Thursday, August 18, 2016

Basil Garbanzo Bean Salad

Summer time is an excellent time for using yummy vegetables in the garden or from the local farmers market!  There are so many ways to use legumes and vegetables together that can make a perfect meal!  I am thankful that my family will eat whatever I make and enjoy it most of the time too.  We had fresh basil and lots of it so that is the reason for this recipe.  I had some frozen garbanzo beans in the freezer in 2 cup container that I made several weeks ago.  So that made this salad quick and easy once I thawed out the garbanzo beans.

So I used 2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans, 2 small pickling cucumbers, 1 small red onion, 1/2 orange pepper (or 4 petite orange peppers), 1 medium tomato, and a large bunch of basil (it was 1/2 cup finely chopped basil).  I used 3 TBS red wine vinegar or 1-2 TBS lemon juice can be used and 1 tsp garlic salt.

I like soaking and sprouting all of my legumes and grains if I can before cooking them.  It makes them easier to digest and taste better as well!  And I like having them ready to go in the freezer (or canned will work as well) so a quick and easy salad can be put together quickly.  Chop up the vegetables very fine or use a vegetable chopper to make light work of the vegetables and then they are the same size.

The salad all mixed up and ready to eat!  It was very yummy!  The kids said they could really taste the basil, Great!  That was the whole point, we love the taste of basil and what an excellent way to use it!  We ate this plain with tomato sandwiches but it can be served with a crusty bread or with some salad greens for a complete meal.

Basil Garbanzo Bean Salad

2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked (or 1 15 oz can)
1 medium tomato, minced
2 small pickling cucumbers, minced
1 small red onion, minced
1/2 orange pepper, minced (or 4 petite orange peppers)
1/2 cup basil, minced
3 TBS red wine vinegar
1-2 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp garlic salt (or to taste)

1. In medium bowl add cooked garbanzo beans.
2. Mince all vegetables and add to the bowl with garbanzo beans.
3. Add vinegar or lemon juice and garlic salt.
4. Mix well and serve.  Can marinate for several hours or eat right away with crusty bread or salad greens.


Monday, August 1, 2016

What a child needs to grow up to be a stable adult!

This is a little bit of a different post... it is about kids and what they need.  I like to continue my education and sometimes it is just reading a non-health related book.

One of my favorite things to do besides walking, hiking in nature and cooking is reading.  It is always fun to read a good book that will help me be a better person.  Before having kids and while I was pregnant I read a lot of parenting books about discipline, parenting skills and the like.  It was all very interesting.  But honestly nothing prepares us for parenting than just doing it and being a parent.  Meaning we interact with our kids, we play with our kids, we take our kids for walks and hikes, we share memories of when we were younger and just plain sharing with them.  The most important thing is praying over our kids daily and making sure we are showing them love. 

In the most recent book I read, for my own self-esteem and to help me be a better health coach and just a better person, it explained what kids need during the character-forming years of childhood.  I really enjoyed the list that they gave, and as I looked at it, I asked myself if I was doing this for my children.  Am I showing them the kind of love they  need?  Am I a good parent?  No one is a perfect parent and every child is different so parenting style and personality differences vary but the list is wonderful so it can apply to anyone.

Let me share…

1. A child needs an accepting father and mother, who model healthy male and female characteristics.

2. A child needs to be loved unconditionally, just because the child needs love for being who they are and needs the privilege of reaching out in love to their parents in the best way they can at every stage of development and having that love accepted.

3. A child needs to be acknowledged, received, heard, included, and considered important.

4. A child needs affirmation, words of encouragement and praise, not just for accomplishments but for personal characteristics as well.

5. A child needs support, a supply of strength and assistance to achieve.

6. A child needs trust in their primary care givers, the ability to rely on them to meet their physical and emotional needs as they mature.

7. A child needs knowledge and instruction equal to the level of their inquiry.

8. A child needs safe and nurturing touch without fear of pain or invasion.

9. A child needs direction, gentle training for decision making and the governing of self.

10. A child needs active participation and caring from the significant other in their life, time devoted specifically to that child.

11.A child needs a sense of security, a peaceful home, the pure joys of the magic of early childhood, a comfortable routine, so that life is predictable and the consistency of knowing that imposed consequences would be just, based on principles, not emotions.

12. A child needs wings, Freedom, at the appropriate age and maturity level, to make their own choices in life.

That is a lot of information but it is so important to show love in the home and to your children.  My kids have similar but very different personalities and I have to discipline and react differently to my kids.  All kids are sensitive and all kids just want acceptance, so disciplining with love and sometimes walking away because they are driving you nuts is the best policy.  I have learned in our disciplining is to make them think when they have done something they should not have done and also to make sure to always reward for the good behavior.  It is so easy to get frustrated with a child but first think about how they will react to the situation and how they feel even when they have done something wrong.  Words can be harsher than any time out or running laps.  Sometimes they just need a job because they are bored or they need to get rid of their energy by running around the outside of the house.

With all of that said it is so important to discipline out of love than anger.  And show your children love in ways that will build them up and prepare them to be stable adults.  I know easier said than done but it can be done!  I am so thankful for a loving God that has shown us the way and for prayer!  The only thing that gets me through some days!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Baked Tortilla Chips & a Quick Picnic Salad!

First off Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband who is 36 years old today!  This blog post is for him because he loves my bean salads and lives through all of the food testing and tasting!  I love him so much!

Anytime of the week is a good time for chips and salsa or a yummy bean salad!  When we decided to go whole food plant based and remove oil from our home, chips was the hardest thing for me to give up because I like crunchy foods.  I did not know what to do as an alternative that would be crunchy that did not include oil.  So I did some searching and decided to try my hand at baked chips.  I have baked chips before and did not like them because I added ingredients to them.  I like the taste of plain corn tortillas so I figured I would like plain baked chips.  Well I was right, they are delicious!  And add them to my plant based queso sauce and it is a real treat!  Another treat is making a quick bean salad to go with the queso and the baked chips.  And a quick bean salad is great for picnics too!  Bring them both and you have a whole meal!  

The baked chips are very easy to have ready and after I bake them I put them in a ziploc bag or a rubbermaid container to keep them fresh (for up to a week).  Mind you they do not last that long in our house but it is a possibility.  Paul & Lukas like them extra crunchy and then Elsie & I like them just crunchy.

Easy bean salad that can be made and brought to a picnic!  Very yummy and very easy!

Any corn tortillas will work but the thinner ones will bake up faster.  So if the tortillas are thicker they need 30 seconds to 1 minute longer on each side.

I can usually fit 6 tortillas to my cookie sheet at one time (these tortillas were thicker and bigger around, I like the mission thin tortillas the best for baking).  You can score them before baking or bake them whole.  I learned that either way works but when baking whole they need a little extra time (by 30 seconds and sometimes just leaving them on the pan to cool at the end helps them crisp up some more).

Bake them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 7 minutes and then flip them over and bake for another 7 minutes.  If using thicker tortillas they may need 8 minutes and then 7 minutes after flipping them.

They are addictive when they are hot out of the oven.  Lukas & Elsie eat them so fast I have to keep baking for a while to keep up with them!

Now for the Picnic bean salad.  All you need is 4 major ingredients.  It takes 1 can of black beans (or 2 cups of cooked black beans (recipe is in the middle of the blog post) from my black bean soup recipe), 1 can of corn, 1 can of rotel (with lime juice & cilantro) and 1 bunch of cilantro (when chopped up fine it is about 1/2 -3/4 cup of cilantro).

Frozen corn can be used too but this is just so easy and the ingredients can be on hand.

Here is the recipe without the cilantro which can be done, but it is not as flavorful without the fresh cilantro but it is personal preference.

Baked Corn Chips

6 corn tortillas
Baking sheet

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put 6 corn tortillas on a baking sheet, score into chips.
3. Bake for 7 minutes on each side.
4. Serve with queso sauce, bean salad, salsa or anything that goes well with tortilla chips.

Picnic Bean Salad

1 - 15 oz can black beans (or 2 cans cooked black beans)
1 - 15 oz can corn
1 - 10 oz can rotel with lime juice & cilantro
1/2 - 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine

1. Mix canned ingredients together. Add chopped cilantro.
2. Serve with tortilla chips or over a bed of greens.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Wholly Legume Loaf

I have always wanted to create a loaf that does not have cheese or eggs or bread crumbs.  I grew up on Cottage Cheese loaf or Special K loaf and it was always a special treat.  When I made it for my family a couple years ago (it was a treat for me and Paul...) the kids were amazed at what went into it and they did not like it very well.  They thought it was kind of weird.  That is good because it is not something I want to make very often.  So I thought of making a loaf using bulgur wheat and lentils as a base for the loaf and I really enjoyed it.  The kids only liked it if I put barbecue sauce or ketchup on it.  They kind of thought the lentils created too much texture.  (Maybe if I blend up a bunch of the lentils they might like that better so I will try that next time I make it.)  It is a simple loaf and something that can be made ahead of time and baked the day you want to serve it.  And I like to make the bulgur wheat and the lentils ahead of time so then the loaf can be thrown together and baked.  

I like to add a lot of veggies (I realize that gives a lot of texture as well).  Celery, carrot, mushrooms, onion, and peppers.  Mince them up so they are small or can process in a food processor.

All mixed together.  The bulgur wheat, lentils, vegetables and seasonings. 
To cook bulgur wheat (and make 3 cups cooked): 3/4 c dry bulgur wheat and 1 1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and let sit covered off heat for 5 minutes, then it is ready to be used or can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days before using.
To cook lentils: (I like to soak my lentils for 24 hours before cooking but it is not required) 1 c dry lentils, 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cook for 20 minutes, and remove from heat and they are ready to be used or can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days before using.

The mixture of the bulgur wheat, lentils, vegetables and chia seed mixture is what holds it together.  I used 3 TBS ground chia seeds (ground them in a coffee grinder) + 3/4 cup of water and let sit for 10 minutes or until gelatinous.

Optional: put barbecue sauce or ketchup in the bottom of the glass pan before pressing the loaf mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Press the mixture into a 9x13 glass dish or 2 8x8 glass dishes.  And bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.  It is a very simple dish and I served it with butternut squash, asparagus, and broccoli.

Wholly Legume Loaf

3 c bulgur wheat, cooked
3 c lentils, cooked
3 TBS ground chia seed + 3/4 c water 
1 small onion, minced
2 celery stalk, minced
3 mushrooms, minced
1 carrot, minced
1/2 green or red pepper, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
2 TBS nutritional yeast
2 TBS chik-like seasoning

1. Mix the ground chia seed and water together and set aside to become gelatinous.

2. Prepare the vegetables and mince and put into large bowl.

3. Mix together the cooked bulgur wheat, cooked lentils, vegetables, seasonings and chia mixture together well.

4. Squeeze ketchup or barbecue sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 or 2 8x8 pans and press loaf mixture into bottom of pan.

5. Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 375 degree oven.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

What do I call it... Plant Based Cheese?!

This is a hard one for me... I do not like to use substitutes for animal products because if we are going to avoid it we should just avoid it and not try to make substitutes for it.  And as a health coach I always try to make sure my clients can enjoy real food and not have to work too hard in the kitchen because the majority of the time they do not like cooking.  Or they are cooking for their family which can be harder too, especially when making big changes.  And cheese is usually the hardest thing to give up for most people.  So here goes a couple recipes for anyone to try.

So my family and I tried some plant based cheeses for fun!  Some were pretty gross and other just okay and then we finally found two that we really like after some major alterations!  I will only tell about the two that we really liked.  We will skip the details on the gross ones.  :)

The first one is a queso sauce and very versatile.  It can be used for dipping, drizzling or dumping on a lot!  When I served it at a family gathering the other day they said they could not tell it was non-dairy plant based.  I hope you all were telling the truth!  ;)  This one I drizzled it on my black bean soup and it was so good just like that.

The queso sauce is a great alternative to your typical cheese and sour cream on your taco salad or haystack.  Here I dumped it on and obviously you cannot see the beans under the salad and guacamole!  But is has a great flavor for getting it wet.  I know some like their ranch dressing this is also a great alternative to that.

My favorite thing to eat is chips and salsa!  I love hot salsa so I would add sour cream to it to cool it off a little (and I do not like sour cream but it was good with the salsa).  Well the queso sauce is so good with salsa and chips.  So happy with this alternative.  And honestly it is really healthy too.  Not too high in fat which is usually what most people do not like about cheese or the alternative cheeses is the fat.

The first batch of this sauce that I made it was too runny and tasted like a big vat of nutritional yeast.  Now I like nutritional yeast but I do not like it that much!  So I modified and modified until it was easy for me and my family and what I know my clients will have on hand and what I know they can find in stores near them.  I want to make it as easy as possible.  That is really the whole point of this blog anyway!  Recipe for queso sauce below...

The next 'cheese' we tried was a block cheese.  My kids call it 'cashew block' which just makes me laugh!  They love this alternative and eat it about 2x a week with different sandwich options.  They love making their own food at the table!  So for lunches we will makes fun sandwiches or burritos.  So this first one we made was for Taco Tuesday and we had black beans, greens, cashew 'cheese' and other veggies stuffed in it.  And of course a little salsa or taco sauce.

This one we we used homemade whole wheat bread, hummus, sprouts, gluten patties (or veggie burgers) and cashew 'cheese'.  I served it with cucumbers and tomatoes as well.  This is an odd recipe and I learned it from the cookbook '7 Secrets Cookbook'.  And I say odd because it uses agar powder which I found at an Asian store but it can also be bought from Amazon which is where some friends have bought it.  The first time I made it I didn't do it quick enough and it almost solidified in the pan that I was using to thicken the agar and water.  But I was successful.  I had to modify the recipe the second time because I wanted it to have more flavor.  Either way the kids liked it and they think it is neat because it slices and it is more like a real piece of cheese (but we still do not compare it).

And the last one was we toasted the bread, added hummus, sprouts (we use alfalfa, clover, radish and broccoli seeds for our sprouts), tomato and the cashew 'cheese'.  Either way it is fun to add to a sandwich or burrito.  We also cut it in little pieces and added it to our haystacks.  We couldn't really taste it but it was still a fun way to eat it.  So try out the recipes and see which one is preferable for your family.  Some say they are happy with nothing at all or do like the alternative.

Queso Sauce

1 c water
1 TBS lemon juice
1/4 c roasted red pepper
3 TBS green chilies 
3+ TBS jalapenos (I used the canned variety and this is our favorite way to eat it)
1/2 c cashews (soak overnight or for 2+ hours they will blend up nicer and creamier)
1/2 c oats (quick oats will make a lighter sauce and regular rolled will make it a lot thicker)
3 TBS nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Put all ingredients in a blender (high speed blender works best) in the order stated and blend for 90+ seconds.

2. Serve warm with your favorite salsa, salad or just for dipping!

Cashew Block Cheese

2 c water
3 tsp agar powder (buy here)
1 c raw cashews (soak overnight or for 2+ hours, they will blend up smoother)
1/4 c roasted red pepper
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Put all ingredients except 2 cups of water and 3 tsp agar powder in blender and set aside.

2. Have a glass pan (I used an 8x8 pyrex dish) ready to pour mixture immediately into.  It sets up fast.

3. Mix 2 cups of cold water and 3 tsp agar powder together in medium pan and bring to a boil.  Mix for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes at a boil. 

4. Pour water/agar powder from pan into blender immediately and blend for 90-180 seconds.

5. Pour mixture into the glass pan and let set up.  It takes about 30 minutes in the refrigerator and it will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  I was told you can freeze it and then shred it but have not gone to that extreme.  We are just happy for something fun to try and eat once in a while.

Hope you enjoy and let me know what you think about our crazy recipes!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our favorite... Black Bean Soup!

This is a soup we can eat all year round!  Usually we like our soups when it is cold outside and the wood stove is cranked up!  Black Bean soup is good with haystacks because it is thicker, it is good as nachos, or it is good just as soup with some fresh cilantro and tortillas.  It soup freezes well and will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days before you want to serve it.  I like to make my black beans ahead of time and have then in the fridge or in the freezer so the dish is quick and easy.  The first part of the post is how I make my black beans.  It is best to make them ahead so this meal is quick and easy or just to have on hand for a quick meal.  And black beans are really good with potatoes or sweet potatoes and steamed vegetables.  So dual post in one!

Having fresh cilantro in the garden or in the fridge is wonderful for this soup!  And the soup can be mild or spicy depending on what you want to put in it.  I make it mild for the kids and then Paul & I add either jarred jalapenos, pico de gallo or hot sauce.

First of all, how to make the black beans... I soak and sprout my legumes, grains and seeds before using them.  It helps with abdominal pain and we absorb the nutrients from the food better when it is soaked and sprouted.  Add 2 cups (or 1 lb bag of black beans) to a 1/2 gallon jar and fill to the top with water.  These sprouting lids can be purchased online or at your local health food store.  And soak overnight or up to 24 hours.

After 24 hours drain off the water and rinse.  The black beans can be used at this time or they can be sprouted for another 1-2 days.  Make sure to rinse the beans 2x a day.  They soak up a lot of water.  From 2 cups of beans they become 5 1/2 - 6 cups of beans after soaking for 24 hours.

After they have been soaked they need to be cooked (cooking them before making the soup is ideal but if cooking in a slow cooker all of the ingredients can be placed in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours).  I like to use a pressure cooker to cook my legumes because it is quicker and fairly easy.

Add 2 TBS onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 TBS chik-like seasoning, 1 TBS cumin, and 5-6 cups of water to the pan and cook for 1-2 hours in a traditional pan on the stove or 6-8 hours on low in a slow cooker or for 15 minutes at pressure in a pressure cooker.

Make sure to add the 5-6 cups of water!  Once the black beans are cooked (cook them ahead of time it is so much easier) prepare the vegetables.

For the Black Bean Soup I like to add several vegetables.  1 large onion, 2 peppers (color of your choice), 2-3 carrots, 1-3 cloves of garlic, 4 oz mushrooms (not pictured, gives it a meaty type texture very delicious).  I like to use a vegetable chopper to make them as small as possible.

And then the kids can help me chop.  Once the vegetables are prepared them can chop them up and of course they like helping.

Saute the vegetables in 1/2 cup of water.  Oil is not necessary because of the water.  Saute for 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables are to desired tenderness.  (When the cooked black beans are added it only needs to heat up so make sure the vegetables are done.)

Then add 1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional), 1/2 tsp basil, 2 TBS chik-like seasoning, 2 TBS cumin.  Let it saute for 1-2 minutes longer.

Then add the cooked black beans and mash them a few times or use an immersion blender and add another 2-3 cups of water.  And leave on stove for 15-20 minutes to warm up and let flavors mix.

Black Bean Soup

6 c black beans, cooked
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 oz mushrooms, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, diced or shredded
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp basil
2 TBS cumin
2 TBS chik-like seasoning
3+ c water


1. Saute vegetables in ¼ c water on low setting until tender.

2. Add remaining ingredients and 3+ c water until desired consistency.

3. Use a masher or immersion blender and mash/blend a few times.

4. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Creamy Vegetables Over Potatoes

Potatoes are such a welcome treat in the colder months but sometimes they can be boring.  I came up with a topping that brings together the vegetables, beans and a comfort type sauce.  This is a great sauce that can also be served over rice or noodles as well, it is very versatile.  My husband said it is kind of like a stroganoff just a healthier version without the dairy.  Also this is a recipe that is good as a leftover, I like to make recipes that can be a leftover at least once a week.  

The sauce is good over rice, noodles, potatoes, sweet potatoes or any other winter squash.  It is a simple one dish meal.

Before I start I like to get the cashews soaking.  Soaked cashews blend up better and seem to make them creamier.

Any combination of vegetables and legumes will work in this.  I used broccoli, carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, peppers and cooked garbanzo beans.  (I like to have beans and legumes cooked and in the freezer at all times so I can prepare a meal quicker.)  Chop up the vegetables in small pieces (about the size of the garbanzo beans).

Saute the vegetables in 1 cup of water with the lid on for 10 - 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

After cooking for 10 - 15 minutes add the cooked garbanzo beans and cook another few minutes to warm the beans.

While the vegetables are cooking prepare the sauce.  Blend together the soaked cashews, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), chicken like seasoning, nutritional yeast, salt, and water.  And add blended sauce to the pot of vegetables and garbanzo beans.  

Over medium high heat cook sauce for 5-7 minutes or until desired thickness.

Creamy Vegetables

3/4 cup cashews (+2 cups of water to soak cashews, discard water & rinse after soaking)
1 onion, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1/2 red or orange pepper, chopped
2 cups garbanzo beans (or 1 can)
1 TBS arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
2 TBS chicken like seasoning
2 TBS nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water


1. Soak cashews in 2 cups of water while preparing the vegetables.
2. Chop vegetables and cook in 1 cup of water for 10 - 15 minutes or until vegetables are to desired tenderness.  Add garbanzo beans after cooking vegetables for 10-15 minutes.
3. While vegetables are cooking prepare sauce.  Discard water from soaked cashews and rinse.
4. Blend soaked cashews, arrowroot powder, chicken like seasoning, nutritional yeast, salt and water and add to vegetables.
5. Cook sauce for 5 - 7 minutes or until desired thickness.
6. Serve over rice, noodles, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or other winter squash.
7. Also tastes good with a little extra garlic.  Some may be new to the little to no salt will want to add some garlic salt on top of the sauce.

It is a yummy dish and very easy!