Here is another super-quick Mexican inspired recipe to make when you don’t have much time – or ingredients on hand. It uses 3 basic ingredients and is very inexpensive and easy to make (your teenager could easily make it!). Make a dang quesadilla, Napoleon!
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 whole-wheat tortillas (8 inch)
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (or cheddar if you aren’t vegan)
3/4 cup of salsa
1 Avocado (for slicing or guacamole)
Scrub sweet potatoes: pierce several times with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave, uncovered, on high for 7 – 9 minutes (or use your “baked potato” auto cook button)
When cool enough to handle, cut each potato lengthwise in half. Scoop out pulp and spread onto one half of each tortilla. Top with beans and cheese (if using). Fold other half of tortilla over filling. I like to sprinkle a little bit of seasoning over the beans – like garlic salt or greek seasoning.
Heat a griddle or a skillet over medium heat. Cook 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted.
Serve with your choice of toppings: sliced avocado/guacamole, shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream.
Nutritional info: 306 cal. 8 g fat (3g sat. fat – if using cheese), 15 mg cool., 531 sodium, 46g carb, 6g fiber 11 g pro.
I prepared this delicious and colorful dish for supper last night and served it over quinoa. This easy to prepare dish is from “One-Dish Vegan” by Robin Robertson and is packed full of antioxidants and protein from all veggies! It is soy and gluten-free depending on what you serve it over (couscous, rice, pasta, quinoa, or warm flatbread). It took me about 30 minutes to prepare and it serves approximately 4.
1 Tbsp olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1 medium (or half large) yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
6 t0 8 cups chopped stemmed kale, spinach or chard
Lemon wedges, for serving
2 cups of cooked quinoa, couscous, rice or pasta (enough for 4 servings)
Cut up the onion, sweet potato and spinach (spinach needed last).
Follow directions for cooking about 2 cups of couscous, rice, pasta or quinoa.
In the meantime, heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally, Add the sweet potato, coriander, paprika, thyme, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the tomatoes with their juices, chickpeas, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the kale (or spinach/chard), stirring to wilt. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender – about another 10-15 minutes. Serve hot over couscous, quinoa, pasta or flatbread and top with a squeeze of lemon.
Today’s Bonus Tip:
Eating a plant-based diet is great for your health – but we need to be mindful of toxins from the environment (chemical pesticides and fertilizers) found on our fruits and vegetables.
Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the “Dirty Dozen,” or the fruits and vegetables the nonprofit claims have the highest amount of pesticides when grown conventionally versus organically.
The EWG has compiled the list annually since 2004 based on internal data that’s not peer-reviewed. Using 40,900 samples for 47 different types of produce, the EWG found these twelve had the most pesticide residue:
The 2019 Dirty Dozen Foods List:
Strawberries rank number one for the fourth year in a row, and the rest of the list looks similar to years past with one exception: Kale made the top 12 for the first time in a decade.
If you’re concerned about pesticides, the EWG also publishes a list of the “Clean 15,” a.k.a. the produce from conventional growers that generally had less residue in the group’s tests. This year they are:
We spent part of our honeymoon in Jamaica and really like the fresh Caribbean flavors of coconut milk, sweet potatoes and broccoli. We modified the original recipe – taken from One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson – and added Caribbean Jerk Marinade to give it more ‘pop’. This recipe took 30 minutes (or less) and serves 4 people.
2 tsp. olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
1 russet or sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (we prefer sweet potato)
1/2 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (we prefer red)
3 garlic cloves, chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp. minced)
1 or 2 small hot chiles, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 cups small broccoli florets
1 medium-size zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 (13 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups cooked dark red kidney beans or 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups hot cooked rice, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
1/2 cup Caribbean Jerk Marinade (optional)
Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, potato (or sweet potato), bell pepper, garlic, and chili, and sauce for 5 minutes to soften. Add the thyme, broccoli, zucchini, and coconut milk, stirring to combine, then stir in the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in Caribbean Jerk Marinade (if using) and heat through.
Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve over the cooked rice in shallow bowls with a squeeze of lime, if desired.
I don’t know about you – but most weekends we try to clean out our fridge before going to the store to restock. Although veggies tend to last longer in the fridge than meat – they can still go bad if not used within the week. Here are a couple of go-to recipes for using up those left over veggies.
Stir Fry Veggies and Tomatoes:
This week I had to find a use for left over spaghetti and spaghetti squash, zucchini squash, mushrooms, a yellow pepper and half an onion. After a busy week, dinner was basically on the table in about 20 minutes or less. It serves 2 – 4 people depending on amount of veggies and pasta.
3 cups of cup up veggies (zucchini, colored peppers, mushrooms, onion – or whatever sounds good to you).
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp. of Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 – 14.5 oz can of tomatoes, undrained (optional: Diced tomatoes with onions and garlic)
2 cups of cooked spaghetti or other pasta (or cooked rice)
Sautés the veggies in a tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes (add 1 tsp. of minced garlic during last minute)
Stir in 14.5 oz can of undrained diced tomatoes with garlic and onions. Add 1+ tsp. of Italian seasoning.
Let mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.
Check to make sure the veggies are tender and then add a little salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over the warmed spaghetti noodles, spaghetti squash or rice.
Optional: top with Nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan (ground up almonds and Nutritional yeast).
Sweet Potato & Bean Quesadillas
Another favorite quick and recipe using left-overs is Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas. These are easy to make for 2 – 4 people or more depending on how many sweet potatoes and tortillas you have on hand. If you are not vegan you may choose to add the cheese. If you are vegan – it tastes fine without cheese. I found this recipe in the Feb/March 2014 issue Taste of Home magazine. This takes 30 minutes or less to make.
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 whole wheat tortillas (8 inch)
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (omit if you are dairy-free)
3/4 cup salsa
Vegan sour cream (optional)
Diced Avocado (optional)
Scrub sweet potatoes: pierce several times with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 7 – 9 minutes or until tender, turning once.
When cool enough to handle, cut each potato lengthwise in half. Scoop out pulp and spread onto one half of each tortilla. Top with beans and cheese (optional). Fold other half of tortilla over filling.
Heat a griddle or a skillet over medium heat. Cook for 2 -3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, vegan sour cream and/or avocado chunks (or guacamole).
Another quick and easy recipe to use left over veggies is the “Everything Minestrone” recipe that I shared in a previous post entitled “Soup in a Hurry”.
I thought Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time to talk about something very near and dear to each of us. In fact, none of us could live without it! It is your heart!
On this day we see hearts everywhere, but we rarely think about our own heart and how important it is to us (or to those we love). You may already know this, but Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and also the leading cause of death worldwide.* That’s right – not cancer, not drugs, not suicide – but something that in most cases is preventable.
This hits close to home for many of us with aging parents. It was just a year ago this week that my family gathered to mourn the death of my father. He died of a massive stroke at the age of 85 after having surgery to restore circulation to his foot (which had a bad ulcer). He had high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and was taking 12 medications just to stay alive (I found this list in his personal calendar). Like many men his age, he was overweight, rarely ever exercised and had a love for food (which I do as well). He was a veteran of the Korean War, faithfully loved his wife for 64 years, provided for us 4 kids – but he didn’t make his health a priority. Now my Mom is living alone in an assisted living facility and dealing with dementia.
As we get older, we look at our parents to see what we could become (both good and bad). Some of us have the genetics hardwired toward certain diseases and we just accept the fact that we will probably have to deal with the same illnesses. When I stated in this blog, I mentioned how genetic testing showed that I have a higher chance of getting several diseases that my parents and grandparents dealt with (and are still dealing with). There is good news, though! Science is starting to show the impact of healthy lifestyle choices in preventing and even reversing many of these same diseases!
One of the websites that lead to my husband and I cutting out meat, fish and dairy from our diet was NutritionFacts.org. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM also had seen firsthand what heart disease did to his own family and it lead to his becoming a medical doctor. Today many doctors ignore diet as a means to prevent or treat disease and instead just prescribe more medicine with terrible side affects. Even as far back as the ancient Greeks, the physician, Hippocrates knew the importance of good nutrition to counteract disease. He is quoted as saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
OK – I’ll get off my soapbox for now and give you a heart-healthy recipe to cook up for your favorite Valentine. But remember, the biggest gift you can give any of your loved ones is a healthy heart. Lord willing, you will be sticking around for them as long as possible!
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
This is one of our favorite soups for cold nights. I love the colors, flavors and textures – and it has been a hit with company who come to visit and are not into the vegan thing. Another bonus is the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find at your local Aldi or grocery store. I found this recipe in One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson. It serves 4 – 6 and takes about 1 hour to prepare (depending on help with chopping).
1 Tbsp olive oil or 1/4 cup of water
1 large onion, chopped (I like sweet yellow onions)
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 1/2 tsp.)
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (optional: we leave this out because it’s too spicy for us wimps)
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, plus more if needed (I use low sodium if available)
1 1/2 – 3 Tbsp chili powder (according to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
3 cups cooked black beans or 2 (15.5 oz) cans black beans, rinsed drained
Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until softened (about 10 minutes).
Add the sweet potatoes, chipotles (if using), diced tomatoes with their juices, crushed tomatoes, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, salt, and beans. Stir to combine, then bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender (about 45 minutes).
Add more broth if the chili is too thick for your taste. If you prefer a thicker chili, cook uncovered for 15 minutes to thicken. Serve hot. We like to serve this with vegan cornbread muffins.
*According to the article, “The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States” posted by Medical News Today. Last updated 23 February 2017 By Hannah NicholsReviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP