Food for Thought

Freedom from Oil: Grilled Summer Squash

Grilled Summer Squash

Over the weekend Bruce and I visited a vegan cafe that we came across in the early days of our plant-based journey. I recalled that we were pleased with the food so we decided to fuel up there before a wine-tasting adventure in southern New Jersey. I figured the roasted vegetable wrap would be a good choice. It wasn’t. As soon as I unwrapped the wrap it was like the flood gates opened up on my plate — and the flood was mostly oil. I picked at the vegetables hoping to rescue them from the oil spill that left them tasteless and greasy. From the time we left the cafe to our arrival at the first winery our conversation turned to America’s dependence on oil. Olive oil to be specific. It’s everywhere; in restaurant food, in family recipes, on cooking shows. We’ve been brainwashed to believe that it’s a “good” oil. Olive oil is one of the most calorie-dense foods and, contrary to popular belief, it may not be “good” for your heart as we once thought. But don’t take my word for it. This article and video from Forks Over Knives is an excellent (and brief) explanation. Some people feel that oil is needed to help brown food, like roasted vegetables. I can tell you that those “roasted” vegetables in my wrap were not brown at all. I’ve been preparing whole food, plant based food for five years now and I’ve learned to brown vegetables without the use of oil. Just the day before our outing I grilled eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash that came out flavorful and browned — and the only oil I used was a coating of non-stick spray on the grill grates. (I guess that’s what I had in mind when I ordered my wrap.) If you feel that grilled vegetables need a little something, try some fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar and herbs. I made a light dressing for the zucchini and yellow squash that lets their delicate flavor shine through. You can serve grilled vegetables as an appetizer, as an add-in to a salad, in a sandwich or over your favorite grain. Treat yourself to a good non-stick skillet and try using a few tablespoons of water or broth when you want to brown vegetables. If you’re not ready to eliminate oil completely you can re-train yourself by first measuring the oil then spreading with a paper towel. Pretty soon you’ll be on your way to reducing your dependence on oil. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Grilled Summer Squash

a few zucchini and yellow squash, cut into 3/8″ thick slices

Heat an outdoor grill on high heat. Lightly coat the grates with non-stick spray. Place the zucchini slices directly on the grates. Close the cover and grill until the squash is browned, then turn over and brown the second side. Cooking time will vary depending on how hot your grill is. It may be necessary to reduce the heat to medium if the vegetables are browning too fast. Remove from grill and arrange squash on a serving plate, drizzling the dressing on each layer. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

Honey Summer Savory Dressing

½ cup white wine vinegar
1 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp. honey or agave
fresh summer savory to taste

Whisk all ingredients together. Drizzle over grilled vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

10 Aug 2017

Navigating Noel: Roasted Vegetables, Farro & Porcini-Cashew Cream

Roasted Winter Vegetables & Farro

Roasted Winter Vegetables & Farro

The holiday season can present it’s own set of challenges when either hosting or being invited to a holiday dinner or party. What to serve, what to bring. Who likes what, who’s allergic to this, that or the other thing. It’s enough to make you want to go away for the holidays. I’ve hosted some pretty big dinners in the past, so I understand the amount of preparation that goes into cooking for a crowd. Here’s how I navigate Noel festivities. Whether or not a host offers to make something special for me and Bruce, I happily volunteer to prepare a dish for everyone to enjoy. Bruce and I get to eat the food that makes us feel good and it’s a nice way to show others that a plant-based diet can be sumptuous and scrumptious. We were invited to my cousin’s home for Thanksgiving and I wanted to make a dish that met certain conditions.The dish should be in keeping with tradition, so it had to be made with autumnal ingredients. Since we were traveling to New Jersey, the dish had to be portable and able to fit in the car with three humans, one dog and a dog crate. Lastly, it had to make a hearty meal for me and Bruce, yet suitable as a side dish for others to enjoy. I decided to combine a few of my favorite recipes into one scaled-down feast — Sauteed Mushrooms, Shaved Brussel Sprouts, and Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower & Chickpeas served over farro and adorned with a Porcini-Cashew Cream. It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s not any more difficult than making three side dishes for a holiday dinner. You can always opt to roast the mushrooms and Brussel sprouts with the broccoli and cauliflower. Or you could saute the mushrooms and Brussel sprouts and simply steam the other vegetables. If you have leftover porcini-cashew cream, you can use it as a condiment for bean burgers or grilled vegetable sandwiches.What’s especially nice about this recipe is that everything can be prepared ahead of time and re-warmed either in the microwave or oven just before everyone’s ready to sit down for dinner. Less time fussing over food means more time making merry with family and friends. Have a joyful holiday season and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Roasted Vegetables, Farro & Porcini-Cashew Cream

Porcini Cashew Cream (recipe follows)

1 cup farro
Vegetable broth
Fresh or dried herbs to taste (thyme, sage, rosemary, etc.)

1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets

1 lb. mushrooms, sliced

4 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. Brussel sprouts, shaved

1 can chickpeas, drained
Smoked paprika

¼ cup toasted pignoli nuts

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cook the farro according to package directions, using vegetable broth instead of water and adding your choice of herbs.

Place cauliflower and broccoli in steamer basket and steam until they start to get tender. Remove and place on prepared baking sheet. Place on lowest rack and roast until the florets brown on the edges. Remove from oven and place in a large oven-proof serving bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 200F and place bowl in oven to keep warm.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Add to broccoli and cauliflower and return bowl to oven.

Add shallots to skillet and saute until softened and browned, adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add Brussel sprouts and continue to cook, tossing frequently. Add to the bowl with the other vegetables and return to oven.

If necessary, wipe out skillet to remove any burned vegetables. Heat skillet on medium-high and add chickpeas. Cook until chickpeas start to brown. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Add to the bowl with the other vegetables.

To serve: spoon farro onto a plate, then add roasted vegetables on top. Drizzle porcini-cashew cream on top of farro and vegetables.

Porcini Cashew Cream

½ oz. dried Porcini mushrooms
½ cup cashews, soaked and drained
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove (preferably roasted)
Ground sage, black pepper and salt to taste

Pour ½ cup of boiling water over porcini mushrooms and let sit about 20 minutes. Drain mushrooms, reserving water, and place in container of high-powered blender. Add remaining ingredients and process on high, adding reserved porcini liquid as needed to thin out.

12 Dec 2016

Make It Merry: Stroopwafel

Stroopwafel

Stroopwafel

I suspect that most folks go to the liquor store just to “run in” and pick up a bottle or a six pack. Not me. There’s a local store that offers wine tastings on the weekends, so when I go I set aside an hour of my time and make it an event. On a recent shopping trip/wine tasting, I sampled a liqueur calledStroopwafel”. They even offered samples of the cookie that was the inspiration for the beverage. A stroopwafel (literally “syrup waffle”) is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle.It is popular in the Netherlands, where they were first made in the city of Gouda.The cookie is placed on top of a hot cup of coffee or tea so that the caramel softens. Before I stepped away from the tasting table I was already conjuring up this recipe in my head.(I also saw myself sitting by the fire warming my hands around a hot cup of spiked coffee and enjoying a crisp and gooey Stroopwafel.) I’ve made pizzelles before, so all I had to do was come up with a caramel filling. I recalled seeing a recipe for a vegan caramel sauce a few months ago that might work. (I can’t find the original source, so I apologize for not being able to give credit where credit is due.) The original recipe used a combination of oat milk and non-dairy yogurt, but I’ve had success using soy creamer. The recipe looks daunting, but it’s actually quite easy and fun to make. And when you’re done, you can put your feet up and enjoy a hot cup of coffee topped off with a warm Stroopwafel. To make it even merrier you might as well add a splash of the liqueur to your coffee. Make It Merry and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Stroopwafel

You will need a pizzelle maker to make the wafers and a candy thermometer for the caramel.

For the wafers:

1 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tablespoon flax meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk, warmed to room temperature
1 tablespoon flax meal
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil

Whisk the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

Place milk and flax meal in container of blender and let it sit a few minutes. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, coconut oil and process until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix them until the batter is totally smooth. The batter should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.

Heat a pizzelle maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Place 1 rounded teaspoon (I like to use a melon ball scoop) of batter on pizzelle maker, close cover and grill until golden (about 1-1/2 minutes). You want the wafers to be a little bigger than the size of your coffee cups. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the caramel:

¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of water
5 tablespoons of soy creamer
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or butterscotch liqueur

Note: The caramel will bubble fiercely when the creamer is added to the sugar syrup, so you must use a pot deep enough to prevent the caramel from boiling over and be careful to not get burned.

Place the sugar and water into a deep pot and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar melts and turns a light amber color (355F). Remove from stove and add the creamer, stirring vigorously being careful not to get burned by the bubbling caramel. Let cool just enough to either spread or dip the wafers. The caramel can be re-warmed in the microwave (about 5 seconds at a time) if it gets to thick to spread.

Assembly:

Place a cooling rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet. Take one wafer and dip it into the warm caramel. Place another wafer on top and place on cooling rack. You could alternately use a small spatula to spread the caramel on the wafers. You might run out of caramel before using up all of the pizzelle. You should get about 16 Stroopwafels.

02 Dec 2016

Build a Better Taco Step 3: Mushroom Tacos

Mushroom Tacos

Mushroom Tacos

Perhaps you’ve tried seitan; or tofu; or TVP; or jackfruit. I’ve tried every one of these “meat replacements” and what I don’t like about them is that they need a lot of moisture (i.e. oil) or salt to make them palatable. Which brings me back to mushrooms. I’ve always enjoyed eating mushrooms, but they were usually as a side dish. Since I gave up eating meat (and our close proximity to the mushroom capital of the world), they’ve become the focal point of many of my recipes. Mushrooms are versatile and easy to use in recipes. They can be hearty in flavor and texture, like a cremini or portabella; or they can be delicate in taste and bite, as in an oyster mushroom. I used cremini mushrooms for this taco recipe because they can withstand the high heat used to brown the filling and are able to stand up to the spicy heat of the taco flavorings. Once you have your sour cream, taco seasoning and sauce ready, the recipe comes together quickly. It’s a simple saute of onions, garlic, bell peppers and mushrooms spiced to your liking. Spoon it into taco shells, then layer on fresh tomatoes, lettuce and pumpkin seeds. If you don’t like the idea of non-dairy sour cream, whip up some super soft avocado with a spritz of lime juice instead. Make your meal a fiesta by serving some black beans and Spanish rice to accompany the tacos. (One margarita wouldn’t hurt, either.) Makes me wanna shout Ole! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mushroom Tacos

1 lb. cremini mushrooms, minced
3 to 4 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 large bell pepper, minced
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or taco sauce)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

Taco shells
Non-dairy yogurt or sour cream
Taco sauce
Chopped tomatoes
Shredded lettuce
Toasted pumpkin seeds

Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat. Add one third of the mushrooms to skillet and brown, turning frequently. When browned, remove to clean bowl. Repeat two times with the remaining mushrooms. (The goal is to cook the mushrooms without allowing them to get watery.) Add taco seasoning and stir to combine.

Add peppers and onions to skillet and saute until lightly browned, adding just enough water to prevent them from sticking. Reduce heat to low, cover and continue to cook until softened. Add mushrooms and raise heat to high. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Add tomato paste and nutritional yeast and cook for about 5 minutes, adding water if necessary. Taco mixture should be slightly moist and meaty, not soupy. Remove from heat and serve on corn taco shells with tomatoes, lettuce, yogurt, taco sauce and pumpkin seeds.

04 Nov 2016

One Bad Apple: Apple-Pear Green Smoothie

Apple-Pear Green Smoothie

Apple-Pear Green Smoothie

You may be familiar with the old saying, “one bad apple won’t spoil the whole bunch.” Well, that thought came to mind when I put together this recipe. But in this case, it was a bad pear and another story is about to unfold. Sometimes I refer to myself as an “accidental gardener” when in fact I just might be a haphazard one. A few years ago we decided to plant two pear trees. Our property really isn’t situated for growing fruit trees, but we planted them anyway. We never sprayed the trees and are practically clueless when it comes to pruning them. I call this haphazard gardening because life has gotten in the way of my having the time to put the effort into figuring out how to care for fruit trees and then putting that knowledge into action. Despite a minimal amount of effort, the bartlet pears were absolutely gorgeous  last year — large, golden, free from bugs and blemishes and perfectly ripened. This year they were falling off the tree before they were ready and had a lot of worm damage. The pears were hard in some places and rotten in others. Why is that? Well, I hope to catch up on my reading over the winter. The pears that we kept were tasty, but a little hard. So now comes the smoothie. I had a few pears that I was about to get rid of and decided to disguise them as a smoothie. I used equal amounts of apples and pears, then added some sorrel and a few dried figs. (Everything was from our yard, except the apples.) Wow! This tasted really nice. The lemony flavor from the sorrel is a nice complement to the sweet apples, pears and figs. You can omit the figs if your fruit is exceptionally sweet and use spinach in place of the sorrel. This is a great way to enjoy apples and pears that have gotten lost at the bottom of your fruit bin and are approaching the point of no return. The next time life gives you one bad apple or pear, make this smoothie instead. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

`Apple-Pear Green Smoothie

Makes one large smoothie or two small, share-able drinks

1 large apple, any variety, cored and cut into chunks
1 large pear, any variety, cored and cut into chunks
1 handful of sorrel or spinach
¼ cup dried figs (about 3 to 4)
Crushed ice or cold water

Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Add ice or water to achieve desired level of sweetness and consistency. Best if enjoyed immediately, but it can be stored in your refrigerator overnight.

13 Oct 2016

Growing on Me: Red Lentil, Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Stew

Red Lentil, Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Stew

Red Lentil, Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Stew

Sometimes I wonder why I do the things I do. For instance, I planted a row of Swiss chard again this year. As much as I want to love eating greens, I’ve never been a big fan unless they were swimming in a sea of olive oil. I guess I keep planting them in the hopes that they’ll start to grow on me, OR, that I’ll find a way to prepare them that will make me love them. I’ve been adding a handful of spinach to my Thai Curry Red Lentils. It’s been a nice addition, so I figured I’d try some chard with it. Since I have lots of chard, I gave it a bigger presence in the stew. I usually serve this stew over rice, but I wanted to introduce a different starch to the dish and added some potatoes. I replaced the Thai curry paste with cumin, chili powder, turmeric and cinnamon for more of an Indian influence. I can’t say enough about this stew. It’s colorful, creamy, savory, spicy and exotic. It’s hearty enough to eat on it’s own, but feel free to serve it with some rice so you can spread the love even further. If you like to garden, try planting this perpetual Swiss chard. It’s resistant to bolting so you can enjoy it all summer long and even into late fall. Even if you don’t grow your own Swiss chard, this stew is bound to grow on you. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Perpetual Swiss Chard

Perpetual Swiss Chard

Red Lentil, Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Stew

1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons turmeric
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried red lentils
3 small sweet potatoes cut into 1″ chunks (about 4 cups)
12 oz. Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves cut crosswise into strips
1 cup lite coconut milk
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish
Cooked rice (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons of water in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and beginning to color. Stir in ginger, garlic and seasonings. Cook one minute, stirring constantly. Add broth, curry paste, lentils and potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and lentils are soft. Add chard and coconut milk and cook another five minutes. Serve over rice if desired.

03 Oct 2016

Vegicurious Adventures: Plant-Based Guide to Quebec City Part 2

Le Saint Amour

Le Saint Amour

One of my biggest challenges of plant-based living is going out to dinner. We don’t live in a particularly herbivore-friendly area, so we don’t go out as much as we used to. Suffice it to say, I was a little concerned about what we would encounter on our trip to Quebec City. Not only were we travelling to a region where there’s a heavy French influence in their cuisine (butter, cream, duck, lobster, etc.), but there’s also a lot of French spoken there. I wondered how that would translate into vacation-worthy, yet healthy meals. Quebec City has an “old-world” atmosphere that makes you want to take it all in at a relaxed pace. Most of the restaurants display their menus on the sidewalk as a way to beguile you into coming back later in the day. And it works! It was a good way to find what we were hungry for and gave us a chance to talk to the restaurant staff about how their meals are prepared. Here are some of our favorite places in Quebec City:

Korrigane Brew Pub. This Irish pub located outside the walls of Quebec City has a cozy feel, tasty beers and a killer veggie burger that you can order with a side of fries or a salad. (Of course, I had the fries.) They also have a vegetable chili on the menu that we just weren’t able to get back for. Sitting at a table near the window I imagined how comforting it must be to be sitting in this warm and charming pub during the winter months.

Chez Jules . This is a French Brasserie located in the heart of Quebec City. We had the Ratatouille with Tagiatelle, a dish of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers served over tagiatelle. Superb! (You can use my recipe for Ratatouille and serve it over your favorite pasta. We had it with spinach tagiatelle.)

Ratatouille & Spinach Tagiatelle

Ratatouille & Spinach Tagiatelle

Wong’s Chinese Restaurant . You can always count on a Chinese restaurant for steamed vegetables and rice. Since we were on vacation (and there was something lost in translation), Bruce ended up with stir-fried vegetables and rice. I enjoyed Vegetable Singapore Mei Fun and washed it down with a Sake-tini.

Bello Restaurant. This pretty Italian restaurant had typical Italian dishes on the menu. We started out with a fresh arugula salad and some tasty bread. I had the Tagiatelle Funghi, which reminded me of my Pasta with Creamy Leek-Mushroom Sauce. Bruce ordered the Spaghetti Pomodoro. Delicious!

Le Monestere du Augustines. This restaurant is part of the spa-hotel that is located in a section of the Monestary of the Augustine Nuns. It has a holistic environment that’s centered on mindfulness. Not only can you partake in healing massages, reflexology, yoga and meditation, but their restaurant has the healthiest menu in Quebec City. Our dinner started with an abundant salad bar (kale, wild rice, couscous, micro greens) and minestrone soup. You get to choose from a meat, fish and vegetarian entrees, which change daily. We had a grilled eggplant dish similar to parmigiana. I worked up my own wild rice salad recipe which I’ll gladly share in an upcoming post.

Le Saint Amour. We saved the BEST for our last night in Quebec City and I’m saving the BEST for last on my list of favorites. I don’t even know where to begin with this gem. The decor of the restaurant is romantic, artistic and stunning. And the food is delicious, gorgeous and sensational. We ordered the Organic Vegetable Market Abundance. The name of this dish does not do it justice. If my memory serves me right (and my memory of a memorable meal is usually pretty accurate), I counted 19 different components that went into this dish. Some vegetables were steamed, others sauteed, others pureed, and sauces made. Yes, there was some butter, cream and cheese , but it was with a delicate hand. The plate was like an artist’s palette made of herbed gnocchi; fried polenta cake; plum tomato stuffed with goat cheese atop an olive crisp; patty pan squash, baby corn, baby bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, champignons, baby beets, asparagus, garlic scapes, micro greens, cheese sauce, carrot puree, tomato puree, beet puree and an edible flower. Imagine all the work that went into preparing that meal. You might say it is a labor of love, but when someone prepares something so beautiful, it’s just love.

Well, that’s all I’ve got until our next adventure. Wherever the road takes you, do not let food get in the way of experiencing life and what the world has to offer. Do your best to find restaurants that have one dish that is mostly plant-based and don’t fret if your vacation is not 100% compliant with your program. Happy trails to you and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

30 Aug 2016

Corned Beet Rueben Sandwich

Corned Beet Rueben

Corned Beet Rueben

The first time I had a Rueben sandwich was my first time on an airplane. It was soooo long ago that a meal was included in the price of your ticket and the food was actually pretty tasty. I got the idea for this recipe from a menu item at Rise Above Cafe in St. Catharine, Ontario. We dined at this great vegan restaurant a few times while vacationing in Niagara on the Lake. Without further ado, let me get to the recipe as this one has a lot going on.

A traditional Rueben sandwich consists of slices of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing that’s grilled on rye bread. It can be served either open-faced and eaten with a knife and fork or closed for a neater, hand-held sandwich. The first task is to make the corned beets, which is very simple but requires you to keep an eye on the stove while the beets are getting “corned”. The process to make corned beef consists of placing a slab of beef in a brine with allspice, cinnamon, black peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves and bay leaves and letting it sit the fridge for several days. I thought about trying that with sliced beets, but nixed it to avoid using any salt. Instead, I braised the beets in a vegetable broth and all of those spices. I figured the worst that could happen is that I’d have some nicely spiced pickled beets. I was quite surprised that the beets turned out to be a good stand-in for corned beef. The next ingredient was the Swiss cheese. Of course, you can purchase non-dairy cheese, but I opted to use the recipe from the Gentle Chef’s Non Dairy Evolution cookbook. It takes just a few minutes to make and after a few hours in the fridge, it’s ready to use. The last element was the Russian dressing. I used thick, homemade almond yogurt, ketchup and horseradish. You can use vegan mayo in place of the yogurt. As I was building and grilling my Rueben sandwich I was still skeptical of the final outcome, but after the first bite I was knew I was hooked. Does it taste just like a corned beef Rueben? Of course not; no plant food ever will. But it does have many of the flavor components that transport me back in time to that day I enjoyed my first airplane trip and my first Rueben sandwich. Make yourself a Corned Beet Rueben, make yourself some memories and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Corned Beet Rueben Sandwich

Have ready:

Corned Beets (recipe below)
Swiss cheese
Rye bread
Sauerkraut
Russian Dressing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to broil.  Heat a non-stick skillet on medium. Place a slice of rye bread and sliced Swiss cheese in skillet and heat until bread is browned and Swiss cheese begins to melt. If cheese doesn’t melt, place under broiler for a few minutes. Add a layer of beets, a layer of saurkraut, Russian dressing and another slice of rye bread. Turn over to and cook until browned.

Corned Beets:

3 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. mustard seeds
8 whole allspice berries
4 whole cloves
2 small bay leaves
½ tsp. black peppercorns
12 whole juniper berries
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. ground celery seeds
2 whole garlic cloves
¼ cup vinegar
2 cups hearty vegetable broth

1 lb. beets, thinly sliced

Place all ingredients in large non-stick skillet, adding water to cover beets. Bring to boil and cook until beets are soft and liquid has evaporated.

Russian Dressing:

Mix the following ingredients in a small bowl, adjusting to your liking:

2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise or yogurt
2 tablespoons ketchup
¼ teaspoon horseradish

02 Jun 2016

Home Grown: How to Make a Five-Star Salad

Five-Star Salad

Five-Star Salad

“Vegi-curious . . .  one curious girl’s guide to plant-based living.” 

It’s all about the food, but not necessarily just about the recipes. When we started our plant-based journey almost four years ago I had no idea what I was in for. What started out as a healthy way of eating evolved into a healthy way of living. We try to make food choices that support local farmers, are compassionate to all creatures and consider their impact on the environment.  I’ve always dabbled in gardening with some successes and some disappointments. But I always keep trying. I’m moving toward long-term, edible landscaping and container gardening. (I’m finding that, unlike wine, getting from a kneeling to standing position does not improve with age.)

So, here’s what we have going on in our yard. We have two heirloom (i.e. very old) fig trees, two fairly young pear trees, three brand new plum trees, a row of blueberry bushes (hopefully a hedge some day) and four dwarf raspberry bushes. With the exception of a little pruning these plants should be bearing fruit for years to come with little effort. In my container herb garden I have basil, tarragon, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (couldn’t resist ending the sentence like that). I planted bay laurel, sorrel and chives as they are perrenial plants. I’ve been growing arugula for many years in a partially-shaded area and I’m able to harvest it and re-plant it a few times from spring until fall. One of my Brussel sprout plants came back to life and is doing quite nicely. (I’m sorry I pulled the others out after last year’s harvest.) I’ve got a few hanging strawberry plants that are not doing so well, but I’m hoping that they’ll turn it around soon. And watercress . . . what a fun (and tasty) plant this is. Since watercress likes to grow in wet areas, I planted it in a shallow pot that’s set in a deep dish and kept filled with water. I’m sure I missed a few plants, but my intent is to encourage you to plant some of  your own seeds of change.

So the five-star salad is not a recipe but just an incentive for you to try your hand at gardening on whatever level you’re comfortable with. The orange flower is Nasturtium. The purple puffs are chive flowers. The white flowers are on the blossoms from the watercress. The rest of the salad is made from seasonal greens like baby kale, arugula and baby spinach. If the salad’s not already dressed up enough you can drizzle it with a quality balsamic or flavored vinegar.

Please take a few minutes, walk with me in my garden and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chives

Chives

Container Herbs

Container Herbs

Watercress

Watercress

Dwarf Raspberries

Dwarf Raspberries

Bartlett Pears

Bartlett Pears

Arugula

Arugula

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

16 May 2016

Baking Mindfulness: Chocolate Doughnuts Frosted Two Ways

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

I hear the word “mindfulness” being tossed around a lot lately, but what does it actually mean? According to Psychology Today, “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” I find that baking is a good way to practice mindfulness. The focus required for measuring ingredients, following the sequence of a recipe and perfecting different techniques allows me to be in the moment. It’s somewhat meditative and very relaxing. My mindfulness time of the day is usually from six to eight o’clock in the morning — before any interruptions like phone calls, a frolicsome puppy or someone looking for breakfast can crash my party. It’s just me, a counter full of ingredients and equipment and an open mind. This morning I had a very gratifying mindfulness session that resulted in chocolate doughnuts that are gluten free, low fat and very tempting. The doughnuts are delicious right out of the oven, but I wanted to have an icing option. As I was whisking together maple syrup and cocoa powder for chocolate icing, the thought of peanut butter-topped doughnuts crossed my mind. Actually, I was thinking about Funny Bones, a peanut butter filled chocolate cake that was a childhood favorite of mine. Now where did that come from? Well, that’s how mindfulness works — it frees your mind and opens you up a whole world of possibilities. Bake up a batch of Chocolate Doughnuts and start your mindfulness practice today. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chocolate Doughnuts

Makes 8 doughnuts

  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat doughnut pan with coconut oil

Place milk, sugar, pumpkin, almond butter and vanilla in small mixing bowl. Using an immersion blender, process into a smooth puree. (You could alternately use a blender or food processor.)

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add liquid ingredients and mix well.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, fill doughnut pan ¾ the way full. You should have enough to make 10 doughnuts. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Doughnuts should spring back when surface is touched with your finger.Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before removing from pan.

Prepare icing and drizzle or spread over top of doughnuts.

Chocolate  Icing

Mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder until smooth. You can add more syrup or cocoa powder to achieve desired consistency.

Peanut Butter Icing

Mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with 2 tablespoon of peanut butter until smooth.

 

30 Apr 2016

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