Wheat Berry Salad

Back On Track Wheat Berry and Bean Salad

Adapted from Alive Magazine and http://ohsheglows.com/2010/12/28/back-on-track-wheat-berry-and-bean-salad/.
Yield: 7.5-8 cups
Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry wheat berries, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups/500 ml cooked navy beans (I was out so I used chickpeas!)
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, diced with large stems removed
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • Kosher salt + pepper, to taste

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste (I used 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp hot mustard (I used regular)
  • 1 tbsp Tamari
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions: In a medium bowl, soak the wheat berries overnight in cold water. The next day, drain the wheat berries and place in a medium sized pot, covered in 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the diced vegetables (cucumber, red pepper, tomato, minced garlic, parsley, green onions). Add in cooked and drained navy beans (or other bean of choice) and stir.
In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, Tamari, fresh lemon juice). Set aside.
When the wheat berries are ready, drain and rinse and then stir into the salad. Add the dressing just before serving and stir well. Now season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with additional parsley if desired.

This was my first “go” with wheat berries. If you have not tried them, they are delicious! They are similar to brown rice in flavor. They remind me of mini barley pearls. This salad turned out fantastic and will be my lunch for the next few days.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet Potato Pancakes
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted and divided
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted the salt)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 mashed sweet potatoes (about 3/4 cup)
Directions
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 tablespoons pecans, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt in a large bowl. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (milk through eggs); add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Stir in sweet potatoes.
Spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Sprinkle pancakes with 2 tablespoons pecans.

This was an incredible way to start Sunday morning. The kitchen smelled like Thanksgiving Day. They tasted even better. There were plenty left over, so I placed the rest on a cookie sheet and froze them. I am going to pop each one off of the cookie sheet and place them in freezer bags for another day.

Needs Black Olives? Huh?

Quick Tortilla Pizza

Spread some salsa on large flour tortillas. Sprinkle black beans and thawed corn. Sprinkle some shredded colby jack over top and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. We made some guacamole and dropped a few dollops on each slice. Dinner in less than 15 minutes! And veggie kid approved.

I took one bite and said, “needs black olives!” The mostly vegetarian husband almost fell out of his chair. He knows that there are few things I don’t like…..and olives are at the top (they resemble fish eyes if you ask me). He thought it needed peppers. The kids will pick off peppers if they can see them (but eat them when hidden). I didn’t want to argue or waste peppers, so I caved before whining could begin. Add peppers and black olives and it would probably make for a better tortilla pizza.

Crustless Spinach and Broccoli Quiche

Breakfast for dinner. The mostly vegetarian children will eat Quiche. I find it strange for kids to love Quiche and ask for seconds. But that is just what my kids did last night.

Spinach, broccoli, and Vidalia onions. About 6 or 7 eggs beaten (feel free to veganize with tofu) and feta cheese for some saltiness. Pour into a greased pie plate for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees. I made some skillet potatoes with baby bella mushrooms and green beans. I pan-fried a few Morning Star veggie sausage links and viola! The children practically broke into song. I felt a little like Bill Cosby in Himself (but without the chocolate cake).

For those of you who have children, do they every surprise you with the things that they “love” to eat?

Boycotting Valentine’s Sweets

I don’t bake much but I hear that coconut oil is all the rage in vegan baking and cooking. Since this mostly vegetarian family is also trying to save money, I can’t really justify “trying” just any coconut oil. But then, I saw that Trader Joe’s recently started carrying some. I hear it averages $5.99 for a pint. I can handle that, since it is a substitute for Earth Balance and extra virgin olive oil. (I have also been told that you can use it for eczema. So I can stop using my crazy expensive prescription goop). So, I called my closest store (Rochester, MI) and they laughed at me! The person who answered the phone told me that they can’t even stock the shelves fast enough. So I am thinking this must be good stuff? Now I really need some.
I intended on making some tasty Valentine’s sweets, with coconut oil, for the mostly veg husband and the little vegetarians. I needed to know what all the fuss was about so I started researching some uses for coconut oil. Interesting enough, here are some other uses:
-Eczema – in addition to taking it internally, many have success applying it externally (sounds good to me! Will I smell delicious like coconut?)
-Fitness – coconut oil has been proven to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and escalate energy levels, all of which help decrease your unwanted fat, while increasing muscle ( I didn’t see any links to any studies that proved this. Seems kind of high in calories but what do I know?)
-Use 1 cup to 1 cup ratio when replacing other oils/butter in recipes with coconut oil. (This was my initial goal. To use in some really cute baked donuts using the recipe from http://peasandthankyou.com/recipage/?recipe_id=6016706)
-Replacement for butter/lard/Crisco/PAM in it’s solid form – greasing pans, pie crusts, etc. (or maybe a chocolate tofu mousse pie with coconut oil used in the crust).
-Lubricant – it is an all natural, perfectly safe personal lubricant. Not compatible with latex! (Holy cow! Seriously? Who came up with this? I don’t want to know, but it is almost Valentine’s Day. Someone might need this for that.)
So now I am intrigued and unable to get my hands on Trader Joe’s coconut oil. I am going to boycott baking until I can get some.
Has anyone used coconut oil and what were your findings? (Keep it clean, I don’t need to know about the last use I mentioned people!). Or if you work for Trader Joe’s; send me some!

Vegan Protein Powder

I have been really busy with sick little people and obscene amounts of laundry. I have also spent a large amount of time on the couch cuddling the little people who have not felt well in almost a month. The oldest one (we are now calling the Ebola monkey) continues to bring home wicked nasty germs to share. First it was a cold, then the cough, then vomit. I think the vomit (mostly projectile) was my personal favorite.
The littlest mostly vegetarians in the family are finally on the mend. That means that I can get back to work on this blog (and cooking). We have greatly diminished our freezer stockpile now. I have been unable to plan, shop, or cook for quite some time now. I think everyone is tired of lentil soup and chili.
On a side note, I have spent a lot of time on my iPhone. It seems to be my only link to the outside world. I decided to download a free app to keep track of my food intake. It also summarizes your daily nutrition. I found several things interesting. My sodium intake is far lower than the USDA recommended amount (probably due to the minimal amount of processed foods). I also appear to ingest the recommended amount of protein on a vegetarian diet. My vitamin intakes are off the charts without taking any supplements at all.
So according to the USDA, I am eating healthier than their recommendations (both calories and nutrition) on a vegetarian diet. I had a theory that I was getting the “right” amount of nutrients and didn’t need a vitamin supplement. I guess I was right. I might need an occasional protein boost on my heavier workout days. That is what lead me to SunWarrier. They even sent me a free sample to try before I purchased any.
I blended my packet with a frozen banana and some unsweetened almond milk. Very tasty. Not too gritty. It blended well. It has 15 grams of protein in one serving. I think I will have to pick some up!

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

Do you see those big lumps poking out from behind the cheese? Yep, artichoke hearts. Not from a can, previously frozen delicious hearts.

And a slice for me thank you!

 

This pizza is so easy to make and at a fraction of the cost that our local pizza place charges. I like to keep bread flour, olive oil, and yeast packets on hand. When the kids cry for pizza, I don’t have a problem making it for them. Sure, the pizza place can deliver in 30 minutes, but in an hour, we have homemade. The mostly vegetarian husband and I like to top our’s with artichoke hearts, fresh spinach, feta cheese and a little mozzarella. Here is a super fast crust recipe:
Ingredients
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in flour, salt and oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan or baker’s peel dusted with cornmeal. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Vegan Ribs, Cuban Black Bean and Jerk Asparagus Review

 The finale score on the Vegan Ribs, Cuban Black beans, and Jerk Asparagus? 8.5. The beans could have been better. I believe they are missing something (lime maybe?). The seitan ribs were the best wheat gluten fake meat we have made EVER (and fast). As you can see, we opted to dip our’s in BBQ sauce, instead of basting them. The star of the meal? Jerk Asparagus. It was amazing!!!!!!
Check back with yesterday’s post for the links to the recipes to all 3.
What did you other vegan/ vegetarian bloggers have? Did you go with traditional chili or switch it up like we did?

Vegan Ribs, Cuban Black Beans, and Jerk Asparagus

A year ago today, my husband and I were on the warm beaches of the Dominican Republic. We watched the Superbowl on a giant screen on the beach, drinking Brugal Rum.

Mmmmm…..I miss this.
The mostly vegetarian husband had a brilliant idea; make a Caribbean inspired dinner for the Superbowl! Genius. He even found Brugal rum! So here is what is on tap (besides the rum):
Dragonfly’s Vegan Ribs (http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=7589.0)
Cuban Black Beans and Rice (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cuban-black-beans-i/)
Jerk Asparagus (This recipe is from the vegan cookbook Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.)
Since I have not made any of these items just yet, I will share them tomorrow. In the meantime, the husband and I are enjoying looking at the photos from our trip and reminiscing. Here is a photo of an abandoned home. It was beat up pretty badly in the last hurricane. The husband and I said that we will be back someday to restore it and retire there.

We can dream right? We were on vacation and probably enjoyed too much rum? Maybe our brains were fried from all of the vitamin D? Who cares!? It was a great trip.
Oh and GO GIANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On My Mind

I am not sure where to start today’s blog. There are so many things on my mind, both family and food related. Both kind of sicken me. I have tried my hand at a few new dishes to our household lately. I am busy dodging germs so I do not have any photos to post to make you read on. Nor do I have any real recipes to follow. Today, I am going to vent! I might sneak in a tofu tip at the end. So here we go.

Family: I received a call from the oldest mostly veg child’s school today. He projectile vomited on his teacher and her desk. I drove like a crazed mom to pick him up. I arrived to find my baby sitting in the school office with a dried vomit goatee and some on his shirt. He was parked in front of a garbage can. There was no vomit in the can, so clearly, nobody offered him a tissue to wipe his face. Puke and inconsiderate adults. Hmmmmm.

Food: I have to comment on the whole Paula Deen’s big announcement on having type 2 diabetes. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that particular form of diabetes managed with diet and exercise? She is a women who has capitalized on her high fat and high calorie cooking. Why doesn’t she see this as an even bigger opportunity to expand into healthy cooking? Her “people” should contact T. Colin Campbell’s “people” and get on the bandwagon! She could prove to the world how switching to a vegan (or mostly vegetarian diet) could make vast improvements on her health, or even reverse her diagnosis.

Now that you have allowed me to vent, let me share a tid-bit of information with you. When I first started working with tofu, I found that it needed to be “pressed” before use. Another tip ,that most recipes or cookbooks share, is to freeze the tofu prior to pressing it. That’s right! Drain it, freeze, thaw, then press. Then marinade.

If you have children, this concept is brilliant for trying to make anything resembling a ‘cheesestick’ or ‘chicken nugget’. They will try it. I marinaded the tofu in vegetable broth, soy sauce, and poultry seasoning. Then I just pressed each piece into a whole grain bread crumb/ whole wheat flour mixture and baked. Placed onto a sprayed cookie sheet. Sprayed the tofu lightly. Baked for 15 minutes on each side at 400 degrees. Dunk in the dip of your choice and viola! Happy kids! Until the next day when they puke on their teacher……..but not due to the tofu, the stomach flu is “going around”.