Tag Archives: vegan

Salad Bar Night!

IMG_0229Challah, chocolate, potato chips, lollipops, more lollipops… that was the primary diet of my children over Rosh Hashanah.  Although at home I am careful with what I make and feed my kids, when they are at shul, the rules change.  My daughters have been basically adopted by wonderful members of our shul who each feel it is their responsibility to fill their sugar quota for the week (sometimes the month).  Once a week, I am happy for my kids to indulge and to understand that shabbos is the special day when we get these goodies, a three day yuntif however gets to be a little much in the sugar department.

This week it has been my goal to teach my kids what vegetables are again. Especially my three year old who somehow manages to hide bags of cookies from her Zaidy in her closet.  After studying one of my favorite new cookbooks,michael smith Family Meals by Michael Smith, it hit me, a salad bar dinner night!  My girls, who beg me to let them help in the kitchen, love being the mixers and the ones to decide which ingredient goes next. A salad bar is a perfect way to let my kids get involved and to feel ownership over their healthy choices. Our first attempt at salad bar dinner was a huge success, everyone was so excited about the colorful creations they were making. We made a game to see how many colors everyone could put on their plate, and taste! In addition to how great our dinner tasted, I love the fact that the only part of dinner that required cooking was the simple salmon I baked to go along with the salad.

Tip: cut vegetables can be prepared in advance, most last at least 3-4 days in fridge 

Salad Bar Dinner Night

(Obviously it depends on ingredients you prefer or have in stock, but this was our version)

large bowl lettuce

cooked broccoli

chopped avocado (with lemon juice sprinkled on top)

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Made by a 4.5 year old!

cut cucumbers

shredded purple cabbage

roasted beets

raisins

sunflower seeds

grated carrots

grape tomatoes

corn niblets

sliced mushrooms

chia seeds

ground flax

Dressings:

choice of Honey Mustard (honey, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic) or basic Vinaigrette (olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper).

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What my 3 year old voluntarily served herself and ate!

Tip: I like to buy organic vegetables when possible and cut them at home, but if you are short on time, most great salad bar toppings are available pre-cut and can make salad bar night even easier!

Tip: cut vegetables can be prepared in advance, most last at least 3-4 days in fridge 

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

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Last week, my family, along with my parents, siblings, and all of our children (for the first time ever all-together) had a fun-filled trip to Ohio in honor of my parent’s anniversary.  We had an amazing week of camping, hiking, and barbecuing.  Anyone who knows my family understands that although we referred to our beautiful accommodations as “camping” and we called our short walks that ended in 15 minutes of scenic picture taking as “hiking” the only part of that statement that was really true was the BBQ component. Basically we grilled and ate and grilled and ate…Although the food was all delicious, I definitely reached my quota on chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers for a good while and I was actually looking forward to a break from meat this week.  Not wanting to make fish and heavy cheesy dishes all week long, I found a few recipes for vegetarian chili that I combined and tweeked to fit my own requirements  for a wholesome meal that is natural, kosher, and a perfect healthy meatless dinner option. I served my chili with a recipe for vegan sour cream, from ohsheglows.com, but if you can tolerate dairy, any sour cream or melted cheese would make for a tasty topping

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients:

2 cups red kidney beans (soaked, prepared and cooked according to SCD guidelines) ***OR, if not following SCD, 2 cans of kidney beans drained and rinsed would be a quicker option

2 tablespoon oilIMG_4675

1/2 sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 small zucchini, diced

1 tomato, chopped small

7 oz (200 g) shitake mushrooms, stems removed, chopped small

1 cup frozen peas

1 1/2 cup strained tomatoes

1/2 cup marinara sauce

1/4 cup waterIMG_4680

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Optional add-ins to make it hot:

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder extra

1/2 teaspoon cayanne pepper

to make it really hot:

1 teaspoon hot sauce

Directions:

On medium heat, add oil and sauté onion, garlic, and celery for 5 minutes.IMG_4686 Add red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, frozen peas, sauté another 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add tomatoes, kidney beans, strained tomatoes, marinara, water and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Reduce to low until flavors are melded together and sauce has thickened, about 10 more minutes.

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I served my kids this dish, without the spicy seasonings, on top of gluten-free rice noodles. For my husband and myself, I made a cauliflower rice as a SCD friendly and lower carb side dish.

Strawberry Spinach Pear Shake

IMG_4279There is no better way to start the week than with a fresh shake loaded with fruits, vegetables and protein. In an ideal world, I would own a Vitamix (one day…) and be blending green drinks for my family every single morning, but life gets in the way, and mornings are usually VERY hectic, chaotic and rushed at my house. On those spectacular days when we can actually find two socks that match, shoes for the right season, and all other school/camp essentials without too many tantrums along the way…we are able to make shakes!  IMG_4262
Green drink “shakes” have been an amazing way for me to get my kids excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables, they love to help decide which ingredients we will be tossing in and to “help” me push the button (I am very careful to only let my girls help with the blender when supervised). My drinks always include a good amount of greens (usually spinach) some fruit, and many times a spoonful of almond butter for extra protein. Bananas are great for thickening the shakes and I like to keep a stash of ready-to-blend frozen ripe bananas in the freezer (for SCD, make sure that bananas are extra ripe, with brown spots).

IMG_4237On this particular morning, we also had some very ripe pears and strawberries that I was thrilled to use for added fiber, anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidants.  The result was a sweet, hearty and delicious smoothie. A drink so clean, refreshing and satisfying is the perfect way to start the week off towards easy healthy kosher eating!

Strawberry Spinach Pear Shake

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Ingredients:

2 medium size overripe pears (approximately 2.5 cups cubed)

10 strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1 overflowing cup baby spinachIMG_4250

1 tablespoon almond butter

1 banana (preferably frozen)

1 cup water

1/2 lemon squeezed

optional: 1/2 tablespoon fresh mint

Directions:

Chop strawberries and pear. Place all ingredients in blender, blend until smooth and enjoy!IMG_4259

yield: 6 cups

Tip: frozen fruits are a great way to keep prep-time down and to keep the shake cold without adding ice. Its fun to experiment with all types of fruits.

Roasted Eggplant Stuffed with Mushrooms and Tahini Dressing

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A few years ago, I was at my cousin Karen’s house for the holidays, and she served the most delicious appetizer of roasted eggplant stuffed with sautéed meat and covered in a  tahini sauce.  I was so taken by the dish, not only for the savory blend of flavors and textures, but also for the beautiful presentation that I knew could be achieved so easily. Over the years, I have served my cousin’s eggplant recipe many times and it is always a crowd pleaser.

Recently, I decided to try and make a lighter and  healthier version of the aforementioned recipe as a side dish at a large meal.  IMG_4131
I already had a lot of protein options in my menu, but I had an eggplant in my fridge and was determined to use it.   Instead of the usual meat stuffing, I decided to try it with sautéed mushrooms to achieve a similar mix of flavors and textures without all the heaviness.  The new recipe was a major success!  My guests loved the unique combination of vegetables and the creamy tahini dressing.  I know this recipe will be used again and again at my house, I can’t wait to try it with the mini eggplants for individual sized portions!

Roasted Eggplant Stuffed with Mushrooms and Tahini Dressing

I am dividing the recipe into 3 parts just to keep it clear.  Don’t be scared off if it looks long, this recipe is so easy!

Roasted Eggplant

IMG_4147Ingredients:

1 large eggplant

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 (if your oven has an optional setting for roasting, that would be best).
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Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Gently score inside of eggplant with a knife, making a crisscross pattern. Blend olive oil, salt and pepper and “paint” over inside of eggplant. Lay eggplant flat on parchment paper lined baking sheet and pierce skin of eggplant 2 or 3 times on each half.IMG_4085 Roast about 40 minutes or until skin is very soft (this is a good time to prepare mushrooms and tahini). Remove from oven and let eggplant stand as is for 10 minutes.  Mash the inside of the eggplant gently before filling (only do this step immediately before serving).

Sautéed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

1 medium white onion diced

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optional: 3 cloves chopped garlic

8 ounces fresh white mushrooms sliced thin

8 ounces crimini mushrooms sliced thin

1.5 tablespoon oil (can use coconut or preferred oil)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Sauté onions (and garlic if using) in oil on medium heat about 5 minutes, until soft. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another 10 minutes.

Tahini Dressing

It is always an option to use store bought tahini or chummus for this dressing, being that I can’t use those products because of SCD guidelines, I make my own.

Ingredients:

1 cup crushed sesame seeds
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3/4 cup water

1 cup fresh parsley leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 lemon freshly squeezed (about 3-4 tablespoon)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until creamy.
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When I am not serving dish immediately, I keep all ingredients separate to re-heat. After heating, use a fork to gently mash the eggplant. Add mushrooms. Spread a dollop of dressing on top. If the tahini gets too thick in the fridge, you can thin with either water or lemon juice. Enjoy!IMG_4125

Perfect Pears with Crumble Topping

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After the tragic news of this past week, it is so hard to resume normal life. I find myself completely hooked to my Facebook newsfeed for the continuous stream of news reports and individual responses to the sorrow that is felt around the world. During the past few weeks, I have gained so much strength from watching the amazing families of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad and from the unity of the Jewish people at this time. My thoughts are with the families of Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad and my hope is that they should be able to find strength and comfort from the knowledge that so many of us will try and move forward by creating more meaningful and more worthwhile lives in the memory of their beloved sons.

Perfect Pears with Crumble Topping

IMG_3945Last I checked, pears were considered a “fall” fruit, yet, lately every time I’m at the grocery store, it seems as though beautifully displayed pears are front and center. Not wanting to pass up these gorgeous fruits, I decided to abandon my original plan for a more summery strawberry rhubarb crisp (I will try and get to that another one of these days) and instead made a pear crisp.

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I mixed the pears with lemon juice, a touch of lemon zest, apple sauce and a drop of honey to moisten and enhance the flavour of the fruit. For the crisp topping, I combined all the nuts I had on hand, almonds, pecans and walnuts, with a bit of honey and coconut oil to hold it together.

At first, as I pulled out my new creation from the oven, I was disappointed for the lack of sizzling, bubbling juices that typically accompany a mouth watering crisp. After I tried this new dessert though, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted at how fresh and crispy the pears tasted, despite baking for so long, and how well the lightly sweetened nuts balanced the delicate fruit. Hot out of the oven, served with ice cream, or chilled from the fridge, this light tasting healthy dessert is a great gluten free option any time of year!

Perfect Pears with Crumble Topping

Ingredients:

7 (green) D’anjou pears

1/2 lemon juiced (2 tablespoons)

1/4 cup applesauce

3 tablespoon honey, divided

1 cup almond flourIMG_3959

1cup pecan meal

3/4 cup walnut nibs

1/3 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

5 tablespoon melted coconut oil

1 tablespoon canola oil

Tip: I order almond flour/pecan meal from www.digestivewellness.com, if these items are not available, this recipe would work by placing whole nuts into food processor. Coconut oil is available at most grocery stores in the health food section.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325. Cut pears into 1 inch chunks and mix well with lemon juice, zest (optional), applesauce and 1 tablespoon honey. In another bowl, combine almond flour, pecan meal and walnut nibs (any combination of nuts would be good) with remaining honey, baking soda, cinnamon and melted coconut oil.

IMG_3963Crumble with fingers to get a sand-like consistency. Dip a paper towel in canola oil to grease the bottom of 12-14 ramekins (I like baking in ramekins to make desserts individual size when possible, if you don’t have ramekins, any regular baking dish would work). Place approximately 2 tablespoons of fruit mixture in each ramekin and cover with crumble topping. Bake uncovered for one hour or until crisp looks brown and toasty.

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Tip: the topping recipe yields a lot of extra. This topping freezes well and can be used for later crisps.

Sweet and Sour Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad

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I was debating whether or not to name this salad the “Make Me a Vegan” salad, because, that is exactly how I felt after eating this amazing creation.  A few weeks ago, in preparation for the long awaited visit of my aunt and uncle, recent converts to “veganism”, I stumbled along an outstanding vegan blog called ohsheglows.com.  The feature recipe of that day, Roasted Potato, Asparagus and Lentil Salad with a lemon and mustard dressing, looked intriguing and easy, I knew I had to try it.  This recipe was my first attempt off that amazing site and I am feeling so ready to convert. Or at least to try and cook vegan dinners as often as possible…The honest truth is that the guidelines for the SCD diet that Jon is on would make a vegan lifestyle very difficult for us, but eating this way once a week, or a few times a week if possible, feels so great. Turning to lentils as a source for protein is a wonderful change from the same old chicken or fish dinners and leaves you feeling full and satisfied, but in a much lighter way.  I made my own version using butternut squash instead of potatoes (because potatoes are off limits on Jon’s SCD diet) and I thought the sweetness of the squash was a perfect complement to the tart lemon dressing.  I also decided to serve my adapted version over fresh spinach to add a nice crunch.  This dish is truly an easy, healthy, kosher winner, I’ve passed it along many times already and the only complaint is that there is never any leftover!

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Sweet and Sour Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes (cubes can be bigger, just make sure to modify cooking time)

1 bunch asparagus cut into 3 pieces lengthwise

1 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup uncooked green lentils (for easier digestion and for those following SCD, soak lentils overnight and rinse thru before using. The lentils will increase in size)

1/2 purple onion, chopped small

2 cups fresh spinach

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss squash with 1/2 tablespoon oil and spread evenly on one  baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, mixing halfway thru for even cooking. While squash is cooking, prepare asparagus and lentils.  Toss asparagus with remaining olive oil and spread evenly on prepared baking sheet. Place asparagus in the oven with squash and cook for an additional 15-18 minutes or until both squash and asparagus have brown edges. Place one cup of lentils in medium pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and let cook for 20 minutes or until lentils cooked thru. Mix lentils asparagus, squash and onions with tangy dressing (see below) and then toss in spinach. Dress salad at least 15 minutes before serving to let flavors absorb.

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Dressing:

1 heaping tablespoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

mix well before using.

Yield: 2 entree portions or 4-6 side dish

Kale Power Salad

 Kale Power Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing

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Craving a hot salad with my dinner, different from my usual go-to mixture of romaine lettuce and fresh vegetables, I decided to use kale, my favorite “superfood” as the base.  After raiding my fridge for other disease fighting ingredients, I was so excited with what I found: variety of mushrooms, red onion and purple cabbage; I could tell this was gonna be good!

IMG_3603Kale: A fully loaded nutrition power-house; a leading source of antioxidants, fiber and cancer-fighting vitamins (source).

Mushrooms: Besides for their meaty texture and low calorie benefits, mushrooms are a leading source of antioxidants, and help strengthen the immune system (source).

Red Onion: Loaded with nutrients that are anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and good for the heart (source).

Purple cabbage: High in fiber, this vegetable adds tremendous health benefits raw or cooked.  The deeper the colour of the leaves, the greater the levels of anthocyanins–these help to lower risk of many diseases including cancer and heart disease (source).

After sautéing all of the vegetables with a little salt, pepper, and turmeric, I thought the salad could use a little sweetness to counter-balance the slight bitterness of the kale, and so the “Creamy Cashew Dressing” was born.

Kale Power Salad

Ingredients:

2 tablespoon canola oil

1 bunch kale (5-6 cups)

1/2 medium red onion chopped small (1/2 cup)

8 ounce button mushrooms, sliced thin

8 ounce cremini mushrooms, sliced thin

5 leaves purple cabbage chopped small (3 cups)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)

Directions:

I like to use a wok, but any large sauté pan will work.  Heat pan for a few minutes on medium heat. Heat oil then add onions and cabbage. After the onions and cabbage start to get soft and tender (about 5 minutes) add mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes longer, until mushrooms are cooked but not soggy.  Mix in salt, pepper and turmeric if using.  Add kale, sauté another 2-3 minutes.  I like the kale to keep some of its crisp flavour and not be fully cooked.

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yield: 4-6 portions

 

Creamy Cashew Butter Dressing:

Ingredients:

1/3 cup tightly packed fresh basil

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoon cashew butter

3-4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup water

Directions:

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Dressing will thicken overnight, so I would recommend adding lemon juice or water to thin it.

yield: 1 cup, but 1/2 cup is enough for this salad portion

Spaghetti Squash…The Preferred Pasta

What if there was a way to replace the ultimate comfort food, pasta, with a natural, low calorie, high-fiber alternative?

Meet Spaghetti Squash

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A constant staple in my kitchen, spaghetti squash is a filling, grain alternative, that can be adapted to most pasta recipes for a lighter healthier option.  According to livestrong.com, spaghetti squash contains “almost every essential vitamin” and has only 42 calories per cup.  With a neutral but slightly sweet taste, this vegetable tastes great with pasta toppings, minus the “carb coma” effect of regular wheat noodles.

There are two methods I use to cook a spaghetti squash:

1. Cook in two halves: Cut Squash in half length-wise.  Scrape out seeds with spoon.  Lay two halves cut side down onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until peel feels soft to touch.  Let cool and gently peel out spaghetti strands with fork or spoon.

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2. Cook whole: Pierce with fork in several spots. Place in any baking dish and bake at 350 for one hour or until peel feels soft to touch.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Cut in half length-wise, and remove seeds (plus some of the very stringy, darker yellow part) with a spoon. Gently scrape out spaghetti squash with a fork or spoon, trying to maintain spaghetti-like strands.

*If the squash is not too hard to cut, and you have the proper knives, I recommend cutting in half length-wise before baking because I find it easier to take out the seeds that way.

Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and melted cheese is my personal favorite, but being that Jon and I are on a new “vegan-kick” and attempting vegan meals when possible…I just tried my spaghetti squash with Angela Liddon’s recipe for “15 Minute Creamy Avocado Dressing” from www.ohsheglows.com

Spaghetti Squash with “Creamy Avocado Dressing” 

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All you need is an avocado, some lemon juice, a few garlic cloves, basil, a touch of olive oil and a food processor.

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Use about one spoonful of dressing per bowl of spaghetti squash, mix and enjoy!

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