Mel’s Muffuletta-ish Sandwich

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This sandwich is a really yummy way to use up some of the veggies in your fridge, or just squeeze more veggies into your day.  Not in the mood for a moderately messy sandwich? Try a cozy warm bowl filled with some of the steamy veggie filling and the cooked whole grain of your choice (brown rice, quinoa, spelt, barley, or couscous to name a few).  Talk about comfort food!

INGREDIENTS

Vegetable Filling

  • 1 onion, cut in half crosswise and sliced into half moons
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1/2″-1″ chunks
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced (just the bulb, not the stalks or feathery fronds)
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced, or 2 handfuls of shredded carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1-2 zucchini, cut in half, lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper sliced into strips (or you can use bottled roasted peppers – YUM! )
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • One 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Fresh parsley, chopped

Sammie fixin’s

  • 4 whole grain rolls, sliced in half, horizontally
  • hummus
  • olive tapenade (optional)
  • Fresh spinach or Romaine lettuce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat about 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth in a large skillet
  2. Add onions, eggplant and fennel.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Next add carrots, celery, zucchini, and bell peppers (if using bottled, we’ll add them later).  Cook for another 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic and spices.  Cook for a minute or two before adding the tomatoes (and roasted red peppers, if you’re using them).  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, on low for 15-20 minutes.  Uncover and cook for a little longer to cook off any excess liquid. Stir in parsley.
  3. While the filling is simmering, toast the rolls, then smear one side with hummus and top with spinach or lettuce.  Top other half of the roll with olive tapenade.
  4. Spoon a good heap of the cooked veggies on top of the leaves and place the other half of the roll on top.  Tuck in!

Creamy, delicious brown rice pudding!

I was so excited when we came up with this recipe today, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!  We eat oatmeal around here for breakfast almost daily.  This rice pudding makes a great warm breakfast cereal for a little change of pace.  You can also serve it cool, or even as a dessert.  It is so versatile.  If it looks a little thick once it has cooled, just stir in a little non-dairy milk, and it should be fine.  Also feel free to experiment a little yourself.  I really like the apples, currants and walnuts that we used today, but raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, bananas, pecans, almonds would all work really well too.  Get creative!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, etc.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

cinnamon, to taste

1 apple, peeled and chopped (small dice)

1 handful raw walnuts, chopped

1 handful dried currants

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan at medium heat and stir.  Bring to a simmer and lower heat.  Simmer for about 15-20 min., stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or cool.  

The many uses for leftover brown rice!

Around here there are two things we almost always make in large batches so that we have leftovers in our fridge…beans and brown rice (sometimes quinoa or barley, but usually rice).  It is such a great staple to keep on hand for quick, healthy meals.

We all need to make sure we are eating more whole grains and fewer refined foods, and this is a great way to help you on your way.  One cup of cooked brown rice is very low on the glycemic index and has 4 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein,  B vitamins, calcium, and iron.

Brown rice takes a little longer than white rice to cook (40 min. vs. 20 min.) but if you make a few cups and save the rest to use throughout the week, you save yourself a bunch of time.   It also requires more water (2 cups water : 1 cup of rice).  And remember, it’s gluten free!

Here are a few suggestions on the many ways we use cooked rice round here…

  • Add to a salad to make it a heartier lunch
  • Add to roasted veggies and eat as-is or wrap in a tortilla or collard leaf
  • Rice and beans with salsa and avocado slices
  • Water saute whatever veggies you have and add cooked rice.  Stir to combine and cook until heated through.  Add some tofu and you’ve got a little “fried” rice thing going on.
  • My latest favorite: quick morning brown rice pudding! (recipe to follow shortly!)

Black Beans and Rice

Nothing says “Latin” like rice and beans.  This is my hubby’s #1 comfort food, so we usually have cooked black beans and brown rice in the fridge for a quick, filling meal (just add veggies).  This is a great staple to keep on hand  It is inexpensive, easy, nutritious, delicious and versatile!  Eat them by themselves with a little avocado and salsa, or add them to tostadas, tacos, tofu scramble or a salad.  Yum, Yum, Yum!  I’ve even heard (though I haven’t tried it yet) that they freeze very well too.

Black beans and brown rice are a great, nutritious meal – low in fat and calories; high in fiber and protein.  Black beans are high in cholesterol lowering fiber, magnesium (which can protect against heart disease), and antioxidants like anthocyanins and flavonoids that have anti-cancer properties too.   Brown rice is also high in magnesium along with selenium and B vitamins.  Both are also gluten-free.

Many people shy away from cooking their own beans.  They think it takes too long, that you have to soak them overnight, or they just don’t understand how.  Beans take a little time, but its largely inactive.  Of course you could always just open up a can of beans, but sometimes it’s nice to cook a fresh batch from scratch.  So if you’ve ever wanted to, but never tried.  Here’s your opportunity and the recipe!

INGREDIENTS

Brown Rice

2 cups brown rice

4 cups water or vegetable broth

Black Beans

3 cups dried black beans

water

1/2 onion

2 bay leaves

salt (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Brown Rice

  1. Rinse brown rice under running water to remove some of the surface starch
  2. Add rinsed rice and 4 cups water (or vegetable broth)  to a medium sized pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 40 min.

Black Beans

THE NO-SOAK METHOD:

  1. Rinse the black beans in a colander, under running water.
  2. Place in a large pot and cover with water, about 2-3 inches above the top of the beans.
  3. Bring to a hard boil over high heat for 10 min. Skim off any foam that may accumulate at the top.
  4. While boiling,  cut two slits into the cut side of the onion half.  There’s no need to remove the papery outer layers of the onion.  Insert a bay leaf half way into each of the slits.  After the 10 minutes of  hard boil, add to the beans.
  5. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for  1.5-2 hours or until beans are tender.  Check periodically during the simmering time to see if you need to add any additional water.  If they get too dry, the beans will begin to burn.  The liquid with thicken over time.
  6. When beans are almost tender (still a little al dente) add salt to taste.  Adding it now will insure that you can taste the salt in the bean broth, and some of it will still be absorbed by the beans themselves.
  7. When cooking is complete, remove the onion and bay leaves, and serve it up!

There you have it!  Hope you enjoy!