That is why the theme for my January Health for Life cooking classes is "Quick & Easy, Low in Fat, and High in Nutrients." Quick & Easy" because most people just starting out on a plant based diet don't want complicated recipes calling for unfamiliar ingredients that are hard to find. "Low in fat" because at the beginning of a new year, everyone seems to be interested in losing a few pounds. And "high in nutrients" because high nutrient foods increase your body's ability to remove toxins (and the holiday "gunk") which will assist in the weight loss.
So the menu for January will include 4 quick and easy, low fat, high nutrients dishes. Creamy Butternut Bisque, Lemony Quinuo, Spicy Spinach and Chic Peas over brown rice, and to satisfy the kid in all of us, Eazy Cheezy Potatoes. I decided to by-pass the dessert this month since we've all probably had plenty of them over the last few weeks.
I've been excited to do the Butternut Bisque ever since I visited a vegetarian restaurant in Canoga Park California during the Healthy Lifestyle Expo which I attended with my friends from the Vegetarian Society of Utah last October. (http://www.healthylifestyleexpo.com/) The restaurant is called Follow Your Heart (http://www.followyourheart.com/marketandcafe.php) and the food was fabulous! I ordered their Pumpkin Bisque and it was so good I had to see if I could come up with something similar. The recipe I came up with is made with butternut squash, which I like better then pumpkin, and it's a little bit easier to work with. Baking the squash at a low temperature until very soft intensifies the delicious sweet flavors of the squash, and blending it with some soy milk and the right amount of seasonings makes this soup heavenly! It's creamy, delicious, and very satisfying on it's own!
If you need a little something to go along with the soup, a nice companion to the Butternut Bisque is Lemony Quinoa. I made the soup and the quinoa while my brother was visiting for Christmas and he mixed the quinoa right in with the soup. Quinoa is considered a "pseudo grain" because it is actually a seed. Pseudo grains don't contain gluten, which makes them easily digestible, alkaline-forming, and suitable for those with an intolerance to gluten. It's 20% protein, high in lysine and is a good source of iron, potassium and B vitamins. It has a light, fluffy texture and a mild earthy taste. It can be cooked like you would cook rice or sprouted and eaten raw. It takes about 20 minutes to cook which is just enough time to chop up the veggies and toss the remaining ingredients together. For class, I'll be serving this dish warm but it would be delicious cold as well.
The Spicy Spinach and Chic Pea recipe comes from Dr. Joel Fuhrmans web site (http://www.drfuhrman.com/an.com/) and it had many great reviews. The recipe calls for garam masala which is a spice combination popular in India that can be found at any grocery store. This plus a small amount of green chilies added to the tomatoes, chick-peas, and spinach brings great flavor and an excellent combination and large amount of phyto nutrients. Serve it over brown rice and you have a perfect quick and easy meal.
Your kids are going the love the Eazy Cheezy Potatoes! The "cheez" sauce is made with cauliflower and carrots which will up the nutrient level of the other wise low nutrient potatoes. Add frozen peas and carrots to increase the nutritional level higher and/or add steamed broccoli to increase it even higher! Or for the really picky eater who wont eat any vegetables, leave the visible veggies out and the cauliflower and carrot based sauce will still provide a healthy meal. For my Christmas dinner, I served broccoli with this "cheez" sauce, and my 28 yo daughter, who lives on burgers, burritos, and mac-n-cheese, said "the cheese sauce is pretty good!" That's a great accomplishment if I can get her to eat anything healthy.
And there you have it! Health for Life cooking to start the year off right! Hope to see you at class! For more information, contact April at firstname.lastname@example.org.