You’re Cleaning Mushrooms Wrong

This is a public service announcement, and it won’t take long. If you’ve been reading Heated this month, you may have noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about meat alternatives — such as high-tech burgers that “bleed” like beef but are made mostly of plants (that sort of thing), and this mushroom-nut burger. Well, before any of this stuff existed, people who wanted something “meaty” without eating meat ate mushrooms. For better or worse, the default “oh, so you don’t eat any meat?” dish served to vegetarians at restaurants and parties was a portobello “burger” or some analogous concoction where the mushrooms masquerade as meat.

Whether you cook mushrooms constantly, infrequently, or somewhere in between, there’s a decent chance you’re cleaning them wrong.

There’s this myth that you should never ever wash mushrooms because they’ll absorb too much water. Instead, what we’ve been taught to do is daintily wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth or paper towel.

This is maddeningly slow and a huge waste of time. To clean mushrooms, you should rinse them under running water. Yes, mushrooms are porous, and if you leave them sitting in a bowl of water they will soak it up like a sponge. But a quick blast of running water to wipe the dirt off will not make them any worse for wear, and will save you a lot of time and frustration in the kitchen.

If cleaning mushrooms is less frustrating, maybe we’ll cook more mushrooms. If we cook more mushrooms, maybe we’ll eat less meat. If we eat less meat, maybe (definitely) we’ll be healthier and so will the earth. PSA over.

By: Mark Bittman

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Plant-based Ground Beef

Here’s a great alternative to ground beef. Let me introduce you to Beyond Beef. A Plant-based version of real beef. All the ingredients are made from plants. It’s also soy-free and gluten-free. As you can see, it’s Non-GMO Project Verified, which basically means this product was not made with any genetically modified organisms. The ingredients are pure, just as Mother Nature intended them to be.

Take a look at the ingredients below. There are no meat byproducts, soy, or artificial preservatives.

INGREDIENTS:

Water, Pea Protein Isolate*, Expeller-pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruite Powder, Beet Juice Extract (For Color).

All plants ingredients! Where can you buy this and many other plant-based foods? Whole Foods Market! Plus, it’s just in time for the July 4th holiday. Get your grills out and grill up some plant-based burgers or make the family a nice meatless meatball and spaghetti dinner. They won’t know the difference.

Be safe and healthy, and have a Happy 4th of July.

Recipe: Quinoa Toubbouleh – Salad

Quick, Simple, Fresh, and Healthy!

Adding quinoa to your green salad adds so much vital nutrients. Quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”) is one of few plant-based foods that is a source of complete protein that contains 9 essential amino acids. Our bodies can’t produce it, so this quality is especially important for vegans and vegetarians. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in iron, magnesium, B and E vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Quinoa is also very high in fiber and has a low glycemic index. Low glycemic foods are slowly digested and absorbed. They produce only small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels. This is especially important for diabetics because quinoa doesn’t hit their blood stream quickly like white rice. I usually make a medium size pot, and use it throughout the week to create all kinds of salads. It saves me a lot of time in the kitchen. Here a recent recipe to enjoy. This serves for two people.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 2 big radishes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 pear
  • 2 cups of arugula

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under cook water. Place quinoa in a pot with 1.75 cups of water. Place lid on top and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low for 15 minutes. Let quinoa cook before making the salad. This is why I usually do a big batch once a week.
  2. While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the rest of the salad by cutting up the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Dressing: Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a bowl. Add olive oil, salt, minced garlic, and chopping parsley.
  4. Once quinoa is cooled, add all the vegetable ingredients together. Pour the dressing all over and stir to coat well. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy.

There’s no wrong or right ingredient with making a quinoa salad. You can easily add whatever vegetable, fruit, even legumes, nuts and leafy greens you like. The idea here is to simplify your life with quick options for a more healthier plant-based diet.

Reasons to Eat More Walnuts

The simple walnut offers a wide list of benefits. For starters, a new study shows that eating whole walnuts or walnut oil can slow prostate cancer growth.  But if you need more reasons than this, maybe the following reasons may persuade you to add these delicious nuts into your diet.

A large study at Harvard found that people who ate a handful of nuts every day were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause in a thirty-year period.

• English walnuts decrease cardiovascular risk by decreasing LDL and total cholesterol.

• Walnuts help control weight.

• They help control insulin in diabetics.

• Eating walnuts increases male fertility.

• Walnuts enhance cognitive function and improve thinking ability.

• Eating walnuts has been shown to suppress breast cancer tumors, perhaps from their omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols.

• They have also been shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer by decreasing angiogenesis.

• Walnuts are a source of highly potent, high-quality antioxidants.

• Ellagic acid, a major polyphenol found in walnuts, has remarkable bone-building activity at the cellular level.

• Eating walnuts and walnut oil can reduce the stress response and lower the resulting blood pressure.

Just a quarter cup of walnuts provides more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value of omega-3 fats as well as providing copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin. It’s better to buy walnuts raw and organic to avoid those that are irradiated and pasteurized.

—Adapted from “13 Healthy Reasons to Eat More Walnuts” by Margie King, at http://greenmedinfo.com

Still Harvesting My Greens in November

Just got in from the gym and decided to make myself a protein green smoothie. This is always a quicker option than cooking, especially when your tired. Check out my beautiful bouquet of greens. Just freshly cut from my garden. It’s November and cold here in New York, however my collard greens, curly leaf kale, Tuscan kale, and parsley are surviving strong. Even the two days of frost we had a couple of weeks ago. Kale and collards are cool-season greens that are part of the cruciferous family along with cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and bok choy. They grow best in the springtime and fall and can tolerate frost. Leafy greens are power food packed with power nutrients. Plus all greens are low in calories. And a serving of just about any of the deeply colored ones contains your daily supply of vitamins K and A, most of your daily vitamin C, and a hefty helping of fiber, B vitamins and essential minerals. They’re great additions to smoothies too.

  • 1/2 cup of kale
  • 1 cup collard greens
  • 1/2 cup of figs
  • 1 cup of flaxseed milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 tsp of organic Maca powder
  • 1/2 cup of ice

Check out the protein content on this plant-based flaxseed milk. It taste sooooooo good. I bought it from Whole Foods.

Benefits of kale

  • Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Kale
  • Glucosinolates and Cancer-Preventive
  • Kale also extend to its cholesterol-lowering ability

Resource: The World’s Healthiest Food – Kale

Homemade Tomato Sauce

     When August and September rolls around and you have a sea of freshly picked tomatoes, there’s only one thing I could think of, pasta sauce. After I’ve shared and eaten and picked, it’s time to preserve for the winter. As if I live in the wilderness. I don’t obviously, but it’s cost effective to preserve for later uses.  My tomatoes were at its ripest and that’s what you want. The reddest, sweetest and densest tomatoes. 


INGREDIENTS

  • 10 pounds fresh tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 garlic clove, halved
  • 2 basil springs 
  • 3 bay leaf

PREPARATION

Step 1:  Cut tomatoes in half horizontally. Squeeze out the seeds and discard, if you wish. Press the cut side of tomato against the large holes of a box grater and grate tomato flesh into a bowl. Discard skins. You should have about 8-9 cups.

Step 2:  Put tomato pulp in a low wide saucepan over high heat. Add salt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a brisk simmer.

Step 3:  Reduce the sauce by almost half, stirring occasionally, to produce about 4 1/2 cups medium-thick sauce, 25 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. It will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator or may be frozen.

I freeze mines. Let it cool completely and insert desired amount in ziplock freezer bags. I like the quart sizes. Enjoy!!

Growing Tomato Tips


     My heirloom Hartman’s yellow Gooseberry tomatoes are sweet, mild and very tasty.  This is my first year planting them, and I’m pleased by the results so far.  When I purchased this seedling, it was about a foot tall.  I dug a whole twice the size of the pot it came in, and covered the whole root system with compost soil mixed with the dirt I dug up. I then sprayed it with diluted liduid kelp to give the plant a little boost of nutrients to get it going.  Within one month of adequate even watering and good sunlight, the plant tripled its size.  You can eat these raw or sautéed.  Anyway, you’ll just love the taste.  The color will also brighten up any dish and will wow any crowd.  Not to mention, they’re also very easy to grow. 

Growing Tomato Tips

  1. Spacing between plants:  2-3 feet apart for room to grow. 
  2. Cutting the tomatoes from the vine with a scissors protects the plant and the fruit. Don’t tug or pull. 
  3. Fertilize with Azomite and liquid Kelp both add calcium and trace minerals.  
  4. Store tomatoes if green on the countertop, stem side up to ripen. 
  5. If you refrigerate – limit for 3-5 days, this will also effect the flavor and texture of the tomato.
  6. Stake, trellis or cage tomato plants to support and keep them from the ground. 

     Growing tomatoes in the summer is simple, plus if you don’t have a garden, growing in containers work just as fine too. You can grow beets, lettuces, carrots, cucumbers and so much more in pots on your balcony or patio. If you have the space and the sunlight, go for it.  Check this beauty out below! 

Have fun with growing fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to grow your own foods. Organically of course😉

Resources: Grow Organic – Online resource for everything organically grown. 

 Tomatoe Pruning and Tomatoe Diseases 

Growing Beets in Containers – The Basics

Best Tomato Varieties For Containers

Kale-A-Bration Time! 

I’ve coined the term, Kale-a-bration because that’s how I feel when my kale plants are thriving beautifully.  There’s a celebratory feeling that comes over me every time Im in my garden.  Kale is my new go-to because it goes in practically every dish I make.  From salads, cold or hot pasta dishes, soups, green juices and can’t forget my smoothies.  My kale patch serves my family of five well, and I still have enough to share with my friends and family.   There’s nothing better than freshly picked kale. The flavors are so strong and the leaves are full of life and vigor.  Growing my own garden saves me a lot of money. What I grow serves my family through the summer and winter months. I freeze my greens, tomatoes and so much more for the winter months.  My favorite is definitely the kale plant. 

Kale is very easy to grow and extremely versatile. It also grows well into the cold winter months.  This superfood is packed with a slew of vital nutrients our bodies depend on.  Just one cup of chopped cooked kale contains 1180% of the daily requirement of vitamin K, 98% of vitamin A and 71% of vitamin C, 27% of manganese, 6% calcium, 22% copper and so much more!  There’s also a mixture of antioxidants like cartotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin – help promote eye health, protect against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration) and flavonoids (more than 45) which have anti-cancer properties.  It also contains 10% dietary fiber and only has 36 calories! 

The brassicas vegetables are highly nutritious for fighting cancers. It’s beneficial to eat them everyday.  The kale variety I’m growing is known by three names, Lacinato kale, dinosaur kale and Tuscan kale.  It’s one of my favorite to plant because it’s easy to grow from seed, cooks exceptionally well, and the crop loves the cold, so I’ll continue harvesting from this patch way into the winter months. I’m also growing cabbage, collards, bok chow, broccoli and cauliflower. A healthy blend of the brassica family.   My garden is grown with no pesticides or herbicides. I take careful pride in what I plant and how it’s maintained. If I have pest, I don’t spray harmful chemicals.  I rely on ladybugs 🐞 and praying mantis to eat aphids and other small pest, which usually infest my brassicas. If you’re interested in organic pest control, order from Peaceful Vally

Chia Seeds: Plant-based Obsession 

     Add Chia Seeds to your smoothies for a healthy alternative for protein. Chia seeds are easy and versatile in diets. You can bake them in muffins, breads, make pudding, and add them to your drinks.  According to the National Nutrition Database for Standard Reference, 100 grams of chia seeds contain 16 grams of protein, 30 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 34 grams of dietary fiber, 630 mg of calcium, 7 mg of iron, 335 mg of magnesium, 860 mg of phosphorus, 407 mg of potassium, 16 mg of sodium and 4 mg of zinc. Chia seeds also have vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin E. Chia seeds also have no cholesterol!  They’re super easy to store and inexpensive. A ten ounce bag can cost you less than ten dollars, and it’ll last you a month.  

How do you enjoy your chia seeds and why do you incorporate them into your diet?

     For me, I’m dairy-free so the plant-based calcium benefits are extremely beneficial for my body. Calcium is needed for healthy bones. The good thing about it, I have healthier alternatives. Cutting dairy out was hard for me since I’ve grown up eating every dairy option to mankind. Now as an adult, it had to go.  After some tests and self observations, I realized dairy was the demise to my body’s existence. I was plagued with severe eczema, constipation, acne and a weakened immune system. Once I stopped, things moved along smoother, my skin cleared, and even the mucus significantly reduced in my body.  I wake up now in the mornings without that yellow mucus in my eyes, and my throat isn’t corroded with slimy gook.  I feel much lighter, and my immune is much stronger. I recover better from colds which I rarely get.  

Isn’t that awesome!  

     An article by Thomas Campbell, MD points out the importance of getting calcium from plant-based sources without dairy in your diet. Dairy causes a lot of problems. Find out what those are here.  I’ll stick to my plant-base options. Just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds yields 18% per serving of calcium. It’s the perfect addition to my smoothies along with spinach and kale which also have calcium. There are so many plant-based options for calcium. Explore them and be healthy! 
Resources:

Why Consume More Plants? 

Why Can Too Much Protein be a Protein?

Green Smoothie 

I woke up this morning feeling for an easy breakfast. I didn’t have the desire to cook. The kids are on their own for breakfast today. With two teenagers, they can fend for themselves in the kitchen and their little sister can eat whatever they cook. It’s just one of those days. I started my morning with a big mug of green tea with lemon and finished it off with a simple organic green smoothie for breakfast. I just used what was on hand. Luckily for me, I had some fresh organic spinach. 


Simple Recipe 
2 Ripe organic bananas

Hefty handful of organic spinach 

2 Cups of organic almond milk 

1 Tablespoon of organic chia seeds 

1 Cup of ice

1 Tablespoon of organic wheatgrass powder

The wheatgrass powder adds more vital nutrients to the smoothie making it a powerful energy booster.  The chlorophyll in the wheatgrass supports detoxification of the body. Apart from the detoxification, it also ensures that there is an increased amount of oxygen sent to every cell.


I like to add chia to my smoothies. This ensures I’m getting more fiber, Omega 3 & 6’s, and healthy protein in my diet.  These are simple additions you can infuse your juices or smoothies with to boost up your vitamin intake. 
Enjoy!