We have all had those days…or heard the stories. You are worried about your family’s health. You desperately want them to eat healthy food so you buy books, scour the internet for recipes, attend cooking classes. You create a colorful, creative, flavorful meal for them to enjoy and they turn up their noses. You scrape it into the trash, despondent over the fact that your family wouldn’t even consider eating it….didn’t even try it.
Well, because the manufacturing and advertising industries have convinced us that junk food is the most desirable food, and because we have been seduced by large volumes of addicting fat, sugar and salt, healthy food seems dull and boring. But what if I told you that you could create delicious meals that were familiar to your family… and were healthy for them as well? What if there were dishes you could make that would help you transition to healthy, delicious, and satisfying eating delicious even for the most resistant loved one?
Here you go…
Mac and Cheese
There are lots of vegan recipes for mac and cheese, but a lot of them have ingredients that I don’t really like. They’re complicated, and the results make the dish seem unfamiliar. In this version, the techniques are the same but the ingredients are healthier and just as delicious.
Makes 4–5 servings
3 tablespoons vegan butter substitute
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
8 ounces vegan mozzarella cheese substitute
2 cups unsweetened organic almond milk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon turmeric
Cracked black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons vegan butter substitute
_ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
_ cup almond meal
Preheat oven to 350°F and bring a pot of water to a boil with a generous pinch of salt.
Place vegan spread in an oven-proof Dutch oven (that is oven proof) over medium heat. As the spread melts, stir in flour, vegan cheese, and almond milk. Whisk into a smooth paste. Season to taste with sea salt; whisk in garlic powder, paprika, turmeric and black pepper to taste. Whisk very well.
While the sauce cooks and when the water boils, cook macaroni until about 80% done. Stir pasta into sauce, mixing gently to coat evenly.
In a small saucepan, melt vegan spread and mix in bread crumbs and almond meal. Top the macaroni mixture with the bread crumb mixture and bake for 30–35 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the topping is browned.
Wild Mushroom and Black Olive Pizza
Nothing says “Friday-night date” quite like pizza, but nothing diminishes the glow of an evening quite like fatty, oily cheese over the top of glue-like white-flour crusts. On the other hand, a whole-grain crust, smothered in silky, rich mushrooms and olives, with just a touch of spice creates a superb starter course.
Makes 1 large pizza
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus
additional for drizzling
2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
_ yellow onion, diced
_ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup loosely packed dried porcini mushrooms, soaked until tender
8 to 10 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until tender, thinly sliced
10 to 12 oil-cured black olives, pitted, finely minced
To make the dough: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the oil and salt. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the semolina flour. Slowly stir in the whole wheat flour to form a soft, moist dough (which makes a crispy crust).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes to achieve a smooth, elastic dough. Add flour as needed for kneading, but not too much or the dough will become dry.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and oil the surface of the dough to prevent a crust from forming. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
While the dough rises, prepare the topping: Place the oil, garlic and onions in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season lightly with salt and sauté until the mushrooms release their juices into the pan and reabsorb them, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the olives.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly flour a round baking stone or lightly oil a pizza pan. Punch down the dough and, on a lightly floured surface; roll out to the size of the stone. Transfer the dough to the prepared stone and spread the topping over the dough, leaving about 1 inch around the rim. Drizzle with oil and bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.
Note: This is a more sophisticated pizza, but if you family is more basic in their tastes, just top the pizza with a simple tomato sauce with a vegan cheese substitute and win rave reviews.
Who doesn’t love baked ziti? Cheesy, gooey, and rich, this complete indulgence is loaded with fat, right? Not my version — and not one ounce of flavor was lost in the translation. Plus it’s fast and easy.
Makes 6–8 servings
1 pound whole- wheat ziti, cooked until 80 percent% done, drained, do not rinse
1 (32-ounce) jar unsweetened tomato sauce
2 cups shredded vegan mozzarella cheese substitute (like Daiya or Follow Your Heart)
Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.
Mix cooked ziti with pasta sauce, 1 cup of the “cheese,” and herbs to taste. Cover tightly and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle the top of the pasta with the remaining “cheese” and bake for 10–15 minutes more, until the top is browned and bubbling. Serve hot.
Yummy Moist Brownies
These brownies are so delicious, so moist, so…well, like brownies, no one will know they’re healthy.
Makes 16 brownies
1 _ cups whole wheat pastry flour
_ cup semolina flour
1/2 cup maple syrup granules
_ cup cocoa powder
Generous pinch sea salt
Generous pinch ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups finely grated zucchini
_ cup avocado oil
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
_ cup non-dairy, grain sweetened chocolate chips
_ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350o and lightly oil a 10-inch square pan.
Mix dry ingredients together, whisking to combine. In a small bowl, mix together zucchini, oil, syrup and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a thick batter. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until the center of the brownies bounce back to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve frosted or not. Makes 16 brownies.
_ cup non-dairy, dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons vegan butter substitute
Place the chocolate, rice syrup and butter substitute in a heat-resistant bowl over a pan of boiling water. Cook, whisking until the chocolate is smooth and shiny.
Once the brownies have cooled completely, spread frosting on top of each one.