Day 309: Hearty Heart-Loving Muffins ♥
(Whole-Grain, Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Muffins
with Flax, Bran, Carrot, Apple, Raisin & Surprise Ingredient)

Hearty Heart Loving Muffins, moist, fruity muffins, all you want in a morning muffin. Whole-grain, low-sugar, no added fat plus carrots, apple and raisins and a surprise ingredient. For Weight Watchers, #PP4.
graphic button small size size 10 A regular-size muffin for 120 calories? It's a miracle! This is a healthy whole-grain, no-added-fat version of the classic Morning Glory Muffin. You'll find all the traditional Morning Glory "goodies" of carrots, apple and raisins but here cloaked in a muffin batter of whole wheat flour plus good measures of flaxmeal and oat bran, just a quarter cup of sugar and a surprise ingredient. (Baby food, anyone? Yes!) What these muffins don't call for are butter or oil! The muffins are "just sweet enough" and have the texture of a regular muffin. They're moist and flavorful, just what you want in a morning muffin.

Low Fat. Low Cal. Whole Grain. Easily made vegan with easy vegan substitutes too. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe & photo updated 2015~
~republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration 2015 ~
~more recently updated recipes~

2006: Certain recipes sweep through the food blog world. And these muffins merit attention – all homes should smell so good with muffins in the oven! It started with a recipe from a package of Bob's Red Mill flaxmeal. I found it at Beyond Salmon who got 12 muffins. Then it moved on to Not as Good as Pork Cracklins who got 15 muffins.

And now me – and I got twelve muffins from half a recipe. I did want a small(er) batch but these are so good, I'm glad to have more for the freezer. And the recipe can easily be cut in half again for just six regular-size muffins. If you don't already stock whole grains, this will take a shopping trip, perhaps to a health food store. Lucky me, I had all the ingredients on hand – and was glad of good reason to use them – so these muffins were an easy choice. They will definitely be made again.

I sense this is an extraordinarily flexible recipe, for I adjusted the proportions considerably:
graphic button small size size 10 For still less sweetness, but still plenty sweet, I cut the sugar in half
graphic button small size size 10 For nutrition, I doubled the carrot and added a jar of all-vegetable baby food
graphic button small size size 10 For flavor, I doubled the vanilla and cinnamon
graphic button small size size 10 For moisture, I doubled the liquid and egg and added that jar of baby food

2015: I've meant to remake these muffins forever and ever. They are just as good as I remember. I just now realized how these muffins are so much like Morning Glory Muffins – I love those too! But Hearty Heart-Loving Muffins have half the calories! Definitely worth making, I'm adding them to my list of "signature recipes"!

Kalamata Tuna Salad Bok Choy Wraps ♥

Kalamata Tuna Salad Bok Choy Wraps, tuna salad made with olives wrapped in peppery bok choy leaves. #LowCarb #GlutenFree Paleo, Whole30 friendly. For Weight Watchers, just #PP2 or #PP3.
graphic button small size size 10 Homemade tuna salad made with kalamata olives, wrapped in leaves of peppery bok choy. Weight Watchers Friendly, just two or three PointsPlus. High Protein. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. graphic button small size size 10

I'm always on the hunt for quick, healthy, low-calorie, low-carb make-ahead lunches. Protein is a real priority, so is a healthy vegetable. Enter the tuna salad that for a year now, has captured my heart, one lunch after another. The tuna salad is based on the
Italian Tuna Salad from Viviano’s Festa Italiano in my column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Like the rest of us, until now I dashed together tuna salad without thought, a little onion, a little celery, a spoonful or two mayonnaise and voila, there it is, tuna salad.

WORD DANCERS Last week a blogger wrote not voila but viola. Ooops. Ever since, the word dancer in me is entertained by intentionally using the wrong word. With tuna salad, I'd say something like, "Viola! That's it!" Tee hee. #ButIDigress #Sorry #NotSorry

Viviano's tuna salad omits the onion and celery and substitutes olives. What a simple but profound revelation! Olives add a burst of dense saltiness really works with meaty, creamy tuna. I like the tuna-olive combination so much that some times, I skip all the rest except a touch of salt and pepper.

But then there's the vegetable angle. Spinach leaves and chard leaves make great wraps when you're in a Wrap 'n' Eat mode. Me, I wanted Wrap 'n' Hold tuna salad, something that keeps for a day or two. Bok choy leaves are excellent, they really hold together without wilting or going mushy. And – bonus – bok choy has that lovely peppery bite, like arugula.

Spinach Recipes ♥ Alphabet of Vegetables

Tired of the same-old spinach? Find new inspiration in this collection of seasonal (and dare I say, sexy?) Spinach Recipes from A Veggie Venture, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, sandwiches to smoothies, simple to special. Many Weight Watchers, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo, whole30 recipes.
Hello Vegetable Lovers: The housekeeping continues with the Alphabet of Vegetables here on A Veggie Venture! The goal is to separate out our "most favorite" vegetables so their pages will load more quickly, handy for all but especially those of us who check for recipes on our phones. ~Alanna

PS Facebook & Pinterest users, if you like A Veggie Venture, be sure to "like" and "pin" this page! More and more, search engines and even real-live human beings rely on social media indicators to identify favorite sources of trusted information.

IN A RUSH? Prefer Another Vegetable?
Skip Straight to the Recipes or Switch to the A-Z of Vegetables.

Spinach 101: THE BASICS
Pronounced [SPIN-itch]. Spinach is a "leafy green" and also a bitter green.

graphic button small size size 10 The Origins of Spinach. Spinach is thought to have originated in the Middle East. It was grown in Spain as early as the the 8th century and the Spaniards brought it to the New World. Spinach contains oxalic acid, providing the slightly bitter taste prized by some and despised by others. Spinach's dark green leaves may be either curled or smooth.
graphic button small size size 10 The Season. Spinach is a "cool season" crop, its growing season is "late winter" through "late spring." In climates with long summers, a second crop is planted in "late summer" for harvest before winter. Luckily for those of us who aren't gardeners (or in our off-seasons), fresh spinach is a year-round staple in modern grocery stores.
graphic button small size size 10 Fresh Baby Spinach. I love-love-love bags of already-washed fresh baby spinach from the grocery store. Both the leaves and stems are small and tender, perfect for salads. Baby spinach is best eaten raw, it just "melts" into a gooey mess with only a touch of heat. Who's tried the red spinach from Trader Joe's? So pretty! It's less convenient, of course, but do rinse even pre-washed spinach and other salad greens just before serving, they'll be so much fresher! Do dry the leaves, either by patting with paper towels or running through a salad spinner.
graphic button small size size 10 Fresh "Mature" Spinach. Grocery stores also carry bags and bundles of spinach with larger leaves. For simplicity, let's call it "mature" spinach, shall we? Some times even mature spinach is quite tender, it can also be eaten raw though you might want to cut the leaves into easier-to-manage ribbons. But mature spinach is the right spinach for cooking. In fact, it will cook in just a minute or two if you drop it into something hot like soup or hot pasta. Some mature spinach has quite-thick, almost collard-thick and chewy leaves, choose this form of spinach for slow-cooking spinach or long-cooked southern-style greens. Cooked spinach, at its best, is dark and velvety.

Carrot Buttermilk Pancakes ♥

Carrot Buttermilk Pancakes, light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes with a surprise ingredient, a jar of carrot baby food. For Weight Watchers, #PP4.
graphic button small size size 10 Light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes laced with carrots – not grated carrots, not cooked carrots but a small jar of baby food carrots! The carrots make for lovely color and a subtle sweetness but really, if no one will know there's carrots in the pancakes unless someone says. This is an easy variation of My Mom's Pancake Recipe, my very first pancake recipe. It's an easy-easy recipe to make changes to – like, on a whim, adding a jar of carrot baby food! graphic button small size size 10

~recipe & photo updated & republished 2015~
~ just in time for "Shrove Tuesday" aka "Pancake Night" tomorrow, February 17th ~
~more recently updated recipes~

2007: For as long as I've known, if it's the Tuesday supper before Lent, supper is pancakes. This year, I'm cooking up another quick batch of my Mom's buttermilk pancakes with a jar of baby food tucked in and topped with a gorgeous sorghum from Sandhill Farm. They're pretty, they're light, they're cheap, they're fast.

And I find considerable irony that our lives are now are so rich that the egg and butter and flour and sugar in pancakes are no long considered ingredients worthy for Lent's fasting. When was the last time you heard someone say, "I'm giving up eggs for Lent"?

So tonight, it's pancakes. And tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, I'll plant Lenten grass, an old Finnish tradition especially good for helping children observe Lent. Tis the season.

2015: Ah, Sunday pancakes! If you're a pancake fan, add this recipe to your rotation – or just add a jar of baby food to your own favorite recipe. Tis a winner!

"The baby food, again? Well, everybody, it works!" ~ BookBum

Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi with Creamy Tomato Sauce ♥

Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi with Creamy Tomato Sauce, worthy of a special occasion or a relaxed weekend meal.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's recipe: The classic Italian spinach gnocchi [pronounced NYOAK-ee, or, read on, there's a musical mnemonic too for my fellow Word Dancers], what you might call a dumpling but light and airy and slightly cheesy. Gnocchi are not difficult to make but do take some time. The results, however, are worthy of a special occasion or a relaxed weekend meal. Y'know, like Valentine's maybe? graphic button small size size 10

~updated & republished 2015 for a little weekend cooking inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

So I like to joke that there's an Unofficial Alanna Kellogg Fan Club and that it has exactly one member. That's our new friend Charlie and given his long-standing encouragement, I've appointed Charlie president.

Laugh if you will but it's true. Some years back and long before we'd met, Charlie read and liked Kitchen Parade when it was published in the local newspaper. He's a volunteer poll worker too so one election, Charlie watched for me and put out his hand to introduce himself. Fast forward to 2011 and Charlie and and his wife Jan's introductions to the Missouri Mycological Society and a smaller culinary group, the Incurable Epicureans.

Both warmly welcome new faces. They're good good people and they don't just like mushrooms, they love good food! Four times a year, they prepare a 'theme meal' for forty or fifty people. On Sunday, we attended our first, a feast of Marcella Hazan recipes. What a meal! There are at least two, maybe three recipes I'll make to post here on A Veggie Venture, simple, fresh and seasonal, you know, the recipes we like best!

Roasted Eggplant Soup ♥

Roasted Eggplant Soup, just eggplant and a few pantry ingredients. For Weight Watchers, just #PP2. Low Carb, Paleo, Gluten Free and easily Vegan.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's inexpensive, healthy winter soup recipe: Take a pretty eggplant, roast it and add a few pantry ingredients. You've got Roasted Eggplant Soup! Weight Watchers Friendly, just 2 PointsPlus. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real" (when made with vegetable stock). graphic button small size size 10

Eggplant this time of year, it's just so pretty! So plump, so perfect and oh-so-pretty – so pretty that last week, not one but two eggplants jumped into my grocery cart. The next day, My Favorite Cook stopped by the grocery for milk and (y'know where this is headed, right?) another one jumped into his cart! "It was so pretty!" he said. I had to laugh: we're so alike when it comes to vegetables, we can't resist the pretty ones. And then I wondered, What in good gravy am I going to do with three eggplants?

#1 Eggplant Soup. It was, um, shall we say, Not-So-Pretty? But I loved the silky texture and the smoky flavor. Win!

#2 One of these eggplant recipes. Right now I'm thinking Moroccan Chicken. (Yeah, I know, a better photo is in order.)

#3 Suggestions??? One to go!

Day 303: Roasted Cauliflower & Tomato ♥

Roasted Cauliflower & Tomato, a fresh take on roasted cauliflower, adding Indian-style spices and a touch of heat. Gorgeous! Vegan, paleo, #LowCarb. For Weight Watchers, just #PP2.
graphic button small size size 10 A fresh take on roasted cauliflower, adding Indian-style spices and a touch of heat. Gorgeous! Low Carb, Paleo, very Weight Watchers friendly. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

~recipe & photo updated 2010 & 2015~
~reposted for weekend inspiration 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

ORIGINAL POST: Oh so waaaay back on Day One, I roasted cauliflower and called it yummy. But this version, spiked with Indian-style spices and pepper, is spectacularly yummy. February tomatoes being what they are, I nearly skipped them but am glad I didn't. The tomatoes add moisture, texture contrast and a bit of acid that pairs beautifully with the creamy cauliflower.

UPDATE: Call me pleased when a recipe I loved way-back-when in the first year of A Veggie Venture tastes just as good – better? – again. The tomatoes, the jalapeño, the spices, they all add to the mixture, making it more than the sum of its parts. I've also learned the importance of a touch of oil when roasting vegetables. They will "cook" with just stock to moisten but they won't develop the crusty caramelization that is the coveted texture from roasted vegetables.