Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cooking Light with Healthy Recipes

Cooking tips and great ideas about cooking light with easy recipes.

We all have very little time for putting together healthy meals; even those who are retired and those who are stay-at-home working people. This collection of cooking tips and free recipes is meant to make you feel like you just graduated from cooking school...well, maybe not quite. And don’t forget cooking for a crowd. With a little planning, easy recipes can make it a snap! Well, here goes…

Tip 1. Think of the foods you are passionate about. We all know that “Million-dollar Success Stories” are created by people who are passionate about their work. Passionate...what a word! The same goes in the kitchen. If you like it and want it, you will be successful.

Tip 2. Determine your cooking situation: cooking for 2, cooking for 1, cooking for a crowd, cooking with simple recipes, cooking for kids, cooking gourmet, etc.

Tip 3. Allow yourself the freedom to stock a pantry in your favorite cooking style: Italian, South West, Country Home Cooking, Southern Cooking, etc. When ingredients are on hand, cooking becomes fun. Check your selected recipes for any additional shopping needs.

Tip 4. All cooking styles can be vegetarian and delicious!

Tip 5. Presentation, presentation, presentation! Even if you are cooking for one, treat yourself to a lovely table setting at least two times a week. More fun! Pretty center piece, candles, placemat, pretty table cloth, cloth napkins, etc.

Now for the recipes...simple, healthy recipes for complete meals, all found at Many have reader comments and helpful tips. Modify as needed for your cooking palette. Desserts are included and can be prepared or not.

This 5 course meal can be changed to a 3 or 4 course meal. Use when “company’s coming” or “just because”. The recipes can be printed out and please consider using VegWeb's Grocery List Maker provided at the top of each recipe. It’s an amazing shopping assistant!

Really Good, Fast Lentil Soup submitted by mlharris - Put together ahead and reheat...delicious!
Mandarin Salad - submitted by jessesmum - Bright, light and delicious!
Pasta Mia - submitted by Redd - Low fat!...Whoopee!
Simple Chocolate Mousse - submitted by lax - Delicate, special and easy!

This meal is great for cooking outdoors. Fun, easy recipes! Again, use the Grocery List Maker.

Veggie BBQ - submitted by gorskins - Great variety...something for everyone!
Black Bean Pasta Salad - submitted by Annie - Great! Another make ahead recipe!
Garbanzo Bean Burgers - submitted by KL Marbury - Pan fry or use heavy foil on the grill.
Instead of making the patties, grocery freezer sections have some very good veggie burgers. Select one, grill and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce.
Don’t forget whole wheat buns and condiments.
Monas Chewy Good n Gooey Pecan Brownies - submitted by Mona - Well, you have to live a little. Only have one...if you can!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Video: Tofu Prep 101

Cooking with tofu and finding tofu recipes can be very easy in today's vegetarian market. Internet sites like are just loaded with information and tofu recipes on how to cook tofu. I hope this article is helpful and that you learn new ways for cooking with tofu.

Tofu, or bean curd as it is some times called, is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks. It is a food of Chinese origin. Acid type coagulants are used for silken and softer tofu. Salt coagulants are used to make a more firm tofu and adds calcium.

Commercial tofu comes in aseptic packaging (does not need refrigeration) and has a shelf life of one year. Water packed tofu requires refrigeration. Silken tofu is soft, firm or extra firm. Regular tofu is firm or extra firm. In some cases the soy milk is curdled directly into the packaging and others are allowed to cool, become firm, cut into pieces and in some cases, flavored or further processed.

The process of freezing tofu makes it a meat-like texture to be used in easy tofu recipes. The moisture creates ice crystals which in turn create layered cavities. After thawing the tofu, it is then squeezed or pressed to remove the moisture. This can be done by sandwiching the tofu between two plates and paper towels or dish clothes. Place a weight such as a pan of water, or canned food on top of the plates for about 15 to 20 minutes. Pour off the liquid.

Unused left over tofu can be kept refrigerated for 3 days in a sealed container and covered with water. Change the water daily.

For tofu desserts, sauces and shakes, blend silken, soft or firm tofu until creamy smooth. Mix together with other ingredients according to the recipe. Making tofu cheesecake is one of the many easy dessert tofu recipes.

For stir fried tofu recipes, deep fried tofu, tofu salads and casserole tofu recipes, cube, slice, or crumble regular, firm or extra firm tofu. Use as is or freeze and thaw. Mix together with other ingredients according to the many easy recipes.

If you would like to learn how to make tofu at home, here is a site with directions and photos for making tofu: Homemade Tofu


High in protein - about 10.7% for firm tofu and 3.7% for soft silken tofu.
Low in saturated fat.
Low in calories.
Beneficial amounts of iron.
No cholesterol.
Sometimes high in calcium (depending on the coagulant used in processing).
High in magnesium.

The Recipe Directory at has a Tofu Recipe section with six pages of recipes. Categories: BBQ, Baked, Fried, Burgers/Patties and Miscellaneous. Tofu can also be found in recipes throughout the entire Recipe Directory.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

You Don't Eat Meat?

How many times have you heard this: "What? You don't eat meat?!". "What can you eat?" Well, times are changing and main-stream groceries along with most restaurants (even fast food restaurants) have vegetarian choices.

Educating the population is slowing turning the tide. The senior population is catching on to the benefits of the veggie diet. Public eateries now highlight menus with "healthy" choices that are veggie or will gladly make veggie changes. Family gatherings are more open to different types of diets (vegetarian being one of them). Food companies are listening and stocking the frozen food sections in groceries with veggie burgers, veggie ribs, veggie crumble, veggie sausage, etc. There are many types of tofu, soy cheeses and non-dairy ice creams. These foods are processed and not meant to be one's entire food choices; however, vegetarian lunch and dinner plates are becoming easier to put together.

The following list explains the varieties of a vegetarian diet:

Lacto vegetarian: no meat or eggs but consumes dairy
Ovo vegetarian: no meat or dairy but consumes eggs
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: no meat but consumes dairy and eggs
Vegan: no meat, eggs, dairy, honey and avoids all animal products such as leather and fur

The following list is less common practices of the vegetarian diet:

Raw food: usually vegan food not heated over 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) - may be warmed slightly but never cooked
Fruitarian: only food which falls off the plant without harming the plant such as nuts, fruit, seeds, beans, tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, etc.

Each individual must choose for him/herself the type of vegetarian diet; plus, must be mindful of eating a variety of nutritious food and limit quantity. But, don't forget to have fun, be inventive and experiment with different recipes.

Garbanzo Beans aka Chickpeas

Here is my first challenge to anyone who is reading this post:
It is not unusual for people to say, "I don't like chickpeas!" Below is an amazing recipe using this often unwanted bean. Wait! It's delicious! Just try it!

Reasons for you to wrap your arms around this versatile legume? OK?

1. Good source of iron and protien
2. Has low glycemic carbohyrates (the best kind)
3. Low in calories and fat free
4. Cholesterol lowering fiber
5. Contributes to heart health (folate and magnesium)

Garbanzo Tacos (submitted by burch)

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

2 cans garbanzo beans
1 packet taco seasoning (any brand)
lard-free tortillas or hard taco shells
any other items you like on your taco


Dump both cans of beans into a skillet (but use the liquid from only one can).

Dump in the taco seasoning. Stir and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Add beans and other ingredients to your tacos, burritos, and/or taco salads.

Especially good recipe for those who aren't crazy about the flavor of garbanzo beans. The seasoning takes over.

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes

A Custom-Made Pantry List

Time to get started. The #1 important item to consider is the Pantry. We think of the pantry as something our ancestors had. But if you're lucky enough to have a space in the kitchen large enough to hold all the essentials of great healthy cooking, that is a pantry. So whether your pantry is in different cupboards or not, take a look and see what surprises are there. Don't forget to check the expiration dates.

The Custom-Made Pantry List (linked above) can be found on VegWeb. I have repeated the list below, but keep in mind, because of the many different ethnic groups, not everyone will want to keep the same things on hand. Change the list in whatever ways suit your favorite cooking style (a post later on vegetarian/vegan diet choices).

Whole grain breads
Brown rice
Grains such as couscous and barley
Rolled oats
Whole grain dry cereal
Flours (wheat, unbleached, pastry, cornmeal)
Legumes (dried or canned - kidney beans, black beans, lentils)
Condiments (soy sauce, miso, mustard, pickles, etc.)
Vinegars of choice
Oils (olive, vegetable, sesame)
Soy/Rice milk of choice
Sweeteners (date, maple and unbleached cane sugars, Stevia, etc.)
Vanilla extract and other flavorings
Baking powder
Baking soda
Cornstarch or arrowroot
Nutritional yeast and baking yeast
Egg replacer of choice
Sea salt
Black pepper
Herbs and Spices
Shelf-ready tofu and or Textured Vegetable Protein
Vegetables - canned, frozen
Fruits - canned, frozen
Dried fruit (raisins, peaches, apricots and others)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Health, Wealth and Happiness

I don't know about the "Wealth", but the "Health and Happiness" can be found right in your own kitchen! Daily nutrient recommendations can be meant with a vegetarian diet. A variety of food groups, and the right amount of food is all it takes.
This page, the American dietetic Association (ADA), has good tips and resources pointing out the need to focus on protein, iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B 12. I have selected entree recipes from VegWeb to help get you on the health and happiness trail.

Protein - beans, nuts, nut butters, peas and soy products:
Beef Stroganoff You Thought You'd Never Have Again!

Iron - whole wheat breads, peas, some dried fruits (apricots, prunes, raisins), spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses and iron-fortified cereals:
Yummy Mock Chicken Salad - This is incredible, easy and inexpensive!
Spinach Casserole

Calcium - soy products (tofu, soy milk), some dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens), fortified breakfast cereals, and calcium fortified orange juice:
Soy Delicious Strawberry Banana Smoothie or Shake
Asparagus and Bok Choy Stir-fry

Zinc - beans (white, kidney and chickpeas), wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and zinc-fortified breakfast cereals:

Vitamin B 12 - nutritional yeast, B 12 fortified cereals, veggie burgers and soy milk:

My Favorite On-line Veggie Source

This is a recipe from my very favorite foodie site on the Internet: VegWeb -  You will want to check out the huge database of recipes. The recipes on VegWeb have reader comments and suggestions. This original recipe can be seen here, and this is my version:

Baked Dutch Apple Pancake
Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. margarine
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups pancake mix
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups soy milk (or as needed)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farhenheit.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a 9" baking dish. Heat in the oven or microwave just enough to melt the margarine. Remove and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Arrange apple slices, overlapping, on the syrup mixture.

Combine pancake mix and the white sugar. Stir in the soy milk to make a thick pourable batter. Pour over the apples.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Time varies according to ovens. I have a standard/convection oven (internal blower) and the time can be reduced.

When done, turn out onto a serving plate.

Serves 6