This Valentine’s Day I’m revisiting our favorite chocolate recipes! Resist the temptation to buy processed chocolate treats and try making some of these homemade chocolatey delights. What a fun way to say, “I love you!”
Many of us will begin the New Year with a few new resolutions. However, good intentions often get lost if we don’t know how to implement them. Eating healthier definitely requires a level of commitment and knowledge in the kitchen. If you have the right understanding and strategies, you will know exactly what goes into your food, and if you’re the head cook in your house, you can impact the health of others. Below are some tips and strategies, and if you need some extra help, check out my cookbooks (PlantPure Nation and PlantPure Kitchen) 1. Clean your refrigerator weekly Make sure to do this before you do your weekly grocery shopping. This is also the perfect time to discard outdated food, organize your space, and make room for new groceries. It also allows you to see what produce you already have that needs to be used within the next several days. 2. Make a meal plan Take 10-15 minutes to plan your meals each week. Factor in busy days when you know you’ll need an easy dish. Plan to use the food already in your refrigerator so nothing is wasted. If you have children, be sure to include them in this step. This helps them feel more involved and encourages them to try new foods. 3. Choose a few recipes that you can cook in larger quantities Casseroles, soups, and veggie burgers can be doubled easily. This will leave leftovers for lunches. Most recipes also freeze well and can be used later, when you don’t have time to cook. 4. Head to the grocery store with a list After you’ve created your menu for the week, make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need. Don’t forget the small items like soy sauce or lemon juice. Try not to shop when you’re hungry or you may end up with items you didn’t intend to buy! 5. Wash and pre-cut produce Although this isn’t necessary, washing and pre-cutting produce can make a big difference during a busy week. Some fresh produce doesn’t hold up well when it’s washed and cut ahead of time, but most do: sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, onions, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, green beans, leeks, and zucchini. 6. Have plenty of storage containers This lets you store and freeze as needed. Don’t forget to date and label your frozen items. 7. Prep before cooking Before starting a recipe, get out every ingredient and cooking tool you will need. This way, you don’t need to take multiple trips to the refrigerator and pantry while cooking. Have a large bowl available to discard produce waste during preparation: this saves multiple trips to the trash can. 8. Make a meal kit On days when you have little time to prepare a meal, it’s wonderful to know that you have ingredients and spices waiting for you, ready to be cooked and enjoyed. You can do this by putting all the ingredients for a recipe in a gallon-size zip-top bag or large storage container, with the spices in smaller bags or containers inside the larger on. Label the outside of each bag or container according to the recipe. Then, when you walk through the door on busy days, the most consuming part of meal prep will already be done. 9. Keep a running list Keep a whiteboard handy or an app on your smartphone to note ingredients you’ve run out of. Snap a picture with your phone for an easy list that never gets lost at the store. 10. Enjoy the experience Listen to music or podcasts, watch a cooking show, or chat with family while preparing meals. Snack on veggies and dip while you prep. Relax and have fun!
This chowder has the flavor of traditional creamy clam chowder. I use sushi nori sheets to get that sea flavor and mushrooms in place of clams. It's creamy and full of flavor, and the texture is perfect. Serves: 6-8 Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Ingredients: 2 quarts and 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable stock, divided 1 onion, diced 3 leeks, washed well and white and green parts cut small 3 celery stalks, diced 1 carrot, diced 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 3 large yukon gold potatoes, medium diced 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 2 cups Cashew Cream 10 ounces button mushrooms, chopped (I have also used dried shitake mushrooms here too) 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 sushi nori sheets, torn into small pieces (kitchen shears work great) 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons vegan bacon bits, for garnish (optional) Directions: In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock and sauté the onion, leeks, celery, and carrot until tender. Add the red pepper flakes and cook briefly. Add the remaining 2 quarts vegetable stock and the potatoes, bringing them to a boil. Turn down the heat to a medium and cook the potatoes until tender. In a separate bowl, combine the water and flour and whisk until smooth. Add to the soup mixture. Add the Cashew Cream, mushrooms, lemon juice, nori pieces, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the flavors are well blended and the consistency is creamy. stirring frequently. Garnish with vegan bacon bits or smoked paprika. Cashew Cream This recipe is for a creamy, cashew-based milk than can be used in various dishes as a thickener and overall flavor enhancer. When traditional recipes call for heavy cream or a soy creamer, I like to use cashew cream. Use this cream sparingly, though, as it is a high-fat plant food. Ingredients: 1 cup raw cashews 2 cup water Directions: Place into a high-powered blender and blend until very smooth and creamy.