BUT, if we give change a chance, if we can get out of our comfort zone just a little bit and give ourselves time to readjust, what was once unfamiliar will eventually become familiar. This applies to all aspects of life, not just food, so keep it in mind next time you find yourself making comparisons between the known and the unknown or feeling hesitant about trying something new.
Anyway, since it has been quite a while since I’ve had my mom’s taco salad and I knew I wouldn’t have the attachment to its familiarity that I would have had years ago, I decided to give a vegan version of this recipe a go. Instead of ground chicken, I used ground tempeh, and I added corn in lieu of the shredded cheddar cheese she would sometimes add. Everything else was the exact same.
Well, I was totally impressed with how it turned out! I’ll just be blunt: it was spectacular. The ground tempeh was absolutely delicious. Which makes sense because, after all, I applied the exact same seasonings as she would with ground chicken. And as I always say, humans don’t crave the taste of plain flesh; we crave the seasonings, and those seasonings are plant-based! I really liked the corn, too. I had added it mostly for color but it provided pops of delicious sweetness that went really well with all the lime juice and the salsa. I probably make this once a week because now it is so tasty. And just like before, my stomach seems to hold serving after serving after serving. Thank goodness!
There are few things that I love more than beans and greens. At the moment, I can only think of two and they are my husband and my dog. I literally have beans and greens every single day. At least once. This blog probably should have be called “beans and greens.” Honestly, my whole life should just be called “beans and greens.”
I’m not the only one who thinks beans and greens are two of the most delicious foods on the planet. In fact, most of the world shares my fondness, which is why they appear together in cuisines all across the globe, from Southern BBQ black-eyed peas and collard greens, to Italian cannellini bean stew with kale, to Ethiopian spiced mung beans and cabbage. In addition, beans and greens combine high protein and fiber with disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals making them one mighty nutrition power couple.
So obviously, I just had to include a recipe with beans and greens for this series. My struggle, though, was deciding which one to pick because there are so many that I absolutely love. If I had to pick my favorite bean it would have to be the garbanzo bean (a.k.a. the chickpea) and some of most favorite beans and greens dishes are Indian, so I thought this recipe would fit the bill perfectly. If you love Indian food, as Mr. Goldhouse and I do, this is bound to be a new favorite. But if you are somewhat new to Indian food or sharing it with people who are, this dish is mild enough to be a nice introduction into one of the world’s most wonderful cuisines.
Feel free to eat on its own or with a side of brown basmati rice. Enjoy!
Cream of tomato soup typically calls for a lot of butter and heavy cream. Many people assume that is what is needed to achieve a thick, smooth and creamy consistency. But unless one is looking to add saturated fat, cholesterol, and casein, then the dairy products simply aren’t necessary.
To achieve the soup’s creamy consistency in my recipe, I use… you guessed it, beans! Navy beans, or any other white or light-colored beans, are great to use in lieu of dairy in creamy soups. And depending on how much creaminess you like, you can always add more or less beans.
Navy beans are rich in protein (1 cup has 15 grams), and a great source of iron, folate, manganese, and calcium. And like all beans, navy beans add fiber to any meal (dairy has no fiber whatsoever), making this soup more filling and satisfying, as well as healthier for your heart. So next time you come across a soup recipe that calls for heavy cream, just remember there are so many reasons to use beans instead.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: The first time I tested this soup, I served it as an appetizer and it totally overshadowed the entree. It was also pretty filling for an appetizer so I have since served it as an entree with a big green salad and that hits the spot just right. I have never been a huge tomato soup lover, but I adore this soup. During the filming of this series, we were experiencing record-breaking low temperatures in Boston and the kitchen is the coldest part of our house. I didn’t want to be in a huge puffy coat on camera but I was really freezing so as soon as we finished shooting this recipe, I just ate the entire batch by myself. I didn’t even put it in a bowl; I just held the bottom of the pot with my oven-mittened hand and ate it straight from the ladle. (It’s really a miracle I didn’t spill on my green shirt.) I’m sure the camera man thought I was crazy but I felt so much better. Like I said, this soup really hits the spot.
1-15 oz can navy beans (or 1 1/2 cups)
1-15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 dash cayenne
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, as garnish (optional)
1. In a soup pot, combine the navy beans, 3 cups of water, crushed tomatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and cover and simmer.
2. Meanwhile, dice the carrot, celery and garlic. Add the garlic to a saute pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the celery and carrots, and saute for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the cumin, smoked paprika, basil and cayenne to the saute pan and stir for 2 minutes.
4. Add the tomato puree to the saute pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes.
5. Add the saute mixture to the soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
6. Remove the bayleaf. In a food processor or blender, add the tamari, date, tomato paste and soup (in batches if necessary). Blend to desired consistency. Serve with chopped fresh basil, if using.
“Ensaladang Talong” is a traditional Filipino eggplant salad that is typically made with shrimp paste and lots of white vinegar. One of the reasons for so much white vinegar is because it helps reduce the fishy taste of the shrimp paste and the fish this salad usually accompanies. That just seems silly to me, especially when you could just not use any shrimp paste and serve it with something other than fish. Personally, I want to taste the ingredients in my dishes. If something doesn’t taste good and isn’t serving any particular function, then why bother including it?
In the recipe below, I show you how to prepare a fish-safe version of this salad. Since I wasn’t using shrimp paste and, therefore, didn’t need to worry about cutting any flavors, I used rice vinegar, which is milder and sweeter than white vinegar, and really enhances the tangy combination of the onion, tomatoes and chili.
I like to make this salad and then enjoy it in a variety of ways over the next several days. Some of my favorites ways to eat it are with grilled tofu, tossed with garbanzo beans, or over a bed of brown rice. What might some of your favorite ways to enjoy this salad be?
1 large eggplant
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional; I prefer to omit)
1 slice red chili
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1. Prick the flesh of one large eggplant with a fork and roast at 100 degrees for 45 minutes. Once cool, peel the skin, cut the stem and mash lightly with a fork.
2. In a bowl, combine two chopped tomatoes, one chopped onion, one half teaspoon salt and one slice of red chili. Add the eggplant and then toss to mix.
3. To prepare the dressing, mix three quarter cup of wine vinegar, two tablespoons of soy sauce and some freshly ground pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix and then garnish with some sliced scallions.
Mustard greens are so incredibly healthful, it was hard to decide which of their many benefits I ought to focus on in this post. Here are just three reasons why you’ll want to incorporate more of these luscious leafies into your diet:
Mustard greens support the cardiovascular system in three significant ways. First, they are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation narrows the arteries and increases the risk that they’ll become blocked, so these anti-inflammatory properties are obviously a huge benefit. Second, by binding with bile acids in the intestines, mustard greens help lower cholesterol levels. And third, because mustard greens are exceptionally high in the B-vitamin folate, they help prevent homocystein build-up. Homocystein is an amino acid found in the blood that is acquired mostly from eating animal products. High levels are related to the development of heart and blood vessel disease.
Mustard greens are also powerful cancer-fighters because they are LOADED with a broad spectrum of antioxidants. Chronic oxidative stress is a major risk factor for the development of most cancer types and antioxidants lower our risk of oxidative stress on our cells (hence the name: anti- oxidants). For the record, plants have on average 64 times more antioxidant power than animal products. The few antioxidants that do happen to be found in animal products are only there because those animals were fed plants.
And lastly (though I truly could go on endlessly), mustard greens are an excellent source of calcium. While dairy products have long been touted as “good for your bones,” the countries with the highest consumption of dairy also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. This is because dairy, like all animal products, is highly acidic. The body needs to keep a very specific acid-alkaline balance in order to function, so whenever animal products are consumed, the body must find an alkaline source so it leaches the calcium from our bones (which is high in alkaline). So, in fact, consuming dairy products are quite harmful to our bones. Mustard greens, on the other hand, along with other greens like kale, collards, bok choy, broccoli, and okra, are not acidic and thus only contribute to the strength of our bones.
So while you enjoy this quick and tasty recipe, you can also feel good knowing that you are eating one of the most healthful foods on the planet!
Need a dish that is guaranteed to impress? This is definitely the one.
I love this recipe because it includes everything we love about lasagna–the warmth, the comfort, and the heartiness. But, unlike traditional lasagna, my version is incredibly healthful. Not only does it leave out all animal products, it’s also made entirely of whole foods! Rather than using pasta noodles made with processed white flour, I instead use very thin slices of butternut squash. This makes the lasagna more healthful, more flavorful, and more colorful!
1/3 cup fresh basil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1. To make the sausage: Saute the carrot and onion for 10-15 minutes. Once browned, place vegetables into a food processor along with all the spices and flax. Add cooked quinoa and lentils and pulse just till ingredients begin to stick together (about 10-15 times). Place mixture in a pan and brown.
2. To make the ricotta: Place cashews, nondairy milk, lemon juice, garlic, and maple syrup in a food processor and blend till just smooth (remember, ricotta is somewhat grainy rather than completely whipped). Add in the basil, Italian herb blend, salt and pepper and pulse until blended in.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
4. Spread a thin layer of marinara onto the bottom of a glass dish.
5. Layer the squash on top. Avoid overlapping pieces as much as possible.
6. Place a layer of ricotta on top.
7. Spread a layer of sausage crumbles on top.
8. Add another layer of squash and then another layer of marinara sauce.
9. Start again at step 6 and repeat until near the top of the dish. Top with any remaining ricotta.
10. Cover with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes or until a knife can be easily inserted all the way through.
One of the things people worry about when contemplating going vegan is what the holidays will be like, particularly Thanksgiving. I recently received an email from a non-vegan friend who said that she had just learned about what happens to turkeys in slaughterhouses “and now Thanksgiving is ruined!”
Au contraire! The best Thanksgiving I ever had was my first vegan Thanksgiving. I felt that I was actually honoring the true spirit of the holiday, which is about giving thanks and celebrating life. Plus, putting aside the ethics and the health, it was the most delicious Thanksgiving I had ever had. After all, aren’t the real stars of the Thanksgiving meal the sides and the desserts?
One option for a vegan Thanksgiving is to have the meal be made up entirely of delicious side dishes. Personally, I think that would be absolutely fantastic, but I also know many of us are used to and enjoy having a main dish as a central focal point. Hence, this gorgeous stuffed acorn squash recipe!
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you what may be the greatest side dish of all time!
The first time I made this dish I ended up completely ignoring the main course and instead consumed all the yams.
It was glorious.
I will most definitely be making this dish for Thanksgiving this year and then again when we go down South to visit my in-laws over Christmas.
Also, just to be totally honest here, when I say “yams” I actually mean “sweet potatoes.” Don’t be mad though, because when you say “yams” what you probably mean is “sweet potatoes” too. What we commonly refer to as a “yam” in the U.S. is actually a “sweet potato.” Even in grocery stores, what are labeled “yams” are usually “sweet potatoes.” The USDA has tried to crack down on this crazy scandal by requiring that sweet potatoes labeled “yams” include “sweet potatoes” in the label as well. That’s why you’ll often see “sweet potato yams.” Both yams and sweet potatoes are nutritionally similar but sweet potatoes have a nutritional edge because they have much higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
While I usually don’t cook with oil because it is a processed food without any fiber, sweet potatoes (aforementioned “yams”) are one of those foods that benefits from being eaten with a small amount of fat. (Keyword here is “small,” folks! I’m talking 1-2 tablespoons for an entire recipe.) The fat allows us to better absorb the beta carotene, an antioxidant that is critical for eye health, bone health, and reproductive health.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil.
3. Spread the sweet potatoes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 25 minutes. Flip, and roast for another 25 minutes.
4. Place the cinnamon stick at the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish, and add the sweet potatoes in layers. Set aside.
5. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the remaining six ingredients plus the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil and pour over the sweet potatoes.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.