Ten Recipes So Easy That You Could Make Them with One Hand Tied Behind Your Back

The sun is finally out, spring is in the air, and here in Richmond, most of us are enjoying the opportunity to be outside before the thermostat goes from reading “warm” to “do-we-live-in-a-brick-oven?” We’re spending more time out reading on the patio, meeting friends for happy hour, or squeezing in a trail run or bike ride after work and before dinner. We’re not spending much time in the kitchen preparing meals. Sound familiar? If so, you may be looking for some quick and easy recipes this spring.

Ever since I flew off a bike five months ago and fractured both hands, I have had limited or no use of my left hand, which had the more severe injury. After my first surgery, I had no use of either arm for several weeks, so cooking meals, no matter how quick or easy, was out of the question. After some rehabilitation, I was able to use both hands but my left wrist fatigued easily so I had to keep things simple in the kitchen. I also had to stop writing outside of my day job because typing all day at work was all I could handle. That is why things have been pretty quiet around here lately.

Three weeks ago, I had my second surgery and a second medical leave, which left me with some time for reflection. I decided that I wanted to start writing and cooking sooner this time. I committed to the struggle, knowing that a lot of utensils would be dropped and a lot of joints would get swollen in the process. In the kitchen, I focused on dishes I could make with one hand. I still had a lot of help from my husband Kyle, but I was surprised to find how much I could do myself one handed.

Of course these recipes go even quicker with both hands, but if you’re in a cast like I was, you can pull them off pretty easily with just one. If you are fortunate enough to have the use of both hands, but you’re just in a rush and want something quick and easy, you’ll love these recipes too!

Tips for One Handed Cooking

  1. Get an electric can opener, or a friend who will open several cans at once and dump contents into easy-open reusable containers for you to pull from the refrigerator throughout the week.
  2. Buy pre-chopped vegetables. These are a lifesaver.
  3. Choose meals with few ingredients and uncomplicated preparations so that you will not have to juggle too much at once.
  4. Cook in large batches so that you can have leftovers for other meals and save yourself cooking time.
  5. Replace your salt and pepper mills with plain old pre-ground sea salt and black pepper.
  6. On the stovetop, use heavy bottomed pans that will stay in place while you stir, without someone holding on to the handles.
  7. Be patient! Focus on what you CAN do and don’t dwell on what you CANNOT do (I’m still working on that one myself.)

Easy Recipe Roundup

Eating Bird Food Green Elvis Smoothie – smoothies are a great way to boost nutrition in a quick and easy way

onehand smoothie

 

Lazy Egg and Cheese Sandwich from Smitten Kitchen via A Cup of Jo. Confession: I have had so many egg sandwiches in the last few months. Try adding some Everything Bagel Sprinkles.

Vegology Arugula Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas and Feta – substitute whole grape tomatoes if you can’t/won’t slice the Roma tomatoes

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NoBull Veggie Burgers – or substitute patty of your choice, serve on store-bought buns with baby carrots and hummus, or baked-from-frozen sweet potato or zucchini fries

Vegology Vegetarian Gumbo with Brown Rice – all ingredients can be purchased pre-chopped, frozen, or canned

Real Simple Stuffed Poblano Peppers – instead of stuffing, I chopped the roasted poblanos in a food processor and added them to the rice mixture

onehand peppers

AllRecipes.com Unsloppy Joes – all ingredients can be purchased pre-chopped, frozen, or canned

Budget Bytes Quick Fix Salad Bar Pizza – the salad bar is definitely your friend for finding pre-chopped ingredients. Substitute a store-bought pizza crust for tortilla if you want a thicker, breadier crust.

Sweets too! Baked doughnuts are a really easy dessert and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could make these with just one hand.

onehand doughnut

Joy the Baker’s Double Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

Vegology Supercharged Coffee Doughnuts

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Thank you to those readers who have patiently forgiven my three month hibernation and are still around for this revival of Vegology! I am thrilled to have found a way to keep writing and I am excited to rejoin the amazing blogging community after some time off. I hope you are excited too!

What To Do With Fresh Cranberries

If you were lucky enough to have fresh cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving, you may have found yourself standing over a simmering pot of tart and sweet cranberries and sugar. When the aroma of orange zest, warm sugar and spicy cinnamon has faded, and you have polished off the last turkey (or tofurky) sandwich you will eat this November, you may discover some leftover fresh cranberries in the bottom of the refrigerator. What to do with those beautiful and mystifying fresh cranberries? I say drink them.

Loaded with antioxidants and bursting with fresh, tart flavor, cranberries are a delicious and festive addition to the table this time of year. They are also the perfect ingredient for livening up seasonal beverages. If you’re dragging a little after the feeding frenzy and shopping marathon that was last weekend, try mixing up a fresh cranberry drink to get you in the mood to deck the halls this month. I have included both Nice and Naughty options; which you choose depends on how you intend to celebrate the season.

If you’re still trying to make the Nice list. . .

Chocolate Covered Cranberry Smoothie (Makes about one 8 oz serving)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup milk (non-dairy can be substituted)
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1-1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/2 of a 1 oz packet of protein powder (I used Spiru-tein vanilla; I bet chocolate would be awesome too)

Preparation:

  1. Put all  ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve with a fun straw!

While the smoothie would make an excellent on-the-go breakfast, I don’t recommend toting the next one with you to work or on errands, because it is most definitely alcoholic. However, the mixed drink would be a great signature cocktail at your next holiday party. It is basically a Dark ‘n Stormy with muddled cranberries, and I have maintained the nautical theme of the original drink in the naming of this new concoction. It is really quite tasty.

If you already know you’re on the Naughty list. . .

Red Sky at Night

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 fresh cranberries (choose dark ripe ones)
  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 6 oz ginger beer (I used Reed’s)
  • a few ice cubes
  • lime wedge

Preparation:

  1. Use a muddler or wooden spoon to muddle the cranberries in the bottom of a glass.
  2. Add rum and ice cubes to the glass, then pour ginger beer on top.
  3. Gently stir and garnish with a fresh lime wedge or skewered cranberries (or both!).

It was easy to use up my leftover cranberries with these recipes under my belt. And I think I just discovered two new reasons to keep a bag of fresh cranberries around throughout the holiday season. Now that that’s cleared up, I believe there’s only one question that is left unanswered. Maybe you can help me with it.

Naughty or Nice? Or a little bit of both?

All About Almond Milk

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was finally time to try almond milk. I typically buy milk from Homestead Creamery and I occasionally pick up soy milk instead of cows milk. Lately I have tried to make more conscious decisions when it comes to animal products, and I have found myself substituting soy milk a lot when I am unsure of the source of the cows milk that is available. However, soy milk is not the only non-dairy option. There is also rice milk, coconut milk, almond milk and probably some more milks that I am not even aware of. I’ve heard good reviews of Almond Breeze almond milk, so I used a coupon to pick some up at the store one weekend.

Almond milk is made from ground almonds and water. Some brands add sweeteners and flavors so it is always best to check the ingredient list to make sure you know what you’re getting. People have been drinking almond milk for centuries. It was a staple of Medieval kitchens because animal milk spoiled too quickly. Historically it has been used as a substitute for animal milk during times of fasting in many cultures and religions. It is lower in cholesterol and saturated fats than cows milk, and it has no gluten or lactose. Almonds are high in magnesium, potassium, vitamin E and calcium, and so is almond milk. The downsides I found in research were that almond milk is a little high in sodium and it has much less protein than soy milk or cows milk.

I did a little experiment and tried the almond milk in several different things throughout the week to see how versatile it was. I first tried it plain, and found it to be a little watery, with a pleasant nutty taste. Here is a rundown of all the other ways I tried almond milk.

In Coffee: I usually take my coffee with milk or cream and no sugar. I subbed in some almond milk and wasn’t a fan. The almond milk did not add to the black coffee that slightly creamy texture that I get from soy milk or cows milk. It was very watery, and while the flavor was nice, I felt that I might as well have had black coffee because the almond milk failed to cut the acidity. Take it or leave it? Some people love it in coffee, but for me: leave it.

In Tea: Tea was a completely different story for me. I made a vanilla spice tea latte with almond milk instead of regular reduced fat milk and it was divine! I loved the almond flavor in my tea latte. It worked really well with the vanilla, honey and spices. I will definitely try this one again.

In a Smoothie: I added almond milk to this chocolate cherry smoothie and it was so amazing. Although I think any milk would have been awesome in this concoction (recipe coming soon). I like the nutty flavor in the smoothie, but I am on the fence about doing this again in the future. I usually add milk to my smoothies for calcium and protein and the almond milk falls a little short. Calcium? Check. Protein? Lacking. I found a way to make it work by adding protein powder to the smoothie, so this may become a regular addition to my blender.

In Cereal: I poured some almond milk over my Kashi Golden Goodness cereal, and it was a hit. I don’t know how this would work with super sugary cereals, but I don’t eat froot loops so I’m not too worried about it. All I know is that I would like to give almond milk an award its performance in a supporting role alongside whole grain and granola cereals. The flavor is a great addition to your bowl. I will definitely be doing this again, in cold and hot cereals.

Overall, I would recommend that you try almond milk if you get the opportunity. For me, it works in some things and not in others. Maybe you will reach the same conclusion or maybe you will love it or hate it in everything. Different strokes for different folks, people. I say it’s worth a try.

The “I Can’t Resist Posting About Pumpkin” Post

I love this time of year – have I said that before?

I always enjoy the transition to fall ingredients, especially the sudden abundance of pumpkin. I usually celebrate with pumpkin-flavored lattes, beers, and of course pie. This year, I am inspired to use pumpkin even more. I am looking forward to snagging my Mom’s pumpkin soup recipe and making it on my own for the first time. I would also like to take a crack at this pumpkin coconut curry I have heard so much about. And there is a spicy fall stew baked in a pumpkin that I have wanted to make for two years. 2010 might be the year that I go for it.

For now, I am experimenting with a big can of 100% pumpkin puree. I am finding that it isn’t just for pie and that it’s a great ingredient to have in your pantry this time of year. Here are two ways that I used pumpkin puree today.

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal with Walnuts

It is about to start raining here again for a few days. It isn’t always easy to jump out of bed in the morning when you are cozy under your covers and listening to the soft patter of the rain on the windows. This oatmeal is definitely worth the few minutes of extra preparation (a little more prep and a little less sleep).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oats

1 cup water

2-3 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1 Tbsp maple syrup (or 2 Tbsp if you have a sweet tooth)

A palmful of walnut pieces

Preparation:

1. Mix the oats, water, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup in a microwave safe bowl or mug.

2. Microwave on high for 2.5-3 minutes or until cooked.

3. Top with walnuts and enjoy!

This is also tasty with the addition of a handful of raisins. I can’t wait to try it with chocolate chips too.

Pumpkin Coffee Smoothie

This is a great way to get that delicious pumpkin latte taste on the days that a cold beverage would be more satisfying than a big mug of pumpkin spice. In Central Virginia, we tend to have warm weather throughout October and I am not always in the mood for a hot drink. This was so fast and easy to make that I prepared it in about 5 minutes on my lunch break then hopped in my car to head back to the office. My coworkers looked at me kind of funny when I told them what I was drinking, but I think they were just jealous.

Ingredients:

1 cup cold coffee

1/3 cup milk

3-4 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree

1 Tbsp brown sugar (oh yes…)

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3-4 ice cubes

Preparation:

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Add one straw. Bliss.

Purslane Two Ways

I first read about purslane in a book about smoothies that I received for my birthday this summer.

In her book, Boutenko writes about the benefits of having variety among the greens that we include in our diets. Rotating the green leafy vegetables that you consume has an evolutionary purpose which she explains aptly in the beginning of her book. One of the suggested greens in the beginner smoothies section is purslane, a weed that is common to North American gardens and lawns. In the spirit of varying my leafy greens, I decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately it was not that easy to do. I do not have a yard and therefore do not grow purslane (neither intentionally nor accidentally). It seems that the only thing I am growing on my small bit of property on the second floor of a Richmond apartment is balcony squirrels. They have nested in the rafters above my balcony and I have had little success keeping anything else alive in the small patch of sunshine outside my glass-paned door. I kept an eye out for purslane at the grocery store and the farmers’ market for weeks, and then one day I found it at the SOTJ farmers’ market. I snatched the last bag of it – can you believe it?!

Even less believable is the fact that I paid $2 for a few handfuls of a common weed. Most avid gardeners might pay me to pluck this out of their yards, but here I am forking over my cash for a parcel of the über-healthy greens.

Purslane is a better source of omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant.

Think about that for a minute. Homeowners across America are going to the drugstore to pick up their expensive fish oil supplements and then heading home to eradicate purslane, an excellent source of omega-3’s, from their own backyards. Maybe not in that exact order, but still. Crazy. Purslane is also rich in beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C. I was pumped to try out this superfood in my own kitchen.

Peach Purslane Smoothie

I had to take a cue from the book that brought this power-packed plant to my attention, and try it out in a smoothie. I first tasted it raw, as I often do with new ingredients. I had read that has a fresh but bitter taste like watercress. Another source described it as lemony with a peppery kick. When I popped a few leaves in my mouth, I tasted grass. And that was about it. A little disappointing, but I was not deterred.

I mixed in a blender: purslane, frozen mango, water, and fresh peach.

This time it tasted peachy – with a hint of grass. But hey, what do you expect from a green smoothie? It tasted like health food but it tasted good. Kyle and I enjoyed it, however I don’t know if it’s for everyone. Good news though: my second preparation of purslane showed crowd-pleasing potential.

Purslane Potato Salad

I didn’t measure exactly – sorry! I have tried to approximate the proportion of ingredients below. This mixture was quite a hit.

Cut one pound of red potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until tender. While the potatoes cook, chop 2-3 green onions and a bunch of purslane (about one cup). Add the juice of one large lemon to 1/3 cup of olive oil in a medium bowl and whisk until mixed. To the dressing, add the onions and purslane. Drain the potatoes and cool. Add the potatoes to the bowl and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Chill at least a few hours before serving.

And we have a winner!

This potato salad was sweet, sour, tangy, and smooth. All of the elements combined to make this a refreshing side to our meal. We had this potato salad alongside marinated roasted vegetable stacks with fresh basil and ricotta and warm sungold tomatoes.

This is the dish that will keep me paying $2 for a handful of weeds. One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. 🙂

Whey Protein Smoothie

For my birthday last month, Kyle’s mom gave me individual packets of fun smoothie ingredients like protein and wheatgrass. This weekend, I tried out the vanilla whey protein in one of my smoothies. The type that I had was a vanilla-flavored whey protein isolate powder from Jay Robb.*

I had heard before that the body can only absorb a limited amount of protein at a time and I know that most diets are not insufficient in protein. Also, a body builder I am NOT. However, being a vegetarian, I keep a close eye on how much protein I ingest and realize that I am at risk for protein deficiency. I aim for 60-65 grams of protein per day and I thought that a whole packet may be excessive.

I used a little less than one half of a packet in this smoothie, which made two 12-oz smoothies. It was a little gritty, which I don’t mind too much, but I might try it with 1/3 of a packet next time for a tasty boost of 8g of protein in one batch. The vanilla tasted great and I am looking forward to trying the strawberry packet that she sent along with it. See my recipe below!

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen fruit (blueberries and banana)

1 cup pineapple juice

1/3-1/2 packet vanilla protein powder (15g)

Preparation

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Yields approximately two 12-ounce smoothies. Grab a straw and a large glass and enjoy, or grab two glasses and share with a friend!

*I did some internet research on this and similar dietary supplements before I was comfortable incorporating them into my smoothies. Please remember that it is always best to consult your physician before adding a supplement to your diet.

Green Smoothie

I like to keep things interesting by writing about the ingredients and preparations that I try for the first time. While I enjoy reading other people’s daily food blogs, writing about oatmeal every day just isn’t my cup of tea. This is not the first time I have used kale, and it is not the first time I have made a smoothie.

But it is the first time I’ve put kale in my smoothie, so let’s talk about it!

Kale is a super ingredient that is great for your health. It is a descendant of the wild cabbage, which originated in Asia and is thought to have been brought to Europe around 600 B.C., where it was a popular food among peasants. Kale is an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C. One cup of kale contains over 85% of your recommended daily value of each of these vitamins. It is also a great source of calcium, fiber, and iron. I found some great information about the health benefits of kale at this site: World’s Healthiest Foods.

I have used kale in stir-fry alongside ginger marinated tofu atop brown rice, and in potato and kale soup. I hear it is the cabbage of choice for use in Colcannon, an Irish dish that incorporates cabbage, potatoes, and sausage. I’ve been meaning to make a vegetarian version but right now it’s just too hot for that. There are three popular varieties of kale: curly, ornamental, and dinosaur. They are all slightly different, and most of my experience is with curly kale.

I used just one large leaf of curly kale for two smoothies. One leaf yielded about a cup of kale, and each cup packed plenty of vitamins and other nutrients for my healthy little smoothie for two. Here’s how it went down.

I added to my blender: one cup of frozen sliced bananas, one cup of frozen pineapple chunks, one leaf of kale (torn, stem removed), and one cup of vanilla soy milk (to sneak in a little more calcium, and because I was out of juice).

Yes, that is a wine glass in the background. It was Saturday morning, post-farmers’ market and pre-dishwashing. There is an empty wine glass (or two) on my kitchen counter after almost every Friday night. This is a fact of life which I am okay with and you should be too.

I blended this for a few minutes, and added a little more banana for consistency and a little more pineapple for flavor, then poured myself a large glass and Kyle a small taste. I wasn’t sure how he would feel about the grassy green concoction. Turned out he loved it, so he enjoyed a large glass too.

I think I’ll try this one again with pineapple or orange juice. It was delicious the first time around, but I would have liked a little more fruit flavor to mask the kale. The pineapple chunks did a great job infusing the smoothie with fruitiness so I’ll punch up the citrus next time for an even more enjoyable jolly green smoothie.

I wonder what will go in my smoothie next?