Do the Can-Can

Just a quick Tuesday tip for today.  When I batch cook beans, I freeze them in 2 cup portions.  On the label I put on the container I write the type of bean, any seasonings, and “Equivalent to 1 can of beans”.  A can is between 14 and 15.25 ounces. I round up to 16 ounces, 2 cups just to make it easy on myself.

Recipes don’t normally call for beans in measurements other than how many cans to use of a certain bean.  This way it’s easy to know that I have the same amount the recipe is calling for, I don’t have to think twice about it.  Also it’s super easy for my husband to know that if he’s make rice and beans, he’ll know at a quick glance that one container is 1 can.

How do you organize your batch bean cooking?

I’M A GREAT STRIPPER

strip your greens cropped

I learned how to strip from an 80 something year old, named Ann Esselstyn.  I’ve seen her technique several times.  It’s always been when she’s on stage in front of a very large crowd and the whole crowd gasps with delight as we watch her do it.  It’s both surprising and fun!

Stripping KALE really is easy.  It only takes seconds to do it!  You remember my earlier posts about prepping food when I get home from grocery shopping?  Stripping kale is one of those prep tasks I do.

Here’s a video of Ann and her daughter Jane demonstrating how to strip kale.  If you’ve never seen or heard them before, fair warning, you’ll get hooked.  They are HILARIOUS!  Watching Jane’s facial features when Ann is talking or doing something gets me every time.

I personally rinse the leaves, shake the excess water off and get to stripping.  I store the stripped leaves in large 2 ½ gallon baggies in the fridge.  Then we just pull several handfuls out throughout the week and cook it and eat it.  It makes it super easy to have it already washed and in pieces.

Before you mention the fact that I’m using plastic baggies to store it, I’ve tried storing it in a produce keeper I got on Amazon.  It didn’t stay fresh.  I tried storing it in the produce bags I use instead of plastic bags from the grocery store.  It didn’t stay fresh in that either.  So as much as I don’t want to use the baggies, they are the only thing I’ve found that keep the greens fresh.  It will actually keep them fresh for two weeks.  I just make sure I wash out and reuse the baggies several times so I’m not just randomly throwing plastic away.

I also prep collard greens, I just don’t strip those, although you could if you wanted to.  I cut them off the stem, then lay them on top of each other and then cut into strips.  I store them the same way as the kale.

In our home, we eat greens every day, usually several times a day.  My husband tries to eat greens 4-6 times a day.  He has them at breakfast, for lunch and for dinner.  If you’re curious why, just google Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and greens.  It’s an eye opener for sure what greens do for our bodies.

I buy minimum of four bunches of kale and two bunches of collards every week so I’ve gotten very good at stripping.  I always look forward to when someone asks me how I prepare it because I get to tell them I’m a very good stripper!

Are you ready to start stripping?  There’s no better time than now!

Groovy Granola Bars

groovy

I don’t know why I think of some 1970’s Hippy Dippy Woodstock persona when I hear “Homemade Granola Bars”.  I picture Birkenstocks, patterned flowing skirts and peace fingers.  The bars are handy to have on hand though, so I overcame my viewpoint and became a granola bar making girl.

Since most store-bought granola bars have added sugars and oils, I had to find one that I could make at home for my husband to have on hand to take with him when he’s out and about.  I came across a recipe several years ago and used that as a starting point for ones he can eat.  The recipe I found had lots of nuts in it and lots of different dried fruits.  We only do nuts rarely and that’s usually as a base for a sauce.  We never just eat them, due to the high fat content so I leave them out of the ones I make.  If you like nuts feel free to add your favorite.

Unfortunately I cannot for the life of me remember where I got that recipe from so I apologize if it was your recipe.

Here’s the one I came up with for homemade granola bars.

  • 2 cups oats, ground partially into flour
  • 2 large bananas
  • 2 -3 tablespoons maple syrup, depending on how sweet you want your bars to be
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • Dried fruit of your choice.
  • I usually put in two different kinds into one recipe. Raisins and apricots or cherries and blueberries.  Just use whatever is your favorite combination, however much you want.
  • I probably use ½ cup of two different types of dried fruit for each batch of bars I make.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • If you haven’t already, grind the oats into a flour. I usually grind 1 to 1 ½ cups of the oats into the flour and leave the rest as whole oats
  • Mash the bananas. You can do this by hand or in a mixer, either works
  • Add maple syrup and vanilla to bananas and mix until incorporated
  • Add ground flaxseed and oats to banana mixture and mix well.
    • If the mixture is to wet at this point, depending on the size of the bananas I use, I just add more of the whole oats.
  • Stir in dried fruit.
  • Pour into baking sheet and spread out to desired thickness. I prefer them a little thinner, my husband likes them a little thicker
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  • I use a pizza wheel cutter to cut them into bars after cooled.
  • Store in fridge for 2 weeks or in freezer for several months.

Now where did I put my peace beads and purple tinted round glasses?

Menu 1/17 – 1/22

I apologize for being MIA for several weeks.  We had a vacation scheduled leaving on January 2nd and returning on January 12th so between that and all the holidays I found my time at a premium and didn’t plan far enough in advance for topics to post for y’all.  Forgive me and know I’m making it a priority to have a list of things to share with you in the future.

On that note, here’s my menu for this week.  It only has 6 days worth because we leave next Thursday for another mini vacation.  I’ll be posting about both vacations soon, especially the one from the beginning of January because it was a food centered vacation!

  • Baked Ziti
    • Recipe found HERE on Nora Cooks
  • Twice-Baked Southwest Potatoes
    • China Study Cookbook, page 158
  • Vegetable Pot Pie
    • Recipe posted on December 14
  • Lentil Mushroom Eatballs with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
    • Recipe for Eatballs posted on December 13
  • Smoky Lentil Sweet Potatoes
  • BBQ Portobellos with Rice and Greens
    • How To Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cookbook

I hope 2020 has started out great for you and your family!

Menu 12/20-12/27

Is everyone else gearing up for the next week?  I’m ready for the festivities to kick off and for us it starts tonight.  We’re taking a friend and my mother-in-law to a Christmas concert at church.  Then it’s a full day on Saturday working on a small home we purchased and are rehabbing it.  Sunday will be Christmas presents and dinner with our niece, nephews and brother-in-law.  And then of course Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

I fear this week will be one of gluttony for sure.  And I’m ok with that, it is Christmas after all!  I’m so ready for Santa! I’m definitely on the Nice list this year, at least I think I am.  I hope my menu helps keep your week a little more calm and organized.

  • Baked Ziti from Nora Cooks
    • I’m using our favorite Marinara
  • Slow Cooker White Bean Soup from Budget Bytes
  • Enchiladas – Recipe was posted November 16
  • Simple Baked Meatballs with Rice and Gravy from The Weary Chef
    • I’m substituting lentils for the ground beef, vegetable broth for the chicken broth and vegan cream of mushroom soup
  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Mediterranean Quinoa from Simply Quinoa
    • I’ll be omitting the olive oil and the olives
  • Christmas Day
    • I’m going to make Vegan French Toast Casserole from Nora Cooks as a surprise for my husband for Christmas morning while we’re opening gifts and enjoying a few quiet minutes together.
  • Sticky Sesame Cauliflower, Rice and Broccoli from Chocolate Covered Katie

Spicy Snack Mix

Some of my favorite Christmas snacks and goodies recipes came from my mom and my cousin.  Of course, they all use butter, sugar and salt.

I really struggled after going WFPB.  I felt like I would never have all those goodies again.  After putting on my girl panties and learning that food does not rule my world and that all my memories, even though seemingly centered around food, really are about the time spend with family and friends, I had a look back at those recipes and learned how to remake them in a way that we could still enjoy them.

This recipe is definitely one of my favorites during the holiday season.  This year, I’m making it and giving it in reused Starbucks bottles with cute little labels.  The original recipe (HERE) calls for butter as the base for the seasoning.  I decided to use aquafaba (I use THIS one found on Amazon).  Instead of cereal, I’m only using pretzels and mixed nuts then adding dried cranberries at the end.

If you think going WFPB means you don’t get to enjoy some of your favorite family traditional recipes, think again.  There’s very few that probably can’t be changed and made Plant Strong!

Spicy Snack Mix

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup aquafaba
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons seasoned salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bags pretzel sticks
  • 3 cans mixed nuts
  • 2 packages dried cranberries

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  • Stir all seasonings into aquafaba.
  • Add remaining ingredients except cranberries to bowl, stir well and pour onto a large, rimmed baking sheet.
  • Bake for 1 hour, 20 minutes. Remove from the oven every 20 minutes and give it a good stir.
  • After baking, add dried cranberries and enjoy

National Maple Syrup Day

maple-syrup

Today is National Maple Syrup Day!

Anytime I bake or use sweetener in a recipe, 95% of the time it is maple syrup.  It is the most popular sweetener for those following the WFPB way of eating (WOE).  I found the following information on the Maple Syrup World website.

Taste – Maple syrup flavor is something rich and ever changing, its perfume depends on many factor such as the type of soil the maple tree grows, the time of year the sap was collected (late in season tend to yield a more pronounced perfume), the temperature during sap season, etc.  Common prominent flavors found in maple syrup are: caramel, vanilla, nutty, floral, chocolate and coffee. There are more than 300 natural flavor compounds present in maple syrup.  It is a complex and utterly delicious sweetener.

Cooking

Honey – To replace honey by maple syrup, simply replace quantity for quantity, a cup of honey for a cup of maple syrup.

Sugar – To replace sugar in your cooking by maple syrup, use ¾ cup of our great maple syrup for every cup of sugar.  To replace sugar in your baking by maple syrup, use ¾ cup of maple syrup for every cup of sugar, but decrease the total amount of liquid in the recipe by about 3 tablespoons for each cup of syrup you use.  To replace sugar by maple sugar, use ¾ of maple sugar for every cup of sugar.  If you like maths, it means that you use only 75% of maple sugar or maple syrup for your sugar quantity!

Maple Syrup Acidity – Maple syrup possess a slight acidity; you might want to neutralize this if you are using maple syrup with batter to allow it to rise.  To reduce maple syrup’s acidity, add ¼ to ½ tablespoon of baking soda.  Please note that this does not apply if you are making buttermilk or sour cream as the ingredients involves do the same.

Baking temperature -We advise you to reduce the oven temperature by about 25° as maple syrup caramelizes at a lower temperature than sugar.

Our most favorite maple syrup is THIS from Trader Joe’s.  We can eat it straight out of the jar.  DH took some and placed it in a nonstick skillet and cooked it down until it had caramelized into a candy.  It was so good!

What’s your favorite way to use maple syrup?

Vegetable Pot Pie

Veggie Pot Pie

Ingredients:

  • ½ package frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, cubed and parboiled
  • 8 oz. Mushrooms – I quartered mine so they were same size as potatoes.
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Half onion, diced small
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • ½ cup almond milk (or any other kind of plant-based milk)
  • ½ tsp poultry seasoning
  • Pastry – I use THIS recipe from the From My Bowl blog
    • We only use the pastry on the top of the pie, we don’t like it on the bottom and top, it’s just too much breading for our taste.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425°
  • Dice potatoes and parboil
  • While the potatoes are cooking, saute onions in veggie stock until translucent and add mushrooms and saute until cooked through.
  • In a large saucepan, heat almond milk. Add flour and whisk until thickened.  Add veggie stock and poultry seasoning until combined and thick like a sauce.
  • Add all veggies to the sauce and mix well
  • Pour into an 8×8 baking pan
  • Cover with sheet of dough or puff pastry sheet (I try to find one that doesn’t have a lot of oil. I don’t think there’s one that doesn’t not have it.  The Phyllo dough sheets don’t seem to have as much oil so we’ve used it.)
  • Bake in oven 35 minutes or until golden brown

Notes:

  • You can add any veggies you’d like
  • I use a lot of mushrooms
  • The original recipe is to make a traditional roux for the base of the sauce. I’ve modified the recipe for us using no butter and plant based.  If you’d like to cook the flour by itself over medium heat to toast it, then add the almond milk, you can try that.
  • You can use other seasonings, but the poultry seasoning really knocks it out of the park in terms of flavor!

Pot Pie is a historical dish.  It is believed to have originated in Greece. The Greeks cooked meats mixed with other ingredients in open pastry shells, and these were called Artocreas. The Romans took this recipe and added a top to the pastry crust, making it a fully enclosed meat pie.  In the United States in the 19th Century, Americans became enamored of a pie that featured robins. The settlers who came to the United States took their pot pie recipes with them when they moved westward. By the present century, chicken pot pies and meat variations have become a widely popular American dish.

We used to love Chicken Pot Pie and the recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook was the best one I ever found.  After going WFPB, I had a flash of brilliance where I took that recipe and omitted the chicken and substituted plant strong ingredients and made a homestyle Veggie Pot Pie.  It was DELICIOUS!  I was so proud of myself.  One meal that we had enjoyed as meat eaters could still be included in our rotation, score one for culinary ingenuity!