Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Tonight’s dinner was a successful cornucopia of veggies in disguise, and a quick and easy one at that!

By now, Ecogirl is four and a half, and Ecobaby isn’t such a baby anymore … two months past her second birthday already! How time flies! They are (mostly) adventurous eaters, but I sometimes still get stubborn resistance to eating vegetables.

So what do I do? I don’t bother with a fight. I just pull the veggie bait-and-switch, and dupe them into eating something delicious and nutritious that they weren’t expecting.

Who doesn’t like pasta?!?! That one always goes over well at our house, and likely at yours too. Cries of “Yay, fettuccine!” filled my ears, while they hadn’t the foggiest notion I’d be hiding several servings of veggies amidst the twirling mass of tasty noodles.

I’ve been trying to stay (somewhat) gluten-free while I’m exploring my newest diet to increase alkalinity. I’m not religious about it, but I do find I feel better when I reduce, or better yet eliminate, processed wheat products. Ecodaddy is mostly onboard with my unconventional dietary choices, but he is not a big fan of rice pasta, instead ever-loyal to those amber waves of grain that are a staple of the standard American diet (aka wheat).

But since he’s at work tonight and it’s just us girls having dinner at home, I took the opportunity to let my beloved rice pasta take center stage. You, however, are more than welcome to use any type of pasta you darned please.

veggie fettuccine

While I chose not to, feel free to top with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if you are so inspired!

Quick and Easy Veggie Fettuccine

While the water boiled for the pasta, I warmed up a cast-iron pan and poured in a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil. When it had that glisten that told me it was just right for sizzling veggies, I added about 1/4 cup diced onions. I let the onions sauté for a few minutes til they softened and browned a bit, then added 1/4 cup chopped broccoli florets, 1/4 cup chopped cauliflower florets, about 1/4 cup vegetable broth and a few hefty pinches of sea salt. I put a lid on it and let it simmer over medium-low heat a few minutes, then took the lid off and let the cooking liquid evaporate. In went a couple of minced garlic cloves. Just another minute or two of sautéing so the garlic wouldn’t burn, and I then dumped in half a jar of store-bought tomato sauce (hey, even Ecomamas take short cuts sometimes!). Warmed it all up and voila: fast and easy veggie tomato sauce!

By this time, I had put a glug of extra virgin olive oil and a few hefty pinches of sea salt into the boiling water, and in went the rice fettuccine. Rice pasta is terribly gummy if overcooked, so you really need to keep a close eye (and taste) on it. It keeps cooking in the colander, so after straining it, I ran some cold water over the noodles to halt the cooking process.

Meanwhile, the now-empty pasta pot went back on the stove on medium-low heat with a glug of extra virgin olive oil (if you are not on a dairy-free diet like I am, I encourage you to use a few tablespoons of butter instead!), and the rinsed pasta went back in the pot and tossed with a few pinches of sea salt and a few turns of the black pepper mill.

I served the veggie-laden sauce over a bed of the well-seasoned fettuccine, and topped the girls’ bowls with grated parmesan cheese (parmigiano reggiano is our personal fave). Alas, no cheese for me, but still very tasty.

The girls both gobbled it up … I was thrilled when they asked for seconds, and simply floored when they asked for thirds!

Sidenote: several years ago, my sister gave me one of the greatest pieces of kitchen advice EVER. She said, whenever you have only a short amount of free time, like the five minutes you’re waiting for your kid to go potty before you head out of the house for an excursion, and there’s no other real project or task you can get done in this short time, do this: grab something out of the fridge, chop it, put it in a lidded container, and place back in the fridge.

Thanks to her, and all these little segmented five-minute periods of time throughout my day, I have nicely organized containers of just about every vegetable and fruit chopped and ready to use at a moment’s notice! Thanks sis!

What are some of your favorite ways to disguise veggies or your favorite time-saving kitchen tips?


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Kale is coming up in my spring garden, and it is one of my all-time favorite green veggies, any time of year. I started my seeds a little early this winter, and with the mild weather we had, it worked out perfectly.

Well, perfectly except for the squirrels, who have a penchant for digging out the acorns from the soil around the plants, and nibbling the tender kale leaves before I can get to them. Ecodaddy makes them an “offering” of sunflower seeds every morning, but I’m not so generous. I think he’s caving and paying off mafia rodents. Little pests.

The grey, rainy day today made me crave something warm and nourishing for dinner, like a soup or a stew. With an abundance of kale from my last coop order, plus the bounty that’s been coming up in my garden, I was looking for a way to use it, quick.

A few small adjustments to this recipe, a couple of extra hours to cook the dried beans, and voila: I had a healthy, delicious, soul-warming soup that used up my kale and pleased the masses!

White Bean and Kale Soup

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups chopped raw kale, packed tightly
  • 6 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
  • 16 ounce bag dried white beans like cannellini or navy (or two 15 oz cans, undrained)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Rinse and pick over white beans; place in pot and cover with water by several inches. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat. Allow beans to sit for one hour, then discard soaking water.
  2. Return beans to pot, add 1 tsp sea salt and stir. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and place lid half on. Stir every 10-15 minutes, and let simmer for 1.5-2 hours until desired tenderness.
  3. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, then sauté onion til translucent. Add garlic and sauté for one more minute.
  4. Add kale, toss to coat with oil, and sauté, stirring, until leaves are fairly wilted, 5-10 minutes. Add a tiny bit of broth as you stir, to keep onions and garlic from burning.
  5. Add 4 cups of broth, 2 cups (or one can) of cooked beans, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
  6. In a blender or food processor, combine remaining 2 cups broth with 2 cups beans (or one can) and blend to an even consistency. Stir into soup and simmer 15-20 minutes more.
  7. Ladle into bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese, if you so choose.

For the kids, I poured the chunky soup back into the blender and pureed it. While it wasn’t the most appealing shade of green, it was quite delicious, especially topped with parmesan.

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This is how I’m squashing my chocolate craving tonight.

photo credit Oh She Glows

While this recipe considers the buckwheat optional, I chose to add it as a tribute to my partly Russian roots, and to give a little extra crunch. My Russian acupuncturist once bought me a bag, telling me it is high in iron and B vitamins, and iz gooood toooo noooorish blaaaahd.

And by now you already know how much I love the humble chia seed, bursting with fiber and omega goodness.

Need I even say anything at all on how I feel about chocolate? It borders on obsession. The darker the better, like 70% or higher.

Here I used the standard 60% bittersweet chips, a la Nestle. Because they have some sugar, I do not use any additional sweetener. If you choose to use darker chocolate, feel free to add a squirt of raw honey or agave.

Chocolate Oatmeal Freezer Cookies

  • 1.25 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp buckwheat groats
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • Squirt of honey or agave (optional)
  1. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop banana and mash into melted chips.
  3. Stir remaining ingredients into chocolate banana mixture and stir well until oats are coated with chocolate.
  4. Spoon mixture evenly into twelve muffin liners and freeze for about an hour, or until firm.

You can leave these in the freezer and they will stay somewhat chewy, not freezing up to a completely solid state. They definitely squash my chocolate fix any time of day or night. Usually night. Late at night. Like now.

Excuse me, I think I hear the freezer calling my name …

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Remember those ceramic statues in the seventies shaped like animals or a human head that you’d cover with a fine layer of tiny black seeds and water daily? Sprouts would grow, making it like fur or a really tight ‘fro.


Chia seeds provide super-high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain development. Omega-3’s are also linked to joint health as well as elevated mood; one Scandinavian study showed that people taking an omega-3 supplement for four months reported happier outlooks on life.

Eating seeds can make you happier. Who knew!

The little black seeds can hold 8-10x their weight in water, making a gelatinous substance that can be used in many different ways. It can substitute for eggs in various recipes, baking or otherwise. I also add it to foods where my three year old won’t notice, like pasta sauce or scrambled eggs, as well as putting it in Ecodaddy’s morning smoothie. The seeds don’t really have a particular flavor, so they are very easy to camouflage.

Photo credit: MySuperFoods

Chia Gel

  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 quart mason jar, or similar lidded container
  1. Place seeds and water in container and seal lid. Shake vigorously for a few seconds.
  2. Let rest for a few minutes, then shake again. Gel should be ready in ten minutes.
  3. Refrigerate and use for up to two weeks.

If you want to use your gel as a substitute for eggs in recipes, the general rule of thumb is 1/3 cup chia gel per egg. I do this often in baking recipes, and neither Ecodaddy nor the Ecokids ever know the difference.

It’ll be our happy little secret.

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This was tonight’s yummy dinner, which is also another one of my “go-to” dishes for potlucks. As you can see by now, I do go to a lot of potlucks!

It is the kind of dish that makes lots of people happy. It’s vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free, if you use rice pasta like we do.

It’s got soy though. You can’t please everyone. But you can sub chicken for tofu if someone does have a soy allergy. And if they have a chicken allergy, well then, sheesh, I’m all out of ideas.

This is also a child-friendly way for me to get some veggies into Ecogirl. She loves trying to twirl her noodles around her fork, Italian-style, until she gives up and just shovels it in with her hands.

Serve hot for dinner, then refrigerate to enjoy cold the next day.

Two meals in one. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Sesame Noodles

  • 1 lb long whole wheat or rice pasta (fettuccine, spaghetti, anything long)
  • 1/3 cup sesame tahini
  • 9 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids, or soy sauce
  • 9 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced or through a garlic press
  • 1 lb diced extra firm tofu, wrapped in cloth and pressed to remove excess liquid (can sub 1 lb cooked diced chicken if you’re feeling particularly carnivorous)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3-4 carrots, grated on largest grater setting
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 of a red pepper, diced
  • Several handfuls of mung bean sprouts
  • 3 scallions, sliced into thin rings, whites and greens separated
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  1. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions. (If using rice pasta, make sure to rinse with cold water in strainer to prevent it from getting overcooked and gummy.)
  2. While waiting for pasta water to boil, put into a small sauce pan: tahini, Bragg’s or soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and garlic.
  3. Bring sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer for five minutes. Add tofu (or chicken) to the sauce and remove from heat.
  4. In same large pot in which you made the pasta, turn heat on medium-high and add EVOO.
  5. When oil is hot, add carrots, broccoli, red pepper, and scallion whites and saute for a few minutes.
  6. Turn heat down to low, and add drained pasta, mung bean sprouts, scallion greens, and sauce with tofu in it.
  7. Toss well, then sprinkle top with sesame seeds.
  8. Serve hot for dinner, serve leftovers (if any) the next day.

This recipe makes more than you think it will because of all the veggies. However, if you are feeding a small army, it can be doubled with great success.

Do feel free to experiment with any other vegetables you like. If you do, please come back and share how you tweaked this recipe and made it your own.

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I love kale. Simply adore it. Raw, cooked, whatever. Can eat an entire bunch by myself in one sitting. And do. Often.

In the Standard American Diet (SAD for short, with good reason), you usually find kale as the garnish under a platter of fruit salad. Sad indeed.

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s a great source of fiber, calcium, lutein, iron, vitamins A, C, E and K. It does require a little more work from the jaws than many other greens, so it benefits from long, slow cooking, or if eaten raw, a significant amount of chopping.

It’s rich in the phytochemical sulforaphane, which triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals. A 2004 study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that sulforaphane stopped breast cancer cells in their tracks.

As good ol’ Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be food.”

This marinated kale salad is vegan, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, and absolutely delicious. Plus, it’s green, and by know you already know how I feel about greens!

Preparation is also quite kid-friendly, as it involves “massaging” the greens with sea salt. Lots of fun for little hands. Ecogirl certainly enjoyed it!

It’s one of my favorite “go-to” dishes for potlucks, and it’s even better the next day.

If it lasts that long.

Marinated Kale Salad

  • two bunches kale
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Any chopped raw vegetables you like, such as tomato, red pepper, avocado, etc.
  1. Wash and dry kale, tearing leaves from stems. Put stems aside for another use (we chop ours into small pieces, steam, and toss into soups and stews)
  2. Chop kale leaves into a fine chiffonade or just chop into very small pieces. Place kale in large bowl
  3. Sprinkle salt over kale and “massage” leaves for a few minutes until they start to become moist
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together EVOO, lemon juice, and garlic
  5. Pour dressing over greens and mix well. Let sit for at least ten minutes. Even better if it sits overnight in fridge
  6. Just before serving, add chopped raw vegetables and mix well

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