How to Make Hearty Lentil Stew

This is one of my favorite meals when I’m in the mood for rich, hearty, comfort food. The good thing is, it’s comfort food with high nutritional value, very low fat, low calorie and low sodium. You might be thinking to yourself, “how can this possibly be good?”  I assure you it is well worth trying it out.

It’s fast, inexpensive, nutritious and delicious and requires only a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 small onion

2 carrots finely chopped

1/2 bag lentils

4-6 cups veggie broth (no/low sodium)

4-5 tbsp tomato paste – no sodium

garlic powder, salt , pepper to taste

Directions:

Saute onion until translucent. Add in 2 finely chopped carrots. Add a little water and saute fora few minutes. Add in 4-5 tbsp tomato paste. Add in 1/2 bag of rinsed lentils. Cover with approximately 4 cups of vegetable broth. Sprinkle approximately 1/2 tsp garlic powder and cook for roughly 45 min to one hour until lentils are done.

If need be, add in remaining vegetable broth as it’s cooking. I usually do use about 6 cups give or take.

I love this over brown rice with a healthy serving of steamed green beans on the side. Or over a bed of finely chopped romaine lettuce. If you aren’t a fan of brown rice, this is phenomenal over mashed potatoes or under mashed potatos as a vegetarian version of Shepherds Pie!

Note: You can always use fresh garlic, I am showing you how to put together something delicious without a lot of effort.By all means, use fresh where ever I use powder if you prefer – can’t deny the benefits of fresh garlic!

Facts: Lentils are part of the pea family. The red, brown and green are the most common here in the US, but theydo come in many different colors. They were a staple food in Biblical times and they are still a favorite in Middle Eastern, Indian, and North African cooking. They don’t need to be precooked and you can buy them already cooked to save time. They have a wonderful creamy texture, a delicate flavor and they cook quickly! They make a great base for purees and soups, they’re really good cold in a salad or as a salad.

Key Nutrients: Protein, fiber, potassium, folate, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B3 (niacin), iron, copper, vitamin A, vitamin B6, calcium and phosphorous.

How to Make Blueberry Coconut Ice Cream

This is a must try for anyone who loves ice cream! It is so simple that it is actually comical! Really, you’ll see once you try it. Unlike commercial ice cream, this is a nutritional powerhouse with very low calories and high in the taste department! Believe me, it’s crazy, bangin good, so get out your blender and go for it!                  

Ingredients:

 1  bag of frozen blueberries (approx 12oz bag)

 1   frozen banana

 1/4 – 1/2 cup soy milk (this is approx depending on power of your blender) 

 1/4  cup unsweetened coconut shredded (optional)

 1/2  avocado (optional)

Pour 1/2 cup milk into blender. Pour in blueberries, bananas cut in to chunks, coconut (except for 2 tsp) and avocado if using, and blend until thick and creamy. Adding more milk as you go if necessary. I use as little milk as possible and stop the blender when it gets jammed. With a spoon I scrape down the sides and remix and add a little bit more milk and blend again. I usually end up doing that process 2-3 times until it thick and creamy.  I like to spoon it into pretty glasses and then sprinkle a little coconut on top of each serving. The white of the coconut looks nice against the dark blueberries.

Makes approx 4 servings

If you don’t like coconut, leave it out! You will not taste the avocado, but it will add a richness from the “good” fat that it offers. It isn’t necessary at all if you don’t want to use it. I personally love it, but I make this all the time without it as well.

The consistency should be very thick like ice cream, so start with less milk and gradually add as needed just enough to make the blender mix it. The more powerful your blender is, the less milk you need. You should not be able to “drink” it, you should need a spoon.

Tip: frozen friut (and veg) are just as nutritious as fresh – and sometimes more so because they are flash frozen immediately after picking which retains the nutrients. At all times you will find 4 or 5 different kinds of frozen fruits in my fridge, they come in handy when friends stop by! In two minutes we are eating fresh ice cream that is actually good for you and tastes fantastic! 

 

 

 

Also, did you know… blueberries are ranked #1 out of 40 fruits and veg (according to Tufts University Research) as far as nutritional value goes?! Excellent anti-oxidant, great for eye sight and urinary tract health to name a few.

 

Fresh blueberries will stay good in fridge up to ten days, frozen 9-10 months.

 

 

How to Make Tomato Zucchini Saute

I love to make this with the tomatoes from Windy Acres, my favorite organic farm about a mile from where I live! They have every delicious variety of heirloom tomatoes. There is just something so wonderful about riding your bike or just driving up to a beautiful farm cart loaded with fresh veg.

If tomatoes are not in season, you can usecanned tomatoes and frozen zucchini also. I usually make this particular recipe in the height of the summer when both are abundant. In the winter, I tend to use the canned and frozen, but I make it as a soup by adding vegetable broth ( low or no sodium) and I love to throw in some frozen sweet corn, red kidney beans and/or some brown rice! Yum. I like to make a simple fresh salad to have with it and that completes the meal!                   

 

 Tomato Zucchini Saute

Ingredients:

4 large fresh tomatoes (approx)

3  fresh med to small zucchini (small-med taste better than the large)

1 can drained red kidney beans

3/4 cup cooked brown rice

4 large cloves fresh garlic (or granulated to taste)

oregano, black pepper, basil according to your personal taste 

grated parmesan cheese or parmesan substitute  (optional)

Directions:

Slice tomatoes as if you were putting them on your sandwich (approx ¼ in thick). Slice zucchini into thin rounds. Spread a layer of tomatoes to cover the bottom of the pan, a little chopped garlic. Spread layer of zucchini on tomatoes and sprinkle w/more chopped garlic. Continue to alternate layering until all veggies are  used! Cook with lid on over low-med heat. Should take 10- 15 min or so depending on how large a pan you are using and how many layers. After 5 minutes or so, you should see the juice bubbling up from the tomatoes and the zucchini. Both veg have lots of water so you really shouldn’t need to add liquid, but if it does seem too dry add approx ¼ cup of low/no vegetable broth.

Other possible uses: (cook once eat twice!)

1) Turn into soup by adding no/low sodium vegetable broth. More seasoning to taste.    Blend partially w/an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, a regular blender will work. Blend half of the mixture and return to the pot.

2) Makes a phenomenal chunky fresh pasta sauce! Blend and pour over your favorite pasta. Red kidney beans or cannelini’s are great in this.

Some possible additions:

Red kidney beans, whole grain elbow pasta, yellow squash, brown rice. Experiment with your own preferences! There is no right or wrong, just what you prefer!

Tip: Frozen zucchini and canned tomatoes will work in the winter if tomatoes aren’t great or if time is of the essence, it is still a great tasting dish!

Bon Appetite!

Black Bean Salad

Personally I love this and make many different versions of it. Every time I bring this to a gathering, it’s a hit. I always go home with a list of email addresses so that I can forward the recipe. It’s so fresh and packed with flavor.         

    

Ingredients:

1 25oz can black beans  (no/ low sodium)
½  to ¾ c finely chopped red pepper
½ c finely chopped orange pepper
½ c finely chopped red onion
1 c sweet white corn (frozen is fine)
½ c finely chopped fresh cilantro
½ c finely chopped fresh parsley

Any of these options go really well, so don’t be afraid to mix and match according to your tastes.

1/4 c crazins and or raisins
½ – ¾ c finely chopped pineapple can also pour in sm amt of the juice
½ tsp ground cumin or more to taste
1 clove minced/ finely chopped fresh garlic
½ cup chopped cherry tomatoes
½ c chopped fresh zucchini
Finely chopped jalapeno ( if you like it w/touch of spice or hot!)
1/2 c walnuts or sunflower seeds

Some suggested uses:

Eat as is as a healthy snack
Enjoy with a healthy scooping chip
Make it your main meal
Put in a tortilla w/ a small  amount of  cheese/alternative and or sliced chicken for a delicious quesadilla
Stuff a pita pocket for a nice healthy lunch

Blueberry Banana Crisp

This is a version of one of my favorite recipes I learned from Dr. Fuhrman. I make this very often with all different kinds of fruit combos! I eat this for breakfast, I eat it as a snack and I eat it as dessert! It’s fantastic warm or cold.

I know this is not the best picture, but believe me when you see it live in your own kitchen it is very appetizing! This picture does not do it justice! Don’t let it scare you!  

Ingredients:
1 12-16 oz bag frozen blueberries
2-3  bananas
8oz chopped walnuts or pecans (divided)
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
Baking cooking spray
2 cups regular or vanilla soy milk
Cinnamon
Vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Pour all of the blueberries into a mixing bowl. Chop bananas into bite size pieces, mix them into the blueberries. Sprinkle with 2 tsp cinnamon. Add in about 1/2 cup of milk, reserving the rest. Mix it all together, put aside. In a separate mixing bowl combine the oats, rest of the milk (it should have a “soupy” consistency). Add another 1-2 tsp  of cinnamon until it has a nice rich color. Add about two dashes of vanilla extract if you have it, and about 3/4 of the walnuts. Mix all together.

Spray baking dish lightly. Place the blueberry mixture into your baking dish. Pour the oat mix on top. Gently fold the oat mixture into the blueberries. Sprinkle rest of walnuts across the top. Bake approx one hour when you can see the juices from the fruit bubbling up on the sides.

Use your own preference and judgment as you add the cinnamon and the nuts. As it bakes and the fruit cooks down, it will add more moisture. There is no real right or wrong, so don’t worry about exact measurements.

Try different fruits and combos such as peaches, blues, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. Anything  you like! Mixed berries are fantastic in this recipe also.

Suggestions for optional uses: Breakfast, dessert, snack. Hot or cold

Tomato Avocado Basil Salad

There is beauty in simplicity. I try to live my life in that vein, not just with cooking. This couldn’t be simpler and it’s so delicious, not to mention nutritious as well.

I love how a few simple ingredients can turn into the most delicious meal or dessert. I want to share a simple lunch I just threw together for myself and a friend. (because it’s always more fun to share!) It’s one of my favorites especially at this time of year. In a few months the heirloom tomatoes I love so much will be plentiful on the organic farm cart at Misty Acres around the corner from where I live.

There is nothing like picking up fesh or-ganic veggies picked that day. All winter long I look forward to seeing the cart packed with fresh, colorful vegetables.

Ingredients :                         

2 Avocados

2 Fresh tomatoes

4 large basil leaves

wedge of fresh lemon (optional)

Freshly ground pepper

Pinch sea salt (optional)

Garlic powder

The juice from the tomatoes allows you to leave out mayo or a dressing if you want to keep the calories down.

1) Chop avocados, tomatoes and basil

2) Add seasonings to taste

3) Mangia

                             This made enough for 2 stuffed pitas for me and my friend!

Some Options:

*Put mixture over chopped romaine – makes a nice hearty salad and adds a nice crunch

*Stuff in a toasted/non toasted pita pocket

*Put in a warm taco shell w/or w/out chicken/ and a dab of sour cream or alternative

*Add fresh chopped red bell pepper and black beans (eat as is) or add to a warm taco shell or wrap in a whole grain tortilla.

*Enjoy with a healthy chip or toast your pita and cut in triangles as the chip for an even healthier snack

Note: You can always use fresh garlic in place of the powder.

FYI…ripe avocados will keep for 4-5 days in fridge. Unripe will never ripen in the fridge.