Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Instant Pot Coconut Curry Zucchini Soup
Vegan And Gluten Free

A good way to use your garden zucchini!

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It's Zucchini Time
There have been years when I've planted so many zucchini that I was ready to set the garden on fire.  This year I promised myself I would scale back and only planted a single zucchini. However, it's so prolific that I'm still having a hard time keeping up with it. So you may be seeing more zucchini recipes this summer.

My one and only zucchini plant.
Today's recipe also uses potatoes since we just harvested over 50 pounds of new potatoes a few days ago. They are so easy to grow and what's better than a freshly harvested new potato?

Our potato harvest.
Although I cook this in my Instant Pot, you can easily make this on the stovetop. I include notes on stovetop directions below.

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Coconut Curry Zucchini Soup
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[Makes 9 Cups]


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (~1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sweet curry
1/2 teaspoon hot curry, or to taste
2 pounds zucchini, sliced
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and diced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can lite coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Heat the oil in the Instant Pot using the SAUTE function. Add the onions and ginger and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off the Instant Pot and stir in the sweet and hot curry. (To make on the stovetop, do this step in a large saucepan.)

Stir the curry into the onions.

Add the zucchini, potatoes, broth, coconut milk and salt.

Sliced zucchini and diced potatoes.
Lite coconut milk has plenty of flavor and
creaminess but far fewer fat and calories.

Secure the lid, press the MANUAL button, and set for 5 minutes under high pressure. When done, press the OFF button and quickly release the pressure. (To make this on the stovetop, simmer in the large sauce, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Continue with recipe.)

When complete, open the cover and tilt so that the steam comes out the back and away from your face. 

Using a hand immersion blender, blend the soup until fairly smooth but leaving some small chunks of zucchini and potatoes.

You still want to see the specs of zucchini.
Stir in the lime juice and adjust salt if necessary and serve.

(Per cup): 112 calories, 5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, and 276 mg sodium.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Vegan Green Tea Latte
Delicious With Lots Of Health Benefits

Packed with the powerful catechin, EGCG.

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How I Start my Day
I need a little help getting started in the morning - who doesn't? I had to give up coffee years ago because it triggers my reflux. I still occasionally treat myself to a decaf almond cappuccino but I always start my day with a high quality Sencha green tea from Japan.

Green tea has been enjoyed as a health-promoting beverage since ancient times. Many of its health benefits are attributed to its most abundant catechin polyphenol, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate.) It has clear cognitive benefits and since I turned 69 this week, keeping my brain working is pretty important to me! It also has very strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and helps prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, stabilize blood sugar, and boosts your immune system.  
I usually just drink a cup of Den's Sencha tea (using their pyramid tea bags) or make a cup of Matcha Green Tea. But for an easy treat, I make myself a green tea latte.

Compare to Starbucks Latte Macchiato

A Starbucks Grande whole milk latte provides:
230 calories
12 g total fat
7 g saturated fat
35 mg cholesterol
19 g carbohydrates
18 g sugar
12 g protein
160 mg sodium

A Sencha Green Tea Almond milk Latte provides
7.5 calories
1 g total fat
0 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
0 g carbohydrates
0 g sugar
0 g protein
40 mg sodium
If you substituted a green tea latte made with unsweetened almond milk and stevia for a Starbucks whole milk latte every day, you'd lose 23 pounds in one year!

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Green Tea Latte
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 1 serving]

Espresso Aeroccino Plus or other milk froth maker
Mesh strainer (optional for topping)

1 cup of green tea
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
Stevia drops or 1/2 packet stevia, to taste 
Pinch of matcha powdered tea (optional topping)

Prepare a cup of green tea by pouring boiling water into a cup leaving room at the top for the milk. Let the water cool to 140 to 160 degrees F. You don't need a thermometer. Do this.

Make your froth by adding milk and stevia to your froth maker. 

Spoon into your tea.

You can top the froth with a touch of powdered matcha but put it through a fine mesh strainer so that it doesn't clump.

Latte with optional matcha topping

At less than 8 calories a cup, enjoy as many as you'd like!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Buckwheat Soba Noodle Salad
Vegan And Gluten Free

Here's a great dish for your 4th of July celebration!

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Perfect for Guests
If you are going to a potluck, picnic, or entertaining at home this 4th of July, this salad is sure to please your guests. Besides being delicious, it's gluten and dairy free. It's also served at room temperature so no worries about making it at the last minute or heating it up. I know the dressing has a lot of ingredients, but it really is quite easy to put together. You can also make the dressing ahead of time.

Buckwheat is rich in high quality protein.It's also high in dietary fiber and is a good source of iron, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and potassium. It also provides a good amount of B vitamins.

If you are gluten intolerant, make sure the package says 100% buckwheat as some brands mix buckwheat with wheat.

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Buckwheat Soba Noodle Salad
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 6 to 8 servings]

For the dressing:
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon sesame tahini
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon gluten-free Tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions plus some for garnish
1/4 cup chopped herbs (parsley and cilantro)
For the salad
8 ounces 100% buckwheat noodles
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds

To make the dressing, mix the ginger, garlic, and tahini into a paste and slowly mix in the oils, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Add the pepper flakes, scallions, and parsley and stir until well combined. Set aside.

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Do not overcook and rinse well with cold water.

Drain the noodles well and place in a salad bowl. Add the grated carrot and seeds, saving some black sesame seeds for garnish. Toss with the dressing, garnish with a few sliced scallions and black sesame seeds and serve.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Flourless Plantain Tortillas
Low Calorie And Gluten Free

Green Plantains make delicious grain-free tortillas.
And, they are less than 40 calories!

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Gluten and Grain-Free Tortillas
Most people buy corn tortillas when they are trying to avoid gluten or products made from various gluten-free grains such as brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, millet, teff, and sorghum. But if you want to avoid grains completely, here's a brilliant alternative that my friend Margarite introduced me to - making tortillas from green plantains!

Make sure to buy green plantains, not ripe ones.

Plantains may look like bananas but they are starchy, not sweet. They are not eaten as a fruit and must be cooked. The biggest difference is that they are not as easy to peel! But I'll be showing you a trick to make that easier. 

Although most plantain tortilla recipes just use plantains, I've jazzed these up with seasonings, and herbs. And of course I added some freshly harvested garlic. For my herbs, I used the lemon basil from my garden, but you can use any of your favorite herbs. Cilantro works well. For the chili lime spice, I used Rancho Gordo but you can use Tajin. Here's the recipe!

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Green Plantain Tortillas
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 18 tortillas]

Medium saucepan to boil plantains
Food processor
Non-stick or cast iron griddle
Tortilla press or two flat plates
1-Quart size Ziplock plastic bag

2 green plantains
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped lemon basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili lime spice 
Zest of 1 lime

Cut the ends off the plantain and cut it horizontally in 4 pieces. Slice each chunk vertically along its seam. This will make peeling them a lot easier after they are cooked.

Place the chunks of plantain into a pot of boiling water and cook until they just soften, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the skins and place the peeled plantains in a food processor with the remaining ingredients.

Process until the mixture turns into dough. Using your hands, turn the dough into 18 (1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch) balls.

Heat a griddle to medium high heat.

Place each ball in the center of a quart-sized plastic ziplock bag. Using a tortilla press or two flat plates, press the dough ball until it's a flat, 5-inch circle. You can buy a really nice Victoria 8 inch Cast Iron Tortilla Press for around $25 on Amazon.

Victoria 8 inch cast iron tortilla press.

Carefully peel off the plastic and place the tortilla on a heated grill. Cook for several minutes until the tortilla is slightly brown. Turn over and cook a bit longer, about a minute. Do one more quick flip, if needed, and you're done.

Cool a minute so that they are pliable and enjoy. To save and reheat, place a piece of wax paper between the leftover tortillas, place in a Ziplock bag and refrigerate. They will last several days. 

Per tortilla: 36 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 54 mg omega-3 and 379 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 1 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 244 mg sodium*.
*Sodium with vary with the brand of chili-lime seasoning.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Is The Perfect Time
For A Raw Food Cleanse

Enjoy Chia Seed Pudding on your raw food cleanse.

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Raw Food Cleanse
It's been almost a hundred degrees here all week and I've naturally been craving raw foods. So I thought it might be a perfect time to do a raw food cleanse. 

I've been writing about raw food cleanses for at least 7 years now. For me, it's a much easier way to detox than doing a juice fast or other liquid fasts. Eating raw food is satisfying, doesn't trigger a severe detox reaction and it doesn't require taking a bunch of herbal supplements (although B12 supplementation is always necessary when on a raw vegan diet.)

How Long?
What I like about doing a raw food cleanse is that any amount of time gets results. You can do it for a day, a weekend, a week, 21 days, or a month. It depends on your goals. Are you trying to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, break some bad eating habits, jumpstart a healthier lifestyle program, or just do a general detox? 

The Rules
It's really simple. Just eat mostly organic raw food - vegetables, fruits, nuts, sprouted grains and legumes. If you want, add a 1/2 cup of cooked beans or quinoa each day to one of your meals, but otherwise just raw food. Drink lots of pure water and skip the soft drinks and booze.

For breakfast, or anytime of day, drink raw smoothies like my favorite Blueberry, Pear and Baby Spinach Smoothie. Or start the day with a breakfast fruit salad with nuts. If you are feeling ambitious and you have a dehydrator, make Raw Granola.

Blackberry, Strawberry, and Mango Breakfast Salad.

For lunch or dinner, enjoy a raw soup like Raw Zucchini with Crushed Pistachios, or make a gigantic raw salad like Bernadette's Everything In The Garden Salad.

Scoop up fresh guacamole with slices of jicama and bell pepper. Make a Veggie Sushi Roll.

Enjoy raw desserts like Chia Pudding or raw Peach and Blueberry Crisp. If you have a Yonanas Elite Healthy Dessert Maker, you can eat 100% raw fruit soft-serve "ice cream" every night!

My favorite yonanas dessert is frozen bananas with cherries.

There are many delicious raw food recipes on the blog that you can use or you can download my ebook, Health Begins in the Kitchen for more recipes and detailed instructions on how to do a raw food cleanse with menus.

So don't deprive yourself or try a dangerous juice fast. Try a raw food cleanse!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lotus Foods Rice Ramen
Gluten Free, Low Sodium And Vegan

So much healthier than Top Ramen!

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Eating Ramen at Home
Who didn't get through college eating Top Ramen? As I now look at the nutritional information on the back, I'm amazed we all survived! Assuming the entire package was consumed (who eats half a block of ramen), here's what you get:

Top Ramen (one package of Oriental Flavor)
380 calories
14 g of fat, 7 g saturated
1600 mg sodium

And these lovely ingredients:
Wheat flour, Palm Oil, Salt, Calcium Silicate, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Succinate, Dried Leek Flake, Garlic Powder, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Maltodextrin, MSG, Onion Powder, Potassium Carbonate, Sodium Alginate, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Soybean, Spice, TBHQ, Wheat.

This looks more like a chemistry experiment than food!

Along Comes Lotus Foods
Although this is still a processed food with very little whole grain, Lotus Foods Rice Ramen addresses a number of issues. First, it's gluten free and made from organic rice. And second, it has fewer calories, much less fat, and half the sodium. A double serving provides:

Lotus Foods (one package of Jade Pearl Ramen with Miso Soup)

280 calories
2 grams of fat, 0 saturated
820 mg sodium (still high but half that of Top Ramen)

The ingredients of their Pearl Jade Ramen with Miso Soup are actually food and include:
Organic Brown and White Rice, Bamboo Extract, White Miso Powder, Salt, Soybean Powder, White Onion Powder, Tamari Powder, Dried Wakame Seaweed, Dried Parsley.

Lotus Foods Ramen comes in a number of flavors including:
* Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
* Jade Pearl Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
* Millet and Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
* Wakame and Brown Rice Ramen
* Buckwheat and Mushroom Rice Ramen
* Purple Potato and Brown Rice Ramen

I tested the Jade Pearl Rice Ramen with Miso Soup and the Millet and Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup.

Pearl Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
Like the Ramen in our past, you get a block of Ramen and a soup packet.

You bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add the Ramen and soup packet to the pot and simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. The Ramen broke up nicely and after 4 minutes I removed it from the heat and waited a bit until the noodles were just right.

Add Ramen and soup packet to boiling water.
Simmer for 4 minutes and remove from heat.
Serve as is or add other good stuff.
You can add veggies and a protein for a hardier meal.

The flavor of the Pearl Jade was a very mild miso. It was good but a little bland. It definitely needed the added vegetables.

Millet and Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup

For some reason, the block of millet and brown rice Ramen didn't break up as nicely as the Pearl Jade and the noodles took a little bit longer to soften.

The millet and brown rice clumped a bit more.

I did like the flavor of the millet and brown rice's miso soup. It had a little kick to it since it contained dried chili pepper in the soup pack.

The millet and brown rice soup was more flavorful.

I bought these products at our local Whole Foods. Here's their STORE LOCATOR to find the nearest store. Or, purchase them ONLINE

Monday, June 05, 2017

How To Grow Pole Beans 7 Feet High
A Better Use For Tomato Cages!

A simple way to grow pole beans.

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Pole Beans 
One of the most enjoyable things about growing beans is to see how tall and how fast they grow. But let's face it, we are all tempted to grow bush beans, especially if we don't have anything for beans to climb on. Here's a really easy way to grow pole beans in a very small space with something you probably already have!

A Better Use for Tomato Cages
Tomato cages are probably the worse design in history. As the tomato plant grows, you are constantly trying to figure out how to stuff the thick stems through the narrow bottom circular ring. There are much better ways to grow and stake tomatoes, such as a square cage made of hog wire. 

As an engineer, I look for ways to use failed contraptions and since I have a pile of useless tomato cages, I thought, "why not build a tower for my beans and other climbing vegetables?" (I am also using this technique to grow cucumbers.) Here's what I did. I asked my husband Doug to demonstrate.

#1 - Place a tomato cage upside down on the growing site.
The picture shows the regular size tomato cages but for my beans, in the pictures below, I use large tomato cages. They will create a 7-foot tower. 

#2 - Insert a second tomato cage right side up into the bottom cage.

#3 - Align the cages so that they are perfectly straight.

#4 - Stake the cages in place with one or two pieces of rebar or other types of stakes.
Beans are pretty top heavy so use 2 stakes.

 #5 - Plant a bean seed at each vertical bar.
As they grow, train them to grow up the bars.

#6 - When the plant grows laterals, tie some twine from the bottom wrung to the top to provide additional vertical bars for the beans to grab.

#7 - Watch them grow!
In a very short time, my Romano beans grew 7 feet tall! And now they are cascading over the top and will make their way back down.

You might even see a hummingbird using it to take a little rest!

Several weeks later!

My Favorite Beans
My favorite beans are the Italian Romano Beans. They are quite prolific and very easy to grow. Here's what they will look like at harvest.

Last year's harvest of Romano beans.
Here are some recipes for Romano Beans:

Romano Green Bean and Garbanzo Bean Salad.

Julienne Cut French Style Green Beans.