Friday, April 30, 2010

Rice and Beans North of the Border

I don't know about you, but whenever I hear the words "rice and beans," I think of re-fried or black beans in a Mexican tomato sauce with rice. Yum.... I love it. That's not what this is... but this is good too!

Rice and Beans North of the Border

Serves 2 as a meal

1/2  cup long grain brown rice
1 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
16 sweet small tomatoes
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 handful of baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Begin by cooking the rice according to package directions. When the rice is nearly finished add the olive oil to a saute pan and heat on medium heat. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant without browning. Add the tomatoes and cook until just beginning to wilt. Stir in the beans, oregano and salt, and continue cooking until the tomatoes just begin to burst open.Throw in a handful of spinach and cook for a minute. Stir in the rice and serve.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sauteed Spinach with Toasted Pine Nuts

This is a no-brainer. We've all done it one way or another... we've just never written it down. Serve this with couscous and you've got an easy, quick and delicious dinner in minutes!

Sauteed Spinach with Toasted Pine Nuts

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 10-ounce bag fresh spinach with stems removed
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts

Begin by toasting the pine nuts. Use a small dry non-stick skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the pine nuts and shake every 30 seconds to brown evenly. When they are lightly browned remove them to a plate until the spinach is ready.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until the garlic becomes fragrant (don't let it get brown). Add the spinach and toss with tongs until wilted. This will only take a couple of minutes. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and serve.

Note: If you're serving this with couscous, boil the water for the couscous just before you start toasting the pine nuts.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I was asked to bring coleslaw to a luncheon. I didn't want to make a slaw I couldn't eat, so I came up with the following recipe. No one noticed it was minus the mayo, and by the end of the luncheon it was gone!


6 cups of shredded cabbage
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup Vegenaise
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cider vinegar (I used Bragg)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon light agave
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour it over the cabbage and carrots and toss to coat thoroughly. Refrigerate.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to Eat Like a Zen Master

My Uncle sent me this article written by Alexander Green. With the authors' permission, I posted it because I thought it was well worth the read.

How to Eat Like a Zen Master
by Alexander Green
Dear Reader,

Two weeks ago, I suffered a home invasion - and not for the first time.

I had plopped down to watch Duke play Virginia, having just fixed a toasted ham and Swiss on rye, and a few minutes later - to my astonishment - my plate was bare except for a few crumbs and a spot of pickle juice.

The sandwich thief had struck again!

How clever of him to enter my home in broad daylight, steal the sandwich and dill spear right under my nose, then vanish without a trace.

Wiping the Dijon mustard from my lips, I considered the suspects...

Seriously now, how many meals have you eaten this way, so consumed by your plans for the day, the conversation at the table or - worst of all - the drone of the Tube that you never really tasted the food?

Thich Nhat Hanh would not approve.

Who's he? Nhat Hanh is an expatriate Vietnamese monk and Buddhist Zen Master who has spent his life advocating nonviolence, setting up relief centers for refugees, ministering to the needy, establishing monastic centers, and authoring more than two dozen books on what he calls "mindful living."

(In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, telling the committee, "I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of this prize than this gentle monk from Vietnam.")

Nhat Hanh insists that most of us in the West live mindlessly. We spend our days on autopilot, reminiscing about the past or, more often, endlessly planning for the future, even if that's only ten minutes from now. By doing this, we miss our appointment with life. Because the only time we can be fully alive is in the present moment.

To change, we need only recognize that it is always now - and increase our awareness of what is going on within and around us.

Sounds simple enough. But few can actually do it. Instead, we live in a near-constant state of distraction, even when we sit down to eat. (And some, I've noticed, don't even bother to sit.)

Nhat Hanh says we can change this and turn mealtime into an art, a spiritual discipline, simply by following the Seven Practices of a Mindful Eater:
  1. Honor the food. Start by unplugging all your daily distractions. Turn off the TV, your cellphone, and the laptop. Then take a moment to consider that everything you are about to consume - even the contents of your salad bowl - was recently alive and is about to provide your sustenance. Be grateful, too, for the many people who made this meal possible: the farmer who grew and harvested the food, the trucker who transported it, the shopkeeper who offered it, and your spouse or other individuals who may have worked hard to prepare it.
  2. Engage all your senses. Before eating, make a practice of pausing. Notice the color, the smell and the texture of the food. With your first bite, take an extra moment to savor each nuance.
  3. Serve modest portions. Nhat Hanh recommends using a small dinner plate no larger than nine inches across. Modest portions are not only healthier, they are less wasteful and a small step toward a more responsible use of the planet's resources. It's hard to believe, but over 16,000 children in the developing world still die every day from starvation, malnutrition or hunger-related illnesses.
  4. Savor small bites. This allows you to better enjoy the taste of the meal. It also improves digestion since the process begins with enzymes in your mouth breaking down the food.
  5. Eat slowly. This will make you feel pleasantly satisfied sooner and help you avoid overeating. There is a big difference between feeling you've had about enough and swearing you can't eat another morsel. Set your fork down between bites. (Few people do this, I've noticed. Try it in a restaurant and more often than not your server will try to whisk your plate away.)
  6. Eat regular meals. Skip a meal and you're more likely to yield to fast-food restaurants and vending machines. Planning and sticking to regular meals - at least as much as your schedule allows - will enable you to eat more nutritious food, enjoy more satisfying company and settle your body into a consistent rhythm.
  7. Eat a plant-based diet. Buddhists like Thich Nhat Hanh claim this isn't just healthier, it is also easier on the environment and more compassionate toward animals. To the extent you do eat meat, studies show it's better to favor fish and poultry. My good friend Dr. John Reed, head of the Burnham Institute (one of the world's leading medical research institutes), loves a good steak. But he told me recently that he has given up red meat altogether. He says the increasing evidence of a connection between red meat and colon cancer is pretty scary.
So there you have it. To eat like a Zen master, you don't need years of training or hours spent in cross-legged meditation. You need only recognize your mindless habits and make an effort to change them.

Dine this way and you'll find that not only are your meals more enjoyable, you'll eat less too. And that's a good thing. Scientific studies show that caloric restriction is an important source of longevity.

Eating mindfully allows you to appreciate your food and its connection to the rest of the world. It makes you look and feel better. And it helps you live longer, too. So try this Zen Master's guidelines. See if you can make them second nature.

And, who knows, you might never fall prey to the sandwich thief again.

Carpe Diem,


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pizza Sauce

Years ago when my children were young and very busy, Friday night was pizza night. We all looked forward to it, some because they loved pizza and others because it was an easy dinner (you can guess why I liked it). Anyway, too much of a good thing isn't good. We all got sick of it until wood burning brick ovens and pizza stones became commonplace. Then... we fell back in love.

But when I started eating vegan, pizza became a real challenge. After all, what's pizza without the cheese, focaccia? Well I like focaccia but I prefer it with sauce. So I came up with a simple sauce and even though my family still asks for cheese on top, we all really like this and you will too. Use it with lots of veggies and you'll love pizza even more now than you did before.

I usually make my own dough, but a neighbor of mine wisely buys her dough from a local pizzeria... smart girl Meg.

Pizza Sauce

1 - 15 oz. can of organic crushed tomatoes
1 - 14.5 can of organic whole peeled tomatoes
2 garlic cloves minced fine
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. salt

Begin by draining the whole peeled tomatoes and slice them into inch slices. Drain. In a nonstick skillet, add the crushed tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, garlic, oregano, sugar, red pepper, basil and salt. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Gently simmer, uncovered for 15 - 20 minutes.

My favorite pizza toppings

Fresh basil
Artichoke hearts
Kalamata olives

Make sure every bit of the sauce is covered with some topping.