It's so easy to take for granted the abundant blessing of delicious and nutrient dense foods from the garden. Take time to give thanks and remember the farmer who produced it, the cook who prepared it and the Creator who loves you with the fullness of flavors such as savory, bitter, sour, sweet and salt.
Bruce & Gordo napping during a Sunday football game.
Veganism is not a sacrifice, it's a joy! Gary L Francione
We love burgers - so when looking for something for lunch I thought of using leftover lentils and quinoa (with a little spinach) to make veggie burgers; and for dessert, I served strawberries and pineapple with leftover raw strawberry jam (from yesterday's breakfast) topped off with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts. How simple, how healthy, how delicious!
“Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.” – Nikoli Berdyaev
I prepared many different types of bread for the friars and family but one of their favorites was my sourdough Greek Loaf. I would use a bread machine to prepare and knead the dough then bake the risen loaf in the oven. I loved making their bread because I could ensure its purity by using non-GMO, organic flours and grains, spring water and sea salt.
I recently took a fermentation cooking class so I have a quart jar of sourdough starter in the fridge. My 23-year-old grandson is staying with us so last night I broke out my old bread machine to make dough, then I baked 2 loaves in the oven this morning. (With apologies to the bread machine maker - I love the way the machine kneads the dough but do not like the way it bakes bread - so I always bake my loaves in the oven).
To me there's nothing that compares to whiffs of fresh baking bread mingled with the aroma of coffee brewing in the morning. The bread and coffee called my grandson to the kitchen; with a sleepy trance still in his eyes he asked what smelled so good? It gave me great joy to serve him a fresh slice of toasted organic, non GMO Sourdough Greek Bread smeared with vegan butter, topped with raw strawberry chia jam. He told me how delicious it was and thanked me 3 times. I explained the pleasure and blessing was mine!
Briami is a Greek baked veggie dish that's very simple to make. Just grab some favorite veggies such as eggplant, zucchini onion and tomato, toss with olive oil, throw in some fresh dill, thyme, parsley, oregano (any combination of Mediterranean herbs to your liking) and bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Delicious right out of the oven with Lemon Greek Potatoes or tossed with a little pasta.
Lentils are such a wonderful, humble food - they're rich in protein, minerals, fiber and iron. They are economical and very easy to cook - they don't require pre-soaking. I use them in soups, veggie loafs, in veggie burgers etc. - I always seem to have leftover lentils on hand. So when my daughter and granddaughter stopped by this afternoon, we ransacked the fridge for veggies and made a lentil salad that was so, so delicious I didn't even have a chance to serve it - we literally couldn't stop ourselves from scooping samples right out of the bowl. I snapped a quick photo just before we polished it off. Click here for some ancient lentil lore.
My lentil salad is deliciously alive with raw veggies, lime juice and cilantro; it also has dried cranberries that soak up the dressing and veggie juices, a dribble of maple syrup and raw Nama Shoyu (soy sauce). It's brimming with fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, probiotics, probiotics, enzymes and flavor. Click here for my awesomely delicious lentil recipe. Hint: make sure to use the probiotic rich Nama Shoyu, which takes a simple lentil salad to a new level of lentil deliciousness!
Mujaddara with Quinoa & Lentils, Mujaddara Stuffed Peppers, Butter Lemon Quinoa & Quinoa with Spinach
I love lentils. Even before my vegetarian metanoia, I cooked lentils for my family at least once or twice a week. We ate them hot over rice or pasta and leftovers in a cold salad.
Mujaddara is a humble Middle Eastern dish of lentils and rice garnished with caramelized onions. To bump up the protein and nutrition I made mujaddara with quinoa and spinach tossed with melted vegan butter. I also roasted a couple of bell peppers and stuffed them with remaining mujaddara - a beautiful meal for family, friends - meatless Mondays and for Lent. I'll post recipe soon...
Some historians and archeologists believe Saint Joseph was a member of the Essenes. Essenes were a religious sect of Jewish vegetarians. And so I named my sandwich Sloppy Saint Joes so I could share this beautiful bit of ancient veggie tradition.
Tempeh is a vegan food made from fermented soybeans rich in protein and nutrients. But I have to be honest...for me it was not love at first bite. I found tempeh had an I don't think I like this taste and off-putting, pasty texture. But Rouxbe Cooking School changed all that - it opened up a whole new world of plant food wonder of..I can't believe just how delicious tempeh can be! It's all about love and building flavor. Click for recipe.
My plant based Sloppy Saint Joes are delicious served straight from the skillet but even better the next day so you can make the filling ahead. They are perfect for introducing family and friends to a healthy plant based meal.
For Rouxbe's Plant Based Cooking Class I had to create a recipe using tempeh. I couldn't wait to try it out on a family favorite, kefedes - a minty, herby meatball, which we ate for holidays, birthdays, weddings, funerals and even cold for breakfast. I'm honored and thrilled that my Kind Keftedes made with tempeh received a grade of 100%.
"Thou shalt not kill" does not apply to murder of one's own kind only, but to all living beings; and this Commandment was inscribed in the human breast long before it was proclaimed from Sinai. ~Leo Tolstoy
Growing up Greek we ate a lot of shish kebabs made with baby lamb served with a side of butter lemon rice. I clearly remember asking my father at one of our Easter meals why we ate baby lambs? His reply was "I don't know sweetheart, try not to think about it." Then he turned to my mother and whispered while shaking his head, "Poor little things..."
I can't prove it...but it's a knowing inscribed in my heart that Jesus loved these beautiful, vulnerable creatures so much so that I believe it's possible he was a vegetarian.
Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart...
For me, Tempeh Shish Kebabs and Butter Lemon Cauliflower Rice are more than just a tasty meal but filled with the spirit of love and compassion.
Gotta keep it fresh and delicious to encourage family and friends to eat more plant based foods. Gyros used to be one of our guilty pleasures and so I created a recipe using tempeh instead of lamb to make my gyros plant based. My daughter and grandkids gave it two yums up!
Click here to learn more about tempeh and the many health benefits it can bring to your plate.
Greek eggplant dip is delicious and "meaty" - serve as an appetizer or as a meal on warm pita or crusty bread with a side salad. Click for recipe.
I used raw tomatoes from Bruce's garden to make this light, multigrain pasta dish. I sautéed 6 garlic cloves in olive oil then off the stove added a handful of fresh basil leaves and cut tomatoes, which I tossed with about 8 ounces of cooked pasta then served with grated almonds. Offer with unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
When shopping this morning, I saw a beautiful bunch of red-stemmed organic dandelion greens at NutritionSmart. Dandelions are a living food, filled with Divine intelligence that cleanses the liver. I couldn't wait to get home to make a big delicious bowl of lemony tabouli! Click for recipe.
It's hard to be humble when this hummus recipe is so awesomely delicious! It's simply mouthwatering smeared on a piece of warm, multigrain flatbread topped with dandelion tabouli. Click for recipe.
There are many different tahinis on the market. I've had great results with Krinos or Whole Foods 365 brands.
A Greek kitchen is not complete without a recipe for rice pudding. Even though my chia pudding is a little different- it's a satisfying replacement for the traditional Greek version. I believe this creamy recipe is just as luscious but achieved using plant based superfoods instead of heavy eggs and dairy. Click for recipe.
Its said that mint is to Greeks as basil is to Italians. Growing up, I lived in a small Greek community, Tarpon Springs - where mint grew wild in our yard. My yia yia would use it for sauces, soups, on meats and in desserts...you name it. I remember seeing small bouquets of herbs, including mint, hung and drying around her kitchen. Her house smelled like a melange of mint, oregano, olives and incense with an occasional hint of mothballs.
My father would crush fresh mint between his fingers then fan it near our noses to teach us to enjoy the fragrance and he said to clear our sinuses; then he had us nibble the leaves to freshen our breath. My mother would make mint tea when needed to soothe an upset stomach. Mint was an important part of our family's history.
And so, I love using mint in my own cooking. I find it adds fresh flavor and a delicious, exotic taste. There is nothing like mint. Click for recipe.
This tasty tofu scramble has what it takes to satisfy a hardcore carnivore (like my husband Bruce) and the nutritional gifts are off the charts! Made with sautéed tofu, sweated veggies tossed together with Kalamata olives and a simple Greek dressing. Click for recipe.
Limas for Lunch
We live near an oriental market that sells bountiful bunches of greens. I love the amaranth also known as Chinese spinach. In Greece these same greens are known as vlita and/or horta and are traditionally used for spanakopita. The leaves are a little heavier and stems are much thicker than spinach, which give the spanakopita a more toothsome bite and in my opinion make this recipe more delicious, reminds me of yia yia's.
When rethinking this spanakopita I needed a feta replacement. Feta is a tangy, salty cheese. And so, I used chopped Kalamata olives, which offer a similar sharp and briny bite. See recipe.
Bougatsa is a classic Greek breakfast pastry. The original version is made with an egg custard. I replaced the custard with tofu slices, brushed with melted margarine and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar then baked in phyllo dough. Simple, satisfying and yummy! Click here for recipe.
I'm always searching for whole food plant based breakfast ideas to keep mornings healthy, fresh and interesting. This vegan omelet, inspired by Jane Esselstyn's recipe on Forks Over Knives website, was simple and tasty. Click here for recipe.
Bruce's Garden Rich Ramen
Bruce is not a cook but he sure knows how to cook up a beautiful pot of Ramen. There's nothing that says I love you like coming home to a veggie rich, full flavored bowl of soup after a long and busy workday.
Heat water over medium high heat in large pot. Add onion, celery, mushrooms and ginger. Gently simmer for a couple of minutes. Bring water to a boil, stir in Ramen noodles and bok choy - stir and cook for 3 minutes. It may seem like a lot of bok choy but they will wilt down to less than half their original size. Remove from stove. Stir in miso blended with water and Nama Shoyu. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil over each serving - offer additional soy sauce.
My husband often pines for a big fresh basket of fish and chips like we used to eat at a local English pub. Just because I don't cook meat or fish anymore doesn't mean I can't cook up an absolutely delicious plant based alternative. And so, I used organic tofu, pressed and cut into "fish sticks" - dipped in batter made with Bass beer, an esteemed English brand. These "fish sticks" had a full-flavored yeasty crunch, yum! I served them with vegan tarter sauce made with fresh dill - and set out a bottle of English Malt Vinegar. Click for recipe.
Learning about the lives of animals and how wonderfully they were created moves me to be faithful to a plant based diet. I recently heard a talk about fish by the head of the Humane Society - AMAZING! Click here - he just may inspire you too!
My husband also has a sweet tooth...for dessert I made a light Raw Green Apple Sorbet topped with walnuts, raisins & cinnamon - drizzled with a little local honey. Local honey has been shown to be rich with local antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
Each of the friars received healing benefits (or at least a feel good benefit) from drinking a daily green smoothie, which caused their physicians, and a dental hygienist, to take note.
Friar’s Basic Green Smoothie
Serves 4 - 6 friars
Place all ingredients into blender except for probiotic powder - blitz until smooth and add liquid for desired consistency. Add probiotic powder - blitz another few seconds to blend.
Give thanks and praise to God for His nutrient-dense gift filled with love, healing and joy!
I grew up in a traditional Greek-American home. But through prayer/meditation, life's experiences and education - came to question basic assumptions concerning foods I used to eat.
My awakening conscience motivated me to use my passion for cooking to do whatever little I can - to encourage ethical, healthy eating while advocating for animals.
And so - with help from grace, lessons of love I learned from daily life with friars and inspiration from Saint Francis - I use my cooking as an Instrument of Peace - by sharing plant based recipes, which reverence all of God's creatures (Isaiah 11:6-9), while offering nutritious, delicious tastes of love, peace and joy!