Monthly Archives: November 2012

MEDITERRANEAN SNACKS – Baked Lentil Chips

Mediterranean Snack Foods recently sent me some of their Baked Lentil Chips to try.  After sampling the three varieties they sent, I sat down at my computer to type my review and brought along the Sea Salt variety and some hummus to snack on as I type (that’s a good sign).

While the sodium content is higher than I’d like, it pails in comparison to many of the “healthy” snack cracker/chips on the market today.  Since the chips are made primarily from a bean flour mix (lentils, garbanzo, and adzuki beans),  I expected the chips to be dense, however the more closely resemble a popped chip vs. what we have come to know a baked chip to be.  They are light and airy, yet they stand-up to dips very well without breaking.

I liked all 3 flavors, but if pressed I would have to say that I rank them in this order:

  1. Cracked Pepper (surprisingly good and best eaten without a dip in my opinion)
  2. Sea Salt (great with hummus)
  3. Rosemary

Seeing as I literally ate the whole bag (I considered it lunch), I would say that they have underestimated the serving size since a bag is supposed to contain 4.5 servings.

For those of you interested in the nutrition information:

Nutrition Info (Sea Salt)
Nutrition Info (Rosemary)
Nutrition Info (Cracked Pepper)

Mediterranean Snack Foods does offer other flavors of Lentil Chips, however they contain dairy…so be sure to read the labels.

Have any of you tried these yet?  What did you think?

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Image courtesy of Mediterranean Snack Foods.

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Filed under Product Reviews

OAT-FREE GLUTEN-FREE GRANOLA

A while back I discovered that I was allergic to oats.  Major bummer.  I have always really enjoyed oatmeal and granola (not to mention oatmeal raisin cookies!!!).

I still regularly make Maple Almond Granola with my kids and the last time I made it with my daughter I decided I was going to try and make some oat-free gluten-free granola for myself.  I am happy to report that it worked!

While the granola did not clump together like a traditional granola would, the flavor is great and the granola is good and crispy just like I like it!

INGREDIENTS
 
2-1/2 cups quinoa flakes
2 cups buckwheat groats
3/4 cup (3 ounces) raw sunflower seeds
2/3 cup lowfat shredded coconut
1 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A dark amber (I use 1 cup)
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cups dried OR freeze dried fruit (optional)
 

Bake at 325 degrees for 25-40 minutes (stirring every 8-10 minutes) until golden brown.

Once nice and golden brown, remove from the oven, add dried fruit if desired, and allow to cool.

***My favorite way to eat this granola is on top of plain vegan yogurt and thawed frozen wild blueberries…SO GOOD!!!
 

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For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

Image by Tony Tseng

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Filed under Breakfast, Gluten Free, Grains, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Happy Thanksgiving!  I have spent the last few days prepping for our feast and spending time with my parents.  We have had lots of great family time and hope the same for you.

From my table to yours…

 

Please excuse the iPhone pics…today was ALL about cooking and family, so I am sure these will do.

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Filed under Holidays

CITRUS INFUSED CRANBERRY PEAR SAUCE

Thanksgiving time is a favorite in our household…family begins to gather and it signals the beginning of the holiday season.

I always like to make sure that at Thanksgiving each family member has their favorite dish at our Thanksgiving celebration.  For my husband that means Stove Top stuffing.  For my son that means my mom’s ambrosia.  For my daughter that means apple crumble and for me that means cranberry sauce.  I have always enjoyed cranberry sauce, especially the sauce that my mom always made when I was a kid.  She found the original recipe in the local paper.  The recipe called for fresh cranberries, diced pear, orange juice, and white sugar,

For the past three years I have been working on making a healthier version of the cranberry sauce that did not include sugar.  I tried making it with xylitol (I am not a fan), stevia (it just wasn’t the same), and this year I made my favorite version yet using apple juice concentrate.  This will be my go-to cranberry sauce for years to come.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

INGREDIENTS

Trader Joe’s organic fresh cranberries (8 ounces)
1 container (12 oz.) frozen organic apple juice concentrate 
2 pears, diced
zest of 1 orange
 

Place all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer on low (make sure it does not boil over) until it is reduced to 1/3 of its original volume.

Cool and refrigerate until ready to eat.

 

Images by Tony Tseng

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Filed under Cooked Fruit, Dessert, Gluten Free, Holidays, Recipes, Sides, Vegan, Vegetarian

SEMI HOME MADE TOMATO SOUP

I know we are all in the market for fast dinners.  When I was little I would get so excited when my parents would announce that dinner was going to be grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  My parents probably thought they were making a cop-out dinner, but I seriously loved it.  Those dinners cemented the relationship between tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches in my mind.

The other day my son announced that he wanted a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner.  We were short on time and in all honestly I hadn’t given dinner much thought that day, so I went along with the plan.  When trying to figure out how to round-out the quick meal, tomato soup popped to mind, however we didn’t have any on hand.

I have tried so many tomato soups through the years and most of them are too sweet in my opinion OR they have cream / milk in them.

Well…necessity is the mother of invention, so I popped into my pantry and came-out with a jar of pasta sauce, a can of navy beans, and some broth.  In the time it took for the Daiya grilled cheese sandwiches to brown, semi-home made tomato soup was on the table as well.

Here’s what I did…

  1. Get out your Vitamix 
  2. Rinse and drain one can of navy or other no salt added white beans
  3. Pour the beans into the Vitamix
  4. Fill the bean can with pasta sauce
  5. Pour the pasta sauce into the Vitamix
  6. Fill the can with broth
  7. Pour the broth into the can
  8. BLEND
  9. Add more broth if a thinner consistency is desired (I like it thick…my kids like it thin)

And there you have it…a fast, healthy, tasty tomato soup that courtesy of the beans is packed with fiber and protein.

NOTE – I am an affiliate for Vitamix which means that someday I may earn a tiny bit of money if a reader decides to purchase a Vitamix by clicking on the link to the right  :-)

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Kid Friendly, Quick Tips, Recipes, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

HOMEMADE VEGAN RAW HIDE CHEWS

This past summer I received an e-mail/press release from a PR firm representing Excalibur dehydrators (I own one and love it) and they were highlighting the fact that their dehydrators could be used to make treats for your pets.  Seeing as we had just lost our beloved pup, I did not have the motivation to make any nor did I have a taste-tester even if I had made any.

Fast forward to the present.  We have now had our Goldendoodle, Dug, since September and after months of trying to find a food that worked for his sensitive tummy, Dug is FINALLY able to partake in some treats.

These vegan raw hide chews were so simple to make and HE LOVES THEM!  All you do is:

  1. Clean some sweet potatoes
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes length-wise 1/4″ thick
  3. Dehydrate the slices until they are hard (it took about 24 hours at 125 degrees)

Now that I know Dug digs these treats, my next batch will be a huge one…his cousin Rufus (my sister’s Newdle/Newfypoo…aka Newfoundland Standard Poodle mix) may even receive a package in the mail!

Do any of you make home made dog treats?

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Filed under Dog Treats, Recipes

TREE OF GRATITUDE

My family will be spending Thanksgiving at home this year and I want it to be very special.  It is important for all of us to remember what this day is truly about (not the food…though it is always amazing), and with a little help from Pinterest, we are on our way.

The blog Bargain Bound inspired our family’s Tree of Gratitude this year.  Admittedly I am clearly not a professional tree-maker (the leaves will cover the evidence of that up more and more each day), but with the help of my local scrap booking store,  I did NOT have to become an expert at cutting out leaves.  Within 30 minutes I had over 120 perfect leaves thanks to their collection of maple leaf die cuts.  Somehow I had never ventured into the store before and I know I will be spending a lot of time there now for future holiday projects, etc.  Talk about a MAJOR time saver!

The kids and I have been filling-out one leaf per day and it is heart-warming to see how they are getting more and more into the exercise each day.

I can’t wait to watch the tree’s branches become full of my family’s gratitude.

Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions?

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Filed under DIY, Holidays, Home

SRC – Mom Francesca’s Eggplant and Onion Casserole

My Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month of November was The Recipe Taster.  I loved reading how he became interested in food and cooking at a young age:

“My childhood in Sicily was spent splattering colors or sketching on anything at hand and getting dirty with clay or gypsum. Soon though, TV chefs motivated me to take advantage of the free kitchen in those few afternoons that I was left alone at home.  I can still remember the first gooey meringues I prepared; perched on top of a silver presentoir, over a delicately embroidered white linen napkin, they waited on the kitchen table for my parents’ return, a token of gratitude for what they did and will be doing for me.
It wasn’t until I moved to Florence, in 1997, for University that I found myself in charge of my own food. The big city meant exposure to foreign food, new ingredients, new inspirations that fed my ever increasing curiosity. Soon all my house-mates relied on me for their dinners.”

When perusing the blog there were many recipes that were worthy of a feature, however I decided to make “Mom Francesca’s Eggplant and Onion Casserole” for TWO reasons…

  1. I really like eggplant and am always looking for new ways to prepare it.
  2. My mom’s name is Francis and she had Italian as one of her majors in college

It was simply meant to be.

I made the recipe according to the instructions below from The Recipe Taster’s website, with the exception of the olive oil.  I used the tiniest amount to grease the bottom of the casserole and did not drizzle any more oil onto the casserole.  What resulted was a casserole which was a bit dry looking on top after baking, but that was easily remedied by mixing the casserole prior to serving…you won’t even miss the oil and your heart will thank you!

MOM FRANCESCA’S EGGPLANT and ONION CASSEROLE 

Ingredients (serve 4-6 people):

  • 300g onions, mixed red and yellow 
  • 600g eggplant, about 2 medium ones 
  • 45g/1/4cup quinoa 
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (optional) 
  • dried oregano, to taste 
  • 1 small can chopped tomatoes in juice 
  • extra virgin olive oil (I barely used any)
  • 1/3 cup white wine 
  • salt 

Method:

Set your oven to 200C/390F and while it is eating up prepare the vegetables.

Trim the stem and flower ends from the eggplants and cut them into 3-4 drums across their length. Lay the drums cut side down and cut them vertically into planks about 5 mm/1/5″ thick and set aside.

Peel the onions, cut them in half and then into slices about 3mm/1/10″ thick.

To build the casserole, chose an oven-proof dish that could accommodate the ingredients in at least 2 layers. 

Grease the bottom of the dish with about 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (I used about 1/2 of that), place some of the onions on it followed by the eggplants (if the pieces are too wide to fit in, tear them in halves using your hands). Sprinkle the eggplants with some of the quinoa and salt. Add a pinch of oregano, red pepper flakes (if using). Cover with some of the tomato pieces. 

Continue layering the ingredients as described until either the oven dish is filled up or the ingredients run out. 

Finish the casserole with a layer of onions a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Pour the white wine over the vegetables and bake the casserole for about 1h-1h30m or until cooked through. To test for doneness try a piece of eggplant, it should still retain some bite but must be cooked through. Check the casserole every now and then and if the top is browning too fast, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil. 

Baked Casserole Prior to Mixing

Baked Casserole AFTER Mixing

Let the casserole cool down a bit before serving since it will be boiling hot. Coincidentally, this dish is great even served at room temperature. 



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Filed under Gluten Free, Grains, Main Dish, Recipes, Secret Recipe Club, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

HAPPY WORLD VEGAN DAY! Lightlife’s Vegetable Farm Animal Video

What better way to celebrate

World Vegan Day than to watch an adorable video from Lightlife of a farm made of vegetables?  It is AMAZING how they created the farm animals using veggies.

I am truly inspired!

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Filed under Holidays, Vegan, Video