Make it a Revolution, not a Resolution

The New Year is right around the corner and who hasn’t already thought about those dreaded “resolutions”?  You know, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds” “I’m never eating fried foods” “I’m going to the gym every day” and on and on they go.

Two years ago, what started as a resolution for me became a revolution. A close friend suggested that we sign up for Veganuary.  According to their website, “Veganuary is a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.” I signed up and at the same time, I also joined a new group on Facebook called the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue, which is a plant based lifestyle program. So, between the two groups, I was committing myself to some pretty significant changes.

I had thought I was a pretty healthy eater until I began following these programs. At first, I felt that I was giving up so many of the foods that I enjoyed-and I did struggle initially. They say your tastebuds will change when you give up all the processed foods, and it’s true. Simple, unprocessed foods really do taste better. Fruits and vegetables and whole grains are delicious when they are prepared without oil and extra salt. I’ve learned to cook in a completely new way. I have found friends online and in real life who eat and cook this way and it is exciting to have people to share this with.

So, I’m going to throw a little challenge your way. How about starting with some small changes. And here’s the twist-start now! Don’t wait for January 1-you CAN do this now. When you’re done reading this, go for a walk. If you’re up north where the weather is frigid, walk in place while you’re watching tv. Start with 10 minutes, if you’re not used to exercising. The goal is to just get moving.

Next, I want you to stop using oil. Yes, even olive oil, which is not the health food that it claims to be. The olive itself is healthy, but the oil is stripped of all the nutrients and is a processed food. Did you know that you can sauté pretty much anything with just water or vegetable broth? I am not kidding-give it a try and you will be as surprised as I was the first time. Vegetables like onions just need a tablespoon, and mushrooms give off their own juice, so water isn’t even necessary. Use balsamic vinegar glaze as a salad dressing or just a few squeezes of fresh lemon on your greens. Thin out some hummus with a little water-it makes a great salad dressing too.

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Roasted Brussels sprouts and Sweet Potatoes-NO OIL

Start your week with “Meatless Monday.” Take a look at Pinterest or scroll through my blog to get some ideas. My son is a total carnivore, but I showed him how to make an easy rice and beans dish and now he cooks that on a regular basis. Once you repeat these small changes, they’ll become a habit and you’ll be on your way to better health.

Find foods and flavors that you love and look for recipes that are easy. If it’s simple, you’ll go back to it over and over. I love basil and I found a fabulous oil free basil pesto recipe from Oh She Glows. I make it at least once a week and use it as a vegetable dip, a spread on pita or even thinned out a little to serve over pasta.

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Oil Free Basil Pesto

The Engine 2 group that I mentioned earlier started on Facebook as a support for the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue book. When I joined the closed facebook group two years ago, I think there were a few hundred members. Today, there are over 31,000 members! Clearly, people are joining this revolution!

If you’re interested in individual help and guidance, I am available for one-on-one consultations. I want this to be YOUR year of revolution, not just a resolution.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

“Everything But The Bagel” Breadsticks

I found the most amazing new product last week while I was scrolling through one of my Plant Based LinkedIn groups. There was a post from Feel Good Dough and a beautiful food photo that caught my eye. I contacted the company to ask if this product was available in Florida, and the owner, Terry Thomsen, replied that it was not, but she would send me a dry mix dough to try out. I was super excited to receive my Feel Good Dough Oil Free, Whole Grain dough mix in the mail today.

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I had never heard of Feel Good Dough. A trip to their website shows all of the products that they offer and also has many recipes using their varieties of dough. In the dry mix, you can choose from three all organic mixes: Classic Original, Oil free-100% Whole Grain, and Chocolate. There is also a Grain Free Garbanzo mix. All of these are available to order on their website. The frozen doughs are sold in Ohio area stores, which they list on their website. The six frozen doughs are : Classic, Italian Herb, Roasted Garlic, Oil Free 100% Whole Grain and Chocolate–all “Clean” as well as a Cauliflower dough.

As a plant based eater who avoids using oil in my cooking and food, I was so intrigued by this product. And all of you lucky readers will now know about this fabulous product and you’ll have a new recipe too!

The dry mix recipe is really simple to make. It’s really my kind of cooking-one bowl is all you need. The instructions are very straight forward. There’s a small packet of yeast when you open the bag, and all you need to do is mix the entire bag (less one tablespoon that you’ll need for dusting your work surface) with the yeast, add 1 cup of lukewarm water and mix until you can form into a ball. Then you can knead the dough until its in a smooth ball and divide the dough in half. You’ll then need to roll out the dough.  ** Sentimental note regarding my rolling pin. **The giant wooden rolling pin that I use was given to me by my mother, who says it was her Grandmother Hannah’s, which she brought with her to America from Hungary. I was named after my great grandmother, so that rolling pin is kind of special!

Today, I decided to use half the recipe to make breadsticks, and I will likely use the other half to make a pizza tonight for dinner. The instructions on the dry mix state that any dough not used right away can be store in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen.

Everything but the Bagel Seasoning is an exclusive Trader Joe’s product and we use it in our house almost everything. It’s delicious on avocado toast or on top of (non dairy) cream cheese or sprinkled on cucumber slices-there are no wrong answers here. So when I thought about a recipe today, I immediately reached for my go-to spice. It was a great choice.

After I rolled out the dough to about a 12 inch form, that (as you can see from my picture), was not quite a circle. I used a pizza cutter to make strips. I transferred the strips to a round pizza stone and brushed each strip with aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas) and then liberally sprinkled with the seasoning.  I used the aquafaba as an egg wash replacement. If you aren’t plant based, then you can use an egg mixed with some water to brush on top of the dough to give it some color. It also gives the seasoning something to “stick” to.  I baked them for 12 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven until they looked golden and toasted. You can see how crispy and delicious they look, right??!

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They are really crunchy and tasted great on their own, but we also thought they’d taste even better dipped in some marinara sauce or some oil free basil pesto that we had in the fridge. Both are great options that won’t add a lot of calories and are great oil free options.

I hope that you give Feel Good Dough a try. I know I’ll be ordering some very soon. Hmmm, just thinking about what I can make with that Chocolate dough….Mmmmm!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Best Crunchy Oil Free Granola You Will Ever Eat—-Vegan

Crunchy. Oil Free. Dairy Free. Sweetened with just date paste—no other sugars.  You just found the best granola recipe ever with no added calories from oil.  The secret (magic) ingredient is aquafaba, which is the liquid that’s in a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Yep, you read that right-chickpea juice.

I’ve seen a few recipes online that use aquafaba in baking. I made a vegan challah last year by whipping the aquafaba to replace the eggs and I also tried another oil free granola recipe that replaced the coconut oil with aquafaba. It really does work as a great substitute for oil or eggs, depending on how it’s used.

 

 

Last week, I came across a recipe from The Lazy Cat Kitchen and I tried her method, which seemed to be the easiest one I have come across. Today, I tweaked her recipe to make an oil free and nut free version of granola. So many people these days have nut allergies, so I wanted to try a nut-free version of this typically nut laden snack.

Trail Mix Granola is the best of all worlds, in my opinion. You have the sweet and salty and crunchy too. I blended old fashioned oats and buckwheat groats and mixed in raw peanuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and a heavy dose of cinnamon. After the granola cooled I stirred in some raisins and some dairy free chocolate chips. Unbelievably good!

Crunchy Oil Free Granola

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Heres the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 325 and cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine oats thru salt and mix well. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the date paste, peanut butter, aquafaba and extract. Whisk to mix well. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and make sure it is well coated. Spread the mix onto the sheet pan and flatten into a single layer. Bake for a total of 30-35 minutes–but at 15 minutes, turn the pan around in the oven so that it cooks evenly. It’s done when it looks brown all over. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool-without stirring so that the granola clumps up. When the granola is cool, mix in the raisins and chocolate chips and try not to eat the whole pan at once!

 

 

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This will be your new favorite too!

I think this is my new favorite granola!  It’s got the crunch-it’s got the sweet and salty. The only thing that’s missing is the oil and calories, and who needs that? Hope you give it a try and love it as much as I do! Leave me a comment and let me know.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

Easy roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes

Time to clean out the fridge! I found some less than desirable looking brussels sprouts lurking in the veg drawer, so it was time to bring them to life. I decided to pair them with a couple of not so pretty sweet potatoes that were also nearly past their prime. Today I am going to show you how to easily roast vegetables without using any oil. This technique works with ANY vegetable. I use this method with broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, squash-you name it!

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Veggies all cut up and ready for seasoning

I sliced the brussels in half and chopped the sweet potato into small chunks in order to cook evenly. I then spread all the veggies on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzled them with some vegetable broth and covered them with Zatar seasoning. You can use any seasoning that you like. The Zatar spice blend is a middle-eastern blend that contains sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt. Next, I placed the pan in a preheated 400 degree oven. After 20 minutes, I stirred everything and continued cooking for about 15 more minutes. When they were finished, I removed the pan to cool and before serving, I drizzled them with some balsamic glaze.

When you cook without oil, your vegetables still get that crispy texture and you avoid all the added and unnecessary calories from the oil. You can see from the picture that “no oil roasting” in the oven still produces a crispy vegetable. Many of us were led to believe that oil was needed and was a”healthy” fat. It’s just not true. Oil is a processed food that provides no nutrients, only calories, which consist of 100% fat. In other words, eat the olive-not the olive oil!

I hope you give this technique a try. Brussels are a terrific green to add to your diet. They are considered a dark leafy green and they are rich in Vitamin C. Just one serving of brussels sprouts provides you with half of the daily recommended allowance for Vitamin C. And lets not forget the healthy benefits of sweet potatoes.  That beautiful orange vegetable is full of Vitamin A (beta carotene), and just delicious, too!

Leave me a comment and let me know what vegetable you decided to roast!

I have a new Facebook page. Please visit and “like” my page for more tips and cooking hints.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

Wouldn’t you love to save some time?

If you spend a few hours in the kitchen today, I promise it will be worth it  later in the week. It’s batch cooking time! (Insert very energetic emoji here)  I have referred to my “batch cooking Sundays” in previous posts and I felt like it was time to finally get around to showing you, dear readers, how I accomplish all this work. It really is fairly easy and worth a couple hours of effort. Follow my easy steps and you will be thanking me on Wednesday when you are tired and can’t think of anything to prepare for lunch or dinner.

The first thing I do is roughly decide what types of things I’ll want to eat in the coming week. Breakfast is the simplest do-ahead meal. I eat steel cut oats pretty much each weekday morning. If you make them from scratch in the morning, they take over 30 minutes. No one has time for that, but you can make a pot of oats on Sunday and refrigerate them. Every morning, just scoop out what you’d like and pop them in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Some mornings, I mash in a banana and blueberries. If you like savory oats, you can add some chopped tomato, chopped mushrooms or any other veggies you have on hand. Presto–sweet or savory breakfast oats.

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A breakfast staple

For lunches and dinners, I like to have a grain prepared ahead of time. Some weeks, I’ll cook short grain brown rice or maybe some brown basmati rice. Other weeks, I’ll bake 6 potatoes. These grains become the “base” of a meal. Once you have a grain, you can build on it with steamed vegetables, or a stir fry or beans for a Mexican-style meal. This week I decided to make farro. If you haven’t tried farro, you need to. It is a very hearty grain, similar to barley. The one I use is from Trader Joe’s and it cooks in only 10 minutes.

Next on the menu is butternut squash. For dinner tonight, we are having a new salad recipe that I found in the latest issue of the Forks over Knives magazine. It calls for butternut squash, so I decided to keep the extra cubed squash for meals later this week. Once you cube the squash, place on parchment paper and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. You don’t need to add any oil. If the squash seems a little dry, just brush with some water. I seasoned mine with smoked paprika, but you can try cinnamon or curry. The squash will be delicious later this week mixed with the farro and drizzled with some balsamic vinegar.

To round out my afternoon of cooking, I steamed a big pot of broccoli and I made a batch of dragon dressing. The dragon dressing is a staple in my kitchen. I make a batch almost every week. You can find this peanut-ty, absolutely delicious dressing in the Engine 2 Cookbook. 

Once you have all of your prep work done, just put everything in containers for easy access all week in your fridge. If you like asian flavors, make a bowl with farro, broccoli and dragon dressing. You can add in some water chestnuts and snap peas. If you’re in the mood for tex-mex, try heating up some black beans and salsa to mix with the farro and throw in some chopped spinach and some avocado and corn.

I hope that you give batch cooking a try. If you feel overwhelmed, just start with one thing. Cook your oats today and see how that works for your morning routine. Next week, try some grains or potatoes. This method of food prep really helps me stay on track during the week. Leave me a comment and let me know how your meal prepped worked out.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Chocolate Chip Banana Snack Bars

Why do I always end up with a bunch of (ripe at the same time) bananas? Seriously, I pretty much eat a banana every morning, but it never fails that no matter how many I buy, there are always the last few in the bunch that are too ripe to eat by the end of the week! Which brings me to today’s kitchen project.

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I know that my last couple of blog posts have been sweets, and I really wanted to try something else, but these ripening (as we speak) bananas on my counter were just calling out to be turned into something delicious.

I opened up the pantry and looked at what I had to work with and here’s what’s cooking today:  Chocolate Chip Banana Snack Bars. I made them oil free, dairy free, and gluten free (if you choose to use gluten free oats).

But first, a quick word about the chocolate chips. I have always bought the Enjoy Life Brand of dairy free chocolate chips. They are very good, but also on the pricey side; typically $5.99 for a bag.  I found these at Walmart in the Jewish food aisle and they’re only $2.74 for the same size. They are dairy free, vegan and kosher. That’s definitely a win-win for me!dscn0213-e1537392448848.jpg

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 C. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 C. almond butter, softened
  • 1 C. oat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 C. rolled oats (gluten free if preferred)
  • 2/3 C.  dairy free chocolate chips

I combined the bananas, applesauce, maple syrup and almond butter in a small bowl and stirred to combine well.  In a large bowl, I whisked the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. I then added the wet ingredients to the dry and stirred well to combine. Next, I mixed in the whole oats and the chocolate chips.  Once well mixed, I poured the batter into a parchment paper-lined 8 inch square pan. I placed the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. They should have a nice golden brown color.

 

 

I’m hoping that these freeze well. I think my daughter will enjoy these when we visit her next month at school.

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If you’ve got some spotty bananas on your kitchen counter, give these a try. You will not be disappointed. They are chewy, chocolatey and healthy, too. And we all know that’s a really good thing!

See you next time in the kitchen!

Heidi

An Homage to Apple Cookie Cake

NEW AND IMPROVED-UPDATED RECIPE FOR 2020

I decided to update this classic recipe to reflect my commitment to eating a whole foods, plant based diet and eliminating processed and refined sugars. In order to do that, I changed the sugar ingredient to date paste.

Date paste is quite simple to make. I typically make a batch about once a week. All you need to do is combine one cup of pitted medjool dates with one cup of warm water and blend in a high speed blender. If your dates are on the firmer side, it’s always a good idea to soak them first. You can use the date paste one for one in measurement for any sweetener like sugar or maple syrup. Blended date paste will last in the fridge in a sealed jar for about a week.

Next Sunday night marks the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah holiday. In my family, aside from worrying about what everyone will be wearing to Temple, it is all about the food. Growing up in my house, no Jewish New Year was complete without my mom’s Apple Cookie Cake. I’m not certain it was her original recipe, but she gave me a handwritten copy of it many years ago and I have used it so often that it has food stains from dripping batter and eggs. My favorite part of the recipe is “You can make a streusel topping as it looks nice” Honestly, I don’t even know how to do that!

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My mom’s handwritten recipe complete with food stains!

This year, as I continue with my plant based lifestyle, I am challenged to re-create the famous apple cake and hope that it becomes a new tradition in my home.  Instead of the cup of oil and 4 eggs, I used egg replacer and unsweetened applesauce. My mom is a fabulous cook, and she taught me many of my skills. I still cannot compete with her Thanksgiving stuffing or master the famous cranberry Jello mold!

Here’s my recipe:

Apple Cookie Cake

  • Servings: Makes one 9-inch square cake
  • Print

Dry Ingredients

  • 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 1/2  t. cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/4 C. unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 C. date paste
  • 3 T. unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • equivalent of 1 egg  (I used Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer: 1T mixed with 2T water)

Other: 3 C. chopped, peeled apples (I used honey crisp)

I first mixed the egg replacer and set it aside to thicken. I then used an electric hand mixer to blend the applesauce and date paste. The applesauce replaces the oil in the original recipe. I then added all the other wet ingredients and mixed well. Next, add in all the dry ingredients and combine. Lastly, stir in the chopped apples. Pour into a 9 inch square baking pan.

Your oven should be preheated to 350. I used the convection bake setting on my oven and it was done (golden brown) in 30 minutes.

The verdict? My husband and I patiently waited for the cake to cool enough to taste and we both agreed that it is just as delicious as the original. Apple Cookie Cake Redux for the plant based holiday table!

Give it a try and let me know what you think. See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi