BUTTERNUT SQUASH CASSEROLE

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Butternut Bisque. Last night I put together an incredibly easy casserole that I hoped the non-vegan (non-vegetarian) hubby would go for. He loved it! And so today I present Butternut Squash Casserole!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH CASSEROLE

4 (good-size) Servings. Vegan, “nutritarian,”  no-salt, non-fat

Ingredients:

3 cups butternut squash cubes (For ease, I buy them already cubed, but you can certainly use a fresh squash; just peel and de-seed it.)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (use a good quality one for the best flavor)

2 Fuji apples, cored and coarsely chopped, about 2 1/4 cups (Honey Crisp would probably be really good, too!)

1 tablespoon Maple syrup (or if you don’t like maple, try date syrup)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans, but use whatever you like)

1/2 cup organic dried cranberries (these are sweetened, but the ones I found used cranberry seed oil in the processing)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a 2 quart casserole with coconut or olive oil. (To avoid all oil, line the casserole with foil; the ingredients may stick a bit, but it will still work.) In a bowl, combine the squash with the balsamic vinegar until the squash is coated. Pour into the casserole. Rinse out and dry the bowl. Now combine the chopped apples, Maple syrup, cinnamon, and allspice until the apples are nicely coated.Top the squash with the apples.

Layer the nuts and cranberries on top and mix everything up in the casserole dish.

Cover with foil and bake about 45 minutes, or until squash and apples are soft.

I’ll be making this again as part of my Thanksgiving meal! If you try the recipe and enjoy it, please let me know!

Note: I fully intend to dry my own cranberries so they will be sugar-free and completely oil-free. I did not have the time to do that this time. Or…I believe this would work well with cooked, without sugar, cranberries….or maybe even, blueberries. Just some ideas….

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GOD OF COMFORT AND COURAGE

When I was in high school chorus, we sang a beautiful “hymn” that was based on Psalm 46. I still remember much of it, although I do not remember the authors of it. (A search yielded this man as the composer: Chenoweth, Wilbur R. (1899 – 1980) [USA]) It included these words: “God of Comfort, God of Courage, present help in time of need.”

The massive storm, Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast of the U.S. yesterday, reminded me of that hymn…and the hymn reminded me of the Psalm. I wonder if GOD is trying to teach us the lesson of verse 10 of this psalm….

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

RECIPE WEDNESDAY: Sort of ….

Cooking, or even creating, hasn’t been on my agenda the past few days. I’ve been living on basic salads, cooked beans, and fruit. Why? Weather changes still mean migraine headaches for me and the Houston area has had (and is still having) some significant weather changes. Migraines also mean nausea for me…I don’t eat a lot, or think of food a lot, as a result.

Because I don’t have a recipe today, I thought I’d provide a few links for some great resources for recipes. Here are some of my favorites!

Susan Voisin runs Fat Free Vegan. She has some amazing recipes(!) and they’re all (or, almost all, at least) oil-free and salt-free vegan. Like me, Susan follows Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live plan. I’m sure you’ll find something here to whet your appetite!

http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/

And then there’s Lindsay S. Nixon’s, Happy Herbivore. Lindsay is the author of two of my favorite cookbooks, The Happy Herbivore and Everyday Happy Herbivore, with more cookbooks on the way. Her recipes follow Dr. John McDougall’s plan, which, like Dr. Fuhrman’s, is plant-based and oil-free and salt-free; the difference is really in the use of bread products and starchy vegetables. I love Lindsay’s Enchilada Sauce. Check out some of her recipes here:

http://happyherbivore.com/recipes/#recipe-box

Angela has some delicious vegan recipes on her site. Some may require modification or adapting for the “nutritarian,” but they’re worth it. Be sure to read Angela’s story in her “About” section.

http://ohsheglows.com/

For treats, Katie’s healthy desserts are to die for. Try her amazing (in taste and in simplicity) Fudge Babies. And if you go to her “About” page, you can sign up to receive email notifications of new recipes. (You’ll want to do that, especially with holidays looming on the horizon!)

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/chocolate-covered-recipes/

Of course, no list would be complete without Chef A.J. She’s author of  Unprocessed which offers some incredible “nutritarian” recipes that even meat-eaters will love. Her book also tells the story of her health journey.  (A new cookbook will be appearing soon.) Chef A.J. and dietitian, Julianna Hever, join forces for this You Tube series.

http://www.youtube.com/user/therealchefaj?feature=watch

A standby for me is the magazine, Vegetarian Times. All of the recipes are vegetarian with many being vegan or easily adapted to vegan. Almost all of them have to be adapted for the “nutritarian” cook, but many are worth it.

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/

I think that’s enough links for one day! More will be coming on other Wednesdays when I don’t have a recipe ready. Have fun exploring!

RECIPE WEDNESDAY: “NUTRITARIAN” BROCCOLI SALAD

It’s Recipe Wednesday! Today I give you “Nutritarian” Broccoli Salad. Yes, there are loads of vegan broccoli salad recipes on the internet. This one may be similar to one or several of them, but it’s all mine. This recipe is vegan, oil-free, and salt-free.

 

“NUTRITARIAN” BROCCOLI SALAD

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours (drain before using)

2 – 3 pitted Medjool dates

3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (I prefer Braggs)

1/2 cup filtered water (you’ll probably need more)

For the salad:

1 good-sized broccoli crown; break into small florets

4 green onions, white and light green parts, sliced

1/4 cup raisins, soaked to soften, and drained

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 mango, peeled and chopped (or use thawed frozen mango pieces)

1 small avocado, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup fresh (or thawed from frozen) pomegranate arils (seeds)

 

Directions:

Combine dressing ingredients in Vitamix or blender jar and blend on high until smooth. (This makes a thick dressing; I like mine thinner, so I wound up adding about 1/2 cup water in addition to what’s shown in the recipe.) May be made in advance and keeps 4 – 5 days.

Combine broccoli, onions, raisins, sunflower seeds and mango. Toss with salad dressing, using as much as you like. (I don’t like loads of dressing, so I used about a quarter of the dressing for this salad.) Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Just before serving, top with sliced avocado and pomegranate arils.

Notes:

  • I used 3 dates; next time I’ll use 2 and probably increase the apple cider vinegar to 4 tablespoons because I like that flavor.
  • Try the dressing with coleslaw….nice flavor combo.
  • I took a little of the dressing and added some dill weed today and used it on a big, green salad. Delicious(!), especially if you have a little fruit in the salad.
  • Substitute pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sliced almonds for the sunflower seeds.
  • I think fresh pineapple chunks would work well in lieu of the mango (or with!). I’ll be trying that next!
  • I AM A CREATIVE COOK! I don’t always measure exactly….I tried to for this recipe, but I guessed a bit, too, on the amounts. So…if you’d like more or less of an ingredient, go for it!

Here’s a close up:

 

Enjoy!

POLITICAL ACTION

Another presidential debate will be televised tonight. The debate will be followed by the pundits discussing the merits of each candidate’s answers (or in some cases, non-answers), the reactions of independent and undecided voters, the polls, and on …. and on …. and on …. until Election Day on November 6.

The U.S. goes in to a “tizzy” during election year. First it’s all about each party selecting the right candidate; that’s followed by each of the candidates going on tour to promote their ideas, their hopes for the country. The volume increases. I have friends at both ends of the political spectrum and everywhere in between. Nearly every one of them is vocal about who and why we should support a specific candidate. Nearly every one of them also is determined that one of the two major candidates is a savior and the other is the devil himself.

I refuse to get embroiled in that. I believe that we, as a nation, are better than that. I believe that political action isn’t just about being vocal about a candidate. Eugene H. Peterson, in Earth and Altar, expresses my form of political action best:

Prayer is political action. Prayer is social energy. Prayer is public good. Far more of our nation’s life is shaped by prayer than is formed by legislation. That we have not collapsed into anarchy is due more to prayer than to the police. Prayer is a sustained and intricate act of patriotism in the largest sense of that word–far more precise and loving and preserving than any patriotism served up in slogans. That society continues to be livable and that hope continues to be resurgent are attributable to prayer far more than to business prosperity or a flourishing of the arts. The single most important action contributing to whatever health and strength there is in our land is prayer.

Please join me in praying for the coming election, for the candidates, and for our nation…. Seek GOD’s wisdom in deciding for whom to vote. Then, no matter your political affiliation, VOTE! Just remember, PRAYER has more effect than our votes!

 

 

 

REAL INVESTMENTS

I am not by nature a person who indulges in luxuries. For one thing, they cost money which I could use for more useful things. For another, I feel guilty. There’s a long story behind that so, suffice it to say, I feel guilty.

In spite of my hesitancy to indulge, I did head over to a local nail spa yesterday for a basic manicure (I just couldn’t get my cuticles under control) and a spa pedicure (my heels were sticking to the carpet again). As I sat in this big massage chair, I had one young lady working on my fingernails and another working on my feet. Something about that felt uncomfortable….the old guilt monster creeping in to say “hello.” In the midst of that discomfort, a voice whispered softly to me (I believe it was the voice of GOD): “This is not just an indulgence; you are investing in someone else’s life.”

Wow! That had never occurred to me before. The young ladies doing my nails are Vietnamese immigrants, trying desperately to make lives for themselves here. The woman in the chair next to me spoke of how she was unable to have children. I sat quietly praying for her and the child she so desperately wants. I prayed for those who served me that they could have a bright future here. And I also paid for their nail services. I was investing in someone else’s life.

The beautiful part about this is that it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can invest in someone else …. the grocery store clerk, the landscaper, the repair man, the workers at the Y I use …. the list is endless. Every person I come into contact with has the potential for my investment. With a kind word and a smile, I can brighten that person’s day. When I pay for a service rendered, I can help that person put food on the table, avoid foreclosure, or go to school. With a prayer, I can, in GOD’s plan, effect a change in that person’s whole life. And that’s just the beginning! Investing in someone else’s life . . . how awesome is that?!?!

I’d love to hear how you’re investing in someone else’s life. Please share!

SHOUT OUT TO SEASON’S HARVEST

A couple of years ago a new restaurant opened. The setting: an old house with a wrap-around porch, sheltered by a few trees, pots of herbs on the steps. Quaint. And different…it was a farm to table restaurant…local and mostly organic foods (REAL foods!) made special by loving hands. That restaurant was, and still is, Season’s Harvest Cafe.

At the time Season’s Harvest opened, I was not a particularly healthy eater, and definitely not a vegan or “nutritarian.” As a result, even though I enjoyed the food and the atmosphere, I did not fully appreciate it. That has changed.

When I go to Season’s Harvest, I’m greeted by smiling faces; Christian music plays softly in the background; Republic of Tea cans line a shelf behind the counter; freshly made muffins and cookies (sometimes, pies) are bountiful in the display case. I hear the clatter of plates, the whir of the juicer, the loud blending of a smoothie. I sit at a rustic table and Shawnee brings me a menu of today’s creations. Inevitably I gravitate to the raw food entree of the day….and inevitably I’m overwhelmed with the bliss of how good it tastes. My hubby usually orders a panini or other sandwich. Regardless…each day the menu is different for lunch. Breakfast has its own standard menu with some pretty amazing offerings there, too.

Today the hubby and I made our way over to Season’s Harvest for an early lunch. And, as usual, I was blown away by the flavors of my raw entree…. Carrot Salad with sunflower seeds and raisins seasoned with cumin…. a Harvest Salad with seasonal fruits and veggies and a side of apple cider vinegar dressing…. Raw cucumber soup…. A glass of iced tea…. Everything created and served with love…. Oh, yes! All IS right with the world.

Beket and Joanne Griffith and their family have made Season’s Harvest my favorite place to eat (outside of my home). Not only does the food feed my body, but the atmosphere and joy I find there feed my spirit. Thanks, Beket and Joanne for creating a special place that’s more than just another restaurant…..it’s a haven.

Season’s Harvest Cafe

10609 Grant Road, Building A, Houston, TX 77070

(281) 807-9000

Tue – Sat:9:00 am-2:30 pm

Recipe Wednesday: Zucchini “Pasta” with Raw Marinara

The recipe I had intended to create for today never happened. I was going to use the beets from my co-op box in a special salad, but those beets wound up in fresh juice instead….and I don’t have a picture of the juice 😦  The recipe below, though, was made last weekend when I wanted something really quick that required no cooking. It totally hit the spot! Although zucchini is not one of my favorite veggies, I found that when I turn it in to pasta, it gets a little “oomph!” This recipe is vegan, nutritarian, oil-free, and salt-free (unless you choose to add salt).

ZUCCHINI “PASTA” WITH RAW MARINARA

(Serves 1)

Ingredients:

1 medium zucchini (really large ones tend to be tough and lacking in flavor)

1 good-sized tomato, quartered,  or a package of cherry tomatoes

3 green onions

A handful of fresh basil

Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, to taste

Spiralize the zucchini with a spiralizer (I have a Spirooli …. https://www.buyspirooli.com/?s_kwcid=TC-2818-11635552650-bb-1432827089 ) or run the zucchini through a food processor using the grater blade. Place on a plate.  Combine the tomato, onions, basil and optional spices in the bowl of a food processor (I used my mini-processor for this). Pulse until slightly chunky. Top zucchini “pasta” with the sauce. Eat! It’s that easy. If you like pine nuts, you could add a few as a garnish. Sliced black olives would be good, too.

You can add other raw veggies to the marinara also. It all depends upon how much time you have and how much prep work you wish to do. This was perfect (and perfectly simple) for me last weekend. Let me know if you try this and how you change it up!

About Beans….

I love beans and other legumes; in fact, I had a recent post about lentils, but I promise this post is different. A Facebook friend was trying to make a split pea soup over the weekend. The operative word is “trying.” Those split peas never softened and she wound up throwing the whole pot of peas and other veggies out.

My friend’s fiasco led me to do some investigative work. Beans can be stored for up to one year if stored properly. That means using an airtight container (love those Mason jars!) and keeping them in a cool dark place. Unfortunately there is no way to know how long beans/peas/lentils have been on the store shelves.That we find out when we cook them 😦

Beans, but not peas and lentils, need to be soaked prior to cooking. There are two methods for doing this: overnight and quick soak. Both methods are usually shown in the directions on the bean package (or see the link below). I prefer the overnight soak, but that’s just personal preference. (And if you’re using a pressure cooker, there’s no need to soak at all, even though I still do.) Just be sure to rinse your beans well and check for any little rocks that might have found their way into the package; these are natural foods, after all. Use clean water and soak by whichever method you choose. Then, pour off the soaking water and rinse those beans really well again. This will eliminate a great deal of the gas producing enzymes and make them easier to digest. Put the beans (or unsoaked peas/lentils) in a pot and cover to about an inch above the beans with cold water. Different beans require different cooking times so follow your package instructions. If you need to add water while cooking, use hot water.

About those hard beans….if your beans aren’t old, you may have hard water. I do. Adding a bit of baking soda (no more than 1/4 teaspoon) to your cooking water will help with that. Additionally, do not cook your beans with acid-producing foods, like tomatoes, or with salt. Both will make for hard skins on your beans. Add the acid-producing foods toward the end of the cooking time. If absolutely must have salt, sprinkle it on your beans at the table. You’ll avoid the hard skins and use far less salt than you would otherwise.

Here’s a handy resource for using and storing dried legumes: http://www.usdrybeans.com/recipes/recipe-facts/

Now, go cook up a nice warming pot of beans! (I love to combine a cup or so of cooked beans with about a cup of frozen spinach or collards and a few tablespoons of salsa. Heat it all up together and it’s a quick, delicious meal!)

STEP OUT

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.

But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.

There is more security in the adventurous and exciting,

for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

 Alan Cohen

I saw the above quote attached with a picture on a Facebook posting today. It really struck a chord with me.

It is so difficult to let go of the comfortable, to walk a path we’ve never traveled before, to attempt that which we’ve never tried. And, yes, it is courage which allows us to let go of the old comforts and step out into something new. In the process we become new people.

We learn that there is so much more for us (and to us)….there are new things to learn, new mountains to climb, new people to meet, new doors to open. Life becomes less ritualistic and less boring. We wake up excited to start each day. We are renewed, revived.

I choose to grab hold of the adventure!

But even adventures are journeys; and a journey is not a one day event. Each adventure begins with a single choice, a single step. I’m reminded of  Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Indiana is faced with a wide chasm and no apparent way to get across it. But he is told that all he needs to do is take that first step. With much hesitancy and a great deal of trepidation, he steps out. There before him appears a bridge. Courage and faith won out for Indiana Jones and it must for us also. It is only when we have the faith to believe that we are worth the adventure that we gather our courage and take that first step.

What have you been wanting to do that you’ve not mustered the courage to aim for it? What dream have you pushed way down inside yourself? Whatever adventure awaits you, STEP OUT! It’s only then that the adventure can begin. Don’t get stuck in your comfort zone. STEP OUT!  Life should be one very long adventure! STEP OUT! Don’t push the “pause” button one more time; start your adventure today!