Thursday, July 25, 2013

summer smoothies and eating better.

Is anyone else craving smoothies all the time in this heat? I've also been trying to eat more healthily, replacing sugary desserts with fruit smoothies and granola and soy milk. Here's the recipe I made tonight. I think it's pretty killer.

Strawberry Mango Prune Smoothie:

1 cup soy milk
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 cup frozen strawberries
5 pitted prunes
A splash of cranberry juice (optional)
Water, if needed to get blender going

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Yield: 1-2 servings

That up there is a chickpea salad sammich from the Post-Punk Kitchen! I can't believe I've been eating vegan for nearly ten years and haven't been making this all the time. It's so good, so easy. I replaced the mayo with a tahini sauce and included a homemade roasted carrot curry hummus (add roasted carrots, curry powder and parsley to a traditional hummus recipe), local sun gold tomatoes, and spinach on top. SOOOOOOOOOO GOOD! I also ate the leftover chickpea filling with a fork and it was amazing too, and I'm thinking it would be even better tossed in a salad and served with quinoa, rice, etc.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orange-Sesame Quinoa with Broccoli, Raisins and Baked Tofu (and a New Direction for the Blog)

Earlier this week, my sister called me because her nearly one year old baby (and my one and only nephew, Sammy), whom she is currently raising vegetarian, has an appointment for a hemoglobin test in a few weeks and she wants to make sure he is consuming enough iron. Reading from my handy resource for vegan nutrition, Get it Ripe by Jae Steele, I told her the following:

sources of iron: chickpeas (garbanzo beans), dried fruit, kidney beans, lentils, blackstrap molasss, navy beans, parsley, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, Swiss chard, thyme, turmeric

(since vitamin C increases absorption of iron) sources of vitamin C: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, collard greens, grapefruit, guava, kale, papaya, parsley and strawberries

My sister also had questions about preparing quinoa (pronounced: keen-wah). I turned to Get it Ripe's handy chart on grains and discovered that quinoa has the highest protein of any grain, contains more calcium than cow's milk and is a source of vitamins B and E and iron. That's a lot of good stuff.

Let's skip to another conversation I had this week with my husband, Dylan. He asked me what we were going to eat for dinner. My response was, "I was going to make cookies." If making cookies for dinner isn't a wake up call, I don't know what is. So, guess what we had for dinner the very next day? You got it -- QUINOA! Not just any quinoa, either. Quinoa with broccoli, raisins and grilled tofu tossed in an orange-sesame dressing. Dylan praised it as the best meal he's had in a long time (although, let's be honest, A PLATE OF COOKIES was the competition).

Before I give you the recipe, I'm going to do a little nutritional PR for each component of the meal, partly for my sister and nephew, partly for myself and partly for the folks who ask, "where do you get your protein?" (to be fair, I haven't been asked that in a long time).

oranges: vitamins A and C, bioflavonoids
quinoa: high in protein and calcium, vitamins B and E, iron
broccoli: calcium, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin B5, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium
raisins: iron
tofu: iron, protein, calcium

Orange-Sesame Quinoa with Broccoli, Raisins and Baked Tofu:

For the quinoa:
  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 head broccoli, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup raisins

For the orange-sesame dressing (recipe from Appetite for Reduction):
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 2 to 3 oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon Microplaned or finely minced fresh ginger

For the tofu:
  • 1 lb. firm tofu, pressed (wrap tofu in a clean kitchen towel, place 1 or 2 heavy books over wrapped tofu and let sit for at least 1 hour, up to 4)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours and drained**
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Make the quinoa:
In a medium pot, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the water is absorbed. Add raisins and remove from heat. Set aside.

Prepare tofu:
Using a handheld blender or blender/food processor, puree 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, ginger, tamari, water, cashews and toasted sesame oil. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a square casserole dish. Slice tofu into 1-inch wide rectangles. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry tofu for 7-10 minutes on each side. Transfer tofu to prepared casserole dish and pour marinade over tofu. Place lid on dish or tightly cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

While tofu is baking, prepare dressing and broccoli:
Combine orange juice, red wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, salt, hot chili sauce and ginger in a bowl or a glass jar with a lid. Set aside. Chop broccoli into large branches. In same oiled skillet used for tofu, saute broccoli over medium heat for 7-10 minutes.

Put everything together:
When tofu is done baking, add broccoli to quinoa and toss with dressing. Serve warm with baked tofu.

*Information from Get it Ripe, my bible for vegan nutrition. Get yourself this book!
**You can skip soaking the cashews if you don't have time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cashew Queso Tacos with Refried Adzuki Beans and Kale Slaw

All of these recipes come together into one perfect taco. And a colorful, photogenic one at that, which is why it's so sad that I didn't capture a photo. As usual, I was too hungry to wait another moment and the food was hot!

Cashew Queso: I love this recipe and Isa even more than I already did for creating it. It's perfect, even when I used water instead of veg broth and left out the jalapeno and red bell pepper.
Refried Adzuki Beans: Saute diced onion and minced garlic in olive oil. Add 1.5 cups cooked adzuki beans. Roughly puree mixture using a hand blender (or a potato masher), adding water until desired consistency is reached. Add salt, cumin, ground chipotle and lime juice to taste.
Kale Slaw: Cut 1/2 bunch kale chiffonade-style (long thin strips). Toss with lemon juice, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Homemade Tortillas: The key here is to roll them out as thinly as possible.

Tortilla, queso, beans, kale. Eat!

Yield: about 6 tacos

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Easiest Tomato Soup & Soft Polenta

This meal will seriously take you 20 minutes tops to make and only requires a handful of ingredients. I wish I'd gotten a picture, the polenta looks so purty* spooned onto the red soup. Serve with a protein to round out the meal. Some ideas:

  • stir in cashew cream into the soup (1:1 ratio of cashews and water).
  • marinated and baked tofu
  • marinated and baked tempeh
  • add a 15 oz. can of beans (drained and rinsed) or about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans to the soup.
  • simmer 3/4 cup red lentils in the soup until they are tender and start to fall apart -- they'll pretty much blend in with the soup while adding great texture (this should take about 30 minutes).
  • sprinkle walnut gremolata on top of the soup.

tomato soup:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced (optional; I didn't add this and it still tasted great)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz. crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted is my favorite)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups stock or water

Saute garlic in olive oil for just until fragrant. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and stock or water. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until polenta is done.

soft polenta: (recipe from here)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 1/4 cups water
large pinch sea salt
1/2 cup polenta (also called coarse cornmeal)

Bring 2 tablespoons olive oil, water and sea salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add polenta. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula (or whisk) for 15-20 minutes, until it reaches a thick porridge-like consistency. Stir in final tablespoon of olive oil. Serve over soup.

Yield: 2 servings

*Purty is an example of metathesis, a linguistic process in which two adjacent sounds are reversed in order. Metathesis of r and a vowel is common, since the phonetic properties of r are so vowel-like. Apparently third and bird used to be thrid and brid. I know I'm a nerd, but this is really interesting to me.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tea-Infused Truffles

I've been on a truffle kick lately. And also a tea kick ever since my love for Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea was rekindled when I fell off the caffeine-free wagon recently (or did I get back on the caffeine wagon?). The cinnamon and sweet cloves lend a warm, spicy kick to these rich, melt-in-your-mouth truffles. Any tea would do in this recipe, though. Earl Grey would be divine, as would Chai. And how about Jasmine? The possibilities are endless!

Tea-Infused Truffles:

8 oz. dark chocolate, divided and chopped finely
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 oz. loose tea of your choice (or five tea bags, bags removed)
3 tablespoons vegan butter, room temperature
1/2 c. cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

Heat coconut milk and tea over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, until hot but not boiling. Quickly strain out tea and pour hot coconut milk over 4 oz. chocolate in a small bowl. Stir quickly with a rubber spatula until chocolate melts completely. Add butter and stir until completely melted. Let mixture cool in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and scoop tablespoonfuls of mixture and roll into balls. Let chill in refrigerator while you melt the remaining chocolate.

Melt 4 oz. chocolate over low heat in a small saucepan. When melted, use two spoons to dip each ball in melted chocolate, rolling around to completely coat. Transfer to plate and continue with remaining balls. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired.

Yield: 12 truffles

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Homemade Toffee and Chocolate Chunk Scones

We have a scone like this at the bakery I work at, except these ones are vegan! The creamy coconut milk results in a tender, flaky crumb and the toffee and chocolate go together perfectly. Definitely save this one for the weekend.

Homemade Toffee and Chocolate Chunk Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegan butter, cold and cut into pea-sized pieces
1 cup full-fat coconut milk, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup toffee bits (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil. (If you have a seasoned cast-iron pan, you don't need to use parchment paper or oil.)

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl (use the bowl of an electric stand mixer, if available). Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingertips (if using an electric stand mixer, mix with a paddle). Add dark chocolate and toffee bits and stir to combine. Add coconut milk and vanilla extract and mix until just-combined.

Liberally flour a clean surface and flour hands. Form dough into a 9-inch circle. Cut into 8 pieces. Carefully transfer pieces to prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until scone springs back to the touch. Let cool for several minutes on baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Yield: 8 scones

Homemade Toffee:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup nondairy milk
3 tablespoons vegan butter

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, whisking occasionally. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let dry. When dry, chop into small pieces. Alternatively, let dry in saucepan and chop into small pieces when still warm with a metal spatula.

Yield: 1 cup toffee bits

Monday, February 11, 2013

Israeli Couscous with Dried Cranberries, Almonds and Orange Zest

I love the combination of sweet and savory. This dish strikes a perfect balance of the two. While it only takes a few minutes to put together, you can fool your guests by its decadent results!

Also, um, that yellow in the background is an old t-shirt. I really need to shop around for some fabric!

Israeli Couscous with Dried Cranberries, Almonds and Orange Zest:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Israeli couscous
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup water
Zest from 1 orange
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Juice from 1 orange
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add Israeli couscous and toast for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add coconut milk, water, orange zest, orange juice, cumin, cardamom, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, cover and reduce temperature to low and let cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, most of the liquid should be absorbed. Stir in dried cranberries and almonds and cover again for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the liquid should be fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve warm with roasted root vegetables.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cashew Butter Cups

I almost started writing about my newfound obsession with the television show Cheers but quickly realized that would most likely be pretty boring to read about. Then my cat, in a desperate plea for attention, kept walking back and forth in front of the keyboard and I considered writing about that. The topic of our broken washing machine and our new method of washing clothing in the kitchen sink also crossed my mine. So my life is pretty boring right now.* But I have these Cashew Butter Cups. It's not all bad.

Tip about the cashew butter: I made homemade cashew butter using salted, roasted cashews (unsalted, raw cashews would also work) for this recipe, but store-bought cashew butter may also be used in this recipe. 1 cup cashews = 1/2 cup cashew butter (roughly). Blend in a food processor for a long time. You'll know when it's ready.

Tip about the granola: I used leftover homemade granola for this. I actually happened to have granola on hand without any add-ins -- no dried fruit or nuts. If your granola has add-ins, I'd pick out the dried fruit. The nuts might be OK left in, since they'll blend in pretty well with the cashew butter.

Cashew Butter Cups:


1/2 cup cashew butter, salted (if not salted, add a pinch of salt) (see note above)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup leftover granola (see note above; optional but strongly recommended for texture)
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 cups chocolate chips

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking liners. Melt chocolate over low heat, using a spatula to stir. Add a teaspoon of melted chocolate to each liner, spreading to cover the bottom. Place in fridge to harden. Meanwhile, prepare filling by combining all ingredients in a food processor until creamy. Divide filling evenly among cups. Add another teaspoon of melted chocolate on top of filling and spread to cover filling as best you can. Let chocolate set in the fridge. Enjoy at room temperature.

Yield: 12 cups

*Well, maybe boring to some people. I personally find Cheers, my cat and laundry very exciting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Life of Pi(zza)

What to do in Michigan on a snowy Friday night? MAKE PIZZA! Our standby has been a decadent, buttery Chicago-style deep dish recipe from Cook's Illustrated (found here), but in order to go easy on our wallets and waists, I decided to make a thin pizza crust without so much crust. I was going for a St. Louis-style crispy thin crust, but this ended up more like a hand-tossed. But a hand-tossed I liked! This crust would be a perfect canvas for your favorite sauces and toppings, as it's a good balance between thin and thick. Load 'em on!

Tip for a crispy crust: I used my brand new cast-iron pan to make these, which works really great for the crust (even better than a pizza stone, in my opinion), but if you don't have one, feel free to use a regular baking pan or a pizza stone. The trick I used with the cast-iron pan is I built the pizza in the room temperature cast-iron pan and then I let the pan heat up on the stove on high for five minutes, then I (using oven mitts!) transferred the pan into the preheated oven to bake for 8-12 minutes. This results in a crispy crust -- don't skip this step!

My favorite toppings: pesto, roasted garlic, fresh basil, caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes, thinly-sliced potatoes, Match Meat sausage, Daiya cheese

Homemade Pizza Crust:

Adapted from Pizza Dough in Vegan with a Vengeance

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoos olive oil, plus more for the bowl and brushing the crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal (for sprinkling the pan)

Combine water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for five minutes. Add flour, olive oil and salt. Stir well and then use hands to form a dough. Knead for 10 minutes or so, then form dough into a ball. Oil bowl and cover dough with oil. Cover bowl with damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

After dough has risen, punch dough down and cover again. Let rest for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, sprinkle pan with cornmeal. Divide dough in half and either roll out or use your hands to stretch the dough into a 14-inch diameter crust. Transfer to cast-iron pan (or your preferred pan), brush crust with olive oil and add your favorite toppings. Preheat pan on stove over high heat for five minutes, then transfer pan to oven (carefully using oven mitts!) and bake for 8-12 minutes. Repeat with second crust and enjoy!

Yield: 2 14-inch diameter pizzas