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Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food

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1/15/2016

These little darlings are a fun and flavorful way to present potatoes. The inside pulp stays nice and tender while the outside gets crispy. Serve these on the side for any party meal, even breakfast!

 

Holiday Rosemary Smashed Potatoes Recipe

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

• 35 to 40 ounces fingerling or baby potatoes, scrubbed
• 1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed

Instructions

1. Fit a steamer basket into a medium-sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 to 3 inches of cold water to the pot and then add the potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam the potatoes for 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and let cool 10 minutes.

2. While the potatoes cool, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

3. Add the olive oil, rosemary and sea salt to the cooled potatoes and toss to lightly coat, using a large spoon, letting the excess olive oil and rosemary run to the bottom of the bowl. Arrange the potatoes about 1⁄2-inch apart in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Using a sturdy, flat spatula, “smash” each potato so it is slightly flattened. Brush the tops of the flattened potatoes with the seasoned oil that settled into the bottom of the mixing bowl.

4. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown and slightly crispy. Season with more sea salt, if desired, while still hot. Let cool 10 minutes and serve warm.

Amount per serving, based on 8 servings:  139 Calories; 3g Fat; 0g Saturated fat; 3g Protein; 8mg Sodium; 25g Total Carbohydrate; 0g Sugars; 2g Fiber

Recipe from Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease, © 2015 Laura Theodore, reprinted by permission.


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.Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.


1/8/2016

These tempting taco bowls make the perfect hearty lunch or light supper. Quick to make, crisp, baked tortillas serve as the base, while the creamy, flavorful avocado and leafy green filling creates a true “one-dish” meal or generous first-course appetizer. Great for company, too!

homemade taco salad bowl 

Guacamole Taco Salad Bowls Recipe

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

Taco Bowls:
• 4 8- to 10-inch whole-grain tortillas (spicy variety works well)

Salad:
• 2 large ripe avocados
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
• 1/16 to 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
• 1 medium tomato, diced
• 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
• 2-1/2 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, for garnish (optional)
• Zest of one lemon, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a medium, rimmed baking pan with unbleached parchment paper.

2. Arrange four small oven-safe bowls upside down on the prepared pan. Drape a tortilla over the bottom of each bowl, arranging it in the shape of an upside-down “bowl.” Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and almost firm to the touch, checking them often so they do not burn. Carefully transfer the pan with the bowls on it to a wire rack and let cool at least 5 minutes before serving (see note).

3. Meanwhile, to prepare the guacamole, peel, pit and rough chop the avocados. Put the chopped avocados, lemon juice, chili powder, turmeric, smoked paprika, sea salt and cayenne pepper (optional) in a medium-sized bowl and mash with a potato masher or large fork until combined. Gently fold in the tomatoes and onion.

4. To assemble the salads, carefully remove each cooled taco “bowl” and place it in the center of a medium-sized salad plate. Place one-quarter of the sliced romaine in the bottom of each taco “bowl.” Top with one-quarter of the guacamole mixture. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, and lemon zest (optional). Serve immediately.

Chef’s Note: Taco bowls may be prepared up to 6 hours before serving. After cooling, keep loosely covered until you are ready to assemble the salads.

Amount per serving, based on 4 servings: 229 Calories; 14g Fat; 3g Saturated fat; 5g Protein; 253mg Sodium; 27g Total Carbohydrate; 6g Sugars; 7g Fiber

Recipe from Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease, © 2015 Laura Theodore, reprinted by permission.


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. Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.



12/31/2015

A chocolate craving deserves nothing less! Rich, dark chocolate combined with raspberry preserves create a delectable mini dessert that fills the bill.

raspberry fudge truffles

Raspberry Fudge Truffles Recipe

Makes 8 to 10 servings | Ease Factor 1

Ingredients

• 2 heaping tablespoons raspberry preserves
• 1 bar (3.5 ounces) vegan dark chocolate, finely chopped (snack bar; not unsweetened baking chocolate)
• 1⁄3 cup raisins
• 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
• 2 teaspoons raw unsweetened shredded dried coconut (optional)

Instructions

1. Line a mini muffin pan with 8 to 10 paper liners. Drain off any excess liquid from the raspberry preserves. Put the raspberry preserves in a large bowl.

2. Melt the vegan chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Pour the melted chocolate into the raspberry preserves and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the raisins. Immediately mound the mixture into the mini-muffin cups, dividing it evenly, using a small cookie scoop.

3. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours or until firm. Dust with cocoa powder and sprinkle with coconut, as desired. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, minis will keep up to 3 days.

Amount per serving, based on 10 servings: 69 Calories; 1g Fat; 1g Saturated fat; 2g Protein; 19mg Sodium; 10g Total Carbohydrate; 7g Sugars; 2g Fiber

Recipe from Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease, © 2015 Laura Theodore, reprinted by permission.


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. Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.





12/23/2015

If you've ever noticed that you feel a little rundown when you don't get enough water, or that sugary snacks only make you hungrier later, you already know how important it is to make good choices about what you eat and put into your body. Making mindful decisions about food is just as important as exercising, managing your stress levels, and getting in touch with your emotions. Smart eating is the practice of following a balanced and nutritious diet, and it can guide you on your path to a healthier and happier life. To get on that path, just follow these simple steps.

proper nutrition
Chart by Juliette Borda.

Understanding What Is and Isn't Good for Your Body

Every body is different, and some people who respond well to diets high in protein will feel their energy levels start to flag if they switch to, say, an entirely raw food diet. That's perfectly natural, and it's your body's way of telling you what it does and doesn't need. When you first start making smart decisions about food, take note of how your body responds. Keep in mind that nutritionists no longer recommend a diet based on the traditional food pyramid. Instead, aim for a diet that includes the following:

• 25 percent protein: organic meat, fish, nuts, beans, full-fat dairy, and certain grains
• 35 percent green vegetables: peas, kale, green beans, broccoli, cucumber, asparagus, etc.
• 20 percent antioxidants: fruits like apples and berries, sweet potatoes, beets, and eggplants
• 13 percent whole grains: quinoa, corn, brown rice, bulgur wheat, oats, etc.
• 5 percent fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt
• 2 percent healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, organic butter

Notice that fruits and vegetables account for the majority (55 percent) of this updated diet, whereas the old food pyramid was focused primarily on grains. This new diet can seem tough, particularly for people who don't like eating kimchi every day, but once you start eating smart, you'll notice what an amazing effect it can have on your body. You'll have more energy, feel less stressed, and have fewer cravings for unhealthy food, and that will go a long way toward helping you achieve a happy, healthy life.

Snack Smarter

Whether you're on the move or just sitting at home watching TV, don't reach for that bag of chips when you're feeling peckish. Instead reach for a bowl of fruit, raw mixed nuts, or even kale chips to satisfy your craving. We know it's hard to eat smart when you're super busy, but simple tricks like carrying healthy snacks or opting for wraps instead of burgers can make a world of difference for busy people on the go. But remember, portion control. Your snack doesn't need to become a full-fledged meal.

Stay Hydrated

This can’t be stressed enough. Among the many benefits of staying hydrated are lower blood pressure, reduced fatigue and clearer skin, because when you get enough water all of your body's systems start working better. Many people even report that proper hydration helps to manage their allergies and digestive problems. But these benefits are counteracted by sugar, salt and caffeine, so stay away from coffee, tea and sugary drinks as much as possible.

Incorporate Probiotics

Studies prove that cultivating good gut bacteria can improve your health, weight and mood. That 5 percent of your diet devoted to fermented foods is aimed precisely at this phenomenon: The better our gut feels, the better we feel. Next time you're in the grocery store consider trying probiotic supplements or picking up some kimchi or sauerkraut to serve as a side dish. It's the best way to keep your gut healthy.

With these simple steps you can put yourself on the path to a happier and healthier life. By eating smart, making mindful choices about food, and listening to what your body says, you can reduce stress, boost energy, and give your body the fuel it needs for the long life ahead.



12/23/2015

Here’s a festive and fabulous way to serve a first course salad, any time of the year. Spooned into tiny parfait or champagne glasses, this tasty combo provides a refreshing change to a standard green salad.

avocado salad parfait 

Avocado Salad Parfaits Recipe

Makes 4 to 5 servings | Ease Factor 1

Ingredients

Dressing:
• Juice from half a medium lemon
• 1 small clove garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (see note)
• 1⁄8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed

Salad:
• 10 to 14 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
• 1 medium-to-large avocado, pit removed, peeled and diced

Insructions

1. Put all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk briskly to emulsify.

2. Put all of the salad ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Pour in the dressing and gently stir to combine. Season with more salt, to taste. Cover and refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes before serving.

3. To serve as a fancy first course, spoon into pretty glasses, displayed on a decorative plate.

Chef’s Note: For an oil-free dressing, omit the olive oil and proceed with the recipe as directed.

Amount per serving, based on 5 servings: 54 Calories; 4g Fat; 1g Saturated fat; 1g Protein; 4mg Sodium; 5g Total Carbohydrate; 1g Sugars; 2g Fiber

Recipe from Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease, © 2015 Laura Theodore, reprinted by permission.


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. Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.



12/18/2015

My husband always complained that I did not make our veggie burgers BIG enough! So the “Hungry Guy” Burger was born. Packed with hearty black beans, spicy salsa and rolled oats, these five-ingredient wonders are filling and super-quick to prepare. Now everyone’s happy!

hungry guy burger 

“Hungry Guy” Black Bean Burger Recipe

Makes 6 burgers | Ease Factor 1

Ingredients

• 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
• 2⁄3 cup plus 2 heaping tablespoons prepared salsa, plus more as needed (see note)
• 3 slices whole-grain bread, torn into chunks
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2⁄3 cup rolled oats

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking pan with unbleached parchment paper.

2. Put the black beans and salsa in a medium-sized bowl and mash using a potato masher or large fork until well combined. Put the bread chunks and cumin in a blender and process into coarse crumbs. Add the bread crumbs to the black bean mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the rolled oats and mix to combine. If the mixture seems dry, stir in another heaping tablespoon of salsa and mix to combine.

3. Scoop up a generous 1⁄2 cup of the black bean mixture and put it on the prepared pan. Form it into a burger, shaping it with clean hands, then flattening it slightly. Continue in this manner to make five more burgers (see note). Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the burgers and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until golden.

Chef’s Notes:
• You may use mild, medium or hot salsa in this recipe.
• Once formed, the burgers may be covered and refrigerated for 2 to 6 hours before cooking. Add 5 to 7 minutes to the baking time.

Amount per serving, based on 6 servings/burgers: 170 Calories; 2g Fat; 0g Saturated fat; 10g Protein; 241mg Sodium; 30g Total Carbohydrate; 1g Sugars; 8g Fiber

Recipe from Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease, © 2015 Laura Theodore, reprinted by permission. Photo courtesy of Annie Oliverio.


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. Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.



12/16/2015


Photo by Fotolia

This is a glorious holiday variation of my Raspberry & Cardamom Jam recipe published in my quick refrigerator jam article, Jams in a Jiffy.  I’ve featured the popular holiday spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove instead of cardamom – use whatever appeals to you and adjust to your taste. This naturally-sweetened jam is without refined sugar or artificial sweeteners and preservatives.

You can serve this recipe warm or chilled on holiday breads, crackers or spread on top of soft, spreadable cheeses such as Brie. It’s also wonderful topping for vanilla ice cream or frozen dessert. Be sure to refrigerate this recipe and consume with a week or two. No canning or special equipment required.

Ingredients

• 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• ¼ teaspoon ground clove
• 2 to 3 tablespoons apple juice concentrate thawed
• 2 to 3 tablespoons honey or light agave sweetener (to taste)
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

1. Rinse raspberries. If using frozen, completely thaw before jamming.

2. Combine raspberries, spices, apple juice concentrate and lemon juice in a large nonstick skillet.

3. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly and mashing berries with the back of a spoon, 5 to 15 minutes, or until mixture reaches the consistency of jam.

4. Refrigerate jam in a bowl for about 1 hour.

Herb & Spice Buying Sources:

Simply Organic 

Mountain Rose Herbs 

Quick Jam Reader Q&A:

1. Can you process and can these recipes?  No, it’s important to keep these quick jams refrigerated and eaten within a week or two. Please do not can them and store on the shelf. However, because these super-simple recipes take 10 to 20 minutes to make, it’s easy to whip up a new batch.

2. Are these recipes OK for diabetics? I wasn’t sure about the honey. Most likely, if you’re a type 2 diabetic and consuming store-bought fruit spreads (in small amounts) as part of your approved food plan. These recipes are without refined sugar or artificial sweeteners; however, they do contain natural fruit sugars.

You can substitute agave nectar for the honey, or omit any sweetener entirely except the fruit and apple juice concentrate. If you’re a person with any type of diabetes or pre-diabetes, be sure to discuss your diet, including naturally-sweetened recipes, with your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.  

3. A reader shared these thoughts regarding quick summer jamming: "I'm going to try the lavender-peach jam with vanilla recipe using fresh, local peaches. It sounds delicious and the simpler, the better!"

My comment: Even if you don't have access to fresh peaches during the colder months, you can still make great-tasting peach-lavender jam using frozen or canned peaches, preferably organic.


Letitia L. Star has written for Mother Earth Living and GRIT since 2005. To date, she's written more than 1,100 published articles, including features on green living, travel and food. Reach her at LetitiaStarwriter@gmail.com. 




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