Oh wow - DIY Vegan Mayonnaise

To start, I have to say, you must give this a try! This vegan mayonnaise was easy to make and tasted incredible!

The back story - I had picked up a bunch of cans of chickpeas so that I could experiment with aquafaba but wasn't sure what I was going to make first. Aquafaba It is the liquid that beans are cooked in. Then we were having avocado (the boys opted for bacon), lettuce, & tomato sandwiches and wanted some mayonnaise to add but we didn't have any.... this is where the aquafaba came in!

My husband did a quick search for vegan mayonnaise, and found this delicious NY Times Cooking D.I.Y. Vegan Mayonnaise recipe using aquafaba - we adapted it and used canola oil instead of the sunflower oil. Here's the recipe version that we tried:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup aquafaba*

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons dried mustard

3/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the aquafaba, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt, sugar, and dried mustard. 

Using an immersion blender, start blending the mixture. Then as you are blending, start to slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture (my husband helped me with this part - it was helpful to have an extra set of hands to drizzle the oil while blending). Adding the oil should take about 4 - 5 minutes and the mixture will continue to thicken to the consistency of mayonnaise while blending. 

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready for use. 

*Note: From one can of chickpeas you will get about 1 cup of reserved aquafaba.

For more about aquafaba: http://aquafaba.com/

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Veggie Spiedie Sandwich

Where I live (Binghamton, NY area) Spiedies are a local staple. The history of the spiedie is debated some but the story is that the spiedie was brought to Binghamton by Italian immigrants in the 1920's. Most traditionally, spiedies were marinated lamb that was then grilled and served on fresh Italian bread.

Today around our area you mostly find that spiedies are cubes of marinated meat typically - pork, beef, or chicken. So, when I started eating vegetarian a couple of years ago, I had to figure out a plant-based solution to the traditional spiedies. Sometimes I make my own version of spiedie marinade (recipe below) and other times I use a local favorite - Lupo's spiedie marinade!

Here is a how-to and recipe (Skinnier Spiedie Sandwich - page 28- 30), that is in Skinny Size-It (Harlequin Non Fiction 2014). 

Tofu Spiedies... oh yum! 

Tofu Spiedies... oh yum! 

 Veggie Spiedie Sandwich

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 cup Spiedie Marinade (See recipe below or store bought)
4 whole-wheat flat breads (such as Flatout Healthy Grain Flatbread)
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
 

Directions:

1. Remove the tofu from the package and drain the excess water by placing the tofu on a plate lined with paper towels and letting it sit for 15 - 20 minutes. Then cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place the cubes in a medium-size mixing bowl. Pour the Spiedie Marinade over the tofu and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes (works great to marinate overnight!). 

2. Lightly coast a medium-size skillet with cooking spray, and then heat the skillet over medium heat. Remove the tofu from the marinade with a slotted spoon and saute it int he skillet, turning gently with a spatula, until it has browned on all sites, about 20 - 30 minutes. 

3. Fill each flatbread with tofu cubes, shredded lettuce, and tomato slices. Fold in half and then serve!

Other tips: serve the spiedies as a salad topper or another favorite is to served topped with sauteed peppers and onions. 

Nutrition facts (per serving): 230 calories, 132 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 460 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 17 grams protein

Spiedie Marinade

Yield: 1 cup (16 tablespoons)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl or salad dressing shaker, combine all the ingredients, and whisk or shake, mixing thoroughly. 

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Coconut Chip Banana Bread

When it comes to making gluten-free and lower carb breads, coconut flour is a great go-to; it has a delicious flavor and still gives the bread a somewhat 'bread-like' texture. This bread adds in coconut oil for moisture - the result: a soft and delicious gluten-free banana bread. 

 

Coconut Chip Banana Bread

Serves 16

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour
1 cup gluten-free oats
3 large bananas, mashed
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or pure vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a bread pan with butter or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, mashed bananas, baking powder, salt, and coconut sugar. Stir to combine. 

Then stir in the eggs, milk, vanilla, and coconut oil. Stir to combine again, the mixture will be thick. Then stir the chocolate chips into the mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes or until the bread is golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 9 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 180 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 10 grams sugar, 4 grams protein

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Caffeine, Children, and CAUTION

Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images

As a mom and dietitian, it is scary to me the amount of energy drinks and caffeine that young children are consuming! Caffeine is a stimulant and it is finding it's way into a lot of products and drinks, way beyond the traditional coffee or tea - from gums, chews, and energy drinks.

While children and teens may be intrigued by these products, they do not have a place in their routine, even for teen athletes. Additionally beyond the caffeine the other additives like: guarana (a plant-based stimulant) and taurine (an amino acid) are equally if not more concerning to me as they are not tested on children.

On a given day in the US research shows, about 73% of children and adolescents (ages 2 - 22) consume caffeine (Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014).  What was alarming to me is that caffeine intake was prevalent among all age groups in the study (Age ranges: 2 - 5, 6 - 11, 12 - 16, 17 - 18, and 19 - 22); while the intake amounts varied ranging from a low in the 2 - 5 year old age group of mean average intake of 15.9 mg of caffeine up to a high of 122.5 mg of caffeine per day in the oldest age group. Side effects from caffeine can range from insomnia to irritability to more serious health issues like irregular heart beats, blood pressure changes, and even death

If your child or teenager is interested in drinking energy drinks or other caffeinated products, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep. Two things we adults should remind ourselves of as well! 

Caffeine is not recommended for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents, age 12 to 18, should not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day. Additionally, adults are recommended to limit caffeine intake to 400 mg or less per day. Although, keep in mind, some people are very sensitive to caffeine or may not be able to have any due to underlying medical conditions.

A big watch out is how much caffeine is in products, as it can vary greatly from the low of 5 - 30 mg of caffeine in a decaf coffee to 300 - 400 mg in a large coffee or 160 - 300+ in an energy drink. Check out this chart by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on the caffeine content in popular drinks and products. 

When your teen is asking for energy drinks, try these energy boosting ideas instead:

- Have then sip water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels

- Snack on filling and energy boosting snacks like: fresh fruit & yogurt, banana and almond or peanut butter, whole grain crackers with sliced cheese & fruit, or baby carrots and dip

- Get plenty of sleep!

- For athletes: focus on working hard and training hard

And again, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep.

References: 

Caffeine Sources for Teens more Varied Than before, via AAP.org, Accessed May 18, 2017

Branum, et al. Trends in Caffeine Intake Among US Children and Adolescents, Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014

Teen Dies from Too Much Caffeine, CNN, Accessed May 18, 2017

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Oh Yum! Bean & Veggie Dip

Bean & Veggie Dip

Bean & Veggie Dip

This dip is simple to put together and it is perfect in SO many ways! I love it as a dip with tortilla chips, it tastes great with chicken or fish as a topping, or even just as a side dish by itself. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can super sweet corn, drained
1 sweet onion, diced
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced red bell pepper

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Note: for best results, refrigerate overnight before serving! 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 170 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 200 milligrams sodium, 26 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 9 grams sugar, 6 grams protein

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Panzanella Salad

I absolutely love, love, love panzanella salad! Classically panzanella is a salad of bread and tomatoes although, I like to switch it up and use a base of all different vegetables, like pictured here: cucumbers, red bell peppers, sweet onions. This recipe goes great with Italian meals or even as a stand alone salad. You can serve it topped with grilled marinated chicken or tofu too!

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Panzanella Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/2 sweet onion

5 mini cucumbers

1 red bell pepper

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey mustard

1 tablespoon agave nectar

sea salt and black pepper

4 slices of bread or rolls, cut into bite-size cubes

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, cut into thin slices

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Prepare vegetables by chopping into bite-size pieces and place on baking sheet.

3. Whisk together in a small bowl: vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, honey mustard, and agave nectar. Then season with sea salt and black pepper.

4. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and drizzle the rest of the dressing over the chopped vegetables. Roast the vegetables for 20 - 25 minutes or until they are tender.

5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the reserved vinaigrette and then add the cubed bread. Stir throughout cooking and continue to cook until the bread cubes are lightly browned. Then remove from the heat and toss with the Parmesan cheese.

6. After the vegetables are done add the prepared croutons and top with the Parmesan cheese slices. 

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Tart Cherry Buttermilk Scones

A perfect treat for St. Patrick's day! These scones are so delicious and the dried tart cherries add a balance of sweetness and tartness. Plus the scones are made with whole grains, the base is made with a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and oats. 

Tart Cherry Buttermilk Scones

Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oats

6 tablespoons sugar

1 stick of butter

1 cup dried tart cherries

1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

2. In a mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients.

3. Then in a food processor add the dry ingredients and the butter. Pulse until the mixture is combined and the butter is all mixed in.

4. Transfer back to the mixing bowl and stir in the buttermilk and cherries.

5. On a floured surface, place the scone mixture and knead (use more flour if needed to keep dough from sticking) to form into a large round circle about 1 - 1.5" thick. Then cut into 8 triangle slices. 

6. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Then transfer the triangles to the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. 

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Spring Soba Pad Thai

Looking for a delicious dish that is perfect for spring? This Spring Soba Pad Thai is tasty and quick to put together. The base of the dish is whole grain buckwheat soba noodles and of course, plenty of asparagus!

Spring Soba Pad Thai

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 pkg (9.6 ounces) soba noodles

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoon brown sugar

6 tablespoons rice vinegar

6 tablespoons lite soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup hot water

½ cup scallions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

4 cups of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons lime juice

½ cup chopped peanuts

 

 

Directions:

Prepare soba noodles per the package.

To make the sauce whisk together the peanut butter, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Then once combined, slowly whisk in the hot water. Set the sauce mixture aside.

In a wok heat the canola oil and add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the eggs and stir to scramble, about 2 minutes or until soft cooked. Then add the asparagus and peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the drained noodles and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the lime juice. When serving garnish with the chopped peanuts and serve.

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Wild Blueberry Chia Jam

I had been seeing a lot of posts about making chia jam and I had to give it a try.  I am so glad that I did! Chia jam is really easy to make and a delicious lower sugar way to enjoy jam. I picked frozen Wild blueberries although you could use a mix of all different types of berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.). 

A tablespoon of jam typically has three times as much sugar as this jam (about 12 grams), each tablespoon of this jam has only 4 grams of sugar. Plus you get some fiber from the chia seeds!

Wild Blueberry Chia Jam

Ingredients:

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup water

5 cups frozen Wild blueberries

1/3 cup honey

Directions:

1. In a small bowl mix the chia seeds and water. Set aside.

2. In a medium sauce pan combine the frozen Wild blueberries and honey. Heat the berries and honey until the berries are thawed and softened, let the mixture come to a gentle boil. Then lightly mash the berries with a fork or a potato masher.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the soaked chia seeds. Let the mixture cools and then transfer the mixture or a storage jar or container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to thicken.  

Nutrition facts per tablespoon: 20 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 5 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams sugar, 0 grams protein

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Peanut Caramel & Dark Chocolate Bites

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These peanut caramel & dark chocolate bites are absolutely delicious and a tasty treat. Plus they are simple to put together!

First make this simple caramel sauce made from palm sugar (recipe below), coconut palm sugar has a lower glycemic index compared to table sugar (sucrose).

First make this simple caramel sauce made from palm sugar (recipe below), coconut palm sugar has a lower glycemic index compared to table sugar (sucrose).

Then combine the Medjool dates, peanuts, and caramel sauce in the food processor or high-powered blender.

Then combine the Medjool dates, peanuts, and caramel sauce in the food processor or high-powered blender.

Roll into 1" bites and then dip in melted dark chocolate or skip the chocolate (although they taste really delicious with a thin chocolate coating!). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 1 - 2 hours or until the chocolate is hardened. Then transfer to a air tight container and keep frozen or refrigerated. Although, personally I think that they taste amazing when frozen!

Roll into 1" bites and then dip in melted dark chocolate or skip the chocolate (although they taste really delicious with a thin chocolate coating!). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 1 - 2 hours or until the chocolate is hardened. Then transfer to a air tight container and keep frozen or refrigerated. Although, personally I think that they taste amazing when frozen!

Peanut Caramel & Dark Chocolate Bites

Yield 24 bites (about 1 oz each)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1 tablespoon corn starch

2/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 container of Medjool dates, pitted (12 oz)

1 cup dry roasted peanuts, unsalted

1 dark chocolate bar (3 oz), melted

Directions:

1. Prepare caramel sauce: In a small sauce pan combine palm sugar, corn starch, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a light boil over medium heat, stirring throughout. Continue to cook for 1 - 3 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. 

2. In a food processor or high-powered blender combine the Medjool dates, peanuts, and caramel sauce. Pulse to combine the mixture, until the peanuts are chopped and the mixture is sticky. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 - 60 minutes to help it firm up. 

3. Roll the mixture into 1" bites and then dip in the melted chocolate. Place on a baking sheet that has been prepared with parchment paper. Then freeze for 1 - 2 hours to let the chocolate harden and transfer to a air-tight container and freeze or refrigerate. 

Nutrition facts per bite (34 g): 110 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 15 grams sugar, 2 grams protein

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