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Meatless Monday: Spaghetti & Beetballs

Today’s Meatless Monday recipe is Spaghetti & Beetballs! I absolutely love beets.

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Ingredient Spotlight: Beets

Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). So, whether you roast them whole, blend into a recipe, or drink them as a juice (like the Olympians do), beets are low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals and packed with powerful antioxidants!

Now for today’s recipe….

Beetballs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 30 meatballs (or 6 patties)
Vegan, gluten free, soy free, refined sugar free

Ingredients:
3.5 cups shredded beets (about 3 beets)
1 onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, finely minced
1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
1/2 tsp fennel (optional)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp oregano
¼ tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour (or any other flour)
1 Tbsp oil plus more for sautéing

The Ground Beet!
Instructions:
Combine all ingredients except flour in a large bowl. Blend in food processor (or Vitamix) until very smooth (puréed).

Add flour (1/2 cup at a time) until the mixture is thick enough to form into balls or patties – it will get more stable after it cooks, it just needs to be firm enough to maintain its shape while you cook it.

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Use a tablespoon to shape the mixture into small balls. Sauté in oil, in a skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium high heat until evenly browned on all sides and heated throughout. You could also
bake them in a oven preheated to 350F degrees about 30-35 minutes.

Serve immediately over the pasta and spaghetti sauce of your choice. Voilà, spaghetti and beetballs!

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Variations:
You can also shape the mixture into patties (makes 6) and pan fry or grill, just like a burger.

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Do You Have a Heat Rash?

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat and miliaria, isn’t just for babies. Though it’s common in infants, heat rash can affect adults, too, especially during hot, humid weather.

What is heat rash?
Heat rash is a skin irritation that stings and makes your skin red. If you have heat rash, your skin may feel itchy, small bumps may form, and you may feel some “prickly,” tingling pain.

Heat rash occurs most often in hot, humid weather. If you sweat too much, sweat can get trapped under your skin and block your sweat glands. If your pores cannot clear out the sweat, you may get a rash.

Where is heat rash most likely to appear?20140716-084058-31258625.jpg
Adults usually develop heat rash in folds of skin and wherever clothing causes friction. Adult heat rash is most likely to appear in the following places:

Neck
Groin
Underneath the breasts
Elbows (in the creases)
Armpits

What causes heat rash?
Although heat rashes are most common in newborns and infants, they can also affect adults. It is usually triggered by sweating too much, having a high body temperature, being overdressed or being in a very warm environment. Babies who are bundled in too much clothing and people who are not used to hot weather are most likely to get heat rash.

How can I treat heat rash?
The most effective treatment for heat rash is to keep your skin cool and dry.

Cool down. Avoid hot and humid places. If possible, stay in air-conditioned areas, or use fans to circulate the air. Use cool compresses to bring down the temperature of the affected skin.

Dry off. Keep the irritated skin dry. Use a fan to dry the skin off faster and to reduce sweating.

Reduce friction. Wear loose clothes to prevent irritation caused by clothing that rubs against the skin.

Treat fever. If you have a fever, treat it with an over-the-counter drug, like acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (some brand names: Advil, Motrin), according to the directions on the package.

There are several topical treatment options available to ease the irritation. Applying calamine lotion on the affected area can help relieve itching and burning. Aloe vera gel is another good way to soothe heat rash, but keep in mind that too much of these or any other lotions or ointments can further exacerbate the rash by maintaining moisture.

If your rash is severe, your doctor may prescribe a lotion to help relieve your pain or discomfort.

When should I go to the doctor?
In most cases, heat rash goes away on its own. If your heat rash doesn’t go away after 3 or 4 days, or if it seems to be getting worse, talk to your doctor. In some cases, heat rash may be caused by an infection. See your doctor if your itchiness is severe or if the rash area swells or oozes pus. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or confused, or you have trouble breathing, go to the emergency room right away. These symptoms can be signs of serious heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

How can I prevent heat rash?
In hot weather, dress yourself or your baby in lightweight cotton clothing. Cotton helps absorb moisture to keep it off of your skin.

If the weather is hot, turn on the air conditioner, or use a fan to help you stay cool and dry.

Learn more at FamilyDoctor.org

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Meatless Monday: Vegetable Lasagna Wontons

Lasagna in a muffin tin? Yes, it’s possible! Instead of lasagna noodles, wonton wrappers are used. Wonton wrappers, tofu ricotta, (vegan) mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, zucchini and mushrooms are made into cute yet delicious vegetarian friendly cupcakes. Perfect for lunch, dinner, or parties!

Vegetable Lasagna Wontons
Servings: 12

Ingredients:
24 vegan wonton wrappers (Gluten-Free Paleo Wraps)
1 cup pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup of your favorite vegan cheese
(I prefer Go Veggie! Mozzarella Flavor cheese shreds).

Vegetable Filling
2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced
2-3 baby zucchini, peeled, washed and sliced crosswise
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Tofu Ricotta
8 ounces firm tofu with water squeezed out and crumbled
10 fresh basil leaves, finely cut
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
To make the vegetable filling, heat a wok or sauté pan to hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds, add the zucchini and cook for a minute or so then add the mushrooms and cook for another minute until the vegetables are tender. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Next, make the tofu ricotta. Crumble about 3/4 of the tofu in a bowl, add the basil, olive oil, nutmeg, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth but still slightly lumpy. Crumble in the remaining 1/4 tofu, mix to combine and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Assembly:
1. Lightly coat a 12 cup muffin pan with oil or cooking spray. Layer a wonton wrapper in each cup, gently pressing down on the bottom and up the sides of the cup.

2. Divide the tofu ricotta in half. Using the first half, distribute evenly on top of each wrapper. Layer the vegetables next using the same distribution method. Top with the tomato sauce then cheese.

3. Place a wonton wrapper on top but going in the opposite direction. Repeat the layers of the ricotta, vegetables, sauce and finally the cheese on the very top.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the edges of the wonton wrappers are golden brown. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before serving.

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The best thing about this recipe is that it is highly adaptable. Use any filling and any sauce you like (spinach, cannellini beans, Alfredo sauce) as long as you stick to the assembly instructions and bake time, they’ll turn out fine!

Recipe adapted from The Chow Vegan.

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Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness

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Summer heat can be dangerous – even deadly – if you don’t take the proper precautions. We all like to have fun and be active outside, but sometimes we can get caught up in our work outs without putting safety first. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with heat and to know how to stay safe in summer weather. Find out how to properly prepare for and protect yourself and your loved ones from soaring temperatures.

Below are some tips to help you keep cool and safe when the temperatures heat up:

Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
*Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.

Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.20140709-072354-26634138.jpg

Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.

Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
Infants and young children
People aged 65 or older
People who have a mental illness
Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

If you must be out in the heat:
Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

20140709-140845-50925419.jpgCut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. *Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first “tip” (above), too.

Try to rest often in shady areas.

Protect yourself from the sun by
wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

Your best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities, and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy.

This information provided by National Centers for Environmental Health’s (NCEH) Health Studies Branch.

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Meatless Monday: Baked Falafel Balls

Falafel is a deep‑fried ball or patty made from ground garbanzo beans (chickpeas), fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern dish, usually served in a pita pocket. Today’s Meatless Monday recipe is a healthy alternative to fried falafel.

Baked Falafel Balls
Yield: 20-21 balls

Ingredients:
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Put in a medium sized bowl and smash with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Form into small balls, about 1 1/2″ in diameter and slightly flatten. Place onto an oiled baking pan.20140707-094147-34907693.jpgBake for 15 minutes on each side, until nicely browned (since it’s baked, only the part actually touching the pan will be browned and crispy).

Serve with mini pita pockets, hummus, tahini sauce, tomatoes, lettuce and/or cucumber.

20140707-094244-34964373.jpgSo, if deep fried falafel is not in your diet? Try this delicious baked falafel recipe and have a marvelous & Meatless Monday!!!

Recipe inspired by Chow Vegan

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Are You Stressed?

Life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. 20140702-070832-25712370.jpg
The Basics about Stress
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. Studies show that most Americans experience challenges with stress at some point during the year.

Your brain is pre-wired with an alarm system for protection. When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the “fight-or-flight” response.

20140702-075910-28750238.jpgOnce the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal relaxed state. Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of modern life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off.

That’s why stress management is so important. Stress management gives you a range of tools to reset your alarm system.

Without stress management, your body will remain on high alert. Over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems.

What can I do to manage my stress?
The first step is to learn to recognize when you’re feeling stressed. Early warning signs of stress include tension in your shoulders and neck, or clenching your hands into fists.

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The next step is to choose a way to deal with your stress. One way is to avoid the event or thing that leads to your stress–but often this is not possible. A second way is to change how you react to stress. This is often the more practical way.

Stress Relievers:

20140702-080730-29250872.jpgRelaxation techniques are an essential part of stress management. Relaxation is vital for maintaining your health and well-being, and repairing the toll that stress takes on your mind and body. Almost everyone can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Stress relievers can help restore calm and serenity to your chaotic life. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or thought into stress relievers. If your stress is getting out of control and you need quick relief, try one (or more) of these tips:

1. Get active
Virtually any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Exercise is a good way to deal with stress because it’s a healthy way to relieve your pent-up energy and tension. Exercise is known to release feel-good brain chemicals (endorphins) which help you to reduce stress and ultimately relax.

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2. Try Yoga or Tai Chi
The series of movements, postures and controlled-breathing exercises, make both yoga and tai chi very popular stress relievers. Yoga and tai chi bring together the physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety.

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3. Keep a Journal
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good way to release your “pent-up” emotions. Write whatever comes to mind. No one else needs to read it, so don’t worry about perfect grammar or spelling. Just let your thoughts flow on paper (or on your computer screen). Once you’re done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later. A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. You will begin to see patterns and common themes.

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4. Get Musical
Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it provides a mental distraction, reduces muscle tension and decreases stress hormones. Crank up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music.

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5. Laugh More
A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but it can help you feel better, even if you have to force a fake laugh through your grumpiness. When you laugh, it not only lightens your mental load but also causes positive physical changes in your body. So tell some jokes, watch a comedy or hang out with your funny friends.

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6. Set Aside Relaxation Time
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response.

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7. Get plenty of sleep
Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally. Keep your cool by getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Is stress making you frustrated and irritable? Don’t wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships or quality of life. Start practicing some of these stress management techniques today. If you want more help treating stress symptoms, ask your family doctor for advice. Don’t let stress hijack your life!

Learn more ways to manage your stress at mayoclinic.org

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Meatless Monday: Barbecued Seitan Ribs

Fireworks, BBQ spare ribs, and 90 degree heat—Happy Birthday, America! Yes, it’s officially almost time to celebrate Independence Day, vegan style.

20140630-105835-39515241.jpgThis week’s Meatless Monday recipe uses seitan as the meat substitute.

What is Seitan?
Seitan is a high-protein product, usually made of wheat flour, spelt flour or vital wheat gluten. Because seitan is high in protein, it is a popular protein source for vegetarians. For this recipe, I used a Gluten-Free substitute to make the seitan.

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The seitan ribs are initially dry baked (rather than boiled) in the kitchen, but, they are finished up on the grill, giving it the smoky taste that only grilling can impart.

The dry baking process results in the seitan having a texture that is perfect for absorbing the flavor of the barbecue sauce. You’ll be amazed at how easy this recipe comes together using your favorite bottled sauce.

Here’s the recipe…

Barbecued Seitan Ribs
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 35 min
Servings: 4 (4 ribs per serving)

Ingredients:
1 cup OrgraN Gluten Substitute
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon McCormick Grill Mates® Mesquite Seasoning
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or coconut aminos)*
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish with canola oil. Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the water with the tahini, Liquid Smoke, and soy sauce and add it to the dry ingredients. Stir to mix well and then knead lightly in the bowl for a couple of minutes.

Put the dough into the baking dish and flatten it so that it evenly fills the pan. Take a sharp knife and cut it into 8 strips; then turn the pan and cut those strips in half to form 16 pieces.

20140630-112904-41344666.jpgPut it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. While it’s cooking prepare your grill.

Remove it from the oven and carefully re-cut each strip, going over each cut to make sure that the “ribs” will pull apart easily later. Generously brush the top with barbecue sauce. Take it to the grill and invert the whole baking dish onto the grill (or use a large spatula to lift the seitan out, placing it sauce-side down on the grill). Brush the top of the seitan with more sauce.

20140630-113038-41438552.jpgWatch it closely to make sure that it doesn’t burn. When sufficiently brown on one side, turn over and cook the other side, adding more sauce, if necessary. Continue grilling the “ribs” (turning and basting with the BBQ sauce) until all of the BBQ sauce is used up and the ribs are glossy and a little blackened around the edges. When done, remove from the grill and transfer onto a platter. Cut or pull apart the individual ribs to serve.

20140630-113221-41541298.jpg**Note: To make this without a grill, bake it for 25 minutes without barbecue sauce. Then brush the top with a generous coating of sauce, turn the whole thing over carefully in the pan, and brush the other side with sauce. Bake for another 10-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and caramelized slightly but not burned. Remove from oven, cut apart, and serve.

*Gluten-Free and Soy-Free Variation:
If you are allergic, intolerant, or just avoiding gluten and/or soy, use coconut amino acids instead of soy sauce.

Ingredient Spotlight: Coconut Amino Acids

20140630-113740-41860507.jpgCoconut Aminos are derived from coconut sap that comes from tapped coconut trees. It comes in a liquid form that tastes really similar to soy sauce, and each serving contains 17 different amino acids. Coconut sap is much more natural than soy sauce, as it doesn’t undergo the fermentation processes or contain any GMO ingredients. And, it’s naturally gluten-free, as opposed to soy sauce that’s usually thickened with flour.

Recipe adapted from The Fat-Free Vegan.