The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!


10 Comments

Puttanesca in a Pinch!

pastaOne of my husband’s favorite dishes is Pasta Puttanesca. He loves everything about it–the pasta, the salty flavor from the olives and capers, and the sauce. To him, it’s the total package. He even tells the servers at our favorite local Italian restaurant, La Trattoria, that he dreams about this dish.

I decided since this dish seemed fairly straightforward, I would try to recreate it at home one evening when I was at a loss for what to fix for dinner. I had everything except capers, and I knew it wouldn’t be the same without the homemade pasta at La Trattoria, but even if I messed it up, how bad could it really be? So here is my “recipe” for Puttanesca in a pinch. I used miso to replace the anchovies used in some recipes and also the extra saltiness of the capers. If you need to restrict sodium due to heart disease or hypertension, just leave it out. If you prefer a smoother sauce, use crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes. In the summer, this would rock with fresh tomatoes!

Puttanesca in a Pinch

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oregano
  • 1 – 28 oz can of whole plum or San Marzano tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 1/2 of a 10 oz bottle of pitted Kalamata olives, slice olives in 1/2
  • 1/2-1 tsp of miso
  • 1 lb of whole grain pasta of your choosing
  • A few shakes of crushed red pepper
  1. Start a nice big pot of water boiling for your pasta and add it when it comes to a rolling boil. When the pasta is done to Al dente, drain it and set it aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place a small amount of water or veggie broth in a big skillet, heat it up and add the onions and garlic and sauté a few min until soft. You can also start them with no liquid and just add a small amount if they stick.
  3. Add the oregano, crushed red pepper, and olives and heat quickly.
  4. Here’s the fun part. Warning, this is messy. I love the feel of the tomatoes in my hands so I just pluck them out of the can and use a paring knife and roughly chop them as I add them to the pan. Then add the extra juice from the can.
  5. Heat the sauce through or cook it down a little if you prefer, then add the pasta, coat the pasta with the sauce, sprinkle with nutritional yeast if you like,  and serve!

Tips:

If you add capers, just add them near the end and leave out the miso. You can add some of the brine from the bottle also if sodium is not an issue for you.

Serve with a big salad or you can even add some greens in your sauce if you love greens as much as I do. They will make your arteries sing!

Don’t fuss over this dish!  It will be delicious in its simplicity and is difficult to ruin.

It is even better the next day leftover!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Grapefruits and butterflies

A couple of weeks ago I found the most amazing white balsamic grapefruit vinegar at our local store, Thirteen Olives, and I have been anxious to make a fabulous salad with it. I had some beautiful grapefruit in the fridge and finally today I reserved my afternoon to play in the kitchen.

Grapefruit balsamic

 

I learned how to peel a grapefruit with a knife and how to segment it to get rid of the bitter pith and my husband even sharpened the chef’s knife for me.

I took my time and reveled in the texture of the fruit, how the sun shone through the kitchen window and through the thinly sliced pale pink flesh of the grapefruit. It looked so delicate and beautiful like the wing of a newly hatched butterfly.

grapefruit butterfly

It was a gift to have this time to study this sour, yet sweet and juicy fruit which I have far too long neglected.

Grapefruit slice.jpg

I hope to be more intentional not only with my appreciation of the beauty of nature and the nutrition and pleasure it provides for us but also my appreciation of the people in my life who help and care for me along my path.

I was recently overcome with gratitude for all of the friends, old and new, who offered words of encouragement, suggestions for job leads and just pure kindness when we received word that our home health agency was closing. In the course of 2 weeks, I lost my job and gained a new one in which I will retain my benefits, seniority, and will have a position with no after hours call and no taking work home. I hope that the reduction in hours will free me for spending more time living my passion for nutrition and health and loving my family and friends as they deserve.

Grainy Grapefruit salad

If you enjoy fruit and farro, you can find my recipe for Grainy Grapefruit Salad on the Plant Based Nutrition Support Group’s website at http://www.pbnsg.org/ soon.


3 Comments

Cooking all day without cooking ALL day!

A couple of weekends ago, I decided that in addition to cleaning out the basement to get ready for the waterproofing company, I was going to cook for my husband and I all day Saturday since we were both going to be home all day for the first time in a long time. Breakfast is tricky since I usually eat the same thing every day, oatmeal with bananas, blueberries, and raisins and my husband is not a fan. He usually has a sprouted grains bagel. So the challenge was to make something totally different. I was also participating in a challenge on Engine2extra.com that was called Camp E2X. One of the assignments was to make a recipe from “My Beef with Meat” that I had never made before, so it was off to the breakfast section of Rip’s book. It turned out I had all of the ingredients for the Spicy Bouldin Scrambler. Perfect! This harkened back to the old days when we would have omelets on the weekends.

It was a pretty easy and quick recipe. I just had a couple of things to chop, some onions, jalapeño, garlic and some tomatoes to add on top.

OnionsMBWM

While the tofu was draining, I got some diced potatoes out of the freezer, added some extra peppers and garlic powder and popped them into the toaster oven.

potatoes

After I pressed and drained the tofu, I mixed the nutritional yeast with herbs and spices to coat the tofu.

tofu

I thought it was a little too much yeast, but I carried on and enjoyed the aroma of the spices and fresh garlic. The scramble was easy to heat in a nonstick pan and before you know it we had a breakfast fit for a queen!

scramber plate

It did turn out we could have enjoyed the scramble with a lot less nutritional yeast but I was glad I tried something new and will adjust the recipe next time.

I spent the day in between meals going to the local farmers market and giving away and selling things we will never use again, like an ice cream maker and a turkey fryer! We never did fry any turkeys but used to use it for large batches of wings. Now we eat cauliflower wings!

20150822_093144 20150822_093150

turkey fryerIce cream maker

Before I knew it, it was time to make some lunch. I looked around and I had some whole wheat pasta, some red ripe tomatoes from the farmers market and some broccoli and broccoli greens in the garden just waiting to be picked! I sautéed some onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes in a little veggie broth, added some fresh chopped tomatoes and oregano and then a can of crushed tomatoes. If you like fresh basil, add it at the end for a great fresh flavor.

tomatoes and onions lunch sauce luch

I chopped up the broccoli and greens and added them to the pasta water the last minute or two of cooking.

broccoli lunch pasta with broccoli

This whole lunch took no time at all and it was satisfying and delicious.

Lunch bowlMy husband told me not to bother cooking supper since I made such a big lunch and we could have leftovers but I was determined to make 3 different meals so we would have leftovers during the week. We love Indian cuisine and I made one of our favorite recipes from “The Starch Solution,” Festive Dal Soup. It was super easy in my Instant Pot. All the ingredients go in and I simmer it on the slow cook setting, et voilà, fabulous supper in less than an hour served over basmati brown rice. We love spicy dishes so I always add extra chili paste in the dish and at the table. I also added some curry powder this time.  For the greens I used broccoli greens, what else!

dal

I cooked all day, but spent very little time in the kitchen and we had 3 great nutritious meals plus leftovers for lunches or dinners during the week. I also had a nice surprise from my neighbor Charlie. He was afraid this unusual bird was going to be thrown away and he thought I would like it, so he brought it over to my picnic table. It was a bright spot in a busy day and this little bird really is growing on me!

bird

Just a closing thought. Cooking plant based foods is SO much more than just nourishing and healing our body and soul but can also help to heal our planet. This mug we received with our last spice order from Penzey’s is a great reminder when I need a push to get in the kitchen,

“Heal the world… cook dinner tonight”

Heal the world cook dinner tonight

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


3 Comments

Get inspired again and again!

As I was cooking dinner tonight, I found myself watching videos of success stories on Dr. McDougall’s web site. He has posted inspiring stories from people who have changed their health and their lives through plant based eating. I never tire of reading about the transformations people experience when they begin to eat nutritious delicious plant based foods!

I think it’s not only fun, but important to stay connected by hearing these success stories and realizing we are not alone. It can be very isolating to eat differently than 99.5% of the population, especially if you are the only one in your house, your group of friends, or even your town who eats no animal products and craves kale.

If you are feeling alone and thinking maybe getting healthy is just too hard, find some healthy community online and reach out to find inspiration in unexpected places. My friend, Bobby Anderson, is a perfect example of someone who started eating a whole foods plant based diet to lose weight and improve his health and had a story that was so compelling, that he has inspired thousands of people with his success and determination.

I first met Bobby online in a Facebook group for people who are fans of Dr. McDougall and his recipes and advice on how to reverse and prevent chronic health conditions with plant based nutrition. Bobby was sharing how he made plant based meals in his 18 wheeler. I was immediately drawn to his story. People kept telling me all the time that the way I eat is too hard, takes too much thought and preparation, and is a diet of deprivation. When I saw how Bobby was cooking meals that looked gourmet in his lunch box oven, toaster oven, microwave, and Instant Pot in the cab of his truck, I was totally impressed and more importantly inspired! I encouraged Bobby, as did others online, to share his story because I knew it could inspire others.

Bobby started a Facebook page called “Plant-Fueled Trucker,” and almost overnight he gained hundreds of followers who were enthralled by his story. He is honest, straightforward, and kind, and his passion for plant based eating shines through all of his posts and photos. Recently, his story was shared with someone at NBC and three reporters traveled with him for three days to live his story and taste his food! If you have not seen this story that aired recently on the Today show, you can watch it at: http://www.today.com/video/this-long-haul-trucker-has-found-the-road-to-healthy-eating-480958531729.

PFT

Since the Today Show interview, The Plant-Fueled Trucker’s story has exploded all over the plant based community. Bobby’s page has over 20,000 followers and the reach of his story is growing by leaps and bounds. He has had offers for interviews and I’m sure he will help thousands to realize that if he can regain his health living out of a big rig 4-6 days a week, maybe they can do it too!

When you think you can’t chop one more veggie or plan one more meal, think of Bobby and his commitment to get healthy and stay healthy and know you are not alone!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


Leave a comment

Summertime, and the grillin’ is easy…

We are so excited that grilling season is here! We were off to a little bit of a late start at the Hayes house since my husband found that the bottom of the grill had rotted over the winter. In our effort to downsize our possessions we opted for a nice compact grill. It’s just big enough to grill up veggies for the two of us and it works awesome!

grill

 plated grilled veggies

We had  corn that my husband steamed in the Instant Pot for 8 min first, asparagus, red pepper, onions, and leeks earlier this week. Everything came out great except the leeks which were chewy. Next time I’ll look up some recipes for how to prepare the leeks first. My husband was also craving potato salad, so he whipped up a recipe on the fly and it was delicious.

Scott’s potato salad

5-6 Yukon gold potatoes

1/2 of a 14 oz pkg of extra firm tofu or silken tofu

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon of parsley

1/4 c. of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of country Dijon mustard or mustard of your choice

Freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes or just scrub them if you prefer to eat the peels. Cut them into large cubes and steam until tender. You can steam them in a steamer basket for 15-20 min or use an Instant pot for about 11 minutes. While the potatoes cool, mix the tofu, vinegar, and mustard in a food processor, blender or Ninja bullet. Add parsley or herb of your choosing and pepper and stir and coat potatoes with dressing and serve!

potato salad

We enjoyed the grilled veggies so much that I decided to grill again mid week and I added bean brats to the menu using a recipe adapted by my friend Sharon Euler at Engine2extra from Jeff Novick’s basic bean burger recipe to include brat seasoning and it is spot on!

Sharon’s Bean brats

1 can dark red kidney beans

1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

3 TB smoky BBQ sauce (it’s not spicy) – you could use diced tomatoes, too or probably even ketchup – you need the moisture.  Jeff’s recipe calls for 2 TB moisture but it wasn’t enough liquid to get them to stick together well.

1 tsp salt (I think I could have left this out completely)

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp allspice

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp marjoram

1 tsp sage

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Mash up the kidney beans with a potato masher.  Add the oats and the rice and the spices and mix them all up together.  Add the liquid and stir and smush it all up til it is all well mixed.

I used my sushi mat to make the rolls and compress them together tightly.  I covered the sushi mat with plastic wrap (to keep the mat clean and to make sure the beans wouldn’t stick to the mat). I took a handful of brat mixture, put it on the sushi mat and used the sushi mat to make them into rolls and tightly compressed them together.

Put the rolls into the refrigerator for about an hour.  This allows the starches to bind the rolls together.

Cook the brats by your method of choice – broiler, skillet or wrap in foil and throw in the campfire!  You have to keep rolling them to get them evenly browned on all sides.

bean brats

Brats ready to go on the grill

bean brats plated 2

Brat served on a crisp romaine leaf with leftover potato salad and grilled veggies

 

Hope you have fun this summer experimenting with grilled veggies and  bean and veggie burgers and transforming traditional foods into plant strong dishes!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


Leave a comment

10 layer Mexican dip revisited

This week on Engine2extra.com someone was in the chat room and asked how to make a dairy free 7 layer dip that would appeal to omnivores and what could be substituted for sour cream and cheese. I remembered I had a great recipe from a former member of the site for a 10 layer dip that was outstanding. It didn’t have any substitutes for sour cream and cheese, but those could easily be added! I dug it out of my archives along with the pics Rick Slavens sent me with the super easy recipe and here it is, layers 1-10:

#1-Fat free refried beans

#2-Diced green chiles

#3- 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed

#4- Cover with salsa (he recommended La Victoria salsa supreme)

#5- White corn

#6- sliced black olives

#7- Chopped green onions

#8- Shredded romaine lettuce

#9- Fresh chunky salsa with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro

#10- chopped fresh cilantro

10 layer dip 2 10 layer dip

I am so glad Genie asked this question today as I had forgotten about this recipe and these lovely pictures and just how good this tasted!

The sour cream substitute is an easy one to solve if you want to add it as a layer or as a side for people to add on their plate. From the Forks over knives web site and chef Del Stroufe: Just put one 12 oz pkg of silken tofu in a blender or food processor and add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and blend until smooth. I have also substituted apple cider vinegar and it works just fine. I don’t even measure, I just estimate, so no need to fuss.

There really is nothing plant based that tastes just like cheese, however, we have not had cheese in so long that recently when we tried the “Real deal nacho cheez” from Kid Tested Firefighter approved’s blog, we thought it was very close! It is made with cashews, but if you’d like a lower fat version, my friend Bobby Anderson, the Plant Fueled Trucker, found cannellini beans were a great substitute for cashews and roasted red peppers work instead of pimentos. When I made the cheez, I tried to use my food processor instead of dragging out my  blender. Let’s just say, HUGE mess. I noticed Bobby uses a nutribullet which works very well for him. We served the cheez with rice and beans and guacamole. Bobby also serves it over pasta and we can’t wait to try that next!

nacho cheez

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

P.S. I wrote this blog last night but didn’t get around to posting it. In the meantime, while I worked today, my husband bought a Nutribullet to smooth out the leftover nacho cheez sauce, added it to macaroni with a can of Rotel tomatoes (disclaimer–these are high in sodium, just buy sodium free diced tomates and add green chiles) and baked it in the oven and added a big side of steamed frozen broccoli and cauliflower. Wow! What a comforting meal after a long day, now I just have to dig my heels in and finish all of my paperwork!

Mac n cheez plated mac n cheez


2 Comments

Day 28, Engine 2 nationwide challenge, Lentil curry and my kitchen is back, sort of!!

It has been a wild week with the house remodel continuing. We have been able to go between the kitchen and the bedroom, making sure we walk on the wood floor only in socks. The dogs are mostly in the kitchen with their beds and food and the cat splits his time between the basement and outdoors. They are all very confused and bewildered and we are tired and will be SO happy to have the house back in order.

We did have fun yesterday looking for an enamel top kitchen table and some unmatched chairs. We found a really unique table that is perfect for my bright yellow kitchen at an antique shop only about 30 min from our home. I was so excited to be able to sit at my “new” table tonight and have a dinner I cooked! This table is so cheerful and makes me feel like it’s Spring.

New table

The dinner was easy and delicious. I found a sodium free soup mix at Wegmans from a family business in Rochester NY that was fabulous. It was just green and red lentils and a curry spice mix. I just sautéed onions, a bay leaf, and garlic in veggie broth, added a can of no salt diced tomatoes, removed the bay leaf, used my immersion blender to make the ingredients smooth, added the spices, and a little water, simmered for 30 min and then added 3 cups of veggie broth and the lentils and simmered for another 30 min. The spices were a little bitter, so I added some steamed carrots and a dash of real maple syrup and some Penzey’s maharajah curry powder and it was perfect over baby spinach and jasmine brown rice. I had two helpings and have leftovers for lunches. I’m so glad I’m enjoying lentils now since they’re so easy to prepare, tasty, and loaded with fiber and healthy plant protein!

soup mix Lentil stew

My husband liked how Gwendolyn signed the package of lentils, too! Hope everyone had a happy healthy weekend. It’s sad to see this challenge end, but I’m excited to  see what adventures will come our way this spring!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!