Tag Archives: vegetarian

Recipe: Classic Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Hey all! What a week! Here I am coming up for a little air and breathing deeply at the thought of a quiet weekend at home – I feel I’ve been a little MIA here the past few days – we’ve just finished up a whirlwind week of kids Christmas concerts, choirs, and gifts for teachers and friends, not to mention craziness at work & the rest of the prep for Christmas……it is now officially time to breathe.

I won’t go into details, but after my last post exactly a week ago today, I was pretty rattled and blogging really was the furthest thing from my mind (it was always lurking back there though). With the husband being a little under the weather, we battened down the hatches and stuck around the house in our free moments (which there were very few of).

It may be cold & dark outside, but tonight it’s warm & bright in the house. The kids are home for two weeks now, and we get to be together. No soccer, no school, no running around. Just us. How truly blessed we are!

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

With all the goodness time at home with family brings, comes the memories of favorite times spent around the table with family as kids. Nostalgic meals that bring us back to the safe places where we store and guard our coziest childhood memories, and still perhaps recall the tastes and smells of the food we ate, and maybe even the stories we told.

This recipe is that for me. Growing up, we ate Shepherd’s Pie with lentils often, and always with straight mashed potatoes and maybe even ketchup (for us kids). I’ve been meaning to bring this back over the years and must thank my good friend Danielle for the push (a huge yes to the soaked walnuts and coconut butter!) and also to the Moosewood Cookbook, as I borrowed the very best parts of Mollie’s infamous lentil mushroom burger for this as well.

The result is a perfect comfort food to share with loved ones at any time, but particularly wonderful on a cold dark night like tonight, the darkest night of the year. Thanks to my mom for the original inspiration behind this truly delicious & ultra classic recipe!

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

The Less:

Less meat based main dishes means less heavy, hard to break down proteins. Less time to digest means more lightness and less time in your tummy. Less wheat and grain based main courses means filling up on lean plant fuel, so easy satisfaction comes light, healthy, and heavenly.

The More:

More plant-based eating means more ways to stretch your dollars. More healthy legumes and vegetables means more fiber & friendly digestion. More mushrooms, garlic, and walnuts means rich satisfying flavor, so missing out on anything while eating healthy is next to impossible.

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Classic Vegan Shepherd’s Pie:

The Proteins:

  • (1) cup raw walnuts, soaked for 4-6 hours minimum or overnight
  • (1) cup dry green lentils
  • (3) cups water for cooking lentils
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1) tbsp prepared Dijon mustard

The Vegetables:

  • (2) tbsp olive oil
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • (1) large onion, chopped finely
  • (10) large white button mushrooms, chopped finely (about 5 cups total)
  • (2) cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • (2) cups green kale, washed & chopped finely
  • (2) medium-large carrots, peeled & diced
  • (1) tsp salt (to taste – this is optional but I recommend it)*

The Topping:

  • (4) yellow fleshed medium potatoes, peeled & chopped (4-5 cups)
  • (1/4) cup raw cashews
  • (1/2) cup cold water
  • (1-2) tbsp coconut butter (or any butter)
  • (1/2) tsp salt (optional)
  • olive oil for the top while cooking
  • chopped fresh parsley or chives to garnish

To prepare, start by soaking the walnuts in advance in enough water to cover (you can do this either the night before or the morning of). To prepare for the pie, drain, rinse & chop the walnuts with a sharp knife to a coarse chop and set aside in a bowl.

Next, combine the lentils and 3 cups of cold water for cooking in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, and cook, partially covered for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are soft. Most of the water should get used up in the cooking but feel free to drain if needed once the lentils are soft, and also if the water is gone before the cooking is finished feel free to add as required. Set the cooked (and drained if needed) lentils in a bowl and mix with salt. Mash a little with your hands or a spoon and set aside to cool.

Prepare the vegetables for cooking and when ready, heat a large pan with olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and salt, and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook a further 10 -12 minutes, until all of the water is completely evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to turn a rich brown. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes until everything is mixed together (it will smell amazing). Remove this mixture from the pan and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Using the same pan, add another bit of oil and re-heat on medium. Add the chopped carrots and cook for 3 minutes, stirring to coat well and cook evenly. Add the chopped kale and cook for 2-3 minutes further, until the kale is bright green and just softening. Remove from heat and add to the onion/mushroom/garlic mixture.

Next, combine the peeled & chopped potatoes in a small pot with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a boil with the lid on, and once boiling, turn the heat to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes with the lid on, until the potatoes are soft.

While the potatoes cook, combine the cashews & water in a blender and blend until smooth – you should have a creamy sauce with no lumps. Drain the cooked potatoes and mash them lightly with a fork, add the coconut butter, cashew cream, and optional salt and mix all well until you have light and fluffy mashed potatoes. Season to taste and set aside.

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Next, combine the cooked lentils, cooked vegetables, chopped walnuts and Dijon mustard together in the large mixing bowl and mix with your hands until perfectly combined.

*Check for salt and add an additional teaspoon if you like.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a standard glass pie plate (my mom used to serve hers in a cast iron fry-pan) and spread the entire filling mixture on the bottom. Spread to make it even and condensed.

Next, spread the mashed potatoes over top of the filling. Use a fork to make ‘waves’ on the top (or however you like it!) and top with a generous swirl or two of olive oil. Bake the pie uncovered in the oven for 40 minutes, until a nice golden crispy crust forms on the potatoes. Remove from the oven and serve hot, with or without chopped fresh parsley or chives as a garnish. Leftovers keep very well, and are also great cold (I speak from experience here!)

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Memories are made of meals like this. Warm, healthy soul food to feed your heart and your soul. I’m so delighted to head into the new year with a warm belly and an even warmer heart. Thanks to all of you for your part in this!

Wishing you all the warmest, safest, and healthiest of holidays! Merry Christmas to all ๐Ÿ™‚

Yours in Less (with hugs),

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Honey Crisp, Kale & Persimmon Salad

What do you get when you cross shredded raw winter greens with delicious crispy apple and sweet orange persimmon?

Well the answer is simple. Your newest favorite winter salad!

This fresh & nutritious bowl of delicious has become mighty popular in the meal rotation these days, as there is usually a few kale leaves & brussels to be found lingering in my crisper along with two of my favorite winter fruits that are always in my fruit bowl this time of year.

Toss in a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds and drizzle with that luscious pink hued dressing, and this salad is a winter dream come true.

If you are new to persimmons, it is never too late, and you can thank me later for introducing you to this naturally sweet gem of a fruit. My favorite variety by far is the common Fuyu variety, which is flat and stays firm when ripe. The entire fruit is edible, including the skin, and there are no seeds inside – only the sweet flesh. YUM.

The Less:

Fewer cooked foods in your diet means more living enzymes and untarnished nutrition. Less lettuce based salads means eating local through the winter is always possible (especially if you live in BC). Less obvious ingredients means a surprise in your salad bowl, so trying new ways to eat fresh foods becomes common.

The More:

More high fiber raw salads means more great help for your digestion. More enzymes & pectin from fresh apples means easy filling and breakdown in your tummy. More satisfying sweet fruits throughout the day means less cravings for sweets elsewhere, so natural sweetness is all you need.

Honey Crisp, Kale & Persimmon Salad:

  • (1) cup shaved raw Brussels sprouts
  • (1) cup shredded raw green kale
  • (1/2) large Honey Crisp apple, skin on & chopped to one inch dice
  • (1) Fuyu persimmon, skin on and sliced and chopped to uniform size
  • (1/4) cup lightly toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • (1/4-1/3) cup Incredible Cranberry Orange Dressing

Start by toasting the pumpkin seeds in a hot oven (350 degrees) for 3-4 minutes until fragrant and turning brown (careful not to burn them!). Set aside to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Combine all of the prepared vegetables in a mixing bowl and toss gently, reserving some persimmon pieces for the top. Add the dressing and gently mix until the ingredients are well coated. Top with remaining persimmons & serve immediately.

This is easily one of the yummiest salads I’ve enjoyed in a while and I simply can’t get enough of raw winter vegetables like kale and Brussels sprouts. Both are just so nutritious and fill me up in a wonderful way that makes me feel good all day! Add together with the amazing qualities of the Honeycrisp apples (so good if you have not tried this apple variety), and the sweet and satisfying persimmon, you can’t go wrong!

  • What is your favorite way to eat persimmon?
  • What is your favorite apple variety?

Wishing you all the very best as we soldier on into the first official Holiday weekend. It is a hectic time of the year indeed and it’s easy to get stressed! Breathe deeply, be mindful, and enjoy... ๐Ÿ™‚

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Dressings, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Broccoli & Lemon Zest Pesto

A beautiful bright green add-on to your day.

Life really is a funny thing. As we move forward (which we inevitably have to), it is certainly impossible to know what might inspire us from day-to-day, week to week, and so on. It could be a conversation over lunch, or a person you haven’t seen for years that suddenly pops into your life. It could be a season, or the way you feel after spending quality time outdoors in the fresh air.

I know that for me, I am happiest and most inspired when I’ve got a full, balanced plate in front of me. Pardon the corny food metaphor, but it’s just so apt! Not too much, and not too little. Just the right amount. Having too much (of anything) can certainly cause a feeling of being bogged down. The goal (for me anyways) is always to find some sort of precarious balance and this week, I am finding much strength in looking at ways to further embrace the philosophy and idea behind this blog.

Less is always more (except when it isn’t). Simple & easy might rule around here for a while, as we kick off our next set of NSF cooking classes (pumped!) which are just around the corner. Stay tuned for an update on what we are doing next week as we finalize the recipes, write the ingredient lists, and round-up the best volunteers in the whole entire world (love you guys!).

Of course, we’ll also get to some really great recipes too. Lots of them, in fact! Starting with this amazing version of a popular favorite. Yes, broccoli pesto it is, and it is wonderful, especially when you see what it goes with!

The Less:

Less oil-heavy sauces means fewer calories and fragmented foods. Less traditional pesto ingredients means more variety and fun ways to eat different things. Less calorie & dairy rich appetizers means lighter eats to snack on anytime, so good taste and light feelings come together.

The More:

More fiber filled broccoli means more chlorophyll and vitamins. More lemony, zesty flavor means more punchy bright taste. More pumpkin seeds & fresh herbs means more plant-based nutrition, so eating adventurously is just this good for you & healthy.

Broccoli & Lemon Zest Pesto:

  • (1) broccoli floret, washed and chopped (about 2 – 2.5 cups chopped)
  • (1/3) cup pumpkin seeds
  • (1) clove garlic (optional)
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (4) tbsp lemon juice
  • (1) tsp lemon zest
  • (2) tbsp olive oil
  • (3/4) cup fresh parsley
  • (1/4) cup fresh basil leaves

Start by putting up some water to boil in a small saucepan and steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes until bright green and tender, but not mushy. Once cooked, remove the broccoli from the heat and set aside.

Roast the pumpkin seeds in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 minutes until turning brown and fragrant. Prepare the lemon juice, lemon zest, & fresh herbs and set aside.

Once the seeds are toasted, remove from the oven and add them directly to the blender warm with all of the prepared ingredients. The mixture might need some agitation with a spatula to get going, but should get going to a nice bit of pureeing in little time. Blend on high until well mixed and bright green.

Serve within a day or two to ensure the best color from the broccoli and the best nutritional value. Broccoli pesto will keep in the fridge for several days and is delicious served with chickpea flat bread, or as a dip for crunchy crackers.

In my next post, I’ll share with you the latest version of chickpea flat bread that has won my heart for good.

Since our return from France in August (and the recipes I brought home from Provence), I’ve had the pleasure to try a many of these, and this one is so far my favorite! So stay tuned for an easy, filling, and nutritious version of what is fast becoming a popular food here at home (and for very good reason).

Stay tuned, you’ll want to make this one, I promise! Also do let me know if you’ve got any streamlining to do as a result of a (rather) full plate, and what is your first thing to let go!

  • What do you do when you feel bogged down by details?
  • Have you tried a broccoli pesto or chickpea flat bread yet?

Have a wonderful remainder to the week my friends and thank you as always for reading, for your kind comments, and your wonderful feedback on the recipes ๐Ÿ™‚

Yours in (just a little) Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Easy Coconut Kale Chickpea Curry

A nice simple curry for our (sometimes) complicated lives.

Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.

~ Lao Tzu

Hey everyone! I hope everyone had a great weekend!

I am sure many of you are enjoyed a nice rest and took some time to enjoy the rest of the delicious posts from Vegan Blogger’s Potluck that went down last week (with great success I might add). Great work and a giant fist bump to all involved!

Today’s recipe is another fave of ours, and it’s one that should make itself super comfy in anyone’s meal repertoire. Chock full of spicy delicious flavors, this classic straight out of Vikram Vij’s first cookbook won my heart straight away. I think you will soon see why!

I havenโ€™t failed. Iโ€™ve just found 10,000 ways that wonโ€™t work.

~ Thomas Edison

Ginger, tomato, jalapeno, cumin, and coconut…I mean what could be better?

Whipped up in just a few minutes, I challenge you to not want to curl right up into a warm bowl of this curry with a soft blanket and your favorite company…right away ๐Ÿ™‚

The Less:

Less complicated meals means easy & healthy are at your fingertips any day. Less heavy, dairy-based curry means more light plant-based goodness. Less heavy meat-based dinners means more satisfied tummies without digestive difficulty, so dinner time leaves you feeling spiced just right.

The More:

More high fiber chickpeas means more filling, hearty proteins. More spicy foods in winter means more warming for your insides. More warm bowls of nutrition means less clean up & complicated prep work, so one pot does the trick every time ๐Ÿ™‚

Easy Coconut Kale Chickpea Curry:

  • (1/2) cup canola oil
  • (1) tbsp cumin seeds
  • (1.5) cups finely chopped onions (1 large yellow should do)
  • (2-3) medium tomatoes, chopped
  • (1.5) tsp salt
  • (4-5) tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • (2) finely chopped fresh jalapeno peppers
  • (4) cups cooked chickpeas
  • (1) can coconut milk
  • (1) bunch green onions, chopped
  • (3-4) cups curly green kale, chopped very finely

Heat the oil in a medium to large pot on medium high for one minute. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds (the seeds will start to sizzle and become fragrant). Add the chopped onions and continue to cook on medium high for about 8-10 minutes, until the onions are soft and brown.

Stir in the tomatoes, pepper, ginger and salt, and cook for a further 8-10 minutes, stirring well. THe oil should start to glisten on the top.

Add the chickpeas and coconut milk and stir well. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to medium low, keep the pot covered and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring here and there.

At the last minute, add the chopped green onions and kale and stir in well. Cook the mixture for one to two minutes further until the kale turns bright green.

Serve this curry right away to retain the color in the kale and enjoy it freshly cooked.

Slightly spicy (or quite spicy depending on your idea of spicy), the fresh jalapeno add a kick of warmth to jump-start digestion and the coconut milk and tomatoes make a comforting & delicious sauce to match it.

Serve this dish on its own, or with this delicious homemade Naan Bread…this fabulous and creative (vegan) recipe was originally brought to us by Vegan Richa and has recently been beautifully celebrated again over at Kristy’s wonderful blog. I’ve been looking for a homemade naan recipe to try, so I am excited for this one!

I’m looking forward to trying this at home soon and love the great inspiration that is coming in these days.

Stored in the fridge, leftovers will keep for up to a week and all this needs is a gentle re-heating for an easy and satisfying weekday lunch or dinner. Perfect for these cool (and dark) winter days (over here in North America anyways)!

The greatest wealth is to live content with little.

~ Plato

On another note..this is one busy month for me and the crew at Not So Fast!

We’ve got (2) cooking classes coming up this month, the first being on the horizon in precisely a week from today – November 13th marks the first class!

We’ll be cooking the basics of a healthy day of delicious food on a limited budget with 8 youth here in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. For those of you interested in supporting our efforts…feel free to send a donation our way..every little bit helps, and as little as $5 goes an awful long way towards filling little tummies!

I’ll be sharing all of the details for this as we go along….but for now wish us luck! (THANKS!)

  • What’s your favorite warm & spicy winter meal?
  • What would a ‘basic day’ of food necessities be to you?

We all have those things we can’t live without, I’d love to know what your ideal healthy food day would look like from a necessity stand point. I’ve a feeling a few of those things might be included in today’s recipe…

Wishing you all the very finest of weeks as always! Love all of your guts….

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Health, Not So Fast, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Cashew Rice Loaf & Red Pepper Cheese Sauce, Virtual Vegan Potluck Edition

Delicious for anyone at your table, guaranteed!

Life is either aย daring adventureย or nothing at all.

~ Helen Keller.

Holla Bloggers!

Welcome to this stop on the Virtual Vegan Potluck!

For occasions like this, sometimes you’ve got to whip up something special. Enter one of my all time favorite special occasion recipes. There are many amazing versions of vegan loaf recipes out there, but this one is well, special.

This is a recipe I’ve been serving up in my house for years, and whether for Thanksgiving, Easter, or just an anytime awesome vegan meal, it always gets rave reviews. After all, what’s not to love when yummy ground cashews & hearty brown rice are mixed with herbs and spices and baked to perfection?

Not a whole lot, I can tell you that for sure!

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

~ Dr. Seuss

I must point out that I rarely use cashews this heavily, as they can get pricey, and while a vegan’s dream ingredient for those missing the creaminess of dairy, can still be heavy-ish on the pocketbook and tummy if not used in (relative) moderation.

But with today being a special occasion, what better time could there be to make something (just a little) less ordinary, and perhaps (just a little) more delicious than usual?

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.

~ Mother Teresa

The Less:

Less meat-based main courses means more veggie heaven for all. Fewer fats, lower cost, and better value means more nutrition for less output. Fewer steps in a recipe means anyone can do it, and when dinner tastes this good, really, everyone should.

The More:

More tasty filling dinner ideas means you can safely (and deliciously) feed anyone. More nuts and whole grains means more plant-based satisfaction. More simple to make sauces and healthy flavor add-ins means healthy food that is flavorful, so serving up plant-based becomes ritual.

Cashew Rice Loaf & Red Pepper Cheese Sauce:

~ Adapted From the Silver Hills Cookbook

  • (1/3) cup short grain brown rice
  • (1) cup water for cooking the rice
  • (1) tbsp olive oil
  • (1) small onion, finely chopped
  • (1) cup finely ground raw cashews
  • (1) cup breadcrumbs
  • (1) cup soy or nut milk
  • (2) tbsp fresh or dried parsley
  • (1) tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
  • (1/2) tsp salt, or to taste
  • Olive oil for oiling the loaf pan

Start by combining the rice and cold water together in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer with the lid on for 35-40 minutes while you prepare all the other ingredients.

While the rice cooks, chop the onion finely and heat (1) tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Saute the onion for 6-8 minutes until brown and fragrant. Once the onion is cooked, add it to a large mixing bowl that is ready and waiting to go.

In the mixing bowl, combine the cooling cooked onion with the remaining loaf ingredients. Once the rice is cooked, add it to the mixture while still warm, this will help it all to mix beautifully together. Mix everything well, and get in there with your hands to ensure it is all even.

After mixing, the mixture should be nice and moist, but not too dry. Feel free to add a few extra breadcrumbs if the mixture feels too wet, but in my experience the ratios here are perfect.

If you are subbing in gluten-free breadcrumbs, you may want to add a little more.

At this point once your loaf mixture is all mingling together, you can set the mixture aside for later and bake it when convenient.

To bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Transfer the cashew mixture to a well oiled standard loaf pan (or two smaller pans) and bake for 40 minutes, until the house is smelling wonderful and the loaf has browned on top.

Red Pepper Cheese Sauce:

  • (2) medium red bell peppers, seeded & chopped coarsely (you could use yellow or orange too for different color)
  • (1) cup cashews or cashew pieces (slightly more affordable)
  • (1.5) cups water
  • (1/4) cup olive oil
  • (1-1.5) tsp salt
  • (1) tbsp nutritional yeast
  • (1/4) tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • (1/4) tsp black or white pepper

Combine all ingredients in your blender, and blend on high for at least a full minute, even longer (up to 2 minutes is good). This recipe is so easy and simple and doesn’t require any pre-soaking of nuts or roasting of peppers!

Once your mixture is well blended, transfer to a medium sauce pan and heat very gently on the stove. Cook this mixture over medium-low heat for 15 -20 minutes until heated throughout, and thick and bubbly. Make sure to stir frequently to keep the sauce from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Cooking the cashews gently thickens them while cooking the pepper and spices together. Of course, you could pre-roast the peppers, but I love the beauty and ease of this sauce – it can be whipped up in minutes spur of the moment!

Serve this for a special meal. Or serve it everyday. Turn it out onto a serving dish (wait for it to cool a minute) and garnish with fresh herbs and cooked greens.

It’s not only fabulous fresh out of the oven and smothered in gravy, but equally delicious thrown in the fridge to be enjoyed later. Crumble leftovers over green salads with tahini dressing, or add it to a vegetable saute with garlic & kale.

This dish is easy to make and always a hit for vegans and omnivores alike. Feel free to use different bread crumbs and play around with the herbs and vegetables too.

My favorite part about this recipe is it doesn’t need anything added, it’s perfect just the way it is!

It just needs good people around to eat it.

I think that could be arranged right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right .

~ Henry Ford.

I think it’s safe to say that we all, at the end of the day, desire (and need) the same basic things.

Good food and good friends are just about the two best things in the world when put together, and I’m happy to have you all here to share all of this amazing food love with me!

  • Have you got a great vegan loaf recipe to share?
  • What’s your favorite special occasion meal?

Thanks for joining in today and do let us know…I am off to count the Halloween candy haul between two rain-soaked & excited eight year olds ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking forward to perusing the fabulous offerings at the Potluck, and have a wickedly wonderful weekend everyone!

And of course a HUGE thanks to Annie at An Unrefined Vegan – with the wonderful help ofย  Somer at Vedged Out and Jason – for organizing, as well as Vegan Bloggers Unite for hosting!

Go here to start from the beginning, or here to visit the post before me & here to move ahead!

Note: this post is also being submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays!

Bon appetit!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Apple, Kale & Hemp Seed Green Smoothie

Easy, clean eating to fuel your body.

Don’t major in minor things.

~ Author Unknown

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes I am a mess.

And no, I don’t mean in the kitchen (but I am that too and I LOVE it).

I mean, I worry. I try to worry (just a little) less at times, but catch me at a bad time late at night and it’s game over.

I worry about my schedule, or I worry that the kids won’t have the strength they need to stand up to a mean kid at school. I worry about the tall tree in the neighbor’s yard that might fall on the house in a windstorm, and I worry that I could get sick with some scary awful disease and leave my kids and my husband all alone (completely unwillingly of course).

Now please don’t get scared, I am not going somewhere dark or deep here.

I’m just saying, I think it’s in us all to worry, right? And we should be responsible, and do our diligence by living healthily and reducing our reasons to worry needlessly.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things happen. Don’t be afraid.

~ Frederick Buechner

So cue the checklist to healthy living.

Eat well (check). Live well (check). Exercise (check). Laugh (check). Give thanks (major check) Give yourself regular breast exams.

Silence.

Am I the only one that is (so far) dangerously lax in this department?

This week I decided to take action on that front & was quite terrified when I actually found something. It was indeed a painful lump in my armpit (SO tender!).

It was late at night at the time of this discovery, time for bed. After my discovery and the inevitable irrationality of thoughts that followed, a little visit to the Mr. Internet Selfย  Diagnosis department, and more irrationality (there may have been tears & attempts to hide them from the husband), I finally fell asleep.

Like I said, I am a mess sometimes. But aren’t we all? (And it WAS late).

The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.

~ Chinese Proverb

Waking up that morning I vowed to be better. To check more often, and to visit the doctor more often. After all, I am in the prime age for this kind of stuff, and statistics show 1 in 8 of us will be diagnosed with breast cancer during our lifetime.

Shira you owe it to your family to do a better job (check).

After several hours of worry that morning, trying to work but only really thinking of my sore armpit (it was really really sore), and (maybe) a call to work announcing that I’d found a scary evil worrisome lump (in my pit), I managed to see the doctor in the clinic.

Even waiting there in that room (evidently the very same room almost 10 years ago that I learned I was pregnant the second time), I was a mess. Biting back tears, I explained my case.

I told the lovely doctor about the discovery, and about how I’d rubbed that lump extra hard to see just what kind of lump it was. I told her it really hurt (it really did).

When she didn’t seem to look worried, I started to (maybe) feel like it wasn’t going to be so bad.

Then when she asked me to take my shirt off and started poking around under my arm, I pretty much realized it was going to be okay.

The Less:

Less worry and more action means you can spend energy on real matters. Less avoidance of important issues means more facing things head on. Fewer reasons to fret needlessly means more calm in your center, so making room for thoughts that are fruitful comes easy.

The More:

More action on health issues means fewer reasons to lose sleep. More calm, confident feelings means more rational sound thinking. More healthy food and healthy thoughts means more wholeness and good, wholesome living. So the need to worry can go out with the compost.

Apple, Kale & Hemp Seed Green Smoothie:

  • (1) organic apple, seeded and chopped
  • (1/2 – 1) avocado
  • (1-1.5) cups mango juice, (or apple juice if you don’t have access to mango)
  • (1) tbsp hemp hearts
  • (3-4) leaves green kale
  • (3-4) ice cubes, if desired

Blend all to a creamy consistency and enjoy immediately for full health benefits. Don’t worry though if you do need to blend it and enjoy it later..it will still be good for you (but maybe not if you worry too much about it) ๐Ÿ˜‰

This makes a generous amount that can easily feed 2-3 hungry people, but if you are at all like me, this could be just for one worry-free wonder woman (or man) as well. I often use this as my main daily sustenance until late afternoon, which means I have no problem enjoying the full recipe over the course of the morning.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

~ Dr. Seuss

Turns out, I managed to strain a muscle in my armpit. I learned from the very nice doctor lady that there aren’t any nodes in there, but there are a lot of tendons (apparently ones that don’t like being pressured frenetically late at night).

I’d rubbed the heck out of that node the night I discovered it and caused myself a whole lot of pain for no other reason but to give myself a little wake up call.

I’m glad it was all okay.

And I don’t wish for the day when it isn’t. For anyone out there that has had a scare, or (heaven forbid) has been through cancer, I was reminded this week of how lucky we all are to have our health.

Only a few things are really important.ย 

~ Marie Dressler

How can something bother you if you won’t let it?

~ Terri Guillemets

I don’t know how I strained my armpit, and it doesn’t really matter, the point is, I am going to be okay (it’s all healed now too so that’s good). For now, at least, and that is worth celebrating, and protecting, every day.

And I hope you are too.

So don’t delay on giving yourself some well-intentioned attention. Check yourself regularly, and eat well. Go to the doctor for check ups, and try not to worry (I think it comes with the Motherhood territory and having a majorly over-active imagination).

Surround yourself with friends that care about you.

And treat yourself to a green smoothie. Just be careful not to strain any muscles while tearing up your kale ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s for you, JY and MN ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love.

Yours in Less,

62 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Snacks, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

How To: Grow Super Nutritious Sprouts at Home

Home grown sprouts are all yours!

Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.

~ Wolfgang Von Goethe

Want to see magic happen?

I’ve got just the thing. Did anyone try this salad from my last post? I was thrilled to hear that a few of you did, some of you plan to, and those of you who were waiting for the how-to on growing sprouts?

It’s here! Look no further.

Sprouting legumes is just about the safest and easiest darned thing you can do. It’s a bit like bread…set it up, leave it to sit in the right conditions, and watch live magic happen right before your eyes.

Those dried peas in your cupboard you are not sure what to do with? Sprout them. There are many things to sprout but none are as easy (IMHO) as dried peas & beans.

So let’s get started!

Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.

~ Author Unknown

There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.

~ Unknown

ย There are just a few things you will need to sprout beans at home.

Starting with dried beans (of course). Of course if any of you are accomplished at growing alfalfa or other seeds, I’d love to hear from you!

My favorites beans for sprouting are:

  • Mung Beans
  • Garbanzos
  • Green Lentils
  • Green Peas (whole dried ones are hard to find strangely but oh, so good and kids LOVE them).

These are all (except for the peas) easily acquired, and cost very little. Given the cost for the average amount you will work with, you will see just how far they actually go.

How’s that for further proof that eating well needn’t be expensive, and this, dear readers, is one of the best examples around! Not to mention delicious too ๐Ÿ™‚

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

~ Kongzi

The Less:

Less store-bought sprouted foods means more health for less cost. Less cooked beans and legumes means more of their vital live energy is in tact. Less high cost sources of protein means more money that goes farther, and less heavy bulky foods means more lightness and well-being too.

The More:

More living plant-based energy & live enzymes means more good feelings and good moods. More light crunchy textures means more satisfaction when eating them. More home-grown how-toย  means more skills where it matters, so good eating and good sense are easy, cheap, and pure amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

Once you have your beans, you will need just three more things:

  1. a clean jar
  2. an elastic band
  3. a small piece of cheesecloth

Plus, of course, lots of clean water for soaking and rinsing, light through the kitchen window, a little air circulation, and your care and attention just twice a day.

Not bad hey?

But more on that later.

Super Nutritious Sprouts at Home for Pennies:

  • (1/4-1/2 cup dried beans (mung beans are great to start with!)
  • (1) clean mason jar (1 liter size if you can but small ones work too for smaller amounts)
  • (1) piece of cheese cloth or plastic mesh, cut into a square the size of the jar opening
  • (1) elastic band to secure the cheesecloth to the top of the jar
  • Plenty of cold water for soaking & rinsing

Start by putting up the beans of your choice to soak for 8-16 hours in the jar you will use for sprouting (like most things they can languish for a while so don’t worry if you soak them too long). Use cold clean water to do this as the beans are going to absorb that water. You can leave the jar open on the counter and there is no need to cover it.

The soaking process starts the ‘waking’ process for the dried beans which are by nature designed to keep for long periods of time on their dry (dormant) state. This is a (very) beautiful thing, as they can really keep almost indefinitely in a sealed container if kept dry.

Once soaked, the fun really starts.

Using your piece of cheese cloth (no more than 2 layers as the water needs to drain easily, but you don’t want anything falling through the holes), secure it to the top of the jar and drain the soaking liquid.

Next, you rinse (get acquainted with rinsing).

Simply set the jar in the sink and run cold water through the beans several times, turning the upside down to drain the water between rinses. Here you will see whether you have the cheesecloth too layered as the water will drain slowly.

After a few clean rinses, your soaked and rinsed little bundles of life are ready to grow. Simply set the cheesecloth covered jar upside down, and on an angle, and rest it in your dish rack.

Sprouts need a few things to grow well: air & light (in addition to clean water). As most sinks are by a kitchen window, light is normally not an issue. If your kitchen has no window by the sink, you might consider propping the jar (in the dish rack or in a bowl on its side near a window in between rinses). The air comes from the holes in the cheesecloth

For the next two days, morning and night, repeat the rinsing process, taking care to rinse the beans in their entirety at least twice. After each time, set them to rest in your dish rack.

After two full days…you should have this….

Life in the form of a little sprout. Don’t they just make you smile?

Once ready, and you have little tails on your sprouts, rinse them a final time and transfer to a container and store in the fridge. These guys will keep well in the fridge (for up to a week).

If you try to sprout chickpeas, I might suggest rinsing 3 -4 times a day as they are larger and can dry out faster than the smaller varieties (this is not good for growing sprouts just like it’s not good for us). So keep them (and yourself!) fresh by watering them carefully and keeping them hydrated. Chickpeas might also take an extra day to sprout.

Enjoy sprouted beans in salads, tucked into avocado sandwiches, or as a snack for hungry kids who get home from school. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have a palate for mung beans when sprouted (pictured in this post).

Logic only gives man what he needs… Magic gives him what he wants.

~ Tom Robbins

If we are to have magical bodies, we must have magical minds.

~ Dr Wayne Dyer

I could really go on about sprouts, as I grew up eating them. My mom always had a jar of alfalfa sprouts growing in our sink as kids in the winter time. Sprouts are believed to contain a much higher level of enzymes, making them much more digestible than their cooked counterparts.

After all, sprouts are vital foods that contain enough life force to grow into a plant.

But I’ll let you be the judge of that ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you to all of you wished me well after my little vehicle mishap last week..I’m driving a giant courtesy car this week which is demanding my full attention ๐Ÿ™‚ You all made my weekend wonderful!

Looking forward to getting my little car back on the road, all shiny & new!

  • Are any of you home sprouters?
  • Anything special you are looking forward to right now?

Let us know, and wishing everyone a wonderful week!

Yours in Less,

48 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Food, Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Crisp Brussels Sprout Salad w/ Apple Dijon Dressing

The tastiest, craziest, & most delicious salad. Ever.

Be Bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold.

~ Edmund Spenser

I’ve got to come out with it.

I know it’s hard when this happens, but really, I’ve got to be honest. I’ve had a challenging week.

I’m not sharing this to illicit sympathy (well, not intentionally), but in truth, I’d be lying if I tried to pretend life was all roses all the time. Of course this week has also brought it’s fair share of amazing as well.

So what to do?

Roll with it. Carry on. Be bold. Stay strong. And don’t stop (never stop).

Keep carrying on. Positively!

So really, that fender bender that will see my insurance rates go up for the next few years? I am choosing to see the positive: while my vehicle is in the body shop, I can finally have the rest of the knicks and scrapes repaired along with that crack in the wind shield that gets longer by the week….no one was hurt. Accidents happen.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

~ E.E. Cumming

My usual style is to beat myself up hard over stuff like this. After all, driving is serious business and there is nothing like a split second to change the course of your day, or if it is really not your day (and heaven forbid) your life.

As shaken as I was for the rest of that day, I know that practicing forgiveness for mistakes is as much a part of the lesson as the mistake itself.

So drive safely folks. Don’t text (I wasn’t on or near my phone when this happened). Don’t look down. Take a few extra seconds to think. And if you fail, forgive. It’s the least you can do.

And then make this salad. It will make you an instant hero, no matter what your week, or your day, has looked like. Even if you don’t like brussels sprouts, this raw combo will blow you away (and anyone else at your table too).

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

~ John Powell

The Less:

Less conventional cooked brussels sprouts means a chance to finally enjoy them. Less boredom in the salad department means more excitement and life in your salad bowl. Less cooked heavy meals means more lightness, crunch, and flavor, not to mention good health and well-being too.

The More:

More cruciferous green veggies & home-grown sprouts means more delicious, disease-fighting frugality. More high-fiber substance means more filling up on the right foods. More crisp crunchy textures means more chewing for good digestion, so eating and mindfulness are a no-brainer.

Crisp Brussels Sprout Salad w/ Apple Dijon Dressing:

  • (15) large brussels sprouts, washed
  • (1) cup fresh sprouted legumes (my fave to grow at home are mung bean or green peas)
  • (1/2) cup dried cranberries
  • (1/3) cup toasted whole pecans, crumbled
  • (1/2) cup Apple Dijon Dressing
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Apple Dijon Dressing:

  • (1/4) cup apple juice (or water will do in a pinch)
  • (1/2) cup apple cider vinegar
  • (1/2) cup good olive oil
  • (3) tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • (3) tbsp honey or plant-based sweetener
  • (1/2) tsp good sea salt

First, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a blender (or large bowl if you are using a hand blender). Blend all until a silky texture is created, just about 20-30 seconds. Transfer to a clean container or jar.

To make the salad, start by toasting the pecans either in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or on the stove top in a dry pan for 5 minutes or so, being very careful not to burn them. Set the pecans aside.

To shred the brussels sprouts, make sure they are clean by running them quickly under cold water. With a sharp serrated knife, start with the top end of each sprout (they are cut individually) and slice the sprout in rounds as thinly as you can until you reach the thicker stem end. Use this method until all of the sprouts are shredded.

Next, add them to a large bowl and separate the rounds with your hands to free the pieces and create a slaw like mixture.

When ready to serve, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl except the pecans, and toss with the dressing, adding it to taste.

This is a nice light dressing which will pool somewhat on the bottom of the bowl once the salad is served. Don’t waste this! I suggest a few baked or steamed whole sweet potatoes to serve alongside this to soak up this delicious dressing ๐Ÿ™‚

When ready to serve, crumble the toasted pecans over top of the salad or onto individual portions and serve right away.

Freedom lies in being bold.

~ Robert Frost

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

~ Steve Jobs

This salad tastes incredible the next day too and is wonderful served on top of cooked grains and/or other steamed vegetables.

In my next post I’ll take you through the home sprouting process step by step – sprouting legumes is really one of those easy and cheap things that brings amazing results to anyone looking for simple raw nutrition for literally pennies!

These gorgeous mung beans provide at least a few days worth of enzymes, protein, and vitality and they only took 2 days to grow right here in my sink ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are ashamed to stand by your colors, you had better seek another flag.

~ Author Unknown

So folks, I hope you are having a fabulous October so far – it is hard to believe we are almost half way!

I am looking forward to the upcoming Vegan Potluck hosted by Annie and Somer, as well as continuing to take in all the delicious recipes coming through Vegan MoFo (October is the Vegan Month of Food)…and a special thanks to Kristy at Keepin’ it Kind for her gorgeous version of this chickpea flatbread!

I am also excited to get my car fixed up. Turns out there IS an up side to everything, it just depends in which light you look at it. So whether life is actually roses all the time or not, those colored glasses we always hear so much about?

I’m keeping mine close. It’s the only way.

  • Have you tried brussels sprouts raw before?

If not, this is so worth a try!

It has been immediately added to our regular rotation, and even got a huge thumbs up from both the teenager and the husband. Now, that’s a win worth celebrating!

Wishing you all a safe and happy week!

Yours in Less,

87 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Easy Crusty Home Baked Bread (Baked Beans on Toast – Part Two)

Bountiful. Beautiful. Home Baked Bread.

IPOM Crusty Bread (1)

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.

~ Robert Browning

Baking beautiful bread?

Bread. Beauty. Bounty (alliteration today is brought to you by Cara). Today is the day!

I’ve been excited about this one for weeks, that is ever since I discovered it (I haven’t stopped baking beautiful bread since that day).

This was a recipe I randomly & luckily stumbled upon, and I am not sure through which medium it actually came to me (I am thinking Pinterest) – however, it must be noted it was this amazing blog post that got me going.

Insert major gratitude here.

Over the years, I’ve certainly tried all manner of bread recipes. Yeast and flour and I have never really gotten each other, and it could be that the precise nature of all things baking just does not come naturally for me.

I am happy to say that I’ve finally found the one recipe that has made me a bread baker. The day has come, and now, if you want it, it is yours for the taking too!

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.

~ James Beard

Not only must we be good, but we must be good for something.

~ Henry David Thoreau

It is true that not all good folks enjoy bread freely these days. With the rise in sensitivities to gluten, more and more people every day are avoiding the stuff.

Wheat being one of the oldest crops known to man-kind, it always seems crazy to me that evolution would take us down this road. Especially considering wheat’s status as the ‘staff of life’ and the fact it is an age-old source of sustenance that has been relied upon since the dawn of human existence.

Wheat berries are cheap, they can be grown all over the world, and in their whole form are full of sound vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutritious properties.

Used in their most natural form, whole wheat berries can be made into all manner of salads, added to stews, or famously sprouted for making raw breads or used to make rejuvelac and to grow wheatgrass.

However, when wheat berries are milled, bleached, bagged, and left in giant storehouses to spoil & turn rancid, it’s no wonder that our bodies are struggling to recognize wheat for the simple, life-giving grain that it is.

Change your thoughts and you can change the world.

~ Norman Vincent Peale

So if you are sensitive to wheat & gluten, but can still eat it from time to time, do source out organic freshly milled flour if possible. You might just notice a difference in how you feel after eating it (or you might not).

Whole wheat, all-purpose, or white, the most important thing to know is that it is fresh.

Just like roasted coffee should be ground right before use, or nuts & oils can go rancid if left for long periods of time at the wrong temperature, all milled flours are susceptible to the same conditions, so use it fresh.

Like all of your food (if you can).

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.

ย  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

The Less:

Less store-bought, packaged bread products means less cost, waste, and potential preservatives. Less reliance on commercial food supply lines means more control of your health, your home & your pocketbook. Less complicated recipes to produce authentic foods means more likelihood you’ll do it, because everyone deserves to be a baker (if desired).

The More:

More fresh-baked bread from freshly milled flour means (hopefully) fewer reasons for healthy bodies to reject it. More novice friendly methods means more confidence you can do it, so you can turn pro starting right now. More homemade comfort food on the table means more enjoyment all around, and isn’t that what we are all seeking after all?

Easy Crusty Home Baked Bread:

  • (3) cups all-purpose flour
  • (1/2) tsp active dry yeast
  • (1 3/4) tsp salt
  • (1.5 – 1.75 cups) cold water from the tap
  • Whatever additions your heart desires: fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, grated cheddar cheese, dried fruits, nuts & seeds, the ideas are endless!
  • One oven proof casserole with lid, preferably ceramic or cast iron (though I read you can use any oven proof dish and cover it with foil, I have an Emile Henry clay casserole I got for my wedding years ago)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except for the water. Next, add the water (in bits or all at once) and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or tough plastic spatula.

Once mixed, the dough should be sticky, like the picture shown below.

Feel free to play with the amounts of water used as I have used anywhere from 1.5 cups (the original recipe amount) to almost 2 cups. A good friend of mine uses a bread recipe very similar to this and suggested to add more water particularly if I play with other flours – ie. a mix of white & whole wheat.

Once the dough is well mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof on the kitchen counter for anywhere from 12 – 20 hours.

Seriously, this is (just one) of the beautiful things about this recipe.

You can start the dough at anytime and get to the baking when it works for you. I have baked after 12 hours proofing and I have baked after 22 hours proofing. All delicious, all the time.

Proofed Dough, ready to bake.

When you are ready to bake (and have a free hour and a half), turn on the oven and heat it to 450 degrees. Once the temperature is reached, put your oven proof dish in the oven and heat it for 30 minutes.

Just before the heating time for the dish is ready, flour a work surface with a very generous handful of flour. With your hands, pull the proofed dough out of the bowl and set it atop the floured surface.

Shape the dough into a roundish loaf and evenly coat it with the flour. Don’t worry about any inconsistencies with the shape of the dough – it will all sort itself out in the baking process.

This is a no knead recipe. Yes, that is right, no kneading!

So. Very. Awesome.

Remove the hot pot -careful it will be HOT! – and place the dough carefully into the dish. No oil or anything required.

Place the lid on top (or foil if this is your method – use good oven mits!) and place the dish into the hot oven still set to 450 degrees.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, keeping the oven hot by not peeking (I love having a hot and heavy lid that prevents me from peeking).

I have done both times and prefer the 35 minute time, the crust gets (just a little) crustier that way, but feel free to play with a time that works for you.

After 30-35 minutes, carefully remove the dish from the oven, and voila! Hot, beautiful, glorious bread. Remove onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.

For best keeping, do not store in a plastic bag until the loaf has cooled completely as this will diminish the crust on the loaf. A paper bag or on the counter is great right after it is made.

Though if you make this in time for a family meal I can almost guarantee leftovers will not be an issue.

Serve with soup, salad, curry, pasta, or make into crusty bread sandwiches with tofu steaks, cheese, lettuce, and ripe red tomatoes.

My personal favorite? Fresh out of the oven with butter. A bowl of hearty warm beans. And not a whole lot more (or less) ๐Ÿ™‚

The history of the world is the record of a man in quest for his daily bread and butter.

~ Hendrick Willem Van Loon

Whatever makes up your daily bread, doing so with reverence and appreciation of all things past can give us a better understanding of how it is we got where we are today. Things don’t always get better with time (but thankfully many things do).

In our modern world full of processed, packaged, ‘middle grocery aisle’ foods, fresh foods from fresh ingredients are still best. It’s been that way for thousands of years. Funny how some things never change.

Fresh is still best.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

~ Dr. Seuss

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

~ Mother Teresa

This recipe is cheap, easy, and simple in a world with so many options when it comes to tackling what (can be) one of the hardest foods to master in the kitchen.

Suitable for kitchen novices and experienced cooks alike, I’ve got full faith that anyone can be just hours away from blatant, breathtaking, bread-baking brilliance!

  • Are you a bread baker?
  • What is your favorite bread recipe?

We’re coming off a gorgeous holiday weekend here in beautiful Whistler (thanks to all for the truly fabulous company) – here’s to wishing all of my Canadian readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Next up, I’ve got the best brussels sprout salad you’ve ever had.

So stay tuned. It will be worth it, that I can promise you.

Yours in Less,

66 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Food, Health, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Homemade Baked Beans On Toast – Part One

The ultimate in affordable (vegetarian) comfort food.

Play is the highest form of research.

~ Albert Einstein

Do you ever just need a little comfort food?

I think it is safe to say we all need a little comfort in the form of our favorite foods here and there. Growing up, one of my most favorite snack foods was just this – comforting – not to mention dirt cheap and easy to make.

After all, what is easier than opening up a can of beans and heating them up? Toss a few pieces of bread in the toaster and slather on the butter….just thinking of it brings me right back to 4th grade heaven.

My 30 something year old self now knows that while the old canned standbys are still good in a pinch, there is nothing better than a warm bowl of home cooked beans and a fresh piece of bread hot out of the oven. Especially when they are this cheap, and this easy.

All you need is (just a little) love. And (just a little) time.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Having just celebrated another birthday, I find myself of late quite keenly aware of the fleeting nature of our lives.

As I think back to my days as young child I can tell you my defining moments just as easily as I can tell you what my favorite things to eat were. Most often, and particularly at the beginning of each new school year, I think back to me and my siblings, convening after a long day at school to watch TV and eat food we could make on our own.

Hot beans in a bowl. With toast. Childhood comfort food. Three’s Company. Let’s do it!

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

The Less:

Less canned food in your pantry means more room for cheaper dry goods to nourish you. Less waste and added preservatives means cleaner eating and a lighter conscience. Less sugar heavy baked beans means more naturally sweetened heartiness, and a whole lot more nourishment too.

The More:

More high fiber protein foods means easier work of digestion. More hearty, filling comfort means more warmth and goodness in your day. More cheap easy recipes means more ways to spread your money farther, because good health doesn’t have to come at a high cost.

Homemade Baked Beans:

  • (2) cups dry white Navy beans, soaked in cold water
  • (1/3- 1/2 cup) good olive oil
  • (2) medium – large yellow onions, chopped
  • (2) tsp salt
  • (1) small can tomato paste (about 1/2 cup)
  • (3) tbsp honey, brown sugar, or other plant-based sweetener
  • (8) cups cold water for cooking
  • Lots of love of and plenty of time

Start by soaking your beans in plenty of cold of water for anywhere from 8 – 20 hours (8 is about the minimum to soak thoroughly and don’t worry if you ill time the soaking – they can sit there for a while). When ready to cook, drain the beans and rinse in the colander under more fresh cold water.

Next, heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the chopped onion and salt. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, being careful not to burn them. Stir here and there, after 10 minutes the onions should be soft and translucent.

Next, add the tomato paste, beans, and 4 cups of cold cooking water. Stir well to dissolve the paste and bring to a boil over high heat with the lid on. Once the boil is reached, stir again and reduce the heat to medium, to keep the simmer at a jolly roll (not boiling but cooking nicely).

Now, kick up your feet, and get settled in. Read a book , or finish that knitting project you started. Maybe write some notes to your family to tell them you love them. Or not. But do enjoy this nice time at home.

Cook the beans withe the lid ajar for 1.5 hours, stirring here and there and adding the remaining 4 cups of water in increments as the sauce reduces. After the first hour, add whatever water is left, and the honey or sweetener, and cook for 30 minutes until the mixture is deliciously saucy.

From here, you can let the beans hang out until you are ready to bake them (you can even sneak in a bowl to eat at this point).

To bake, transfer the beans to a casserole and bake, covered either with the casserole lid or with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and serve hot with fresh bread or toast.

These beans will keep extremely well, and should be good to eat up to a week after they are made. A little goes a long way here as these guys are hearty and filling, so pile them into a container for those moments during the week when you need a little comfort.

Paired up with the bread recipe lined up for the next post, you’ll wonder if there could possibly be anything simpler or more nostalgic (especially if you grew up in my family).

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.

~ Julia Child

I was pleased to see that 25 years later, kids still love this food as a filler up after soccer practice or after a long tough day as a teenager (because let’s face it, that is exhausting work for those of you who may recall).

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Next I’ll share with you the bread recipe that has literally changed my life since I discovered it. Turns out, it’s never too late to be a baker, even if you’ve never even made bread before! Stay tuned, I am really excited about this one!

Here’s to a super fab October…wishing you all the very best as always!

  • Did you have a favorite childhood comfort food?
  • Got an updated version to share with us?

Let us know! Looking forward to hearing from you all as always, and for all my vegan-minded blog friends taking part in Vegan MoFo, wishing you all the best for a month of blogging inspiration, and those of you interested, check out the link here!

Yours in Less,

87 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Family, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian