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The Sailaway Gourmet

Here we are again, another year has sped by and unfortunately still dealing with a worldwide virus. I think our wish for the New Year is for it to be over. Hopefully, it will be in time.
Recently it was decided by a holistic practitioner that I should try a plant-based diet. This cuts out most, if not all dairy (give up cheese, AAUGH!!), meat, poultry and seafood, leaving you with fruits, vegetables and most any type of pasta or grain. After reading a whole book on this type of diet and looking at many recipes, I was a bit hesitant. Breaking food habits so late in life can be a challenge, but this is supposed to be a great diet for your overall health, claiming to solve a multitude of issues.
I decided to go slow, eating plant-based 50% of the time. Not so hard as I eat a lot of salads, roasted/sautéed veggies and lots of pasta anyway and I don’t have to give up the whole grain bread I love. I’ve found that preparing can take longer, but the result is worth the time it takes. And even though I’m not fully invested in the diet yet, I am finding I feel better and have more energy. My only complaint is that so many of the recipes are laden with onions and garlic, two foods I am not fond of and use very sparingly, cutting the amounts listed in half or less.
Since we’re in for the winter and have more time in the kitchen, here are a few dishes I’ve tried and enjoyed. If you have already given up eating meats and poultry, changing to this type of diet should be easy for you. I still sneak in the seafood (salmon) and we won’t mention last Thanksgiving…
The recipes here are from ‘Forks and Knives’ – a plant-based magazine and company that can be found on the web. It is worth looking into.

To start your day, try this:
Brown Rice Breakfast Pudding
3 cups of cooked brown rice
2 cups of unsweetened almond milk
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
1 cup of dates, pitted and chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup of raisins
Salt to taste
1/4 cup of slivered almonds, toasted

Combine the rice, almond milk, cinnamon stick, cloves and dates in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Take off the stove and add the apples, raisins and salt to taste. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve garnished with the almonds. Serves 4.

Comfort food:
Mushroom Stroganoff
2 large shallots, peeled and minced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp. minced thyme
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp. rosemary
1 lb. portobello mushrooms stemmed and cut into large pieces
1 oz. porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup of boiled water, then chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup Tofu Sour Cream (recipe follows) *
1 lb. whole-grain fettuccine, cooked and drained
Chopped parsley

Sauté the shallots in a large skillet over medium heat for about 8 minutes, adding 1-2 Tb. of water to keep them from sticking. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Stir in the salt, pepper, rosemary and portobello mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the porcini mushrooms with their soaking liquid along with the wine, stir and cook for 20 minutes.
When the stroganoff is finished cooking, stir in the tofu sour cream, then the cooked noodles and toss well. Serve garnished with parsley. Serves 4.

*Tofu Sour Cream: In a blender, combine 1-12oz. package of drained extra firm tofu, with 1Tb. lemon juice, 1Tb. red wine vinegar and salt to taste and puree until smooth and creamy. Chill until ready to use.

This is my favorite:
Zucchini Rollatini with Quinoa and Chickpeas
1/2 cup cashews
1 Tb. each of nutritional yeast and lemon juice
1/8 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
1/8 tsp. each of salt and fresh ground pepper
2 cups frozen spinach
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained and mashed
3/4 cup of cooked quinoa (with a pinch of crushed red pepper if desired)
2 medium zucchinis
1-1/2 cups of oil-free marinara sauce
2 Tb. whole wheat bread crumbs
Parsley, chopped, for garnish

To make the cashew cheese, soak the cashews in 1/3 cup of hot water for 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender, add the yeast, lemon juice, 1/8 tsp. of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and thick like cream cheese.
Preheat the oven to 400º. Rinse spinach in hot water to thaw. Drain and squeeze all the water out of it, then finely chop.
For the filling, combine the mashed chickpeas, spinach, cashew cheese, quinoa and the remaining 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder.
With a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini lengthwise into long strips. Lay a strip of zucchini on a clean surface and place 1Tb. of filling at one end. Roll the zucchini up and place, seam side down in a 3-qt. baking dish. Repeat with the remaining strips and filling. Use a toothpick if necessary to keep the rolls together. Cover with the marinara sauce and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until the edges of the rolls are golden brown. Serve garnished with parsley. Makes 20-22 rolls.

Happy New Year!