Enjoy Vegan Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa for Cinco de Mayo

By Nikki Kuhlmann, “virtual” intern and dietetics student South Dakota State University

Happy Gringo Cinco de Mayo! Celebrate today with a delicious Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa from Jill Nussinow’s cookbook, “Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy and Vitality”. This salsa can be spiced up or spiced down to your liking. It tastes great and also covers a lot of nutrition ground.

Tomatillos are the Mexican tomato that are native to Central America and are a staple in many Mexican dishes. This distinct green tomato has a slightly sweeter taste when compared to other tomatoes. Tomatillos have substantial levels of dietary fiber and are low in calories. Dietary fiber has been linked to helping food move through the digestive system, and improving overall bowel health and aiding in regulating blood sugar levels. Tomatillos also contain withanolides (unique antioxidant phytochemicals) that are linked to antibacterial and anti-cancer actions. They also contain vitamins A and C, and flavonoids that likely have cancer-protective effects.

This salsa also contains the highly nutritious black bean. Black turtle beans, known as black beans, add color and texture intrigue and can also benefit your overall health in numerous ways. These beans are popular with vegetarians because of the protein that they supply. They also contain plenty of fiber, are rich in vitamin A, iron, calcium, and manganese, and contain the phytochemical flavonoids. (Just to let you know, the darker the bean, the more antioxidants and phytochemicals it contains. Black beans top the list.)

tomatillo black bean salsa

This flavorful salsa contains a fresh herb known as cilantro. Cilantro is a young leaf of the Apiaceae herb family and is traditionally incorporated into Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines. The unique taste of cilantro has been described as parsley and citrus combined. This herb opens up the flavor in this Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa. The most important nutritional benefit of cilantro is its power to cleanse. It binds to toxic metals in the body and releases them from the tissue so that they can be carried out of the body. Cilantro has antioxidants and might also help lower blood-sugar levels.

One of my favorite additions to this delicious salsa is fresh avocado. Avocados are the go-to ingredient for guacamole. Avocados offer almost 20 different vitamins and minerals in every serving. These include potassium (which aids in blood pressure control), lutein (which preserves eye health), and folate (which encourages cardiovascular health). One avocado provides almost half of the recommended daily fiber intake. This flowering plant also is known for its high monounsaturated healthy fat content to help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol. While avocados have a lot of nutrition beware of their higher than usual fat content for a plant food. It still counts but it’s a much better fat than any derived from animal sources.

This Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa can be made spicier by adding as much diced jalapeno as you like. Pair this salsa with any type of chips, pita bread, vegetables or serve on top of baked potatoes or brown rice. It’s also a great addition to a burrito. This Mexican-style tomatillo salsa gets two thumbs up and will add a tasty touch to your gringo Cinco de Mayo celebration.
It’s also great all the other days of the year that tomatillos are in season.

Here’s the recipe:

Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa

You can use any bean that you have on hand, or no bean at all and just use the vegetables. Get the best tomatillos that you can. Make it hot, or don’t. It’s up to you. I like to add toasted cumin for the best flavor.

Makes about 1½ cups

1 pound tomatillos, chopped, about two cups of chopped tomatillos

1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained or freshly cooked (soaked black beans take just 6 to 8 minutes to cook in the pressure cooker)

½ cup chopped onion

2–3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)

1–2 teaspoons toasted cumin powder

½ cup cilantro, chopped

1 small lime, juiced

¼ cup chopped avocado (optional)

Salt and black pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine all of the prepared ingredients except avocado. Stir that in carefully so that the avocado remains intact. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary (adding more lime juice, salt and pepper, etc.).

 

The Herbal Kitchen Book Giveaway

Herbalist Kami McBride and I have been in the same circles here where we live in Sonoma County. A few years ago were stationed next to one another at a book even for our local herb exchange. I was the only non-herbalist there so felt a bit out of place. In my Registered Dietitian world we don’t get up to speak and mention Gaia or Mother Earth, give thanks or blessings. We are the fact people. Still, I very much relate to herbalists and their mission to get people to use herbs in everyday life.

I wanted to be sure that I had an herbalist on board in my most recent book Nutrition CHAMPS so I chose Kami. Her book The Herbal Kitchen calls you in. I have deep respect for Kami and her twenty years in the herbal world, connecting to plants in various ways.

The Herbal Kitchen

The Herbal Kitchen starts off just where it ought to with a chapter on Kitchen Medicine and Culinary Culture. From there, you’ll find a Materia Medica of 50 Healing Herbs and Spices, from allspice to vanilla, in alphabetical order. You’ll learn about each plant, its botanical name, the part that you use and much more, including how you will eventually use it. The more than  250 recipes, most of them edible,  use herbs in drinks such as herbal waters, smoothies and cordials, and in sprinkles, pesto and salts. The topical applications include herbal baths and foot soaks for healing both inside and out. Note: some of the recipes might include ingredients that you don’t use such as honey or oil but you’ll find plenty that are suitable and most likely you will learn a lot about what’s in your herbal kitchen. I know that I did when I read this book.

Rosemary Gladstar, whom I consider the modern mother of herbalism, said this about Kami’s book in the foreword: In The Herbal Kitchen sits the rich green heart of herbalism in all its abundance, simplicity, and practicality. Medicines are made, recipes exchanged and wise adages passed along to the reader. One can almost smell the flowers, taste the cup of tea in hand, so homespun and real are the teachings that Kami shares.

One lucky reader will win a copy of the book. Please post a comment below with your 3 favorite herbs o spices. Entries close on April 30th, at midnight PST and a winner will be chosen by random number generator.

Good luck.

The Veggie Queen’s Raw Kale Salad

The Veggie Queen’s Raw Kale Salad

By: Nikki Kuhlmann, “virtual intern”, South Dakota State University

Kale SaladKale? The superfood? I’m sure most of you have heard someone mention this nutrient packed leafy green at least once. This superfood is a staple in my kitchen and I also try to sneak it into other recipes.

“But how do you make it taste good?” is a common question I hear. This kale salad will titillate your taste buds.

This is a great time of year to give kale a try. It’s a super leafy green has nutrition attributes to brag about. Do you want to know why many nutrition authorities consider it a “superfood”? Kale is packed with many powerful nutrients including vitamins A, C, and K and the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. Even spinach is left in the dust in a nutrient race with kale.

Vitamin K is an important nutrient for your blood and also assists in the transport of calcium which helps build, and keep, your bones strong.

Some unique ingredients are used in “The Veggie Queen’s Raw Kale Salad” including miso and raw tahini. Miso is a Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans and adding salt and rice koji. Since it is fermented, miso supplies the digestive system with beneficial, and necessary, probiotic bacteria which improve digestion. Vegetarians and vegans can get excited to hear that miso also is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.

Tahini is a paste made of ground up hulled sesame seeds. Have you ever had hummus? Surprise! Tahini is one of the main components. Everyone benefits from the protein content and calcium that tahini offers

This raw kale salad can be topped with your favorite fresh fruit to add a little extra sweetness or topped with seeds or dried fruit if desired. I found the salad to have the perfect blend of sweet and salty. Try “The Veggie Queen’s Raw Kale Salad” and see what you think, you’ll be surprised how good kale can taste.

Raw Kale SaladThe Veggie Queen’s Raw Kale Salad

Jill Nussinow
Serves 2-4

This is easy to make and you’ll get a great dose of greens. Use your favorites types, put in extras to suit your taste. The only limit to what goes into this salad is your imagination. When you massage the greens, be sure to add the love.

  • 1 to 2 bunches kale, collards or other greens, washed and spun dry
  • 2-3 teaspoons raw tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons miso (my favorite is South River Miso – brown rice or or mellow white works well) or Bragg’s liquid amino acids
  • 1 teaspoon agave, or more to taste or soaked, blended dates
  • 1 apple or pear, sliced thin, julienned or grated
  • ½ avocado, cut into chunks, if you like it
  • Top with seeds, if desired

Remove leaves from large ribs and slice thinly. Put into a large bowl. Add the tahini, lemon juice and miso. Put your hands into the bowl and massage the greens until they are wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the agave or date syrup and apple or pear. Stir well to combine. This tastes best when eaten immediately.

Note: you can also add sunflower seeds or dried fruit to this salad, or go more savory by adding crushed garlic and sliced onion and omitting the apple.

Notice how the greens shrink by about half when they are massaged with the tahini, miso and lemon juice. If you are eating this by yourself, make half a batch at once.

©2105 from Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimal, Health, Happiness, Energy and Vitality by Jill Nussinow, MS, RD

The Nutrition CHAMPS Blog Tour

The Nutrition CHAMPS Blog Tour

To celebrate National Nutrition Month in March, I took my book Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating & Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy & Vitality on a blog tour.

I derived the acronym “CHAMPS” from the first letter of six plant-based food groups: Cruciferous, Herbs, Alliums, Mushrooms, Pulses, Seeds (and Nuts). These plant-based foods cover a lot of nutritional ground. Cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and turnips (plus others), are known to be cancer protective. Herbs and spices are nutrition powerhouses and make your food taste great. Alliums, onion, garlic, leek, shallot and green onions provide the flavor base for many cooked and raw dishes plus they are packed with phytochemicals for health promotion. Mushrooms are not vegetables, but fungi, which provide valuable fiber and possible cancer-fighting properties. Pulses, which include all types of peas, beans and lentils are protein- packed and contain soluble fiber which might aid in lowering cholesterol. Seeds and nuts add great taste and important fats to round out the plant- based diet. Including the CHAMPS daily will make a difference in your health which will lead to having more happiness, energy and vitality.

Nutrition CHAMPSThank you to everyone who participated in the Nutrition CHAMPS blog tour:

Savvy Vegetarian
Dr McDougall
Marfigs Munchies
Super Healthy Children
The Vegan Taste
Huffington Post
Main Street Vegan
Veg Coach
Heal Grow Blossom
Lani Muelrath
Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen
Fran Costigan
Chic Vegan
Healthy Slow Cooking
Heather Nicholds
Zsus Vegan Pantry
Robin Robertson
The Food Duo
North Vancouver Vegan
Lean Green Colleen
Julie Hasson
Jazzy Vegetarian
From A To Vegan
Living Awareness 

Best Vegan Pressure Cooker Timing Charts Now Available

I get irritated when people describe their pressure cooker cooking failures. I wonder why that happens. So, after spending time in a Facebook group and hearing about poor results and “bad food” from using  incorrect timing, I decided that offering my pressure cooking timing charts was important.

I cannot figure out why people would only want the charts instead of buying the entire cookbook The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes but some people do. There are 150 recipes in the book, and 138 of them are gluten-free. All but the risotto dishes and a recipe for white rice rely on whole foods. I use foods typically found in a vegan, plant-based kitchen such as tamari, miso, occasional nutritional yeast but most recipes have standard ingredients.

The timing charts generally work well for both the stove top and electric pressure cookers such as the Instant Pot (for which I offer a $50 off code from their site with vegqueen at checkout), Fagor, Cuisinart or Breville.

(See me using the Instant Pot by clicking here. )

The downloadable charts have cooking times for almost all types of rice, whole grains, many legumes and vegetables. Many people like to print out the charts and have them laminated as a kitchen reference. Or you can print them and slip them into a clear plastic sheet protector which is easier and less costly.

To order the charts, click here. The New Fast Food cookbook is also available as a PDF downloadable ebook, with bookmarks that you can search. Click here to read more about it.

My goal is to have you produce the best tasting food to enhance your life, health and happiness while helping save energy, both your own and that of the planet.

Happy pressure cooking.

Note: I do earn a small commission for recommending the Instant Pot but I would not recommend it if I didn’t use it and truly like it. This is my disclosure. All opinions are (obviously) my own.

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible Book Giveaway for National Nutrition Month

It’s National Nutrition Month. Welcome. I am excited to have a long post here about The Vegetarian Flavor Bible to get the month off an amazing start.

As a long-time vegetarian/vegan eater, when I hear of another fairly new author arrival to my world touting the benefits of eating plant-based, it often ticks me off – just a bit. Oh no, I think, another convert who has become an “instant expert” after a couple of years. Yawn.

That’s what I initially thought when I first saw Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg at Kendall Jackson winery in Fulton, California back in November 2014. They had just released The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, a new, and improved, follow up to the original The Flavor Bible, which was amazing. The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is a true work of art, science and encyclopedic knowledge of flavor, that anyone, meat eater or not, cam use.

Continue reading

Instant Pot and Other Electric Pressure Cooker Vegan Recipes with Videos

Garlic Mashed potI love pressure cooking, whether it’s on the stove top or in the electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot. Luckily Chelsea Elyse of Make Real Food loves her Instant Pot and really likes making videos.

Her most recent vlog is for the Garlic Parsley Mashed Potatoes from my book The New Fast Food. Click here to watch the video of Chelsea in action and read her post about making the potatoes which are often a big crowd pleaser when I teach people how to do them at The McDougall program. I serve them with rich mushroom gravy (no video, no recipe right now).

Chelsea also recently made my Coconut Almond Risotto for dessert. It’s not the kind of dessert that I would eat daily as I don’t eat dessert daily but it’s super satisfying, easy enough for daily eating (although I am not recommending that) and also special enough to serve to company. Watch Chelsea demonstrate this fancy rice pudding recipe in this video by clicking here.

If you want to see me using the Instant Pot for Beans with Greens and Lemon, click here to see the video. I show you a number of little features about the pot that you might not know. I think that my educator hat will be fully showing in this video. Watch me demonstrate the Instant Pot in action.

Just a note: there is  little benefit when cooking food for longer than necessary in any pressure cooker. If you are unsure of cooking times for various ingredients, follow a similar recipe for those ingredients. A beginner mistake is to think that cooking will take longer than it does. This is truly a “magic pot” that cooks faster than you might believe.

I hope that these recipes help you use your Instant Pot, or other electric pressure cooker, more effectively. You can also use these recipes in your stove top pressure cooker. Pressure cooking and eating well leads to healthier happier people and a better planet.

I OFFER A DISCOUNT If you don’t yet have an Instant Pot but want one, I offer $50 off the Lux or Duo models with the code vegqueen at checkout. I offer $60 off the Smart Pot with code jillipot at checkout from the Instant Pot website.

So far, the Duo is my favorite electric cooker as it can make vegan yogurt. Watch Chelsea demonstrate here.

Chelsea is selling the ebook version of my book The New Fast Food on her website. Feel free to order it from her. She does good work.

What’s your favorite pressure cooker recipe?

Blackberry Mojito Overnight Refrigerator Oats by Kathy Hester

Blackberry Mojito Overnight Refrigerator Oats by Kathy Hester

By Kathy Hester, Contributor

First, I want to thank Jill for allowing me to share one of my recipes from my upcoming book, OATrageous Oatmeals. I am grateful to be in such a supportive community of vegan authors and readers.

Photo by Kate Lewis

Photo by Kate Lewis

You know that oats are good for you and you should probably add more of them to your weekly menu plan. However, if you are stuck in an oatmeal rut, it may seem too boring. I believe strongly in having innovative, exciting oats, and I’m here to lead you out of that rut.

Oats go far beyond breakfast, so don’t limit how you use them. In my new book, I have recipes for oat milk, oat yogurt, steel-cut oat sausage crumbles, oat dal, oat soups, mushroom stew, gnocchi, and much, much more. Some use rolled oats — steel-cut oats with some oat groats thrown in for good measure!

Oats are also a great way to start your day, and that’s why I’m sharing my recipe for Blackberry Mojito Overnight Refrigerator Oats with you.

Hopefully, you have already been introduced to overnight refrigerator oats. This is the perfect summer canvas to adorn with the array of spring and summer fruits and herbs.

You can make them with yogurt, but this is one of my recipes that is yogurt-less. I like to have a few in my arsenal, so if I go to make some before I go to bed, I can make them even if I’m out of my usual soy yogurt.

These are a little thinner than the ones with yogurt. You can add a tablespoon of chia seeds to thicken it up if you’d like.

You don’t have to use the 1/2 teaspoon of rum if you prefer to not imbibe, but if you use alcohol based vanilla extract you already add a little to your morning oats!

I’m dying to know — what’s the most interesting thing you’ve done with oats?

Blackberry Mojito Overnight Refrigerator Oats

Photo by Kate Lewis

From OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester

Sweet juicy blackberries soaked in bright lime and mint flavors with the faintest aroma of rum will perk you up even on the toughest mornings. You can add a teaspoon or two of chia seeds to make this extra thick.

Ingredients
1 cup blackberries (cut in 1⁄2 if large)
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened nondairy milk
1⁄3 cup (31 g) rolled oats
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint or 1⁄8 teaspoon mint extract
zest from 1⁄2 lime or 1⁄4 teaspoon lime oil
1⁄2 teaspoon rum or rum extract, optional
1 tablespoon agave, to taste (or your choice of sweetener, to taste)

Add all the ingredients in a mason jar or a dish with a cover. Mix well and let sit in the fridge overnight. Stir and eat.

Makes 1 serving


Blackberry Mojito Overnight Refrigerator Oats recipe reprinted with the permission of Page Street Publishing Company.

National Nutrition Month: What Does Nutrition Mean to Food-Insecure Children?

National Nutrition Month: What Does Nutrition Mean to Food-Insecure Children?

By Rose Kaplan, Virtual Intern

Editor’s Note: I asked Rose Kaplan to write about her work for National Nutrition Month and explain what she does at the food bank. I am thrilled to see that Rose is truly making a difference in the nutrition world.

Imagine what your life would be like if you did not have healthy food to put on the table. Now, imagine what life would be like if you did not know when your next meal would be or where it was coming from. This situation is the reality for families all across the country, with more than 17.6 million American households considered to be food-insecure.

To break that down even further, last year, 33 million adults and 16 million children did not get the food they need. This is what we call being “food insecure.” Childhood hunger is devastating. Hungry kids are more likely to experience short- and long-term health issues, have trouble learning in school, and be more prone to emotional and behavioral problems. While many of us think of nutrition as choosing the healthiest foods, catering to our specific dietary choices, or even trying a new recipe, nutrition to 1 in every 5 children is whether or not they will have a meal to eat. In Cincinnati, Ohio, programs such as Power Pack are aiming to combat this issue.

After receiving my Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Miami University in Ohio, I began working at the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati, where my job is to coordinate the Power Pack backpack meals program. This program provides 4,000 children most at-risk of hunger a shelf stable bag of food to take home from school, every weekend of the school year. The phrase “shelf stable” is not usually synonymous with healthy food. My job is to change that.

Child backpack

Starting next month, April 2014, we will be launching a redesigned, healthier backpack meal, which has not been an easy task. Healthy shelf stable items are hard to obtain, and those that exist are usually pricey. However, after months of research, a new backpack that better caters to the nutrition needs of school-aged children has been developed. Cereals high in sugar have been replaced with whole grains, naturally sweetened granola bars, and organic applesauce. Orange-flavored beverages have been replaced by a blended fruit and vegetable juice. Canned meats and pastas have been replaced with heart healthy options, such as sunflower butter (also known as sunbutter) and sunflower kernels.

Though 4,000 children is a small percentage of the 16 million who go hungry each day, making these changes matters. During this National Nutrition Month, I ask that you expand your horizons from testing out a new healthy recipe to helping provide nutrition for somebody, especially a child, who might not be able to eat otherwise. Hungry children are simply not getting the resources they need. Please consider donating money to your local food bank. We can all make a difference, one child at a time.

Are You Eating a Plant-Based Diet for the New Year? It’s a Lifestyle Not a Diet, Try It.

Are You Eating a Plant-Based Diet for the New Year? It’s a Lifestyle Not a Diet, Try It.

By Rachael Kaplan, Virtual Intern

Every year around this time (or more than a month ago now because the editor The Veggie Queen, Jill, got too busy to post this), hordes of people flood the gyms and the diet aisle at the grocery store in hopes of improving their health in the New Year. This year, rather than switching to unappealing and unhealthy diet foods or getting stuck in a cycle of yo-yo dieting, why not adopt a diet that’s good for your health, the environment, and your wallet? The benefits of a plant-based diet are limitless!

What is a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet is exactly what it sounds like: a diet that is centered on plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Most of the time, plant-based diets also exclude animal products, like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, and milk. To put it simply, the plant-based diet focuses on eating whole, unprocessed plant foods to promote health.

Vegan burrito

Vegan burrito

The Benefits of a plant-based diet include the following:

A plant-based diet can improve your health

Cardiovascular Health
Plant-based diets are likely to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, which are good for supporting heart health.

Fiber
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which can help regulate bowel health, control blood sugar, and help you maintian a healthy weight.

Weight Management
Plant-based foods are generally lower in calories, which can help you maintain your weight. Additionally, studies have shown that vegetarians usually have lower BMI (body mass index) s and lower rates of obesity.

Disease Prevention
Research has shown that following a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of hypertension, heart attack and type 2 diabetes, cancer due to the decreased saturated fat and cholesterol and the increase in fiber and phytochemical intake.

A plant-based diet is better for the environment

Decreases Pollution
According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, 1/5 of the world’s greenhouse gases are generated by livestock production. That’s even more than the greenhouse gases produced by transportation! Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, geophysicists at the University of Chicago, estimate that if Americans reduced their meat consumption by 20%, it would have the same environmental effect as if we all switched from a standard sedan, like a Camry, to a Prius

Saves Natural Resources
One pound of wheat uses about 108 pounds of water, while one pound of beef uses over 20,000 pounds of water! Of all the water used in the US, over half goes to livestock production and 70% of all US grain is fed to farm animals. If all the grains fed to animals in western countries were fed to people instead, we would be able to feed twice as many people as we do right now.

You can save money by adopting a plant-based diet

It saves you money now
Unfortunately, plant-based diets (and healthy foods in general) have a bad reputation of being expensive. While comparing the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables to the $1 burgers and fries readily available, it can seem like eating healthy is impossible to do on a budget. On the other hand, whole grains, legumes, and beans can be bought in bulk and can add up to just a few cents per meal. That doesn’t seem so bad when you think about how much you would be spending on convenience food that’s not nearly as filling or nutritious.

It will save you money in the future
One of the best investments you can make is in your future. As mentioned before, plant-based diets can help prevent many chronic diseases, which could end up costing you thousands of dollars in medical bills in the future. Switching to a plant-based diet now can actually save you money in the long-run.

So this year, focus on a lifestyle change that will actually make a difference. Start out by trying some of the delicious plant-based recipes here on The Veggie Queen’s blog and by trying out some recipes in her book, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment or The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes.


Here are some tasty recipes to get you started

Saffron Quinoa with Spring Vegetables
Summer Vegan Veggie Burgers
Mushroom, Kale, Brown Rice, and Lentil Soft Tacos

Sources

The New York Times: Bittman
The Guardian U.K.
Choose Veg: The Environment
Today’s Dietitian Bounty of Benefits