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10/16/2015

This tasty dip is a satisfying appetizer year-round, but it’s particularly inviting during the fall holidays. It truly mimics the texture and taste of traditional pâté. I like to serve this snazzy appetizer with a variety of dippers, such as crudités, pita chips, whole-grain crackers or flatbread.

vegetarian liver pate

Jazzy Vegetarian “Liver” Recipe

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
• 3 onions, chopped
• 1 can (15 ounces) sweet peas, drained
• 3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts
• 4 ounces firm regular tofu, drained and cubed
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
• Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender and lightly browned, about 25 minutes, adding more oil or water, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed to prevent sticking. Let cool slightly.

2. Transfer to a food processor. Add the peas, walnuts, tofu, tomato paste, and salt. Process until slightly chunky, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl as needed. (Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to process the mixture in batches.)

3. Season with pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl. Cover tightly and refrigerate for about 4 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.



10/9/2015

These moist muffins are sweet but not overly so, making them a scrumptious treat for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or dessert. This recipe uses ripe bananas rather than eggs for binding. Wheat germ adds both texture and nutrition, while dark chocolate contributes antioxidants, not to mention a decadent taste.

chocolate chip banana muffins

Chocolate Chip–Banana Muffin Recipe

Makes 6 large muffins

Ingredients

• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
• 1⁄2 cup toasted wheat germ
• 1-1/4 cups plain or vanilla nondairy milk, plus more as needed
• 3 ripe bananas, mashed until smooth
• 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
• 1⁄2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
• 3-1/2ounces vegan dark chocolate, chopped

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a six-cup standard muffin tin.

2. Put the flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the brown sugar and wheat germ and stir with the whisk to combine. Stir in the nondairy milk, bananas, and oil and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped chocolate. The mixture will be quite thick, but if it seems overly dry, stir in a bit more nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Don’t overmix or the muffins will be tough.

3. Mound the mixture into the prepared muffin cups. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Decrease the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out almost clean.

4. Put the pan on a wire rack and loosen the sides of each muffin with a knife. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.



10/9/2015

One of my favorite smells to come home to as a child was that of baking granola. My mother used to make huge batches of it, freezing a chunk for later while keeping the other half in our pantry. I would eat it by the bowl full, mixed with yogurt or milk, for breakfast, desserts, and afternoon snacks. I’ve continued this tradition in my own home (making a few changes to the base ingredients), and I make it about once a week in the mornings now.

Homemade Granola Recipe

• 4 cups rolled oats
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients together before integrating the honey, oil, and extract. The mixture does not need to be wet, just gently coated. Spread evenly over a lined baking tray.  Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir the contents and continue cooking for at least 5 more minutes. Do not exceed 30 minutes total in the oven.

Granola on baking tray

While the granola is cooling, stir the contents occasionally. It will not feel hard to the touch until it has cooled entirely. If you forget to stir the contents as it cools, you will likely get chunks of granola rather than loose pieces.

Chunks are great for eating with your hands on the go! Some batches of granola I intentionally form into chunks so that I can eat them while walking my dogs, in the car, etc.

Once it’s entirely cooled you can add dried fruit such as cherries, cranberries, or raisins. You can also add raw and toasted nuts, or bits of candy and chocolate. Be sure to mix it up nicely before storing in an airtight container.

Changing Up the Recipe

The beauty of granola is that it is incredibly versatile. You can easily swap around ingredients and add extra spices to make it seasonal or simply to change it to your desired taste.

Almond Granola Recipe

I love almond granola in the mornings. Something about it is so nourishing that I’ll crave it first thing waking up!

• 4 cups rolled oats
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 cup chopped almonds

Valentine’s Day Granola

This recipe is like a dessert and you can eat it with yogurt, milk, or even ice-cream!

• 4 cups rolled oats
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup dried cherries
• 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Autumn Granola

This recipe differs from the others as it has an extra step before baking in the oven.

• 4 cups rolled oats
• 1 cup shredded coconut
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1/4 cup maple syrup
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon cloves
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Autumn Granola Dry Mixture 

Combine oats, brown sugar, shredded coconut, and pecans in a bowl, set aside. On the stove over medium heat, combine the coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, and spices. When mixture begins to simmer, quickly stir so that it does not burn. Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat and mix in vanilla extract before pouring over dry ingredients in the bowl and mixing everything together. Spread evenly on a tray and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir the contents and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Follow previous steps listed above.

Autumn Granola glaze on stove

The End Result

Granola is an easy fix on a hungry morning when there’s nothing in the pantry. And the best part is that it comes together quickly so you can be eating it within the hour. I generally suggest eating it up within 7-10 days. If you think that the batch is too large to finish in that time, freeze it. It will thaw rapidly when needed next, and the freezing process doesn’t alter the taste or texture in my experience.

I want to suggest creativity within this recipe. If you don’t have refined coconut oil, you can use other oils such as canola or vegetable. If you don’t have any nuts or dried fruit, that’s fine too! You don’t need to add them for it to be delicious. No brown sugar? Not a problem! You can use granulated sugar, more honey, or even fruit juices to sweeten it instead. Work with what you have and remember that cooking and baking is an experiment as well as an experience. Enjoy it, have fun, and don’t worry if you burn something or it comes out odd (even inedible!) We’ve all done it, and we should strive to keep doing it, because that’s what experimenting is all about.

I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to leave a comment below on your own baking experiments and granola recipes!


Leslie DianeWith a background in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a minor in English, Leslie Diane is currently studying at Prairie Wise Herbal School in Leavenworth, Kansas, with a goal of becoming a Master Herbalist. She is an avid gardener and a maker of tinctures, teas and baked goods. An aspiring author as well, she weaves tales of fantasy along with scarves, baby and pet blankets, and shawls on her table loom.




10/5/2015

First, let’s run through the reasons why pumpkin is so great. According to Livestrong.com, this squash relative has 7 grams of fiber per one cup. That knocks a good dent in the recommended daily intake, which is 30-38 grams for men and 21-25 grams for women. Potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin K are just a handful of the vitamins and minerals present in pumpkin. Feeling parched? Pumpkin contains a good bit of water, which will help keep you hydrated. Last but not least, it is low in fat.

Pumpkin pie, lattes, muffins, bread, toasted seeds, donuts—you’d think we had heard it all. Yet people are still figuring out healthier and even more creative ways to put a spin on it! Here a few ways we like to make the most of our pumpkins in my family.

pumpkins in a field

Eat Your Pumpkin

Roasted Seeds: We always carve a pumpkin and toast the seeds the night before we make the hour long drive to our state fair in October. They’re packed up in little sacks and everyone gets some of these healthy morsels to munch on during the ride. Last year, while making a batch, we decided to get crazy with the flavors. We grabbed different seasonings from the cabinet like barbecue, Italian herb, rosemary garlic, and sun-dried tomato. These additions were insanely good and will definitely become a regular part of the tradition.

Pasta: I have yet to try this, but am absolutely going to—pumpkin pasta. Maybe I’m late to the game, but I haven’t heard of this until this year. There are loads of recipes floating around that include adding fresh or canned pumpkin in dinner dishes, such as curry, spaghetti, penne, risotto, dinner rolls, ravioli and mac and cheese! I guess I always settled for the idea that pumpkin was for dessert, now I can’t wait to change my ways.

Beverages: I am probably guilty of buying one too many fall flavored beverages this time of year. A lot the flavors in those things are artificial, really high in sugar and aren’t lacking in the fat department either. Last year, I went on a quest for something better and began trying to make my own pumpkin smoothies. I hadn’t seen a pumpkin smoothie before, but there’s a good chance it already existed. The possibilities are endless here and it is so good and so “fall time.” I don’t have a specific recipe, I just throw in some banana, sweetened yogurt, soy milk (or other nut milks), pumpkin pie spices and, of course, pumpkin (fresh or canned). If you feel you need more sweetness, add a bit of pure maple syrup to the mix. Try a Pumpkin Coconut Chai Latte or a rich Pumpkin-Spice Vegan Eggnog.

Grilled: My sister-in-law is from Japan, and they love to grill pumpkin! It is a special pumpkin that resembles an acorn squash, with more green to its coloring. She buys it from her local Asian market, slices it into wedges and brushes it with a little oil, and it tastes incredibly festive during autumn cookouts. I highly recommend looking around for an Asian market and picking up some for any get-together this season.

Store-Bought Options: Maybe you’re not in the mood or simply don’t have time to whip up homemade pumpkin goods. The good news is that during this time of year stores carry pumpkin-flavored everything! Some of the healthier treats I’ve seen include hummus, cereal, salsa, soups and coconut milk. Stores such as Kroger, Sprouts and Trader Joe's usually carry a good stock of these specialty items (varies by state).

pumpkin face mask

Pump(kin) Up Your Skincare

Pumpkin is actually a great natural skin-care ingredient. It helps fight acne with torulitine and vitamin E, and dissolves dry skin with natural enzymes. Its anti-inflammatory properties calm skin afflictions, such as large pores, blackheads and excess oil. You can apply pumpkin puree directly to your skin, or add other healthy ingredients like milk, honey, turmeric or cinnamon.

If you’re still looking for more great ways to use this year’s pumpkin harvest, try going back to tradition! Get into the fall spirit by making a delicious pie, carving a Jack-o-lantern, or just setting some pumpkins, squash and gourds on your porch and harvest table.

Photos by Fotolia.


Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.




10/2/2015

Filling and so delicious, this hearty salad is the perfect fare to serve for lunch or a light supper. Hosting a dinner party? This colorful offering makes a great first course salad too. So versatile!

avocado-cashew salad

Hearty Avocado-Cashew Salad Recipe

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

Dressing:
• 4 teaspoons flaxseed oil
• 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Salad:
• 4 ounces (5 cups, lightly packed) mixed baby greens
• 20 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
• 1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
• 1⁄2 Bermuda onion, chopped
• 1⁄2 cup chopped raw or roasted cashews
• 1 avocado, sliced

Instructions

1. To make the dressing: Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and briskly whisk until smooth and emulsified.

2. To make the salad: Divide the greens between two large salad plates. For each serving, top with half of the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and cashews. Arrange the avocado slices on top in a spiral pattern. Drizzle with half of the dressing. Serve immediately.


Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.



9/30/2015

What’s the first thing you put on your burgers, eggs, or popcorn? Salt, of course. But did you know that there’s more to it than your standard grocery store salt? Here’s what you need to know before your next meal rolls around.

spoonfuls of salt varieties
Photo by Fotolia.

Iodized Table Salt

Everyone is familiar with this. It’s standard salt that’s found at almost every dinner table. The salt is fortified with iodine, which is an essential mineral for fighting off diseases like hypothyroidism and it prevents cretinism in developing fetuses/babies.

Since most people don’t eat kelp and other forms of seaweed on a daily basis, you need a source for iodine, so this tends to be the most common. If you need to limit your salt intake, however, seaweed is the way to go.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is salt that’s made using evaporated seawater. As you might expect, it’s got a very fresh, ocean-y feel and taste to it.

It’s harvested from a number of places in the world, with the Celtic Sea in Brittany France being one of the more popular places. Another type of sea salt is fleur de sel, which is harvested near the same region as Celtic sea salt.

Sea salt is harvested by scraping the top layer off the salt before it sinks to the bottom of a large salt pan. This is considered to be premium salt, and is one of the most expensive varieties you can buy.

Sea salt may also have more minerals than traditional table salt because there is less processing and refinement of the salt, and may be used anywhere that traditional salt is called for, including cooking applications.

According to a survey by the American Heart Association, 61 percent of respondents guessed that sea salt is lower in sodium than table salt. However, table salt and sea salt both contain about 40 percent sodium by weight. So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce sodium in your diet, sea salt is not an acceptable solution.

Pickling Salt

Pickling salt is salt with no additives and it’s used in brines to pickle foods. The salt itself is pure granulated sodium chloride. Because there aren’t any additives, it doesn’t have any anti-caking agents added to it. Use this salt when you want to make pickles, sauerkraut or anything that requires pickling or brining.

Chefs use pickling salt because it’s ground very fine (finer than table salt). It needs to be stored in an airtight container to avoid moisture accumulation that will lead to clumping.

Pink Salt

Good Himalayan salt is harvested in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and is fossilized sea salt. The red color comes from the high concentration of iron, which has oxidized. It’s more expensive than regular salt, but it’s also considered healthier and more pure than most other types of salt.

If you want to add a mineral-rich flavor to foods, add this salt to your dishes.

Some of the purported health benefits include:

• Improved water retention and balance within the body.
• Improved pH balance in cells.
• Improved blood-sugar levels.
• Support for a healthy respiratory system.
• Promoting natural and healthy sleeping patterns.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt got its name because it’s used when preparing kosher meat. This is especially important in Jewish traditional preparations.

It has larger, more irregular-shaped crystals. It’s also considered a coarse salt, which helps draw blood out of meat. This is required of kosher meat before it is cooked. Most cooks prefer this to other types of salt because of its mild flavor and lack of additives.

Many home chefs prefer it because of its clean taste and the ability to season food easily. It’s considered a finishing salt, not something you would cook with. Even when it’s used to draw blood out of meat, the salt is discarded afterwards.

Black Salt

Black salt is sometimes referred to as Kala Namak. This salt is pinkish-grey in color, and is mined in India. It has a strong sulphuric scent, and is used to spice foods in Southeast Asia. It’s becoming more popular in the United States with vegan chefs who want to add an “eggy” flavor to dishes without adding prohibited additives which contain egg.

Smoked Salt

There are a variety of smoked salts on the market, most of which are made using traditional smoking methods. Phenols from cold-smoked salt add antioxidant power to traditional salts. As long as the salt has been traditionally smoked, it can become a powerful source of antioxidants and an enhanced food preservative, helping delay the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

Learn more about the health benefits of salt in All About Salt.


Mandy Norris works as a nutritionist and enjoys sharing her insights with an online audience. Her articles and posts mainly appear on nutrition and health blogs.




9/30/2015

The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has become a fall favorite since its introduction in 2003. People indulge in the spiced coffee beverage without feeling too much guilt, so it wasn’t surprising that Starbucks customers were upset when the dirty, secret ingredients were revealed last year, along with the fact that there wasn’t even real pumpkin in the beverage! The company quickly jumped into action, solving the crisis and ultimately saving autumn! Well not really, but they made a lot of people happy.

I know this will shock you, but I was not a huge fan of the famous "PSL." Gasp! My mouth always felt dirty after drinking it, and it honestly made me queasy. Still, my mom and I would head over to the nearest shop and get one every September, for festivity’s sake. (I know, that's a terrible reason to drink of a cup of sugar.)

Starbucks has been actively promoting the new Pumpkin Spice Latte. PSL even has its own Twitter page, which is pretty adorable. So, I did some reading on the coffee shop’s blog and learned that they have removed some of the artificial stuff, like caramel coloring, and there is now REAL pumpkin in it. So obviously, I had to try it.

pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream
Photo by Fotolia.

The Ingredient List

• Espresso
• Milk
• Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% or Less of Fruit and Vegetable Juice for Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto (Color), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt)
• Whipped Cream (Light Whipping Cream [Cream, Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan])
• Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid)
• Pumpkin Spice Topping (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove)

My Thoughts: A New and Improved PSL

The drink tastes so much better after these tweaks. It has a cleaner taste and doesn't leave my mouth feeling, well, "ew." I taste real flavors and just felt generally better about indulging in one. It still isn't considered a health drink. The level of fat, carbohydrates and sugar are really high, so use caution if you choose to indulge. Overall, I praise Starbucks for moving in the right direction and really listening to customers. Keep up the good work!


Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.






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