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Savory Lentil Soup; Soup that started out a salad

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Savory Lentil Soup

Some say that lentils are to India as meatloaf is to America, it’s the ultimate comfort food. I’ve been Vegan since 1992, I haven’t eaten meatloaf since the late 80’s, however, I’ve made numerous dishes that included lentils.

For the past few days I’ve been craving lentils. I prepare Lentils in creamy Dhal. They make an appearance in sauces, and occasionally you’ll see them popping up in salads too. Regardless of how I prepare them, lentils usually have the starring role in dishes I prepare, and for good reason.

Despite their small size, lentils are a nutritional powerhouse. Serving up a variety of healthy and tasty, nutritional options that will keep you (and your loved ones) clamoring for more. Over 80 nutrients can be found in this tiny bean. Important minerals like iron, manganese, copper, phosphorus, folate, and molybdenum. It also boasts two types of B vitamins. Let’s not forget about fiber, just like most legumes you’ll find lentils far ahead of the pack serving up a healthy dose of soluble and insoluble fiber.

Yesterday, after my daughter’s piano practice was over, we stopped by the store and I purchased some dry lentils. I prefer purchasing my beans dry, unlike other dried beans it lentils don’t take as long to cook. So if you don’t have a pressure cooker, your beans won’t take hours to prepare.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon Pig in the Kitchen’s truly delightful virtual community. Although many posts caught my eye, I couldn’t help but to chuckle at her latest post. In that post, she wrote about her competitive nature (I can completely relate) and at the end of her post she shared a recipe for a truly delightful lentil salad. Although I had every intention of making some type of salad, my lentils had a mind of their own and I found myself making a savory lentil soup. Ahh, no worries, I haven’t made lentil soup in a long time.

Savory Lentil Soup

  • 2 cups of dried lentils
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups of corn
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice (I used freshly squeezed lemon juice)
  • 1 tbsp curry
  • 1 bay leaf
  • organic sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot, add lentils, water, garlic, onions, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about an hour.
  2. Add the corn, tomatoes, lemon juice, and curry.
  3. let simmer for two – three minutes
  4. Add salt and pepper, season to taste
  5. Serve and enjoy

I tend to add my vegetables towards the end of the cooking time because I like the fresh taste of vegetables. They’re so flavorful. The good news is, there are so many different vegetables you can add to this dish. I had every intention of adding carrots, but checking my vegetable crisper I realized I didn’t have any. Although I love my dark leafy greens, I chose not to add them to this soup. It didn’t stop me from munching on them throughout the day.

Oh, I did add about six leaves of fresh lemon balm to this dish. We have it growing in our yard; it’s right next to the bee balm. I wanted to see how it turned out. I liked it, but think I should have added more leaves. There’s always next time, right? Cumin was purposely left out of the dish, simply because I wanted to see how I liked the soup with curry, it still tasted great and my daughter wanted more.

I had no intentions of making soup on an extremely hot day, but I really enjoyed the results, and we have leftovers!

By the way with the exception of the seasonings, lemon and garlic, everything else came from our garden. Now how’s that for fresh?

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Moondancer, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, whole food

Strawberry, blueberry, and Banana soy milk smoothie

soy-milk-smootie.07.06.10.jpgFresh fruit is always welcome in our household (as I type this I’m munching on a red delicious apple) however at times we don’t always want to eat our food.

Sometimes it’s more delightful to sip a sinfully delicious (and healthy drink.) Especially when I’m curled up with a great book, working on projects for my clients, quick boost after an intense workout, checking emails, etc. Well you get the idea… In those situations, I reach for my Vita-mix blender and create a delicious smoothie.

Occasionally family and friends will ask me for soy based smoothies. With my cooking website, I used to get emails too. To be honest, soy milk isn’t something I regularly use in our household. In fact, I haven’t used it in years. Yeah, yeah I know that blows some peoples stereotype that vegetarians and vegans are all tofu eating, soy milk drinkers… but I’m not one of them. That being said, in my early veggie days I did try soy milk, just to get an idea what it was like. Later on I did make a few soy milk smoothies for my daughter and she really liked them too.

Why don’t I use soy milk? I much prefer eating whole foods, and soy milk is a processed food. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad food but as I’ve already stated, I prefer whole foods. For those who don’t know, whole foods are foods that haven’t been processed or unrefined foods. Think of it as sticking to as close to the natural food source as possible. I know some people might view the way I eat as extreme. That always makes me chuckle and shake my head a bit, since the way many people eat, pre-packaged meals, condiments, artificially made sweets and savory snacks are far removed from what our bodies are designed to eat. In some cases, these nutrition-less foods are pumped with vitamins to replace what wasn’t there to begin with. Are you going to tell me that way of eating, isn’t extreme? Come one now, let’s get real! What’s extreme? Constantly feeding our bodies with ‘fake foods’ lacking any nutritional value. What we eat plays a major role on our health. Quit burying your head in the sand folks, make a change.

It’s sad to see that so many, are so far removed from the way we were designed to eat. I’ve met numerous people that thought they were doing great health-wise, until they made changes to their eating habits. When you clean up your eating style, you’ll most likely see a positive change. More about that in a later post…

All right back on topic, I don’t add additional sweetness to my smoothies or juices since I feel that we’re getting enough natural sweetness from the fruits that I do add to our smoothies. At times, I think people go overboard when they add ‘extra sweetness’ to their blends.

Anyway, I decided to include a simple soy milk smoothie below. I prefer freezing some, or in some cases, all of my fruit for a thicker consistency. As with other homemade drinks you can add to or take away the fruits you don’t like.

Vegan: Strawberry, blueberry, and banana soy milk smoothie

  • 2 cups of plain soy milk
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 frozen bananas; peeled, cut, and frozen
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

Directions

  1. In a blender add all ingredients.
  2. Cover and blend until smooth.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

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Moondancer, Smoothies, Vegan, Vegetarian, Soy Milk Smoothie

Vacation Recap; Chatting about nutrition and Lou Gehrigs disease

As I mentiond in my prior post my July 4th vacation didn’t go as I planned, since I didn’t create any beaded jewelry. *sighs*

I did get to spend time with family, we visted a lot of folks. One of the last stops we made was to visit one of my mother’s first cousins. She was recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Some of you might know the other name Lou Gehrnigs disease. My cousin was always thin but now, she’s skin and bones. She’s about 5’7″, and only weighs 85 pounds! When she left the hospital she weighed less, so it’s nice to see she’s improving. However, since I haven’t seen her since Thanksgiving 2009, it still was a shock.

You want to know something? We talked about nutrition. Although it’s something I read about several times weekly, It’s not something I always talk about. I try to get a feel for the environment, before I chat about it. Let’s face it, at times some people can get very defensive about their eating lifestyles and although I don’t have a problem making people think about their eating choices, I’m not the type to be constantly shoving nutrition religion down anyones throat. I led by example.

Ok back to the cousin and nutrition… My father drew me into their nutrition conversation, since he knows I’m a health/nutrition fanatic. I’m proud to admit over the past few years he became really interested in his health, sought me out, pestered me with questions, he got fired up and did additional research, but that’s another story. Now this cousin and I’ve always chatted briefly before but never at this level. She wanted to know where she could get protein (besides meat and dairy.) I told her a few ways; greens, lentils, soybeans, quinoa, peas, almonds, broccoli, spinach, sunflower seeds, Those are only a few non meat sources. We already know that too much protein isn’t good either. I’ll name two; thing, too much protein can lead to kidney problems, and it can be a cancer risk. When I chat with people I try not to preach. I did mention briefly the politics behind food, and the importance of educating yourself about what you put into your body too.

Regarding the fresh vegetables, she has a garden (yep has soybeans too) so it would be easy for her to get protein from vegetables. Granted she’s not actively working her garden anymore, but she has her husband at the house, and a few daughters that live at home. They’re being supportive which is fabulous! Since she’s trying to gain weight I suggested some calorie rich smoothies also. I tend to make those for myself when I’m hitting the gym hard. I’ll be sure to post some of those recipes since I’ve been doing that over the past few months.

Regarding my cousin, I’ll be working up a meal plan (complete with recipes) for her over the next week, and sending it on to her. Although I’m not expecting her to follow it 100%, she did ask my advice on it so I thought it would be ‘ok’ to follow up with her, not to mentione she asked me too. Besides, the drop in weight, her speech has slowed down considerably.

Although I had seen the movie about Lou Gehrig and had an general unerstanding of the disease it wasn’t until I did a few hours research after arriving home today that I got a better understanding of it. Quoting from one Dherbs.com

In layman’s terms, Lou Gehrig’s disease is basically a situation or condition (disease) whereby the nerves become degenerative due to lack of nutrition and the muscles of the extremities atrophy or waste away. The disease was named after famed New York Yankees slugger, Lou Gehrig, who died of the insidious disease in 1941. Most who develop lou gehrig’s disease are between the ages of 40 and 70 years old.

The article goes on to say that highly acidic diets are formed by consuming foods high in animal products, meat and dairy. Yep definitely describes my parent’s family, especially my mothers. From the neck to the feet (chicken) they ate it. They did what they could to get by. This was back in the 1950’s. My moms parents, doing the best they could. They ate how their parents ate. A cycle, that can be broken. As we get older, we can make a change if we choose, right? As they became adults, the majority of their diets consisted of animal foods. Think of ‘Black soul food’, that’s what my mothers’ family eats. I’m definitely the odd sheep. I stand out.

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whole food

Raw Vegan: Savory Green Smoothie

green-smoothie.06.29.10.jpgI really love vegetables! At times, making that simple statement gets me odd looks. Since I know there are people who don’t share my veggie love. I can think of friends and family members that would turn up their noses at seeing an abundance of vegetables on their plate.

More on ways you can incorporate vegetables into the vegetable haters meal, after I post the savory green smoothie recipe.

About an hour ago, I made a delcious savory vegetable green smoothie. I’m a savory girl, always have been and so the savory green smoothie was delicious. You do realize that green smoothies don’t have to be sweet, to taste good right?

Raw Vegan: Savory Green Smoothie

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 3 large collard leaves
  • 5 Romaine lettuce leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cups of water (add more if desired.)
  • *Pinch of Sea salt (optional)

That’s it, serve and enjoy!

Soon after making this, I poured myself a large stainless steel cup of the savory green smoothie. I enjoyed drinking this savory, delicious, and nutritious treat.

Introducing vegetables into a ‘vegetable haters’ diet can be challenging. I’ve met people that wanted to include more vegetables in their diet but were unsure of how to do so. Developing a taste for something you normally don’t eat can take some time to get used to. For example, in my early twenties I didn’t like eating raw collards or kale. Now, I happily munch on them daily. In time, I developed a taste for them. For those of you who are a little skeptical about grazing on a big bowl of raw dark greens I’ve included a few ways you can add more vegetables into your daily routine.

Creative ways to add vegetables into a daily routine

  1. Naturally sweet (raw) smoothies/juices can be a delicious way to sneak vegetables a meal
  2. Add vegetable juices into your sauces/gravies
  3. Make frozen fruit pops with your fruit/vegetable smoothies
  4. Mix vegetable pasta in with the regular pasta
  5. Incorporate finely chopped vegetables into stuffed dishes; peppers, lasagna, potato boats

The key is to introduce things slowly, although some people can do a complete change overnight, others take time to transition to a healthier way of eating. Of course, you don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to eat healthy, but you do have to make healthy decisions about the types of foods you, or your family does eat. I’ve met some vegans and vegetarians that weren’t healthy because of the bad choices they made. Their selections were highly processed vegan foods, and very little whole foods.

The bottom line is taking care of your body. We cannot turn it in because we’ve abused it. It’s the only body we’re given. Knowing that, it’s important to think about our food choices. That’s where it gets tricky, we usually don’t see the direct effects of bad food choices until weeks, months, or even years after eating a certain way. It’s important to be mindful of the food choices we make. Don’t blindly accept what anyone tells you, do the research, and take note of the effects when you add healthier options into your daily lifestyle.

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Moondancer, Raw food, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan, Vegetarian, whole food

Vegan Veggie rolls (Egg-less); Cooking and bonding with my daughter

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Vegan Veggie rolls (Egg-less)

Do you ever plan your meals in advance? If I’m going to be extremely busy, it’s something I do. I believe it’s important to have healthy food options available and so when I know I’m going to have a few days/weeks of nonstop business, I prep my meals in advance.

With myself, it usually means combining vegetables or fruit together, storing them in a glass container and tossing them into the freezer until it’s ready to use. Beans are soaked and cooked in bulk so if we’re craving some type of bean dish I only need to get the beans I need to prepare a meal.

Speaking of food, we had eggrolls this past Saturday. I make two verions; baked and fried. We don’t eat too much fried foods but this past Saturday… we did. The oil was hot; so after a few seconds the rolls were done. I drained the oil, and set them aside into one of my pyrex glass containers. The rolls had a crispy outer shell, and the filling was only slightly cooked. They were a big hit with my daughter (they always are) and so my daughter is clamoring for more.

This evening I pulled out my Kitchen Aid food processor and added the following vegetables to it.

  • Carrots
  • Collards
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Ginger

I pulsed the vegetables until they were chopped finely. Instead of soy sauce I added Bragg Liquid Aminos, curry, & cumin to the filling. *sidenote* For those who might not be aware, Braggs is a replacement for soy sauce. It has the same taste and it has the added benefit of having essential amino acids are bodies need too. You can’t beat that, something that is delicious and healthy. đŸ˜‰

Food Storage
When it comes to storing food, I only use glass storage containers. You won’t find plastic containers in my house. I put the filling into one of my Pyrex storage containers and set it in the refrigerator. I’m currently soaking Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas) too. I’m thinking I’ll make Chickpea cutlets tomorrow. Oh, my daughter wants me to make the eggless egg rolls too, we’ll see!

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Vegan Veggie rolls (Egg-less)

I’ve included a few shots of the vegan eggrolls we made this past Saturday. They were delicious; pairing the broccoli and carrots together was a great idea. They really worked well together, and the carrots added mildly sweet taste to the eggrolls.

Cooking & Bonding

My daughter was happy. She helped me make them, so she was bursting with pride at how well they turned out. She enjoys helping me prepare meals. It’s a great time to find out what’s going on in her world, and I also talk about the benefits of the vegetables and fruits I use in our meal preparation. I really don’t have to tell her too much anymore, when it comes to nutrition/health she knows more than a lot of adults I know. I believe it’s important to not only educate adults, but children too, about the foods they eat, the benefits of following a healthy diet, and the possible problems that can arise if we constantly abuse our bodies by consuming the wrong things.

Making healthy choices

If we keep making poor health choices, in time it can take a toll on our bodies; Allergies, weight gain, heart attacks, cancer, etc., too many to list, but I hope you get the idea. Depending on the ailment, many can be avoided (and at times reversed) if we would only make healthier choices. Sadly, many of us think we have all the time in the world. There’s such a huge disconnect between food and the effects it can have on our health. It seems that many people have the misconception that healthy food simply doesn’t taste good. This is simply not true. I love preparing meals that are not only delicious are a healthy choice for my daughter. Naturally, I want the best for her, and one of the ways I show this is by the foods I prepare.

Regarding that Vegan Chana Masala recipe, I’ll still be posing it. In fact it would have been published on the day I posted the curried zucchini noodles recipe, however I accidentally deleted it, whoops! I haven’t done something like that in years, lol.

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Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, whole food

Upcoming juice cleanse

raw_juice.06.27.10.jpgHello everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. This weekend I spent a lot of time away from the computer. We had vacation Bible School at our church last week, and my daughter, and I were able to attend every day. We both had a fabulous time. This weekend we took it easy.I had a great time hanging out with my daughter.

Check out the above picture, aren’t the juices lovely. Beginning the second week in July, I’ll be having a week long juice cleanse.

What’s a Juice Cleanse?

When you are on a juice fast you are only consuming raw vegetable and fruits in liquid form. People do juice cleanses for a variety of reasons ranging from detoxification to weight loss. Juice clenases are just one of the ways I occasionally take a break from eating solid foods. I do enjoy the extra energy boost I receive too.

I Eliminate A Lot More

When I’m on a juice fast I notice the amount that my urine and bowels movements increase. I normally have a bowels movement shortly after I eat a meal. This is ideal, but it’s something that many people aren’t doing in westernized culture since a lot of us have strayed away from a whole food diet to a highly processed diet.

Giving my juicer a workout

I’ve been juicing for several years. During that time, I’ve went through a few juciers. I learned to avoid the tougher vegetables since my juicers couldn’t handle them. I vividly remember burning up a motor on one as I tried to juice a beet. About four years ago I purchased the Green Star GS-1000 Juice Extractor. It uses the twin gear technology and blasts thought anything I put into it even the hard vegetables. The pulp come out of the spout, and the juice goes into the little pitcher.

Initially I bulked at the price… almost $400, are they crazy! However, I knew I would be using it a lot, so I went ahead and made the purchase. It’s definitely one of the best investments I’ve made! I don’t have to go to a juice bar, just so I can get them to juice the harder vegetables that my cheaper juicers couldn’t handle. I love convenince, and the fact that I can make freshly prepared juices at home was the biggest selling point for myself. It would have been nice if the juicer didn’t cost as much, but I’ve more than made up for its purchase with the amount of juicing I’ve done. Smoothies, teas, raw juices, and water are the only things we consume in this household. The majority are made by myself.

One of the questions I’ve heard a few people ask was what to do with the juicing pulp. I’ve listed a few of the things I do below.

What to do with the juicing pulp?

  1. Use it in a sauce
  2. Use it to make raw cookies
  3. Add it in a stir fry
  4. use as garden compost

What will I be juicing?

  1. Carrot – These are an excellent source of provitamin A. I usually mix carrots with greens, daikon, beets, and celery. Occasionally I’ll toss in cucumbers.
  2. Celery – I use this in small amounts although very tasty it is also high in sodium.
  3. Beets – Considered a blood builder/blood purifier. It’s considered to be a powerful cleanser. Do not drink this alone. I mix mine with greens, celery, and daikon or carrots. It’s important to note that beet juice can color your bowel movement.
  4. Cabbage – I like the taste of cabbage juice mixed with other vegetables. Cabbage juice was used by Dr. Garnett Cheney, M.D. to cure his patients of peptic ulcers. They drank it daily and were cured in half the time. The American Cancer Society has been urging people to eat more cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli) because of their protective effects against cancer.
  5. Cucumbers
  6. Zucchini Squash – I love eating this raw and it’s also tasty when it’s juiced.
  7. Garlic
  8. Habenero Pepper
  9. Ginger

Although I drink freshly made juices often, I don’t do juice cleanses as much perhaps four to six times yearly?

Question? Have you ever done a juice cleanse?

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New Tag, Raw food, Juicing

Vegan: Curried Zucchini Noodles w/Steamed Vegetables (Gluten-free)

World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer.jpgDuring the warmer months, one of my favorite go to vegan dishes is a simple pasta. They are simple, delicious, and a unique way to introduce vegetables at your meal.

I’ve never been a fan of the traditional pasta. Way too much flour for myself, but I’ve always loved the vegetables pastas. Naturally, since you are using vegetables in place of the traditional pasta, your pasta is gluten-free.

I’ve been using vegetables, in place of the traditional pastas for several years. However, it wasn’t until about four years ago that I purchased a machine to make my ‘angel hair’ pastas. In order to make the pasta I use a spiral vegetable slicer.

I’ve tried the Saladacco, but didn’t like it at all. The spiral vegetable slicer I use is the World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. Thanks to this slicer, I can make vegetable pasta in seconds.

It’s a hot day in Maryland, and I thought I would share one of my raw & cooked dishes. Although we’ve made a raw & cooked version before. Today my daughter and I ate this dish raw. Enjoy!

Curried Zucchini Noodles w/Steamed Vegetables

  • 2 cups of zucchini noodles
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1/2 cup sweet peas
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms
  • Pinch of salt(optional)

Directions

  1. Put noodles & tomatoes in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Add a few tbsp of water or vegetable broth
  3. Add remaining ingredients stir for a few minutes
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Combine with noodles and tomatoes
  6. Serve & Enjoy!

 

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Raw food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, whole food