Cooking Tempeh

rawtempehI have mentioned tempeh before, but I don’t think I have gone into how to prepare it for cooking.  Today I am making a recipe from my favorite cookbook, it is a tempeh piccata recipe.  I’ve mentioned before I used to enjoy eating chicken in my pre-vegetarian life and chicken piccata was one of my absolute favorite dishes to make and eat.  I just love all that lemony flavor with capers.

There are two types of tempeh available, prepackage brands and local makers of fresh/fresh frozen tempeh. Most grocery stores will not carry the fresh/fresh frozen so you will need to look for it diligently to find the fresh stuff.  I was lucky to find a local tempeh manufactured on Maui that makes fresh tempeh (raw tempeh) that needs to be cooked before using it (at least 20 minutes).  So, that is what I will be using in my tempeh piccata recipe.

Tempeh is traditionally made from soybeans and fermented. The fresh brand I found made their tempeh from soy and mung beans.  Tempeh originated in Indonesia and is a staple of the Indonsian diet.  Tempeh has become popular in other parts of the world for its impressive nutritional composition, firm texture, and earthy flavor.  It is easy to cook and is a perfect substitute for meat in a vegetarian diet.

Check back later for the recipe to make the tempeh piccata dish yourself.

Cooking Tempeh

What are the Healthiest Nuts & Seeds?

If you are like me you probably have your favorite nuts and seeds to snack on.  My favorites have been almonds and pistachios for as long as I can member.  I’ve never been a great fan of walnuts, although I have come to learn that they are one of the healthier nuts to eat.  So, I might have to acquire a taste for them.

The other great thing about nuts is if you ever find yourself hungry and need a quick and healthy snack, nuts or seeds are a great choice. They’re easy to travel with because you can easily throw them in your purse, briefcase, backpack or hand carry luggage. They keep well in your fridge and you will want to keep them there vs. on a shelf or snack table because they do go bad easily. And just a side note, peanuts are not nuts they are actually a legume – something else I recently learned after doing some reading.

So, which nuts and seeds should you focus on eating?  Well here are a few links to some information and I am sure you will come up with your perfect list of healthy favorites.

Healthiest Nuts & Seeds?

Vegan Health Guide

Top 10 Healthiest Seeds

Recipe: Basic Seitan

By now I am sure you have seen and possibly tried some seitan in your meal.  As you get better and better with your vegetarian cooking skills you will want to give it a try and make your own seitan at home.

Let’s face it, if you can make it yourself it will be economically beneficial for you.  I have found various seitan products in the local organic grocery stores.  Some are plain and some are infused with various flavors. In my opinion, not all of them have met my expectations on flavor.  I have tried the Korean BBQ version, and I have to say, not good.  I grew up eating some really awesome non-vegetarian Korean food and the Korean BBQ meat does not taste like that, not even close.  I feel that if you are going to label a flavor on a package, it had better be spot on or just don’t do it.

My boyfriend seems to like the Italian seasoning version of one of the seitan brands, but again, my expectation is high.  I will say it will work out just fine if you are covering it in a bunch of spaghetti sauce or vegetarian chili.

So here is a basic recipe, the flavoring is minimal so it allows you to use it in a stir fry, a soup, or in any recipe that you would like to substitute the ‘meat’ portion for seitan.

gluten Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup wheat gluten
1 cup water
3 – 4 cups of vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce

Directions:
In a large bowl or food processor, combine the wheat gluten flour and water.  Mix.  If you are mixing by hand, then knead the dough for 5 minutes or until it becomes stiff.  It will get VERY RUBBERY in texture. Set it aside for 5 minutes and prep your broth & soy sauce in a saucepan.

seitanCut the seitan in half and place it in the saucepan with the broth mixture.  Bring it to a boil and then let the pieces simmer for 30 minutes, then flip them over and simmer for another 30 minutes. When done, let it cool in the broth.

If you are adding it to a meal right away, cut it into your portion sizes and cook according to your recipe.  If you don’t need to use it all, you can store it in your fridge for up to 3 days, in the broth.  If you are pre-cooking for future meals, then you can freeze the portions without the broth for up to 3 weeks.  Make sure you wrap the pieces tightly in plastic wrap before you freeze them.

So, I hope this gets you going on a basic seitan recipe.  As I said, it is very basic flavoring.  Feel free to season it up further once you start creating your meal. Don’t worry if it seems rubbery, that is normal, cutting seitan is like cutting taffy. It’s not going to look pretty either, which is also normal.

Tomato, Tomato I Love My Tomatoes

I have this addiction of growing and eating tomatoes. Do you have any idea how good tomatoes are for you?  I didn’t but because I love eating them so much I decided it might be a very good idea for me to find out what I am putting in my body each time I devour a bunch of tomatoes.

Apparently, there are MANY health benefits to eating tomatoes because they have a wealth of vitamins and nutrients that include impressive amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as significant amounts of vitamin B6, folate, and thiamin. The lovely gems of goodness are also a good source of copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.

If you love tomatoes to any degree, you should take a moment to read up just how bulbous goodies really are for your body.

Some possible health benefits:

  1. Cancer
  2. Prostate Cancer
  3. Colorectal Cancer
  4. Blood Pressure
  5. Depression
  6. Heart Health
  7. Diabetes
  8. Skin
  9. Pregnancy
  10. Eye Health
  11. Constipation

Here are a few links to check out:

World’s Healthiest Foods

Medical News Today

WebMD

Clean Eating List

As a new vegetarian/vegan it can be overwhelming on what is needed to get started on your new lifestyle.  Yes, we all dabble in it a little here, a little there.  Then you jump both feet in and say, I am going to do this thing!  And now what? Does that mean a complete overhaul of your refrigerator, your freezer, you pantry, and your spice rack?  Maybe it does, depending on how bad you have been eating. But I think it might help if you read a bit using the links below for some guidance. You don’t go into bankruptcy in making the switch to a healthier, cleaner lifestyle.

Mind Body Green

The Gracious Pantry

So, you’ve decided to start your garden 

I’ve been home gardening for about 4 years and I have learned a lot about the importance of soil nutrition, nitrogen, composting, manure, rotating what I grow and more. I wish I had found some tips for herb gardening sooner and I still struggle with getting my cilantro to grow consistently.

That being said, I was recently reading some container gardening articles and I found some information from Sunset magazine, online. Take a look and if you are starting your own garden, these tips and suggestions might save you a lot of time and energy.

One thing that really helps is using starter plants, especially if you are new to gardening.  I personally love the challenge of growing from seed, but as a new gardener, there is nothing wrong with using starter plants to get you going.  Then as you progress in your knowledge of home gardening and soil nutrition, you can start germinating seeds of your own from the produce you grow.

Herb Garden Tips

Home Gardening for a Vegetarian

I love fresh herbs. One thing I would strongly recommend is starting your own fresh herb garden.  Even if you are limited in space, like I am, or you rent and can’t be doing any in-ground gardening, you probably still have a little room to grow something on a patio or window sill. I really believe that every vegetarian or vegan needs to have a variety of fresh herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of some of your meals.  For most recipes you only need a little of this, a little of that.

Sometimes moving to a plant-based diet can be costly, so whatever you can grow at home will save you time and money.  It is also great to know you will always have them fresh.

Here are a few of my MUST HAVE herbs for cooking:

  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh dill
  • Green Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Italian Parsley
  • Rosemary

Seeds for these can be easily found in your local hardware store and even in your clean, organic produce markets like Whole Foods, Jimbos, Trader Joe’s and Down to Earth.  Remember, you always want to grow organic and non-GMO whenever possible.  It’s all about putting clean foods into your body, so stay away from all the pesticides and genetically modified foods.

If you have a concern about insects eating your garden produce, then look into organic pesticides that you can make at home.  The internet and YouTube have a lot of ideas and they even have great ideas on composting at home too.

Happy gardening …

-Tracy-

Spices to Always Have

I’ve always enjoyed cooking and experimenting.  I learned how to cook at the culinary school of trial and error.  I recall my first attempt trying to make a pumpkin pie.  What a disaster! First of all, I’m not a lover of pumpkin pie myself, but because my daughter’s birthday is in October, one year, many years ago she wanted a Halloween themed birthday party. So, we postponed the normal celebration and held her party on October 31st. She loves pumpkin, all types of pumpkin, so we did it up.

Well as I mentioned, I made my first pumpkin pie ever. I got out my mom’s recipe book and followed the recipe to a “T”.  At least I thought I did, to my disgust I had mistakenly switched the teaspoon portions of cinnamon and cloves – BIG MISTAKE!  I have never made another pumpkin pie again.  To this day, one of my nephews, who is an excellent cook, tells that story over and over and over at every family gathering we have that includes a dessert table with any type of pie on it.   My pumpkin pie baking days gone before they ever started.

So, back to spices. As I evaluate my own spice rack, I looked up commonly used spices in vegetarian/vegan cooking and here is what I have concluded and will be restocking in my kitchen:

  • kosher salt or sea salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • paprika
  • chile powder
  • turmeric
  • ground cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • cumin
  • red chili flakes
  • cayenne pepper
  • ground ginger
  • SPIKE seasoning
  • dried Italian seasoning (because you get a good mix of spices in a single bottle)
  • dried oregano

If you are going to be a doing a lot of ethnic cooking, then you will want to keep those commonly used spices in your kitchen as well.  If you plan to do just some ethnic experimental cooking, then it might be better to purchase those mini spice bottles so you don’t waste money, spices, or space on spices that you might only use a few times.

You can get more ideas on spices via this link to One Green Planet

The Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

I got my new spiralizer cookbook this weekend and starting tagging pages of recipes that I would like to try.  I did something that I do not normally do and that is read the preface to the book, or in this particular book it was Chapter 1.

I wanted to get some background information on the fruits & vegetables that work best in a spiralizer tool.  I got that plus a few extra piece of information that I was not aware of.  Once section talked about choosing organic and why you  want to be aware of the dirty dozen and the clean 15.  I had never heard of this before so I did a few checks.

There is an non-profit and environmental watch dog organization called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) who looks at date supplied by the USDA and FDA about pesticide load in commercial groups.  And guess what there are some very “dirty” vegetables out there and those that are clean.  The basic recommendation is for the Dirty Dozen you ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC and NON-GMO if possible.

What is Meatless Mondays?

It’s Worldwide!

Meatless Monday was founded in 2003 by Sid Lerner in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In May, 2009, Ghent, Belgium, became the first non-U.S. city to go meatless. Shortly thereafter, Paul McCartney introduced the U.K. to Meat-Free Mondays.

Meatless Monday is now active in 36 countries and growing because every nation can bring its unique culture, customs and cuisine to the table in meat free and vegetarian dishes.

Skipping meat one day a week is good for you, great for your nation’s health, and fantastic for the planet. For help launching Meatless Monday where you live, get in touch the Meatless Mondays group or download their toolkits.

Learn more about Meatless Mondays and get ideas on what you can do to support this global and recipes you can prepare in your own home: Meatless Mondays