Farro with Butternut Squash, Spinach, Walnuts & Cranberries

If it’s fall it’s time for butternut squash! This delicious recipe was actually from the bag of farro (Nature’s Earthly Choice organic Italian pearled farro). I made it for our birthday party at Aunt Mary’s and it was a hit. Everyone else added salt because I didn’t add it to make it work with my nutritarian diet. I think this would be great with an orange squeezed over it or some balsamic reduction to brighten it up and add a little more liquid (I also omitted the oil called for in the recipe).

farrosquash

This photo was taken of the leftovers after they had been refrigerated for hours. The original looked fresher.

Ingredients:

12 oz pearled farro (2 cups), rinsed and drained

5 cups vegetable broth (low sodium) or water, or a combination – I used 2 c broth, 3 c water

pinch kosher salt

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2″ dice

1 large red onion, cut into eighths

1 tbsp fresh thyme

2 tsp olive oil (to rub on the pan for squash)

1 bag baby spinach (6 oz)

1 cup walnuts, toasted

1 cup dried cranberries (I used a brand that was sweetened with apple juice, not sugar)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 15-25 minutes. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be al dente, but tender. Remove from heat, drain excess water, and toss with baby spinach in a large mixing bowl to wilt spinach. Set aside.

While the farro is cooking toss the squash, onion, and thyme with the olive oil [or just rub oil into pan with paper towel], and salt [optional] in a large glass pyrex 9×13 pan or a roasting pan. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil cover and cook for an additional hour, turning the squash every 30 minutes. Remove from oven , let cool a bit, and chop up the cooked red onions.

Add squash and onions to bowl and gently toss everything together, including walnuts and cranberries. Optional: squeeze an orange on top and toss, or add balsamic vinegar and oil to boost the flavor. A fig balsamic vinegar would be excellent with this. Taste and season as necessary.

Changes from the original recipe: the orig. recipe calls for 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar to cook with the squash and onions, 3 tbsp walnut oil for dressing, and 1/4 cup goat cheese – they don’t call for cranberries, but I like the combination with cranberries better. I omitted all of the oil except a tiny bit, just enough to rub on the pan to prevent sticking.

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My new favorite things: natural vegan convenience food!

Sometimes I don’t have a recipe but just a product that I want to remember.  In this case, I have been cooking (and blending) non stop for 6 weeks (hooray for nutritarianism!) and was hoping that somewhere out there someone was making organic, natural, chemical and preservative and sugar free yummy vegan food that I could just buy and heat up. I’m not a fan of processed soy products or tvp or seitan, I just want unprocessed yummy stuff!

I’m sure this would not be an issue if there were a Whole Foods or even a Wegman’s on our little island, but as it is, I’m happy that at least we have a Trader Joe’s.

In this case, Fresh Direct came through! They have all kinds of local yummy and organic stuff, but now they have added some excellent fresh-made vegan food that’s incredible and all made here in New York.

Flourish Baking Company makes 4 vegan pot pies that look awesome. I had the Lentil Simmer vegetable pot pie a couple of days ago, which is not liquidy, despite the sound of the name. It’s so good! Spinach, broccoli, lentils, other veggies, cumin, and a whole grain crust. I just nuked it for 3 minutes and then heated it in a 350 F toaster oven for 10 minutes. So good and no chemicals or sugar! Next time I’m going to try the two potato pie, but I’ve bought them all to test them (yay, research)! You can also buy them from the bakery website.

lentilpie

It really does look just like the photo on the box!

I just ate Hunan Dumplings from Macro Vegan tonight… they were so delicious! Whole wheat, organic veggies and delicious flavor. They were great hot or cold! They make a ton of other dumplings (Shanghai and Thai) and noodle dishes (Soba, Pad Thai, etc). I don’t know if they sell this stuff anywhere else…. sooo good. The portions are great too, 300 calories for half of the container (7 oz, about 9 dumplings). I had mine with some liquid aminos.

hunandumpling

I took this photo before I tore into the package  🙂

dumplings

Leftovers as today’s lunch… yum!

 

Veggie Marinara Sauce (cheat)

I love Victoria marinara sauce (so does Chris). There are no scary ingredients (such as chemicals or sugar) in it, but there is olive oil and salt, the two ingredients that I try to avoid in the early stages of this nutritarian diet (I have just finished week 6 so now I can go back to olive oil as a treat! Yay!). This sauce is delicious, it’s the one food that I will not give up entirely.

I thought I would have some whole wheat pasta (I love DeCecco’s 100% whole wheat spaghetti) and wanted to sneak some veggies into the meal. The only hard part is limiting my portion to only 2 ounces of pasta… this is why adding more veggies is so important! Kids would definitely love this. It’s so yummy and you’d never know there was zucchini in it!

dececco

Next time I will definitely add spinach to it, I just didn’t have any on hand.

  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced small
  • 1 large zucchini (or 2 small), shredded and drained
  • 2 containers cremini mushrooms (about 10 oz each), cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach (I didn’t add this but definitely will next time)
  • One 25 oz. jar Victoria marinara sauce

Directions:

  • Grate the zucchini using the small shred holes of a box grater. Let it drain in a mesh sieve. While you’re waiting for it to drain, prep other veggies.
  • In a large pan saute (in a little water) the garlic and onion until it starts to get soft. You could also add some red pepper flakes here if you like your sauce spicy.
  • Add the shredded zucchini and cook some of the water out.
  • Then add sliced mushrooms and cook down further, until you don’t see water in the bottom of the pan.
  • Add 1 jar of sauce and simmer on low for 10 minutes until it thickens.
  • Then add baby spinach, stir and simmer for another 5 minutes or until leaves are wilted.

Serve over whole wheat pasta with a big romaine salad on the side. Yum!

zuccmush

Zucchini, onions and mushrooms cooking down

sauce

Simmering away…

UPDATE 10/7/13: Tonight I heated up some of the remaining veggie sauce and sauteed 2 bunches of swiss chard with some shallots and then heated them together. This on top of a serving of whole wheat pasta (2 oz dry, 5.2 oz cooked) was sooo delicious! The chard made it  even better. Next time I’ll use three bunches of chard to make a full batch. The sauce really thickened up in the fridge, I guess the zucchini and mushrooms really soak up that liquid, but I liked it even more. I don’t like watery sauces.

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Sauce and paste before I mixed them together. Yum!

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The red stems and green leaves also add great color to the dish. The zucchini kind of fades during cooking so you don’t see much green from that.

 

 

Veggie Fajitas

Not that anyone needs a recipe for this, but it’s more to help me remember. I loved the way this came out. I made enough veggies to pack it up and heat up for dinner every night for 4 nights. Yummy.  🙂

Next time I will add fresh salsa to make it taste a little fresher. I used the whole grain tortillas from Trader Joe’s (delicious) and spread 1/4 cup of fat free vegetarian refried beans (Bearitos brand, but the TJ brand is great too – the only ingredient in each is beans!) on top of the tortilla.  I think some jalapeno peppers would also be great on top. Next time I’ll make a chipotle version.

faj

Forgot to put on the scallions before the photo.

Ingredients for veggie fajitas:

6 red onions, sliced thin

1 clove garlic, minced

2 red bell peppers, cut into matchsticks

2 zucchini, cut into matchsticks (skin on, get organic)

3 containers cremini mushrooms (or cremini and shiitake), cleaned and sliced

1-2 tbsp trader joe’s taco seasoning (depends on your preference)

1 bag baby spinach (it really cooks down to nothing)

Scallions, sliced (don’t cook these)

Fresh tomato salsa (optional)

Saute onions and garlic in a tablespoon or two of water until soft and translucent. Add pepper, zucchini, and taco seasoning, cook down until liquid is drawn out and cooks down a little. Then add mushrooms and cook down again. Add spinach after all veggies are cooked through and allow spinach to wilt.

Serve on tortilla spread with refried beans, top with scallions (or cilantro) and salsa.

Black Forest Creamy Mushroom Soup (Dr. Fuhrman)

The smell of almond milk in soup seemed a little strange to me at first, but this soup got even better after sitting in the fridge overnight. It is rich and satisfying, and I love the flavors. Who doesn’t love mushrooms?

This made about 8 (pint) servings.

I didn’t juice the carrots for broth (as requested in the original recipe), I used premade low-sodium veggie broth. If you want to follow the recipe, you’ll need 5 cups of carrot juice. You’ll see my changes to the original recipe ingredients below. The directions include my modifications.

1

Delicious!

Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup
Preparation Time: 60 minutes
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons water
2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms (I had a mix of button and cremini) sliced 1/4 ” thick
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I didn’t have this so I used 1 shallot)
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
5 cups carrot juice (5 pounds of carrots, juiced)  I used 5 cups low-sodium veg broth
3 cups unsweetened hemp, soy or almond milk, divided
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels I didn’t have this so I used frozen petite peas
1 cup chopped celery
3 leeks, cut in 1/2-inch-thick rounds and cleaned
1/4 cup Dr. Fuhrman’s VegiZest or other no-salt seasoning blend, adjusted to taste
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups cooked white beans (northern, navy, cannellini) or 2 (15 ounce) cans no-salt added or low-sodium white beans, drained
5 ounces baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish didn’t have this either, skipped it

Directions:
Heat the water in a large saute pan. Water saute the mushrooms, garlic and herbes de Provence for about 15 minutes, or until tender and starting to caramelize. Set aside.
In a large soup pot, bring the carrot juice or veg broth, 2 1/2 cups of the almond milk, carrots, onion, peas, celery, and leeks to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
In a food processor or high-powered blender, puree the cashews and remaining 1/2 cup milk. Add the lemon juice, thyme, rosemary, and half of the beans, and blend it all with an immersion blender until smooth.
Then add the remaining beans and the spinach, and sauteed mushrooms. Heat until the spinach is wilted.

Stores in fridge and freezes well.  Made 8 pints.

Smoothies galore

I have been following a nutritarian diet for two weeks now and despite some killer cravings in the beginning, some mild nausea and headaches from caffeine/sugar withdrawal, I really do feel great. I’ve lost a good amount of weight so far, but that’s not the whole point. My energy level is really great and I love the fact that I can drink my veggies in a smoothie in the morning and not feel guilty about it! I still get all of the nutrients and fiber since nothing is thrown away.

Here are some of the recipes I’ve been making lately. Each smoothie has the same directions: chuck it all in a powerful blender until smooth. You can also substitute water instead of almond milk or juice, it will work either way, but the pomegranate juice is so good that you might as well have a little! Each recipe makes one smoothie.

Eat Your Greens Smoothie  (Dr. Fuhrman’s recipe)
I make it almost every day, but alternate between spinach and kale.

3 ounces baby spinach, washed
1/2 banana
1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup pomegranate juice (no added sugar)
1/2 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

Kale Pineapple Smoothie 
The pineapple goes so well with the kale, I love the crisp flavor of kale!

1/2 head kale, washed, remove thick stems
1/2 banana
3/4 cup frozen pineapple
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup pomegranate juice (no added sugar)
1/2 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

(sometimes I switch out the pineapple for blueberries)

Dinner tonight (my dinners are frequently a variation on this theme, big bowl raw, big bowl cooked veg).

IMG_20130905_171447_544

Mmmm dinner! Spinach salad, steamed broccoli with scallions and toasted sesame seeds, and a beet nut smoothie for dessert!

Tonight I made a strange smoothie but I really liked it (in the photo above).   I had cooked a bunch of beets whole in tin foil in the oven but they were still a little hard so I figured why not make a smoothie?

Beet Nut Smoothie

1 oz raw cashews
1 gingergold or granny smith apple (smallish)
1 large beet
1/2 cup blueberries
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tbsp flaxseed
water

Use a powerful blender (I used the NutriBullet) and make sure to add some water to make it blend smoother. It’s actually really tasty and lets you sneak in some great vitamins, protein and healthy fats.

I’m going to make this one tomorrow morning… sounds so good, and Chris will bust a gasket if I don’t use the avocados sitting on the counter. He has a tiny issue about produce sitting around too long and “going bad” (picture avocados with mohawks and tattoos wielding clubs and chasing him and Scruffy around the house).   hee hee hee 🙂

Got Greens? Smoothie (Dr. Fuhrman’s recipe)

2 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup frozen pineapple cubes
1 kiwi, peeled
1/4 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 banana

By the way, I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead a few nights ago (thanks to Chica and Dan for the recommendation). Wow! Amazing. It was really inspiring, and making the move to a nutritarian diet feels the same way… my head is so much clearer, I feel great. Pretty cool that just eating the right stuff can help you heal what ails you and get you off deadly medicines!

Chewy Cherry Oatmeal Squares (vegan)

This was a recipe I found on Talia Fuhrman’s blog. She’s been raised as a nutritarian and my friend at work let me know about her site. These bars looked like heaven seeing as how I haven’t had sweets in a long time!

barstray

Bars were cut while still a little warm. Center was a tiny bit soft, but just at the corners.

They are tasty, but actually taste like cherry banana oatmeal, not like a dessert. Now to be fair, Chris and I tasted one piece when they were still warm. I will update this post when I try another piece at breakfast tomorrow. Since it’s really just oatmeal and nut flours with fruit I think this would make a great breakfast-on-the-go bar or a healthy snack. I put a few in the fridge and the rest I wrapped individually in cling wrap and put in the freezer.

barswrapped

Ready for the fridge and freezer. We’ll see how they hold up.

I made only one or two modifications to the original recipe. My version follows:

Makes 16 squares.

1.5 cups almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

10 dates, pitted (calls for medjool but I have no idea what kind mine were – the package just said dates)

1/2 tbsp cinnamon (also called for nutmeg but Chris and I don’t like nutmeg)

1/2 tsp almond extract (I think it always goes well with cherries)

3 small ripe bananas (orig. calls for large, which I didn’t have)

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup oat flour

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 cups frozen cherries (no sugar added)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Put almond milk and dates in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds.
  • Blend bananas, almond milk, dates, cinnamon and extract in blender (I used the nutribullet, thanks to Mom). Set aside.
  • Put remaining dry ingredients into large bowl and mix. Add liquid mixture and stir to blend. Fold in cherries.
  • Put mixture in 9×9 pan lined with parchment.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, until center is no longer soft (use toothpick or knife). I didn’t cook mine long enough (called fro 30 minutes, but it was still gooey in middle, so I added 10 min). Could definitely have gone for 50 min. More banana would help the flavor too.

Nutritional info (per square):

  • 207 calories
  • 60 calories from fat
  • 6.66 g fat
  • 0.81g sat fat
  • 0 cholesterol
  • 19.63 mg sodium
  • 32.79 g carbs
  • 5 g dietary fiber
  • 8.8 g sugar
  • 5.58 g protein

UPDATE: These DO NOT freeze well! They are mush when they defrost. It’s good if you’d like to make soft oatmeal squares for a group breakfast, but not for storage.