Tag Archives: healthy

Vegetarian Grilling: Vegetable Tofu Skewers

One of my go-to dinners for summertime is grilled veggies. There are so many great vegetables to choose from and they taste amazing over an open flame. As summer winds to a close and fall puts that nip in the air … I can’t help but want to wander out to my grill and give it some more love before it’s too cold to use it. (Though, I’m not afraid to grill year-round.)

Being constantly busy with work and school, I need quick healthy meals to keep my body in working order. Here’s a little diddy I came up last night. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. (No leftovers! Ha!)

What you will need:

  • 1 pkg. of baked tofu
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 container of mushrooms (I chose crimini)
  • 3 skewers
  • spices
  • salt & pepper
  • oil/butter/non-stick spray

Serves two. All ingredients are organic.

Note: Tofu tends to stick, so make sure it’s properly oiled before putting it on the grill.

Let’s get started!!!

  • Pre-heat the grill.
  • Wash the zucchini, and slice into 3/4 inch thick rounds.
  • Wipe the mushroom caps with a damp cloth to get the dirt off, cut the stems off.

  • Open up the tofu and cut into about 1 inch chunks (I got 8 chucnks out of mine).
  • Sprinkle mushrooms and zucchini with salt, pepper, and your favorite grilling spices. I used pepper, garlic salt, and McCormick’s “Savory” blend.
  • Skewer your items in whatever order you choose.

  • I melted a couple tablespoons of butter mixed with a couple tablespoons of olive oil to brush on my veggies so they don’t stick to the grill grates. You can use whatever you want to keep it from sticking.
  • I turned my grill all the way to low beause it runs hot, but probably somewhere between low to medium will be perfect for cooking these.

  • Turn every 3-5 minutes, so they get a little char on them, but don’t burn. Brush them again with the buttler/oil mixture,
  • Remove after about 15 minutes and serve!

They are tasty on their own, or you can dip them in teriyaki sauce. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite food to grill?

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Apple Ring Pancakes

On the hunt for a healthier breakfast and craving pancakes simultaneously lends itself to a predicament that most of us face. What to eat for breakfast that’s healthy and tasty?

As I perused my kitchen for my available selection of ingredients, I noticed I had some apples, and thought to myself “What if I dip the apple in the pancake mix and then cook it?” And this is what happened:

What you will need:

  • Enough pancake mix for your family or you can use this recipe to make pancakes from scratch. I used 1 cup of pancake mix and prepared it according to the directions.
  • Enough apples for your family, peeled, cored, and sliced into rings. I used one large apple for me and Sugar.
  • Hot buttered skillet.Buttered skillet
  • Real maple syrup.

Method:

  1. Prep pancake mix. Batter
  2. Peel, core, and slice apples into 1/4 inch thick rings. Apple
  3. Dip the apple ring in the batter. Let the excess drip off. Apple dip
  4. Cook in a buttered skillet until golden brown. Apple fryApply cooking
  5. Serve with maple syrup and your favorite sides. Breakfast 2
  6. Mmmmmmm!

Until next time, I send you peace, love and good energy!

~Sharon

Biscuits & Sausage Gravy: Vegetarian Style

One of my absolute favorite breakfast dishes in the whole-wide world is biscuits and gravy. My Dad would always make it for me on my birthday when I was little. He would even make it for my friends when I would have sleepovers. (What a great Dad, huh!?!)

When I moved out, I would still crave this comforting dish. Unfortunately for me, I found out I’m highly allergic to cow’s milk, specifically the protein casein. I’m not the typical “lactose intolerant” gal. The type of allergy I have wreaks havoc on my digestive tract days after consumption. This prompted me to find an alternative that was just as tasty as the original. Hence, this recipe was born.

My Sweetie now begs for this dish like I used to as a child. I smile with the thought that I have passed on my love for this dish that will always remind me of my Dad. Recently, when my family (Dad included) visited for the holidays, I made them my version, and everyone ate it up like the recipe hadn’t changed. Woohooo! I call that a success!

Serves two.

Adapted from a recipe by Chez Bettay, original recipe found here:

Biscuits:

Makes 4 biscuits.

Get out a food processor or mixing bowl (it can be done both ways – just be sure not to over-mix). 

Add the flour to your food processor with the coconut oil, sea salt, and baking powder. Pulse until slightly combined.

Add the goat milk to the flour mixture. Pulse to combine. 

Now add the apple cider vinegar to your soymilk to create a vegan “buttermilk.” Slowly drizzle this into the food processor to gently combine. Being careful not to over mix. 

Turn out onto a floured board.  If slightly wet, knead in some more brown rice flour. You want the mixture to be slightly wet, but not falling a apart. 

Pat dough into a 3/4in to 1 in thick. Slice into 4 parts. Take each part and form into a biscuit. Or use biscuit cutters.

Place onto a greased cookie sheet. Brush tops with a little more melted coconut oil.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Sausage Gravy:

While the biscuits are baking we can start making the gravy.

Brown the sausage over medium high heat.. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium/medium-low. Add the coconut oil and flour to the pan and cook to make a roux. Cook slightly to get rid of the floury flavor. 

Add the soy milk, and whisk quickly to combine. One combined, turn up the heat to medium high. 

Add a ton of fresh cracked pepper (to your taste), add some salt and a little sprinkle of sage. 

Bring to a simmer and cook until thick. Add the sausage back in, and stir to combine. Check your gravy for seasoning … add more salt, pepper, and sage to your liking. 

Keep some extra soy milk on hand if the gravy begins to thicken too much. You will be able to thin it out by adding a tiny bit of soy milk at a time until you get the gravy consistency you like.

Slice open your biscuit, butter it, and then top it with heaping spoonfuls of gravy. Now eat up!

What is your all-time favorite breakfast? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

I will note that you can make your own “veggie sausage” with TVP by moistening the TVP with water or broth and then seasoning it with sage, salt, and pepper (which I did in this recipe since I was short on sausage patties). If you would like to know more about how to cook with TVP, please let me know in the comments section.  

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

BBQ Chik’n & Smashed Potatoes

Last week, I was in a time crunch. I only had 45 minutes to get a full meal on the table, and I didn’t have time to go shopping and it had to be a tasty and satisfying meal. Also, I was craving comfort food (Fall/Winter always makes me crave comfort foods!) I had to work with what was in my house … luckily, this is my specialty. This is the magical meal I came up with.  Serves two.

What you will need:

  • 2 Quorn Chik’n Cutlets
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • BBQ sauce
  • salt, pepper, poultry seasoning
  • 6 medium to small organic red potatoes
  • broccoli florets

First, I switched the oven on to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, I quickly grabbed a small glass baking dish, threw down the cutlets, added the vegetable broth around the cutlets, seasoned the cutlets with the salt,pepper, and poultry seasoning, and then topped it all with a good pour of BBQ sauce over each cutlet. I then threw that in the oven. I simultaneously threw the cast iron skillet into the oven as well to warm it up. 

Next, I filled a large pot with water, seasoned it with salt, and then threw in the red potatoes which I poked with a fork. Turned, the burner on high and brought that to a boil. 

Next, I threw the broccoli florets into the steamer pot. (notice the amount of “throwing” in this recipe … it denotes just how fast I was working). However, I did not turn on the burner to the broccoli. That will happen when there is about 10 minutes of cooking time left. 

I kept checking on the chik’n to make sure I wasn’t burning it. After the potatoes were fork tender (about 20 minutes or so), I drained the potatoes, and took the cast iron skillet out of the oven and put the skillet on a burner set to medium. NOW turn on that burner for the broccoli to high to get the steaming going.

Put a couple tablespoons of oil or butter in the skillet, and then add the whole potatoes. Get out your potato masher, and squish the potatoes so they look something like this.

You’re going to fry the potatoes on both sides so they look like this:

Now take the bbq chik’n out of the oven, and plate up that dinner! I added some more bbq sauce on top. 

Who says quick can’t be delicious and satisfying?

What are your favorite go-to meals when time is on the line? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Crispy Tofu Bowl

Recipe inventing comes naturally to me … I am constantly thinking of new combinations in my head. Sometimes, I challenge myself to make an exciting dish out of what’s already in my kitchen/garden. I also don’t have much time, so I usually come up with these ideas when I’m at school or work … I jot a few things down, use some of the cooking techniques I’m familiar with, and then throw in a new twist.

Here’s yet another one of those concoctions … I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it turned out splendid and it got the stamp of approval from my Sweetie.

What you will need:

  • 8 ounces of tofu, thinly sliced.
  • a cup of broccoli florets
  • 15-20 shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1 lb or green beans, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • skillet
  • oil or butter
  • salt and pepper
  • Blue cheese crumbles for garnish

Saute` tofu over medium heat until crisp, season with salt and pepper, remove from pan and place into a bowl until later. 

Saute` mushroom caps until brown, season with salt a pepper, remove from pan and place in bowl with tofu. 

Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the green beans and broccoli and char.  Season with salt and pepper. This will cook the vegetables slightly while giving them a nice smoky flavor. 

Now push the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the tofu and mushrooms back to the pan to warm them through. 

To plate: Place a large scoop or two of vegetables to a bowl. Then put down a layer of mushroom, top with the tofu and then sprinkle on the blue cheese. The blue cheese gives a nice creamy element to the crisp veggies and tofu while adding a nice punch of flavor to the dish.

Please let me know what you think in the comments section. I always love hearing feedback.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Cornbread Breakfast Skillet

Cornbread for breakfast? Yes! I just said that. I have an on-again/off-again relationship with eggs, and I want a healthy meal that’s not the same old boring breakfast items you can find anywhere.This is what my silly brain came up with this morning while I was drifting somewhere between sleep and consciousness.

I will note I was under a bit of stress as to what to do with the large amount of leftover cornbread from last night’s vegan chili extravaganza – which explains my wierd dreams of cornbread for breakfast today.

What you will need:

  • Some left over cornbread
  • 3 eggs
  • vegetarian sausage
  • 5 mushrooms, sliced thick
  • a bit of onions, sliced
  • 2 T. soy milk (or whatever milk you like)

In a skillet on medium, add some oil or butter. Then add the sausage, mushrooms, and onions to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. 

As you can see, I had two morning star sausage patties, and two links … I just used a mixture. Once everything is nice and brown and yummy, remove from the pan and set aside to be added back in later. (I chopped up the sausage into bite-sized chucks).

Next, scramble the eggs in a bowl with the soy milk. Season with salt and pepper. Then, crumble the cornbread into the bowl in bite sized chunks. This sort of reminded me of making french toast. I mixed the chunks around until the cornbread had absorbed most of the egg mixture (there was still a bit of egg at the bottom – no big deal)

Now be sure to add a pat of butter or some more oil to your pan before you put your egg-cornbread mixture in there. Add the mixture, and fry up over medium to medium low heat. You want the eggs to cook, not burn.

Once the eggs look cooked, and the cornbread is a bit toasted looking, add the mushrooms, sausage, and onions back in. Mix to combine and warm through.

I plated mine by topping it with grated cheese, some green onion, and added some hot sauce to the side. It was savory, satisfying, and filling! This is definitely not a boring breakfast.

How do you spice up your breakfast? Please tell me in the comments.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Creamy Potato Soup (Vegan)

Over the last week it got very cold here in Nevada. We even had some snowfall in the mountains (hooray for ski season!) Although – it did botch my plans for a mini motorcycle trip on Friday. I’ll get over it – there will be plenty of opportunities to take Black Beauty out. (I call my bike Black Beauty, I’m a dork, I know – it’s awesome.)

What goes great with chilly weather? Fluffy sweaters, flannel blankets and warm creamy soups! I came home yesterday and whipped up this little number. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 3 celery stalks washed and sliced
  • 2 carrots cubed
  • 5-7 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth, I used 1/2 mushroom base 1/2 veggie bullion cubes
  • 1 T. Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed bay leaves
  • 2 T. brown rice flour (or whatever flour you want)
  • 2/3 c. unsweetened soy milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • 2 T. Nooch (optional)
  • Vegan sour cream for garnish
  • salt & pepper to taste

Serves 4. Use organic ingredients when you can.

First, give the bottom of your soup pot a good swirl or two of olive oil. Add onions, cook for 3-5 minutes, add celery, carrots, cook for another 3 minutes. 

Then add the broth, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, and about half of the potato cubes. If you don’t want your potatoes to oxidize, cut and cube half of your potatoes for this part. Then we will put the other half in towards the end of the cooking process. 

Cook for 30-45 minutes. I had time to kill until my sweetheart got home so I cooked mine for about an hour. I’m sure this recipe could be cooked in under an hour.

Then get out your stick blender or regular blender and blend it all together to create the creamy base for your soup. If you use a blender, make sure to cool the soup slightly before blending. I used my stick blender and shoved it right into the pot on the stove.

Now add the milk, nooch and the rest of the potato cubes. Next, you’ll want to make a slurry in a jar using the 2 T. of flour and about 3 T. of water (or milk). A slurry thickens the soup, so you want to put the water and flour in a jar, put the lid on tight and shake it up, now add that to your soup. 

Cook for about 20 minutes until the potato cubes are soft and the soup is slightly thick and creamy. Make sure to check your seasonings … I found mine needed some additional salt and pepper.

Ladle a good amount into some soup bowls, top with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy the creamy goodness. I served mine with some toasted naan bread for dipping. It was delish! Bowls were licked clean last night – hooray for no dishes! (Kidding!)

What’s your favorite way to stay warm? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Make Your Own Body Oil/Lotion

For most of my life I’ve been itchy … dry skin, allergy rashes … you name it. All I was ever told by a doctor was to not take hot showers, put on lotion twice a day, and avoid things I’m allergic to (food, insects, etc.). No one ever stopped to wonder if it was just the food allergies or if there was more to the story.

Now well into my adulthood I have finally stopped to wonder if there was more I could do for myself. Although I can attribute some of my skin itchies to food allergies, I think dry skin is mostly to blame. Despite eating very well, I still find I have dry skin. And no matter how much store-bought lotion I put on … it never helps. I had to figure something else out.

My Sweetie has me on wonderful supplements, I take flax seed oil and safflower oil daily … so I’m nourished from the inside. But what about the outside? Fortunately, there are relatively inexpensive all-natural ways to take care of that. I only recently discovered the magic in natural oils. I wish I had found them sooner!

There are many wonderful ingredients given to us by Mother Earth that are absolutely perfect for nourishing and caring for our beloved skin. Here are some to name a few:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Jajoba oil
  • Shea butter
  • Coco butter
  • Almond oil
  • Argon oil
  • Avocado oil

Recently, I’ve been messing around with different combinations for my skin. The one I’m going to share with you is a great combination of oils for my dry skin. It goes in an old lotion bottle that has a pump. I personally love the pump over a jar … much more user friendly. I find that this particular one is best used when you get right out of the shower when your skin is still hot and your pores are still open. I simply pump as much as I need into my hand and rub it all over. I wait a little bit before I get dressed so it absorbs into my skin and not my clothing. 

What you will need:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. jajoba oil
  • 1 T. of rose hip oil (optional)
  • essentail oils (optional)
  • funnel
  • double boiler (optional)
  • container for your product

Let’s get mixing!

  1. Melt your coconut oil. You can do it in the double boiler or the microwave. If you don’t know what a double boiler is check out how here. You simply fill the bottom pan with 1 inch or so of water, place the other container/glass bowl on top… and melt stuff in the top part.
  2. Remove from the heat. Add olive oil, jajoba oil, and rose hip oil to the coconut oil. Stir to combine.
  3. Now you can add the essential oil of your choice for scent … lavender, etc. I prefer mine unscented.
  4. Next, use the funnel to pour the oil into a container.
  5. Let it cool and it is ready for use!

I used these small containers just to show you as my lotion pump was already full. When I start to run low, I will use these as refills.

Note: this is merely one combination of oils … I’ve experimented with several different combinations. I personally enjoy this one because it will work in my pump bottle and it stays liquid. Anything with lots of the ‘hard’ oils in it … such as coconut or shea will harden when it cools. I will keep experimenting and let you know of any new discoveries!

What’s your favorite moisturizer? Leave any questions in the comments!

Until next time, I send you peace, love and good energy.

~Sharon

Chipotle Burger Topped with Creamy Lentils on a bed of Baby Greens

I’ve been on a no-wheat kick recently. I’ve been trying to cut out bread, crackers, pasta, etc. I think the refined wheat might be destroying my digestive system… 

Trying to cut out pasta for a Sicilian chick is like asking me to rip my heart out and stay alive. Just not going to happen. But! … because I love my body and it was the only vessel I was given to live in … I might as well listen to it and take care of it. Right? (pause) Right. /sigh

Well, I already failed miserably this morning when I opted for fluffy blueberry pancakes for breakfast. (But, see … I don’t like eggs right now, and it was either the eggs or the pancakes … and I can rationalize behavior until I’m blue in the face…) Okay, I admit my failure, and the only way to make up for it is to make a delicious gluten-free dinner, no wheat allowed to this party. And since I just like to fly by the seat of my pants in the kitchen, this is what I made:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 Morning Star Black Bean Chipotle Burgers – or any veggie burger of your choice. These just have incredible flavor.
  • 15 to 18 ounces of lentils. (cooked/drained/rinsed)
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1/3 c. chopped roasted red pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 2 c. vegetable stock (I used mushroom stock base)
  • spices: I used thyme, rosemary, and a bay leaf
  • 2 ounces of goat cheese
  • mixed salad green of your choice
  • dressing of your choice

Note: All veggies are organic. Serves two.

  1. Chop up the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Put in the bottom of a heavy stock pot with a turn or two of olive oil. Cook on medium until onions are translucent. Then season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the stock. Since mine came from a base, I needed to reconstitute it with water. I added about 1.5 tsp. of base to 2 cups of water. I then added 1 bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. each of rosemary and thyme.
  3. Add the roasted red peppers, stock,
    spices, and lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender but not mushy.
  4. Then grill or pan fry your burgers.
  5. Put the goat cheese in a small bowl and warm at 20 second intervals in the microwave to get it all creamy.
  6. Take your plate and make a bed of the greens on it.
    Drizzle with dressing. I drizzled mine  with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and then seasoned it with salt and pepper.
  7. When your burgers are done, place them on the bed of greens, then spread a layer of the creamy goat cheese over the top.
  8. Finally, top the burger with a scoop of lentils and serve.

I threw this together on a whim and had no idea whether it was going to be tasty. Luckily, my Sweetie approved it! And once again, there were no leftovers except for a bit of lentils.

Do you like to just whip up meals without a recipe? Or do you have to follow a recipe? Please comment.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

DIY Organic Apple Chips: A Simple, Healthy Snack

Fall is one of my favorite seasons … and also the time of year when the two apple trees in my back yard are bursting forth with their bounty. With this comes the conundrum that most gardeners face … what to do with all those apples before they go bad. Although apples are a hearty fruit, they do not keep forever. I have been staring at these four bags of apples in the kitchen with dismay as to what to do with them. I have been so busy, and hardly have time to slave in the kitchen all day.

Then I saw a post by Rural Spin for Dried Cucumbers and that got me to thinking that I could apply the same method to my apples. As most of you probably know, organic dried apples or organic apple chips at the store can cost a fortune. Here’s my at home version that doesn’t require a fancy dehydrator. All you need is an oven and some time to kill.

What you will need:

Let’s get started!

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut up the apples into thin slices. Or use a fancy mandoline slicer (which is on my list of kitchen gadgets to buy) to get a more even cut.
  3. Put the apple slices in a plastic bag or a vegetable bag. (make sure it doesn’t have any holes or you’re going to make a mess)
  4. Add the oil to the bag.
  5. Shake as much or as little cinnamon as you like onto the apples.
  6. Now make sure there is some air in the bag. Twist the top closed so you make what looks like a balloon filled with apples, and get shaking!
  7. Open the bag and peer inside and see if the apples look like they are evenly coated with the oil and cinnamon to your pleasing. If so, start laying them out in a single layer on the baking sheet lined with wax paper or use the wire racks (no paper necessary for the racks).
  8. Bake in the oven for 3-4 hours. If you like chewy apple slices do less time. If you want them to be more like chips, go longer. This also depends on how thick or thin your slices are. If they are thick, they take longer to get to the chip phase, and it logically follows that if the slices are thin, they will take less time.

While you wait for you apple yummies to bake up, curl up with a good book, do some homework (which is what I did), clean the house, or go relax. Also, you can put sugar on the apples, too. I chose not to add sugar to keep this a healthy snack.

***WARNING***

Consuming apple chips is highly addictive and they are certain to disappear fast. It’s best to make another batch! When I went to go try my apple chips, they disappeared into my stomach in a flash. I made three times as much the following day. I felt it was only fair to warn you. 🙂 I hope you enjoy your snack.

What’s your favorite fall food? Please share in the comments section. And if you like this, please like and subscribe.

Until next time, I send you love, peace, and good energy.

~Sharon