Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Instant Pot Kale And New Potatoes
Low in Calories And Low in Fat

Potatoes and kale make an easy side dish in your Instant Pot

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Potatoes and Kale
I am starting to harvest my potatoes - see my post, How to Grow your Own Potatoes.
Since I still have lots of lovely kale in the garden, I thought I'd make a recipe using kale and my tender new potatoes.

Sliced Magic Molly and Pinto Gold new potatoes.
Studies show a link between the consumption of purple potatoes and the reduction of diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Here's a quick recipe using my Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker.               

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Instant Pot Kale and New Potatoes
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 6 to 8 servings]

Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker

1/2 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1/2 pound de-ribbed, thinly sliced kale
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water

Place a third of the sliced kale in the Instant Pot. Place 1/2 of the sliced potatoes over the kale, spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Place another third of kale and the rest of the potatoes in the pot. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Layer the kale and potatoes

Place the remaining third of the kale in the pot and drizzle with olive oil. (Oil increases the ability to absorb the carotenoids.)

Pour the water over the kale and potatoes.

Hit the MANUAL button and set for 3 minutes. When it is done, release the pressure immediately and carefully remove the cover. Test to see if the potatoes are cooked. If not, just let the cover rest on the pot for another minute.

Serve while warm.

Per serving (6): 54 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 84 mg omega-3 and 137 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 2 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 1.6 g dietary fiber, and 18 mg sodium.

Per serving (8): 41 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 63 mg omega-3 and 103 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, and 14 mg sodium.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

10 Things To Do With Cucumbers

Raw Cucumber and Radish Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing.

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Preparing for my Cucumber Harvest
Yesterday I picked the first cucumber from my garden. I'm actually surprised that I got to eat it since my friend and neighbor, Pam, has been carefully monitoring and hovering over the plant for the last few weeks! But this is a very prolific plant so there will be lots more to come and  soon I'll be begging people to come get them.

Cucumbers are my "go to" diet food in the summer. When I need a snack, I just peel a cucumber and munch away. A small cucumber is only 16 calories and is a very good source of vitamin C and K and a good source of B vitamins such as B6, folate, and pantothenic acid as well as some important minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. It's also a good source of dietary fiber.

Here are 10 Things to do with Cucumbers

#1 Salad
The most common way to use a raw cucumber is in a salad. Here are a few recipes you can enjoy:

Italian Vegan Antipasto Salad
Crunchy and cool summer salad

#2 Sushi
Cucumbers make a great ingredient in any kind of sushi, whether it be in traditional fish sushi or one that's vegan. For a Veggie Sushi Roll recipe with Ginger-Tahini Sauce, download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen.

Veggie Sushi Roll from my eBook

#3 Smoothies
Raw cucumbers are great to put into a smoothie. It gives the smoothie a nice texture and provides all the dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals listed above. Try the recipe for Green Chia Seed Blast.

Green Chia Seed Blast, inspired by VegeNation

#4 Raw Soup
Cucumbers are a nice, crunchy ingredient for a raw gazpacho or Avospacho Soup

Avospacho Soup

You may also want to try this raw Creamy Vegan Garden Cucumber Soup.

Creamy Garden Cucumber Soup

#5 Pickles
I've often written about the importance of eating fermented foods. Here's a recipe for making Probiotic-Rich Fermented Pickles.

Fermented Pickles

# 6 Cucumber Tea Sandwich
Cucumber tea sandwiches are just a simple sandwich with thinly sliced English cucumbers with cream cheese and a sprinkle of fresh dill on white bread. A healthier version of this would be to use Kite Hill's Vegan Cream Cheese Style Spread made from a cultured almond milk. And you can also upgrade the bread to one with whole grain. 

Of course, thinly sliced cucumbers make a nice addition to any sandwich!

A great non-dairy substitute for cream cheese

#7 Base for Hors D'Oeuvres 
Making hors d'oeuvres? Instead of crackers, use slices of cucumber as the base. Your gluten-sensitive guests will appreciate it!

Cucumbers as a gluten-free base for hors d'oeuvres.

#8 On your Eyes
Cucumbers contain compounds that reduce the puffiness and lighten dark circles around the eyes. The classic picture of a person at the spa always includes someone relaxing with cucumber slices on their eyes.

Picture from LifeCell products

#9 Cucumber Water
For delicious, hydrating water, just throw a few slices of cucumber in your water. I drink a lot more water when it has a little flavor! And when you are serving guests, a few slices of cucumber in the water pitcher makes your water look a bit fancier.

# 10 Salsa
Cucumbers can provide a bit of crunch to your salsa. Make a simple mango salsa with 1 sliced Manila mango, a finely diced small, peeled cucumber, a diced avocado, 2 tablespoons of red onion, a chopped jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro all tossed with a tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Salt to taste and serve with healthy chips.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Growing Chamomile Tea

Grow, dry, and enjoy a cup of chamomile tea.

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Plant Tea in your Herb Garden
About 6 weeks ago, I started my herb garden. I went to the nursery and bought about a dozen different young starts. In the mix, I bought some German chamomile. It's a hardy, fast-growing plant and, if you've never grown your own tea, this would be a good one to start with.

Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita).
Its daisy-like flowers contain many
healing and therapeutic substances.

Chamomile Benefits
German chamomile contains substances that promote relaxation and decrease inflammation. As a tea, it helps reduce anxiety and many people take it at night to help them relax so that they can fall asleep. It is also used by some for digestive system issues and menstrual cramps. Chamomile is often found in creams used for skin conditions, such as eczema.

Once the little yellow and white flowers bloom, you can pinch or cut them at the very top of the stem and place them on a screen or cheese cloth and dry naturally.

I use my Excalibur Dehydrator and place the flowers on the dehydrator screen with another screen on top to keep them from blowing away. I dry the flowers on the lowest heat setting until they feel crunchy, about 10 to 12 hours. If they are still pliable, they are not ready.

Flowers on a dehydrator screen
Flowers weighted down with another screen
A bowl of dried chamomile flowers

Another way to dry them, is to just hang up a big branch. I have this pretty statue in my kitchen that holds enough to make a few cups of tea. It's quite decorative :-)

Hang a branch or the entire plant to dry.

Make tea by steeping a few teaspoons of dried flowers, or more depending on the desired strength, in boiling water for several minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Or place the dried tea in a tea filter bag and submerge the bag in boiling water. This prevents having to strain the tea.

No need to strain the tea leaves
when you use a T-Sac Filter Bag

German chamomile should be avoided by people with allergies to ragweed, daisies, and other asters. It also should be avoided for two weeks before having surgery as it may interact with anesthesia.

Although chamomile tea is good for soothing the tummy, something women in their first trimester of pregnancy would appreciate, studies as to the safety of drinking chamomile tea during pregnancy are inconclusive. So use caution and talk to your healthcare provider.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Instant Pot Zucchini And Mushrooms
Less Than 100 Calories Per Serving

A quick and easy zucchini recipe for your Instant Pot.

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And Here They Come!
The first zucchini of the season

Last year I grew way too many summer squash so I only planted 2 zucchini this year. I devoted most of the "squash real estate" to those that don't need to be eaten immediately. I planted delicata, kabocha, and butternut that have taken up a lot of space but at least I don't have the stress that zucchini brings of making sure they don't grow into baseball bats overnight or having to constantly place them into good homes.

My kabocha squash has taken up half the yard!

Yet, even with only 2 zucchini plants, I've already got a dozen in my refrigerator!

Zucchini and Instant Pots
Today's recipe uses an Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker but I have to warn you, zucchini cook very quickly so you have to pay careful attention to release pressure the moment it is done.

You can also make this recipe in a 5-quart Dutch oven, on top of the stove (recipe to follow.)

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Zucchini and Mushrooms
Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free
[6 to 8 servings]

Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker
or 5-quart Dutch oven

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 to 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced or separated depending on type of mushroom
1 large sprig fresh basil, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
4 medium zucchini, 1/2" slices (8 cups)
1 (15 ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes with juice

Directions for Instant Pot
Hit the Sauté button of the Instant Pot and heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and the mushrooms begin to lose their moisture. 

Add the basil and stir in the salt and pepper.

Saute until mushrooms and onions soften, about 5 minutes.

Add zucchini to the pot and stir.

Pour tomatoes, with their juices, over the zucchini. Do not stir.

Leave tomatoes on top, do not stir

Hit the MANUAL button and set to LOW pressure for 1 minute.  When it is done, release the pressure immediately and remove the cover. If they are still a bit undercooked, just let the cover rest on the pot for another minute. They will soften quickly.

Serve as is or over a starch

Serve as is or over cooked rice, pasta, polenta, or baked potatoes. For a heartier meal, you can stir in a can of white beans.

Stove Top Directions
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven on medium heat and cook the onions until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic for a minute and then the mushrooms. Stirring frequently, cook the mushrooms until they release their moisture, about 5 minutes. Add the basil, salt, and pepper.

Stir in the zucchini and the tomatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally,  until the zucchini are the desired texture, 5 to 10 minutes. Add a little water if needed.

Serve as above.

Per serving (6): 95 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 102 mg omega-3 and 398 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 5 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, and 222 mg sodium.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cannellini Beans With Basil-Jalapeño Pesto
Great For Your 4th Of July Picnic

Cannellini Beans are spiced up with this spicy vegan and gluten-free basil and jalapeño pesto!

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Why I Started Foods For Long Life
2 Million Pageviews Later
How many people assume that they are going to inherit their parents illnesses? If their father had a heart attack or their mother had breast cancer, do they wait for the inevitable day for that same disease to strike them? 

It's a relief to know that only a small percentage of diseases are actually unpreventable because of inherited genetic mutations - some experts put that number as low as five to ten percent. But many people don't know this and make less of an effort to change their diet, stay active, and manage stress.

Health and nutrition has always been my passion and I spent a lifetime whipping up recipes that were both delicious and healthful and reading the latest literature about supplements and alternative treatments. I never pursued it formally and followed a career in electrical engineering instead. But I was shaken to the core when my best friend passed away at the young age of 50. I wished that I knew more about holistic treatments that could have helped fight her cancer but I didn't. 

After 36 years in the computer industry, 27 years at IBM and 9 years as the CEO of Ampro Computers, I decided to retire and dedicate my time to helping people live a healthier life. I furthered my knowledge with a PhD in holistic nutrition and started this blog in 2009 to spread the word about healthy eating, sharing plant-based recipes and my opinions on the latest health news. I'm continuing my research in herbalism as I learn more about how Mother Nature can help us get well and stay well. 

Since 2009, I have written over 600 posts and published an eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen. Last week we hit a very special milestone of 2 Million Pageviews! This tells me that people are interested in taking control of their health. It gives me the encouragement to continue my work and it warms my heart to know that, in some way, I have helped people live a healthier life.

So THANK YOU all for following Foods For Long Life! Pass along my link to friends and family that you think would enjoy and benefit from it. And remember my tagline:

"Heath, excellent or ill, is passed to our children not just 
through our genes, but primarily, through our recipes."

Joanne L. Mumola Williams

Now for today's recipe. This spicy cannellini bean dish is a great source of protein and fiber. Served warm or at room temperature, it makes a great dish for your summer picnic or BBQ. You can eat as is or, as we did for dinner last night, stir it into a half pound of steaming pasta.

Since I've got lots of basil in my garden, I always make extra pesto and then pop it in the freezer for later. This recipe makes an entire cup of pesto but the recipe only needs 1/2 cup. Use it later on pasta, baked potatoes, as a dip, etc. It freezes really well.

Basil and jalapeños from my garden
Pesto freezes well

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Cannellini Beans with Basil-Jalapeño Pesto
Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free
[makes 8 servings of beans plus 1/2 cup of leftover pesto]

Food Processor, such as a Cuisinart

For the pesto
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 jalapeños, sliced vertically (with or without seeds depending on level of heat desired)
2 cups packed fresh basil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
For the beans
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup finely diced celery
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

Make the pesto. Place the garlic and jalapeños through the chute of a running food processor with an S blade and process until it's minced.

Add the basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, walnuts, oil, salt, and nutritional yeast and process until well blended.

Mix 1/2 cup of the pesto with the cannelloni beans, celery, and cherry tomatoes. (Freeze or refrigerate the remaining pesto.) Serve as is or heat to the desired temperature. 

As an option, mix the bean mixture into a halve pound of steaming hot pasta and serve.

Per serving (without pasta): 176 calories, 5 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 498 mg omega-3 and 1,973 mg omega-6 essential fatty acids, 9 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber, and 90 mg sodium.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Stanford Inn By The Sea
A Vegan Paradise In Mendocino

Stanford Inn by the Sea is a historic farm & eco-resort.
Enjoy vegan cuisine in their Ravens restaurant.

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For Healthy Vegan Recipes, download my eBook.

Lucky Us
My husband has an unusual knack for winning raffles, or maybe it's just that he buys a whole lot of raffle tickets. None-the-less, we were THRILLED to win a few days at the Stanford Inn by the Sea when we bought raffle tickets to benefit the 2015 San Francisco Bay Area Walk for the Farm Animals.  Since we are celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary, we decided to spend it at this amazing resort.

Stanford Inn at the Sea
I have to be honest, I came for the food. Just think, an entire restaurant that serves all dairy-free cuisine. With my dairy allergy, I constantly have to ask, "is there butter in this? Is there cheese in this? Is there milk in this?" And usually, at the end of a meal in a typical restaurant, they bring you the dessert menu that rarely has a item that isn't drenched in whipped cream. And for strict vegans who avoid all animal products, you will be in heaven to know that not a single one is used in their cooking - no eggs, no dairy, no chicken broth, just plants! No need to grill the waiter.

But even though my main attraction was the food, there is so much more here to experience. You can go kayaking or canoeing in the Big River estuary or bike around Mendocino. We both enjoyed a wonderful massage in their spa. They also have an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna. And for people who want to make big life changes, this is center for learning how to live well. You can take nutrition classes, learn yoga and Tai Chi, learn about sustainable gardening, and more.

We had a great session with Jeff Stanford on meditation. For those of you who know us, you know that Doug and I do not sit still for a minute and we just assumed that meditation was never going to work for us. We've made an attempt but every time we try to "clear our minds", we just see giant "to do" lists. 

But Jeff's discussion approached meditation as inquiry, more about "What Meditation Isn't" and how personalized it can be. He taught us an "active meditation" technique that works perfectly for our personalities!

One thing that we didn't get to do but will definitely do next time is take a personalized "Play Shop" with Joan Stanford. This is a creative experience that allows you to tap into your creative wisdom using different media. And luckily you don't have to be an artist to do this.

OK, let's Talk Food!
Being an avid gardener and food lover, I was blown away with their gardens where they grow much of the food they serve in their restaurants. Just feast your eyes on these garden beds!

Life's Short - Eat Dessert First
"Afternoon's at the Stanford Inn" include a tea service and yummy vegan desserts from 3:30 to 4:30. So after you check into your room, this is a great way to begin your vacation!
Here are some of the desserts they served at afternoon tea or with dinner.

Coffee cake with oat topping and blue compote
Spice cake with pecans and orange glaze
Mint chocolate ganache tart with strawberries

Dinner at "The Ravens" Restaurant
Their restaurant serves dinner and breakfast. They will provide an "on the go" lunch for you, if you wish. Here are some of the yummy items we enjoyed at dinner. Note that just about every dish is served with a pretty flower from their garden.

First, they present a simple amuse-bouche, bread with a vegan spread of hummus and grilled broccoli, or baked corn chips and salsa.

Amuse of slaw-covered cucumber with sesame seeds
Fresh baked bread with a vegan spread

Starters, Soups, and Salads

My favorite starter was their Tamari-Maple Glazed Tofu. I could have eaten this at every meal!

Glazed Tofu

The Butternut Squash Soup with Crème fraîche was also a favorite. 

A lovely cream soup of butternut squash

Doug started his meal with a Cauliflower and Trumpet Mushroom Ceviche Taco.

Taco on a hand-made tortilla

We both loved this Kale Salad topped with cauliflower ceviche and avocado tartare.

Stacked kale salad

Large Plates
For dinner we enjoyed a variety of dishes. The most unusual was a Sea Palm and Root Vegetable Strudel that used local sea palm, and was wrapped in phyllo, served with umeboshi and wasabi sauces. 

Sea palm and root vegetable strudel

One night, Doug had Enchiladas.

Enchiladas with grilled portobello

I think my favorite entree was the Spinach and Herb Ricotta Ravioli.

Vegan ravioli, yumm!

And the last night we were there, Doug enjoyed this Thai Red Curry with mixed veggies and tofu on jasmine rice.

Thai Red Curry

Our Favorite Waitperson
The staff at Stanford Inn was caring and attentive - and very talented! The lovely young women who waited on us at dinner, Melissa Smith, is also a vegan blogger! Check out her blog, Eat Love Now.

Check out Melissa's vegan blog, Eat Love Now 
or follow her on Facebook.

What's for Breakfast?
There were lots of breakfast dishes to choose from. Here's what we enjoyed during out stay:

Vegan Portobello Benedict
Garden Tofu Scramble with Braised Vegetables - 
the rosemary potatoes were amazing!

Buckwheat and Oat Pancakes with Fruit Compote

The vegan scones were to die for!
Cranberry Orange Scone
Pineapple Coconut Scone
Fresh Fruit Bowl
Citrus Granola

Enjoy a Book
One last thing I want to mention is their extensive collection of books that are on display and for sale in their cozy lobby (it's really more like a big, inviting, living room). The titles include books on nutrition, veganism, wellness, plant-based cookbooks, meditation, yoga, and more. One could literally spend hours sitting in a big, comfy chair perusing their wonderful books.

So if you are ever in Mendocino and want a unique experience, I highly recommend visiting Joan and Jeff Stanford at their Stanford Inn at the Sea!