Monday Musings… a few favorite things. Vegan Bechamel Sauce included

I sit here with windows open, listening to the birds chirping, breathing in deep the blessings of the weekend, and I ignore the weather forecast for tomorrow! (snow, of course, it’s April in Ohio).

Friday my lovely hairdresser left me a message asking if I might be interested in leading a yoga class for a group of cousins on their girls weekend… and maybe talk a little about food! Would I? You see this message arrived in the midst of quite a crazy Friday at my “day” job. Saturday a.m.? What kind of class? Do I have the right music, yikes, I am tired this day has been nuts, what will I talk about… before I could change my mind I called and booked the yoga/food gig. I am glad I did. The plan was for 9 a.m. on the patio, with maybe a little chat about food… I should have warned them I could talk of food and nutrition all day!

What a blessing. Yoga, outside on a beautiful spring morning! It was a little chilly as we rolled out our mats, the sun trying to peek out from behind clouds. These four wonderful women in fleece allowed me  to guide them in waking up their bodies for their fun day ahead.

A little table top dancer
A little table top dancer

As the sun shone on the patio, the music played, they giggled a little, gave each other jest as only family will. I gave them a few challenges…

Tree pose!
Tree pose!

But also guided them into some deep release…

Pigeon pose
Pigeon pose

By the time they relaxed in Savasana the sun was shining bright on the patio, fleece was shed, muscles were awakened, warmed and relaxed.

As we sat in lawn chairs I shared a little about my journey to health. It was relaxed, fun and good to see women taking control of their health and including it in a fun weekend! Thankful to Kendall, my hairdresser for the hook up, and Amy who let me share in their fun weekend.

So maybe that will be my new gig… Yoga, a little nutrition talk and maybe I could even serve up some carrot or green super juice! Ya, why didn’t I think of that one sooner! Seriously my wheels are turning as I finish up both my yoga teacher training and my Rouxbe course!

Speaking of food… my new addiction has become Bechamel Sauce over sautéed greens aka white sauce over dark greens! Yummo!

Cashew Bechamel

Spinach and Kale in white sauce
Spinach and Kale in white sauce

This sauce is so easy and so much healthier than the traditional white sauce. The uses for this sauce are also endless. Typical Bechemal sauce is made with butter, milk and white flour, none of which of course are plant-based. Funny I never really enjoyed Bechemal or white dishes much, not even Alfredo, they were always too rich or something, give me a tomato sauce.

This sauce though, made with soaked cashews, a few spices, white wine, and of course nutritional yeast is neither too rich, or heavy. Really you should give it a try!

The players
The players
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 4 to 6 cups warm water

Soak the cashews in warm water for 3-4 hours. Then drain and discard the water.

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp onion granules
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I didn’t have fresh, but it would be better!)
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt (optional)

*For no oil sauté:
Heat the pan to medium to high heat. Be sure the pan is heated properly. Add the onions to the dry pan and continue to stir well until the onions begin to turn translucent and stick. Try to keep the onions from browning, adding a little stock or water if needed. You can add the garlic to the onions or add directly into the blender. Remove from heat.

Transfer the sautéed onions and garlic into the blender.

To finish the sauce, add the cashews, the remaining vegetable stock, white wine, garlic, nutritional yeast, onion granules, nutmeg, white pepper and salt (if using). Blend on high-speed until smooth. Add more liquid if you choose to have a thinner consistency.IMG_9009*you can saute your onions and garlic in a little oil if you want, I chose not to.

This makes a lot. I stored half in a container in the freezer, but I am sure it won’t be long before I have to take it out. I have been using it on everything this past week!

Yes, I licked the spatula clean!
Yes, I licked the spatula clean!

So as you are planning out what kind of food you might serve on Easter this year, you might just want to include this Bechamel sauce on your greens, or broccoli, or noodles, or… you get the idea!

Peace

 

 

Tuesday Temptations… Chocolate Cream Pie!

As I sit here the sun is shining bright outside and I realize my choice for title today is most fitting.  First, I am tempted to eat chocolate pie for breakfast and I am tempted to forget the to do list and go outside and play all day!

Alas, I am all about trying to make good choices, and seek a little balance soooo, I chose chia seed mix for breakfast and I WILL go outside for some Vitamin D once a few items are crossed off the list and temp rises slightly for total enjoyment!

One of the to do/want list was to get a post out to my faithful friends who like to see what I have been cooking up lately. Last week I spent much time in the kitchen with Rouxbe task. Mixing, making, taking pictures submitting eating and having my taste buds kicked into high gear. One of the many task was making my own nut milk… why have I never done this? Anyway that’s another post.

The section I am camped in now is using meat alternatives such as tofu, tempeh, seitan. Honestly my friends, I struggle with this. I have had little success with transforming tofu into something I would go back to. A couple of years ago on vacation with the family I did whip up a great marinade that we made grilled tofu with, but it isn’t something I buy a lot of. So when faced with the challenge I picked the pie recipe for working with tofu. Seriously, you put chocolate with something and you can’t go wrong, right? Tofu is made from soy curd and originated in Japan. I watched an interesting video on the simple making of this sought after and often used food in Japan. It has no flavor of its own, so it takes on marinades well, savory and sweet, or used in unexpected ways such as a breakfast scramble, or even desserts. Why eat tofu? Protein, Vitamin E, and calcium are a few of the perks. So don’t count it out till you try it, and what better way to try it then hidden in a pie.

Easter is coming, and families will be gathering and who doesn’t like a little pie after dinner? This is one you could feel good about serving up, and you need not let anyone know that there is tofu in it! The crust is made with pecans and don’t omit the little kick of chipotle powder in a pinch you might sub a dash of cayenne, but the chipotle has a little more smoke flavor to it. Go for the dark chocolate chips too. I didn’t have enough, but I had some chocolate bar and used it up! Also my other sub was coconut sugar. Just so you know as they say in Rouxbe, a recipe is a template, turn on your cooking brain. Here is a pic of my set up, we have to do this for class :)

The players to the party
The players to the party

This pie really does come together so well, and quickly. You could even do the crust ahead and keep in fridge. After melting the chocolate it goes in with the drained off tofu into the food processor…. mmm, yum, chocolate!

coming together
coming together

I didn’t have a pie pan so I used my spring form pan which made the pie a little thinner, so I think the presentation lacks a little, and berries on this as an accent as shown in the Rouxbe recipe (included at the end of post) really is prettier, but the taste… oh the taste, really I wish you could reach your fork in and snag a taste.

finished temptation!
finished temptation!

I took a piece of this to my Dad and Mom who I was meeting at a local pub for dinner. Dad’s taste buds are a little off (thanks chemo/not), but I thought I would give it a try. He ate all but a few bites,  my Mom was able to snag! He liked it! I don’t even know if he knew he was eating tofu, but it made this health nut daughter so happy to know her Pa got some good protein and dark chocolate that has cancer fighting antioxidants! win, win! This pie also received rave reviews from my yogi friends this weekend! This is a keeper for sure!

My recommendation is just don’t tell anyone what’s in it until after (of course unless there is an allergy). The creaminess of the chocolate, the sweetness of the nut crust and that little hint of heat makes each mouthful a dance on the taste-buds!

So I hope that I have managed to tempt you into making this treat! While this is a healthier version of a dessert, it is still a dessert and should be savored as such… and maybe a bite for breakfast!

Peace,

http://rouxbe.com/recipes/5195-chocolate-cream-pie

Monday Musings… Check back for tempting Tuesday!

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
3john2

As I looked out the windows during Yoga training this weekend I saw bright sunshine, and much foot traffic walking and running the campus of UD. It was a most welcome sight, although I too longed to be out there with the masses!

It was a busy weekend, full of learning how to go upside down! Yes, upside down. Down dog, headstands, handstands, or simply taking the head lower than the heart, redirecting blood flow. Before I lead anyone astray, no I can’t yet stand on my head, or my hands, but I can get a little closer than I could a year ago.

There is great benefit in going upside down, and today I will challenge you with the simple redirecting of later when you feel a little sluggish. Sit in your chair and spread your legs, take a deep breath in and then bending at the waist let your upper body fall between the knees, and just breath her for a moment. Come up slowly on an inhale and just notice the difference. If you have hi blood pressure that is controlled you can do this otherwise, lets work on getting that blood pressure down before you go upside down!

Tomorrow I will be writing again to you with a great recipe to use possibly on Easter. Full of rich chocolate goodness!

So check back in, and in the meantime, breath deeply and welcome Spring and all the expectations it brings!

Peace,
Debbie

oops… recipe

Hey all… so sorry if you all tried to access the recipe and were not able to, and thanks Michelle for letting me know. So here it is! Enjoy!

Black Beans with Smoked Salsa

2 cups cooked black beans (you could use canned if you must)
1/2 tsp chipotle pepper puree (to taste, optional)
1 tsp pure maple syrup (optional)
1/4 cup smoked salsa (or salsa of your choice, I used homemade)
1 cup coconut milk

sea salt, to taste

Cook your black beans technique of choice, to finish the beans, place into a clean pot. Add the chipotle pepper puree, maple syrup, salsa and coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom. Let simmer until the beans absorb most of the coconut milk. As the coconut milk reduces, the mixture will get thicker. Taste for seasoning. This can be served over rice, as a side dish or even a dip with chips.

Monday Musings… Beans and rice and batching it!

We all have heard that saying poor planning can often lead to poor outcomes. The same can be said for eating well, and taking care of our health. I am not suggesting we become obsessive or “store up” too much, but a little planning at the beginning of the week when it comes to meals, will save money time and your health.

I knew this, but was reminded of it more and taking it to a whole new level while working through my Rouxbe training. I usually make a big salad for the week, prep some veggies, make up some humus or other dip and wing the rest. In the lesson we went through cooking various beans, rice, legumes and other grains in batch, then using those in different recipes to demonstrate the ease of putting a meal together. I am a single girl, but still making up a couple cups of rice and such at the start of the week, even if I don’t use them in a few days I freeze them for later use. The other little secret I learned was adding flavor to the beans while soaking or even cooking. If you know that you are going to be adding the beans to a dish that has garlic, or other herbs, put them in at those times to infuse even more flavor. I put a couple of bay leaves, 2-3 cloves of garlic in my black beans, as a cooked them and what a difference. Not sure I will buy canned again! Saving on sodium too!

One of the recipes intrigued me with the combination of black beans, salsa and coconut milk? In some ways it seemed an odd combo, yet I had all the ingredients and I was hungry… so I got to the business of making this up.

As I stated this was a batch cooking lesson, so I obviously used beans I had made. Yes you could use canned beans, but I really encourage you to try making your own. Also I had made my own salsa and had it on hand to use, again if you choose to use canned, read the label, watch for hidden sugar and salt.

IMG_0901This is the dish in progress… doesn’t it look yummy? The recipe link is: http://rouxbe.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=black+beans%2C+salsa+coconut+milk&commit=

I hope you will try it. Simple less than 5 ingredients and you have dinner on the table in less than a half hour! I served this over… you got it, some rice I had batched cooked earlier in the week! This is one dish I will come back to. Yes all the flavors go together VERY well!

A little cilantro garnish goes a long way!
A little cilantro garnish goes a long way!

So take some time to plan ahead and treat yourself to food that saves your wallet, and your waistline!

Peace

Monday Musings…. get your green on!

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3john2

Hey all! Greetings from TN. This will be short as I am road tripping, but I wanted to stop in to say that I hope you all are “getting your green on!” I can’t say that I really celebrate St. Patrick’s but I have in my past, and so glad I have changed my green drink of choice!

Today my sister Cindy made me a great green smoothie to start the day! Really adding greens to your diet can be so simple without even changing the flavor! My friend Kristi posted some pictures of cookies she made for her son’s school party. They were dyed green by using spinach juice… they were so cool looking I wanted to eat them up… and guess what they have a little bit of goodness tucked in there!

So whether you are are drinking your greens or eating them up in a big salad, get your green on! Start thinking too, how you might grow some of your own green freshness in a pot outside, or a garden this summer and get those seeds going!

Peace,
Debbie

Monday Musings… time

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
3john2

I have a confession to make… I don’t do well with managing my time, I am a procrastinator. You know the type, waiting, pondering, finding 5 other things to do on the way to finish that last load of laundry. I make list, and forget to look at them. I “plan” to accomplish said list, I have even tried setting the timer to help me stay focused. I have read articles, tried different attacks to this nemesis and yet I still fall prey.

Imagine my reaction when I sat in the pew this Saturday night at church and time management was blasted across the screen. Wow, I so enjoy how God gets my attention. You see, this is something as I have already shared, that I have tried to “fix.”

I realized that I spout off here on a weekly basis, and at other times too, that we have been given a gift in these amazing bodies and I believe that God wants us to care for them as such, eat well, rest and move. I often say to Christians that God ask us to be good stewards of our money, our bodies, our lives… but what about time?

I never really put time in that equation to that level. This weekend was a kick in the pants. Just like all things, I know that I can’t “fix” this and that I have been wrong in the ways I have gone about it. I need to pray first. Pray about the things on my “to do list,” and ask God what should be there.

This blog/e-mail is one of those things on “my list.” While I hope that it is an encouragement, helps people make better choices, is it wise use of my, I mean God’s time? I hope to be a better steward of the time I have been given. I pray that in the next few weeks I will figure out what that looks like. Maybe you will see me here every other week… who knows.

Let’s talk a little food and time…

I can tell you that I don’t feel time is wasted when I am with my family. Sunday I got to hang out with some of them, and I did one of my cooking task which was make Risotto. If you have never made Risotto, well it takes, you got it time! I have always wanted to make it, but thought it was hard. I wouldn’t describe it as difficult, just not a dish that in 30 minutes dinner is on the table… maybe 45 :) But it is also time well spent for a different take on your typical rice. The rice becomes creamy and depending on whether you go for al dente or slightly more done, you won’t be disappointed. Everyone liked the Asparagus Risotto I made, and with just a little more tweeking I believe I will master this technique. I don’t think I can include this recipe, but really what I wanted to share with you, was don’t be afraid like me to make this. It’s easiest if you use Arborrio rice/Italian rice and you can get it anywhere, but the technique can be done with any rice, this just makes it the creamiest. Google a recipe and enjoy the process. I put the link below, but not sure it will take you to the recipe I used.

the process
the process

You too, can enjoy this dish, take a little time to slow down and enjoy the process. Hopefully like me, you will have family around to chat with, or hear the tinkling of the ivories in the next room from the kids.
Remember too that Risotto is a technique of cooking rice, therefore the dishes are endless in their simplicity or complexity. Maybe you will get off work early, or you can make this for a Sunday dinner, when time slows down a little, for some I hope.
Take time to enjoy this gift, the gift of time, and be healthy about it!

My beautiful taste tester!
My beautiful taste tester!

Peace

http://rouxbe.com/cooking-courses/plant-based-foundations-pro-certification/task/7004/activity/22949

Monday Musings… Braised chickpeas and spinach, I hope!

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
3 john 2

images-1

The cursor is blinking at me to start typing however my mind is like that blackboard that stared at you in grade school and it was your turn to write the answer in front of the whole class. I have had enough time to think, but it’s as if the wind is blowing all the thoughts in my head as much as it is the snow outside, landing on none.
I do hope that you all survived the latest greatest snowfall of the season. I suppose the Lord thinks we still need time to be covered and quiet before we break forth into spring. I know that every season holds it’s own lessons and it is possible we have more to learn this winter, I know I do.
Yesterday I was looking for an empty journal, I miss writing on the page, but instead I was greeted with my large container of filled pages… my life. I sat and read through a few entries, which had me laughing, crying and realizing that God has brought me through much, and yet I know He isn’t finished with me yet.

The other thing that was apparent was that I really have always been crazy about food, my family is a big part of my life, and I have really tried to take care of this body I have been gifted, but also how much I abused it during dark days… again God is good.

I will spare you stories at this time, suffice it to say journaling really can do a soul good.
I spent some time in the kitchen last week with Rouxbe cooking and really enjoyed a dish that we made.
Coconut Braised Chickpeas with Sundried Tomatoes and Spinach

http://rouxbe.com/recipes/4801/text
When you eat something that has complex flavors it’s easy to think that it will be difficult to duplicate, but it often isn’t, it’s learning how to layer the flavors! The other key is having all your “stuff” ingredients ready to go when needed in the recipe. I am enjoying the direction in Rouxbe and the encouragement to trust your inner chef! ;0

Today I need to tackle my yoga homework and hopefully work on Rouxbe, a girls gotta eat! The upcoming lesson is on batch cooking. I do some of this already, do you all? Do you take a couple hours in which you prep some food for the week? Cook up a big batch of rice, beans, or another grain to add and make dishes easy, healthy, and quick later in the week? Make up a big salad to last a couple of days at least? If you don’t I highly encourage it. Having the food somewhat ready to go, really keeps you on track with eating well and decreases the desire to hit speed dial to the closest pizza delivery. Your body AND wallet will thank you.

All the info I am sharing is here today, but will also be seen on the blog… no two writings today! It’s all here. Hope you all truly are doing well, and I would like to hear from you as to the progress or struggles you might be having with eating, living well during our long winter! Here is the plus I hope you all have noticed… the days are longer, spring is coming!

Peace
p.s. Rouxbe ask that we not copy their recipes, but when sharing, share the link so that is why I am presenting it this way! have a groovy warm day!

Monday Musings… cooking 101 and stuff

I felt like last weeks post was slightly lame. Today I am feeling a little more creative, although I am not so sure I have a clear recipe… or thought for that matter!

Saturday was full of sunshine that made me forget that is was still winter as the temps pushed toward the mid 50′s. Sunday morning as I hit my yoga mat, out the window I watched as beautiful big flakes of white snow fell. All in all it was a beautiful weekend, and a reminder of how every day is new. Every day has its own challenges, blessings and we are given the chance to make the choice of how we are going to handle all of it! I choose JOY!

Saturday after hot yoga I headed over to my friends fixer up house, and Greg took this photo… yes I worked!

pulling old knob and tube wire
pulling old knob and tube wire

After all the fun of knocking out walls, pulling wire, and enjoying time with friends, when I got home and took a shower I was hungry! This is one of those moments when I think… if I wasn’t such a picky veg-head I could just hit a drive by and dump in some food… the thought usually passes quickly when I think of how it will make me feel and the fact that my body will have no real nutrition and therefore require me to feed it again in an hour or two.

I had not prepped yet for the week ahead, so as I peered into the fridge it was pretty much a free for all! I found some kale, small bowl of black beans, leftover marinara and half an avocado. So I ripped up the kale leaves, sliced up the avo and massaged it into the kale. I added in the marinara and black beans, a little s&p, aka salt and pepper and rang the dinner bell!

Lunch!
Lunch!

It could be that I was really hungry… or it could be that this was really good… oh yea, I did add some nutritional yeast too! I enjoy it so much when something like this comes together. Full of such goodness too! Good fat, lots of protein, Vitamins and really filling after a big day of working! So when you have vegan leftovers you really can whip up something good. I may even have to repeat this on purpose.

Sunday I spent some time working on my Rouxbe (http://www.rouxbe.com) homework. The one point they keep bringing home is they want you to trust your cooking instincts. I hope that I am learning just that in this course. It really has been great. They are building a foundation with a lot of basics through activities that make it stick. One of those was actually sweating garlic, and over-cooking garlic. Then adding water, letting it cool, tasting and describing.

Which is the properly sweated garlic?
Which is the properly sweated garlic?

It seems silly in some ways, but I tell you it is making sense and I will never again let that little bit of browned garlic end up in a finished dish! If you over brown the garlic it will totally change the taste of the dish and the color. Yes I kinda of knew this, but must admit to letting a little brown garlic pass into a dish were it wasn’t wanted, no more!

Sunday I made a recipe using some of my new-found skills, chopping, sweating and more… here it is!

Millet and Veggies

The original recipe called for 1 cup bulgur cooked in 2 cups stock with 3/4 teas sea salt and 1/4 pepper. Boil water, add bulgur take off heat and let sit for 20 minutes, then fluff with fork.

I didn’t have any stock made or on hand, and I don’t eat bulgur so I made millet. 1 cup millet to 2 cups water 1 bay leaf and s&p as listed above. Bring to boil, reduce and simmer for 20 minutes, fluff with fork.

Make your choice and cook as directed.

Veggies ( should be finely chopped brunoise)

1/2 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

3/4 cup chopped celery

1-2 garlic cloves minced

2 Tbs. olive oil (or omit and use water or stock)

To sweat the veggies, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, onion and a pinch of salt. Sweat the onion till it is transparent 3-5 minutes. Add carrots, celery and garlic and sweat for another 3-5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Finally add red pepper and zucchini and continue to cook until all veggies are cooked through. Season with s&p as needed.

Add your grain of choice and fold in the veggies. I added some fresh chopped cilantro and a healthy squeeze of some lemon to finish off my dish!

Yummy!!
Yummy!!

For me this is a main dish, but would make a great side dish if you still are into the meat thing!

I am enjoying this online cooking class! If you are curious about doing a Plant Based cooking class or just basics in cooking I highly recommend Rouxbe, they do a great job with graphics, assistance and sharing all their knowledge. It’s like being in a room full of great chefs and you are the only student, without being intimidated! I only hope that it makes me more in tune with the food I enjoy so much and that soon I will be dishing up much more goodness for my friends and family!

Hope you will give veggies more room on your plate today!

Peace

Monday Musings… just that, musing

apple“Dear Friend, I am praying that all is well with you and that your body is as healthy as I know your soul is.”
3 john 2 (living bible)

It is always interesting to me that I can read a verse every day and yet it can speak to me in different ways. Or as in this case a different version of the same scripture verse that I have sent weekly for over 2 years…

Honestly yesterday I kept thinking I have nothing for Monday Musings. I have no recipe or technique or food that has inspired me this past week. I pondered in my head, searching for something… and nothing seemed to be there.

I went to the Adventure Summit this weekend with one of my nephews. My Dad and I usually go, but he wasn’t up for it this year. So we were on our own. The adventure summit is a gathering with an expo of people who literally live for adventure. Or use adventure to support a cause. It is fun, it is a little crazy and it makes me appreciate the time I had traveling this beautiful country.

What I took away this year was something so simple. Say Yes to more. So often we limit ourselves. We are quick to point out why we can’t do something. Or when faced with change we look at the negative. I can’t eat better, my family won’t like it. I can’t do devotions daily, I have no time. I can’t exercise I have injuries. WE all, myself included have our own “go to” list of why not, but why don’t we just go to it! Get about it, start thinking about what we can do to make a difference in our health, body mind and spirit! Take that first step. Taking your thoughts captive! When that first negative thought comes in, follow it by a positive! This works, I have done it. The more you practice this, the more it will become a part of your life, and soon you will be saying yes to more!

So I have no “food recipe” for you, but I challenge you with this life recipe, I am challenging and reminding myself of it today. Take your thoughts captive. When it comes to food, don’t think about what you are giving up, but what all you can have! Take the step to change just one bad food, exercise, devotion habit a week!
You wont’ regret it, and one day you will look back and see the change in you!

Peace,
Debbie

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