Sunday, May 03, 2015

Cranberry (Borlotti) Beans, Kale, And Mushrooms
Made In An Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker
Easy Vegan And Gluten-Free Meal

Cranberry beans are a great source of protein and fiber.

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Beans and Greens
"Beans and greens" is one of my absolute favorite and versatile meals. We always have tons of kale in the garden and a pantry-full of various dried beans. Spinach, chard, escarole, collards, mustard and turnip greens are also excellent "greens" to make with this dish (cooking times will vary depending on the selection of beans and greens). I usually make a big pot for dinner and serve left-overs for lunch. Beans and greens can be eaten over a cooked grain, pasta or as is. And now with my Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker, it's easier than ever to make this healthy and delicious dish.

The Mind Diet, a diet used in a study to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, recommends eating six or more servings of greens and three servings of beans per week. 

Cranberry (Borlotti) Beans
This year I became addicted to Rancho Gordo beans. My son sent me a huge assortment of them for Christmas and I've been working my way through them in various recipes. The Cranberry Bean has become one of my favorites. Their creamy texture and short cooking time make them perfect for many dishes such as "beans and greens" or my other personal favorite, "pasta e fagioli", or as they say back in Brooklyn, "pasta fazool."

Cranberry beans are an excellent source of vegetarian protein, providing 16.5 grams of "complete" protein per cup, meaning they contain every essential amino acid. They also provide a whopping 17.7 grams of dietary fiber. One cup also provides 92% of the daily requirement of folate, an especially critical nutrient during pregnancy.

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Cranberry Beans, Kale, and Mushrooms
Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free
[makes 6 servings]
Requires an Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker

1 1/2 cups dry cranberry beans
4 inch piece kombu (optional)
4 slices of onion
Salt and pepper to taste
8 cups destemmed, thinly sliced kale
4 ounces fresh maitake or shiitake mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Sort through the beans, removing rocks and debris. Rinse well.

Place in the Instant Pot and cover with 2 or more inches of cold water. Let sit over night.

You have two choices after this:
* Rancho Gordo suggests cooking the beans in their soaking water. This provides for a slightly richer broth. Or:
* You can rinse the beans before cooking them. Soaking and rinsing the beans helps eliminate the indigestible sugars that cause gas and reduces the phytates that bind with important minerals making them unavailable. You still get a rich, delicious broth.

Whether you cook the beans in their soaking water or rinse them after soaking, make sure there is at least an inch or two of water covering the beans. I like to make my beans saucy.

Add the sliced onions over the beans and snip the piece of kombu into thin slices and add to the pot. You may also leave the kombu whole and remove it before eating. Some people reuse it.

Kombu is a sea vegetable.
It improves digestibility of beans and reduces issue with gas.
Kombu is a source of iodine, missing in many diets.
Look for it at your health food store or Whole Foods.
Beans, water, kombu and onions in the Instant Pot.
Ready to start cooking!

Make sure the top vent of the Instant Pot is closed. Secure the lid, hit the manual button and set to cook at high pressure for 8 minutes.

After the pot cooks at high pressure for 8 minutes, hit the off button and let the pressure come down naturally. Carefully remove the lid, tilting it so that the steam escapes in the back. Test the beans to see if they are done. Salt and pepper to taste and place the cooked beans and broth in a large pot or casserole dish. Set aside. No need to wash the instant pot. You'll be using it again.

Cranberry beans after cooking.

I selected maitake mushrooms for this dish today but I've also made it with others. Shiitake mushrooms are particularly good to use. If you are using maitake, break them apart into small pieces. If you are using shiitakes, remove the stem and thinly slice.

Maitake mushroom.

Place the kale, mushrooms, garlic powder, olive oil, salt and pepper into the Instant Pot. Add 3/4 cups of the bean broth to the kale mixture. Stir to combine.

Secure the lid and hit the manual button. Set to cook at high pressure for 3 to 4 minutes. When complete, hit the off button and do a quick release of the pressure. Open the lid carefully. Mix the kale and the beans together. 

Serve over rice, quinoa, millet, or other whole grain. Or, mix together with cooked pasta.

Per serving: 228 calories, 2 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 285 mg omega-3 and 355 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 15 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, and 15 g dietary fiber.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Roasted Asparagus On Romaine Topped With Corn, Radishes, Avocado & Sunflower Seeds

Roasted asparagus topped with chopped veggies and seeds.

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Asparagus for Lunch?
Doug and I ate an entire bunch of asparagus yesterday for lunch. Once those tender roasted spears came out of the oven, we decided to make a meal out of them. Besides, you can't just let these jewels sit around since they are more perishable than most other vegetables.

Feed your Microbes Too!
I'm sure you all know how very important microbes are for our health. Well these little guys have to eat too. They depend on "prebiotics" which are supplied by the compound "inulin." This carbohydrate makes it all the way through to our large intestine where it becomes an important food source for our intestinal bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. Asparagus is a very good source of inulin. 

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Roasted Asparagus Salad
Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free
[makes 4 servings]

1 pound asparagus, washed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 ear of corn, cleaned, kernels removed
4 small radishes, diced
1 green onion, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, diced
1/2 lemon
1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds (or hemp seeds)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Trim off the bottoms of the asparagus with a knife or bend the bottoms until they snap off. Place in a large, shallow baking pan and arrange in a single layer. 

Drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. If you have a Silpat sheet, you can reduce the olive oil to 2 teaspoons. Shake the pan back and forth until the spears are well coated.

Place the pan in the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until the asparagus spears are lightly browned and fork-tender but still crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Place the corn kernels, radishes, green onion, and avocado in a small bowl. Toss with the juice of 1/2 a lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. 

To build the salad, place the chopped Romaine lettuce on a platter or divide among four individual plates. (Doug and I divided it onto two big plates and made an entire meal out of it.)

Place the warm asparagus on top of the lettuce and then top the asparagus with the corn mixture. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and serve immediately.

Per serving: 168 calories, 10 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 249 mg omega-3 and 2,006 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 6 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 8 g dietary fiber, 20 mg sodium (plus salt to taste).

For a better omega-3 to omega-6 balance, use hemp seeds instead of sunflower seeds.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Baked Chipotle Turnip Fries
A Healthy Alternative To French Fried Potatoes
Vegan And Gluten Free

Spicy chipotle turnip fries - fewer calories than potatoes.

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Turnips - an Alternative to the Potato
I have to confess, my guilty pleasure is french fries. I don't order them or cook them but if I'm in a restaurant and someone at the table orders french fries, at some time during the meal I will grab one, dip it in some ketchup and pop it in my mouth. I may not even ask permission.

I adore turnips. I throw them in soups, mash them, and now I've discovered that when baked in the oven with a tiny bit of olive oil and seasonings, they are a healthy and delicious substitute for french fries. And at a little over 100 calories a serving, why resist?

The best part is that turnips are about 1/3 the calories and carbs as potatoes. One half cup of turnips has only 18.2 calories, 4.2 g of carbs and zero fat. Potatoes, also fat free, have 57.7 calories and 13.8 g of carbs in a one half cup serving.

But most of all I love the taste of turnips. If they haven't been part of your regular diet, give them a try. Not ready to dive in completely? Use half potatoes and half turnips the next time you make mashed potatoes. It will lighten up the calories and carbs and be just as delicious!

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Baked Chipotle Turnip Fries
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 2 servings]

1 pound turnips
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon chili powder*
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder*
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

* For less spice, omit the chipotle chili powder and use 1/2 teaspoon regular chili powder. For more spice, omit the regular chili powder and use 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel the turnips and cut them into the shape of french fries, about 1/2 inch by 3 to 4 inches thick. Place them in a bowl. 

Add the oil and spices and toss the turnips until they are evenly coated. Lay them out on a non stick baking sheet. I prefer a shallow baking pan with a Silpat baking sheet

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping half way through, until nicely brown and crisp. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 104 calories, 5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 128 mg omega-3 and 508 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 2.5 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber and 448 mg sodium.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review Of Go Veggie! Vegan "Cheese" Products
Shreds, Cream Cheese, Slices & Parm Topping
Compare To Daiya And Tofutti

These Go Veggie products are non-GMO, dairy and gluten free.

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Need Non-Dairy Dairy?
As you know, I prefer food that is in its natural state and I'm not a big proponent of imitation foods but every now and then a meal or recipe requires some dairy and if you are vegan or allergic to dairy, you need to find an alternative. Go Veggie! dairy-free products fit the bill. Particularly when you are looking for something to smear on your bagel or you need some melty cheese shreds for your lasagna or casserole.

The good folks at Go Veggie! sent me a nice selection of their vegan products and I have, along with friends, been taste-testing them over the last few months. So it's time to share the results!

Go Veggie Shreds
The big question regarding vegan cheese is always, "does it melt?" These shreds melt very well and are perfect for using in a casserole or in a lasagna where you want the "cheese" to flow. But for some dishes, they melt a bit too much. When we tried to make a quesadilla from the Dairy Free Mexican Shreds, the cheese flowed out of the tortillas and didn't provide enough structure to hold it together. We found the slices work better for making quesadillas and the shreds are better to use over nachos. The Mexican Shreds were PERFECT to use for an enchilada casserole! 

Enchilada casserole using Go Veggie Mexican Style Shreds.

The Dairy-free Mozzarella Shreds were just what I needed when I made a big veggie lasagna.

I think the Go Veggie Shreds are far superior to Daiya Shreds in both flavor and how they melt in dishes like lasagna or in casseroles.

Vegan lasagna using Go Veggie Mozzarella Shreds.

One third cup Mozzarella or Mexican shreds has:
90 calories
6 g of total fat 
0 g saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol
1 g of protein
7 g carbohydrate
1 g protein
0 g dietary fiber
210 mg sodium
25% DV calcium
Gluten, dairy, and soy-free

Cream "Cheese"
There are three dairy-free cream cheeses: Classic Plain, Chive and Garlic, and Strawberry. They are all very soft and spreadable. The Classic Plain has a nice mild flavor and spreads more easily than "Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese" but Tofutti has more of the consistency and mouthfeel of dairy cream cheese. The Go Veggie Strawberry cream cheese makes a lovely bagel topping and I used the Chive and Garlic over a steamy baked potato.

2 Tablespoons of Go Veggie Classic Plain and Chive and Garlic Cream Cheese has:
90 calories
9 g total fat
4.5 g saturated fat
0 g trans fat
0 g cholesterol
1 g protein
0 g dietary fiber
120 mg sodium
Contains coconut and soy

Strawberry Cream Cheese has 80 calories, 7 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 g cholesterol, 1 g protein, 0 g dietary fiber, and 105 mg sodium.

Parmesan Topping
Perhaps my favorite product is the Parmesan Style Topping because it really has the tangy, cheesy taste of Parm. Made from rice and soy, it has only 20 calories in 2 teaspoons and only 1 g of fat. The product clumps a bit but just shake it and all is well.

Fusilli and peas with Go Veggie Parmesan Style Topping.

"Cheese" Slices
Go Veggie has four different dairy and gluten-free cheese slices: Cheddar, American, Pepper Jack and Mozzarella. My favorite is Pepper Jack because it has a nice kick to it. The slices melt nicely and make a good grill cheese sandwich or good addition to any sandwich. Although I prefer to use the shreds, these slices would also melt in a casserole or mac and cheese. Each slice is extremely low in calories and high in calcium. The slices are a bit brittle and tend to break when removing them from their wrapper.

1 Slice has:
35 calories
2 g fat,
0 g saturated and trans fat, cholesterol
1 g protein
5 g carbohydrate
0 g dietary fiber
150 mg sodium
20% DV calcium
Gluten, dairy, and soy free

Grill "cheese" sandwich with Go Veggie Cheddar Slices

To find out where to buy Go Veggie products, just enter your City, State, or Zip code on their website.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Listeria Concern Prompts National Hummus Recall
Here's A Recipe To Make Your Own

Potentially deadly listeria found in samples of Sabra.

Sabra Hummus Recalled
Hummus is a staple for many, especially vegans and vegetarians, and Sabra is a very popular brand. The FDA posted a notice that Sabra Dipping Co. is voluntarily recalling about 30,000 cases of its Classic Hummus due to possible Listeria contamination.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause symptoms such as high fever, stiffness, severe headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in healthy individuals. For people with compromised immune systems, children, and the elderly, these infections can be fatal. Listeria infections are very dangerous for women who are pregnant and can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. It is critical that you check your refrigerator for the following five SKU's. Thankfully, to date, there have not been any reports showing that these products have caused anyone to become ill. Only the US is affected.

* Sabra Classic Hummus in 10-oz sizes - UPC/SKU 040822011143/300067 

* Sabra Classic Hummus in 30-oz sizes - UPC/SKU 040822014687/300074

* Sabra Classic Hummus without garnish in 32-oz sizes - UPC/SKU 040822342049/301216

* Sabra Classic Hummus in 17-oz six pack - UPC/SKU 040822017497/301290

* Hummus Dual Pack Classic/Garlic 23.5 oz - UPC/SKU 040822342209/301283

In the meantime, make your own hummus. Here's an easy recipe which is taken from my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen: Delicious and Easy Vegan Recipes and Seasonal Food Plan available on Amazon and iTunes. Hummus is so easy to make, you may never buy prepackaged hummus again!

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Classic Garbanzo Bean Hummus
Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free
[makes 6 servings]

Requires a Food Processor, such as a Cuisinart.

1 (15-oz) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
2 tablespoons sesame tahini
1 tablespoon cold pressed hemp oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne (optional)
2 packed tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

Combine all of the ingredients, except the parsley or cilantro, in a food processor with an S blade and process until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides. If the mixture is too dry, add a small amount of the reserved bean liquid.

Add parsley or cilantro and pulse several times to combine.

Serve as a dip, a sandwich filling, or as a topping for your veggie burger.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Make Raw Vegan Gelato In Minutes
With Yonanas Elite, Nothing But Fruit!

Raw vegan cherry banana gelato.

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Creamy Frozen Dessert
Would you believe that you can eat a frozen dessert with the creaminess of gelato and the calories and healthfulness of raw fruit? No, this isn't an April fools joke. I just bought a new kitchen toy that allows me to do just that! It's called Yonanas Elite. It couldn't be easier. 

Basically, you freeze fruit and run it through this machine. The creamy texture comes from perfectly ripened bananas and you add other fruits, etc. to give it different flavors and textures. You can even make desserts healthy enough to enjoy during a raw food cleanse!

Yonanas Elite

The machine comes with a recipe book with lots of fun ideas. The combinations are endless and you will no doubt be creating some of your own using your favorite fruits. For convenience, you can buy a lot of different frozen fruits, like pitted cherries, mangos, strawberries, raspberries, etc. in the supermarket.

You can also make sorbets with frozen berries, oranges, pineapples, cantaloup, watermelon, apples and more. It's all in the recipe book and it couldn't be easier!

I think my favorite combination so far is bananas and cherries with walnut pieces and a few dark chocolate chips stirred in at the end.

One of the recipes in the book is green tea ice cream where you simply sprinkle matcha green tea on frozen bananas and then run them through the shoot. 

Making matcha green tea frozen dessert

Make a Raw Vegan Pie
This machine makes the perfect filling for a raw vegan ice cream pie. Just make a pie crust with Raw Vegan Dessert Helper and fill it with the frozen dessert of your choice. Put it in the freezer for at least 4 hours and take out to thaw for 20 minutes before serving.

Raw crust from nuts, coconut, dates, raisins and cinnamon.

I'm excited about trying more of the recipes in their book and creating some of my own. If you come up with some winning combinations, please share by leaving a comment on the blog. Thanks and enjoy!

Watch videos on the Yonanas website for more instruction on how to use this machine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Make Thick, Creamy Vegan Yogurt With An Instant Pot Or Yogurt Maker - 5 Minutes Prep Time!
No Added Thickeners Or Gums Needed

Making this organic yogurt recipe couldn't be easier!

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I Love Yogurt
When I gave up dairy, yogurt was one of the things I missed the most. Store-bought vegan yogurt is pretty terrible. I remember a while back buying 8 different brands and types in order to do a product review for the blog. They contained all kinds of gums and binders, tons of sugar, and very little yogurt flavor. In disgust, I abandoned the article as I couldn't really find one that I was excited about recommending. 

I never tried making my own yogurt until I bought my Instant Pot. Although I use it mostly as a pressure cooker, it also works as a yogurt maker. So before I gave up on yogurt completely, with its healthful and critical probiotics, I thought I would give it a try.

Between me and my friend Margarite, many many batches of yogurt have been made before I wrote this post. 

Yogurt Starter
The first thing you need when making a non-dairy yogurt, is vegan yogurt starter. I use Cultures for Health. Check their website carefully for a coupon. They have other yogurt starters that are dairy based so if you can tolerate a tiny amount of dairy, you can try them too. I imagine that they might give a different flavor and consistency but I haven't experimented with them yet.

The vegan yogurt starter is a "direct set" or "single use" starter which means that you should use a new packet for every batch. With the particular recipe and non-dairy milk I am suggesting today, it is possible to make additional batches by using a 1/2-cup of the yogurt and whey from the previous batch. Eventually you may have to use a new packet (I found that using a fresh packet results in a slightly thicker yogurt) although my friend has made countless batches with yogurt and whey from her previous batches and hasn't noticed any differences.

To maintain culture strength, store in the freezer

Next, you'll need a non-dairy milk. The only one that I have found so far that curdles and makes thick, creamy, spoonable yogurt without having to add any thickening agents is Kirkland's shelf stable organic, plain soy milk. I tried other brands as well as home-made soy milk but this was the only suitable one. It's absolutely delicious with a tiny hint of vanilla. And because it's organic, it assures you that it is non-GMO. 
Please let me know if you find other soy milks that work as well.

Making yogurt is incredibly easy in your Instant Pot.
Stir starter into the milk, pour into jars, set time and hit start!

Soy Yogurt
Vegan, Dairy Free, Mostly Gluten Free*
[Makes 1 quart or 8 (1/2-cup) servings]
Requires 2 pint glass jars and an Instant Pot or other Yogurt Maker
Allow 8 to 12 hours in yogurt maker and several hours to refrigerate

1 quart Kirkland shelf-stabilized plain organic soy milk, room temperature
1 packet of Cultures for Health vegan yogurt starter**

*Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt starter may contain traces of gluten as they use barley as a nutrient for the probiotic.
** Or try using a 1/2 cup of yogurt and whey from your previous batch

Clean glass jars with soap and hot water. Dry and set aside.

Pour the room-temperature Kirkland soy milk into a clean pitcher. Sprinkle in a packet of yogurt starter and stir well. If you are using 1/2 cup of yogurt and whey from a previous batch (instead of a packet of yogurt starter), place that into the pitcher first and slowly mix in the quart of milk until it is well combined.

Pour into two pint jars. If you have a little left over, pour it into a small taster jar.

Place all jars into the Instant Pot. Push the "yogurt" button and set for 12 hours. You may use the cover that comes with the Instant Pot or a 9" snug-fitting glass lid. I like using a glass lid so that I can see what's going on. It generally sets in 8 hours but it tastes more like yogurt if you let it process longer. 

Remove after 12 hours and place in the refrigerator. Serve when chilled.

Tip: Prepare it in the morning so that it finishes in the evening and you can pop it into the refrigerator before you go to bed. Then it will be chilled and ready to use for breakfast the next morning. 

Per 1/2-cup serving: 50 calories, 2 g total fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g dietary fiber, and 55 mg sodium.

Each serving also contains the following percent daily values:
5% vitamin A
12.5% calcium
4.5% iron

Making Yogurt from Almond, Coconut and Rice Milk
To make yogurt from non-dairy milks such as almond, coconut, rice and some soy milks, you will require a thickening agent. The resulting yogurt is more gel like than creamy and curdled. I also don't think they are as tart. Pretty much like the non-dairy yogurts that you buy in the store. 

If you want to try making these, your best bet is to use a recipe using Pomona's Universal Pectin.  I find that there is no need for the calcium water called for in the recipe if the non-dairy milk you are using has sufficient added calcium. 

Experimenting is Fun!
Experimenting with different milks and yogurt starters is fun so if you come up with some great creations, please share them with us!