Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Back From A Family Emergency

Skiing, Trees, Snow, Field, Snow Field

We had a family medical emergency last week, and we needed to return to Philadelphia (we are snow birds).

Fort Lauderdale
The Fort Lauderdale airport was relatively empty (we took a 6 am flight) and our flight to Philadelphia was only 60% booked. Yay! On the return 10 am flight a week later, it was 80% booked and felt a little crowded. We had to Uber each way to our residences but the drivers and we wore masks, and I opened the window for a few seconds now and then.

You may remember that I had Covid about 5 weeks ago.. can I get it so soon again??? 

9 Degrees!!
The weather was in the single digits when we got there. Despite keeping our spare car in the garage, the battery was dead. After a visit from AAA we were able to drive to my sister in law's house to help her nurse a very sick (and dying) husband in a hospital bed in her home. The hospice nurse came every morning for an hour but only Mon-Friday. All the siblings showed up and we took turns playing nurse, cooking, talking, praying etc. 

 Luckily all of our winter gear is in Philadelphia area. We had a snowstorm one night followed by an ice storm. By morning it warmed up to 34 degrees and everything melted. We stayed for a week helping to support my sister in law and making a daily commute to visit with my mother in law an hour a way. 

Pumpkin Cream Soup, Meal, Soup, Delicate

Eating Whole Food Healthy
I tried to eat healthy whole food while I was there although many family members are gluten free and dairy free and they were bringing baked goods and someone also brought gluten-free Oreo type cookies which I could not resist tasting (4 or 5 cookies over 6 days). 

Soup Hit The Spot
I shopped for some fruit and salad as soon as we got there - and made a pot of (link to recipe) butternut squash red lentil soup which is not in my cookbook but is one of my favorite soup recipes that I developed after I had already published my cookbook. 

Make It Easy
I bought pre-cut peeled and cubed butternut squash and used organic salsa instead of buying onions, tomatoes, chili peppers, and sweet peppers. It's such a time saver. With my Instant Pot, I was able to whip up a delicious batch of warming soup quickly and set it to pressure cook it in just 9 minutes. 

Great Vegan, Gluten-free, Oil-free Very Easy Dinner
I also made my hot rice and chickpea dinner which is topped with chopped tomatoes, chopped avocado, cumin seeds, cracked pepper,  and sesame seeds. Another easy gluten-free vegan dish that can be made with lots of shortcuts because I didn't want a lot of pots and pans to clean up.

My Shortcuts
1. I bought a large container of cooked rice from the Chinese restaurant ($3.00) I could have bought their brown rice, but I really wanted white..
2. I opened a can of organic chickpeas
3. I chopped tomatoes and avocados
4. Added the seasonings 

5. I heat the rice and chickpeas before adding the tomatoes, avocado, and seasoning. 

We bought take out two nights. 

Green, Smoothie, Drink, Healthy, Food

I bought the ingredients for a smoothie for each morning.

1. Organic baby spinach
2. Frozen blueberries 
3. Cinnamon and turmeric ( which I had in the cupboard) 
4. Alma powder (a high antioxidant powder) 
5. Almond milk 
6. Banana

I am back now in Florida as of today and feeling the warmth of the sun penetrating my skin and loving it. 

Beach, Pier, Sunset, Sea, Ocean, Water

We are glad to be back.

Ardea Herodias, Great Blue Heron

Note: All of my recipes starting in January of 2021 are vegan and oil-free. All of my recipes have always been gluten-free and vegetarian.

Thursday, January 6, 2022


It's time to take a peek into my kitchen
 to see what's doing for January. I'm in Florida.

Spices, Shelf, Jar, Kitchen, Cooking

I'm joining Sherry's IMK (In My Kitchen) "blog share" for the month of January. IMK, as the name implies, is an opportunity for bloggers to give readers a peek into what's going on in their kitchens. 

Storage Bins for a Small Refrigerator
My refrigerator in my Florida kitchen is small (22 Cu/ft) and is a side by side. I have difficulty fitting everything into it. 
I bought little bins to hold my fruit and it seems to help. Those two bins take up an entire shelf in the refrigerator.

Dried Olives From Turkey
Next, we are enjoying these dehydrated dried black olives. They are extremely tasty and come from Turkey. 

Organic Non GMO Popcorn Kernels
I do like to eat popcorn but the small microwave packets contain a chemical that releases with the steam that is bad for the lungs. I buy these popcorn kernels at Whole Foods- I pop the corn in the microwave in a bowl. They are organic and Non-Gmo and pop easily.

Higher Protein Chickpea Pasta 
I bought a box of pasta made from chickpeas at Costco.
 It contained 5 packages of 8 ounce pasta. I made a pasta and mushroom stir fry this week.

Food For Traveling - Rice and Bean Pouches 
I store two microwaveable packages in my pantry for a just in case meal. If I need to be out for the day or even travel, I need to bring food with me since I am not only vegan- I am also gluten-free. It's really difficult for me to find healthy food that meets my criteria when I'm traveling. These packages do not require refrigeration and can be heated in the microwave in minutes for a filling satisfying tasty meal. Both have no oil added. Black beans and rice anyone?

My Birthday Flowers
My husband got me flowers for my birthday at the end of December, which are still hanging around my kitchen! 
My favorite color is pink and especially mixed with white baby's breath. This combination seems soothing and pretty to me. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Mushroom and Herbs Pasta Stir Fry- Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Oil-Free

mushrooms, pasta, herbs

Do you like pasta? I do, and I love eating this interesting medley made with mushrooms and herbs. It's easy to make and can be thrown together for a quick weeknight dinner. 

I used penne pasta (gluten-free), tossed it with a sauté of mushrooms, onions, and herbs de Provence. Before serving I added some fresh spinach which wilted in the pot. It was a balanced healthy very tasty entree.

mushrooms, spinach, pasta, gluten-free

Mushrooms cook up quickly, are light and tasty, and add a delightful flavor to just about any recipe. In addition, they are low in calories, fat, and carbs and provide a decent amount of B Vitamins which are important for energy and they also contain vitamin D which is important for immunity. 

Mushroom, Mushrooms, Food, Champignon

I purchased a giant size container of baby portobello mushrooms at Costco. I find that mushrooms don't usually stay firm too long, so I like to cook them within a few days of buying them. I had to use a lot of them. This recipe allows the flavor of the mushroom to dominate. This recipe only used half the container or mushrooms so I'll be making another mushroom recipe too for another day.

Pasta, Food, Paste, Nutrition, Spaghetti

Easy To Make 
First I boiled some water for pasta. While the pasta was cooking, I chopped an onion and cleaned and sliced the mushrooms. Next, I sautéed the onions for about 5 minutes. When the onions started to stick to the skillet, I added 2 tablespoons of water and then added the mushrooms. The juices from the mushrooms provided enough liquid to continue sautéing for another 5 minutes while I stirred frequently. When the pasta was done, I drained it and added it to the pan with the sauté, added herbs de Provence  and stirred until everything was mixed well. I then decided to add fresh spinach which wilted nicely into the dish, but you could leave it out.

Spinach, Healthy, Green, Dieting, Greens

We really enjoyed this simple yet healthy pasta dish which could be served for any weeknight dinner or even served to guests for a special occasion. 

Utensils, Silverware, Forks

There are many kinds of high protein pastas available- see my post on variety of pasta
If you prefer a tomato based sauce on your pasta, you might enjoy my chunky eggplant sauce which is one of our favorite sauces for  pasta.

8 ounces of penne pasta ( I used a chickpea pasta that is gluten-free and high in protein), cooked 
1 and 1/2 cups of chopped onion
5 cups of sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon of herbs de Provence ( or substitute an Italian seasoning blend) 
2 cups of fresh spinach, sliced ribbon style
Optional: 1 and 1/2 cups of marinara sauce 

While pasta is cooking, heat a skillet to sauté vegetables. Add the chopped onions and begin to sauté for 3-4 minutes-stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons of water, stir, and then add mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Turn off and set aside. When pasta is cooked, drain, and add the hot pasta to the skillet with the mushrooms and stir. Add the chopped spinach and enjoy. 

My Notes: 
1. As an alternative,  I like to top my bowl with some heated marinara sauce. 
2. I used a chickpea pasta which provides a significant amount of protein. If you use regular pasta and want to add more protein, add chickpeas to the mix. 
3. This is a plant-based, oil-free vegan entree. 
4. You may notice that I do not sauté with oil anymore. Why? Well, it saves a ton of calories which helps me keep my weight down, I find I am perfectly happy with the taste of my dishes without added oil. 

However, it goes deeper- I have been reading cutting edge information by prominent and well respected doctors. See my previous posts and read  18 doctors that drive the Whole Food Plant-Based Food Movement. The information is eye opening. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Rice, Tomato, and Avocado Salad- Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-free

A healthy plant-based delicious dinner without a lot of effort? 
Yay! I love combining healthy ingredients to a make a quick and easy delicious plant-based dinner.

Rice, Top, Cook, Having Lunch, Rice

Eliminating or reducing eating animal protein is not difficult. 
After all, many foreign countries eat much less animal protein than we do in the United States and their cultures have some mighty tasty recipes using beans, vegetables, and grains. 
Tomato, Food, Foodporn, Foodie, Tomatoes

The recipe is a quick and simple go-to recipe of mine. It is made using a bed of cooked rice (white, brown, or basmati), topped with chopped tomatoes and chopped avocado, seasoned with freshly squeezed lime, salt, pepper, sesame seeds and cumin seeds, and a can of drained chickpeas ( or 2 cups of cooked chickpeas) for protein.

Don't like rice? Substitute quinoa

My husband likes white rice, so I made white rice (this time) because this meal was for him. Perhaps a healthier version would be to make the identical recipe using brown rice. 

I make my rice in the Instant Pot . It needs about 10 minutes to pre-heat before cooking and then 12 minutes to cook. The rice comes out just the way we like every time and clean up is minimal and I don't have to ever watch the pot since it will turn off itself when done and keep warm till I'm ready to eat it. 

Guacamole, Raw Food, A Healthy Diet

Tomato and Avocado Salad Topping

2 large vine ripe tomatoes, chopped 
or 1 container of cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, chopped (Florida style or Haas avocado) 
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 small lime
1/4 cup of chopped parsley or cilantro
1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste  

2 cups of raw rice washed and cooked  (white, brown, or basmati)

I can of drained chickpeas

After cooking the rice or using leftover cooked rice, layer the cooked rice, chickpeas, and tomato avocado salad mixture in a bowl starting with rice on the bottom. Add the seasonings and dig in. 
If you want more vegetables eat with steamed broccoli. 

This quick meal is not only plant-based vegan, it is also gluten-free, and oil-free. 

What's all the hoo-ha with oil-free? 
Oil-free does not meal fat-free. Oil is a HIGHLY concentrated HIGHLY caloric condiment that contains zero fiber AND according to many cardiologists and doctors should not be part of a heart healthy diet. It took years to convince us that sugar is not our friend. Now if you start to read about "oil " (olive, canola, sunflower, etc.), you will start to understand why "oil" is not your heart's friend.

 Quote From Naked Food Magazine

"All vegetable-based oils, which pretty much follow the same model as processed sugar, are pressed from plants. All the nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, have been stripped away. Oil is nothing but fat. Oil has more calories per gram than any other food. A tablespoon contains about 14 grams of fat." (source)

I stopped using "oil" (but did not stop eating avocado, olives, and nuts and seeds) about 10 months ago. I find that I got used to it quickly and have lots of good alternatives and have lost and kept off 15 pounds just eliminating oil. The hardest part has been giving up salad dressing with oil- but now I don't even miss it.  

More Sources: 

The Ultimate Guide to cooking and baking without oil

Dr. Gregor- Nutrition Facts (excellent)

Dr. McDougal

Dr. Essylton

My Notes and Shortcuts:
1. The rice can be made the day before and just assembled
2. Rice can be made in advance and frozen in packets. . How I freeze my own rice packets (link). Remove from freezer as needed for cooked rice
3. You can make your own chickpeas in the Instant Pot (link)instead of using a can of chickpeas. 
4. Big Shortcut: 
You can take out a container of cooked white or brown rice in most Chinese restaurants. Just bring it home and assemble for this quick and easy delicious meal.


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Buckwheat in the Instant Pot (Kasha)

buckwheat, gluten-free sides, kasha I love my Instant Pot for making grains such as buckwheat. It uses only one pot, it cooks rather quickly, and the end product is a light fluffy delicious grain that can be enjoyed as a side dish.