Helping to get more plant foods into your bite at a time

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quick Dinner Idea

It's been awhile since I've posted a blog, but here's a quick dinner idea I wanted to share with you.  It's a sauteed red peppers and onions with re-fried beans over rice.  It's topped with some vegan sour cream.  Here are some photos to illustrate just how quickly this comes together.



1 T. extra-virgin olive oil  

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 can Amy's re-fried black beans

Sea Salt

Vegan Sour Cream - I used "Follow Your Heart"



1.  Place olive oil and onions in a skillet over medium heat.  When the onions begin to sizzle add a pinch of sea salt.

 Sauteed Onions

 2. When the onions begin to soften, add the red pepper and a pinch of sea salt and saute until the peppers are tender. 



3.  Add the can of re-fried beans and heat through.  Season with sea salt if desired.

RefriedBeanswithOnionsandPeppers.jpg Canofre-friedbeans.jpg

4.  Serve over whole grain.  I used brown rice and topped it with vegan sour cream.  I also served this with a side of roasted veggies (carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, onion and asparagus), but you could simply serve it with a salad or a side of leafy cooked greens.  You could also add some green vegetables to the onions and peppers and saute them all together.


Suggestion: As always, cook once and eat several times.  Double or triple the recipe (depending on how many people you're cooking for) and serve the leftover re-fried beans in a sprouted-grain tortilla with diced tomato, diced avocado and topped with vegan sour cream for lunch the following day.  Healthy and satisfying. 


9:09 pm est

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Addicting Kale Chips


So far, I'm managing pretty well on my anti-candida diet. It's my gift to myself this New Year.


Initially, I loathed the idea of doing this diet.  I'd tried it before and found it difficult.  But after I started researching all the food that I COULD eat, and stopped focusing on what I couldn't eat, my options seemed endless.


Tonight I had:


1. Roasted veggies - Brussels Sprouts, Fennel, Cauliflower, Red Onion, and Turnips tossed with a little EVOO and sprinkled with dried rosemary and dried thyme.  

2.  Chickpea pancakes

3.  Kale Chips


 The kale chips are easy to make and I thought I'd share how easy they are to make.  I used dinosaur kale, but curly kale would work fine.  




1 bunch kale - rinsed, dried and cut or torn into bite-size pieces

sea salt

olive oil



Pre-heat the oven to 350F.


Place kale, olive oil and sea salt in a large bowl and toss to thoroughly coat the kale.


Spread the kale evenly on 1-3 cookie sheets and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  You want the kale to be crispy, but be careful it doesn't burn.


That's it!


You can also sprinkle on other herbs and spices like cumin, garlic powder, basil or whatever you like.  I used some cumin on half of the kale chips and garlic powder on the other half.


You can eat it as a snack, crumble it and sprinkle it on soups, salads, popcorn, veggies, etc. 


Even kids love eating kale this way.  


Try it out and let me know how you like it.



7:45 pm est

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ravioli Making

For the past several years or so, I've been hosting Christmas Eve dinner at my house. And for the past few years I've served home-made Tofu, Mushroom, Leek, Rosemary Ravioli.  Although no one besides me is vegan, everyone loves them.  I even cook extra to bring Christmas Day for myself and to share. 


I like to serve these with the same sauce I use to fill them...minus the tofu.  But you can top them with spaghetti sauce if you prefer.


Usually, my entire family gets together on a day before Christmas and makes ravioli and pizzelles.  This year, we had a date all set, but because everyone was so busy, we decided to make them after the holidays.  Since my father passed away last April and wouldn't be with us as he had been in years past, we decided to get together in his honor, on Jan. 7th, to make them. His birthday would have been January 6th, but since that falls on a Friday this year, we will be remembering him with ravioli making the following day.


Unfortunately, that meant that I wouldn't have ravioli for Christmas Eve dinner.  Since I really had my heart set on having them for the holidays I decided, with my mom's help, to make them before Christmas.  And since my ravioli will be all finished (and eaten) by the 7th, I'm thinking I may try and veganize the traditional family pizzelle recipe that day while everyone else makes "their" ravioli.  If they turn out yummy, I'll have to blog about them, too.

Here's how I make them:

See photos following the recipes.

The Filling:


1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 leeks, cut lengthwise, rinsed thoroughly, and thinly sliced

2-3 tsps. dried rosemary, chopped

Soy sauce

1 ½ lbs. button and shiitake mushrooms

1 pkg. firm tofu, drained, pressed and crumbled


In a large skillet heat the olive oil, leeks, garlic and rosemary.  When the leeks start to sizzle add a dash of soy sauce and cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes. 

Add the mushrooms and another dash of soy sauce and cook until the mushrooms begin to darken and exude liquid, stirring frequently.  Add another dash of soy sauce, cover and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes.  Add the crumbled tofu and heat through.


If using as ravioli filling it can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a day or two.

You can use this on top of pasta. polenta, or any whole grain, too.

Inspired from a recipe by Christina Perillo’s Cooking the Whole Foods Way.


Filling photos:


ChoppedGarlic.jpg   ChoppedLeeks.jpg  ChoppedMushrooms.jpg

 Chopped Garlic               Chopped Leeks             Chopped Mushrooms





Garlic, Leek, and Rosemary Saute




Garlic, Leek, Rosemary and Mushroom Saute                



Garlic, Leek, Rosemary, Mushroom and Tofu Filling


The Ravioli Dough:


    3 cups semolina flour
    Ener-G egg substitute equal to 4 eggs (prepared)
    1 tablespoon salt
    1/2 cup or more water


Combine flour and salt in bowl, add egg replacer and mix in. Add water to make a thick dough. Knead by hand or with the dough attachment on a mixer, and let rest 15 minutes to develop.

Keep the dough from drying out as you make the ravioli by covering it with a clean, damp dish towel.

If making by hand - Roll out dough thinly on a floured surface.  Cut into squares or circles.  Put a dollop of filling on each, wet edges and seal tightly.

If using a ravioli maker - cut off a small section of dough and run through the pasta maker on the widest setting (make sure the dough and pasta maker are well-floured)  Run the dough through several times, each time using a narrower setting until you have the desired thickness.  (I run mine through to the narrowest setting.) Place the rolled dough on the floured bottom tray of the ravioli maker.  Dust dough with flour.  Place the top tray of the ravioli maker on top of the dough to create depressions.  Fill each depression with filling.  Place another piece of rolled dough on top and roll with a floured rolling pin to seal the edges and sever them into individual ravioli.  Gently turn the tray over and push the ravioli out onto a floured surface. 

At this point, you can choose to cook the ravioli in boiling, salted water, or package them for freezing to be cooked later.  (This is what I do.)

If you are going to freeze them, place ravioli on either cookie sheets or in shirt boxes.  I like to use boxes because they have lids.  Place a layer of wax paper on the bottom of the box and sprinkle corn meal on the cookie tray or in the box and place the ravioli in a single layer.  If using boxes, you can make several layers by placing a sheet of wax paper on top of each layer and sprinkling each layer with additional corn meal.


Once frozen ravioli can be placed into freezer bags for easy storage.



 Ravioli Making Photos


Egg_Replacer.jpg       Whipping_Egg_Replacer.jpg

 Ener-G Egg Replacer         Whipping Egg Replacer and water


Semolina_Flour.jpg               Dough_Mixing.jpg

 Semolina Flour                           Mixing Flour, Water and Prepared Egg Replacer



Passing piece of dough through pasta maker (final run)




Floured Ravioli Maker (bottom piece, L., top piece, R.)




Top piece of ravioli maker placed over bottom piece to create depressions in dough (notice rolled dough in between) Top piece of ravioli maker is then removed and the depressions are filled with the tofu, mushroom filling.  Then  another layer of rolled dough is placed on top of filled ravioli.




Rolling top layer of ravioli with rolling pin to seal the edges and sever each ravioli int individual ravioli.




Ravioli are carefully removed from ravioli maker.




Placed in box sprinkled with cornmeal.  Ready to be frozen.

1:28 pm est

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Truffles

This Saturday, I'm teaching a private cooking class for a small group of women.  We're going to spend a few hours preparing a soup, three entrees and two side dishes.  It's a "hands-on" class, so it should be a blast.  It's always a little chaotic, but that's what makes it fun.  


I was thinking about bringing a little something extra to share with the group that they weren't expecting that will also turn them on to some alternative ingredients they may be unfamiliar with.  And since we weren't going to be making any desserts, I thought that something sweet would be appreciated.


I was going through my recipes and came across one that I had cut out from Vegetarian Times magazine from February 2009.  Never having made this recipe before, I decided to give it a try.  It seemed easy, only used three ingredients, and it contained CHOCOLATE.  So, I figured it would be perfect.


It was easy to make, although a little messy as the chilled chocolate began to soften.  I wound up putting it back in the refrigerator for a bit to get it to harden up before continuing.


Here are some photos I took throughout the process.


Ingredients:  1/2 cup Chocolate Soy Milk, 1 12-oz. pkg. vegan, grain-sweetened chocolate chips, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa.



Warm soymilk until hot to the touch.  Set aside.



Melt chocolate chips in large metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. (I used a smaller saucepan containing the chips, over a larger saucepan of the simmering water)  Stir in warmed soymilk until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight.



Shape chilled chocolate mixture into 1-inch balls. 



Place cocoa powder on plate.  Roll the balls in the cocoa.



Finished Chocolate Truffles


Just to experiment, I rolled one in a mixture of the cocoa along with some cinnamon. Pretty tasty.  You could make an assortment of these; some with the cocoa, some with cocoa and cinnamon, others with chopped nuts, etc.  


Recipe by Elliot Prag - Vegetarian Times/Feb. 2009



10:40 am est

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Great Alternative to Teflon Cookware

I often get asked about what type of cookware I recommend.  


I have concerns about most of the non-stick cookware on the market because they are manufactured with PFOA's (perflurooctanoic acid) and PTFE's (polytetrafluoroethylene) and I definitely don't recommend them.


Aluminum pans scare me because of the concerns about the link between aluminum and Alzheimer's disease. 


What does that leave us to cook with?  Well, there's glass - but glass isn't the best heat conductor.  I usually recommend stainless steel, and still do, but it has it's limitations.


For years I have used stainless steel for 95% of my cooking.  I occasionally will use a non-stick pan for pancakes, only because any time I use a stainless pan, my pancakes would invariably get completely stuck to the bottom of the pan - even if I coated the pan with oil - and I'd wind up with a huge glob of pancake mess on my plate and a pan that required a long soak before cleaning.


Then recently, I heard about some non-stick cookware that doesn't contain PFOA's or PTFE's.  It's made by Beka, a German company. It's coated with ceramic.  I checked it out, read some reviews and after a few months of indecision, decided to order one and try it out.  


I ordered through and decided to try a smaller pan to start.  So I ordered the 9 1/2" pan. It arrived last week and, so far, I'm in love with it.


I haven't cooked with anything else since it arrived.  The first time I used it I sauteed some onions and Swiss Chard in olive oil.  It turned out great.  I've also been using it for re-heating leftovers.


But the real test was pancakes.  Not only did my pancakes turn out wonderful, I didn't add a drop of oil to the pan before I started, and there was no sticking to the pan.  Awesome.  So not only can I enjoy intact pancakes, I am using less oil in my cooking, too.  And cutting back on oils saves calories.


You might want to order one for yourself. Check out the link.  They are reasonably priced.  I'm planning on ordering some other sizes in the future.



8:15 pm est

Friday, July 8, 2011

Easy Lunch Idea

I don't know about you, but lunch can be a challenge for me, especially if I don't have any dinner leftovers available.  But there are a few easy, tasty lunch options I depend on when I don't know what to eat - and today I decided to make one of those lunches and photograph the few easy steps it takes to make it.


Hummus, Avocado and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich


1.  Take two slices of your favorite healthy bread - preferably a whole or sprouted grain variety.


2. Spread  one slice with your favorite brand of hummus.  I like the Sabra brand.

Spread bread with hummus


3.   Spread other slice with vegan mayonnaise.  I love the Vegenaise brand.

Spread vegan mayonnaise on other slice


4.  Slice avocado and place on one of the slices of bread.

Slice avocado and place on one of the slices of bread


5.  Top the avocado with slices of roasted red peppers.  I used jarred, but you can roast your own. too.

Add roased red pepper slices


6.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Place the sandwich together and serve with a side of corn chips, salad, or both.  My newest culinary discovery is Riceworks Gourmet Brown Rice Chips - the Salsa Fresca variety.  They are full of flavor and go great with hummus, dip or eating straight out of the bag.

Avocado and Humms sandwich with Rice Chips 



1:58 pm est

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meat without Killing?

Recently, a subscriber to my newsletter sent me the following quote from a reader who wrote in to a San Francisco newspaper.

”To all you hunters who kill animals for food, shame on you; you ought to go to the store and buy the meat that was made there, where no animals were harmed.”

The absurdity of this statement is obvious to most of us.  How could anyone not know that the meat they buy at the grocery store wasn’t “made” there?  We all know that the meat comes from animals that are raised and slaughtered on (primarily) factory farms; packaged, and shipped to our local supermarkets.  Right?

I can’t help but wonder if the author intentionally meant the statement to be tongue-in-cheek; as an subtle insult to all the meat eaters who despise hunters, but continue to eat the flesh of  farmed animals who want nothing more than to breath fresh air, nurture their offspring, and live the lives that are theirs to live.  Instead their lives are cut short – full of suffering from the moment they are born until their very last breath.

When most humans who consume animal flesh go “shopping” for food, their thoughts are so far removed from where their food comes from that most DON”T give it a second thought.  Sometimes it’s because they grew up eating animal flesh and it’s out of habit that they purchase rib-roast, pork-loin, leg of lamb, chicken breast, steak, and other animal body parts.  Others don’t think about it because they don’t WANT to know where their food comes from. It’s too painful to think about.  It’s easier for them to close their eyes and pretend not to know.

But if you don’t want to know where your food comes from or what had to happen for it to get to the grocery store, and ultimately - your plate - then perhaps you shouldn’t be eating it.  Is this what the author was implying - that most of us are so oblivious to what we contribute to when we purchase meat, that we think hunters are evil because they kill animals for food, and we’re not because the food is already killed for us?  That the meat on the grocery store shelf didn’t come from animals who suffered because it’s in a nice neat little package?

I guess we’ll never know what the author’s intentions were. 

What do you think?  Do you think the quote should be taken literally, and that the author was  simply ignorant?  Or do you believe they were successful at being cleverly ironic in regard to our food choices and excuses?

I’d love to hear your opinion.

5:30 pm est

Friday, January 14, 2011

You Call That Lunch?

Recently, I started going back to school for Medical Assisting.  My intention is to work in a medical office that is more holistic and alternative in practice...where my skills as a health counselor can be utilized, while continuing to offer my services as Food for Living.

I’ve only been in class four days, so far.  We’re a small group - seven students of diverse backgrounds.  We range in age from early twenties to mid-fifties.  So far, we seem to click as a group and I’m looking forward to getting to know my classmates better over the next seven months as we work and learn together.

Since I’ve worked mostly from home for the past 4 ½ years, I haven’t really had the opportunity to eat with a group of people I don’t know well…until now.  We get a half hour lunch break at school and, so far, we usually eat together as a group. 

Since my business and interest relates to food – or more specifically, to plant-based foods, I pay attention to what other people eat.  So I get a little concerned when I see someone eat a bag of Doritos or a snack bar for their lunch.  Oh yeah…I can’t forget the soda, too.  OK…I will admit that I did see an apple or two and maybe a banana in there somewhere, but that’s the closest thing to anything healthy I’ve seen so far.  And if this is lunch, I wonder what was eaten, if anything, for breakfast.  I'm not sure I even want to know what dinner consists of. 

A couple of the students do pack a more “traditional” lunch of a sandwich.  But from what I’ve seen, the sandwich is lunchmeat and cheese on white bread – a little more substantial than a bag of chips, but not exactly going to get them on the road to health either.

I'm concerned that the habits some of them have developed over the years will be causing them some problems in the future.  For now, their bodies are able to take nutrients from elsewhere to ensure that their basic metabolic needs are met and their bodies can function.  But eventually they will exhaust this reserve since they’re not replenishing it with healthy foods.  I mean where are they going to get the minerals and nutrients their bodies need when their reserves are depleted?  

You are what you eat…and if you’re not eating real food – living food - containing energy, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants – you will eventually get sick.  It may start with more frequent colds, some skin problems, fatigue, etc.  But eventually, the chronic diseases will take hold.  And at that point it will be much more difficult to change the diet and turn things around.

If you don’t make time to eat healthy now, you had better be prepared to make time to be sick later.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs or if you receive my newsletter, you know what foods you should be eating:  whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables (especially the leafy-green veggies), beans and legumes, and maybe some sea vegetables.

It’s not rocket science, and it’s not difficult to take a few minutes to pack a healthy lunch.  

Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to set a good example and offer some suggestions to my classmates…if they are interested.  They do seem to be curious about what I’ve been bringing for lunch every day so far. 

These are people going into the health field.  It would certainly be inspiring, if not helpful, if they would start with their own health.  Just a thought!

8:02 pm est

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

If You Don't Know What It Is - I Guess You're Not Eating It.

Admit it, when you're waiting in line at the grocery store, you're checking out what the person in front of you is buying.  I know I do...but maybe it's just me.  Since I'm involved in the "food/health" world, maybe I pay a little more attention than most.

If you were to check out my cart, you'd find that most of what's in it is fresh produce.  It's what I eat the most of. 

Unfortunately, when the cashiers see me coming I think they cringe and try to run away.  You know - because they have to look up every item and weigh it.  It's not as easy as just passing it over the scanner and hearing the distinctive "beep".  Heck, that's why I hate the self-check isle.  At least the cashiers are getting paid to do it. 

But I've noticed a trend...most of the cashiers don't know what the produce items are that they're looking up, and invariably I get asked about at least one or more items at each visit to the supermarket.

Today, for example; I went shopping to get some groceries and ingredients for a few recipes I'm planning to make and bring to my sister's for Thanksgiving.  The cashier was a young girl - maybe early 20's.  She came across the kale I placed on the conveyer and asked, "What's this?".  "It's kale", I said.  Luckily, she was able to scan the Brussels sprouts because they're in little containers with the UPC code.  Otherwise, I think I would have been asked to identify them, too.  Then she came across the escarole.  Again she asked, "What's this?" 

Now I'll admit that escarole can be a little difficult to distinguish from some lettuces, but I said to her, ""It's escarole".  Then, with a big smile on my face - so she knew I wasn't trying to be a smartass - I suggested, "You should eat some of this stuff, then you'll know what it is.  It's good for you."  Her reply?  "No thanks!"

I was floored.  No thanks?  I mean what the heck is she eating?  Nevermind...I know.  But it just boggles my mind that anyone doesn't know what kale looks like.  Sometimes it's Swiss Chard, other times Collard greens or some other usually green vegetable that I get asked about. 

Leafy greens and other vegetables are the food most missing from the typical American diet.  And I get reminded of that every time I go grocery shopping. 

So the cashier may be saying "No thanks" to the kale and escarole today, but she may be saying "pass the Lipitor" in a few more years.  Pretty sad. 

Eat your veggies folks.  If you don't know what it is, find out.  Find a recipe, make it and eat it.  It's pretty simple stuff.

5:03 pm est

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Preparing Collard Greens - 101

P1010006.JPGI love to include leafy green veggies in my diet as often as I can.  They are the one food that most Americans don't eat enough of.  And collard greens are one of my favorites.

There was a time when I was intimidated by collards, kale and other leafy greens.  But once I learned how easy they are to prepare - as well as delicious and nutritious - I wish I hadn't
been afraid of them for so long.

Knowing others may also be unsure of how to prepare them, I decided to take some photos tonight as I prepared a side dish of Collards with Dill and Parsley. 

Here's how to do it - step by step.

1.  Wash the collard greens in a sink full of cold water or individually under running water.

2.  Lay one leaf on a cutting board and with a sharp knife start to slice along one side of the mid-rib.

Slice along one side of the midrib

Collard leaf being sliced along midrib

One side of leaf removed

3.  Slice along the other side of the midrib.

Slicing along other side of midrib

4.  Discard the midrib.

Discard midrib

5.  Stack several leaves on top of each other.

Stack several leaves on top of each other

6.  Roll the leaves up to form a tube and slice into 1" sections.

Roll the leaves into a tube and slice

Slice into 1" sections

7.  Place sliced leaves in a bowl until ready to cook.

Place sliced collards in a bowl

7:12 pm est


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Food for Living
Christine Scalfo

 Food for Living - Helping to get more plant foods into your bite at a time.
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