As promised I wanted to share a few relatively quick and easy recipe ideas that provide healthy amounts of vegetarian proteins. In my diet, I try to vary my protein sources: different types of beans, nuts, dairy, eggs and grains, to keep a balanced diet and not become overly reliant on any one food.
I like to cook my own beans using a slow cooker. Always soak beans overnight or for 6-8 hours. Dispose of the soaking liquid, rinse the beans a few times and then add enough fresh water to cover the grains, plus a little bit more. The beans will cook on the slow setting in about 8 hours, or 4 hours on the fast setting.
Because I don't use exact measurements in my cooking, I'm going to give the ingredients, and leave the quantities to individual preferences.
Lunch or Dinner
Stir-fried rice or quinoa - with variations
Dice different types of vegetables: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, onions, peppers, sweet potatoes (yams), cabbage, zucchini, garlic
Grain of choice: rice or quinoa
Cook vegetables in a small amount of water, cooking harder vegetables first, and adding vegetables that cook faster in sequence (in order: sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots).
Once the vegetables are mainly ready, add the cooked grain. Add some soya sauce to taste, and cayenne pepper if desired.
Now, add the protein: chickpeas, black beans, sunflower seeds, nuts, cheese (grated of your choice or cubed feta) or stir fry a few eggs and add them to the dish.
How to cook quinoa:
Quinoa needs to be rinsed a few times before cooking, otherwise it will have a slightly bitter flavour. After rinsing, cook quinoa like rice - use two times as much water as uncooked grain. Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes.
Rice or quinoa with Thai curry
Grain: rice or quinoa, cooked
Coconut milk, one can
Sweet potatoes (yams)
(Other vegetables as desired)
Curry paste (I use red curry paste)
Peanut butter (I use natural, crunchy peanut butter)
Sweetener, if desired
Heat the coconut milk (you can add water if desired to increase the liquid amount)
Add vegetables in order or cooking length (sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, peppers, zucchini)
Once vegetables are nearly ready, add the curry paste and peanut butter. Make sure to mix the peanut butter to avoid clumps.
Add some salt to taste, and some sweetener if you like a sweeter curry.
Ladle curry over the grain.
Note: Coconut oil and coconut milk have been labelled as being unhealthy due to their high saturated oil content. However, numerous studies have been completed on coconuts, and in fact, coconut oil has been found to be beneficial for cholesterol, to increase metabolism, and has not been linked with an increased incidence of heart disease. In fact cultures that have traditionally consumed high amounts of coconut products have actually had lower incidences of heart disease. Coconut oil, however, does become unhealthy if it is hydrogenated - and hydrogenated coconut oil should be avoided.
In my recipes, I prefer to use either butter or coconut oil to cook or fry foods, as they are more stable in high heats.
I will write another entry specifically on oils, and the health effects of different types of oils.
This is a quick, easy, tasty dish
Small corn tortillas
Lightly fry tortillas in a small amount of oil to slightly crispen (only 1-2 minutes per side)
Heat cooked black beans and slightly mash to reduce the liquid
Slice tomatoes and avocados
Cook eggs over-easy (or as desired)
To prepare take a small tortilla, add one egg, some beans, tomatoes, avocados, cheese and salsa and repeat. Corn tortillas may be eaten stacked on top of one another or separately.
Tortilla (whole wheat, corn, spelt or any grain of choice)
Black beans, crushed and heated
Fry the tortilla in a small amount of oil to slightly crispen on both sides. Then add black beans, diced tomatoes, cheese, pickles (if desired), carrots, salsa, lettuce and avocado. Roll up and eat. Simple and tasty.
I also like to add some flax oil and soy lecithin granules to my tortilla - sometimes I use this instead of cheese.
Choice of: chickpeas, cooked kamut or spelt kernels, black beans, hard-boiled eggs and cheese, cottage cheese
Dressing - I use lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar, flaxseed oil, salt, and lecithin granules.
Other dressings: garlic, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, flaxseed oil and salt - mix in blender.
Ginger, flax oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar - mix in blender.
Miso, peanut butter, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, flax oil - mix in blender.
Note: Kamut and spelt add a wonderful addition to salads. The kernels can be found in health food stores. It is best to soak them overnight or for a few hours before cooking, to decrease the cooking time. Otherwise cook like rice: use 2 times as much liquid to uncooked grain. It takes about 50-60 minutes to cook.
Lunch - Wrap
Whole-wheat, spelt or other grain tortilla.
Spread tahini or sunflower seed butter on the tortilla.
Add the salad ingredients from above, minus the additional grains or beans (add lettuce first).
Add some feta cheese, cottage cheese and/or grated cheese.
For dressing: use balsamic vinegar and flaxseed oil.
Variations: you can also add olives for a greek type of wrap or black beans and salsa for a mexican type wrap.
Fruit of choice: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, pears, banana etc.
Sunflower seeds (or walnuts or other nuts)
Milk - almond milk, soy milk, rice milk
Sweetener (I use Agave nectar and stevia)
To prepare - heat on the stovetop: quinoa with milk, add fruits, seeds or nuts, sweetener to taste and a bit of salt (the salt brings out the flavour of the grain and the sweetener).
Alternatively, this can be prepared cold and heated in a microwave.
Steel-cut or Scottish Oatmeal
Steel-cut oats and scottish oats take longer to cook than regular rolled oats, but have a nice crunchy texture, and I find them more preferable to eat. Steel-cut oats take about 20 min to cook, while scottish oats take about 10 minutes. Time varies depending on how soft or crunchy you like it.
Milk - Almond, soy, rice
Fruit: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, pears, banana etc.
Cook oats in water and milk, the amount of water depends on how liquidy you like your oatmeal. You can add more liquid as it cooks.
Add cut-up walnuts, while the oats are cooking. Add fruit when the oats are nearly ready, so they don't get too mushy. Add sweetener to taste and a dash of salt.
Cottage Cheese with fruit and nuts
I use dry cottage cheese. It's a much more natural form of cottage cheese and does not include the preservatives that are found in regular cottage cheese. However, as it does not contain any salt, and is quite dry, it needs a bit of processing to make it tasty.
Yogurt or milk
Fruit (berries, bananas, pears, peaches etc)
Walnuts or other nuts
Mash the cottage cheese with a little bit of flax oil and salt using a spoon. You want to break up the cottage cheese pieces so the texture is smoother. Then add some yogurt or milk, the fruit, nuts, and sweetener to taste.
I would start with about 1/2 cup of cottage cheese per person.
Coconut, shredded (unsweetened)
Water or juice
I use about 5 cups of oats and about 1/2-1 cup of each of the different types of seeds and nuts to create a pretty good size batch of granola.
Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together. Add liquid sweetener to taste (I use a mixture of molasses, agave nectar, maple syrup and honey). Then add about 1/4-1/2 cup of water, some melted butter (1/2-1 cup) and some salt (3/4 of tsp). The mixture should be somewhat sticky and clumping together.
Place the granola mixture on baking sheets - spread out evenly. Cook in oven at about 275-300 degrees until crispy. Make sure to stir the granola every 5-10 minutes to ensure it cooks evenly, and the sides do not burn. Keep a close eye on the granola, to avoid burning -- it can cook quickly. Once the pumpkin seeds have popped and the oats are somewhat brown, take it out of the oven to cool. Add raisins to the cooked granola.
I'll add more recipe ideas in future posts. Happy cooking and healthy eating!