Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Baked Vegetable Pasta with Breadcrumb Topping


Inspired By This Recipe

Serves 3-4

 

Ingredients

  1. 8 oz whole wheat pasta penne (could also use shells or farfalle)
  2. 1/3 cup of cashews
  3. 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk
  4. 1/3 cup of vegetable broth
  5. 2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast
  6. 1/2 cup of salsa
  7. 3/4 cup of marinara sauce
  8. 2 cups of spinach (or chopped kale)
  9. 1 cup of frozen peas
  10. 1/4 cup of chopped roasted red pepper

Topping

2/3 cup of Italian flavored bread crumbs
2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast
2 tsp of onion powder


Method

Cook pasta according to package directions. Preheat oven to 400. Combine cashews, milk, broth, yeast, salsa, and marinara in a blender or food processor to create your sauce. Process sauce until smooth. Combine all topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Combine sauce, cooked pasta, spinach, peas, and red pepper in a large bowl. Stir to coat everything evenly with sauce. Transfer mixture to a sprayed 8x8 pan then top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 25 minutes and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vegan Banana Pancakes


This morning I got out two of my very first vegetarian cookbooks that I bought 12 years ago! I got a kick out of reading the notes I made throughout the cookbooks. One of the cookbooks, How it All Vegan, had this amazing banana pancake recipe in it that I remembered I always loved. Just as in the past, the pancakes were delicious this morning as well. My fiance ate two plates of them! Serve with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup...if you need it!

 

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

1 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of whole grain "white" wheat flour
4 tsp of baking powder
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk
2 Tbsp of brown sugar

Method

In a large bowl, mash bananas thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine. Mix until just mixed and no lumps remain.
Heat a large sprayed skillet. (I usually drop a little water on the skillet and when it sizzles, it is the right temperature for pancakes)
Once skillet reaches the right temperature, turn heat down to medium and portion about 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet. When center of pancake starts to bubble and set, flip pancake over. Cook other side of pancake until brown. Repeat process until batter is gone.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bean and Rice Casserole


Despite popular belief, I LOVE spending LESS time in the kitchen. Meaning I do like to cook quick and easy meals-especially during the work week. This dish definitely falls under the "quick and easy" category. It's like a burrito casserole. I'm sure leftovers would be good warmed up and served rolled up in a tortilla like a burrito! Delish!

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients


  1. 3 cups of cooked brown rice (You can use quick cooking rice to save time)
  2. 3/4 cup of frozen corn
  3. 4 oz canned green chiles
  4. 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (Or you can use any beans you like!)
  5. 1/2 cup of salsa
  6. Dairy-Free Sour Cream (See recipe below)
  7. 1 cup of dairy-free cheese (optional)---I did not add
  8. 2 corn tortillas, cut into 4 triangles each
  9. Garnishes: cilantro, avocado, green onion, tomato, additional dairy-free cheese for topping, etc.

Method


Dairy-Free Sour Cream (From The Engine 2 Diet)

  • 1 package of silken light firm tofu
  • 1/3 cup of non-dairy milk
  • 3 Tbsp of lemon or lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
*Blend all ingredients until smooth*

Casserole


Preheat oven to 350. To assemble casserole, combine all ingredients, except garnishes, in a large bowl. Transfer mixture to a 1.5 quart sprayed casserole dish. Cover casserole with foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes in the oven, remove foil and top casserole with corn tortilla triangles. Bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes then remove from oven. Let casserole stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm with desired garnishes.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Banana Cream


Michael Pollan on the importance of cooking…

  “Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. … We do find time for activities we value, like surfing the Internet or exercising,” says Pollan. “The problem is we’re not valuing cooking enough. Who do you want cooking your food, a corporation or a human being? Cooking isn’t like fixing your car or other things it makes sense to outsource. Cooking links us to nature, it links us to our bodies. It’s too important to our well-being to outsource.”


I LOVE this quote because no matter what you eat or what diet you follow, everyone can learn from Mr. Pollan's advice. It reminds me why I make time for cooking and why you should, too! :)

Onto Banana Cream! This is my ice cream substitute. Easy, quick, and good!

*This is why you should always peel and freeze your overly ripe bananas and not throw them away. You can use them for smoothies and banana cream*

Ingredients (serves 2-3)


4  VERY ripe frozen bananas (it works best if bananas have been frozen for at least 24 hours)
1/2-1 cup of non-dairy milk
stevia to taste (1-2 packets)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method


Cut frozen bananas into thirds and place in a food processor or high powered blender. Add 1 stevia packet and vanilla. Slowly add in milk 1/4 cup at a time. Begin to process until a soft serve ice cream consistency is reached. Add more milk as needed to reach a smooth consistency. You may need to stop processor to scrape down sides and taste cream to see if you need to add more sweetener to suit your tastes. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Bars

It's been a little bit since I had a good dessert. I saw this recipe today and it looked so easy and yummy-it was on!
Again, I love Chocolate Covered Katie and her healthy, vegan dessert website. Even if you aren't vegan, she offers healthier versions of many, many desserts. I have made so many of her recipes and loved them all! Yet again, she does not disappoint! :)



From Chocolate Covered Katie's Chocolate Chip Everything Bars

Ingredients

  1. 1/4 cup of oats
  2. 3/4 tsp of baking powder
  3. 1/8 tsp baking soda
  4. 1/4 tsp of sea salt
  5. 1/4 cup of shredded coconut
  6. 1 can of garbanzo or white beans, rinsed and drained
  7. 1/4 cup of raw sugar
  8. 2 stevia packets or 1/4 cup more sugar
  9. 3 Tbsp of oil (I used coconut)
  10. 2 Tbsp of applesauce
  11. 2 tsp of vanilla
  12. 5 Tbsp of non-dairy chocolate chips (whole foods vegan chocolate chips or Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet Chips will both work)
  13. 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
  14. 1/2 cup of dried fruit (I used 1/4 cup dried cranberries and 1/4 cup raisins)

Method


Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8x8 pan. Combine first 11 ingredients in a food processor or very high powered blender (I used the Ninja). Process until very smooth then stir in remaining ingredients. Transfer batter to the pan and using a spatula or spoon spread batter evenly over bottom of pan.  Bake 30 minutes and let cool completely before cutting and serving. Enjoy!



Of course, serve with banana cream!

Sweet Potato Vegetable Lasagna



This is one of those "don't knock it until you try it" recipes. I was a little unsure about sweet potato in my lasagna, too. Yet, it is my favorite part of this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as me.

Adapted from The Engine 2 Diet's Sweet Potato Lasagna

Ingredients

(makes 8-12 pieces depending on how big you slice your lasagna)

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup of corn, fresh, canned, or frozen
  • 1/2 cup of diced tomato, fresh or canned
  • 1 package of silken light tofu (you can also use regular/firm tofu)
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp of basil
  • 1 tsp of rosemary
  • 1 sweet potato, cooked, peeled, and mashed
  • 1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup of cashews, ground
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 1 large slicer tomato, thinly sliced

Method


Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook lasagna noodles according to package directions ( rinse or separate noodles when done cooking to prevent sticking). Spray a large saute pan with cooking spray or olive oil. Saute onion and garlic until onion is soft. Transfer onion/garlic to a large bowl. Next add zucchini, artichokes, and corn to saute pan and cook until zucchini are just softened. Add these vegetables to the bowl with the onions and garlic. Then add drained tofu to vegetable mixture. Add seasonings, diced tomatoes, and a handful of drained spinach to vegetable-tofu mixture and stir to combine.

To assemble lasagna, spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray or oil. Spread a layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then arrange 3 noodles over pasta sauce. Transfer entire vegetable-tofu mixture to the top of first layer of noodles, distributing mixture evenly. Next add 3 noodles and arrange them on top of vegetable mixture. Then, add a layer of sauce on top of noodles. Place remaining spinach on top of sauced noodles followed by the mashed sweet potato. Top sweet potato with a layer of pasta sauce, followed by the final layer of noodles, and lastly one more layer of sauce. Place slices of tomato evenly over top of lasagna.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Then remove foil and sprinkle ground cashews over top of the lasagna. Cook an additional 15 minutes then remove from oven. Allow lasagna to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!


Vegetable Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce


I LOVE Spring rolls when out at a Thai restaurant. At home, you can put a variety of different veggies inside and they are always good!
I have tried to make these a few times before and I am not very good at the "rolling" part of the roll. However, since my last attempt I think I have gotten a bit better! So I decided since I was a little more successful this time-that the recipe was blog-worthy! Enjoy!
Inspired by this recipe.

Ingredients

(makes 7-8 rolls)

7-8 rice paper wraps
2 cups of  any of the following: lettuce, cabbage, spring mix, kale, spinach
1/2 avocado sliced into 8 thin slices
1/2 cup of grated carrot
1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced
2 zucchini sliced into matchsticks
1/2 bunch of cilantro, mint, or Thai basil

*Sliced tofu is also good in the rolls
*You can sub out any veggies you have on hand or that you prefer

Peanut Sauce Ingredients


1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup of water
2 Tbsp of sesame oil
3 Tbsp of rice vinegar
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp of soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp of ground ginger
1/4 tsp of coriander
1 Tbsp of sesame seeds

Method


For Peanut Sauce, blend all ingredients, minus sesame seeds, in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Served topped with sesame seeds.

For rolls, soak rice paper in warm water to soften. I used a 13x9 pan filled with warm water and while I was making a roll, the next wrapper was soaking.
Once rice paper is softened, place wrapper on a dry towel and add your desired ingredients to the top of the wrapper. Next fold the top edge over ingredients, fold the sides in, then roll the roll like a burrito. Repeat until all rolls are complete and serve with peanut sauce.

This blog provides an excellent photo tutorial of "how to roll spring rolls" if you are unfamiliar with this process.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Meatless Sloppy Joes


 
 
 
I am really into The Engine 2 Diet right now. Again, another great recipe I found last night in the book. This was sooooo good! My favorite vegetarian sloppy joe recipe to date.

Ingredients

(serves 2-3)

  1. 1 onion, chopped
  2. 12 oz. of vegetarian meat crumbles
  3. 1/2 cup of water
  4. 1 can of tomato paste
  5. 1 tsp of brown sugar
  6. 1 tsp vegetarian worcestershire
  7. 1 tsp of tamari or soy sauce
  8. pepper to taste

Method

Spray a medium-large skillet with cooking spray. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add veggie meat crumbles and 1/4 cup of water to skillet. Cook an additional 5-7 minutes. Next add tomato paste and remaining 1/4 cup of water. Stir well to combine then add in the seasonings (remaining ingredients). Serve hot with your favorite whole grain bun. Enjoy!

Tofu Migas



I didn't know what migas were until I started going down to Galveston, Texas on vacation. I kept noticing "migas" on the menus at Mexican restaurants in Galveston and had no clue what they were. So, like any good foodie, I googled it. I found out that migas are a breakfast dish made of scrambled eggs mixed with corn tortillas and your choice of Tex-Mex condiments such as salsa, cheese, onions, chile peppers, etc. Then I ordered them and I found out what I was missing! I found this egg-free version last night in The Engine 2 Diet book and modified it a wee bit....yum, yum, yum.

Ingredients (serves 1-2)

1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup of shredded carrot
1 Roma tomato, chopped
8 oz of firm tofu, crumbled
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pepper to taste
3 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch pieces
salsa
Vegetarian refried beans, heated (canned)

Method

Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray and saute onion for 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
Next add the carrots and tomatoes. Cook for 7 more minutes.
Add tortilla squares to the skillet and cook a few minutes until just softened.
Add tofu and seasonings to the skillet. Stir to combine.
Cook until migas are thoroughly heated.
Serve topped with salsa and with a side of refried beans. Or you can fold everything up in another corn tortilla and eat it like a taco!


 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles



This morning I woke up and immediately made brunch. I made tofu scramble and vegan berry pancakes for me. I made scrambled eggs with pancakes for my fiance. I don't make separate dishes for us too often...this is a rare occurrence.
Anyways, I wasn't hungry again all day until I became ravenous when I was at Target in the 6 o'clock hour. Today, I was craving Thai...specifically peanut sauce. I decided to make my own healthier version rather than getting take-out.
Inspired by this recipe.

Ingredients (makes 4 small or 2 large servings)

  • 6 oz of whole wheat linguine
  • 2 Tbsp of spicy sesame oil (or you can use regular sesame oil if you don't like heat)
  • 1/4 cup green onions, ends removed, chopped (about 2-3 onions)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded carrot (about 1 carrot)
  • 1 cup of vegetables of choice such as broccoli, zucchini, water chestnuts, red bell pepper, asparagus, etc.
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp of dried ginger or 1/2 Tbsp of fresh
  • 1/8 cup of honey or sub agave for strict vegans
  • 1/8 cup of smooth peanut butter
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp of rice vinegar

Method

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Drain pasta and return to pot. Toss with 1 Tbsp of sesame oil. Set aside.
  3. Heat the other Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add garlic and saute 30 sec-1 min until fragrant.
  5. Add onions, carrots, veggies, and ginger. Saute for about 4 additional minutes.
  6. Once vegetables are softened, add honey, peanut butter, soy sauce, and vinegar to skillet. Cook 2 additional minutes.
  7. Add pasta to skillet and toss with sauce and vegetables.
  8. Serve with additional scallions, crushed red pepper, and/or soy sauce to taste. Enjoy!


We ate ours with sauteed asparagus and a side salad. The side salad was made from fresh, hydroponic lettuce from my fiance's garden. He is so talented ;)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Chocolate Milk Recovery Shake



This morning on my long run, I went without music. At first, the thought of no tunes sounded crazy. Then, last Summer, I started running with others and felt rude listening to music when I ran with them. Then, to my surprise, I regularly chose to run without music....when I was alone. I even ran my best half marathon with no music. It really isn't bad at all. Today on my run, I brainstormed recipes that I could develop. I specifically thought about what I could eat or drink as soon as I got home! I thought of this recipe and will definitely make it again!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp of natural chocolate syrup (I used Santa Cruz organic)
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop of protein powder

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


Note:

There has been a lot of publications touting chocolate milk as one of the best beverages you can drink after a long run or intense/demanding workout. It apparently has a 4:1 carb to protein ratio, which is the ideal ratio to restore glycogen stores and promote muscle repair. It is to be consumed within 30 minutes of the workout.
I tried to create a non-dairy version by using almond milk. However, almond milk does not have as much protein as cow's milk so I added protein powder.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lentil Sweet Potato Chili



Tonight I had the idea to make a sweet potato, quinoa chili. My fiance suggested lentil chili! I think he likes those lentils! ;) I found this recipe, altered it a bit and VOILA!
Just a note, this chili is a little different with the cinnamon as a seasoning. I added it, but I am sure it would be good without it. Next time I might skip it, too.

Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients

(serves 4)

  1. 3 cups of vegetable broth
  2. 3/4 cup of water
  3. 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  4. 1 cup of brown lentils
  5. 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  6. 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  7. 1/2 of a green pepper, diced
  8. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  9. 1 Tbsp of cumin
  10. 1/2 Tbsp of cinnamon (optional)
  11. 1/2 Tbsp of chili powder
  12. 1/2 tsp of pepper
  13. 8 drops of Tabasco or to taste (optional)

Method

Add broth, water, lentils, and tomatoes to a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. While lentils are simmering, you can prep your veggies.
Next add garlic, carrots, and sweet potato to your pot of lentils. Simmer for 5 minutes then add green pepper and spices to your chili. Add additional water or vegetable broth to thin chili if it gets too thick.
Cover chili and cook an additional 10 minutes so your vegetables soften. Checking frequently and stirring often. It's done when your sweet potatoes are soft.
Serve with salsa, avocado, cilantro, crackers, and/or extra hot sauce.
Enjoy!


Veggie Quinoa Skillet


This week has been a little trying, but I am moving forward with lots of optimism! Last night I really wanted something comforting and I remembered this recipe I made a few months ago. It was exactly what I needed. This time I left out the cheese the original recipe called for and I didn't miss it one bit! As always, feel free to modify the recipe to suit your dietary needs and preferences!

Adapted from this recipe at Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients

(Serves 2-3)

  • 1 3/4 cup of vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchinis, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, chopped or two green onions (ends removed), sliced thin
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp of fresh basil, chopped, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • salt and pepper to taste

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp of honey (or may sub agave for strict vegans)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper

Method

In a saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add quinoa and cover. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 20-25 min or until all liquid is absorbed/quinoa is tender.
While quinoa is cooking, combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
Next, heat EVOO in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 sec-1 min. Add zucchini, carrots, corn, onion, salt and pepper. Saute until veggies are tender, about 5-10 minutes.
Once veggies are tender, add half of quinoa and half of the vinaigrette to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook for an additional minute.
Last, add remaining quinoa, tomato, and basil to the skillet. Stir gently to combine and add more salt and pepper to taste. Remove skillet from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Apple Pie in a Cup Smoothie



I have always tried to like oatmeal...but I just can't get into it. In fact, none of the hot cereals ever really seem to call my name. I buy them with the intention of getting up earlier and making these things before work, but it never happens. Then they expire, then I throw them away, buy a new box with the same good intention---you get the picture. I usually eat a carb such as a whole grain waffle, tortilla, slice of bread, etc. with 1 Tbsp of some kind of nut butter along with 1/2 caf coffee with non-dairy milk and stevia for breakfast. That is my go to, quick weekday breakfast. Anything else just seems like too much at 6 AM. Lately, I have been incorporating oats in other ways. Oat flour is super easy to make in the blender and you can make all kinds of goodies from it. I also like oats in smoothies. I love the texture it provides. I found this recipe this morning and knew I could doctor it up for a good post-workout meal. Warning: This smoothie is super filling so you could probably drink this as your meal!

Adapted from this recipe at Vegan Stoner....yes, that's the name of the blog ;)

Ingredients

  • 1 apple (leave peel on if you like), cut into quadrants
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of cooked oats
  • 1 Tbsp of agave or honey

Method

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and process until smooth. This smoothie definitely has a lot of texture from the oats and apple. Enjoy!


 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Coconut Berry Matcha Smoothie


Historically, I haven't really made a lot of smoothies, but I am very into them lately. Although, I remember a few years ago I did have a Friday morning routine of going to the gas station and getting a Lo-Carb Monster energy drink (the blue one) then driving across the street to Smoothie King and ordering a "green tea tango" smoothie with blueberries. I have since ditched the daily energy drink for coffee. And not that Smoothie King isn't a great option compared to MOST fast-food places, but they do add a decent amount of sugar to their drinks to make them taste better....although you can request your smoothie be made without it.
Today I REALLY needed a pick me up after work. In the past I may have turned to an energy drink, but I am trying to make healthier choices so I came up with this smoothie. I added in matcha green tea powder for a little caffeine. This smoothie got me through spin class and kettlebell class in an aerobics room that felt like it was 80 degrees! It would also make a good post work out drink. Enjoy!

Ingredients

(serves 1)
  1. 1 tsp of matcha green tea powder
  2. 1 cup of frozen mixed berries
  3. 1 scoop of protein powder
  4. 1 cup of coconut milk (from the carton, not canned)
  5. 1 stevia packet
  6. 1/4 cup of coconut milk based ice cream or frozen yogurt ( I used So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream-Vanilla Bean Flavored)

Method

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Broccoli Pesto

Man, I love this recipe! And it was extra good tonight! I think it is because I recently bought a zester. It really does make a difference. Prior to that I wasn't adding zest to recipes when they called for it. Anyways, I have made this pesto several times since I discovered it and I can't wait til we have more broccoli so I can make it again!


Inspired by this recipe


Ingredients

(serves 2-3)

  • 8 oz. of  whole grain pasta, rotini works very well
  • 3 broccoli crowns chopped into florets, about 4 cups
  • 1/3 cup of walnuts
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp of black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Method

Steam or blanch broccoli until just tender. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Combine walnuts, garlic, salt, pepper, oil, and lemon juice with zest in a food processor or high-powered blender. (I used the Ninja.) Add broccoli to the processor 1 cup at a time and process until smooth. Add pasta water to thin pesto sauce as needed. I added about 1/4-1/2 cup to my sauce. Toss pesto with hot pasta. Top with additional walnuts and non-dairy parmesan or parmesan cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

 

Clean Out the Fridge Salad

So yesterday morning I crawled out of bed at 4:30 AM to participate in a marathon relay. I kept telling myself it was only 7.5 miles, but I hate getting up early on Sundays! Regardless, I ended up having a great time! I met an older couple on the train on the way to the race. They walk half marathons in 3 hours! Amazing! I also met my teammates. I didn't know them before the event. After I saw their posting on a local website,  I spontaneously volunteered to replace one of their team members who dropped out. They were all super cool and weren't worried about our finish time, etc.
Since I was the new, lucky team member I got the privilege of running the longest leg of the race and the leg with the appropriately named "holy hill". Lucky me! Actually, I just tried to enjoy myself, enjoy the surroundings, enjoy not running 13.1 miles, enjoy not knowing anyone, and enjoy not really racing. I planned to run around a 10 minute mile so that I could enjoy myself. I did have a few impulses to try and really push it, but I held back until the last two miles....make that last mile ;)
I was done with my leg around 9:30 so I headed back downtown so I could cross the finish line with my team. I snuck into the finish line food area and devoured a Bavarian pretzel stick, which at the time tasted like the best thing ever! Then I hung out and watched the marathoners who finished between 3:00-4:30. It was such an emotional experience. Seeing all of their faces as they ran the last .2 of their 26.2. Seeing their family members and their children cheering them on- I seriously almost cried several times because even though I have never ran a marathon, I was very empathic. I have felt some awful physical pain from running. I have been there when you feeling like you are crawling towards the finish line and it feels like you are never going to get there, but somehow you do. I stood on the side of the road and cheered for those who looked like they needed it and smiled at those that didn't. It was really an inspiring experience. Running a marathon is on my bucket list. One of these days maybe I'll decide to just do it.
After my fun-filled morning, I was a big ball of laziness all day! I did manage to run a few errands and that is about all. I really wanted to order take out but my fiance and I couldn't agree on anything. So I made mac-n-cheese for him, vegan mac-n-cheese for me and I threw all the leftovers we had into this salad. Turned out pretty swell if I do say so myself.

Adapted from this recipe


Salad Ingredients (serves 2-3)


1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup of brown rice or quinoa- at room temperature
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup red onion chopped
2 Roma tomatoes chopped
2 cups of lettuce, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped

 

Dressing


2 Tbsp of agave
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp of cayenne
1 Tbsp EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combines all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Next pour dressing over salad and gently toss. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pumpkin Crunch Smoothie


Busy, busy, busy...that's how I feel all the time these days. I'm trying to enjoy the wedding planning process, but some days I look at that wedding to-do list and I feel overwhelmed. This weekend is feeling pretty packed full of more to-dos. I have to keep reminding myself to slow down and enjoy the moments.
Anyways, I obviously love cooking, but when my fiance said he would grill tonight I admit I was very happy. Not having to spend time cooking dinner gave me more time to catch up on the aforementioned todos. I enjoyed two grilled veggie burgers, a sweet potato, and a grilled bell pepper plus one non-alcoholic beer for dinner. Very satisfying since we haven't grilled all winter! Even better not having to cook any of it!
However, I was having major munchies before dinner so I whipped up this pumpkin smoothie. I also wanted it to be crunchy because I was craving some texture so I added cereal for that. It really hit the spot!

Ingredients (Serves 1-2)

  1. 1 cup of pumpkin
  2. 1 cup of non-dairy milk such as soy, almond, coconut
  3. 1 tsp of vanilla
  4. 5 ice cubes
  5. 1/4 -1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
  6. 1 stevia packet
  7. 1/2 frozen banana
  8. 1/4 cup of crunchy cereal such as kashi go lean crunch or flax plus by nature's path (optional)

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender (minus cereal) and process until smooth. Add additional milk if smoothie is too thick. Top with cereal then mix cereal in smoothie and eat with a long spoon!

Lentil Tacos with Cauliflower Rice


I have been obsessed with these tacos since the first time I made them! Thanks Erica! Previously, I've mentioned them in this post.
Earlier this week I saw a similar recipe for lentil tacos that also incorporated cauliflower rice. I didn't think the lentil tacos could get any better until I thought about adding the cauliflower rice into the equation. YUM! Luckily, we had a head of cauliflower from our produce crate this week. So when my fiance gave me the green light to make these tacos AGAIN I was stoked. I am so glad he likes them!
The other great thing about this recipe is that it is another "different" way to use cauliflower. What a versatile veggie!

This recipe was adapted from these recipes from FatFreeVegan, TheCurvyCarrot, and TheHealthyJunky. These three food blogs are all outstanding!

Taco Ingredients (makes 6-8 tacos)

  1. 1 Tbsp EVOO
  2. 1/2 onion (red or yellow) chopped
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. salt to taste
  5. 1 cup of dried brown lentils, rinsed
  6. 1 packet of taco seasoning, 1.25 oz. (check the label to avoid MSG and other unnatural ingredients!)
  7. 2.5 cups of vegetable stock or broth
  8. 6-8 taco shells, tortillas, etc. (Choose the tortilla based on whether you want a corn or flour, soft or hard taco and number of servings depends on how much filling you use in each taco.)

Garnish

Load them up! I suggest lettuce, tomato, avocado or guacamole, salsa, red onion, cilantro, vegan or dairy cheese, vegan or dairy sour cream.

Method

In a medium sauce pan, heat EVOO then add garlic, onion, and salt (go easy on the salt because the taco seasoning provides a lot of salty flavor). Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 4 minutes. Next add lentils and taco seasoning. Stir until well combined, about 1 minute. Next, add veggie broth/stock. Mix well then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook 25 minutes, checking and stirring lentils often. If making Cauliflower Rice, see recipe below, as you can make the rice while lentils are cooking. Once lentils are softened, remove pan from heat and remove lid. Allow lentils to sit for 6 minutes so that the mixture can thicken. Place a few Tablespoons of lentil mixture in each taco shell then top with your favorite garnishes! Serve alongside Cauliflower Rice.

Note: I bought a new product to try with these. It is a corn tortilla that is uncooked and they are found in the dairy/refrigerated section of my local grocery store. Once ready to eat your tacos, you cook the tortillas 20 seconds on each side in a pan. They were great! The brand I used was "Tortilla Land". I also really like "Garden of Eatin" brand for a hard taco shell. They are organic and don't have any of the additives/preservatives that most of the taco shells have.

Cauliflower Rice Ingredients (Serves 2-4)

  1. 1 head of cauliflower
  2. 1 Tbsp of EVOO
  3. 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  4. 1 tsp of salt or salt to taste
  5. 1/2 of an onion (red, yellow, or white would all work)
  6. 2-4 garlic cloves (use 2 if you don't want a strong garlic flavor, 3-4 if you are a garlic lover)

Method

To transform your cauliflower into rice, you have two options. You can grate the cauliflower or you can use a food processor. First, wash cauliflower, remove all leaves, base stem, and cut head into four pieces. To grate, use a box grater, grating one quadrant at a time. To process, break or cut each quadrant into slightly smaller pieces then add those pieces to the food processor. Then pulse (ONLY 3-4 TIMES so your cauliflower doesn't get pulverized) in the processor. Transfer "riced" cauliflower to a medium bowl then repeat the process with each quadrant.

Next heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Saute for 3 minutes then add cauliflower. Cook cauliflower mixture for 4 minutes then add chili powder and salt. Cook an additional 4 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Serve alongside lentil tacos.

Note: If you would like to, you could mix the cauliflower mixture and lentil mixture together. You would have a very large amount of taco filling, enough for about 21 tacos. I haven't tried this, but it was recommended on one of the blog recipes I used. It sounds good and I am sure it would taste great!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grilled Bean and Rice Burritos


When I used to live in CA, I frequented the taco trucks. Californians-you know what I am talking about! I would always order "uno burrito con frijoles, con arroz, no carne". The Spanish-speaking taco truck workers would then exchange glances with each other, giggle, and say "no carne..... hahaha". I guess they didn't get a lot of customers requesting, "no carne".  Despite the mocking of their best vegetarian customer, I kept going back because I loved taco truck burritos. They are huge (sometimes I could get two meals out of one), cheap (2-3 bucks), convenient (taco truck on every corner!), and they are damn good! When I went to CA this past summer, I made sure I got a burrito while I was there. See the photos below. Ya, I'm a foodie! Oh and see the cup in the background of the first picture? That's horchata! Don't be too jealous ;)




 
I moved back to the Midwest almost 6 years ago and left the taco trucks behind. I have yet to find any restaurants locally that beat the CA Mexican food. In fact, I would even go to Taco Bell a few times per year out of desperation! Whenever I went to Taco Bell I would always order a grilled stuffed burrito-no carne! ;) Although awhile back Taco Bell changed their grilled stuffed burrito and I don't really like it anymore. I can't remember the last time I went there. So in order to satisfy my Mexican cravings, I play around with recipes at home. I admit they are about 1/10th as good as the taco trucks. In this recipe, I try and replicate a grilled stuffed burrito. I think it turned out way better than Taco Bell's!
 
Inspired by Naturally Ella
 

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 large (burrito size) whole wheat tortillas, I have used a flat-out wrap and a gluten-free, brown rice tortilla with success
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup of black or pinto beans (rinsed and drained if using canned)
  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 can of Rotel
  • lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, salsa
  • 1/2 cup of cheese or cheese substitute (optional)- I did not use
 

Method

Mash avocado with a fork then stir in several tablespoons of Rotel. The avocado mixture should have a guacamole type of consistency. Next, mix several tablespoons of Rotel with the brown rice. Microwave tortillas for 10-20 seconds, just to soften so that they are easy to roll into a burrito. Spread the avocado mixture in the middle of each tortilla. Divide the Rotel rice, beans, cheese (if using), and desired toppings evenly between tortillas. Then roll the tortilla into a burrito (Fold the tortilla in half over your ingredients, fold the ends in, and while holding each end roll the burrito). See this website for pics and step-by-step instructions. Next spray a skillet with cooking spray and "grill" burrito until browned on each side. I cooked mine over medium heat and about 3-5 minutes on each side. You could also use a panini press for this. Serve immediately with additional salsa and guacamole.
 
     
     
 
 
 



Snickerdoodle Protein Shake


So my trainer is always giving me a friendly reminder about getting some protein in (15-20 grams) after I lift weights. I admit I am sometimes a slacker about it. Partly because I am not that fond of protein powder mixed with random beverages. Yuck. Also, sometimes I am just not hungry or so hungry that I want something more "real". However, I am trying to be better about it. I have tried different types of protein including pea, hemp, and rice. I am also trying to jazz up the protein shakes so that they are a little more appealing. I found this recipe and modified it slightly. I also used my new rice protein in it, which is definitely my favorite out of the three types of protein I have experimented with. This shake was really good and I am already thinking I might want it again for breakfast tomorrow.

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

  1. 1 scoop of protein powder of choice ( I used Sunwarrior classic protein in vanilla)
  2. 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  3. 1 tsp of vanilla
  4. 1 tsp of cinnamon
  5. 1 Tablespoon of flax seeds
  6. 1 heaping Tablespoon of peanut butter or sunbutter
  7. 1 cup of ice cubes
  8. 1 stevia packet (only use if protein powder has no sweetener)

Method

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Avocado Pesto

 
 
 
I really like pasta. I'm sure you haven't picked up on that yet ;)
I was hungry for a hearty dinner tonight because my work schedule was a little off so I didn't eat as much as usual during the day. Enter avocado pesto pasta. I have been seeing this avocado-y, pesto-y pasta sauce on Pinterest for awhile now. I tried it a few months ago and didn't really like how it turned out. But those pictures of it on Pinterest looked so good and kept calling my name! I wanted to give it one more chance. I love avocado and love pesto, I just wasn't convinced they should go together?! However, I was determined to make them into a green sauce of yummy-ness! I'm pretty sure I succeeded because I couldn't stop tasting it and licking the spoon! The avocado replaces parmesan cheese in this recipe and it also makes the pesto very creamy. I recently read somewhere about replacing cheese in vegan cooking and the author encouraged vegan cooks to focus on creating a creamy consistency verses using vegan cheese substitutes. I think that is definitely good advice and this dish is an example of that.
 
adapted from this recipe
 
 

Ingredients

*Makes 2-3 servings*
 
  • 8 oz of pasta
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts
  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of EVOO
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
     
 
     

Method

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Serve over hot pasta and season with additional salt, pepper, and dairy-free parmesan.
 
 


Sublime Kitchen Salad

 



 This is my go to salad recipe and it's so versatile-you can add whatever you like to suit your tastes as well as use what you have on hand. Plus, it is consistently good....my old reliable.
 I think a lot of what makes this salad so good is using a high quality balsamic vinegar. I became aware of this type of vinegar a year and a half ago. I randomly went into a store with many large tins of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I saw the price tag and thought to myself, "who would ever pay that much for a bottle of vinegar". Then the saleswoman came over and started having me taste some samples. She gave me traditional balsamic vinegar (AMAZING), flavored balsamic vinegar, flavored extra virgin olive oil, and then she started mixing them. The flavor possibilities were endless. My taste buds were so impressed and I was hooked. I spent a decent amount of money there that day and couldn't wait to get home to cook with my goodies! Recently, I have noticed there are many high quality balsamic and olive oil stores popping up. If possible, I suggest you go to one and try everything! See what you like and if you only get one thing, get the traditional balsamic vinegar. I can't buy the cheap stuff at the grocery store anymore. You won't be disappointed!


 

Ingredients (Makes 2 large or 3-4 small salads)

  • 1 head of red or green leaf lettuce and/or butter/Boston lettuce, about 6 cups of lettuce total
  • 1/2 cup of artichoke hearts quartered
  • 1/8-1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of organic croutons
  • 1 Roma tomato, cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup of garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup of vegan or dairy cheese (optional)
  • 2 T high quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T EVOO (I used a roasted garlic olive oil)
*I also love sliced red peppers and cucumber in this salad!

Method

Wash lettuce then use a salad spinner to dry lettuce (or wash and dry thoroughly if you do not have a salad spinner). Once the lettuce is dry place it in a large bowl and assemble remaining ingredients, except vinegar and oil, on top of the lettuce. Lastly, dress the salad with vinegar and oil. Then toss and serve. Enjoy!

*Note: Generally when making salad dressing, one uses a 2 parts oil, 1 part vinegar ratio. I, however, LOVE balsamic vinegar so I flip-flopped the equation. I also chose to use more vinegar than oil because vinegar is less caloric than oil. You could try both methods and then make it the way you prefer.