Quinoa and Veggie “Sushi” Rolls

I’m trying to get a little more creative at making vegan dishes, AND I have been craving sushi. This is by no means original; lots of vegetarians and vegans make their versions of fish-less sushi rolls. This is my variation. There were two more cuts from the roll that I ate before taking the photo, which turned out to be a brilliant idea because by the time I was done getting a nicely lit, pretty little photo, I wasn’t so starving that these three pieces didn’t satisfy my hunger! 🙂

That said, here’s all there is to it:

INGREDIENTS

1 high-fiber, low-fat organic tortilla
1 cup cooked (cold) quinoa
grated carrot
finely chopped carrot
grape tomatoes
sweet Mayan onion slices
1/2 avocado
baby kale
Modena balsamic vinegar
vegetable broth
fresh parsley
Mrs. Dash lemon pepper seasoning

METHOD

Cook the quinoa in appropriate proportion to liquid (I used vegetable broth). I added about a tsp. of the Mrs. Dash to the mixture as well. When done, let cool and then add some fresh parsley, chopped carrot and some grated carrot as well. (You can add whatever fresh veggies suit your fancy for a cold quinoa salad at this point.) I refrigerated it overnight, and took one cup of it for this wrap. I spread it on the tortilla and microwaved for 30 seconds. Then, I topped it with a few sliced grape tomatoes, some sliced sweet onion, and the 1/2 avocado. On top of that, I added some baby kale. Lastly, I drizzled some Modena balsamic vinegar over it. I squeezed the mixture to the tortilla side closest to me, and wrapped it tightly in a roll. While holding the roll firmly with one hand, I cut the slices with a serrated knife.

Cauliflower and Kale Bowl

Cauliflower and Kale Bowl

Cauliflower is one of my all-time favorite veggies, and I like it raw or cooked. I also love kale, and I use it mostly in my soups. My most recent organic farmfreshtoyou.com delivery included “Lacinato” kale, which is sweeter, more firm, and has a more delicate flavor than the other varieties. With that in mind, I thought I’d try this combo of kale and cauliflower (sautéed in olive oil with garlic), and served on a bed of organic butter lettuce, with a little fresh and crispy slices of red bell pepper.

INGREDIENTS

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole cauliflower, separated into bite-sized flowerets
1 bunch finely chopped Lacinato kale (including the stems)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
A few leaves of washed and dried butter lettuce
Thinly sliced raw red bell pepper

METHOD

Heat the olive oil in large sauté pan (preferably non-stick) over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and basil. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add the kale, sauté for another few minutes, while stirring. Add the garlic, continue stirring for about a minute before adding the broth. Let it reduce until the broth is almost absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove and place in large bowl. Spoon over a bowlful of butter lettuce leaves, and then garnish with the red bell pepper.

Curried Lentil & Garbanzo Bean Soup

Curried Lentil & Garbanzo Bean Soup

In consideration of my shift to a vegan diet recently, I’m ever mindful of the need to cook well-balanced meals that include enough protein. Here’s a good excerpt from an article describing the nutritional value of beans:

“During the lean years of the Great Depression, beans were also tagged “poor man’s meat” because of their protein power at pennies per pound. Beans are a source of Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, B6 vitamins and many other nutrients as well. They are also rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber. All of these nutrients are necessary for normal growth and for the building of body tissues. Beans are high in potassium which is required for the normal functioning of nerves and muscles. A cup of cooked beans contains more potassium than a banana. In fact, beans have more calcium and iron per cup than three ounces of cooked meat but contain no cholesterol and with less calories.

Beans are the best source of folate and are excellent sources of minerals and vitamins. High in fiber they have good cancer fighting characteristics and have been specifically linked to lower the risk of colon cancer.

Recent research has brought to light that beans have ‘anti-aging’ agents or antioxidants found in the seed coat. There are eight flavonoids in the outer bean layer, six of which are particularly strong antioxidants. Because of new research, we are learning that beans have a perfect nutrient base for people interested in weight loss. They also aid in reducing cholesterol, improve digestion and, as already mentioned, are an aid in cancer prevention.

Beans are grown throughout the world. The legumes we supply come from the United States and are grown throughout the country on 1,700,000 acres of land producing from 1 to 1.4 million metric tons annually, half of which are exported all over the world. From improved agricultural practices, we feel beans grown right here at home in the USA have the highest quality of any bean grown anywhere.”

Source: https://www.usaemergencysupply.com/information_center/all_about_beans_legumes.htm#.Ut__raWtsUs

Keeping in mind the nutritional importance of beans in a vegan diet, I’ll be making a variety of bean-based dishes. I love curry, and this soup was a fantastically tasty variation of my usual “garden variety” lentil soup! 🙂

INGREDIENTS

8 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
5 tbsp. curry powder (or, to taste)
2 cups sorted and rinsed dried lentils
3 32-oz cartons of organic vegetable broth
2 15-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

METHOD

In a large pot, heat 4 tbsp. of the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onion, carrot, and celery until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and curry powder, sauté for about one minute, stirring. Add lentils, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, 35-45 minutes. Meanwhile, puree garbanzo beans in a food processor (I used my Vitamix) with lemon juice, 8 tbsp. water, and remaining 4 tbsp. olive oil until smooth. When lentils are tender, stir in garbanzo bean mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes, add cannelloni beans, simmer another 5 minutes and add salt and pepper (if needed) and more curry to taste. Add some fresh arugula/spinach/kale, or other leafy green to the bowl when you serve it.

Whole-grain Lavash Flatbread with hummus and veggies

Whole-grain Lavash Flatbread with hummus and veggies

This makes a delicious and simple lunch that includes good protein, carbs and fat. I found a site that’s loaded with great-looking recipes for Lavash flatbread recipes: http://www.yummly.com/recipes/lavash-flatbread. I’m going to make these more often.

On this one, I just threw on what I had on hand. I spread hummus over the flatbread, then topped with thinly sliced English cucumber, grape tomatoes, half an avocado, Spanish onion, and some baby arugula. Done. Filling, too.

Ground turkey and vegetable pasta sauce

Ground turkey and vegetable pasta sauce

I made a huge batch of organic ragu sauce (with organic ground turkey, so NOT vegan) for my daughter to take back with her today to her college dorm as she begins her second semester of her freshman year. She’s enjoyed a month-long winter break at home; unusually long, in my opinion, but we have loved it. My middle son was home from mid-December until early January…big difference between CSU and UC college schedules.

It was sad to see her leave today, as much as it was sad to see my middle son leave on January 3rd. Thankfully, I always have my eldest son within a short distance away (he graduated from college a few years ago, and he’s now living and working nearby). I guess I’m just like a Jewish mother, even though I’m not Jewish. 🙂

Recipe:

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. organic ground turkey
One large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3 15-oz cans of petite diced organic tomatoes
3 jars of organic marinara sauce
2 tbsp. dried basil leaves

Method:

Brown the ground turkey in an olive-oil sprayed pot on medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the turkey is all cooked. Drain and rinse in colander. Set aside. Add about 2 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil in pot, and heat on medium-high. Add onion, carrot, celery, and cook, stirring frequently until soft. Turn heat down to medium and add garlic, stirring for a few minutes. Add basil, stirring for a few minutes before adding diced tomatoes and marinara sauce. Continue cooking on simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens. Add salt and pepper per taste. Let cool, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, the sauce is ready to reheat for immediate use, or freeze in individual containers.

Butternut Squash and Kale Minestrone

Butternut Squash and Kale Minestrone

As planned, I made this last night. I never want to let a day pass after getting my farmfreshtoyou.com veggies and fruits before using them. That way, whatever I make is as fresh as it can be. I usually freeze half, as I will do with this soup. It’s a big winner of a recipe, for sure, and I’ll definitely make it again. Here it is:

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced (I used 4 because the carrots from today’s shipment were small)
5 cloves minced garlic (not in original recipe, but I added it)
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 large butternut squash, cubed
1 15-oz can white kidney beans
1 15-oz can red kidney beans
4 cups of chopped and washed kale
Salt and pepper

METHOD:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Then add the diced onion and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté until translucent, then add the celery and carrots. Cook for about 4 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté another minute before adding the thyme, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, water and squash. Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes. When the squash has softened, add the beans and kale and cook until the kale has wilted.

Recipe source: onehealthymunchkin.blogspot.ca

My “farmfreshtoyou.com” shipment today

The box of organic, locally grown produce awaits me outside my front door every two weeks. I never know what I’m going to get, but I know it’s always going to be seasonal, fresh and delicious. Today’s box included: kiwi, assorted apples, broccoli, Mandarin oranges, baby carrots, baby broccoli, Lacinato kale, assorted lettuce, and cilantro. A newsletter is always included in the box, often with recipes for some of the veggies or fruits included in that week’s shipment.

Though Butternut squash was not included in my shipment this week, there were two recipes that included it, so I’m going to make one of them tonight (Butternut Squash and Kale Minestrone), since it includes kale, of which I now have aplenty! I went out and bought a Butternut squash, and the few other extra ingredients that I needed. I’ll post the photo and recipe tomorrow.

Meanwhile, also included in today’s newsletter were instructions on how to freeze Butternut squash, and since it’s in season right now, many of you may want to freeze some for use in the off-season. Here are the steps:

1. Slice the squash length-wise into quarters, then seed and peel each quarter
2. Cut the squash into cubes
3. Bring water to boil and boil the cubes for 3-5 minutes
4. Remove the cubes from the water and place into an ice-water bath to prevent them from cooking
5. Drain, then place the cubes on a sheet tray in a single layer and place in the freezer
6. After a few hours, transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe, air-tight container

They will store for up to one year. The instructions also mentioned that you can also blanch and freeze many other veggies such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, beets, etc. Most vegetables do not need to be thawed before cooking.

What a great way to take advantage of organic, locally grown produce that’s in-season, and fresh from your farmer to you. Did I mention the cost-effectiveness component here? Obviously, the cost of produce shipped here from other countries when it’s out of season locally comes at a premium cost to us, the consumers.

I love my farmfreshtoyou.com produce, and I’ve tried a lot of new veggies and fruits that I’d otherwise never buy.  I highly recommend having a look at their site, and giving them a try if you eat a lot of organic fruits and veggies.