Just look at that yummy lunch! I put it together using anything I could find in the fridge while underway from the Exuma Islands to Eleuthera. Lots of colors and quite satisfying; just what the captain needs on a 7 hour journey across the ocean. Let’s see what’s served…stuffed grape-leaves, spiced yogurt, mixed salad with avocado, kettle baked chips and a carrot-pineapple muffin. Easy to put together and it follows all the rules for good nutrition– different colors, balance of carbs, protein and fats, and satisfying enough to last you through the afternoon without making you sleepy! The salad is a mixture of romain and avocado with a drizzle of balsamic & olive oil; yogurt for dipping the grape-leaves (adding crushed peppers gives it a little spice); chips round out the crunch factor because “what’s lunch without chips” (Michael and Keenan love them!), so I stocked up on the best organic, kettle baked ones I could find. The last two items, the ginger/pineapple muffin and grape-leaves, I will describe to you how to make. They really are very simple, but remember, all ingredients are approximate or best guess. You are free to interpret and expand on the list I provide. Enjoy and thanks again to Michael for sharing his lunchtime meal!!!

Stuffed Grape Leaves
(these are not the typical stuffed grape leaves that are found in Mediterranean stores or cafes. This is my twist on a great classic.)

1 package of grape leaves (found in specialty grocery stores or cafes)
1.5 cups dried fava beans soaked overnight in water and drained
1/2 cup of sesame seeds
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion, grated/minced
1/2 – 1 cup dried or fresh mixed herbs (cilantro, parsley, thyme, cumin)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cooked quinoa
2-3 Tbls. olive oil (more or less depending on how dry the mixture)

– Place soaked and drained beans and garlic into a food processor and pulse till they are finely ground.
– Add sesame seeds and 1/2 of the tahini making sure it does not become a thick paste.
– Remove mixture from food processor and place in a large bowl.
– Add the rest of the tahini, onion, dried herbs, salt, lemon juice, fresh herbs and cooked quinoa.
– Add olive oil, mix and adjust for seasonings.
– Mixture should be moist and not too crumbly. If needed, add more tahini or olive oil to taste.
– Place about 1-2 tsp. of the mixture into each grape leaf, roll up and place in a steamer basket.
– When you are finished rolling all of your leaves, put pot on burner and when the water boils, turn to simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes (or until leaves are tender). For the grape leaves pictured above, I did not steam them because the leaves were already pretty tender when I took them out of the package. Collard greens, kale or cabbage leaves make a nice alternative to the grape leaves and may require less or no cooking at all. I have even used the stuffing part (without the leaves) on top of a salad or as an accompaniment to a different bean dish. There are numerous ways to enjoy this dish. Get creative and enjoy a tasty mixture!

Vegan Pineapple-Carrot Muffins
(I don’t use sugar or eggs in this recipe; the dried fruit and juices are enough to sweeten this muffin and the mixture is thick enough to hold together without eggs.)
2 cups of whole wheat or oat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
up to 4 tsp. of any spices you like (ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cardamon, coriander)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup of canola oil
1 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained (save 1/4 cup of the juice)
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup of juice (carrot, pineapple, acai, coconut, orange- whatever you like, I used coconut water with acai b/c that is what I had in the fridge)
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1/2 cup of dried fruit (raisin, cranberry, blueberry – whatever is in the pantry)
1/2 cup of chopped nuts
Optional add-in items (1/4 – 1/2 cup of ground flaxseed, coconut flakes, cocoa nibs and/or sesame seeds. Be creative and add anything you think sounds good.

Directions 350F for 20-25 minutes for 12 muffins
– mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl.
– put canola oil, reserved 1/4 cup pineapple juice, other juice, and extract into mixer and stir till well blended.
– Put flour mixture into liquid mixture and mix together.
– Add dried fruit, nuts and/or optional items and hand mix till together.
– Scoop into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes
– Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then take out and eat them when they are still warm. A dollop of almond butter or jelly only add to the pleasure you will get from these yummy muffins. Enjoy as a breakfast or lunch treat!