Jeff’s Favorite Chili

Ingredients:

1 Onion (diced)
1 Green Pepper (diced)
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 Jalapeno (diced)
28oz Can crushed or diced tomatoes
15oz Can tomato sauce
1 can original rotel
1-1.5 cans of water (15oz)
1 can black beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can pinto beans

Seasoning:
2tsp salt
1tsp black pepper
2tsp Oregano
2Tbsp Chili Powder
1Tbsp Cumin

Optional Garnish & Serving suggestion:
Green onions
Sliced black olives
Tortilla chips

Directions:

Add all ingredients EXCEPT the beans to a large dutch oven and simmer for 1 hour.
Add the beans (with their juices) and cook for another hour.
Check on it and stir periodically as you may need to add more water during cooking.

We like to garnish it with green onions and sliced black olives. Scooping it with tortilla chips is also tasty!

Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients:

8oz Lasagna noodles (look for the no boil kind)
12oz package frozen chopped spinach (thawed)
4 cups thick spaghetti sauce (I used Kroger’s Chunky Mushroom & Onion)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 cups Ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Mix spaghetti sauce, spinach, water, salt, and seasoning in a bowl.
Spray 9 x13 pan with cooking spray and put 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of the pan.
Place 1/2 of the uncooked noodles on top of the sauce, then add a layer of 1 cup of Ricotta cheese and a layer of 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese.
Repeat layers of sauce, noodles, Ricotta, and Mozzarella.
Top with remaining sauce, then remaining cup of Mozzarella, and then the Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes. (You may need to cover it with foil near the end if the cheese gets too brown).
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

The Protein Project: Spreading Awareness that Plants have Protein

“If I didn’t eat meat I don’t know where I’d get my protein.”

Has anyone ever said this to you? Or have you wondered this yourself? Or maybe you’re a vegan and have heard that “as long as you eat a variety of foods you’ll meet your daily protein needs”, but have your doubts… I have generally accepted that the vegan community knew what they were talking about and that I could trust people who have been living this lifestyle far longer than I have. BUT, instead of just repeating what I’ve heard or trusting others that I am eating a healthy diet, I prefer to do my own research and back up what I’m saying with hard facts. So that’s what I did.

So how much protein does a person *really* need to consume? According to Harvard Health, for each pound of body weight you should consume .36 grams of protein per day. This means a 140 pound woman needs to get around 50g of protein per day from her 2000 calorie diet. And a 200 pound man needs 72g of protein per day from a 2500 calorie diet. To simplify this into smaller units let’s look at how much protein these people need on average from every 100 calories they eat. 50 grams of protein from 2000 calories translates to 2.8g of protein from 100 calories. 72 grams of protein from 2500 calories translates to 2.88g of protein from 100 calories. This means for every 100 calories of food you eat, you should be getting just under 3 grams of protein. Of course, this is on average! Fruit tends to fall under that number, but many veggies pack close to 3 times that amount! Take a look at the list below of common foods and their corresponding grams of protein per 100 calories of that item. I’m including lists of animal products for comparison, but you’ll find that there are MANY plant sources that contain above and beyond the ~3g/100cal average. So if you’re a vegan or are interested in a plant based diet, you can rest easy that as long as you incorporate a variety of foods each day you will meet or exceed your daily protein requirements. If you have any other foods you’d like to see included on this list please let me know in the comments below!

Source: NutritionIX Database
*All values are grams of protein per 100 calories

Meat

Tuna 22.5
Salmon 10.7
Pork 10.9
Chicken 10.7
Beef 8.9
Bacon 7.5

Dairy & Eggs

Parmesan Cheese 9
Eggs 8.8
Yogurt 8.3
Mozzarella Cheese 7.4
Milk 6.8
Cheddar Cheese 5.7

Soy

Tofu 12
Tempeh 10.2
Soymilk 7

Nuts

Almonds 4
Peanuts 3.4
Cashews 2.2
Walnuts 2.3
Macadamia Nuts 1.1
Pecans 1

Beans & Legumes

Lentils 8
Black Beans 6.7
Peas 6.4
Pinto Beans 6.1
Chick Peas 5.6
Green Beans 4.5

Greens

Spinach 12.9
Romaine Lettuce 7.3
Kale 6.9
Cabbage 5.3

Mushrooms

Portabella Mushroom 11.3
Button Mushroom 8.8
Shiitake Mushroom 6.2

Vegetables

Asparagus 10.6
Cauliflower 8.3
Zucchini 7.6
Broccoli 6.7
Tomato 5
Cucumber 4.3
Corn 3.5
Onions 3.2
Green Pepper 3.1
Carrots 1.9

Fruits

Blackberries 3.6
Canteloupe 2.5
Strawberries 2
Watermelon 2
Kiwi 2
Oranges 1.9
Pineapple 1.2
Banana 1.2
Grapes 1.2
Avocado 1
Apple .5

Potatoes

Gold Potatoes 2.7
Red potato 2.6
Sweet Potatoes 1.8

Grains

Wheat Bread 4
Quinoa 3.7
Oatmeal 3.6
White Bread 3.4
White Rice 2.1
Brown Rice 2.1

Favorite Recipes

If you’re like me you love surfing the internet and finding new recipes to try out – heck, maybe that’s what brought you here. But every now and then I’ll find a recipe that I can’t get enough of and it becomes part of my regular rotation. Here are a few of those yummy dishes:

Black Bean Burgers These work great with a flax egg. Last time I made these I added 4 tsp. of pickled diced jalapenos for some extra kick.

“No Tuna” Chickpea Salad Great alone or in a sandwich.

Red Beans and Rice

Traditional Greek Salad I leave out the feta and sometimes add marinated artichoke hearts. This is great by itself or served over pasta or in a pita pocket with some hummus.

Greek Potatos The first time I made this I forgot the lemon juice/peel so I have never bothered to add it.

Quinoa Taco “Meat” I especially love this in Amber’s Famous Burritos!

Gumbo

New Orleans is at the top of my bucket list of places to travel. I would love to taste a hot fresh beignet and some real Louisiana home cookin! In the meantime… I found a recipe for vegan gumbo that that I intermingled with a “real” gumbo recipe. I think you’ll enjoy the result.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour

2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 Onion (diced)
1 Green Bell Pepper (chopped)
3 stalks Celery (chopped)
1 28oz can Diced Tomatoes
2 cups cut Green Beans (I used frozen)
1 cup chopped Okra (I used frozen and some fresh from my garden!)
4 cups Vegetable Broth

2 Bay Leaves
1/2 Tbsp Tony’s Cajun Seasoning
1/2 Tbsp dried Thyme
1/2 Tbsp Pepper
1/2 Tbsp Salt
1 tsp Cayenne*** (I used slightly more than this when I made it and it came out very spicy – you may want to decrease the amount or leave it out all together if you don’t like spice!)

1 cup Rice
2 cups water

Directions:

1. Make the roux by whisking together the oil and flour over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 10 minutes or until the roux turns a dark brownish gray (the other recipes describe it as a used copper penny or dark caramel).
2. Whisk in the garlic first, then add the onion, green pepper, and celery. Then add the seasonings and keep stirring for 3 minutes.
3. Stir in all remaining veggies except okra and add the vegetable broth and bay leaves.
4. Saute the okra with a bit of oil in a skillet until it starts to brown (about 5 minutes). Then add the okra to the pot with everything else.
5. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down low and simmer for 1 hour.
6. Make the rice by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil, add the rice, then cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
7. Serve the gumbo over rice.

Amber’s Famous Burritos

Mexican food has always been my favorite (with pizza coming in a close second). There was a restaurant called Tumbleweed in Lexington that was always my first choice on the occasion that I got to pick where my family would eat. The chips and salsa were amazing, but the “Burrito Deluxe” is what kept me coming back for more. That’s what inspired my original famous burritos, but since going vegan I’ve had to tweak the recipe a bit. Honestly, I think I might like these even more than the originals. Oh, and what makes them famous? Anyone I’ve made them for has always requested them a 2nd time!

Ingredients:

Qunioa Taco “Meat”
8 Tortillas (burrito size)
2 15oz cans Refried Beans
2 8oz cans Enchilada Sauce (I use Old El Paso)

(For serving)
2 Roma tomatoes (diced)
1 Avocado (diced)
Shredded lettuce

Directions:

1. Prepare the quinoa taco “meat”. Between cooking the quinoa and then baking it in the oven this can take close to an hour so sometimes I’ll prep it ahead of time.
2. If you did the quinoa ahead of time you’ll need to preheat the oven to 375.
3. In a large baking dish, spoon 2/3 of a can of enchilada sauce over the bottom – be sure to cover the bottom so the burritos won’t stick!
4. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 can of beans and 1/8 of the quinoa taco meat. Roll it and place it seam side down in the baking dish.
5. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
6. Serve warm with toppings. I like tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce.

Italian Pasta Salad

If I had to choose only one thing to eat for the rest of my life it would be pasta in some form.  This pasta salad would be a top contender!  I love it because it’s easy to prepare, colorful, and delicious.  I’ve taken this to a few potlucks and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients:

8 ounces Cooked Pasta (I like rotini)
1 Cucumber, quartered lengthwise, then chopped into bite sized pieces
14 ounce can Whole Medium Olives, halved
16 ounce package Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Red Onion, diced

(Dressing)
6 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Salt

Directions:

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.  Toss the pasta and veggies together in a bowl.  Pour the dressing over the pasta and veggies and stir it together.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour so all the flavors meld together.

Greek Supper Club

It’s my turn to host supper club again.  A group of 8 of us have been doing this for 4 or 5 years now.  The idea is that everyone takes a turn making a 3 course dinner based entirely on new recipes.  It gets us in the kitchen practicing our cooking skills and gives us a chance to host or attend an awesome dinner party once a month.  I love Asian food and have cooked up a bunch of noodles and curries in the last few weeks.  I was trying to find a way to tie it all together into one dinner party, but really just ended up with a strange, in-cohesive mess of a menu.  Thankfully I was reminded last night after a dinner out with my Aunt and Uncle how much I love Mediterranean food.  I’ve never tried making it before, but wouldn’t it be nice if I knew how to made home made hummus and falafel? Yum!  Here’s what I’m planning for my menu.

Appetizer: Pita & Hummus, and Falafel & Tahini

Main: Greek Salad, Veggie Kabobs/Roasted Veggies, Lemon Rice, Greek Potatoes

Dessert: Oreo Stuffed Brownies topped with Vegan Ice Cream

Roasted Root Veggies

Anyone else love beets and parsnips as much as I do? They just opened up a Sprouts around the corner from my office and it has become my go-to for produce. They have great prices and selection, and even some novelties every now and then. Most recently I bought their pack of red and golden beets. Throw in some parsnips and carrots and you have a very colorful and tasty root vegetable side dish.

These veggies come in a variety of sizes, you want to aim for about 1.5 cups of each once they’re chopped.

Ingredients:

2 Beets
3 Carrots
2 Parsnips

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400. Peel and chop all the veggies into 1 inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and spread out on a baking sheet (I like to line mine with foil or parchment paper). Bake for at least 45 minutes – longer if you want your veggies softer.

Sweet Potato Hash

Before I gave up meat I was on a Paleo diet. I know, it seems crazy to go from one extreme to another (although the 2 ways of eating do actually have a few things in common). It was when doing Paleo that I fell in love with sweet potatoes and I’d eat at least one a day. Sweet potatoes are delicious, filling, and nutritious so this recipe became my go-to breakfast. There are just 4 ingredients, a little prep, and it basically cooks itself.

Ingredients:

1 Sweet Potato, diced
1/2 Onion, diced
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
Pinch of Salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450. Melt the oil in a cast iron skillet in the oven. Add the onions and sweet potatoes and stir until coated. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake 10 more minutes. Add the salt to taste, stir and serve.

I typically like to chop up sweet potatoes when I have time and keep them in the freezer so I have a continuous supply on hand. It makes breakfasts and side dishes so quick and easy!