Easy Beet Salad

My system is a bit exhausted from eating all those rich, salty Thanksgiving foods.  I woke up this morning craving something fresh, so I figured it was time to make my favorite simple salad.  At least, it’s simple and easy if you have a food processor with a shredding disk.  Those who don’t are going to have to use some serious elbow grease.  I suppose you could finely dice all the ingredients instead of shredding them.  Let me know if you do, and how it turns out!

I used to abhor beets.  In fact, until recently they were practically the only vegetable I refused to eat!  Several years ago, knowing how healthy beets are, I made it my New Year’s resolution to learn to like them.  After roasting them several times and throwing them away because they tasted like dirt, I gave up.  Then this summer, I got stuck with some beets in my fridge (thanks roomie!) and ended up making beet burgers from the recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. They were so tasty that I continued to make them for weeks, and each time I made them I ended up with some leftover shredded raw beets.  Turned out, beets are really good raw!  They don’t taste like dirt that way!  That’s how I discovered this salad, and I’ve been making it ever since.  Low calorie, high nutrient, and costs very little to make.  Beets pack a serious nutritional punch for very little money.

Ingredients:

1 medium to large beet, peeled and cut into chunks that will fit in the feed tube

2 carrots, trimmed and cut into equal-sized chunks

1 apple, cored and quartered

Juice of one lemon, or a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1/4c sunflower seeds or pepitas, or a combination of the two

Shred the beets, carrots, and apple in a food processor fitted with the shredding disk.  I like to alternate veggies as I shred; does some of the mixing for me.  Toss in a large bowl with lemon juice or vinegar and seeds.  Eat it up!

Makes 4-8 cups of salad, depending on the size of the vegetables.  Keeps for a few days in the fridge.

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Brussels Sprouts

I have long had a love affair with lightly steamed brussels sprouts dipped in dijon mustard.  At some point, I learned to roast them into crunchy goodness in the oven.  A few weeks ago, I discovered Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  From there it was only a short step to replace the agave with pure maple syrup.  Try not to eat them all yourself.  Or do!  Cruciferous vegetables are very good for you.

Maple Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

1 stalk of brussels sprouts, trimmed, large ones halved

1 tsp oil

1 1/2  Tblsp pure maple syrup

1 Tblsp dijon mustard (Use a smoother one, like Grey Poupon, if you have it; it will stick better than the very grainy Trader Joe’s mustard I used here)

salt and pepper to taste

1. Whisk together the oil, syrup, mustard, s&p.

2.  Toss the dressing with the sprouts.  Spread on a baking sheet.

3.  Bake at 400 for 20-30 mins, until the sprouts are golden brown and the leaves are crispy.

Enjoy!

Party Planning

I’m cooking for a crowd this week!  What with my recent belly-aching, I was a little nervous about this party… until I realized that most of the food is healthy and shouldn’t bother my stomach!  Here’s the menu:

Spring Rolls (not deep fried, filled with raw veg, served with peanut sauce)

Black Bean Sliders and Guacamole (to make the sliders, form them into small patties or balls and bake them on a parchment lined pan at 425 for about 20mins, until golden.  No need to flip them.)

Crackers topped with pesto spread and cucumbers

Hummus and veggies

Chocolate Chip Blondies

See?  Even the cookies are healthy!  All I have to do is steer clear of the potato chips and try not to drink too much, and my stomach will be fine.  Now, I’ve got to make all this food by Friday night, and still go to work in the mean time.  I learned from the best (thanks Mom!) to make lots of lists and plan around my work schedule when to make what.  Here’s my mission:

You must be wanting some recipes by now.  Since you know all about hummus and black bean burgers, how about that pesto?  More of thick spread than a sauce, it’s oil-free and has no cheese.  I substituted cashews for pine nuts because who can afford those things?  Plus, I stretched my basil by replacing some of it with kale or arugula.

Pesto Spread

Adapted from Chef AJ’s MVP Stuffed Mushrooms, found in the Forks Over Knives Cookbook

2 c pine nuts or cashews

1 c basil

1 c something else green, like arugula, spinach, or kale, or more basil

4 or more cloves garlic

2 Tbls light miso (I like shiro miso)

Juice of two lemons

1.  Puree all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the S blade, until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Try not to eat it all at once.

Tummy Troubles

Confession:  I don’t always eat as well as I know I should.  Every now and then, I have a rough week and end up eating out too much, or drinking too much coffee (or alcohol, to be honest), or just forgetting the rules of nourishing my body.  I have a super sensitive stomach because of a medication I took in college, so I really do have to be careful what I put in it.

Last week was harrowing.  With an altered work schedule due to a hurricane followed by a snow storm, I didn’t make time to cook much and ended up drinking gallons of coffee and tea.  At work I ended up eating loads of the nasty “kid foods” I try so hard to avoid– white pasta, a wedge of a grilled cheese sandwich, crackers, scrambled eggs, buttery toast.  Add to that some celebratory wine (Obama!), and party food (potato chips!), and my stomach was getting very grumbly by Wednesday.  To top it all off, when I finally got to cooking, I was so stressed out about a personal problem that I turned to my favorite comfort food: cabbage and onions fried in butter, served with pierogis.  All of this combined with overindulgence Friday night at the bar left my poor tummy in tatters.

I spent Saturday napping, watching Mean Girls, and hoping I’d be able to keep food down (I did, but it was a struggle) while sipping ginger tea and broth.  Sometime in the evening, I realized I needed something stronger so I called on my brother, who is something of an amateur herbalist.  He suggested baking soda and lot of water to neutralize the acid, and chewing cardamom and fennel seeds after eating.  I downed a half teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in water (blech!) and went to bed early.

Upon waking today I still had the tummy rumbles, but I was determined to eat properly to heal it.  I breakfasted on 1/4 cup of oatmeal with raw honey, ground cardamom, fennel, ginger and cinnamon   When I was sure that that was going to stay put, I made a smoothie out of a big hunk of raw ginger, banana, and soymilk.

Lunch was a bit heartier, but still simple, easily digestable, plant-based fare.  I made mashed potatoes (no oil, I subbed a bit of tahini) and this Kale Slaw (holy delicious Batman!).  I used shredded raw beets in place of the fennel.  So far, so good!  I’m still a tiny bit nauseous, but I feel ten times better and more energetic.  Nothing like plants for what ails you!

I consulted Dr. McDougall today as well (online of course).  He agrees with me on the source of my troubles: “Fatty foods with low fiber content, alcohol, caffeinated and decaffeinated beverages, and irritating foods…and medications are the leading causes of stomach distress.”  Not many people realize that fatty foods can irritate your stomach, but it’s certainly my experience that they do.  Solution?  “Frequent meals focusing primarily on starches will bring quick relief to people with esophagitis, gastritis, and ulcers.”  So that’s it for me:  No coffee, no alcohol, no chocolate, no oil, no dairy, no fruit juice or fizzy drinks.  Definitely no processed kid foods or potato chips!

I’ll keep you all posted on what’s cooking this week.  It’s going to be a busy one, since I’m cooking for a big party on Friday, but I’ll do my best!  Staying healthy is a journey we should share.