Healthy Eating, Vibrant Living!

Veg4Health Newsletter

Getting Ready for Christmas!
I love this time of year as do most of you.  The anticipation of Christmas celebrations and all of the preparations are exciting - and exhausting!  It always seems there is so much to do during December and never enough time to truly relax and enjoy the sights and smells of the holiday season.  One of the ways I "create" more family time is to use my crockpot to simplify my life.  When it's the end of a long day, everyone is tired and starving and the last thing I want to do is head to the kitchen and prepare dinner.  So, what do I do?  Rather than grab anything in sight, we set the table, slice some bread, dice some fresh fruit, gather the family and open my crockpot.  A delicious and healthy ready-to-eat meal is ready and waiting!  
Cooking in the Crockpot (or the slow cooker) is easy, fun and healthy.  Instead of thinking all day about what to make for dinner, a little prep time in the morning ensures a healthy, hot meal at dinner time.  A crockpot is a great help in preparing nutritious meals with a minimum of work.  Most crockpot recipes call for 6 to 8 hours of cooking.  If your day stretches longer than that, use a timer to start the crockpot a few hours after you leave in the morning.  Without the use of dairy and meats, a few extra hours on your countertop won't harm anything.  And if you have prepared the crockpot the night before and stored it in the refrigerator overnight, those few extra hours simply let the ingredients come to room temperature before cooking.  After a long and busy day, nothing beats a hot, hearty, homemade meal for dinner.  (As a side note, I also love to use my crockpot during the summer months.  I hate heating up my kitchen during the long hot days, so I put the crockpot in the garage and let it cook all day.  No heat and only one pot to clean after dinner - you can't beat that on a hot summer evening!)
Here are three wonderful recipes for those cold winter nights:

 Split Pea and Parsnip Soup:

As simple as this recipe sounds, we were quite surprised at the wonderful taste it had the first time we tried it.  The liquid smoke is optional, but it really adds a unique hint of a flavor I wouldn't want to leave out.

Hoppin John


This recipe is a great crowd pleaser.  It appears to be so simple, yet the taste is robust and hearty.  We serve it with hot sauce on the side for those of us who like it a little more spicy than the rest of the family.  The recipe calls for vegetarian sausage links, but I substituted cooked and choppped Boca Burgers the other night and it was fine.



This recipe takes just a little more prep time than the other crockpot recipes but it is definitely worth it!  It's loaded with all kinds of wonderful winter vegetables and packs a great nutritional punch.  When I prepare my menu for the week, I make sure this dinner follows one where I am cooking greens.  Then, I just cook an extra bunch and use the leftovers to add to this soup at the end of the day.  The recipe calls for collards, but spinach, turnip greens or kale works just as well.
During the Christmas season we often find ourselves surrounded by food.  It seems our holiday traditions often center around foods - new ones as well as ones we enjoyed as a child.  Just because we are trying to eat more whole, plant based foods, doesn't mean we can't indulge some over the coming weeks.  One of the ways I love to pamper myself is to create healthy versions of the comfort foods I grew up with.  It's not really hard to do with a little imagination, knowledge and creativity.  Failures are inevitable, but without them life would be fairly boring and they give us a great opportunity to have a good chuckle.  I compiled a table of a variety of ways that I have been successful at modifying old recipes and I hope you find it useful.  The table is not inclusive and there may be other substitutions available - but I included those that I most often use and have success with.  If you have other ones, please email me and I will give them a try too. Click here for the chart.


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