Green Lasagna

Spring is finding its way into summer here in Vermont. As we approach next week's new moon and the possibilities that it brings, consider ways to bring more vegetables into your life. This shift offers a host of benefits: from improved digestion and immunity to healthier skin and balanced weight.

Try this vegetarian lasagna recipe to bring more green into your next meal.

Green Vegetarian Lasagna

You will need:

  • 2 packages gluten-free lasagna noodles, oven ready (I like De Bole's brand)

  • 1 stick butter

  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme and oregano

  • 3 cups cremini mushooms

  • 5 medium zucchini

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • Two 15 ounce cans (canellini white kidney) beans (I like Eden Organics) or 3 cups cooked dry beans

I like this recipe because you can prepare the two sauces on a day off, assemble the lasagna whenever you have time, and refrigerate it for up to a day before baking it.

Chop the onions and saute them in olive oil for 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add thyme and oregano.

Coarsely chop and add zucchini. Saute for 5 more minutes and then set aside to cool. Blend with immersion or upright blender until you get a smooth sauce.

Then, prepare the second sauce.

Melt the butter in a deep skillet.

Chop the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and add them to the butter. Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Mince garlic and add that to the mushrooms. Add cooked beans and milk. Stir well saute for 3 or 4 more minutes, then and turn off heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with olive oil.

Assemble the lasagna by first spreading a thin layer of the mushroom bean sauce on the bottom.

Place noodles on top and make sure that they do not overlap for even baking.

Spread the zucchini sauce over the noodles.

Cover with a generous helping of grated Parmigiano.

Add another layer of the mushroom bean sauce, more noodles, zucchini sauce, and cheese.

Repeat until you get to the top of the dish. I usually make 4 layers.

After you lay down your last layer of noodles, do not add more zucchini. Just cover them with cheese and then wrap the dish tightly with aluminum foil. It's ok if it mounds over. It will settle as it bakes.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Remove foil, turn broiler on high, and broil for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Serve immediately with a side salad.

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Revamp Your Lunch Routine

Fall is here, and it's the perfect time to look inward, slow down, and change the way that we eat. Summer's expansive energy is culminating in the harvest of beans, grains, root vegetables and winter squash. These are also essential foods to eat right now because of their immune-boosting benefits.

Try these lunch ideas to strengthen your immune response and simplify your diet.

To prepare:

Set aside 3 hours of time on a day off. Make a list and go food shopping.

Prepare a double batch of these two recipes and you will have lunches ready for the week ahead.

Green Leek Millet Casserole

You will need:

  • 1 cup millet

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large leek

  • ½ teaspoon each: sea salt and black pepper

  • 1 bunch fresh greens: dandelion, kale, chard, collards

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin and coriander powder

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 2 Tablespoons stone-ground mustard (no salt added)

Place millet in a stock pot with 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Add salt and black pepper.

The millet will reach a thick, porridge-like consistency as you stir. Once it does, remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Chop 1 large leek into rounds. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add leeks.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add salt, black pepper, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add greens. Simmer for 10 more minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked out of the vegetables.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie plate with olive oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with cumin, coriander, lemon juice, and mustard.

Spread the millet on the bottom of an oiled baking dish. Place vegetables over millet. Pour eggs over the top and bake for 40 minutes.

Eggs: each one contains 6 grams of protein, 9 essential amino acids, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat; rich in lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts; improve human lipid profile, thereby balancing cholesterol; contain naturally occurring vitamin D.

Leeks: strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.

Buckwheat Cauliflower Shitake Casserole

You will need:

  • 1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, coriander, nutmeg

  • 1 large head cauliflower

  • 1/4 pound shitake mushrooms

  • 3 carrots

  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon

  • 3 cloves garlic

Place kasha and 2 ½ cups water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until kasha begins to thicken. Add spices.

Stir vigorously until grain reaches porridge-like consistency. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop cauliflower and carrots.

Oil a rectangular baking dish. Add carrots and cauliflower to the baking dish. Season with spices, Toss well to coat. Roast for 15 minutes.

Chop shitakes and add them to the roasting vegetables. Roast for 15 more minutes.

Mince garlic. Remove vegetables from oven and mix in garlic. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of cooked kasha. Cover kasha with the vegetables. Cover vegetables with the rest of the cooked kasha.

Bake for 15 more minutes. Cool, slice and enjoy!

Buckwheat: this little seed is not technically a grain, but is often treated like one. It is gluten-free and contains more protein than fiber or fat. It is filling, nourishing, and offers a warming quality during the colder months. Buckwheat helps maintain balanced cholesterol, stable blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Its beneficial effects are due to its high flavonoid and magnesium content. Kasha is the name for toasted buckwheat groats, which cook up much more quickly than raw buckwheat.

Garlic: high in Vitamin C and pungent sulfurous compounds, which reduce inflammation in the body; nature’s strongest anti-biotic; contains polysulfides, which trigger blood vessel dilation to reduce blood pressure; anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, controls overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the small intestine thus helping to reduce heartburn and eventual ulcers.

Mushrooms: anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and anti-oxidant. These members of the fungal family have rich, earthy flavor (umami), are high in protein, and are the fruiting bodies of a network of mushroom mycelium that runs underground throughout the entire planet. They contain a special fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which may be able to bind onto aromatase enzymes in breast cancer cells and lessen their ability to produce estrogen.

Would you like to dive deeper into changing your lunch routine?

I have created a week-long menu plan of plant-based lunches, which includes recipes, a shopping list and cooking tips. You can prepare each of these lunches easily as you make breakfast in the morning.

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Build Immunity Now.

Fall equinox passed us last week, providing a balance point, a moment of equal day and equal night before we delve into the inner journey of fall and winter. By strengthening our immune systems now, we bolster our bodies to prepare for a healthy winter.

Here are some ways to honor this transition:

  • Take a deep breath before you eat a meal.

  • Stop to appreciate fall foliage.

  • Wake up affirming that something wonderful is going to happen today.

  • Set aside time to prepare a healing, delicious meal. May these recipes inspire you.

Mushroom and Carrot Pilaf

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon thyme

  • 10 ounces cremini and shitake mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 5 medium carrots, grated

  • 4 Tablespoons flaxseed meal

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, salt and pepper; stir to coat in oil, and cover skillet.

Cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add mushrooms and lemon juice. Cover and cook until mushrooms release most of their liquid, about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, grate carrots.

Remove skillet from heat, mix in carrots and flaxseed, and serve warm.

Carrots are an excellent fall and winter food because they tonify the intestines and support immune health. Mushrooms are immune-boosting and high in vegetarian protein.

Quinoa and White Bean Sauté

You will need:

  • 2 cups white beans (soldier or cannellini), cooked

  • 2 inches seaweed (kombu or wakame), for cooking the beans

  • 3 cups quinoa, rinsed and cooked

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 shallots, minced

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

  • 2 large bunches kale, or other hearty green, chopped

  • apple cider vinegar and olive oil for dressing

Soak beans overnight. Rinse, drain, and cook with 2 inches seaweed.

Cook beans and quinoa.

Meanwhile, mince shallot and chop kale, parsley and basil.

Sauté shallot and ginger in olive oil for 4 minutes, or until browned. Add kale. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add ½ cup water and sauté for 5 more minutes. Stir to incorporate, turn off heat, and mix with cooked beans and quinoa. Toss with olive oil and vinegar.

Serve at room temperature.

Shallots and ginger are warming, digestive, and stimulate the immune system.

Miso Walnut Porridge

You will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1 cup walnut halves and pieces

  • ½ teaspoon each: coriander and cardamom

  • ½ cup rolled oats

  • 1 cup water

  • ½ teaspoon miso

Heat coconut oil in a small stock pot.

Add walnuts, coriander, and cardamom. Toast on low heat for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add oats and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, add miso, stir to incorporate, and enjoy!

This is a terrific breakfast or a wonderful addition to a dinner of poached chicken and steamed kale.

Have you ever had savory oats? I think they're delicious. They also soothe the nervous system and support healthy transit time and elimination. They're a perfect warming grain for fall and winter.

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Mexico-Inspired Feast

As the weather starts warming slowly, I try to move my body more, breathe the fresh air even though it's cold, and eat more spicy food. Spice from the capsicum family (peppers and paprika) awakens the digestive system, accelerates the metabolism, and improves circulation.

I am inspired to share a Mexican-style meal, which reminds me of my visits to the Yucatan Peninsula. Every part of Mexico has its own regional cuisine. These dishes are familiar to me from my time in Chiapas.

Many of these ingredients, including garlic, cinnamon, and rice, have incredible healing properties.

With chills and weakness brought on by a cold, cinnamon's (cinnamomum sativum) anti-microbial activity stops the development of pathogenic bacteria. The active components in its essential oils warm the body. Try sprinkling it on buttered toast or adding it to applesauce.

Garlic, alium sativum, is one of nature's most powerful antibiotics. Its sulfur compounds reduce inflammation in the body. Effective in treating both viral and bacterial infections, fresh crushed garlic is a potent remedy. If your belly can tolerate it, mince or press 2 cloves of garlic, mix with 1/4 cup honey, and eat with toast or rice. You may also place a spoonful of fresh minced garlic in chicken soup.

Rice, oryza sativa, is the most common cereal grain world-wide. It is nourishing and soothing to a system that's depleted by cold and flu. It stops diarrhea, nourishes dehydrated tissues, and is one of the easiest grains to digest. When you are sick, make rice porridge with 1 cup rice and 3 cups water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to ensure that you are getting sufficient electrolytes. You can season it with thyme and cinnamon if you like.

Shopping List

  • cornmeal (non-GMO if possible)

  • long grain brown rice

  • black beans - please soak overnight

  • eggs

  • sour cream

  • milk (almond or cow)

  • olive oil

  • apple cider vinegar

  • canned / jarred tomatoes

  • salt

  • cinnamon

  • cumin

  • coriander

  • oregano

  • red chile flakes

  • onions

  • garlic

  • carrots

  • lime

  • orange

  • spinach

  • mushrooms

  • fresh cilantro (optional)

Black Bean Stew

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, oregano and salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes (optional)

  • 1 cup cooked black beans

  • 2 cups water

  • juice of 1 orange

  • freshly chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

Soak beans overnight or for 8 hours. Rinse, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer.

Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the top of the pot.

Simmer for 30 minutes or until beans are tender but still well-formed.

Rinse, drain, and set aside.

Chop onions, garlic, and carrots.

Place in a stock pot with olive oil and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add spices and black beans. Stir well and sauté for 3 more minutes, or until you can smell the spices.

Add water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the juice of 1 orange. Stir well.

Turn off heat and enjoy with cooked rice and a garnish of freshly chopped cilantro if you like.

Cornmeal Casserole

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a glass baking dish (9x9 or so) with olive oil. Set aside.

Mince:

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 pound mushrooms

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 onion

Place these in a deep skillet with 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Turn heat on high and then reduce to medium low once vegetables start to sizzle.

Add 1 teaspoon each: oregano, cumin, and coriander - mix well.

Splash with 1 tablespoon lime juice, stir once more, and cover.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. 

Turn off heat, add 2 packed cups spinach, stir well, and spread into baking dish.

For the topping, whisk together these ingredients in the order listed:

  • 2 cups cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (almond or cow)

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Add a bit of water if the dough is too dry. You need to be able to handle it with your hands without it cracking or crumbling.

Shape dough into a flat disc and place over vegetables.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 

Remove from oven and serve with sour cream chile sauce.

GET CREATIVE! Avoiding cream and cheese? Put a fried egg or braised cod on top.

Sour Cream Chile Sauce

In a serving bowl, mix:

  • 2 cups sour cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander and chile flakes

  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

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Hearty Stews

The harvest moon wanes and we head towards Halloween, also known by agrarian people of the British Isles as Samhain, the New Year.

CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

For the chicken stew:

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 2 pounds chicken, baked and de-boned

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 medium red potatoes, chopped

  • 3 cups quick chicken stock*

  • 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen

  • 1 teaspoon each: thyme, rosemary, and oregano

For the dumplings:

  • 1 cup flour (spelt or rice)

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon rosemary

  • ½ cup milk (cow, almond or rice)

To cook chicken, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place in a glass baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Cool, remove skin, and remove from bones. Add to stew pot. Include the juices. 

*Place the bones and skin in a separate pot with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Add to stew pot.

To make the stew, heat butter in a stock pot or Dutch oven.

Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and potato. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until carrots are soft.

Add peas and spices. Add chicken and stock.

Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes as the dumplings cook.

To prepare the dumplings, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in milk until a thick batter forms. With a large spoon, drop batter into simmering soup. When dumplings are puffed and slightly firm, cover pan and continue to cook about 5 minutes more.

Serves eight. 

Thanks to the Pioneer Woman for this inspiration.

MUSHROOM AND BARLEY STEW

Mushrooms are rich in protein and help us adapt to the change in seasons by boosting our immune response.

You will need:

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced

  • 1/4 pound shitake mushrooms, sliced

  • 6 cups vegetable stock

  • ½ cup pearl barley

  • 2 teaspoon thyme

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • ⅓ cup chopped parsley

Heat oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, celery, carrots, and onion, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cremini and shitake mushrooms, and cook about 15 minutes.

Add stock, barley, and thyme, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until barley is tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in juice and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley.

Serves eight.

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Shitake, Cabbage and Lentil Stew

Spring is coming! Until we can see the gardens from beneath the three feet of late season Vermont snow, we use the last of the root cellar and pantry stock to make soup that warms the soup. Try cooking it on the wood stove if you have one. Shitake mushrooms lend an extra hand to helping our immune systems stay healthy through this slow transition into spring.

Shitake, Lentil and Cabbage Stew
You will need:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small to medium yellow or red onion, chopped
1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut in ½-inch dice
Salt to taste
3 to 4 large garlic cloves, minced
½ medium cabbage, cored and chopped

a handful of shitake mushrooms, brushed free of dirt and chopped
1 teaspoon each: thyme, oregano, cumin, coriander
½ pound lentils (about 1⅛ cups), picked over and rinsed
2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just about tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, shitakes, and cabbage, along with another generous pinch of salt. 


Cook, stirring, just until the garlic smells fragrant and the cabbage has begun to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add spices and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the lentils and water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, season to taste with salt, about 2 teaspoons to begin with (you will probably add more), cover and simmer 1 hour, until the lentils are tender and the broth fragrant.

Add pepper to the soup and stir in rice, or just add rice to each bowl when you serve the soup. Taste. Is there enough salt? Garlic? Adjust seasonings. Stir in the parsley. Serve, topping each bowlful with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.