Monday, November 21, 2016

Healthy Instant Pot Thanksgiving Recipes

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Instant Pot - a Needed Helper for Holiday Cooking
If you're like most families, your oven and all the burners are busy when cooking for the holidays, especially on Thanksgiving. What better time to have an Instant Pot to lend a helping hand. I've got two!

Here are a few healthy, low-calorie Instant Pot recipes you might want to consider for your holiday meals. Except for the Farro recipe, they are also gluten free.

Start with Soup
I have two takes on soup. The first is one that's casual, served in a mug and handed to your guests in the kitchen while everyone is cooking. To do this, you need a brothy soup, like this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup that I blogged earlier this week.

At only 117 calories, this won't many calories to your meal.

Of course, the other take on soup is to serve it as a first course at the dinner table. One of my absolute favorite soups that I make in the Instant Pot is Vegan Split Pea Soup with Shredded Carrots. 

Popular Thanksgiving Side Dishes

For a healthier mashed potato recipe, try Mashed Vegan Yukon Gold Potatoes and Cauliflower. This dairy-free, Instant Pot version of mashed potatoes will be welcomed by your dairy sensitive guests and the cauliflower lightens up the calories. 

Only 135 calories and a whopping 5 grams of dietary fiber!

If you prefer sweet potatoes, make these Instant Pot Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes.

150 calories and only 1 gram of fat
and a whopping 4 g of dietary fiber!

Brussels sprouts are a must at our Thanksgiving table. Clean them ahead of time and make Sweet and Orangey Brussels Sprouts in your Instant Pot in just a few minutes time.

Only 65 calories per serving

Another side dish that you can easily make in your Instant Pot is Farro with Peas. 

Greens always dress up a table. If you aren't making mashed potatoes, you can make this Instant Pot Kale and New Potato dish. Of course you can omit the potatoes and double the kale in the recipe if you already have potatoes on the menu.

Only 54 calories and 1 gram of fat

Well, that should give you a few ideas on how to use your Instant Pot for your holiday cooking. I haven't figured out how to make a pumpkin pie in there yet, but you should have plenty of room left to do that in your oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
Only 117 Calories Per Serving

This simple butternut squash soup is a
great first course for your holiday dinner.

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For healthy, vegan holiday recipes, check out
my ebook, Health Begins in the Kitchen.

Quick and Easy Soup in the Instant Pot
With several dozen butternut squash from my harvest, I've been trying to create a really simple, delicious, and healthy recipe so that I can enjoy them over the next few months. This recipe, using my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker, makes a steamy, brothy soup that makes a wonderful beginning to any meal. I will be hauling a few of my squash to my daughter's house next week so that we can serve this soup on Thanksgiving day.

Butternut squash can sometimes be tough to cut and a bit intimidating, so check out my post, An Easy Way to Cut a Butternut Squash Without a Machete.

If you don't have an Instant Pot, follow the Stove Top recipe below.

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Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free
[makes 6 servings]

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
Immersion Blender

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, cleaned and diced
4 cups vegetable broth*
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

* broth can be replaced by 4 cups water and a large Rapunzel vegan bouillon cube

Directions (Using an Instant Pot)
Heat the oil in the Instant Pot on the SAUTE function. Add the onions and celery and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off the Instant Pot.

Add the diced butternut squash, broth, and salt and hit the MANUAL button on the Instant Pot and set for 6 minutes under high pressure. Make sure the quick release switch in the closed position. When done, hit the OFF button and let the pressure release naturally.

When complete, open the cover and tilt so that the steam comes out the back and away from your face. 

Add the applesauce, cayenne pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon of thyme and, using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. 

Stir in the lemon juice and adjust salt and cayenne to taste. It should still be warm enough but if not, use the SAUTE function and heat for several minutes. 

Pour into large cups or small soup bowls, top with the remaining fresh thyme and serve. 

Directions (On the Stove Top)
Heat the oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook for several minutes, stirring frequently. 

Add the diced butternut squash, broth, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the squash is soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Add the applesauce, cayenne pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon of thyme and, using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. 

Stir in the lemon juice and adjust salt and cayenne to taste.

Pour into large cups or small soup bowls, top with the remaining fresh thyme and serve.  

Per serving: 117 calories, 3 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 58 mg omega-3 and 263 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, and 551 mg sodium.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Make Your Holiday Baking Healthier - How To Convert Butter To Olive Oil In Recipes

Olive oil is a healthy substitute for butter in
holiday baking - Here's why!

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Holiday Baking
Before you start baking holiday goodies for your family, friends, and neighbors, consider substituting some or all of that butter with extra virgin olive oil. Here's why!

First of all, it takes less olive oil than butter.  Here's how it converts:

Butter              Oil
1 tsp       =      3/4 tsp
1 TB               2 1/4 tsp
2 TB               1 1/2 TB
1/4 C              3 TB
1/3 C             1/4 C
1/2 C              1/4 C + 2 TB
2/3 C              1/2 C
3/4 C              1/2 C + 1 TB
1 C                 3/4 C

For example, if your recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter , you would only need 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Nutritionally, this means:
* you would save 100 calories, 
* the recipe would have 47 fewer grams of saturated fat,
* you would save 244 mg of cholesterol,
* the baked item with olive oil would have 260 mg more beneficial omega-3 and 4,811 mg more omega-6 fatty acids.

In addition, olive oil contains anti-inflammatory polyphenols which lower the body's overall inflammation.  So give it a try!

Can't Give it Up?
If you absolutely cannot give up that buttery flavor, try using some ghee. Ghee is traditionally used in Indian food and is made by cooking butter until all the moisture is removed and the milk solids are caramelized and filtered out. Ghee has many advantages over butter.

Although it's not vegan, people like myself who cannot eat dairy, can tolerate ghee because  it does not have lactose or the milk protein, casein. It also doesn't spoil and can last for several months without refrigeration, so it's nice and soft when you need it. 

Always buy organic ghee made from
grass-fed and pasture-raised cows

But despite the numerous health claims you may read about ghee, it is still a saturated fat so if you do eat it, do it sparingly. 

It's amazing how very little butter or ghee it takes to bring a buttery taste to your recipe. So if you don't want to replace all of your butter with olive oil, convert most of it and add just a little ghee.

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Whole Wheat Apple Blueberry Muffins With Walnuts - High In Omega 3

These warm, whole grain muffins make a healthy, fall breakfast.

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Download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen.

Warm Muffins - A Wholesome Addition to Breakfast
As the weather cools down, it's nice to start the day with a warm breakfast. These muffins, bursting with blueberries, apples and walnuts, are delicious with Kite Hill almond-based cream "cheese." Take the leftovers to work or school, as they make a wonderful mid-afternoon snack.

Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant foods we can eat plus each low-calorie, high-fiber muffin is packed with over a 1/2 gram of omega-3 due to the addition of walnuts and flaxseeds!

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Whole Wheat Apple Blueberry Muffins
Vegan, Dairy Free
[makes 12 muffins]

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for greasing muffin pan
2 cups King Arthur white whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4 cup organic can sugar
1 teaspoon powdered stevia
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup non-dairy milk, such as almond or soy milk
2/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
3/4 cup finely diced peeled apples
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, flax seeds, sugar, stevia, baking powder, and salt. 

In a large bowl, combine the milk, applesauce, and oil and beat well. 

Add the flour mixture to the large bowl and mix until well blended. Fold in the blueberries, apples and walnuts. 

Using an ice cream scoop or 1⁄3-cup measure, scoop batter into muffin tins. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of a muffin, 18 to 20 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, release the muffins from the pan, and serve warm. 

Warm muffins bursting with apples and blueberries.

Per muffin: 162 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 538 mg omega-3 and 1,600 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 3 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber and 202 mg sodium.