Broccoli Rabe Pasta

broccoli rabe pasta

Last night’s broccoli rabe pasta turned out fantastic. I have never really eaten broccoli rabe before and I wasn’t sure how it would work as the substitute for spinach in this dish, but it did the trick.  Broccoli rabe a bit more bitter than spinach but I like the addition of the little “trees” that give it a bit more texture. I also added some sliced zucchini and yellow squash since I was really trying to make it mostly vegetables with less pasta as I am (constantly) working to cut down on the whole grains. Doing great with no or little oil, no meat, no dairy, but the whole grains are my weakness for sure!

I ended up using some No Sodium Organic Trader Joe’s Marinara with this due to lack of prep time but now I see on Fooducate that there is quite a bit of sugar per serving (10 grams) though the app did give a score of A-. In the future, I will just use fresh tomatoes with some Italian seasonings and lemon juice. Happy Friday!~ Amanda Rae

Tofu, Rice, and Spinach. Breakfast?

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Tofu, rice, spinach, mushrooms, and onions for breakfast? Absolutely! This is a huge difference from my former typical diet of fast food sausage, cheese, eggs, biscuits, and hash browns. Usually topped off with a cinnamon roll of some sort! After all, I needed to get in all of my food groups – fat, salt, and sugar. Ugh.

In 1995, I taught English in South Korea. One week was spent at a children’s summer camp in the woods so meals were served community style. I was shocked at the time to see the breakfast menu. Rice, vegetables, and mushrooms. I didn’t eat. My mind was so ingrained in the Standard American Diet (SAD) that I couldn’t even conceive of these foods as breakfast food!

I wasn’t eating so I ended up getting sick and having to leave camp early. The first thing I did when I got back into town was to head to the US military base bowling alley and order a pizza, cheeseburger, and some fries. I instantly felt better which meant I was eating the right thing, right? Ha!

Something Dr. Joel Fuhrman recently said that I wish I had heard back then. He said

When you eat broccoli, you don’t feel differently, you feel the same. If you are eating something that instantly makes you feel better, you are using food as a drug.

Even back then I was using food as a drug. I am so thankful that my taste buds have matured and I am willing to try so many new things, at different times of the day.

Why this bowl is great for breakfast:

1) It is nutritionally complete. Protein in the tofu; Vit K, A, manganese, folate, and iron in the spinach;  potassium, phosphorous, antioxidants in mushrooms;  and manganese, magnesium, and selenium in the brown rice. Good stuff.

2) It is filling. This bowl has an entire bag of spinach in it! That is a lot of fiber which is very satisfying.

3) It actually tastes great for breakfast. You want to start the day with something hearty. While it definitely takes some time to want to eat this for breakfast (it took me about 2 months) your taste buds change and you start to want to eat for nutrition instead of for “well that is what I am SUPPOSED to have for breakfast.”

So maybe you are not there yet. Maybe you feel like you need a bowl of cereal, or some toast with fruit spread when you first wake up. That’s fine, but if you make the switch to eating a lot of fresh fruits and and vegetables and limiting sugar, salt, and avoiding fats, you might be surprised how quickly things change. ~Amanda Rae

 

Dr. McDougall’s Vegan Split Pea Soup Review

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I decided to try Dr. McDougall’s vegan split pea soup as a potential pantry back up for when I don’t have the time or the energy to cook.  I also need something I can keep in my desk drawer. There are several flavors but I was feeling adventurous and decided to try the split pea first. I got it at my local Publix and it cost about $2.50.

With 120 calories and 300 mg of sodium, I thought it seemed like a doable option. I was nervous about the packet inside because it reminded me of those Ramen Noodle Packages O’ Salt. Fortunately, this one was not nearly as bad.

When you pull off the lid, there are little bits of chopped and dried up veggies. The ingredients are listed as Pre-cooked Split Peas, Barley, Dehydrated Vegetables (Onion, Carrots, Potatoes, Celery, Garlic, Parsley), Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor (Non-animal Source), Potato Starch, Lemon, Citric Acid, Black Pepper, and Sea Salt. Add the flavor packet and microwave and here is what you get…

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Not very appetizing is it? There were some diapers in my past that looked similar to this so I was quite hesitant. But I knew I had to at least try it. The first spoonful was a bit grainy.

It is definitely not a smooth soup. However, the taste was not bad. The second bite tasted a bit better than the first and so on and so on. Until I ended up with this…

peasoup

So clearly I ended up enjoying it. Practically licked the container! It tasted hearty and most of the veggies got really soft and liquified, but there was still that grainy texture that was a little off-putting at first.

I am amazed at how much my taste buds have changed with eating healthy foods. Anything new and unfamiliar gets adjusted to rather quickly. I would probably buy this soup again, but I have a few more flavors to try too. Next will be black bean! ~Amanda Rae

Time to Grill Vegetable Kabobs

veg skewer

You know summer is upon us when we start to whip out the wooden skewer sticks. It is time to grill vegetable kabobs! Open the farmer’s markets, fire up the grill, get to chopping and welcome the warm weather with fire-kissed veggies! Very much a summertime favorite of mine even during times when I was not dieting. There is something special about grilling vegetables (and fruits for that matter) – a completely different assault on your taste buds.

PS – Don’t be concerned with grilling veggies and cancer. Heterolytic amines are formed when grilling meats but there is no associated danger with plant foods. Just don’t overcook them and enjoy!

Gather:

  • Sliced zucchini
  • Portabella mushrooms
  • Onions cut into chunks
  • Peppers, red, yellow, green, orange
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Minced garlic (optional)
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning
  • Braggs aminos (optional)

Create:

Usually you need to soak the wooden skewers in water first to keep them from burning. Toss all of the chopped veggies in a bowl with Mrs. Dash, minced garlic (optional), and about a teaspoon of Braggs aminos (optional). Next take all of your chopped veggies and stab the heck out of them with the skewers. I like to put something larger on the bottom and work my way up.

Then once the grill is ready, lay them across the rack but try to avoid the tempation to turn them constantly. Keep a close eye as the cherry tomatoes in particular like to “melt off” the stick sometimes. You really don’t need to over cook these. I go about 10 minutes with about 3 turns throughout that time. Serve with brown rice.

Revise:

One of the best revisions of this includes pineapple and other fruits like pears or mango chunks. All give each kabob a different flavor. One combination I want to try is tomato, mango, onions, and jalepeno. After cooking, take of skewers and blend just a few seconds in the mixer. Add cilantro. Grilled salsa!? Get creative! ~Amanda Rae

Ezekiel Wrap Pizza – Vegan Recipe

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In my attempt to find more meals that I do not have to eat out of a bowl, I made this Ezekiel wrap pizza and I am hooked! I really thought it would be just so-so because I didn’t have any “pizza sauce” and only had about a small teaspoon of Go Veggie Dairy-free cheese left. I threw everything together anyway and was thinking to myself “Well, just get it down. It is a meal.” Ha! Little did I know that I was about to stumble upon my next great recipe! That is how it works sometimes. You just throw stuff together and wala!

I am a big fan of the Ezekiel products and I use these wraps about 1-2 times per week, usually for breakfast. The ingredients in the Ezekiel 4:9 wraps are Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Spelt, and Sea Salt. Each wrap is quite large and is 150 calories if you are counting. They do sell “taco size” wraps that are 80 calories each, but I haven’t found those yet in any of my stores.

Ezekiel Wrap Pizza Recipe

Gather:

  • 1 Ezekiel 4:9 wrap
  • 3-4 tablespoons of diced tomatoes (I used no salt added canned tomatoes, drained really good, but you can also use a homemade pizza sauce or a low salt pizza sauce)
  • Garlic powder
  • Toppings: 1 teaspoon of Go Veggie Dairy-free cheese
  • Spinach
  • Onion
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Basil

Create:

Place wrap on a cookie sheet. I put mine on a piece of parchment paper so no sticking. Spread out tomatoes and then sprinkle on some garlic powder. Add mushrooms, spinach, onion, zucchini, and basil and top with the cheese. Now this cheese goes a long way as far as taste and texture (yes, it melts!) so you do not need a lot to have a great impact. Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes. Mine was done when the edges of the wrap curled up like a bowl and were very crispy. Cut into slices and chow down!

Revise:

You can do so much with these! I may have a different post each week with my new creations. I am going for mexi-pizza next time! Send your pictures of your Ezekiel pizzas so I can get some ideas. Enjoy!~ Amanda Rae

 Pizza is like the entire food pyramid! ― Madeline Oles

Simple Stir Fry – Earth Day Veggie Recycling!

StirFry2

Sometimes my collection of veggie bits and pieces starts to take over my fridge. When this happens, I whip out the wok and throw in all of the leftover, lonely veggies I can find and make this simple stir fry. Much better than having to throw things out because you just don’t get to them. I have little baggies of veggie scraps that I know I am going to use some how, some way soon.

I didn’t used to be this way. I didn’t used to save a one inch chunk of onion, or the little sword of carrot that remains after using the veggie peeler all over it. In fact, we (my sister and I primarily) would make fun of my grandmother for all of her little plastic containers with 5 peas inside, or how she would incessantly scrape all of the butter off of the paper wrapping. She has transitioned but she left her need to use every last bit here with me on Earth.

Now, don’t get me wrong. She was WAY better at it than I am, but I do try, and for that I think she would be very proud. So on Earth Day, make the commitment to reduce your food waste, as well as other waste. I am personally going to conquer plastic water bottles this year!

Simple Stir Fry Recipe

Gather:

  • Whatever veggies are in your fridge! Onions, broccoli, snap peas, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, peppers, etc.
  • Braggs Amino Spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili paste
  • 1/4 cup of low sodium veggie broth
  • Wok or a large pan

Create:

The key to stir frying is to make sure the pan is hot enough. Since no oil is used, essentially you are steaming the vegetables instead of frying them, but they taste just as great. The next issue is the length of cooking time required for each type of vegetable and your preference for “doneness.” For instance, some people only like their peppers very soft. I like mine a bit more on the raw side. This will be a factor when it comes to the order in which you add your veggies. I usually put the carrots in first as I like those to cook a lot more than the other things I add. Save things like spinach for last as it will wilt quickly.

Make sure you cover your pan while cooking to get a good amount of steam going. When everything is ready, add the chili paste, a few sprays of the Braggs and mix. Pour into a large bowl and top with a few sesame seeds (optional).

Revise:

Of course you can serve this on brown rice, but if you are doing the 6 week plan, you may want to omit the rice. For the most part, you will not really miss it as long as you have plenty of vegetables. Other options are to add minced garlic or beans. At one of my favorite restaurants, they have a tri-bean blend (black, garbanzo, and soy) that goes into all of my dishes I get there. For some reason, I have not tried it at home yet, but it is on my to do list. Happy Earth Day! ~Amanda Rae

The earth is what we all have in common.  Wendell Berry

 

Baked Tofu Bites

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These are “like” crackers…sort of. But they were good! They are chewier in the middle as they don’t totally firm up, but the edges are crispy so they are close. They were easy to make and really good for something to snack on while watching a movie or something like that. They take some time to eat so they will not be gone in 30 seconds. I liked the seasoning I used and it went well with the salsa.

Baked Tofu Bites Recipe

Gather:

  • 1/4 package of extra firm tofu
  • Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy
  • Fresh salsa with lower sodium content

Create:

Dry tofu by patting it with several paper towels or a clean kitche towel. You can squeeze tofu slightly to get all of the moisture out. Slice into very thin slices for your bites. Place on a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle generously with seasoning. Turn over and sprinkle again. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn bites over and bake an additional 20 minutes. When you take them out, they should have browned and turned crispy on the edges. Serve with fresh salsa or a store bought low sodium brand. I have tried the Engine 2 salsa. It was OK, but I prefer the salsa found in the produce section of Publix.

Engine2_cantina_style_salsa_medium_16ozF

Revise:

You can use many other seasonings for this. Garlic and serve with marinara. Greek seasoning and cucumber sauce. Herbs and hummus. Lots of combinations are possible. Enjoy! ~ Amanda Rae

Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger, but a heart as soft as tofu. Chinese proverb

Pasta with Beans Italian Recipe

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I do not know how to say “da bomb” in italian, but…I need to find out cause this is it! I made this a few nights ago and have been enjoying leftovers ever since. Why I love it: 1) it is filling, 2) it is “meaty,” 3) it has whole wheat pasta in it (duh), and 4) I will eat anything with tomatoes!

Pasta Bean Italia Recipe

Gather:

  • 1/4 box of organic 100% whole grain pasta
  • 1 can of cannellini beans (low or no sodium, rinsed)
  • 1 container of grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic (sometimes I do my own or I use the little jars, in water, NOT oil)
  • 1/4 cup of diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup of diced mushrooms (I usually use shitake, but whatever is on hand)
  • 3/4 of low sodium vegetable broth
  • Big handful of chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups of fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Italian seasonings (Mrs. Dash, garlic, crushed red pepper, etc.)

Create:

While pasta is cooking, combine onions and garlic in a large pan. Add a little veggie broth so it doesn’t stick while cooking. Add tomatoes (whole). Cover and let simmer for about five minutes. Now here comes my favorite part. Pop those little tomatoes with a big wooden spoon. This is therapeutic for me for some reason.

Then add beans, mushrooms, seasonings, the rest of the veggie broth. Cook pasta as directed on box, but leave a bit al dente. Rinse pasta and set to side. Add basil and spinach to sauce, cover and allow spinach to wilt (about 3 minutes). Add pasta, juice from half a lemon and mix. Serve family style in a giant bowl! Enjoy!~Amanda Rae

Life  is not worth living if I cannot have pasta or bread again. Monica  Seles