Shakes and smoothies are such a “thing” these days.
(Almost) every time I see a shake or smoothie recipe posted on my favorite food blogs or on the pages of a magazine, I think, “I should try that.”
Yet, I rarely make it past this shake.The one that tastes rich and unwholesome but really is made from a few simple good-for-you ingredients with no dairy or sugar in sight. It is inspired by this recipe over at Healthy. Happy. Life.
Enough said. With summer is in full swing and school starting in less that one month for us, I’m keeping this post short and sweet…
Eight years in and we finally signed our middle son up for baseball this year. It was something I’d meant to do several years ago, but somehow it’s hard to think baseball when registration is required in the throes of winter.
An avid sports fan, my husband has been looking forward to this from the birth of our first child. And he’s been teaching our boys especially how to root-root-root for the home team even when they often “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” (It’s been decades since they won a World Series.)I have my own fond baseball memories…the Toronto Blue Jays winning the World Series two years in a row (though we’ve moved away, I’ll always quietly root for them too), my years as a pitcher on our high school slow pitch team, and neighborhood boys breaking out the bats and mitts as soon as the air breathed spring.
So with baseball season in full swing, I thought it would be fun to create a salad inspired by “American’s pastime.”Cucumbers and marinated mushrooms (an homage to a ball and mitt) nestle on a field of kale and Brussel sprouts. “Crackerjack” peanuts are a nod to the classic stadium snack but are coated with dates to keep the sugar “outta there.” Topping it off is a bittersweet stadium mustard dressing.A note on the peanuts: If saving money is important to you, it’s cheaper to shell them yourself. Seeing as we had a 5 lb. bag hanging around the house, this is the route I’ve taken lately). However, if time is of the essence, go for the pre-shelled and roasted peanuts. If you splurge on Spanish-roasted peanuts (my favorite choice for this salad), be sure to gently rub them in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins.
4 large Portabella mushroom caps or 16 oz. baby bellas
1/3-1/2 cup coconut aminos
freshly ground black pepper
for the “Crackerjack” peanuts
½ cup shelled peanuts or Spanish peanuts
1 T date paste
2-3 T water
for the Stadium Mustard dressing
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 T stadium mustard
2 T tahini
1.5-2 tsp. agave or coconut nectar
½ tsp. regular mustard
¼ tsp. garlic powder
few dashes turmeric for color (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium high heat, combine date paste and water, stirring to combine. Add peanuts and continue to stir over medium high heat until they begin to clump together and the date paste begins to dry out (about 5-7 minutes). You may need to reduce the heat near the end of the cooking time to prevent the date paste from burning.
Transfer peanuts to a baking pan and place in oven for another 5 minutes. Remove and cool.
In a frying pan, add ingredients for the Marinated Mushrooms, bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat and cook until most of the liquid has reduced. Cool.
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously to combine.
Combine kale and Brussel sprouts, then arrange cucumber slices on top followed by the “Crackerjack” peanuts and marinated mushrooms, drizzle with dressing.*
I like Spanish peanuts best. If using, then gently rub in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins. Add extra prep time if shelling your own peanuts.
“Crackerjack” peanuts can be stored in an airtight jar for several days and are great for snacking. The date paste coating may soften a little, especially in humid conditions.
The dressing stores well in the fridge for several days. I like adding the turmeric for eye-pleasing color. A few dashes goes a long way as the color intensifies slightly over time.
My favorite way to serve salads is to prepare the base and set out toppings and dressing separately. That way, any leftovers will stay fresh.
With a new baby welcomed into the monarchy and surprising election results, the Brits have been in the headlines of late. So it seems rather timely to post a recipe that I often associate with England.
I have a soft spot for the UK since we were blessed to live there for a few years when I was growing up, coupled with the fact that one of my grandmother’s haled from England, a war bride of the 1940’s.
The first month we lived there, we had tea and cookies every night.
Back in March, I shared this recipe for vegan cabbage rolls, a nod to the Polish side of my heritage. As much as I’d like to veganize one of the more traditional British meals which my “Nan” often made – roast beef and Yorkshire puddings – it just wouldn’t be the same. Instead, I’ll turn to another recipe traditional to the British Isles…potato and leek soup.
The first vegan cookbook I ever purchased was Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson*. It was during the season in my life that my oldest son likes to refer to as “the time when we weren’t eating healthy.” I refer to it as the time when I didn’t realize the benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
But the Lord knew He would bring me to this place, so He gradually encouraged me to go meat-free on more than just Monday. I started by exploring vegan and vegetarian cookbooks in our local library until I stumbled upon Vegan Planet*.
One of my favorite recipes from the book is Robin’s “Indian-spiced Lentil Soup” on page 78.
Although soups are most often thought of in the fall and winter, I make them year round. Especially when spring shows its chillier side.
And I think this soup is especially spring-like with the bright addition of cilantro, an herb that flourishes in cooler temperatures.
Spring, summer, fall, winter, here is my version of this sweet potato lentil soup.
Sometimes, I think the best recipes are those that are cobbled together…a little of this, a little of that, nothing measured. Just a few favorite ingredients in a bowl, in a cup, on a plate. Snacking especially lends itself to improv eating.
Although my go to snack often is enough to satisfy, sometimes, I’m looking for something a little bit more…
This snack is by no means intended to approximate the traditional Cajun jambalaya in the rice-veggies-meat sense, but it does mimic the dish’s mish mash approach to pulling ingredients together.
Peanut butter + banana have long been a favorite of mine. (In my white-bread eating days, it was especially satisfying eat the pb+b on a toasted plain bagel.)
Add in naturally sweet dried coconut and raisins and the hint of cinnamon and you have an unconventional, yet satisfying snack. I usually toss all these ingredients in a bowl, but for the pictures, I used a small canning jar, because it just looks prettier.
If you have a nut allergy, substitute in sunflower seed butter. And if you prefer eating raw, use a raw nut butter. I recommend using a salted nut/seed butter as it complements the delicate sweetness of the fruit.
I grew up in a home where we ate quite a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. But somehow the avocado eluded us. And guacamole? The first time I tried it I was in my late twenties.
It was love-at-first-bite.
But chips, guac’s side kick, are rather low on the healthy eating spectrum, sprouted, organic, GMO-free or not. And despite their salty, crunchy tastiness, I’ve been looking beyond the vegan label to examine what I’m actually putting into my body. Because eating a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily = a healthy diet.
So when I want a healthier compadre for my guacamole, I round up some sweet potatoes and put them to work. According to WebMD, sweet potatoes are full of calcium, potassium and vitamins A & C.Both recipes are simple to prepare and contain a small handful of ingredients.
But before we get to the recipes, I wondered…are there any foods or dishes that somehow eluded you in childhood that you discovered as an adult?
On this last day of March I’m making a last ditch effort to post a new recipe before we turn the calendar to April. Although it’s been rather quiet here at brownberry tales, on my side of the screen, it’s been business, and busy-ness, as usual which has led to the starting, but not finishing two other posts.
Every once and awhile I hit a meal planning slump (such a depressing, clunky word, right?). But honestly, it’s challenging to maintain enthusiasm when planning meals for six palettes that don’t always agree on what tastes good, especially when it comes to plant-based recipes. As a high achiever who loves her family, I want all my peeps to enjoy what they are eating.
Since inspiration was lacking from traditional dinner recipes, last night, I turned to breakfast. Inspiration found!
The recipe I’m sharing today is not the one I served last night (pancakes), but it is the recipe I used for a topping. After whipping it up, it reminded me of the cinnamon-sugar topping I used to put on toast. I still have vivid memories of toasting a piece of bread, slathering in with butter, then sprinkling on the cinnamon-sugar mix. Yum! But not so great for the teeth or the body.
In this version, date paste replaces the sugar and the pecans make an excellent butter substitute. The cinnamon got to stay. 😉
1/2 c. pecans
1/4 c. date paste
1/4-1/2 tsp. cinnamon*
serving size: 3-4 pieces of toast
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until the oils release in the pecans and the mixture begins to clump together and becomes spreadable. This may take 3-5 minutes. Spread on toast and store any leftovers in the fridge.
For the longest time I could not bring myself to eat pasta with sauce on it. Chalk it up to getting the flu after eating spaghetti for dinner. Instead, I requested my spaghetti be served with Italian Salad Dressing.
Years went by until I worked up the nerve to start eating pasta with a little bit of sauce, but it wasn’t until I went to Venice, Italy as a senior in high school that I finally understood why people love pasta.
I started making my own sauce a few years ago when I switched to eating vegan and also cutting back on oils (most store bought sauces contain oil and many also contain sugar). The inspiration for this recipe comes from the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease book which also inspired my change in diet.
Since we are a family of six and this sauce freezes well, I make a large quantity. That way, I only need to prepare this about once a month. It makes enough to fill about five large mason jars plus a few smaller jars for pizza sauce.
When I don’t have tomatoes on hand from my garden, my favorite brand of canned tomatoes are Muir Glen’s organic diced or whole tomatoes because 1. they’re organic and 2. Muir Glen took the BPA out of their can lining. Thankfully, I can buy these in bulk at BJs to save money.
Whenever I had to do a research project for school, I always leaned toward more sober subjects, like “why suntanning is bad for you” or “pollution in the environment.” Why I didn’t think I could combine my fondness for science with something fun like…chocolate…is beyond me.
My oldest son, on the other hand, gets it. Several times in the past couple of years, he has checked this book out from the library. The first time was for a research project in second grade and just for fun after that. I like his style.
And reading through that book, it suddenly clicked with me why chocolate’s health benefits are touted…it’s a vegetable! “Eat your veggies” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.
Of course, chocolate stops being a health food when paired with sugar and milk. Which is why recipes like this one for Dark Chocolate Pudding-Mousse are the answer to keeping your taste buds and body happy.
The inspiration for this recipe came from a bonus recipe pack for the Oh She Glows cookbook, but I added a few extra ingredients including the full-fat coconut to further mask the avocado. When you first mix it up, it has the texture of pudding, but will take on the texture of mousse once refrigerated. To keep a more pudding-like consistency, try adding your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk a 1/2 cup at a time (I prefer unsweetened vanilla almond milk).
A note of caution: If you are trying to lose weight, eat this recipe sparingly because avocado and full-fat coconut milk are heavy hitters in the fat department, even if it is plant-based fat. On the flip side, if you find yourself shedding too much weight from eating a low-fat, plant-based, carb-light diet, then by all means indulge away.
And though, spooning it on a plate with sides of mashed potatoes and greens might be carrying it a little too far, I’m all for serving this to my children as an extra treat a breakfast. After all, what better way to start the day than with a cup of fruits and veggies?
Peel avocado, remove pit and put in food processor.
Add date paste, breaking into small pieces to help with the blending.
Add remaining ingredients (except nondairy milk),
Blend ingredients until smooth, anywhere from 1-3 minutes.
If too thick, add nondairy milk 1/4 cup at a time to achieve desired consistency.
Eat immediately or place in refrigerator for later.
An avocado that easily yields when gently pressed and is free of bruises works best.
Be sure to carefully read your stevia package to make sure it is pure as many stevia products are a blend and may include undesired ingredients. I bought my stevia at Trader Joe’s and it came with its own scoop. One hundred percent pure stevia is potent so the scoop is tiny, less than 1/8 tsp.
I use roasted almond butter in my recipe because that is what I have on hand. If you want to keep it raw, use raw almond butter.
This recipe thickens as it chills, achieving a mousse-like texture. Adding nondairy milk (I like unsweetened vanilla almond milk best) helps return it to a pudding. This pudding should be consumed within 3 days of eating and must be kept refrigerated.