I just wanted to apologize for being M.I.A the past month. At the end of April there was a family emergency and I had to go back home to Vancouver. Everything happened so fast that I didn't have time to post before I left, and then while I was gone I had both limited time and limited internet access, so didn't bother posting then either. So, to make a long story short, everything is okay, or it's going to be okay, or it's going to be as okay as it can be, which is a relief. I'm back home in Chicago now, and after I settle back into life here and get everything squared away i'll get back to posting regularly. I'll probably get back to it sometime next week, maybe Monday or Tuesday, and I've got a lot of really great stuff to share. I didn't do too much cooking while I was away, but I did try at least a dozen new and delicious restaurants that I can't wait to tell you all about.
Hope you're all well, I've really missed keeping up with everyone. So much to catch up on now that i'm back!
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I’m a big fan of hemp, I love it. Hemp Seeds, Hemp Milk, Hemp Oil, even Hemp Clothes. I Love, Love, Love it. I started off using Hemp seeds in salads, desserts, breakfast cereal, and smoothies for the protein and the omega-3 fatty acids. Then I switched from using olive oil to hemp oil in salad dressings for the same reason. I love the unique flavor of hemp, it’s both nutty and grassy in my opinion, and I love how nutrient dense it is. Hemp is packed with protein. It contains 10 essential amino acids and is really easy for your body to digest and assimilate. It’s also rich in balanced healthful fats like Omega-3 fatty acids, but also GLA - Gamma Linolenic Acid. It contains both short and long chain fatty acids which work together to ensure the body has an effective metabolism. Hemp also contains B vitamins, Folic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphoreus, potassium, chlorophyll and Vitamin E. Now what’s not to love about that?
Now, I’m also a big fan of protein powders, though strangely enough I’m not a fan of using them every day. To me a protein powder is one of those things I use when I need something quick for breakfast or lunch on a busy day when I haven’t the time to make anything else. Sometimes it’s nice to just throw a scoop of this or that into a blender, blend it up and drink without having to think too much about it. Sometimes I just really like the taste of a protein shake, and sometimes I just feel like my body needs an energy and vitamin boost. So while I may not like to use protein powders everyday or even several times a week I do like to have some on hand for those occasions when I need - or want - them.
Imagine my excitement then when I first discovered Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods several months ago. I was actually going to pick up a package of Vega when I saw Manitoba Harvest’s products siting a few shelves below. I’ve heard other people talk about Hemp Protein powder before - other vegans, some raw foodies - but I’d never seen it. I’d always been curious to try it, and here it was staring me right in the face. I knew I had to get some. There were several flavors available but I decided to go for their dark chocolate version, because chocolate always seem to be my favorite flavor of any protein powder.
Before I get into the flavor aspect I’d like to say that I appreciate Manitoba Harvest’s dedication to Pure, organic, and fair trade hemp. I also love the fact that the co-founders of the company helped to legalese industrial hemp in Canada. Oh did I mention this is a Canadian company? Well they are, incase the name Manitoba Harvest didn’t give it away already they’re based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Now, Winnipeg, Manitoba is a far cry from my home city of Vancouver, way on the other side of the country in fact it’s a lot closer to Chicago then it is to Vancouver but you know, we Canadians like to stick together and so I’m happy to support my fellow countrymen. Manitoba Harvest also happens to be the largest manufacturer of Hemp foods in the world, and I really love that they’re both dedicated to the quality and purity of their product as well as reducing their carbon footprint on the earth.
Anyway, back to the product. Their Dark Chocolate flavor Hemp Protein is freaking amazing! Seriously! The flavor of this powder is really good, it’s sweet but not too sweet, and the chocolate flavor is more mild then overwhelming so I think even chocolate protein powder haters may enjoy it. Like many powders Manitoba Harvest is a little gritty, but that comes with the territory and I pretty much expect it whenever I buy a powder these days. - In fact I kind of like that texture, though I know some don’t.
As far as the ingredients go they’re pretty simple. Hemp Protein, Palm Sugar, and Fair-Trade Cocoa Powder. All ingredients are organic and raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. Per serving the Dark Chocolate flavor has 120 calories, 9 g of fiber, 8g of protein, 4% Iron, 10% Calcium, and 400mg of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. A serving size is listed as 4 Tbsp but honestly I find 2-3 Tbsp per serving to be more then enough. My favorite way to drink this one is with Almond milk, a banana, a Tbsp of peanut or almond butter, and a ½ c of frozen cherries. Seriously yum, and it always keeps me full through the first half of work.
Now because I like to change my powders up, once I ran out of chocolate I decided to give their vanilla flavor a try, since vanilla is typically my second favorite protein powder flavor. Manitoba Harvest’s Vanilla contains Hemp Protein, Vanilla flavor and palm sugar, it’s organic, raw, vegan, GF, SF, and Dairy-free, with a similar nutritional profile. 130 Calories per serving - 4 Tbsp - 11g of Fiber, 9g of Protein, 400 mg of
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, 4% Calcium, and 8% Iron.
I drank the Vanilla Hemp Protein Powder blended into some rice milk, with a banana, and blueberries. It was simple, but I wanted to really taste the flavor of the powder. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as taken with the vanilla version as I was with the chocolate version. It’s not that I thought it tasted bad exactly, I just didn’t think it tasted very much like vanilla. For a powder that says vanilla I’d like to actually taste some vanilla, but it just tasted bland and hempy. I’ll give it another try, but for now I like the Chocolate version best.
Of course that’s just my opinion, who knows you may hate the chocolate version and love the vanilla or maybe you’ll prefer the original flavor instead. Regardless of what you like best I think Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods I worth trying out. It’s definitely one of the better protein powders I’ve had which is saying a lot.
If you’re interested in knowing more about Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods or their products you can check them out here... Manitoba Harvest
*** Note - I just want to make it clear incase it wasn’t already - I don’t see how it wouldn’t be but there are skeptics everywhere - I do not get paid to right reviews of products or restaurants. I do not get asked by any business or company to endorse their products. I get nothing out of this. I right positive reviews for only those products that I actually enjoy, and use in my personal life, and I started writing these reviews in the first place because there are so many great vegan products out there that sometimes it can be overwhelming for newbie vegans. I hope that people find these reviews helpful, and that my opinion or recommendation gives people confidence in buying products they may be interested in but are unsure of. So again, I don’t write reviews for profit or personal gain. I write them to expand knowledge, and I write them because I always appreciate it when others review products.***
Sunday, April 21, 2013
I know I’ve been MIA for almost the entire month and I apologize for that. I’ve had so much stuff I’ve wanted to share but school’s really been kicking my ass lately so I’ve been really focused on that. Add planning a trip to Colorado in May on top of that and I’ve had little time to think of much else. Man how the time flies!
Anyway, one of the things I’ve been dying to tell you about is this fantastic restaurant my husband and I ate at earlier this month. It’s called Amitabul! I’ve actually been dying to eat here for over a year because I’d heard such great things about it but as typically happens whenever we’d set out to go something would change and we never actually got there. Until now anyway. Amitabul is a vegan restaurant that serves healthy, Korean, Buddhist cuisine. There’s no seitan on the menu, no soy shrimp, no soy ham, no soy chicken, no ‘vegan meats’ of any kind. Tofu, and Tempeh are the only ‘meat’ option and I really liked that. I mean as much as I love all that other stuff I really appreciate and value the simplicity of not having it. According to their website Amitabul only brings in the freshest ingredients from the farmers market, and then they’re cooked in a way to bring out the true flavors of authentic Buddhist healing cuisine. If for some reason that sounds boring to you, like if you think the dishes are going to be totally minimalist and lacking in taste and texture you’re so wrong. Their menu is actually pretty extensive and they offer a nice mix of both traditional and modern recipes. Everything we ate here was amazing, and so flavorful, just further proof that you can eat healthy without sacrifice.
|Mandoo Vegan Dumplings|
Of course because the menu was so extensive and since it was our first time visiting we couldn’t decide what we wanted to get. So we started with no fewer then three - yes three - appetizers and a drink each. Our first ap was the Mandoo Vegan Dumplings. I don’t remember what was inside these but they were a steamed dumpling served in a light broth. There were sweet/salty and spicy dipping sauces that you could also use on them, though they were delicious all on their own. Also they come in a big serving 12 dumplings per plate!
|Green Heaven (left) and Awakening Energy (right)|
|Spicy Kimchi Maki|
Next up on the appetizer list was the Maki. We couldn’t decide between the three Maki options they offered and so we went for 2 out of 3. I got the Spicy Kimchi Maki which is exactly what it sounds like, Kimchi wrapped in a maki with spinach and carrot. It was really, really good - my favorite of the two - and not very spicy which is good If you don’t like spice. I do like spice however so I just added a bunch of wasabi. My husband ordered the Jade Maki which was a maki combo of Cucumber, Avocado and Spinach. Also very good, and they gave us so much! I was expecting a typical appetizer plate of maybe 6 rolls but there were more like 12-14 rolls on each platter. They were thinner then your average maki roll but still I don’t know how we ate it all!
For my entree I ordered the Dark Side of the Moon plate, and with a name like that how could you not right? It had 2 or 3 kinds of mushrooms, some mixed veggies, and rice noodles all served in a delicious flavorful sauce made with Chef Bill’s special 12 year fermented Black Bean Miso. Seriously guys, this was so delicious! Everything about this dish was amazing and this is coming from someone who used to hate - and I mean HATE - mushrooms. Really if you pay Amitabul a visit you need to try this out.
|Dark Side of the Moon|
My husband ordered the sweet curry noodles for his entree. This was mixed stir-fry veggies served over rice noodles in a sweet and slightly spicy curry sauce. My husband is a sucker for curry and so he’ll order it pretty much anywhere especially if it’s a sweet curry, but I agreed with him when he told me his dish was amazing. I took one bite of cauliflower from his plate, then a spear of broccoli and I was in love with the flavors of this dish.
|Sweet Curry Noodles|
For dessert we got the Giant Red Bean cake, which isn’t very giant but it is nonetheless delicious! I love red bean paste, seriously it’s one of my favorite things about Asian cuisine and back in Vancouver I used to order Red Bean paste everything all the time. Red Bean Paste doesn’t seem as common here in IL so whenever I see it anywhere I always have to get it. This cake was great, it wasn’t too chewy, it wasn’t too sweet, but it had a ton of flavor and I loved the black sesame seeds crusting the outside of it. That really brought the cake to a whole new level for me.
|Giant Red Bean Cake|
So, if you’re in the area you HAVE to stop into Amitabul, they are amazing. We ate so much food, but you know it’s healthy and healing when you stuff yourself silly and don’t feel like death afterwards. Despite all we ate we left feeling light, airy and satisfied. It’s also a cute little restaurant with a great mellow vibe, fun Buddhist phrases and statues and super friendly staff. It was a pretty quiet afternoon when we decided to stop in and we were served by Chef Bill himself, who is a super nice man. Another perk of Amitabul is that the parking outside is free, and if you live in Chicago you know what a miracle that is! Free parking in this city is almost unheard of. So check it out, you won’t be sorry you did!
6207 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Opean - Tuesday-Sunday 12 Noon to 9pm. (Last seating at 8:45pm)
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
|Stuffed Shells with Garlic Bread|
I realize this post is coming a little more then a week late, but oh well. In truth Easter has never really been a very significant holiday for me. Though I was raised in the Christian faith, I was never particularly religious, even as a kid. For me the holiday has always been about something else. When I was a kid it was presents and candy, when I grew up it was about socializing with family members I didn’t get to see regularly and eating heaping plates of good food.
|Breakfast - Sausage in a Blanket with Caramelized Apples &|
Chive and Cheddar Omelet
Typically I’ll take any excuse to socialize, throw a party, and cook a lot of food. Perhaps you remember my Easter Post from last year where I detailed everything I made and ate? It’s the kind of thing I really like to do, because I love to cook, and I especially love to cook delicious vegan food that inspires and impresses omnivores. This year however, I just wasn’t feeling it. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been so busy with school and a million other things or because as I get older I just care less and less about these kinds of things. Maybe it’s a bit of both, but probably a lot of the latter, after all when I really think about it there really isn’t anything about Easter that makes me want to celebrate. I’m a Buddhist, my husband’s an Atheist so on that point alone we have no cause to celebrate, but then factor in that we’re the only two vegans attending the celebration - which means having to make all our own food, and transporting it, not to mention make enough food for others - and I just said “To hell with it.”
Since I’ve been super focused on my studies these past few months, really buckling down determined to have everything finished by the end of June I just didn’t feel like taking the time out to cook a bunch of dishes for a bunch of people who aren’t vegan anyway, for a holiday I don’t really give a shit about. That said, that didn’t mean we wanted to miss the socializing aspect of the holiday since we typically don’t get to see most of my husband’s side of the family on a regular basis - even though they all live close by. So rather then opt out of the festivities all together I decided to make a large breakfast for the two of us before we left, then make a nice dinner for us upon our return. The time in-between we could survive easily sans snacks.
|Chive and Cheddar Omelet|
Even though I love to cook, and love to show off my cooking to others I can’t tell you how happy I was about this decision. I felt really free, and a real sense of relief. Cooking for any large group is always hard, but cooking for a large group of picky omnivores who think vegan food comes from some alternate universe is undeniably frustrating. Trying to come up with a suitable dish - let alone half a dozen - that is creative yet familiar that pleases everyone is no easy task, and it often has me pouring over my 100+ cook book collection for days in a bit of a panic. Then once I decide what to make there’s the cost of the shopping, the time it takes to prepare everything, the logicists of the transport, what to do with leftovers. Ugh! I get a headache just thinking about it. Cooking for my husband and I is much simpler. I know what we like - virtually everything - and I know the kinds of meals we appreciate most. We’re easy, we enjoy food, and we’re not afraid to try new things.
This year I didn’t get up early and start cooking. I didn’t spend my whole day in the kitchen. I didn’t rush, I didn’t stress, I didn’t get frustrated, and there was no insanity. I wasn’t busy. I was completely and totally relaxed and I loved every minute of it. I got to walk my dog, I got to exercise, I got to spend time with my husband, I got to listen to music, I got to read, I got to just kick back and enjoy life for a while without any obligations. I didn’t have to worry about anything, I didn’t have to worry about getting meals on the table at a certain time, I didn’t have to worry about when so and so might arrive. Nothing. In fact I was so relaxed and enjoyed this new freedom so much I couldn’t help but start to wonder why I’d ever go ‘all-out’ for another holiday again. Why go through all that hassle? Especially considering my husband and I eat well every night and never need a special occasion to do so. If I want to make pie or cake, or cookies I do it. If I want to make appetizers, or dips, or other decadent offerings I do it. If I want to make a five course dinner on a regular old Wednesday night I do it. I don’t need Easter for any of that, or any other holiday.
|Apple Sage Sausage|
I’m thinking I’d much rather bag the stress and enjoy a quiet meal at home with my husband for all future holidays. Besides despite our cultures emphasis on food that’s not what holiday's are truly about anyway. They’re about family, about togetherness, about socializing, and you don’t need to eat to be social and whether or not there is food at any particular location that is suitable for my husband and I to eat has never been a mark of our happiness or enjoyment in that place.
So then, what exactly did we eat for Easter?
Well, I wanted to make a big hearty breakfast that would keep us full for the entirety of the celebration, until I could get us home and make us dinner. So I decided to make the Sausages in a Blanket with Glazed Apples from Lane Gold’s books "Vegan Junk Food." To accompany the sweetness of the dish I wanted to also serve something savory and so I chose the Chive and Cheddar Skillet Omelet from Jenny Engel & Heather Goldberg’s book "Spork-Fed."
Both of these dishes were great, but I was particularly fond of the omelet. I can’t make an omelet to make my life, it’s one culinary talent I’ve never been bestowed with. I can’t make an actual egg omelet without if falling apart, and I can’t make a tofu omelet without it falling apart. So I really appreciate the ease of the skillet omelet, and I love the recipes that include baking or broiling an omelet in a cast iron skillet. This particular omelet contained chives, Daiya Cheddar Cheese shreds, tofu, gluten-free flour, black salt, almond milk, baking powder, nutritional yeast, brown rice syrup, turmeric, miso and a few other things. Then you cook it on the stove top for a few minutes and put it in the broiler to finish it off. I decided I wanted to bake it rather then broil it and so I put it into the oven to bake but it took quite a bit longer then I expected and so I ended up finishing it on the stove top where the bottom burned a bit. I was really upset that I’d burnt the bottom but surprisingly the omelet was still crazy-delicious! Seriously, we loved this thing, my husband gobbled up two slices and he doesn’t even like Daiya!
Though I enjoyed the sausages in a blanket I was less impressed with this recipe if only because it was very sweet, and I find that since I did my juice fast back in January I’ve been gradually moving further and further away from sweets and sugar in general. It just doesn’t ‘do it’ for me anymore you know? And even on those occasions where I want a cake or brownie or cookie, if I actually eat one I never feel satisfied. I just think to myself ‘bleh- why did I eat that?’ Don’t get me wrong, this new attitude towards sugar is a really good thing, it’s exactly what I wanted, there are just so many delicious desserts out there to try, that I probably won’t like all that much anymore haha! You might not believe it but often times when I feel like desert a half glass of vanilla almond milk, or a tbsp of nut butter with some chocolate chips, or 1 or 2 pitted dates will totally do the trick. I get my taste of sweet, yet I feel totally satisfied afterwards! Anyway, back to the breakfast. My husband loved this and ended up eating 3 pancakes stuffed with sausage and apples. The recipe calls for Tofurky breakfast links but I used the homemade Apple Sage Sausages I made a month ago using Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman’s recipe from "500 Vegan recipes." They were really good, and worked well here. However rather then shape them into links when I’d originally made them I’d just shaped them into loaves and so for this recipe I have sausage rounds rather then links. Doesn’t matter, it all tastes the same right? Anyway you make the apples by boiling them in water and brown sugar until they’re glazed, soft, and saucy. Then you stuff a simple fluffy white flour pancake with sausage, and apple mixture and top if off with a bit of maple syrup. Like I said they were good, and the pancakes were super fluffy and moist but it was just a little too sweet for me.
|Caesar Salad with Maple Wheat Croutons|
For dinner when we got home I made the Caesar Salad with Maple Wheat Croutons from Chloe Coscarelli’s book Chloe’s Kitchen. I served it as the starter to her recipe for Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce accompanied by her recipe for The best Garlic Bread in the world - which really was one of the best garlic breads I’d ever eaten.
The salad was a pretty simple affair, romaine lettuce and capers in a homemade Caesar dressing that utilized tofu, Dijon mustard, and Miso to make it Caesar like. I think that this is definitely one of the better Vegan Caesar’s I’ve had, though I think Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Caesar from Appetite for Reduction is just a little bit better in my book. The croutons however were the real showstopper. I’m usually not a crouton person, I’ve never, ever liked them but I was intrigued by the maple component and so I decided to try them out and they were really good. They added a new exciting element to the salad.
The Garlic Bread as I said was really phenomenal. It was melted Earth Balance, Nutritional Yeast, garlic and fresh parsley slathered over a baguette and baked till crispy.
Then the shells were also really good. I particularly liked the Arrabbiata sauce which is one of the better spicy tomato sauces that I’ve tried. The ‘ricotta’ stuffing for the shells was also good and quite simple. Tofu, miso, basil, garlic, lemon juice - the usual suspects and even though it was really good and really creamy, and really delicious I think I liked the stuff shell recipe from Myoko Schinner’s "Artisan Vegan Cheese" just a little bit better. That almond ricotta is to DIE for, even my husband thinks so and he doesn’t like almonds!
Anyway, the whole dinner turned out perfectly and it was completely stress-free which was the best part. Originally I was also planning on making a dessert, a mocha fudge pudding cake but after the sweet breakfast I really wasn’t feeling much like a heavy sweet dessert and so I opted out. Instead I made a batch of Rum Raisin Ice Cream from Cathe Olson’s sensational Ice Cream book "Lick It!" Now before you say “hold up, I thought you weren’t into sweet!” Cathe’s recipes generally only call for ½ cup of sugar for an entire batch of ice cream and if you like you can use a little less. That means the ice cream is more rich then sweet, certainly it’s a lot less sweet then store-bought ice creams, and so it’s a perfect dessert. Since I found my ice cream maker and started using it I’ve been obsessed with home-made ice cream. This latest flavor wasn’t my favorite - not enough rum and too many raisins - however it was pretty tasty! My husband was especially pleased.
And that’s how we celebrated Easter this year. I hope you too had a good time which however you chose to celebrate the occasion, and if you don’t celebrate at all I hope you had a good weekend complete with some lovely Spring weather!
PS: Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the ice cream, but I promise on my next ice cream making adventure I’ll take loads of picks and post all about it!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
A few months ago I was in the grocery store and I just happened to stumble upon a large jar of Piquillo Peppers. I immediately became excited about this because I had a recipe for Stuffed Spanish Peppers that I really wanted to try out but it called for Piquillo’s and I couldn’t find them anywhere. Then suddenly here they were. The jar however was massive, and my recipe only called for six peppers. No matter - I bought the jar anyway and thought I’d figure out something to do with the rest another time.
Well strangely even though I was super excited to try out these Piquillo Peppers, once I got the jar home and put away in the pantry I kind of forgot about it. Until earlier this week anyway when I finally made that stuffed pepper recipe. Which was phenomenal by the way, the only problem was what was I going to do with the rest of the peppers?
Piquillo Peppers are a really delicious sweet chili, cultivated in Northern Spain, though their flavor is more reminiscent of a roasted red bell pepper then a spicy chili. After they’re picked they’re roasted over embers which gives them a distinct smokey and even slightly spicy flavor. Though when I say spicy, think Paprika not Jalapeno. Once roasted they’re seeded, peeled and packed into jars or tins for sale, and if you can find a jar or a can anywhere definitely pick it up because they are divine. I could eat them plain straight out of the jar, they’re that delicious! Of course I didn’t want to just eat them all straight out of the jar, because what If I never find Piquillo peppers again? I wanted to take advantage of them while I had them, and so I started dreaming about Piquillo pepper combinations.
The first thing that popped into my head was spinach. Piquillo’s and spinach I thought would make excellent partners and then from there I began thinking about onions, and olives. Eventually I worked my way around to Piquillo’s for breakfast and naturally came to the conclusion that they’d be excellent in a scramble. Though Piquillo’s are typically stuffed and eaten as tapa’s in Spain I wanted to do something a little bit different, besides I was really in the mood for a scramble, and who doesn’t love a good hearty veggie stuffed scramble?
The Piquillo’s really add a unique flavor component to a scramble, making it slightly sweet and slightly smoky, combined with the earthy mushrooms, the leafy spinach, the cheesy nooch, and the tart olives it’s a winning combination. You can serve your scramble over toast, or for a really heavy and hearty breakfast do what I did and serve it with avocado toast. A super simple and delicious way to eat your avo. Mashed with lime juice, sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes spread nice and thick on a piece of crunchy toasty bread. YUM!
Spanish Style Scramble with Piquillo Peppers and Spinach
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ Large Yellow Onion Diced
6 Garlic Cloves Minced
3/4 C Baby Bella Mushrooms Chopped
14oz Extra Firm Tofu drained and pressed
1/8 C Nutritional Yeast
½ tsp Thyme
1 tsp Black Salt
Black Pepper to taste
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
3oz Fresh baby Spinach
5 Jarred Piquillo Peppers Chopped
1/3 C Spanish Olives with Pimento sliced
*** Note - To press the tofu either use a tofu press or place it between two sheets of paper towel and load some heavy objects on top of it. ***
- Heat olive oil in a medium sized pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 4 minutes until beginning to get soft. Add in the garlic and the mushrooms and saute another 4-5 minutes until fragrant and mushrooms are soft.
- Crumble the pressed tofu in to the pan, and add the Nutritional yeast, thyme, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, cumin, black salt and pepper. Stir until well combined and the tofu mixture begins to look the color of scrambled eggs.
- Add in the Spinach and Piquillo Peppers. Stir to incorporate then cover and cook until the spinach has wilted. 3-5 minutes. Fold in the olives and serve.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
This stir-fry in particular is unique only in that it includes sweet potatoes and edamame - two things I’ve never seen in a ‘traditional’ stir-fry and two things I’ve rarely if ever seen in any other kind of stir-fry. It also includes a plum sauce rather then the standard ginger sauce or teriyaki sauce. I really wanted a different flavor component and I thought plum sauce would work really well with sweet potatoes - spoiler, it does! How much sauce you use is up to you, and how saucy you like your fry’s, since I was in the mood for a plate of mostly veg, I was happy with 1/4 cup of sauce though my husband added a bit more to his own plate. Experiment and see what works best for you, there’s no right or wrong amount. Lastly you can serve this fry over rice for a hearty meal - as I did for my husband - or eat it like me, just plain and on its own a big ‘ole plate of veggies. Or you can find a happy compromise and serve it over a bed of sauteed or wilted spinach, arugula, or kale. Anyway you decide to serve it I hope you enjoy!
Tempeh, Sweet Potato Stir-Fry with Assorted Vegetables and Plum Sauce
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
2 Small Sweet Potatoes or Yams cubed
1 Large Yellow Onion
8 Garlic Cloves Minced
2 tsp Fresh Grated Ginger
1 Red Bell Pepper Chopped
2 Large Carrots Sliced on the diagonal
½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 Heads Broccoli Chopped
1 C Frozen Edamame
1/4-1/3C Asian Plum Sauce (Homemade or store bought)
1 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s (or Tamari)
- Heat the Sesame Oil in a large pan. Add peeled cubed sweet potatoes and cook on high for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are al dente, and even a little browned. Stir a few times to make sure they don’t stick or burn.
- Meanwhile cube the tempeh and fill a pot with enough water to cover the bottom. Place a steamer basket inside and steam the tempeh for 10 minutes until fragrant. Remove from the steamer basket and set aside.
- Add in the Garlic, Onion, grated ginger, red pepper flakes, bell pepper, and carrots. Stir to combine and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add in the frozen Edamame, steamed tempeh and broccoli. Cook for 3-5 minutes until broccoli is bright green and tender crisp.
- Add in the Plum Sauce and Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s. Stir until well combines and then cook for 1-2 minutes until heated through, and vegetables have reached your desired level of doneness.
- Serve spooned over rice or wilted greens and enjoy!
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
You all know how much I love a good smoothie right? Well over the past week this one has become my absolute favorite breakfast. The flavor is so unique a mixture of berry, vanilla, citrus and that oh so distinct grassy taste of wheatgrass. I love the not quite blended texture of the dates as well. Overall this smoothie packs an energizing antioxidant punch that’ll both nourish and satisfy you, not to mention help you through any busy Spring morning, and if it doesn’t quite feel like spring where you live then at least the light citrus notes will make you daydream of the warmer days to come. Plus, you can’t beat that beautiful, rich, majestic color. Doesn’t it make you want to smile?
Vanilla Orange Berry Blast Smoothie
1-1 1/4C Vanilla Almond Milk
1 Large Navel Orange
2 Pitted Dates
1 Scoop Wheatgrass Powder (I use Amazing Grass)
2/3-3/4C Frozen Blueberries
4 Frozen Peach Slices
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
Dash of Ground Ginger
- Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth. Bits of unblended date pieces are okay, and highly recommended in my opinion.
*** Note - If you prefer you can use unsweetened almond or other non-dairy milk and use a tablespoon of vanilla extract instead. Though I quite like the taste and texture of the vanilla almond milk. Also how much milk and blueberries you use depends on the strength of your blender and your personal preference for how thick you want the smoothie to be.***
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I love a big ‘ole salad, by now this should be perfectly obvious. For me, any day of the year - but particularly on sunny Spring and summer days - there are few things better then a gigantic bowl filled to the brim with a luscious array of rainbow colored vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes. There are days where I just crave salad, and nothing had me craving salad more then my week long foray into Irish cooking. As much as I loved the Irish cuisine I cooked up leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish aren’t exactly known for ‘light’ meals, nor are they particularly known for their salads. So after a long week of heavy seitan and potatoes fair I was desperate for a good old fashion salad.
Unfortunately the usual salad fixings were pretty scarce in my house yesterday. There wasn’t a scrap of any sort of lettuce, no avocado, no fresh herbs, and only one tomato. What’s a girl who needs a salad to do? Well, she’s got to get creative. I took a quick inventory of my crisper drawers and then began to formulate a plan. I might not have had lettuce, but I had two kohlrabi that had been in my fridge since who knows when, and two broccoli stalks leftover from the night before. Since I got my juicer I’ve been a big fan of re-proposing vegetables. I save all of my stalks and stems now instead of junking them, and feed them through my juicer. That was the original plan for these broccoli stalks but then I thought, why juice them when I can eat them? Washed and steamed and combined with a bit of red cabbage that I had, some red bell pepper, green onions, sesame seeds and tomato I was well on my way to lunch!
This is a really great way to use up your broccoli stalks, if you’re saving them or don’t want to throw them away, and if you’ve never had Kohlrabi before you’re really in for a treat. Kohlrabi is such a strange vegetable, it’s round like a beet but green, and it tastes like something between a potato, a cabbage and a sunchoke. They’re really unique and they can be eaten either raw or cooked. So a light steam is a really nice way to have them. They also pair really nice with a creamy-smoky dressing. It makes the perfect lunch salad.
Broccoli Stem and Kohlrabi Salad with Chickpeas
2 Broccoli Stems Chopped
2 Medium Sized Kohlrabi Peeled and Chopped
1 Tomato Chopped
½ Red Bell Pepper Chopped
1/4-1/2C Shredded Red Cabbage
1/4C Green Onions Sliced
½ Can of Chickpeas rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds (to taste)
3 Garlic Cloves Minced (or to taste)
Smoky Pepper Tahini Dressing
3 Tbsp Lime Juice
3 Tbsp Tahini
2 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s
2 Tbsp Water (to thin and dilute as needed)
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1/4-1/2tsp Smoked Paprika
White Pepper to taste
Black Pepper to taste
- Steam the Broccoli and Kohlrabi together in a steamer basket fitted into a medium sized pot. Steam for about 5-6 minutes until tender, but still a bit firm.
- Combine all other salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add the steamed vegetables and mix together.
- Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Then pour desired amount over your salad, mix well and enjoy!
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! No matter how you choose to celebrate I hope you have a good time, with lots of great Irish food and drink. If you’re looking for a way to kick up your Paddy’s day celebrations you might want to try this Guinness fondue appetizer, it sounds strange I know, but it’s simply delicious! Irish farmhouse cheeses are typically used for the dish, farmhouse cheddar in particular but in my case I decided to use Daiya Cheddar though you could use any of your favorite vegan cheddars. Served with raw or lightly steamed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yams, peppers, cucumber, squash and toasted bread cubes it makes of a really rich, satisfying and unique addition to any Paddy’s Day Party.
Originally I was unconvinced, my husband even more so since he doesn’t’ like either beer or cheese. But after one bread cube dipped in this thick gooey, fondue and you’ll keep going back for more, I swear! It’s neither too beery nor too cheesy it holds perfect notes of both. To make things easier of course you can use any stout beer, but I just found out via The Vegan Society that Guinness Extra Stout is Vegan in the U.S. - it’s not vegan outside of the U.S. - so if you really, really want Guinness use the Extra Stout! And enjoy!
12oz Guinness or other Irish Stout
16oz Daiya Cheddar Cheese Shreds or other Vegan Cheese
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
Celtic Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Assorted Bread and Vegetables to serve
- Combine Stout and Lemon Juice in a medium sized saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
- Add in the cornstarch, salt, pepper, and Daiya and stir constantly until all cheese has melted and fondue is nice and smooth.
- Serve with an assortment of lightly steamed or raw vegetables, and crispy bread. I used Steamed Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Broccoli, and Sweet Potato plus cubes of Rye Bread.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Get your Irish on St. Paddy’s Day morning with a delicious, hearty, Irish Breakfast or Brunch. This meal is filling enough to keep you powered through your entire morning and well into mid or late afternoon, as most traditional Irish breakfasts are. Boxty Potato Pancakes are said to have originated sometime during the Irish famine, and it’s not surprising since the word Boxty - which is derived from the Irish aran bocht ti - means ‘poor house bread.’ Boxty are mostly associated with the Northern Midlands, especially the counties of Mayo, Sligo, and Donegal and are so much a part of the local culture that they’ve inspired many a folk rhyme.
Though these delicious potato pancakes may have started off as ‘poor man’s food they are anything but poor. Like most traditional Irish breakfasts they are hearty and filling, filling enough to power you through your entire morning, and well into the afternoon. Though they are delicious served with just a pat or two of Earth Balance they are more typically served wrapped around a hot savory filling tortilla style. Shredded meat and vegetables are the usual filling of choice, and cabbage and bacon are strongly recommended. Though it must be pointed out that when I say Bacon what I really mean is ham. - Vegan ham of course - The Irish refer to almost every part of the pig as bacon, so if you’re an American think of Ham as their actual meaning, if you’re Canadian imagine Back Bacon. In my case however I’ve used home-made Vegan seitan Ham, and I hope you do as well! There are many good vegan ham recipes out there, or you could simply buy some tofurky ham, or use a vegan bacon of your choice. I chose to make the Vegan Ham from “500 Vegan Recipes” by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman.
Lastly, if the idea of blending potatoes in milk makes you cringe trust me when I say these pancakes are fantastic! What sets them apart from other potato pancake and latke recipes is that they’re very smooth like an actual pancake, ant not rough or grainy like most other potato pancake recipes. Flavor wise the pancakes themselves remind me very much of a German kartoffelpuffer which really pleases me because kartoffelpuffer are one of my favorite things from childhood and one of my favorite things that my Oma makes. Wrapped around lightly fried cabbage, vegan ham, and a savory, tangy and slightly sweet mustard sauce served with fresh tomatoes, there’s really no beating it!
Boxty Potato Pancakes
1lb Russet Potatoes Peeled and Chopped (2 Large ones)
2/3 C Unsweetened Almond Milk
½-2/3 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Earth Balance
½ Yellow Onion finely chopped
4 Garlic Cloves Minced
½ C Vegetable Broth
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
3-4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
3-4 Tbsp Unsweetened Almond Milk
Celtic Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
½ Tbsp Agave or Maple Syrup (Optional)
Bacon & Cabbage
½ Tbsp Peanut Oil
½- 1lb Vegan Ham or Vegan Bacon
½ Head Green Cabbage Thinly Sliced
To Make the Mustard Sauce
- Melt the Earth Balance in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth and the cornstarch. Whisk until thickened, then reduce the heat and add in the mustard, and almond milk. Whisk until the sauce is creamy. Simmer for 5 minutes then season with salt, pepper and agave if desired.
- Remove from heat and keep warm until ready to use.
To Make the Bacon and Cabbage
- Heat the Peanut Oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When sizzling hot add the cabbage and vegan bacon or ham.
- Stir-fry for 5-6 minutes until the ham is brown and the cabbage is bright green and tender but still crisp.
- Remove from heat and keep warm until ready to use.
To Make the Boxty Potato Pancakes
- Place the chopped potatoes into a blender with the milk and blend on a highspeed until completely smooth.
- Pour the potato/milk mixture into a medium sized bowl and stir in the flour and salt. How much flour you use depends on how thin or thick you want the batter. When it reaches desired consistency heat a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Spray the pan with non-stick cook spray. Using a quarter or third cup measuring cup drop the batter out onto the heated pan, and using the back of the cup spread out to thin a little. As if you were going to make a thin pancake or a crepe.
- Cook for roughly 3-5 minutes on each side until the pancakes are golden brown.
- Remove to a plate and keep warm.
- Spoon 1-2 Tbsp of Mustard Sauce into each pancake.
- Place 3-4 Tbsp worth of bacon cabbage filling on top of the mustard sauce
- Roll the pancake like you would a soft taco
- Dab the top of each pancake with a little extra dollop of Mustard Sauce
- Serve with fresh slices of tomato, and enjoy!