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Blueberry, Strawberry, Apple Smoothie

Apparently, I have become addicted to smoothies. No matter what’s in the house — and usually there’s not much since neither my husband nor I like to grocery shop — lately, all I want are smoothies. Here’s my latest.

Blend in blender:

  • Frozen blueberries - about 1/3 + a bit more
  • Frozen strawberries - one handful + 2 
  • Natural applesauce - about 4 oz (I threw in one of my kids’ snack cups)
  • Spinach - one large handful
  • Raw cashew nut butter - about 2 Tbsp (Cashews would work, too)
  • Vanilla almond milk - to desired thickness

I’ve always been dubious about adding spinach to smoothies, but you really cannot taste it at all. It’s certainly a great way for me to get my leafy greens without having to eat them.

Diabetics: I estimate this at 4 carb servings. 

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Simple quinoa salad

Not all Jews allow quinoa during Passover, but this one sure does. I simply cannot fill up on produce and matzah all week. So at the beginning of Passover, I made a huge tub of quinoa. I’ve mostly used it for salad, although it can be used in tons of different ways. This simple salad, though, is quick, easy, and refreshing. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 10 grape tomatoes, quartered (or just eat them whole if you don’t have time to chop)
  • About 2 inches cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 quarter lemon

Mix the quinoa, veggies, and salt together, then squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Yum!

You can add anything to this salad, of course. I added some jicama one day for some crunchy sweetness. Raw sunflower seeds add an interesting flavor, too. 

Diabetics: 1 cup of quinoa is about 2 carb servings. Some sources say, however, that because quinoa has a low glycemic load (not glycemic index) that it’s safer to eat in larger quantities than other forms of carbs. In any case, if you count carbs, count this recipe as approximately (but probably not quite) 3 carb servings.

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Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

I’m experimenting having a smoothie for breakfast. In the past, they haven’t filled me up, but I’m willing to try again. This one combines two of my favorite flavors: chocolate and cherry.

Blend:

  • 1 frozen banana (the secret to creamy-smooth smoothies)
  • 9 frozen dark sweet cherries
  • 1/4 cup vanilla soy yogurt (you could probably use silken tofu as an alternative)
  • 1 cup chocolate soy milk
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa

Delicious! You can add some protein powder, too, if you like. I have yet to find one that I can tolerate, so I have nothing to recommend.

Diabetics: Because of the fruit, milk, and yogurt, this smoothie contains 4 carb servings. If you’re still hungry, add some protein, but avoid having more carbs.

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RAWsome Tacos

It’s Passover again, the week that I am most likely to abandon my mostly-vegan diet. Pasta, bread, oats, and rice make up such a large part of what I eat that Passover puts a serious dent in what I’m allowed to consume. Consequently, I often end up eating eggs and cheese just to get a bit of substance.

This morning, though, I spent two hours looking for easy, vegan recipes that are Passover safe. I discovered some good ones, including some raw recipes. I found this one on my vegweb.com app. (Don’t go to the web site, though. They got hacked, and it’s not safe at the moment.)

Put all of the following in a food processor:

  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1-1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsps Nama Shuya (I used Bragg’s liquid aminos instead)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (I left out)
  • 1 tsp jalapeno spice (The author admits she cannot find this anywhere and makes her own using a dehydrator. I just left it out.)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp water

I processed until slightly chunky. You might like it pastier - up to you.

Serve the taco “meat” in cabbage or lettuce leaves with whatever toppings you like. I used:

  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Green onions
  • Jalapeno slices

This recipe makes 2 large servings.

These were surprisingly good. So good, in fact, that I think I’m going to try some more raw food recipes. And the best part: No Cooking!

Diabetics: These tacos are low carb, although they are higher in fat - good fat, but fat nonetheless. I found 1/2 of this recipe (1 serving) to be very filling and overall low carb.

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Easy tofu veggie stir-fry

I’m all about easy. Cooking is not my favorite thing in the world, so when I can find easy ways to make healthy meals, I’m all over it.

This stir-fry uses mixed frozen veggies. All you really have to do is dice the tofu. Otherwise, all it involves is throwing ingredients into a pan for awhile. That’s my kind of cooking!

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic (I buy pre-minced)
  • Extra-firm tofu, diced
  • Bag of mixed frozen veggies
  • Cooked rice
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

Directions:

  1. Steam the veggies in the microwave till they’re just thawed.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pan. I usually start with 1-2 tsp and then add more if needed.
  3. Throw in the diced tofu, and cook until golden brown. Stir tofu occasionally.
  4. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  5. Add the frozen veggies and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Stir in the rice and Bragg’s Aminos, and heat through.

That’s all there is to it!

Notes:

You can use any mix of veggies. Ours had green beans, squash, potatoes, broccoli, and red peppers - not the usual stir-fry mix at all.

The tofu will brown more quickly if you press it first. 

If you haven’t used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos before, start with a small amount and keep adding till you get the flavor you want. It tastes like soy sauce but has a bit less salt. Like soy sauce, though, it has a strong flavor that can quickly cross the line from just-right to way-too-much. Bragg’s is usually found in the natural foods section of the grocery store. Supposedly, it’s good for you, but I have not yet looked into those claims. (You can use regular soy sauce, of course, although I recommend low-sodium versions. 1 tbsp of regular soy sauce has 1/2 the daily sodium recommendation.)

Diabetics: Of the different kinds of rice out there, brown rice and long grain white rice have the lowest glycemic index. If you keep the oil to a minimum, this stir-fry will be a fast and easy, low-glycemic, low-fat, vegan meal.

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Pressing tofu

When I first became vegetarian, I could only eat tofu mashed up in faux egg or tuna salad. Whenever I tried to eat it diced, it was gross. Mushy and liquidy and totally flavorless. Then I learned about pressing it.

If you’ve been vegetarian or vegan for awhile, you may already know this trick, but if you’re new to it, pressing tofu will change the way you cook with it, and it will definitely improve the taste!

To press tofu (my method):

  1. Cut your tofu into thin slabs. I usually use an 18oz block. I cut it in half, cut each half in half, and cut each of those pieces in half, so I end up with 8 slabs.
  2. Take a cookie sheet and layer it with lots and lots and LOTS of paper towels. (I know, it’s wasteful. I do it because I don’t have the focus to keep going back and changing out towels. But if you’re concerned about the waste, use a couple of kitchen towels instead. You may have to change them out before the pressing is done, though.)
  3. Place the slabs on the paper towels.
  4. Cover the slabs with more paper towels. You don’t need as much on top as you do on the bottom.
  5. Place a cookie sheet on top of those paper towels.
  6. Get the biggest, heaviest book or pot or whatever that you can find and place it on top of the cookie sheet. This is how you will press all the liquid out of your tofu.
  7. Press for at least 30 minutes. If you’re organized enough to do a 1-2 hour press, even better. Sometimes, I get fancy and flip the cookie sheets upside down halfway through the pressing time, but I haven’t seen that it makes a big difference.

Then, just cook your tofu!

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Taco tempeh strips

Tempeh has always scared me. Recipes using it involve way too much marinating and boiling. And it looks funny. I wanted to broaden my horizons, though, so I bought some and then let it sit in my fridge till I finally got up the courage to do something with it.

Today, I finally got it out. I wasn’t in the mood to cook (am I ever?), so I decided to go easy. Here’s what I did. 

  1. Cut the tempeh patty into strips. (I used an 8 oz patty.)
  2. Cut each strip in half lengthwise, so you end up with several long, thin strips.
  3. Heat about 1 tsp olive oil in a skillet.
  4. Throw strips in skillet and let them sit until they’re lightly browned. Turn them over and lightly brown the other side.
  5. Once the strips are browned, add about 1/2 packet taco seasoning (make sure it’s vegan before you buy it) and about 1/2 cup water. If the water boils off right away, keep adding bits of water till you have just enough for a simmer. It doesn’t need to simmer long.
  6. Once all the water has boiled off, remove from heat.

These taco tempeh strips turned out well enough that my 11 year old son declared them “delicious.” He diced them and put them in a cheese quesadilla (he’s ovo-lacto veg).

I made a burrito. First, I put a smear of vegan sour cream on a tortilla, then I added the tempeh strips, diced. Then I threw in lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and mushrooms. It was much better than I expected, and fast and easy, too!

Diabetics: Make sure you check the carb servings on your tempeh. Tempeh itself is low carb, but the other ingredients in it may increase the carbs. The kind I bought had 20 carbs/serving (not sure why - the only ingredient that would affect carbs would be the vinegar).

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sciencevsvegan-deactivated20110 said: try smoothies! you can quickly whip up some veggies and a banana with some water or nondairy milk in the blender. It's filling, quick and doesn't need sweeteners.

You know, I’ve always thought that smoothies took too much morning brain power to make, but now that I think about it, I can throw most of the fixins’ in the blender the night before, so all I have to do in the morning is add the liquid and blend. Awesome.

Thanks for a great suggestion!

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Cheerios!

I’m not very smart or fast in the morning, so I need really easy breakfasts. Pancakes and scrambled tofu are strictly for dinner in my house, because I simply cannot manage to cook anything in the morning unless it’s oatmeal in the microwave. Problem is, it seems like there aren’t many choices that fit fast and easy and morning-stupid.

So I was delighted to discover flavored Cheerios. Regular Cheerios smell disgusting to me so I’ve only been able to eat them by holding my breath when I take a bite, which is not very conducive to eating. At the store the other day, though, I saw that Cheerios now has a ton of different flavors, so I decided to try some. 

I got the chocolate and the banana flavors and mixed them - about a 4:1 ratio of chocolate to banana works best because the banana flavor is much stronger than the chocolate. 

Nutrition-wise, they’re not very different from regular Cheerios. Only 24g carbs for a 1 cup serving, only 9g sugar, 2g fiber, and 1g fat. Plus, they’re made of oats, so they’re great for your heart. Unfortunately, they have a higher glycemic index, so diabetics shouldn’t eat a double serving unless they don’t affect your sugars too much. You can always throw some (pre-cut, if you’re like me) fruit in there to round out the breakfast and get your 3-4 servings of carbs. I’ve been eating 1-1/2 cups and a banana.

I now have an alternative to oatmeal (which is hard for me to eat in the summer) and peanut butter toast. If any of you have other easy breakfasts, please let me know!

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Fast and easy 4 ingredient guacamole

I’m from Southern California, so I grew up with avocados and guacamole. Avocados were one of my kids’ first foods. Even living here in the midwest where good avocados are so hard to find, they remain one of my favorite foods. And one of the best ways to eat them is guacamole!

I like my guac nice and plain, though, not full of stuff. This is the “recipe” I have used for years, and it’s always a hit. I don’t think I’ve ever had guacamole leftovers.

(Yes, avocados are high-fat, but it’s good fat. Just don’t eat 10 at a time. You’ll be fine.)

Ingredients:

  • Avocados
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Chunky salsa

Directions:

  1. Scoop* avocado flesh into bowl and mash** until chunky.
  2. Sprinkle a layer of garlic powder over top of avocado and mash some more to mix it in. Taste and repeat until you reach the perfect level of garlicky goodness.
  3. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over avocado and mash some more. Taste and repeat. If you’re going to use chips with your guac, make sure you use a chip for the taste test. I have, admittedly, gotten it too salty because I did not factor in the saltiness of the chips.
  4. Pour in some chunky salsa. I think I use about 1/4 the amount of salsa that I do avocados, but use as much or as little as you like. I prefer mild salsa myself so that the salsa doesn’t overpower the avocados.
  5. Dip and enjoy!

* The easiest way to remove avocado from it’s skin:

  • Cut avocado in half lengthwise.
  • Remove pit by “thunking” the edge of the knife (not the tip) into it. Once the knife is stuck, slightly squeeze the avocado half and use the knife to lever up the pit. (Be careful. Don’t thunk your fingers instead. Also, removing the knife from the pit probably the most dangerous part.)
  • Using a spoon, scoop out all the avocado.
  • (If you want slices, slice the avocado first, then use a spoon to lever the slices out. Works for diced avo, too.)

** I’ve done my best mashing using the bottom of a (sturdy) glass. It’s nice and flat and broad and works beautifully. You can also use a fork or potato masher, too.

For diabetics: the only thing you need to watch with this guacamole is the fat (which is good fat, though). Not only are avocados low carb, but there’s enough fiber in them to cancel out most of those carbs.