Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vegan Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle

This comfort-y side dish (or main dish, more on that below) is vibrant with the flavors of smoky chipotle, offset almost perfectly by sweet potatoes...but without any dairy.  I use cashew cream mixed with a touch of extra virgin olive oil, to create a rich sauce that will have you hooked in no time. 

If you're more of a dairy-fan, then by all means, use regular cream and knock yourself out. Not sure about cashew cream?  It's easy to make, just click here for the easy-peasy Cashew Cream recipe.

Vegan Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup cashew cream (*if you haven't soaked your cashews overnight, place them in boiling water for about 10 minutes and then puree)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 whole chipotles, from canned chipotles with adobo sauce
salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thinly slice the sweet potatoes, either with a mandolin or vegetable peeler. 

In a blender, puree the cashew cream, olive oil and 1 chipotle.  Taste and add more chipotle, if desired.  Salt and pepper the sauce to taste.

In a oven safe dish (I used a dutch oven, but you could use a 9x9 glass baking dish or something about the same size), drizzle the olive oil on the bottom of the pan.

Layer sweet potatoes until there is a double layer.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of the chipotle sauce.  Spread on top, then layer more sweet potatoes and repeat the process until you run out of ingredients, ending with some chipotle sauce on top.

Bake, covered for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 30 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

You can also serve this over black beans, add some salsa verde and red onion (avocado and lime would be divine too!).  Voila, an easy powerfully healthy dinner or lunch!

Life is sweet,

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mom's Elixir (Homemade Cold and Flu Relief)

There's a lot of gunk going around this time of year. 

I am not a doctor, really the furthest thing from it, except for playing Dr. Mom when it comes to scrapes and bruises, coughs and colds.  And in my role as Dr. Mom, I've learned a few things:

*a nice warm cup of (decaf, please, for your sake and your kids!) herbal tea can work wonders for a cold or cough

*food has many healing and medicinal properties

*loads of love and hugs can go a long to way making anyone feel better

So I've been toying around with a nice warm homemade tea or elixir to help soothe my family's symptoms.  I started with the classic hot water with lemon and honey, and then added a few spices and such to power up my elixir.

Mom's Elixir (Homemade Cold and Flu Relief)

2 cups boiling water
juice of 1/2 lemon (vitamin C, mild antibiotic properties)
juice of 1/4 orange (vitamin C)
a heaping tablespoon honey (anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and a natural cough suppressant)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (anti-microbial)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (anti-inflammatory, clears sinuses, helps soothe tummies)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and so much more)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (OPTIONAL--but can help clear congestion)

Boil water.  Add the remaining ingredients:

Stir well.  Sip and enjoy.  You may want or need to stir again to mix up the spices.

Makes 2 cups of elixir.

Be well!

Life is sweet,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Healthy Meal Plan: Halfway

After celebrating R's 9th birthday this week, it hit me:  he's halfway to 18, halfway to adulthood, halfway to independence...

Whoa.  I am halfway through my "kid time" parenting of my first child.

True, you never, ever stop "parenting," nor would I want to do so.  I love parenting.  But the kiddo, childhood, growing-up years are halfway behind me. 

So as I ponder reaching the mid-way point of parenting my first child, how about some healthy meals to keep us all growing up healthy?

This week's Healthy Meal Plan:

Meatless Monday:  Spring Risotto, Kale Chips, Blood Oranges

Chicken and Vegetable Tetrazzini, Steamed Broccoli, Kiwi Slices

Thai Vegetarian Wrap, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pineapple

Enchilada Rotini, Diced Mango

Chicken Pot Pie, Slow Cooker (**Can also be made chicken-less), Tossed Spinach Salad, Applesauce

Olive Bar Fish, Grits, Green Beans, Pear Slices

Have a great weekend!

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Darn Good Skillet Dinner (Pasta with Turkey Kielbasa and Green Vegetables)

I've made this dish two times in the last 3 weeks and each time the boys have enthusiastically declared, "this is a 'make again!'"  I love it, SPH loves it, and the boys love it.  It's a very rare quadruple home run.  I hope it is the same for your family.

I want you to take this recipe and customize it to your family's tastes and give it a whirl.  We happen to love kielbasa since my Uncle Frank makes it each Easter, but you can use whatever protein you enjoy.

Peas and spinach fly in my family, but perhaps your family has a different combo they love. 

I've been making it with Trader Joe's Brown Rice Penne Pasta to make it gluten-free, but by all means, try it with regular pasta too. 

Lastly, I use a traditional dairy sauce to tie it all together, but you could use cashew cream instead to make it dairy-free too!

Darn Good Skillet Dinner 
(Pasta with Turkey Kielbasa and Green Vegetables)

3/4 pound penne pasta
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound turkey kielbasa (we love Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons Earth Balance or butter
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons grated cheese (we use Parmesan or Asiago)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 cup frozen chopped spinach

Cook the pasta according to package instructions, being careful not to overcook it.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Saute the kielbasa until browned (let it sit, don't stir constantly for a good browning), about 4-5 minutes:

 Remove from the skillet and set aside.  Melt the butter or Earth Balance and add the corn starch.  Stir well constantly to combine.  Add the milk and continue to stir until it simmers and thickens.  Reduce heat to low.  Add the pepper and salt and cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, drain the pasta and quickly add the frozen peas and spinach (or whatever veg you are using).  The heat from the pasta will thaw the vegetables as you stir them together in the colander.

 Add the pasta, vegetables and kielbasa back to the skillet.

Toss well, and you're ready to serve!

Serves 4-6.

This is a great weeknight dinner, takes about 15 minutes and dinner is done!

Life is sweet,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Healthy Meal Plan: Birthday Week

We're gearing up for not one, but two birthdays in the next week or so.  The boys are growing up fast, despite my insistence that they slow down a bit.  We have some of their favorites on the menu this week, I'll let you try and guess what are the boys' picks.

Next week's Healthy Meal Plan:

Meatless Monday:  Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, Tossed Salad, Pomegranate Seeds

Chili Lime Salmon, Garlicky Collards, Sweet Potato Crisps

 Cilantro-Lime Empanadas, Mango Salsa, Tortilla Chips, Guacamole

Pizza Margherita, Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries and Almond Slivers, Pear Slices

Citrus-Glazed Chicken, Grits, Green Beans, Pineapple

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, Clementines

Life is sweet!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Quick Vegetarian Black Bean Posole

Soups are my go-to comfort food meal in the winter.  But while most soups stir up images of cold weather and winter, this warm-you-right-up soup boasts flavors of Mexico.

Posole is a traditional Mexican soup that is typically made with pork and hominy (basically, corn).  I’ve replaced the pork with black beans to keep the soup vegetarian, but by all means, feel free to use pork instead.

This quick soup will warm you up while dreaming of the tropics.

Quick Vegetarian Black Bean Posole (or can be done in the slow cooker)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia), chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, unpeeled and diced
5 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 – 15 oz can vegetable stock
1 – 15 oz can white hominy, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups black beans)
1 - 4oz can diced green chiles
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large avocado (if desired)

In a medium stock pot, heat the oil to medium high.  Add the onion and cook 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and sweet potato, cook 2-3 minutes. 

Add the chili powder, paprika and oregano.  Stir.  Immediately add the crushed tomatoes and stock.   
Using the spoon with which you are cooking, scrape the bottom of the pot, to add the good browned 
flavor bits.

Add the hominy, black beans and green chiles and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender.

(**Alternatively, you can place all ingredients except the cilantro and avocado in a slow cooker and cook for 4-5 hours on LOW or 7-8 hours on HIGH**.)

Immediately before serving, add the cilantro and avocado, if desired.
Serves 4-6.

Life is sweet,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Healthy Meal Plan: Back in the Saddle!

With a full week of school and work almost behind us, the holidays seem a bit distant.  In the Sweet Pea home, we're gearing up for both R and G's birthdays, so we're in full-blown birthday mode.  I sound like a broken record, I know, but how do they grow up so fast?!

Here's next week's Healthy Meal Plan (yes, I took some time off from sharing menu planning during the holidays, but I'm back baby!), with some of my favorite Asian recipes:

Meatless Monday:  Slow Cooker Lentil Soup, Bread, Clementines

Chicken Sausage, Peppadew and Feta Pasta, Sliced Pineapple

Asian Salmon Burgers, Marinated Green Bean and Red Onion Salad , Sliced Pear

Slow Cooker Moo Shu Pork ,Pickled Cucumbers and Mango

Chana Masala (Spiced Indian Chickpeas)
, Jasmine Rice, Naan and Peaches

Sweet Potato, Spinach and White Bean Enchiladas, Refried Beans, Apple Slices

Have a wonderful weekend!

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Easy Baked Coconut Shrimp

What's better than an easy, healthy shrimp recipe?

How about an easy, healthy coconut shrimp recipe?

When the winter weather dial is squarely fixed on "doldrums," or you're just feeling like you need a little escape, this recipe could be your quick ticket to transcend the weather or your mood.  With just four ingredients and a bit of salt and pepper, you'll be in your happy place before too long.

Baked Coconut Shrimp

1 pound uncooked large shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and de-veined*
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut**
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon)
cooking spray or a bit of oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Add the cornstarch to a bowl, and coat each shrimp.

Next, whisk the egg in bowl and dip each shrimp, one at a time in the egg (using a fork will keep your fingers from getting coated, too!).

Then mix the coconut with the salt and pepper in a third bowl and dip each shrimp in the coconut mixture.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray or brush with oil and place each shrimp on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 8 minutes.

Turn your oven to BROIL and broil the shrimp for about 1 minute, or until they are slightly browned on top.

 Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

*If you live in Central Ohio, Market District has amazingly fresh East Coast, wild shrimp for a great price. 
**Speaking of Market District, their new expanded bulk section is also amazing, and has unsweetened coconut (the pre-bagged coconut almost always is sweetened and has preservatives)

Life is sweet,

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hello Sunshine! (Mango, Ginger, Clementine and...Broccoli) Smoothie

Today's a transition day--back to school for R and G, back to a full work week for the first time in three weeks for SPH and back to my mommy routine for me!

With a busy day before us, how did I power up this morning?  With my new favorite smoothie, named after today's abundant sunshine, please meet my:

Hello Sunshine! Smoothie...

Here's the cool part--besides just sweet clementines and mango, there is also a secret power-food ingredient in this glass too.  Wanna guess?

Yes, broccoli!  But if you try to make a smoothie out of the florets, you'll end up with a green, sort of gritty (unless you have a super blender) not-so-smooth, smoothie.

Instead of using the florets, use the part of the broccoli you probably aren't accustomed to eating, the inner stalk.

Loaded with the same nutrients as the rest of the broccoli, you can use the inner, soft part of the stalk to power-up your smoothie without tasting like, well, as broccoli smoothie.

Simply cut off the florets and then slice off the tough sides of the stalk like so:

Then get ready to dice up the stalk:

 Keep dicing until you have about 1/2 cup:

 Ok, now you're ready to put it all together:

Hello Sunshine! Smoothie

1 cup diced mango (buy it frozen to make it easy)
1/2 - 3/4 cup raw diced broccoli stalk
3 large or 6 small clementines, peeled and sliced
1 inch piece of ginger, diced
enough milk (almond, soy, dairy, coconut or rice) to measure about 4 cups (with the fruit too)

Combine all the ingredients (if you aren't a ginger fan, you can omit it, but it is super tasty if you'll give it a try!). 

 Blend well. Add more milk, if necessary, to reach the desired consistency.

 Makes enough for 2 - 16oz smoothies, one for today, one for tomorrow or later in the week!

Use an extra jar store it for the next day!

Life is sweet,

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Good Day Columbus Video

This morning I was invited to return to Good Day Columbus and share a favorite quick and easy family-friendly healthy recipe.  I had fun making my Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas, and shared how kid-friendly vegetarian (and gluten-free!) cooking can be.

I had so much fun putting the co-hosts Lisa Colbert and Shawn Ireland to work cooking this recipe.  Click here for the video! 

Thanks for the fun morning, Good Day Columbus!

Life is sweet,