Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The China Study Cookbook Review + 2 RECIPES

I’d been hearing praises for The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD for quite some time, took the plunge and ordered the book last summer (after checking it out several times from the library, only to leave it nearly untouched on the bedside stand), and finally got around to reading it this spring.  It’s quite difficult for me to find the time to read these days, but I am sure glad I made an effort to squeeze this one in!  I have been so impressed with Dr. Campbell’s research and findings, especially regarding the effects of dietary protein on cancer growth, that when I heard he would be releasing a new book (Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition) and a companion cookbook (The China Study Cookbook), I pre-ordered both.  

Upon its arrival, I discovered that the The China Study Cookbook is actually written by Dr. Campbell’s daughter, Leanne Campbell, PhD, who has successfully raised her two boys on a plant-based diet.  One thing I really appreciate about this cookbook is that it was written by a very busy mom, so many of the recipes are practical, quick-fixes.  I also love that she has so many meals that can be prepped ahead for quick, easy, lunchbox-friendly entrees and sandwiches throughout the week!  Quick lunches are something I found to be lacking in my own personal recipe collection, so this cookbook has filled a void.  The other aspect I have enjoyed is the author’s creative use of both tofu & chickpeas--aversions to these ingredients exist among certain members of my household, so it was exciting to find recipes that pass the oh-so-tricky O’Rourke table taste-test!  I’ve dog-eared many recipes to try, but so far, here are the winners in our household:

  • Cucumber Dill Dip
  • Greek Salad with Nuts
  • Delicious Eggless Sandwiches
  • Spinache Chickpea Burgers (Which are, according to my dear cooked-spinach-and-chickpea-hating husband, “The closest thing to a real burger!”)
  • Ocean Chickpea Sandwiches (My darling, chickpea-despising daughter actually thinks these are tuna sandwiches, and jumps for joy when she hears they are on the menu!  Personally, I think the salad is more akin to an egg-salad, due to the texture and flavor...regardless, I must say that it has become one of my favorites!  A curious but skeptical, meat-loving co-worker even tried a bite and requested the recipe to prepare for her family.)  Two special notes on this one:  
    • I use 4 TBLS Vegenaise, in place of the 5 TBLS homemade, tofu-based mayo the recipe calls for, simply for convenience & waste prevention (the Green Garden Mayo recipe makes a ton, and I just don’t use it often enough to justify the quantity).  Vegenaise raises the fat content a bit, but I think it’s worth it.  
    • Don’t skip the kelp powder, it’s worth seeking out!  I really feel this ingredient is what gives the recipe it’s edge.  I found it at Whole Foods with the other spices and salt-substitutes.  
  • Pecan Ball Subs
  • Zucchini Crabless Cakes (I was somewhat leery about these due to the tofu & zucchini content--again, due to weird food aversions in our household--but was pleasantly surprised, as they went over quite well!  These patties also refrigerate nicely for leftovers, which is a plus.)
AND, for the GRAND FINALE, our very FAVORITES...
  • Thai Wraps
  • Amazingly Delicious Date Fruit Pie

We hope these two recipes that we’re sharing will spark your interest, and encourage you to order the book so you can give the others a try!

Happy eating!

When Brittany introduced me to this cookbook I was skeptical of yet another cookbook.  She told me, though, to try their two favorite meals to see what I thought.

Let me tell ya what -- I can't wait to try more!

These Thai wraps are a new favorite in our house, too.  As in, I made them the first time and we liked them so much, I figured out how to make them the next night without using tofu (we were out)!  So there is a soy-free version of these and it's totally up to personal preference.  Scot liked the tofu version better for the subtle flavor of the tofu, and I liked the chickpea version better for texture and the fact it wasn't as drippy.  I also sliced some red cabbage up and added it in the wrap with the lettuce and that lent a nice extra crunch.

Oh, did I mention you can make these in about 15 minutes?  Yeah.  Another reason they're a new favorite, fabulous flavor aside.

Thai Wraps
serves 4

  • 1 12oz pk extra firm tofu, drained OR 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup good peanut butter
  • 2-3 TBLS soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1 TBLS lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro OR 1 heavy TBLS dry
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 tortillas
  • lettuce and sliced red cabbage
-- Crumble tofu with fork in a mid-sized mixing bowl.  If using chickpeas, use a pastry-cutter.
-- Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and spices in a small bowl and whisk until blended well.  Pour into bowl and mix well.
-- Add everything else and stir until combined.
-- Spread onto tortillas and top with lettuce and red cabbage.

This little dessert is fabulous.  It's easy to make, and while the picture shows it being very messy -- and finely chopped strawberries will be! -- it doesn't have to be a messy dessert.  The original recipe called for 5 different types of fruit equaling about 4 cups.  Strawberries were on sale, so I did just the berries.  I also tried my crust in a spring-form pan -- oops -- next time, I'll use a pie dish as directed if I have anything that could spill over.

I do think, though, that a simple bag of frozen/thawed mixed berries would be delish on this crust.  Pretty much anything would be great on this crust.  A thin layer of vanilla cream would be divine between the crust and fruit.  Just sayin'.

Date & Fruit Pie
serves 8

  • 1 packed cup chopped Medjool dates
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • sliced fruit, equally about 4 cups.  Ideas: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, mangos, kiwis
-- Blend all crust ingredients in a food processor until a paste forms
-- Press firmly into a pie plate and chill until ready to add fruit.  Once ready, arrange fruit and chill at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cold Lentil Salad

Last summer, I can't tell you how many variations to "cold lentil salad" I saw.  There were almost a dozen different salads, I think.

This summer, I haven't stumbled across any.  Be that as it may, I made it my aim to make a lentil salad myself that had all the positive elements of these other salads I saw.  You know how it is -- you see a recipe and you like almost all of it.  Or you taste a salad and think to yourself, wow, this is great except for X.  Well, this is a Sarah-taste-bud-led creation.  

This cold lentil salad is a wonderful dish for summer days when being in a warm kitchen, or eating a warm dinner, is last on our to-do list.  It's an easy make-ahead main dish that's filling if you eat it with rice, or still great just as a side salad!
Cold Lentil Salad
Serves 6 main dishes, 10-12 side dishes (6 cups)
Active time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes (not including chill time of 2 hours)
Serving Suggestions: As a salad to a meal without a protein component, or over brown rice as a main dish with gazpacho on the side.

What you'll need:
  • 3/4 cup dry lentils, picked over and rinsed + 1 1/2 cups broth OR water  
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 TBLS lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 TBLS red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup packed grated zucchini
  • 1 diced red OR green bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin, for garnish (optional)
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice (optional for main dish)

What you'll do:
  • Cook lentils on the stove or in a rice cooker until soft.  About 40 minutes.  Drain if needed.
  • Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and garlic.  Set aside.
  • Place all chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl with herbs, cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Once lentils are done, add to the mixing bowl.  Gently stir in the dressing and mix until everything is combined.
  • Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
  • Sprinkle sliced scallion on for garnish right before serving.
  • Main dish option: serve over brown rice

Time tip:  If you are going to make this a main dish, simply cook the rice and lentils together since they take the same amount of time to cook and skip the “serve over” step -- just eat it already mixed together!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Marinated Potabellas

This recipe is one of Britt's wonderful creations and I'm so glad she has shared it on here. We made these tasty 'shrooms last week and were very pleased eating them along side the Mediterranean Barley Salad I just posted -- it really completed the meal. Evan my 5 year old looked at me and told me they were delicious!

These are quick to throw together, and a satisfying treat for those hot summer afternoons when you want a delicious meal but just don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen. I can even envision them on a toasted bun with burger toppings and condiments.

Feel free to double as they go really fast!

Marinated Portabellas
Serves 2-3
Active time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5-7 minutes
Total time:  45 minutes (includes marinating time)
Serving Suggestions: Steamed corn on the cob, a green salad, and a simple quinoa or rice side.

What you'll need:
  • 8 oz sliced portabella mushrooms (either a box pre-sliced, or 2 caps sliced)
  • 2 T canola oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 TBLS minced onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic

What you'll do:

  • Combine the marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl or bread pan.
  • Add portabella mushrooms to the marinade, cover tightly with saran wrap or lid & toss gently to evenly coat.  Allow to marinate for 30-45 minutes, tossing occasionally to distribute the marinade (if you are present during this time and able to do so).  
  • Dump mushrooms and marinade into a large skillet and saute over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later use.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mediterranean Barley Salad

I created this salad last summer when I wanted something made with barley (had a diabetic visiting) and other delicious vegetables. I went with a Mediterranean flare and it worked. After several tweaks along the way, I think I have it the way I want it.

The salad is extremely versatile-- you can use it as a main dish or a side.  Eat it warm, room temp, or chilled.  Eat it in a bowl, in a pita, or on a plate.  It's quick and easy and tastes so fresh you'll be wishing you had an unlimited supply of it in your fridge (although, I will say, it does tend to taste better the next day).  

Bring it to your next picnic or BBQ and see how fast it disappears. This dish keeps for a couple days, so it's very easy to make ahead. It's also easy to prepare in steps.

We love eating this with a good green salad and a bowl-full of chilled purred vegetable soup.

Mediterranean Barley Salad
Serves 4-6 (7 cups)
Active time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Serving Suggestions: Serve with a summer gazpacho and garden salad.

What you'll need:

  • 1 cup pearled barley + 2 1/2 cups broth OR water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 TBLS balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBLS olive oil  OR garbanzo liquid
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (about 20 leaves) OR 2 TBLS dry
  • 3/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 6 oz can pitted black olives, drained and sliced in half
  • 1 jarred red pepper, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Feta cheese crumbles (optional)

What you'll do:
  • Cook barley.
  • Meanwhile, puree garlic, vinegar, olive oil and tomatoes in a food processor to form a dressing.
  • When barley is done, transfer to a bowl and stir in dressing.
  • Stir in all other ingredients until evenly combined.
  • Sprinkle individual servings with feta if desired.

Time tip:
Cook barley ahead of time
Chop and dice everything while barley is cooking

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Kale Quesadillas with Easy Salsa

This is one of our family favorite fun summer dinners!  I know the title says quesadillas, and while there is actually no cheese needed to make these babies taste amazing, you don't even have to eat them as quesadillas!  We eat them as wraps more times than not, just so I don't have to turn the stove on.

This recipe was born out of desperation.  A warm day, a desire to not cook what was on the menu for the night, and sweet potatoes that needed to be used.  I had no idea if the dish would turn out, but it did and it has since been a staple in our house come summertime.

The sweetness from the apples really balances out the kale, and if you have regular jarred salsa on hand, fine. BUT, if by chance you don't, DO NOT -- I repeat: DO NOT -- go to the store to buy some. Instead, check your pantry and make some instead and know exactly what's in it!

We usually enjoy this meal with one of the many gazpachos I make, or with just a side of green veggies, like broccoli or grilled asparagus.

Sweet Potato, Kale & Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 4 big portions  (1 1/4 cup/serving)
Active time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

What you'll need:
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 4-6 cups ½ inch cubes of sweet potatoes - washed well and skins on
  • 2 cups cored and chopped apples
  • 2 packed cups finely chopped kale OR collard greens OR fresh spinach
  • 1-2 14oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8  6-in whole wheat tortillas (on the thinner side, like you would use for burritos)
  • Shredded cheese (optional)
  • Salsa (optional, and recipe below)

What you'll do:
  • Put cut sweet potatoes and apples in a glass microwave safe dish with lid and cook for 6-8 minutes until soft.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet and saute onion 5 minutes until soft and transparent.
  • Once sweet potatoes and apples are done, mash in glass bowl until smooth.  Try to mix in the greens as best you can and then microwave again for about 3 minutes to let the greens wilt all the way.
  • Once done, stir until greens are nicely mixed in.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the onions and black beans to mixing bowl and stir until combined.
  • Take 1 1/4 cup of the sweet potato mixture and spread it on a tortilla, place another tortilla on top.  
  • Cook on a griddle or pan on medium heat, flipping after 3-4 minutes once the tortilla has started to get crispy.
  • Serve with shredded cheese on top or salsa if desired.

And now, for the salsa recipe!  It's so easy, flexible, and versatile, you may never buy the jarred variety again!

Easy Salsa
Serves : 4 cups
Active time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: n/a
Total time: 10 minutes

What you'll need:
  • 2, 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1, 4oz can diced green chiles (more for more spice)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 TBLS dry cilantro
  • 1 TBLS lime juice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar OR other sweetener (honey, agave)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Salt, to taste (if your tomatoes come with salt, you may not need to add any extra.  Always taste-test before adding!)
  • cayenne pepper OR hot sauce of choice, to taste

What you'll do:
  • Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until almost pureed.  
  • If you like a chunkier salsa, puree all ingredients except tomatoes and then add tomatoes in and pulse until desired texture.