Monday, September 29, 2014

Vegetarian Pastitsio (Greek Style Pasta)

Fall is officially here, which means the return of comfort food. Although it's still hot here in Los Angeles, I'm ready to crank up the oven and get in the spirit of the season. Pastitsio is a Greek baked pasta dish that combines ground beef with layers of noodles in a b├ęchamel sauce. This recipe is a vegetarian spin off from traditional Pastitsio and it was one of my favorite meals growing up. For this recipe I used a textured vegetable protein in place of the ground beef. Another healthy vegetarian meat substitute is mushrooms. Simply pulse mushrooms in the food processor to give them a ground beef like consistency.

Vegetarian Pastitsio (Greek Style Pasta)
4 servings

6 cups cooked macaroni
1 lb textured vegetable protein (or use mushrooms & pulse in food processor)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Cook macaroni al dente, drain and toss with a touch of olive oil to keep it from sticking. Set aside.

Over medium heat, brown the textured vegetable protein and onion in a skillet with some olive oil. Turn off heat and stir in tomato paste, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add the parmesan cheese, fresh ground nutmeg and stir to blend. Set aside.

In medium saucepan, combine mayonnaise and flour and stir until well blended. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium/low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Do not boil. When sauce has thickened remove from heat and gradually stir in the egg and cheese mixture. Combine the cream sauce with the macaroni and stir until noodles are evenly coated with cheese sauce.

Spray a 2 quart baking dish with olive oil spray and spoon 1/2 of the macaroni mixture into the bottom. Cover with the tomato/cinnamon mixture and then top with the remaining macaroni mixture. 

Bake for 45 minutes or until set.

Kali Orexi!

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Benefits of Drinking "Green Water" - Chlorophyll

Drinking "green water" was normal for me as a child, everyone in my family drank it. Green water (aka chlorophyll) was easy to swallow and had a slight minty flavor. Even as a teenager, I knew that it had to be good for me, so I kept chlorophyll in my diet.

The popularity for green drinks has risen in recent years, which means the intake of chlorophyll has also gone up through our increased consumption of greens. However, not many people know about liquid chlorophyll, which is a staple in my house.

Chlorophyll is the common ingredient found in all green foods on land and in water. It's essential to all life and helps plants purify the air and raise oxygen levels. Chlorophyll has been referred to as the "blood" of plants, which is ironic since it has been shown to help increase the quality and quantity of red blood cells in humans.

The molecular structure of chlorophyll is nearly identical to hemoglobin, which makes up about 75% of our blood. The only differences between the two is that chlorophyll has magnesium and hemoglobin has iron (both metallic atoms). When chlorophyll is ingested it can help do the job of hemoglobin to rebuild and replenish red blood cells and help boost our energy.

Besides being an awesome blood builder, chlorophyll has additional health benefits such as detoxification, internal deodorizer and some say it can help in weight loss. I have only used the liquid chlorophyll and can only speak from my personal experience. Each person should do their own research before using any new health product. If you have any additional information to share, I would love to hear from you.

To our health!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Vegetarian BBQ - Get Your Healthy Grill On

Yes, that's right, I said vegetarian BBQ. Summertime brings the opportunity for cooking outside and eating healthier, lighter meals. So fire up the "barbie" and get your vegetable on! Adding the vibrant flavors of lemon, fresh herbs and garlic, makes these vegetables shine on the grill. Healthy AND decadent. This meal leaves you feeling satisfied in a good, not over-stuffed, way.

My favorite veggies to fire up are grilled artichoke, asparagus, sweet potatoes, sweet onions and portobello mushrooms. Don't skip making my awesome dipping sauce to accompany the artichoke and sweet potatoes. Even meat lovers will savour this meal and enjoy it as a refreshing change.

Grilled Artichoke:

Trim artichoke by cutting off the top inch and the sharp tips of each leaf. Rinse well. Steam artichoke whole in boiling water until stem is just fork tender, but make sure to not let it get too tender. Remove from water and let artichoke cool in a strainer. Once cooled cut in half, length wise and place cut side up in a dish. Generously drizzle cut sides with olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, the juice of one lemon and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. When the grill is ready, place the artichoke halfs cut side down and grill until they have a nice char. Flip and drizzle with any remaining juice from your dish. Serve with dipping sauce.

Grilled Asparagus:

Snap the ends off the asparagus and then trim ends with a knife so they are cut straight. Place asparagus spears on baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Toss spears with your hands to coat evenly with the olive oil. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. When ready to grill, transfer asparagus into a BBQ grill basket. Keep an eye on the asparagus and flip spears in the basket as they get a little charred.

Skewered Grilled Sweet Potato:

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2" thick rounds. Use metal skewers, bamboo skewers will not work for sweet potatoes. Using a slight twisting motion, insert the metal skewer into each round and carefully thread onto skewers. Place skewers flat onto a baking sheet and brush top side with olive oil, then season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Flip skewers over and brush the other side with olive oil and again season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Grill until you get some nice grill marks on each side. Serve with dipping sauce.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom:

Snap out stem from mushrooms and place stem side up on a plate. Generously drizzle with olive oil, making sure both sides get coated. Keeping mushrooms stem side up in dish, sprinkle with crushed red pepper, fresh garlic, the juice of one lemon, and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Let the mushrooms marinate while you heat up the grill. When ready to grill, place mushrooms stem side up and flip once they have have nice grill marks.

Awesome Dipping Sauce:

Blend 1/3 cup mayonnaise, the juice of one lemon, 2 cloves minced garlic and some finely chopped fresh parsley and fresh thyme, in a small bowl. Chill and serve as a dipping sauce with artichokes and sweet potatoes. This makes enough dipping sauce for 2-3 people.

This summer break out of your routine and try something all veggie meal. It will make you feel amazing. 

Take a trip to your local farmers market, buy some fun veggies and fire up that grill. The options are endless. 

To our health!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Anti-Aging Blackberry and Maqui Super Smoothie

Enjoy a beautiful start to your day with this vibrant, nourishing super food smoothie made with maqui powder. The maqui berry originates from the nutrient rich region of Patagonia, Chile. This incredible berry has the highest antioxidant content of any discovered food on earth. Higher than blueberries and twice as much as acai berries.

Maqui is said to help slow the aging process because of it's high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress, and helps support healthy aging and immune functions.

These dynamo berries are also high in vitamins A, C and E, along with several important minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium. Plant based iron is more easily absorbed if it's accompanied by vitamin C, which is why I added the juice of one lemon. Use any citrus or vitamin C source you prefer.

Here is a link to my favorite Nativas Natural Maqui Powder. Using a superfood powder is such a creative way to get more health into your life. I hope this product inspires you to create your own super food recipes. If so please share!

Blackberry and Maqui Super Smoothie

Makes one serving

1 cup vanilla almond milk
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups chopped romaine
1 banana (optional)
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
2-3 rounded teaspoons Maqui Powder
Juice of 1 lemon (or less depending on your preference)

Add ingredients to blender as listed, pulse/blend in between each ingredient. Once all ingredients are added, add ice if desired and blend until smooth. Keep maqui powder airtight in the refrigerator after opening. 


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

I Can't Believe It's Vegan "Cheesecake"

Springtime should make you feel light, bright and healthy. In nature, spring brings new growth and beginnings. Human beings should follow this pattern and take this time to get healthy. But let's be realistic, if having dessert makes your heart sing, just accept it and make it as healthy as possible! With the heavy recipes of winter behind us, it's time to lighten things up.

Traditional cheesecake is very rich and extremely fattening. It has no redeeming quality, other than being completely delicious. This makes cheesecake a perfect candidate for a healthy recipe makeover. My "cheesecake" is VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE and taste remarkably close to the real thing. It's a wonderful make-ahead option that keeps in the refrigerator for several days. Simply top with fresh fruit or fruit sauce and serve. With the help of these adorable 4-ounce mason jars you can easily bake, store and serve with little mess. 

Vegan Mini "Cheesecake"

Makes 8 - 4 ounce servings

3/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup shredded organic coconut
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Process almonds and shredded coconut in a food processor until they become a fine meal. Add remaining ingredients until just combined, however do not over-process, you want the mixture to be crumbly. Drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of crust mixture into each 4 ounce mason jar. Using the bottom of a small juice glass or shot glass, slightly press the crumb mixture down into the mason jar so it forms a nice even crust.

2 - 8 ounce containers of Trader Joe's Vegan Cream Cheese (*see note for substitute)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, blend all filling ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Spoon about 2 1 /2 tablespoons of filling into each mason jar and smooth out the top as desired. Place jars onto baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until they are set, but still jiggly in the middle. While the mini "cheesecakes" are baking, it's time to make the blueberry sauce.

Blueberry Sauce:
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons orange juice
1-2 tablespoons organic sugar (optional)
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Combine all blueberry sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, until thick. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to cool slightly.

Spoon slightly cooled blueberry sauce over each mini cheesecake and cover with mason jar lid. Place covered mini mason jars in refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight if possible.


*Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese is the substitute for Trader Joe's Vegan Cream Cheese in this recipe.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

All Natural Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Clean eating means putting fresh, healthy, non-processed foods into our bodies. This philosophy should extend to all members of our family, even the furry ones. The best way to ensure my two dogs are eating healthful, preservative free snacks is to make them at home. Max and Maya go crazy over these all natural, vegetarian, grain free, gluten free, easy to make treats. 

What makes these dog cookies unique is the combination of sweet potato and coconut flour. Sweet potatoes not only taste great, but they are loaded with nutrients and they make a healthy addition to your dogs diet. Coconut flour is high in fiber. It's also a great source of protein, iron and is naturally gluten free. The ingredients in this recipe can also help benefit your pups digestion, skin and coat.

All Natural Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Makes approx. 36 cookies

1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg
1 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil

Peel and cut sweet potato into 1 inch chunks. Place sweet potato pieces into a microwave safe bowl, cover with a paper towel and heat for 4-6 minutes until soft. Mash using a potato masher and let cool.

Once sweet potato is cool add peanut butter, honey and blend with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl lightly beat egg and then stir into potato mixture. Gradually stir in flour until just combined. Add one tablespoon coconut oil and use hands to mix until a smooth dough forms. Separate into 2 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle light coconut flour on work surface and roll out dough, on ball at a time. Sprinkle additional flour on dough and rolling pin as needed to prevent dough from sticking. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheets and bake 20-30 minutes until slightly golden. 

Cool completely on wire racks. These dog treats cool to a semi-firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for up to six months.

"Bone" Appetit!

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Almond Hearts of Joy

Do you remember your favorite childhood candy bar? Mine was the iconic Almond Joy, made from sweet chewy coconut, toasted almonds and milk chocolate. However, that was a long time ago and commercially processed candy no longer interests me (sorry Peter Paul). This sugary classic needed a healthy bloggers to the rescue! This recipe is from TastyYummies, it's all natural, healthy and best of all, decadent. 

To be honest most days I do "feel like a nut", so I added the crunch of roasted almonds to this recipe. Such a happy combination...chocolate, coconut and nuts. I also did a variation without nuts where I added a pinch of Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt to the tops. This gave the chocolate candy a different twist and a lovely sweet, salty flavor.

Just like the famous candy bar, this indulgent treat is rich and satisfying. Unlike the store bought version it uses healthy ingredients like 100% cacao chocolate, organic coconut and maple syrup. There is no refined sugar, it's vegan and gluten free. It melts in your mouth.

For Valentines Day I used heart candy molds, but I have also made these chocolates using a mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. The cupcake liners make the candy easy hold without getting chocolate all over your fingers! 

Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Almond Hearts of Joy

Makes 12-15 hearts or mini cups

Coconut Filling:
2 1/2 cups (8-oz bag) 100% organic shredded coconut - unsweetened
1/2 cup melted organic virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping:
6 ounces organic dark chocolate baking bar - 100% cacao, unsweetened
1 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup organic maple syrup
Roasted almonds (see below) - coarsely chopped
Pinch of Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt (optional)

Roast almonds in a 300 degree oven, for about 15 minutes or until a nice nutty smell wafts from the oven. Watch them carefully because they could burn quickly. Once cooled, give the almonds a course chop.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the coconut filling ingredients and mix until well combined. Scoop 1 tablespoon of coconut filling into the bottom of a candy mold or a mini muffin pan lined with paper liners. Using your fingers press the coconut mixture down into the candy mold, try to make sure its evenly pressed. Place in freezer on a flat surface until frozen, about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes (when the coconut is frozen) it's time to make the chocolate topping. Melt chocolate with 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the microwave at 10 second intervals, stirring in between intervals. When the chocolate is melted, smooth and silky, add the maple syrup and stir until well combined. 

Take the coconut filled candy molds out of the freezer and spoon chocolate mixture over the top. Top with roasted almonds, a pinch of sea salt or any other topping you fancy and place back into the freezer to chill for another 30 minutes. 

You will be delighted by how delicious "healthy" can be. Store chocolates in an airtight container, between layers of parchment paper, in the refrigerator. Keep chilled because these candies will start to get soft at room temperatures above 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hope you enjoy!

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