Saucy Green Beans

As I child I had a confusing relationship with green beans. Every summer, as soon as the green beans were ready I would sit in my parent’s garden and snack on them raw. It’s still one of my favorite ways to eat them. However, at the dinner table, often canned or cooked too soft for my taste, I would refuse to eat them or try to hide them in the cat food bowl. My parents still act surprised that I love green beans. The truth is that it’s one of my all time favorite vegetables. Even after our rocky start.

I notice a similarity in many children I cook for. Children often love either raw or lightly cooked vegetables. And without a doubt, children like vegetables more often cooked fresh, not leftover. Sometimes they prefer fresh, not frozen. Have you noticed this? I cooked for one boy when I lived in Austin, TX, who loved broccoli, but only if it was lightly cooked. Not too raw, not too soft. I often wonder if they have an innate ability to tell which cooking styles bring out the most nutrients.

I found some tender, local green beans this week at my local co-op. If you have green beans such as these, eat raw or lightly blanched. They are very portable and make a great kid snack.

20190724_113654

I believe it’s a heck of a lot easier to put more vegetables on the table when we have super simple “recipes”. I want you to be able to fly through the kitchen without having to use up time looking up a recipe. This recipe for Saucy Green Beans follows this same philosophy. Leave the beans long or cut into bite size pieces depending on what you think your family will like. Of course they are delicious either way.

20190724_120042.jpg

Saucy Green Beans

1 pound green beans, tips cut off
1/2 to 3/4 cup of your favorite kid-friendly tomato sauce, preferably low salt and sugar-free ( I love our local Sweet Creek brand.)

  1. Heat a medium size skillet with a few tablespoons of water. As soon as the water is simmering, add the green beans and water saute for a few minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato sauce. Cover. Let simmer until the green beans are barely tender. Add a tablespoon of water while the beans are cooking if the sauce seems like it is getting too thick.
  3. Remove from heat and serve.

Note:

These beans would be lovely served with a little of the vegan parmesan from Minimalist Baker that I used in the last post. I love having a variety of dressings and sprinkles to pull out at meals. It adds spark to a dish and children love having a little extra something special to add.

A jar of tomato sauce is a staple that is always in my pantry or refrigerator.

More green bean recipes:

Olivia’s Green Beans with Almonds
Green Beans with Pumpkin Seeds

 

 

Super Easy Plant-Based Pizza

Sometimes, we crave pizza. It just happens. Often, I see families compromise and end up out to dinner, with a full-on pepperoni and cheese pizza, when really the craving can easily be satiated at home with plants and without nearly as much harm to your health. Remember, according to the World Health Organization, processed meats have been categorized as Group 1 carcinogens, comparable to tobacco. Many of us take such care with the meals we prepare at home, but then throw a lot of our values out the window when we eat out. I want to encourage you to be more mindful.

It can be really helpful to have a quick and easy option for homemade that is a bit healthier than the plant-based pizza you could get at a restaurant, plus a lot less expensive. Try to find a whole wheat pizza dough. Either buy it from your local natural food store or make a couple batches at home and store some, uncooked, in the freezer. It’s super easy to make, but I haven’t made my own crust for a long time so I don’t have a tried and true recipe for you. I actually don’t eat pizza very often. I had a craving one evening recently, while living in Portland, and I am going to share the yumminess with you.

I have included the link to a vegan parmesan that is super simple to make. Keep a batch in the fridge and if you do decide to go out for pizza, order a simple crust with tomato sauce and veg. Then, sprinkle your own homemade vegan parmesan on top. It’s much healthier than any processed vegan cheese and better for your digestion, too.

20190318_123314

Super Easy Pizza

  • Store bought whole wheat pizza dough (or polenta, cooked and spread fairly thin in a shallow baking dish)
  • Tomato Sauce (store-bought sugar-free or homemade)( I love Sweet Creek Foods Kid’s Sauce! You can find it at natural food stores up and down the west coast. I also love their salsa.)
  • All of your favorite plant-based pizza toppings. I am a huge fan of broccoli on pizza. I pre-cook any heartier vegetables to crisp tender (like broccoli) first before putting on the pizza.
  • Vegan Parmesan (This recipe from Dana at Minimalist Baker is worth gold. Feel free to use sunflower seeds instead of cashews if desired. I haven’t tried it, but I am fairly certain it will work well.)
  1. Oven to 425°.
  2. Press as much of the dough as you want onto a large baking sheet. Be patient and keep pressing until you get it as thin as you want, making sure the thickness is even out to the edges so it will cook evenly. I don’t think I pre-baked my crust, but you can do that if the dough instructions recommend it. If using polenta, bring to room temperature if it has been in the refrigerator, and pre-bake for 10 minutes before adding the toppings.
  3. Spoon a liberal amount of tomato sauce onto the crust taking care to spread it evenly over the whole crust.
  4. Next, layer all your toppings on to the sauce. If you have some particularly moist toppings, try to drain them first, soak up the extra moisture with a towel, or just use less volume to prevent the crust from getting soggy.
  5. Sprinkle generously with the vegan parmesan.
  6. Bake until the crust is starting to get light brown on the bottom, sauce is a little bubbly and vegetables are nicely cooked.
  7. Sprinkle more vegan parmesan on top as desired at the table. If you want a bit more kick you can sprinkle some red chili flakes on as well.
  8. Enjoy!

Notes:
You can give each child their own ball of dough and they can make their own personal pizzas. This is a great way to get them engaged. Have a variety of topping choices out on the counter and require that each child choose three toppings (depending on your child you can even tell them they need to choose three different colors, or at least one topping needs to be green) to encourage variety.

 

 

 

Orange-y Carrot Jewels

Often, just changing the way you cut a vegetable can add variety and interest to a simple dish. One cutting technique, which I learned as the jewel cut, is actually my favorite way to cut root vegetables. I think it’s kind of fun.IMG_20140929_124631

Lay the root vegetable on its side, horizontal, with the top to your left if you are right-handed. Start at the root end and cut your first vegetable piece at a diagonal with the knife tip angled toward the left. Then turn the root toward you about a quarter turn and cut at a diagonal again. Keep turning and cutting until you have cut all the way to the top.

I am bringing this dish to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck this week.

Orange-y Carrot Jewels

3 cups cut carrot chunks (about 3-4 carrots)
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed or unsweetened already juiced)
1 tsp brown rice syrup
pinch of sea salt

1.  Place carrots, water, orange juice, brown rice syrup and sea salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until carrots are barely tender.

2.  With a slotted spoon, remove carrots from liquid and place in a serving dish.

3.  Continue to simmer the liquid, uncovered, until it reduces in volume and becomes a little thicker. Pour over the cooked carrots. Serve.

Root Vegetable Fritters

I have been making simplified versions of Carrot and Coriander Fritters for over a year.

By now, you probably know that I simplify almost every recipe I come across. Personally, I have found that if I use a really good sea salt and organic, fresh vegetables, I don’t need a whole lot of other seasonings. With simplified cooking, I don’t need to look at a recipe and I save a lot of time in the kitchen. And by saving time I can cook more dishes and put a healthy meal on the table almost every time we sit down to eat.IMG_20140911_164720

So, on with the simplified version. A little warning: these can be a bit finicky. Make them a few times and you will get the hang of it. Lately, I have been making these fritters with a mix of carrots, parsnips and sweet potato. You can use whatever combination of root vegetable you feel like. I added a bit of sweet potato to add some sweetness and familiarity for little taste buds, but it’s completely unnecessary. Or really give your taste buds a treat and do 100% sweet potato. Yum!

IMG_20140913_170741I have tried these with a microplane coarse grater, with a regular grater and with a food processor grater attachment.

The microplane makes the vegetables kind of mushy, but it’s much easier to get the patties to form and this size might work better for a toddler who is still working on chewing skills.

Grating the vegetables coarsely makes for a tastier finished product, but it is also harder to get the mixture to form patties. This is where some patience and faith are helpful. I am going to give you my ratios of ingredients, but you may need to add a little more garbanzo bean flour and/or oil to find the right ratio that will cause the grated vegetables to stick together, without adding too much garbanzo bean flour. Now, the great part is that they only need to stick together enough to form a patty and get to the pan. Once they start cooking, the ingredients will bond together and form a delicious fritter. It’s almost magic!

Root Vegetable Fritters
adapted from Carrot and Coriander Fritters over at Frugal Feeding

2 cups grated parsnip
2 cups grated carrot
1 cup grated sweet potato
5 T garbanzo bean flour
2 1/2 T olive oil
2 pinches sea salt
fresh ground pepper
grapeseed or other high-heat oil for frying

IMG_20140904_133126IMG_20140904_1340361.  Mix all ingredients except for the frying oil in a large bowl.

2.  Pick up a small handful of the mixture and try to form a patty. It will have a hard time staying together, but it should be sticky enough to come together a bit and stay together long enough to start cooking. If it won’t stick together at all, add a little more olive oil and/or garbanzo bean flour. Keep mixing it and testing until you get a consistency that seems like it might work. Make as many 2-3″ fritters as will fit in the pan. I usually heat the oil and add fritters as I make them.

3.  Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet on medium heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Start adding fritters as soon as the oil is hot enough that a little piece of vegetable starts to sizzle when added. Add as many fritters as will fit in the pan without overcrowding. Cook until they are light to medium brown on the bottom, then turn them over to brown the other side. It should take about 4 minutes per side. If it seems a lot faster than that, the heat may be too high. You want them to cook for long enough that the vegetables cook, so if they are getting brown too fast, this might not happen. Add more oil if necessary for the next batch. Keep making and cooking the fritters until they are all done.

3.  As each one is done, remove them to a plate with a paper bag on it to soak up excess oil. These are best when they are served hot.

IMG_20140911_164349

Onion, Lotus Root and Carrot Kinpira

I haven’t met very many children who don’t like lotus root. With its neutral flavor and fun almost-crunch, it’s fairly kid-friendly if you can get them to try it. Plus, it has a super neat wagon wheel shape unlike any other vegetable I know.IMG_20131022_091453

Continue reading