Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thai Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

I have come to the realization that if you're vegan and don't like Asian foods such as Chinese and Thai food, you're pretty much screwed.

Thankfully, I love them, and here is a great recipe to try if you do too!

I found this recipe in a book that I received from Danika's mom (who by the way is one of the most genuinely sweetest people on this planet, who has an awesome store and is opening up another one soon!).

Anyway, I put a little twist on it by adding shitake mushrooms, because...well...I think they're fantastic, and they go great with anything Thai, so if you don't like them just leave them out and shut up already!

Also, I didn't much feel like carving up a pumpkin so instead I used yams, which did the trick just fine, but if you feel like immersing yourself armpit deep in pumpkin guts feel free, the choice is yours...

Speaking of freedom of choice I also added more dried chili flakes...mainly because I like to torture myself, but also because I like things spicy.

Thai Pumpkin and Coconut Soup
(Serves Four)

6 oz rice noodles
1 1/2 lb pumpkin (or three large yams or sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
4 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
14 oz canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut cream
15 oz veggie stock
2 Tbsp light wheat-free tamari (or for those not gluten free soy sauce)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 cup bean sprouts
2 good sized carrots, cut thinly in strips
1 package shitake mushrooms
large handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Put the pumpkin chunks into a roasting dish or on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes or until tender.

While the pumpkin is roasting, heat about one Tbsp olive oil in a stock pot. Add the chili flakes and shitake mushrooms and saute them over moderate heat for about 2 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Add the coconut milk, coconut cream, veggie stock, and simmer, gently, stirring until the cream has dissolved. Stir in the tamari and sugar. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix in the bean sprouts and carrots and simmer for an additional minute. Add the rice noodles and warm through.

Divide the chunks of pumpkin among four warm serving bowls and pour the soup over them. Liberally scatter the cilantro over the top, and serve!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Autumn Mushroom Stew with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

First of all, Yum.

Secondly, if you were to host a vegan Thanksgiving dinner, this would be an excellent replacement for the turkey.

The portobellos, shitake, porcini, and button mushrooms along with the fresh rosemary and thyme give this dish an earthy flavor that screams "PERFECT FALL MEAL!" Unless of course you don't like mushrooms...then you will hate this dish.

I found this recipe in Natural Home magazine and had to doctor it up a bit to make it vegan, by simply substituting soy milk for cream in the potatoes and Earth Balance for butter, which didn't compromise anything at all regarding flavor or texture.

*As a note, I noticed that when I made the "Mushroom Stock" which was supposed to give 2 cups stock, I only got about 1/2 a cup. I just made up the remaining amount with the vegetable broth and mixed that in with the stew...but if you do this, make sure to puree the cooked mushrooms and add it to the stew for thickness.

Autumn Mushroom Stew

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 lb portobellos (about 2 large portobellos, gills removed)
1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, or other wild mushrooms roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces
14 ounces white mushrooms
3 cloves pressed garlic
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cups Mushroom Stock (see following recipe)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Earth Balance
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, rosemary and thyme and cook, covered, about 10-15 minutes over medium-low heat until soft and golden brown.

2. Add portobellos, shitake, and white mushrooms; cover and cook 10 minutes until soft.

3. Push mushrooms and onions to the side and add the garlic and cook about 1 minute or until it just releases its fragrance.

4. Add tomato paste, mushroom stock, vinegar, pureed mushrooms from stock and Earth Balance. Simmer 5-10 minutes.

5. Add parsley, salt and pepper and additional vinegar or herbs to taste. Serve over Rosemary Mashed Potatoes.

Mushroom Stock

2 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 (about 1/2 oz) cup dried porcini or chanterelle mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz white mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp garbanzo fava flour (or rice flour), for thickener
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Heat vegetable broth in saucepan until hot. Add dried porcini mushrooms and remove from heat. Set aside at least 30 minutes, until plump.

2. Heat olive oil in skillet, add white mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, thyme, wine and plumped porcinis. Bring to a simmer.

3. Sprinkle in flour, increase heat to high and cook uncovered about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring often.

4. Add balsamic vinegar and simmer 10 minutes. Pour into a colander and press mushrooms to extract juice. *You should have about 2 cups of mushroom stock.

5. Puree the cooked mushrooms to add to the stew for thickness.

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

2 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 large potatoes)
2 Tbsp Earth Balance, or more to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil, or more to taste
1/2 cup soy milk
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel potatoes and place them in large pot with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, 20 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain, cover and keep warm.

2. Add Earth Balance, olive oil, soy milk, rosemary, salt and pepper and mash with a potato masher or fork until smashed, but not perfectly smooth. Add more butter, olive oil, or soy milk to taste.

3. To serve, place potatoes on plates, top with mushroom stew and garnish with rosemary or thyme.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Stinky Pants Chili and Gluten Free Vegan Jalapeno Corn Bread

There is a reason I call this chili "Stinky Pants." And I'm sure it needs no further explanation. Therefore, due to the excess of beans, if you have some Beno on hand, you may want to add a few drops...Or half the bottle...Depending on your reaction to gaseous foods.

I also must apologize in advance, when I make Chili I rarely measure anything, therefore the following ingredients are an estimate, you can always add more or less to your taste, and omit or add any vegetable to your liking.

The corn bread is an absolute must here. I've done a lot of experimenting with gluten-free vegan baking and I think I finally have it down to a science. This bread is great, soft and fluffy with a nice crumb that will surely fool any of your gluten eating friends and family.

Stinky Pants Chili
2 small or one large can pinto beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 jalapeno chile, diced
1 quart vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 yellow squash, halved and cut into chunks
1 zucchini squash, halved and cut into chunks
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 can (16 oz) chopped tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons Agave Nectar or Honey
6 Squares dark vegan chocolate from choc late bar.

Heat the olive oil in the stock pot, add the onions and saute until they start to soften, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers, squash, zucchini and jalapeno and saute for another 2 minutes, the add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and cayenne and cook stirring constantly for a few minutes until well blended. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Add the beans and mix thoroughly.

Pour the vegetable stock into the mixture, stir, and bring to a boil.

Add the tomatoes, corn, tomato paste, tamari, salt, pepper, chocolate, and Agave nectar and simmer, partially covered until the seasonings are well blended, about 30 minutes.

(If you can make this chili the night before and let it sit overnight, even better!)

Gluten Free Vegan Jalapeno Corn Bread

6 Tablespoons apple sauce
1 cup garbanzo/fava bean flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons arrowroot
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup soymilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 jalapeno pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Oil 8 inch square baking dish with canola oil and a paper towel

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, arrowroot, xanthan gum, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined.

Add the applesauce, soymilk, and canola oil to the flour mixture.

Beat just until smooth and stir in the jalapeno.

Turn into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool for at least 25 minutes and serve!

A few tips for Gluten Free Vegan Baking:

*You can substitute 3 Tbsp of Apple Sauce to replace 1 egg.

*Garbanzo/Fava Bean Flour from Bob's Red Mill along with the appropriate mixtures of Arrowroot and Xanthan Gum is the best substitute for flour in gluten-free baking.

*You can substitute Soy or Rice Milk part for part in replace of cows milk in any recipe.

These are just a few tips I have found that work in gluten free vegan baking, more to come when I post my fabulous Cupcakes!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kick-Ass Corn Salad

First of all, I relize that I will not win any food photography awards with this horrible picture taken from my camera phone, but the computer that I download my pictures from my digital camera to is on the fritz, therefore, this is what you get.

I got this recipe from my mother in law who got it from Real Simple Magazine a few years ago, and to tell you the truth, I don't remember the actual name since I now just make it from memory instead of looking at the recipe. Therefore, I have appropriately named it "Kick-Ass Corn Salad."

This salad is perfect this time of year as the sweet corn is just right, therefore it is your PERFECT farmers market salad with the cherry tomatoes, cilantro, corn, red onion, limes and avocado, and it goes perfect as a side for your veggie burgers or even veggie tacos!

(By the way, I suggest using REAL sweet corn FROM THE COB in this salad. Canned corn and frozen corn don't do it justice. You can prepare the corn on the cob by boiling it in water for a few minutes and removing the kernels from the cob with a serrated knife. I use about six cobs in this recipe)

Kick-Ass Corn Salad

2 cups Corn (I use about 6 cobs which is a little more than that)
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
The juice of one lime
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. If it's going to be awhile before serving, add the avocados right before you serve to preserve their color.

The good thing about this recipe is you can taste as you go and add more or less of each ingredient to your liking!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Spicy Peanut Stew with Cool Cucumber Sauce

As I’m sitting here, tummy full from eating this fabulous dish, I realize that I couldn’t even wait for it to digest before I shared this awesome recipe…That’s how good it is! (Incidentally my “Awesome Recipe Gage” is also Josh. Not only was he a member of the “Clean Plate Club”, I think he may have gone as far as to actually lick the entire plate clean before placing it in the dishwasher.) With that being said, if you are going to make anything I have posted on here so far, MAKE THIS! (Unless of course you are allergic to peanuts, then you will probably die)

I found this recipe in the May/June 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine, which by the way is an excellent magazine for those who are looking for tasty, healthy recipes. Each recipe is clearly labeled either “vegan” or “vegetarian.” However, my only gripe is that some of the vegetarian recipes could be made vegan with a few simple substitutions like soy milk for regular milk, or vegan margarine for butter. So, if you are vegan and see a recipe you like, don’t discount it completely, look to see if an ingredient can be substituted without compromising the integrity of the dish!

Anyway, the Spicy Peanut Stew with Cool Cucumber Sauce is an African dish. According to the article, “The basis of all African meals is a soupy stew served with a starch…This West African Version gets its distinctive taste from creamy peanut butter and chili-laced chopped tomatoes.”

Spicy Peanut Stew

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium Onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 celery stalk, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 lb butternut or acorn squash, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
½ lb cauliflower florets (about 4 cups)
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
6 cups cooked brown rice (I used basmati rice)
1 head watercress, stems removed

1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and celery and cook 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Stir in ginger and garlic, and cook 5 minutes more, or until vegetables are soft.
2. Add potato and tomatoes. Increase heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in 2 cups water, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered, 10 minutes. Add squash and cauliflower, and cook 15 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender.
4. Whisk together peanut butter and ½ cup warm water in a small bowl. Add to stew and cook 4 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly. Spoon over rice, and top with watercress.

Cool Cucumber Sauce

½ cup chopped roasted peanuts
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (about ½ cup)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
2 Tbs. lime juice
1Tbs. grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. salt

Toss together all ingredients in small bowl. Serve as a garnish on top of the Spicy Peanut Stew.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pesto Anyone?

So, being gluten and dairy-free one might think that pasta or anything Italian is completely out of my diet.


There are so many new products out there that can take the place of conventional pasta. As a matter of fact, bionaturae makes a great organic gluten free pasta made of rice flour, rice starch, potato starch and soy flour.

My favorite dish is to make this pasta with my homemade Pistachio Pesto. The good thing about pesto is you can make it in large batches, spoon it into ice-cube trays and then just thaw them out when you need them!

Pistachio Pesto
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 cloves pressed garlic
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt (unless the pistachios are salted, then you can use less)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined.

Prepare the pasta, drain and place in a fry pan with some olive oil. Spoon as much pesto in the fry pan with the pasta as desired, sautee on medium to low heat until the pasta is covered in pesto.

You can also use the pesto in other ways. Like, try mixing it with Vegenaise and use it as a spread for your wraps or veggie burgers! YUM!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Beet; Misunderstood.

Beets have been given a bad rap. (Ahem...GSR? You know who I'm referring to...right?) Usually thrown carelessly on a vegetable tray, left to fend for themselves, beets have rarely been given the benefit of the doubt. With their earthy flavor, and deep red color, they make a great addition to any meal. Beets can be grated raw over a salad, or cooked and made into soup, eaten as a side, or sliced cooked on a salad, which incidentally is the way I like them the best.

Beets are rich in folate, a water-soluble “B” vitamin that helps produce and maintain new cells and has been known to help prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Beets are also a good source of manganese, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorus. So, when your mom used to urge you to “eat your beets!” she knew what she was talking about. Always listen to your mother.

Usually, I buy my beets at the market and cook them at home. I clean them and place them in a covered casserole dish with about ¼ cup water (just to cover the bottom of the dish) and microwave them for between 12-15 minutes. Always leave the skins on while cooking beets, it helps keep the nutrients inside as well as the beautiful red color.

My favorite way to serve beets is usually with a nice fresh herb salad…Earthbound Farms prepares a great pre-washed mix. Toss the salad and beets along with some chunks of avocado, red onion, walnuts and the following dressing that will help bring out the flavors of this colorful salad. You can also add fresh pears, or you can sauté them in a little oil and let them caramelize and add them to the salad as a sweet kick!

“Creamy” Mustard Vinaigrette

½ cup Champagne Vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 large clove pressed garlic
¾ teaspoon salt
Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
½ cup good extra virgin olive oil.

In a small bow whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

I store my dressings in mason jars, which makes it easy to shake and mix after they have been sitting in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How It All Began-Updated April 14th 2013

It all began twelve years ago when I started having symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. At first, the pain was sporadic, starting out in my chest and one finger, then the next day moving to a hip, then a shoulder, then a knee...And it stayed this way for a few years.

I was run through the gamut of tests and x-rays and triple-phase-bone scans, put on a mess of drugs and told that it was some type of “inflammatory arthritis”, until one day in December of 2005 when the diagnosis finally came back as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

At that point in my life I could barely walk, get dressed, or even comb my hair without help. Being an independent person I was at my wits end. I was sick of the drugs, the side effects, and the pain, so I decided to try some alternative treatments.

I began researching diet and its effects on R.A. More importantly, a gluten-free, plant-based diet. After eliminating gluten, I noticed a huge improvement. My knees no longer “clicked” and I was able to start exercising again. In just under 6 months I was able to go from not being able to walk down the block, to being able to finish an hour-long advanced step aerobics class with hardly any pain.

I continued on this diet for nearly two years when I modified it by eliminating dairy and processed foods as well as all animal products with the exception of fish, and found that the pain was decreasing even more. I started taking spin classes at the gym, incorporating more strength training and working on my flexibility and core with yoga classes.

Although I've been off all prescription drugs since late 2005, I also incorporate other holistic practices in my self-care routine.  I see an herbalist, and I also see an acupuncturist both of whom have helped me regain balance in my body and have aided my healing process even further.  Not only do I feel better in terms of my arthritis, but I also feel more at peace. I’m not as tired as I used to be, I have more energy and feel like I can do just about anything I could do before the RA. I often tell people I feel better at 37 than I did at 27.

One of my biggest supporters (besides my family and friends) is my family doctor. Every year when I visit him for my yearly exam, he has me speak with his intern.  He asks me to share my story to make them aware that there are people like me out there who thrive on managing their illnesses naturally, without the use of prescription drugs. He has witnessed me at my worse and has watched me as I have taken control of my health, putting what was once debilitating into complete remission and even reversing the swelling and damage that had been done in my joints, something he said according to the text books and everything he clinically knew about RA, "was not supposed to happen."

Through my 8 years of taking my health into my own hands, I have learned that although the choices we make surrounding what we eat are vital to our overall well being, other factors such as stress management, exercise, healthy relationships, a soothing environment, self-care, and living consciously are equally as important to living a healthy, balanced life.  I have recently enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's Health Coach Training program so I can better communicate what I know and have experienced to help others.

The Healing Plate is a place of community and was born out of the desire to share what I have learned about how the food we eat affects our overall well-being and how we can become more balanced by incorporating holistic lifestyle choices.  I want this website to be an inspiration to those who are struggling, or have struggled with illness, or for those who just want to take back their health.  Together, we will learn that incorporating more whole foods does not mean you have to sacrifice taste, or the pleasure of eating great cuisine, it simply means you can start living a more healthy, vibrant life.

I strongly believe in bio-individuality, what is one man's food is another man's poison and I don't expect every one who participates here to become a vegetarian, nor should they be!  What I would like to see however, is a change of consciousness. Buy local, buy organic. Be willing to spend a little more to buy organic and support your local farmers and those who do things the right way. Try to eat more veg-friendly.  Be aware of where your food comes from and make conscious choices as to what you buy and whom you support...You don't have to completely give up what you're doing now to make a difference!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cashew Cream

Use this cashew cream to replace any recipe calling for heavy cream.  Great in sauces or soups!

Cashew Cream:

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
1Tbsp nutritional yeast
1tsp sea salt
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1cup raw cashews

Add the cashews and water to a blender.  Let soak for 20-30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.