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Stroganoff Non-Hamburger Helper

25 Feb

A skillet meal the gloved one would be proud of....Lefty, not Michael Jackson. But I bet he'd like it too.

When I was a kid, the sight of few human beings made me as happy as a vision of Betty Crocker’s anthropomorphic meal-time-in-a-box mascot, Lefty the Helping Hand, hanging out on our kitchen counter. Because that meant only one glorious thing: Helper was coming!

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom is not a fan of the kitchen. So Helpers were a common sight in our house — much to the joy of little Bridget. They were so gooey. So noodely. So salty. So yum.

In particular, I adored the 1990 version that featured Lefty wearing a Russian hat:

The Berlin wall is down! Creamy noodley goodness for all!

Anyway, that was 24 years ago. Flash forward through slap bracelets, Tamogotchis, Britney and Justin’s matching denim ensembles, MySpace and the resurgence of all things Apple, and while 29-year-old Bridget no longer eats animal foods, I still cherish the hell out of some Helper memories.

So, not too long ago, I decided I was going to turn this most-dear childhood staple into something a little healthier. The first step? Way less salt. And, obviously, no artificial preservatives. Easy peasy.

Now, your typical stroganoff sauce consists of sour cream, oil, butter, beef broth, onion, garlic powder and salt and pepper. As you know, I don’t play with those first four items. So I improvised. I traded out cashews for the artery-clogging trifecta of cream, oil and butter, added apple cider vinegar for the sour tang, and replaced the beef with a combo of vegan, meatless soy crumble and vitamin-D-packed mushrooms. Mmm, shrooms.

I also felt the need to squeeze some green into my ode to a healthier Lefty. I went with a cup or so of frozen peas, but spinach or kale would be a good plan, too.

The results did not disappoint.

Before I give you the play-by-play on how to whip this up, here’s a little info on why cashews are so awesome:

Cashew apples. These are a thing, apparently.

Cashew apples. These are a thing, apparently.

While they’re not fat free by any stretch of the imagination, cashews certainly kick butter, cream and plain old olive oil’s asses. First of all, they’re actually less fatty than some of  their other nut brethren, and they boast unsaturated fat (the kind that’s good for you).  They’re also made up of a bunch of minerals, which make your skin, hair and nails all pretty-like. Plus, cashews provide B vitamins, and they contain several antioxidant compounds regarded as anticancer agents. Also, they’re actually a seed (Mr. Seed to you). Who knew?

And now, let’s pig out!…

Stroganoff Non-Hamburger Helper
Serves ~4

Ingredients

Sauce (makes about 3 cups)

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup soaked raw cashews
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A generous shake of dried parsley
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
Everything else
  • 6 oz. non-egg noodles
  • 6 oz. vegan meatless crumbles (I used Gardein)
  • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or other veggies, such as kale, spinach, etc.)
Directions
  1. To make them as creamy as possible, soak your cashews for at least a half an hour. If you are lucky enough to own a Vitamix or similarly turbo-powered blender/food processor, then you can skip this step.
  2. Combine all your sauce ingredients in your blender/food processor, and whiz until smooth.
  3. In a non-stick skillet, combine noodles, sauce, mushrooms and peas and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
  4. When mixture bubbles, turn heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Dig in!

Bon apetit! 

Pretty Purple Potato Salad

11 Jun

It's purple picnic time, ya'll!

It’s purple picnic time, ya’ll!

Mondays always suck. When I can finally bring myself to pry open my eyes in the morning, I find they are usually fixed into a Mr. Potato Head angry stare for the better part of the day.

No. I don't want to edit the TPS reports.

No. I don’t want to edit the TPS reports.

But, speaking of potatoes, Mondays now blow slightly fewer chunks. At least for me. You see, the first day of the work week is now also my delivery day from Organics to You. They’re a local Portland company that gathers up fresh, organic produce from farms in the area, and then drives around town in their bio-diesel vehicles delivering them to people like me who try to interact with other humans as little as possible.

So that helps.

Along with an assortment of other from-the-ground goodies, this week’s maiden delivery brought a bunch of potatoes and two lovely ears of sweet corn from the farm to my counter.

So I decided to cook up a summer feast: tofubacue, corn on the cob, and a new invention of mine — the pretty purple potato salad.

In case I haven’t been 100 percent clear where I stand on the subject of taters, I LOVE THEM MORE THAN MOST PEOPLE. Indeed, I possibly love them more than my favorite (fictional) person, Harry Potter. (But probably not a whole lot more, because Harry is the fixed point around which my universe revolves. But you know what I mean).

They’re yummy and comforting and come in so many versions: tots, twice baked, mashed, curly fries, hash browns. The list is endless and awe-inspiring. And, you guys, the purple ones are even better.

The tater is way better for you than that purple ketchup every kid freaked out over in the 90s. Man, that stuff was cool...

The tater is way better for you than that purple ketchup every kid freaked out over in the 90s. Man, that stuff was cool…

First of all, they’re purple. I think we can all agree that’s rad. AND precisely because they’re purple, these colorful spuds contain four times as much antioxidants as Russet potatoes. Anthocyanin, the pigment that makes them so prettyfull, is a antioxidant that can strengthen your immune system and help prevent certain heart diseases and cancers. Recent research has also shown they can help lower blood pressure.

FYIzzle, be sure to leave the skin on the taters when you cook them to reap the most nutritional goodness.

And now, the loveliest potato salad you’ve ever eaten.

Pretty Purple Potato Salad
Serves four

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound potatoes, diced or sliced (I used two purple potatoes and two russet potatoes)
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons vegan mayo (recipe below)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Salad Away

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Once the water is boiling, dump your potatoes in. Then cook until soft enough to poke with a fork. Usually around 6 minutes.
  3. Immediately rinse the potatoes with cold water, strain them, pour them out into a mixing bowl, and then let them sit for a bit to completely cool off.
  4. Once the taters are room temperature, add all your ingredients to the bowl and mix, being sure to coat the spuds well.
  5. Pop the lot into the fridge to chill before you serve.

Vegan Mayo

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of silken tofu (half a package)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or plain white vinegar)
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • A few drops of agave nectar

Make Some Mayo

  1. Blend the tofu and vinegar together in a food processor (or by hand with a whisk) until you have a smooth, creamy mix.
  2. Add the lemon juice and agave nectar to taste, and blend, until the flavor is up to par with your standards.

Bon appetit!

Portland Observed. And Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Asparagus, Kale and Tomatos

7 Jun

So much yum, yet so few calories!

So much yum, yet so few calories!

Happy Friday, kids! Today I have for you a delectable quinoa treat that recently arose from my imagination (and need to go through a bunch of asparagus and kale before leaving town for the beach this weekend. Hooray!).

It’s full of veggie goodness, quick to prepare, reheats very well, and has a somehow buttery flavor while still managing to be low in calories and good for you. You’re welcome.

But before I get to the recipe fun, I have to share two things: the wonder that is asparagus, and some observations about PDX.

First, did you know that in addition to being jam packed with vitamins and minerals and all that jazz, asparagus may help slow the aging process, even keeping your brain from deteriorating into Grandpa Simpson-dom, as well as fight a bunch of cancers? Yup. It’s true. Plus, it like tastes good and stuff.

Second, I went on a run down my new street in my new town yesterday and noticed some things about Portland: people still sit on their front porches and talk to each other because, even thought it’s 84 degrees, no one believes in air conditioning. There is such a thing as a naked bike ride here, and a “Fascist Architecture Tour.” Portlanders have replaced their front yards with vegetable and herb gardens. This town may have the highest dreadlocks-per-capita ratio in the United States. I’m looking into it. In Portland, people wave to you on the street — people you don’t even know. Some of them will even flash you the peace sign. And grown men ride skateboards here. Like, a lot of them.

You should come visit.

And now, fooooooooood!

Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Asparagus, Kale and Tomatos

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, stripped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained (if you have a fine mesh strainer, that’d work best)
  • 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar (or a dry white wine or perhaps cooking sherry if you have it)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped kale leaves (you could also use spinach)
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered and de-seeded
  • 8 stalks of asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Parmesan cheese

Get Cookin’

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wrap up the garlic in tinfoil and then bake for a half an hour.
  3. Pulse the roasted garlic in a food processor until it’s gooey.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and red pepper to the pan and cook one minute.
  5. Now add the quinoa to pan and cook another two minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the vinegar, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, keep stirring the whole time.
  7. Add the broth and bring the whole mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes.
  8. Add four of the asparagus spears, chopped into bite-size pieces, to the pan, and recover. Simmer the lot for another 7 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  9. Move the pan off the burner, and stir in the garlic, kale, tomato, and cheeze.
  10. Spray the other four asparagus spears with some olive oil cooking spray and throw them on the grill, in a pan or on your George Foreman (like me) until they have grill marks. Serve these alongside the main dish.
  11. Plate your creation and eat it up! It’s delicious!

This should serve four. Or it will serve just one person four times if her boyfriend refuses to try it.

Anyhoo… I also crunched the nutritional numbers for you guys (okay, I also may have done it for my own benefit, as I’m back on the MyFitnessPal bandwagon):

Nutritional Information

Calories 134.2 Total Fat 4.9g Cholesterol 0mg Total Carbohydrates 34.2g Fiber 2.7g Sugars 0g Protein 3.8g Vitamin A 25.8% Vitamin C 19.8% Calcium 9.4% Iron 10.4%

Bon appetit!

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