Archive for the ‘budget friendly’ Category

Greens Cookbook in the Works!

Mustard Greens with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Mustard Greens with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Leafy green vegetables not only contain enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber to make them the star of any dinner table, they also add so much flavor. It seems like people everywhere are starting to discover greens. I’ve been working for the last six months on a cookbook featuring 50 greens recipes from 14 different types of greens. These 50 recipes are:

  • Low-fat
  • Heart-healthy
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • About 95% clean-diet friendly
  • Sugar-free
  • Delicious

Let’s all enjoy the holidays and start the year with new recipes for a healthier life. Be watching for the cookbook. I hope to have it out by Christmas, at least in a pdf version, with a kindle version to follow.

Below is one of the recipes from the cookbook to give you an idea of the types of recipes it will contain. Happy cooking and eating!

Mustard Greens with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Two medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks One bunch of mustard greens, cleaned and chopped (about 4 cups, raw)
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 ½  tsp. paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1) Prepare sweet potatoes and arrange on an olive oil greased baking sheet. Pour a couple of tbsp. of olive oil over them and sprinkle 1 tsp. of paprika over them. Place into a pre-heated 400 degree oven. After 10 minutes, turn the sweet potatoes so they can brown on both sides. Then return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes. They should be fork-tender but not mushy.

2) Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, heat 1/2 tbsp. olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and toast them. They will need about 7 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove to a bowl.

3) Add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to the same skillet you used for the pumpkin seeds. Add the greens. They will reduce in size considerably as they cook. Stir in the garlic powder, turmeric, red pepper flakes and remaining paprika over the greens. Let them cook on medium to medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes.

4) Add the roasted sweet potatoes and pumpkin seeds to the skillet with the greens and stir together.

Four side servings.

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It’s easy to make a delicious and hearty meat-free bolognese sauce. In celebration of national nutrition month, try this healthy sauce with your favorite pasta.

Meat free spaghetti bolognese

Meat free spaghetti bolognese

Easy Meat-free Spaghetti Bolognese    

6 oz. Lightlife Smart Ground original (1/2 of a 12 oz. package)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
½ cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil (or 1/2 cup chopped fresh)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. ground pepper
1 24 oz. jar your favorite marinara sauce
Olive oil

1)      Add 1 or 2 tbsp. olive oil to  deep saucepan on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté about 7 minutes. Then add green pepper and sauté about another 5 minutes. Veggies should be tender. Stir in all spices.

2)      Add mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes.

3)      Add minced garlic and stir in. Add smart ground and sauté an additional 5 minutes or so.

4)      Pour in marinara sauce. Bring to a quick boil , then reduce heat to simmer and simmer about 10 minutes.

5)      Serve over your favorite pasta. I used half-whole wheat/half regular spaghetti.

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banananutmuffinsThere is probably a banana or two on your counter right now that is too ripe to eat, but not rotten enough to throw away. These bananas are perfect for making banana nut muffins! Make a batch for quick and healthy on-the-go snacks and breakfasts.

Banana Nut Muffins (Vegan)

1 ripe banana
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or your favorite nut)
1 tbsp. apple butter (or applesauce)
2 tbsp. Canola oil
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp. ground flax seed plus 4 tbsp. water, whisked together (this is an egg substitute)
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white flour (Note: If you follow a gluten free diet, use oat flour in place of the white and wheat flours)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger

1) Mix all wet ingredients together (except banana). Whisk in sugars.
2) Mix all remaining dry ingredients together, except nuts.
3) Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
4) Break ripe banana in small pieces into batter. Add in  nuts. Mix everything together.
5) Spoon batter into muffin cups.
6) Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.


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Last weekend I went to a fabulous hole in the wall restaurant in Virginia Beach called the Mayflower Cafe. It features Turkish/Mediterranean food. My mom, who is a picky eater, and both of my nieces, who can be picky at times also, were really happy with their meals. I ordered eggplant stewed with tomatoes served with rice pilaf. I had some leftovers and decided to make a lentil dish to go with them. In keeping with the Turkish theme, I looked up some different recipes and put together my version of Turkish lentils.  Turned out great.

Turkish Lentils and Carrots

Turkish Lentils and Carrots

Turkish Lentils with Carrots

1 cup of lentils (I used green lentils)
3  cups water or low sodium veggie broth
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup chopped kale (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. black pepper
Low sodium salt, to taste
Olive oil

1)      Put lentils and water or broth in a medium-sized kettle. Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat and simmer covered for about 25-30 minutes (until lentils are tender but not mushy).

2)      Meanwhile, add a couple of tbsp. of olive oil to a deep, large skillet. Add sliced onion and carrots (and kale, if you decide to add it) and sauté until onion is nicely caramelized  and carrot is tender– about 15 minutes.

3)      Add minced garlic and spices and sauté a few minutes.

4)      When lentils are done, drain any excess liquid and add them to the skillet. Stir everything together and cook another 5 minutes or so to marry the flavors.

Makes 4 or 5 good sized servings. Serve as a main dish with quinoa or brown rice. Spinach, kale or other greens served alongside the lentils and rice makes for a delicious and healthy meal. A little garlic naan rounds it all out.

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Everyone needs at least a few go-to casserole recipes. A casserole is a whole meal in one dish. It’s the perfect dish to make when you want to prepare something ahead of time to free you to be with your guests. Make it the night before and then bake it right before everyone comes over. Or, of course, you can make a casserole when someone you love needs a meal. Perfect drop-off food for couples with a new baby, new neighbors, or when you want to make a busy friend’s day. Casserole and comfort food are synoymous.

Spaghetti Casserole

Spaghetti Casserole

This spaghetti casserole is super yummy and fairly easy and inexpensive to make. I have made it three times in the last month.

Spaghetti Casserole

1 pound dried spaghetti (most boxes are 1 pound)(you can use brown rice spaghetti if following a gluten free diet) – cooked according to package directions

1 jar of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce (about 25 oz.)

1 small can of tomato sauce (about 6 oz.)

1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped

½ green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 – 8 button or cremini mushrooms, chopped or sliced

2/3 cup ground veggie burger

1 tsp. each of basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and parsley

Optional: layer in a small sprinkling of reduced fat mozzarella cheese or daiya Vegan mozzarella cheese between each layer and sprinkle cheese on top, if desired. You won’t miss the cheese though if you leave it out. I’d even go so far as to say, it’s better without the cheese

Olive oil

1)    In large sauce pan, heat 1 or 2 tbsp. of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté about 8 minutes, until tender.

2)    Add chopped green pepper and sauté another 5 minutes. Add veggie burger and stir in with the onion and pepper. Saute a minute or two.

3)    Add garlic and sauté a minute more. Then add mushrooms and sauté a couple of additional minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed.

4)    Pour in tomato sauce and pasta sauce. Add all spices. Stir and simmer about 10 minutes.

5)    Grease a large, deep casserole dish with olive oil. Ladle enough sauce into the bottom of the dish to cover the bottom. Add a layer of spaghetti, and then another layer of sauce.

6)    Repeat layering 3 or 4 times until you have used all of your ingredients.

7)    Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.

Serves 6-8 people. Reheat leftovers in microwave. Makes good leftovers.

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As a housewife in the 1960s and 1970s, my mom embraced Bisquick and all of the other modern shortcuts to a good suburban meal. So, until today, it did not occur to me to try to make biscuits from scratch. I figured they would be too time-consuming, difficult or fattening.

Inspired by a delicious-looking blog entry at the Amateur Gourmet , I decided to try to make some biscuits.

Of course, being a health nut and vegan-ish, I had to change his recipe around to make it “lighter” and vegan, but even without the butter and buttermilk, these biscuits were darn good! More than darn good. Especially with honey and apple butter. Yum!  And I’ll add that they only took minutes to prepare (that’s why I call them “lazy” – they were just too easy!)

Lazy Vegan Biscuits

Lazy Vegan Biscuits

Lazy Vegan Biscuits

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. Smart Balance
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Lazy Biscuits Turned out Good!

1) Mix together dry ingredients.

2) Melt Smart Balance in the microwave and add to the dry ingredients.

3) Gradually stir in the unsweetened almond milk. (You may need to add another tbsp. of flour if it looks too wet).

4) Spray a cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Drop the biscuits by big spoonfuls into the pan.

5) Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake another 10-15 minutes (check after 10 minutes).

6) Try with apple butter or honey. Yum!

Makes 5 good-sized biscuits.

Biscuit with Honey

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If you are like me, you ate too much this holiday season and probably spent too much money also. This recipe will help you satisfy three resolutions: eating healthy, eating low fat or losing weight, and saving money. Plus it’s easy to make (saves time), and delicious!

Savory Bean and Hominy Soup

Savory Bean and Hominy Soup

Savory Bean and Hominy Soup (vegan)

3 15 oz. cans of Great Northern Beans, drained
1 15 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
1 15 oz. can of hominy
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
½ cup of frozen or drained canned corn
About 2 cups of water
2 tbsp. cilantro
1 tbsp. cumin

1) Mix all ingredients together in a very large kettle.
2) Bring to a quick boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer.
3) Simmer for about 20 minutes.
4) Serve steaming hot by itself or with your choice of toppings: cheese, sour cream, olives, diced red onion, diced avocado, or tortilla chips.


Happy New Year!

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This weekend I went to the Farmer’s Market, and my favorite farmer had greens on sale. I bought a bag of mixed greens, a bag of spinach and a bag of arugula (3 bags was the deal). But then he threw in a fourth bag of spinach for free! So I had a lot of greens and needed to figure out ways to fix them.

I also purchased some pumpkin linguine from a fresh pasta stand (Bombolini). The pumpkin variety is seasonal for Fall, in case you didn’t figure that out. Anyway, the pasta lady advised not to serve the pumpkin linguine with a tomato based sauce. Since I had all those greens, I figured it might be a winning combination, and it was! I have made it twice already. It’s delicious, inexpensive, and so good-for-you too.  And did I mention it’s easy to make? Really simple!

Greens and Garlic...yum!

Greens and Garlic...yum!

Pumpkin Linguine with Greens, Garlic and Olive Oil

Fresh pumpkin linguine, enough for two (you can use any pasta you have, but the greens go well with pumpkin)

6 to 8 cups of greens (choose spinach, baby mustard greens, arugula, or a mixture), wash and remove stems. Chop larger leaves.

6 to 8 cloves of garlic, diced

1 cup of your choice of mushrooms, sliced (optional)

¼ cup of olive oil (add extra if you like)

1 ½ tsp. Oregano

1 ½ tsp. Basil

½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)

Reduced sodium salt (to taste)

Cooking up some greens!

Cooking up some greens!

1)    Cook pasta according to instructions.

2)    Meanwhile, heat part of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add diced garlic. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. You only need to sauté it a minute. Add the spices to the garlic while it’s sautéing.

3)    If including mushrooms, add them next. Saute with the garlic a couple more minutes.

4)    Add in the greens. Take a ladle or two of boiling water from the cooking pasta and pour right over the greens. It won’t take long for the greens to wilt. The quantity will appear to reduce greatly.

5)    Add in the rest of the olive oil and toss with the hot, drained pasta.

6)    Serve with a little parmesan cheese, if you like. Or forego the cheese and have a delicious vegan pasta meal.

Serve with a green salad and crusty whole grain bread. Delicious healthy meal for two.

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Pumpkin Linguine with Greens, Garlic and Olive Oil

Pumpkin Linguine with Greens, Garlic and Olive Oil

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Yummy Veggie Soup

At this time of year when the crisp evening air makes you pull on a jacket, it’s time to make a big pot of soup. And since the farmer’s markets are still in full swing, there’s plenty of fresh produce. The weather and abundance of vegetables make vegetable soup the perfect choice for dinner on a chilly night.

The beauty of vegetable soup is you can make it with pretty much any type of vegetables. Start with onion, and then choose whatever you love, what looks good at the stand, or what you already have in your fridge. Use the recipe below as a guide, but feel free to mix it up, as you like!.

Vegetable Soup

1 medium-sized Vedalia or other sweet onion, sliced very thin
1 leek, wash and remove roots
2 celery stalks, leaves included, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
¾ cup chopped cabbage
½ green or red pepper, sliced thin
1 cup broccoli florets
½ cup shitake or button mushrooms
About 10 green beans, ends removed and cut in thirds
½ of a 12 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can stewed tomatoes
32 oz. reduced sodium vegetable stock or broth
1 cup water
½ cup orzo or other small pasta
1 tbsp. oregano
Olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper

Red Wine Vinegar

(other good ingredients might include: fresh corn off the cob, 1/2 cup of cooked barley, cauliflower, chard or other greens….)

1) Prepare onion and chop leek. It’s okay to use some of the dark green portion of the leek, just don’t use about the top 1/3 of the green part.

2) Heat 2-3 tbsp. olive oil in large pot on medium-high heat. Add onion first and sauté a few minutes. Then add leek and sauté both together about 5 more minutes or so. Add all spices (except red wine vinegar).

3) Add celery, cabbage and carrots and sauté about 7 minutes.

4) Add broccoli, red or green pepper, green beans and mushrooms (mushrooms last) and sauté about 5 minutes more. Add more olive oil if needed.

5) Add chickpeas, stewed tomatoes and water. Then pour in vegetable broth. Add red wine vinegar.

6) Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Add pasta and boil about 6 or 7 minutes or until pasta is tender.

7) Reduce heat to low and simmer about 20 minutes more. Remove bay leaf before serving. Pasta absorbs liquid, so add water or more broth, if needed.

8) Serve with fresh bread or crackers.

Makes a big pot of soup.

Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

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Black-eyed Peas with Tomatoes and Greens

Black-eyed Peas with Tomatoes and Greens

I’m not superstitious, but being born and raised in Virginia, I do respect traditions, and cooking and eating Black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a tradition in the Mid-Atlantic.

A little while I ago, I attended a cooking class at Whole Foods and Jesse made Black-eyed Peas with Tomatoes and Greens. It’s a vegan recipe and is delicious and also so good-for-you. I’ve made it twice since the cooking class for family parties, and my brother (who is not vegetarian) even asked for the recipe. Great way to kick off a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier.

Black-eyed peas with Tomatoes and Greens

2 cans of black-eyed peas (15 oz. size) (no meat)

1 package smoked tempeh (you can find this in the dairy case or where the tofu is – tofu is near the vegetable section usually)

3 tbsp. Olive oil, maybe a little more

1 28 oz. can stewed or diced tomatoes (he suggests fire roasted)

1 large onion (diced)

3 cloves of garlic, diced

2 cups of chopped hearty greens (such as Kale—spinach is not recommended)

Salt & pepper to taste

1)    Chop the tempeh and onions and dice the garlic. Place the onion in a large kettle with a couple tbsp. of olive oil on medium-high heat. Saute for about 5 or 8 minutes, until onion is translucent.

2)    Add the tempeh and sauté another couple minutes. Then add garlic and sauté a couple of minutes. Add the garlic last because it burns easily.

3)    Add the greens and simmer until they are soft.

4)    Drain the black eyed peas and add them along with the tomatoes and about ½ cup of water or so. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 10 minutes or more if you like. Add salt & pepper to taste. Makes a large pot.

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