Black Bean, Zucchini and Olive Tacos

Black Bean Zucchini Olive Tacos

This is one of those vegetarian (and vegan) dishes you can easily adapt to what you have.  This time of year, it would be fun to use squash, or pumpkin chunks, or sweet potatoes in place of the zucchini.

You can use any bean, of course.  

The corn tortillas make it special.  Love the grain texture and taste.

Black Bean, Zucchini and Olive Tacos
Compliments of JennaDish

from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz 

1
teaspoon olive oil
2 zucchini, diced small (about 1lb)
2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced thinly
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olive, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (6 ounce) can salsa verde (I used Frontero Tomatilla Sauce)
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained &
rinsed
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1/2 cup finely chopped scallion

Garlic-Lemon Yogurt
1 cup unsweetened plain soy yogurt (Wildwood
is suggested)
2 -3 garlic cloves
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon (3 Tbsp)
1/2 teaspoon light agave nectar

Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet over
medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and add the zucchini and jalapeno, sprinkle
with the salt. Saute for about 7 minutes, or until the zucchini is lightly
browned.

Add the garlic, olives, cumin, and coriander,
and saute for 2 minutes more.

Add the salsa verde and black beans and cook
for 5 minutes. The salsa should reduce a bit so its not soupy.

Mix the ingredients for the Garlic-Lemon
Yogurt if you are using.

Warm the tortillas in a skillet or wrap in a
moist towel and microwave for one minute. Serve with Garlic-Lemon Yogurt and chopped scallions. 

 

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Whole Wheat All-Purpose Pizza Dough

You can make your own healthy, whole wheat pizza dough with a nice, crispy crust – all without any expensive equipment or fancy culinary skills.

Make this simple Martha Stewart dough with half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose white flour, and make 6" rounds for individual pizzas. 

6 inch individual pizza dough

Use whatever you need and freeze the rest in between sheets of parchment.  (Wax paper will stick to the dough.)

Frreeze Ahead Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
This is what the frozen round looks like out of the freezer.  It got a little thin in one spot.  This dough isn't as thick and sturdy as a store-bought pizza crust.  So after about 1 minute, this crust was flopping over.  So no need to let it thaw – you can take it out of the freezer, put your toppings on, and bake.

Crusty Bottom Pizza Dough Baked on a Ceramic Tile

To get a crust crispy and brown on the bottom and edges,  some people turn their oven up to 500o but I don't like to do that – it's just too hot and unnecessary.  To get my crust looking like this…

How to Get your Homemade Pizza Crust Crispy on the Bottom

I preheat my oven to 450o and use baking stones.  If you don't want to spend $30-$50 on a baking stone that's not big enough to hold more than one pizza (and sometimes cracks), use this cheap trick ….

Ceramic Tile Baking Stone

Go to a home improvement store like Home Depot, and purchase two 12"x12" ceramic tiles (floor tiles) for about $3 each, and they should fit perfectly, side by side, across your oven.  Once these stones are heated up, they will crisp your dough up nicely.

The best way that I've found to get fresh, sticky pizza dough in the oven, and a hot, slippery pizza out of the oven, is to place the dough on a piece of parchment paper.  No pizza peel needed.

Oh, and you save money and you save your family nasty, overly-processed ingredients from store bought pizza.


Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Compliments of JennaDish

from Martha Stewart

MAKES TWO 1-POUND BALLS (about 6-8 six-inch pizza crusts) 

1 1/2 cups warm (115 degrees) water
2 packets (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for
kneading

2 cups whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)

Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand
until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.

In bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil, and salt. Stir in flours
with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush
top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot
until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands,
knead until smooth, about 15 seconds; divide into two balls.

Set balls on a plate (they should not touch); freeze until firm,
about 1 hour. Then freeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in
refrigerator.

Divide each ball of dough into 4 pieces. Using your hands,
stretch each piece into a 5-inch disk (if dough becomes too elastic to work
with, let it rest a few minutes).  Jenna's Note:  Spread a little semolina on your working surface, then push the edges of the dough out while constantly rotating it.  Don't flip the dough over which will work the semolina into the dough.  You want to keep the semolina on the bottom which helps it to not stick to your work surface.

 

How to Press Tofu Quickly

How to Press Tofu
Drain the liquid from the extra-firm tofu, gently squeeze more of the water out with your clean hands, wrap in a few layers of paper towel or better yet, an absorbent, lint-free kitchen towel (like a bar towel – no terry cloth).  Wrap that in plastic to keep things from getting wet.  Stack something heavy on top to press out the remaining moisture.  Do this for about 10-30 minutes – however much time you have.

You will have tofu that looks like this … easy to cut.

Pressed Tofu

How to Eat Better

 You can eat better.

Healthy Burger with Onion Rings
You can eat better burgers…

Nutty Crunchy Veggie Burger recipe here

 

Thin Pizza with Arugula

and better pizzas …

 Pizza with Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, and Prosciutto recipe here

 

Strawberry Smoothie

and better smoothies …

Strawberry Coconut Smoothie recipe here

 

Pineapple Icebox Dessert

and better desserts.

Pineapple Ice Box Dessert recipe here

Here are some ideas of how to get started making changes.

1. Decide it's important to you and start thinking about what eating better looks like.  Most people know at least a few things that they are indulging in that is unhealthy for them.  

Although there are many fad diets, here are some healthy-food ideas that are commonly agreed upon by many reputable sources:

* whole grain products are more healthful than processed white flour products 

* fruits are good for you – raw is more healthful than cooking or adding sweetener, cream, etc.

* vegetables are good for you and are best cooked with little or no added sweetener, oil, salt, gravy, etc. –  flavor can be added by using spices

* natural foods are more healthful than processed foods

* oatmeal is one of the most healthful foods to eat for breakfast

* dried fruits and nuts are more healthful snacks than chips, cookies, 

* eating less meat and dairy than the typical American diet is a good idea (Read Eating Animals by  Jonathan Safran Foer)

* getting more of your protein and calcium from plant-based foods is becoming more widely accepted to be  more healthful (Read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II)

* you should eat as little sugar as possible (look up the episode called Sugar on 60 Minutes which aired  twice in 2012).  Also, sugar is sugar is sugar – that means honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, high fructose  corn syrup – it's all processed sugar and can lead to chronic illness and disease (look at this WebMD article on sugar)

* restaurant meals oftentimes has an astoundingly crazy amount of fat, salt and sugar compared to the same foods you would make at home (read Cook This, Not That by David Zinczenko)

2. After reading and thinking about your particular situation and your family's, decide on a strategy.  For example, if you feel that drastically changing your diet is too much, and the above reading has your head spinning, make your healthful changes in small steps. Start with the easiest changes.  Remember, everything is relative. 

3. Psyche yourself out. If you really know you need to eat better, but you are just in a vicious cycle, look at it from a different perspective.  From the Pride perspective:  How do Americans look to other cultures who are poorer than us, but eat healthier, because they have kept the same eating habits of their ancient ancestors who eat healthy, plant-based foods?  From the Anger perspective: How many large corporations are getting rich off our laziness and lack of knowledge about food? They try to trick us, through marketing and packaging, hiding facts about their products that we wouldn't buy if we understood the truth.

4. Stop trying to fool yourself. Is carrot cake good for you because it has carrots and raisins in it?  Are all yogurt products good for you no matter how much added sugar they have? Is a cheesy, chicken, potato chip casserole good for you because it has chicken in it?  Be honest with yourself.

5. Freeze stuff. Find out what healthier foods you want to make, and if you dont' have time to cook from scratch everyday, figure out what meals (or partial meals) you can make ahead and freeze.  Just thaw the night before and cook.  You can freeze homemade soups, healthy sauces for rice or noodles, nutrient-packed smoothies, veggies, pesto, herbs … an endless list.

6. Be prepared. Once you are eating better, the times you are most likely to eat poorly is when you are not prepared.  You're hungry at work at 3:20pm and you don't have heatlhy snacks.  You grab a bag of chips or  eat your co-worker's leftover birthday cake. 

7. And last but not least, give it time. Depending on your commitment, your personality, and personal situation, it could take you anywhere from 6 months to 6 years to meet your goals.  But if it saves you from chronic disease, then it's worth it.  Right?

Cute Dog Pictures

I'm cheating by posting cute dog pictures instead of a recipe.  But if you want a dog biscuit recipe, here.

Lessons from Gracie …

One Eye Open

Always sleep with one eye open.

Dog with Treat on Nose
Keep your treats handy at all times.
IMG_4431
A hair of the dog does not help a hangover.  Just chill.
IMG_7985
Even if you're really sweet, try to act serious and menacing.  See, I'm practicing. It's hard.
Dog Playing with Bubbles
Practice your bubble play every day for years.  Eventually you will be able to balance a bubble on your nose and the tip of your ear at the same time. It's worth it.

Quinoa with Hot Curry Veggie Saute

Quinoa with Sauteed Zucchini, Red Pepper, Tomatoes

I only learned of quinoa in the last 10 years or so.  As more people are becoming vegetarian or at least eating less meat, they are looking to plant-based foods high in protein.  

Speaking of plant-based protein, I recently read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD, and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD.  It's about a 20-year study of the effects of certain foods on the body, especially the relationship between certain foods and chronic disease.  Bottom line, a plant-based diet is best for our bodies – eat no animal products (meat, dairy) or as little as possible, and as little refined carbohydrates as possible.  

I also just watched (for the second time) a 60 Minutes episode on the effects of sugar on our bodies.  Has a direct relation to chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney problems, etc.

Quinoa Cooked in White Wine and Vegetable Broth
Meanwhile, back at the quinoa … like any other grain, in can be very plain if you just boil it in water. So it helps build in flavor if you use broth for the cooking liquid.  In this recipe, I also added a little white wine.

Quinoa with Hot Curry Veggie Saute
Compliments of JennaDish

MAKES ONE SERVING

3/4 cup vegetable broth 
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup quinoa 

1 shallot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1 yellow squash, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Pinch or two hot curry powder to taste (I used Penzy's)

Rinse the quinoa well.  Put the broth and wine in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Put quinoa in and stir, turn the heat to low, put the lid on and cook for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the shallot in a little oil over medium heat.  Add in mustard seed, if using, and stir around a minute.  Add squash and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes and curry powder and stir until heated and tomatoes are softened.  Taste for seasoning, adding a little more curry powder if desired.

Serve the vegetable over the quinoa.  Enjoy while hot.

 

Pasta and Sauce with Black Bean & Toasted Bread Crumb Topping

Pasta with Black Beans and Toasted Bread Crumbs and Onions

 

Pasta and Sauce with Black Bean & Toasted Bread Crumb Topping
Compliments of JennaDish

original recipe

MAKES 2 GENEROUS SERVINGS

8 ounces fresh pasta (mine is from Bouchard's at Findlay Market)
2 cups pasta sauce (I used Muir Glen's Organic, Cabernet Style) 
2 cups toasted bread crumbs (mine is from Blue Oven's Spelt Bread, ground and toasted)
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained 

Saute the bread crumbs in a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  After crumbs are heated, add the beans to the pan to heat up.

Meanwhile, heat the pasta sauce in a sauce pan, and cook the pasta according to package or vendor instructions.

Drain the pasta, serve in a bowl, top with sauce then the crumb/bean mixture.

 

Panzanella with Sunflower Seed Bread & Yellow Pear Tomatoes

Panzanella
Panzanella Salad

This salad, like most, is highly adaptable.  My first tip would be to use a dense, strong bread, in order to stand up to the saute and the liquids. 

IMG_4755
Other than that, substitute a fresh veggie (think Italian) that seems to make sense, for a veggie you don't have.

IMG_4763
I had some little pear tomatoes, so I used those instead of more peppers.  I also didn't have cucumber so I used a few of my fresh, homemade pickles.  If you're a pickle-lover go for it.  If not, nix that idea and sub something else.  It's too strong of a taste if you aren't thrilled with tangy pickles.

 

Panzanella with Sunflower Seed Bread & Yellow Pear Tomatoes
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Ina Garten on Food Network.com

MAKES ABOUT 3 to 4 SERVINGS as a side

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups of 1" cubes of sunflower seed bread (or any dense, whole grain or sourdough bread)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large, ripe tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 to 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, sliced 1/2-inch thick (I used 1/3 cup fresh pickles)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
10 yellow pear tomatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 Tablespoons capers, drained

Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber (or pickles), red or yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.  The salad tastes even better the next day.

Almond Milkshake with Peanut Butter, Banana & Oats

 Almond Peanut Banana Oat Shake

If you are thinking of drinking a plant-based milk to replace cow's milk, try Almond Milk!  It's full of calcium and other nutrients, and even the unsweetened version tastes like a very thin milkshake.

Tastes great on Frosted Mini Wheats.  I know!

But it's also great as the base for a healthy breakfast shake. A healthy shake might have milk, a fruit or two, a little sweetener, wheat germ, an herb or spice …. but I had not heard of putting rolled oats in a shake.  But I guess it makes sense.  If wheat germ is ok, why not oats?

I got the oats idea from a recipe in my new cookbook that Alyssa bought me for my birthday, Big Vegan by Robin Asbell

 

Almond Milkshake with Peanut Butter, Banana & Oats
Compliments of JennaDish

MAKES ONE SERVING

1 to 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
1 frozen banana
1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter (I used chunky)
1/8 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract (optional)

Put all ingredients in a blender.  Puree for a minute or so.  Serve immediately.

 

The Plant-Based Bowl: Quinoa, Black Beans, Tomatoes, and Caesar Chavez Dressing

Quinoa Bean Bowl with Caesar Chavez Dressing
Well, our 6-Week Vegan Challenge is up, but we are still trying to keep the habit of eating a mainly plant-based diet.

This is a "bowl."  It is very adaptable.

You simply choose a grain or healthy pasta (quinoa, rice, barley, soba noodles), a veggie or two, a bean, and a dressing or sauce.

I tried quinoa, black beans, tomatoes and Caesar Chavez Dressing.

The taste is great!  Not photogenic, but very tastogenic.  There.  I made up a word.

 

Caesar Chavez Dressing
Compliments of JennaDish

from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Serves 4 (or 2 if you're having a bowl of plain quinoa, which needs more sauce)

I found the cashews difficult to chop in the blender/food processor fully, so soaking them first would help, or even chopping, then mashing with a mortar and pestle. However, even without the prep, you'll have 4-5 teeny pieces of cashew chunks. Not a huge deal.

2 Tablespoons chopped shallot
2 Tablespoons cashew pieces
1 Tablespoon tahini
1 Tablespoon miso
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon capers with brine
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Blend it all in a blender or food processor until well blended, 2-5 minutes.