Saturday, February 28, 2009

Turkey Burgers with Basil Mayo

I've taken a little gardening indoors this winter thanks to a recent purchase of an AeroGarden. It's a hydroponic garden that grows plants under perfect conditions ( I planted an herb garden on Jan. 29 and have already started harvesting some basil. I'm growing Italian basil, purple basil, mint, dill, thyme, parsley and chives. You can see in the photo above how much faster the two varieties of basil are growing. That's why I decided to incorporate some basil into a recent recipe for Turkey Burgers with Basil Mayo. I found out it didn't taken much basil because this stuff is so potent (in a good way).

Turkey Burgers with Basil Mayo (Vegan)
Serves 4

Ingredients for burgers:
1 pound turkey burger (I use the 99 percent fat-free kind.)
1/2 cup torn basil leaves (or less if you pick them right out of the garden)
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 T. olive oil
gluten-free buns or bread optional

Ingredients for grilled veggies:
Salt, pepper to taste
1 T. olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 large green zucchini (peeled and cut into thick slices)
1 medium tomato (cut into thick slices)
1 sliced red onion
1/2 T. lemon juice

Ingredients for Basil Vegan Mayo:
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise (Follow Your Heart brand)
2 basil leaves finely chopped (or 1 tsp. dried basil)

Preheat a grill pan (or use a grill or the broiler of your oven). Mix turkey burger with basil leaves, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper. Shape into four patties, refrigerate until grilling after other food items under way. When ready to cook, place in the grill pan (or other cooking device of choice) for about 10-12 minutes, depending on size of patties.

Prepare the veggies. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and vinegar. Cook on a grill or under the broiler. Turn them frequently and cook until veggies are tender and browned on both sides.

Mix the basil mayo in a small bowl with a spoon. To assemble the burgers, place burgers between grilled veggies and top with a dollop of basil mayo. Use a bun if desired. Serve oven-roasted sweet potatoes on the side.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tofu Mango Freeze

My sinus infection is slowly getting better despite all the set backs from the medications I found I was allergic to. It's definitely true that often the remedy is worse than the illness. I guess it's pretty common for people with other allergies or sensitivities to have problems with medications as well. I definitely want to avoid one of these again. I can't take the misery from the sinuses or the stomach pain caused by the medications.
That's why I've invested in a Hydro-Pulse Sinus Irrigator. It's kind of a Water Pik device for your nasal passages. I know to some people it sounds painful while others may find it disgusting but it's really just like a Neti Pot with some extra umph. It may not work but it's worth a try.
Hopefully, it will turn out to be as good a find as the chewable papaya tablets were. I'm still taking them and they are helping my tummy through the tough times of taking antibiotics. I also take a vegan probiotic with every meal.
I tried another mango dessert that is equally as good as the one I made last week. The difference is this one has soy in the form of tofu while the other was free of soy. I only eat soy once in awhile but this dessert is definitely worth trying if you can tolerate soy and love mango like me.
Tofu Mango Freeze (serves 2)
2 cups of diced mango
1/2 cup vanilla-flavored, unsweetened hemp milk (You also may use soy milk.)
6 ounces (half a 12-ounce package) silken tofu
2-4 T. Fruit Sweet (from Wax Orchard's) or other sweetener such as agave nectar (add a little at a time and test for desired sweetness)
1 T. lemon juice
In a blender, blend until smooth 1 cup mango, hemp milk, tofu, lemon juice and sweetener. Pour the mixture in a container and freeze slightly. In the meantime, puree the remaining cup of mango with a little sweetener and refrigerate until serving time. To serve, divide the mango tofu mixture between dessert dishes and spoon the mango puree down one side of each dessert.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mango parfait

I've been fighting a sinus infection for what seems like forever. I could handle the sinus problem better if I could find some kind of decongestant medication that doesn't cause me severe abdominal distress. First it was the Mucinex which added excruciating stomach pain to what I was already experiencing from the sinus infection. That sent me to the internet to see if I could find any other medications that didn't have stomach issues as side effects. I came up empty handed. Finally, out of desperation, I decided to give Sudafed a try. I took one lousy four-hour tablet and ended up with 20 hours of stomach pain. Not much of a trade off for a few hours of head relief. The pain was so bad I couldn't even sleep.

There was one positive thing that came out of this. I was searching the internet and came across a website for a book entitled, "The Sinus Cure." One of the suggestions in the book was to take chewable papaya tablets for sinus pain, as well as digestion. Papaya apparently has anti-inflammatory properties. The papaya tablets didn't work for my sinuses but they are the only thing that pulled my stomach out of the mess created by Mucinex and then Sudafed. And they are keeping my tummy under control while I take antibiotics for the sinus infection. Just make sure you don't get the sugar-free ones. They contain sorbitol and mannitol which are sure to play havoc with your stomach.

Papayas are amazing. I wanted to use them in a dessert idea I had but unfortunately I could only find mango. So I came up with a dessert recipe that could be used with either mango or papaya.

Mango or Papaya Parfait (serves two)

1 1/2 cups cubed mango or papaya (reserve 1/2 cup for assembling parfaits)
1 1/4 cups vanilla-flavored hemp milk or other alternative dairy beverage (I used the unsweetened, vanilla-flavored hemp milk.)
2-3 T. agave nectar
1-2 tsps. lime juice
2 T. sweet rice flour for thickening

Blend the hemp milk and fruit in a food processor or blender as if you were making a smoothie. Pour the mixture, agave nectar, lime juice and sweet rice flour into a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Whisk constantly while the mixture is thickening. It should reach a pudding like texture. If needed, add more milk. Once thickened, pour the mixture into a container and refrigerate until cooled. To assemble parfaits, layer pudding with diced reserved mango or papaya or consider a combination of the two fruits in dessert dishes. Yum! It's better than chocolate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kiwi Freeze

I learned once again this past week how important it is for anyone, but especially someone with stomach issues and allergies, to carefully read side effects when taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines. I'm still recovering from taking Mucinex which a nurse practitioner suggested I take for my chronic sinus problems. I experienced some of the rare side effects that left me pretty much incapacitated for four days. I hadn't felt that kind of stomach pain and gas since I realized four years ago that I was sensitive to artificial sweeteners. It's taken most of a week since I stopped taking it for my stomach to begin to feel more normal.

Prior to the whole Mucinex thing, I had finally gotten my stomach under control after eliminating chocolate from my diet. My stomach was feeling good but not my mind that kept telling me to eat chocolate, which I dearly love. Anyhow, I had to come up with some substitutes to keep my sweet tooth happy. The Kiwi Freeze was one of my chocolate substitutes.

Kiwi Freeze for 2 servings

1 cup plain hemp milk
2 T. sweet rice flour for thickening
2-4 kiwis peeled and diced
sweetener of choice to taste (I used 2T. white grape juice concentrate)

Add hemp milk and sweet rice flour to a medium saucepan. Whisk to mix and then add white grape juice concentrate. Bring slowly to a boil whisking constantly. Mixture will thicken to texture of pudding. Add more hemp milk or sweetener if needed. Transfer mixture to a container for cooling in the fridge. About half hour before serving, place the amount you're going to eat in a serving dish and transfer to the freezer. Allow the mixture to freeze slightly and then top with diced kiwis. Yum! In fact, my son thought I was making frosting when it was cooking because the smell and flavor was very similar.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Salmon with Grape Tomato Salsa

This has got to be the longest winter ever since I've lived in southern Idaho. I'm sure we've set an all-time record for winter inversion days in a row. Our previous record was 20 days in a row.

I'm not the only one suffering health wise. I keep hearing about people with sinus and ear infections that won't clear up and other assorted ailments related to our dirty, cold air. I've felt so bad this winter that I went to have my blood checked for Vitamin D and B, among other things. So far, I haven't gotten the results.

In the meantime, I gave up chocolate because it seemed to be causing me additional stomach issues. I haven't had any chocolate for about two weeks and it seems like an eternity. Everywhere I turn there are ads, recipes, pictures, etc., of chocolate, especially with Valentine's Day on the horizon. It's as bad as when I gave up coffee about 5 years ago. It was pure torture for quite awhile. Hopefully, I'll be able to have some chocolate in small, infrequent quantities in the future. At least, I'm consoling myself with that for right now.

I did try out a delicious recipe for salmon, topped with a grape-tomato-caper salsa.


1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1/8 cup dried parsley

1 T. capers

1 T. white wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 T. olive oil, divided

1/4 tsp. salt, divided

1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper, divided

2-3 four-oz. salmon filets


Preheat broiler. Combine the first six ingredients in a medium bowl, and stir in 1 1/2 tsp. oil, 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper.

Brush salmon with remaining 1 T. oil; sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Place salmon on a sprayed grill pan. Broil salmon filets until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness is reached. Serve topped with grape-tomato-caper salsa.