July 22, 2017
I had a wonderful opportunity this month to hold a class in Edmonton. It was great to meet both fellow vegetarians and those looking to make their diet more plant strong. We had a great discussion on the reasons for eating more plants – health, environment, compassion and spiritual.
For the class we used kale three different ways – in a green smoothie, in a main dish of rice and beans, and in a salad. For dessert, we had a simple fruit salad – no added sugar needed. The meal was delicious, simple to prepare and budget conscious – proving once again that it is not necessary to spend the day in the kitchen, have a lot of cooking skills or break the bank to enjoy a good, wholesome, home cooked meal.
One of the most important things you can do to improve your health is to add more greens to your diet. While it is best to chew your food, rather than drink it, I still find green smoothies the easiest way for most of us to increase the amount of green leafy veggies we consume. Since smoothies are well blended, the sugar from the fruit enters your blood stream faster than chewing the fruit, so it is best to sip it slowly and try to mix as much saliva with it as possible. My basic recipe for a green smoothie is below. For the class we used my favorite mix – kale for the greens, anana, orange and mango for the fruit, and a squeeze of lemon.
- 2 cups greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard, parsley, cilantro, beet greens, collards, etc)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (banana, mango, pineapple, orange, apple, berries, etc)
- Juice of ½ lemon
Place all ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth.
Tex Mex Casserole
This recipe which I have adapted from the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon, is a mainstay in my house. It is fast and simple to prepare and always gets good reviews. I like to use the leftovers to make burritos, and they freeze well too. Just roll in a flour tortilla, wrap in parchment paper and freeze for a later meal.
When making this casserole for a crowd, I usually to omit the jalapeño. The cayenne in the spice mix gives it a tiny bit of a kick, but not too much. Serve with a spicy salsa so guests who like the heat can spice it up a bit.
The cheese in this recipe is not essential for the casserole, but if you decide to add you can use a plant based cheese like Daiya shredded cheese or add 1/4 cup of cashew cheese sauce to it.
While the recipe calls for everything to be prepared in a frying pan and then popped in the oven to heat, it can easily be served straight from the frying pan, as we did in class. Or prepare it ahead of time and pop it in the oven the next day to reheat. We skipped the topping of cheese and taco chips on top and served it straight from the pan with taco chips on the side.
- 1 tbsp chilli powder
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika (or ½ tsp regular paprika)
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeño, diced fine (optional)
- ½ cup corn kernals (fresh, canned or frozen)
- 1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes and their juices
- 1 – 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups finely chopped kale leaves or spinach
- 2 cups cooked black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 3 cups cooked rice (brown rice or a brown and wild rice mix, we used short grain brown rice)
- ½ cup cheese or cheese substitute (optional)
- tortilla chips
Combine spice mix and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375F, oil a large casserole dish (4 to 5 quart)
In a large pan, add onion, garlic, peppers and sauté until softened. If necessary, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent sticking. Stir in spice mix and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant. Add corn, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kale, beans and rice. Sauté until heated through and season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, mix in ¼ cup of shredded cheese, cheese substitute or cashew cheese sauce.
If desired, you can pour mixture into prepared casserole dish, sprinkle on crushed tortilla chips (and the other ¼ cup of shredded cheese if desired), cover and bake 15 minutes. Or you can serve straight from the pan. Serve with optional toppings such as chopped avocado, salsa, taco chips or green onions.
Kale and Apple Salad
This recipe is another of my go to recipes. For those who are new to using kale, massaging the kale with a squeeze of lemon and/or sprinkle of salt help make it more tender and less bitter. Also, making this with a mix of kale and romaine is a good way to introduce kale to the menu. If you love kale, like I do, skip the romaine and use all kale.
This recipe is my adaptation of the original from Raw Amazing
- 1 cup cashews, soaked until soft, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 lemon, juice from
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Soak cashews for 2 to 12 hours. Drain cashews and place all ingredients in high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and shredded fine
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 1 apple, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup red onion, sliced thinly and separated into rings
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 bunch romaine lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (hulled, you can use raw or roasted and salted)
Place kale in large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and a dash of salt. Massage the lemon juice and salt into the kale for a few minutes. Add chopped apples, dried cranberries, sliced red onion, julienned carrots. Toss. Add enough dressing to coat the salad, toss well. Just before serving, add the romaine and top with pumpkin seeds.
This is the same fruit salad we made at our July Winnipeg class. By varying the fruit combination, you get a different dessert every time.
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt (cultured coconut milk), or plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp finely minced ginger (or more to taste)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
- 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
- 2 apples, diced
- 2 cups pineapple, diced
- o 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 cup seedless grapes
- 2 cups strawberries, cut in half
Mix yogurt, minced ginger and maple syrup and place in a small serving bowl. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Place oranges, apples and pineapple in a large bowl. Toss to coat apples with the liquid to prevent browing. Add blueberries, grapes and strawberries and gently stir to combine. Serve fruit with a dollop of ginger yogurt on top.
You can change this salad up by using any mixture of your favourite fruit. Change up the yogurt sauce by omitting the ginger, using cane sugar and adding ½ tsp vanilla.