Living the WELL Life

Diner Time - by Christina Pirello

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sometimes there’s nothing better than grabbing a bite to eat at a local diner.  Ah, the pleasure of comfort foods!  In this spirit, I’ve prepared a menu of delicious ‘diner’ cuisine that you can enjoy without having to leave the house!  And guess what?  These recipes are better for you too!  So put your records (or iPod) on and start rockin’ it in the kitchen.

Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf
Chicken-less Pot Pie
Boiled Salad
You Won’t Believe It’s Not Mashed Potatoes 18 Carat Gold Carrot Cake Better Than Milk Shakes

Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf

1 cup brown or green lentils, sorted, rinsed well
3 cups spring or filtered water
1 bay leaf
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 small carrot, finely diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup grated vegan mozzarella ‘cheese'
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
5 ounces tomato sauce
1 tablespoon barley malt
1 teaspoon dried basil
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper

Place lentils, water, bay leaf, onion and garlic in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook until lentils are soft, about 35 minutes.  Remove and discard bay leaf and drain away any remaining cooking liquid.  Transfer lentil mixture to a mixing bowl.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a standard loaf pan.

Stir carrot, oats, mozzarella and bread crumbs into cooked lentils.  Whisk together tomato sauce, barley malt, basil, salt, and pepper to taste and fold into lentil mixture.  Spoon lentil mixture into prepared loaf pan and press the top firmly with a spatula.  Bake 35-45 minutes, until the top of the loaf is firm and beginning to brown.  Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes before inverting loaf onto a platter.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Chicken-less Pot Pie

Pastry dough:
1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (scant)

Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thin half moon slices
Sea salt
¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 vegetable bouillon cubes
3 cups unsweetened soymilk
1 tablespoon white miso
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small yellow squash, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup fresh/frozen peas
2 cups shredded seitan
½ teaspoon ground sage

Prepare the pastry dough.  Mix flour, salt and oil thoroughly, using a fork to blend ingredients.  Slowly add almond milk or water and stir to form a stiff but flexible dough.  Gather into a ball and knead 1-2 minutes.  Roll out between waxed or parchment paper to create two round crusts that are one inch larger than your pie plate (9-inch).

Prepare the filling.  Place about 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, and onion in a deep skillet over medium heat.  When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring to create a thick paste.  Whisk in bouillon cubes and soymilk and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about three minutes.  Stir in diced vegetables, seitan, sage and salt to taste until all ingredients are well-incorporated.  Cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lay one of the pie shells over the pie plate and, using your knuckles, press the pastry to conform to the pan, trying not to stretch it too much.  Allow excess pastry to hang over the sides of the pan.  Using a fork, pierce in several places.  Spoon the filling evenly into the pie shell.  Lay second pie shell over the filling.  Trim excess of both crusts even with the rim of the pan.  Press the edges of the piecrusts together to seal.  Using your thumb and forefinger, crimp the edge of the crust.  With a sharp knife, make 4 slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the crust is golden and firm and the filling is bubbling.  Remove from oven and allow to stand at least 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Boiled Salad
1 carrot, thin oblong slices
1 cup green beans, tips trimmed
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup broccoli florets

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook carrots until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl. In the same water, cook green beans until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and add to carrots. In the same water, cook cauliflower until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and add to carrots. Finally, in the same water, cook broccoli until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and add to carrots.  Gently toss vegetables to combine and serve.  Makes 3-4 servings.

You Won’t Believe It’s Not Mashed Potatoes
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/8 cup sweetened soymilk
3 tablespoons vegetarian butter spread (like Earth Balance)
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Small bunch fresh chives, finely minced

Place cauliflower in a steamer basket above a pot of boiling water.  Cook covered until fork tender, about 12 minutes.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly oil a 9-inch baking dish.  Transfer cauliflower to a food processor or blender.  Add soymilk, vegetarian butter spread, salt, and pepper to taste, and puree until smooth.  Spoon into baking dish and bake uncovered, for about 8 minutes, until bubbly.  Fold in chives and serve hot.  Makes 3-4 servings.

18 Carat Gold Carrot Cake
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 ¼ cups spring or filtered water
1 ¼ cups dates, coarsely chopped
1 cup raisins

1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Scant pinch ground cloves
Scant pinch ground nutmeg
½ cup carrot, shredded
½ cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

‘Cream cheese’ frosting ½ cup vegetarian butter spread (like Earth Balance), softened ¼ cup soy milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice 3 cups granulated maple syrup, fine granules 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla Pan-toasted walnut pieces, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a 9-inch spring form pan.  In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine the water, dates, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, place the shredded carrots, pour the hot liquid mixture over the top, and allow to cool completely.  Add the walnuts and orange juice concentrate to the carrot mixture and blend well.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well to combine.  Pour the batter into the prepared spring form pan and bake at 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake bakes, make the frosting.  Use a hand-held or stand-up mixer.  Place butter spread, soymilk, half the maple granules and the vanilla in a bowl and whip until smooth.  Add balance of maple granules and whip until fluffy.  Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes before releasing pan and carefully transferring cake to a plate.  Cool completely and frost and garnish with walnut pieces.  Makes one 9-inch cake, 6-8 servings.

Better Than Milk Shakes
½ cup non-dairy, grain-sweetened chocolate chips
½ cup unsweetened soymilk
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1 cup chocolate soy or rice ‘ice cream ’

½ cup chocolate soymilk

Place chocolate chips in a heat-resistant bowl.  Bring soymilk and rice syrup to a boil and whisk into chocolate to create a smooth syrup.  Cool to room temperature before proceeding.  Place all ingredients in a blender and beginning on low and gradually increasing to high, whip to creamy perfection.  Makes 1 shake.  Note: Vary the shakes by replacing chocolate with frozen strawberries, vanilla soy ice cream and soymilk.  Make a vanilla shake by using vanilla ice cream and soymilk with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and one cup iced cubes.


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