Whole foods and other things for optimal living.

Whole foods and other things for optimal living.

Lavender Pistachio Pudding

Delicious, easy, vegan alternative to the usual pudding in a box. No one will suspect it’s made out of tofu, though. So don’t tell them until after they’ve eaten it. 

Even Cosby would approve. 

Did I just mention Bill Cosby in 2 consecutive blog posts?

Lavender Vanilla Pudding (vegan)

1 block (12 ounces) silken tofu (any firmness will work, but the firmer, the grainier)
1 vanilla bean, split, scrape seeds out (1 teaspoon of vanilla extract also works)
1/4 teaspoon lavender (rub between fingers to release oils)
1/4 cup honey (or any sweetener) 
1/2 cup shelled, chopped pistachios
A few tablespoons of nut milk, preferably pistachio (optional)

Directions: Put it all in a blender or food processor and process until smooth (about 5 minutes). You may add some milk if it’s too thick, but be careful not to make tofu soup.

Chill in the fridge.

Tips:

Make your own nut milk! Sara at My New Roots has produced the perfect How To video here.

If you take out the lavender and pistachios,  this recipe is like a blank pudding canvas. Try adding a banana, cocoa powder, lemon zest, almond extract, spices, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Sweet Lentil Porridge

"Sweet lentil porridge!"

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...may sound like an exclamatory phrase your grandmother or Paula Dean would use.

In this case, however, the phrase is to be taken very literally, but don't let that scare you away. Sweet Lentil Porridge could be the next new staple item in your kitchen! Think of the first time someone invented oatmeal: roll some oat groats, steam them, then boil them in water until they are at maximum sogginess. You can make anything sound weird and gross if you try hard enough. So try to keep an open mind.

Take the ever-so-popular quinoa. Still fairly new to the mainstream, it's already starting to lose its savory stigma. People have realized its mild, absorbent character serves as a perfect blank canvas for a variety of flavors. 

Lentils aren't much different. 

I got the idea this morning after I was craving oatmeal and realized I was out of oats. I am known to get pretty creative when I'm too lazy to go to the store (to a fault, some might say), so I scoured the kitchen for an alternative. I had a little bit of quinoa, some millet, buckwheat, barely and...[sweet lentil porridge!] some of the new red lentils from Trader Joe's. This particular brand cooks extremely fast and is hard to cook without getting mushy. Sounds like porridge to me! I then proceeded to combine my oatmeal skills (hey, I eat a lot of oatmeal) with my newly found TJ's red lentil-cooking skills and got to work. 

The cool thing about this porridge vs. most grain porridge is that its got:
  - a few less carbs
  - a bit more fiber
  - almost double the protein

As a vegetarian, it's always nice to sneak some protein in my diet whenever possible. Especially when I'm craving something sweet for breakfast. 

I am happy to report the lentils remained soft and hearty in texture while absorbing all of the delicious, naturally sweet flavors I added to the pot. Success was had by all (me) and a new staple in my kitchen was born. 

I give you...

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Sweet Lentil Porridge
1 banana, mashed
1 cup red lentils (I'm sure any lentil would work)
1 cup milk (I used homemade almond)
1 1/4 cup water (for a richer porridge, milk may be used instead)
raisins or any dried fruit
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon/toppings to taste
sweetener to taste (the banana is where you get most of the sweetness)

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Directions:

1. Combine banana, lentils, milk, water and dried fruit in a medium sauce pan. It's good to add the dried fruit early as it becomes rehydrated and plumps up in the cooking process. 

2. Bring to a boil, all the while stirring. 

3. Reduce to a simmer and cook for as long as your lentil package directions advise, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir often. Mine took about 10 minutes to cook. Your package will probably say to leave the pot covered for this duration, but DO NOT do this. There are fats and sugars in your liquid and they will burn if left unattended (I am reminded of my own dreadful quinoa porridge incident earlier this year). 

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4. Remove from heat, add vanilla and additional sweeteners/spice, and let sit for a couple minutes. 

Serves about 4 fairly small portions.

There you have it. I think next I may try my hand at a <em>savory</em> oatmeal...

Fruit Tacos

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This recipe takes sweet, juicy fruits and wraps them in a blanket of rustic, savory, corny goodness. Spread on a nice layer of buttery sunflower seed butter for a touch of warmth and decadence and you've got a healthy masterpiece suitable for a snack, any meal (especially breakfast) or even dessert. Think handheld pancake.

You can make this simple, yet versatile recipe with any regular premade corn tortilla, but I highly recommend making your own with this recipe. They're not your regular run-of-the-mill tortillas and are pretty much fool proof.

Feel free to use ANY combination of fruit and spreads you like in this recipe and dress it up with some toppings. I used bananas and blueberries. My photos depict an applesauce spread topped with cinnamon, but my absolute fave is sunflower seed or any other nut butter. Experiment and let me know your favorite fillings!

Here's a little break down of the nutrients will digest from two of our star players:

Sunflower seed butter:

  • Vitamin E - a metaphorical king of antioxidants and anti-inflamatories. Helps removes unwanted toxins from the body, reduces risk of colon cancer,  and even reduces the severity of hot flashes and diabetic complications.
  • Phytosterols - a cholesterol-like plant compound  proven to lower cholesterol, increase immune function and decrease risk of certain types of cancer. Sunflower seeds have the highest phytosterol content when compared to commonly eaten nuts and seeds.
  • Selenium - shown to encourage DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells. Studies suggest a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer.

Cornmeal:

  • A whole grain containing thiamine, folic acid, iron and niacine, among other things. Thiamine is good for digestion as it breaks down carbohydrates to glucose, creating energy for various bodily functions. It also breaks down fats and proteins, promotes healthy nervous system, skin, eyes, hair, mouth and liver. It also helps body withstand stress, which is a big one for me!

There is also a significant amount of iron and magnesium in both cornmeal and sunflower seeds.

Phew. There you go.

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Ingredients (serves 2):
Homemade Corn Tortillas
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup berries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sunflower seed butter (or any nut butter; photos depict applesauce spread instead)
1 tablespoon honey

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Directions:

1. Toss fruit with balsamic vinegar, set aside.

2. Mix nut butter and honey together, and spread mixture evenly on each tortilla.

3. Fill tacos with fruit mixture.

4. Gently fold taco just before eating.

Be gentle, these healthy tortillas are tender and best eaten right after making.