Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tasty Greek flatbread sandwich/salad

Greek flatbread sandwich/salad
My sandwich tastes have evolved through the years. As a kid, my favorite place to stop was A&W Rootbeer for hamburgers. I had to have the "Baby Burger" which apparently they still have on their menu. On one outing to get burgers, my brother and I found something unbelievably funny about our baby burgers. Maybe it was their petite size but we laughed so hard we cried. My mother who was attempting to drive had to give us the "if you two don't settle down, I'll stop this car" lecture.

Later, I developed a taste for French dip sandwiches. The place to go was Philippes, Home of the Original French Dip Sandwiches, on Alameda Street in Los Angeles. I had to look at their website for nostagia sake and couldn't believe the sandwiches are $6.50 in this day and age. Unfortunately for me, it looks like the only thing on their menu I could eat now would be the garden salad.

Then, there was my passion for Gyros, Greek-style pita sandwiches. I think it took me awhile before I realized the meat on my Gyros was lamb. We used to pick up one of these at the food court in the local mall every time we went shopping.

It's amazing how all these sandwiches had meat as their centerpiece. Most weren't even all that healthy but boy, they did taste good back then.

It took me awhile but now I am creating healthier versions of some of my favorite sandwiches. And, of course, they are vegan. My new favorite sandwich is a gluten-free Greek flatbread sandwich that also can be considered a salad. It has a garbanzo bean flatbread, grilled tofu and tahini/cucumber sauce (my version of Tzatziki sauce).

"I'm coming out from under the bed for one of your sandwiches, Mom."

Greek flatbread sandwich salad
 (suitable for ACD-phase 2)

Ingredients for 2 sandwiches:

  1. 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
  2. 3/4 cup water
  3. 1/4 cup olive oil
  4. 1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  5. 2 T. tahini
  6. juice of 2 lemons
  7. 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  8. 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  9. 1/2 pkg. extra firm tofu
  10. 2 T. fresh mint leaves, chopped
  11. 1 tsp. ground coriander
  12. 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  13. Sandwich fixins: chopped tomato, mixed greens, peppercinos, olives, chopped red onion
  1. Make the flatbread by mixing garbanzo bean flour with water in a bowl. The batter should be about the consistency of pancake batter. Adjust the amount of water to get the proper consistency.
  2. Heat a heavy cast iron skillet on medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. When skillet is hot, pour in about 1/2 cup of batter. Cook about 1-2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter. Put each flatbread on a separate plate and set aside.
  3. In a large ziploc bag, combine the olive oil, half of the lemon juice, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper.
  4. Drop the tofu, cut into 1-2-inch pieces into the bag. Let marinate for 10 minutes while you preheat the broiler.
  5. Place the tofu pieces on a broiler pan and broil until slightly charred, 10-12 minutes.
  6. Use your food processor to make the tahini-cucumber sauce. Puree the cucumber mixed with tahini, remaining lemon juice, mint, coriander, cumin, salt/pepper, and water to thin.
  7. Prepare your salad fixins.
  8. Pile the greens and tofu on top the garbanzo bean flatbreads. Top with your other fixins and finish with a drizzle of tahini-cucumber sauce.
"I thought you were coming out for one of Mom's sandwiches."

"You'd better hurry before they are all gone."

That's right, Misha, you'd better hurry because it's not going to take long for one of these Greek flatbread sandwiches to disappear into my stomach.

Check out other healthy-eating ideas at

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Amazing satay sauce on spicy millet lettuce cups

Nika in a rare moment of calm

My blender broke down this week, and I actually got panicky. How can I make my smoothies, sauces and all the other stuff I prepare in my blender? Then, I watched this new ABC show, called Time Machine Chefs, where the premise is the chefs have been transported back in time via a time machine that looks like refrigerator.

It sounds pretty goofy, right? But actually it was kind of interesting from a historical aspect. Can you imagine being transported back to a Tudor England kitchen where hyperactive terrier-type dogs run in large hamster wheels connected to meat spits? It got me thinking. How about a really big hamster wheel for my malamute, Nika. I know she doesn't look hyper in the photo above but that shot was taken during one of her rare calm moments.

The show has a novel idea as it format but most of the meals being prepared were all about meat. How would a vegan or vegetarian ever fit in back in time?

I started wondering about the history of veganism. Veganism was a term coined in 1944 but the concept of not eating animals can be traced back to ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean societies. I got this information from a Time article, entitled Veganism.,8599,1854996,00.html

According to the article, "vegetarianism was first mentioned by the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras of Samos around 500 BCE. Along with his famous Pythagorian triangles, Pythagoras promoted benevolence among all species. Followers of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism also advocated vegetarianism, believing that humans should not inflict pain on other animals.

The meatless lifestyle never really caught on in the West, although it would sometimes pop up during health crazes and religious revivals. The first vegetarian society was formed in 1847 in England. Three years later, Rev. Sylvester Graham, the inventor of Graham crackers, co-founded the American Vegetarian Society.

 In November 1944, a British woodworker named Donald Watson announced that because vegetarians ate dairy and eggs, he was going to create a new term called 'vegan,' to describe people who did not. Tuberculosis had been found in 40 percent of Britain's dairy cows the year before, and Watson used this to his advantage, claiming that it proved the vegan lifestyle protected people from tainted food. Three months after coining the term, he issued a formal explanation of the way the word should be pronounced: 'Veegan, not Veejan.'"
Misha's favorite snack---popcorn
I'm sure everyone has a different story of how they became a vegan. I turned to veganism for health reasons.

Somehow out of the blue, Fritos came up as part of a recent dinner conversation. I guess I used to be something of a junkfood junky because I remember loving Fritos. I knew they had a lot of fat but I was amazed to hear my son say you could start a fire with them. Check out this article. Thank goodness, most of the time, Ritalin Boy sticks with popcorn, and sometimes, he shares with pups, Misha and Nika.

Amazing Satay Sauce on Spicy Millet Lettuce Cups
Well, I'm skipping the Fritos these days. Instead, I'm cooking up tasty vegan meals like, Amazing satay sauce on spicy millet lettuce cups.

Ingredients for 2 servings:
1/2 bunch of cilantro (stalks and all)
1/2 chopped, seeded Anaheim pepper
3 T. unsweetened sunbutter
2 T. Bragg's Aminos
1 tsp. roasted ginger powder
1 T. olive oil
1/2 package extra-firm tofu, rinsed and drained, but into cubes
1 cup cooked millet
1/2 small red onion
1/2 Anaheim pepper, chopped and seeded
Small bunch of cilantro
1-2 T. Bragg's Aminos
1 fresh lime
1 tsp. sesame oil
stevia to taste
Romaine lettuce leaves
chopped cilantro
1-2 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 carrot

  1. Turn on the broiler on hi.
  2. Make the satay. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend into a spoonable paste. Add water or olive oil to thin out the mixture if needed. Put half the satay in a large bowl. Reserve the rest.
  3. Cut the tofu into one-inch chunks. Put the tofu chunks in the bowl of satay. Rub the satay sauce all over the tofu. Place the seasoned tofu on a large baking sheet and put under the broiler until golden, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Clean your lettuce leaves. Put two or more leaves on each plate for serving. Julienne slice the carrot, zucchini and red bell pepper. Place the veggies on another baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and stick on another shelf under the broiler. Broil until just tender and somewhat blackened.
  5. Prepare the millet. Peel the red onion. Put the onion, pepper, cilantro in the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Then, pulse in the Bragg's, fresh lime juice, some lime zest, sesame oil and stevia.  Check for taste and add additional seasoning if needed. Toss the sauce with the millet in a large bowl.
  6. Serve by spooning millet on the lettuce leaves. Top with veggies, tofu and satay sauce.

  7. I haven't convinced Ritalin Boy to eat this dish with millet. He prefers Chinese egg noodles which I cannot eat but he loves everything else about this recipe and so do I!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dandy Blend chocolate chip cookies

"Hey, Mom, Ritalin Boy takes us to the coffee shops sometimes but he doesn't share his coffee with us."
The last time I walked into a coffee shop to order coffee or made coffee for myself at home was more than five years ago. That's a long time to go without a beverage you love. Even an acquaintance once told me, "Poor thing, you miss out on all the good stuff."

But I'm not missing out on all the good stuff. Now, I enjoy Dandy Blend, an herbal coffee substitute made from roasted dandelion roots, and I don't have to worry about the side effects of coffee for me.

And, Ritalin Boy (hubby) drinks plenty of coffee for the both of us. I think he knows every coffee shop owner/manager within a 50-mile radius of home. Fortunately, he doesn't spend all of our money on coffee. But one of his coffee owner friends told him some customers budget as much as $400 a month for their beloved coffee.

"Mom, one time I chewed up the console in the car because Ritalin Boy was in the coffee shop so long."
I've found lots of other ways to use Dandy Blend besides the usual lattes, mochas and iced Dandy Blend. One of my favorites is the Dandy Blend Cookie-Dough Smoothie

I also add it to baked goods to punch up the flavor without adding as much sweetener. My latest creation,  Dandy Blend Chocolate Chip Cookies, are addictive. They pack lots of protein because I used white beans and quinoa flakes instead of the traditional ingredients.

Dandy Blend Chocolate Chip (Cacao Nib) Cookies
If you use my trick, you can have one or two of these babies and not even worry about your waistline. This is a two-part trick. Part 1: pack lots of protein and fiber into your treats. Part 2: Sub the protein/fiber-rich treat for part of one of your regular meals. As an example, for lunch, have a salad with tons of veggies but omit the tofu, avocado or other protein-type garnish. Instead, have a protein-rich treat, such as a Dandy Blend Chocolate Chip Cookie, on the side. Or forget the whole trick and just indulge!


  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes (or substitute gluten-free rolled oats)
  • 1 can white beans (drained and rinsed) 
  • 2 T. chia seeds
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
  • stevia
  • vanilla stevia (no alcohol)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce  
  •  1/4-1/2 cup cacao nibs or vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 scoops chocolate rice protein powder
  • 1 T. sunbutter (or other seed or nutbutter)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar and 1/4 cup coconut nectar (or omit and add more stevia)
  • 1 T. Dandy Blend
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Put 1/2 cup quinoa flakes, chia, cinnamon, salt, stevia, protein powder and baking powder in a coffee grinder and grind until it resembles a coarse powder.
  • Put this ground mixture along with everything else (but cacao nibs) in a food processor and blend. Add in the chips or nibs and give another quick blending.
  • Scoop batter onto a sprayed cookie sheet.
  • Bake 15+  minutes. (watch carefully to make sure they stay soft not too crispy)
  • Makes 12 large cookies. 
Try these other protein-fiber rich cookies to get your treat-fix and satisfy your nutritional needs without compromising your waistline.
Chocolate Quinoa Power Breakfast Cookies
or Quinoa Blueberry Breakfast Cookies

Recipe contributed to:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Brownie cookie dough wrap

"I'm taking care of Mom while she recovers."

My dog, Nika, pictured below, got into the Olympic spirit recently and tried for a gold medal in a relatively obscure sport, called diving off the bed in pursuit of the cat. Unfortunately, she used my leg as her springboard. The result is pictured above. I have kinesiotape plastered all around my knee where Nika planted her enormous paws and 80-pound weight as she made her dive. The bad news: I get to pay for more physical therapy. The good news: it was only a knee ligament strain not a tear. I get to continue to ride my bike (cycling is good for knees) but I have one really weird tan line.

Nika, A.K.A. Knee Annihilator
How do you stay mad at this goofy-looking character? Lucky for her she's such a charmer. 

Brownie Cookie Dough Wrap

Last week, I was short on quick, portable breakfast/lunch ideas. I came up with a Cookie Dough Breakfast Wrap on Quinoa Flatbread. Now that I'm hobbling around with an injured knee, healthy, fast-food options are even more important.

And then, there's the all-important "healing" properties of chocolate. With those things in mind, the Brownie Cookie Dough Wrap was born. It's equally as delicious and portable as the Cookie Dough Wrap. You can use any kind of white beans in both of these recipes .

Note: It helps if you have a stash of quinoa flatbreads in your freezer which fortunately I did.

Ingredients for Brownie Cookie Dough:
(suitable for ACD-maintenance; ACD-phase 2 may use if only stevia is used for sweetener)
  1. 1 can on canellini beans, drained and rinsed
  2. 3 T. raw cacao powder
  3. 2 T. coconut nectar + stevia to taste
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 1/2 cup sunbutter, unsweetened
  6. 2 scoops chocolate rice protein powder
  7. 2 T. cacao nibs
  8. 2 T. hemp seeds
  1. Blend ingredients items No. 1-6 in food processor. Then, add nibs and hemp seeds. Spread 1-2 T. cookie dough on quinoa flatbread. Garnish with strawberries or other fruit. Roll and wrap in wax paper and enjoy!
Quinoa Flatbread (makes 2 pieces)

  1. 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa but all kinds work.)
  2. 1 chia egg (mix 1 T. chia with 2 T. water and allow to gel overnight)
  3. Optional: spices such as cinnamon
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a large baking sheet with pan spray.
  • Put quinoa in food processor and blend until pretty mushy.
  • Add in chia egg and continue to blend until the mixture balls together.
  • Spread quinoa-chia mixture on baking sheet using wet hands or flatten with a large piece of wax paper as shown below to 1/4-inch in thickness.

Flatbread dough being smooshed flat with wax paper
  • Bake for 30+ minutes until flatbread is crispy but pliable.
  • Cut flatbread into two pieces with a pizza cutter.