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Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Sweet Potato Patties – kids love them!

Sweet Potato Patties on PlatterWe have all seen that version of frozen “sweet potato patties”  or “yam patties” that you can get in the store.  I think they were even served regularly in our school cafeteria when I was a kid.  I am talking about these:

FrozenSweetPotatoYamPatties

Highly-Processed Frozen Sweet Potato Yam Patties

According to the website, the ingredients for those are: Yams (Sweet Potatoes), Sugar, Cornstarch, Buttermilk, Salt, Yellow 6, Red 40, Natural And Artificial Flavoring, Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate (To Retain Natural Color).

So while they do start out as a vegetable (a sweet potato, as a real “yam” is a totally different veggie), the manufacturer has added lots of sugar, artificial flavorings and two types of food dyes.  Yuck!  So, why not just make your own?

We had the day off school last week for a Teacher’s Professional Day.  We got to wake up late and I wanted to make the girls a filling brunch before we headed out to the Chickasaw Cultural Center.  If you live anywhere nearby, I highly recommend a visit.

I had only one sweet potato and it needed to be used. Since Sarah, especially, loves roasted sweet potatoes, I decided to shred it and make a hybrid between hash browns and a pancake.  I used a combo of mashed banana and honey to give it a bit of sweetness.  Since I put honey inside it, I did not serve any honey or syrup at the table.

I shredded the potato on my hand grater, but if you are doing more than one potato, using the shredding blade on your food processor would be great.  Or, if you wanted that totally puréed potato texture that the frozen ones have, then just throw everything in your food processor and purée it before cooking.  I add the flax-seed to boost the Omega-3′s and also to thicken the mixture without having to rely on any kind of flour.  I guess it also makes this gluten-free, if that matters to your family.

By the way, “pumpkin pie spice” is a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and either allspice or cloves.  If you do not have the ready-made spice mix, then you can mix together 1.5 tsp cinnamon + 3/4 tsp ginger + 1/4 tsp nutmeg + 1/4 tsp cloves/allspice,  all ground, to make your own. The girls all ended up LOVING them and surprisingly, it was Emma not Sarah who loved them the most, as she ate FOUR of them.

Sweet Potato Patties - IngredientsSweet Potato Patties
Makes about 12 patties

  • 1 good-sized sweet potato, peeled and shredded
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 tablespoon real maple syrup or honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spiceSweet Potato Patties - Preparation
  • 2 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in bowl.
  2. Lightly grease a frying pan, skillet or griddle  and place over medium high heat.  I used coconut oil to grease mine.
  3. When pan is hot, put scoops of the mixture in pan and flatten slighty with the back of your spoon.
  4. Cook until patties are brown on both sides.  Serve.

We enjoyed ours with a piece of nitrate-free bacon, an organic fried egg, grape tomatoes, apple slices and steamed french green beans.

Day off of School Brunch

The nutritional info from About.com’s recipe analyzer, for one patty: Sweet Potato Patties - Nutrition

Look at all that Vitamin A!  And the grams of sugars in my patties are much less than the storebought frozen ones, even with the little bit of honey in them.

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Defending broccoli from politicians!

Broccoli and Parsley from our garden

Broccoli and parsley from our garden

What is it about broccoli that political conservatives hate so much?  From the first President Bush’s statement in 1990 that “I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” to the current one in this week’s health care Supreme Court case by Justice Antonin Scalia.

On Tuesday, Scalia asked: “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli responded that buying food in the supermarket is “unpredictable and often involuntary,” unlike purchasing health insurance. Well, I feel that I need to defend the wonderful vegetable that is broccoli and mention that the government DOES affect the marketing and purchasing of lots of foods, to the detriment of poor little broccoli and lots of other healthy foods.

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) originated in Italy about 2000 years ago and is a member of the cabbage family.   It is high in Vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber, something most Americans don’t get enough of, especially from real food sources.  It also contains a good amount of vitamins K, B6, and B2 (riboflavin).  And, broccoli has multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties. Something for all of these older men that don’t like broccoli to think about is that a high intake of broccoli has been found to cut the risk of aggressive prostate cancers.

And it is misguided to think that the government doesn’t already have a significant role in deciding what Americans eat through the Farm Bill.  Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, and Mark Bittman have all written a lot more about this subject than I can state here.   But, we currently subsidize the production of corn and soy which is then turned into cheap highly-processed foods such as snack cakes and soda.  We don’t subsidize the growers of nutritious fresh vegetables, making them a lot more expensive in your local grocery than the junk food.  Corn is the source of HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) and soy is used to produce the cheap soy oil that is used in most processed foods.  My tax dollars are used to subsidize both these crops even though our family tries to avoid HFCS and soy oil. So, I am in essence being forced to pay for HFCS by the government.  I would rather my tax dollars go to making broccoli cheaper.

Although we are solidly in the lower 99%, we, unlike lots of Americans, are lucky enough to be able to afford healthy food for our family.  So, we go ahead and buy the unsubsidized fruits and vegetables.  But, it would be beneficial to everyone’s health if the veggies were cheaper than the Little Debbies, Lucky Charms, and Cokes.  In case you have not yet realized it, I am a political liberal, the bleeding heart kind.  So, since the government is going to subsidize things, I would like it to be things that help people, especially children, not benefit just the fat-cat corporations.  Not that I agree with everything in Michelle Obama’s children’s health crusade, but she is trying.  As a part of that, she is coming out with a cookbook soon that focuses on healthy foods including vegetables and here is a link to some of the her recipes including Broccoli Soup.

Now, time for a delicious broccoli recipe that even the first Pres. George Bush would like.  Several years ago, I watched Ina Garten make roasted broccoli and added that to our family’s vegetable rotation.  Since then, I have also seen Jamie Oliver and Alton Brown make their versions of various roasted veggies.  You can go to the Food Network recipe archives and find literally dozens of roasted broccoli recipes.  Here is the simple version we make.

Oven-Roasted Broccoli
(Serves 4-6 depending on appetites)

  • 2 to 3 heads of raw broccoli (or go the easy route and get a bag of the raw florets)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. 
  3. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan with a lip on it large enough to hold them in a single layer.  Drizzle the broccoli a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Some people like to add a bit of minced garlic, sliced almonds, or pine nuts to the broccoli before roasting or put a bit of shredded parmesan or lemon juice on them before serving.  But, most of the time, we go with the simple version.

I recommend cooking a lot of veggies by oven roasting.  Cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes are all excellent made by oven roasting.  Just adjust the roasting time to suit the vegetable.   For sweet potatoes, instead of olive oil, salt and pepper, I use a bit of melted real butter, pumpkin pie spice and some maple syrup.

Enjoy your broccoli and be healthy!

– Stacey

Need to eat more fruits and vegetables? If so, have some Cabbage and Apple Salad

Cabbage and Apple Salad - finishedEveryone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables, not just kids, but adults also.  According to the CDC, in the U.S., only 32% of adults eat 2 or more servings of fruit a day and only 26% of adults eat 3 or more servings of vegetables.  

The rates where we live, Oklahoma, are even worse, just 18% for fruit and 23% for veggies.  I wonder why we are so bad at eating fruit around here?  I have NO PROBLEM getting my girls to eat fruit, as that is our go-to snack of choice, but with veggies I have to be a bit more creative.

So, this simple recipe gives you both a vegetable and a fruit in one dish.  I gave you a choice on the dried fruit and the nuts.  I used dried cranberries and walnuts for mine.  I recommend dijon mustard and red wine vinegar, but don’t fret if you don’t have those on-hand; just use regular yellow mustard and apple cider vinegar instead.

This salad is crunchy and just a bit sweet.  I will be serving it tonight with some grilled chicken, but it should go with just about any protein of your choice.

Cabbage and Apple SaladCabbage and Apple Salad - in process

  • 3 cups shredded cabbage (you can usethe pre-cut bagged coleslaw mix for this)
  • 3 apples, seeded and chopped, any color
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup nuts, sliced almonds or chopped walnuts or chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard or yellow mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh minced onion (not dried)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Mix all ingredients together, store in fridge. Serve chilled.

– Stacey

Zesty Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup

Zesty Tomato Soup - yummyWhile it hasn’t been a normal winter, no blizzards, no snow even, it is winter.  And, that makes me think of the warmth of stews and soups.  So, here is another yummy soup recipe.

It has red chili pepper flakes in it…that is the zesty part.  The 3/4 teaspoon is the right amount for my kids.  If I was going to make it just for adults, I would probably increase that to a full 1 teaspoon.  But, if you are making it for folks that don’t like it hot, then you might want to cut them back even more, to 1/2 teaspoon.  You know your audience.  If you want it to be vegetarian, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth; vegans will need to leave the parmesan cheese out.

As an added bonus, while you are roasting your tomatoes, onions, and garlic, your house will smell wonderful.  All the girls liked it and Leah had three servings.

Zesty Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup
Inspired by a recipe from Tasty Kitchen
Make 6-8 servings depending on appetite

  • 15 whole Roma tomatoes (3-4 lbs, depending on the size of the tomatoes)
  • 1 whole onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp turbinado or brown sugar (I used “sugar in the raw”)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes, reduce amount if you want it less zesty
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning (mine consists of oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage, NO salt)
  • 2 whole heads of garlic (peels left on)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped or 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dried bread cubes or crumbs, optional
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line 2 small or 1 large baking sheets with foil, parchment, or a silpat.
  2. Cut the Roma tomatoes in half and place on lined baking pans cut side uZesty Tomato Soup - Garlic Prepp.  Peel and quarter the onions and place them on baking sheet with tomatoes.
  3. Drizzle tomatoes and onions with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil as well as the balsamic vinegar and other ingredients down through the Italian seasoning and toss to coat.
  4. Cut the tops off ofZesty Tomato Soup - roasted veggies the 2 heads of garlic and place on a piece of aluminum foil.  Drizzle garlic with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Wrap the heads tightly in the foil.
  5. Place foil packet of garlic on the baking sheet with the tomatoes and onions Roast everything in the preheated Zesty Tomato Soup - in the potoven for 60 minutes.
  6. Once tomatoes, onions, and garlic are roasted, set aside to cool, until they can be handled.
  7. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their papers, discard papers and set aside the roasted garlic aside.
  8. Place a large pot on the stove over medium heat. Immediately add the roasted tomatoes and onions, all of their juices from the baking sheet, and the roasted garlic.
  9. Add the chicken stock, the chopped parsley, and the bread, and allow to simmer Zesty Tomato Soup - immersion blenderwithout lid, for about 20 minutes.
  10. Add the grated parmesan cheese, and stir.
  11. Using a hand immersion blender or countertop blender, purée the soup until smooth and all tomatoes are completely puréed. Note: If using a countertop blender, work in small batches to purée. Be careful to not overfill the blender, as hot soup can splatter.
  12. Check the salt/pepper, and adjust to taste, if necessary. Ladle into serving bowls, sprinkle with a little extra grated parmesan, and enjoy.

– Stacey

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili – a vegetarian recipe for everyone

You can definitely tell by the number of dishes including meat on my blog that we are omnivores, not vegetarians.  But, everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables, so a good vegetable stew or salad recipe is always helpful. 

The chili spices in this dish predominate, so you don’t even miss the meat.  I was concerned that with both the honey and sweet potatoes, the chili would be too sweet, but it isn’t.  To make the recipe vegan, substitute the honey with maple syrup or other vegan-acceptable sweetener and don’t use the optional dairy-based garnishes.

The coffee is just to give it a bit of a smoky taste. So if you don’t drink coffee, use water instead and then add a bit of smoked paprika.  That should give you the same effect.   I have given the recipe using canned beans and tomatoes; the ones I used were organic.  But, it is always better if you have the forethought to soak and cook your own beans and use fresh tomatoes.  But, I am not usually that organized.  🙂

The kids all loved this recipe.  We served ours with a dollop of plain yogurt on top, but no cheese.  You could also garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro.  The sweet potatoes will be giving you lots of vitamins A & C and the beans will give you lots of fiber.

– Stacey

Sweet Potato & Black Bean ChiliSweet Potato Black Bean Chili - potatoes and onions
Yield: 2 quarts, about 8 servings

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive, peanut, or coconut oil (I used coconut)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili - adding garlic and spicesblack beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese or mexican cheese blend, optional for serving
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream, optional for serving
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili - ready to simmer
  2. When oil is hot, sauté sweet potatoes and onion in oil stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook stirring constantly 1 minute longer.
  4. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, coffee, honey, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
  6. For serving, you can top with a dollop of plain yogurt and/ or a sprinkle of cheese.

Note: Another lazier option for making this is to just throw everything in your crockpot and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Radish and Quinoa Salad

Radish and Quinoa Salad

The other day as often is the case, Leah wanted me to buy a bunch of radishes.  She will eat them as-is, but she is the only one of the girls that will, so I often end up throwing away radishes.  

I went looking for a salad that would make the radishes appealing to the whole family.  I found a Tomato-Mint Quinoa Salad recipe on allrecipes.com and made a few variations on that.

The first few times I tried making quinoa I made the mistake of not washing it well in warm water.  This meant that it still contained some of the bitter-tasting saponins.  While most quinoa sold commercially in North America has been processed to remove this coating, I think that some of it must still remain based on my previous bad quinoa experiences. 

To clean the quinoa, rinse it in ample running water for several minutes in a fine strainer. Removal of the saponin not only helps the taste, but also with quinoa’s digestion.  If can’t find or don’t want to use quinoa, then I am guessing you could substitute cooked rice, couscous, or orzo pasta in this recipe. 

I will probably reduce the amount of quinoa next time I make this so that it doesn’t dominate the veggies. Do use the sesame oil as that flavor really makes the salad.

Radish and Quinoa Salad

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups quinoa (mine was the tri-color kind)
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 20 grape tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 10 radishes, quartered
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dried mint
  • 2  Tbsp chopped dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • sea salt  and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1.  Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Pour in quinoa, raisins, and a pinch of salt. Cover, and let simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, then remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. 
  2. You will know the quinoa is cooked because it will have sprouted little white tails.  This little tail is the germ  and when the quinoa is ready the cooked germ separates from the seed and looks like a tiny curl.
  3. Toss together the tomatoes, onion, radish, cucumber, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled quinoa, then season with mint, parsley, cumin, lime juice, orange juice, sesame oil, and salt/pepper.
  4. Chill 1 to 2 hours before serving.

– Stacey

Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones

Girl with sconeA scone is just the British (or specifically Scottish) version of a Southern biscuit but with a little sugar and egg and maybe some dried fruit thrown in.  So, being a Southern girl of British heritage, I decided to just adapt my whole wheat biscuit recipe to make scones.

Like biscuits, these are a treat for breakfast or brunch and not an everyday thing because they are mostly flour and butter.  Today is Veteran’s Day and since the girls are out of school, I decided to make them.  But, unlike store-bought breakfast pastries, they are made with real food ingredients.

All the girls loved them.  Emma says “Delicious!” and Leah gives them Two Thumbs Up!

Cranberry Almond Pecan Scones
Serves 8 to 12

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 cup ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/8 cup demerara or raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup real butter
  • 1 egg

    Scone ingredients

    Scone ingredients, forgot to put the butter in the picture

  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup (plus a little more if needed) milk
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp real butter

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 475°F.

Dry scone ingredients in food processorPlace the flour, baking powder, salt, ground flax seed, and sugar into the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse for a second to mix them together.

Cut the butter into small pieces about 1/2 inch or so and add to the food processor bowl.  Pulse until it is the texture of very small peas.  Do not over blend as small lumps of fat are what make the scones flaky.Scones patted out

Add the egg and banana and pulse for a few seconds to mix them in.

Through the downspout of your processor when the lid is on and the processor is running, slowly add the milk.   Mix with as few pulses as possible until all the dough clumps together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, slowly adding more milk until all the dry ingredients are incorporated into a dough that is no longer crumbly.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat or gently roll it flat about 1/2 inch thick.  Knead the cranberries and pecans into the dough.   Fold it in half and pat flat again; this technique helps to build layers that will rise and create the much sought after flakiness. Repeat this twice more, then lightly flour the surface and roll or pat it into a round disk about to 1/2 inch thick.

Baked scones being glazedUsing a sharp floured knife, cut into 8 to 12 wedges with a sharp floured knife.  Place on a greased pan and bake for about 12 minutes.

While baking, place the orange juice, honey and remaining Tbsp of butter in a small pot,  heat and allow to thicken/reduce while scones are baking.

Remove scones from oven and brush on the orange juice glaze.  Serve warm.

– Stacey

Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones

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