Chick’n-y Green Beans and Carrots

I made this dish for my family, and it went over well with myself and my kids. So I made it for my omnivorous, Standard American Diet extended family, and they loved it! Even my 1-year-old nephew gobbled it up.

First I took the ends off of about 10 oz fresh green beans (local farmer’s market!) and broke into bite size pieces. Then I sliced about 6 oz organic carrots (I buy them from Walmart for less than $1 a pound and slice them into coins or sticks for dipping). I throw that into a frying pan over high heat with about and inch of water and mixed in about a tablespoon Better than Bouillon, imitation chicken style. Once the water boils down, I remove from heat and sprinkle on garlic powder and Chipotle Chili Power (more like hot Ground Red Pepper than Chili Powder; the right kind is important!). The Chipotle Chili Powder gives a very spicy, smoky flavor and is pretty hot, so go easy on it.

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Veggie Chili

This tasted a little more like a soup than a chili, so call it Black Bean Veggie soup if you want :-D. I didn’t measure the spices, so just taste as you go (without burning yourself!). It makes 6 generous servings.

Spices:
Smoked paprika
Chipotle sea salt
Ground cumin
Cilantro

Ingredients:
400 grams (measured dry) black beans
1 15-oz can corn
4 mini sweet peppers, sliced/chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1.5 tablespoons minced garlic
255 grams chopped onions (frozen)
1 cup TVP
3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable bullion (better than broth–beef would have been best but I only have veggie)
2 tablespoons coconut oil

For serving:
Caulirice
Daiya pepper jack shreds
Salsa

Instructions:
Soak, drain, and rinse beans. Cook, then drain the liquid and reserve for another use.

While beans are cooking, cut stems off tomatoes, chop (if your blender or food processor requires it), and puree. Simmer over medium heat with bullion and a little water.

Meanwhile, preheat coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic. Continue stirring often until they start to brown. Add spices, carrots, and peppers. Stir and cook a few minutes, then add corn (drained). Once oil is absorbed and veggie are browning, add to tomatoes. Add beans to tomato puree when they are cooked and drained. Once everything but TVP is in one pot, the chili should be more watery than desired. Rehydrate TVP with only .5 cups hot water (season with the spices) or broth, then add to chili and simmer longer.

To make caulirice, place cauliflower pieces in a food processor and process until each piece is about the size of rice, or use a shredder.

Serve with pepper jack and salsa mixed in. Pour the hot chili over raw caulirice and let the heat cook the rice slightly and the dish to cool just a bit. Yum! I made this for all 4 kids, me, and one more adult. I was the only one that added salsa, and the kids did dairy cheese instead of Daiya. Everyone said it was good, and the little ones requested seconds.

I haven’t tried freezing it yet, but I did eat it for lunch the next day. Chili/soup generally tends to freeze well, so this is a great recipe to make ahead of time in a huge batch.

PB&J wrap

Once upon a time, I went to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. We didn’t have my favorite low-calorie bread, but we did have my favorite low-calorie tortillas. I compared labels, and realized the tortilla was a better option than the bread. I still made my kids the sandwiches, and instead of making mine “quesadilla-style”, I decided to be adventurous and throw some baby spinach in there, then eat it like a wrap. Adding fruit bulks it up, too, and it travels well–I like to wrap it in foil and keep it in the fridge at work until I’m ready to eat. I think my favorite way to go is plenty of almond butter (just almonds or almonds + coconut oil), blueberries, strawberry preserves, and baby spinach. For low-calorie, try using PB2 and skipping the fruit spread. All ingredients can easily be substituted, so play around with it!

1 tortilla

2-3 tablespoons nut butter

1-2 tablespoons fruit spread (optional)

handful/about an ounce or two berries or chopped fruit such as grapes, oranges, pear, nectarine, kiwi, etc.

20-30 grams fresh spinach or kale

Spread nut butter on tortilla, then fruit spread. Add greens and fruit. Wrap it up. Eat!

Ok, so it’s not technically PB if you use almond butter. And if I use fruit spread, it’s 100% fruit preserves, not jelly. So more like a ABF&G (almond butter, fruit, and greens) wrap…but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it!

Let me know in the comments if you make this, and what you used!

30 minute pizza from scratch

Who doesn’t like pizza? I used the recipe from Fleischmann’s pizza crust yeast. I went with 1 cup whole wheat flour, and I accidentally added an extra 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

For the sauce, I used 1 can tomato paste mixed with 1 can water plus about a tablespoon total of oregano, marjoram, garlic powder, salt, and pepper (I had plenty left over). I oiled and preheated my pizza pan (metal with holes, not nonstick). First I flattened the dough into a circle holding it in my hands, then I spread it out as thin as I could onto the hot pan.

I topped it with sauce, chopped fresh asparagus, roasted minced garlic from a jar, and pieces of lightly seasoned Beyond Meat “chicken”. I placed in back into the oven until the crust was turning brown, then topped with nutritional yeast.

The crust was perfectly crispy on the bottom and the nutritional yeast was the only cheese we used. Catboy said he liked the yeast better than the other vegan cheeses we’ve tried. Hunny Bunny ate a whole piece without picking it to pieces, even though she was overdue for a nap.

This is not a low calorie meal, unfortunately–I enjoyed it thoroughly but next time I’ll need to prepare a very light, veggie-heavy side dish to eat with it!

How do you make pizza tastier and healthier?

Black Bean Veggie Burger

Ever since going vegetarian at age 13, I’ve thought of veggie burger patties as kind of a staple or veg*ns. My parents will grill them for me next to their chicken, and you can get creative using them in other recipes. Catboy even likes them. I was suprised (and my wallet was pleased) when I discovered I could make my own!

I have found Black Bean Veggie Burgers to be quite tasty. I’ve used leek instead of onion and roasted red pepper from a jar with good results. I have also substituted frozen pre-diced onion (chopping onions is the worst!). The tahini and soy sauce really makes for a great, savory flavor. Catboy requested a repeat meal on another day. I loved BBQ sauce and kale on mine instead of bun.

When I cooked them in my cast iron pan, I noticed they needed less than 10 minutes per side, maybe even just 5. They freeze well–I cook them per the recipe, then freeze, then reheat in the microwave to serve.

What do you like on your burger?

Chocolate Sweet Potato dip

I’ve always thought sweet potatoes were a little too sweet for a savory lunch or dinner dish, but I don’t hear about many sweet potato-based desserts. So I decided to experiment and lean on this potato’s natural sweetness–and I came up with chocolate (of course) dip! Good as a snack or dessert, or might as well eat it for breakfast!

Rinse sweet potatoes (you can roast more than one at a time, then keep in the fridge for a few days), pierce a few times, and wrap in foil (otherwise it’ll start leaking syrupy goodness onto the bottom of your oven!). Place in 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes (maybe a little longer if you don’t preheat first), until very soft. Eat the skin (it’ll be syrupy from the potato), then mash with about a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder per medium sized potato (I like Hershey’s Special Dark).

Sometimes I add a pinch of salt or some pure vanilla extract. I bet you could add chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder for more of a dessert experience–it really doesn’t need added sweetner, though. Alternatively, just do coconut oil with the cocoa powder (I haven’t tried this yet), for a smoother, richer texture. I have enjoyed dipping raw carrots, raw zucchini, apple slices (granny smith is good). I’d like to try pretzels, bread, chips (I might need to add milk to the dip to thin it out).

Cinnamon Banana FroYo (no machine needed)

I did use a single serve blender, but you could easily just mash the banana. Combine plain (not fat free or greek) yogurt*, ripe banana (brown and yellow on the outside and soft), and cinnamon. I made popsicles and poured the rest into ice cube trays. Then about 5 hours before serving, I placed ice cubes in a bowl (I didn’t cover) and placed in the fridge, then just mashed with a spoon before eating.

*This was conventional dairy yogurt because I get it for free on WIC. I don’t like bananas, yogurt, or the idea of eating animal products, so I didn’t even taste this. But all 4 kids loved it!

I am happy to get measurements next time I make this–I believe it was 1:1 banana:yogurt, plus about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon per cup.

Linguini Marinara with Cauliflower

To prep ahead of time, you can chop cauliflower into small pieces and cook noodles (I used whole wheat linguine). On the day you’ll be serving it, heat a small amount of oil in a pan on high heat. Put in the cauliflower, stir, and saute until cauliflower is starting to brown, adding a generous amount of Mrs. Dash Chicken (according the the container, it includes no sugar or chicken) about halfway through. Add enough marinara sauce for both the cauliflower and noodles, stir, and turn down the heat. Add the noodles and stir until everything is heated.

The little ones all kept telling me how good it was! This dish required no prompting to eat. I probably should have removed their white shirts, though. Catboy put sriracha in his, with yummy results. The leftovers went in the fridge for a different day and was good the second time!

Let me know if you make this–I’d love to see how others like it!

Mediterranean Vegan Lasagna for the freezer

I love the idea of spending one day cooking–perhaps following Once A Month Meals’ plans–and then just turning on the oven for the rest of the week/month with no worries about babysitting the stovetop, chopping veggies, or otherwise spending time in the kitchen. I haven’t been able to spend a whole day cooking, nor do I have a large freezer, so I just cook when I can and try to make enough for leftovers.

I tried the Mediterranean Vegan Lasagna because Catboy has been interested in Greek culture ever since he discovered the Percy Jackson book series. He usually doesn’t like bell peppers or onions, and to be honest, neither do I. But ever since I went vegan (rather than vegetarian) a few months ago, I’ve made a point to try new foods and really give them a fair chance. To get the flavor and texture I like best, I cooked the onions and peppers a little longer than it said and barely cooked the zucchini cubes. I ended up having to cook the pasta and veggies on one day, assemble it another and stick it in the fridge, then bake one after a couple hours of freezing.

I couldn’t find whole wheat lasagna noodles so I let Catboy choose his whole wheat pasta of choice: linguini. I used half a box for the recipe (rest for another dish). Instead of using an oily pesto and spending money on fresh basil, I went with dried basil and nutritional yeast. I think the nutritional yeast and the Daiya Mozzarella style shreds (I used 1.5 cups) went well together. For the marinara sauce, I with with my standby, Hunt’s Garlic and Herb pasta sauce.

The little ones haven’t tried it yet, but Catboy enjoyed his. I thought it was quite tasty, and would like to try it with a different pasta shape–if not lasagna noodles, perhaps bowties or shells. Maybe I could even do a stuffed shells-type casserole based on this recipe…

Do you have a dedicated day of the month for food prep?

Cookie Dough Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

So far I’ve made Chocolate Covered Katie‘s Cookie Dough Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal in a pan (like the recipe calls for) and muffin-style. In an effort to cut down on calories, at least from sugar, I skip the maple syrup and use sugar-free Torani syrup (hazelnut or caramel) instead, and just use a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips on top before baking.

For the oatmeal cups, I doubled the recipe and got about 17 muffins out of it. I freeze them while they are spread out on the baking sheet, then zip them together in a bag after they’re individually frozen, and microwave a few when I’m ready to serve them.

They are healthy and fun to eat, and all 4 kids (or at least all 3 that are able to speak well) request them! The breakfasts right out of the freezer are the best because it only takes seconds to heat them. You could even stick them in the fridge overnight and eat them cold the next morning if you want it instantly. They can also be eaten on the go!

What do you eat when you need something portable?