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CleanEating

Staples to begin the 10-Day Clean Eating Challenge

A friend recently told me she is going to take some time to eat foods that are both clean and vegan.  She said she has done this before and ended up feeling fabulous. I’ve decided to accept the clean eating challenge for 10 days, beginning this Thursday, April 13. Today I ventured to Whole Foods and stocked up on lentils, greens, grains, walnuts, berries and other staples that will help me to cook vegan, clean food that is also yummy. I also bought some organic flour and yeast, because I’m going to be making bread.

 

In case you’re unfamiliar with what clean eating is, it basically means you avoid processed foods and eat whole foods. I’m vegetarian, not 100% vegan, so I’ll also be adding the vegan component to my challenge.

Join me in the 10-day vegan, clean-eating challenge!

 

* I will take a break from the challenge Easter Sunday, but be back at it the following Monday.

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Crock pot of Borscht

Crock pot of Borscht

What type of foods do they eat in Alaska? I would guess they eat a lot of hot soup because it’s cold. When I researched info about Alaskan cuisine online, Borscht came up several times. Makes sense because Alaska is only separated from Russia by a narrow body of water, and Russians and East Europeans, including the Polish, favor this dish.

Borscht is a hearty, nourishing hot soup. It contains a powerhouse of healthy ingredients. I found several recipes online and created a version for the crock pot. It turned out great. I highly recommend this savory soup for a cold winter evening.

Borscht

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/3 head of green cabbage, chopped
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup (about ½ can) white beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup canned beets, cut into bite-sized pieces
32 oz. container of low-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp. chopped dill
1 tsp. onion powder
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper

  1. Place all ingredients except canned beans and beets into crock pot. Stir to mix them together. Set to low heat and cover. Crock for about 5-6 hours.
  2. About 20 minutes before serving, add the white beans and beets.
  3. Serve. Delicious with a veggie Reuben sandwich!
    Makes enough soup for about six or seven people.
Hot bowl of Borscht and a veggie Reuben sandwich

Hot bowl of Borscht and a veggie Reuben sandwich

* This is week 3 of my “quest” to make a vegan recipe from every state in the U.S. during 2015. Since there are 50 states and 52 weeks, the first week is a Native American recipe and the last week will be a holiday recipe. Inspiration for my quest came from Chris Guillebeau and his recent book The Happiness of Pursuit. Check them out!

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Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

Sweet Potato Corn Chowder
with Black Beans and Spinach

While researching the foods of Native Americans, corn kept appearing as a common ingredient. Other vegetables eaten by early Native Americans included sweet potatoes, squash and beans.  I thought about making a fry bread, which seems to be a popular Native American recipe, but decided instead to make a chowder. I used ingredients that would have been available to Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

The chowder turned out great. I put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cooked it on low for about five hours. Native Americans might have left it stewing over a fire for a while and gotten the same effect.  This is a heart-healthy, gluten-free, vegan dish. Enjoy.

Sweet Potato/Corn Chowder with Black Beans and Spinach

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into square chunks
1 cup frozen baby corn
½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh baby spinach
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. cilantro
1 tbsp. parsley
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper

  1. Place all ingredients except spinach and black beans into crock pot.
  2. Cook in the crock pot on low heat for about 5 hours.
  3. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the black beans and spinach.

Makes 3 servings.

* This is week 1 of my “quest” to make a vegan recipe from every state in the U.S. during 2015. Since there are 50 states and 52 weeks, the first week is a Native American recipe and the last week will be a holiday recipe. Inspiration for my quest came from Chris Guillebeau and his recent book The Happiness of Pursuit. Check them out!

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Snacks for your game day celebration don’t have to be fat-laden dips and deep fried. Appetizers can be both healthy and delicious. What’s better than guacamole when watching the game? It’s good-for-you when paired with whole wheat crackers or tortilla chips (especially if you use low-sodium organic corn chips). If you like spinach and artichoke dip, I have a recipe for one that replaces all of the saturated fat with healthy fats, but doesn’t short you on deliciousness. I’ve included several healthy and yummy appetizers below! Enjoy!

Guacamole

Delicious and easy to make.

4 ripe avocados
2 cloves garlic, minced  OR 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 purple onion, diced fine
1 ripe tomato, seeded and diced fine
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed OR 1/2 tbsp. dried cilantro
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. lime juice
Dash of cayenne pepper
Low-sodium salt & pepper

1) Peel avocados and remove pits. Mash with potato masher or fork until only slightly lumpy.
2) Blend in other ingredients.
3) Serve with tortilla chips

Note: In a pinch and short on ingredients – avocados mashed with garlic powder, salt & pepper will still make a tasty dip.

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Chickpea Spread

Hearty and Yummy

2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Chickpea Spread

Chickpea Spread

½ red pepper, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tbsp. Vegenaise
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. chopped chives
salt and pepper

1) In large bowl, mash chickpeas. Can be chunky, but there should be no whole chickpeas left. I used a potato masher.
2) Add diced red pepper and stir.
3) In small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over chickpea mixture and blend together.
4) Serve with blue corn tortilla chips or your favorite crackers.

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Cranberry Salsa

Deliciously different

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 orange, sectioned and chopped
2 tsp. grated orange rind
½ medium green pepper, chopped
1-2 jalpeno peppers, seeded and chopped fine
½ cup sugar
¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (dried ok if no fresh on hand)
1/8 tsp. salt

1) Mash cranberries with a potato masher (or use a food processor) until cranberries are coarsely chopped.
2) Stir in remaining ingredients.
3) Cover and chill at least two hours.
4) Serve with sweet potato chips or your favorite tortilla chips.

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For the spinach artichoke dip recipe and other healthy Greens recipes, check out the new cookbook Fifty Shades of Greens at www.fiftyshadesofgreens.com

 

 

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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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Delicious Stuffed Pepper

Delicious Stuffed Pepper

These peppers are a little labor-intensive, but worth the effort! So delicious and good-for-you, filled with so many healthy ingredients: brown rice, fresh corn, black beans and tomatoes. Not to mention the peppers themselves. Also, you can make them the night before if you are having friends over for dinner. They also make great leftovers.

Stuffed Peppers, Southwestern-style

3 large bell peppers (your choice of color), stems and seeds removed, and cut in half
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can whole tomatoes
1 10 oz can Rotel brand diced tomatoes
2 ears corn
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. cilantro
½ tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 ½ cup low-fat cheddar cheese or Daiya vegan cheese
Olive oil

1)      Prepare peppers. Place halves in large casserole dish greased with olive oil, with smooth side facing down.

2)      Cook corn in the microwave (each ear should be microwaved about 1 minute 15 seconds). When cool, scrape from cob. A serrated knife works well for this.

3)      In large sauce pan, add a couple tbsp. of olive oil. Heat oil on medium high heat and add chopped onions. Saute until tender. Then add minced garlic, ciliantro, cumin and chili powder.

4)      Add corn and black beans and stir. Remove tomatoes from can and set juice aside. Chop tomatoes and add to the sauce pan. Add 2 tbsp. of the Rotel tomatoes.

5)      Stir in two cups of cooked brown rice and ½ cup cheese or vegan cheese.

6)      Spoon rice mixture into the pepper halves. Mound it up, as needed.

7)      For sauce: Add tomato juice from canned tomatoes, remaining Rotel tomatoes, garlic powder and 1 tbsp. oil oil to medium-sized bowl. Stir together. Pour over peppers.

8)      Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for another 20 minutes.

Makes 6 servings. Great leftovers.

Peppers before baking

Peppers before baking

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Corny Corn Bread

Corny Corn Bread

Since it’s summer, it’s easy to find fresh, sweet corn. While making cornbread the other day, I decided to add some fresh corn to it. It really sweetened the bread and made it extra delicious. It’s a simple recipe.

By the way, this bread is made from corn meal, which is a whole grain, so it’s gluten-free. Also, I use unsweetened almond milk and no eggs, so it’s vegan. And did I mention heart-healthy?  You and your family will love it!

Easy Extra Corny Corn Bread          

1 cup corn meal (I use Virginia’s Best)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed whisked with 4 tbsp. water
1 ear of corn

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1)      Shuck corn. Cook in microwave for 1 minute 10 seconds. Let cool. Scrape corn from cob into a plate.

2)      Mix all ingredients together

3)      Pour into pan that’s approximately 6” X 6”.

4)      Bake in 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

5)      Serve with Smart Balance buttery spread.

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Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bar

Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bar

I bought a pint of fresh raspberries at the Farmer’s Market Saturday and felt inspired to make raspberry oatmeal cookie bars. The recipe below is vegan, gluten free and heart healthy. I adapted it from a recipe on the Vegetarian Times website, but switched the white flour for oat flour and made it vegan. And I reduced the amount of sugar. I also added fresh raspberries. And I made a couple of other changes. Okay, it’s pretty much original. You could make this recipe with blueberries or strawberries too.  Try serving with raspberry or chocolate sorbet for an awesome dessert. Would be a welcome part of a brunch menu also.

Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars

• 1 ¼ cups organic oat flour
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp. baking soda
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• ½ cup butter substitute (I used Smart Balance)
• 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed, whisked with 7 tbsp. water (egg substitute)
• 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 3/4 cups oats plus an additional ¼ cup
• 10 oz. raspberry jam (about 1 cup)
• 2/3 cup raspberries
• ¼ cup chopped pecans, sliced toasted almonds or chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 9-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Stir together oat flour, cinnamon and baking soda in large bowl.
3. Whisk sugar and butter substitute until light and fluffy. Add the flaxseed mixture and vanilla and whisk til smooth.
4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; mix until combined. Stir in 1 3/4 cups oats.
5. Spread 2/3 of batter on bottom of prepared baking dish. Spread raspberry jam over the batter with back of spoon. Sprinkle raspberries on top.
6. Add remaining 1/4 cup oats and nuts to remaining batter. Crumble evenly over top.
7. Bake 25 minutes. Cool, then cut into bars.

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Fresh StrawberriesSure you can find strawberries in the supermarket year round, but nothing tastes like fresh, local strawberries. In the mid-Atlantic, they are available in late spring. Berry farms let you pick them yourself and allow you to eat as many as you like while picking. Farmer’s markets have tables of fresh berries and even some of the supermarkets choose to carry local berries over the ones hauled in from far away.

Take advantage of the season with one of the recipes below.

Strawberry Cobbler

This recipe works with peaches or other berries as well. Tastes like it was really hard to make, but it’s easy. Make it ahead of time and pop in the oven just before dinner. The whole house will smell delicious.

Heat oven to 375 degrees

3 cups fresh strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Dash of salt
½ cup melted Smart Balance

1) Mix berries and sugar in medium bowl.
2) Add flour, baking powder and milk to medium-size mixing bowl. Blend in melted smart balance or butter substitute. Spread into medium-sized baking pan. Add blackberry/sugar mixture on top of batter.
3) Bake about 40 minutes. Dough will rise to the top!
4) Delicious with soy or coconut ice cream.

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Fruit Turnovers

These mini fruit pies are relatively easy to make, will make your house smell wonderful and will delight your lucky guests.

Fruit Turnover

Fruit Turnover

2 vegetarian frozen pie shells (choose the kind that come in rolls, in the refrigerator section)
2-3 cups of fresh or frozen fruit (choose chopped peaches, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries or a mixture)
¼ cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1) Mix fruit, ¼ cup sugar, flour and spices in a medium-sized bowl. Let rest for at about 15 minutes.
2) Unroll pie shell and spread out. Divide into four even pieces.
3) Grease a cookie sheet. Place each pastry piece on the cookie sheet. Fill with about ¼ cup of the fruit mixture. Roll up the edges of the pie shell to form a little package. Sprinkle with sugar.
4) Bake in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Will be golden brown on the outside. Delicious!

Makes 8 turnovers

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Spinach Salad with Orange peppers and Strawberries

With its vibrant colors, this salad is as pretty to look at as it is tasty and healthy to eat.

Fruits and berries macro6 cups of washed baby spinach
1/2 orange pepper
About 15 strawberries
1/2 cup of toasted almonds
Dressing (I use Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette)

1) Slice orange pepper into thin 2 inch slices.Cut strawberries into quarters.

2) Purchase toasted almonds or toast them in preheated 400 degree oven for about 7 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

3) Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Add dressing. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

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Berry Banana Smoothie, 2 ways

Smoothie

Smoothie

If you have kids around, give them the ingredients and let them make their own.

8-10 fresh or frozen strawberries
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 tbsp. honey
1 banana, frozen and broken into chunks
4 or 5 cubes of ice

For 1st way, use: 1 cup juice made from dark fruit (I used pomegranate/cranberry juice blend—I think it is blended with apple juice to take away the bitterness of the pomegranate)

For 2nd way, use: 1 cup berry or banana or vanilla yogurt and 1/2 cup almond milk

1) Put all ingredients into a blender and pulse until well blended.
2) Pour into 2 glasses and add straws.

Makes 2 smoothies

 

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beachbike_summerMemorial Day weekend kicks off Summer. For the next three glorious months, we can enjoy warm weather, beach trips and laxy evenings catching up with friends and family under the stars. It’s time to celebrate with a picnic. We’ve spent all winter inside, let’s get outdoors and enjoy a vegetarian cookout this weekend. Here are a few recipes to get you started on your start of summer celebration.

Vegetarian Hotdog Chili

Vegetarians don’t have to deprive themselves of delicious chili on their veg dogs.

1 cup ground veggie burger

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. onion, chopped fine

1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt & pepper

1) Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté about 5 minutes, maybe a little longer, until translucent.

2) Add ground veggie burger and spices. Stir together and cook in the pan about another 5 minutes.

3) Add to your veggie dog.

Makes plenty of chili for two hot dogs. A nice topping of chili for four dogs.

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Sara’s Veggie Kebabs

Perfect for Summer grilling.

Choose 3 or 4 of the following:

1 pepper, your choice of color

1 onion

8 button mushrooms

½ package extra firm tofu

1 Quorn “naked” vegetarian chicken

1 Yellow squash

1 Zucchini squash

1 Eggplant

Marinade:

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup olive oil

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. basil

Salt & pepper

1Barbecue) Cut chosen ingredients into about 1 inch pieces.

2) Mix together marinade ingredients and pour into large ziplock bag.

3) Add vegetables to bag and shake. Let sit in refrigerator 30 minutes or up to a couple of hours.

4) Place on skewers alternating vegetables

5) Grill

Makes 4 kebabs

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Susie’s Baked Beans

Essential side dish for your Summer cookout.

2 cans (15 oz.) vegetarian baked beans

l can fat-free navy or great northern beans (drained)

1 can fat-free pinto beans (drained)

1 small onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

Sauce

2/3 cup catsup

1 tsp. prepared mustard

1/3 cup brown sugar (more if you like it sweeter)

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 tsp. Worstershire sauce

2 tbsp. barbecue sauce (Such as Sauers or Jack Daniel’s)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1) Mix first five ingredients together in large oven-safe pot.

2) Add sauce ingredients and stir together.

3) Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce heat in oven to 250 degrees. Bake uncovered for an additional one hour. Cover dish with foil and bake another 30 minutes.

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Easy Pasta Salad

When you need to bring a dish to your Summer party, this pasta salad is a good choice. You probably already have the ingredients on hand and it pulls together in minutes. Also, it’s great for tailgate parties and picnics because it’s mayo free.

2 ½ cups uncooked tri-colored Rotini pasta

¼ red bell pepper, chopped

¼ green bell pepper, chopped

¼ broccoli crown (just the florets), chopped

8 radishes, chopped

1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing

¼ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

1)

pasta salad

pasta salad

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Don’t overcook. Drain.

2) Wash and prepare vegetables.

3) Combine drained pasta, chopped vegetables and dressing in a medium-large bowl. Stir everything together.

4) Stir in Parmesan cheese, if desired.

5) Serve right away or refrigerate for about an hour before serving. Keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator. Okay to serve at room temperature.

Note: These are the veggies I used, but feel free to substitute your favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand.

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Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This salad may sound unusual but it is a hit at our family gatherings. It combines sweet and salty and everyone loves it.

2 cups pretzels, crushed

½ cup sugar

¾ cup butter or butter substitute, melted

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

¾ cup sugar

10 ounces whipped topping

6 ounces vegetarian gelatin* substitute, preferably strawberry flavored

2 cups boiling water

20 ounces frozen strawberries, sliced, with juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1) Mix pretzels, ½ cup sugar and butter and spread in a 9 X 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool.

2) Mix cream cheese, ¾ cup sugar and whipped topping together. Spread on top of cooled pretzel layer.

3) Dissolve vegetarian gelatin in boiling water and add strawberries. Let it partially set. When gelatin mixture is partially firm, spread it on top of the cream cheese layer.

4) Chill thoroughly.

5) Cut into slices and serve.

*Jello is not vegetarian.

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Berry Peach Crisp

Berry Crisp

Berry Crisp

Healthy, light, delicious way to enjoy fresh peaches and berries

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, sliced peaches or a mixture of these

1¼ cup oatmeal- quick cooking works well, don’t use instant

3 tbsp. Smart Balance, softened

2 tbsp. Canola oil

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. sugar (omit or reduce if limiting sugar)

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Add berries with white sugar and stir. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

2) Mix together Smart Balance, Canola oil, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add oatmeal and stir together.

3) Pour berries, peaches or berry and peach mixture into a medium casserole dish that you have greased with Canola oil. Top evenly with oatmeal mixture.

4) Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

5) Serve hot with vanilla soy ice cream.

Six servings

Celebrate Summer!

Follow Vegetarian Light on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VegetarianLight

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