Category Archives: Uncategorized

Eat More Greens

October 14, 2017

I firmly believe that one of the most important things you should do to improve your diet is to eat more greens. All kinds of greens, especially leafy greens. Kale, spinach, Swiss Chard, collards, beet greens, bok choy, gai lan, parsley, cilantro as well as broccoli, peas, snap peas, and green beans. In fact, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, recommends his patients eat greens at every meal. Recently I have been trying to implement this recommendation – trying to find ways to incorporate greens into every meal.

Breakfast My favorite way to consume a serving or two of greens every morning is a green smoothie or a wheat grass shot.  This fall, I planted several rows of wheat grass in my garden. A couple ounces of wheat grass juice is an amazing way to start the day.

Green smoothies are a terrific way to get leafy greens into the little guys

My go to recipe for a green smoothie is simple – 2 cups water, 2 cups greens and 2 cups fruit. This combination produces a flavorful smoothie with a significant amount of greens in every glass. My favorite combination is kale, banana and mango, but the combinations are endless. As you learn to love your green smoothie, start increasing the amount of greens (eg 2 cups water 3 cups greens and 2 cups fruit.

 

 

Cooked Greens

Steaming or boiling greens quickly reduces a big pile of raw greens into a small bowl of green goodness. As a kid, I remember hating cooked greens, but now have learned to like them. The trick is not to over cook them and to season them well. One of my favorite ways to eat cooked greens is a simple side dish of steamed greens (kale, Swiss Chard or beet greens) seasoned with salt and a dash of lemon or balsamic vinegar.

Greens are also great added to casseroles, burgers, stir fries, soups and stews. Chop them up fine and you can sneak them into most dishes. And don’t forget lots of bright greens in your salad. Try to have several servings (1 cup of chopped raw greens is one serving) of raw and cooked greens every day. They are loaded with protein, calcium and a whole host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

A few of my favorite recipes are below.

Penne with Swiss Chard, Olives and Currants

serves 4

  • 4 large shallots, peeled and diced small (or substitute onion)
  • 2 bunches Swiss Chard
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, minced (or 1/2 tsp dry)
  • 1 pound whole grain penne, cooked
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup currants
Penne with Swiss Chard, Olives and Currants

Remove stems from Swiss Chard and chop the stems into small pieces. Slice the leaves into thin strips. Cook penne until just tender. Drain and keep warm. While pasta is cooking, sauté shallots and chopped stems for a few minutes. Add garlic and thyme and sauté a few minutes longer. Add a tbsp of water if needed to prevent sticking to the pan. Add sliced Swiss Chard leaves and a couple tablespoons of water. Cover and let steam until chard is cooked and tender. Add olives and currants. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Toss with penne and serve immediately.

From The Forks Over Knives Cookbook by Dell Sroufe

Mushrooms Kale and Potatoes

Serves 2 to 3

  • 3 cups chopped potatoes (Yukon Gold or Red)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 6 cups Kale, chopped and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili paste (like Sambol Olek or substitute crushed chili peppers)
  • black pepper
Kale, Potatoes and Mushrooms

In a saucepan, sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms until onion is translucent. Add a tablespoon or two of water if necessary to keep from sticking to the pan. Add potatoes and a small amount of water. Cover and let cook until potatoes are tender. Add more water as necessary to keep from sticking and form a gravy. When potatoes are tender, add kale, cover and steam until kale is bright green and tender.  Add soy sauce and chili paste and stir until combined. Season with black pepper and serve immediately.

from Forks Over Knives, The How To Companion to the Feature Documentary Forks Over Knives 

Greens with Maple Mustard

  • Greens, chopped and stems removed (Beet greens, kale or Swiss Chard)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt

Mix mustard, maple syrup and lemon juice together. Boil or steam greens just until bright green and tender. Drain and drizzle with a bit of maple mustard sauce. Season with salt and serve.

Kale and Miraculous Walnut Sauce

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • kale, chopped and stems removed

In a blender, combine walnuts, garlic, soy sauce and water. Blend until smooth. In a large pot, bring a quart of water to boil. Add kale and cook covered for 3 to 5 minutes, until kale is bright green and tender. Drain and serve with walnut sauce. This is great on  baked or mashed potatoes instead of the usual butter and sour cream.

Salad Greens

In salads, try to choose salad greens that are bright green over pale ones –  like romaine over iceberg lettuce. Don’t limit your salad greens to lettuce only. Kale, beet greens and spinach are great in salads.  When introducing more robust greens, add them in small amounts along with your regular lettuce. A Caesar salad made with romaine and kale is a great way to get your family to eat kale.

When using kale in salads, chop it fine and sprinkle a bit of lemon juice on it. Massage it with your hands for a minute or so to tenderize it.  Some people find kale bitter and tough and I find this helps counteract this.

You can find my favorite kale salads at the following links:

Kale and Apple Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing

Caesar Salad with Romaine and Kale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

30 Days of Green

March 28, 2017

Its almost April and the snow is melting here in Manitoba. Soon everything will be turning green. And speaking of greens, have you had yours today?

Adding green vegetables, especially leafy greens, to your diet is, in my opinion, the single best thing you can do to improve your health. They are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.

For the month of April, PlantPure Communities is challenging everyone to eat something green everyday. I hope you will take up the challenge with me.

Enjoy your greens in a green smoothie (some of my favorite green smoothie recipes are here), a salad (try this delicious Kale and Apple Salad), or cooked in an entrée (try this Red Lentil and Kale Soup).

You can post your pictures of you enjoying your greens on social media using the hashtag #30daysofgreen.

Homemade Vegetable Stock or Broth

March 20, 2017

I make a lot of soups, stews and chowders, especially during the cooler months. And I also use stock for sautéing veggies, instead of oil. As a result I go through a lot of bullion cubes. I always assumed making your own stock was a waste of good veggies. Many recipes call for onions, garlic, carrots, celery and leeks. You boil these until a tasty stock results then strain out the veggies and throw them out. Why not just make a veggie soup and eat the veggies???

A short while ago, I had a chance conversation with a friend of my daughter’s. Turns out he also follows a plant based diet and loves to cook. He shared with me his method for stock and it changed my opinion on homemade stock. The next day, I began saving veggies for my own stock making. Thank you Shain Brown. I am forever in your debt. (Check out Shain’s Not-Meat Loaf and Creamy White Bean Soup recipes as well.)

Shain’s question to me was, “What do you do with your vegetable scraps?” I compost them, of course. He challenged me, “Why not make a broth with them, then compost them?” Now that makes perfect sense.

Returning home after our conversation I was gung-ho to start my stock. For two weeks I threw every veggie scrap into the pot. Almost nothing went in the compost pail.  It’s cold here in Manitoba right now, so I can keep my stock pot in the porch and the veggies stay frozen until I am ready to make stock. (You can store yours in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.) When the pot was over half full, I set out to make my stock. The result was not bad but not as good as I had hoped. I consulted Google and found that some veggies can produce a bitter broth, namely the crucifers – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussell sprouts. Quite a few of those had made it into my stock pot.

For my second batch, I was more choosy on my veggie scraps, opting for the trimmings from onion , tomato , garlic , carrot , parsnip , celery and leek. After a couple of weeks, I had enough to try again. Eureka! It was delicious. I am hooked on homemade stock now. If you are not convinced, read the ingredients on the box of your favorite bullion cubes. I used an organic, non-GMO boullion cube and the first ingredients are: corn starch, salt and palm oil. All of these before any veggies are listed. None of these in homemade stock.

I have now finished cooking my fourth batch of stock, still mostly the basic veggies – onion, garlic, leek, carrot, parsnip, celery and tomato.  (Mushroom stems can also be used, but I seldom have any to throw into the pot.)  I also add the insides of one jalapeño pepper (the pith and seeds left when you slice of the outer flesh). It gives the stock just the slightest hint of spiciness. But limit it to one pepper unless you want a spicy stock. Two makes a pretty fiery stock!

A few ground rules in making stock. Don’t use any veggie that you wouldn’t throw into a soup – that is, nothing dirty or rotten. Scrub your carrots and wash you leek and celery trimmings well to remove any dirt. Avoid cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts). Also they say potatoes, sweet potatoes and squashes will result in a cloudy stock. However, I now add small amounts of sweet potato and squash trimmings just because I love the flavor they bring. You can also add herb trimmings in small amounts – rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, but keep in mind how you use your stock and if these flavors will complement. You may not want a strong rosemary flavor in every soup you make. However, a handful of parsley or cilantro stems makes a good addition. A bay leaf is also a good addition to the pot, as is a pinch of peppercorns. I have also added the remnants after squeezing one organic lemon. It gave the stock a mild bit of zip.

You can add salt or not, depending on your preference. I prefer no salt in the stock, instead adding it to the final product to the desired degree. In my last batch I added a teaspoon of no-salt seasoning (like Mrs. Dash).

Watch this good video clip on making broth from scraps.

Vegetable Stock

  • clean vegetable trimmings – onion, garlic, leek, carrot, parsley, celery, mushroom, tomato
  • optional – small amount of sweet potato or squash trimmings
  • small amounts of herb trimmings – parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc (optional)
  • water
  • bay leaf, peppercorns (optional)

Save your vegetable trimmings and freeze until you have at least a few litres of trimmings. (Keep a plastic bag in the freezer for trimmings.) When you slice an onion, save the top and bottom you slice off as well as any fleshy leaves you peel off. The dry outer skin can be used in small amounts as it makes the broth darker. When you use garlic, save the bottom heal part you generally cut off. You can also add the garlic skins.  With leeks, wash well and toss in the top green parts you usually throw away.

When you are ready to make stock, place the trimmings in a large pot and add water to fully cover the veggies. Throw in a bay leaf and some peppercorns if desired. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for several hours. (about 5 hours) A crock pot set on low and simmered for 12 hours or more will also work. When the veggies are very soft turn off the heat and let the stock cool. Once cool, strain out the veggies. Taste the stock and if desired, you can continue to simmer the stock to reduce it to make a stronger, more concentrated stock. Compost the veggies.

Finish broth, with head space for freezing

Store the stock in containers in the fridge or freezer. If freezing, leave at least 1 inch of head space in the jar for expansion during freezing or your container will crack. You can also freeze the stock as ice cubes if you often use small amounts, or if you have made a very strong, concentrated stock. I like to keep one jar in the fridge at all times for oil free veggies sautéing,  If you are planning on making soup, take a few jars out the night before to thaw or place sealed jars in warm water to speed thawing. (Warm water not hot, as you don’t want glass jars to crack due to sudden temperature change)

 

 

 

 

Creamy White Bean Soup

March 19, 2017

This super simple, creamy soup is another recipe from Shain Brown. Its a basic recipe for a hearty filling soup that can be modified so many ways.

You can buy white beans (also called navy beans) in a can, but it is super simple to cook them from dry beans. And there are benefits to using dry beans – no BPA from the can, cheaper (about 50% cheaper), smaller carbon footprint (dry beans are lighter to transport than cans full of water)…and you don’t have to lug those heavy cans home after shopping or recycle them later.

One cup of dry beans makes three cups of cooked beans. Step 1 below outlines how to cook beans from scratch by soaking them first, then cooking. (You can cook the beans without soaking first, but soaking will remove more of the compounds that cause the gas issues common with bean consumption.)

I like to cook up a big batch of beans and then freeze the drained beans on cookie sheets. Once frozen , store in ziplock bags and whenever you need them for a recipe you can easily remove how much you need.

Shain’s basic recipe starts with dry beans, but you can easily substitute already cooked beans. I was out of frozen cooked white beans, so I cooked up another big batch to restock my freezer. If your beans are already cooked, you will skip Step 1 and start at Step 2.

I love this soup as it is so versatile. All you really need is white beans, and the rest you can modify. I had a leek in the fridge and some leftover squash that I added to the soup (in Step 2). I also added smoked paprika and liquid smoke to create a bacony flavor. Use your imagination and whatever you have in the fridge to create your own version.

Basic Creamy White Bean Soup

  • 1 cup dry white beans (or 3 cups cooked, or 2 15 ounce cans)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
Cooking white beans

Step 1 – If using dry beans, soak the beans overnight. (In a hurry, no problem. Cover the beans with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat, cover and let sit 1 hour. You will get the same results as soaking overnight.)

Drain soaked beans and place in a large pot with about 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 1 hour. Drain beans. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans.

 

 

Beans, leeks, squash and garlic simmering

Step 2 – Add vegetable broth, and garlic to the cooked beans. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes.

You can vary the soup up by adding other veggies at this point. I added one chopped leek and 1 cup of butternut squash. The squash gave the soup a nice golden color. You could also add diced carrots, sweet potatoes or onions at this point as well. Cook until your veggies are tender.

 

 

 

Puree using an emersion blender

Step 3 – Using an emersion blender, puree the beans until smooth.

Alternatively, you can puree the beans in a blender. Let the mixture cool slightly and be sure to vent the container to let the steam escape.

If you are not a fan of pureed soups, the soup is also delicious left chunky.

Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. For a smokey bacon-like taste, add a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a dash of liquid smoke, if you have it. If you like it spicy, add a 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder as well.

 

Step 4 – Dry fry mushrooms in a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Stir often and cook until nicely browned and slightly crispy.

To add a bit more texture and color to the soup, you can also dry fry up some diced onion and red pepper and add it to the soup.

The soup is also good with finely chopped kale in it. Add it after pureeing and let it simmer for 5 minutes to cook the kale.

Thin the soup out with additional broth or water to your desired thickness.

Step 5 – Serve soup with mushrooms on top. Or green onions.

 

 

Not-Meat Loaf

February 19, 2017

This recipe is came to me from Shain Brown, my daughter’s  hair stylist and plant-based chef extraordinaire. His method is unique, marinating mushrooms, onions and nuts to achieve a meaty texture. As a kid, I loved meatloaf sandwiches, so I was anxious to try it out. Shain did not disappoint. This Not-Meat loaf is moist, ‘meaty’ and delicious.

Best Ever Not-Meat Loaf
Best Ever Not-Meat Loaf

Shain’s basic recipe recipe is delicious just as it is. However, its a ‘meat’ loaf, not a cake, so feel free to have some fun and change it up anyway you want. In my second ‘meat’ loaf attempt, I modified his basic recipe by reducing the nuts to 1 cup and adding mashed chickpeas. I like the texture mashed chickpeas add. (Mash your chickpeas with a fork or potato masher till flaky in texture. Don’t mash to a puree.) I also doubled the onion, added garlic and double the veggies. For veggies I used a mixture of shredded carrots, finely chopped celery and red pepper. I also doubled the avocado. The new version was also delicious. In fact, not sure which I like better.

These recipes are very versatile. You can bake in the traditional loaf pan or, for individual loaves, press the mixture into silicone muffin tins (or line regular muffin tins with parchment paper cups).  If you prefer a drier crispier “meat loaf”, press the mixture into a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. After baking, cut the sheet into squares. You can also use the mixture to make burgers or not-meat balls.

If your loaf comes out to moist on the inside, don’t despair.  Fry up the slices in a non-stick pan until crispy.

Serve the loaf slices with mashed potatoes and gravy for a plant based version of a very traditional meal. (Try the gravy from our November Cooking Class) This loaf also makes an excellent sandwich filling. Great with pickle or relish, onion and lettuce.

Experimenting with the recipe yielded a lot of meat loaf to eat. But you will be happy to know it freezes beautifully. Slice up the left overs and freeze on a baking sheet. Once frozen, place the slices in a freezer bag for a quick supper or sandwich filling.

Thanks for the recipe Shain. I have also been working on Shain’s stock recipe which I hope to be posting soon. Stay tuned.

 Shain’s Basic Not-Meat Loaf

  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 2 cups pecans (or 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup pecans)
  • ½ onion
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp ground flax
  • ¾  cup water
  • 1 green onion, diced fine
  • 1 ½ cups bread crumbs (or 1 cup bread crumbs and ½  cup rolled oats)
  • ½  ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed)
  • 1 cup mixed veggies
  • 1 small can lentils, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce
Onion, pecans, mushrooms
Onion, pecans, mushrooms

Dice mushrooms, pecans and onions small. Put in a bowl and add the soy sauce and pepper. Marinate overnight.

In a small bowl, mix the flax and water and let sit overnight or for at least 30 minutes, until the mixture forms a thick gel.

Shredded carrots, diced celery and yellow pepper, mashed avocado
Shredded carrots, diced celery and yellow pepper, mashed avocado

The next day, line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  In a large bowl mix pecan mixture, flax mixture, green onion, bread crumbs, avocado, veggies and lentils, if using. Mix until well combined and pack into the prepared loaf pan. Top with your favourite barbecue sauce. Let sit for 1 hour to allow the dry ingredients to absorb the moisture.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let sit a minimum of 15 minutes before serving.

Not-Meat Loaf ready for baking
Not-Meat Loaf ready for baking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chickpea Not-Meat Loaf

  • 2 cups mushrooms, diced fine
  • 1 cup pecans (or ½  cup walnuts and ½  cup pecans), chopped fine
  • 1 onion, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp ground flax
  • ¾  cup water
  • 1 green onion, diced fine
  • 1 ½ cups bread crumbs (or 1 cup bread crumbs and ½  cup rolled oats)
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed)
  • 2 cups finely shredded or chopped veggies (carrots, celery, peppers, etc or frozen mixed veggies)
  • 1 ½ cup (1 can) cooked chickpeas, mashed (or substitute cooked lentils),drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce

Dice mushrooms, pecans and onions small. (Do not use a food processor for the pecans as they will chop too fine. You want some texture. Chop by hand or use a hand food chopper. Onions and mushrooms can be done in a hand chopper as well.)  Put in a bowl and add the garlic, soy sauce and pepper. Marinate overnight or for at least 4 hours. (Note, you can also add the mashed chickpeas to the mixture and let marinate overnight.)

In a small bowl, mix the flax and water and let sit for at least 30 minutes, until the mixture forms a thick gel.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  In a large bowl mix pecan mixture, flax mixture, green onion, bread crumbs, avocado, veggies and chickpeas, if not already added.  Mix until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking, adding more soy sauce or pepper. Pack into the prepared loaf pan.

Top with your favourite barbecue sauce. I used a quick sauce made from ¼ cup ketchup, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp molasses, 1 tbsp Dijon, ½ tsp smoked paprika and a squirt of sriracha.

Cover with foil and let sit for 1 hour to allow the dry ingredients to absorb the moisture.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let sit a minimum of 15 minutes before serving. The longer the loaf sits the more it will firm up.

 

 

 

 

 

Plant-Based Travel Through Ireland and Scotland

June 11, 2016

We have just returned from a bus tour through Ireland and Scotland.  This type of trip is highly organized and most of the meals are provided as part of the package. As my first bus tour, I had no idea how they would be able to accommodate our dietary needs. In our group of 36 travellers, we started with 2 plant-based (my husband and myself), 1 vegetarian, 1 celiac and 1 dairy free.  By the end of the tour, we were 3 plant-based, so I guess the plant-based meals were appealing.

The tour was arranged through Transat Holidays and they took care of the dietary restrictions. Since traditional Irish and Scottish food is animal protein heavy, I was expecting to eat more than a fair share of ‘chips’ (French Fries). I was pleasantly surprised with the variety and tastiness of the meals. Every pre-organized meal had a vegan option for us.

A full Irish breakfast was included in the package. A full Irish breakfast was generally eggs, several breakfast meats (included blood sausage, or black pudding, in Northern Ireland), grilled tomatoes, cereals, breads, and fruit. The vegan option were great; usually baked beans, potatoes, grilled tomatoes, toast, fresh and dried fruit. Never a problem leaving full after breakfast.

Lunch was generally on our own. Sometimes they were at a pre-organized venue specially designed to cater to bus groups. And they always had a vegan option, though often not noted on their menu, you had to ask for it. But at least they were all familiar with the request and were able to accommodate. These venues were well organized to get large groups in, fed and back out touring in short order. Their menus were generally simple with few options but the food was always very tasty and hot. I am not sure how they do it but the food was always served very hot. We never had a luke warm meal.

Arranged dinners were quite elaborate three-course affairs. A starter, a main and dessert. Since our dinners were often later in the evening, these were heavy meals to consume. I appreciated that the vegan options were lighter; a fruit plate or salad for a starter, rice or couscous and veggies for the main and another fruit plate for dessert.

About half of the dinners were on our own, which gave us the opportunity to search out a pub meal or local vegetarian restaurant.

We were really grateful for the wonderful meals. Sometimes we ended up eating a bit of dairy (Irish Soda Bread is usually made with buttermilk) and the meals were not whole food (white rice, oils). But we were able to get a goodly amount of fruit and veggies so we were happy.

So it is totally possible to travel plant based, and you don’t have to live on salads to do it. The important thing to remember is that if there are no options on the menu, ask. We would just ask for a plant based option and took whatever they offered.  You might be surprised at the tasty meals you will get.

Some of my favorite meals included:

Johnnie Foxs Tavern in Dublin – the veggie option was Colcannon Soup and a delicious bean stew. They even made a special vegan and gluten free birthday cake for the group so that everyone could enjoy it.

Mushy Peas and Chips – my favorite pub food.

2016_5_Galway juiceGalloway Street Market – Whole wheat samosa, curry and fresh squeezed carrot, ginger and apple juice. This was our first indication of a growing plant-based community in Ireland and I enjoyed chatting with the vendors.

 

 

 

Connaght Hotel in Galloway – Detox Salad with tofu and edamame beans

Jacksons Hotel in Ballybofey – I had a delicious roasted veg with baked potato. I got the meal by mistake as it was intended for the gluten free person; however, they quickly made her another and I enjoyed this simple tasty meal.

Green Smoothie – I was ecstatic to find a green smoothie on the menu at the little deli in Derry just outside the entrance to the old walled city. I was definitely missing my daily green smoothie and the glass of kale, cucumber, celery and pineapple goodness went down real well.

2016_9_Belfast_Raw Food Rebellion1Raw Food Rebellion in Belfast – this was our first long stretch of free time during the trip. Tired of souvenir shops and site seeing, we hopped a local bus in search of this gem we found on the internet. Our efforts were well rewarded as we found our best meal of the trip.

 

 

 

2016_9_Belfast_Orange Chocolate Cashew CheesecakeThe chef indulged us by offering a tasting of each of the menu items – Roasted Tomato Soup, Malaysian Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry, Raw Pad Thai, Roasted Chickpea Caesar Salad, Mighty Mexican Sandwich and Rebel Tacos. Combined with fresh made Kombucha and an Orange Chocolate Cashew Cheesecake and we were in heaven. If ever you find yourself in Belfast, be sure to check this place out.

2016_9_Belfast_Raw Food Rebellion

 

2016_9_Belfast_SlumsSlums in Belfast – after our large lunch at Raw Food Rebellion we had not planned on having dinner; however, we ran into the new vegan on the trip and decided to join her. We opted for a simple Indian restaurant, with vegetarian options, close to the Europa Hotel called Slums. You get a bowl meal with your choice of rice, protein and veggies. Loved the eclectic décor – corrugated metal sheeting, chip board and funky benches. I opted for pampodums and chutney.

 

 

Luna Rosa in Glasgow – Not a vegetarian restaurant but they served a delicious risotto.

Taco Manzama in Glasgow – Located in the train station in downtown Glasgow close to The Jury hotel, they offer vegan options. Ken had a Tofu burrito bowl and I had a Mushroom and Eggplant Taco Salad. Very tasty and we enjoyed people watching in the station as we enjoyed our dinner.

2016_11_Edinburgh_Baked PotatoThe Baked Potato in Edinburgh – Another vegetarian gem we found on the internet. Located just spitting distance off the Royal Mile is was super convenient while sightseeing. It was just a little hole in the wall that served Jacket Potatoes (baked potatoes)  with a variety of toppings. They have only one table with bench seating, but it was great for mixing with other tourists. We met a nice couple from Portland who were celebrating their 10th anniversary.

2016_11_Edinburgh_Haggis Baked Potato and SamosaKen opted for Vegan Haggis Samosas and I had a Jacket Potato with Haggis topping. I think if the rest of the group could have tried this haggis they would have loved it as the meat version was not a hit with anyone. This haggis was a combination of veggies, oatmeal and nuts (maybe lentils too but not sure). Will be trying to replicate this one as it was a great topping for a baked potato. They even had a Cherry Tiffan for dessert. Delicious.

Whole Food Plant Based Cooking – Eliminating Oil

May 19, 2016

Five years ago, my husband and I watched the documentary Forks over Knives, and we both decided that, going forward, we wanted to adopt a whole food plant based diet (WFPB). For the previous 30+ years, we had been following a vegetarian diet, eating some eggs, fish and yogurt.

The transition to a solely plant based diet was easier than expected. I finally felt like I had found the way I was meant to eat. What I ate aligned with my values and I felt great. Eliminating eggs in baking was an exciting challenge and I loved learning how to cook all over again.

The transition to a whole food diet was another challenge. Although we seldom ate processed food, eliminating oils in our diet was a challenge. Oil is a processed food product – all the nutrients removed, leaving only the high calorie fat.  (see this Forks Over Knives link for further info) And although I don’t believe in calorie counting, I do believe in making calories count; and teaspoon for teaspoon oil offers little but calories. So for the last five years, I have been working on cutting back.

Salad dressings are loaded with oil. Kind of ironic that when you increase start eating more veggies you can also add loads of refined oil to your diet through salad dressings.  But I was amazed to find so many great tasting oil free salad dressings.

Eliminating oil in stir fries is something I have been avoiding for the last five years. I have read about dry frying or adding small amounts of water or broth but always assumed it was difficult and would result in a less flavorful product. However, that is not the case. Recently, I recommitted to eliminating oil and began dry frying. It’s not difficult at all.

A good non-stick pan helps but is not essential for frying veggies without oil.  I found the best results cooking on a lower heat. For some reason, garlic seems to stick, so I don’t add it until later. I generally start with onion, then add other longer cooking veggies like carrots, peppers, mushroom and celery. To finish up, add the quick cooking veggies like kale, spinach, peas and broccoli along with the garlic and spices. If things start to stick, a tablespoon of water or broth will usually loosen things up.  If you are adding rice or quinoa to the pan, adding tamari, soy sauce, water, broth or a sauce will hep.

An unexpected bonus of being oil free, is that the stove is void of oil spatters.

I am continuing to experiment and move towards removing refined oils from my diet. As I perfect the technique, I will update previous blog posts with oil-free options.