diet. I could do without it if I spent some more time planning and cooking. Limiting refined oils was what really kickstarted my weight loss. I lost a good amount of weight when I first went vegan, naturally. A lot of my calories were decreased by eliminating high-calorie, high-fat foods (specifically cheese!) and I was forced to do almost all my own cooking. This forced me out of my worst habit: fast food (which will be a whole different subject that I’ll probably spend days talking about my addiction and struggle with.)

I began to cook for myself, mostly vegetables. Stir fried in oil, roasted in oil, covered in salad dressing made with oil. There was always so much oil! I was easily consuming thousands of calories a week on refined oils. By cutting down, my energy and weight loss rebooted, and I began to explore the flavors of different foods instead of relying on the taste of oil to make things taste good. Now, I actually dislike the taste and texture of olive oil.

I don’t want to cause any ruffled feathers by saying eliminating refined oils is 100% necessary and correct for everyone’s dietary path. Nutrition is personal and subjective, food is an opinion. My opinion is that my body feels better with less oils. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. 🙂


“Cheesy” pasta with vegan sausage and broccoli

Whole wheat pasta with apple sage Field Roast sausage, broccoli, and a cheese sauce made from Daiya mozzarella, Earth Balance, and almond milk (unsweetened.)

Lately, I’ve just been making big one pot meals with a big serving of whole grains and green vegetables and also some kind of protein (beans, or in this case, the vegan sausage, which is soy-free, but based off of apples, potatoes, and grains.) I made a chili, lasagna, veggie enchiladas, that kind of stuff.

This meal wasn’t particularly as healthy as I would have liked. The sausage is delicious, but high in fat and pretty oily. As are the Earth Balance and Daiya cheese too. But I was just feeling a treat. Next time, I would remake this with cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and balsamic marinated mushrooms. Then I would make a thick cashew based cream sauce to go on top. Yumm… I kind of wish I had thought of that instead…