Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pineapple Dip/ Salad Dressing

It was just a little over a year ago that I was ruminating over whether or not to buy a Blendtech 3HP blender. Everyone I knew who had one said they just could not live without theirs. I could not even imagine becoming so attached to an appliance and was really having a hard time with the thought of forking out so much money for a "blender." I finally decided to buy one just to see what all the hype was about. I can honestly say, now, that I would be miserable if I ever had to part with it. I use it at least once a day but usually twice (morning smoothie, evening soup, salad dressing, or dessert). The reason I bring this up is that the following recipe is soooo easy to throw together with a high power blender. If you want to try to make it in a regular blender I recommend soaking the seeds in orange juice along with the pineapple rings.

Pineapple Dip or Salad Dressing

5 rings unsweetened, dried pineapple
orange juice
2 ounces raw, unsalted sunflower seeds, hulled (just under a half cup)
2 Tb rice vinegar

24 hours in advance, place the pineapple rings in a small bowl. Pour in just enough organge juice to barely cover the rings. Cover and place in the fridge to allow the rings to soak up the juice. The next day there will be very little juice left (see below photo) and the rings will be nice and plump. Place the rings, remaining juice, sunflower seeds, and vinegar into your blender. Add 1/4 cup more orange juice and blend. (I use the whole juice cycle.) Add more orange juice to reach the desired consistecy. I ended up adding in 1/2 cup orange juice total in addition to the soaking juice. Serve as a dip for sliced fruit and/or lettuce cups or over a salad as a dressing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easy Red Lentil Curry

This is what I make for comfort food after a long, busy week. Easy and quick, served over quinoa in the photo but can also be served alone.

1 large onion, chopped
8 cups water
3 cups red lentils, rinsed well
4 zucchini, diced small
1 10 ounce bag frozen spinach
1 Tbs good quality curry powder of your choice (I use Penzey's)

In a large pot steam fry onions in a little water till softened. Add water, lentils, zucchini, and curry powder. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes or until lentils are done. Stir in spinach and let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve alone or over rice or quinoa.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chipotle Chili

(adapted from the ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook)

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 Tbs dried marjoram or savory
1 Tbs cumin seeds
1 Tbs sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbs chili powder
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 28 ounce can no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Drain and rinse beans. Place them with the bay leaf in slow cooker with enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Cook on low for 8 hours in slow cooker. About an hour before they are done, heat a large cast iron skillet on low heat. Add the marjoram and cumin seeds. Toast until fragrant then add the paprika, cayenne, and chili powder till warmed. Transfer spices to a mortar and grind them. Cook onions and garlic on medium heat in a small amount of water in a medium sized pot for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and ground spices and cook on low for 20 minutes, covered.

Drain and rinse the beans when they are done cooking, remove bay leaf, and return to slow cooker. When tomatoes and onions are done cooking, add them to the beans and stir. Cook on low for 2 hours adding additional water if you don't want your chili too thick. Once done, garnish each individual serving with chopped cilantro.

Makes 6 servings

Monday, June 15, 2009

Quick Red Bean Dal

This recipe comes from Robin Robertson, one of my favorite cookbook authors. Click here for the recipe. The only changes I made were to saute my onion and garlic in water instead of oil and I omitted the salt. Be sure to use no salt added tomatoes and beans. This is a great recipe for a busy week.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good Eats from BeStrixed

Yes, I'm back with a long overdue post. When the weather gets gorgeous, I spend absolutely no time in front of the computer. With all the rain we're having this week, (it hasn't let up for 6 days), I figured it was time to update my blog. So, to make up for lost time, I'm going to post about some of the Best Vegan Food of 2009 and it's going to knock your socks off. And did I mention that all of these things are Eat to Live friendly? And, to boot, they all come from one of my favorite vegan Eat to Live bloggers, BeStrixed. She's got a lot of amazing vegan stuff on her blog, (not just food!), so hop on over and check it out when you can.

Since life is short, we'll start with dessert first;-)

Bestrixed Butterscotch Pudding

Click here to view the original recipe.
Now, the first time I made this I made the "all vanilla" version of this recipe (see recipe below). I made it just before dinner and wanted it to be ready to eat for dessert so I spooned it into custard dishes and set them in the freezer for about 45 minutes. After dinner I served it to my dairy loving husband who does not eat, I repeat, does not eat cooked vegetables. He exclaimed, "this tastes just like vanilla ice cream!" Since then, the vanilla version has been a staple in our house. It's great warm, chilled in the fridge, or chilled for about an hour in the freezer. Just don't freeze it for too long or it will be too firm to eat. The texture is silky smooth. You just cannot go wrong with this recipe!

Bestrixed Butterscotch Pudding

Equipment: Pot for steaming, high speed blender (Blendtec, Vitamix)

3 cups of carrots, sliced 1/2" thick

4 large, pitted Medjool Dates or 8 pitted Deglet dates

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract*

1/4 tsp Butterscotch Flavoring**

1/4 C (1 oz) Cashews

1/2 C water

Steam the carrots in water till done (about 20 minutes). While hot, combine carrots and 1/2 cup cooking water into a high speed blender with the extract and flavoring. Remove the cap from the blender cover and cover blender with a dish towel while blending to allow steam to escape without getting burnt. Blend until fairly smooth. Add dates, and blend again until smooth. Add the cashews and blend until completely smooth and creamy. Divide into 4 glass custard cups and serve warm or chill in the fridge, covered once cooled until ready to eat. Alternately, you may place in the freezer 45-60 minutes before eating for a delicious frozen treat.

* If you are making the all vanilla version, use 1/2 - 1TB Vanilla Extract. I use Frontier Indonesia Organic Vanilla Extract. If using a non-organic brand, be sure to check the ingredients label to be sure you are getting real vanilla extract without corn syrup. Most of the common brands contain high fructose corn syrup (yuck!), even the ones that say "Pure Vanilla Extract".

** I have yet to find a good quality vegan Butterscotch flavoring. Unfortunately, Frontier's Butterscotch "natural" flavoring has milk derivatives. If anyone knows of one that is vegan without corn syrup, please let me know.

Bestrixed Kale Chips

These babies are amazing! I'm going to warn you though, they are addicting. I have to limit my consumption to one cookie sheet per day of these. Click here for the original recipes from Bestrixed. If you are using your oven, be sure to set it on the lowest setting and check the temperature with an oven thermometer. Fortunately for me my circa 1974 oven goes as low as 155 degrees Fahrenheit. The recipe version that has become my absolute fave is as follows:

Bestrixed Kale Chips

Equipment: oven, cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat baking mat, large bowl for combining kale and sauce

1 1/2 pounds kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite size pieces (I used both dino and curly kale)
1/2 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds (soak overnight, then drain, if using regular blender)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp onion poweder
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp wet brown mustard (I use Westbrae stone ground, no sodium)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
optional: 1 red bell pepper, 1 tsp curry powder

Turn oven on and set at the lowest temperature. Blend last 8 ingredients together and toss with kale til kale is coated. Place on baking sheets lined with silpat or parchment paper and dehydrate in your oven til completely dehydrated. (This took 6-8 hours in my oven).
*This recipe covered 4 cookie sheets for me. If you can only fit two cookie sheets in your oven at a time, reserve half of the sauce and half of the kale and make it after the first batch is done. The sauce does keep for several days, in a sealed jar in the fridge, so you can make the last two batches tomorrow, which you will need to do since you will have already eaten the first two:-)

Steamed Greens Sauce
OK, no photo here. I adapted the above sauce for kale chips by replacing the vinegar with water and toss it with a huge pot of steamed greens (about 20 ounces or 1.25 pounds in weight pre-steaming). You'll never eat kale naked again. Makes 5 servings.

1/2 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds (soak overnight, then drain, if using regular blender)
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp onion poweder
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp wet brown mustard (I use Westbrae stone ground, no sodium)
1 1/2 tsp cumin

Blend together and toss with steamed kale (1.25 pounds pre-steamed weight).

Bestrixed Tomato Soup

Click here for the recipe on Bestrixed.
So you're craving Campbell's Tomato Soup but don't want all that added sodium and who knows what else that usually comes in that can. I used Bionaturae Tomato paste for this recipe and followed the recipe as written. I added no salt - this soup simply does not need it. Perfect for a cold, rainy day.

And what's that hangin' out next to the soup? It's Ezekiel low/no-sodium sprouted grain bread topped with:

Basil Kale Walnut Spread
A spread that only a nutritarian can love and appreciate.
Equipment: pot for steaming, high speed blender or food processor
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup water reserved from steaming kale
fresh basil leaves
Steam kale for 5 minutes then blend or process with remaining ingredients. Eat it with crisp veggies or however you like.

As for when I'll be blogging again...Oh, just give me another rainy day:-)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hearty Ginger Lentil Soup

from Eat for Health. I doubled the amount of lentils called for in the recipe because I'm a lentil fanatic. Since I'm also a ginger lover, I just had to post about this soup. I love it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strawberries, Sweet Strawberries

Strawberries started showing up at my local farmer's market in early March. I just can't get enough. Here are two of my favorite ways to enjoy them these days:

Strawberry Mango Sorbet

*I used my Blendtec 3HP blender. If using a regular blender, strawberries may need to be thawed longer before blending.

1 heaping cup frozen strawberries
1 large piece dried mango
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened hemp milk) + up to 1/2 cup more

The night before preparing, soak the dried mango in 1/2 cup of the non-dairy milk, covered, in the fridge. The next day you will have "mango cream" and the dried mango will be rehydrated. Just before blending, thaw strawberries for a minute or two. Place mango and mango cream in your blender, add strawberries on top, and blend on high (or the ice cream cycle if your blender has one), adding additional non-dairy milk as needed to reach desired consistency. How much additional non-dairy milk will determine what kind you are using and how much has been soaked up by the mango.

Serves one nutritarian.

Strawberries on Baby Greens with Tahini and Lime

Don't ask me why, but I can't get enough of these flavor combinations! If you're feeling adventurous, try making your own tahini from Bestrixed (click here).

1 pint strawberries
3-5 ounces baby greens salad mix with arugala
1 Tbs tahini
wedge of lime

Toss strawberries with baby greens and drizzle with tahini and lime juice. Serves one nutritarian.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Are You Curious?

If you're vegan or nutritarian, my guess is that you are. Here's Seth Godin talking about curiosity in this awesome clip. Anything sound familiar?

'curiosity' from Nic Askew on Vimeo.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Of Eggplant and Oranges

Roasted Eggplant Tofu Sandwiches with Spinach and Mushrooms

This recipe is an adaption of both an eggplant casserole recipe I have and Eggplant Rolatini from Veganomicon. It is Eat to Live friendly and comes together easily, of course! A favorite when I'm craving Italian food.

1 large eggplant, stem and navel ends trimmed
3 cups no/low-sodium pasta sauce
1 pound low fat, firm or extra firm tofu
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 pound bag frozen, chopped, organic spinach, thawed and drained
1 pint mushrooms, washed and sliced, sauteed until tender in a small amount of water

Optional: pine nuts or faux parmesan (ground toasted sesame seeds+nutritional yeast)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash eggplant and slice it stem to navel into slices about 1/4" thick. Place the 6 middle slices (which should be the full length of the eggplant) on silicone baking mats on cookie sheets or jelly roll pans. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes. While the eggplant slices are baking, mash tofu with a potato masher then mash in lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, and basil until it reaches the consistency of ricotta cheese. Set aside. In the bottom of a 9 X 13 glass casserole dish pour half of the pasta sauce. When the egglpant slices are done, remove three of them from the baking sheets and place side by side on top of the sauce in the casserole dish. Place 1/3 of tofu mixture on top of each slice and then layer on 1/3 of the spinach on top of that, followed by half of the mushroom slices. Cover each "sandwich" with the remaining eggplant slices. If you have any remaining eggplant slices that you baked, you can wrap up a spoonful of the tofu mixture and spinach and bake it in a small casserole along with the large casserole dish (see second photo below). Pour on remaining pasta sauce and top with the remaining mushrooms. Bake for about 20 minutes. Serve topped with toasted pine nuts or faux parmesan when done.

Orange & Goji Berry Salad with Broccoli Slaw and Sunflower Seeds

This has become my favorite winter salad. It's crunchy and tangy- a favorite combination for me.

1 navel orange, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup broccoli slaw
1 Tbs Goji berries*
1/2 ounce (2 Tbs) raw, hulled sunflower seeds
1/2 ounce raw unhulled sesame seeds

Toss together and enjoy.
*For added flavor sensation, soak goji berries in orange juice the night before.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Creamy Cruciferous Curry with Cashews

One of my favorite foods is vegetable curry. Over the years I have compiled quite a few variations. Many vegetable curry recipes call for potatoes, which I am not fond of. I don't care for the taste and they are not very nutritious. This recipe came about in my ongoing attempt to incorporate more cruciferous veggies into my diet and includes both cauliflower and kale. If you're feeling adventurous this would probably taste good with broccoli and brussel sprouts as well.

Creamy Cruciferous Curry with Cashews
makes 4 large servings

2 onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 parsnips, diced (or carrots if parsnips are not available)
2 cups unsweetened hempnut milk (or soymilk)
1 head cauliflower cut into small florets
1 pint mushrooms, sliced
1 pound of chopped kale, stems removed if desired
1 cup frozen green peas
2 Tbs curry powder (I use Penzey's sweet curry powder)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews, chopped

In a large stock pot over medium heat, cook onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in curry powder and turmeric and stir until vegetables are coated. Stir in hempnut milk, cauliflower, and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes, covered over medium low heat. Stir in kale and green peas and continue to cook, covered for another 10 minutes. Serve hot. Top each serving with 2 Tb cashews.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Turnip or Rhutabaga Puree

I was reading back issues of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times newsletter and came across the July 2007 issue on Cruciferous Vegetables. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that both turnip roots and rutabaga are cruciferous - I always thought they were starches. Evidently, it is the presence of glucosinolates, sulfur containing compounds, which determines whether or not a vegetable is cruciferous. Since he recommends eating at least one cooked and one raw cruciferous vegetable a day, I have been thinking of ways to do that while adding more variety into my diet. I love kale, collards, broccoli, and cauliflower but was feeling the need to branch out bit, so decided to try turnips and rutabaga steamed and pureed. Pictured below are the turnips. Rutabaga has a yellowish color.

Turnip or Rutabaga Puree*
2 servings

4 medium turnip roots or 1 large rutabaga, scrubbed, peeled
1/2 cup unsweetened organic soy milk, room temperature

Cut turnip roots or rutabaga into 3/4 inch dice and let sit for at least 5 - 10 minutes to release the enzyme myrosinase (click here to learn more). Steam turnips for 20 minutes then immediately place in a food processor with soy milk. Process until smooth. This is the ultimate comfort food!

*If you are trying to decide which root to try, rutabaga are a bit sweeter than turnips.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

I'm not much for New Year's Resolutions, unless of course they turn into permanent resolutions, which usually they do not. But I do think that the start of a new year is a great time for reminding ourselves of what we are committed to in all areas of our life.

Two years ago I read Eat to Live by Joe Furhrman, MD and absolutely loved the book. Several months later I took the plunge and started his 6 week plan and within a couple of weeks noticed excess pounds drop away. I stopped having headaches and fatigue in the afternoon, and my summer allergies greatly improved. Over this past summer I fell off the wagon here and there. Salt, dark chocolate, and vegan desserts are my worst enemies. I realized a few months ago that I had added on about 7 pounds in the past year and last month I decided to recommit to healthy eating. Simply by cutting out excess salt and my weekly organic dark chocolate bar, I dropped 4 pounds in a week - mostly water I am sure as I was eating salt at every meal.

So in order to stay motivated I plan on trying some new Eat to Live recipes and posting photos of them here along with recipes that are easily adaptable to ETL. Enjoy and have a Happy New Year!

Golden Austrian Cauliflower Cream Soup from
Dr. Member's Recipe Guide
Absolutely delicious. I made this for Christmas dinner.

Asparagus Spinach Dip
Popular with omnis and vegans, I omitted the oil and salt and this dip turned out absolutely delicious. The small amount of capers provided more than enough salty taste. Expensive to make if you use organic spinach, but absolutely worth it for a special occasion!

Sun Dried Tomato Dip
Another crowd pleaser and literally comes together in minutes. This was an enormous hit when I took it to a potluck. I love the fact that is is made with white beans. Be sure to use unsalted sun dried tomatoes if you are following ETL.

White Bean and Escarole Soup
from Vegan Express
I simply omitted the olive oil called for and sauteed my onions in water. I used organic canned beans which had no added salt. Easy and delicious for a busy winter evening!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Potluck Picks

So Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and you are wondering what to bring to your Thanksgiving gathering that will please omnis and veggies alike, will stand out among the mashed potatos, pumpkin pie, and tofurkey AND won't having you slaving in the kitchen for hours. Check out the two recipes below. They have become my secret weapons of late at a few potlucks.

Red Wheatberry Salad with Pecans and Dried Cranberries
I simply veganized this recipe by substituting agave nectar for honey. The texture of the wheatberries and wild rice, combined with the tang of the lemon juice and tartness of the cranberries...this salad will make you mouth sing with joy!! I can't get enough of it.

1 cup hard red winter wheat berries, soaked overnight
1/2 cup raw wild rice
2/3 cup toasted chopped pecans
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 tbs fresh lemon
1 tbs agave nectar
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1. Soak the wheat berries overnight then drain.
2. Boil the wheat berries in 6 cups of water for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Drain excess water from the wheat berries when done.
3. In another pot, cook the wild rice according to package directions.
4. Combine the cooked wheat berries and wild rice in a large bowl.
5. Whisk the lemon juice, agave nectar, mustard, salt, and pepper to make the dressing. Add the dressing to the wheat berries and wild rice, mix thoroughly.
6. Now add the cranberries, pecans, parsley, and green onions and gently combine.

Coconut Raspberry Squares from The Everyday Vegan by Dreena Burtonclick here to view the recipe

I used Polaner All-Fruit and Bob's Red Mill coconut to make these bars and they turned out incredible. Plan on making two batches as the first batch will be gobbled up within seconds - I promise!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm Back...

Finally, I'm back. The past few months have just flown by. With the days getting shorter, and the weather so much nicer, I have been maximizing playtime with my horses and minimizing time on the computer and time reading cookbooks. Not really a bad thing, though, as I ended up trying some new recipes that came to me via some of my favorite food blogs that I subscribe to. Whoever said that free recipes found on the internet aren’t as good as the ones found in cookbooks? Not me!

So, I have a small backlog of photos to post in upcoming weeks. Click on the name of each recipe to see the corresponding recipe.

First off, a couple of recipes from 101 Cookbooks. If you haven’t checked out this blog by cookbook author Heidi Swanson, I highly recommend that you add it to your blog reading. Although many of her recipes are not vegan, she comes up with some pretty good vegan recipes on a regular basis, which makes it worth taking a look at. Here are two that I have tried recently:

Maple Grilled Tempeh served with steamed veggies over a bed of quinoa. A simple and delicious meal. I’m always looking for uncomplicated marinades for tempeh so was thrilled when I came across this one.Peanut Butter Cookies
I made these with whole wheat pastry flour. Can peanut butter cookies get any easier and healthier than this?

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran from Fatfree Vegan I made this recipe several months ago and quickly became a fan of Panch Phoran. Just as a side note, if your family doesn’t like the wonderful aroma of Indian spices lingering in your house for the week after you make your favorite Indian dish, you may want to turn on the fan over your stove when you make this, especially if you have the heat or A/C on and the windows shut.

And for the grand finale – Julie’s Peanut Sesame Noodles from Everyday Dish TVI prepared this for the first time for our monthly vegan potluck and by the time I made my way through the line to get some for myself, there was literally only one bite of it left! Fortunately I had set some aside for myself, prior to the potluck, (thus the picture), so I can vouch that it was absolutely DELICIOUS!!! I will definitely be making this again.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Helping Others, for Free

Sparkled Ginger Cookies

Prior to adopting a vegan diet over 2 years ago, my absolute favorite cookies in the world were ginger snaps. However, since vegan ginger snaps are pretty difficult to find in stores, I didn't revisit this favorite cookie until a few weeks ago when I made a huge batch for a local vegan potluck. Fortunately for me I ate 5 before they left my kitchen, because they were quickly snatched up at the potluck. If you love ginger cookies, I highly recommend checking this recipe out.

Now that I have your attention, I'll move on to the main topic of this post...helping others.
Maybe it's the social worker in me, but I'm always interested when I hear of ways that I can help others that, well, are basically free and don't require a lot of time. I'm sure there are those of you out there who are feeling altruistic at times but don't have a lot of spare change to give out or very many hours left in your week for volunteer work. Because of this, I thought I would mention 3 ways to donate food or money to some really good causes, for free. Yes, that's right, for free, and with very little committment of time on your part! You're obviously already surfing the web, so surf a little further and check out the following sites. Helping others is just a CLICK away.

Free Rice Improve your vocabulary and help end world hunger. For every word you get right on Free Rice's on-line vocabulary game, Free Rice donates 20 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program. The word game on this site is not only fun, but addictive, so check it out, now!

iGive Next time you decide to make a purchase on-line, sign up through iGive first, purchase through their "mall" and have a percentage of the cost dontated to your favorite charity, animal charities included. Or, search the web through iGive's search engine, and they will donate 1 cent per search to your favorite cause. If you don't see your charity of choice listed, ask them to add it!

The Breast Cancer Site Click on the button and the site sponsors will donate money for education and free mammograms for those in need. They are partnered with the non-profit organization, National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The Hunger Site
Click on the button and the site sponsors donate a cup of food to the hungry through Mercy Corps and America's Second Harvest.

The Animal Rescue Site Click on the button to pay for food and care for animals. This site partners with The Fund for Animals, North Shore Animal League, and

Finally, I would like to end this post by bringing attention to the cute little pink and white "What's for Dinner?" search engine box in the right hand column. This search engine was compiled by Susan V. at Fat Free Vegan who has done a tremendous service to the vegan community by developing healthy, delicious vegan recipes and then making them available via her website and blog, for free. If you'd like to add this search engine to your blog, check out her post here which tells you how to do just that.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cold Soups

When I was younger I never cared much for cold soups. The whole concept was simply beyond me. I remember being invited over to a friend's house for dinner as a teenager and being horrified when her mother served us cold tomato soup. Thankfully, my food preferences have changed and cold soups are now some of my staple dishes during summertime.

My favorite cold soup recipes come from Nava Atlas' cookbooks. If you're short on time, want something healthy to eat, and require lots of variation in your diet, I strongly recommend that you check out two of Nava's books, Vegan Express and Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet. In recent weeks I have made some of my favorite cold soup recipes from these books:

Cold Tomato and White Bean Soup
from Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet

This soup is one of my all around favorite recipes. It takes less than 5 minutes to make, is fat free and Eat to Live friendly, and tastes absolutely delicious. You can see the recipe by clicking here. The recipe calls for stewed tomatoes but I use Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted tomatoes instead. I also use canned organic cannellini beans which have no salt added, or cook my own, as they taste much better than their non-organic counterparts.

Cool White Bean and Cucumber Soup
from Vegan Express
Cucumbers, radishes, and dill combine to make this soup amazingly cool and refreshing, not to mention beautiful. I love the colors in this soup. Photos just can't do it justice.

Nearly Instant Thai Coconut Corn Soup
from Vegan ExpressCreamy and delicious, this soup will satisfy you if you're palate is searching for something a little sweet and a little spicy. You can see the recipe by clicking here.

With all this talk of healthy soups, I must confess I have had a bit of a sweet tooth lately, so I'm ending this post on a very sweet and sugar sprinkled note. Ever since going vegan over two years ago I have managed to totally abstain from one of my favorite cookies: snickerdoodles. For whatever reason, my cravings got the best of me in recent weeks. Fortunately Celine at Have Cake Will Travel came to my rescue with a portion controlled recipe for Snickerdoodles, (click here for the recipe). Enjoy!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cool Eats for Hot Days

It's sooo hot out. Every year I dread the months of July, August, and September. I absolutely hate the heat and humidity and try to avoid cooking over a hot stove at all costs. So, what do I eat? In the upcoming weeks I will feature some of the recipes that have been helping me stay cool, and keeping my taste buds satisfied this summer.

Edamame Dip with Crudites, Wasabi Cucumbers, and Bird's Nest Sushi

A few months ago my mother told me about this recipe from Epicurious, Edamame Dip with Crudites, and I waited way too long to try it. Per my usual ways, I reduced the amount of oil called for in the recipe to only one Tablespoon, and had no problem with the end result. This dip is so delicious that I made two recipes in one week! I just could not get enough of it.
While I was over at Epicurious, I decided to look around for some other recipes to go with the one above, and much to my excitement found Cucumbers with Wasabi and Rice Vinegar as well as Ice Tray Sushi. I made the cucumbers exactly per the recipe instructions which gave me a wonderful excuse to go out and buy a Zyliss Mandolin, something that I have been wanting for a long time. Despite having wasabi in the recipe, the amount is so small that it doesn't burn your mouth or clear your sinuses. The cucumbers are refreshingly crisp and delicious and I know I will be making them many times again this summer.

The Ice Tray Sushi recipe was an inspiration for the little Bird's Nest Sushi I created. I used short grain brown rice and prepared it as if I was going to make sushi. Then I took an 1/8th cup dry measuring cup, packed it 3/4 full with cooked rice, used my thumb to make an indentation in the top, then turned over the measuring cup, tapping it onto a piece of wax paper taped to the countertop until the rice nest fell out. Then I flipped the nest right side up to fill it. For the Bird's Nest Sushi filling I diced green, red, and yellow bell peppers and then combined the diced peppers with 1 1/2 Tbs vegan mayo mixed with 1/4 tsp sesame hot chili oil. These would make great appetizers or a great snack if you're craving the taste of sushi but don't have any nori on hand to make nori rolls. For other filling ideas, check out these sushi filling recipes on The PPK, by clicking here.

In closing, an obvious way to stay cool in the summer is to have someone else do the cooking for you. A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Grass Root Organic Restaurant in Tampa. If you are ever in the Tampa area, I highly recommend you visit this place. The atmosphere is absolutely delightful and the food was nothing short of incredible. For my entree I had the Parmesan, which I still can't believe was vegan, it tasted so crispy and delicious! In the photo below you will see a side of house salad and garlic pasta in the background. For dessert I had their famous Key Lime Cheesecake, a must try if you go. I have to say that the texture was nothing like regular cheesecake, it was actually better. Unfortunately , the photo below doesn't quite do it justice due to the dim lighting, but I just had to feature it because I think this was one of the best pies I have ever tasted in my life!
By the way, if you live in the Lakeland, FL area, the owners are opening a restaurant there, too, so no more driving all the way to Tampa to get your fill!
Stay tuned for more cool summer eats in upcoming weeks!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eat Your Veggies!

I'm always looking for innovative ways to eat more green veggies, especially in the summer months when I shy away from hot, cooked foods. In recent weeks I have made two of my favorite veggie salads, one with kale, one with broccoli, as well as a new one using roasted green beans. I also made a long time favorite, Confetti Corn Toss, which although absent of any green veggies, utilizes fresh corn, tomatoes, and mangoes, which are so plentiful right now at the market.

Kale Salad

1 bunch kale
1 large vidalia onion
10-12 sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
10-12 kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup water
olive oil spray

Bring water to a boil and remove from heat. Place sundried tomatoes in water to rehydrate while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Tear kale leaves from stems into bite sized pieces. Set stems aside (discard if you don't want to use them, but I like the crunch they bring to this salad.) Wash leaves thoroughly allowing water to cling to leaves, then set aside. Wash stems thoroughly then place them in a bundle on your chopping board and slice them into 1/4 inch pieces. Set aside.

Cut onion into quarters and then thinly slice each quarter. Spray a large skillet with oil and heat on medium-high. Place onions in skillet and saute until golden brown and caramelized. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Saute chopped kale stems in skillet for a few minutes to soften, then set aside. Saute wet kale leaves in skillet on medium high until desired tenderness is reached then place in a bowl with cooked stems. Remove tomatoes from water and chop. Toss onions, tomatoes, and olives in a bowl with the kale and serve at room temperature or place in the fridge if serviing later. This salad really needs no dressing but if you do feel that it needs something, I suggest a light spray of Bragg's liquid aminos.

Roasted Green Beans with Marinated Button Mushrooms

Adapted from the original recipe which you can find by clicking here. I omitted the walnuts called for in the original recipe as I had none on hand. I also used half the amount of mushrooms and marinade called for in the recipe and roasted the green beans for 30 minutes instead of the 45 minutes suggested.

Broccoli Salad with Red Bell Pepper and Water Chestnuts

1 head broccoli, washed
1 red bell pepper, washed, seeded, and diced
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 Tbl rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil (up to 1Tbl if you want more flavor)
1 Tbl minced garlic
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
sugar to taste (optional)

Cut broccoli florets from stems and set aside. Cut away peel from stems with a knife then slice peeled stems into 1/4 inch thick slices. Steam florets and stem pieces for 5 minutes then rinse with cold water to stop cooking process. Toss broccoli in a large bowl with red bell pepper and water chestnuts. Combine last 5 ingredients to make a light dressing and drizzle on salad. Serve at room temperature or chill for 3 hours, covered, before serving.

Confetti Corn Toss
adapted from a 12+ year old add for Del Monte canned corn

3 cups fresh cooked corn (I boiled 3 large ears and then cut the corn from the cobs)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced*
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
3 Tbs lime juice
1 1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the last 3 ingredients in a separate bowl then pour over salad. Cover and chill about 3 hours before serving.
In place of mango you can use 1 (14 oz) can hearts of palm, drained and sliced, per the original recipe. This will give the salad a different flavor (more tang, less sweet).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Portobello, Avocado, and Tomato Sandwich

It's funny how taste buds change with age. I never really cared for avocados as a child, I think probably because of the color coupled with the large pit, and my young palate certainly had no appreciation of its creamy texture. About a year ago I saw some small organic Haas avocados at the market where I shop. They were so beautiful that I decided I just had to bring one of them home for a try. Once in my mouth, my palate was pleasantly surprised by what the small, green fruit offered in both taste and texture, and my affection for Haas avocados has grown since.

Last week, I arrived home from the market with a sack full of gorgeous locally grown tomatoes, some beautiful portobello mushrooms, and a small, ripe Haas avocado. I decided to make the Roasted Portobello Mushroom recipe from Veganomicon and when I saw the serving suggestion at the end of the recipe, (with lettuce, tomato, and avocado on a sandwich), I just had to give it a try.

Although eating it was a bit messy, (fortunately it was photographed mid-assembly), boy did my mouth sing with joy. It was one of those meals that was so incredibly simple and beautiful, reminding me that some of the most satisfying food in the world does not involve a complicated recipe.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Squash Pie - Veganized

Have you ever been so attached to something that you carry it around with you for years?

In the late 1980's, my mother cut out the Summer Squash Pie recipe pictured above from the "Cooking Light" section of Southern Living magazine. (This was before the Cooking Light magazine even existed.) I remember coming home to visit my parents during university summer break and my mother and I made this pie. It introduced me to the beautiful and delicious pattypan squash (pictured below) and soon became my favorite summer recipe.During the subsequent years I moved around a lot: to Virginia to work on a horse farm, to North Carolina for grad school, to Tampa to work, to Clearwater when I married, and to my current location when my husband decided to go back to school. I kept that recipe safely tucked away like a family jewel, bringing it out only during the summer months when the pattypan squash became plentiful at the farmer's market.

Two summers ago was my first vegan summer. I pulled out the recipe but then tucked it away again, vowing to make it at some point using tofu in place of the eggs called for in the original recipe. After reading about all of the success people were having with Susan V.'s tofu quiches on Fatfree Vegan Kitchen, I realized I needed to give my recipe a go using tofu once the pattypan squash became available. Several few weeks ago I gave it a try and the results were amazing. This recipe is another one that deserves fair warning on the delicious meter. I always eat at least half a pie in one sitting and for that reason, always double the recipe. Enjoy!

Summer Squash Pie

You will need one glass pie plate and a large pot for sauteeing the vegetables. You also need a food processor or blender to blend the tofu mixture.

7 small or 3 large pattypan squash, (1/2 pound), sliced 1/4 thick (across, not stem to navel)
olive oil spray
1/2 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed (I used prewashed baby spinach leaves)
1 medium size yellow squash, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large vidallia onion, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 12 ounce pkg lite firm silken tofu, drained
1/4 cup soymilk (I use Edenblend rice soy beverage)
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 tsp tahini
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt
vegan cheese slices (0ptional, I did not use any on the pie pictured)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To begin, arrange your pattypan squash slices around the outside edges and bottom of your pie plate, cutting them to fit (see photo below). These will form your "crust". Spray your pot with olive oil, remove the slices from the pie plate and saute them 2 to 3 minutes on each side until tender and lightly browned. Spray your pie plate with oil and arrange the slices again in the pie plate as shown in the photo below.

Saute your spinach briefly until wilted. Remove from pan, drain any excess water and then roughly chop. Set aside.

Spray your pot again and saute the chopped yellow squash, bell pepper, and onion over medium high heat until tender. Remove from pot, reserving 1/4 of this mixture, and spooning the rest into the prepared pie plate.

In a food processor or blender, process the tofu, soymilk, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, tahini, turmeric, and salt until smooth. Add in the spinach and process briefly to combine or combine by hand in a separate bowl. Pour this mixture over the vegetables in the pie plate. Sprinkle with the reserved squash, bell pepper, onion mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. If you are using vegan cheese slices, cut them into strips and place them on top of your pie about 5 minutes before the pie is done.

For variation I have also made this pie using asparagus or kale instead of spinach, adding in sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. The combination of vegetables you use are really endless, so experiment a bit and let me know how it goes.