Peach Blueberry Oats

 

Summer means fresh, juicy peaches and blueberries that taste better than at any other time of year. This simple little dish is perfect for breakfast, a snack or even to use as a topping on some sweet “nice cream”. It can be eaten hot, warm or cold. Unlike crisp or cobbler, this dish is oil-free and sugar-free, relying on the natural sweetness and juice from the fruit. If you would like it a little sweeter, you can always drizzle a little maple syrup on top.

 

 

 

 

 

Peach Blueberry Oats

Great for breakfast or dessert!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Servings 4 1/2 cup servings
Calories 195 kcal

Equipment

  • 8 X 8 glass baking dish

Ingredients
  

Ingredients

  • 4+ whole peaches, sliced Slice enough peaches to fully cover bottom of pan
  • 1 dry pint / 551 ml container fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup large flake oats

Instructions
 

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Wash and slice peaches, cutting away from the stone and spread the slices on bottom of an 8 X 8 glass baking dish
  • Evenly spread blueberries on top of the peaches
  • Evenly sprinkle oats on top of the blueberries
  • Very lightly mix with a fork to incorporate oat layer into the fruit a little bit
  • Place into preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute, then use fork to thoroughly mix the baked fruit and oats together, until the oats are moist with fruit juice
  • Serve hot, warm or cold, on its own or as a topping over "nice" cream.
  • Drizzle with maple syrup if you like it sweeter (optional)

Notes

You may also cook this in the microwave on High for approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Stir after cooking.
Keyword Blueberries, Peaches, Summer

Fresh-from-the-Garden Salad with creamy herb dressing (Oil-free, plant-based, vegan)

Once the backyard veggie garden is planted, half the fun and excitement is waiting for the first harvest. The earliest things that I have seen (besides rhubarb) are many of the returning perennials, like sorrel, chives, mint or other herbs, radishes and different varieties of lettuce. 

Fresh Romaine, Arugula, Mint and Dill minutes after harvest and ready to form the backdrop for the Garden Salad

When the lettuce comes in, there is a window of opportunity to eat it before it bolts to flower and the leaves become bitter. Nothing beats this freshly-picked lettuce and other early crops to make a wonderful summer salad. A nice base is a combination of romaine leaves and spicy arugula, with a bit of chopped mint and a little bit of dill. It’s also fun to mix lettuces: leaf lettuce, boston, romaine and sorrel.

Artfully arrange brightly-coloured additions on top of the greens, such as:

  • Radish slices
  • Green onions or chives
  • Diced cucumber
  • Halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Seeds (sunflower or pumpkin)
  • Edible flowers (zucchini blossoms or nasturtiums)
  • Fresh fruit (berries, sliced peaches or nectarines, pears)

Finally, a fresh, creamy oil-free dressing using the herbs from your garden.

Creamy Herb Dressing (Oil-Free)

A bright and delicious dressing or dip using fresh herbs from your garden.
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Dressings and Dips, Salad

Equipment

  • High-Speed Blender

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 10 to 15 minutes
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (any combination of basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, oregano, marjoram, lovage, thyme or mint)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • lemon or lime juice from 1/2 a lemon or lime
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth, drizzled in as required to thin the dressing
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Soak raw cashews for 10 or 15 minutes
  • Drain cashews and add to high-speed blender, along with all of the herbs, garlic and lemon juice
  • Blend at high speed until creamy consistency is reached. If dressing is too thick, thin with a little water or vegetable broth
  • Season with salt to taste - not too much salt!
  • Drizzle over arranged salads or use as dip for crudités 
  • Will keep in refrigerator for up to a week

Notes

I would not recommend using rosemary or sage here, as their flavour profile is too strong and would overpower the dressing.

 

Vegan Rhubarb Crumble Bars

There is a corner in my backyard that belongs to the rhubarb. Every year when I see the little leaves pop up after the last snow, I know spring has arrived.

Rhubarb is a perennial that is eaten as a fruit, although botanically it is a vegetable. While usually cooked, I remember eating it raw as a child, dipping the long stalks into a bowl of sugar, one dip for every bite. It is very tart – an eye-squinting, mouth-puckering tartness.

A co-star in the classic strawberry-rhubarb pie, it is often paired with strawberries or other sweet fruits in cobblers, crisps, compotes or preserves.

Historically, rhubarb root was used medicinally (as a laxative) in China over 5,000 years ago. It’s use in cooking didn’t start until the 19th century, in Britain. It became wildly popular for use in desserts and wine prior to World War II, then quickly dropped out of favour, most likely due to sugar rationing.  

A word of caution, the leaves of the rhubarb plant are toxic due to high concentrations of oxalic acid.  Granted, one would have to eat at least 5 kg for it to be lethal in humans, but best not to test that. Keep pets away from the leaves as well.

Nutritionally, 1 cup of uncooked rhubarb contains 26 calories, 1.1g of protein, 0.2g of fat, 5.5g of carbohydrates, 2.2g of fiber, and 1.3g of sugar.  It is a good source of Vitamins C and K, potassium and manganese. It is surprisingly high in calcium and also a good source of magnesium. 

These vegan rhubarb bars are the perfect compliment of sweet and tart and are lovely with a cup of tea.

Vegan Rhubarb Crumble Bars

The perfect compliment of sweet and tart in a recipe that heralds spring!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

Crumble Crust/Topping

  • 1 1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup vegan butter, cubed eg/ Earth Balance baking sticks

Rhubarb Filling

  • 4 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • 1/2 to 3/ /4 cup sugar adjust sugar to taste, some prefer more tart, others more sweet
  • 2 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions
 

Crumble / Crust Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper that overlaps on two opposing sides to make lifting the baked bars out easier
  • In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon
  • Using two forks, blend in the chopped butter cubes until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (Alternately, you can use your fingers to do this, but they will melt the butter a bit more than forks will)
  • Spread 2/3 of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, pressing it down firmly into a crust
  • Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden

Rhubarb filling

  • In a heavy saucepan, combine rhubarb, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently for approximately 10 minutes
  • When the liquid has released and the rhubarb has softened, sprinkle and quickly stir in the cornstarch, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened
  • Turn off heat and let mixture cool briefly.

To assemble:

  • Pour warm rhubarb mixture over baked crust in pan
  • Evenly sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top of the rhubarb layer
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the crumble is golden and the rhubarb bubbling at the sides.
  • Let cool completely
  • Lift out of pan using the parchment as handles
  • Cut into squares and serve
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months
Keyword Baked Goods, Rhubarb, Spring

Simply Unbeetable

Beautiful garnet red beets or charming striped Chioggia (candy cane) beets, these earthy root vegetables have pretty incredible superpowers. High in fibre, folate, potassium, iron and vitamin C, 1 cup of beets has only 60 calories.  They are packed with betaine, an amino acid that lessens the body’s concentration of homocysteine, which is a harmful substance that contributes to peripheral vascular disease, heart disease and stroke. Evidence shows that betaine also protects agains non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and inflammation, both common markers of chronic disease. 

Drinking nitrate-rich beet juice has been proven to boost exercise performance in athletes. As they are ingested, the nitrates in beets are converted to nitric oxide, which helps relax blood vessels and improves blood flow. This effect in the elderly may help fight the progression of dementia as more blood flows to the brain. For diabetics, it may lower the risk of complications, particularly nerve and eye damage. For men with erectile dysfunction, additional benefits. I think I can hear a stampede of feet running to the farmer’s market for a fresh bunch of beets *as we speak*!

This cold-pressed beet juice is so good, it’s hard not to guzzle it down all at once. It is best to drink it fresh, but it stores well in two 500 ml mason jars in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours. If stored, shake the jar before drinking. 

Simply Unbeetable 

3 large or 4 medium or 10 very small beets
4 large carrots
3 large celery stalks
1 apple
1/4 fennel bulb sliced (optional)
1 thumb ginger
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

This makes 4 cups (1 L or 32 oz) of juice.

 

 

 

 

 

Game Changer: Fat-Free Onion Cream

One of the most difficult parts of transitioning to a low-fat whole-food plant-based diet is trying to figure out sauces and dressings that don’t involve oil. Tahini and hummus take on a much bigger role in salads than ever before. When I found this onion cream at Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen, I fell in love and  had to share it.

This recipe uses only three ingredients: onions, lemon juice and a little salt. I used plain old yellow onions, but I suppose it would work with other kinds. The process is simple too – all you need is an oven and a blender.  The end result is a savoury and bright cream sauce that you can use in countless ways: mix into soups or stews, stir into a risotto or pasta sauce, use as a base for oil-free salad dressings and dips, or use instead of hummus or mayo in wraps and sandwiches. I even top my baked potato with it. I could eat it from the jar with a spoon, I love it so much!

2 tablespoons contain approximately 22 calories.

The recipe makes enough to almost fill a 500 ml mason jar, which will keep in the fridge for at least a week. It won’t last that long. 

Recipe for Fat-Free Onion Cream may be found at Susan Voisin’s Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen. 

Crispy oil-free potato chips in 3-5 minutes

What do some of us miss when switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet with no processed food and no oil?

Potato Chips.

I was gob-smacked to discover that you can make crispy chips in the microwave in about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how powerful the oven is and…it is the easiest thing ever.

THE POTATOES

I have been experimenting with Russets, Yukon Gold and red potatoes. While some people say Russets are the way to go, I found the Yukon Gold crunched up a lot better. I think your mileage may vary on this one depending on your oven and it’s probably best (and fun!) to test all varieties. I plan to try sweet potatoes next.

TECHNIQUE

The scrubbed potatoes do not need to be peeled, but they do need to be sliced very thinly. I use a mandolin (very carefully – these things are SHARP – use the safety holder). If you don’t have a mandolin, just use a sharp knife to slice your potatoes as thinly as possible. 

Place the cut slices in a bowl of cold water to rinse off the starch. 

Meanwhile put a sheet of parchment paper on a microwavable dinner plate 

Take out enough of the potato slices from the water to put on the plate.  Dry them  first between tea towels or paper towels.

Lay the potato slices on the parchment on the plate not touching one another. I did it this way, but found the slice in the very middle of the plate burns, so you may wish to leave that empty.

Microwave for 3 to 5 minutes, watching closely. Stop the microwave when they are lightly browned. It’s quick.  You have to pay attention – don’t walk away!

FLAVOURS

It’s best to toss the raw potato slices with spices after you dry them, but before you lay them on the plate. You can use the following or experiment with any flavour profile you like:

 

  • salt
  • paprika and garlic
  • chili powder
  • barbecue spices

Crunch and enjoy!

 

 

Tofu Scramble – Easiest way to mimic scrambled eggs in the plant-based diet

I was never a huge fan of tofu. Now that I’ve been preparing it in different and more varied recipes, I’ve come to respect its versatility and how it can transform itself from soup to stir-fry to dessert. 1 cup of firm tofu has only 94 calories, a whopping 10 g of protein, 227 mg of calcium, 1.82 mg of iron and only 5 g of fat.

Tofu has the starring role in this dish, the plant-based version of scrambled eggs.  It’s quick. It’s simple. The trick here is to use black Himalayan salt. Kala namak is a kiln-fired rock salt used in South Asia and its sulphurous, pungent-smell stands in quite nicely for eggs.  It’s available on Amazon if you don’t have an international grocer nearby. This is a simple “base” recipe, which may be modified by adding different flavour profiles as outlined below.

Basic Tofu Scramble

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Breakfast
Servings 4
Calories 210 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or vegan butter For oil-free version, sauté in water
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp black Himalayan salt (Kala Namak Salt)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 scallions, diced

Instructions
 

  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high
  • Add olive oil or butter to pan (or water by the tablespoon if omitting oil)
  • Start by sautéing onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Don't let the garlic get too brown or it will taste bitter.
  • Crumble the block of tofu into the skillet
  • Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt and paprika
  • Gently mix the spices into the tofu using a wooden spoon until everything is blended and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes or so
  • Fold in the diced scallions in the last minute of cooking

Variations on a Theme – just add the following ingredients to the basic scramble for a whole new breakfast experience. Experiment! Have fun!

Italian scramble

Add 1 tsp oregano, 10 halved cherry tomatoes, diced small green pepper, 4 sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with freshly chopped basil

Tex-Mex scramble

Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 cup black beans, 1 diced red or green pepper, 2 large mushrooms, sliced, 1 finely diced jalapeño pepper. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro –  Serve with a little hot salsa. You can even wrap this into a tortilla for a breakfast burrito

Spanish scramble

Add 1 large cooked potato, diced to skillet with onions and garlic. Add 1 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, diced red pepper, 4 sliced mushrooms and a handful of baby spinach leaves. Sprinkle with parsley.

Caribbean scramble

Add 1 cooked sweet potato, diced, 1 cup very thinly-sliced collard greens (matchstick size) to skillet with onions and garlic. Add 1/4 tsp  allspice, 1/4 tsp cinnamon,  dash of hot sauce.

 

In honour of Veganuary, Collard Veggie Wraps

For those trying out plant-based eating for Veganuary, here’s a quick and easy whole-food plant-based lunch – no tortilla required! Loaded with fibre and phytonutrients to help prevent disease and promote good health.

The trick for healthy eating is to stock up on a variety of fruits and vegetables. When the urge strikes, you open your fridge and feel virtuous and inspired and have enough ingredients to make colourful and healthy meals and snacks.

1) Wash two large collard green leaves, dry and cut off the thickest part of the stem beneath the leafy part. Lay these flat.
2) Smooth about 1 tbsp hummus on the light green portion of each leaf as the base
3) Next layer a little arugula (or spring mix or chopped lettuce) on each leaf
4) Top with your favourite sliced vegetables. Here I’ve used red cabbage, red and orange grape tomatoes, green onion and sliced cucumber. Other options might be bell pepper strips, mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts or slices of avocado.
5) If you enjoy them, sprinkle some fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or cilantro on top
6) Fold short edges, and roll up the leaves into a wrap. Then cut each roll in half and enjoy!

Note, if you overstuff your collard leaves and can’t roll them, just fold as best you can and eat taco-style…over a plate…with a few napkins handy. They can be messy, but delicious!

Creole Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens

From Texas Caviar to Hoppin’ John, black-eyed peas are the star of the show this time of year . It is said that eating these little beauties on New Year’s Day will bring much prosperity for the year ahead and if you add tomatoes, good health too.  Add collard greens (to represent the almighty dollar) and your financial future is set!

As superstitions go, this isn’t a bad one as black-eyed peas and collard greens are both nutrient-dense foods.

One cup of black-eyed peas has: 160 calories, 8.2 g of fibre, 5.2 g of protein and 263 mcg of folate, 53% of your daily required amount. All that fibre acts like a little toothbrush through the colon – most people don’t get enough.

One cup of cooked collard greens has only 49 calories, 5 g of fibre and 4 g of protein. It is extremely high in Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, plus a host of other nutrients. Collards are from the Brassica family, related to cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts. These cruciferous veggies have sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates which may reduce cancer risk.

Get all of that goodness inside of you with this spicy Creole-inspired dish. It’s a perfect food any day in January! 

Creole Black-Eyed Peas with Garlicky Collard Greens

A perfect New Year's Day dish, guaranteed to bring you good health and prosperity throughout the year! Black-eyed peas in a spicy tomato broth, served with collard greens lightly sautéed with garlic.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Creole

Ingredients
  

  • 2 onions diced
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas rinsed and soaked overnight (8-10 hours)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes fire-roasted preferred, but regular are fine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce optional

For the Collard Greens

  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut into halves
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce

Instructions
 

  • Heat a 5L/5QT pot to medium-high. Add a little water to the pot and sauté the onions, garlic, and celery until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients except the liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 1.5 hours or until the peas are soft. At that point add the liquid smoke, starting with 1/4 tsp (as it is pretty potent and can destroy the dish if too much is added). Cook an additional few minutes and serve, hot.

For the Collard Greens

  • Remove and discard stems and centre ribs of collard greens. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. 
  • Heat 12" skillet to Medium-High
  • Add 1 tbsp of water (or broth, if using) plus the garlic to the pan, stirring for just a few seconds. Add the chopped collards, cherry tomatoes and remaining water to pan, gently sautéing until greens are tender but not mushy . Sprinkle with coconut aminos or soy sauce to taste. Give a final stir and serve with the black-eyed peas over brown rice.

Notes

 
 
Keyword Oil-free, Vegan

Reversing Diabetes – Holiday Hurdles and Looking Ahead to a fresh New Year

  • Start Date of Whole Foods, Plant Based Diet, -SOS: Nov 17, 2019
  • Fasting Blood Sugar: 9.3 (originally 10.5)
    Blood Pressure 122/83
    Weight: -17 lbs

Hey everyone! I was hoping to do a week-by-week update (I DO have every last detail documented in my trusty bedside notebook) but the holidays were fast approaching and time just ran away. So instead of Week 3 in order — we jump ahead to the holidays and the end of the year.

I am not going to lie – it has been a challenge for me to eat whole-food plant-based salt-free, oil-free, sugar-free (SOS) and alcohol-free for Christmas for the first time. I have celebrated a vegan Christmas before, but it included processed vegan food (like tofurky) which now, no longer fits into my lifestyle. Temptation to eat anything and say “just for the holidays” is extremely high.

While sorting the stocking stuffers, I came face-to-face with Lindor chocolate balls (I’m sure just one won’t hurt). I had three. 

The cheese tray was another temptation. I spent a small fortune on the “good” artisanal vegan cheese, but even that is processed, as are the crackers, albeit whole grain.  

Sparkling wine. 

Cooking for my family didn’t help. As supportive as they are, they would feel 100% deprived if I didn’t roast a turkey or provide the traditional Christmas dinner they grew up with. Holiday meals are extremely emotional. Even though I know eating plant-based is the healthiest way, I can’t force my kids into it – I have to respect their choices and try to lead by example. So there was turkey and creamy mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted veggies sprinkled with parmesan and sweet cranberry sauce, followed by the traditional white chocolate cheesecake. 

In a nutshell, I tried my best, but was not 100 per cent compliant and my glucose levels show it. Before Christmas, I was on a steady (positive!) decline with blood glucose levels, moving from the first all-time high reading of 10.5 down through the 9’s, 8’s and was in the 7’s in the morning and much lower after exercising. Now, I’m back in the 9’s.

What would I do differently the next time?

1. Reframe my thoughts – I am not depriving myself. I am choosing to eat food in its most natural state to maximize my health. This is not drastic. What is drastic is going blind or losing a limb or having to go on dialysis from diabetes complications. Drastic is heart surgery to open clogged arteries, or worse a heart attack or stroke. Eating fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables is a gift and nature’s best medicine. 

2. Prepare more delicious WFPB options that avoid salt, sugar and oil for the “charcuterie board” and for the dinner table. This may takes a bit more planning, but I know that had I more options to select from, I would have chosen the healthier ones. The other part of this is to make healthier versions of the traditional holiday foods. Instead of potatoes mashed with butter and sour cream or buttermilk, make mashed potatoes with potatoes, steamed cauliflower and plant-milk. Use more herbs instead of salt. Take a super healthy option to pot-lucks.

3. Stock up on flavoured sparkling water (eg/ La Croix and others), herbal teas, assorted coffee and tea options to avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. Make interesting mocktails with real flavours from juicer (ginger, lemon, fruits). Throw a couple of raspberries or pomegranate seeds into your sparkling water to make it more festive.

4. Learn to make an amazing “main” like a “Mushroom wellington” such as this one from BOSH, which could eliminate the roast turkey, or at least offer another option:  https://www.bosh.tv/recipes/portobello-mushroom-wellington

4. Dessert – fruit, fruit and more fruit. Figs and dates. Good dark chocolate. A few nuts. 

5. Eat like our great-grandparents did.

I can’t beat myself up – it’s a learning process. The holidays are almost over with the new year and fresh start just over the hill.