Creamy Spinach and Portabella Pasta

 

Creamy Mushroom and Spinach pasta

I haven’t been doing much cooking lately, I am now 39 weeks pregnant and standing up for too long in the kitchen isn’t exactly the highlight of my day.  But I will say that this dish doesn’t take long at all to cook, you just need to prepare the cashews a couple hours in advance by soaking them.  Altogether, this dish took about 15 minutes to cook.  Of course, I used my food processor to chop my garlic and my parsley, so I kind of cheated.  And the cashew cream was made in my Vitamix (which I highly suggest all kitchens have! lol)  But cooking in stock speeds up the process tremendously, while making it 100x more healthy.

I had made this once before and had wanted to put it up my blog but we ate it so fast that I didn’t get to take a picture!  This time around, I made sure to get a picture in before hand, with the help of my mom who is here from NJ waiting for her new grandson to be born.  =)

  • Pasta of your choice (or rice, as my husband had it)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 portabella mushroom caps, diced (keep them diced fairly big, this is the “meat” of the dish)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter (For flavor only, feel free to omit)
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup cashew cream (Recipe here)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley

 

In a saute pan, heat up the vegetable stock until steaming and then add the onions and mushrooms.  Cover and cook  over medium heat for 4 minutes.  After the 4 minutes are over, remove the cover and continue to cook, letting some of the liquid cook off, which should take another 2 minutes or so.  Be careful not to burn off too much liquid or the food will begin sticking to the pan.

Add the garlic, the vegan butter (if using) and the can of tomatoes.  Cook over medium heat another 2 minutes, stirring to mix it all together.  Stir in the lemon juice, the nutritional yeast, and the cashew cream.  Your sauce should turn from a brown liquid to a nice thick white-ish brown color.  When it starts to bubble, lower the heat to low and let simmer 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a side of parsley, and possibly extra cashew cream.

 

 

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Garlic Dill Spinach Noodles with Mushrooms and Onions (Gluten-free, Vegan)

Vegan Alfredo

 

  • 2 Packages of Gluten Free Spinach soy noodles cooked according to the package instructions and drained well.  (This is a good brand, I also like the ones in the water that only need to be soaked. – http://www.celiac.com/glutenfreemall/pasta-company-glutenfree-spinach-fettuccine-pasta-frozen-unit-p-2296.html)
  • 1/2 cup Cashew Sour Cream (Recipe here – you need to make it really thick, just add less water when blending it up)
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves, let sit for at least 10 minutes
  • 2 tbsp dry dill weed (or 4 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable stock
  • 1 package crimini mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • Fresh parsley

In a blender, take the cashew sour cream, the garlic, dill and salt, and blend it up until its nice and smooth and there’s no garlic chunks.  In a sauce pan, saute the mushrooms and onions, covered, in the stock for 2 minutes.  Uncover it and cook it for one more minute.  Mix the noodles with the garlic cashew cream, then place the mushroom and onions on top.   Garnish with fresh Parsley.

 

 

Blueberry Pecan Salad

Blueberry Pecan Salad

Another Salad from yours truly!   I had seen a salad like this being offered at my local organic supermarket but it had feta  cheese and bacon in it.  This is the vegan version….plus my own dressing because I honestly don’t know how they dressed it since I didn’t taste it.  However, the idea of blueberries and spinach just sounded too good not to make myself.   This salad just LOOKS like summer, doesn’t it?   Serve this with some fresh Lemon water and you have a refreshing light meal good for any time of the day!

Salad:

  • 1 cup Baby Spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh organic blueberries
  • 1/3 cup raw pecans

Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 dash stevia
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt to taste

Take all the dressing ingredients and put them in a jar with a lid and shake it up till its all mixed up.  Put it on the spinach, then put the blueberries and pecans on top.  Enjoy!

This is a sweet delicate dressing so it is the one time I decided not to use fresh  garlic.  Some slow roasted garlic might be good on this as well, if you have it on hand, but then of course this simple salad becomes a long process!

Baby Spinach and Beet Salad

Baby Spinach and Beet Salad

After my Green detox smoothie this morning, my lunch consisted of this beautiful lightly dressed salad.    Beets are an excellent detoxing food because they have a huge amount of phytonutrients.  We steam them breifly in this recipe, making them more appealing for a salad, but they are very good raw as well.  Just grate them up and toss them on the salad if you don’t want to steam them.

  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 beet, peeled and chopped very thin, and steamed for 5 minutes
  • 1 mandarin orange, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Raw Honey (or agave)
  • 1 garlic clove crushed (allow to sit for at least 5 minutes)
  • salt and pepper to taste

The first thing you want to do is dress the spinach and let it sit for about 10 minutes so that the leaves wilt a tiny bit.  While the spinach is wilting, steam the beat for 5 minutes or until its tender enough to be peirced with a fork. Then just add the rest of the ingredients, mix it up, and enjoy!

Vegan Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie

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Shepherds pie made healthy!   It is chock full of nutrients, its easy to make, and I promise,  you won’t even miss the potatoes.  Even though its filling, it won’t make you feel heavy after eating it like a traditional shepherd’s pie would, making it perfect for those hot summer days.

Vegan Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 4 tbsp non-flavored nut milk (I used almond)
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable broth
  • 12 white button mushrooms, sliced (I like to slice them thick since they are the  bulk of the dish)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric (this is mainly for color, but its really very good for you and can’t hurt to add)
  • 2 tbsp amino acids
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • Vegan Cheddar cheese (I prefer daiya brand) Grated
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the cauliflower up into bit sized pieces   Steam it for 5 minutes or until it becomes soft enough to mash.  When its ready, mash it up just like you were making mashed potatoes and add in the almond milk a little bit at a time, making sure it doesn’t get too soupy.  You might not need 4 tbsp depending on the size of your cauliflower.

In a pan, bring the vegetable broth to a steam and add the onions and mushrooms, cover and  cook 2 minutes.  Add the spinach, and the frozen green beans, cover it back up and cook another 2 minutes until the spinach wilts.  Uncover, add the turmeric, amino acids, thyme and garlic and let it  cook 1 more minute.   Line a baking pan with parchment paper so you can easily remove the pie, and with a slotted spoon put the cooked veggies into the pan, making sure its not too liquid.  (that’s why you use the slotted spoon)  Place the mashed cauliflower on the top and then sprinkle with the vegan cheese.

Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

 

 

 

The Smile Maker Smoothie

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Move over Nesquik, there’s a healthier version in town and it has more antioxidants then a glass of red wine.   Cacao, which is the raw, unrefined version of cocoa, is actually in the legume family and has 43.6 mg of flavanoids (antioxidants) in 1 gram.  It helps prevent cancer, alleviates stress, helps ward off heart disease, and lowers HDL (bad cholesterol).  The bean does, however, contain caffeine, so if you are sensitive to it this might not be such a great idea before bed.  It also contains oxalates,  so those with kidney problems should not consume cacao as it can cause kidney stones.  (Oxalates are also found in raw spinach, another ingredient in this smoothie, although baby spinach has much less and is much safer to eat raw)

Cacao is a natural mood booster,  “According to Elson Hass in his book ‘Staying Healthy With Nutrition,’ cocoa may provide antidepressant benefits. He explains that cocoa contains the substance phenethylamine, which is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that acts as a mood elevator and natural antidepressant.  The University of Michigan Health System (UMIM) states that cocoa may also have the ability to boost endorphins  which act as natural ‘happy’ opiates and are responsible for the highs that are often felt after exercising, laughing, having sex or winning the lottery. Finally, UMIM says that cocoa may boost serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that antidepressants target in order to boost overall happiness levels.”  (Livestrong.com http://www.livestrong.com/article/331715-cocoa-powder-health-benefits/)

The Smile Maker Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cups organic oat milk
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbls raw organic cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup raw baby spinach
  • 10 brazil nuts
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • dash stevia (optional)

combine all in a high speed blender for 1 minute.

Chocolate is one of those things that we crave, and maybe our bodies are telling us something.  Of course, like all new health crazes, the research is ongoing.  Some say the caffeine contained in raw cacao does not effect our bodies the same way as coffee or tea, and some say that this is a treat which should be saved for special occasions.  In any case, the mood boosting potential of this beloved bean is enough for me to add it to my list of smoothie ingredients.  In a world where Prozac is downed like candy, its nice to know that there are healthier alternatives with minimal side effects.

The Powerhouse Smoothie

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Love asparagus as much as I do?  Add it to your green smoothie!  Asparagus is full of potassium, folate and vitamin A.  It helps loose weight, keeps us looking young, helps prevent bloating, is anti-inflammatory, and even helps prevent cancer.  Eaten raw, you get all the nutrients full force.  Add some coconut flakes and the fat in it will help your body absorb the nutrients.   This is a very sweet smoothie, the stevia is absolutely optional.  When buying stevia, don’t buy Truvia brand, which is a mix of Xylatol ( a natural fruit sugar) and the herb stevia.  When buying Stevia, make sure to read the label, you want pure stevia without any additives   You can find it sold at places like Trader’s Joes, health food stores, and even some large chain supermarkets.  Stevia is an herb with no caloric value, and a glycemic index of 0.  It is just like adding oregano to a dish.   It should be a staple in every health conscious person’s house.

I’ve read quite a few smoothie fail posts where they attempted to add asparagus to their smoothie and …well, failed…but I assure you, this is sweet as ever, smooth and rich.  The trick is having a good blender.  I would not attempt this with anything less then a vitamix or equivalent.  This smoothie is a powerhouse of antioxidants and nutrients.

The Powerhouse  Smoothie:

makes 2 servings:

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1 large chunk pineapple
  • 1 green apple, cored
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 kale leaves
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 4 purple asparagus
  • 4 tbls coconut flakes
  • 5 strawberries
  • 2 sprigs parsely
  • 1 dash stevia (optional)

 

combine all in a high speed blender and drink up!  Cheers!

 

Mouthwatering Lasagna (Vegan, Gluten-free)

021 I have been going on and on about this vegan, gluten-free lasagna all day long, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint!  I don’t know what it is, the colder-then-I’m-used-to April weather, or the non-stop rain, but a good a Italian meal just puts me in a good mood.   Daiya shredded mozzarella “cheese” is gooey, melty, and tastes just like the real thing.  The noodles are brown rice noodles as I haven’t found any lasagna noodles made from quinoa, but these noodles taste just as good, if not better.    I really hope you enjoy this as much as I did!  This makes a lot, but you can most diffidently freeze it for later.  Just cover it up, and when you are ready to eat it again, reheat it in the oven.

Edited to add, although Vegan Cheese is a healthier option then traditional cheese, it still has  9 grams of fat in 1 serving, which is 31 grams..  While still being considered a low fat food, it is not something I partake in every day.  Please keep in mind that moderation is key when eating meals with a lot of oils.  

Mouthwatering Lasagna:

  • 1 package brown rice lasagna noodles
  • 1 package medium-light tofu
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese (I like follow your heart brand)
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbls tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbls garlic powder
  • 1 tbls Amino Acids (This is in place of salt and for extra nutrition, however you may use a tsp of salt instead)
  • 1 tbls Thyme
  • 1 Tbls Oregano
  • 2 cups baby spinach or 1 large bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed.
  • 1 bag daiya shredded mozzarella cheese
  • nutritional yeast

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 8 minutes.  Drain and cool off in cold water.  Set aside.  In a sauce pan add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, amino acids, thyme, oregano and garlic powder.  Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally to distribute the flavors.  In a food processor, add the tofu and the cream cheese and pulse, you want it to be a bit chunky still.  Remove to a separate bowl, you’re going to need the processor again if using fresh spinach.  For the spinach, bring a pot of water to a  boil and blanch 1 minute, then drain and add to the food processor and pulse 1 minute. In a lasagna baking pan, spread the tomato sauce thinly on the bottom, then add a layer of noodles, then a layer of cheese, then spinach.  Repeat, one layer of sauce, noodles, cheese, spinach.  The next layer will skip the sauce, go straight to the noodles, then the remaining sauce, and the daiya cheese.  Place in the oven, covered loosely with tinfoil and cook 30 minutes.  Uncover the dish, sprinkle on a bit of nutritional yeast, and cook another 10 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!

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Here’s one more picture so you can see how gooey and yummy the daiya cheese is. I really do love this brand.