March 2015 - Julie Green and Keen
Getting enough protein in a vegetarian diet doesn’t have to be as hard as people assume.  Many of my friends and family questioned how I was going to get enough when I first became vegetarian, but I knew there were many different was to get an adequate amount.  Here are a few foods I love that are high in protein and delicious.

1.    Lentils are my one of my favorite protein packed foods.  I use them all the time in recipes for soups and many other dishes.

2.    Using Almond Butter instead of peanut creates an entirely new protein filled PB&J.  I use almond butter on sandwiches, on bananas and everything in between.

3.    Chick Peas are a good addition to a vegetarian diet to keep protein content high.  If you don’t like them by themselves, they make a delish hummus.

4.    Muesli is great with soy milk in the morning, image rich and hearty cereal. Muesli is typically made from rolled oats with fruits and nuts.

5.    Edamame are soybeans still in their pods.  They are commonly served with sushi but are also a great snack.

6.    Miso is originally from Japan.  It is made from soybeans and turned into a paste.  Miso is high in protein and makes a great soup base. 

7.    Tempeh is from Indonesia but has become very popular in the US.  It is made from fermented soybeans.  I like to slice it and bake it or fry it like you would meat.  It is a great substitute in almost any dish.

8.    Quinoa has become very popular in recent years.  This grain is one of the few that has complete proteins.  It can be cooked many different ways, I like using it in soups and as a salad topper

9.    If you are having problems getting enough protein in your diet try adding Spirulina.  It is actually an algae that is sold in flakes or powder.  I add it to smoothies, oatmeal, and granola bar recipes.

10.    Chia seeds aren’t just for growing on clay heads….cha cha cha chia pets :)… they are high in protein and have omega-3 fatty acids and contain more fiber than flax seeds or nuts.  I add them to thicken smoothie and to my pancakes.



Greatlist.com has a list of complete vegetarian proteins and a wonderful infographic that highlights some of the good protein sources I did not mention. 

It isn’t difficult consuming enough protein with a vegetarian diet when you am aware of what you are eating and consciously making sure to get enough nutrients.  Plant proteins are healthy and help maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Being a vegetarian has made me appreciate the nutrients in food and how it provides for the body.

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

10 Protein Packed Foods

by on 3/31/2015
Getting enough protein in a vegetarian diet doesn’t have to be as hard as people assume.  Many of my friends and family questioned how I was...
It is about that time of the year again, when I go to the farmers market and start seeing new spring fruits and vegetables.  I am lucky enough to live in a part of the US where we have fresh produce year-round.

California produces about 80% of all fruits and vegetables in the US; so I like to think that we are setting the seasonal standard for the rest of the country.  :)



Spring brings new and exciting flavors to spice up the cooking.  I love the lightness and freshness that spring produce provides to otherwise “heavy” dishes.  I have made of list of fruits and veggies you should begin looking for at farmers markets to “spring into spring” cooking.

•    Artichokes are seasonally harvested in the spring and again in the early fall.

•    Arugula can be found year-round but I believe the taste is richer in the spring and fall.

•    Asparagus is absolutely wonderful in the spring.  The light flavor it brings to dishes is perfect for the season.

•    Fava Beans are sweet and “spring-y” for the season.  They come in soft green pods and are delicious in salads.

•    Green Garlic and Garlic Scapes are harvested and taste best in the spring.  They add a delicate garlicky flavor to spring and early summer dishes.

•    One of my favorite fruits, Grapefruit is juicy and I believe it is the best in the spring.

•    Green Onions and Scallions are perfect now.  I love combining green onions and garlic into salads in the spring.  It provides the perfect flavor for a light tasting dish.

•    Lettuce is sold year round, but spring brings the best flavor and hearty heads.

•    Mushrooms, especially Morel, are at their peak in the spring.  You know I love mushrooms if you read my post about mushroom month.  http://juliegreenandkeen.blogspot.com/2014/09/national-mushroom-month.html

•    New potatoes are freshly harvested young, small potatoes that are excellent in the spring.  They are easy to peel and are very crisp inside.

•    Peas and Pea Pods are harvested in the spring and early summer.  I love pea soup, I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh peas.

•    Radishes are also seasonal.  They are the best spring through fall.

•    Rhubarb has so many recipe possibilities and it is at its prime in the spring.  I love making rhubarb deserts and adding it to just about everything.

•    Who doesn’t love snap peas?  They are the perfect snacks and are seasonally the best now.

•    STRAWBERRIES ARE BACK!! Strawberries taste delicious in anything and they are in season.  I add them to smoothies, salads, and just eat them plain.


I have been anxious to begin spicing up my cooking with new spring flavors.  I think that cooking seasonally with fresh produce from farmers market is a great way to keep cooking exciting and fresh.  I can’t wait to go crazy at the farmers market and come up with some new recipes!  Have fun eating seasonally.

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie

Seasonally Spring Foods

by on 3/22/2015
It is about that time of the year again, when I go to the farmers market and start seeing new spring fruits and vegetables.  I am lucky eno...
A few months ago Hannah had a great idea to have a Kids day at the restaurant I work at.  She is so cute, she said that kids don’t know that vegetarian food can be “really yummy” and wanted me to show people how it can be delicious.  I felt so proud, that she wanted to share her favorite vegetarian foods with her friends and other kids.  Obviously, I loved the idea.



I was so happy the restaurant owner and cooks agreed this was a good idea and worked with Hannah and me to make it happen.  Yesterday we held our first kid’s afternoon special; it was a huge success.  Hannah insisted on helping us plan the menu because “it was her idea.”  We created a “kid friendly” menu that offered small portions so kids and families could sample many different foods and dishes. 

Hannah absolutely loved helping organize the day, she is such a little party planner.  We had about 20 families come in the afternoon with their children to try some new vegetarian food.  Hannah stayed at the restaurant all afternoon helping us and talking to all her friends that came in; she nearly invited her entire class. :)



After talking with several new families to the restaurant and a few of Hannah’s friend’s families it sounded like they loved it.  Not only were their kids surprised that the food was so good, their parents were pleasantly surprised as well. 

I had to laugh, one of Hannah’s friends father came into the restaurant and was joking with me how he would have to get food after because there was no way vegetables were going to fill him up.  As he was leaving I asked him if he still thought he needed more food and he quickly responded “no way.”  He was stuffed!  He said that he will definitely be coming back, and that the food was very  filling, delicious and that he actually felt healthy eating it…now that is what I like to hear! :)


I am so happy Hannah came up with this idea and everyone helped to make it happen.  My friend the owner, was pleased with all the customers that came in, on what would have normally been an average afternoon.
Hannah’s great idea brought quite a bit of extra business and hopefully the families will be coming back in the future.

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

With summer vacation in sight and countless activities to drive the kids around to, it seems that the kids are even hungrier when they get home from school.  The moment Hannah and Liam run through the door, they head straight to the kitchen for a snack.  I always try to have something healthy and filling enough to bridge the gap until dinner.

Finding after school snacks that are “Hannah and Liam approved” can be a little difficult though.  I try mixing it up each day from snacks that sweet and ones that are savory.  I know how important it is to refuel my kid’s minds after a long day at school; so I have to make a list of a few after school snacks that are always welcomed. 

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips (this recipe makes plenty for leftovers :))

 
Ingredients-

•    2 kiwis- peeled and diced
•    2 golden delicious apples- peeled, cored and diced
•    8 ounces raspberries
•    1 pound strawberries
•    2 tbsp. white sugar
•    1 tbsp. brown sugar
•    3 tbsp. fruit preserves- any flavor
•    10 flour tortillas
•    Butter cooking spray
•    2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar

Instructions-
•    In a large bowl mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar, and fruit preserves.  Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
•    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
•    Coat one side of each tortilla with butter cooking spray.  Cut into wedges and spread on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the wedges and spray again with cooking spray.  Bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool. 
•    Use tortilla wedges to dip into fruit salsa and enjoy!


Stuffed Celery-




Ingredients-
•    1 bunch of celery
•    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
•    ¼ cup chopped walnuts
•    20 small green olives (chopped)
•    2 tablespoons of sour cream

Instructions-
•    Cut the washed celery stalk into bite sized pieces.
•    Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, walnuts, and chopped olives together.  Spread the filling on to the celery pieces. (If you don’t want to use celery, the kids also like to put it on crackers)
•    Enjoy!

Pizza Pockets-





Ingredients-
•    1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
•    4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
•    ½ cup parmesan cheese
•    Other toppings your kids like, mushrooms, olives, ect.

Instructions-
•    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
•    Unroll crescents and top each piece of dough with shredded cheese and the toppings you like, and sprinkle a little more cheese on.  Roll into a crescent shaped.
•    Place pizza pockets on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

For those hot summery days, Watermelon Strawberry Pops-



Ingredients-
•    1lbs. seedless watermelon
•    ¼ lbs. halved hulled strawberries
•    ¼ cup sugar
•    1 ½  tbsp. fresh lime juice

Instructions-
•    Puree watermelon and strawberries in a blender and place in a large bowl.  Add sugar and lime juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved
•    Pour mixture into 5 3ounce ice pop molds and add sticks.  Freeze pops until solid and Enjoy!

A healthy and filling after school snack holds my kids off until dinner and automatically puts them in a good mood when they come home. :) I love finding new ideas for snacking that the kids love.  Happy snacking!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

After school Snacks

by on 3/11/2015
With summer vacation in sight and countless activities to drive the kids around to, it seems that the kids are even hungrier when they get ...
Have you have been strolling through your local farmers market and saw some sort of mythical looking fruit or vegetable.  I love finding weird looking fruits or vegetables that I haven’t tried.  Last week I was at the farmers market and found the strangest shaped squash, obviously I had to get it. 

Finding weird shaped fruits and vegetables is always exciting; but finding a “weird” looking new fruits and vegetables are the best.  I think trying new foods is a great way to experiment with cooking and using new ingredients.

After getting home with my odd-ball shaped squash I went surfing the web to find some new fruits and vegetables I haven’t tried.  There are so many out there, here are five fruits and five vegetables that are on my trying to-do list.

Vegetables-

•    Spigarello is a form of broccoli that has a sweet, delicate, less bitter taste.  It is similar to kale, but said to be better.


•    Kabocha Squash is similar to a squash or pumpkin but much sweeter.  There are various recipes with it baked with garlic, cheese, oregano, and olive oil.  A must try!


•    I actually have heard of Sunchokes, or sometimes called a Jerusalem artichoke, but haven’t tried them.  They are actually kind of a sunflower.  It is said to have a nutty taste.


•    Seckle’s look like a pear and are supposed to taste delicious.  They are sometimes called “sugar pears” and are known from their grainy texture and spicy-sweet flavor.

•    Romanesco- I won’t lie, this vegetable looks like it should be part of a science project.  CRAZY!  I found quite a few recipes that say to add it to stir-fry’s for an extra special taste.



Fruits-

•    If you like bananas and pineapples, Jackfruits are supposed to be a delicious combination of flavors!  The Jackfruit has sweet bulbs that cover brown seeds. 

 •    Kiwano is said to have the perfect combination of sweet and sour!  They are also called horned melons.  Kiwanos are full of filling fiber making a great snack.


•    You may have heard Lychee.  It is a sweet smelling fruit with an exotic taste similar to grapes.  They have become somewhat more popular in the past year or so.


•    Grenadia has a similar taste to passion fruit.  The seeds are said to be covered in delicious pulp.  I think they look terrifying on the inside, but I definitely want to try it.




 •    More common in the grocery stores are Star fruits.  I have them all the time, but they are so good I felt the need to share them with you too. This fruit is actually shaped as a star when sliced.  It is crunchy, juicy and full of goodness.


 I hope this list inspired you to pick up those weird fruits and vegetable you’ve been scared to try.  I can’t wait to try all of these and more.  Do you know any more strange food that I should try? I would love to know! :)

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie