Spiced Carrot Millet

If you’re looking for something different as a side dish, here’s a tasty way to go. If you haven’t tried millet, or just used it for breakfast, this gives you a great introduction to using it as a savory side dish. Per usual, the recipe is very adjustable – carrot is one way to go but parsnips, butternut squash, or even pea puree would work just as well depending on your family’s tastes. It’s fairly quick, about 30 minutes to prepare, and quite an easy, straightforward recipe. Enjoy something different!

First, in a 12″ skillet over medium heat dry toast:

1 cup whole millet

While the millet is toasting, in a 4-quart saucepan, over medium high heat, bring to a boil:

2 cups stock (I used vegetable stock but use any type you like, or even water, works)

Once millet is toasted (about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally), add it to the boiling stock. Stir to combine, cover and reduce heat to medium low or low, and cook through, about 20 minutes, until water is evaporated and the millet is softened.

While the millet cooks, in a double boiler, steam:

3/4 cup carrots (I used the pre-sliced but any kind will work)

Steam until soft and then blend, using a hand-held immersion blender with:

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin (or 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric)

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper)

In the bowl of a food processor, or using a hand grater, grate:

6-8 baby carrots

You should have about 1/3 to 1/2 cup. Once the millet is cooked, stir in these grated carrots and cover again. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Once the cooked carrots are pureed (you could also use a food processor or stand blender), add to the millet mixture, stirring to combine.

Finish with some avocado oil, vegan butter or margarine; or a squeeze of lemon and/or 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind. Garnish with some cilantro, green onions or chopped carrot top if desired. Serves 8.

Easy Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

I don’t eat a lot of oatmeal since I became diabetic but I do enjoy it now and then. Here’s a twist on the standard bowl of oatmeal or the now in vogue baked oatmeal bowls. This is another instance where you can get creative and use whatever fruit sauce or jam you’d like to flavor the oatmeal such as apple, banana, strawberry, etc. Very easy to make; the food processor does all the work, especially if you buy pre-shredded carrots. And of course, feel free to adjust the spices to your families taste – nutmeg, coriander, etc.

First preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9″ baking pan with parchment paper, overhanging on two sides so that the bars can be lifted out of the pan when cooled. In the bowl of the food processor add:

2 cups rolled oat

Pulse until it’s a coarse texture then add:

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup pitted dates (softer the better so if they are hard, soak in hot water for 5 minutes)

2 tablespoons avocado oil

1 1/2 cups fruit sauce or jam

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 generous teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pulse to combine before adding:

2 cups shredded carrots

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Pulse to combine and break down the carrots. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes depending on how your oven runs. Cool in pan before lifting using the overhanging parchment paper and cut into squares. Store in airtight container or in the refrigerator. Can be frozen.

Easy Roasted Turkey Breast

Turkey is easy to overcook producing a dry, not very appetizing meat. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, I would suggest you invest in one. It makes cooking meats, especially poultry, much easier.

Turkey can also be rather bland so it needs help to bring out the flavor. This recipe combines a number of herbs to do just that. If you have time, rub the turkey breast, under the skin as well as on the skin, with the herb rub and then refrigerate for several hours.

Watch the turkey breast carefully while baking and take the internal temperature often after about 50 minutes so that it doesn’t get above 160 on the meat thermometer. This is meant for 2 people but the breast can serve up to 4, just increase the vegetables. As with many of my recipes, feel free to change out the herbs to suit your family’s taste as well as the vegetables – any root vegetables will work in this recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking dish a little larger than the turkey breast and spray with non-stick cooking spray or coat with a non-dairy margarine. In a medium bowl combine:

1 large onion, sliced

5-6 celery stalks (I used celery hearts so if you have whole celery, reduce this number), cut into large pieces

12-15 baby rainbow carrots, exclude the orange ones

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium-sized cubes*

2 tablespoons olive oil

If some of the baby carrots are on the larger size, cut them in quarters so all the vegetables will cook evenly. Mix the vegetables together to coat them with oil. In a small dish combine:

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dried sage

Mix the herbs together to combine. Add about 1/4 of the herb mixture to the vegetables and mix once again. Pour the vegetables into the prepared baking dish. Using paper towels, dry thoroughly:

2 1/2 to 3 pound turkey breast (this is a half breast)

Pull up the turkey skin and sprinkle the flesh with the herb mixture, reserving some for the other side. Rub into the flesh and then fold back the skin onto the meat and sprinkle a little more herb on the skin. Place the breast on top of the vegetables skin side down and sprinkle the remaining herb mixture on the bottom of the breast, rubbing it in. Flip the turkey breast so that the skin side is up. Roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 160 degrees.** Remove from the oven and place the turkey on a serving platter, loosely cover with foil and let rest for about 10-15 minutes.

Spoon the roasted vegetables into a serving bowl.*** When the breast is rested, cut and serve. If desired, pan gravy can be made with the fat in the pan by adding gluten-free, all-purpose flour until all the oil is absorbed (probably about 2 tablespoons) and then cook the flour for several minutes over medium heat before adding approximately 1 cup of chicken (or turkey) stock for each tablespoon of flour used. Or, for fat free gravy, heat 1 1/2 cups of chicken (or turkey) stock over medium high heat. Whisk 2 tablespoons of gluten-free all-purpose flour into another 1/2 cup of cold chicken stock and whisk into the stock on the stove. Whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.

*If your family doesn’t like sweet potatoes, simply add the orange carrots and perhaps some cubes of red-skin or Yukon gold potatoes.

**FYI, my turkey breast was 2.8 pounds and I cooked it for 1 hour and 20 minutes before it reached 160 degrees. Remember it will continue to cook when removed from the oven and covered with foil.

***The carrots weren’t cooked when I removed the turkey so I increased the oven temperature to 425 degrees and cooked the vegetables for about 20 minutes more. This not only cooked the carrots but it also browned the sweet potatoes making them a little crunchy.

Vegan Carrot Spice Cake

I’m updating this recipe. Just spoke with my son and daughter-in-law who said it was good but it wasn’t sweet enough! I admit, I don’t like my desserts as sweet as most people so I’ll adjust the recipe so that those of you who want a sweeter cake can still use this recipe.

I love carrot cake but I love my carrot cake to be more like a spice cake with some carrots in it. So unlike most carrot cakes, I add more spices. If you don’t, feel free to stop with the cinnamon. I was easily able to divide this cake into two bowls and mix some ground walnuts into one bowl (for my son and his family) and some chopped dates and pumpkin seeds into the other for me. This cake only takes one bowl and is fairly easy to mix even for me with 2 rotator cuff tears.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2, 8″ baking pans (I used one square and one round so that I knew which was which!). In a medium-large bowl, combine:

3 tablespoons ground flax

7 tablespoons warm water (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon)

Whisk to combine and then let sit for 5 minutes or so to form flax gel. When ready add to it:

1/3 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

Whisk or stir to combine and then add:

1 scant cup unsweetened fruit sauce (apple, pear, peach, oh pineapple would be good) [I actually only had 7/8 of a cup and it worked fine]

1/2 to 1 cup date sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Stir or whisk to combine. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

Stir or whisk to combine (by now the whisk will be having a difficult time so use a hand mixer if necessary). Add:

1 cup grated carrots

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 cup oat flour

Stir to combine adding another 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk if necessary. Stir in:

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, feel free to mix it up using chopped pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or dates, chopped raisins, cranberries, or dried pineapple also work (Optional)

Spoon the batter equally between the two pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (I would actually bake it about 5 minutes more after the toothpick comes out clean). Don’t worry if it’s slightly overbaked since gluten-free baked goods take longer to cook than regular ones, it still comes out fine.

Remove from oven and let cool, on a cooling rack, for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely before frosting or serving. For faster cooling, place in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Serves 8-12.

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

1 large or 2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Easy Roast Pork with Mustard Gravy

I found this recipe and thought it sounded interesting. Not too many changes were required to make it fit our needs. Use either a small boneless pork roast or a large pork loin (about 2 pounds) and for a quick and easy meal, instead of peeling and cutting up large carrots, use one bag of either regular or rainbow baby carrots. All together, this recipe takes just about an hour, 10-15 minutes prep time and about 40 minutes baking. Feel free to change out the herb used on the roasted carrots if your family prefers something else – thyme, oregano, tarragon or rosemary will all work. Same with the carrots – parsnips, sweet potato, cubes of winter squash, any vegetable you can roast would work.

First, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Next, pour into baking pan, with 1 to 2 inch sides:

12 ounces to 1 pound of baby carrots

4 or 5 small to medium shallots, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

Sprinkle the carrots and shallots with:

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix up the carrots and shallots with the oil and herbs to combine making sure all the carrots have some oil on them. Put into the preheated oven and cook for approximately 10 minutes. While the veggies are beginning to roast, heat in a 10″ skillet:

1 tablespoon olive oil

While the oil heats, season with salt and pepper:

1 1/2 to 2 pound pork loin or boneless pork roast

Sear off all sides of the pork in the hot oil, about 2 minutes per side which takes about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the pan from the oven, push the carrots and shallots aside to make space in the middle of the pan for the pork. Return to the oven and cook for approximately 30-40 minutes until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145-150 degrees. Take out of the oven and place the pork and vegetables on a plate, loosely over with foil or parchment paper to keep warm while the gravy is made.

To make the gravy, pour the oil from the skillet into the roasting pan and add:

1 to 2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour

Over medium heat whisk to combine with the fat. All the fat should be absorbed by the flour. Cook the flour for about a minute before adding:

1 cup chicken stock (or pork stock if you can find it)

If you used more than 1 tablespoon flour, you’ll need to add additional stock to the baking pan. Let simmer, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until thickened. Whisk in:

1 tablespoon mustard, whatever kind your family prefers

When the gravy is ready, slice the pork roast or loin and serve with the carrots, gravy and either mashed potatoes or rice. Serves 2-4 depending on the size of the pork.

Salisbury “Steak”

Salisbury steak is basically a hamburger with mushroom gravy. Since I don’t eat beef, I had to change it to ground turkey but since I also wanted to make one last meatloaf before it got too hot, I used a meatloaf mixture to make the “steaks”. If you only need a couple of servings of Salisbury steak, use 1/4 or half the mixture for this dish and bake the remainder in the oven as a meatloaf. Feel free to use whatever ground meat you like, or even pieces of tofu would work. I basically used the recipe I published several weeks ago for turkey burgers with zucchini because they stayed so moist and were so delicious.

In the food processor combine:

1 large onion, cut into quarters

1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then into chunks

1/2 cup carrots

Pulse until shredded. In a large bowl combine the vegetable mixture with:

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound ground pork OR

1 pound mild/sweet Italian sausage (pork or turkey)

Add to the mixture:

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (smoked or sweet)

3 teaspoons ground coriander

3 teaspoons garlic powder or granules

3 teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1/2 cup non-dairy Parmesan cheese (Optional)

Mix to combine (I used my hands, much easier than a spoon!). Using a 1/2 cup measure, scoop out the mixture and form each 1/2 cup into a burger shape (should make 10-12). In a 12″ skillet heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add the burgers and saute them until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness, firm to the touch when cooked). Probably have at least 2 batches, perhaps 3 depending on the size. As they are cooked, remove to a plate. Add to the pan:

12 ounces of sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)

Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. When the mushrooms are cooked add:

2 tablespoons gluten-free, all-purpose flour

Stir or whisk in so the flour absorbs all the oil. Cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes and then add:

1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or bone broth)

1/2 cup dairy-free milk (anything but soy), unsweetened

Salt and pepper to taste

If you are cooking all the mixture as Salisbury steak, you may need to increase the oil, flour, and liquid to make additional gravy. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the patties back into the sauce to reheat before serving. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta.

I know, more brown food! Just can’t seem to stay away from it. But it really was so delicious!

Honey Ginger Sesame Noodles

This umami filled dish of noodles takes some preparation in slicing the vegetables but otherwise is very easy to put together. The seeds or nuts add a little protein so if additional protein is desired, some fried tofu, chicken, beef, or pork can be added. And the vegetables can be changed to fit your family’s likes and what you have on-hand. Mushrooms, bell pepper, bean sprouts all would work well.

First, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking pan with parchment and sprinkle with:

1/2 cup raw seeds such as pepitas or sunflower, or nuts if you can have them (peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.)

Bake for 5 minutes and then toss with:

2 teaspoons sriracha

1 tablespoon soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Following package directions, cook:

6-8 ounces rice noodles

When cooked, drain, rinse and set aside. In a 12″ skillet with high sides, over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

When the oils are hot, add:

1/2 large (or medium) onion, thinly sliced

3-4 stalks celery, sliced on an angle

3/4 cup chopped or shredded carrots

2-3 baby bok choy, sliced, including greens

Stir to combine and cook approximately 5 minutes until tender but not mushy. Add:

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 small can diced or sliced water chestnuts

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Cook an additional minute or two. In a small bowl combine:

1/2 cup soy sauce substitute

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon tahini (or seed butter like sunflower or pumpkin)

1 tablespoon molasses

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Whisk to incorporate ingredients and then add to pan of vegetables. Let the vegetables simmer with the sauce for several minutes, 2-3 before tossing in the noodles and, if more heat is desired, add:

1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce

Separate into four serving dishes and top with the seed mixture and:

2 scallions, greens only, sliced

Top with sliced, sauteed meat if desired and enjoy!

Turkey and Zucchini Burgers

I don’t think I’ve ever had a moister, tenderer turkey burger! These are very quick and easy with a food processor and more than worth the little effort they take to make. I just wonder why everything I make has to be so brown! Feel free to change up the herbs and spices as well as the vegetables to fit your family’s taste buds. I’m thinking next time perhaps I’ll use some garam masala instead of the smoked paprika. Makes 4 burgers.

First, put in the bowl of a food processor:

1/2 large onion (or 1 small onion), chunked

1/4-1/3 cup carrot pieces (I used shredded carrots)

1 medium or 2 small zucchini, chunked

Pulse until riced. Remove to a bowl and add:

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon roasted garlic granules (or 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound ground turkey

Mix to combine, I used my hand. Don’t overmix or your burgers will get tough when cooked. Form into 4, 1/2 inch thick patties, they will be soft. Cook in a 10-12″ skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat 5-8 minutes per side until cooked through. Serve with your favorite condiments on your favorite gluten-free buns. I happen to love avocado with my burgers as seen in the photo.

Korean Style Ground Turkey with Cabbage

Super quick and easy, especially if you buy the pre-shredded cole slaw mix at the supermarket. The only other thing that needs dicing is the small onion and that doesn’t take long. This dish is a little sweet, spicy and tangy and the ground turkey, unless you really overcook it of course!, stays moist and succulent in the sauce. I apologize for not sprinkling the finished dish with scallion as it should be but I didn’t have any in the house and wasn’t up to going to the store today. Excellent even without them! As usual, feel free to mellow or increase the spices to fit your family’s tastes.

First, in a deep skillet (3″ or so), heat over medium high heat:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

When hot reduce heat to medium and add:

1 pound ground turkey breast

Break up the turkey and sauté for about 2 minutes before adding:

1 small onion, diced

1 cup shredded cabbage*

1/4 cup shredded carrots (in the cole slaw mix if you use that or most supermarkets now sell pre-shredded carrots)

2 teaspoons minced garlic (or 2 minced garlic cloves)

Stir to combine and cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 4-6 minutes until the cabbage and onion are softened.

While the dish simmers make the sauce by combining in a small bowl:

1/2 cup soy sauce substitute** (of course if your family can have soy, use regular soy sauce but reduce to 1/4 cup)

2 teaspoons tapioca starch (or flour)

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-2 tablespoons date sugar depending on how sweet you like it

1/4 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1 teaspoon siracha)

Whisk to combine. Remove cover from the turkey mixture and add in sauce, stirring constantly until it thickens which should be about 5-10 seconds. Remove from heat to a serving dish, top with toasted sesame seeds and/or sliced scallions. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

*If cabbage isn’t a favorite in your family, add a small can of sliced bamboo shoots and a can of sliced water chestnuts. Or some thinly sliced bok choy would also work.

**See recipe under sauces. I generally have several 1 cup jars of it in the freezer.

Spicy Curried Carrot Soup

Quick, easy, and delicious, this soup with warm your stomach. It has that comfort food vibe with great flavor. Using pre-shredded carrots is what makes it so easy. Either regular orange carrots or rainbow carrot shreds will work. Add some lemon zest on top and a lemon wedge on the plate to add some freshness and lighten the spiciness of the soup. Serves 2 but easily doubled.

Put a 4-quart pot on over medium heat and add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat until shimmering before adding:

1 small onion, finely diced

Cook the onion until translucent and then add:

1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder (depending on how spicy you want the soup)

Stir the curry powder into the onion and heat until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add:

2 cups shredded carrot

Stir to coat the carrots in the onion and curry mixture before adding to the pot:

1 to 1 1/2 cups stock (I used chicken bone broth but a mild vegetable broth would also work and keep this soup vegan; want to cover the carrots completely but not drown them)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (to taste)

Cook over medium low heat until carrot is softened, about 20-25 minutes, covered. Put the carrot mixture into a blender and add:

1/2 to 1 cup oat milk

Start with the 1/2 cup and add more if the mixture needs to be thinned to your taste. If the carrot mixture is really hot, cover the top of the blender with a kitchen towel and don’t fill it more than 1/2 full or you’ll have an explosion of hot soup all over your counter! Start blending on the lowest speed and as it purees, increase slightly. Should only take 30-45 seconds to blend. Serve with lemon zest and a wedge of lemon on the side. Serving it on the side allows the person eating that bowl to add as little or much of the lemon as they like. [I learned this trick from a Vietnamese chef and it really does mellow out the curry.]