Awesome Salad, with Nutritional Information

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One of the first questions I get when I tell someone that I am vegan is “Where do you get your protein/calcium/vitamins/etc?” While I am really careful about eating a balance of food every day, I was particularly curious over the weekend to see how my salad would stack up in the world of nutrition. Having just returned from farmers market, the salad was fairly epic, I wanted to try out my newly acquired vegetables!

Salad Ingredients

1 cup of fresh kale, cut into salad size pieces
1 cup of fresh swiss chard, cut into salad size pieces
.5 cup of sunflower sprouts, chopped into salad size pieces
.5 cup of chopped green bell pepper
.5 cup of mushrooms, chopped
.5 cup of celery, chopped
.25 cup of chickpeas (dried and cooked)
handful of cherry tomatoes

Dressing:

3 cloves of garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
black pepper to taste

I placed the chopped kale and swiss chard in a container with a lid, added dressing, covered, and shook container to evenly coat leaves. I then arranged on a plate with the rest of the ingredients.

The salad was beautiful! And so healthy!


While eating the salad, and marveling in how something could taste that good, I entered the ingredients into the nutrition calculator at spark people. The results were incredible.

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe: 1
Serving Size: 1 serving

Amount Per Serving

Calories 352.8

Total Fat 18.3 g

Saturated Fat 2.4 g

Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5 g

Monounsaturated Fat 10.1 g

Cholesterol 0.0 mg

Sodium 532.4 mg

Potassium 1,725.2 mg

Total Carbohydrate 47.5 g

Dietary Fiber 16.3 g

Sugars 9.8 g

Protein 13.6 g

Vitamin A 579.5 %

Vitamin B-12 0.2 %

Vitamin B-6 35.3 %

Vitamin C 288.2 %

Vitamin D 6.7 %

Vitamin E 25.7 %

Calcium 27.5 %

Copper 35.0 %

Folate 17.5 %

Iron 41.8 %

Magnesium 48.6 %

Manganese 71.7 %

Niacin 16.2 %

Pantothenic Acid 11.3 %

Phosphorus 16.7 %

Riboflavin 26.3 %

Selenium 11.3 %

Thiamin 17.0 %

Zinc 9.0 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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Sweet Wheat Berries for Breakfast!

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It has been eleven lonely days without a post. One of the occupational hazards involved with being a teacher is falling ill. Between teaching in room where 125 students pass through on a daily basis (half of which are bringing some sort of disease with them), and the trees which are perpetually producing pollen, it is extremely difficult to remain immune to some sort of sinus issue during a Florida spring season. While I have cooked (of course vegan!) the past two weeks, nothing has been blog worthy…that and I had very little energy to do much more than required for my job…jobs…there are three of them now!

The good news is…I am feeling much better! The past two mornings I have woken up feeling healthier, and hopefully by the end of the weekend I will be back to perfect!

One of the things that lets me know that I am healthy is an appetite for something new. I had wheat berries in my fridge from a stew I made a while ago, and they were calling out for a new purpose! After quickly searching the internet for ideas, I made the following dish:

Ingredients for Sweet Wheat Berries for Breakfast:

1 cup of wheat berries (warmed)
2 tbs honey
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
sliced strawberries (or any fruit)
handful of golden raisins (or any dried fruit)

Warm the already cooked wheat berries. If you have wheat berries that aren’t cooked, cook them! I used the information from this post Eating Well, Cooked Wheat Berries.

In a separate bowl, combine honey, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Taste and adjust. Add wheat berries and stir until evenly coated. Pour into serving dish, add fruit, and enjoy! I would put some joke in here about wheaties for breakfast, but alas, I cannot think of any! Comment below if you know one!

Simple, tasty, and vegan! A great way to start your breakfast!

Rethinking Sweet Potatoes…Sweet Potato, Kale, Black Bean Quesadillas

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While at the farmers market, I came across some lovely sweet potatoes. Having grown accustomed to eating sweet potatoes as part of a, well, sweet dish, I was fully prepared to find some way to recreate a childhood favorite. Instead, I ended up with the exact opposite, a savory, tangy dish…and I couldn’t be happier!

While looking up recipes for sweet potatoes on Pinterest, I came across the concept of sweet potatoes in a quesadilla with spinach and black beans. While I am in possession of a fine bag of spinach, I needed to conserve my resources for my daily lunch spinach salad. I decided to use google to find the combination with a different kind of leafy green…Kale. The following recipe is a mixture of Milk Free Mom’s Sweet Potato Black Bean Spinach quesadillas and Oh my veggies Kale sweet potato quesadillas.

This recipe should take 15-20 minutes to make. If you are like me, it will take an hour and a half. I wanted to cook my dried beans (that took about 45 minutes), make my own tortilla (recipe here) and my own salsa (see below) this meal took much longer than necessary. Assuming you like to keep things simple, here is what you need for the dish


Quesadilla Ingredients (makes 2)

4 tortillas
half a cup of black beans (more or less depending on taste)
4 leafs of kale
2 sweet potatoes
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat your oven to 450.

Cook the potatoes, I used my potato bag in the microwave for four minutes. While that is cooking, sauté the garlic in the olive oil, and add the kale leaves. Cook the leaves until they are slightly wilted.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, skin them, place them in a bowl, add cumin, garlic powder and red pepper flakes and mash until smooth. Remove kale from heat, and chop into small pieces.

On a baking sheet, lay down two tortillas. Spread the potato mixture over both, add kale pieces to each tortilla. Finally, add black beans (drained if from a can).

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Place the remaining two tortillas on top, and place in the oven. Cook on both sides for about 5 minutes. Cut and serve! I ate mine with a sweet salsa (recipe below)


Sweet Salsa Recipe

Ingredients:

2 plum tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
handful of fresh cilantro
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup black beans

Blend all of the ingredients together, taste and adjust. This salsa is a refreshing change from the traditional spicy salsa!


Together the quesadillas and salsa make a healthy, filling, and vegan meal!

Left over Tomato Sauce? Make Pasta e Fagioli!

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While it hardly seems like winter here in Orlando, it is still soup season! Not too long ago, I made a Fresh Tomato Sauce and had a little bit left over. Not enough to have another bowl of pasta, but enough to make a base for a Pasta e Fagioli soup! I had purchased organic celery and carrots at the farmers market, and was anxious to use them in a dish!

note: I had actually written this entry a week and a half ago, and then fell ill. All blogging ceases when I am not feeling well! Do not wait this long to use tomato sauce, make sure it is all used within a week!

Ingredients

tomato sauce
tomato
mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
1 carrot (I had a really really large carrot)
2 stalks of celery
3 cups of water
2 cups great northern beans
1-2 cups small pasta noodles
2 tbs olive oil
sprinkle of bay leaves
sprinkle of rosemary
sprinkle of parsley

Since I had a modest amount of sauce, I decided to add more to my base. I placed two plum tomatoes, 4 mushrooms, and 3 cloves of garlic in my ninja, and pulsed until completely liquified. I then added it to the already made tomato sauce, and placed it on the stove over medium-high heat. Rinsing out my ninja, I placed the carrot and celery (wash both thoroughly!) back into the blender, and pulsed until chopped. This saves so much time! I added the veggies to the mix, poured three cups of water, the bay leaves, rosemary, and parsley, and simmered.

I had made great northern beans in my rice cooker prior to starting this adventure, so I had fresh beans to add to the mix. I like a lot of beans in my soup, so I used two cups of cooked great northern beans in my soup. (note: usually cannelloni beans are used. This website Cannelloni beans vs Great northern beans vs Navy beans clears up any confusion. Basically, they are interchangeable in soups).

Once the soup had cooked for some time, and my kitchen started to smell marvelous, I added in pasta. I had previously cooked the pasta and frozen it, waiting for an occasion to use tiny soup noodles. Fun Fact: You can freeze single servings (or whatever serving size you want) of cooked pasta, and then either flash boil it (drop it in boiling water until it separates and heats) or place it directly in the soup! The heat of the soup breaks apart the noodles, and does not over cook them! Once the noodles defrost, lower the heat to a simmer, and wait about 10 minutes.

This soup made me deliriously happy! I had tons for left overs, but did need to add more water as the pasta inevitably soaks up a lot of the liquid. This does not water down the taste though!

Pesto and “Cream Cheese” Based Green Pizza

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Pizza seems to be the perfect way to use up leftover veggies in the fridge. Today, my goal was to use up my soon to be expired daiya cheese. I was craving a white pizza, but not in the mood to create tofu ricotta, I researched how to incorporate vegan cream cheese into a decent pizza.

Total ingredients (broken down by step as you read!)

.25 oz active yeast
1 cup of warm water
2 tbs olive oil
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup of fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of walnuts
4 garlic cloves
1-2 tbs water
5 tsp cream cheese
enough cheese to cover the pizza
garlic salt
mushrooms
spinach
tomatoes


pizza dough

I also realized that I had a good amount of active yeast that was sitting dormant in my fridge, so this adventure included making my own pizza dough! One of the main things that prevents me from consistently making my own dough for bread or pizza is the time constraint. I want pizza soon to now, and a two hour dough recipe is beyond the amount of time I wish to spend! Fortunately, there was a quick and easy recipe on All Recipes.com Quick and Easy Pizza It took about 15 minutes to make…that is perfect!

Pizza Dough

.25 oz active yeast (or one packet, or 1 1/2 tsp of active yeast from a jar)
1 cup of warm water
2 tbs olive oil
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp salt (I used seasoned salt)

First mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a bowl, stir and wait for 10 minutes. Then add in olive oil, flour, and salt. Mix (it will get very thick very quickly!) and let sit for 5 minutes, or however long you need until you have everything else ready.

When that time comes…place a lot of flour on the dough, this is important, otherwise it sticks on the rolling pin! Also, spray the pizza pan with PAM, that helps! Spread/roll out the dough until it is an acceptable size (I prefer thicker crusts). Fun fact: Using a rolling pin is significantly better than using a wine bottle. Thanks mom and dad for the christmas present!


Pesto and Cream Cheese

Now for the pesto topping, by now I feel like I am a pesto expert. This one is a variation of the Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Pesto Pasta from a few days ago, minus the sun-dried tomatoes.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of walnuts
4 garlic cloves
1-2 tbs water
5 tsp cream cheese (vegan! I use)

Place all of the ingredients (Except the cream cheese!) in the blender…and blend. I had to add water until the consistency was perfect. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and mix together with the cream cheese, until smooth.


Bringing it all together

Once the pizza is rolled out, pour and spread the pesto sauce on top.

Now for the fun part! I had mentioned that I needed to get rid of my Daiya cheese, so that was going to be one of my main ingredients. I also put my favorite trio of veggies, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach, on the pizza. I also drizzled olive oil on top, added fresh parsley, and some garlic powder.

Bake in the oven at 450 F for about 15 minutes, checking at 10, and continuing until the crust is a lovely shade of golden brown.

This pizza is healthy, vegan, and either serves a lot of people, or makes several lunches!

Soda Muffins

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After the extremely healthy sun-dried tomato basil pesto pasta from the last post, we decided we needed
something sweet, cake-like, but still remain within my vegan limits. The solution: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Muffins, replacing the eggs, oil, and water, with soda!

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While Christine doubted that the combination would work, several internet searches pointed to the idea as perfect for those counting calories, attempting weight loss via weight watchers, and perfect for those who do not eat animal products! The general rule is lighter sodas (lemon-lime mixes, orange soda) for light cakes and darker soda (cola, root beer, etc) for darker or chocolate mixes. Using math, we were able to deduce that there should be 4 oz of soda per egg required by the box recipe. While this is probably the least healthy post on this blog, the final product was fairly awesome!

Ingredients:

1 box Cinnamon Toast Crunch Muffin Mix (any muffin mix would work!)
8 oz of soda

Mix the ingredients, pour into muffin holders, bake according to instructions on the box. They were a little crumbly, but tasted good!

Sun-dried Tomato Basil Pesto Pasta

This photo does not do the dish justice!

This photo does not do the dish justice!

In the spirit of placing things in my blender, placing the mixture directly on a plate, and marveling on how food could possibly taste that good, I now present you with Sun-dried Tomato Basil Pesto Pasta. Christine had been scouring the internet for vegan recipes that looked good to her (her pinterest board is quickly filling up with vegan meals!) and wanted to try this dish. It looked intriguing, and we scuttled down to Publix to acquire the necessary ingredients. Similar to previous post on fresh tomato sauce, this meal is all fresh, except for the olive oil, and the oil the tomatoes are packed in!

Ingredients:

1 8oz jar of oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 package of sun-dried tomatoes (we ended up accidentally getting the smoked kind, it gave the dish an interesting kick!)
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of packed fresh basil
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs water
1/4 cup of walnuts
1 box whole wheat pasta (I am fond of the 100% wheat pasta)
Red pepper flakes (optional)

First, boil water and start to cook the pasta. This dish does not take long to make, and the pasta should be about ready when you are done!

Then, using your trusty blender, dice the garlic cloves and basil until both are thoroughly shredded. Add the tomatoes in the jar, additional oil, and water. Blend until smooth (we weren’t able to get the concoction perfectly smooth, but it was close!) Add in the walnuts, and continue to blend, until an acceptable consistency.

When the pasta is done, cover with the pesto sauce, add the packaged sun-dried tomatoes, extra basil leaves, and red pepper flakes, if desired.

This meal was fantastic! Healthy, vegan, and enough to make Christine search for more on pinterest!

All fresh but the olive oil homemade tomato sauce

So I have been on this healthy, cooking fresh, kick. I have also been craving my familiar staple of pasta and tomato sauce. The following recipe comes out of my desire to reunite with my Italian roots, while using fresh ingredients. I bought everything, except the olive oil, at the farmers market. Support local business!

For this you will need:

5 tomatoes (cut into quarters with the stem area removed)
4 cloves of garlic
6 mushrooms
handful of fresh parsley
handful of fresh basil
handful of fresh oregano
2 tbs of olive oil

First mince two cloves of garlic and sautee them in the olive oil. Then, in a trusted blender, place the five tomatoes, two remaining cloves of garlic, six mushrooms, parsley, basil, and oregano, into the blender. Pulse until the mixture is desirable. I prefer smoother sauces, so I blended for quite some time! Once the consistency is perfect, transfer to the pot with the olive oil and garlic, and stir. Heat throughly.

This is a great sauce for over plain pasta (I have been eating the 100% wheat pasta), in pasta dishes (ziti, lasagna). I may even use leftover sauce for pasta fazoli! (post pending!)

Simple, vegan, healthy.