As Cold As Ice? Warm Up With Vegan Chili

HAPPY NATIONAL CHILI DAY!

As Cold as Ice – Chili

Brrr…it’s freezing cold this time of year and what can warm you up more than a nice, hot steamy bowl of chili. My sister developed this recipe and I can’t get enough of it!  It’s spicy with an earthy, rich taste. Deliciosa any day of the year! 

Did you know? Chili is considered a stew because it is more solid than liquid. Stews only contain a thin layer of liquid, so they are thicker than a soup recipe. A wide variety of different ingredients are often added to Chili to put the makers special spin on it. For example, some may add quinoa, butternut squash, jackfruit, mango or seitan. Or they may skip the beans altogether and make it Texas style.  

Bulgur

My special ingredient is bulgur. I like it because it’s minimally processed. Plus, it adds bulk and a meaty-like texture, so it is a good replacement for ground meat in recipes.  It’s loaded with fiber and is a good source of iron and potassium. 

Paula K’s Fiesta Chili

Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ large sweet yellow onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ each of a medium red, green, yellow and orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 jar of red pasta sauce*

 OR homemade pasta sauce:

  • 1 large can Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or sliced
  • 2 leaves fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon fresh oregano
  • ½ – 1 small jalapeno, chopped (depending on how spicy you like it!)
  • ½ tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder 
  • 1 cup unrefined bulgur 
  • Optional: fresh cilantro

*Red pasta sauce ideas include: Monte Bene garlic marinara or Rao’s Marinara or Arrabbiata Sauce (a spicy red sauce). 

Preparation

  1. Drain beans together in a colander and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and tomatoes to the pot and sauté for 10 minutes. 
  4. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Next add the bell peppers, beans, spaghetti sauce, jalapeno and spices to the pot. Heat for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the bulgur, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until bulgur is soft. This may take longer if you are cooking in altitude.
  7. Scoop out a one-cup serving into a bowl. Top with optional cilantro leaves and serve with vegan cornbread or a warm corn tortilla. Enjoy!

Do You Feel Your Heart Beating?

A Heart Pumping Amaranth Breakfast

February isn’t only for heart-to-heart Valentine lovers. It’s also NATIONAL HEART MONTH. Did you know that close to 700,000 people die from heart disease every year??  It’s the number one killer in the United States.  

To help protect your heart and keep it beating for years to come, try including foods like the following that help support this vital organ.

Cream of Amaranth 

If you’re tired of the same old oatmeal every day, try switching it up with heart healthy amaranth. When cooked, amaranth has the texture and taste similar to cream of wheat. Amaranth is a gluten-free ancient grain that is more of a seed than a grain, very similar to quinoa! 

How is Amaranth heart healthy? Amaranth is an excellent source of fiber (about 28% of our daily recommended amount in one serving), most notably soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in our intestines and carries it out of our body to lower the amount of cholesterol in our blood and protect our heart from damage. 

Other ingredients in this recipe that are heart protective:

  1. Bananas: Most people know that bananas are rich in potassium.  Potassium helps protect our heart by lowering our blood pressure so your heart doesn’t have to pump as hard. It does this by helping our body excrete sodium or salt, which often is a big contributing factor to raising blood pressure. 
  2. Berries: This recipe contains blueberries, blackberries and raspberries all with a special antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol helps improve the health of the cells in our arteries, reducing the amount of plaque build-up and keeping our arteries strong and healthy. It also thins our blood to keep blood clots from forming that can lead to a heart attack. 
  3. Walnuts and chia seeds: Walnuts and chia seeds are rich in Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s help prevent heart disease by lowering triglycerides (fats in our blood), reducing blood pressure and raising HDL, our good cholesterol. They also help prevent blood clots from forming and prevent plague buildup in our arteries. 
  4. Cinnamon: As little as½ teaspoon a day has shown to reduce our not so good cholesterol (LDL’s) and lower triglycerides and blood pressure, to help protect our heart.  

Some added goodies: It’s rich in protein, iron and calcium!

Very Berry Amaranth Breakfast

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups of raw amaranth
  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup of walnuts
  • ½ of a medium sizebanana
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup blackberries
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup soy or oat milk

Preparation

  1. Place amaranth, water and sea salt in a medium size pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 35-40 minutes.  Amaranth should be nice and creamy! Tip: I will usually cook this the night before to save time and to help it set. 
  2. Once amaranth is ready, measure out ¾ cups of the cooked amaranth into a medium size cereal bowl. 
  3. Top with walnuts, berries, bananas and chia seeds and then add cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla. 
  4. Cover the mixture fully with soy or oat milk.
  5. Enjoy!

VALENTINE CHEESE-less CAKE BITES

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

A Sweetheart of a Dessert  

Chocolate and strawberries are a perfect pair on Valentine’s Day because they are both are considered “love” foods. Back in Roman times, strawberries were considered the symbol of Venus, the goddess of love because of their bright red color and sweet, voluptuous taste. Chocolate on the other hand, stimulates the pleasure center of our brains, giving us the same feeling as being in love, so a perfect combination. Ooh la la!

Chocolate Strawberry Cheese-Less Cakes

This recipe is made with raw cashews to give it that creamy, cheesy-like taste.  Even though this is a sweet treat to be consumed occasionally, it is still relatively low in sugar and contains a small amount of Vitamin C and Iron. 

PLEASE NOTE: THE CASHEWS NEED TO BE SOAKED FOR AT LEAST 4 HOURS BEFORE MAKING RECIPE. 

Servings: 15 one-piece servings

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil
  • 3-4 large strawberries, diced  
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla extract
  • ½ cup low sugar dark chocolate chips
  • Optional: Freeze dried “Just Strawberries”

Preparation

  1. Place the cashews in a small bowl.  Cover with water and a lid. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (or even overnight).  Remove from fridge and strain cashews.
  2. Add the cashews, coconut oil, strawberries, maple syrup and vanilla to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste to make sure that it has the strawberry flavor you enjoy.
  3. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Pour the blender mixture into the loaf pan on top of the parchment paper and cover. Place in the freezer until mixture starts to solidify (about an hour). 
  4. Remove from the freezer and cut into bite size squares.  Or using a cookie cutter, cut out heart shapes out of the strawberry mixture. Place these shapes back into the loaf pan and return to the freezer for an hour or two if not overnight.
  5. When the strawberry cheese-less cake is frozen, place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  6. Then melt the chocolate on low heat in a small pan. Dip the frozen shapes into the melted chocolate, trying to cover them completely.  Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. If needed drizzle additional chocolate on top or on the sides so that is fully covered. 
  7. Top immediately with optional freeze-dried strawberries. 
  8. Place tray back in the freezer until chocolate hardens (about ½ hour).
  9. Let cheesecake thaw for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Most importantly, enjoy with your favorite Valentine!

P.S. I made my favorite chocolate covered strawberries with the leftover strawberries and chocolate. Yum!

Recipe adapted from Love Me, Feed Me- Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bites. 

“Pseudo” Salmon for Valentine’s Day

Salmon is one of those elegant looking dishes often served on Valentine’s Day.  It is an impressive, romantic dinner recipe and a natural aphrodisiac. Ooh la, la! But what if you want the sophisticated look but still want to “save the fishy’s?” 

TRY VEGAN SALMON!

This recipe is made with fish-free tofu and includes the seaweed Nori to give it that fishy taste.  It is low in calories and saturated fat, high in fiber and protein too. It is an excellent source of calcium and iron!

I served it with a side of Lemon, garlic hearts of palm noodles and some fresh, crisp sauteed asparagus. I also topped it with leftover marinade sauce. Yum!

PLEASE NOTE: THE TOFU IS BEST MARINATED OVERNIGHT, SO YOU WANT TO START A DAY EARLY ON THIS. 

Servings: 5

Ingredients

  • 1–15-ounce block of extra-firm tofu  
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 2 sheets of Nori edible seaweed – torn into pieces.
  • 1 slice of raw red beet, skin removed and chopped (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free vegan seafood seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • An additional sheet of nori to assemble the salmon.

Preparation

  1. Prepare the tofu by pressing it for at least 30 minutes. You can also use a tofu press if that is more convenient.  
  2. Once tofu is pressed, place it on a cutting board and cut it lengthwise into 5 salmon-sized pieces.
  3. Then with a small sharp knife, cut 1/8th inch diagonal cuts into the top of the tofu to make it look like flaky fish-like texture. Set tofu aside.
  4. For the marinade, add the broth, nori, beet, vinegar, miso, seafood seasoning and garlic powder to a blender and blend well. 
  5. Place the tofu into a medium size bowl.  Cover and mix thoroughly with the marinade sauce.  Be careful as tofu is fragile. Place it in the refrigerator overnight to really let the flavors meld and allow the color to saturate the tofu.
  6. Once the vegan salmon is marinated and you are ready to cook the recipe, preheat your oven to 400°. 
  7. Prepare a baking sheet. Cover with parchment paper and rub it with a splash of oil to keep the nori skin from sticking.
  8. Cut out nori strips that are the same size as the tofu. Dip them in marinade (so they stick to the tofu) and then attach them to the bottom of the tofu.
  9. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes on each side. 
  10. Serve immediately with your favorite Valentine Day sides. 

You can also use an air-fryer if you want a crispier texture.

Heart Healthy Tip: This recipe provides less than 1/4th of your daily recommended amount for sodium, which isn’t too bad.  However, if you want to make it more heart beat friendly for your Valentine, replace the white miso paste with a less sodium version and use no to low sodium broth.