Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dirty Rice with Collards, Chickpeas, and Savory and Spicy Seasonings

I like to search for delicious recipes and often adapt ones I see on the Internet to satisfy my culinary and health needs. Several months ago I had the good fortune to convert a Cajun/Southern Dirty Rice Dish which originally featured animal protein into a Plant-based, Gluten Free, Main Dish Delight. The ingredients I use are top-notch, rich in plant-based calcium, protein, flavor, and antioxidants.

I’d never heard of “Dirty Rice,” until I spotted a vegan rendition from Letty's Kitchen. She eats this dish as a simple supper with a salad.

My hubby and I have made several changes to the basic recipe, and use it as a go to dish when we crave spicy, wholesome, and filling. Please let me know what you think about my version.


3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup long grain brown rice (I used brown Basmati for the aroma and taste)
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) approximately 1 ¾ cups
1 bunch collards greens (about ten leaves) middle stalk (stem) removed from each piece
1 chopped red or yellow onion, or a bunch of scallions to equal 1 cup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or low sodium non-GMO gluten free soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper up to 1/4 teaspoon depending on how hot you like it
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

What to do:

1. In a sauce pan, bring 2 cups vegetable stock to a boil. Add the rice, bay leaf, and turmeric. Cover and return to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 30 to 40 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. Let the rice sit for a few minutes. Then, fluff it with a fork.

2.While the rice is cooking, prepare the collard greens, (one cup contains 10% of the RDA of protein and 27% for calcium). For additional information about health benefits see What's New and Beneficial About Collards. Wash collards in cool water. Place one leaf on your cutting board at a time. Remove the tough stalk that runs down the leaf by slicing down each side of the stalk. Save the stalks for your compost pile. Stack the collard leaves one on top of each other, with the leaf tips all at the same end. Roll the stack tightly in a long tube. Starting at the thick end, slice the collards as thinly as possible to make spaghetti like strands. Then cut the strands across into ½ in. pieces.

3.Place raw pumpkin seeds in a roasting pan in the oven. Pumpkin Seed Health Benefits from Medical News Today. Set temperature to 450° F. When that temp is reached, remove the seeds from oven and let sit.

4.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion or scallions. Sauté until tender, which will take approximately 5-7 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger and sauté another two minutes.

5.Pour in the last cup of vegetable broth and add chickpeas into the mixture. I enjoy eating chickpeas as this pulse is full of flavor. Half a cup provides 6g of protein, 6 g of fiber, and 10% of the DV for Iron. Then, stir in the collard strands and cover the skillet. Cook over medium-heat about 15 minutes, until the collards are just tender and chickpeas are hot. Transfer to a colander and drain well.

6.Combine collards, chickpeas, roasted pumpkin seeds, Bragg Liquid Aminos, cayenne, and nutritional yeast with the rice and mix well. Grind in a generous amount of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve piping hot or at room temperature. This recipe will serve 4-6 hungry people. The picture below illustrates this fabulous dish being served with a tossed green salad, one topped with beets and creamy bean dressing.

Notes About this Recipe: 

I grow and shop for organic ingredients and prepare them as often as I can. I usually don't label food as organic in the recipes I post, but want you to know organic foods taste better and are better for you than conventional ones. Read Organic Oven Baked Cottage Fries and a Full Explanation About Why Organic is Best.
The first time I made a dirty rice recipe, I used a leek instead of an onion (see Letty’s recipe at the link above). It tasted delightful, though it was labor intensive and more expensive than using onion. Leeks require a lot of prep, as dirt hides in every layer. I like simple and cost effective so I tried onion the next time I tested my recipe, and scallions the third. Feel free to use what you like as the flavor is good each way.
Nutritional yeast is inactive yeast, most often enriched with Vitamin B-12. It adds a savory layer of flavor and contributes to the pleasing golden yellow color of the dish. Nutritional yeast is available in the bulk section of most markets.
Bragg Liquid Aminos is a non-GMO Project Verified liquid protein concentrate  and 1/2 teaspoon supplies 290 mg of soy protein. It can replace soy sauce or tamari sauce in many recipes. I like its bold flavor, and feel good that it doesn’t contain gluten, MSG, or ingredients that are genetically modified.

Ginger helps digestion and acts as a stomach aide. It adds a kick, a spicy, pungent yet invigorating note to dishes. Facts About Ginger. 

Turmeric (especially an element in it called curcumin) is a miracle spice that adds tang, color, and powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties to foods. My research and cooking experience shows that it heightens flavor and increases the meals’ health benefits. Be mindful to use it in recipes where you can also use black pepper and oils like those found in flax, olives, or avocados to increase the body’s ability to absorb it. See Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. Also see What's New and Beneficial About Turmeric.

Please don't forget to let me know whether you're going to try this recipe. Do you often experiment with new recipes? Are you willing to learn something new, as well as take advantage of a meals' good taste and health enhancing benefits? After you comment below, please remember to click on the word publish.

Our quote for the day follows: "My mom's collard greens. No one else in the world can make them like hers. I'm not just saying that because she's my mom. She's got some Mississippi secret. I could seriously eat them every day." Santigold at Brainy Quotes.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Great Reasons to Travel to Flagstaff AZ

I love to visit Flagstaff, both for business and pleasure. Read on and discover why I think this place is so happening and a travel destination to consider for your next trip.

I'm Delighted Crystal Magic in Flagstaff Now Sells Colors of Joy!

Flagstaff, AZ (elevation 7,000 ft.) is in northern Arizona and is the gateway to the highest mountain in Arizona, Humphrey’s Peak (12,633 feet). Flag is an hour and a half drive to the Grand Canyon and on the way to the Four Corners region, the Navajo and Hopi Nations, and spectacular scenery in every direction. This small city of 68,000 people is a haven for outdoor types, foodies, college students, couch potatoes, coffee or micro-brewery devotees, and everyone in between.

Crystal Magic in Flagstaff is at the corner of N. San Francisco St. and Route 66

I traveled to Flagstaff primarily to open new markets for the woman's self-care journal, Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss. 

I was happy to learn that the weekend I was there coincided with the annual Folk Festival. This special event takes place among the beautiful ponderosa pines on the grounds of the Coconino Center for the Arts and the Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum.

ome of the best folk and acoustic music in Arizona is performed during this festival, with over 100 acts on five stages, workshops, jams, and food.

An overcast sky and temps in the mid-80's, seemed like an ideal time to take a break from work and to visit the festival. As I sat on a bench, and inhaled the soothing aroma of the pine forest, I joined into the party at the Flagstaff Folk Festival 2017.

Before I go any further, I'll explain that the Flagstaff Railroad Station (on Route 66) is at the heart of this city. Of all the railroad stations I've seen in Northern AZ, the Flagstaff Railroad Station is tops. Freight trains whiz by often, and bench-sitting and people-watching are relaxing pastimes after time spent prospecting for book business on N. San Francisco Street. It’s fun to observe who gets on or off the Amtrak train, after it pulls into the station. Get sightseeing information and coupons at the Flagstaff Visitor Center in the railroad station building and see Route 66 railroad addition and historic district in Flagstaff.

Me Across the Street from the RR Station in Flag

Shops, bookstores, restaurants, government buildings, and a hotel or two line the streets and alleys in downtown Flagstaff. Visitors and locals enjoy the convenience and pleasure of local shopping, and take advantage of various work and play opportunities, dining, and entertainment diversions found in this area. 

One shop made me reminisce about days gone by, as I spotted the candy shop window with its' jelly apple display. Another made me smile as I admired the craftsmanship of artists with items displayed in the Artists’ Gallery (A Contemporary Fine Art and Craft Cooperative) window. Other shops carry handmade and one-of-a-kind merchandise too. Of those shops I sampled, I found that each proprietor and his or her staff go out of their way to be helpful. Isn't that a switch from Internet or big box store shopping?

After I picked up my morning coffee, I went walking in Flagstaff and saw this.

Two popular sights in Flagstaff are the Lowell Observatory and the new Flagstaff Movie Theater at 4751 E. on Marketplace Drive - Just East of Flagstaff Mall. 

Since there was a monsoon one of the nights we were there, we were rained out of an observatory trip and chose to go to a riveting movie, "Beatriz at Dinner” instead. I recommend this film, starring Selma Hayek. She gives what I felt was an Academy Award Performance. The rest of the cast is excellent too. I don't care for how the picture ended, but life and art can be that way at times.

This is the sixth or seventh time I've been to Flagstaff, and I like to stay at different hotels each time. If you’re a light sleeper, even though most hotels are sound proof, I suggest you book accommodations that are away from the station. The trains speed by 24-7 and do make vibrations.

There are ample accommodations for every category room, except for an ultra-deluxe hotel chain. Flagstaff does have RV parks, campgrounds, B and B’s, and rentals galore. It's smack in the middle of the Coconino Recreation Camping and Cabins Grounds.

Summertime is peak season to vacation in Flagstaff, as people from neighboring desert climes like Phoenix at 115° F and Las Vegas at 111° F, come here to cool off. Many activities go on during each weekend. While I was there, it was also orientation weekend for NAU and Pride Weekend. 

Reserve your room early and plan ahead. This small city is a magnet for tourists and business people, as its’ at the intersection of US Interstate 40 and US Interstate 17, making it a hub for transport in the Northern Arizona area. For additional restaurant, lodging, and tips for travelers see this.

It was good to see many bicycle riders and eco-friendly buses there. For those who are interested in public transportation, here’s a link for Bus Information and one for Amtrak Information.

Electric Bus with Drury Inn in Background

When you travel to Flagstaff, take time to enjoy the sights, scenic views, and mild summer temperatures as you work and play in this laid-back northern Arizona city.

If you're not traveling to Flagstaff soon to get a copy  of Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss at the Crystal Magic Shop, please pick up your copy of Colors of Joy right now from My Website, These Fine Shops, or on Amazon Books.  

Journal writing is a fun way to improve your relationship with yourself and others and free the joy inside.

Have you ever traveled to Flagstaff? Did you enjoy my travelogue? I welcome comments in the section below. If you're new to commenting, please don't forget to click the publish button, after you enter your comment in th space provided below.

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Thanks for Visiting

Hope you enjoyed your visit and will return again. Be well. Live well. Lead a colorful life! Warm regards, Nan