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cookies and blt’s

Bet you never thought I’d write a post about BLT’s, huh?  Well, in place of bacon, I used my dehydrated eggplant bacon!

Eggplant Bacon

from Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 dried chipotle chile, soaked at least 2 hours – omitted because I didn’t have any!
  • 1/2 cup soaking water from the chipotle peppers – omitted, and added a little water instead
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nama shoyu
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch cayenne

Directions:


Cut the eggplant in half, then slice thinly to make ‘bacon’ strips.



Sprinkle it with the sea salt and allow to sit for 1-2 hours on paper towels.


In the mean time, blend all of the other ingredients in your high speed blender or food processor.


Press our the extra moisture in your eggplant by blotting it with extra paper towels.


Then, submerge the eggplant in the marinade and let sit 30-45 minutes.




Carefully lay out the eggplant strips onto your dehydrator and dehydrate at 115°F until crispy (mine took about 14 hours – I put it on before I went to bed, and it was done mid-morning).




13.5 hours later, my eggplant bacon was crispy and done!


It tasted great!  Definitely not like real bacon, although I probably haven’t had that in at least 10 years!  It was crispy and the flavor was great, so I’m glad I used the marinade!


To make our BLT’s for dinner, I took 2 slices of sprouted grain bread and toasted them, then spread a thin layer of mustard on each.

I layered the toast with green leaf lettuce, yellow tomatoes and eggplant bacon.


After the sandwich was put together, I put it on our grill pan to press it a little bit.


Yummy!  The eggplant bacon was crispy enough that it really did remind me of real bacon, besides the flavor.  But, then again, I used to eat BLT’s because I liked the crunch, so this works just fine for me!



I served our sandwiches with a side of zucchini and kale chips, which I dipped in ketchup!


Yesterday morning, I took my zucchini chips out of the dehydrator after 9.5 hours!  Here is how they turned out:




They were crispy, just like chips!  I liked the flavor better dipped in ketchup, so next time I will use some kind of seasoning before dehydrating.  I’m thinking even italian seasoning would be delicious!

For dessert I made some Super Charge Me cookies from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan.

Super Charge Me Cookies

adapted from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan

makes 12 ‘ice cream scoop’ sized cookies


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quick oats (i used rolled oats)
  • 2/3 cup spelt flour (i used whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon (i used 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened coconut (i used 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup raisins or other dried fruit ( i used 1/3 cup raisins)
  • 3-4 tbsp carob (to be vegan) or chocolate chips (i used 4 tbsp dark chocolate chunks)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp almond butter (i used Futter’s Almond Haze)
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (i used coconut oil)

Mix all of the ingredients together, scoop with an ice cream scoop and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350°F for 13 minutes.

I took my cookies out after exactly 13 minutes, and they were perfect.  Enjoy!!

These cookies were great.  It will be my new go-to cookie for awhile now.  They are extremely east to make, and I normally have all of the ingredients in my pantry!

spaghetti squash and salad

I went to my favorite produce mart today, Russo’s.  If you live in the Boston area, it is a must visit!  They have all of the produce you could possibly imagine, and it is cheap!  Not everything is local, so I at least try to buy produce that is from the USA.  It is tough to buy local produce around here in the winter, but I really try in the summer!

Anyways, I bought all of the fruit and veggies I need for the week, but I had 2 favorite purchases!

First, was the bag of older bananas that I got for .98 cents!!

That’s right, 10 bananas for .98 cents!  And, they aren’t even that ripe!  I bought some good bananas for the week, but I purchased these babies so that I can cut them all up and freeze them.  I love adding frozen bananas to my smoothies, instead of normal bananas because they give it a little bit more thickness.  These 10 bananas will keep me going for a while – I would have bought more if I had a bigger freezer – what a great deal! 🙂  Look for this type of stuff at your local grocery store because normally the fruit that they put in the “damaged” bin is not really that damaged.  I have bought apples and pears before as well – just cut off the bruised parts and save yourself loads of money.

My 2nd favorite purchase was a spaghetti squash.  I have only made spaghetti squash once before, and it turned out great, so I decided to try again.

Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp dried basil (or fresh, if you have it)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

I cut my squash in half and scooped out the seeds inside, then placed it face down on a cookie sheet.

I saved a few seeds to toast and use on my salad!

Sprinkled with salt and paprika before toasting.

I baked it in a 400°F oven for 35 minutes and it came out perfect!

Once cooked enough that you can easily stick a fork into the squash, it is ready to be turned into spaghetti!

Take one half of the squash and scrape out the insides with a fork.  It will easily come out and look like spaghetti.  Repeat with the other side.

I mixed my spaghetti squash up with a little butter, salt, pepper, basil and Parmesan cheese.

I also cut up some grape tomatoes and tossed them in my spaghetti.

Along with my spaghetti squash I had a great salad!

Remember when I made stuffed peppers for some friends and served it along with whole grain bread?  Well, the next day I put the leftover bread right into the freezer to save for homemade croutons!

Tonight, I thawed the bread, cut it up into squares and tossed them with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  If you remember, the bread was already brushed with italian seasoning before freezing.

I then toasted the chunks of bread in my toaster oven until they formed crispy croutons!

I used a bed of romaine lettuce and garnished it with freshly dried apple slices (by me!), unsweetened dried cranberries, toasted seeds from my squash and homemade croutons.  I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing.

And all together!

All served with some Malbec, which was delicious!

It was a light meal, which normally would be great, but tonight I am still hungry!  Off to find some snacks. 🙂

(not) cooking up a storm

Tonight is just one of those nights where I feel like cooking (or not cooking as the case may be)!  I made up a pretty hefty list of things that I want to whip up this weekend for lunches, dinners and snacks for the upcoming week, so you’ll be seeing lots of yummy recipes to come.

First off, I started my day with another fun juice which included a beet!  I forgot to snap a photo, but my bright red juice included 1 beet, 2 green apples and 1 celery stalk.  It was good!  Better than my juice from yesterday.  Sweet, but not too sweet.

I grabbed some almonds as a snack as I left my house this morning.  They were some new almonds that I was sent by Sahale Snacks.  They sent me a bunch of different types, but the ones I grabbed today were PB&J Almonds!  I mean, I love PB so I knew that I needed to try these first.

Surprisingly, these tasted like jelly covered almonds!  There were peanuts in the mix as well, which is where the pb came from.  I liked them.  They were not too sweet, but definitely had a strawberry jelly flavor to them.  And, it was a small snack size pack which was perfect for an on-the-go snack.

The PB&J Almonds have a pretty decent ingredient list for flavored nuts.  Longer than I would like to see, but pretty natural stuff, so not bad!

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Organic Cane Juice
  • Dried Strawberries
  • Brown Sugar
  • Dried Raspberries
  • Vanilla Extract & Beans
  • Sea Salt
  • Strawberry Juice Concentrate
  • Natural Raspberry Flavor

You can find these snacks at Starbucks as part of their new snack line!  Yum!

My first project of the evening was eggplant bacon!  I used the recipe from Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney, frankly because it’s the only one I could find with good reviews!

I sliced up and soaked my eggplant for the required amount of time, then plopped it in the dehydrator.  It should take about 24 hours(!!), so I’ll post the recipe when it is done!

Recipe and more photos to come once it is done!

I then went to work on Zucchini Chips.  These were much easier.  I took 2 zucchini’s and sliced them into 1/4 inch strips and placed them in the dehydrator with the eggplant.

And, that is where both will at 115°F for 15-20 hours!

And then, I made the best treat of the evening – fudge babies!!  Katie from Chocolate Covered Katie is hosting a Vita-Mix giveaway!  I would die to have a Vita-Mix right now, and every time I am cursing my blender for not making my smoothies creamy!  To enter, go to Katie’s website.  If you cook up a recipe by tomorrow, you get 6 additional entries!

I decided to use Katie’s basic peanut butter babies recipe, but make it chocolate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Babies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cacao powder

Directions:

Throw all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend!

Roll the dough into balls or flatten it into bars, similar to a larabar.  Eat and enjoy!

These took me all of 5 minutes to make.  It took longer to measure the ingredients and roll them into balls than anything else.  Of course I needed to try one!

Yum!  Just like a peanut butter cup!  Kind of – definitely not the same texture, but it does taste like peanut butter and chocolate which does the trick!

quinoa stew and macaroons

My yogurt maker made delicious yogurt!  I’ll post towards the end of the week with some ideas and uses for it. 🙂

It was Day 2 of my weight training today, so I worked out my Legs & Abs.

5 minute warmup – jumping jacks

Legs

  • Lunge & Lift – 3 sets of 12
  • Stability Ball hamstring curl – 3 sets of 12
  • Mountain Climbers – 1 minute
  • Calf Raises with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Squat jumps – 1 minute
  • Deadlifts with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Step-ups with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Burpees – 1 minute
  • Leg lifts – 2 sets of 12

Abs

  • Crunches – 3 sets of 15
  • Reverse Crunches – 3 sets of 15
  • Bicycles – 3 sets of 20
  • Frogs – 3 sets of 10
  • V-ups – 3 sets of 10

5 minute cooldown – jumprope

Tough workout tonight, my legs were burning during those squat jumps and burpees!  I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow, but it was worth it!

Then, it was time for dinner and baking!

Tonight on the menu was our favorite – quinoa!  You probably think that we eat quinoa all the time.  Well, we do!  It is a delicious grain (actually, it’s a seed) and it pairs nicely with any type of vegetable.  Quinoa is about 15% protein, which is very high for a grain, so we rarely eat much other protein with it.

We used a recipe out of one of the Moosewood Cookbooks tonight.  These cookbooks are great, especially for vegetarians.  They make all sorts of delicious recipes.

Quinoa cooks like a couscous does, very quickly.  I started dinner by rinsing 3/4 cup of quinoa (it is important to rinse the quinoa because the seed produces a natural coat to protect itself from insects and you want to rinse this bitter coat off) and placing it in a pan with twice as much water to boil.  Once it boils, you just reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  A few minutes before the quinoa was cooked, I added some corn to the mix.

Meanwhile, I chopped up my veggies: garlic, onion, green pepper, zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes.

Add the onions and garlic to a pan heated with olive oil and cook until tender.  Then, add the pepper, zucchini and squash and cook until a little browned, 5-10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes along with 2 cans of diced tomatoes and a tablespoon of thyme and cover, simmering until the veggies are all tender.  Then add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.  We like our food a little on the spicy side, so I added extra pepper flakes!

Serve the stew over a scoop of the quinoa mixture!  The quinoa really works nicely with the stew.  It is a much lighter dish that it would be with a rice.  Delicious!

Quinoa with Vegetable Stew

adapted from Moosewood Restaurants Low-Fat Favorites

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 summer squash, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa and add to pan with water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender and fluffy.
  2. When quinoa has cooked for about 10 minutes, stir in the corn, and continue to cook.
  3. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until the onions soften.
  4. Add the pepper, zucchini and squash; cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes and thyme.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until veggies are tender.
  6. Add red pepper flakes, then salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Fluff the quinoa mixture, spoon it onto individual serving plates and ladle on the vegetable stew.

Nutrition Facts: About 300 calories per serving.  9.2 grams of protein and 6.5 grams of fat.

My dessert creation of the night were some delicious Almond Coconut Macaroons and Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons!  We are having some friends over for dinner this week, so I needed to try some things out.  I can’t serve just any old thing to my guests. 🙂

I got this recipe from another foodie’s blog and they came out perfectly.  Plenty of almond and coconut flavor.  I added extra sun-grained chocolate chips to the chocolate ones which makes them much more chocolaty and sinful!

I buy my raw almonds and raw coconut whole because you get more bang for your buck, so my first task was to chop them all up.  I ground up the almonds in my food processor until they were almost to a flour-like texture.  I did the same with the coconut, but made sure it had more texture.

Once chopped, I mixed all of my ingredients together and formed them into ice-cream scoop sized balls.  These are supposed to be placed in a dehydrator, but mine isn’t large enough, so instead I turned my oven on to 170°F (the lowest it will go) and “cooked” them for about 4 hours.

Almond Coconut Macaroons

borrowed from Joggerslife.com

makes 9 macaroons

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Raw Almonds, ground (flour-style)
  • 1 Cup Raw Ground Coconut
  • 2 Medjool Dates, spun in food processor
  • 1/8 Cup Raw Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Extract

Double Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons

borrowed from Joggerslife.com

makes 9 macaroons

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Raw Almonds, ground (flour-style)
  • 1 Cup Raw Ground Coconut
  • 2 Medjool Dates, spun in food processor
  • 1/8 Cup Raw Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Sun-Grained Chocolate Chips

Directions for both recipes:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°F. (or use a dehydrator at 105°F for 6-8 hours)
  2. Combine all ingredients.  You’ll know it’s perfect when everything sticks together easily.
  3. Form batter into round balls, and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  4. Allow to stay in oven for 3-4 hours, or until macaroons are firm to the touch. (mine took 4 hours)

These babies are so good.  I could eat them all day long!  They would be great topped with a little almond butter, or even broken up over some coconut ice cream!

I will be making these for family and friends in the very near future!  They just might be the 2010 Christmas cookies!  By then, maybe I’ll have a bigger dehydrator. 🙂

dried fruit

I got a few fun new toys for Christmas that you will get a glimpse at in the next few weeks!  My first new toy is a dehydrator!  How fun is that?!  I love heathly eating and loved dried fruit, but hate that so much of the dried fruit out there is full of added sugar!!  And, when you find the types that are not full of sugar, they are so much more expensive.

So, on our way home from NY, we stopped at Stew Leonards in Connecticut to pick up some fresh fruit to dehydrate!  We got a pineapple, 2 pears, 5 kiwis, a mango and some bananas.  I could not wait to try my new toy!

It was much easier that I had expected.  Basically, you cut up the fruit (trying to make them the same thickness so that they dehydrate at the same speed), place them in the machine and plug it in!  The manual says that some fruit should be pre-treated (dipped in lemon, or something else acidic, to keep them from turning brown), but I did not pre-treat anything.  I wanted to see how everything worked naturally!

My fruit all cut up and ready to go: pineapple, kiwi, mango, pear and banana.

Then, I placed the fruit on the 4 trays:

There are different settings for fruits, veggies, jerky, etc.  I stacked the trays together and turned this to 135°F for fruit.

The fruit I chose, dried at similar times according to the owner’s manual, but the kiwi’s and mango’s dried a little faster and ended up a little harder.  I set the machine up before bedtime to let it work it’s magic overnight!  10 hours later, I had homemade dried fruit!!

It is delicious!  (And, I had some taste testers make sure I wasn’t being biased!)  This fruit, especially the pineapple, is still sweet and delicious and much better tasting than any store bought dried fruit.