Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon – a review and a contest

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, and while it is only Oct. 5, I’m happy to say I have not had any meat yet this month. It honestly hasn’t been hard for me, but then again, I don’t eat meat all that often to begin with. Anyway, the reason I mention veggie month is because my next review and contest is all about a vegetarian dragon! ๐Ÿ™‚

I received a copy of the book “Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon” from Barefoot Books and was immediately impressed by the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. The book is about a dragon named Herb who tends to a nice vegetable garden in the forest and is a vegetarian, unlike the rest of the carnivorous dragons in the forest, lead by Meathook, who enjoy raiding the castle for amusement (and tasty eats). The knights of the castle set forth to rid the forest of the meat-eating dragons, but the meat-eaters hear of their plan and hide out in a cave. Meanwhile Herb is the only dragon left in the forest. The knights find him, assume he is a meat-eater as well and capture him. Herb is about to meet his fate at the mouths of hungry alligators when an unlikely hero emerges and saves the day.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon is a story about diversity, acceptance and living together in harmony. I do want to note that it’s recommended for ages 4-10 and I have to agree that the content is a bit more mature than toddler-level. When the book first arrived in the mail, I read it to Ava (3) before I had read it for myself or realized it was meant for older children. (Oops.) While she expressed some concern about Herb’s safety and other parts of the book, I explained it to her well and she did OK with it. We have since read the book a few times and she knows how it ends which I think reassures her that Herb will be OK even when the knights are tying him up.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon would make a great addition to any child’s library. The illustrations are gorgeous and the book teaches some valuable lessons about life.

Barefoot Books – founded by two moms in 1993 – “offers products that are thoughtfully written, beautifully designed and illustrated, and have high educational value.” If Herb isn’t your cup of tea, check out the rest of the site. There’s a huge variety of books available – many of which celebrate other cultures. I love that their books are free of media, toy or candy references, and are unique and meaningful children’s literature. Most of the paperback books sell for $6.99 and the hardcover books sell for between $16.99-19.99. I suggest keeping Barefoot Books in mind for birthdays and holiday shopping for the kids this year.

Win it!

If you’d like to win your own copy of Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon, please leave me a COMMENT below STATING WHAT BOOK YOU LIKE BEST FROM BAREFOOT BOOKS. Make sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 16. The winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) and announced on Oct. 17. It’s not required, but please feel free to post about this contest on your blog if you’d like to share the love. ๐Ÿ™‚

Eat your veggies day

World Vegetarian Day
Today, Oct. 1, 2007, is World Vegetarian Day – the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. We eat vegetarian meals several days of the week in this house, but I made a point of selecting only vegetarian meals for this week, and especially today.

We started off the day with cereal and fruit and had leftover pumpkin and black bean soup for lunch (a favorite of both Ava and Julian who had his first bowl full last night for dinner). Jody said he even chose to even vegetarian while at work today, which isn’t that big of a deal considering he used to be a vegetarian for seven years, but he seems to like his meat these days.

For dinner I am making a spinach and chard quiche which calls for tofu instead of eggs (though I may still throw in a couple eggs). The rest of the week will include dinners like Spinach Lasagna, Fall Minestrone Soup, G-Z Burgers (G for Garbanzo beans and Z for Zucchini – a recipe I got from Isil a long time ago) and a few others that I haven’t committed to yet.

How about you? Are you going meatless today? What veggie meals are you eating?
Special thanks to everyone who signed up to ‘go veggie for a day’ below. You rock! ๐Ÿ™‚

Go veggie for a day

World Vegetarian Day

World Vegetarian Day is being held on Oct. 1, which is also the kickoff of vegetarian awareness month.

Some of you may know that I’m an on-again/off-again vegetarian. I’ve had a couple of vegetarian stints in my life. I haven’t eaten red meat for about 9 years, but I do currently eat poultry and fish on occasion. For the most part, I try to make a variety of vegetarian meals, but meat is sometimes a part of our diet.

Wondering what the big deal is and why vegetarianism so important?
Some of the Benefits of Vegetarianism are:
รขโ‚ฌยข reducing the risk of major killers like heart disease, stroke and cancers while cutting exposure to food borne pathogens;
รขโ‚ฌยข offering a viable answer to feeding the world’s hungry, through more efficient use of grains and other crops;
รขโ‚ฌยข saving animals from suffering in factory farm conditions and from painful slaughter;
รขโ‚ฌยข conserving vital, but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources;
รขโ‚ฌยข preserving irreplaceable ecosystems, such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats;
รขโ‚ฌยข mitigating the ever-expanding environmental pollution of animal agriculture; and the list goes on.

Eating vegetarian doesn’t just mean salads and veggie burgers (though it certainly can). There’s a whole world of tasty, meatless meals out there. ๐Ÿ™‚ To help you commit to going meat-free on Oct. 1, I’m listing some of my favorite vegetarian recipes that I’ve blogged about in the past:

Are your taste buds tantalized? Feeling hungry? Feeling motivated? If you want join me in pledging to have a meat-free day on Oct. 1, please sign Mr. Linky below. (Already vegetarian or vegan? Awesome! Please sign up and join in too!) I’m personally going to try my best to make the whole month of October as meat-free as possible for me and my family. I’ve been on a roll already this week making only vegetarian meals (some of which I need to post on here and add to the list).

If you feel so inclined, please feel free to snag my button (above) and blog about this too – linking back to this post if you like. We don’t have much time before Oct. 1, so I hope some of you will spread the word. Feel free to share any vegetarian recipes you have on your blog. The more people we can have join in, the merrier! ๐Ÿ™‚

Oatmeal burgers – recipe

Yes, I said oatmeal burgers. While that isn’t the technical name for them, that’s the name I dubbed them since they have 3 cups of oats in them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I recently gave this recipe out of Vegetarian Times a try and thought it was quite tasty. There’s a fair amount of prep work involved so it’s a weekend recipe for me (so I have help watching the kids). They are a great alternative to boxed veggie burgers and especially nice on the grill in the summer. (I meant to post this recipe weeks ago but just never found the time.)

Oatmeal burgers

Chicago Diner (AKA Oatmeal) Burgers
Serves 8 – Vegan if you don’t add real cheese (though I did)

Ingredients:
3 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
12 oz. mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1. Bring 4 cups water, celery, onion, soy sauce, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper to boil in pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in oats, mushrooms and flour and cook 5 minutes more. Transfer to bowl, and chill.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape mixture into patties, and bake on prepared baking sheet 15 minutes. Flip, and bake 10 minutes more. Cool.

3. Heat grill to medium-high. Place foil on grill and coat with cooking spray. Grill burgers on foil 7 minutes per side.

Enjoy!

Oatmeal burger

Grilled panini – recipe

It’s been quite a while since I shared a yummy recipe on my blog, so to get back into the groove, here’s a delicious one I discovered this summer.

I have to say I am quite fond of this new recipe for Grilled Panini with Provolone and Basil I got out of Vegetarian Times. I am also fond of the fact that I got to use fresh basil right out of my garden for it. ๐Ÿ™‚ (I’m so excited to have my mini garden this year.)

Grilled panini

Grilled Panini with Provolone and Basil
Serves 8 – 30 minutes or fewer

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
3 cups shredded smoked Provolone cheese (about 8 oz.) – if you can’t find it shredded, simply stack sliced provolone and cut into thin strips and then smaller pieces
1 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped red onion
8 5-inch sandwich rolls (or 8 5-inch pieces of French bread), sliced open
Optional: Additional veggies. I added chopped spinach and mushrooms to mine.

1. Preheat grill to medium high. Combine basil and mayonnaise in small bowl, and set aside. Toss together cheese, beans and onion (and spinach and mushroom if you include them) in medium bowl.

2. Spread 1 Tbs. mayo mixture on each roll. Divide bean-cheese mixture among rolls. Close sandwiches, spritz with cooking spray and wrap in foil.

3. Wrap 4 bricks in foil. Place 4 sandwiches on grill, and set bricks on top of each. Grill 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Eat ’em up! ๐Ÿ™‚ They taste great the next day as leftovers too.

Everybody must get sconed

I’ve fallen in love with a recipe for vegan oat-nut scones out of my The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook. I’m not currently vegetarian and I’ve never been vegan, but these are some kick ass scones. I seem to make them about once a week lately. They are fast and super easy. Ava loves to help make them, as well as gobble them up. I’m sharing the recipe (and a pic to boot!), so everybody can get sconed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oat-nut scone with strawberry jam

Oat-Nut Scones

These vegan treats take just seconds to whip up. For breakfast or tea, try them with fruit-sweetened jam. They’re also delicious with soup or salad.

2 1/2 C rolled oats
1 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cardamom
1/4 t powdered ginger
1/4 t sea salt
1/2 C chopped walnuts or almonds (Since I’m allergic to walnuts, I use almonds)
1/4 C oil
3/4 C apple juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Flour a medium-size baking sheet. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add oil and juice. Mix until combined. Form dough into a ball and place on floured baking sheet. Press into a circle about 1/2-inch thick. Cut dough into 8 wedges but don’t separate them. Bake about 35 minutes.

Makes 8.

Approximate nutritional info for 1 scone:
Calories: 268 cal; Protein: 7 g; Carbohydrates: 32 g; Fat: 14 g; Fiber: 5 g; Sodium: 110 mg.

Key nutrients:
Thiamine: .28 mg; Niacin: 1.3 mg; Pantothenic Acid: .51 mg; Vitamin B6: .12 mg; Iron: 1.86 mg; Magnesium: 70.01 mg; Zinc: 1.45 mg.

There’s a note that they freeze well, but I wouldn’t know about that. We always eat them within a couple of days. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ava likes to eat hers plain. I think they are OK plain, but I prefer mine with strawberry jam. Actually, I love them with jam. Mmmmm. Jody has tried peanut butter on his and likes them that way or plain or with jam (he’s easy). I’ve thought about putting chocolate chips in a batch to see how they turn out (just because I love chocolate), but I haven’t tried it yet (and then, of course, they’d no longer be vegan).

If you try the recipe, please let me know how you like them. ๐Ÿ™‚

A perfect kind of day

Ever have a day where it seems everything is going your way? Where you are almost afraid to stop and take notice of what a great day it is for fear of jinxing yourself? Today was that kind of day for me.

It didn’t start off perfectly though. I woke up with the same migraine that I’d gone to bed with last night. But after drinking a cola drink (the caffeine helps), I started feeling better. From then on, it was an awesome day, complete with sunshine and temps in the 70s.

Ava watched a bit of TV (Sesame Street) in the morning while I got a little me/computer time in. Julian took a nice long nap which allowed me and Ava to read some books together, eat lunch and bake cookies. I also got a load of laundry done – even folded and put away (which is the hardest part for me).

This afternoon I took the kids to the library for a bit. They have a big puppet playhouse there that Ava loves, complete with tons of puppets. Today, however, she noticed that there were only a few puppets in there. She asked me where they all were and I suggested that maybe some of them had to be washed, but we could ask one of the women who worked in the library if she knew. So we went up to the desk together to ask and the woman told us Ava was the first child to ask about the puppets. Turns out they had to “retire” a bunch of the old ones, but had a whole bag of new ones to replace them – they just hadn’t put them out yet. But since Ava asked so nicely she brought out the new puppets and, Ava and a new friend she made today had a great time playing with them.

She and her new friend also “read” some books together. Ava “read”: “Bears All Around*” (the title she made up) “by Eric Carle” (it wasn’t really by Eric Carle, but I was enjoying her “reading” too much to point that out). Then she went through the book and “read” it to her friend, while they both giggled at just about everything that came out of Ava’s mouth. It was pretty darn sweet.

After the library, we stopped at Vitamin Cottage to pick up a few things we needed. Ava’s favorite VC employee Aruna was working and Ava greeted her with a big hug. The shopping trip went off without a hitch, I got to use my new cloth grocery bag (a freebie from Wild Oats) and we were soon back in the car driving home.

I read Ava one of her library books, then she went outside to play while I started on dinner with Julian in the Ergo. I decided to try a new recipe – Spring Pea Tarts – from this month’s “Vegetarian Times.” (What luck that it’s also the featured recipe of the week on their website, so I can share it without having to type it out myself!) I modified it a bit since I didn’t have a pastry puff, and used a spelt pie crust that I picked up at VC instead. And I didn’t have time to let it chill for 2 hours, but it was delicious anyway, and I’ll definitely make it again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jody got home in the middle of my dinner prep and took Julian off my hands. Then we had a couple contractors come by to give us more estimates on fixing our bathroom, since the guy we thought we were going to have do the repairs never returned emails or phone calls.

Ava was a joy to be around pretty much all day. Not that she’s normally a pain, but she is almost 3 and she does have a way of pushing my buttons from time to time. Not today. There was no whining, no discipline issues, no time outs (for Ava or mommy), nothing bad at all to speak of. And Julian was his usual happy-go-lucky self. It truly seems that everyone got their needs met today. Amazing.

The night has ended well. Both kids are sleeping. The crickets are chirping outside my open window. I’m taping LOST (my guilty pleasure) and Leno to watch them both later. I’m going to head downstairs now to enjoy one of those cookies we made and talk with Jody for a bit.

These kind of perfect kind of days don’t happen often so I’m basking in the glow of it right now. Life is good. ๐Ÿ™‚

*The title she came up with (“Bears All Around”) cracked me up because she was recently looking at “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears at our house and when I asked her what she was reading and she said “Babies All Around.” Apparently that’s a theme now.

Go Green! – Earth Day 2007

Because living green is important to me and my family, I turned on Oprah’s Going Green 101: What Your Family Can Do Today! show on Friday to see if I could pick up some more tips. While we’re already doing several of the things they discussed on the show, I learned quite a bit more that we can start doing to help save our planet Earth.

I decided to make a list (in no particular order) of things YOU can do RIGHT NOW to help save the world. Many of the things are from Oprah’s show, while some are things I came up with myself or got elsewhere.

Choose one or two to get started, or do them all! Every little bit helps. ๐Ÿ™‚

Help save the world by…

— Change the light bulbs in your house to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) – CFL’s are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!

— Buy natural cleaning products like Shaklee, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer’s. Or, make your own cleaning products – Homemade Cleaners!

— Buy organic foods whenever possible.

— Unplug your appliances when you aren’t using them. Even if items are in the off position, they are still using energy. Or buy Smart Power Strips to conserve energy and cash.

— Use cloth napkins.

— Use cloth diapers or if you must use disposables, consider buying gDiapers (which are flushable!) or Seventh Generation diapers.

— Use a reusable menstruation product like The Diva Cup or The Moon Cup or use cloth pads like Glad Rags.

— Take public transportation, carpool, bike or walk.

— Reuse one bottle for your water instead of buying bottled water.

— Bring your own coffee cup/mug/thermos when you go to Starbucks, etc. for your coffee. Starbucks even offers a discount when you bring in your own cup.

— Use cloth grocery bags.

— Breastfeed.

— RECYCLE your plastic, glass, aluminum and paper! Go to Earth911 and enter your zip code to find out what is recyclable in your area.

— Shop at second hand stores for clothing, etc., and donate, give or sell your old clothes, shoes, etc. to others.

— Keep stuff out of the landfills by Freecycling items you no longer need. One person’s trash is another’s treasure!

— Take shorter showers.

— Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving.

— Reduce your meat consumption, better yet – eat vegetarian, or even better still – go vegan. “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein

More Earth-friendly tips, contributed by Leigh:

— Purchase wooden toys, or at least used toys.

— Practice sustainable, green building practices for new homes or remodels (low VOC paint, renewable floors like bamboo, solar/passive solar, native planting, sustainable materials, low-water usage appliances, and so much more).

— If you can, convert your car to a bio-diesel or SVO powered vehicle.

— Compost and use in your garden

— Support businesses who invest in sustainable, earth-friendly practices

— Buy fair-trade (while it’s not directly linked to the earth per se, I believe that peace and fair living practices = respect for the Earth).

— Thank the earth daily.

Some more tips, contributed by Bazu:

— Use cold water when doing laundry. I was a little hesitant at first, but I haven’t noticed any difference in the level of cleanliness in the clothes, and it saves a good amount of energy.

— Keep your freezer full, it cools more efficiently. If you don’t have a lot of food, even ice packs or bags of ice will do.

— Convert your yard/lawn to natural native plants instead of non-local plants or grass. Lawn maintenance is a huge energy sucker.

Caroline suggests:
— Use biodegradable dog poop bags

And Erica recommends:
— Even better than vegan – eat RAW! No energy used to cook the food, and your body will thank you.

Check out these related links:

GreenDimes – Reduce your junk mail by 75-90% and have a tree planted for you each month – all for a dime/day

The Green Book – Full of hundreds of simple environmental solutions that can make a big difference in the world

Breastfeeding and the Environment – Breastmilk is a valuable renewable natural resource that is the most ecologically sound food source available. It is produced and delivered to the consumer without using other resources, and it creates no pollution. In contrast, artificial baby milk production pollutes our land, air, and water and uses up natural resources.

An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore’s movie about global warming

Ten Tips for Earth Day: Preserving Biodiversity

The History of Earth Day

Top 10 Earth Day Tips from National Geographic’s The Green Guide

Logical Environmental Reasoning for a Vegetarian Lifestyle

Climate Teacher – Focused on helping people understand, communicate, and take action on climate change.

===================================
Do you have more tips or sites to share about going green or Earth Day? Please share them with me and I’ll add them to the list.

Mother Earth thanks you.
Happy Earth Day! ๐Ÿ™‚

Healthy fast food?

I recently came across this Rocky Mountain News article about a restaurant called “V.G. Burgers” on Kleo’s blog and I said, “Hey! We just ate there on Friday!”

V.G. Burgers is a new fast food restaurant in Boulder, CO, with an entirely vegetarian and almost entirely organic menu. In fact, 90% or more of the food is vegan.

I have a few friends (both vegan and not) who’ve eaten there lately and liked it, so when we found ourselves in Boulder Friday night, I said we should give it a try. Ava got the classic burger, Jody got the sunflower burger and I tried the falafel/hummus burger, all with (baked) fries. The food was good, though I wish we would’ve added something like guac or salsa to our burgers, because they were a bit on the dry side. The shakes, however, were delicious. We tried three different varieties – soymilk vanilla, hemp chocolate and chocolate peanut butter – and shared them between the three of us. The chocolate peanut butter was our favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚

It was nice to find a fast food place with healthy (and vegetarian) food. Oh, and most, if not all, of their utensils, cups, plates, etc. are biodegradable (made from potato!). I hope the idea catches on elsewhere.

Six (New To Me) Vegetarian Recipes

After recently putting out a plea to my readers asking for vegetarian recipes, I’ve been inspired to try some new things and am happy to share them here. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Thank you to those of you who sent me recipes. I now have a stack that I am going to try over the next few weeks!)

The first recipe for Vegetarian Minestrone Soup, I got out of the “Fix-it and Forget-it Cookbook” that my mother-in-law gave to me a few years ago when we first got our crockpot. I did all of the veggie chopping the night before, then Ava helped me put everything into the crockpot the next day. It was really tasty.

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
Makes 6 servings
6 cups vegetable broth
2 carrots, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini, cubed
1 handful fresh kale, chopped
1/2 cup dry barley
2 cans chickpeas or white kidney beans, drained
1 Tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
28-oz. can crushed Italian tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
grated cheese

1. Combine all ingredients except cheese in slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on Low 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender.
3. Sprinkle individual servings with grated cheese.

Minestrone Soup

===========================================================

The second recipe for Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup came from my friend Nicole. It’s tasty and quick and easy to prepare.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
4-6 servings
Cook 20 min 5 min prep
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups canned vegetable stock
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree
1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drain and rinse if canned)
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (eyeball it in the palm of your hand)
coarse salt
20 sprigs fresh chives, chopped or snipped, for garnish

1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add oil.
3. When oil is hot, add onion.
4. Saute onions 5 minutes.
5. Add broth, tomatoes or tomato sauce, black beans, pumpkin puree and corn.
6. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste.
8. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped chives.
9. For Vegan option use Soy Cream.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

 

===========================================================
This third recipe for Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta came from AllRecipes.com. It was good warm as well as cold as leftovers the next day.
Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
4 servings
Prep Time: 15 Minutes; Cook Time: 25 Minutes
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup vegetable broth
12 dehydrated sun-dried
tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) package uncooked
penne pasta
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 teaspoon crushed red
pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed
and torn into bite-size pieces (I used frozen chopped spinach)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Feta cheese
DIRECTIONS:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Remove from heat. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in the broth 15 minutes, or until softened. Drain, reserving broth, and coarsely chop.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place penne pasta in the pot, cook 9 to 12 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
3. Place the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until lightly toasted.
4. Heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the garlic 1 minute, until tender. Mix in the spinach, and cook until almost wilted. Pour in the reserved broth, and stir in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Continue cooking 2 minutes, or until heated through.
5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the spinach and tomato mixture and pine nuts. Serve with Parmesan cheese or Feta.

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

 

===========================================================
The next three recipes all came from the February 2007 issue of “Vegetarian Times.” Thank you to Nicole for letting me have her copy. There are still a handful of other recipes I found in there that I want to try sometime soon.

The Tortilla Lasagna was a nice variation of the original.

Tortilla Lasagna with Swiss Chard

Serves 6
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb. Swiss Chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups tomato sauce, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (I used dried and reduced the amount)
9 6-inch corn tortillas, divided
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
3 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
3 Tbsp Romano cheese (I used Parmesan)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Add chard stems and onion, and cook 8 minutes, or until soft, stirring often. Add chard leaves and garlic. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes, or until chard leaves are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Combine 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce and basil. Spread 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce over bottom of a 10-inch springform pan (I just used a glass baking dish). Arrange 3 tortillas in single layer (overlapping slightly) over sauce.

3. Season ricotta with salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup ricotta over tortillas in pan. Top with 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce, 1/2 chard mixture, 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese. Repeat layering with 3 more tortillas, 1 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce, remaining chard mixture, 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese; place remaining tortillas on top. Spread remaining 1 cup tomato-basil sauce over tortillas; cover with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese, and bake, uncovered, 10 minutes more. Let stand 5 minutes, then unmold, and cut into wedges. Serve with warmed remaining tomato sauce on the side.

 

Tortilla Lasagna with Swiss Chard

===========================================================

The Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes were awesome. I doubled the recipe so I’d have leftover pancakes to freeze, and boy, did I ever! I ended up with 35 pancakes total! I think their estimation of getting 12 pancakes out of the recipe is a little off, but I’m not complaining since they are so yummy.

Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes

Makes 12 pancakes
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole-wheat flour)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 medium bananas
1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup raisins (I omitted them)
1/4 cup chopped pecans or almonds, optional (I used almonds)
1. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda in mixing bowl. Puree bananas, yogurt, egg, brown rice syrup and oil in blender until smooth. Fold wet ingredients into flour mixture, and stir until smooth. Stir in raisins and nuts. Let batter rest 10 minutes. Add a little water if too thick.
2. Heat nonstick griddle over medium-low heat until drop of water sizzles on surface. Coat with cooking spray.
3. Pour scant 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles appear near edges of pancakes. Flip, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until golden. Serve with syrup and fresh fruit, if desired.

Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes

===========================================================
Lastly, there is the recipe for Rotelle Primavera, which I made for dinner Saturday night. It’s a quick and easy meal, and takes 30 minutes or less to prepare. And it was good.

Rotelle Primavera
Serves 4
12 oz. whole-wheat rotelle pasta (I only had penne pasta on hand)
1 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp pesto
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15.5-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 13.75-oz. can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring second pot of water to a boil. Fill large bowl with cold water, and set aside. Blanch asparagus in boiling water 3 minutes. Remove, and dunk in bowl to stop cooking process.
3. Heat olive oil and pesto in large skillet over medium heat; add garlic. Saute 30 seconds, or until golden. Add beans, and cook 5 minutes more. Squeeze excess liquid from artichoke hearts, and add to skillet along with asparagus. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until heated through.
4. Toss together pasta, vegetable sauce and cheeses in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Rotelle Primavera

Hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes and pics. Please let me know if you try any and how you like them. Happy eating. ๐Ÿ™‚