Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pineapple Smoothie

Pineapple is in season. Yea! I love that sweet fruit in the peak of season. So when I started seeing it in the grocery store my thoughts went to finding new ways to work it into my diet.

Just this Christmas, my youngest daughter (the other beautiful one) gave me a book full of smoothie recipes, "Cool Smoothies," by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern. However, the recipe calls for a juicer and I only have a blender. I was afraid it wouldn’t sufficiently break down the pineapple, but I was wrong. With a little coaxing, the pineapple whipped up into a frothy delight.

Pineapple Crush

1 large pineapple
1 lemon
ice cubes
4 passionfruit (optional,I just floated raspberries)
sugar or honey, to taste (I used agave)

If you buy the pineapple unpeeled, peel it. Cut it into wedges, then chunks, then press through a juicer. Add the juice of 1 lemon and pour the mixture into a pitcher of ice. Stir in the flesh and seeds of 3 passionfruit, if using, and top with the remaining flesh and seeds.Depending on the sweetness and ripeness of the pineapple, you may like to add a little sugar or honey.

Note: It's a great recipe book for anyone who enjoys smoothies, and who doesn't? Just look at the chapter headings: cool smooth summer, fruits of the earth, vegetable magic, herbs, spices and nuts & clever cocktails (I'm really looking forward to that last chapter). My thanks to my beautiful daughter!

Cool Smoothies, Juices and Tonics

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Vitamin B12?

Recently a friend asked me why it was necessary for vegans to take a vitamin B12 supplement. I had read about this months ago and knew it was important, but I couldn't give her an intelligent response. So I went back into "The China Study," written by Thomas M. Campbell, where he provides a good explanation for this. The following is an excerpt.

"Vitamin B12 is made by microorganisms found in the soil and by microorganisms in the intestines of animals, including our own. The amount made in our intestines is not adequately absorbed, so it is recommend that we consume B12 in food. Research has convincingly shown that plants grown in healthy soil that has a good concentration of vitamin B12 will readily absorb this nutrient. However, plants grown in "lifeless" soil (non-organic soil) may be deficient in vitamin B12. In the United States, most of our agriculture takes place on relatively lifeless soil, decimated from years of unnatural pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use. So the plants grown in this soil and sold in our supermarkets lack B12. In addition, we live in such a sanitized world that we rarely come into direct contact with the soil-borne microorganisms that produce B12. At one point in our history, we got B12 from vegetables that hadn't been scoured of all soil. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that modern Americans who eat highly cleansed plant products and no animal products are unlikely to get enough vitamin B12.

Though our society's obsession with nutrient supplements seriously detracts from other, far more important nutrition information, this is not to say that supplements should always be avoided. It is estimated that we hold a three-year store of vitamin B12 in our bodies. If you do not eat any animal products for three years or more, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consider taking a small B12 supplement on occasion, or going to the doctor annually to check your blood levels of B vitamins and homocysteine."

Found on page 232

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health

Monday, January 18, 2010

Crowd-Pleasing Pasta with Tomatoes and Artichokes

My sister Susan has been on the hunt for vegan cookbooks. She's browsed book stores, checked books out from the library and searched on-line. During all of this she texted (is that a word?) me the names of authors and titles of books, and soon I found myself on-line purchasing two new cookbooks.

This recipe is from "The Vegan Table," by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It got great reviews on amazon.com. I've only made this one dish, but it was really good, easy, fast and certainly "blog worthy." Any changes I made are in parenthesis.

Crowd-Pleasing Pasta with Tomatoes and Artichokes

6 servings

16 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta
2 T. olive oil (I used 1 T.)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can (26 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted)
2 T. tomato paste
1 can (15 ounces) artichokes
1 T. chopped fresh basil
1/2 C sliced black olives (I used kalamata)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook penne in boiling water until al dente. Drain right before serving. In a large saute pan, heat oil. Cook garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not brown. Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Heat to near boiling. Add artichokes, basil, and black olives. Season with salt and pepper. Serve penne in a large bowl, pouring sauce over all and mixing together.

The Vegan Table: 200 Unforgettable Recipes for Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cannellini Bean Soup with Garlic

This soup was inspired by "Jewels' Favorite Soup Jill Makes" along with my love for garlic. My husband thought it was so good he went back for seconds... and he's not a lover of soup! That's what convinced me the recipe was "blog worthy." You'll have to make it and let me know what you think.

1 - 2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced (1 Cup)
6 C. water
3 vegan bouillon cubes
2 medium sized russet potatoes, diced (1 1/2 - 2 Cups)
1 C. chopped cauliflower
1 whole bulb of garlic, separated and peeled
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme
4 15.5 oz. cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 t. white pepper
1/4 C. parsley, chopped
cheesecloth and kitchen string

In a large stock pot, saute the onion in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add water and bouillon cubes and bring to a simmer. Tie the garlic, bay leaf and thyme in a piece of cheesecloth and place into the simmering stock. Add the potatoes and cauliflower and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth bundle and discard. Add the beans and puree half the soup in a blender then stir back into the pot. Add the parsley, pepper and enjoy!

Note: Right now, my camera couldn't take a decent picture to save my life. The picture above came from flickr.com, so it's not my soup, but it looks a lot like it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jewels' Favorite Soup Jill Makes

I found this recipe on the Woman's Day website. It was among several recipes featuring the cookbook "Recipes from The Family Chef," created by Jewels and Jill Elmore. It's a wonderful soup that takes only minutes to make and comes straight out of the pantry! The changes I made are in parenthesis.

Jewels' Favorite Soup Jill Makes

Makes 10 cups
Serves 6–8
Total time: 35 minutes

* 3 cans (15 ounces each) cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
* 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (I used vegetable stock)
* 2 cloves garlic , sliced
* 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 medium onion , chopped in a medium dice
* 2 ribs celery , chopped in a medium dice
* 4 ripe tomatoes , cut into small pieces (I used a 28oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained)
* 1 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)
* 1/4 cup fresh parsley , roughly chopped
* 1 cup Parmesan cheese , grated (I omitted)

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat and sauté the onion and celery for 5–6 minutes until soft and translucent. Next, add the tomatoes and salt and continue to cook another 3–4 minutes. Add beans, stock and garlic and bring to boil, reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 20–30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and cook another 15 minutes to meld flavors together. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Recipe from The Family Chef by Jewels and Jill Elmore, courtesy of Celebra Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).