Is Your Diet Boring You? Get Grooving in the Kitchen…

Believe me, I know how hard it can be to pull yourself to the kitchen counter to prepare a meal. The easiest thing to do is to pull out a microwave meal from the freezer but hey… that’s no fun. And not as nutritious as something you whip up from fresh ingredients. And those meals usually have way too many calories.

On difficult days, boil some whole wheat noodles and make a salad from spring greens. Throw a handful of sunflower seeds on top of the noodles on the plate, as a garnish and to add protein. Add avocado and tomato to the salad, sprinkle apple cider vinegar on the salad and soy sauce on the pasta. A dribble of olive oil and a sprinkle of black pepper on the pasta will make the meal complete.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

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Food and Cooking: Nothing Moo Under the Sun

I’m reading, “The Day the Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929” by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts. As I do, I see parallels with 1928 and what’s going on today. Believe it or not, even cows offer nothing new under the sun. Just as they did in the days before the Great Depression, they’re very much in the news. And somehow, they’ve managed to work their way into the political discourse.

Henry Ford did not like cows and he let America know it. To Ford, cows never stopped eating and they left their slurry everywhere. He believed that crime and health could be attributed to a person’s diet and his reasoning was that people who filled up on steak were more likely to steal than those who didn’t fill up on steak. And those who indulged in butter fats, he said, were more likely to get sick. “Bad food causes crime,” was his rallying cry, believing that if people ate right, they would act right. To Ford, eating right meant no beef and no butterfat.

Henry Ford didn’t win that battle and isn’t it interesting that the meat/no meat conversation continues today. One decade a substance is bad, the next decade it’s a miracle food. Makes for plenty of apathy for those of us who’ve lived more than a few decades. But if you’re looking for ways to decrease your meat eating, I’ve got just the book for you. Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

 

 

Mediterranean-Style Eggplant with a Vegan Twist

My mother-in-law makes delicious eggplant sauce. She bakes the eggplant whole, making sure to blacken the bottom to impart a smoky flavor. She blends it with lemon, salt, pepper, sour cream and a little mayonnaise. It’s very good.

My husband won’t eat even a little mayonnaise, nor will he eat sour cream. So, on New Year’s Eve, I baked an eggplant on a cast iron skillet (50 minutes in a 350 degree oven did the trick). Whirled it, skin and all, in the food processor. Scooped it into a bowl and added one-third a container of Tofutti (plant based) sour cream. That’s it. Only those two ingredients. The sour cream and eggplant were tasty enough, on their own. I served it with toasted sourdough, Greek olives and baby spring mix salad.

This Vegan version worked for both me and hubby. If you want to try my mother-in-law’s version, you can find it in my cookbook, “Poor Jonny’s.” Happy New Year!!!

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

 

 

 

 

Quick Baked Potatoes in the Microwave

It’s hard to imagine that potatoes would taste fine cooking them in the microwave instead of baking them but they’re wonderful once you get the knack. The first time I tried it, I almost blew out my microwave. The reason? The potatoes were too dry. The microwave thought it was on fire. It almost was. That problem was easily solved. I put the potatoes on a plate and added a little water. I experimented slowly with the timer and now I’ve got it down.

This method is perfect for making hash browns without really frying them. Microwave the potatoes until soft. Cool, then slice them and throw them into a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil on the bottom. You might want to throw chopped onions into the skillet first. Because the potatoes are already cooked, you don’t need to cook them very long. The more oil you use, the browner and crustier the potatoes will be but oil is high calorie so be careful. They’re just as tasty with a little bit of oil. Once the onions have been cooked, crack your eggs and stir them in. Keep the heat down on the skillet. The hotter it is, the more the eggs and potatoes stick to the skillet.

This microwave method is also effective for baking yams. I love yams. Not just because they taste good but because they provide nutrition galore. They are the ultimate fast food. We must eat vegetables and we must get our vitamin A. Put two yams on a plate with a little water on the plate and press start. For those days when we’re too lazy to make a salad or chop and steam broccoli, yams are a blessing.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available herehttp://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

Avoid Post-Holiday Fatigue: Cook Beans and Legumes for Quick and Easy Wholesome Meals

If we let our diet slide during the holidays, it’s important to get back into the swing of things. Beans and legumes are a great place to start. When I’m fatigued, a bowl of chili gives me strength. This time of year, when it gets dark early, we need all the help we can get. Help yourself by keeping them around.

Those of us who prepare the meals, love it when we have ingredients in the fridge that we can whip up. Problem is, prepared foods are expensive and probably not as fresh. Vegetarians rely on beans, legumes, nuts and grains as staples. Keep containers of cooked beans and legumes in the fridge. Knowing that there’s a container of cooked lentils in the fridge that you can turn into a nice easy meal, might keep you from eating unhealthy fast foods. Here are some ideas:

Lentils: a can of tomatoes and a bag of frozen vegetables, seasoned with a
bit of olive oil and soy sauce, make a nice soup. Or roll them into
tortillas with salsa.

Garbanzos: Throw garbanzos in with spring salad mix, tomatoes and avocados. Or make a soup from cooked garbanzos whirled in the blender with a big chopped onion. Simmer it and season with a spoonful of olive oil and soy sauce. Serve with a tasty bread.

Black beans: these cooked beans make great burritos but another options is
to serve them with cooked brown rice. They’re a little bit dry so load them up with salsa and add soy sauce. Sour cream and black beans are also tasty.

There are days when we don’t feel motivated. When it happens, remember… beans and legumes are our best friends.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available herehttp://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

Anxious to Try Eating Acorns? Time to Think About It

Leaching Acorns

People tell me all the time that when they see acorns on the ground, they think of me. So now, when I see acorns on the ground, I think of the people who are thinking of me when they see acorns. Sometimes there are acorns… everywhere. I’ve had people tell me that they rake up bags and bags of acorns in the fall and… sigh… put them in the garbage.

Some areas have prolific acorns. In other areas, when a few acorns fall to the ground, there will be fifteen different wildlife creatures fighting over them. Vultures love to hang out near the road where cars drive over them and crack them. Squirrels fight for their share. Deer eat them. Horses will eat them too but I’m not so sure that they should. Field mice come running in for their share and then the tiniest of creatures, the acorn worms, well, sometimes they are the first to get at it. That’s why it’s important that you get there first, with the intention of analyzing your area so that you leave enough for the critters.

What do you do, once you’ve gathered the acorns? I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do and that’s leave them lying around. If there are any worms in there, they will devour them. It’s best to… get cracking. Once you’ve cracked them and removed the shells, put them in Ziplocs and freeze them until you’re ready to use them. My husband Jon, made a video of my acorn leaching process. Watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG-5EDrHDhM

And I wrote a book and created lots of delicious recipes, Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Have fun! You’ve no excuse. Unless of course, you live in an area where the acorns are sparse and you know the animals depend on them.

Making Gravy Out of Acorns

My father taught me how to make gravy. Growing up in New Orleans, he worked as a chef around a lot of French cooking. He had plenty of praise for “browning flour.” He called browned flour “roux.” Browning flour takes a little skill because it burns easily. The best skillet to use is cast iron, along with a metal spatula to scrape the flour so it doesn’t burn. A quarter cup of flour is all you need. More finesse is needed to add liquid to the flour but hang in there. You can get the lumps out. Add the liquid slowly and make sure it’s not hot. Cold is best. It will become a paste and with more liquid, it will become the desired gravy consistency. The liquid should be flavorful. Soup stock is preferable, the tastier the better. You can either make your own or purchase it. To turn it into acorn gravy, you only need to add a quarter cup of acorns that has gone through the leaching process I explain in my book.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

On a Cold Day, It’s Easy to Make Soup and Dumplings

Take a couple of bags of mixed frozen vegetables and throw them into a large pot. Throw in a handful of dried barley and a handful of dried black-eyed peas. Chop an onion and several stalks of celery and a handful of your favorite greens and throw them in. Pour enough water in to keep it from getting thick. ( The beans and barley will swell tremendously.) Pour a little olive oil in for flavor and shake some soy sauce into the pot too. Add your favorite soup seasoning. I used the following dried spices: paprika, parsley, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, cayenne, black pepper and sweet basil. Get the soup boiling moderately for five minutes and then turn it down. Once the vegetables have cooked, turn it way down. The heat will merge the spices with the ingredients and a simmer is enough to cook the black eyed peas and barley. Once that’s accomplished, let the pot sit on the stove on the lowest setting. Just keep it warm. Four hours later, warm it back up again and drop teaspoons of dumplings into the soup. Here’s the dumpling recipe:
In a small bowl, sift 1 cup of whole wheat flour with 3/4 teaspoon baking powder. Set aside.
In another small bowl, combine 2 slightly beaten eggs with 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.

Slowly mix the flour mixture with the egg, water and spices.CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVER

Add teaspoons of this mixture into your hot soup. Cover and simmer for ten minutes.

Before serving the soup, do a taste check to see if it needs more soy sauce. Enjoy!

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook and Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acornsAvailable here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

ACORN CHOCOLATE CHIP RAISIN WALNUT COOKIES

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERMy freezer stalled on me. Unfortunately, I had bags of shelled acorns that I was saving in there. They got a little moldy so I tossed  them outside. The deer ate every last one. I also had a tupperware dish of leached acorns. They were still good. Poor me, I had to think of some way to use them before they went bad with my refrigeration on the blink. Cookies to the rescue! You’ll find the recipe below. Remember, you must first grind and leach the acorns. To see how it’s done, watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG-5EDrHDhM

There is no added oil in this recipe. Fats in here are in the chocolate chips, walnuts and in the acorns.

Mix with spatula:

1 cup leached & pre-cooked, drained & cooled acorns

½ cup honey

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla

Add & mix well:

2 cups whole wheat flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup milk

Then add this too & mix well:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnut pieces

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Always watch your cookies, oven temperatures vary.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Apricots… a Quick Way to Beautiful Skin

If you want to have beautiful skin, eat apricots. A 100-gram portion contains 2,700 units of vitamin A. That’s a lot. In the summertime they’re plentiful and in season, so they shouldn’t be too expensive. Another summertime source of vitamin A is cantaloupes. I was pleasantly surprised at the high vitamin A content in those sweet, tasty melons. I’ve had pretty good luck growing them in my California garden. Cut into chucks and packed into ziplock bags, they freeze well. In the wintertime, it’s good to have dried apricots on hand. Really, the secret to rosy cheeks and a nice complexion is good old vitamin A. When it’s cold outside and we turn our ovens on, sweet potatoes, yams and pumpkins are the vegetables to bake and make pies with as they contain higher amounts of vitamin A.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78