Riced Cauliflower Vegan Burgers

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Beet burger/Sweet pea burger

 

‘Tis the season for some GRILLIN’ and some CHILLIN’.
The only pickle with the statement above is that we don’t grill or chill all that often, which is a fact that I don’t relish.
A good char on produce is controversial in the plant-based whole food world. Are singed peppers healthy or harmful?
And, I’m guessing that in regard to chillin, we Americans have a lot to learn.  If you’re engaging in that type of “activity” you might be labeled a lazy loafer.

If I had my way, I’d spend the summer developing different types of veggie burgers and gourmet salads, reading up a storm and enjoying the benefits of the warm sun.

Oh, wait a minute…that is how I am going to spend my summer!  Well, mostly.

I’ll be slinging veggie burgers left and right along with souping up some super salads.  But it may be a challenge to relax and drink in a juicy beach read or spend a little solitude soaking up beneficial Vitamin D.  I guess that is a quagmire that will need working on.

The burgers below are my latest creations.  They were my tastiest yet and I was pleased at how well they held together.  Over the summer I plan to tweak the way the cauliflower is prepped, use different types of grains and experiment with various spices.
You will notice that I included three different options for the vegetable content. The vegan husband, who is not a big fan of beets, liked that version the best.  I liked the sweet peas.  You can substitute any vegetable of your choosing in this recipe.

Enjoy!

Makes 4-6 patties

RICED CAULIFLOWER VEGAN BURGERS

INGREDIENTS:
5 c minced cauliflower, roasted (about ½ of a large head)
½ tbsp. coconut oil, for roasting cauliflower
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp ground flax-seed
¼ c water
3 tbsp aquafaba (chickpea juice)

2 c shredded carrot
OR
1 c shredded beats
OR
1 cup sweet peas, frozen

1 c shallots, about three, minced
2 jalapenos, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 c bread crumbs

TOPPING
sauce:

½ c roasted tahini
juice of 1 lime
1/4-1/2 c water
salt, to taste
cilantro, to taste
extras:
pickles
roasted peppers
lettuce
caramelized onions

DIRECTIONS:
Using a knife or grater, mince cauliflower so that it resembles rice.  In a large bowl, mix cauliflower with coconut oil, salt and pepper.  Evenly spread cauliflower on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake in 500° oven for approximately 20-30 minutes. Stir cauliflower after 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on cauliflower as it can quickly burn.
Mix flax-seed with water.  Set aside.
While cauliflower is roasting, heat a skillet on high. Add onions and jalapenos. Reduce heat to medium and add a little water to keep ingredients from burning. Cook until onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and ginger. Cook for 2-3 minutes
Add spices. Stir and cook for a minute.  Add water if needed to keep ingredients from burning.
Add carrots, beets or peas.  Mix thoroughly.
Add cauliflower. Mix thoroughly.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.  About 15 minutes.
Once mixture is cool, add breadcrumbs, aquafaba and flax-seed.
If you have the time to refrigerate, then do so for at least 30 minutes (they still hold together without refrigeration but they may retain more moisture).
Form into patties.
Cook in oven at 350° about 5-8 minutes on each side or in skillet for same amount of time.

SAUCE DIRECTIONS:
Combine all ingredients together.  The amount of water (1/4 -1/2c) used determines the thickness of the sauce. Start with 1/4 c and add remaining water sparingly until you reach your desired consistency. Set aside until ready to use as topping.

Nutritional facts based on the sweet pea burger (which had the most calories):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite food to grill?  Please leave a comment…

Standing Cable Fly – A Great Alternative to the Pec Deck Machine

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STANDING CABLE FLY

The Pec Deck, also known as the Chest Fly Machine, is a popular piece of equipment that is used to work the chest muscles. Just about every time I enter the gym, I see someone using this machine So, why am I suggesting an alternative?

PEC DECK MACHINE

The Pec Deck can put you at risk for impingement syndrome, a painful condition of the shoulder. Improper use of this machine is common and can lead to an overstretching of the muscles in the front of your shoulders and a tightening around the muscles of the back of the shoulders. And that is a prescription for impingement.

Recovery from this condition can take a significant amount of time. So why put yourself at this risk? A great alternative to this exercise is the Standing Cable Fly.

Equipment: high-pulleys, cable cross-over set up on cable machines

Major Muscles Used: pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, coracobrachialis
When hands are fully pronated or crossed over, these muscles are also engaged: Pectoralis minor, seratus anterior, subscapularis, teres major

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Position: attach two handles to the high-pulley cables on a cable cross-over station. Stand with feet staggered. Your shoulders should be depressed and retracted (down and back), abdominals contracted, elbows and knees slightly bent, wrists are in neutral and arms are outstretched/open.

Movement: with abdominals contracted, lean slightly at the hips, exhale and move arms (without changing the angle of the elbows) in one of the following positions:
– forward, hands come together similar to clapping, palms stay at mid-pronation (face outward)
– forward, shoulders internally rotate, thumbs touch and palms are fully pronated (face up)
Pause, inhale and slowly return to the original position.

Variations: (these variations allow for greater range of motion)
– Standing Bilateral Cable Cross-Over: handles come down and together and cross in front of your body
–  Lower Pec Cable Cross-Over – from a high pulley: leading with the elbows (not the hands), alternate arms and cross over diagonally from one side of the body to the other.
– Upper Pec Cable Cross-Over: from a low pulley: leading with the elbows (not the hands), alternate arms and crossover diagonally from one side of the body to the other.

(1) CABLE CROSS-OVER / (2) STANDING CABLE FLY

Common Errors:
– using too much weight which can lead to a lack of control
– performing the exercise too quickly which can lead to excessive range of motion and injury
– using momentum instead of the chest muscles
– hiking of the shoulders
– rounding the back and pushing through the torso
– wrist breaking

Would you like more information on the Cable Fly exercise or its progression? Please leave a comment…

The Clean Plate Club

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POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

Groucho Marx once famously said he wouldn’t want to join a club that would have him as a member.  In truth, there are a lot of clubs where you wouldn’t advertise your membership.  The Hair Club for Men.  Skull and Bones.  The Tony Stewart Fan Club.  The Young Republicans.

Today I’m wondering whether or not I should retain my membership in The Clean Plate Club.

Tracing its roots to World War I, the Clean Plate Club emerged at a time when food was scarce.  Children were encouraged to eat everything on their plate to better understand the value of food.  The Club made a comeback under Harry Truman in the late 1940’s.  Under Harry, the idea was for children to eat less so we could send more food to Europe.

If your household was like mine, you were born into Clean Plate Club membership.  It was not  a choice.  But there were dues to be paid.

Cleaning your plate meant eating foods you liked but also foods you didn’t like. Once you’ve completed the jarred baby food stage (“Let’s see if he’ll eat turnips!”), parents are not going to buy food that they don’t like.  Two of my favorite vegetables today–brussels sprouts and broccoli–never made it into my home growing up.  But we saw a lot of carrots, green beans, and butternut squash.

I didn’t have a big problem with carrots and green beans, but I hated butternut squash.  Cleaning a plate with any squash on it was next to impossible.  You could hold your nose.  You could combine it with something else on the plate, but then something you like becomes less likeable.  There was always ketchup, but, believe it or not, ketchup doesn’t make everything better.  Eventually I was able to negotiate my way into having just a bite of squash.

In more recent times, Clean Plate Club membership has been equated with our obesity problem.  In post-Depression America, kids were encouraged to clean their plates because there wasn’t much on the plate to begin with, and you wanted them to make it to their next meal without starving.

By the time the vegan daughter was growing up, the plates looked a lot different. Finishing all your Kraft macaroni and cheese or chicken tenders and french fries wasn’t hard to do.  In fast food America, you don’t even use plates!

As an adult trying to eat sensibly, it’s easy for me to slip into bad habits. When it comes to pasta or Chinese food, you can count on me to clean my plate twice.  Do you get extra credit for that?   It’s good that I don’t eat pizza alone, because I usually try to limit my intake by monitoring the people around me.

These days, it’s more politically correct to leave something on your plate rather than clean it.  Even if it’s only one bite.  At least it shows you were able to use some restraint.

We’ve also tried making the plate itself smaller.  Eat from a dessert plate rather than a dinner plate.  If you can’t put as much on the plate, you won’t eat as much. But then supper can turn into a buffet when you finish everything on your tiny plate and then head back for more.

It seems to me like we’ve taken Woodrow Wilson’s idea and dumped it on its head. If you put the right things on the plate, it’s probably okay to clean it. Or, if you’re at the point of fullness, you should push the plate away.  Or you could do what I do, and ask yourself, “What would Groucho do?”

Do you belong to the clean plate club?  Please leave a message…

Vegan Crock-Pot Lasagna

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I’m a sucker for a shiny penny.

A recent trip to my local supermarket left me stupefied as I stumbled upon brown rice lasagna noodles They were on sale for $1.99 a box; a manager’s special.

Manager’s special, I think we can surmise, is code for let’s get rid of this product ASAP!

My guess is that they were trying to unload their supply of this starchy carbohydrate because Spring has sprung in New England and space would be needed for a more appropriate seasonal product.

As you read this, keep two things in mind:
1) I don’t care for brown rice noodles (though I love brown rice).
2) I’m not easily swayed by much of anything, except when it comes to food and sales. Put them together and you may have my kryptonite.

With that glistening “carrot” of a manager’s special dangling in front of me, I’d snatched one box faster than you can say April (reference is to the giraffe, for any rock dwellers out there).

Once home, my intention was to make this dish as quick and as easy as possible. I had recently watched a Youtube clip of Emeril Lagasse making Crock-Pot lasagna on GMA. He made it look effortless and that appealed to me. Crock-Pot it was!

I needed to soak the cashews, used for the filling, overnight. Some suggest soaking as little as 2-4 hours but I prefer a longer bath time. That meant that I would have to wait until the following day to put this dish together. I didn’t see this as a setback but more of an opportunity. It gave me a chance to prepare the sauce and pesto a day ahead of time.

For the sauce, I used 2 cans of tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes (plum). That decision was based on two factors:
1) The amount of time I wanted to allot on the break down of the tomatoes, which is to say, not much.
2) A lack of fresh tomatoes. In New England, local farm fresh tomatoes don’t hit the shelves until August.
Whether you purchase canned or fresh, make an effort to get the best quality tomatoes. Some would suggest, in the canned version, that San Marzano fits that bill. You may have to experiment to find what you prefer.
Note: Below you will see a nutritional breakdown of this dish. You will notice a high sodium content. That is due to the canned tomatoes.

For the pesto lovers out there, you may want to double the amount indicated in this recipe. The pesto comes through in a subtle way which was my intention.

I wrote above that I am not a fan of brown rice noodles, but I bought them anyway. That’s what a radioactive element from the planet of Krypton will do to to a person! I have to admit, they were pretty darn good. I don’t know if I would have been able to tell that they were brown rice if I hadn’t purchased them myself.

I’ve made lasagna countless times and I have a completely different version posted here.  But, this was my first go-round in a Crock-Pot and I was pleased with the final product.

Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

VEGAN CROCK-POT LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS:
SAUCE:
2 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp thyme, dried
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
½ c nutritional yeast
4 + basil leaves

PESTO:
1 c basil, packed (about 25 oz)
2 tbsp pine nuts
¼ c nutritional yeast
½ lemon, juice from
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 tbsp water

CASHEW CREAM – THE FILLING:
2 c raw cashews
1 c nutritional yeast
1 lemon, juiced and a little zest
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup non-dairy milk (I use almond)
1 12oz pkg  brown rice lasagna noodles

DIRECTIONS:
Sauce:
Remove and crush tomatoes from can.
In a large pot combine all sauce ingredients (including the juice in the tomato cans) and simmer for one hour.  If sauce needs thickening, add 1-2 tbsp of tomato paste. Taste and add more basil if needed.  Set aside.
Pesto:
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Adjust water as needed. Set aside.
Cashew Cream:
Soak raw cashews overnight, this makes them softer and thus easier to blend (also helps in digestibility). Blend together the ingredients in order presented. I have a Vitamix, but I think a food processor would work fine.

Putting it all together:
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Some brown rice noodles are of the no boil category and do not need to be pre-cooked.
Spread a thin layer of sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the crock pot.
Divide cream and pesto into quarters.
Layer as follows: lasagna noodles (break them, if necessary, to fit the pot), cashew cream, pesto, sauce.
Repeat each layer until you have used the last of the cream and pesto.
Top off with one more layer of noodles and sauce.
Cook in Crock-Pot for 4 hours.

Nutrition breakdown:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What type of tomato do you think is best to use in a red sauce? Please leave a comment…